A refreshing and inspiring look into the lives of six successful African-Americans. Lawrence-Lightfoot (Sociology/Harvard; Balm in Gilead, 1988, etc.) is perturbed by some sociologists' portrayal of the black middle class as ``materialistic bourgeois assimilationists.'' To counter that perception, she richly portrays six African-Americans. In extended conversations with her, they detail their experiences: the often riveting events that have molded their feelings about race, their attempts to negotiate the crossing between black and white society; the lives they have created for themselves, both personally and professionally. Among these exemplary people are: Toni Schiesler, a female candidate for the Episcopal priesthood; Charles Ogletree, a criminal defense lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School; Felton Earls, an epidemiologist and psychiatrist at Harvard's School of Public Health; and Cheryle Wills, entrepreneur and owner of radio and television stations. While all have achieved great success in their fields, their backgrounds differ widely. Schiesler was the illegitimate daughter of a rape victim. Earls, on the other hand, was born into a solidly middle-class family that had deep roots in New Orleans. Yet a few themes do recur. One is the cultural obsession with skin color among middle-class blacks, and a caste system favoring lighter complexions. Another theme is their intense empathy for less fortunate African-Americans. All six claim to understand the rage that surfaced in L.A. in 1992—seeing the riots as symptomatic of racism in American society. ``It wasn't senseless...it was the decades of brutalization,'' says Wills. The book doesn't present a full picture of the black middle class, with its diverse approaches to politics and debates about assimilation—but it doesn't claim to. Lawrence-Lightfoot presents successful people determined to remember where they—individually and as a people—came from, and she brings her formidable storytelling gifts to their lives. (Book- of-the-Month Club main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 1994

ISBN: 0-201-58120-5

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?

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



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

Did you like this book?