By revealing women's use of history in the making of it, Baym rebuts conventional wisdom about women's absence from national life in antebellum America. Baym (English/Univ. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Feminism and American Literary History, not reviewed) demonstrates that women were active outside the home and in an important kind of antebellum politics. Through extensive archival research of over 350 works (among them pieces of historical fiction, lyric and dramatic poetry, family memoirs, travel narratives, and advice books) written by 150 women of varying degrees of renown, she shows how women (of the upper and middle classes) used the proliferating print media to become ``influential in forming public opinion.'' Indeed, Baym predicts that today's predominant conception of 19th- century American women as non-participants in the ideological tasks of nation-building will, in time, prove wholly inaccurate: ``We may discover in time that representations of female selves as privatized and domesticated beings are actually minority strands in nineteenth-century American women's literature.'' Baym asserts that, from the early days of the republic, women were urged to read history, which was installed at the center of the earliest female curricula. As a result, antebellum women, just like men, deployed ``history'' for argumentative purposes, using it to advance a range of ideas about how things in America ought to be. They reformulated concepts of motherhood and womanhood to include an educational role that accommodated various forms of historical writing by women. Baym's fluid conception of what is historical enables her to explore the development of women's and America's cultural identity with great nuance. Her analysis of material both known and new takes account of the complexity of a national identity forged by both authorities and ordinary people. An elegant account that reveals new dimensions in women's relationship to American history and historiography.
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)
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)