Hales, Dianne. Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered. S. & S. Aug. 2014. 336p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781451658965. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451658989. HIST
Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile has captured the imaginations of generations of art lovers. Hales (La Bella Lingua) seeks to understand the story behind the painting by recounting the life of Lisa Gherardini (1479–1542), the widely accepted model for Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century masterpiece. Gherardini’s ancestry, life, and death are explored, as well as those of her husband (and likely commissioner of the famous portrait) and artist da Vinci. Owing to a dearth of sources on the subject’s life, however, the book reads as an exploration of what life would have been like for a woman of Gherardini’s station in Renaissance Florence rather than a retelling of her specific story. The enduring appeal and legacy of the painting are also addressed, although controversies surrounding its subject and origin are only briefly mentioned. Interspersed throughout the narrative are anecdotes about the author’s personal experiences while researching the book, as she uncovers a Florence that is very different from the city as it was in da Vinci’s time. These asides add pathos that casual readers will appreciate but that will frustrate academics. VERDICT This engaging account of a Renaissance woman will appeal to a general audience.
Hoffman, Morris B. The Punisher’s Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury. Cambridge Univ. (Studies in Economics, Choice, & Society). May 2014. 392p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781107038066. $30. LAW
Hoffman (law, Univ. of Colorado, Univ. of Denver), a trial judge for the Second Judicial District of the Colorado state court system, has stellar credentials for positing theories about the law, but, perhaps surprisingly, he also invokes science to explore the nature of punishment and its relation to the legal system. This fascinating book transcends categorization. Melding neuroscience, biology, primatology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, philosophy, history, and, of course, law, Hoffman promulgates a treatise on the evolution of punishment, arguing that it has evolved along with us. Indeed, our notions of punishment and judgment are hardwired in our brains, subject to shifting evolutionary trends. In 11 well-researched chapters, Hoffman explores such phenomena as cheating, blaming, cooperation, conscience, guilt, retaliation, revenge, retribution, and forgiveness. Furthermore, he introduces and analyzes various dissonances and fallacies that shape our legal judgment. The final chapter, “Brains Punishing Brains,” identifies old and new perspectives on the topic, returning to the four traditional directives underlying it: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. While the author does not resolve the conflicting goals of punishment, he does provide a novel overview of the issues. VERDICT This title is indispensable reading for scholars of jurisprudence who value texts such as Jeremy Bentham’s classic, The Rationale of Punishment.
Pickren, Wade E. The Psychology Book: From Shamanism to Cutting-Edge Neuroscience, 250 Milestones in the History of Psychology. Sterling. (Milestones). May 2014. 528p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781402784811. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781402792359. PSYCH
A leading historian in his field, Pickren (director, Ctr. for Faculty Excellence, Ithaca Coll.) here assembles 250 milestones in psychology, from shamanism to the 2013 White House BRAIN Initiative (brain research through advancing innovate neurotechnologies). Each entry has a page of concise description and explanation opposite a portrait, document, or work of art—a visual and intellectual pleasure. Milestones include Aristotle’s De Anima; London’s medieval Bedlam (Bethlem Hospital); Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Elizabeth Loftus on misinformation effect and false memories; and Bill Moyers’s “Mind-Body Medicine” on PBS. Some topics and pioneers, such as the brain, soul, tests, medications, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, receive repeat attention. Suggested readings add to the value of this book for readers who wish to delve further into the milestones. There is something for everyone here but, of course, not room for everything: this reviewer regrets the exclusion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (as examined in Edward Reed’s From Soul to Mind) and psychologist Otto Rank. VERDICT Lay readers and scholars will find treasure and pleasure here. A splendid volume in content and design, this work is recommended for general readers, psychology students, and history buffs.
