On the 25th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's death, syndicated columnist Rogers—an old friend of the Kennedys—offers a fond, adulatory remembrance of RFK as family man. Rogers makes clear that his memoir is a ``love story''— written with the cooperation of the Kennedy family—in which he declines to address the many sensationalized allegations that journalists have made against the family (although he gently asserts that RFK's alleged affair with Marilyn Monroe did not occur). Instead, the author tries ``to capture the essence of the character, curiosity, wit, honesty, and love of family that propelled a remarkable man.'' Rogers vividly depicts a deeply religious man, profoundly devoted to his country, wife, and many children. Through many anecdotes—some genuinely amusing (a particularly ludicrous image is of dignified historian Arthur Schlesinger, in dark suit and bow tie, being ``catapulted'' into a pool at a Kennedy party)—Rogers draws a crazy-quilt picture of the chaotic family home at Hickory Hill, Virginia, headed by doting parents, filled with rambunctious small children and exotic animals, frequented by the distinguished, and animated by an endless passion for excellence. There's little discussion here of RFK as public man, except for Rogers's certainty that, had he lived, Kennedy would have been elected President in 1968 and would have profoundly altered the course of recent American history. Rogers also presents the human side of Kennedy's rivalry with Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa, showing the two to be strangely similar in many ways, but he doesn't probe into the ways that Kennedy, as as attorney general, pursued organized crime. Though generally lighthearted, the narrative takes melancholy turns with its account of RFK's severe depression after hearing of his brother's death, and with the author's eyewitness description of Kennedy's assassination after winning the 1968 California primary. A simple, affecting tribute, genuinely sentimental without descending into mawkishness.
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)