Week ending May 25, 2012
Berenson, Edward. The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story. Yale Univ. (Icons of America). 2012. c.248p. illus. index. ISBN 9780300149500. $25. HIST
Berenson (history, New York Univ.; Heroes of Empire) relates the roles, from 1865 to 1886, of French jurist and academic Edouard Rene de Laboulaye, sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, engineer Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and poet Emma Lazarus in conceiving, completing, and celebrating this monument to liberty and also explores the statue’s political, social, and commercial uses from 1886 to the present. Intended to honor America, to remind her inhabitants of France’s contribution to her independence, and to underline the importance of ordered, law-based freedom, the statue’s classical appearance allowed different identity groups to attribute to it their own values. Berenson assists our understanding by asserting that the figure’s ambivalent and contested image to immigrants was employed both to welcome and exclude them. Skeptical minorities, suffragists, and labor advocates viewed it ironically as more emblematic of hostility than hope. With personable prose Berenson charts the story of Americans’ waxing and waning concern for the statue’s maintenance, climaxing in the massive 1980s anniversary restoration and its becoming a symbol of endurance after 9/11.
Verdict Although quite similar to Yasmin Khan’s exemplary Enlightening the World, Berenson’s contribution is in pointing out how this symbol has continued to engage Americans’ imagination. Readers interested in the statue’s treatment in domestic popular culture will want to consult Berenson; those preferring an international and more academic consideration should choose Khan.‚ Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress
Dalton, David. Who Is That Man? In Search of the Real Bob Dylan. Hyperion. 2012. 400p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781401323394. $26.99. MUSIC
Dalton (Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead) is the latest in a series of eminent rock critics (Robert Shelton, Paul Williams, Clinton Heylin, Michael Gray, Greil Marcus, et al.) to take on the enigmatic Bob Dylan. Is there anything new to say about Dylan? While the musician’s output hasn’t slowed, critical studies of Dylan’s work appear even more frequently‚ most recently David Yaffe’s Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown and Michael J. Gilmour’s The Gospel According to Bob Dylan. Dalton’s book is a blend of biography and music appreciation. He deftly traces the familiar contours of Dylan’s career and his many shape-shifting personas. The liveliest portion of the book deals with the creative and audacious peak of Dylan’s career in the mid-1960s, with brief forays into the writing of Tarantula and Dylan’s relationship with Andy Warhol (that chapter is amusingly titled Godzilla vs. Mothra). The book is light on Dylan’s recent accomplishments, though Dalton hits the highlights and assesses several later albums and live performances.
Verdict Dalton’s insights will be of interest to both die-hard fans and anyone who wants a good introduction to Dylan’s life and art.‚ Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA
Díaz, Laura & others. Discovery of Geospatial Resources: Methodologies, Technologies, and Emergent Applications. IGI Global. (Premier Reference Source). 2012. c.315p. LC 2011048796. ISBN 9781466609457. $190. REF
This academic work by Díaz (geospatial science), Carlos Granell (new imaging technologies), and Joaquín Huerta (information systems, all at Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, Spain) discusses attempts to push forward the automated discovery frontier in the thematic area of geospatial resources. Essays, presented in sections on methodologies, technologies, and emergent applications, describe practices in, for example, Automatic Metadata Generation for Geospatial Resource Discovery, Describing and Selecting Collections of Georeferenced Media Items in Peer-to-Peer Information Retrieval Systems, New Discovery Methodologies in GIS: Improving the Information Retrieval Process, and Data Mining Location-Based Social Networks for Geospatial Discovery. The entries are accompanied by lengthy bibliographies, and the book closes with a valuable 26-page cumulative bibliography.
Verdict This title will be of interest to librarians pursuing such tasks as text and data mining and who are comfortable reading scientific tables and diagrams. It will be at home in collections large enough to hold information science reference. Otherwise, it is best suited to practitioners in the geospatial community who will value the editors’ gathering of straightforward, scientific profiles of attempts to make their field more efficient.‚ Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Library Journal
Foss, Richard. Rum: A Global History. ISBN 9781861899262.
Herlihy, Patricia. Vodka: A Global History. ISBN 9781861899293.
Solmonson, Lesley Jacobs. Gin: A Global History. ISBN 9781861899248.
ea. vol: Reaktion, dist. by Univ. of Chicago. (Edible Series). 2012. c.128p. illus. bibliog. index. $17. BEVERAGES
Each of the approximately 30 books in The Edible Series presents an exploration of the history and cultural impact of a variety of foods and beverages, such as pizza, curry, apples, and even pancakes. The latest three volumes in the series focus on gin, rum, and vodka, supplementing one on cocktails in general and another on whiskey. They trace the history of its respective spirit, discuss contemporary trends of consumption, and conclude with recipes and guidance on brands. Each volume is strongly shaped by the voice and skill of its writer, tempered by the particulars of the respective story. Food historian and journalist Foss spins a well-researched tale of the colorful history of rum‚ rife with pirates, revolution, and palm trees‚ delightful to read and full of wry wit. Food writer Solmonson (12bottlebar.com) balances the kind of context and detail that will appeal to serious readers with accessible prose, chronicling the evolution of gin as medicine, as a threat to the health and industry of the British lower classes, as staple of the British fleet, and as star of the gin martini. Herlihy (history, emerita, Brown Univ.) presents a more traditional and scholarly history of vodka, which bogs down a bit in a seemingly endless parade of brand marketing and packaging description.