Holt, Leslie E. & Glen E. Holt. Success with Library Volunteers. Libraries Unlimited. 2013. 156p. notes. index. ISBN 9781610690485. pap. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781610690492. PRO MEDIA
Authored by professionals in school and public libraries, this work offers nine chapters to guide librarians in today’s era of budget and staffing cuts successfully to recruit, use, and retain volunteers. Regardless of their type of library, readers will gain insight from the basics and information on everything from identifying volunteers to planning and evaluating effective use of these resources. Specific types of volunteers, such as Friends, youth, persons with disabilities, and partnerships are also explored, along with volunteer management information systems and the future of volunteers in libraries. Examples and guidance in creating one’s own policies and practices will help all types of libraries to explore the use of volunteers, while those working in other fields may benefit from the ideas presented, too. The volume ends with a model of successful volunteering at the King County Library in Washington State for others to follow. VERDICT Readers can take advantage of all or part of this book, based on individual needs and existing policies regarding volunteer practices, and can use the material to open conversations regarding future volunteer use.—Sara Marcus, Queensborough Community Coll. Lib., Bayside, NY
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Caron, David. The Nearness of Others: Searching for Tact and Contact in the Age of HIV. Univ. of Minnesota. May 2014. 352p. bibliog. ISBN 9780816691753. $69; pap. ISBN 9780816691791. $24.95. MEMOIR
Chadwick, Bruce. James & Dolley: America’s First Power Couple. Prometheus. 2014. 450p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781616148355. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616148362. BIOG
Fitoussi, Michèle. Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty. Gallic. Jul. 2014. 404p. tr. from French by Kate Bignold & Lakshmi Ramakrishnan Iyer. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781908313461. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781908313553. BIOG
Memoir & Madness
Crais, Clifton. History Lessons: A Memoir of Madness, Memory, and the Brain. Overlook. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781468303681. MEMOIR
An inability to recall most of his childhood prompted Crais (history, Emory Univ.; Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus) to research and reconstruct a past he couldn’t remember. Possessing only fragmentary memories of a brutal childhood spent in New Orleans, shunted among members of a dangerously unstable family, including a mother who tried to drown him as a small child and a largely absent father, Crais researched neighbors, neurology, family, and folklore in an effort to figure out what happened to him (and why he could not remember it). Interviews, field trips, correspondence, and research are all detailed, but it is the graceful way in which the work of a historian is transformed into the craft of a memoir that distinguishes Crais’s beautifully composed account. VERDICT The author’s thoughtfully written experience of his attempt to discover what was lost to him illustrates clearly—and painfully—that history is not just a record of spectacular battles won and lost but also of smaller domestic disasters and their collateral damage. The ambiguities of a life only half recalled are fully illuminated in this chronicle of trying to understand what has been forgotten.—Thérèse Purcell Nielsen, Huntington P.L., NY
Wagner, Linda Mary. Unearthing the Ghosts: A Mystery Memoir. Buried Gems. 2013. 318p. ISBN 9780989822008. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9780989822015. MEMOIR
In her debut memoir, Wagner—previously a journalist and corporate communications expert and now a nonprofit manager—explores the familial and social forces that led to her mistreatment in adolescence by a psychiatrist. A product of the turbulent youth culture of the 1960s and 1970s, Wagner confounded her Depression-era parents with her teenage rebellions—so much so that they sought the interventions of Anthony Sainz, a local psychiatrist. Sainz medicated Wagner based upon her parents’ worries instead of upon an examination of Wagner herself. Her efforts to extricate herself from the ensuing nightmare of improper medication and hospitalization took years and are juxtaposed here against the broader backgrounds of mental illness in her family as well as the lurching progress made in the United States in the care of the mentally ill. While Sainz may have ultimately been discredited for his treatment of the accused in a murder case, Wagner recounts the long history of generally poor care afforded to those unlucky enough to have needed psychiatric intervention before a more humanitarian approach took hold. VERDICT Wagner financed the publication of her work through a Kickstarter campaign. This approach, coupled with the story of her long trek toward uncovering the truth of her early experiences, will appeal to those committed to setting the record straight. [See Q&A with the authors.]—Thérèse Purcell Nielsen, Huntington P.L., NY
Lewis, Edward with Audrey Edwards. The Man from Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women. Atria. Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781476703480. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781476703503. COMM
Stephens, Mitchell. Beyond News: The Future of Journalism. Columbia Univ. (Journalism Review Bks.). 2014. 256p. notes. ISBN 9780231159388. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780231536295. COMM
