Englishman Ford (Middle East correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor) travels by sea and by foot along the Caribbean coastline from Belize to Panama in this cool-blooded exploration of the convoluted culture and history of the Miskito Coast. The origin of Central America's Miskito Indians, and of their name itself, has long been lost in the tangle of liaisons between conqueror and conquered, native and newcomer along this particular stretch of Caribbean beach. Largely insulated from traditional Latin American culture by thick jungles, poor or nonexistent roads, and a lack of natural resources that distant governments found worth taking, the inhabitants of the Miskito Coast today, Ford finds, suggest a fascinating if unsettling mixture of African, English, French, West Indian, Spanish, and Indian influences. When not being used by the CIA to revolt against the Sandinistas or requested by visitors to reminisce once again about the days of the last Miskito king, coastal residents live according to a slow, fatalistic rhythm that here often drives Ford wild with impatience. Boat connections are missed while Ford fights a battle for proper immigration papers; a Nicaraguan guide gets lost and leads him to a hostile coast-guard station in Costa Rica; the Panamanian police order him out of the country without explanation, abruptly ending Ford's journey as he flies directly home. In short, if traditional Central American culture has not found its way unadulterated to this insulated coast, its bureaucracy has—less of a surprise, certainly, than Ford's inability to adapt, after six years as a journalist in Latin America, to inept treatment at the hands of his bored or frightened governmental hosts. A tale of terminal incompatibility—short on introspection, but sporadically entertaining nonetheless. (Maps.)
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").
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)