Brands, H.W. The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace. Doubleday. Oct. 2012. c.736p. index. ISBN 9780385532419. $35. BIOG
Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War general and two-term president, has been the subject of much historical scholarship, with historians often awarding Grant higher praise for his military than his political career. In this extremely sympathetic portrait, Pulitzer finalist Brands (Dickson Allen Anderson Professor of History, Univ. of Texas at Austin; Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) treats Grant’s entire life, showing its full arc. He breaks with earlier interpretations to give Grant good marks for his presidential leadership, concluding that Grant did the best he could in trying circumstances, particularly in the area of civil and minority rights. VERDICT This is a well-researched and comprehensive study‚ much broader in scope than, e.g., Edward H. Bonekemper’s Ulysses S. Grant: A Victor, Not a Butcher: The Military Genius of the Man Who Won the Civil War‚ as well as an engaging book. Essential for both popular readers and scholars. [See Prepub Alert, 4/16/12.]‚ Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs.,
Craig, William. Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantánamo. Walker. Aug. 2012. c.448p. index. ISBN 9780802710932. $28. TRAV
Freelance journalist Craig (liberal arts, River Valley Community Coll.) has a story to tell. After years of hearing that his great-grandfather fought with Teddy Roosevelt on San Juan Hill, he sought to connect with the past and retrace his ancestor’s steps; this book is the result. His adventures in Cuba ultimately involve a dubious Nigerian missionary, a New England feminist choir, and a family secret. Though his travels don’t work out as planned, Craig forges on. As they say on the island: Estamos en Cuba. Readers experience Afro-Cuban religious ceremonies, brush-ups with the ever-present secret police, plenty of rum, and several hours on terrible Cuban transportation. VERDICT This memoir could have disintegrated into a slapstick account of a Nigerian scam artist, inflexible Cuban bureaucrats, and the woes of a crumbling Cuban infrastructure. Instead, Craig has crafted a nuanced, coherent account of the Spanish-American War (remember the Maine?) interspersed with recent Cuban history and the current reality; the book is also a family memoir and quirky travelog. Recommended for anyone interested in Cuba or the Spanish-American War.‚ Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Lewis, Lionel S. Con Game: Bernard Madoff and His Victims. Transaction. Jul. 2012. c.273p. index. ISBN 9781412846097. $34.95. crime
While many books have been written about Bernard Madoff, this is the first to focus in detail on his victims and the story of how they became involved in the Ponzi scheme. Lewis (sociology, SUNY Buffalo; When Power Corrupts: Academic Governing Boards in the Shadow of the Adelphi Case ) has written an absorbing account of the victims, drawing on their own words and examining them through the lens of sociologist Erving Goffman’s study of victims of fraud. Unlike other books such as Erin Arvedlund’s Too Good To Be True , which briefly mentions the investors but focuses primarily on Madoff, Lewis analyzes the victims in their own words, taken from court statements, congressional hearings, and his interviews with them. The investors, he finds, were mostly in their sixties; all were older, wealthy, sophisticated, and eager to take advantage of a sure thing that provided higher returns than insured investments. The book includes copies of Madoff investor monthly statements and a lengthy recounting of investors’ dealings with Madoff and his helpers. VERDICT Highly recommended for academic as well as true crime audiences. ‚ Harry Charles, St. Louis
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The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Meredith, James with William Doyle. A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America. Atria: S. & S. Aug. 2012. c.288p. photogs. ISBN 9781451674729. $25. AUTOBIOG
Stahr, Walter. Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man. S. & S. Sept. 2012. c.704p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439121160. $32.50. BIOG
Chapin, Kari. Grow Your Handmade Business: How To Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business. Storey. Jul. 2012. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603429894. pap. $16.95. BUS
Kaputa, Catherine. Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea into a Big Brand. Nicholas Brealey. 2012. c.224p. index. ISBN 9781857885811. pap. $19.95. BUS
Powell, Colin with Tony Koltz. It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership. Harper: HarperCollins. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780062135124. $27.99. BUS
