Mostly peaceful snapshots of a war in progress in the 1960s.

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Focus on Vietnam

A Vietnam veteran shares his store of images.

Burchik’s (Compass and Camera, 2014) new photography book is a sort of lush appendix to his debut work. In that volume, the author told the stories of his tour of war-ravaged Vietnam as a member of the 18th Infantry Brigade of the Army’s 1st Division. In this new book, he expands on that original story with a thick sheaf of photographs, all of them his own, all snapped during his own tour as a forward observer in 1968-69. There are many pages of village life in the south, with farmers “trying to survive in a dangerous environment.” The poses are often deceptively pacific: a peasant woman grazes her goats on a trail along a river; a small girl carries water buckets dangling from a bindle. “They seemed to make it a game,” he writes of local children rummaging through Army refuse, “as they scavenged to rescue valuable items among the things we discarded.” The section called “Weapons” features catalog-quality snaps of M-1s, M-29s, M-60s, and noncombat explosions. The section on air transport is extensive but by its nature limited: photos of airborne vehicles taken from the ground will inevitably include no contextualizing scenery. Among the most absorbing of the book’s 16 sections (they’re about six pages each) is the one devoted to servicemen fording one of the “four or five rivers each day” that many patrols were required to cross. No matter how long the reader looks, photos of Army troops conducting the everyday business of warfare—transporting arms, making phone calls, smoking on break—never quite seem less than absurd when those soldiers are simultaneously submerged up to their shoulders in muddy sluice. These are good quality snaps— several of professional grade, and well-reproduced—but their account of Burchik’s war is necessarily partial. He is not a professional journalist, and while it would have been derelict of him to photograph exchanges of gunfire or masses of casualties, without such incidents the details of the war readers are provided reflect a limited scope. America lost more than 58,000 young men and the Vietnamese lost more than 200,000. The handful of leg wounds in this collection fails to do that number justice. That said, readers already familiar with the war’s history, controversies, and body count will find much to interest and beguile them in this collection.

Mostly peaceful snapshots of a war in progress in the 1960s.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-78292-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Sharlin-K Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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