Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, March 2, 2012

Week ending March 2, 2012

Altschiller, Donald. Animal-Assisted Therapy. Greenwood. (Health & Medical Issues Today). 2011. 179p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313357206. $35. MED
Part of Greenwood Press’s Health & Medical Issues Today series, this title explores the issue of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) or pet therapy. Altschiller (history bibliographer, Boston Univ. Lib; Hate Crimes: A Reference Handbook) highlights various, mostly U.S.-based, pet-mediated therapy programs. Included are programs that work with dogs, wild horses, rabbits, birds, cats, and dolphins in therapeutic situations with elderly patients, children, and members of the prison population. Altschiller also touches on moral considerations, noting the lack of a formal code of ethics for the field. The book’s most valuable feature is its annotated bibliography and primary document list, which contains relevant books, journal articles, videos, and organizations, as well as primary texts in their entirety. (Some of the videos may be hard to find, as they are only available on VHS.) These additional materials expand upon the book’s contents: some describe programs mentioned in the book while others elaborate on AAT ethical/medical concerns.
Verdict
Well sourced and researched, this title is an excellent reference for anyone new to or curious about the topic. It might be too basic for readers who are very familiar with AAT.‚ Leigh Mihlrad, National Inst. of Health Lib., Bethesda, MD

Burhardt, Majka (text) & Travis & Helmut Horn (photogs.). Coffee Story: Ethiopia. Ninety Plus. 2011. 208p. photogs. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9780984544608. $65. TRAV
Freelance journalist Burhardt (Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa) traveled to Ethiopia in 2006 to learn more about Gesha coffee. A few years later, Burhardt returned to collect stories related to that coffee’s cultivation. The intention of this beautifully formatted and illustrated coffee-table book is to help promote Ethiopia as coffee’s birthplace and coffee farming as Ethiopia’s economic future. Burhardt journeyed from southwestern Kaffa to eastern Harar and on to the northern highlands, Addis Ababa and the Rift Valley in central Ethiopia, and Sidamo, Yirgachefe [Irgachefe], and the Amaro Mountains in the south. Burhardt’s fluid prose, the Horns’ full-page and double-page color photographs, and Molly Holmberg’s full-color maps bring to life traditional, subsistence coffee farming and the roles that coffee leaves, berries, husks and beans play in everyday life, ritual, and commerce. The book includes a glossary and essays contributed by café owners and coffee merchants from around the world.
Verdict
This lush and compelling story will appeal to coffee gourmands and environmentalists rather than travelers.‚ Elizabeth Connor, The Citadel, Military Coll. of South Carolina, Lib., Charleston

Darley, Gillian. Vesuvius. Harvard Univ. (Wonders of the World). 2012. 245p. illus. index. ISBN 9780674052857. $22.95. HIST
Vesuvius, the last active volcano on the European mainland, has been a recurrent subject in literature through the ages. Darley (former architectural correspondent, Observer; John Evelyn: Living for Ingenuity) takes readers on a tour of its various impacts, historical, cultural, scientific, and artistic over the ages. Spartacus is said to have hid his ragtag army of gladiators‚ 100 strong‚ inside the volcano; they clambered down the backside of the crater to ambush their attackers. Herculaneum and Pompeii were destroyed by it in 79 C.E. Pliny the Elder likely died nearby from its fumes. Darley takes us forward to William Hamilton, Britain’s ambassador to Naples (1764‚ 1800), who started the craze for expeditions up the mountain, and to the Thomas Cook travel agency, which built a funicular railroad to ease passage up the steep slope but had to rebuild it when the mountain erupted shortly thereafter. She argues that Goethe’s Faust may be a dialog between Plutonists (the earth forged in fire) and Neptunists (more gently made by oceans). When Vesuvius erupted in 1944 (its last eruption), 88 American planes, newly arrived, were destroyed on the nearby airfield. Vesuvius may be sleeping now, but she has woken before.
Verdict Most readers will enjoy this attractive little book as an armchair travel guide to Vesuvius along the paths of history.‚ David Keymer, Modesto, CA

