Xpress Reviews: First Look at New Books, December 13, 2005

By LJ Staff

Week of December 13

Desmarais, Norman. Battlegrounds of Freedom: A Historical Guide to the Battlefields of the War of American Independence. Busca. 2005. 308p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-9666196-7-6. pap. $26.95. HIST

Desmarais (librarian, Providence Coll., RI) here provides a geographically organized guidebook on Revolutionary War battlefields. Each chapter covers a different state, with subsections on individual battles that vary in length from less than a page to four or five pages depending on the Amber Jewelry, Tea Sets, Sleeping Bags, Wholesale Tea Sets battle’s significance. Preceding a brief history of each battle is a gray box that notes the battlefield’s location and landmarks. Summaries describe the situation leading to the battle, each side’s strategy, notable events, and outcomes; current maps show battlefield locations, along with major roadways and towns. There are also photos of battlefields, some showing reenactments in progress. Demarais, an active reenactor, includes a final chapter titled "(Re)Living History," which is geared toward potential reenactors. Appendixes list battles chronologically by state and proximity to major cities. This book should generate interest among buffs of the Revolutionary War and active and potential reenactors. Best suited for public libraries. – Matthew J. Wayman, Pennsylvania State Univ. – Abington Coll. Lib.

Ditmars, Hadani. Dancing in the No-Fly Zone: A Woman’s Journey Through Iraq. Olive Branch: Interlink. Dec. 2005. c.263p. ISBN 1-56656-634-7. pap. $16.95. INT AFFAIRS

After several visits to Iraq between 1997 and 2002, Ditmars, a Canadian journalist, returned to Baghdad in October 2003 after the American overthrow of Saddam Hussein. This book offers vivid stories of interactions with Iraqis, juxtaposed with recollections of her earlier visits. Under Hussein, Iraqis suffered poverty and political intimidation but managed to maintain a certain joie de vivre. Under American occupation, they suffered harsher shortages of goods and basic services, a desperate lack of personal security, and enervating uncertainty about the future. Her reports on the music and theater scene in Baghdad before the war provide a unique portrayal of a lively and engaging aspect of life under Hussein that seems to have been crushed by the incessant violence following his fall. In lively prose, Ditmars presents sharp images of a people bitter over America’s failure to fulfill its promises for the invasion, but her narrative is anecdotal rather than analytical. For public libraries where readers want a perspective on the social and cultural effects of American occupation in Iraq, this would be a useful volume. – Elizabeth R. Hayford, Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Chicago

Faulds, Richard & Senior Teachers of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Kripalu Yoga: A Guide To Practice On and Off the Mat. Bantam. Dec. 2005. c.416p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-553-38097-4. $23. HEALTH

The senior instructors of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health (Lennox, MA), the largest yoga and holistic health center in North America, and Faulds, Kripalu’s former president and currently the chair of its board of trustees, have teamed up to offer this excellent five-part practice guide. With an emphasis on accessing one’s own body wisdom through yoga in order to grow spiritually and psychologically, the book is laced with the heartfelt experiences of students as well as poetry and proverbs. Narratives by Stephen Cope (ed., Will Yoga & Meditation Really Change My Life?: American Teachers Share Their Stories) and Amy Weintraub (Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga) will inspire readers. The fully-illustrated routines are clearly conveyed and progress from breathing practices to concentration and relaxation exercises to the "meditation-in-motion" that is the hallmark of Kripalu yoga. Because the book serves both beginning and advanced yoga practitioners, this is highly recommended for all collections. – Dede Archer, Naples, FL

Klein, Aaron J. Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response. Random. Dec. 2005. c.255p. ISBN 1-4000-6427-9. $24.95. HIST

At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. A bungled intervention and rescue attempt by German police ended with 11 Israeli athletes killed, along with five of the eight kidnappers. An Israeli citizen and a former Israeli intelligence officer, Klein (Jerusalem bureau, Time magazine) conducted interviews with Israeli intelligence personnel as well as with several ranking Palestinian officials to uncover previously undisclosed details of the tragedy and its long aftermath. The government of Israel determined from the first that everyone responsible for the Munich attack was to be tracked down and killed, and Klein describes the considerable resources such retribution required and its successes and failures (though without footnotes and with little reference to published materials). He asserts that the campaign was effective in both revenge and prevention of acts of terror and contributed in large degree to the safety of Jews in Israel and Europe in the late 1970s and 1980s. He also condemns several European governments for their cowardice, lack of cooperation, and short-sightedness. Clearly told from the Israeli point of view, this absorbing journalistic narrative will hold readers’ interest. Recommended for subject collections on espionage and the Middle East. [Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film Munich may boost interest. – Ed.] – Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS

