Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005

By LJ Staff

Arts

Beene, Geoffrey & others. Beene by Beene. Vendome, dist. by Abrams. 2005. 205p. photogs. ISBN 0-86565-162-0. $65. FINE ARTS

Late American fashion designer Beene (1927 – 2004) was admired for his disciplined, impishly intelligent clothes, traits that sum up his own approach to the industry that made him famous. It is no surprise, then, that this lush tribute should be restrained and unpretentious yet always display a glimmer of wit. As with many fashion tomes, the clothes are sometimes exasperatingly difficult to see (though in some cases they are shown to great effect on moving dancers) and the text oblique. Tapping the writing talents of Marylou Luther (editor, International Fashion Syndicate), Vanity Fair columnist James Wolcott, and Pamela A. Parmal (curator, textile & fashion arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) does, however, raise the bar. Beene led a colorful and innovative life during which he traveled the world, dressed first ladies, and indefatigably practiced his craft – all aspects of the designer captured in this work. Recommended for fashion collections.Prudence Peiffer, Cambridge, MA

Casas Grandes and the Ceramic Art of the Ancient Southwest. Yale Univ. 2005. 208p. ed. by Richard F. Townsend. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 0-300-11148-7. $45. FINE ARTS

The pottery of the Casas Grandes – Paquime area of northwest Mexico (Chihuahua area) and parts of New Mexico and Arizona is considered among the most advanced in the world. Ancient Indians created a diverse ceramic art form in this area between 1200 and 1400 C.E. The symbolic imagery and distinctive local styles of this region bear an unmistakable "Southwestern" character, reflecting affinities with ancient Mesoamerica but retaining their distinctive local styles. Simple shapes are covered with complex geometrical designs and sometimes bold abstract animal and human figures. Compiled by Townsend (curator, African & Amerindian art, Art Inst. of Chicago), Ken Kokrda, a potter and expert on Casas Grandes pottery, and Barbara Moulard (art history, Arizona State Univ.), this book accompanies an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago from April 2 to June 18, 2006, that assembles works from several museums and private collections. The book compares favorably with the relatively few other books on the topic, which are not as extensive, focus on imagery only, or cover recent pottery developments in the area. With a time line, bibliography, beautiful color plates, and essays written for general audiences as well as academic readers, this book offers what we have come to expect from Yale publications: quality at an affordable cost. Recommended for academic libraries, large public libraries, and specialized Southwestern or Mexican art and/or culture collections.Sylvia Andrews, Butler Univ., Indianapolis

The Elements of Style: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail. Firefly. 2005. 592p. ed. by Stephen Calloway. photogs. index. ISBN 1-55407-079-1. $75. ARCHITECTURE

Calloway (curator of prints, Victoria and Albert Museum), assisted by a dozen other style experts from both sides of the Atlantic, addresses the concerns of amateur and professional preservationists with the new edition of this guide to period styles in Great Britain and the United States from the Renaissance to the present. Each chapter begins with a concise overview of a period style (e.g., Colonial, Baroque, Edwardian Beaux Arts) and is followed by pages teeming with illustrations of representative doors, windows, fireplaces, and other structural/decorative elements. The stylistic analyses are sometimes questionable – e.g., Wright’s Robie House as Art Nouveau? – but generally succeed in capturing each period in lively and penetrating detail. Reviews of the first two editions acclaimed Elements as an exhaustive, brilliantly illustrated handbook and this new edition differs but slightly from the earlier two. Its directories of British and North American suppliers are updated and the coverage of post-1920 Modernism, the weakest and most problematic subject in all three editions, has been revised and expanded. An excellent reference for libraries serving active historic preservationists, but other libraries owning earlier editions need not splurge.David Soltész, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH

Hanks, David A. & Anne Hoy. American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow. Editions Flammarion, dist. by Rizzoli. 2005. c.280p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 2-0803-0499-2. $75. FINE ARTS

Beginning in the Depression era, American designers became fascinated with the curvy aesthetic style of "streamlining," which was meant to convey speed, precision, and efficiency. As the movement caught on, everything from tea kettles to typewriters took on the stylistic hubris once reserved for airplanes and architecture. Streamlining came to epitomize modernity in the 1930s, and many perceived the look as a symbol of recovery and even progress. Hanks (curator, Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design, Montreal) and Hoy (art history, NYU; Design for Living: Furniture and Lighting, 1950 – 2000) examine such objects as pitchers, fans, tools, and even the occasional burial casket; the careers of industrial designers like Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes; and more than 150 pieces from the Eric Brill Collection and the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. With wise and readable commentary, spectacular photos, and particularly fascinating patent drawings, this impressive catalog (which accompanies an eponymous traveling exhibition showing in North America through 2009) is as pleasing a volume as any high-quality art book and has much crossover appeal. Recommended for all libraries.Douglas McClemont, New York

Italia: Portrait of a Country Throughout 60 Years of Photography. Contrasto, dist. by Consortium. 2005. 352p. photogs. index. ISBN 88-89032-00-6. $60. PHOTOG

Italy is one of the world’s most photographed countries and as such has been the subject of far too many lightweight coffee-table books. This text, however, is different: it is a serious, ambitious, and successful overview of 60 years (1943 – 2003) of photography in Italy. Not only does it chronicle the country’s rich history, but through its text and images it also traces six decades of the medium of photography itself. Really three texts in one, Italia is smartly organized into distinct sections: "Photographers and Italy" is a historical survey of Italian photography through images and text; "Hints for a Reflection" consists of critical essays and explanatory images; and "Double Visions" is a comparison of photographs taken by Italian and non-Italian photographers who have shot similar subjects (e.g., cities, asylums, and volcanoes). Substantive, informative, and engaging, this book, which marks Italian publishing house Contrasto’s North American debut, presents images and commentary on a variety of subjects ranging from beaches and churches to crime scenes and soccer games. As rich and fascinating as Italy itself; recommended for all collections.Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA

Kidd, Chip (text) & Geoff Spear (photogs.). Chip Kidd: Book One; Work, 1986 – 2006. Universe: Rizzoli. 2005. 400p. photogs. ISBN 0-8478-2748-8. $65; pap. ISBN 0-8478-2785-2. $39.95. GRAPHIC ARTS

Book lovers will experience a flash of recognition browsing this 20-year retrospective by and about the work of book jacket designer Kidd (associate art director, Knopf; The Cheese Monkeys), though retrospective is too serious a term for this delightful scrapbook. You’ll recall seeing many of the covers as you browsed bookstore shelves; you probably purchased more than a few because of the compelling designs. Not a formal study – for that, consider purchasing Veronique Vienne’s Chip Kidd – this is a veritable tour of Kidd’s desk and bookshelves. It includes more than 800 of his designs (both preliminary and final versions, as well as rejects), together with Kidd’s notes and commentaries on each project. Forty letters of appreciation addressed to the designer provide a wonderful glimpse into Kidd’s working relationships and attest to the high regard so many writers have for him, among them John Updike (who wrote the introduction), Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Don DeLillo, and Larry McMurtry. For lovers of books and/or good design and for anyone who appreciates or would like to learn more about the power of graphic communication. [Kidd is currently writing his second novel, The Learners. - Ed]Michael Dashkin, QUALCOMM, San Diego

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Kiefer, Anselm & Michael Auping. Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth. Prestel. 2005. c.184p. photogs. ISBN 3-7913-3387-9. $65. FINE ARTS

Published to complement a traveling exhibition on view at the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth through January 2006, this catalog offers a fascinating and enjoyably cerebral approach to German artist Anselm Kiefer’s (b. 1945) powerful, philosophical productions. In his impressive foreword and subsequent interview with Kiefer, Auping (Howard Hodgkin: Paintings) traces Kiefer’s influences and explains the symbolic significance of his materials, process, and iconography. Auping’s Kiefer navigates the grim facts of history by way of alchemical metaphor and artistically expresses his own sense of metaphysical suspension, wherein humankind seeks purpose and redemption but encounters only confrontation with the unpleasant history that has shaped the present. Each plate is accompanied by further crucial insights into Kiefer’s iconography and meaning. With near page-for-page reproductions of his Heaven and Earth sketchbook, watercolors, and large-scale paintings, this catalog of more than 100 illustrations provides a fluent continuum of Kiefer’s ideas and imagery. An excellent complement to Peter Nisbet’s Anselm Kiefer: The Heavenly Palaces, Merkabah and Mark Rosenthal’s Anselm Kiefer monograph; highly recommended for collections focusing on modern and contemporary art.Savannah Schroll, formerly with Smithsonian Inst, Libs., Washington, DC

Marcopoulos, Ari (photogs.) & Aaron Rose & others (text). Out & About. Damiani Editore, dist. by D.A.P. 2005. 260p. ed. by Aaron Rose. photogs. ISBN 88-89431-13-X. $65. PHOTOG

Independent curator Rose (former owner/director, Alleged Gallery, New York; ed., Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture) is editing a new series of books that spotlight underground artists. This first title in the series collects the work of Marcopoulos, a photographer known for his images and films of youth counterculture. Unlike Marcopoulos’s 2000 photography book, Transitions and Exits, which focused on snowboarders, this book provides a more general pictorial overview of his life’s work so far, dating back to the early 1980s. The result, unfortunately, is too much of a hodgepodge of subject matter, and its 240 photographs are of inconsistent quality. Certain parts of the book do, however, contain effective groupings, including pictures from the 1980s that document New York City’s emerging hip-hop culture and pictures of skateboarders from the 1990s. These well-composed photographs, both color and black and white, capture the defiant nature of their subject’s activities, depicting confrontations with police as well as alcohol and drug use. Recommended for academic libraries and specialized photography collections.Eric Linderman, East Cleveland P.L., OH

