LONE STAR RISING

LYNDON B. JOHNSON AND HIS TIMES, 1908-1960

Readers who find Robert A. Caro's LBJ too Manichaean can turn to this hefty study (first of a projected two volumes), which covers the life and career of the young politico-in-a-hurry through the 1960 election. UCLA historian Dallek (Ronald Reagan, 1984; The American Style of Foreign Policy, 1983) believes that Johnson's current low esteem (a 1988 Harris poll ranked him at or near the bottom of 11 categories among recent Presidents) reflects one-dimensional portraits that highlight his pettiness and slight his tremendous achievements. In Dallek's view, LBJ was a ``liberal nationalist'' who consistently backed laws that boosted the fortunes of America's disadvantaged, as well as ``the greatest [Senate] Majority Leader in American history.'' This biography supplements Caro's in several crucial respects, including fuller discussions of LBJ's early, albeit halting, efforts on behalf of blacks, and of the rough-and- tumble Texas political wars, including Johnson's disputed 1948 Senate race (conservative opponent Coke Stevenson is not, in this telling, the good government pillar of Means of Ascent). Yet Dallek sometimes belabors the obvious in detailing Johnson's legislative wizardry (the founding of NASA, the first civil-rights act since Reconstruction, the indispensable bipartisan aid for Eisenhower's foreign policy). Solid if redundant on Johnson's sterling legislative record, but nowhere as brilliant as Caro in depicting LBJ's almost demonic energy. For that reason, despite its balance and careful research, it may be, as Dallek hopes, ``the scholarly biography of Johnson for the foreseeable future,'' but certainly isn't the most readable or vivid one. (Thirty b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-19-505435-0

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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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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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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