Light, Alan. The Skills To Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys. Three Rivers: Crown. Jan. 2005. c.224p. photogs. ISBN 0-609-60478-3. pap. $14. MUSIC

With A-list music journalist Light (former editor in chief of SPIN and Vibe magazines) shepherding this oral history of the Beastie Boys, the hope was for the definitive history of one of the most mercurial groups in the past two decades of pop music. At a scant and swift 224 pages, the book quickly disappoints, however. Hardly the all-encompassing story of an influential trio, it instead "reads" like a greatest hits record, skipping from highlight to highlight with commentary from the likes of Madonna and Chuck D. That said, Light hits all the high points – e.g., how the Beasties slid into the 1980s hip-hop scene just as it was about to explode, why the group redefined itself on almost every album, and the logic behind abandoning their party-hearty, rock-star lifestyles for the quiet contemplation of Buddhism – but without going into any engrossing depth. In the end, the most fascinating portion of the book is Light’s introduction, which is the only time we’re treated to anything analytical or thought-provoking. Larger libraries can consider, but they’re better off waiting for a better treatment. – Robert Morast, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD

Occhino, MaryRose. Sign of the Dove: MaryRose’s Messages from the Other Side. Berkley: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2006. c.224p. ISBN 0-425-20544-4. $22.95. PARAPSYCH

Occhino (Beyond These Four Walls: Diary of a Psychic Medium) continues her autobiographical saga of the psychic who rises above all adversity with a little help from her friends and relatives from the "other side." Entertaining and conversational in tone, her book is more an inspirational guide in the vein of "If I can do it, you can, too!" than an instructional for would-be psychics. Chronicling her battle with multiple sclerosis, the growth of her psychic consultancy business, and her assistance to families of 9/11 victims, Occhino stresses the constant appearance in her life of signs from those who have passed over into the spirit realm and urges readers to look for their own messages. There is nothing new here in terms of advice or practice, but Occhino’s cheery and accessible style makes for an enjoyable, if not illuminating, read. For most public libraries. – Janet Tapper, Western States Chiropractic Coll. Lib., Portland, OR

Sansweet, Stephen J. and Pablo Hidalgo. Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels. 343p. ISBN 0-8118-4735-7. $150.
Sansweet, Stephen J. And Peter Vilmur. The Star Wars Poster Book. 320p. ISBN 0-8118048883-3. $50.
ea. vol: Chronicle. 2005. illus. index. film

In the religion of Star Wars (SW), Deborah Fine’s original 1997 Star Wars Chronicles (SWC) is the bible. Call this Prequels edition the new testament. The mighty ’97 SWC is every diehard SW geekasaurus’s dream, and is lovingly cherished by home model/costume makers and prop replicators for its plethora of kickass reference photos. This sequel highlights Episodes I – III, aka The Prequels, plus the Cartoon Network’s gangbusters animated Clone Wars series. Written by Stephen Sansweet, the noted LucasFilm Limited’s (LFL) insider and guru of all things from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, this update is a worthy heir to the original. The text is minimal, limited mostly to captions, but the whopping 3000 photos and illustrations of characters, ships and vehicles, weaponry, droids, and virtually everything viewed on screen are a sumptuous feast. This Prequels volume outshines its predecessor when it comes to detailing costumes and especially props (SW is all about the props, baby). Where Fine offered a scant few lightsaber pix – which obsessed fans since have scrutinized like the shroud of Turin – Sansweet’s SWC is an absolute treasure trove of blaster and especially saber pix from multiple angles, including close-ups of emitters and end caps (woohoo! – thanks, Stephen!). There’s seriously cool stuff in here, and Prequel heads will want to dive into this book and never come out. Switching gears, Sansweet is joined by Vilmur, LFL content developer and fellow SW junkie, to produce this ultimate SW film posters collection. The book boasts 350 international poster illustrations, including one-sheets, lobby posters, billboard spreads, and other advertising resources produced by artists ranging from the Brothers Hildebrandt to the great Drew Struzan. A portion of the works were never used and appear here for the very first time. Whether your taste runs to the Original Trilogy or the Prequels, Sansweet’s duo will make SW fans reach nirvana. – Michael Rogers, Library Journal

