Think the insurgents are bad news? Try Iraq’s government—and its police.
In 2004, retired California cop Cole took a civilian contractor gig (he lets slip that it paid $350 a day) in Iraq to train police forces throughout the country in modern crime-suppression techniques. The task bore a steep learning curve for all concerned; as he relates, his teaching began at the most elementary level with such things as handcuffing a suspect and stepping aside after pounding on a door to avoid getting shot from the other side. Stateside cops usually don’t have to contend with IEDs and suicide bombs, and thus Cole finds himself acquiring skills he had not needed before. His memoir of a year in-country is steeped in cultural insensitivity (for instance, he likens the blended sounds of muezzin calls to prayer coming from different mosques as “the equivalent of a really bad garage-band playoff”), and civil libertarians will recoil upon learning that the training manual dispenses with the niceties of Miranda and “all those sissy-ass disciplines you had to follow your entire career” in favor of some good old shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later frontier justice, which apparently is all a “suspicious character” deserves in Iraq. But Cole’s bluster and bravado erode; the cops, the “IP,” may be wildly incompetent, but at least some of them are brave enough to stand up and fight for their country, even if Cole has to convince them to dispense with prayer during duty hours on the Hobbesian grounds that setting down a weapon is inviting death. Now stationed in Haiti, Cole concludes that it’s just not working: Too many cops are needed, the Iraqi government is too corrupt and the conditions are too dangerous: “You could take fifty of the best cops in Sacramento and send them to Baghdad and have them police the streets, and they’ll be dead in a week.”
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)