The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 5, 1986 · Page 36
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 36

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Sunday, January 5, 1986
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Page 36
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The SaUna Journal Entertainment Sunday, January 5,1986 Page 4 Truman'novel chronicles Missouri politics By WALTER GOODMAN The New York Times TRUMAN. The Rise to Power. By Richard Lawrence Miller. 536 pages. McGraw-Hill. $19.95. This much everyone knows about Harry Truman: He made his way up in Missouri politics, and so into the White House, by courtesy of Tom Pendergast's machine. But even while consorting with some of the less wholesome elements of Kansas City, he managed to. Review stay clear of the sort of activities that in tune sent the boss and several of his cronies to jail. Richard Lawrence Miller's new book is not likely to change that assessment. What it does do, in rather more detail than the general reader may find absorbing or care to absorb, is to describe the future president's business and political dealings before anybody outside Missouri or many people in his own state had heard of him. If "The Rise to Power" is not an expose, neither is it a revelation of character. The Truman here is the man we have met in previous biographies — a small-town striver, hard-working and self-educated, an energetic joiner, one of the boys at the poker table, a middle-level pol who was not above low-level deals, an unlucky businessman fated to build up debts and determined to pay them. Truman's part in the Pendergast machine's operations seems to have been limited pretty much to patronage ar- Harry Truman makes a speech. rangements, helping party hangers-on find places at the public trough. Miller reports that he "played a key role in maintaining the Pendergast control of lif e in Jackson County after 1926. He not only knew of the machine's illegalities but participated in some of them." Miller goes on, however, to offer evidence that the young man was uncomfortable with some of his deeds, relatively mild though they were. "Truman was a practical man and used the machine to get what he wanted. His private memoranda of that era show a troubled conscience praying that the ends would justify the means." Money was always much on his mind. His want of it was one reason for the length of his courtship of Bess Wallace. His business problems are related in daunting detail. They included the bankruptcy of his haberdashery store in Independence ("lost all I had and all I could borrow") and a messy episode selling stocks and insurance. ("My private business has gone to pot so that I'll be worse than a pauper when I'm done.") Truman was luckier at politics. Afflicted with an abiding loyalty to old pals, he played the patronage game even while in the Senate. At the same time, however, Miller shows, he retained a strong sense of his own worth and public integrity. Evidence that arms contractors, bankers and utility companies were getting rich while young men were dying in battle got his temper up. (His service in the Army in World War I was an experience he treasured.) His effective investigations of war profiteers as chairman of a Senate subcommittee brought him public attention — and the vice presidency. Compared to his immediate predecessor and his successors in the White House, Truman comes through as a strikingly uncomplicated and forthright personality, a model of mental health. He knew his own mind and to a remarkable degree in official Washington, he spoke it. Miller, who has produced programs for National Public Radio, is described on the book jacket as being the son of a "county patronage politician" in the Kansas City area, whose "livelihood depended on courthouse intrigue and electioneering." That may explain the author's fascination with the details of infighting over obscure county jobs, but it does not explain his prose, with its taste for the vernacular, or the juvenile tone of his observations once he leaves Missouri politics. Here he is on the major international problem of the 1930s: "Hitler's diplomatic triumphs in that period had little to do with his bellicosity, but were achieved because the European diplomatic corps felt Germany had legitimate beefs. The great debate was whether Hitler was seeking fair play." Miller tells us that unlike "the upper- class striped-pants diplomats," Truman ' 'had dealt with creeps like Hitler in politics, and had him spotted for what he was." Now and then, Miller grows argumentative, and we seem to be reading a tabloid editorial page. Taking on those, like Truman, who criticized unions for striking during the war, he writes: "All this was a bum rap. All of it. The civilian population didn't care that there was a war on? Didn't notice those fellows missing from the neighborhood, or see those gold stars in the windows? The men on strike didn't care about their sons? The women (who, Truman warned, might seek to retain their jobs in peacetime) didn't care about their brothers and husbands? " Many passages of this long book can be skipped with benefit. Finally, the main contribution of "The Rise to Power" lies in the accumulated details of Missouri politicking in the bad old days. The book also illuminates in the dogged figure of Harry Truman some of the debits and assets of smalltown America of his tune. The knowledge of men gained in his early years showed up in the shrewd toughness that he brought to the White House. 