A stern indictment of what the author calls a “broken and morally bankrupt” system.


Rude Awakening


An uncompromising look at the way the Canadian government treats veterans of its various military branches.

Stogran presents a sobering account in his nonfiction debut. After a 31-year career in the military, during which he was “threatened, shot at, shelled, held at knife-point and detained in a makeshift cell” in active-fire zones such as Bosnia and Afghanistan, Stogran took a position as Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman, a position that he claims was more traumatizing than his years in the service. He effectively grounds what’s essentially a white paper on the state of veterans’ affairs by first giving readers a brief autobiography. He was born in La Sarre, Quebec, in 1958, met his future wife during his first regimental tour, and later juggled raising a family with the needs and postings of the service. Although he laces his account with an appealingly gruff, low-key sense of humor, he’s quite frank in recounting numerous occasions when he locked horns with his superior officers, almost always on issues affecting the welfare of the men under his command. Upon retirement, he belatedly learned of the creation of a new ombudsman position, which he viewed as “an opportunity to leave the CF gracefully and give back to the soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel I had served with.” What he finds after taking up his new responsibilities is shocking: “a stagnant, unresponsive, and dysfunctional system” that fails to meet the needs of veterans struggling with issues such as homelessness and post-traumatic stress disorder. Stogran’s account of how he confronted this system is blunt and free of egotism; he names specific ministers and dispenses verdicts with military directness. It should be required reading in the Canadian armed forces.

A stern indictment of what the author calls a “broken and morally bankrupt” system.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-7165-0

Page Count: 264

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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