Colander, David & Roland Kupers. Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems from the Bottom Up. Princeton Univ. Jun. 2014. 320p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780691152097. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400850136. ECON
Petram, Lodewijk. The World’s First Stock Exchange. Columbia Univ. Jun. 2014. 304p. tr. from Dutch by Lynne Richards. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780231163781. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780231537322. ECON
Saval, Nikil. Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. Doubleday. 2014. 352p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780385536578. $26.95. BUS
Stoeckel, Howard with Bob Andelman. The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name & 6 Core Values Revolutionized Convenience. Running Pr. 2014. 256p. photos. ISBN 9780762453061. $19; ebk. ISBN 9780762453177. BUS
Martinez, Monica & Dennis McGrath. Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century. New Pr. Jun. 2014. 224p. notes. index. ISBN 9781595589590. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595589941. ED
Roth, Michael S. Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. Yale Univ. May 2014. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780300175516. $25. ED
Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education. Univ. of Nebraska. 2014. 240p. ed. by Jennifer De Leon. ISBN 9780803245938. pap. $25. ED
Greenblatt, Mark Lee. Valor: Unsung Heroes from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front. Taylor: Rowman & Littlefield. May 2014. 224p. photos. ISBN 9781589799523. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781589799530. MILITARY STUDIES
L’Heureux, Ray with Lee Kelley. Inside Marine One: Four U.S. Presidents, One Proud Marine and the World’s Most Amazing Helicopter. St. Martin’s. May 2014. 224p. ISBN 9781250041449. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466837751. HIST
Lindgren, James M. Preserving South Street Seaport: The Dream and Reality of a New York Urban Renewal District. New York Univ. 2014. 400p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781479822577. $35. HIST
Reynolds, David. The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century. Norton. May 2014. 560p. notes. index. ISBN 9780393088632. $32.50. HIST
Rosen, William. The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century. Viking. May 2014. 320p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780670025893. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698163492. HIST
Tobin, Fergal. The Irish Revolution 1912–25: An Illustrated History. Gill & MacMillan. May 2014. 224p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780717156030. $42.95. HIST
Wolmar, Christian. The Iron Road: An Illustrated History of the Railroad. DK. May 2014. 400p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781465419538. $30. HIST
Law & Crime
Bauer, Bryce T. Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots. Chicago Review. Jul. 2014. 320p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781613748480. $27.95. CRIME
Ashman, Bernie. Intuition and Your Sun Sign: Practical Methods To Unlock Your Potential. Llewellyn. Jun. 2014. 360p. ISBN 9780738738949. pap. $18.99. PARAPSYCH
Alexander, Jeffrey C. & Bernadette N. Jaworsky. Obama Power. Polity. May 2014. 140p. notes. ISBN 9780745681993. $19.95. POL SCI
Annan, Kofi A. with Edward Mortimer. We the Peoples: A UN for the 21st Century. Paradigm. 2014. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781612055589. $27.95. POL SCI
Codevilla, Angelo M. To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations. Hoover Institution. May 2014. 248p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780817917142. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9780817917159. $19.95. INT AFFAIRS
Warren, Elizabeth. A Fighting Chance. Metropolitan. 2014. 384p. notes.
ISBN 9781627790529. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781627790536. POL SCI
Hallinan, Joseph T. Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception. Crown. May 2014. 272p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780385348683. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385348690. PSYCH
Phillips, Adam. Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst. Yale Univ. (Jewish Lives). May 2014. 192p. notes. ISBN 9780300158663. $25. PSYCH
A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships. TouchWood. 2014. 240p. ed. by Bruce Gillespie. ISBN 9781771510547. pap. $19.95;ebk. ISBN 9781771510554. SOC SCI
Giridharadas, Anand. The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas. Norton. May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780393239508. $27.95. SOC SCI
Goffman, Alice. On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Univ. of Chicago. 2014. 288p. notes. ISBN 9780226136714. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780226136851. SOC SCI
Hanley, Tim. Wonder Woman Unbound:
The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine. Chicago Review. 2014. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781613749098. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781613749128. SOC SCI
Tizon, Alex. Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780547450483. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544232853. SOC SCI
Travel & Geography
Boyden, Mark. Travels in Zanskar: A Journey to a Closed Kingdom. Liffey. Jun. 2014. 250p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781908308511. pap. $31.95. TRAV
