An intriguing, if somewhat uneven, look at an esoteric religious sect.

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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK PRINCE IN AMERICA

A writer recounts his childhood in a black Hebrew Israelite sect in this memoir.

Rabii (The Poems of Robin R. Rabii, 2016) was born in 1958 to African-American parents who had recently joined a new religious sect called the Helion Temple of Ancient Divine Wisdom—Order of Melchisedec. The physical temple at the center of this close-knit religious community was the center of his life: “I spent more hours in the Temple than in my own home.…My world was the Temple and there were very few activities in my young life that were separate from it.”  As the author explains, the centrality of this faith in the life of his family had lasting consequences on his development: some positive, but many quite negative. As Rabii writes, the eclectic beliefs of the Order, which mixed Afrocentrism and elements of Judaism with more occult and New-Age teachings, informed his spiritual development. But the immense power of its founder—who was known as Mother or the Queen—and the cultic zealotry of her followers led to emotional and physical abuse, particularly against the children of the Order. According to the author, beatings, forced fasting, and threats of damnation were common means of control used by the Queen and her enforcers. So great was this abuse that Rabii eventually left the religion, though he details it now in order to shed light on this curious sect that remains active even to this day. Rabii’s prose is generally amicable, even when discussing the darker aspects of the Order’s behavior: “The next question you must be scratching your head about is why adults would allow themselves to be abused by others? And perhaps more importantly, why would parents accept the abuse of their children?” The book, which includes historical photographs, does not have the narrative structure or propulsive pace of the typical survivor memoir. At nearly 500 pages, including appendices, it’s a bit bloated (and this is only Book 1). But as a repository of information about this obscure religion, the work is invaluable. Readers interested in fringe religious movements and the ways cults take advantage of their members should find the Order to be a particularly absorbing case.

An intriguing, if somewhat uneven, look at an esoteric religious sect.

Pub Date: March 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984297-90-7

Page Count: 488

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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