Week of December 6

Brown, Ethan. Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler. Anchor: Doubleday. 2005. c.266p. ISBN 1-4000-9523-9. pap. $13. MUSIC

Focusing on the record label Murder, Inc., this work chronicles the rise and eventual unraveling of the marriage between hip-hop and organized crime on the East Coast during the 1990s. When the Queens-based drug kingpins who came to the fore during the late-Eighties crack explosion found themselves lionized as street heroes by rappers, their entry into the music business was assured. Soon major drug cartel figures, like Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, and record-label executives, like Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo of Murder, Inc., were working together, riding a wave of success built on street cred, drug money, and bling. Brown (music editor, New York magazine) brings together accounts of dozens of greater and lesser figures associated with Murder, Inc., and East Coast rap. Drawing from court documents, wiretap transcripts, and exclusive interviews with hip-hop luminaries like Russell Simmons, as well many of those closely connected with the various criminal proceedings, he offers a glimpse into the dark underbelly of gangster rap. Unfortunately, the book reads more like a court account than a narrative, with endless anecdote after anecdote but little critical perspective. For hardcore – pun intended – enthusiasts only. – Dave Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle

Djebar, Assia. Children of the New World: A Novel of the Algerian War. Feminist Pr., dist. by Consortium. 2005. c.240p. tr. from French by Marjolijn de Jager. ISBN 1-55861-511-3. $52; pap. ISBN 1-55861-510-5. $15.95. F

This first English-translation of Djebar’s Les enfants du Nouveau Monde, originally published in 1962, couldn’t be timelier. The start of the Algerian war is marking its 50th anniversary; French youth, some of North African descent, rioted for two weeks in November 2005. As in so many other works by the Algerian-born Djebar, the novel’s starring roles belong to the women, an ensemble of complex characters moving throughout the interlocking stories. A teacher named Salima is jailed on suspicion of involvement with insurgents. The romantic Lila contemplates her husband Ali’s participation in the resistance, while young and pretty Touma openly defies societal norms. Drawn from Djebar’s own involvement in the anticolonial resistance, these stories bear witness to women’s struggle to gain independence from both traditional roles and French colonial rule. This compelling scrutiny of despair and oppression during the Algerian conflict shows why Djebar (the pseudonym of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen) is often considered for the Nobel prize in literature. Highly recommended. – Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene

Haufler, Hervie. The Spies Who Never Were: The True Story of the Nazi Spies Who Were Actually Allied Double Agents. NAL Caliber: Penguin. Jan. 2006. c.240p. bibliog. ISBN 0-451-21751-9. pap. $14. HIST

(Codebreakers’ Victory), who was a World War II cryptographer for the Allies, has now provided a riveting account of some of their most intrepid spies. These men kept the Nazi secret service convinced that they were dedicated spies for the German cause, although in fact they had been identified by the British and "turned" into double agents working for the B1A section of the British intelligence service. They were not all Germans. For example, there was Arthur Owens, code name Snow, and Juan Pujol Garcia, nicknamed Garbo. Their network provided the Nazis with intelligence that was complete nonsense. Pujol played a key role in convincing Hitler that the Allies were planning an invasion at Calais and that the Normandy landings were only a diversion. His disinformation convinced the Germans to keep valuable fighting divisions from heading to the Normandy area. Building on recent work, such as Thaddeus Holt’s The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War, Haufler has authored a valuable study that can be added to the crowded shelf of histories of World War II espionage. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. – Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

Wake, Jenny. King Kong: The Official Guide to the Motion Picture. 245p. ISBN 1-4165-0518-0. pap. $19.95.
Weta Workshop. The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island. 221p. ISBN 1-4165-0519-9. $35.
ea. vol: Pocket. 2005. illis. film

