A thoroughly researched and ultimately persuasive telling of how the Democrats arrived at their current crossroads.

WE'VE GOT PEOPLE

A political book offers a history of the populist left in America from 1988 to the present.

As Joe Biden leads the Democratic primary field, some voters may recall his first, failed campaign for president back in 1988. But Grim (This Is Your Country on Drugs, 2009) argues that the most influential candidate in that race was not Biden or even the ultimate Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis. Rather, it was the man challenging Dukakis from the left, the civil rights leader and minister Jesse Jackson. Though Jackson ran a competitive but unsuccessful campaign, his call for a “Rainbow Coalition” of voters from across the racial and gender spectrum in order to confront the “economic violence” that affected them all proved prophetic of leftist politics to come. The unexpectedly popular 2016 campaign of Bernie Sanders and the subsequent election and celebrity of progressive candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have reshaped the Democratic Party and revealed widespread dissatisfaction with America’s racial and economic status quo. With this book, the author tracks the development of these ideas across the last three decades, from moments of centrist dominance—and sabotage—to glimmers of true reform. A seasoned journalist, Grim delivers prose that is smooth and often gripping, even when describing floor votes involving U.S. Representative Bart Stupak: “In March, Stupak and his gang of anti-choice dissidents eventually came around to a compromise on abortion and voted in favor of the bill. During the floor debate, a Republican shouted ‘baby killer’ at Stupak while he spoke.” The complexity of the political process really shines through—inattentive readers may at times lose the thread—but the author is able to show how each event relates to his central argument. Grim has a clear agenda and ends by warning voters to stop being pundits and vote for the politicians they actually admire: economic progressives such as Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, not moderates like Biden whom they perceive to be electable. Even so, this behind-the-scenes account of the internal struggles within the Democratic Party will be of interest even to those who don’t have red roses in their Twitter profiles.

A thoroughly researched and ultimately persuasive telling of how the Democrats arrived at their current crossroads.

Pub Date: May 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947492-38-7

Page Count: 401

Publisher: Strong Arm Press

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2019

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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