Lives up in every way to the power of its almost magical subject.

READ REVIEW

THE HEARTLESS STONE

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD OF DIAMONDS, DECEIT, AND DESIRE

Sparkling debut from adventuresome journalist Zoellner, who traveled the world to tell the dirty, glorious and sometime bloody story of diamonds.

When his fiancée returned her engagement ring, the author’s disappointment led to a meditation about the stone it held. Where do diamonds come from? His account of journeys undertaken to answer that question suggests it’s better not to know. From mining to manufacturing, trading to smuggling, marketing to purchasing, it’s difficult to find a single stage in a diamond’s provenance not riven with exploitation, deceit, suffering or delusion. The hardest substance found in nature, a girl’s best friend, the jewel in any potentate’s crown, an essential accoutrement of today’s rapper, diamonds have historically exerted a fascination and power out of proportion to their scarcity (they’re not particularly rare) or intrinsic worth. Zoellner explores how we pour our values—for a variety of reasons economic and romantic—into these glittering rocks. First excavated in India, diamond deposits have since been discovered in South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Angola, even Arkansas. With on-the-spot reporting from each of these locales and detailed portraits of individuals whose lives have been shaped by the quest for and business of diamonds, Zoellner follows a tortured trail all the way to the ring finger of an expectant bride. En route, he offers fascinating details about the geology, craftsmanship, advertising, economics and politics surrounding the gems. Looming over the tale is the specter of De Beers, the giant cartel whose long, ruthless grip on the industry has only just begun to loosen as a result of newfound natural deposits and increasing competition from makers of synthetic diamonds. Perhaps all those sordid details he acquired helped Zoellner, four years after his heartbreak, finally decide to sell back his engagement ring to a jeweler.

Lives up in every way to the power of its almost magical subject.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-33969-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more