While this work looks like a traditional Florence guidebook, the author’s expert use of facts and illustrations sets it...

FLORENCE

A TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO ITS GEMS & GIANTS

A historian and armchair archaeologist shares her knowledge of Florence.

Most travel guides do not open with definitions of Stendhal syndrome and humanism, but this unusual introduction sets the tone for the debut book. As delineated in the subtitle, the work focuses on Florence’s “Gems” (noteworthy places) and “Giants” (diverse luminaries). Before these two main sections, there is a checklist of things to do and see in the city, presented in the form of provocative questions (for example, “Who broke Dante’s heart?”), followed by textual and image tables of contents and a background section. The last includes a map of Florence and a brief overview of its history and development, beginning with the plague in the 1300s and continuing through the Renaissance (1500s). The “Giants” section is the lengthiest and provides biographies of the Medicis, Petrarch, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and other well-known figures associated with Florence but also lesser lights like Masaccio and Ghirlandaio. The relatively shorter “Gems” presents tidbits on some prominent tourist sites, including the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio. The final section, “Wandering Around Today’s Florence,” gives a list of piazzas and offers tips on the best views, art, and day trips. While readers looking for information on hotels and restaurants will be disappointed, Civalleri gives more in-depth information on the history and significance of Florence’s celebrities and sites than traditional guides. Despite the reams of history, the work is still a light, entertaining read. The extensive use of illustrations—primarily photographs, but also maps—enlivens the text. Numerous sidebars supply anecdotes, definitions, and brief topics. The various font styles, sizes, and colors keep the book visually intriguing (although it occasionally verges on becoming a little busy). Ultimately, Civalleri delivers on her promise to teach readers about Florence through its fun stories.

While this work looks like a traditional Florence guidebook, the author’s expert use of facts and illustrations sets it above the rest.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9981926-0-4

Page Count: 264

Publisher: 1-Take MultiMedia

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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 LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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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