Memling’s Portraits. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2005. 191p. ed. by Till-Holger Borchert. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-500-09326-1. $45. FINE ARTS

This companion to an exhibition that has traveled to several cities worldwide celebrates the work of renowned Netherlandish painter Hans Memling (c.1435 – 94), going beyond the 28 pieces presented to examine all the portrait paintings attributed to the artist. Interspersed within the four essays, plates, catalog, and dendrochronological appendix are comments and illustrations of works on Memling’s artistic masters and other contemporary painters. The editors – each of whom is coordinating the exhibition at one of its venues – fully succeed in combining the latest scholarship with an appeal to a browsing public. The 120 color and 50 black-and-white illustrations are stunning, offering a stimulating view of Flemish painting and costume history and occasionally employing life-size and even larger-than-life details. The aristocrats, clergy, and well-to-do depicted in these portraits are all of a piece. Even knowing that Memling painted much of a portrait in advance, readers will recognize that he achieves an abstract perfection and quiescence beyond the individual countenance. Suitable for specialized and large collections already possessing Dirk De Vos’s seminal Hans Memling.M. Hamel-Schwulst, National Museum of Women in the Arts Lib., Washington, DC

Parshall, Peter & Rainer Schoch with David S. Areford & others. Origins of European Printmaking: Fifteenth-Century Woodcuts and Their Public. Yale Univ. 2005. 372p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-300-11339-0. $65. GRAPHIC ARTS

This gorgeous and substantial catalog, published in association with Washington’s National Gallery of Art and accompanying an exhibition at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (Dec. 2005 – Mar. 2006) takes a close look at the first images printed on paper in the Western world. It wonderfully melds beauty with scholarship, presenting more than 100 15th-century, single-sheet woodcuts and metalcuts in all their graphic glory along with entries full of scholarly apparatus. These entries often run several pages and include endnotes as well as information about inscriptions, watermarks, provenance, and literature pertaining to the item. Parshall (curator and head, Old Master prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington), Schoch (vice director and head, graphic arts collection, Germanisches Nationalmuseum), and others do a fine job of explaining how these images were produced, the many ways they were used, and how the scholarship of early printed images has evolved over the centuries. This work represents one of the only in-depth studies of the earliest relief prints and is recommended for all libraries with collections related to medieval printmaking.Kraig Binkowski, Yale Ctr. for British Art Lib.

Rosenthal, Mark. The Surreal Calder. Yale Univ. 2005. 156p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 0-300-11436-2. $45. FINE ARTS

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) was not a card-carrying member of the surrealist group and never signed their Manifesto. Yet he was befriended by, influenced by, and in turn influenced many surrealist artists. Indeed, André Breton, the founder of the movement, requested that Calder make a monument for his tomb. Rosenthal, who is adjunct curator at the Menil Collection and has written previously on installation art, abstraction, and select artists, does a fine job of placing Calder’s work in the context of surrealist art. A main essay is followed by photographs of Calder and his work by Herbert Matter, one of Calder’s closest friends and an artist in his own right. A comprehensive time line of Calder’s life follows. A nice supplement to this book might be Howard Greenfield’s small but mighty Essential Alexander Calder, which features the following quote from Calder: "I think that one of the primary models from which I develop form is the structure of the universe, or part of it. I work from a large life model. When everything goes right, a mobile is a piece of poetry that dances with the joy of life and surprises." Well priced for purchase as needed by libraries specializing in art and art history.Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH

Schwartz, Emmanuel. The Legacy of Homer: Four Centuries of Art from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Yale Univ. 2005. 360p. illus. index. ISBN 0-300-10918-0. $65. FINE ARTS

This catalog accompanies a joint exhibition showing through January 2006 in New Jersey and New York organized by curator Schwartz. It contains 130 of 600 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints from the former collection of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. The École was the backbone of 400 years of French art, from the Baroque and Rococo to the Neoclassical and Romantic, and schooled such notable artists as Jacques-Louis David and Nicolas Poussin. In 13 thematic segments, Schwartz examines the works housed in this historic academy and addresses the impact of Homer, whose epic poems inspired many of their artists. In the preface, literary critic George Steiner (Grammars of Creation) discusses Homer’s influence on French literature, and an introductory essay by Philippe Sénéchal (history, Univ. of Amiens) covers the role drapery played in depicting Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews in French sculpture and painting. A glossary titled "Works, Places, Events and Persons, Real and Imaginary" is included, as is an index of artists. This history of academic painting provides insight for Homeric scholars and scholars of the arts alike. Recommended for special collections with patrons interested in the history of the École and the influence of Homer’s epics.Ellen Bates, New York

Simmons, Laurie. Laurie Simmons: Walking, Talking, Lying. Aperture, dist. by Farrar. 2005. c.156p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-931788-59-6. $50. PHOTOG

Another high-quality offering from Aperture, this is a monograph by and about American photographer and conceptual artist Laurie Simmons (b. 1949), whose work has been exhibited extensively. The book starts with an academic essay by contemporary art critic Kate Linker illuminating Simmons’s body of work, which is accompanied by photographs from selected series. Next, it offers Simmons’s photographs along with short essays by the photographer herself that lend rare and thoughtful insight into her images. Every one of Simmons’s 99 color and black-and-white photographs captures a form, but few if any of these forms are actually human – miniature dolls, mannequins, and ventriloquist dolls give each image a vision of glossy perfection while exuding a sad emptiness. The final pages are devoted to a chronology of Simmons’s life and a list of projects in which she’s been involved. This cohesive work is recommended for libraries with specialized photography collections.Valerie Nye, Coll. of Santa Fe Lib., NM

Slater, Greg & Jonathan Brough. Comprehensively Clarice Cliff. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2005. c.448p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-500-51230-2. $95. DEC ARTS

The title of this book just about says it all. But you may well ask, "Who is Clarice Cliff, and why should I spend $95 to read all about her?" Clarice Cliff was both a ceramic designer and also the line of ceramic ware that she designed. Born in 1899, a daughter of the working class in a smoky pottery town in Britain, she worked her way up the ladder from apprentice at 13 to chief designer at 31 to owner’s wife at 41. The brilliantly colorful style of her pottery was a hit with the public all through the Depression, and tens of thousands of pieces flowed out all over the world. Hundreds of her designs are precisely cataloged in the more than 2000 illustrations in this giant book intended for collectors and ceramic researchers. High-quality color and black-and-white illustrations, copious notes, and rigorous organization combine to make this the preeminent work on Cliff’s art; those more interested in the details of her life will prefer Leonard Griffin’s more biographical Clarice Cliff: The Bizarre Affair. Recommended for art and larger public libraries.David McClelland, Philadelphia

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Stern, Jewel. Modernism in American Silver: 20th Century Design. Yale Univ. 2005. c.392p. illus. ISBN 0-300-10927-X. $75. DEC ARTS

Published in association with the Dallas Museum of Art, this glorious book accompanies an exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, through January 22, 2006 (from there it will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami Beach, and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis). Stern, an artist with a deep appreciation for 20th-century silver, uses her broad grasp of the topic and enlists her aesthetic judgment and scholarship to build an intelligent, thoughtful, comprehensive, and beautiful volume that can only expand our knowledge of and appreciation for silver – whether useful or decorative, executed in stunning, modern, austere, embellished, complex, or simple ways. Silver is featured here in perfectly placed illustrations and photographs that take the excellent text along for a visual journey through a century of artistic design, showing off its special place in modern art. This book will appeal to seasoned collectors, dealers, and silversmiths as well as readers who have not given the medium the attention it deserves. Highly recommended.David Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT

Struth, Thomas. Museum Photographs. rev. ed. Schirmer/Mosel, dist. by Prestel. 2005. 142p. photogs. ISBN 3-8296-0183-2. $90. FINE ARTS

This revised edition of German photo artist Struth’s 1993 book adds 26 images to the original set of 17. The premise behind the collection is that it presents images of people looking at works of art in museums around the world. Conceptually, it addresses how art changes meaning and takes on cultural context when on display. The images are accompanied by essays by renowned art historians Hans Belting, Walter Grasskamp, and Claudia Seidel, who present many ideas about the nature of art, helping us to think about the numerous historical and sociocultural concepts that come into play both as we look at the artwork depicted in each photograph and as we observe the viewers contemplating each piece of art. The depictions of a Titian in a church in Venice are especially striking. Recommended for libraries with large art and photography collections.Sheila Devaney, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens

Talley, André Leon. A.L.T. 365+. PowerHouse. 2005. c.236p. photogs. ISBN 1-57687-240-8. $85. PHOTOG