Donsky, Andrea & Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos. Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks. Gallery: S. & S. 2012. 256p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451616569. pap. $17.99. COOKING
Donsky and Boyer are the cofounders of NaturallySavvy.com‚ a guide to natural, organic, and green living‚ and Tsakos is the chief nutrition expert for the site. Rather than expecting eaters to give up their favorite snacks, the authors here provide tips for reading labels and choosing healthier snack foods. They define terms such as enriched, fat free, low-fat, and organic. The book also includes comparisons of specific products such as butter-flavored popcorn from Orville Redenbacher and Newman’s Own. The latter has more calories, total fat, and sodium; however, the authors prefer it because it doesn’t have artificial flavor and color. A slew of other products are compared, including Doritos Nacho Cheese, Klondike Sandwiches, Nabisco Ginger Snaps, and Cool Whip.
Verdict Instead of preaching to eaters about reading labels and being more conscientious, the authors give examples of products that shoppers can keep in the mind the next time they are faced with the option of Coca-Cola Classic or Blue Sky cola. Recommended for those seeking a practical, prescriptive shopping guide.‚ Carrie Scarr, West Fargo P.L., ND

Freud, Sigmund & Otto Rank. The Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto Rank: Inside Psychoanalysis. Johns Hopkins. 2012. 384p. ed. by E. James Lieberman, M.D. & Robert Kramer. tr. by Gregory C. Richter. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781421403540. $34.95. PSYCH
Lieberman (psychiatry, emeritus, George Washington Univ.; Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank) and Kramer (editor, The Psychology of Difference: The American Lectures of Otto Rank) organize and contextualize these newly available letters between pioneers of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and Otto Rank, as well as excerpts from correspondence with other insiders of the early psychoanalytic movement. Rank is universally regarded to be Freud’s primary protégé from 1906 to 1925; hence, the development and dissolution of their relationship is a particularly illuminating account of the inner workings of the movement itself. The letters also reveal the extraordinary talents, as well as the personal and political problems, of Rank‚ manager of the first psychoanalytic press, secretary of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, prolific author, practitioner, and theorist. His thinking and work predate numerous theoretical and therapeutic developments in client-centered therapy, object relations, and even feminism.
Verdict
This edited collection provides a critical balance to other published accounts of these men and the early years of the psychoanalytic movement. It is not, contrary to the editors’ preface, easily accessible to general readers but should be essential reading for scholars and specialists familiar with the major ideas and players of early psychoanalysis.‚ Paula McMillen, Univ. of Nevada Lib., Las Vegas

Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop. Soft Skull. Mar. 2012. c.272p. ed. by Laura Barcella. ISBN 9781593764296. pap. $16.95. MUSIC
This distinctive collection explores Madonna’s enduring impact on contemporary culture. Journalist Barcella has selected and edited more than three dozen original essays in which women reveal‚ with intelligence, wit, and honesty‚ how the pop icon influenced them in youthful moments as well as during more complex times. The music resonated for them, as did the star’s thematic material, no-holds-barred costumes, dances, video presentations, and film roles. Beneath it all was Madonna’s boldly unapologetic individuality and fearless ability to express and continually reinvent herself. Here, such writers as Courtney E. Martin, Emily Nussbaum, and Caroline Leavitt engagingly tell their diverse stories, focusing on how Madonna inspired them to gain personal confidence, develop an increased awareness of life’s nuances, sort through questions ranging from religious to sexual, define everything from womanhood to personal style, cope with loss, take risks, and discover how to live life on their own terms. There is emulation and admiration as well as criticism here.
Verdict This is a must for fans of Madonna. It is also an illuminating read for anyone who is curious about the star, as it provides intriguing insights into the multifaceted nature of her influence on a generation.‚ Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Moody, Rick. On Celestial Music: And Other Adventures in Listening. Back Bay: Little, Brown. Mar. 2012. c.448p. index. ISBN 9780316105217. pap. $15.99. MUSIC
One of the great joys of the literary landscape is that novelists often produce much more than the handful of books that make them a household name. Moody, author of The Ice Storm and a number other novels, has written multiple essays on music over the last 20 years, and this collection gathers 13 of them. His talent at crafting natural and engaging sentences and his clearly deep love of music are apparent in his coverage of everything from jazz to European electronica and from Arvo Pärt to Pete Townshend. Moody’s ear as a writer and as a musician‚ one of the pieces, Two Weeks at Music Camp, recounts his time as a performer at Music Omi‚ is on display, and the disparate topics of the essays are perfectly held together by his voice, as he explores the music he loves as deeply as he explores themes in his novels.
Verdict A highly enjoyable and literate collection that any fan of music or Moody will enjoy. Recommended for all libraries.‚ Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA

Oldale, John. A World of Curiosities: Surprising, Interesting, and Downright Unbelievable Facts from Every Nation on the Planet. Plume: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. c.320p. illus. maps. ISBN 9780452297838. pap. $16. REF
Scientist, lawyer, and explorer Oldale, a fellow of London’s Royal Geographical Society, has visited over 90 countries and here provides tidbits about those as well as more than 100 other countries. This book is filled with curious facts, e.g., Andorrans only need stamps if they are writing abroad, all domestic mail is delivered free of charge. The criterion for including a piece of information in a country’s entry appears to be simply how amusing, unusual, or thought-provoking it is. The entries range from one page for Cyprus to seven for the United States. Also included are a list of World Heritage Sites in each country and aspects of its intangible cultural heritage, i.e., cultural practices identified by UNESCO as worthy of preservation, like the tango in Argentina. Each country’s entry provides translations for hello and good-bye in the respective language. An accompanying website lists Oldale’s sources in writing the book, as well as additional resources for further information.
Verdict
This fun vade mecum should provide answers for tough trivia questions and is recommended for general collections.‚ Ravi Shenoy, Naperville, IL

Roxburgh, Angus. The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia. I.B. Tauris. Mar. 2012. 288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781780760162. $28. INT AFFAIRS
Is Vladimir Putin a stuntman putting on feats of virility, a pragmatic pro-democracy Russian strongman, a neo-Communist, a man prone to distrust the West and to believing conspiracy theories? Yes. Roxburgh (The Second Russian Revolution: The Struggle for Power in the Kremlin), a former Moscow correspondent for the Sunday Times and the BBC and later an adviser to Putin’s communications staff, says Putin is all of these. Putin didn’t start out with antipathy for the West but was driven to it by Western leaders who had initially welcomed his fresh approach in 2000. Roxburgh chronicle[s] and explain[s] how everything changed; why Putin become more and more authoritarian‚Ķhow each side failed to see the other’s concerns, causing a spiral of mistrust. While earlier books such as Lilia Shevtsova’s Putin’s Russia had to guess where Putin was heading, Roxburgh and others have compiled more evidence of the growing chasm between Russia and the West. While most of his information is not new, Roxburgh explains why Putin began to disconnect, while reestablishing Russian self-respect. We now see his popularity fade.
Verdict
Well researched and with many personal observations by an admired and insightful journalist, this will appeal to contemporary Russophiles and Putin watchers.‚ Harry Willems, Central Kansas Lib. Syst., Great Bend

Savarino, Maggie. The Seasonal Cocktail Companion: 100 Recipes and Projects for Four Seasons of Drinking. Sasquatch. 2011. 208p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781570617553. $18.95. BEVERAGES
Among the number of cocktail books being published these days, Savarino, a bartender and sommelier who wrote a beverages column for the Seattle Weekly, here takes a seasonal approach to drinking. Instead of focusing on how to make martinis or gimlets, she emphasizes using fresh, seasonal ingredients and encourages creativity with spirits. The book is broken into two parts. The first reviews the basics, including a brief discussion on spirits, equipment, and tools, but shines in its extensive information on using fresh herbs and spices in beverages, with flavor profiles and weight-to-volume measurements. The guide stands out here with its recipes for flavored syrups, infusions, liqueurs, vinegars, and bitters. The second, seasonal section of the book features additional recipes for Brewed Ginger Beer, Mead (Honey Wine), and other DIY beverages. While the recipes call for some hard-to-find ingredients (Savarino includes source lists), the instructions vary from the easy (e.g., combine spirits and herbs and let it sit for three weeks) to more hands-on (e.g., sieving herbs through cheesecloth).
Verdict This companion is a supplement to more traditional cocktail guides and is recommended for in-depth food and beverage collections. The average home mixologist may look elsewhere.‚ Maura Deedy, Weymouth P.L., MA

Schulman, Sarah. The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination. Univ. of California. 2012. ISBN 9780520264779. $27.95. SOC SCI
Schulman (English, CUNY, Staten Island; Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences), AIDS activist and writer of both fiction and nonfiction, describes this book as a personal intellectual memoir focusing not only on a generation’s tragic losses to AIDS but on how, in the aftermath, society engaged in wholesale memory loss. Schulman sees gentrification of neighborhoods once predominately LGBT as a factor, accompanied by a spiritual gentrification that made it convenient to marginalize the accomplishments of those lost. Ultimately, she believes it necessary to call to account individuals and institutions that enabled this gentrification. Not surprisingly, her roster of villains includes U.S. Presidents, other government officials, religious clerics, and even self-styled gay spokespeople. She proposes a national AIDS memorial in New York City similar to that for 9/11, to remind us of the plague and its toll.
Verdict
While its insistence on the need to confront our past will surely make some readers uncomfortable, this bracing, powerful, and well-reasoned work reaffirms the author’s stature as a distinctive American woman of letters. Ideal for an academic setting, it will also precipitate discussion among all those interested in learning more about this painful chapter in U.S. history. Highly recommended.‚ Richard Drezen, Brooklyn

