Prins, Nomi. All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power. Nation: Perseus. Apr. 2014. 544p. notes. index. ISBN 9781568587493. $32.99; ebk. ISBN 9781568584911. BUS
Wall Street executive–turned–journalist Prins (Other People’s Money) offers a history of the incestuous relationship between powerful bankers and the highest levels of American government. She traces her story from the Panic of 1907 through two World Wars, the Great Depression, 1930s bank regulation, the Cold War, innumerable market meltdowns, bank deregulation, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and President Obama’s second term. She paints a picture of influential big bank executives and presidents forming a symbiotic relationship, where the federal government would permit the financial institutions to take on highly profitable risks with the government standing ready to bail them out when markets soured. The bankers in turn would offer campaign funds, boost economic conditions, and extend U.S. interests abroad. Prins says the bankers worked over the years to align government policy with their interests and that in recent decades that alignment became complete as members of the Wall Street fraternity moved in and out of pivotal government posts. Her final word is that America must sever the alliance between the White House and Wall Street or have it break us. VERDICT Prins divides her justifiably long text into digestible one- to three-page segments and seamlessly incorporates dozens of prominent banker profiles. Her work is highly recommended both to general readers and to students of financial history.
Allen, Danielle. Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. Liveright: Norton. Jun. 2014. 288p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780871406903. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871408136. HIST
Allen (Sch. of Social Science, Inst. for Advanced Study; coeditor, Education, Justice, and Democracy) parses the Declaration of Independence, finding meaning in every phrase, every word, even every punctuation mark. Her book is a thought-provoking extended essay that claims the equality and freedom described therein (as contrasted with simple “liberty” or “independence”) as the birthright of every American. Allen, a biracial woman herself, recognizes the contradictions surrounding the Declaration, which was written, after all, in the 18th century by white men, many of whom owned slaves. Yet despite these “shadows” on the document, she sees it as a timeless argument for equality, freedom, and the right to self-government. She even claims that it is a memo written to the world and for posterity—a message that all people are equal, that society should promote the happiness of its citizens, and that the people have the right, even the duty, to overturn tyrannies. VERDICT Most of us can quote the opening line or two of the Declaration; after reading Allen’s book you will know much of it by heart and understand its enduring argument for equality and freedom. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]
Freedman, Karyn L. One Hour in Paris: A True Story of Rape and Recovery. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9780226073705. $20. PSYCH
Philosopher Freedman (Univ. of Guelph, Ont.) was, as a guileless young backpacker, raped and brutalized in a Paris apartment on August 1, 1990. She dealt with shame, hyperarousal, and panic attacks following her assault, but she points out that coming out as a rape survivor can go a long way toward erasing the humiliation that comes with having one’s body used sexually and violently, against one’s will. In telling her story, Freedman challenges the notion that rape is solely about power, asserting that, to the survivor of the crime, rape is all about sex and can lead to lifelong sexual inhibitions. In the decade following her assault, the author sought and found solidarity in group sessions in Canada and halfway around the world in a rape clinic in Botswana. Freedman contends that rape is rooted in gender discrimination and the oppression of women worldwide, that structural inequalities will persist until addressed. VERDICT The frank discussion in this book is valuable for those interested in social justice as well as to survivors, their loved ones, and mental health professionals.
Taylor, Astra. The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. Metropolitan: Holt. Apr. 2014. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9780805093568. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780805095456. SOC SCI
The Internet is often lauded as an open, democratic marketplace of ideas and goods in which anyone can thrive. In her sweeping critique, documentary filmmaker Taylor (Zizek!) challenges this notion, arguing that networked technology has allowed for greater concentration of power and has reduced transparency. Her well-researched, unsettling, and occasionally downright harrowing book explores the consolidation of popularity; the stubborn digital divide; copyright and piracy; and the pervasive power of advertising. She deplores the resource intensity, hazardous e-waste, and other obscured costs of digital technology, with its obsolescence ensured more by producer-guided popularity than by function, and the ignorance of its users as to these costs. In the midst of an incalculable array of information, our ignorance is all the greater, as the decline of investigative journalism reduces our awareness of local, domestic, and international events, and as Internet companies push the familiar to users with increasing specificity as the universe of personal data available to these companies expands. VERDICT Taylor makes the case for a government-supported sustainable online culture that promotes the public good and encourages journalism and the arts. This provocative populist manifesto on an utterly timely subject deserves a wide audience among policymakers and consumers alike. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/13.]
