Social Sciences Reviews, November 15, 2011

Biography

Kidd, Thomas S. Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots. Basic Bks: Perseus. Dec. 2011. c.336p. index. ISBN 9780465009282. $28. BIOG
Kidd (God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution) examines how Patrick Henry’s Christian values shaped his radical political beliefs. Kidd convincingly explains that the popular but controversial Henry was passionate about both liberty and virtue and believed that for America to succeed its laws must be grounded in Christianity, with strong local and state (rather than strong federal) government. Henry often put Virginia’s, and sometimes his own, interests before those of the nation, in conflict with his rivals James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers. This brief work serves best as an exploration and analysis of Henry’s values as manifested in his support for revolution and, later, in his opposition to the Constitution. As a biography it has gaping holes, but Kidd’s investigation into the role of religion in Henry’s politics and the contradictions between what he publicly espoused and personally practiced gives readers fresh, illuminating insight into a leader whose orations inspired revolution and turned a minor lawyer into a political giant. VERDICT Recommended for students and informed lay readers as supplemental reading but not as an introduction to Henry’s life and work.‚ Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia

Massie, Robert K. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. Random. Nov. 2011. c.656p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780679456728. $35. BIOG
As with his past best-selling biographies of Russian elites, Pulitzer Prize winner Massie (Peter the Great) does a wonderful job of pulling readers into his narrative, this one taking us into 18th-century Russia and the life of a young German princess, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst, destined to change the course of her adopted country’s history. From the young Sophie’s journey to Russia at the invitation of Empress Elizabeth to her death after 34 years on the Russian throne (1762‚ 96), readers will be absorbed and in sympathy with Massie’s Catherine. His engaging narrative informs and entertains, covering everything from Catherine’s friendships, marriage to Peter III, love affairs, political and intellectual beliefs, and attempts to reform the country according to ideals of the Enlightenment (she corresponded with many Enlightenment figures), to her reactions to major world events including the American Revolution and the Reign of Terror in France. VERDICT This book is aimed at the nonspecialist, as Massie does not present new sources or new angles of research. But it’s a gripping narrative for general biography or Russian tsarist history buffs, an excellent choice for public, high school, and undergraduate libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 5/9/11.]‚ Sonnet Ireland, Univ. of New Orleans Lib.

Salmond, Anne. Bligh: William Bligh in the South Seas. Univ. of California. 2011. c.528p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520270565. $39.95. BIOG
Salmond (Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies & Anthropology, Univ. of Auckland, New Zealand; The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas) has crafted a rich and riveting biography of the British explorer of the South Pacific best known for surviving the 1789 mutiny on his ship Bounty by skillfully navigating a small open boat across 3000 miles of Pacific Ocean to Timor, in present-day Indonesia, then the nearest outpost of European civilization. Salmond provides balanced coverage of the major episodes of Bligh’s life, focusing especially on his three South Pacific voyages. She thoroughly describes his interactions with native islanders, particularly the people of Tahiti. Drawing on Bligh’s own writings as well as other contemporary primary sources, she provides fascinating ethnographic details of Tahitian cultures when contact with Europeans was just beginning to transform the Tahitian way of life. She seeks to reconstruct Bligh’s interest in and attitudes toward the Tahitian people and to understand how the Tahitians viewed late 18th-century British sailors. VERDICT Salmond has successfully brought to life the complex personality of William Bligh and his world. Highly recommended for readers in British naval history, voyages of exploration and discovery, and Western encounters with Polynesian cultures.‚ Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, OH

