An emotionally affecting and historically instructive trio of remembrances.



Neill (Two Years of Wonder, 2018, etc.) investigates his late grandfather’s military service during World War II, in an attempt to better understand him.

Robert Lewis Fowler was always an elusive figure. Although he could be gregarious and loving, he also had a darker side, Neill says, and could be a “careless, reckless, belligerent drunk.” The author’s grandfather served in the Second World War and often candidly discussed the extraordinary experiences he had during that time, and after some cajoling, he finally wrote a short unpublished memoir about them. After he died in 2006, Neill felt driven to investigate his grandpa’s life, and to come to grips with the ways in which he was disappointing: “I had to delve into the words he had left me, study the context of the time, and read into the subtext of all he had left us in his memoir.” The author reproduces his grandfather’s recollections, which recount his decision to join the Nebraska National Guard in 1937, when he was anxious to escape “the privation of the failed farms and job shortages.” He eventually fought in France with the 35th Infantry Division in 1944, and he bravely participated in the battle for Saint-Lô, a victory that proved “pivotal” for the liberation of France and the triumph of the Allied powers on the western front. Neill also offers his own account of his independent research, and of times that he spent with his grandfather. In the process of further study about the war, Neill came across the memoir of another veteran, Gordon Edward Cross; he includes it here, as well, noting that Cross’ “lyrical style” offered a perspective that Fowler’s more “terse” prose didn’t capture. Neill offers a compilation of material that’s eclectically unconventional, and, despite its sundry elements, it comes together as an emotionally coherent whole. His commentary is literary and exceedingly thoughtful, even in its digressions; for example, he discusses his own yearslong infatuation with the work of Jack Kerouac and his final disillusionment with the artists of the Beat Generation. He also tells of how he came to understand the deep-seated contempt that some World War II veterans harbored for younger generations, including their own children: “It was born of their own displaced pain, born of loss, born of trauma. These angry fathers, counter-protesting in their uniforms, were protesting their own lost youth.” Both of the military memoirs are remarkable on their own; indeed, the elder Fowler’s meticulous, matter-of-fact descriptions somehow make the subject matter’s gruesomeness more vivid: “I rushed over to him and saw that a piece of shrapnel had gone through his mouth from the front and had gone through the throat and was in the back of his neck. He bled to death in a matter of a few seconds.” Overall, this is a moving book—a sensitively and lovingly constructed account that lacks even a whiff of false sentimentality. Neill also includes dozens of captivating photos, taken by Cross during the war.

An emotionally affecting and historically instructive trio of remembrances.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73095-973-8

Page Count: 289

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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