Social Sciences Reviews, November 1, 2011

Biography

Eddé, Anne-Marie. Saladin. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Nov. 2011. c.662p. tr. from French by Jane Marie Todd. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674055599. $35. BIOG
In her first book to be translated into English, French medievalist Eddé (director of research, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) seeks to cut through the myth of Saladin, as the West came to call Sala-.h Ad-di-n Yu-suf Ibn Ayyu-b, the leader who retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. Born in Kurdish Tikrit, he succeeded, through his talents for tactics and politics, in uniting the Muslim world, from Egypt to Upper Mesopotamia, facing down Richard the Lionheart and founding the Ayyubid dynasty. Eddé does an admirable job of showing all his complexity, from human, religious, and cultural standpoints, wading through the mythology and hagiography surrounding him to present a more balanced view of this historical figure who was so well suited to his times. VERDICT A more academic study than Geoffrey Hindley’s Saladin: Hero of Islam and with substantial editorial apparatus showing deep use of a variety of sources, this will be of great interest to serious students of the Crusades and those seeking insight into the history of East-West relations.‚ John Sandstrom, New Mexico State Univ. Lib., Las Cruces

Fertel, Randy. The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. 2011. c.288p. photogs. ISBN 9781617030826. $28. AUTOBIOG
Fertel introduces what can be described only as one of the royal families of New Orleans. The author’s mother, Ruth Fertel, shot to fame as the owner of the now-famous Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Her husband, Rodney, was a character in his own right‚ a wealthy man who once ran for mayor of New Orleans and promised to buy a pair of gorillas for the city zoo if elected, and he dressed as a gorilla during his campaign. It was a time when personalities such as Ruthie the Duck Girl roamed the streets of the French Quarter‚ when New Orleans had characters as well as character. Fertel brings it all back in this touching memoir, which offers a painfully true look at the faults and weaknesses of his distinctly New Orleans family. His story reminds us how hard it can be to love and be loved by such larger-than-life characters. VERDICT Recommended for any library with a New Orleans or Louisiana collection. Non New Orleans‚ based readers may also find this stimulating.‚ Sonnet Ireland, Univ. of New Orleans Lib.

Williams, Michael Vinson. Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr. Univ. of Arkansas. Nov. 2011. c.453p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781557289735. $34.95. BIOG
Medgar Evers (1925‚ 63) served as the NAACP’s first field secretary in Mississippi until an assassin shot him down in the driveway of his Jackson home, within view of his wife, Myrlie, and children. Williams (history & African American studies, Mississippi State Univ.) unfolds Evers’s life as a tour‚ geographical, emotional, and psychological‚ of whites’ violent oppression of blacks in the segregated South and of the committed black resistance. He views Evers’s life from his Mississippi Delta childhood to his life in Jackson, the state capital, and, through Jim Crow’s domestic killing fields, filling out our historical memory of the social environment and political action that produced the tragedies and triumphs of the post‚ World War II Civil Rights Movement. VERDICT Williams’s work tops what have been too few head-on examinations of the substance and significance of this martyr’s sacrifice, a man who demonstrated the truth he liked to repeat: You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea. General readers and scholars will benefit from reading this work alongside The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, edited by Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable.‚ Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

Economics

Backhouse, Roger E. & Bradley W. Bateman. Capitalist Revolutionary: John Maynard Keynes. Harvard Univ. Nov. 2011. c.198p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674057753. $25.95. ECON
Though Keynesian economics fell into disrepute with the rise of the Chicago School in the 1970s, rumors of its permanent demise have been greatly exaggerated. John Maynard Keynes is back! Backhouse (history & philosophy of economics, Univ. of Birmingham) and Bateman (economics, Denison Univ.) provide a useful context for the many policymakers, journalists, economists, and historians who have recently rediscovered, rehabilitated, or revived Keynes’s thought. The duo portray Keynes as a nontrivial personality who was in equal measure economist and moral philosopher, revolutionary and conservative. The brief volume flows with merciful grace through the particulars of Keynesian economic thought, interweaving historical, biographical, and technical details. The Keynes who emerges is not a one-dimensional deficit-spending proponent but a complex philosopher-economist who earnestly calls for perpetual revolution of capitalism to preserve this imperfect but best-available economic system. VERDICT While this book is recommended as a primer for students (and teachers) of economic history, it will also enlighten the general reader interested in the ongoing policy debates of the post‚ great recession world.‚ Jekabs Bikis, Dallas Baptist Univ.