Communications

Edison, Mike. Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers; An American Tale of Sex and Wonder. Soft Skull. Nov. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781593762841. pap. $15.95. COMM
If Hunter S. Thompson and Cheech and Chong had collaborated on writing an informal and unexpurgated history of American girlie magazines, it would be something like this book. Edison (I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of‚Ķthe Most Notorious Magazines in the World) traces the rise and fall of porn purveyors Hugh Hefner (Playboy), Bob Guccione (Penthouse), Larry Flynt (Hustler), and Al Goldstein (Screw). With raunchy humor, he peeks into the seedy subculture of pornography amid changing American mores, from the relatively staid pages of Hefner’s men’s lifestyle magazine to the hard-core sex rags of his successors. Most interesting are the author’s salient reminders of how these publishers became unlikely champions of the First Amendment. VERDICT Although not well sourced andbogged down by (admittedly amusing) first-person asides and footnotes, this book is a must-read for fans of girlie magazines and madcap gonzo culture. Readers not wanting to be exposed to vulgar language and graphic content should stay away. (Recent related scholarly sociological studies include Carrie Pitzulo’s Bachelors and Bunnies and Elizabeth Fraterrigo’s Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America.)‚ Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson. S. & S. 2011. c.592p. ed. by Jann S. Wenner. ISBN 9781439165959. $32.50. COMM
Thompson published his first article in Rolling Stone in 1970, documenting his campaign for sheriff and the rise of what he called freak power in Aspen, CO. He would continue to be a prolific contributor to the magazine throughout the 1970s from his infamous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971) to his political journalism beginning with his coverage of the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaign in 1972 and lasting until 2004, a year before his death. Thompson was one of the best practitioners of new journalism and what he called gonzo journalism, which blends fact and fiction to get to deeper truths. Rolling Stone‘s cofounder and publisher, Wenner, edits this collection of Thompson’s Rolling Stone pieces. It includes not only Thompson’s writings for the magazine but the two men’s correspondence, deepening our understanding of how they worked together. VERDICT Thompson’s iconic voice remains fresh, vibrant, and relevant, also enabling today’s readers to gain perspective on over 30 years of political and cultural change.‚ Jessica Moran, California State Archives, Sacramento

Economics

Hedges, Kristi. The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential To Influence and Engage Others. AMACOM: American Management Assn. Nov. 2011. c.240p. bibliog. ISBN 9780814417737. $22. BUS
According to executive coach Hedges, having a stronger presence, or charisma, can transform an average person into a leader who can create and communicate a vision for others. Hedges sets forth the I-Presence model (Intentional, Individual, and Inspirational) to help readers create a persuasive and powerful self. Through exercises, readers are taught to battle negativity by developing a pregame ritual, establish trust through being reliable and credible, and inspire others by focusing on solutions instead of problems. Hedges also shares suggestions for making presentations and leading meetings, for instance, to think from the listener’s point view and to share only visions that are active and alive. Above all, she advises readers to pay attention, maintain a sense of humor, go easy on themselves, and look people in the eye. VERDICT Hedges’s primary targets are junior executives or white-collar business owners who want to get ahead. For others, this basic advice has already been given in Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People.‚ Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ

Education

Keeling, Richard P. & Richard H. Hersh. We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan. Dec. 2011. c.208p. ISBN 9780230339835. pap. $25. ED
Examples of a penchant for dumbing down abound in American schools, but educators have focused their concern on primary and secondary institutions. Keeling, who leads the New York City‚ based education consulting firm Keeling & Associates, and Hersh, former president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Trinity College, point out that observations and anecdotal evidence of many faculty members and administrators in higher education have shown current college students to be more intellectually and emotionally fragile than past generations. Many institutions are more concerned with throughput, with the number of degrees they award, than with whether they are earned. Citing numerous studies and research, often from the American Association of Colleges & Universities and the American Institutes for Research, Keeling and Hersh emphasize the intense motivation and commitment higher learning requires and argue that colleges must quit cheapening degrees by cutting corners and letting outside influences dictate how their institutions are managed. VERDICT Keeling and Hersh clearly state why we’re losing our minds and what needs to be done to turn things around. Anyone who has a stake in higher education‚ that is, most of us‚ would do well to read their work and join in the discussion.‚ Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS

History

Berry, Helen. The Castrato and His Wife. Oxford Univ. Jan. 2012. c.336p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199569816. $29.95. HIST
Berry (coeditor, The Family in Early Modern England) provides what she calls a microhistory of Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, an Italian opera singer and castrato born in obscurity but rising to become one of the preeminent artists of his day (both Bach and Mozart composed music for him). Berry’s research brings to life the world of castrati, men castrated before puberty to preserve their fine singing voices. She juxtaposes Tenducci’s musical success with his romance and marriage to a beautiful, young vocal student. By using their unusual marriage as a backdrop, Berry illuminates attitudes toward sex and marriage in Georgian Britain. The nuanced portrayal of Tenducci and his wife coupled with the author’s obviously extensive research make for an engaging read. VERDICT By using classical opera and the life and loves of a prominent castrato as a lens, Berry explores the themes of romance, sex and marriage, and, more broadly, 18th-century European social life and customs. Recommended for readers who enjoy opera, classical music in general, and European history.‚ Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Libs., Fort Collins

