Of much interest to anyone with a stake in the developing Google settlement, as well as for fans of books about books.

THE CASE FOR BOOKS

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

Harvard University Library director Darnton (George Washington’s False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century, 2003, etc.) offers measured essays on books, libraries and publishing.

In pieces published in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere, Darnton focuses on the status of scholarly publishing and librarianship. Quoting a colleague who says that the latter is, perhaps surprisingly, tightly bound up in the world of money and power, the author notes that, for all the recent woes of the economy, a million new books are published each year around the world—books that have somehow to be put into the hands of readers. In that connection, Darnton, an eminent student of the Enlightenment and a good citizen of what that era called the Republic of Letters, considers the role of Google and its plan to scan the contents of the world’s great libraries into digital form. On the face, he writes, making such a wealth of knowledge available to readers would appear to be a public good, and there are many reasons why a bibliophile and scholar should applaud such an enterprise. Yet, he adds, after evenhanded consideration of those pluses, “The more I learned about Google, the more it appeared to be a monopoly intent on conquering markets rather than a natural ally of libraries, whose sole purpose is to preserve and diffuse knowledge.” The competing demands of public welfare and private profit occupy Darnton in several pieces, while others consider the still foggy realm of electronic publishing and the addition of value to the culture that people who work with books provide. The author also includes a few scholarly pieces on various aspects of the history of publishing (“Little is known about the way books reached bookstores from printing shops”), connected to the earlier pieces only incidentally but pleasing all the same.

Of much interest to anyone with a stake in the developing Google settlement, as well as for fans of books about books.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58648-826-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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