DISLOYAL: American Nightmare--A Son's Memoir

An effective and affecting evocation of a Kafkaesque period in US history, which caused more lasting harm than the better-remembered but shorter-lived McCarthy era. Responding to sociopolitical imperatives, President Truman signed Executive Order 9835 in March 1947. Among other things, it provided for the establishment of boards to pass on the loyalty of government employees. Journalist Bernstein's parents were caught up in the resultant witch hunts. As an official of a public workers' union, his father (an admitted leftist and sometime member of the Communist Party) defended individuals cited as traitors (by anonymous accusers) in quasi-judicial proceedings. Eventually branded a subversive, he was hounded from the labor movement and became "a reluctant capitalist," i.e., the proprietor of a neighborhood laundry in Washington, D.C. The author's mother, who had been active in progressive causes, was hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1954. All told, Executive Order 9835 drove at least 8,000 rank-and-filers from government in the seven years through 1954. Though disused from that point on, it was not rescinded until 1974 in the wake of Watergate, which, of course, enabled Bernstein to make a name for himself as an investigative reporter. Born in 1944, three months before his father went overseas with the WW II Army Air Force, the author (with almost as much exasperation as fondness) recalls childhood in a household whose ultraliberal adults were likely to take him on lunch-counter sit-ins or marches to protest the executions of the Rosenbergs. He also explores his latter-day relations with his parents, who (though shunned by many erstwhile friends) picked up the pieces and got on with their lives—dad as a fund-raiser for the National Conference of Christians & Jews, and mom as a saleswoman at a carriage-trade department store. Both parents discouraged Bernstein's inquiries (which consumed well over a decade) on grounds that a book would open old wounds and serve no particularly useful purpose. But Bernstein persevered nonetheless. While self-indulgent and disjointed in certain respects, the result of his devotion presents a moving and human record of activists who (though casualties of an American Inquisition) showed considerable grace under intolerable pressure.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1989

ISBN: 671-64942-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1989

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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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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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