Borstelmann, Thomas. The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality. Princeton Univ. Dec. 2011. c.384p. illus. index. ISBN 9780691141565. $29.95. HIST
Borstelmann (history, Univ. of Nebraska‚ Lincoln; The Cold War and the Color Line) came of age in the 1970s. In this sweeping survey, he offers a fresh assessment of the ideas and events of that much maligned decade, moving beyond the easy retelling of the Watergate scandal and the failure of the Carter presidency. Borstelmann is more interested in tracing the emergence of political and social movements (feminism, environmentalism, evangelicalism) and the resurgence of free-market economics. There are two broad themes here: the shift from faith in the public sector to faith in the private sector, and the impact of this in the international arena. Borstelmann argues that the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in the United States, Israel, and the Muslim world was a reaction to the global drive toward more equality and to what Borstelmann calls hyper-individualism. He concludes that today’s polarized society (culturally liberal and economically conservative) is a result of seeds sown in the 1970s. VERDICT While this is a scholarly work, with heavy doses of economic and political theory, Borstelmann’s style is accessible to a wide audience; college and university students will benefit from the historic perspective on contemporary issues.‚ Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA

Davis, Marni. Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition. New York Univ. Jan. 2012. c.248p. illus. index. ISBN 9780814720288. $32. HIST
Davis (history, Georgia State Univ.) takes readers through the second and third waves of European Jewish U.S. immigration, starting in the late 19th century, when the temperance movement was gaining force toward passage of the 18th Amendment to make illegal the production and sale of alcohol. She writes that the era’s national debates about alcohol shaped how Jewish Americans understood and articulated their American and Jewish identities. Maintaining their historic ties to alcohol, many Jewish immigrants continued to produce and sell liquor in the United States, but the national discourse about alcohol changed as white Protestant Americans increasingly felt their influence being eroded by the influx of immigrants. Initially considered temperate and respectable, the Jewish immigrants came to be seen as a corrupting and exploitative force because of their involvement in the liquor industry pre-Prohibition. Using census data and other primary documents, Davis brings to life the stories of Jewish saloon keepers, rabbis, and alcohol producers faced with the temperance movement and increased anti-Semitism. VERDICT While much has been written about the temperance movement and Prohibition, Davis focuses uniquely on the implications and impact of this period on one ethnic and religious population. Recommended to readers studying aspects of turn-of-the-century immigration or temperance, Prohibition, or Jewish studies.‚ Karen Okamoto, John Jay Coll. Lib., CUNY

Dubois, Laurent.Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. Metropolitan: Holt. Jan. 2012. c.448p. index. ISBN 9780805093353. $32. HIST
Think of Haiti, and you’ll likely call to mind the 1804 revolution, the harsh and deadly dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier, or the tragic earthquake of January 2010, when over 200,000 were killed and millions were left homeless; however, Dubois (history & French studies, Duke Univ.; Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution) offers the fuller story of this poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere in this rich history. Villains abound among the few heroes such as the liberal and enlightened Anténor Firmin (1850‚ 1911), one of a handful of leaders who stood up to American imperialism and sought meaningful reform rather than authority by military might. Although questions still outweigh solutions for Haiti’s future, the author adds insights such as that Haitians are objects rather than subjects of their political and economic order, virtually disempowered individuals. Dubois does see a different Haiti possible because Haitians have never accepted the 200-year-old adage that democracy is not for them. VERDICT Exhaustive research, a readable text, and an often lively tale render a most positive verdict for students of Haiti and the Caribbean.‚ Boyd Childress, formerly with Auburn Univ. Libs., AL