Bratton, William & Zachary Tumin. Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World. Crown Business. Jan. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307592392. $26. BUS
In this book about problem solving through collaboration, Bratton, former police chief of New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles, along with Tumin (John F. Kennedy Sch. of Government, Harvard), provides many successful examples of his philosophy in action taken from personal experience, international politics (e.g., the rescue of FARC-held hostages in Colombia), U.S. policy, industry, education, and health care. Inserted among these accounts are nuggets of commonsense information on, e.g., how to encourage and facilitate collaboration and ways to achieve buy-in from parties with divergent interests. These include ideas on right-sizing, or simplifying, problems; assembling teams; getting out of one’s silo (broadening one’s perspective); and building trust. There are lots of good ideas here, but‚ other than what can be gleaned from the anecdotes that make up the majority of the text‚ no real suggestions on how to implement them. VERDICT An engaging book filled with real-world examples of successful (and some failed) collaborations around the world but offering little new data or insight. Optional; purchase where there’s interest.‚ Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Masaoka, Jan. The Nonprofit’s Guide to Human Resources: Managing Your Employees and Volunteers. Nolo. Nov. 2011. c.350p. index. ISBN 9781413313758. pap. $49.99. BUS
Employees of nonprofit organizations (and librarians) are not always aware of their workplace’s singular human resources (HR) needs. For example, the involvement of stipend volunteers and interns raises special questions about minimum wage laws. And consider that while all employers must follow nondiscrimination laws regarding people with disabilities, some nonprofits may have mission-related reasons to discriminate favorably toward hiring people with disabilities. Masaoka (editor in chief, Blue Avocado) helps nonprofit HR employees understand the legal particulars and create policies around these and many other issues, including salaries and benefits, supervision and team leadership, terminations and layoffs, and workplace safety. Each chapter has been reviewed by an adviser working in nonprofit HR and features real-life examples and exposes common myths. Readers will occasionally encounter sample forms, letters, and policies. VERDICT The major reference works for nonprofit organizations cover some of these topics but not to the extent discussed in this important work. Recommended.‚ Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR

Pinkerton, Stewart. The Fall of the House of Forbes: The Inside Story of the Collapse of a Media Empire. St. Martin’s. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312658595. $25.99. BUS
Pinkerton’s nearly 20 years at Forbes‚ the stalwart, almost iconic financial publication‚ affords him an insider’s perspective on the magazine’s rise and fall. Forbes was launched in 1917 by B.C. Forbes, a scrappy, ambitious Scottish immigrant who combined an innovative layout with content grounded in American capitalism. The Forbes family faced problems common for family-owned businesses‚ when not feuding among themselves, they tended to spend outrageous sums with little or no concern for the bottom line. It infected the company culture; employees frequently padded expense accounts or ignored soaring costs. Even more ominously, Forbes‘s presence on the Internet was all but ignored. Rounds of inevitable layoffs and cutbacks reduced the once-proud magazine to a much diminished presence with questionable long-term viability. VERDICT Although Pinkerton is a solid journalist who deftly chronicles the magazine’s rise and fall, his finger-pointing seems at times to be less a search for truth than an opportunity to settle personal scores. Given how many family-owned media companies continue to publish, this is truly a compelling tale for our time. Recommended for all readers interested in media and journalism.‚ Richard S. Drezen, Brooklyn, NY

Taylor, Timothy. The Instant Economist: Everything You Need To Know About How the Economy Works. Plume: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780452297524. pap. $16. ECON
Taylor’s (managing editor, Journal of Economic Perspectives) volume can help conversationalists looking to raise the bar for their watercooler chats and casual readers who want to understand better the current economic condition of the United States. Taylor uses simple language with field-specific vocabulary to explain economic concepts, and each concept is successfully reinforced with a real-life‚ and usually entertaining‚ example. He hits all the subjects that might interest a layperson, such as division of labor, supply and demand, wages, competition and monopoly, inflation, banking, and trade, for a total of 36 petite chapters‚ just enough information to give the reader a basic but well-rounded understanding of the subject. VERDICT This highly readable, nonpoliticized look at some of the economic principles that shape our society, presented in an engaging, anecdotal fashion, is highly recommended for armchair economists and anyone with a general interest in the state of our economy.‚ Poppy Johnson-Renvall, Central New Mexico Community Coll. Lib., Albuquerque