Designed by noted art director Sam Shahid and with text and photographs by Vogue editor-at-large Talley (A.L.T.: André Leon Talley, A Memoir), this oversized coffee-table book follows a year in the life of the author as he travels around the world of fashion. Taken with an instamatic camera, most of the 309 photographs are merely grab shots with glaring flash, yet the book as a whole does offer a curious, behind-the-scenes glimpse into a life of style and elegance. The candid snapshots within are of famous models (e.g., Iman, Kate Moss), fashion designers (e.g., Muiccia Prada, Zac Posen), and celebrities (e.g., Diana Ross, Liza Minelli). In perusing this work, one gets a sense that these glamorous subjects are more fascinated with themselves than readers will be. However, through chatty essays and captions, Talley does a credible job of placing all these stylish people, wide-ranging places, and gala events into context. Although expensive and not appropriate for photography collections, this book may appeal to libraries where there is substantial interest in the fashion world.Raymond Bial, First Light Photography, Urbana, IL

Wohlmuth, Sharon J. & others. A Day in the Life of the American Woman: How We See Ourselves. Bulfinch: AOL Time Warner Book Group. 2005. 176p. photogs. ISBN 0-8212-5706-4. $35. PHOTOG

Composed of 250 museum-quality color and black-and-white photographs, extended personal profiles, essays, narrative captions, and quotes, this book by photojournalist Wohlmuth and journalist Saline (coauthors, Sisters) as well as by various producers, editors, writers, and contributors, seeks to capture an "ordinary" day in the lives of American women. To achieve this objective, Wohlmuth and Saline assigned 50 of the world’s most talented female photographers the task of documenting a diverse group of women – e.g., the famous and the less well known of all ages and backgrounds – after which nine top female photo editors from nationally acclaimed magazines selected the final photographs for publication. The result is a "chicken soup" for the female soul in that most women will be able to relate to at least some of the heartwarming and compelling images and stories here. With an experiential and anecdotal approach, this beautifully, thoughtfully, and artfully presented compilation of visual and textual snapshots of the lives of American women will inspire its intended general audience of mostly female readers. Appropriate for bedside and coffee tables, workplaces, library shelves, and more, this is highly recommended for most public libraries.Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia

Literature

Barker, Juliet. Wordsworth: A Life. Ecco: HarperCollins. Dec. 2005. c.576p. illus. index. ISBN 0-06-078731-7. $29.95. LIT

In this in-depth biography of Wordsworth (1770 – 1850), originally published in the U.K. in 2000, Barker (The Brontës) focuses on the acclaimed poet’s relationships with his family members and literary contemporaries rather than on the Romantic Movement as a whole. She brings to life a real sense of Wordsworth’s joy and pain in his relationships with the brilliant but difficult people to whom he was closest, like poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his sister Dorothy. While this volume is lengthy, Barker is a skilled writer whose lively style makes her detailed treatment of her subject an enjoyable and at times almost gossipy read. There have been a number of books dealing with Wordsworth and his circle in the past decade (e.g., John Worthen’s The Gang: Coleridge, the Hutchinsons, and the Wordsworths in 1802, Kenneth R. Johnston’s The Hidden Wordsworth, and Kathleen Jones’s A Passionate Sisterhood: Women of the Wordsworth Circle), but Barker’s work is a worthwhile addition to the larger collections of academic and public libraries.Felicity D. Walsh, Emory Univ. Lib., Decatur, GA

Burstein, Janet Handler. Telling the Little Secrets: American Jewish Writing Since the 1980s. Univ. of Wisconsin. Dec. 2005. c.250p. index. ISBN 0-299-21240-8. $45. LIT

Burstein (English, Drew Univ.; Writing Mothers, Writing Daughters) discusses American Jewish literature since the 1980s from a feminist and psychoanalytic perspective. She uses novels, short stories, memoirs, and critical essays to describe the cultural works of mourning and liberation by the second generation of American Jewish post-Holocaust writers. Taking Philip Roth’s work as a starting point and touchstone, she examines the nature of the writer’s relationships to history, memory, the body, and personal autonomy. She also explicates the nature of the home in memoirs and fiction and addresses gender concepts of the male and female bodies, convincingly explaining the need for a feminist critique of male and female roles and stereotypes. A discussion of Jewish critical essays ("Midrash as Undertow") is especially valuable for its insights into Jewish methods of interpretation and understanding. Among the many authors Burstein makes important comments about are Norma Rosen, Thane Rosenbaum, Rebecca Goldstein, Lev Raphael, Aryeh Lev Stollman, Pearl Abraham, and Cynthia Ozick. She makes plain the secrets of contemporary American Jewish writings: secrets of mourning, hatred, angst, and acceptance. Recommended for Jewish studies collections.Gene Shaw, NYPL

Camus, Albert. Camus at Combat: Writing 1944 – 1947. Princeton Univ. Feb. 2006. c.334p. ed. by Jacqueline Lévi-Valensi. tr. from French by Arthur Goldhammer. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-691-12004-8. $29.95. LIT

Nobel prize – winning novelist and essayist Albert Camus (1913 – 60) was in a unique position to observe political and military developments in France after the defeat of Nazism and the emergence of democratic government in France. Lévi-Valensi (formerly dean of literature, Univ. de Picardie, Amiens), who was France’s preeminent Camus scholar before passing away in 2004, here presents 165 of the articles Camus wrote (though none can be definitively attributed) between 1944 and 1947 for the clandestine French Resistance newspaper Combat. The later articles are less enthusiastic than the earlier ones, reflecting Camus’s gradual belief that there were three failures of French democracy after the war: France’s inability to deal with war crime and criminals; its failure to bring democracy to its colonial possessions, Indochina and Algeria; and the incapacity of the French press to remain free of outside influences. Lévi-Valensi offers a thematic classification of the articles, e.g., "The Liberation of Paris," the "Continuation of the War," and her helpful footnotes identify persons and events. A new introduction by David Carroll (French, Univ. of California, Irvine; French Literary Fascism) opens this work, translated for the first time into English. Recommended to those interested in French military and political events in post – World War II France.Bob Ivey, Univ. of Memphis

Delany, Samuel R. About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, & Five Interviews. Wesleyan Univ. Jan. 2006. c.425p. ISBN 0-8195-6715-9. $65; pap. ISBN 0-8195-6716-7. $24.95. LIT

This is not another how-to book for marketing fiction. Instead, in a complicated pattern set within the format of seven lengthy essays, four random letters to unidentified colleagues, and five interviews, award-winning sf novelist Delany (English & creative writing, Temple Univ.) offers readers a description of the art of writing fiction, a demonstration of how fiction fits into today’s world, and a discussion of the writer’s reputation. Delany offers insights from his more than 30 years of writing and teaching experience, and hence his book may prove useful for writing teachers. However, it is too poorly organized to serve as a practical guide for aspiring writers and provides no index to help the reader hone in on a topic. Also, while many of Delany’s theories – especially his examples of the differences between good writing and talented writing – are intriguing enough to allow this book a place in academic libraries, even the most dedicated scholars may find plodding through the verbose narratives a painfully slow experience. Public libraries, save your shelf space.Nedra Crowe-Evers, Sonoma Cty. Lib., Santa Rosa, CA

Gass, William H. A Temple of Texts. Knopf. Feb. 2006. c.416p. ISBN 0-307-26286-3. $26.95. LIT

Essayist, novelist, and literary critic Gass (Tests of Time), three-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, here offers 25 essays on the art of writing. Regardless of his subjects, which range from luminaries such as Rainer Maria Rilke to relatively obscure authors like Flann O’Brien, Gass writes with spellbinding passion. In "Fifty Literary Pillars," he identifies those works that have had the most profound impact on him, often revealing more about himself than about the works he is discussing. He is a man who loves the written word both for what it says and for how it sounds; books that to some might be challenging or confusing sing to him. In "A Defense of the Book," Gass articulates the importance of books and libraries to a free society. No one who reads "The Sentence Seeks Its Form" will likely ever read or write a sentence again without appreciating its glorious power. Gass shares his lifelong love affair with books as well as his insights into the nature of humankind, religion, and art in a work that is likely to earn him his fourth NBCC Award. Recommended for academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/05.]Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY

Hemingway, Ernest & A.E. Hotchner. Dear Papa, Dear Hotch: The Correspondence of Ernest Hemingway and A.E. Hotchner. Univ. of Missouri. Dec. 2005. c.368p. ed. by Albert J. DeFazio III. photogs. index. ISBN 0-8262-1605-6. $34.95. LIT

This collection of correspondence between Hemingway and his biographer Hotchner (Papa Hemingway) includes 161 letters, cables, and cards that span from their first meeting in 1948 to Hemingway’s death in 1961. Hotchner often served Hemingway as a literary agent and worked closely with him on adapting his work for television and film. As such, much of the correspondence is taken up with business matters, although reports on Hemingway’s health, word counts on ongoing writing projects, and allusions to contemporary sports events – particularly baseball, boxing, and bullfighting – are also included. Some of the letters, however, deal with more personal material, such as how Hemingway liked to work caged tigers with a rolled newspaper or how he nursed his son Patrick through a difficult illness and dark time. Editor DeFazio (Literary Masterpieces: The Sun Also Rises) provides clear and unobtrusive notes that should be useful to students of Hemingway’s life and work. Recommended for research level collections in American literature.
William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY

Lessing, Doris. Time Bites: Views and Reviews. HarperCollins. Dec. 2005. c.384p. ISBN 0-06-083140-5. $27.95. LIT

