A sentimental but unfulfilling portrait.



Debut author Sebban draws on her mother’s recently discovered diary in a series of stories that explore life in 1950s Israel from the perspective of a Jewish graduate student.

The author, a former journalist for the Australian Jewish News, explores her mother’s time in Israel in a series of tales that she calls “creative non-fiction.” Her mother, Naomi Moldofsky (née Gross), would later become an acclaimed economist at the University of Melbourne, but in these chapters, the author focuses exclusively on Moldofsky’s year’s as a 20-something, single, Jewish academic. Apart from family and friends, and economists interested in details pertaining to Moldofsky’s intellectual development at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, most readers will be interested in what these stories reveal about 1950s Israeli life and culture. Having spent most of her formative years in Australia, Moldofsky provides a perspective from the “Australian eyes” of a Jewish “outsider.” Her eyewitness account of “Arab terrorists…caught in the market,” her interactions with refugees from Yemen, and her grappling with moral quandaries associated with Zionism and ethnic violence will appeal to anyone interested in life in that country and era. Similarly, as a socially active, single woman who ran in Israeli intellectual circles, Moldofsky often crossed paths with well-known cultural, social, and political figures, such as theater director Shmuel Bunim. However, this brief book doesn’t provide much context about Moldofsky’s personal or family history, with the exception of sporadic anecdotes. Indeed, it’s not made clear why she left a stable job, security, and her family in Australia to go to Israel in the first place, as after her arrival there, she frequently laments her financial straits and expresses fears of violence. Although she’s revealed in these stories to have rejected 1950s-era expectations regarding women’s roles, and to have run in sophisticated circles, Sebban offers readers no clear sense of Moldofsky’s political ideology, her views on Zionism, her religious devotion, or her passions—factors that would have given readers a better idea of who she was as a person.

A sentimental but unfulfilling portrait.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946124-29-6

Page Count: 98

Publisher: Mazo Publishers

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2018

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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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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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