Week ending October 4, 2013
Benedict, Jeff & Armen Keteyian. The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football. Doubleday. 2013. 432p. notes. photos. index. ISBN 9780385536615. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385536622. SPORTS
The System, or more accurately, “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” is the best book on college football in years. It is an exposé on cheating and sex in college sports, but the book also recalls feel-good stories of true amateurism. Journalists Benedict (special features contributor, Sports Illustrated; Out of Bounds) and Keteyian (correspondent, CBS News; The Money Players) had inside access to some of college football’s iconic programs—the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and Ohio State’s Buckeyes, to name two—and draw a less than flattering picture of many issues ranging from tutors to hostesses to recruiting. In the end, all roads lead to money, the driving force behind big-time football on the college level. Along the way we meet some good guys—Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Washington State head coach Mike Leach, and Brigham Young’s Bronco Mendenhall—but we encounter more coaches, administrators, and insiders whose actions fit the meaning of scandal. The authors’ work is only the tip of the iceberg, as recent reports out of Oklahoma State and a Yahoo story about current and former players taking money from an agent are too new to have been included here.
Verdict An overwhelming recommendation for all readers who love or hate college sports.—Boyd Childress, formerly with Auburn Univ. Libs., AL
Hasson, Julie. Vegan Pizza: 50 Cheesy, Crispy, Healthy Recipes. Andrews McMeel. 2013. 123p. illus. index. ISBN 9781449427122. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781449441548. COOKING
Flip through most pizza cookbooks, and you’ll find recipes featuring a wide variety of cheeses and meats—all taboo for vegans. Lucky for them, pizza aficionado Hasson’s (Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body and Soul) latest title is here to bridge the gap. With her guidance, making pizza dough is easy, and there are several kinds of crust to choose from, including gluten-free options. Vegans will especially value the nondairy cheese sauces that appear alongside the customary tomato sauces and pestos, as well as the recipes for mock meats such as pepperoni and sausage crumbles. Traditional pies (tomato basil and garlic, sausage and onion) share space with more adventurous combos such as All-American Barbecue, bibimbap, and Thai peanut, as well as dessert pizzas featuring berries, coconut-caramel, and chocolate. The inclusion of color photographs and vegan mozzarella brand recommendations would have been welcome additions.
Verdict While these vegetable-laden offerings will appeal to anyone interested in looking outside the usual (pizza) box, those without food restrictions may gravitate toward more mainstream titles. Pizza-loving vegans looking to expand their repertoire beyond the basics included in many general vegan cookbooks will be excited to give this book a try.—Jude Baldwin, Coll. of the Siskiyous, Weed, CA
Hughes, Jane. The Adventurous Vegetarian: Around the World in 30 Meals. New Internationalist. Oct. 2013. 296p. photos. index. ISBN 9781780261249. pap. $25. COOKING
Culinary instructor Hughes (editor, the Vegetarian magazine; The Vegetarian Handbook; The Vegetarian Travel Guide) aims to connect vegetarians worldwide so that readers may experience a meal similar to those eaten by their vegetarian counterparts in Botswana, Brazil, or Singapore (just a handful of the 30 countries featured here). Organized by country, each chapter includes a brief history of vegetarian cuisine in that particular nation. Recipes are developed by local writers and cooks, lending authenticity and authority. Hughes keeps recipes short and simple, with an eye to ease and accessibility for the home cook. Dishes range from those that might be familiar (Ethiopian spicy greens, Vietnamese pho, Chinese sweet and sour tofu) to the lesser known (Ghanaian peanut soup, Egyptian stuffed eggplant, and Chilean breads).
Verdict Few titles make such a broad, overarching attempt to take an international perspective, although many vegetarian cookbooks draw from global inspiration. Hughes successfully highlights how cooks across the world use their unique culinary customs to “veggify” traditional dishes. Those curious about international cuisine and who would like to experience local interpretations of vegetarian food without ever leaving their kitchens will find something here to devour.—Rukshana Singh, San Mateo P.L., CA
Hulings, Kathryn U. Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome. Univ. of North Texas. (Mayborn Literary Nonfiction, Vol. 6). 2013. 272p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781574415247. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781574415377. PSYCH
This lyrically written account of the Hulings family and their own personal superhero, Michael, provides insight into the many facets of raising a child with Down syndrome. Michael’s mother, Hulings sets the book’s tone in its table of contents, with chapter titles describing actions such as “Playing,” “Learning,” “Dancing,” “Waiting,” “Wondering,” and “Progressing.” Hulings describes how she, her husband, and her children experience these activities and how they help Michael grow and develop these skills. Not a lot of time is dedicated to her adopted son’s early years; emphasis is on the triumphs of his reaching young adulthood (Michael is now 22) as Hulings chronicles the tribulations that the family had to navigate along with Michael, such as girlfriends, employment, broken hearts, inclusion, and talent shows. While not sugarcoated and at times heart-wrenching, Hulings’s narrative shows how the family work through issues together and often find humor in their situation after the fact, living their lives with gusto. The appendix includes resources ranging from general information related to Down syndrome to medical, education, therapy, recreation, education, and more for parents, family members, and caregivers who want to learn more.
Verdict This is a wonderful memoir for anyone to read, but it will be especially helpful to those parents and family members of children with Down syndrome. The joy and love that this family have are contagious; the lessons that they have learned about themselves and Michael and how to help him be all that he can be while also educating the community about people with special needs are quite engaging.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., KS
Mikulak, Michael. The Politics of the Pantry: Stories, Food, and Social Change. McGill-Queens Univ. 2013. 256p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780773542761. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780773590182. HOME ECON
Mikulak, a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, provides a critical analysis of the sociological and political rhetoric surrounding food production and its relationship to sustainability, obesity, economics, and even climate change. His analysis, while quite scholarly, will also appeal to the general reader. In the first two chapters, the author covers the history of environmentalism and its relationship with agriculture. He also tackles texts that try to expose our modern food systems and what he calls “food stories,” or writings about food or agriculture, thoroughly dissecting contemporary works such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. In the last chapter, Mikulak gets personal, describing how he experimented with eating locally and producing as much of his own food as possible.
Verdict While this thorough, academic text is much less accessible than the literature analyzed here, serious readers of food writing will enjoy the contextualization of popular food writing and documentary films. A fascinating—though dense—read; highly recommended.—Ann Wilberton, Pace Univ., New York