Education

Marschark, Marc & Peter C. Hauser. How Deaf Children Learn: What Parents and Teachers Need To Know. Oxford Univ. (Perspectives on Deafness). Dec. 2011. c.168p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780195389753. $24.95. ED
Marschark (Raising and Educating a Deaf Child) and Hauser, both professors at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, walk readers through what is currently known‚ and unknown‚ about teaching deaf children. Written primarily for parents and teachers of deaf or hard-of-hearing children, this work covers general information about their education, gives insights into their cognitive development, and provides steps to their school success. The authors also discuss issues such as the value of cochlear implants and the debate over signing vs. speaking, and they highlight similarities and differences in how hearing and deaf students learn, such as the importance of vision to both populations. VERDICT The authors believe the best way to lead deaf children to academic success is by understanding who they are, what they know, and how they think. After reading this book, parents who may be feeling inadequate about their parenting skills or fearful about providing a good education for their deaf or hard-of-hearing child should be more at ease, and teachers will gain insight into the complexities involved in deaf education and be better equipped to teach these children.‚ Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS

History

Axelrod, Alan. A Savage Empire: Trappers, Traders, Tribes, and the Wars That Made America. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Dec. 2011. c.336p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312576561. $27.99. HIST
Following Frederick Jackson Turner’s still-popular 1893 thesis that the frontier was the anvil upon which the American nation was forged (albeit without explicit reference to Turner), prolific author of popular histories Axelrod (Profiles in Audacity: Great Decisions and How They Were Made) delivers beautifully executed prose on how North America’s Colonial wars shaped the early American national character. Providing details as varied as how to scalp, torture, and otherwise insult and humiliate an enemy, frontier style, or how the 1739 War of Jenkin’s Ear helped build European tensions and ultimately led to further violence in North America, Axelrod examines the complex Colonial relations among American Indians, Europeans, and colonists, drawing on his previous experience writing on the American Revolution and European wars. VERDICT Aimed at an educated popular readership, this social-military work differs substantially from Eric Jay Dolin’s Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America, published earlier this year, which focuses on the broad influence of the fur trade in the Colonial era rather than on military factors. While not for academic historians, who would want more (and more recent) citations, this work is highly recommended for public libraries.‚ Nathan E. Bender, Albany Cty. P.L., Laramie, WY

Costigliola, Frank. Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War. Princeton Univ. Jan. 2012. c.544p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780691121291. $35. HIST
Costigliola (history, Univ. of Connecticut) describes the functional alliance among the big three‚ Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin‚ during World War II and how, after Roosevelt’s death, it was undermined by smaller alliances among FDR’s couriers. Churchill is presented as an unchanging warrior and colonialist, whereas Stalin is portrayed not as a conventional madman but a realist who, despite his brutality, sought secure borders, internal order, modernization, and respect for the Soviet Union. FDR is pictured as being in reasonable health at Yalta and not bamboozled by Stalin. The three forged a pragmatic relationship in which their nations would police the world via the Security Council of the United Nations. Yet the author argues that FDR was too demanding of his top assistants; once FDR was out of the picture, his assistants formed new alliances with and were able to manipulate Truman, whom FDR had never taken seriously as his vice president. VERDICT This book offers a provocative psychological thesis on leadership and diplomacy that contributes to understanding the origins of the Cold War. It will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in the transition of the Allies from World War II to the Cold War. Highly recommended.‚ William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ.-Shreveport

Deutsch, Stephanie. You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South. Northwestern Univ. Jan. 2012. c.208p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810127906. $24.95. HIST
In 2002, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the country’s Rosenwald schools‚ over 5000 schools built for the education of African American students beginning in 1912 and eventually encompassing 15 states‚ on its list of most endangered historic sites, many did not know about them. Journalist Deutsch here presents a timely look into the lives and careers of Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald, who together made these schools and their educational promises a reality. Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., had amassed a fortune and wanted to enrich the lives of African Americans, with whom he felt a particular kinship because of a mutual experience of prejudice. Washington, born into slavery, had risen through education and personal determination to become one of the most prominent individuals of his day. Deutsch interweaves the stories of their disparate lives and their relationship with the issues of their era. VERDICT A well-researched, well-written work that will be a seedbed for other books about these two men and their legacy. Recommended to all readers, especially as the centennial of the initiative approaches.‚ Nancy Richey, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green

