A thorough book on one of the least-explored corners of American music.



Jehle (Cigar Box Ukulele, 2016, etc.) outlines the curious history of cigar box instruments in this revised edition of his 2010 book.

The author, a longtime builder and player of cigar box guitars, dons a historian’s hat in this nonfiction work. The book, like its subject, is a something of a folk-art hodgepodge: “While I cannot promise that all the pieces are here,” writes Jehle in the foreword, “together we will assemble the disparate parts—snippets, one-line mentions, newspaper and magazine articles—into a cohesive whole.” Acknowledging the niche nature of his area of study, the author coins a term for the field: “detritomusicology, from the root words detritus and musicology.” He covers not only the cigar box guitar, but also cigar box versions of the violin, banjo, and ukulele. After a brief explanation of the origins of the cigar box itself, Jehle takes readers through a history of related instruments, from the first known artifact—a violin created sometime in the 1840s by a child musician who couldn’t afford a standard version of the instrument—to the creations of four later innovators: Edwin Forbes, Daniel Carter Beard, Satis Coleman, and Sam Kamaka Jr. After exploring the relationship between cigar box music and the wider popular culture, the author examines the evolution of the instruments by examining primary sources and diagrams dating from the late 19th century to the turn of the millennium. Jehle’s scrupulous prose demonstrates his deep respect for his subject. He quotes perhaps too extensively from his sources, giving the book an academic tone, which may not interest readers expecting more of a popular history. Even so, the work is well-researched and accompanied by many charts and illustrations, culled from old publications. Jehle manages to capture both the novelty and the artistry of cigar box instruments, and even readers with no previous interest in this curious subculture will come away with an appreciation for the ingenuity behind it.

A thorough book on one of the least-explored corners of American music.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5352-2158-0

Page Count: 422

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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