To log in to your account, click here. To view the new subscription options, Get Started With Book Verdict Pro Today.
Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Kaplan, Fred. John Quincy Adams: American Visionary. Harper. May 2014. 672p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780061915413. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062199324. BIOG
Sherr, Lynn. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space. S. & S. Jun. 2014. 320p. photos. ISBN 9781476725765. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781476725789. BIOG
Segal, Leerom & others. The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers. Portfolio. 2014. 326p. notes. index. ISBN 9781591847144. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698152151. BUS
Haught, Brandon. Going Ape: Florida’s Battle over Evolution in the Classroom. Univ. of Florida. Apr. 2014. 272p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780813049434. $24.95. ED
Reynolds, Glenn Harlan. The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself. Encounter. 2014. 121p. notes. index. ISBN 9781594037108. $21.50; ebk. ISBN 9781594037115. ED
Anderson, Gary Clayton. Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian: The Crime That Should Haunt America. Univ. of Oklahoma. Mar. 2014. 472p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780806144214. $29.95. HIST
Atkinson, Rick & others. On War: The Best Military Histories. Pritzker Military Museum & Lib. 2013. 253p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780989792813. $27. HIST
Confino, Alon. A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide. Yale Univ. Apr. 2014. 296p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780300188547. $30. HIST
Devine, Shauna. Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science. Univ. of North Carolina. (Civil War America). Mar. 2014. 392p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469611556. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781469611563. HIST
Grandin, Greg. The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World. Metropolitan: Holt. 2014. 368p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780805094534; ebk. ISBN 9781429943178. $30. HIST
Slaughter, Thomas P. Independence: The Tangled Roots of the American Revolution. Hill & Wang: Farrar. Jun. 2014. 528p. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780809058341. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780374712075. HIST
Law & Crime
Ackerman, Bruce. We the People. Vol. 3: The Civil Rights Revolution. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Mar. 2014. 420p. notes. index. ISBN 9780674050297. $35. LAW
Crime Scene Profilers. Prometheus. Apr. 2014. 450p. ed. by John H. Campbell. notes. index. ISBN 9781616145552. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781616145569. CRIME
Lansky, Sandra & William Stadiem. Daughter of the King: Growing Up in Gangland. Weinstein. Mar. 2014. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781602862159. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781602862166. CRIME
Trask-Curtin, Marilou. Reincarnation: One Woman’s Exploration of Her Past Lives. Llewellyn. Apr. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780738738970. pap. $14.99. PARAPSYCH
Lampton, David M. Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping. Univ. of California. 2014. 312p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780520281219. $31.95; ebk. ISBN 9780520957398. INT AFFAIRS
Padgett, Jason. Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544045606. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544045644. PSYCH
Traster, Tina. Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother’s Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder. Chicago Review. May 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781613746783. $24.95. PSYCH
Bernard, Andreas. Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator. New York Univ. 2014. 320p. tr. from German by David Dollenmayer. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780814787168. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780814787168. SOC SCI
Mooney, Katherine C. Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack. Harvard Univ. May 2014. 322p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674281424. $35. SOC SCI
Roffman, Roger. Marijuana Nation: One Man’s Chronicle of America Getting High; From Vietnam to Legalization. Pegasus. Apr. 2014. 352p. illus. ISBN 9781605985466. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605985886. SOC SCI
Schultz, Jaime. Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women’s Sport. Univ. of Illinois. Mar. 2014. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780252038167. $95; pap. ISBN 9780252079740. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780252095962. SOC SCI
Travel & Geography
Ward, Douglas. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships, 2014. 22nd ed. Berlitz. 2013. 752p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781780047492. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780047638. TRAV
Fisch, Harry with Karen Moline. The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex
Education for Grown-Ups. Sourcebooks. Apr. 2014. 304p. index. ISBN 9781402293375. pap. $14.99. PSYCH
Fisch, noted urologist, television guest, and radio host (Size Matters; Dr. Oz Show; Dr. Harry Fisch Show on SiriusXM radio) explains male sexuality to wives and girlfriends for healthier relationships. The book’s first part examines sexual frequency, satisfying sex, masturbation, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, sexual desire and attraction, testosterone, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, sexual addiction, and more. The second part covers communication between partners, what Fisch describes as LSD—listening, plus security, plus desire. He develops strategies for women to teach their male partners to be better listeners and to be more effective in making them feel desired. The discussions include real-life questions and situations from Fisch’s patients and followers. Fisch emphasizes the importance of sex for relationships and provides an instructive primer to male sexuality for heterosexual couples. He addresses the subject from a moderate perspective, allowing for diverse approaches to sexuality, which most readers will find comfortable. VERDICT Despite the book’s intended audience of women, many male readers will also benefit from Fisch’s advice and knowledge. Recommended to couples interested in improving their relationships.
