Meticulous history illuminated and animated by personal passion, carried aloft by volant prose.

FALLING UPWARDS

HOW WE TOOK TO THE AIR

The biographer of two great Romantics (Shelley and Coleridge) relates yet another romantic tale—the story of the human passion to fly up, up and away in a beautiful balloon.

Holmes (The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science, 2009, etc.) begins with a memory—a flying dream from childhood—mentions Daedalus and Icarus, some balloons in literature, films and popular culture, and then lifts off into another of his delightfully soaring histories. He notes that the French were the first to use balloons for military purposes (reconnaissance), then tells us about some of the most notable balloon pioneers, including André-Jacques Garnerin, who also pioneered parachutes. Holmes focuses on the accomplishments (and failures) of a number of other principals, including Charles Green (many of his flights lifted off from Vauxhall Gardens), Henry Mayhew, Eugène Godard, John Wise, James Glaisher, Camille Flammarion, Gaston Tissandier and Salomon Andrée, whose attempt to reach the North Pole in 1897 ended in death for all aboard his vessel. Holmes reminds us of ballooning in the fictions of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, Mark Twain (whose Tom Sawyer Abroad reunited the Huck-Jim-Tom trio for a flight across the Atlantic) and others. He tells, as well, about spectacular failures—crashes, fatal and otherwise. His two most gripping segments are the airlift from Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)—dozens of flights took mail and other dispatches out of the city during the siege—and the assault on the North Pole. One great irony regarding the latter: The aeronauts, on the ground after the balloon could no longer fly, shot and ate polar bears; later, the bears ate them.

Meticulous history illuminated and animated by personal passion, carried aloft by volant prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-37966-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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