An absorbing account of the life of W. Averill Harriman, one of that remarkable group of ``wise men'' whose lives were so closely linked to the foreign policy of the postwar US as it emerged to world power; by a Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Harriman was the son of Edward Henry Harriman, one of the great railroad pioneers—some say robber barons—of the Victorian era. For much of his life, he lived in the shadow of his father, and—though Abramson does not say so directly—his efforts as international banker, railroad executive, early pioneer of aviation, and assembler of America's largest merchant fleet hardly showed the remarkable prescience that characterized his father's reign; moreover, in the Soviet Union during the 1920's and early 30's, Harriman was taken for a ride in business dealings. It may have been his lack of financial acumen that drove him into politics; in any case, FDR found this former Republican a useful weapon against the outraged financial community. Harriman's most glorious days came during WW II, initially as Lend Lease administrator in London, where he worked closely with Churchill to bring the US into the war. Later, this taciturn, often inarticulate man served as ambassador to Moscow and, in the 1950's, as a one- term governor of New York. In the 1960's, Harriman negotiated the neutralization of Laos and headed the American delegation seeking peace with North Vietnam. Abramson deals frankly with Harriman's contributions; his stinginess; his years as a playboy and his adulterous affair with Pamela Churchill, whom he later married; and his sycophantic, even groveling attempts to curry favor with successive Presidents and to secure interesting diplomatic and other assignments. An unusual perspective that conveys an impression sometimes closer to the court intrigues of the past than to the supposedly more rational politics of the present. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)
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)