From the prolific Lessing (The Sweetest Dream) comes this wide-ranging assortment of literary criticism and short essays that reads like the interior of a knowledgeable, insightful, and lively mind. Most of the essays date from the last decade, though one dates back to the 1960s and several others to the 1970s. Lessing comments cleverly on the classic novelists (e.g., Leo Tolstoy), but some of the most interesting pieces are centered on less well known or virtually forgotten writers. There are quite a few essays on the Sufi author Idries Shah (1924 – 96); other topics Lessing covers range from politics to cats. The only problem with this book is its format. Explanatory notes and original publication dates would have nicely fit at the beginning of each essay; instead, the reader is required to flip continuously to acknowledgments located in the final pages. In addition, an introduction to the collection would have provided a helpful overview. These issues, however, do not detract from the superb quality of the writing and Lessing’s ability to provoke and entertain. Recommended for all public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/05.]Stacy Shotsberger Russo, California State Univ. Lib., Fullerton

Marlowe, Ann. The Book of Trouble: A Romance. Harcourt. Feb. 2006. c.288p. ISBN 0-15-101131-1. $23. LIT

A 44-year-old Jewish New York woman meets a 34-year-old Afghan man. From the very first page of this latest memoir from writer and critic Marlowe (How To Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z) – "when we stopped making love on the living room couch" – readers know they are in for a passionate ride that has everything to do with the main players’ distinct ethnic and national identities. Much of the book, in which Marlowe chronicles her affair with Amir, a Muslim engineer, takes place during various trips abroad, and much of it takes place in bed. A little too detailed and slightly too long, this memoir and cultural critique rolled into one doesn’t always work. Topical and provocative (though at times rambling), it is a good purchase for medium- and large-sized public libraries.Terren Ilana Wein, Univ. of Chicago Divinity Sch.

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Pauly, Thomas H. Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures, His Women. Univ. of Illinois. 2005. c.385p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-252-03044-3. $34.95. LIT

Since most Americans associate the name Zane Grey with cheap paperback Westerns in a revolving metal rack behind the Coke machine at the local stationery store, this fascinating new biography (the first since Frank Gruber’s 1970 Zane Grey) is guaranteed to open some eyes. Pauly (English, Univ. of Delaware) has an admirably complete grasp of the various facets of his subject, e.g., Grey’s connection to the nascent film industry, his consuming hunger for ever larger and swifter ships, the nature of his novels, and why they filled such an American need. Grey’s childhood (in Zanesville, OH, where else?) was central. His stern, hard-working father, Lewis, was fast supplanted as a role model by poorhouse inhabitant Muddy Miser, who played a real-life Nigger Jim to the dashing but confused teenager. Enrolled in Penn State’s dental school but playing semi-pro baseball, Zane was soon (and until the end of his days) embroiled in affairs of the heart and groin with the first of the numerous women who sometimes simultaneously played such a gigantic role in his life that they’re part of this book’s title. By age 30, he was a practicing dentist and an aspiring novelist whose trips west finally inspired him to try his hand at the then-unknown genre of Western. By the 1920s, he was the most popular writer in the country, regardless of literary critics’ perpetual sniping. This absorbing biography is highly recommended for all collections.Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO

Shakespeare, William. Othello. ISBN 1-4022-0645-3; pap. ISBN 1-4022-0102-8.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. ISBN 1-4022-0644-5; pap. ISBN 1-4022-0101-X.
ea. vol: Sourcebooks. (Shakespeare). 2005. c.400p. photogs. index. $20.95 with audio CD; pap. $14.95 with audio CD. DRAMA

The new "Sourcebooks Shakespeare" series is designed to attract a wide audience by emphasizing performance as well as text. A glossary and photos from contemporary stage and film productions accompany the text of each play, and related essays offer further insights. Each title contains an integrated audio CD that is narrated by British Shakespearean actor Sir Derek Jacobi and features excerpts from memorable performances of key scenes. The series boasts stellar credits: its advisory board includes Shakespeare scholars David Bevington and Peter Holland and Chicago Shakespeare Theater director Barbara Gaines. Among the contributors are several more Shakespeare scholars as well as actress Janet Suzman and Andrew Wade, formerly head of voice for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Both volumes begin with Thomas Garvey’s "In Shakespeare’s ‘Time,’ " an essay that sets the playwright in historical context, and end with "The Cast Speaks," in which casts of 2005 productions discuss their approach to the characters they portrayed. The CD accompanying the Othello volume features a variety of noteworthy performers in the title role, including Paul Robeson, Paul Scofield, and Edwin Booth; and the CD accompanying the Romeo and Juliet volume presents recordings of Kate Beckinsale, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Ellen Terry as Juliet; Kenneth Branagh and Michael Sheen as Romeo; Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio; and Sir John Gielgud as Friar Laurence. With the number of film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works in recent years, public libraries should seriously consider acquiring this series.Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.

Souhami, Diana. Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho & Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney & Romaine Brooks. St. Martin’s. 2005. c.240p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-312-34324-8. $29.95. LIT

Souhami (Selkirk’s Island; Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter) has written a fast-paced dual biography of poet and socialite Natalie Barney and her lover, artist Romaine Brooks. The book is a chronicle of Barney’s many lesbian relationships, beginning with the famous French courtesan Liane de Pougy, but its focus is the relationship that Brooks and Barney shared over a span of 50 years. The book’s tension springs from the opposing personalities of the two women. Brooks, eccentric and monastic, drew on her past and her solitude for inspiration, while Barney’s lifeblood came from the community of female artists she nurtured in her famous salon. Souhami excels in re-creating the strong personalities of the women who broke free from their Victorian roots and became symbols of France’s belle époque era. Not a comprehensive biography, this book is a taster, highlighting the passions of both women, and works best as a complement to other biographies, such as Suzanne Rodriguez’s Wild Heart: Natalie Clifford Barney’s Journey from Victorian America to Belle Epoque Paris and Meryle Secrest’s Between Me and Life: A Biography of Romaine Brooks. Optional for all libraries.Maria Kochis, California State Univ., Sacramento

Strachey, Lytton. The Letters of Lytton Strachey. Farrar. Dec. 2005. c.320p. ed. by Paul Levy. index. ISBN 0-374-25854-6 [ISBN 978-0-374-25854-2]. $25. LIT

Lytton Strachey (1880 – 1932) is known as an imaginative biographer (e.g., Eminent Victorians) and a prominent member of the Bloomsbury group. The 1995 movie Carrington highlighted his complex relationship with painter Dora Carrington, and Michael Holroyd’s detailed two-volume Lytton Strachey: The New Biography (1968) provides all the critical details about the author’s life. But often the letters of a literary figure create the most multifaceted and vivid portrait, and that is certainly the case with this one-volume compilation, edited by Strachey trustee Levy (Moore: G.E. Moore and the Cambridge Apostles). Hundreds of Strachey’s letters to such figures as Carrington, Virginia and Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, and T.S. Eliot are included, as are letters to family members and both male and female lovers. Indiscretions, complete candor, and scatological language mark Strachey’s style, as does a sense of English history in the first third of the 20th century. Historical and biographical notes preface many of the letters, and the index, which pinpoints correspondence from specific individuals, is useful for readers who might not wish to read every letter. Recommended for upper-division and graduate academic collections as well as for larger public library centers.Morris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., CUNY

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Women Writing Africa. Vol. 2: West Africa and the Sahel. Feminist Pr., dist. by Consortium. Dec. 2005. c.560p. ed. by Esi Sutherland-Addy & Aminata Diaw. index. ISBN 1-55861-501-6. $75; pap. ISBN 1-55861-500-8. $29.95. LIT

This second of four volumes representing the literary expression of African women focuses on 12 West African nations, documenting the history of this expression since upward of six centuries before colonialism and 20th-century independence. Editors Sutherland-Addy (language, literature, & drama, Inst. for African Studies, Univ. of Ghana) and Diaw (philosophy, Univ. Cheikh Anta Kiop in Dakar, Senegal) have compiled 132 texts accompanied by head notes by eminent authors (e.g., Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Bernadette Dao Sanou) to explain their cultural and historical contexts. These texts showcase not just the written word – in the form of letters, diaries, historical documents – but the spoken word as well, in lullabies, songs, and other oral traditions. Some of these texts are full of celebration and some of powerful emotions; all evoke powerful imagery. Both the texts and the head notes are fascinating to read, and the reader is truly gripped by the passion and emotion of the writers. This anthology provides an epic tale of African history while highlighting African women’s valuable contributions to their culture and bringing their voices to life for readers everywhere. Highly recommended.Susan McClellan, Avalon P.L., Pittsburgh

Performing Arts

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Benshoff, Harry M. & Sean Griffin. Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America. Rowman & Littlefield. Dec. 2005. 320p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-7425-1971-6. $79; pap. ISBN 0-7425-1972-4. $24.95. FILM

Media professors Benshoff (Univ. of North Texas; Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film) and Griffin (Southern Methodist Univ.; Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out) set out to create the definitive guide to queer issues in American cinema, and they have succeeded admirably. Using an erudite yet easily readable approach, they explore homosexuality in the movies, starting mostly with the talking era and moving up to the present. With detached precision, they underscore the clandestine presence of homosexuals in movies and how gays in Hollywood were able to "work in" characters whom audiences could sense were gay. Other issues addressed include homosexual stereotypes in early Hollywood cinema (most, it is adeptly pointed out, were negative), Tinsel Town’s puritanical roots, queer exploitation, physique films, AIDS issues, and (particularly) the evolving image of gays in cinema. What’s refreshing about this work is that it’s not a one-sided criticism but a guide through the more progressive development of the presentation of gays in movies; readers are left with hope for the future. Highly recommended for general, gay and lesbian, and especially film collections.Michael Tierno, New York

