Jaume, Lucien. Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty. Princeton. Apr. 2013. 368p. tr. from French by Arthur Goldhammer. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691152042. $35. PHILOS
In this study, which won the prestigious Prix Guizot from the Académie Française in 2008, Jaume (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris) takes on “democracy’s Sphinx,” Alexis de Tocqueville. The heart of the book is a deep reading of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835, 1840) and The Old Regime …(1856). Jaume interprets Democracy as not so much a book about America as about France and the debates about democracy that were raging there at the time. Tocqueville, writes Jaume, was uncomfortable with democracy but convinced of its inevitability; he didn’t believe institutions or laws could maintain a nation for long. Jaume demonstrates that Tocqueville attempted instead to show how in a society of equals, self-interest becomes the glue that binds society together. Jaume’s discussion of Tocqueville’s intellectual roots includes a brilliant chapter on the Jansenists (Pascal, etc.). An important aspect of the book is its elucidation of how Tocqueville was read by his contemporaries. This exceptional study can fruitfully be read against Arthur Kaledin’s Tocqueville and His America. Both are attempts to come to grips with an extraordinarily subtle thinker who’s never been easy to categorize. VERDICT This is one of the finest studies of Tocqueville in years. It will prove invaluable to scholars.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Doherty, Thomas. Hollywood and Hitler: 1933–1939. Columbia Univ. Apr. 2013. 432p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231163927. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231535144. FILM
Doherty (American studies, Brandeis Univ.; Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture) delivers a revealing look at how Hollywood adjusted to the onset of World War II. In the 1930s, the studios were forced not only to find ways to continue business in Germany, but also to prepare for the eventual loss of that business. Many studios refused to run newsreels of Hitler, as film stars petitioned for complete economic withdrawal from Germany, and Hays Code censors battled with filmmakers about how to portray the truth of German brutality. VERDICT Believing that film is the heartbeat of American culture, Doherty does a fine job of showing how the movie industry united at a time when the nation felt angry and helpless. Readers who love classic Hollywood or who are looking for a cultural picture of 1930s America will find much of interest here. With a rich blend of art and politics, Doherty brings to light the story of how Hollywood handled Nazism during Hitler’s reign. Recommended.—Rochelle LeMaster, Medina Cty. Dist. Lib., OH
Bellow, Greg. Saul Bellow’s Heart: A Son’s Memoir. Bloomsbury. Apr. 2013. 240p. photogs. ISBN 9781608199952. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781608199969. LIT
This bittersweet memoir by Greg Bellow, a psychotherapist by training and the firstborn son of Nobel Prize–winner Saul Bellow, is replete with intimate anecdotes and insightful glimpses into the autobiographical aspects of the elder Bellow’s fiction (e.g., The Adventures of Augie March; Herzog). The son attempts to come to grips with his father’s legacy, and their often strained relationship. “Old Saul’s” complexity and numerous flaws—he could be selfish, thin-skinned, and taciturn—are considered in full here by the son. He writes of Saul’s later years and of the time after his death, organizing and recording those memories before they fade further, examining the boundaries so tenaciously held between the artist’s public and private lives, the literary hero and the increasingly difficult, distanced father. VERDICT Bellow’s memoir, “as full and as honest a written portrait as I can render,” judiciously makes its case. Memoir readers will appreciate the accessible prose and the narrative’s straightforward, chronological organization. Also recommended for readers interested in the work of Saul Bellow.—Patrick A. Smith, Bainbridge Coll., GA
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The following titles are reviewed in the March 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Heck, Christian & Remy Cordonnier. The Grand Medieval Bestiary: Animals in Illuminated Manuscripts.Abbeville. 2012. 620p. bibliog. illus. index. ISBN 9780789211279. $185. FINE ARTS
Meyer, Richard. What Was Contemporary Art? MIT. Mar. 2013. 360p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780262135085. $35. FINE ARTS
Spuhler, Friedrich. Carpets from Islamic Lands. (The al-Sabah Collection). Thames & Hudson. 2013. 186p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500970331. $55. DEC ARTS
Angelou, Maya. Mom & Me & Mom. Random House. Apr. 2013. 193p. illus. ISBN 9781400066117. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780679645474. LIT
Naturel, Mireille (text). Marcel Proust: The Ark and the Dove. Edition Olms. Apr. 2013. 192p. ed. by Patricia Mante-Proust. tr. from French by Josephine Bacon. bibliog. illus. ISBN 9783283012182. $65.
Cook, Kevin. Flip: The Inside Story ofTV’s First Black Superstar. Viking. Apr. 2013. 230p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780670025701. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101606087. TV
Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s. Duke Univ. Mar. 2013. 448p. ed. by Laura M.E. Goodlad & others. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822354185. $27.95. TV
Arvio, Sarah. Night Thoughts: 70 Dream Poems & Notes from an Analysis. Knopf. 2013. 176p. notes. index. ISBN 9780307959553. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307959560. POETRY
Ali, Kazim. Sky Ward. Wesleyan Univ. (Wesleyan Poetry). 2013. 94p. ISBN 9780819573575. $22.95. POETRY
Duhamel, Denise. Blowout. Univ. of Pittsburgh. 2013. 100p. ISBN 9780822962366. pap. $15.95. POETRY
Hazleton, Lesley. The First Muslim. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). 2013. 320p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594487286. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101602003. REL
Williams, Cecil & Janice Mirikitani. Beyond the Possible: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change in a Community Called Glide. HarperOne: HarperCollins. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780062105042. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062105059. REL