An often stunning story of personal triumph amid the political turbulence of the 20th century.



Voticky recounts his Czechoslovakian family’s escape from fascism and communism and his later life as a Canadian pilot in this memoir. 

The author was born in 1934 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during a time when dark political forces threatened to swallow Europe whole. His Jewish parents, Arnold and Annamarie, after witnessing the degradation of Jews at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis, prudently prepared for escape, funneling money to Annamarie’s brother in Switzerland. They fled to Italy, but Arnold temporarily stayed behind, and when he found himself unable to obtain an exit visa, the whole family returned to be with him. After Arnold narrowly evaded arrest, the family once again took flight back to Italy—this time, to catch on ocean liner to Shanghai by way of Bombay and Manila. The author, only 6 years old at the time, attended an American school in China, where he not only learned English, but also cultivated a lasting admiration for the United States. However, the Japanese eventually invaded, and, as Jews, the family was relegated to living in a segregated ghetto until after the war, when they could return to Prague. Once back home, Voticky learned of some of his extended family members’ grim fates in death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. Once the Soviets took over, the family was compelled to run yet again, this time to Montreal. The author lucidly captures the extraordinary drama of his family’s lives as they were caught between two of the 20th century’s worst tyrannies. His story is a stirringly inspirational one, as well; he tells of being so awed by the spectacle of American fighter planes in 1945 that he vowed to become a pilot—and he eventually did, for a commercial airline. The memoir ends with a thoughtful and emotionally poignant reflection on immigration in the United States. Voticky’s account of his adult life is less cinematic than that of his youth, and he can sometimes overburden the reader with minutely detailed descriptions of his aviation career and training. Still, this book remains a gripping slice of history overall. 

An often stunning story of personal triumph amid the political turbulence of the 20th century. 

Pub Date: March 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-3104-0

Page Count: 312

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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