The New Arcadia


Layton (Notes From Elsewhere: Travel and Other Matters, 2011) dissects Tahiti’s complex history by examining not only historical accounts, but also the cultural myth these accounts spawned in the Western world.

Beginning with the initial accounts of European navigators’ arrival on Tahiti while searching for Australia and continuing through the island’s colonization to its current political and cultural climate, Layton juxtaposes Tahitian history with its idyllic image, which has long permeated Europe and America. Layton details how Tahiti’s beautiful landscape, abundant produce, and seemingly sexually receptive female population made it a paradise for explorers. It was these initial accounts that formed the basis for this myth, a version that, while immensely popular and appealing, was shaped as much by European ethnocentrism as it was by the actual culture of the island. Layton explains how European accounts may have not only misrepresented the culture of Tahiti, but also brought about an influx of European sailors, missionaries, and merchants whose presence had detrimental results for the people whose way of life they romanticized. Disease, religious turmoil, and slavery devastated the island’s population and culture, leaving lasting effects that modern residents are still contending with. Later chapters examine modern Tahiti, particularly the work of modern Tahitian writers, and show how many are attempting to rectify the stereotypical images the myth instilled by creating more realistic portraits of past and contemporary Tahitian life. Drawing on her background in anthropology, Layton is an informed writer, but she never drifts toward the stuffy. The vast resources used—early explorers’ diaries, contemporary academic analysis, as well as art and literature—offer solid context and support for her thesis.

A layered and fascinating analysis of history and anthropology. 


Pub Date: July 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6859-9

Page Count: 328

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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