Hershberg, James G. Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam. Stanford Univ. (Cold War International History Project). Dec. 2011. c.960p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9780804778848. $39.50. HIST
The failure of the secret talks code-named Marigold‚ which aimed during the second half of 1966 to jump-start serious peace negotiations between the United States and North Vietnam‚ was one of the great diplomatic collapses, not just of the Vietnam War but also of the entire Cold War era, claims Hershberg (history & international affairs, George Washington Univ.; James B. Conant: Harvard to Hiroshima and the Making of the Nuclear Age). This exhaustively researched investigation reveals that Marigold failed largely because the Rolling Thunder bombings of North Vietnam that December destroyed American negotiating credibility. Hershberg shows in fascinating detail the tireless efforts of Janusz Lewandowski, a Polish diplomat stationed in South Vietnam, and Giovanni D’Orlandi, Italy’s ambassador to Saigon, to arrange the Marigold negotiations. They both gained the respect of American and Vietnamese diplomats but couldn’t save the talks, which broke down 17 months before largely fruitless talks between the United States and North Vietnam began in Paris. VERDICT Hershberg has done remarkable work, piecing together the Marigold story from newly available Soviet documents, D’Orlandi’s journals, and numerous interviews. He has calmed oceans of detail into a graceful narrative, an important work for Vietnam-era and Cold War historians.‚ Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA

Judt, Tony with Timothy Snyder. Thinking the Twentieth Century. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Feb. 2012. c.448p. index. ISBN 9781594203237. $35. HIST
Judt (Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945), who died last year, never got to write the intellectual history of the 20th century that was to have been his next project. Before he died, though, Snyder (history, Yale Univ., Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin) sat with him over the course of several months. Together they talked through the complicated history of the past century, a history that Judt, in particular, knew well. The result is part memoir (the chapters start with Judt’s reminiscences) and part historical analysis. Judt’s particular strength was his ability to draw connections between the political and what public persons, including intellectuals, said and did about politics, explaining complicated things lucidly but never oversimplifying. This posthumous volume is informed by Judt’s exceptional sensitivity and sense of irony; every page has a bon mot. VERDICT We may never have the full history Judt intended to write, but this marvelous précis, vibrantly alive, rich, and piquant, is one last gift from an exceptional public intellectual. Not only academics and fans of Judt, but also those who enjoy the New York Review of Books and The New Yorker will flock to read it. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]‚ David Keymer, Modesto, CA

Pietrusza, David. 1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year That Transformed America. Union Square: Sterling. 2011. c.544p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781402767487. $24.95. HIST
Taking an approach similar to that of his previous books, Pietrusza (1920: The Year of the Six Presidents; 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon) looks at President Truman’s 1948 victory over Thomas E. Dewey for the presidency. Truman’s seemingly impossible feat is both the climax and the backdrop of Pietrusza’s examination of the candidates, the issues, and the times. After a cursory overview of Truman’s life up to the point when he was thrust into the White House from the vice presidency in 1945, the author portrays Truman’s difficult first (partial) term while allowing readers to get to know the President. He then introduces Truman’s opponents: the Republican Dewey; former vice president and Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace; and Strom Thurmond, the candidate of the Dixiecrats; as well as many other minor players surrounding them. It’s a sweeping examination of the characters and their times, making for compelling general reading, even though the outcome is known from the start. VER DICT This narrative of a U.S. presidential election and its significance will appeal especially to presidential history buffs and less advanced readers on the subject. Specialists may enjoy the story but will not find anything new here.‚ Jane B. Marino, Great Neck Lib., NY

Schneider, James J. Guerrilla Leader: T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Bantam. Nov. 2011. c.368p. maps. index. ISBN 9780553807646. $28. HIST
When U.S. forces began their years of battle in the Middle East in 2001, Schneider (military theory, emeritus, Sch. of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command & General Staff Coll., Ft. Leavenworth) began an intensive study of the successful Arab insurgency against Turkish rule led by T.E. Lawrence in World War I. Lawrence led a force lacking resources and modern technology to victory through his leadership and creation of an innovative guerrilla strategy within the broader context of modern industrialized warfare. Schneider’s story follows closely Lawrence’s own work in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, capturing the dangerous and exhausting desert forays, harsh discomfort of battle, and moral ambiguity of leading an Arab Revolt as an outsider when Britain was involved in contradictory diplomacy and negotiation. Schneider asserts that Lawrence’s military success stemmed from his tactical insights and leadership qualities. VERDICT Schneider’s smoothly written and sharply focused book captures the role of T.E. Lawrence in the arduous campaign waged by his Arab forces but adds little to the vast shelf of books on Lawrence, given such works as John E. Mack’s A Prince of Our Disorder, Michael Korda’s Hero, and most especially Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom.‚ Elizabeth R. Hayford, formerly with Associated Colls. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL

Sheffer, Edith. Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain. Oxford Univ. 2011. 356p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199737048. $29.95. HIST
Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union built a barrier between East and West Berlin, defining the Cold War era. Sheffer (history, Stanford Univ.) uses primary and secondary sources, including interviews, to portray two sister cities (Neustadt and Sonneberg) and their Iron Curtain experience. She strongly delineates how social and psychological barriers developed and strengthened, culminating at the historical and physical barrier at Burned Bridge, a stretch of road that connected the sister cities. This compelling history brings the issue of the inter-German border to a more personal level: a bitter rending of twin cities, a tearing apart that likely happened all over Germany. After the opening of Germany’s internal borders in 1989, tensions arose quickly: East Germans resented the West’s privileged position, and West Germans were upset about the invasion of their city. VERDICT The romanticized version of generous Westerners and grateful, desperate Easterners is corrected here. Sheffer shows how the barriers grew and then gave way not just to freedom but to shock and uncertainty that is still apparent today. Any audience with an interest in this topic will find this accessible history an excellent way to explore the impact of the Cold War experience on a population.‚ Maria C. Bagshaw, West Dundee, IL

Welky, David. The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937. Univ. of Chicago. 2011. c.384p. illus. index. ISBN 9780226887166. $27.50. HIST
The immediacy of news coverage of contemporary national disasters has distracted us from their long-lasting effects. Welky (history, Univ. of Central Arkansas; Everything Was Better in America: Print Culture in the Great Depression) details the story of the catastrophic flooding of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in 1937. The flood caused millions of dollars in damage and took almost 400 lives as the river crested, in some places at nearly 60 feet. Welky’s scholarship provides a timely (75th anniversary) examination of the flood’s impact and of the New Deal responses to it, both the successful and the failed, during a time of tension between a still-conservative nation and an activist administration. Welky not only examines the events themselves but seeks to understand why the flood happened and why it happened as it did. He also ably explores the legacy of the flood and the changing nature of Americans’ connection with nature. VERDICT All readers with an interest in the impact of natural disasters in American history or in 20th-century American studies will find this to be a worthwhile read.‚ Nancy Richey, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green

Law & Crime

Earley, Pete. The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man’s Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World’s Most Terrifying Killers. Touchstone: S. & S. Jan. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9781439199022. $24.99. CRIME
Earley (Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness) here tells the story of Tony Ciaglia, an average 15-year-old boy whose life was tragically transformed after he suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while operating a Jet Ski. After the accident, Tony’s TBI caused him to become easily obsessed, and when he stumbled across information about a serial killing case online, he soon initiated correspondence with dozens of convicted serial killers, who also exhibited feelings of isolation and rage. Curiously, his therapist condoned the letter writing. His hobby became an obsession that continued well into his thirties, and he meticulously maintained a scrapbook of each killer’s letters, even visiting some of them in prison. The effects of Tony’s TBI‚ being both totally tolerant and obsessive compulsive‚ helped him gain their trust and listen without judgment to the sordid details of their murderous sprees, including torture, rape, murder, and cannibalization. He was then able to help police detectives with their investigations, bring closure to the mother of a missing child, and ultimately find a purpose in life. VERDICT For readers of true crime and psychology and others interested in the workings of the brain.‚ Krista Bush, Shelton Public Sch. Lib., CT

Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America. Univ. of Texas. Dec. 2011. c.332p. ed. by Thomas Bruneau & others. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780292728608. $55; pap. ISBN 9780292729285. $24.95. CRIME
As this dense essay collection demonstrates, maras‚ organized Central American gangs whose raisons d’√™tre are drug trafficking and violence‚ are widespread throughout Central America, appearing in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Mara organizations formed in Los Angeles and were introduced to Central America as the United States deported gang members to their native countries. Aimed at academics and politicians interested in Central American crime, the essays will still provide worthwhile information to intrepid, uninitiated readers, though this collection is sure to be a slow, complicated read. Bruneau (national security affairs, Naval Postgraduate Sch.), Lucía Dammert (executive director, Global Consortium on Security Transformation), and Elizabeth Skinner (think tank coordinator, Allied Command Transformation, NATO) organize the book into two parts, Case Studies and Responses to Gang Violence, with discussions of the impact of maras on individual Central American countries. In addition, the authors suggest policy implications for government intervention. Finally, the book offers a thoughtful conclusion, The Dilemma of Fighting Gangs in New Democracies, along with a detailed glossary and bibliography. VERDICT A significant read for a limited professional audience.‚ Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law, PA

