In 1960 Miles Davis was on top of the jazz world. With five brilliant albums in the previous three years (three with Gil Evans, Milestones and Kind of Blue), he was in great demand and winning many jazz polls. But life caught up with him; for the next four years he had to deal with problem after problem as he tried to recruit the right musicians for his next band.The first crisis was the departure of John Coltrane. Although this wasn’t a great surprise to him, Davis took four years to find an acceptable replacement. He tried out at least eight saxophone players (Jimmy Heath, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Frank Strozier, George Coleman, Rocky Boyd, and Sam Rivers) before getting the right one--Wayne Shorter.
Albert Jaern’s And Then Came the Liberators Of the many books on the Nazi occupation of Norway from 1940-1945, Albert Jaern’s 1945 book of woodcuts, And Then Came the Liberators, does as well as any in conveying the experience. The 102 woodcuts depict Jaern’s everyday experiences as an Oslo native from April 8, 1940, when all the lights went out except those in the German consulate, to May 7 five years later, when peace was announced. Each woodcut is accompanied by a short prose comment. Sixty-six years later Borderland Books published a superb new version.
It’s over 30 years since this autobiography was published, but Michael Meyer’s “literary and theatrical memoirs” are still of great interest, especially to those interested in mid-twentieth-century drama. He found little success as a creative writer (plays, novel, poems), but as a biographer and translator of both Ibsen and Strindberg he achieved worldwide success. His Ibsen biography was especially praised (George Steiner: “A major achievement”) while his translations at the time of this book’s publication were “on average…staged or broadcast somewhere in the world every four or five days.”
This 2011 book begs this question: Another book on Churchill? After the acclaimed work of Martin Gilbert and Roy Jenkins, any new book on Churchill had to be good, and it had to provide new material or a new approach. Max Hastings, with many fine books to his name, took up the challenge with Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945. Though clearly an admirer of the great man—and who couldn’t be?—Hastings doesn’t shy away from Churchill’s imperfections. He is especially effective in capturing the two sides of the leader’s character: the belligerent, determined side and the sensitive, caring side that often brought him to tears at a time when male tears were taboo.