This biography of the quintessential ``musicians' musician'' by Englishman Humphries (Small Change: A Life of Tom Waits, 1990, etc.) is too much the work of a music critic and too little the work of an accomplished biographer. Humphries's legwork is admirable, as he compiles interviews with virtually every family member, bandmate, and collaborator Thompson has acquired over the years; providing crucial material is folkie Loudon Wainwright III. However, the result works better as an oral history of Thompson's career than as the story of his life. Given extremely short shrift are the tragedies surrounding his first band, Fairport Convention; his five children (their births are most often mentioned in passing); and his problematic first marriage. Instead, the only primarily nonmusical aspect of Thompson's life covered—his 1970s conversion to Islam—is given play to the point of offense, with Humphries feeding the all-too-common Western view of the Muslim faith by comparing Thompson's moderate opinion of the Salman Rushdie affair with that of Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens). Erroneously fancying himself a historian, Humphries blames the Iranian hostage crisis on Ronald Reagan, who was not president when the crisis began, and then pontificates on Rushdie's fate: ``For over six years . . . Rushdie has had to live under the threat of death. . . . And that, to me, is another blasphemy.'' Indeed, for a biographer, Humphries lapses too often into the first person; the final fifth of the book consists of his personal impressions of his subject's most recent tours and releases. While this helps the reader to get a complete view of Thompson the musician, Thompson the man remains an enigma. Unable to keep his critical eye in soft focus, Humphries finally offers a work that could as easily be produced by stitching together a dozen record reviews and a Rolling Stone interview. (30 photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 24, 1997

ISBN: 0-02-864752-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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