THE LEVELING WIND

POLITICS, THE CULTURE, AND OTHER NEWS, 1990-1994

Another 175 pieces of Will's lively, inquiring mind. In his fifth collection (Restoration, 1992, etc.) of short- take commentaries (drawn largely from work published in Newsweek and the Washington Post over the past four years), the syndicated columnist addresses a wealth of consequential issues. To a great extent, however, Will's varied pieces are linked by his concern about the chill, leveling winds of cultural change now whistling through contemporary American society. Informed by a classically conservative sensibility, the author inveighs against the epidemic of illegitimate births, promotion of group (rather than individual) rights, the desensitizing effects of represented violence, the politicization of education, the coarsening of popular entertainment, and the socioeconomic costs of urban decay. Other targets of opportunity include George Bush (who, Will feels, Desert Storm notwithstanding, effectively squandered Ronald Reagan's legacy), Bill Clinton (whose on-again/off-again liberalism earns him comparison with Henry of Navarre, one of history's slicker chameleons), quota systems (whether ethnic, racial, or sexual), interventionist government, Patrick Buchanan, political agendas tarted up to pass as civil rights, the proliferation of victim status, and academe's tenured radicals. If Will finds considerable fault with the latter-day US, he does not ignore the plus side of the ledger altogether (noting at one point that journalists seldom report on all the planes that land safely). By way of example, he celebrates many of the dedicated individuals who work with underclass kids on the mean streets of inner cities that have long since lost their alabaster gleam. The Pulitzer Prizewinning author also has kind words for meritocracy (wherever observed), free trade, traditional family values, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson (whom he designates the man of the millennium), Harry Truman, and other icons whose libertarian appeal may not be readily apparent to casual students of ideology. Articulately partisan critiques of the volatile and evolving state of the union.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-86021-2

Page Count: 446

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more