Shawcross, William. Justice and the Enemy: From the Nuremberg Trials to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jan. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9781586489755. $26.99. LAW
Well-known journalist Shawcross (Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia), son of Britain’s lead prosecutor in the Nuremberg war crime trials, undertakes the task of defending the U.S. prosecution of al-Qaeda detainees, particularly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Using the Nuremberg trials and the opinions of Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the trials, as his lodestar, he finds support for military commissions to try those accused of being terrorists. Shawcross begins with the origins of the Nuremberg trials and moves to the history of al-Qaeda, then the legal underpinnings of the military tribunals. Given stateless actors not bound by rules of war, he argues that the use of drones and enhanced interrogation techniques is lawful. While the U.S. government has faced great difficulties handling the prosecution of terrorists, it has, according to the author, Nuremberg as a useful precedent. VERDICT What distinguishes the book is the quality of the writing and analysis; regardless of their personal political views, readers will find Shawcross makes a nuanced argument. Clear, briskly written, and persuasive‚ of interest to those on all sides of the issue.‚ Harry Charles, St. Louis

Stevens, John Paul. Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir. Little, Brown. 2011. c.304p. index. ISBN 9780316199803. $24.99. LAW
Stevens (former associate justice, U.S. Supreme Court) provides an insider’s view of the role of the chief justice in shaping the Court’s daily operations and philosophical direction. He relates his personal interactions with the five chief justices with whom he served, from his days as a law clerk to Fred Vinson in the 1940s to the present. In particular, he discusses William Rehnquist’s role in changing the Court’s direction by stressing vitality of sovereign immunity for states whose citizens allege violations of their federal rights, fervently supporting the death penalty, and opposing abortion and gun control. Stevens underscores the professionalism, respect, and decorum that underlie the justices’ daily routines and personal interactions, in spite of frequent legal disagreements. He well represents the give-and-take between the chief justice and his associates, their personal lives, their families, their pastimes, and their individual backgrounds and personalities. VERDICT Appealing to an academic audience and well documented, the book is replete with analysis of the legal, political, and social issues involved and will be of interest to students, scholars, and readers who follow the Supreme Court.‚ Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Civil Branch Law Lib., First Judicial Dist., New York

Parapsychology

Goode, Erich. The Paranormal: Who Believes, Why They Believe, and Why It Matters. Prometheus. Dec. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. ISBN 9781616144913. pap. $19. PARAPSYCH
Goode (sociology, emeritus, Stony Brook Univ.) has written a several books on the topic of deviant sociology (e.g., Deviant Behavior; Drugs in American Society). His newest book is an updated and reorganized version of his 1999 Paranormal Beliefs: A Sociological Introduction. The changes are based in part on feedback Goode received from using the first edition in a senior seminar on the same topic, and this new title includes as case studies a number of the personal paranormal belief statements of his students. Goode is careful to avoid judgment about the existence or nonexistence of the paranormal phenomena discussed, focusing instead on the impact of these beliefs on the cultural and social aspects of society through time. VERDICT This book may read more slowly than books in the popular paranormal genre because of the scholarly nature of the work; however, the topic and case studies will retain most readers’ interest. Particularly appropriate for universities and junior colleges.‚ Crystal Renfro, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta

Grimassi, Raven. Old World Witchcraft: Ancient Ways for Modern Days. Weiser. 2011. c.272p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781578635054. pap. $19.95. PARAPSYCH
Grimassi (Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft) has written over a dozen books on neo paganism and witchcraft and is a self-styled expert on non-Celtic European witchcraft. In this title, he refutes current concepts of what witchcraft is and has been, dismissing most scholarly work as dependent on either the testimony of tortured victims of the Inquisition or the writings of those seeking to justify their persecution of witches. He also appears to disdain Wicca as the fanciful imaginings of the Victorians. Having made these points, Grimassi moves on to share the plant magic that is the basis of the Old World Witchcraft taught to him by hereditary witches‚ whose teachings, apparently, emanated originally from the faery realm. (Take that, scholars!) He lays out a complex schema informed by an Old World understanding of the sacred hallow and the use of shadow, the organic memory of the earth. The second half of the book is full of detailed spells, charms, correspondences, and rituals. VERDICT Readers of this book will most likely be experienced witches looking to further their spiritual studies and dedicated to parsing the magical prescriptions to suit their own purposes.‚ Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States, Portland, OR