What do you do after you’ve made the second most popular trilogy in film history? Why, you remake King Kong. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has been stark raving bonkers over KK since seeing it as a nine-year-old kid – it made him pursue filmmaking – and LOTR‘s success gave him the clout (he originally approached it in 1996, but Universal Studios shelved the project.). Kong and Rings heads have been pumped about PJ’s remake since its 2004 announcement, and if these books are any indication of what to expect on screen, he won’t let them down. Wake’s Official Guide is a behind-the-curtain peek at the wizardry fueling Jackson’s elaborate production. Rather than focus on the celeb actors (although there’s that, too), the real stars here are Jackson’s crew of Weta Workshop effects masters and artists, who morphed the script into reality. Like Jackson, these guys are serious Kong geeks and their kids-in-a-candy-store enthusiasm for the project is infectious. Wake covers all facets of the film’s creation, from computer graphics to costumes, vehicles, sets (full scale and miniatures), props, and, of course, the prehistoric monsters. The World of follows the clever premise that after KK takes a Brody onto 34th St., a scientific expedition returns to his Skull Island home – before a series of massive earthquakes sinks it – to create a ‘bestiary of a lost world.’ Heavily and beautifully illustrated, this volume offers a plethora of remarkable conceptual art for the prehistoric critters inhabiting the island and is a fascinating fictional field guide. King Kong is destined to be another Jackson blockbuster, and fans will be making mad monkey love to these books. Buy ’em. – Michael Rogers, LJ

Week of November 29

Brown, Malcolm. Lawrence of Arabia: The Life, the Legend. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2005. 208p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-500-51238-8. $45. BIOG

Published to accompany an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London, this stunning visual biography collects carefully selected photographs, artwork, and quotes to document the life of T.E. Lawrence (1888 – 1935) and give us a glimpse of the Middle Eastern world that captivated the man who became the legendary Lawrence of Arabia. Brown, a seasoned scholar on Lawrence (his BBC documentary on him drew millions of viewers), illustrates his subject’s life from his unconventional origins to his tragic death, showing how his fascination with the Arab world unfolded and how his magnetism transformed him into an idol of the age, one who in the end desperately sought privacy and even anonymity. Other works, such as Stephen E. Tabachnick’s Lawrence of Arabia: An Encyclopedia, cover his life much more extensively, but hardly any rival the appeal of this handsome work with its effective overview. Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries alike because it contains one of the largest collections of photographs and artworks on the subject. – Ethan Pullman, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib.

Pisano, Judith Belushi & Tanner Colby. Belushi: A Biography. Rugged Land, dist. by Random. 2005. 288p. photogs. index. ISBN 1-59071-048-7. $29.95. FILM

In her introduction, Pisano mentions not being happy with her first book, Samurai Widow, which was published after the death of her former husband, comic John Belushi. Belushi marks her attempt to "get it right" and counter Bob Woodward’s Wired, which friends and family felt contained much that was not true. Her oral history starts with reminiscences by John’s costars in Animal House, a "little movie" that turned into a blockbuster, and then segues into a chronological telling of John’s life story, ranging from his humble Chicago beginnings to stardom on Saturday Night Live and in the movies to his drug overdose, all seen through the eyes of those who were closest to him – comics Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Al Franken, and Robin Williams, as well as John’s schoolmates and family. Throughout, there are never-before-seen photos of John. This warts-and-all portrait – published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of The Blues Brothers and the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Live – may be somewhat marred by the unreliability of people’s memories, but it probably adds up to the closest thing there is to the truth of John Belushi. An engrossing tale of a complex man and the times in which he lived. Recommended for all performing arts collections. – Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA

Vise, David A. with Mark Malseed. The Google Story. Delacorte. Nov. 2005. c.324p. index. ISBN 0-553-80457-X. $26. BUS

Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post reporter Vise (The Bureau and the Mole) and veteran researcher Malseed tell of the meteoric rise of Google to become the preeminent Internet search engine. Drawing on original research and access to the company, they track Google’s trajectory, from the partnering of fellow graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the engineering department of Stanford University to the controversial plan to digitize book collections of major U.S. academic libraries, and Microsoft’s calculated plan to curtail Google’s dominance. Chief among the confluence of factors that led to Google’s success was Page and Brin’s unshakable vision, fueled by their own brilliance and audacity, to create the best possible search engine. Helping them along the way was a large network of believers: Stanford professors, students, and Silicon Valley moneymen. The story of Google is of a transforming technology that has so altered the ways that millions acquire information that it has become an active verb. This book deserves a place in every public library and all academic business collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/05.] – Peter R. Latusek, Stanford Graduate Sch. of Business Lib., CA


King Kong. B&W. 104 min. Warner Brothers. warnervideo.com. 2005. $14.95. ISBN 0-7806-5060-3. DRAMA