Burns, Mick. Keeping the Beat on the Street: The New Orleans Brass Band Renaissance. Louisiana State Univ. Jan. 2006. c.264p. illus. discog. index. ISBN 0-8071-3048-6. $29.95. MUSIC

Writer and jazz musician Burns provides an oral history of the burgeoning number of brass bands in New Orleans over the last 30 years. In his introduction, he outlines the growth of New Orleans social clubs (60 at last count), which created the need for brass bands at their anniversary parades and funerals. He convincingly demonstrates the evolution of the music with such groups as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band, which have kept alive yet modernized the century-long tradition. The bulk of the book is made up of nearly 20 revealing interviews with some of the main players in the brass band renaissance: local jazz legend Danny Barker; reed man Joe Torregano; trumpeters Leroy Jones, Blodie Davis, and Gregg Stafford; and drummer Benny Jones. Historians Tad Jones and Jerry Brock and community leader Jerome Smith are also featured. Overall, Burns delivers an appealing personal view of a neglected jazz subgenre, which one hopes will survive Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. Recommended for jazz buffs.Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

Greene, Joshua M. Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison. Wiley. Jan. 2006. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-471-69021-X. $25.95. MUSIC

Historian and Emmy-nominated writer and filmmaker Greene studied with George Harrison’s guru and recorded Hindustani devotional music with the former Beatle at one point in the 1970s. Drawing on those experiences, he attempts an overview of Harrison’s life and musical career, but there is an unfortunate focus on his spirituality; readers will not find much on Harrison’s music. To his credit, Greene studiously avoids the tabloidlike nature of some earlier Harrison biographies (e.g., Geoffrey Giuliano’s Dark Horse: The Life and Art of George Harrison). This, however, is a mixed blessing, as the overall biographical material seems fairly general and at times sketchy, except when it comes to Harrison’s spiritual path. The Beatles period in particular could be more detailed. This book, illustrated with 20 pages of black-and-white photographs, will interest Harrison and Beatles fans, but it is neither a definitive guide to Harrison’s music nor a truly comprehensive biography. Recommended for larger public libraries with significant popular culture collections.James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH

Gruen, Bob. John Lennon: The New York Years. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2005. 175p. photogs. ISBN 1-58479-432-1. $29.95. MUSIC

Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, this latest book by noted rock photographer Gruen successfully achieves what most works on Lennon fail to achieve or even attempt to achieve – it reveals through words and pictures what the ex-Beatle was like offstage and outside the studio during his final years (1971 – 80). Many of the 150 images focus on Lennon’s private side, not his public persona; readers get a close look at Lennon as a father and a husband rather than as a groundbreaking and controversial musician. The chronologically arranged photographs and Gruen’s accompanying anecdotes complement each other well and result in an entertaining, insightful, and intimate biographical study that eclipses many of the myriad biographical and pictorial works currently available on the revered and reviled ex-Beatle. It is also a welcome companion to Gruen’s two earlier, less substantial books of Lennon photographs. Recommended for all public libraries, as well as for academic and special libraries with large music, popular culture, or photography collections.Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia

Jefferson, Margo. On Michael Jackson. Pantheon. Jan. 2006. c.160p. ISBN 0-375-42326-5. $20. MUSIC

Jefferson is just like most Americans – she thinks Michael Jackson is a weirdo. But rather than blindly brand MJ a freak, this Pulitzer Prize – winning critic for the New York Times objectively tells us exactly why and how Jackson has become today’s alpha eccentric. The kick is that her book manages to be almost as fresh as it is entertaining. Yes, we’ve all heard the theories of Jackson as Peter Pan, the attention-starved child who won’t grow up. But Jefferson introduces us to Jackson as a latter-day extension of P.T. Barnum, the original curator and salesman of humanity’s "oddities." Throughout her intelligent, well-versed book, Jefferson paints Jackson as a human freak show who twists his persona and alters his appearance so that he can continously shock and amaze a rapt public . We watch, she says, but "when art crosses back into life and fantasy becomes biography, we’re appalled." Taking us through Jackson’s transformation from a boy-band sex symbol to a celebrity oddball who defies nature, Jefferson reaffirms what we all already know: "He imitates no kind of life known to us." Recommended for libraries with extended popular culture sections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/05.]Robert Morast, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD

Kezich, Tullio. Federico Fellini: His Life and Work. Faber & Faber. Mar. 2006. c.464p. tr. from Italian by Minna Proctor with Viviana Mazza. illus. index. ISBN 0-571-21168-2 [ISBN 978-0-571-21168-5]. $27.50. FILM

One of the towering figures of mid-20th-century cinema, Italian director Federico Fellini (1920 – 93) created such enduring masterworks as La Dolce Vita, La Strada, Juliet of the Spirits, and 8-1/2. His audiences knew just what to expect: an examination of humanity’s most extreme fringes. Fellini was also a delicate observer of memory’s effect on the life of an individual and often mined his own experiences for examination, though as film critic and playwright Kezich notes, the director often exaggerated or simply fabricated details from his past. What is known is that the young Fellini was a talented artist who went on to become a respected journalist, a screenwriter, and an Academy Award – winning director. Numerous authors have written about Fellini, including Fellini himself (Fellini on Fellini), but Kezich has the advantage of having known the director well. He writes with perceptiveness and seeming objectivity about the man and, in considerable detail, his major films. As such, his book compares very favorably with the others in the Fellini canon and is recommended for cinema collections.Roy Liebman, formerly with California State Univ., Los Angeles

Martinson, Deborah. Lillian Hellman: A Life with Foxes and Scoundrels. Counterpoint: Perseus. Dec. 2005. c.464p. photogs. index. ISBN 1-58243-315-1. $26. THEATER

Although there are other works about American playwright and memoirist Lillian Hellman (1905 – 84), Martinson (English & writing, Occidental Coll.) is the first writer to have received the full cooperation of the author’s estate, ensuring her open access to critical biographical information – something that Hellman all but prohibited during her life. A heady mix of acclaimed literary output for Broadway and Hollywood (e.g., The Children’s Hour); notable personal liaisons, including a long-term relationship with the turbulent Dashiell Hammett; political complications that arose during the McCarthy era; and consistent notoriety as an outspoken, high-profile, and often difficult woman, Hellman’s life is certainly worth telling. Martinson’s impressive research delves deeply into these varied components for the key to Hellman’s essence and impact on the creative community and beyond. Drawing on numerous interviews, public records, archival and published materials, private papers, and Hellman’s own autobiographical writings, she presents a richly thorough, sometimes somber, and fairly objective portrait of an enigmatic individual. This will be a definite asset to academic and arts collections as well as circulating libraries.Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Moorefield, Virgil. The Producer as Composer: From the Illusion of Reality to the Reality of Illusion. MIT. Dec. 2005. c.184p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-262-13457-8. $27.95. MUSIC

Drawing on his many years of studio experience, composer/performer/producer Moorefield (performing arts technology, Univ. of Michigan) explores the sonic world that emerged with 1960s rock and pop. He notes that technologies and techniques such as tape editing, overdubbing, compression, and, most recently, the release of inexpensive digital recording equipment have contributed to the evolution of sound recordings. Re-creations of live concert hall performances, he says, have become creations of original music produced entirely in the recording studio. Through detailed, descriptive, technical discussions of more than 100 recorded works by gifted producers and producer/musicians like Phil Spector, Brian Eno, Frank Zappa, and Quincy Jones, Moorefield explores the changing role of the producer from talent scout and organizer to stylist, arranger, and composer, making the case that recording has gone from being primarily a technical matter to being an artistic one. This highly technical and theoretical book is difficult to read without music examples that follow the text. An accompanying CD, as well as music notations rather than descriptions, would have been very helpful. For collections that specialize in pop and rock music, new media, sound engineering, or performing arts technology. – Elizabeth M. Wavle, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

Morrow, Robert W. Sesame Street and the Reform of Children’s Television. John Hopkins Univ. Dec. 2005. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 0-8018-8230-3. $50. TV

Morrow (history, Morgan State Univ.) presents a scholarly narrative tracing the origins of children’s educational television as exemplified by Sesame Street. He begins with "The Problem of Television and the Child Viewer," discussing issues born of the Victorian quest to protect children from "dangerous" literature and continued in early attempts at film, radio, and television censorship. Chapter 2 examines the debate about the use of television to reach disadvantaged children as well as the 1960s social/political movement that created Head Start and other preschool programs. Chapters 3 – 6 follow Sesame Street‘s development step by step, from its conception to its November 1969 premiere. Founded on the earlier successes of Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Sesame Street aimed to integrate education and entertainment while avoiding the ill effects of commercial television on children. The final chapters offer the frank opinions of both Sesame Street‘s supporters and its critics over the last 30 years, making this an insightful look at American children’s television. Recommended for upper-level sociology, education, and mass media collections. (Index not seen.)Laura A. Ewald, Murray State Univ. Lib., KY

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Morton, Ray. King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. Applause. Dec. 2005. c.344p. photogs. index. ISBN 1-55783-669-8. pap. $19.95. FILM