Massie, Allan. The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Dec. 2011. c.384p. illus. index. ISBN 9780312581756. $26.99. HIST
Massie (novelist and columnist for The Scotsman) addresses the romance and myths that surround one of the ruling families of Great Britain, making the case that there is more to the Stuarts than the tragic Mary, Queen of Scots, or the defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie. Beginning with Robert II in 14th-century Scotland and ending with James VIII and III, the author provides an engaging look at the political machinations, marriages and affairs, executions and suspicious deaths, battles, and reforms throughout the Stuart reigns, which of course included the family’s ascension to the English throne (they were already monarchs of Scotland) upon the death of Elizabeth I, and the battles between Charles I and Parliament, his beheading, and the restoration of Stuarts to the throne after the end of the Cromwell Protectorate. The family trees provided at the beginning are essential. VERDICT Massie is candid that this collective biography makes no pretence to be a work of academic history, and, indeed, there are limited notes on sources as well as repetition of some dubious stories. However, it’s an enjoyable, often witty read, which will make for a nice introduction to the Stuarts and a fun refresher for aficionados. [See Prepub Alert, 6/13/11.]‚ Megan Hahn Fraser, Univ. of California‚ Los Angeles Lib.

Moody, Wesley. Demon of the Lost Cause: Sherman and Civil War History. Univ. of Missouri. Dec. 2011. c.192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780826219459. $30. HIST
In his penetrating study of William Tecumseh Sherman from his childhood and early posting as major general for the state militia of California until his death in 1891, Moody (The Battle of Jonesboro) traces his subject’s ever morphing reputation. He reminds the reader that tantalizing myths affecting Sherman’s reputation had been evolving since before his controversial March to the Sea and were fostered by the general’s obsessive drive for financial and job security in the ranks (even at the cost of promotion), the creation of wartime propaganda, the prevailing tactic of officers (including Sherman) to pad their military contributions at the expense of battlefield realities, the Reconstruction period and the Gilded Age, the South’s attempt to absorb and later justify its loss in the war, with Sherman as both champion and villain, and the scholars, past and present, who molded Sherman’s place in history to comport with their own interpretations. Moody concludes that Americans are still miles away from reviewing Sherman’s record with calm impartiality. VERDICT A well-researched and concisely penned work, offering progressive Civil War historiography that’s sharply focused through the life of one of this country’s most enigmatic and evocative military figures. Mandatory reading for Civil War scholars and enthusiasts alike.‚ John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland

Patrick, Bethanne. An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy: How Manners Shaped the World. National Geographic, dist. by Random. 2011. c.304p. illus. ISBN 9781426208133. $40. HIST
In her second Uncommon History book, Patrick (An Uncommon History of Common Things) brings together a curious compilation of information on customs and manners from North America and all around the world. Sorted into eight chapters, the entries are categorized by types of manners, including Elbows Off the Table and Shake Hands, Tip Hats. Patrick also includes a section on how to say please and thank you in several languages. In seeking to cover all too much, however, the book is unable to provide adequate coverage of the various topics. The page-long entries are adorned with colorful photographs and illustrations, which are lovely, but the text is just short enough to frustrate the reader. Additionally frustrating is the lack of references, so readers are forced to take the information at face value. VERDICT This book may appeal to some who don’t mind history-lite in learning about customs and manners in a casual book for browsing. For others, not recommended.‚ Holly S. Hebert, Brentwood Lib., TN

Taylor, Elizabeth Dowling. A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons. Palgrave Macmillan.Jan. 2012. c.336p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780230108936. $28. HIST
Paul Jennings (1799‚ 1874) was a trusted and resourceful White House slave and valet to James Madison, on whose Virginia plantation he’d been born. After Madison died, Dolley Madison sold Jennings, who purchased his freedom from Daniel Webster in 1847 and became a successful and active member of the African American community in Washington. With evidence painstakingly pieced together from primary and secondary sources, Taylor, who held interpretation and education positions at both Madison’s and Jefferson’s Virginia estates, chronicles Jennings’s life, offering detailed insight into the daily responsibilities, family life, and living conditions of household slaves on Virginia plantations, as well as the challenges faced by enslaved and free blacks in Washington. She also discusses Madison’s (and Jefferson’s) contradictory and hypocritical beliefs about human freedom, emancipation, abolition, and the colonization of freed blacks. Taylor includes (understandably) speculation about Jennings’s actual experiences, but her rich documentation leaves little doubt that Jennings absorbed and was motivated by the discussions of politics and philosophy that he witnessed. Included is a foreword by Annette Gordon-Reed and Jennings’s own A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison (1863), the first White House memoir. VERDICT A valuable and illuminating read at all levels; recommended.‚ Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