'Out of Africa' should give movie addicts big boost ISV OOIS IrHJMAO Ci:«. r~\ n «.,_ 'Ci:« A U U„*-*„— _______________ _|^___ ?""|^HHR -A milnarnVlla Vat*0n Rllvan nritVt CHStVt Hffnlilr Dnnmnn nn V>n« Imrnl cif\wr*T Review By BOB THOMAS Associated Press Writer There comes a time in movie addicts' lives when their souls cry out for the kind of film that can fill the screen with magnificent vistas, grand passions and charismatic actors. That's why the arrival of "Out of Africa" is cause for cheering. We have starved for the kind of movie-making, best epitomized in the works of David Lean, that realizes all the potentialities of the film medium. The saga of Danish storyteller Isak Dinesen has eluded filmmakers for years. No one could discover how to fashion a screenplay from the mass of material surrounding her life — biographies and autobiographies and her own fiction. Producer-director Sydney Pollack and writer Kurt Luendke apparently have drawn from a variety of sources to relate the author's African experiences, and particularly her adulterous love affair with the dashing British Quinn back on road LOS ANGELES (AP) - Anthony Quinn is resuming his role in an 18-city tour of the stage musical "Zorba" after a six-month rest. flier, Denys Finch-Hatton. Karen Dinesen (her real name) arrives in Nairobi for a loveless marriage to Baron Blor Blixen. He supplies the title, she brings her family money. They settle on a Kenya farm and she tries to raise coffee while he chases after wild game and other women. After a while, Karen is drawn to the attractive, elusive adventurer, Finch-Hatton. When he induces her to join his safari, the inevitable happens. Their idyll is interrupted by World War I, when the British mobilize against the threat of the Germans just across the border. Karen demonstrates her courage Best sellers Streep Redford like a Hemingway hero, but her exploits do not endear her to the male British colonists. "Out of Africa" provides another great role for the ever- astonishing Meryl Streep. Could any other actress portray the prickly, prideful, deep-thinking, vulnerable Karen Blixen with such fidelity, infusing the screen with her luminous presence? Doubtful. The appearance of Robert Redford in a new film has become an event, and he should please his idolizing fans in "Out of Africa." It isn't a major role — he is scarcely seen in the first hour — but he plays the pivotal role in calmly confident style. The scene in which he gives Streep a shampoo in the wilds is likely to remain in the dreams of millions of women. Klaus Maria Brandauer plays the wayward husband with admirable understatement, and fine work is done by Michael Kitchen as Karen's faithful friend and Malik Bowens as her loyal servant, Farah. Cinematographer David Watkins affords staggeringly lovely views of African landscapes. However, Pollack never allows the animals to upstage the human actors. If "Out of Africa" falls short of greatness, its fault lies in the politeness of one and all. Except for a brief argument between Streep and Redford, everyone remains deucedly civil. You find yourself hoping that someone — anyone — would just stand up and yell. Rated PG, possibly because of adult themes. N.Y. Times News Service (Last week's ratings in parentheses) FICTION 1. The Mammoth Hunters, Jean Auel (2) 2. Lake Woebegon Days, Garrison Keillor (1) 3. Texas, JamesMichener(3) 4. Contact, CarlSagan(4) 5. Secrets, Danielle Steel (5) 6. Skeleton Crew, Stephen King (8) 7. Galapagos, KurtVonnegut(6) 8. The Polar Express, Chris van Allsburg (7) 9. The Secrets of Harry Bright, Joseph Wambaugh(lO) 10. World's Fair, E.L.Doctorow(12) 11. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, RobertA.Heinlein(9) 12. What's Bred in the Bone, Robertson Davies (13) 13. The Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler (11) 14. London Match, LenDeighton(14) 15. Lucky, Jackie Collins (15) NON-FICTION 1. lacocca: An Autobiography, Lee lacocca with William Novak (2) 2. Yeager: An Autobiography, Chuck Yeager and Leo Janos (1) 3.1 Never Played the Game, Howard CoseU with Peter Bonventre (3) 4. On the Road with Charles Kuralt, Charles Kuralt (4) 5. Dancing In the Light, Shirley Mac- Laine (6) 6. Elvis and Me, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (5) 7. House, TracyKidder(7) 8. You Can Fool All of the People All of the Time, ArtBuchwald(12) 9. Shoot Low, Boys — They're Riding' Shetland Ponies, LewisGrizzard(9) 10. Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams with MaryAlinder(S) 11. Only One Woof, James Herriot (11) 12. A Light in the Attic, ShelSilverstein (14) 13. Made in America, Peter Ueberroth with Richard Levin and Amy Quinn (10) 14. Comet, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan (-) 15. Charles and Diana, Ralph G. Martin (15) ADVICE, HOW-TO, MISC. 1. The Be (Happy) Attitudes, Robert Schuller(l) 2. Fit for Life, Harvey Diamond and Marilyn Diamond (2) 3. The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith (3) 4. Jane Brody's Good Food Book, Jane E.Brody(4) 5. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (5) New books at the Salina Public Library Living with the Kennedys, Marcia Chellis Re-Inventing the Corporation, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene Common Ground, J. Anthony Lukas The Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler Depths of Glory, Irving Stone

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