Sonnon’s (Mastering Sambo for Mixed Martial Arts, 2008, etc.) autobiography-cum-self-help-guide is a tale of perseverance.
The author’s path to becoming one of the most influential martial artists of the early 21st century was by no means smooth or direct. As a child, he suffered from osteochondrosis and obesity. This, along with his severe dyslexia, affected both his coordination and learning abilities. His disabilities, misinterpreted as disruptive classroom behavior, led to him being institutionalized in a childhood psychiatric hospital. In class, he found that, unlike the other children, he could write using both hands and considered this to be his secret superpower. He dedicated the rest of his life to unearthing other hidden abilities—a way of using a perceived disability as a genetic advantage. Through study and sweat, Sonnon began to discover that his dyslexia gave him a significant edge in physical training, specifically the ability to move spontaneously. Contrary to the belief of his teachers that he should not set his expectations too high, Sonnon gained entry into university to further his interest in philosophy and martial arts. From here, he discovered the Russian martial art of Sambo, the discipline in which he would excel, becoming a five-time world champion. Sonnon is seldom slow to crow about these achievements. His time spent studying in Russia provides one of the most engaging sections of the autobiography—testament to the author’s single-mindedness in choosing to embrace Russian culture at a time when anti-Soviet tension ran high in America. In the 1990s, during his trips to Russia, he developed Thygeson’s disease, a rare eye condition that left his vision barely functional. The author’s remarkable willfulness and love of the writing drove him to continue his research while in pain. The writing is prone to prolix; quotations from other inspirational thinkers interrupt the flow, yet this book will offer hope to many struggling to face life’s challenges head-on.
Self-assured to the point of being egotistical, this is nevertheless an inspirational memoir.
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").
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)