Stringer, Chris. Lone Survivors: How We Came To Be the Only Humans on Earth. Times Bks: Holt. Mar. 2012. c.320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780805088915. $27. SCI
Prominent paleontologist and anthropologist Stringer (researcher, Natural History Museum, London; fellow, Royal Society; Homo Britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain) reviews recent research from a wide breadth of fields to give readers an up-to-date view of the state of human prehistory. In doing so, he also shows how science works to adapt and update theories as improved techniques bring new facts to light and new evidence is found in the field. Stringer explains many state-of-the-art techniques for studying fossils (e.g., uranium-series dating, electron spin resonance, computerized tomography, DNA sequencing) and combines these findings with current research in the areas of archaeology, evolutionary anthropology, epigenetics, and environmental studies to provide a well-rounded view of how the Homo genus evolved. Stringer, a leading proponent of the recent single-origin hypothesis or Out of Africa theory, continues to support that model with some modifications.
Verdict
A broad and current review of the subject makes this an essential book for anyone interested in psychology, sociology, anthropology, human evolution, or the scientific process.‚ Margaret Henderson, Virginia Commonwealth Univ. Lib., Richmond

Stuckey, Barb. Taste What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good. Free Pr: S. & S. Mar. 2012. c.432p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439190739. $26. COOKING
Have you ever wondered what makes something taste good? Why do you like a food that someone else doesn’t like? Stuckey, a professional food developer, explores the five senses and five tastes in relation to what, how, and why we eat. What started as a tortilla chip tasting led to an easily accessible and well-researched guide to enjoying food. Stuckey interviewed friends, chefs, and researchers and participated in empirical research by food scientists. Each chapter builds on the knowledge from the previous, culminating in some overall principles of taste and eating habits to help readers taste more thoroughly. Simple exercises at the end of each chapter show readers how to test their taste buds.
Verdict This book will appeal to enjoyers of food, dieters, and those who wonder why the human body works the way it does in relation to food and taste.‚ Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology Lib., Portland

Teitelbaum, Jacob, M.D. & Chrystle Fiedler. Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook: Recipes That Cure Your Type of Sugar Addiction and Help You Lose Weight and Feel Great! Fair Winds: Quayside. 2012. 256p. index. ISBN 9781592334896. pap. $16.99. COOKING
It seems that every year, dietitians and lifestyle writers propose another solution for Americans’ health and weight concerns. We’re either eating too many carbohydrates or not enough whole grains, too much meat or the wrong combinations of vegetables, too many bad fats or too much of any fat. Physician Teitelbaum and Fiedler (coauthors, Beat Sugar Addiction Now!) propose that our problem is sugar. They identify four different types of sugar addictions and offer recipes designed to cure each type. While the book does present good recipes that readers might be eager to try, the attempt to categorize them feels forced; the recipes for one type of addict aren’t that different from the others. The science of the book isn’t well documented, and the emphasis on supplements is questionable.
Verdict Readers who are health-conscious may appreciate the recipes, but next year, a new set of books offering a new way to lose weight and feel great will likely leave this one behind. Great recipes don’t make up for questionable science.‚ Laura Krier, California Digital Lib., Oakland

Topol, Eric. The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care. Basic Bks: Perseus. 2012. c.304p. illus. index. ISBN 9780465025503. $26.99. HEALTH
Cardiologist Topol (director, Scripps Translational Science Inst.) surveys current and future prospects for advances in medical technologies and therapeutics. Current discussions about the cost of health care rarely include the large number of patients for whom one size fits all medications are ineffective (or toxic) or how personalized medicine (pharmacogenomics) has the potential to allow for faster, cheaper, more definitive clinical trials. Coupled with electronic medical records and health information technology, genetic sequencing could detect individual drug toxicities that only emerge after clinical trials, when made available to the general public. Imaging and wireless networking also offer new opportunities. While personal genomics is still nascent, and predicting just what technologies will be widely available when is problematic, Topol’s take on information quality is sound. Challenges will remain‚ medical uncertainty, diseases for which there are few or no useful treatments, and managing expectations.
Verdict Recommended for readers concerned with health care and health care financing and those who appreciated Clayton M Christensen’s The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Emperor of all Maladies, or books by Atul Gawande.‚ Mary Chitty, Cambridge Healthtech Lib.,

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Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 45th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"