Nomis, Anne O. The History & Arts of the Dominatrix. Anne O. Nomis. 2014. 288p. illus. ISBN 9780992701000. $74.95. PSYCH
Elusive author Nomis sheds light on a mysterious underground world in this fascinating exploration of female dominatrices. Beginning with the ancient worship of dominatrix goddesses as early as 7400 BCE, she continues through secular domination practices in 17th- to 19th-century England (such as flogging houses), which were spurred by the rise of patriarchal monotheistic religions and schoolhouse corporal punishment. Nomis explains that the characteristic fetish “style” did not appear until the late 1950s, when the dominatrix herself truly carved out her niche as an erotic icon. She concludes with seven “realms” of the art of domination, discussing the nuanced dynamics of dominant/submissive relationships and fetishism in general. This book might not contain a slew of new observations for those well versed in sexuality studies, but the unconventional analysis reinvigorates even the most familiar concepts. It is obvious that Nomis dedicated years of research to compile an engaging, sympathetic history of a well-concealed subculture. The book provides exciting commentary on shifting attitudes toward sex, female power, and female sexuality across different time periods and regions, complete with dazzling visual aids and artifacts. VERDICT Recommended for collections with high demand for sociology and anthropology titles, particularly on the subjects of gender and sexuality.
Morris, Seymour, Jr. Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumpth in Japan. Harper. Apr. 2014. 368p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062287939. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062287953. HIST
Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) continues to intrigue historians. While Mark Perry (see review below) traces MacArthur’s career from 1932 through World War II, Morris (American History Revised), a businessman-turned- historian, looks extensively at secondary sources to examine the general’s tenure as supreme commander for the allied powers in Japan from 1945 to 1951. Morris accessibly shows how MacArthur managed to implement a number of reforms in postwar Japan, including a new constitution, land reform, and giving women the right to vote, while at the same time encouraging Japan to disarm peacefully and formally renounce any future war plans. By keeping in place the highly respected Emperor Hirohito, he was able to effect a relatively smooth transition to peacetime, creating an economic environment that would make Japan a powerful force by the end of the century. Morris shows that while MacArthur has been rightfully honored for his leadership of American forces in the Pacific during World War II, his performance in leading Japan from war to peace should be considered one of his finest accomplishments and one from which we could have learned more. VERDICT A well-crafted history of an underappreciated aspect of MacArthur’s career. Recommended for students of the postwar era.
Perry, Mark. The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur. Basic: Perseus. Apr. 2014. 384p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465013289. $29.99. HIST
Douglas MacArthur loomed over the America of World War II and the Korean War. Despite much existing scholarship (e.g., D. Clayton James’s The Years of MacArthur and Geoffrey Perret’s Old Soldiers NeverDie), there is room for foreign affairs analyst Perry’s (Partners in Command) focused study of MacArthur’s career from the early 1930s through World War II. Perry explores in particular the complicated relationship between President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and the man he considered a potential presidential opponent. Perry provides illuminating sketches of many of the war’s major players, both in Washington, DC, and in the Pacific Theater, including Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, MacArthur’s superior in Washington; and Admiral Chester Nimitz, who led the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. Perry recounts MacArthur’s loss and gain of the Philippines, as well as many of the other battles that he waged in the South Pacific during 1942 to 1945 as commander in chief of the army in the Pacific. The book ends with the conclusion of the war with Japan in September 1945. VERDICT While much has been written on the general topic, Perry is strong on discussing MacArthur’s relationship with FDR as well as his fellow officers in the Pacific. A gripping read, this book will be valuable to the novice and specialist alike and is recommended for all collections.