A wide-ranging memoir of an active and momentous life.

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CELLINI

FREEDOM FIGHTER

A nonagenarian inventor and operative recounts a dramatic life.

In this debut memoir, co-written with Prodger (Luftwaffe vs. RAF, 1998, etc.), Cellini leads readers through the globe-spanning series of adventures that made up his life. Born in New York and raised in Italy, Cellini was something of a juvenile delinquent before being drafted into the Italian army. He soon deserted and joined a partisan unit, taking part in their guerilla warfare until Italy was liberated. He then went to work for the Office of Strategic Services, helping to fight the black market that arose during World War II while also taking part in illicit transactions of his own. After the war, Cellini returned to the United States, accompanied by his cousin Franci, whom he married soon after arriving. As he moved from one factory job to another, his innate mechanical aptitude allowed him to create inventions and develop improvements, and Cellini ended up with more than a dozen patents to his name. He also formed connections around the world, leading him to work for the Nicaraguan government in the 1970s, carry out negotiations with Italian organized crime in the ’80s, and design a gun stabilizer for the U.S. military. The book is illustrated with both historical photographs and contemporary images. The author’s exploits sometimes verge on the picaresque, but the reader is always left with a clear sense of the danger Cellini often found himself facing, and even in the book’s most intimate scenes, violence is never far away. Cellini and Prodger have an eye for the small moments that make up this wide-ranging narrative (“Franci has left them alone with their grappa and their memories but with her impeccable sense of timing she recognizes the need to interrupt with espresso”), and although Cellini’s recollections make up the bulk of the story, it is also well-researched, with plenty of substantiating detail and further information about the many well-known figures he encountered. Cellini tells a fascinating story and keeps the reader enthralled and engaged despite the book’s length.

A wide-ranging memoir of an active and momentous life.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943492-38-1

Page Count: 558

Publisher: ELM Grove Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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