PASSAGE TO PESHAWAR

PAKISTAN, BETWEEN THE HINDU KUSH AND THE ARABIAN SEA

Political reporter and commentator Reeves, as American as we come, discovers the Pakistani/Muslim/Third World differences: in one of many apt nutshells—"we couldn't even get each other's names straight." Reeves was in Pakistan with his family, he relates, because his wife was studying conditions in Afghan refugee camps; he was accredited as a reporter, but he mainly conveys impressions—of a three tier, three time-period ("city, town, and rural") modernizing society—by turning his American attitudes to advantage. "Nothing worked"—or, rather, "it didn't work the way an American thought it should." The difference was between an appointment and come-on-over, "between systematic and individual approaches to handling predictable situations or problems." What can be done expeditiously—an international phone call, say—is done by modern electronic technology and according to the rules of international commerce, "a kind of new imperialism." "Within its own borders, though. . . the nation was going to have to suffer the agony of its own modernization." The book works because Reeves is a practiced observer, and he doesn't breastbeat. On the critical division between the West and Muslim fundamentalism, "the communications gap is far less complicated than gaps in basic perceptions." A number of Pakistanis speak of the Crusades; says Reeves' teenage son, looking at a group of soldiers, "If I were a Russian soldier, I'd be afraid of those guys." (Adds Reeves, "Me, too.") Reeves does note the "silliness," sometimes, of the Islamicization of Pakistan; but he finds Islam "rich and complex enough intellectually and idealistic enough not only to provide the material for Brotherhood of Man, Fatherhood of God speeches, but to create the environment for technological modernization and for modern political systems providing the rule of law. . . social justice and economic opportunity for most of the people, most of the time." What he'd like to see the US do—in place of ineffectual economic aid, futile military aid (supportive of the elite, of the military dictatorship)—is to underwrite literacy programs: at least in Russian client-states, he observes, people learn to read. And he does see Pakistan moving toward some kind of non-Marxist socialism. As an honest statement of confusion, it's as good as anything around (certainly preferable to V. S. Naipaul's caustic Among the Believers).

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1984

ISBN: 0671508423

Page Count: 422

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1984

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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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