Watson, Fiona. Macbeth: A True Story. Quercus, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Nov. 2011. 320p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780857381606. pap. $13.95. HIST
The paucity of historical records leads Watson (Under the Hammer: Edward I and Scotland, 1286‚ 1307) to devote as much attention to the subject of medieval Scotland as to Macbeth himself, conjuring up a work that is part biography and part narrative history, with conjecture. In this UK import, Watson speculates about several events in Macbeth’s life by adding in some fiction, identified as such by italic type. This is certain to enchant some readers and enrage others, who may also become frustrated at the volume of places and people introduced; more maps and a list of the historical figures involved would have been helpful. A final chapter investigates how and why the facts of Macbeth’s life were distorted, in both Scotland and England, after his death. Watson paints a vivid picture of a distant time and creates a fully fleshed, but not necessarily historically reliable, portrait. VERDICT Casual readers may be bored by the exhaustive background on Scotland in the dark ages, while specialists may not like Watson’s use of fiction. This is most likely to interest some armchair historians of the Middle Ages, fans of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, and readers of historical fiction.
‚ Sharon E. Reidt, Marlboro Coll. Lib., VT

Law & Crime

Blind Goddess: A Reader on Race and Justice. New Pr., dist. by Perseus. Nov. 2011. c.368p. ed. by Alexander Papachristou. bibliog. ISBN 9781595586995. pap. $25.95. LAW
Contemporary racism reveals itself through the criminal justice system according to this well-integrated set of readings. Papachristou (former president, Near East Fdn.)presents selections from various sources written by experts in the fields of law, social sciences, and community advocacy. After an introduction comparing today’s high rate of incarceration to the Jim Crow era, the book is organized around traditional components of the criminal justice system from policing to incarceration issues. Methodologies vary, but all the selections support the idea that the U.S. hyperincarceration rate, grounded in the government’s War on Drugs and other punitive trends, has resulted in a new form of structural racism. The book concludes with a section on possible solutions, including Lani Guinier’s call for a new racial literacy in which color blindness as a goal is replaced by the capacity to read the meaning of race in various contexts. VERDICT Valuable for its consistent perspective and the abundance of research and analysis it contains, this book is recommended for academic and specialized criminal justice and law collections. A powerful and provocative critique of the contemporary urban criminal justice system.‚ Antoinette Brinkman, Evansville, IN

Mazzone, Jason. Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law. Stanford Univ. Nov. 2011. c.304p. index. ISBN 9780804760065. $27.95. LAW
The purpose of copyright is to protect content creators and provide the community with works in the public domain. But the proprietors of copyrights and guardians of the public domain have flipped that ideal, using the law to squelch competition and criticism, argues Mazzone (Gerald Baylin Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law Sch.). Mazzone shows that, by overreaching, publishers, libraries, and museums have managed to limit the public’s use of the public domain‚ material that belongs to everyone. He illustrates how college students are forced to pay royalties for material that nobody owns and how libraries and archives strangle research with access restrictions on public domain materials. Patent law has penalties for those who falsely claim to have patents on things‚ but there are no penalties for false claims of copyright. VERDICT This is a reasoned, calm manifesto for reform; the trouble is that it’s easier for the little guy to pay a ransom than to fight in court. A must-read for all content creators.‚ Michael O. Eshleman, Kings Mills, OH

Parapsychology

Peake, Anthony. The Out-of-Body Experience: The History and Science of Astral Travel. Watkins, dist. by Sterling. Nov. 2011. c.240p. index. ISBN 9781780280219. pap. $14.95. PARAPSYCH
Peake (Is There Life After Death? The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When We Die) offers alternate explanations for life after death and out-of-body experiences. His theories attempt to integrate quantum mechanics, neurology, and consciousness studies to explain what happens at the point of death. In this book, he presents case studies of out-of-body experiences, then attempts to explain them through science. Peake argues that out-of-body experiences, lucid dreaming, remote viewing, and astral travel are all different features of a single phenomenon. While his views are unorthodox, he has a sizable following in the UK. More information on his theories can be found on his website, www.anthonypeake.co.uk. VERDICT For the most part, because of Peake’s particularly scientific approach, this book is a difficult read; not recommended for the layperson interested in reading about paranormal events. It touches on a popular paranormal subject, but Peake’s cumbersome treatment will deter some fans.‚ Sandy Knowles, Norfolk P.L., VA

