Hyperfocused account of General Sherman’s swath of destruction through the hotbed of the Confederacy.
While Sherman’s advance on Atlanta and subsequent March to the Sea is well-known, less well-advertised is his slog to Columbia, S.C., where his troops perhaps inadvertently but unapologetically burned down the town in what proved to be a spectacularly successful effort to demoralize the enemy. South Carolina native and historian Elmore (Columbia Civil War Landmarks, 2011) has thoroughly scoured the archives regarding these decisive few months of the Civil War, beginning in the fall of 1864, when Sherman continued his infiltration of enemy territory after the fall of Atlanta, marching to the sea in a display to “make Georgia howl,” all the while foraging liberally from the land, avoiding Confederate lures into battle and keeping the Rebel army guessing where he would strike next, Charleston or Columbia. Elmore evenhandedly reports on both sides of the conflict—e.g., he ably shows how Sherman continually instructed his confident troops in the art of foraging, which may strike modern ears as remarkably respectful in a time of war, yet he was also not averse to turning a blind eye to the federals’ urge for taking revenge on the “traitor state.” Sherman moved with astonishingly little resistance through the swampy land, turning railroad ties into “Sherman hairpins” and ravaging the countryside, keeping an eye on the prize: Columbia, the manufacturing and rail hub of the Confederacy. Abandoned by the Rebels, the defenseless city was taken and set ablaze on February 17, 1865; cheering blacks lined the streets to welcome the conquerors with plenty of liquor and food. Elmore also provides extensive appendices, including a chronology of events, organization of opposing forces and a short essay, “Did Sherman wish to spare Charleston?”
Comprehensive and densely detailed—too much so for general readers, but sure to please Civil War buffs.
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").
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)