A book about a former Buchenwald inmate that offers a powerful treatise on inner strength.

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Yishar Koach: Forward with Strength

THE STORY OF SHOAH SURVIVOR FERDINAND J. FRAGNER

A debut biography of a Holocaust survivor delivers a detailed tribute to a remarkable individual.

In her acknowledgements, the author states candidly: “an evaluator by profession, I occasionally longed to write a book about someone’s life rather than an evaluation of someone’s program.” Despite meeting Ferdinand “Fred” Fragner only twice, Sloan felt that his story “cried out to be told and remembered.” Fred was born in 1915 in Nový Ji ?ín, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in the Czech Republic. The son of a diamond cutter, he was raised in a prosperous family, until tragically orphaned at age 14. He then became a street urchin, honing skills that would later prove vital in the face of Nazi oppression. Miraculously, he completed his education and enrolled in Charles University in Prague, beginning a dissertation on clinical psychology. During this time, Hitler started annexing Czechoslovakia. Forever courageous, Fred joined an underground movement drilled to disrupt Nazi military activity. After three years, he was shot, captured, and shipped to Buchenwald. His five years at the Nazi concentration camp is a deeply affecting recollection of “humans doing inhuman things.” He speaks of a 16-year-old boy forced to hang his parents, and of his own best friend being shot randomly by an SS officer, an event that evoked lifelong nightmares. The author’s admiration for her subject is palpable throughout, to the extent that it is possible to imagine her lovingly transcribing Fred’s video and audio interviews. His voice always remains central, delivering many timely messages: “There is much hatred because people haven’t yet learned how to respect each other, how to love each other sometimes in spite of each other, to respect [each other’s] rights, to respect differences and respect and find ways of resolving troubles in talking with each other.” This tender biography’s scholarly credibility wavers at times when the author draws information from Wikipedia or TV documentaries such as Histories of the Holocaust, sources that hold little weight in a serious intellectual context. There is also a tendency to repeat information unnecessarily, such as Fred speaking “fluent German.” These are perhaps forgivable slip-ups for a new writer that could be rectified by a thorough edit. Still, this remains a well-written and thoroughly researched volume that should prove an important addition to the Holocaust canon.

A book about a former Buchenwald inmate that offers a powerful treatise on inner strength.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9976586-0-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Village Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 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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