The acting is stilted, the hard-boiled dialog is corny, and the visual effects stone age, yet it is beautiful, alluring, and arguably the most technologically advanced production in film history. Critics frequently credit Jaws with inventing the blockbuster, but that title truly belongs to King Kong, which at last makes its overdue DVD premiere. It was worth the wait. The basic two-disc release (there also are more elaborate packages designed for avid fans and collectors) features the digitally restored and remastered film along with the standard DVD fodder of trailers, commentary tracks, etc., on disc one, with the phenomenal 2½ hour documentary Production 601: The Making of King Kong dominating disc two. The digital transfer is good, albeit a bit grainy in spots, but the DVD restores 29 shots censored for the 1938 re-release, and the original disgruntled New Yorker now is shown savagely chomping and stomping natives, pulverizing straphangers on an elevated train, and, in perhaps the most horrific scene, dropping a woman to the pavement. Also, Kong’s death fall from the Empire State Building, which has never before been seen in full (thanks to a choppy TV print he previously skipped about 30 floors), has been gloriously restored – SPLAT! Disc two’s Making of documentary is as big as Kong himself, and features many film and film lore Olympians including memorabilia-god Bob Burns, director Peter Jackson (whose hotly awaited Kong remake opens December 14), Ray Harryhausen, Ben Burtt, Rick Baker, Joe Dante, and Mark Cotta Vaz, who pay homage to Kong and explain how its production pioneered many tricks of the film trade still in use. A super cool extra is Jackson’s recreation of the famed "lost spider pit" sequence. Besides its technological ingenuity, Kong also is the first film to feature a non actor in a lead role (the big guy gets a Players credit and arguably gives the film’s best performance). An interesting aspect of the documentary is a lengthy segment in which Jackson and his film tech wizards try to replicate Kong’s original stop-action movement and visual background, which reinforces how inventive the film was for its time, as they fail to equal, much less best, what Kong FX trail blazer Willis O’Brien miraculously achieved in 1933. Kong still is king and is a must have for all library collections. – Michael Rogers, Library Journal

Week of November 21

Fiction | Nonfiction


Koontz, Dean. Forever Odd. Bantam. Nov. 2005. c.416p. ISBN 0-553-80416-2. $27. F

In Odd Thomas, Koontz used his 20-year-old titular character, who has the power to see and help the dead, to explore the limitations that such a gift would place on a person’s daily life. This sequel continues the study, as Odd is summoned to search for his missing friend, Danny Jessup, by Danny’s recently murdered father. Familiar members of Odd’s inner circle – including philosophical mystery writer and culinary expert P. Oswald Boone, Police Chief Wyatt Porter and, of course, Elvis – return, while the absence of Stormy, Odd’s now deceased fiancée, is strongly felt. Although the narrative bogs down in a recap of Odd’s history for new readers and in an overlong section describing Odd’s quest through an underground tunnel system and the ruins of an earthquake-damaged resort hotel, the tale will, no doubt, delight devotees of both the character and the author. For popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/05.] – Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT


Antonetta, Susanne. A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World. Tarcher: Penguin. Nov. 2005. c.256p. ISBN 1-58542-382-3. $24.95. PSYCH

American Book Award winner and poet Antonetta contemplates her membership in the community of "neurodiversity" – the notion that people dubbed "the functioning mentally ill" really exhibit different ways of viewing the world, ways that may have evolutionary benefits for humanity as a whole. While that is an intriguing and empowering notion informed by the author’s experiences with manic depression, the bulk of the book is a poetic examination her life and mind. She describes her thoughts about whale watching and her visit to Maharishi University. In the most gripping part, she attends the trial of a teenage boy accused of murdering a younger child and worries about whether she shares his particular version of neurodiversity. As in her earlier work, Body Toxic, which concerned the consequences of childhood exposure to industrial pollutants, she uses personal reminiscence to illuminate a larger issue, but in this case, the connections are often not at all clear. The result is a book that can be enjoyed as a poetic essay but has little to offer the patron seeking information. For larger public and academic libraries. – Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA

Danson, Edwin. Weighing the World: The Quest To Measure the Earth. Oxford Univ. Dec. 2005. c.282p. illus. maps. bibliog. ISBN 0-19-518169-7 [ISBN 978-0-19-518169-2]. $29.95. SCI

