A sometimes-engaging but unfocused work that delves into inter-religious connections.




An exploration of salvation and symbolism in religion from prehistory to the modern day. 

Sunderland’s debut begins by asking why there’s an ancient Egyptian obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the very heart of the Catholic Church. Does it truly represent Catholicism’s dominance over pagan ideas, or was it a subversive symbol of the heliocentric theory of the solar system, once maligned by the church? The book then settles into a thorough discussion of religion and divinity. Sunderland makes compelling points about the connections between Christian and Egyptian religions, including the similarity between Jesus Christ and Amun-Re, the monotheistic Egyptian god. The book also abounds with other, less central, insights; for example, in a section about Christianity in the Middle Ages, Sunderland observes, “This darkness is reflected in the loss of civilised culture and in the neglect, by the Roman Catholic Church, of those social outsiders with whom Jesus Christ would have most identified.” The author poses three questions that unite and divide humans across time and religion: “Where did we come from? Why are we here? What happens when we die?” However, he spends so much time on how specific religions would answer these questions that he often seems to lose focus on the initial premise: the obelisk and its connections to Christianity. By Chapter 12, the book has worked its way back to the obelisk, but the chapters before it often feel tangential and disconnected. Instead of layering the argument, the book frequently overloads readers with heavily condensed, brand-new information. Some sentences lack sufficient context, such as, “The criteria of discontinuity, embarrassment, rejection and execution are analysed against six primary sources…to reveal Jesus the man as a valid historical figure.” As a result, readers will have trouble identifying what each new term means, and which ideas will be important later in the book.

A sometimes-engaging but unfocused work that delves into inter-religious connections. 

Pub Date: May 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-925442-55-7

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Vivid Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

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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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