An information-packed reference for writers and researchers, and an addictive, thought-provoking browse for ordinary mortals.



The lives aren’t always notable but the deaths are eminently quotable in this engrossing dictionary of final soliloquies.

Yes, Nathan Hale did say, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” (though he apparently cribbed the line from a Cato biography). And, no, Oscar Wilde did not die spouting witticisms about the wallpaper; in one of history’s great anti-climaxes, he expired with an inarticulate gurgle. These are among the intriguing and error-evading factoids that librarians, writers and editors will glean in this well-organized, meticulously researched reference tome. In each alphabetically ordered article, Brahms (Notable Last Facts, 2005) includes an engaging biographical snippet complete with circumstances of death, lists every attested version of the subject’s last spoken and written thoughts (with full source citations) and politely tags apocryphal quotations as “doubtful.” The more than 3,500 entries run the gamut, from Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and Elijah to the lowliest of condemned wise-acres. (“I am sorry for the mistake, but this is the first time I’ve been beheaded,” cracks British miscreant Alexander Blackwell after misaligning his head on the block.) In between there are valedictories from statesmen and geniuses, a generous helping of wounded Civil War soldiers’ dying visions—the most poetic is Stonewall Jackson’s “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees”—and many pious, long-winded last gasps of medieval saints and kings. The book rewards the casual reader as much as the professional fact-finder or trivia junkie. Death in all its guises—peaceful, agonizing, tiresome (“I’m bored with it all,” sighs Winston Churchill)—is vividly sketched. Lives are encapsulated: Chekhov departs with the quintessentially Chekhovian “I haven’t drunk champagne for a long time;” Tallulah Bankhead’s “Codeine…bourbon,” sums up quite pithily. And the great existential questions are addressed—never more profoundly than when jazzman Glenn Miller, boarding a doomed flight, wonders, “Where the hell are the parachutes?”

An information-packed reference for writers and researchers, and an addictive, thought-provoking browse for ordinary mortals.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0976532521

Page Count: 680

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

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



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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