A senior writer for Script magazine, Morton has long been fascinated with the screen history of King Kong. His new work, scheduled to coincide with the release of the 1933 original on DVD and the premiere of Peter Jackson’s remake, chronicles all seven feature films in which Kong has appeared, with notes on lesser Kong-related projects (e.g., cartoons, short films). Morton truly has done yeoman’s work, interviewing surviving cast and crew members whenever possible and providing scene-by-scene commentary on the making of the major works. More than 100 black-and-white and color film stills and behind-the-scenes photos are included, and film buffs will especially love the detailed attention that Morton pays to the two great Kong artists, Willis O’Brien and Rick Baker. Although at least two other popular works (not yet available for review) are forthcoming simultaneously with the Jackson film, Morton’s book is so well done that it will be an essential acquisition for all academic and public library film and popular culture collections.Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., TX

Parish, James Robert. Fiasco: A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops. Wiley. Jan. 2006. c.368p. filmog. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-471-69159-3. $24.95. FILM

What actually constitutes a flop? According to Parish (Katharine Hepburn: The Untold Story), films that are flops have big-name stars (Cleopatra), an idea without substance (The Last Action Hero), or a lot of hype prior to release (Showgirls). Examining a broad selection of bombs, from Shanghai Surprise to Ishtar, he profiles 14 films and furnishes detailed background on their production history, along with entertaining anecdotes. This is a good source for information on The Wild Party (1975), Popeye (1980), and The Cotton Club (1984); different genres are represented, including science fiction (Waterworld), swashbucklers (Cutthroat Island), and musicals (Paint Your Wagon). Ishtar was considered a "modern-day successor to road pictures" and known as "Warrengate," alluding to Heaven’s Gate and Warren Beatty. A bit of a novelty, this book will mainly interest cinephiles. Recommended for libraries serving their ranks.Barbara Kundanis, Batavia P.L., IL

Philosophy

Irvine, William B. On Desire: Why We Want What We Want. Oxford Univ. 2005. c.256p. index. ISBN 0-19-518862-4. $23. PHIL

Irvine (philosophy, Wright State Univ.) believes that while some desires develop from our rational concerns, others simply appear unbidden – and those are by no means restricted to our natural appetites and bodily responses. Here he explores desire through discussions of psychology, "biological incentive," "the human condition," religion, and philosophy. His account of "religious advice," particularly the long discussion about such Protestant sects as Mennonites, Shakers, and others who specialize in controlling and reducing desire, is the most interesting. The philosophers whose teachings he examines include the Stoics and Epicureans; Zen Buddhists get a brief mention as well. This is a sprightly and entertaining book, but readers will wonder whether they have fallen into a philosophers’ game. On the face of it, the itch for ice cream, the lust aroused by a Vegas showgirl, and the search for the beatific vision do not have much in common except that they can all be lumped together by the word desire. Are pangs of hunger and impulses to the good connected by anything more than a word? Still, those who would like to understand and control some of their desires will be glad to find this book on the library shelf.Leslie Armour, Dominican Coll. of Philosophy & Theology, Ottawa

Rorty, Richard. Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself: Interviews. Stanford Univ. (Cultural Memory in the Present). 2005. c.215p. ed. by Eduardo Mendieta. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-8047-4617-6. $50; pap. ISBN 0-8047-4618-4. $19.95. PHIL

In 1979, Rorty (humanities, Univ. of Virginia) shocked the members of the philosophical academy by exposing them as emperors without clothes, pointing out the bankruptcy of their epistemological systems and calling for an end to philosophy as it was being practiced. His Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature issued a clarion call to philosophers to think of philosophy not as a set of metaphysical propositions verified by language, but as a series of edifying discourses. Rorty later turned to writers like Vladimir Nabokov and Milan Kundera, whose work, he believed, offered an entry into philosophical thinking about culture. He also took his notions of philosophers as "conversation partners" into politics and religion as he tried to recover both the pragmatism of John Dewey and the liberalism of Irving Howe for our times. The interviews collected here, which span more than two decades, follow these trajectories. With an introduction by Mendieta (philosophy, SUNY at Stony Brook), they range in topic from literature, politics, and postmetaphysical philosophy to democracy and pragmatism. Most have been previously published. While all present Rorty as an outspoken thinker and our preeminent philosopher, they reveal little that we don’t already know. Recommended for academic libraries only.Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA

Poetry

Bishop, Elizabeth. Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments. Farrar. Feb. 2006. c.416p. ed. by Alice Quinn. bibliog. ISBN 0-374-14645-4. $30. POETRY

Both a literary autobiography and a cri de coeur of the artist as a young woman, this work spans Bishop’s uncollected work from 1929 to 1979. Among the character sketches, bits of overheard dialog, analyses of poems, and comments on life and literature (e.g., "poetry is a way of thinking with one’s feelings") are a few noteworthy poems. The best suggest the paths Bishop (1911 – 79) took to find her witching voice, as she worked her way from hot-blooded echoes of Edna St. Vincent Millay to prim allusions to Marianne Moore. Between the two influences, Bishop spun like a merry-go-round – the subject of one of the prose poems here – until she found her own brand of poetry. Ultimately, New Yorker poetry editor Quinn’s meticulous gleanings from 3500 pages ofBishop’s work, stored at Vassar College, tell of her background (raised in Nova Scotia, she was the daughter of a mentally unstable mother); of her personal identity (she was both an expatriate and a lesbian at a time when homosexuality was taboo); and of how, through many false and true starts, she developed into a major 20th-century American poet. Recommended for public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/05.]Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 15, 2005 Glück, Louise. Averno. Farrar. Mar. 2006. c.96p. ISBN 0-374-10742-4 [ISBN 978-0-374-10742-0]. $22. POETRY

Poet laureate Glück’s new work is not just heartbreaking, playful, mythical, and lyric poetry of the highest order – it is visionary literature. The title poem (particularly its first section) is one of the best pieces Glück – or, for that matter, anyone writing in English today – has produced; it will break your heart every time you read it but also affirm you in the toughest moments. Hundreds of teachers across the country (including this reviewer) will be sharing it with their students. Few American authors have written eloquently about old age, but Glück, now in her sixties, does a splendid job ("I can finally say/ long ago; it gives me considerable pleasure"), investigating matters of the soul ("I put the book aside. What is a soul?") as it finds itself within an increasingly frail body and yet remains unrepentant ("You die when your spirit dies./ Otherwise you live"). As with almost all of Glück’s recent collections, this book is a single sequence, where the poems work together making a whole: an aging soul’s lyrical book of days. Once again, the author is obsessed with myth: this time she focuses on Persephone and the landscape of Averno, a small crater lake that the ancient Romans saw as the entrance to the underworld. But what makes this new collection so special is that its most successful poems combine two very different elements of her previous collections – the playful tone of Meadowlands and the illuminating moments of Vita Nova – that rarely coexist in poetry and have never before come together as smoothly and effortlessly in Glück’s own work as they do here. When Glück takes a broader look, the scope can be truly epical; when she looks inward you can sometimes hear your own voice. And her tenderness is breathtaking ("to hear the quiet breathing that says/ I am alive, that means also /you are alive, because you hear me"). Strongly recommended for all poetry collections. – Ilya Kaminsky, Writer in Residence, Phillips Exeter Acad., Exeter, NH

Jess, Tyehimba. Leadbelly. Verse. (National Poetry). 2005. c.120p. ISBN 0-9746353-3-2. pap. $14. POETRY

Jess (African American Pride) has crafted a verse biography of blues musician Huddie Ledbetter ("Leadbelly"), using his song titles as section names and in some cases even letting the songs themselves speak. The language is at once musical and harsh; the images are lovely and unforgiving: "[I] cut a hole in his heart,/ nail in a dozen metronomes,/ each timed to the rhythm/ of a newfound sinner’s sigh." Readers encounter the Louisiana streets on which Leadbelly lived, the prisons where he made his name, Stella (his guitar), and his women, family, friends, and enemies. Many poems contain italicized excerpts of contracts, newsreels, interviews, and letters, including those of John Lomax, the Library of Congress folklorist who recorded Leadbelly while he was incarcerated at Angola prison. Jess writes to and within these excerpts, creating a call-and-response effect, a crucial element of blues music that fits the focus of these poems. In its scope, this is an astonishing book, an unflinching chronicle of the life of a great musician and the times in which he lived. Highly recommended for contemporary poetry collections, especially those featuring African American studies and traditional American music.Karla Huston, Appleton Art Ctr., WI

Mishol, Agi. Look There: New and Selected Poems. Graywolf. Jan. 2006. c.112p. tr. from Hebrew by Lisa Katz. ISBN 1-55597-436-8. pap. $14. POETRY

This is Israeli poet Mishol’s first book to be published in the United States. Translator Katz’s long and informative introduction, concerned mainly with the difficulties of translating from Hebrew, attempts to give American readers a firmer reference point for the poems that follow. But the problem is the poems themselves, which fail to excite. There is little in the way of landscape or scenery, as in "Poem for the Imperfect Man," where Mishol offers "a poem for the man ejected without a caress/ from night dreams to day dreams/ coughing and groping for his shoes." There is none of the biting sarcasm one finds in the work of Yehuda Amichai or Dan Pagis, and the poems lack both the sense of place found in the poems of T. Carmi and the intense exploration of self in Dahlia Ravikovich’s work. Instead, Mishol continually writes about the difficulties of crafting poetry, and her irritating self-consciousness as a writer creeps in everywhere. Selections from her 2002 collection, War Flowers, are an exception – here she presents a dynamic confrontation with her parents: their emergence from the death camps, move to Israel, and eventual deaths. ‘Not recommended.Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York

