A practical choice for road-trip travelers but one that could have delved a bit more into local history.




A travel guide that’s specifically aimed at Americans who want to travel through France by car.

Strandoo (The Essential Driving Guide for England, Scotland & Ireland, 2007, etc.) offers a driving guide that’s “designed so that each day of driving includes the most important things to see and do” throughout France’s various regions. It begins with a detailed overview of the local rules of the road, emphasizing such things as the all-important “no passing on the right.” It’s intended for those who are unfamiliar with common European traffic tendencies, so Strandoo includes diagrams for roundabouts, detailed explanations of the tolls on “autoroutes” (highways), useful translations, and even a helpful pronunciation guide. The author also points out specific translations of local delicacies that don’t usually appeal to tourists from the states, such as pig’s feet, sweetbreads, and calf brains. Strandoo organizes his book by region, starting with Normandy’s museums, historical landmarks, and charming villages. He also includes helpful breakdowns of bed-and-breakfasts throughout the area, complete with concise descriptions. Other major highlights include coverage of the Loire Valley and a careful look at Provence and southern France that points out little-known natural treasures, such as the Gorges du Tarn. The author occasionally offers passages that aim to make the locations seem more attractive: “This tiny medieval village boasts a beautiful hilly setting and one of the oldest Romanesque churches.” For instance, his “Best Advice” sections point readers toward particularly special hotels, such as rooms in a “majestic castle dating from the 15th century” called Chateau de la Caze near La Malène. However, the majority of the guide is dedicated to meticulous explanations of autoroutes: “follow the Apt signs until you connect with the N100. About 12 km / 7 mi past the second exit to Cavaillon, and still on N100, watch for the turnoff to Ménerbes.” Therefore, it’s useful for those wanting to adventure without GPS but less engaging than other guides that dig more deeply into France’s past.

A practical choice for road-trip travelers but one that could have delved a bit more into local history.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-578-15580-7

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Drive Europe LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

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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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