A captivating blend of legal suspense and introspective memoir.

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ABOVE ALL THINGS

A lawyer’s remembrance of the trial that changed his life. 

When debut author Kussman first became acquainted with the particulars of Theresa Kayne’s legal case, he was both moved and frustrated. She had struggled to become pregnant, so her obstetrician, Fredrick Henley, administered injections of delalutin, a female sex hormone that mimics the effects of progesterone, which is naturally produced by the female body. She later learned that she was actually already in the early stages pregnancy at the time of the injections. Henley assured her that delalutin posed no risk to the fetus; however, her son, Joshua, was born without functioning arms or legs. Kayne intended to sue both Henley and E.R. Squibb & Sons, Inc., the colossal pharmaceutical company that manufactures delalutin, but she couldn’t find a lawyer to take the case, apparently because no one could find an expert witness who would testify that the hormone could cause birth defects. Russell’s firm didn’t want the case either, but he thought, contrary to prudence, that it was winnable. He left his firm and started his own, though he was only a year out of law school and had never tried a case before. The author provides a stirringly dramatic account of the three-month-long trial that eventually garnered national attention as well as a look into the inner machinations of the pharmaceutical industry that successfully stifled the promulgation of scientific findings and warnings that likely would have diminished its profit.  Despite his lack of experience, Russell was uniquely positioned to try the case for the same reason he’s now uniquely positioned to tell its story—before he was a lawyer, he was a practicing physician. Much of the power of his remembrance is a function of his unfiltered candor, which includes self-criticism. He realized that he was outclassed by his legal adversaries and, at one point, in deep trouble: “I could see from the reality of an actual trial courtroom that I was a fish out of water; that it would be impossible for me to do this on my own. I was jeopardizing Josh’s future and my own law license.” Still, even after Russell sought out the help of a much more seasoned attorney, he torpedoed the partnership by hubristically insisting on being the lead lawyer, a self-effacing analysis he unforgivingly supplies. While the memoir focuses on the trial itself and its legal details, Russell also affectingly reflects on his own personal life—certainly one of the reasons he was so moved by Kayne’s plight was that his own wife was pregnant at the time he took her case. Further, he astutely explores his own defiant brand of ambition. He abandoned a promising career as a physician to become a lawyer, only to quickly exit an enviable job at a well-known firm to set out in his own. At different junctures in the story, he seems by turns impressively confident and self-destructively arrogant. 

A captivating blend of legal suspense and introspective memoir. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-976038-11-2

Page Count: 420

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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