Ryan, Kay. The Niagara River. Grove. 2005. 72p. ISBN 0-8021-4222-2. pap. $13. POETRY

Ryan is the poet laureate of intangible surfaces and unclassified states of consciousness. A miniaturist in thrall to brevity and pinpoint imagery, she articulates a ghostly and unreal universe where life is "the film/ sandwiched/ between twin/ immensities/ of nothing." Among her favorite domains are interim states of consciousness, such as the moment between wakefulness and sleep ("Sometimes before/ going to sleep a person/ senses the give/ behind the last given"), and the unexplored conceptual territory beneath common expressions ("Oh if it were/ only the other/ shoe hanging/ in space before/ joining its mate. If the undropped/ didn’t congregate/ with the undropped"). Gently inquiring, modestly rhymed, her poems seem whispered rather than spoken, as if reluctant to disturb the "sourceless texture" of their subjects. Though an overinvestment in the ephemeral risks preciousness and dissolution, Ryan offers enough vivid images (the "doily edges of oceans") and pithy insights ("A life should leave/ deep tracks") to keep readers moving on to the next poem. Recommended for larger public and college libraries.Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

Turner, Brian. Here, Bullet. Alice James. 2005. c.80p. ISBN 1-882295-55-2. pap. $14.95. POETRY

The challenge Iraq war veteran Turner faced in writing this first collection was how to write beautiful poetry on the grim realities of war, about which there is nothing poetic. He aims to achieve his goal through simple description; the horror and the bloodiness of the war compel him to rely extensively on documenting its events, and his poems surrender to the power of narrative at the expense of the density and allusive imagery of poetry. Throughout, Turner attempts to capture the extreme experience of war by depicting the feelings it generates: the sense of loss, hatred, humiliation, love, uncertainty, and dreamy longing for a normal life among others. Symbols from Iraqi culture, such as Quranic verses, historical figures, and Arabic words, are cleverly employed throughout to enhance the effectiveness of the verse. The poems are strongest when Turner hints at and suggests functions that are vital to poetic language: "Cranes roost atop power lines in enormous/ bowl-shaped nests of sticks and twigs/and when a sergeant shoots one from the highway/ it pauses, as if amazed that death has found it/ here, at 7 a.m. on such a beautiful morning." Recommended for large public libraries.Sadiq Alkoriji, Tomball Coll. & Community Lib., Harris Cty., TX

Twichell, Chase. Dog Language. Copper Canyon. 2005. 110p. ISBN 1-55659-231-0. pap. $16. POETRY

Many of the poems in Twichell’s sixth collection are constructed around queries that allow readers to delve into the mysteries of human life. Some of these queries are poetic ("When hope forms a bud of prayer,/ who picks it?"), others seem almost Zen ("What hunts the leaf?"), still others more philosophical ("Is a ghost a wish?"). These poems are understated and many of their subjects everyday. At least, they reflect the everyday life of a middle-aged woman who is witnessing the decline and death of her parents and her pets; one poem begins, "Let’s talk about his death,/ right now in progress." Twichell manages both to analyze her loved ones’ deaths and show how their mortality enriches her own life. Many poems recall childhood experiences, but occasionally the poet dredges up too many details; some poems would have been more effective had they been painted on smaller canvases. In addition, Twichell (The Garden of Eden) sometimes forces her metaphors to work too hard: "Dad comes in like a river current,/ a hard little swill around him/ like muscles but of air." But when she captures the essence of a particular moment, she succeeds wonderfully: "Eating almonds and drinking/jasmine tea. Each almond/ has its own fingerprint of flavor." This very accessible collection is recommended for most collections. – Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty., P.L., Bloomington, IN

Young, David. Black Lab. Knopf. Feb. 2006. c.80p. ISBN 0-307-26322-3. $23. POETRY

In his tenth volume, Ohio poet Young (English, Oberlin Coll.) works in a variety of forms and styles, each of them well crafted, though the less traditional ones aren’t as accessible and will likely not appeal to casual readers. Young’s strength lies in his meditative lyrics; his voice is personal, gentle, unassuming, and experienced. The influence of the ancient Chinese masters on his outlook and writing is present but not overpowering, especially in lines like "We’re never going to get God right. But we/ learn to love all our failures on the way." The title poem is especially delightful, with its central image of Young walking with his black labrador, "rapt/ to see his coat so constellated, starred, re-starred,/ making a coming cosmos I can love." Throughout, controlled emotion helps avoid sentimentality, as in these lines on his father’s death: "and if the myths have got it right for once,/ he turns to find a welcome somewhere else,/ to touch my mother’s face and make her smile." Recommended for large poetry collections and for all collections of Midwest poetry.Michael Kriesel, Aniwa, WI

Religion

Brettler, Marc Zvi. How To Read the Bible: Translating the Culture of the Bible. Jewish Pubn. Society. 2005. c.384p. index. ISBN 0-8276-0775-X [ISBN 978-0-8276-0775-0]. $35. REL

Does one need a book to learn how to read a sacred text? Yes, argues Jewish scholar Brettler (The Jewish Study Bible), who claims that there is more to reading the Hebrew Bible than meets the eye. His goal is to help readers see the scriptures as scholars see them. Brettler shows how biblical passages can be read more clearly by using the historical-critical method, which seeks to view the biblical texts in their original historical context and as particular forms of literature. Through the many chapters of the book, covering the creation, patriarchs, biblical law, kingship, prophets, and wisdom literature, Brettler interprets significant texts and shows the effectiveness of the historical-critical approach. In the process, he provides a good overview of the Hebrew Bible and the history of Israel. A major drawback, however, is the book’s scholarly tone; a simpler style would reach the college student or adult reader more effectively. Steven McKenzie’s How To Read the Bible, though written from a Christian perspective, is a much clearer work. An optional purchase.John Jaeger, Dallas

Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Univ. 2005. 144p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 0-19-530034-3. $17.95. REL

If Hollywood serves as a spiritual thermometer of our culture, then Kabbalah is hot. Celebrities from Madonna to Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore tout the benefits of this form of Jewish mysticism. The general public, however, is still asking questions. Dan (Kabbalah, Jewish thought, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem; The Teachings of Hasidism) offers a lucid history and explanation of Kabbalah, covering its key periods, texts, figures, and theories. He knowledgeably and expertly untangles the complexity of the tradition, specifically addressing misconceptions by discussing what Kabbalah is and what it is not. Other topics he covers include Kabbalah’s relationship to magic, numerology, alchemy, astronomy, Christianity, and the New Age Movement. The text concludes with a bibliography that lists resources to consult in general studies, ancient Jewish mysticism, early Kabbalah, the Zohar, Safed and Luria, the Sabbatian movement, and Hasidism and the modern period. Like other "very short introductions" published by Oxford, this primer is scholarly yet accessible to the lay reader; it’s "Kabbalah for Dummies" sans the cheeky humor. Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those focusing on comparative religions and theology.C. Brian Smith, Arlington Heights Memorial Lib., IL

Eliav, Yaron Z. God’s Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory. Johns Hopkins. Dec. 2005. c.432p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-8018-8213-3. $40. REL

Eliav (Rabbinic literature, Univ. of Michigan) opines that insufficient attention has been paid to the ways in which Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, one of the world’s most contested religious sites, has constructed views of history, consciousness, and space. To prove this point, he concentrates on the period from the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.) to the Arab conquest in the seventh century, finding that different eras and peoples have established their own narratives and history with respect to this sacred space. Instead of reinvesting in an ancient tradition intent upon desecrating this geographic location, Eliav suggests that the Temple Mount – as a concept as well as a sacred space – emerged in Jewish and early Christian consciousness toward the close of the Second Temple era in the first century C.E. Pivotal historical and political moments, like King Herod’s dramatic building program or the brutal destruction of Rome decades later, highlight his thesis that this physical entity serves as both a religious concept and a cultural image. Readable and well illustrated and documented, this book is recommended for religion and seminary collections of all stripes.Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., PA

Endredy, James. Ecoshamanism: Sacred Practices of Unity, Power and Earth Healing. Llewellyn. 2005. c.360p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-7387-0742-2. pap. $19.95. REL

The sources drawn upon by Endredy (Earthworks for Body & Spirit), a student and teacher of shamanic practices, are the natural world, direct experience, and studies with shamanistic teachers and cultures in the Americas. Endredy sees himself as a bridge between the ancient cultures and the modern world and asserts the importance of being connected to the natural world through a relationship of reciprocity. The most interesting parts of this book are infused with his personal experiences in trying to be spirit-led rather than ego-driven. His goal is nothing less than transformation via changes in lifestyle and world views. Endredy describes more than 50 ecoshamanistic practices, including ceremonies, rituals, and chants, designed to provide connection to the spirit world and heal the earth. Harmony and balance, he believes, are created through fostering states of awareness and new ways of seeing by working with the elements, animal spirits, sacred trance, and dance. A hopeful and encouraging book but for a limited audience. Recommended where there is interest.Nancy Almand, San Diego

Garlington, William. The Baha’i Faith in America. Praeger. 2005. c.221p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-275-98413-3. $39.95. REL

