An enthusiastic but unpolished examination of a 19th-century radical.




A debut biography of a women’s rights activist draws heavily on her writings.

In this work, Savion (Quotes to Start the Day, 2016, etc.) presents a series of short excerpts from the writings of Matilda Joslyn Gage, a suffrage leader, abolitionist, and feminist intellectual of the 19th century, accompanying each quotation with a brief explanation. The quotes are arranged thematically, with labels like “On Tactics,” “On Religion,” “On Freedom,” “On Slavery,” and “On Economics” heading each section. The author offers biographical information when explicating the quotes. For example, a part titled “On Women’s Rights” tells readers: “Matilda credits her father for her life-long desire for justice and equality for all. Matilda was involved in the women’s movement from 1852 until her death in 1898.” The text provides a high-level look at Gage’s major achievements and the enthusiasms that drove her to write a treatise on women’s role in religion and a multivolume history of the suffrage movement in the United States. Savion explores a wide range of events in Gage’s life, including her relationship with her son-in-law L. Frank Baum, her analysis of women’s roles in the politics and society of the Iroquois Confederacy, and her embrace of the sacred feminine in religious tradition. While the author is clearly knowledgeable about her subject, who provides a wealth of material for biographers, the book’s writing and presentation substantially limit its effectiveness. There are internal inconsistencies (“Matilda was affiliated with Unitarianism”; “Though not a Unitarian herself”) and errors of oversimplification (a photo caption describes the Gage house as “one of only two stops on the Underground Railroad,” making it unclear that it was one of two within Gage’s hometown). While many of the quotes are attributed to specific writings, a substantial portion is not, and there are no citations provided for photographs or information provided in the explanatory text. Attempts to engage with Gage’s abolition work are cringe-inducing (“And as far as the Negro was concerned, one of Matilda’s eldest daughter’s memories was that of a black man on his knees before her mother, thanking her for a chance of life and liberty”). And the book’s disjointed structure, with most sections less than two pages, leads to the repetition of minor details and prevents a thorough, coherent, or accurate analysis of the complex topics involved.

 An enthusiastic but unpolished examination of a 19th-century radical.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68256-737-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2017

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


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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