Verdict The well-read foodie who loves a good cocktail will enjoy these little histories and put to use their practical information on recipes and brands as well.‚ Courtney Greene, Indiana Univ. Lib., Bloomington
Hazan, Giuliano (text) & Joseph De Leo (photogs.). Hazan Family Favorites: Beloved Italian Recipes. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2012. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781584799047. $29.95. COOKING
Hazan (How To Cook Italian) draws on his cooking heritage to collect 85 beloved Italian recipes ranging from fondly remembered family mainstays rescued from a 56-year-old notebook to updated recipes inspired by the interests of his family and forays to local markets. The recipes are presented with well-thought-out instructions for intermediate cooks. The inclusion of start to finish time, rather than just cooking time, is very helpful. The recipes do not include nutritional breakdowns, but most require only a small number of unprocessed ingredients. About half the recipes include a mouth-watering photograph. Each recipe begins with a substantial portion of Hazan’s background with the dish: when he first enjoyed it and how the recipe evolved, as well as other interesting tidbits. Family photographs from the author’s personal album also appear frequently.
Verdict This title is three-quarters cookbook, one-quarter Hazan family history, which is of particular interest given their deep food and wine roots. (The author’s mother, Marcella Hazan, is often credited for introducing Italian cooking to the English-speaking world.) A good choice for cooks looking for authentic and not-too-fussy Italian recipes.‚ Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch. Lib., Fort Worth, TX
Lethem, Jonathan. Talking Heads’ Fear of Music. Continuum. (33 1/3). 2012. c.160p. ISBN 9781441121004. pap. $12.95. MUSIC
There are currently 86 titles in Continuum’s 33 1/3 series and the latest entry, by novelist Lethem (Chronic City), follows the standard series format. He recounts how the music changed his life while providing a song-by-song analysis, exploring the cultural context of the album, and explicating the work’s musical and artistic influences, including references to Fritz Lang, Edgar Allen Poe, Patti Smith, and Dadaist poet Hugo Ball, among many others. Lethem shares his deep and abiding attachment to Fear of Music, and his strong connection to the album (I didn’t want to write about Fear of Music, I wanted to write Fear of Music) is the kind of infectious admiration that widens a circle of admirers and shouts listen to this! His enthusiasm will lead readers straight to their iPods, laptops, and record players. Delightful.
Verdict For a generation raised on popular music, Lethem provides an admiring primer on a recording that continues to resonate long after that wonderfully described first play.‚ Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR
Price, Reynolds. Midstream: An Unfinished Memoir. Scribner. 2012. c.192p. illus. ISBN 9781439183496. $25. LIT
An important voice of the American South, with a distinguished career as the author of fiction, poetry, plays, essays, and other nonfiction, Price (English, Duke Univ.; Kate Vaiden) died in 2011. Before his death, he had completed two-thirds of this memoir, his fourth, following Ardent Spirits (2009). Covering the years from 1961 to1965, Price begins when, approaching age 30, he returns to Oxford for a fourth year (he was there as a Rhodes Scholar), hoping to reunite with a former lover. The memoir ends with his buying a house and returning to teach at Duke after his mother’s death. Of particular interest is his stage-struck account of a meeting with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton when they were filming Cleopatra, as well as his friendships with Samuel Barber and Stephen Spender.
Verdict Although parts of the book read as a diary with rough entries about dinners with friends and important artists, toward the end we see the young Price emerge as a sensitive, thoughtful writer at the threshold of his adult career. Price’s fans and lovers of memoir will appreciate this book.‚ Nancy R. Ives, SUNY Geneseo
Shelton, Christina. Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason. Threshold Editions. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451655421. $26. HIST
There are numerous books on Alger Hiss and his alleged spying for the Soviet Union. For most scholars, Allen Weinstein’s definitive study‚ Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (1978)‚ laid to rest any further doubts about Hiss’s culpability during the period prior to 1945. The selective opening of Soviet archives in the 1990s has generated even more information about Hiss and his cohorts, propagating books such as John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev’s Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (2009). Given the wealth of extant literature, Shelton, a retired U.S. intelligence analyst, does not provide a lot of new information about Hiss and his era. Rather, she delves into some of the newly released family archival materials, held at New York University, in search of additional insights into Hiss’s family life. The results, for the most part, are a familiar story, but for Shelton this is the tragic tale of a man with misplaced loyalties to a failed political system, who was surrounded by many who refused to admit that someone like Hiss‚ with his background and sterling credentials‚ could possibly be a spy.
Verdict A well-written book on a topic already much covered. This may be a good choice for general audiences seeking the facts and accessible analysis.‚ Edward Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames