Week ending September 4, 2015
Benson, Ray & David Menconi. Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country; or, The Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel. Univ. of Texas. Oct. 2015. 172p. photos. ISBN 9780292756588. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477307748. MUSIC
This is a short and entertaining ramble with Benson—née Ray Benson Seifert—through the byways and highways of a band with staying power: Asleep at the Wheel, formed in 1970. The only remaining original band member (and its leader) swings through his childhood in Philadelphia; his stint as a hyperactive, erratic student at Antioch College; the hippie years in Paw Paw, WV, trying to get rednecks, neighbors, and groovers all to dig a Bob Wills–venerating Western swing dance band; the California experiment; and, finally, the move home to Austin, TX, where Benson and the band are fixtures on the music scene. He’s amiable and sometimes thoughtful, and he’s sure made a lot of friends along the way (including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, George W. Bush, Waylon Jennings, and Commander Cody, among many others). Benson has a few axes to grind with various record executives and other buzzkills, but even those portions of the narrative are cordial; the overall tone is one of looking back and (mostly) liking what he sees in the rearview mirror. This title would make an excellent audiobook, with the author narrating in his rich, deep baritone, maybe even singing a few tunes.
Verdict Not a necessary purchase but a real relaxin’ ride with a mellow fellow. For Austin scenesters, music lovers, and fans of the high lonesome sound.—Liz French, Library Journal
The Best American Infographics 2015. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2015. 160p. ed. by Gareth Cook. illus. ISBN 9780544542709. pap. $20. SCI
Driven by easy-to-use graphic software and the primacy of the electronic world as a place to seek knowledge, information providers are turning to infographics rather than text to serve the needs of the public. Though the review copy was black and white, the final work promises to be in splashy color featuring the best visual graphic information of 2014 (despite the date in the title). The lack of color certainly didn’t obscure this reviewer’s view of Joseph Yuen’s brilliant chart of the frequency of the notes in Frédéric Chopin’s etudes represented on the keyboard of a piano. A spread on drone crashes details location, owner, and drone type, although the White House lawn isn’t specifically noted. Other graphics include name frequencies in various professions including librarianship, a depiction of the changes in how we move money, a spirited diagram of how human waste will be transformed into electrical power, a scarily complete description of the intimate mechanics of Ebola, and lots of other here-and-now topics that everyone will find fascinating.
Verdict An engaging collection of knowledge presented in visually appealing ways that will save slogging through untold chapters of dense prose.—David McClelland, Andover, NY
Galinsky, Adam & Maurice Schweitzer. Friend & Foe: When To Cooperate, When To Compete, and How To Succeed at Both. Crown Business. Sept. 2015. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307720214. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780307720252. BUS
At first glance, this book looks like a quick, light read, yet it is anything but. Coauthors Galinsky (Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business, Columbia Business Sch., Columbia Univ.) and Schweitzer (Cecilia Yen Koo Professor of Operations, Information & Decisions, Wharton Sch., Univ. of Pennsylvania) have packed their book full of references to research across multiple fields (management, psychology, economics, etc.) and real-life examples using historical and current events and case studies. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of human relations in which the choice between competing and collaborating can make an important difference, answering such questions as: How can we use social comparisons to our advantage (e.g., both to make us feel happier about ourselves and to push ourselves to achieve more)? What strategies can we employ to ensure that we are open enough to reap the rewards of cooperation but not so trusting that we risk exploitation? Chapters conclude with a section called “Finding the Right Balance,” which sums up how to operate as the right mix of friend and foe in the context of the relationship being described.
Verdict Full of tips and useful advice, this title will appeal to a broad audience as well as to avid readers of business how-to.—Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Libs., Montreal
Howard, Lisa. The Big Book of Healthy Cooking Oils: Recipes Using Coconut Oil and Other Unprocessed and Unrefined Oils—Including Avocado, Flaxseed, Walnut & Others—Paleo-Friendly and Gluten-Free. Page Street. Sept. 2015. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9781624141485. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9781624141645. COOKING
As befits the book’s gluten-free/paleo profile, Howard’s (Healthier Gluten-Free) recipes tend to be meat and protein–centric, although some desserts and salads are included. The book is organized around the types of fat used in the recipes: saturated (coconut oil, butter), monounsaturated (lard, bacon fat, nut oils), and polyunsaturated (flaxseed oil, walnut oil). The first chapter has a detailed chart comparing various fats and oils as well as information on substitutions and storage and purchasing tips. Recipes are international in tone but typically call for fairly standard pantry ingredients (other than perhaps the specialized cooking oils) and include lamb, cashew, and sweet potato biryani with pistachio oil; mushroom, chorizo, and lentil stir-fry; and roasted pork tenderloin with Scandinavian beet, carrot, and apple slaw.
Verdict This beautiful and thoughtfully laid-out cookbook that focuses on current dietary trends is recommended for public libraries and cookery collections.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
McClintock, James. A Naturalist Goes Fishing: Casting in Fragile Waters from the Gulf of Mexico to New Zealand’s South Islands. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9781137279903. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781466879256. SCI
Avid fisherman McClintock (Antarctic marine biology, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham; Lost Antarctica) shares the stories of a lifetime of fishing trips across a range of rivers, lakes, and oceans. Each of the nine chapters covers a particular location (the Chandeleur Islands, Manitoba, the Cahaba River, the Gulf of Mexico, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and France). McClintock describes excursions with friends and family and includes play-by-play action on specific catches. He skillfully weaves information on the life cycles of specific fish with the challenges they face from pollution, warming waters, acidification of the ocean, and overfishing. Through the author’s narrative these diverse geographic areas and their other plant and animal species come alive on the page.
Verdict This lyrical memoir will especially appeal to fishers for the author’s enthusiasm for his hobby, the details of the thrill of the catch, and the information about the various species. Natural history buffs will also enjoy, perhaps skimming over the details of the catch.—Sue O’Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL
Morris, Jeannie. Behind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun’s Historic Senate Campaign. Agate. Oct. 2015. 384p. notes. index. ISBN 9781572841765. $27. POL SCI
As the first-ever African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate and only the second black senator since Reconstruction, Carol Moseley Braun made history throughout her 1992 year-of-the-woman campaign. When Braun defeated an “unbeatable” incumbent in the Illinois Democratic primary, Chicago journalist Morris (Brian Piccolo) immediately saw the significance of the quest and asked to follow the campaign. Immersed in the day-to-day schedules of important staffers, Morris had opportunities to be close to the candidate. There was often chaos with staffers quitting, being fired, and feuding. Morris takes the reader through the crisis of Braun’s handling of her mother’s finances in what appeared to be a questionable manner and reports on accompanying the candidate to distant corners of Illinois to connect with voters outside her comfort zone of Chicago. Staff tension, however, was complicated by the romantic relationship between Braun and campaign manager Kgosie Matthews, who was later accused of sexual harassment. The author crafts a compelling story that reads like a political novel and brings the details of the campaign to light.
Verdict Readers who want to know more about Braun and those who enjoy behind-the-scenes political operations will find this book informative and entertaining.—Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Parks, Arva Moore. George Merrick, Son of the South Wind: Visionary Creator of Coral Gables. Univ. Pr. of Florida. Nov. 2015. 384p. photos. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813061511. $31.95. HIST
Miami-area preservation activist Parks traces the life of George Merrick (1886–1942), who spent his life planning and developing the suburb of Coral Gables, FL. Merrick moved at age 12 to what was then a citrus grove on the edge of the Everglades. Rejecting careers as writer and attorney, he settled into the world of real estate development and promotion. Coral Gables grew from Merrick’s desire to create a city that would be planned and orderly, reflecting the values of a rapidly growing region while maintaining the appearance of traditional values in its uniform southern European architecture, created by influential architects. Merrick’s greatest success and fame occurred during the boom years of the early 1920s, when both people and investment flowed easily into the region. His ambitious plans began to come undone as word spread that real estate investments in the area were going bad. A devastating hurricane in 1926 further damaged the region’s reputation. By the late 1920s, Merrick’s dream was being overshadowed by the city’s economic problems and his own health and financial difficulties. Parks’s Coral Gables boosterism and clear admiration for Merrick’s vision taint her work despite some candid observations of his weaknesses.
Verdict This book will have limited appeal beyond those familiar with Coral Gables and the Miami area.—Charles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Rae, Laurelie. Islamic Art and Architecture: Memories of Seljuk and Ottoman Masterpieces. Blue Dome. Nov. 2015. 147p. illus. ISBN 9781935295815. $49.95. ARCH
Written by an artist and MA candidate, this title focuses on the architectural design of the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. Four chapters (“Hagia Sophia and the Historic Peninsula,” “The Elusive Seljuks,” “The Building of an Empire: The Early Ottomans,” “The Masterpieces of the Ottoman Empire”) contain 29 entries, all architectural works, each including a brief historical entry, some of the artist’s own drawings, and numerous photos. The photos are the real star of the show, many showing great design detail. The text is readable and clear, though a bit elementary. While interesting to peruse, the work seems torn among art historical text, design pattern book, and travel memoir and, as a result, fails to succeed in any of these areas. The work is too basic for advanced scholars and too specific for casual readers.
Verdict Readers looking for a detailed history of these empires and their architectural and design legacies will need to look elsewhere.Though this beautifully illustrated work is appealing to the eye, it is hard to imagine the ideal audience.—Jennifer Naimzadeh, Richland Lib., Columbia, SC
Running a Small Library: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. 2d ed. ALA Neal-Schuman. 2015. 288p. ed. by John A. Moorman. index. ISBN 9780838912737. pap. $80. PRO MEDIA
Part of the “How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians” series, this second, updated edition of Running a Small Library has added a chapter on digital library services. Editor Moorman, who edited the first edition as well, has served as director of public libraries and multitype library systems. Moorman provides the American Council of Learned Societies definition of small libraries (2014), yet the topics covered can apply to any size library and do not seem specific to small facilities. Addressed are the broad areas of administration, public services, collection development, and computers/automation. Within each of these areas there are chapters focusing on management and planning, budgeting, staffing, developing and implementing policies and procedures, maintaining facilities, and circulation and weeding. Advice relating to programming, outreach, and community partnerships as well as the selection, ordering, and cataloging of materials is also included. The work features an updated resource section listing furniture, library vendors, and professional organizations. Contributors are library professionals working at a variety of libraries: regional consortia, special, public, academic including community college, and school librarians.
Verdict Recommended as a resource for library professionals.—Karen Venturella, Union Cty. Coll. Libs, Cranford, NJ
Schoen, Johanna. Abortion After Roe: Abortion After Legalization. Univ. of North Carolina. Nov. 2015. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469621180. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781469621197. SOC SCI
Schoen (history, Rutgers Univ.) has authored two previous volumes on reproductive rights. Here, she has written a rich and readable account of the struggle for access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 struck down state laws prohibiting the procedure. Freestanding abortion clinics appeared quickly, as did power struggles between feminists and (male) physicians and between regulatory agencies and clinic owners. Pitched battles took place over the disposition of fetal remains and the ethics of fetal research. A full-throated antiabortion movement appeared, aided by new technologies such as sonograms, successfully urging state legislatures to pass restrictive laws, and its violent turn resulted in the death of physicians who performed abortions. Opponents recruited women who regretted their actions to argue that abortion harmed women. The U.S. Supreme Court began to uphold state regulations it had previously nullified, forcing the closure of clinics. The result was the reappearance of abortion mills taking advantage of poor, desperate women, while claims that women are entitled to make reproductive decisions fall on deaf ears. Schoen’s sympathies lie with abortion providers—doctors, clinic owners, feminist advocates—and in addition to the standard sources, she draws upon almost three dozen interviews.
Verdict The largest audience will be academics, but this book may also appeal to a general public.—Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
Sibley, Brian. The Thomas the Tank Engine Man: The Life of Reverend W. Awdry. rev. ed. Lion Bks. Sept. 2015. 356p. photos. index. ISBN 9780745970271. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780745970288. BIOG
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first of the “Railroad Series” books, broadcaster and writer Sibley (The Hobbit; The Land of Narnia) has updated his 1995 biography of the Rev. Wilbert Awdry (1911–97) by adding a chapter on his death and subsequent developments involving his works. Although Awdry was an Anglican priest, much of his life’s work was taken up with the creation of Thomas the Tank Engine and related stories, which are the focus of most of Sibley’s book. Awdry’s internationally popular tales of the Really Useful Engines began with a bedtime story that he invented for his young son. This and later tales in 26 books were based on his lifelong love and knowledge of railroads, detailed descriptions of which are included here. As a priest, Awdry was viewed as an eccentric and spurned because of his pacifism during World War II, but he remained in the ministry until 1965, when he retired to pursue writing full-time. His creations resulted in TV adaptations, merchandising, and theme parks in several countries. Sibley notes that Awdry’s self-chosen epitaph emphasized “helping people see God in the ordinary things of life and making children laugh.”
Verdict Of interest to Thomas fans and railroad aficionados.—Denise J. Stankovics, Vernon, CT
Tett, Gillian. The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers. S. & S. Sept. 2015. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9781451644739. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451644753. BUS
Specialization is essential in increasingly complex systems, whether in finance, medicine, technology, commerce, or government. But as business journalist Tett (Fool’s Gold) ably demonstrates through explorations of all these environments, a well-known drawback to specialization can become outright disastrous. Commonly known as the “silo effect,” this structural flaw encourages failure to communicate, collaborate, or comprehend across specialties. Calling upon her background in anthropology to frame her inquiry into how groups and individuals behave in silos, Tett relates cautionary tales about Sony, which lost market dominance in a culture of work group entrenchment, and Swiss bank UBS, which didn’t foresee the 2007–08 financial crisis. She also shares examples of organizations thriving by addressing silos head-on, from Cleveland Clinic’s mashup of surgical and medical specialties, to a maverick Chicago cop who integrated data from various sources to predict where gang murders were likely to occur.
Verdict Tett recommends that organizations reduce fragmentation by providing flexibility in team structure and opportunities to interact across departments; that they rethink pay and incentive systems that encourage internal competition; and that enterprises and individuals leverage information, technology, and even perspective to disrupt silos. Compelling and timely, this is recommended reading for organizational theorists and particularly for the leaders of large (and not so large) organizations.—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus