W.B. YEATS

A LIFE: VOL. I: THE APPRENTICE MAGE 1865-1914

Instead of offering another biographic gloss of Yeats's poetry, historian Foster (Irish History/Oxford; Paddy and Mr. Punch, 1994, etc.) concentrates on the young poet's many personae: journalist, revolutionary, playwright, political figure, and occult experimenter. Foster's detail-weighted, date-ballasted tome sets itself in contrast to previous biographies, such as Richard Ellmann's elegant and compact Yeats: The Man and the Masks. The Apprentice Mage is an episodic serial of the poet's diverse activities up to his 50th year, concentrating on action rather than on art. If Yeats inherited his volubly aesthetic nature from his bohemian father, John Butler, he was grounded in Ireland on his mother's side (the dourly mercantile Protestant Pollexfens). Foster sees the Pollexfens as the source of Yeats's problems with Anglo-Irish politics. His exile with his family in London gets some credit for stimulating his fledgling talents. Foster does a good job of tracking the young man's footloose intellectual rovings in the 1890s, from the British Museum to the decadent Rhymers club and his dabblings with the Golden Dawn, an occult society. But his analysis of character seems rather rudimentary: The author baldly states that Yeats's early career was shaped by ``sexual frustration'' and ``personal ambition,'' and that's about as much psychological insight as he provides. If Foster never really grasps his subject's mercurial personality, to say nothing of his poetry, at least he never falls under its spell as he charts Yeats's political progress from Fenian fellow traveler at the beginning of the Celtic Twilight to his Home Rule Liberalism in the face of the Sinn FÇin generation. He maintains a distanced objectivity even while describing some of Yeats's most passionate experiences, including his affair with Maud Gonne and his life at the Abbey Theater. This is the Pollexfen account of Yeats's life: dense with facts, skeptically commonsensical, but a bit obtuse in spirit. (32 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-19-510125-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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