Garlington (Fire and Blood), a former member of the Baha’i religious community and former history and religion teacher, accurately explains the progressive Baha’i theological and social teachings and helpfully analyzes anti-Baha’i polemic. But when he describes recent developments in the Baha’i community, his most oft-quoted sources and primary informants are mainly disaffected ex-Baha’is with an animus against the Baha’i community generally and its elected institutions specifically. Further, he categorizes the groups of people who entered the Baha’i community during the past century as "liberal," "conservative," or "fundamentalist" – characterizations he not only fails to define but that seem foreign to Baha’i principles and experience. Other unfounded judgments include his discussion of the rural southern African Americans who became Baha’is around 1970. Garlington theorizes that "for American Baha’i leadership, the possibility of having to deal with such large numbers of unschooled and poor Baha’is was apparently too disconcerting." If the leadership held such attitudes, would it have constructed an institute and radio station in South Carolina precisely for these believers? Graduate or religious libraries that decide to acquire this book should balance it with other works on the subject by authors like Robert Stockman, Michael McMullen, Peter Smith, Moojan Momen, and Will van den Hoonaard. Not recommended for most libraries.William P. Collins, Library of Congress

González-Wippler, Migene. Book of Shadows. Llewellyn. 2005. c.240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-7387-0213-7. pap. $12.95. REL

As the grip of traditional religion over Western societies loosens, interest in alternative spiritualities has burgeoned. This tome compiles the necessary rudiments and formalized practices of a given tradition/coven – previously kept closely guarded within the confines of membership – into a single volume for reference. While such books are often invaluable to the earnest neophyte, the mushrooming trend has produced a kind of homogenous verisimilitude among them, with each seeming simply to repackage the same content beneath a different cover. González-Wippler, a self-initiated Witch and cultural anthropologist, adds to the already crowded field with this book on the Gardnerian/Alexandrian tradition of Wicca. Topics include all the obligatory ingredients of note: herblore and incenses, gemstones, color correspondences, Sabbat and lunar-phase significances, introductory spells, and detailed rites to be conducted amid a coven by high priestess, priest, and covenites. Unfortunately, this book reads about as unremarkably as its title; there is little here to distinguish it from others already on shelves. Although occasionally punctuated with interesting side notes, the content will not come as any revelation to an advanced practitioner. A basic primer appropriate for libraries with alternative spirituality collections.Dina Komuves, Collingswood, NJ

Haas, Peter J. & others. Human Rights and the World’s Major Religions. 5 vols. Praeger. (Perspectives). 2005. 1712p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-275-98425-7. $399.95. REL

Using the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a springboard, these five similarly structured volumes examine human rights within the context of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The first part of each volume considers the historical development and analysis of the religion; the second is a selection of excerpts from relevant texts followed by brief biographies of the major thinkers mentioned and an annotated bibliography. Haas (Jewish studies, Case Western Reserve Univ.) considers the Jewish experience in America and modern Israel; Harold Coward (history, Univ. of Victoria) and Robert E. Florida (Ctr. for the Study of Religions and Society, Univ. of Victoria; Buddhist Tradition) argue that the concept of human rights is really a Western one; and Muddathir ‘Abd Al-Rahim (political science & Islamic studies, International Inst. of Islamic Thought and Civilization) looks at the compatibility of Islam and democracy. All of the books are written fairly objectively. In the volume on Christian tradition, for example, William H. Brackney (religion, Baylor Univ.) includes material from the Vatican as well as from various Protestant sects. Raising important issues about religion and human rights, this clearly written set is not only worthwhile for advanced students but also accessible to mature high school students. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ

Hurtado, Larry W. How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?: Historical Questions About Earliest Devotion to Jesus. Eerdmans. 2005. c.226p. index. ISBN 0-8028-2861-2. pap. $16. REL

The title of this well-researched work by Hurtado (New Testament language, literature, & theology, Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland; Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity) points to the methodology by which he focuses on the development of devotion to Jesus as divine in the apostolic church both historically and phenomenologically. Chapters 1 – 4 constitute inaugural lectures Hurtado delivered in March 2004 as part of the Deichmann Annual Lecture Series. The content of Chapters 5-8 was originally published in professional theological journals that served as a basis for the author’s previous work. Finely researched, written, organized, and argued, this book posits that devotion to Jesus as divine was influenced by and adapts in new ways the religious thinking of Second Temple Judaism that would have been prevalent during Jesus’ lifetime and in the immediately succeeding apostolic and subapostolic ages of the church. Hurtado’s intended audience is, however, a specialized one; in Chapters 5 – 8, Greek vocabulary is used in exegetes of certain New Testament pericopes and verses. Recommended for upper undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty members but not recommended for public libraries.Charlie Murray, Boston Univ. Sch. of Theology Lib. & Southern New Hampshire Univ., Manchester

Mobley, Gregory. The Empty Men: The Heroic Tradition of Ancient Israel. Doubleday. (Anchor Bible Reference Library). 2005. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-385-49851-9. $35. REL

Mobley (Old Testament studies, Andover Newton Theological Sch.) offers a fresh and accessible look into the world of the ancient Israelites and seeks to identify the ancient heroic traditions that the author sees as submerged in the stories of Judges and I & II Samuel. Through textual archaeology, he excavates the heroic characters of Ehud, Gideon, Abimelech, and Samson, attempting to rid them of their religious cloaks and expose a heroic tradition of warriors and rough-hewn men devoid of theological impressionism. At the heart of this book is the understanding that biblical characters are theologically conceptualized by generations of religious traditions. Such an approach confronts a traditional reading of the biblical narratives and will challenge one to consider Mobley’s ideas. The result is scholarly and accessible, and the author, whose devotion to the topic is clear, often shows great flare in his writing (as when he describes Samson as the "original Hell’s Angel"). Certain to spark debate in many scholarly circles, this book is recommended for theological libraries and academic libraries with theological or biblical studies collections.Anthony J. Elia, American Theological Lib. Assn., Chicago

Mullin, Glenn H. The Second Dalai Lama: His Life & Teachings. Snow Lion. 2005. c.288p. ISBN 1-55939-233-9. pap. $16.95. REL

After China occupied Tibet in the 1950s, it embarked on a long campaign to eradicate Tibetan cultural and religious heritage by closing monasteries, looting temples and museums, and burning thousands of ancient books. The campaign is still under way. Accordingly, the exiled Dalai Lama and the worldwide sympathetic scholarly community are saving, translating, and publishing as much of the existing Tibetan literature as they can. Tibetologist, author, Tantric meditation teacher, and translator Mullin (The Female Buddhas: Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mystical Art), an associate of the current Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, has divided his book into three parts: a general introduction to Tibetan religious history and the lineage of the Dalai Lamas, a biography of the Second Dalai Lama (1475-1541), particularly noted for his poetry, and a selection in 25 chapters of his mystical poems, translated and commented on by Mullin. This book is very inviting and informative, but because of its esoteric subject matter it will appeal mainly to scholarly readers. Recommended for academic libraries.James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, VA

Rudin, James. The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us. Thunder’s Mouth: Avalon, dist. by Publishers Group West. Jan. 2006. c.336p. index. ISBN 1-56025-797-0. $26. REL

Rabbi Rudin (senior interreligious advisor, American Jewish Committee), who has worked closely with political and religious leaders in support of the state of Israel and promoting religious pluralism and cultural diversity, writes about what he observes to be the intrusion of fundamentalist Christianity into our lives. The plight of our nation, as Rudin sees it, is that it is humanist and that the Christian Right believes there should be purity of religious belief, ideological conformity, and spiritual submission and obedience. He hopes that his account of discussions with Christian leaders will reveal an underlying theme of the slippery slope down which he believes Americans are heading; a slippery slope that leads to the forgotten history of religious persecution and discrimination. While the rest of the world progresses, he argues, the United States is in danger of becoming a state-controlled, faith-based nation. Though this popular text clarifies the missionary drive of fundamentalist Christians, because it so reflects Rudin’s personal views it would best serve as a counter text to a work like Brannon Howse’s One Nation Under Man?: The Worldview War Between Christians and the Secular Left. Recommended for larger public libraries and most academic religious collectionsL. Kriz, West Des Moines P.L., IA

Starkovsky, Nicolas. The Koran Handbook: An Annotated Translation. Algora. 2005. 488p. ISBN 0-87586-376-0. pap. $36. REL

This is the unique expression and lifework of Egyptian-born Starkovsky, who is fluent in five languages and has researched the Koran in at least 30 different translations. He emphasizes the importance of his translation because it possesses explanatory notes, unlike many other translations. But the notes, often exegetical, do not muster the full tenor of the text. Starkovsky’s translation is meant to be a tool for those interested in learning the Koran (his preferred spelling, not Qur’an), and for this purpose he does not structure the suras in their conventional order (1 – 114). Instead, he arranges them thematically into seven sections: "The Foundation of Islamic Belief," "Eschatology and Apocalypses," "Stories about the Prophets," "Attitude Toward the Other Religions," "Doxologies," "Legal Matters," and "Fighting in the Way of God." He describes his translation as "based on the most moderate Sunni tradition." The text itself appears to be translated well, often poetically, but it is clear that the aim here is singularly pedagogical. Though this work may serve public and academic libraries for its unique thematic teaching structure, the reviewer holds a reserved recommendation of this translation.Anthony J. Elia, American Theological Lib. Assn., Chicago

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