In this sequel to Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America, Danson chronicles the quest during the 17th and 18th centuries to measure accurately the shape, size, and gravitational pull of Earth. He painstakingly details the stories of swashbuckling scientists, mathematicians, and explorers who persevered through extreme conditions to confirm our planet’s ellipsoid shape, latitude and longitude, arc measures, and gravity anomalies, as well as examines the political and commercial issues that drove this research. Drawing on over 300 years of achievements in geography, navigation, astronomy, and cartography, Danson effectively traces the scientific exploration that led to the formation of modern mapmaking and geodesy. An essential read for all amateur surveyors, cartographers, and science historians, this is recommended for undergraduate and larger public library map and earth sciences collections. – Ian Gordon, Brock Univ. Lib., St. Catharines, Ont.

Walsh, B. Timothy, M.D. & V.L. Cameron. If Your Adolescent Has an Eating Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents. Oxford Univ. Nov. 2005. c.160p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-19-518152-2 [ISBN 978-0-19-518152-4]. $30; pap. ISBN 0-19-518153-0 [ISBN 978-0-19-518153-1]. $9.95. HEALTH

In this wonderfully concise, focused, and supported book, Walsh (founder, Eating Disorders Research Unit, New York State Psychiatric Inst.) and New York – based freelance writer Cameron explore several different aspects of eating disorders in teenagers. They offer advice on prevention methods, address factors in getting a diagnosis, help readers navigate the maze of the healthcare system, outline the variety and appropriateness of treatment options, provide practical information (e.g., how long families might have to wait to see a specialist), and highlight skills that will ease the adolescent’s reintroduction into a regular lifestyle. One mother is quoted as saying, "Eating disorders are family diseases" – this book is rooted in that sentiment, using pertinent quotes from the parents of male and female teenagers who have been through the experience. There are several recent books on the subject of eating disorders in adolescents but none quite from this perspective. Highly recommended for all consumer health collections. (Index not seen.) – Elizabeth J. Eastwood, Mesa P.L., Los Alamos, NM

Zebrowski, Ernest & Judith A. Howard. Category 5: The Story of Camille; Lessons Unlearned from America’s Most Violent Hurricane. Univ. of Michigan. Dec. 2005. c.320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-472-11525-1. $27.95. HIST

On August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed the Gulf Coast, hitting Mississippi first and then Louisiana with winds over 170 miles per hour and a 28-foot storm surge – the highest ever recorded on the U.S. coastline. Two days later, the remnants of the storm hit rural communities in central Virginia and dropped nearly three feet of rain in 24 hours. Zebrowski (physics, Pennsylvania Coll. of Technology, Pennsylvania State Univ.; Perils of a Restless Planet: Scientific Perspective on National Disasters) and Howard (columnist, Morning Paper, Ruston, LA) provide both a scientific and a human interest account of this most violent hurricane of the past century. It is made clear that the weather service was just beginning to make modern advances in understanding and tracing hurricanes; the Saffir-Simpson five-category scale was not developed until the year after Camille. This highly readable account aimed at a general audience excels at telling the plight of the victims and how local political authorities reacted. The saddest lesson is how little the public and the government learned from Camille. Highly recommended for all public libraries, especially those on the Gulf and East coasts. – William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport

Zeller, Bob. The Blue and Gray in Black and White: The History of Civil War Photography. Praeger. Dec. 2005. 232p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-275-98243-2. $74.95. HIST

Histories of the Civil War are frequently illustrated with memorable images created by the intrepid photographers who followed the troops to camp, battle, and prison. How and why these early photojournalists did such work and the significant contemporary impact of their images are subjects that have not been explored before in a narrative history until now. Zeller (founder and president, Ctr. for Civil War Photography; The Civil War in Depth) synthesizes the most recent scholarship as he interweaves the story of outstanding Civil War photographers, their motivations, their images, and the resonance of their work with that of the progress of the war and the technical developments in photography. With thorough documentation and more than 150 photographs (some newly discovered), this book will please both Civil War enthusiasts and those interested in the history of photography. Recommended for all collections in those areas, even those that already own William C. Davis’s comprehensive six-volume The Image of War, 1861 – 1865. – Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania


Week of November 15

Beasley, Maurine H. First Ladies and the Press: The Unfinished Partnership of the Media Age. Northwestern Univ. Pr. (Visions of the American Press). Nov. 2005. c.337p. ISBN 0-8101-2312-6. pap. $22.95. COMM