Political Science

Scroggins, Deborah. Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror; The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui. Harper: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. c.464p. index. ISBN 9780060898977. $27.99. INT AFFAIRS
Journalist Scroggins (Emma’s War: An Aid Worker, a Warlord, Radical Islam, and the Politics of Oil) presents a somewhat choppy comparison between the ardent feminist and critic of Islam, former member of Dutch parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the al-Qaeda-linked neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui. By using alternating chapters to trace their life stories and cultural transformations, Scroggins attempts to contrast Ali and Siddiqui on opposite ends of an ideological spectrum. Yet something about this dichotomy seems false. Although both were born into Muslim families, their cultural, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds were quite different. Scroggins addresses these differences but is still intent on finding a thread between the women that might help answer larger questions about women and Islam. Unable to obtain interviews with either of her subjects, Scroggins relied on interviews with their friends and acquaintances as well as unnamed sources and the published record. Thus her accounts of these two women are comprehensive, but not quite personal. VERDICT Despite covering two compelling subjects in well-researched detail, this book lacks the understanding found in most biographies. Nonetheless, it is still worth reading for those with an interest in the relationship between women and Islam. [See Prepub Alert, 7/25/11.]‚ Veronica Arellano, St. Mary’s Coll. of Maryland Lib., St. Mary’s City

Psychology

Bonker, Elizabeth M. & Virginia G. Breen. I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice. Revell. 2011. c.256p. photogs. ISBN 9780800720711. $16.99. PSYCH
This is the story of both Bonker, as she progresses from a young child with no communication skills to a 13-year-old who can write sentences and poetry, and her mother, Breen, on her journey to seek help for her daughter. Breen recounts how she hired the best therapists for Bonker and eventually took her to Soma Mukhopadhyay, developer of the Rapid Prompting Method and mother of autistic writer Tito Mukhopadhyay (Beyond the Silence), who taught Bonker to use a communication device. Breen constantly bargained with her school district to keep her daughter in an inclusive setting. She connected with doctors and other mothers of autistic children and learned of new methods of behavioral therapies and biomedical interventions. Though the book is written mostly in Breen’s voice, the text is peppered with Bonker’s poems and her descriptions of them. Though Bonker can’t speak, she can convey what is in her mind and heart. VERDICT Recommended for anyone who likes an inspirational story, although parents of autistic children should exercise caution before trying some of the biomedical interventions the book describes.‚ Terry Lamperski, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh

Dobbins, Carolyn. What a Life Can Be: One Therapist’s Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder: Based on a True Story. Bridgeross, dist. by Ingram. Nov. 2011. c.223p. ISBN 9780986652226. pap. $19.95. PSYCH
As a teen, Dobbins was a world-class skier, training for the Olympics. Now a therapist, she is also schizoaffective, which is basically mild schizophrenia coupled with depression. Her symptoms started as somatic issues‚ inability to eat or sleep enough‚ which ended her sports career. Like most schizophrenics in today’s society, her strange behavior landed her in jail several times. (Most notably, she got out of jail just in time to defend her doctoral dissertation!) Her book’s major problem is that to tell this painful story she divides herself into two personas: Dr. Dobbins, a counselor, and her schizoaffective patient Jane, an ex-skier with advanced degrees, who tells the story of her life. VERDICT Despite this book’s awkward narrative structure, people who have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorders and those close to them will welcome it as an advocacy tool. Others who wish to know more about what psychosis feels like would be better served by Mark Vonnegut’s The Eden Express or Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett’s The Quiet Room.‚ Mary Ann Hughes, Shelton, WA

