Less vivid and detailed than the five earlier volumes in the ``Everyday Life in America'' series (Harvey Green's The Uncertainty of Everyday Life 1915-1945, etc.), this last installment emphasizes diversity of American experience during the transitional 18th century. During the 1700's, America grew from ten colonies on the Eastern seaboard, consisting of a quarter-million people preoccupied with survival and their European origins, to 16 states expanding westward, consisting of five million citizens developing a national identity. Here, Wolf (Research Fellow/University of Pennsylvania) is concerned with the commonplace experiences that made up that identity: the organization of daily life and of private time; the habits, attitudes, and occupations of ordinary people—their entertainments and responsibilities, what they ate and wore, and how they furnished their homes. Grouping people by families, occupations, and communities, Wolf also distinguishes them according to class and geography: New England Puritans, Middle Atlantic farmers, Southern plantation owners, Native Americans, African-Americans, pioneers, craftsmen, merchants, and professionals. In a chapter called ``The Invention of Childhood,'' the author's awareness of the diversity of experience is especially revealing, emphasizing the different conceptions of children—from the ``pets'' of the Virginia aristocracy to the laboring children of German immigrants. Wolf concludes by studying community as neighborhood and as network, the development of communications, and the role of the Church in regulating communal life. Using diaries, magazines, and letters, Wolf does some historical housekeeping here, setting things in order, polishing, arranging, and simplifying. A useful resource.
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)