Shepard, who spent 45 years at the New York Times as a reporter and editor, clearly enjoyed this rummage through the paper's archival attic. Others, not dying of curiosity to read memos from publishers to editors concerning wedding announcements and obituaries, might not care to rummage with him. In fairness to Shepard's book, its heart clearly lies in more than 120 photographs and reproductions of other material from the Times's archives, dating back to the paper's birth in 1851— materials that were not available for review. These range from a 1912 letter from publisher Adolph Ochs describing lunch at his home with President William Howard Taft (seating chart and luncheon menu included) to a 1942 memo from Ochs's son-in-law and successor, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, on the great debate over whether the paper should include a crossword puzzle. Imagining this missing material makes the book a more pleasant browse but does nothing to make it seem more vital or compelling. Shepard offers a voyeur's view of the inner workings of the newspaper and the ways it has evolved over the years. One can read, for instance, memos that circulated among Times executives discussing the merits of comics (no) or a bridge column (eventually, yes). All these decisions were influenced by powerful egos balanced by an equally powerful reverence for the Times as a grand institution not to be tampered with lightly. Shepard does touch briefly on such larger issues as the need to rethink foreign news coverage in the postCold War era. Yet a chapter on the Bay of Pigs coverage and the Pentagon Papers is shorter than the one devoted to society and style. In the end Shepard's book proves a cardinal rule of newspaper journalism: Most readers will find yesterday's issues useful primarily for the wrapping of dead fish.
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)