Week ending June 22, 2012
Favole, Paolo. The Story of Modern Architecture. Prestel. 2012. 144p. photogs. index. ISBN 9783791346410. pap. $19.95. ARCHITECTURE
Freelance Italian writer Favole (The Story of Contemporary Architecture) edited this well-written and well-illustrated but unfortunately error-ridden book. For example, it states that Frank Lloyd Wright emigrated to the United States. Some of the book’s buildings would never be called modern: e.g., some German Fascist and Russian Communist buildings‚ all of which look like wedding cakes‚ executed by architects more interested in politics than design. Favole covers modern architecture from 1900 to 1940, focusing mainly on the Western world, ranging from Moscow to Los Angeles. The book is thin, devoting just two pages to each individual style, movement, designer, and building. Its coverage runs the gamut from Frank Lloyd Wright (four chapters) to Cubism in Prague (one chapter). Furthermore, the text is hard to read because of the its size and lightness; a magnifying glass would help.
Verdict Above all, Favole’s book lacks an actual story or narrative, despite its title. This, plus the egregious errors, makes this book a poor entry in a field crowded with more qualified candidates. A better choice is William J.R. Curtis’s Modern Architecture Since 1900.‚ Peter S. Kaufman, formerly with Boston Architectural Coll.
Fideler, Elizabeth F. Women Still at Work: Professionals over Sixty and on the Job. Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2012. c.192p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442215504. $37.50. SOC SCI
This is a paean to the achievements and tenacity of women who remain gainfully employed in their sixties and beyond. Fideler (research fellow, Sloan Ctr. on Aging & Work, Boston Coll.) focuses on women who thrive in long-held jobs or in work they’ve refashioned for themselves. It dovetails nicely with Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style, which observes older women who redefine what old age looks like. Brava to all these women, but there’s also something troubling about this picture. The subjects of both books are usually well-educated professionals who have enjoyed earlier success in life. Parents currently paying off college loans and supporting unemployed children who have recently graduated from college might not find much to relate to here, nor, of course, will their children. Nor will older, nonprofessional women still working at menial jobs while they continue to support families and raise new generations of children. Fideler rightly admires her subjects; this just might not be the most compelling book to buy in this economy.
Verdict For those interested in women’s history and the evolution of the workplace but not an essential purchase.‚ Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ
Junor, Penny. Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King. Pegasus. Jun. 2012. 352p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605984216. $27.95. BIOG
Junor’s (Charles, Victim or Villain) biography of the second in line to the British crown is entertaining although predictable. (Parade of royal ancestors? Check. Mismatched parents and acrimonious divorce? Check. Tragic death of his mother? Check.) It offers a portrait of a man in an extraordinary situation, who turned out to be a decent chap, making a life of his own that also fulfills his duties as a future king. Especially interesting are the details about the enormous amount of work required to manage William’s royal obligations and charitable commitments. There is much about the prince’s relationship with Catherine Middleton, whose normal family and upbringing appealed to him, and their wedding. Many of Junor’s sources are former staff members or press who covered the royal family for years. William was not interviewed by the author but allowed some of his household staff to speak to her.
Verdict There are some oddly unsympathetic notes about Diana here and much that will already be familiar to readers on this topic, but more recent gossipy details will please royal watchers.‚ Megan Hahn Fraser, Univ. of California Los Angeles Libs.
Kaufmann, Jean-Claude. Love Online. Polity, dist. by Wiley. 2012. c.200p. tr. by David Macey. bibliog. ISBN 9780745651842. pap. $19.95. PSYCH
The Internet has changed the dating world for people looking for a fling or a committed relationship: so much can be done online with just the click of a mouse. Kaufmann (sociology, Univ. of Paris V Sorbonne; The Curious History of Love) attempts to unravel the complicated realm of online dating by exploring the challenges many daters face. He includes transcripts from online dating forums of people’s experiences and their views and advice on dating‚ from who pays on the first date to how to kiss to whether to have sex on the first date. Kaufmann does not attempt to provide a solution to finding a date or a life partner. Rather, he shows readers that the Internet can muddy the dating waters and that people desire human physical contact.
Verdict Recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the broader implications of online dating, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and researchers studying human sexuality, gender issues, psychology, or sociology.‚ Tina Chan, SUNY Oswego Lib.