Political Science

Soufan, Ali H. with Daniel Freedman. The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. Norton. 2011. 608p. ISBN 9780393079425. $26.95. INT AFFAIRS
This book stands out among the numerous books published on al-Qaeda because it provides information not found in other volumes; many have relied on Soufan’s information, at times anonymously, but none has offered all that is here. Soufan was the FBI’s most knowledgeable special agent dealing with al-Qaeda’s activities and became the source of the most useful actionable intelligence on this terrorist organization. As an interrogator with unique skills, Soufan gained firsthand, reliable information about many al-Qaeda operatives. What has been remarkable about the valuable information provided by Soufan to the FBI is that he obtained all of his data without resorting to torture and objected to the prevalent use of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were devised during the George W. Bush administration. This absorbing book details accounts of Soufan’s treasure trove of data that he provided to the U.S. government well before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some of which were ignored. VERDICT The best and most original book published in the West on al-Qaeda, this is highly recommended. (Although Soufan never worked for the CIA, the FBI submitted a draft of this book to the CIA, which redacted several sections. The CIA did not sign off on the index, which is why there is none.) [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/11.]‚ Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile

Psychology

Herbenick, Debby & Vanessa Schick. Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva. Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2011. c.312p. index. ISBN 9781442208001. pap. $15.95. PSYCH
This diverse and informative tour spans health, sex, and V-culture. While the thorough health and sex chapters cover pretty standard sex-book territory, the numerous stops on the culture route pick up on less commonly mentioned size/shape variations, pubic hair styling and coloring, labiaplasty, V-knitting circles and other V-crafts, vulvas in prehistory and myth, V-activism, and a DIY vulva costume. Kinsey Institute researchers Herbenick (Because It Feels Good) and Schick bring extensive knowledge together with a welcoming-all-options attitude. References and an excellent resource list encourage readers to explore favorite topics further. Illustrations, however, are sadly meager: there is one anatomical drawing (no side view or G-spot); small, black-and-white vulva photos; and a few other rather drab visuals. This savvy work is just screaming for stylish color art illustrating techniques, objects, and, of course, V-ville. VERDICT The essential book for vulvovaginal health is Elizabeth G. Stewart and Paula Spencer’s The V Book. This new volume will help supplement that definitive text with necessary and entertaining cultural content for 21st-century gals, teens and up. Sadly, its limited illustrations make it safer for libraries.‚ Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

The Mind’s Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation. Mind & Life Inst. Jan. 2012. c.240p. ed. by Jon Kabat-Zinn & others. illus. index. ISBN 9781572249684. $24.95. PSYCH
This publication is an edited transcript of a 2005 Washington, DC, conference that brought together leading thinkers from the medical and contemplative traditions under the auspices of the Mind and Life Institute. Presentations, lengthy commentary by the Dalai Lama and many of the presenters, and Q&A sessions are included. While at first glance readers may think this a tedious read, it feels like a conversation over coffee. Some of the discussions veer into scientific technicalities, but none is so abstruse that general readers won’t understand the conclusions drawn. The focus of this conference was to explore the confluence of religious, meditative, and scientific perceptions of the mind and brain. Contributors discuss how each of these worldviews approaches the study of the brain, whether the mind and brain are different, and whether religion, spirituality, and science are exclusive. VERDICT Not a self-help book so much as an exploration of how spirituality and science intersect‚ a useful dialog for anyone interested in the mind/body connection.‚ Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ. Lib., Memphis

Smith, Shawn T. The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do About It. New Harbinger. Dec. 2011. c.208p. bibliog. ISBN 9781608820528. pap. $16.95. PSYCH
Smith, a clinical psychologist and blogger at ironshrink.com, defines the mind as the combined systems that churn away beneath our conscious awareness. Because of a genetic history that reaches back to prehistoric days, our minds continually try to protect us from environmental dangers. These protection mechanisms, which can include anxiety, depression, instant gratification, pessimistic thoughts, and immobilizing thoughts, are the mind’s way of attempting to regulate our behavior and stop us from doing what it perceives as dangerous. Smith explains that only after we have found a set of values, i.e., the principles and standards that drive us toward meaningful action, can we act deliberately against what the mind dictates. Many exercises in introspection (some quite difficult) are provided to help achieve this aim, as well as strategies, case studies, and suggestions of lifestyle changes. VERDICT Despite plenty of humor and numerous examples, this discussion of the human psyche is complex‚ covering emotions, thoughts, moods, and the internal battle between our primitive and higher minds. Still, though it lacks the simple explanations necessary for wide appeal, the book will nevertheless please serious readers of psychology.‚ Maryse Breton, Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, Montreal

