Bellow goes to Israel in 1975—not to see the sights, but to talk, listen, and learn—and returns drenched in issues ("the facts are coming out of my ears") and keen on sharing his radar-oven exposure to the crossed wires (Israeli, Arab, Russian, American) that keep the Middle East just this side of all-out conflagration. The journey itself supplies only a feathery structure and relatively little in the way of travelogue commonplaces: a planeful of wildly willful Hasidim, communings with Mount Zion and the Dead Sea ("here you die and mingle"), a wander through the Old City in search of ancient baths. Two poets, a barber, a masseur, and a child violinist offer charming cameos, but politicians and professors are the main attractions; there are intense question-and-answer sessions with Prime Minister Rabin, Abba Eban, Arab moderate Elie Kedourie (a London stop-over), and, inevitably, upon return, a date with Mr. Kissinger. Each acquaintance, occurrence or vista—from a grapevine arbor in the Greek quarter to a Chicago taxicab ride—triggers a free-associative dive into Bellow's vast "personal Israel syllabus": dozens of books, articles, white papers, and remembered interviews. The elegant paraphrases of political arguments slide into personal and literary reflections. Balzac, Baudelaire, Faulkner, Joyce, and Tolstoy hover over Jerusalem. But the real problems aren't muted by the slightly incongruous erudition, the gentle ironies, or the ever-surprising, pleasing phrasing. The West Bank, Russian and French anti-Semitism, valid Palestinian claims, and the all-important future of American Mideast policy; Bellow is overwhelmed—and occasionally rendered naive or tedious—by the seriousness of what you discover "when you leave your desk and enter life." The outing to Jerusalem and back earns him no peace of mind, and responsible readers have tough work ahead if they want to share the expedition's dry rewards.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 1976

ISBN: 0141180757

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1976

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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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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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