An evenhanded, tasteful, just-the-facts time capsule of one American soldier’s Vietnam experience.

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COMPASS AND A CAMERA

A YEAR IN VIETNAM

First-time author Burchik recounts his 1968-1969 tour of duty during the Vietnam War—service he documented exhaustively with his photography talents.

Many Vietnam War books, particularly memoirs, can be bitterly agenda-driven, determined to take an edgy political position while offering emotional catharsis of the Born on the Fourth of July (1976) kind. Veteran-turned-author Burchik’s plainly told ’Nam flashback is a breath of fresh air (as opposed to “the smell of Napalm in the morning”). Only in the epilogue do readers get an understanding of how this narrative came to be: Burchik, an avid photographer, made thousands of images on black-and-white and color film during his 12-month tour of duty, material he only recently finessed into slide-show presentations. The book’s easy-flowing, natural structure came out of his penning detailed, chronological captions for what his impassive lens captured, complemented by the regular letters he wrote home to his future wife. The book, though illustrated with Burchik’s snaps, is not a picture album but rather a solid record of the New Yorker’s volunteering for the military (growing up in a milieu of Catholic Eastern European refugees, he was strictly anti-Communist) and arriving in Vietnam in the summer of 1968 to find U.S. forces embroiled in a frustrating war of attrition. No ground was gained as Viet Cong and Americans nibbled away at each other in furtive ambushes and mortar attacks. The corruption of South Vietnamese forces led to regular looting of the villages they were supposed to be protecting, turning the countryside’s sympathies to the enemy. Meanwhile, the American public’s support was flagging (the author welcomed Nixon’s election, feeling that Tricky Dick had a plan). Burchik writes warmly of the Vietnamese people although sparingly about their history that led to this war. The most action Burchik saw seems to have come in the early months of 1969, as a VC-inflicted injury on the platoon leader got the author promoted to acting sergeant; his biggest kill was dropping an angry water buffalo. Although complimented by a superior and offered, in desultory fashion, a chance to “re-up” and become a career officer, Burchik was glad to get out of Vietnam on schedule, feeling as though it was only through luck that his 12 months in country ended without injury. Some readers may wish for the Sturm und Drang that other war memoirs have made of death and battle, while others might appreciate the unfiltered, reasoned point of view of a humble foot soldier in an unpopular conflict.

An evenhanded, tasteful, just-the-facts time capsule of one American soldier’s Vietnam experience.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692276297

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Sharlin-K Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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