Wright, Jesse H., M.D., & Laura W. McCray, M.D. Breaking Free From Depression: Pathways to Wellness. Guilford.(Self-Help Workbook). Nov. 2011. c.324p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606239193. pap. $21.95. PSYCH
Depression, the common cold of mental illness, is a complex problem. To help those afflicted with this debilitating illness, the father-and-daughter team of Wright (psychiatry, Univ. of Louisville) and McCray (family medicine, Univ. of Vermont Coll. of Medicine) have written a holistic work that provides sufferers with guidance on how to navigate through the slough of despair. They have culled through evidence-based treatments, grouping them into six pathways: the thoughts-action path, biology path, relationship path, lifestyle path, spiritual path, and mindfulness path. Readers will undoubtedly glean practical self-management strategies, and they can implement those most helpful to them. This resource is packed with worksheets, charts, logs, exercises, checklists, and illustrations. Furthermore, the book includes both a general bibliography and a subject bibliography as well as phone numbers to hotlines and websites for international organizations. VERDICT This balanced and responsibly eclectic guide will benefit treatment seekers as well as treatment providers.‚ Brian Smith McCallum, Arlington Heights Memorial Lib., IL

Social Sciences

Yu Hua. China in Ten Words. Pantheon. Nov. 2011. c.240p. tr. from Chinese by Allan H. Barr. ISBN 9780307379351. $25.95. SOC SCI
Yu is one of contemporary China’s most celebrated but controversial writers. With much wit and elegance, he reminisces here in separate pieces (only one has been previously published) about his country’s experiences over the past several decades, using personal stories as well as a piercing, critical examination of China’s political, economic, and social transformation from what was essentially a Third World state into a superpower. Best known for his novels, e.g., Brothers, which satirize the country’s moral depredation and its devolution into a hypercapitalist society, Yu chooses ten phrases‚ people, leader, reading, writing, Lu Xun, disparity, revolution, grassroots, copycat, and bamboozle‚ that capture what he sees as China’s most pressing issues over the last 60 years. His commentary is wide and varied, touching on everything from the country’s severe economic and social disparity since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s to his own rise from uneducated, small-town teeth puller to one of the most highly regarded writers of his time. VERDICT A marvelous book for those interested in contemporary China, by one of China’s foremost intellectuals.‚ Allan Cho, Univ. of British Columbia Lib., Vancouver

Travel & Geography

Cox, Lynne. South with the Sun: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery. Knopf. 2011. 320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307593405. $26. TRAV
In a disjointed, overlong narrative, Cox, a pioneer of open-water long-distance swimming, traces the expeditions of famed Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, examines his role in inspiring her own interest in extreme endeavors, and recounts her polar travels and swimming feats in frigid seas. While Cox’s ability to swim without a wet suit in freezing waters is potentially captivating, she fails to articulate adequately her motivations for these swims and provides only limited insight into the physical training and biological processes that enable her to survive these risky aquatic exploits. An awkward amalgamation of memoir and polar exploration history, this work is misleadingly titled as focusing mainly on Amundsen, but large portions turn out to be about Cox herself. The sections on Amundsen’s triumphant 1911 conquest of the South Pole are tepid, and clumsily mixed into Cox’s own story, which is padded with minutiae about every detail of her travels. VERDICT Readers interested in Amundsen would likely prefer Roland Huntford’s The Last Place on Earth, while those interested in Cox and her swimming prowess may prefer her first book, Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer. Best-suited to easygoing readers interested in open-water swimming, polar exploration, or extreme adventure in cold climates. [See Prepub Alert, 2/28/11.]‚ Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI

Keahey, John. Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2011. c.336p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312597054. $27.99. TRAV
Keahey (Venice Against the Sea; A Sweet and Glorious Land: Revisiting the Ionian Sea) takes a meandering and inspiring tour through the history, culture, and landscape of Sicily, an island that has been a crossroads for the various peoples of the Mediterranean for millennia. Known to many Americans as the birthplace of the Mafia, Sicily has, through the centuries, been ruled by the ancient Greeks and Romans, Normans, and Arabs, among others, and its language, food, and architecture exhibit influences of its visitors and invaders. Keahey also examines the island through the words of several contemporary Sicilians, most notably the author Leonardo Sciascia. VERDICT Keahey’s thoroughly researched book will inspire any traveler to look past the Sicily of the traditional tourist’s guide and appreciate its diverse, layered, and sometimes dark history. Armchair travelers will also want to dip into many of the books Keahey references, including those by Sciascia, a number of which have been translated into English (e.g., The Day of the Owl; To Each His Own). (Several recipes are included; maps and photographs not seen.)‚ Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams

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