DOING DOCUMENTARY WORK

A challenging exploration of documentary writing and photography, focusing on the ways in which researchers can affect, reshape, or misrepresent what they see. Coles, the noted psychiatrist and Harvard ethicist (The Moral Intelligence of Children, 1997, etc.), notes in the introduction that he has been preparing to write this book ``for over 35 years''—ever since he and his wife, while studying the integration of schools in Louisiana in 1960, first tried to make sense of what it meant to be witnesses, researchers, and onlookers. A fascination with the moral and practical consequences that arise when observers (journalists, academics, or social activists) probe the lives of a class of people— whether coal miners (George Orwell), migrant workers (Dorothea Lange), or Mississippi farmers (James Agee and Walker Evans)—led Coles to become one of the founders of Duke University's Center of Documentary Studies. Poet/doctor William Carlos Williams and biographer/therapist Erik Erikson are Coles's heroes, and from them and others he draws his theme: ``We notice what we notice in accordance with who we are.'' Coles offers striking examples of the way in which preconceptions can alter what is seen, including Lange's famous ``Migrant Mother'' photograph: That seminal Depression-era picture was selected from a series of shots and then cropped for dramatic impact, in accordance with Lange's personal vision, with who she was, with what she wanted to communicate about poverty in the South. Also examined, in sometimes rambling, verbose passages, are the impact the observer makes on those being observed and the tendency by writers like Agee and Orwell, for instance, to put on a pedestal the farmworkers and coal miners who helped make them famous. Journalists, social workers, and therapists, as well as producers of print or film documentaries, will find this ruminative volume of special use, reminding them of the questions they should ask themselves before they invade schools, workplaces, and private lives. (18 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-19-511629-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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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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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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