Beasley (journalism, Univ. of Maryland; Eleanor Roosevelt and the Media) tackles the relationship between first ladies and the media, chronicling the intense interest in presidents’ wives and their activities. She focuses particularly on the past 40 years but covers the chronological spectrum from Martha Washington to Laura Bush. While earlier first ladies could shy away from the spotlight, beginning with Jackie Kennedy, they still had to contend with major media interest. Despite increasingly public roles, such as Betty Ford’s public support of the Equal Rights Amendment and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s involvement in Bill Clinton’s healthcare plan, Beasley argues that in many ways the American public underestimates first ladies’ roles and seems to prefer those in the ‘traditional’ mold who are involved in charitable activities but not overly involved in White House policy. Written in a conversational rather than an academic style, this book is recommended for academic and larger public libraries. – Leigh Mihlrad, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine Lib., Bronx, NY

Gallagher, Melinda & Emily Kramer. A Piece of Cake: Recipes for Female Sexual Pleasure. Atria: S. & S. 2005. 275p. ISBN 0-7434-9625-6. $24. PSYCH

Gallagher and Kramer, New Yorkers credentialed in human sexuality and women’s studies, collected erotic memoirs and hot fantasies through the web site CAKE, their female-focused organization celebrating women’s sexual empowerment and ‘sexual evolution.’ The resulting combo of memoirs, fantasies, and sex manual serves up entertainment and opportunities aplenty, but the sex manual part isn’t fleshed out. Much of the content is truly excellent, with rarely seen and detailed emphasis on ensuring women’s orgasms during sex with men. Masturbation, mutual masturbation, sex toys, and the G-spot all receive well-done, spotlight treatment. On the other hand, sections on casual encounters, bisexual exploration, S&M, strip clubs, and threesomes offer intriguing options, but supporting information is often insufficient. Why no section on eroticizing condoms? Also sadly lacking are illustrations clarifying some of the techniques. Better options: Cathy Winks and Anne Semans’s The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex (3d ed.) and Paul Joannides’s Guide to Getting it On!. For larger collections. – Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

Sadie, Stanley. Mozart: The Early Years, 1756 – 1781. Norton. Dec. 2005. c.624p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-393-06112-4. $35. MUSIC

Known principally as the editor of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Sadie was one of the preeminent Mozart scholars of our time. He envisioned as his culminating achievement a monumental, two-part study of Mozart’s life and works. Although his death earlier this year prevented the completion of the second volume, the music world is indeed fortunate to have the complete and massive first volume, which covers all but the final ten years of Mozart’s life. Sadie made extensive use of new materials that have recently come to light, most significantly the complete correspondence of Leopold and Nannerl Mozart (Wolfgang’s father and sister). The result is a voluminous, richly detailed account of nearly every conceivable facet of Mozart’s life and music that far exceeds Sadie’s previous work and anything else in English. Particularly impressive is the attention paid to each composition, even the juvenilia. The technical language is equivalent to that used in the Grove volume, with only very occasional musical examples used to illuminate the text. Published to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, this is an indispensable addition to the Mozart canon. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/05.] – Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA

Cohn, Nik. Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap. Knopf. Nov. 2005. c.240p. ISBN 1-4000-4245-3. $22.95. MUSIC
Legendary British music writer Cohn – probably best known in America for his 1975 New York magazine article that served as the basis of the film Saturday Night Fever – turns his attention to the seamy world of New Orleans rap. Poverty, drugs, violence, and life in the projects are the predominant signifiers in the world Cohn uncovers, yet people strive and survive. We meet a would-be rapper working as a second-grade teacher and a local record company impresario who also runs a roofing business. Highly readable, in no small part due to Cohn’s self-professed obsession with the city, Triksta also catches the reader up in the author’s manic attempt to insinuate himself into the local hip-hop scene. Working tirelessly to launch local acts such as the Choppa’ and Junie Bezel, Cohn experiences the highs and lows of working as an outsider in the closed environment of New Orleans, where "bounce" is the predominant style and musical convention, rather than innovation, is the norm. A timely and fascinating book, this may end up describing a world only briefly glimpsed by outsiders and possibly gone forever. Highly recommended. – Dave Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle

See the November 15 Xpress Reviews