LIFE SENTENCES

RAGE AND SURVIVAL BEHIND BARS

Strong and disturbing investigative reporting, with a cruel twist: Rideau and Wikberg are both serving life sentences for murder, and do their reporting in The Angolite, the newspaper published by inmates at Louisiana's state prison at Angola. Drawn from the past 15 years or so of The Angolite—which Rideau, a former Death Row inmate, has edited since 1975—the 24 pieces collected here constitute a forceful insider-indictment of our prison system, comparable to the early work of Eldridge Cleaver or Jack Henry Abbott. The writing, much by Rideau, is skilled and the topics volatile—e.g., prison rape, analyzed by Rideau in his 1979 article ``The Sexual Jungle'': ``The act of rape in the ultramasculine world of prison constitutes the ultimate humiliation visited upon the male, the forcing of him to assume the role of a woman.'' Or the problem of long-term prisoners who, forgotten by the outside world and numbed to prison existence, languish their lives away behind bars—exposed in the unsigned and moving ``Conversations with the Dead.'' Expectedly, as a house organ, The Angolite doesn't offer balanced reporting: Little blame is assigned to cons, much to an increasingly—the authors say—retributive society; and some of the pieces here deal with relatively parochial subjects (e.g., the retirement of Angola's warden), while others read like simple filler (a short piece about the filming of a TV- movie at the prison). Still, articles on the desolation of dying of old age in prison, the history of methods of execution in America, and the degradation of life on Death Row more than compensate for the floss. As one writer points out here, the US ``possesses the highest confinement rate in the world''—making a passionate, intelligent, informed report like this, no matter its bias, important reading for all concerned with the state of American justice. (Photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: July 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8129-1987-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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