Hederman, Angela & Michael Berman. The Little Bookroom Guide to New York City with Children. Little Bookroom. Jun. 2014. 502p. photos. index. ISBN 9781936941094. pap. $22. TRAV
Hogan, Pete. The Artist on the Island: An Achill Journal. Liffey. 2014. 250p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781908308498. pap. $31.95. TRAV
Mason, Walter. Destination Cambodia: Adventures in the Kingdom. Allen & Unwin. 2014. 266p. bibliog. ISBN 9781742376622. pap. $16.95. TRAV
Miller, Joe. Adventure Carolinas: Your Go-to Guide for Multi-Sport Outdoor Recreation. Univ. of North Carolina. (Southern Gateways). May 2014. 176p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781469614151. $45; pap. ISBN 9781469614168. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781469614175. TRAV
Waters, John. Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America. Farrar. Jun. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780374298630. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374709303. TRAV
Wells, Patricia & others. The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris: The Best Restaurants, Bistros, Cafés, Markets, Bakeries, and More. 5th ed. Workman. 2014. 448p. photos. index. ISBN 9780761173380. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780761181408. TRAV
Bonnett, Alastair. Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2014. 288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544101579. $25. TRAV
In an era when “global communities” are often formed in cyberspace and personal possessions are frequently irrelevant, Bonnett’s (What Is Geography?) latest work poses the question as to whether the pursuit of “topophilia” (“a special love for peculiar places”) is an archaic activity. He provides the answer by showing in 47 entries that there is a constant human need for escape, freedom, and creativity. A residential ship that sails the seven seas, remotely located festivals, micronations, and a male-only religious community may be unusual, but they all address this need. The author’s fascinating descriptions of lost spaces, enclaves and breakaway nations, floating islands and ephemeral places, hidden geographies, no man’s lands, dead cities, and spaces of exception complement Italo Calvino’s fabricated tales of 55 places in Invisible Cities and serve to prove that “fact is stranger than fiction.” The author tackles psychogeography by exploring places that may soon look very different, if they continue to exist at all, and by navigating a place using the map of another location to intentionally disorient himself, transmitting a vital energy that disrupts our expectations and reshapes our imagination. VERDICT This book will satisfy armchair travelers as well as those who appreciate thought-provoking journeys.
Pohlen, Jerome. Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places. Chicago Review. May 2014. 384p. photos. maps. index. ISBN 9781613748930. pap. $16.95. TRAV
In the great state of Michigan, “oddball” can mean many things, but chief among these are giant statues of Paul Bunyan, giant cherry pie pans, and giant ice cream cones. To be fair, Pohlen’s ninth in his “Oddball” states series also includes historical sites, natural phenomena, and landmarks related to pop culture icons, such as the hospital where Madonna was born (now an old folks’ home) and a majestic Magic Johnson statue at Michigan State University, his alma mater. Organized by region, this compendium begins with the weirdness that is the Upper Peninsula and ends with the mixed legacy of Detroit, a city that brought the world Henry Ford and the Motown sound, but also has some of the worst urban blight in America (fertile ground for art installations!). In 450 funny blurbs, the author covers sights people might go out of their way for, as well as attractions one might check out while just passing through, providing location, cost, and contact information for each. VERDICT Amusing, brisk, surprising, and slightly educational, this is a great resource for the discerning connoisseur of cheesy and eccentric tourist attractions of the Upper Midwest.
Smith, Daniel. 100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World’s Most Secret Locations. Quercus. 2014. 272p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781623651534. pap. $24.99. TRAV
There are places on this earth so secret that ordinary visitors are not allowed nearby, let alone inside. This book explores 100 of these mysterious locations, some well known and others relatively obscure, that would be intriguing to visit or learn more about. The work is organized geographically, covering the western reaches of the Pacific Ocean, the United States and Caribbean, the north Atlantic, the British Isles, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. This beautifully formatted guide includes full-color illustrations and excellent quality photographs depicting such amazing places as Area 51, a defense testing base in Nevada; the recipe vault at Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta; Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba; the Secret Archives in Vatican City; Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan; and other places. Some of the entries describe locations that are still unknown, such as the definitive whereabouts of the Amber Room, Genghis Khan’s tomb, and the Ten Commandments stone tablets, as well as the location of the items in the Wildenstein art collection, which are dispersed throughout the world. VERDICT Armchair sleuths and conspiracy theorists alike will savor this unconventional book and use the information within to pique their curiosities regarding these and other global mysteries.