Krugman, Paul. End This Depression Now! Norton. 2012. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780393088779. $24.95. ECON
Nobel Prize‚ winning economist Krugman (The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008) here sounds a clarion call for a radical shift he argues is necessary to end world economic stagnation. He blames much of the 2008 financial crisis on lax regulation that permitted overleveraging by both lenders and borrowers. He castigates the Obama stimulus plan as inadequate and dismisses fears of an unsustainable national debt or out-of-control inflation as inconsistent with the reality of our economic depression. Proof that the marketplace holds no such fears, he says, are the current historic low interest rates for U.S. obligations. Europe, he says, is suffering from the effects of a single currency without a true cross-border mobile workforce or fiscal integration. Krugman’s answer is to return aggressively to the Keynesian expansionary fiscal and monetary policies plus debt relief that proved decisive in quelling the Great Depression.
Verdict Krugman’s forceful jargon-free criticisms and solutions directed at a general audience are a thoughtful contribution to both economic and political discourse in this election year. Highly recommended for a broad readership.‚ Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA
Niederman, Sharon. Signs & Shrines: Spiritual Journeys Across New Mexico. Countryman, dist. by Norton. 2012. 256p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9780881509083. pap. $19.95. TRAV
Nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico presents a spiritual face to many visitors. This guidebook by New Mexican writer and photographer Niederman (New Mexico: An Explorer’s Guide) includes sacred sites as well as the usual tourist spots. She describes retreats, pilgrimages, and shrines in addition to restaurants, hotels, and museums. Divided geographically into ten routes and three cities, the book contains only one map. Unlike common travel resources, the headings echo a New Age motif. Restaurants are listed under Nourish, shopping spots are under Cherish, spas are under Renew, and festivals are under Celebrate. Neiderman shares her knowledgeable enthusiasm for the state and raves about favorite places, concluding with her personal experience at a spiritual community. Interspersed throughout the book are essays on New Mexican culture and heritage, such as curanderismo (healing) and descansos (roadside memorials). Plentiful color photographs by the author document the sights.
Verdict Best used as a supplement to a favorite travel guide for visitors who want to explore New Mexico with a more spiritual perspective.‚ Janet Clapp, N. Clarendon, VT
Obama, Michelle. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. Crown. Jun. 2012. 272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307956026. $30. GARDENING
Alarmed by rising childhood obesity rates, in 2009 the First Lady launched the White House Kitchen Garden. She hoped the garden would foster a conversation about the food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children. Her book should do exactly that. Obama describes the garden, shares many stories of people (especially kids) in the garden, and includes short pieces by White House chefs and others, information about childhood obesity, and hints and recipes for preparing fresh produce. She also profiles several community gardens around the country, showing how they are improving people’s health and quality of life. Though Obama includes a few pages of gardening advice, her book is less about how to garden than why to garden. She focuses on the power of food gardens to connect us with our food, the land, and one another‚ and in the process to transform our health as well as that of our children and our communities.
Verdict Inspiring and beautifully illustrated, this book is highly recommended for readers interested in eating better, growing their own food, or enriching their communities.‚ Janet A. Crum, City of Hope Lib., Duarte, CA
Szepesi, Stefan. Walking Palestine: 25 Journeys into the West Bank. Interlink: Interlink Pub. Group. Jul. 2012. 272p. photogs. maps. ISBN 9781566568609. pap. $22.95. TRAV
Economist and naturalist Szepesi takes readers through 25 kilometers of walking trails in Palestine, including Burqin, Jenin, Zebabde, Sebastia, Al-Bidaan, Aboud, Turmus’ayya, Wadi Auja, Birzeit, Taybeh, Ras Karkar, Ramallah, Wadi Qelt, Artas, Mar Saba, and Battir and a loop that goes from Battir to Wadi Jama and back to Battir. The hikes vary in intensity (easy, moderate, hard), distance covered (ranging from 3.6 to 16.9 kilometers), and time needed (about one hour to 6.5 hours each), depending on the hiker’s abilities and interests. A typical chapter’s sidebar describes the hiking surface (gradient, elevation, dirt road or pavement, marked or unmarked), distance/duration, longitude/latitude, and other basic information. The chapter goes on to give detailed information including landmarks, restaurants, accommodations, tourist attractions, and useful contact information and Internet links, as applicable. The work includes full-color maps, color photographs, a two-page list of Arabic phrases, a one-page glossary, and tips for when to hike and what to wear while hiking.
Verdict This beautifully illustrated guide will appeal to adventurers and hikers interested in sniffing in fresh air in a part of the world rarely experienced by most of us.‚ Elizabeth Connor, The Citadel, Military Coll. of South Carolina Lib., Charleston