Herz, Rachel. That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion. Norton. Jan. 2012. c.288p. illus. index. ISBN 9780393076479. $26.95. PSYCH
An expert on smell, Herz (psychiatry, Brown Univ.; The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell) leads a tour of off-putting stimuli that reach us mainly through sight, smell, touch, and taste. Her focus is the last emotion to develop of the universal six: fear, anger, sadness, happiness, surprise, and disgust. Feeling disgust and recognizing it in others helps us avoid accidents, contamination, and other dangers. Sometimes it misfires, e.g., we react more to harmless spiders than to mosquitoes and flies. The brain locus of disgust is now known, as is the absence of this normal reaction in obsessive compulsives, psychopaths, and those with the gene for Huntington’s disease. Herz reports many examples of crime, politics, and policy but not the grossness of war and resultant post-traumatic stress disorder. VERDICT Not for the squeamish. A lively, quotable survey of how a specific emotion works for and against our benefit. Accessible to general readers, but the book could be better organized and more clearly written.‚ E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC

Levine, Suzanne Braun. How We Love Now: Sex and the New Intimacy in Second Adulthood. Viking. Jan. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780670023226. $25.95. PSYCH
Levine, former editor of Ms. Magazine, writes about relationships for women in their fifties and older. She argues that confidence, financial independence, social networking, and maturity all contribute to new opportunities for fulfillment in relationships with one’s spouse, family, and friends. Levine gathers vignettes from her experience and surveys research to show how relationships, particularly love and sex, are changing for women. To Levine, this is the new intimacy women are discovering as they move through life’s changes: the experience of children growing up and leaving home, falling in love with one’s husband again, or even divorce and learning to love again. VERDICT The anecdotes are upbeat stories of successful outcomes and emphasize the na√Øveté of the novel experience. One has to suspect not all second adulthood relationships end happily or remain fresh. Still, Levine captures how relationships bring opportunity for fulfillment and satisfaction for women in this stage of life. Recommended for women in their fifties and older interested in relationships and sexuality.‚ Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

Stecker, Tracy. 5 Survivors: Personal
Stories of Healing from PTSD and Traumatic Events. Hazelden. 2011. c.186p. ISBN 9781616490935. pap. $14.95. PSYCH

Stecker (community & family medicine, Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Ctr., Dartmouth Medical Sch.) explains the suffering and decision-making processes of people with post-traumatic stress disorder in an effort to help friends and families understand their loved ones’ struggles and pain. Readers hear from a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and three veterans of war who talk about their lives before the trauma, the trauma itself, their symptoms, and their path to recovery. Their personal accounts about seeing good friends blown up in Iraq, digging through debris under a scorching New Orleans sun, and being drugged and raped make these stories, which people usually hear only on the news, hit tragically home. Some victims have coped with emotional trauma by isolating themselves, while others with physical injuries rely on pain medication. All wonder whether they’ll ever be normal again, and Stecker’s answer is a qualified maybe. VERDICT Through this wrenching, compelling book, Stecker offers hope and shows readers a path toward understanding and healing.‚ Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ

Weil, Elizabeth. No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried To Make It Better. Scribner. Feb. 2012. c.192p. bibliog. ISBN 9781439168226. $25. PSYCH
In an era of headlines about gay marriage, alternatives to monogamy, and divorce statistics, Weil (contributing writer, New York Times Magazine) decided to examine her own fairly happy, heterosexual marriage in search of a more photoshopped version of good, or, at least, the story behind such good marriages. She and her husband spent a year in various types of therapies all in the name of self-improvement. She recounts their history together and how they ended up in this mostly happy marriage with just a few unsightly elements. The unsightly elements get aired and then some, and in the end Weil and her husband find that the way to a better marriage isn’t by photoshopping away the unsightly but by changing your attitude about it. VERDICT While Weil’s book is more memoir than self-help, fans of self-improvement and relationship books are likely to enjoy her occasionally humorous, occasionally insightful, rather confessional narrative. Then they will likely devour the included selected reading list.‚ Mindy Rhiger, Mackin Educational Resources, Minneapolis

Social Sciences

Hogan, Jackie. Lincoln, Inc: Selling the Sixteenth President in Contemporary America. Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2011. c.220p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442209541. $24.95. SOC SCI
Hogan (sociology, Bradley Univ.; Gender, Race and National Identity) considers the many ways Americans have used Abraham Lincoln‚ from his death to the present‚ to purvey ideas, interests, and all manner of goods. She argues that what we see and present in Lincoln really mirrors what we see and want for ourselves. Because so many different people traded on and in the Lincoln image and myths about him and because of the ambiguities inherent in the Lincoln story, Lincoln became the American everyman, which, Hogan suggests, has the paradoxical effect of making him more important as the embodiment of American identities and less valuable as a historical figure. Lincoln is lost in the inventions and myths Americans have made out of him, which they have then sold for political, pedagogical, commercial, and ideological purposes. VERDICT Hogan sometimes strains to fit the behavioral habits of Lincoln users into sociological categories, but her overall tour of Lincoln in our midst and on our minds shows how an invented Lincoln, or any such symbol, can make a brand more important than the real thing. May be of interest to historians of image-making or of Lincoln and to students in American studies. Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph’s Univ., Philadelphia

Hopkins, Rob. The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times. Chelsea Green. Nov. 2011. c.320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781603583923. pap. $29.95. SOC SCI
Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, shares his learning from a four-year-long experiment that put his Transition ideas into practice. He takes readers toward a more holistic, appropriate model of the planet that explains how to transform the place you live from being vulnerable, not resilient, and oil-dependent to a state of diversity, localization, and nourishment. His focus is on solutions, community-scale responses, and involving all people. In this follow-up to his Transition Handbook, he includes numerous inspiring personal stories of communities working for a new future based on local economies, less energy, and their own resilience. Hopkins presents a summary of the status of the Transition movement and his vision of the future if we don’t learn how to manage these challenges. He also explains the process of a community in transition, using personal experiences of individuals working through this process in their neighborhoods. Hopkins’s practical advice will help readers who want to do something about major worldwide challenges. VERDICT This work applying pragmatic community organization strategies to addressing problems facing us all will appeal to fans of Bill McKibben and other authors seeking new directions for the planet. Essential for all university libraries and for sophisticated, interested lay readers.‚ Dale Farris, Groves, TX

Winograd, Morley & Michael D. Hais. Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America. Rutgers Univ. 2011. c.296p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813551500. $26.95. SOC SCI
Viewed as a larger part of the cycle of American generations, the so-called millennials (born between 1982 and 2003) are what the authors describe as a civic generation‚ optimistic about societal structures and the future, pragmatic about resolving problems. Relying on demographic data, academic studies, and surveys to describe how millennials (now 95 million Americans) will have ever more influence in politics, education, culture, and family life, Winograd (senior fellow, Annenberg Ctr. for Communication Leadership & Policy, Univ. of Southern California) and Hais, a former vice president of entertainment research at a communications research firm, continue the study they began with their Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics. A helpful discussion of all generational types opens the book, and in subsequent chapters the authors methodically move through descriptions of millennial traits to speculate on how millennials will deal with current economic and social challenges. Their dependence on social media, for example, may force political institutions to be more responsive through those channels. VERDICT Although the prose is a bit dry, the information here is good and presented logically. It’s a scholarly book, perhaps best suited to an academic setting; but for anyone looking for insight into this generation, there’s much valuable information to be gleaned here.‚ Sarah Statz Cords, Reader’s Advisor Online, Middleton, WI

Zaslow, Jeffrey. The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. c.336p. photogs. ISBN 9781592406616. $27. SOC SCI
In the small town of Fowler, MI, Becker’s Bridal has served over 100,000 brides-to-be since the mid-1930s. Along the way, fashions and customs have changed as brides have visited the store’s so-called Magic Room to gaze at endless mirrored images of themselves in their wedding gown, an apt metaphor for Zaslow (columnist, Wall Street Journal; The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship) as they reflect on their lives, relationships, and dreams for the future. Zaslow shadows half a dozen of the women who go to Becker’s Bridal, listening to their stories and writing a compelling and sincere chronology of the experiences, tragedies, and love that led them to the shop. His narrative is sprinkled with fascinating statistical information concerning marriage and divorce, as well as his cultural analysis and observations concerning family and spousal relationships and insights into the lives and relationships of the four generations of Becker women who have worked at the store. VERDICT Not an examination of today’s marriage industry but a study of individual lives and dreams, this is recommended for casual readers and those with an interest in cultural and social customs concerning marriage, women’s roles, and parent-child relationships.‚ Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Coll. North East Lib., Erie, PA

Share

Featuring YD Feedwordpress Content Filter Plugin