Warmly nostalgic yet highly relevant as a primer on building a firm and becoming a smart leader.

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HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH

LESSONS FOR SUCCESS FROM A RED-DIRT ROAD IN ALABAMA

A debut author offers a business book disguised as a memoir.

Growing up in a blue-collar Alabama town, Birch may never have imagined she would start and run her own personnel recruitment firm. But one clue to her self-made success was the lesson she learned early on from Daddy about building a piano bench: “He said when something had to be done, it had to be done, whether he knew how to do it or not.” In a story that embraces much of that down-home wisdom, the author charts her childhood, delivering her recollections of the knowledge imparted by family and friends, many of whom stand out as memorable, sometimes quirky characters. As Birch matures, the reader witnesses her independent spirit evolving. She faced the typical and not-so-typical challenges along the way, from enduring failed relationships to becoming a working mother to realizing she had attention deficit disorder. Once she started her company, Birch remembered and applied many of her youthful experiences: “Two things I’d developed as a child turned out to be keys to my success in this business. One was how much I loved to win.…The other was the fact that people would tell me anything.” That second point is illustrated by several amusing anecdotes about job candidates—and employers—who do in fact share some remarkably intimate details with the author. The second half of the charmingly introspective book concentrates largely on Birch’s business escapades, some of which have her interacting with well-known personalities like Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The author’s richly adorned tales about people, whether famous or ordinary, are a highlight of the work. The final chapter is told in the same engaging style as the rest of the volume, but it cleverly interlaces 16 insightful “facts” with the narrative, such as “Fact #8: Look at your weaknesses as well as your strengths and partner with someone who can fill in your blanks.” In these pages, Birch maintains a rosy optimism and a keen knack for comprehending how lessons from childhood can serve one throughout life.

Warmly nostalgic yet highly relevant as a primer on building a firm and becoming a smart leader.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63299-108-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: River Grove Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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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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