Churchill, Christian J. & Gerald E. Levy. The Enigmatic Academy: Class, Bureaucracy, and Religion in American Education. Temple Univ. 2012. c.238p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439907849. pap. $28.95. ED
Crist, David. The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran. Penguin. Jul. 2012. c.656p. maps. index. ISBN 9781594203411. $36. HIST
Drabelle, Dennis. The Great American Railroad War: How Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris Took on the Notorious Central Pacific Railroad. St. Martin’s. Aug. 2012. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312667597. $26.99. HIST
Ferraro, Joanne M. Venice: History of the Floating City. Cambridge Univ. Aug. 2012. c.300p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780521883597. $27.99. HIST
Jacob, Mark & Stephen H. Case. Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman Behind Benedict Arnold’s Plot To Betray America. Lyons: Globe Pequot. Jul. 2012. c.288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780762773886. $24.95. HIST
Keating, Ann Durkin. Rising Up from Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago. Univ. of Chicago. Aug. 2012. c.328p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780226428963. $30. HIST
Logevall, Fredrik. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. Random. Aug. 2012. c.880p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9780375504426. $40. HIST
Merry, Robert W. Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyesof Voters and Historians. S. & S. Jul. 2012. c.320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451625400. $28. HIST
Murphy, Paul Thomas. Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy. Pegasus. Aug. 2012. c.688p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781605983547. $35. HIST
Skinner, David. The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published. Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2012. c.368p. index. ISBN 9780062027467. $25.99. HIST
Wiencek, Henry. Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves. Farrar. Oct. 2012. c.416p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374299569. $30. HIST
Law & Crime
Ball, Howard. At Liberty To Die: The Battle for Death with Dignity in America. New York Univ. 2012. c.256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814791042. $30. LAW
Tamanaha, Brian Z. Failing Law Schools. Univ. of Chicago. (Chicago Series in Law & Society). Jul. 2012. c.238p. index. ISBN 9780226923611. $25. LAW
Doherty, Brendan J. The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign. Univ. of Kansas. Aug. 2012. c.216p. index. ISBN 9780700618590. $34.95; pap. ISBN 9780700618606. $19.95. POL SCI
Kramer, Mattea & National Priorities Project. A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget. Interlink: Interlink Pub. Group. Jul. 2012. c.160p. illus. ISBN 9781566568876. pap. $15. POLI Sci
Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History. Chicago Review, dist. by IPG. 2012. 288p. photogs. ISBN 9781613740682. $24.95.
Bogaert, Anthony F. Understanding Asexuality. Rowman & Littlefield. Aug. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. ISBN 9781442200999. $49.95. PSYCH
Farber, Seth. The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement. Inner Traditions. 2012. c.464p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594774485. pap.
Franzini, Louis R. Just Kidding: Using Humor Effectively. Rowman & Littlefield. Aug. 2012. c.160p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442213364. $38.
Schouten, Ronald, M.D., & James Silver. Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy? Hazelden & Harvard Health Pbns. 2012. c.280p. ISBN 9781616491024. pap. $14.95. PSYCH
Seabright, Paul. The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present. Princeton Univ. 2012. c.240p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691133010. $24.95. soc sci
Streitmatter, Rodger. Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples. Beacon, dist. by Random. 2012. c.224p. illus. ISBN 9780807003343. $26.95. soc sci
Zeilinger, Julie. A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word. Seal: Perseus. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9781580053716. pap. $16. SOC SCI
Travel & Geography
Arnold, Daniel. Salt to Summit: A Vagabond Journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney. Counterpoint. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. illus. ISBN 9781582437507. pap. $17.95. TRAV
Kolsky, Rachel & Roslyn Rawson. Jewish London: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Visitors and Londoners. Interlink: Interlink Pub. Group. 2012. 224p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781566569002. pap. $17.95. TRAV