Nonfiction Previews, April 2012, Pt. 1: Horseshoe Crabs, Philosophy, and David Hockney

Alterman, Eric & Kevin Mattson. The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. Viking. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780670023431. $29.95. HISTORY/POLITICS
So many books lately on the rise of the Right, but here, finally, is a history of postwar liberalism. Media critic, political columnist (e.g., The Nation), CUNY journalism professor, and best-selling author (e.g., Why We’re Liberal), Alterman joins with Ohio University professor Mattson to define liberalism through the individuals who have shaped it over the last decades. Important for current events readers except in really red states.

Collingham, Lizzie. The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. 656p. ISBN 9781594203299. $35. HISTORY
The role of food during World War II? It sounds specialized, but consider: 20 million people died during the war from starvation or malnutrition alone, equal to the number of military deaths. The Nazis set about eliminating useless eaters. British rationing worked at home, but the colonies suffered; wholly preventable famine killed millions in India. And though America’s food production remained strong, it was at this time that our fast-food nation got its start. Intriguing for inquiring readers.

Danzinger, Lucy. The Drop 10 Diet: Harness the Fat-Melting Power of Superfoods. Ballantine. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780345531629. $25; eISBN 9780345531636. DIET
Featured in Self‘s August 2008 issue, 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss remains one of the biggest draws on Self editor in chief Danzinger here expands on that story, explaining how you can drop ten pounds (or more) not by cutting back but by eating more of certain superfoods, like avocado, yogurt, and steak and eggs. First serial to Self, lots of online promotion, and ongoing branding, so you’ll be hearing about this. Honestly, I was skeptical (another diet book?), but if this works‚Ķ.

Delves Broughton, Philip. The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters about the Business of Life. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781594203329. $27.95. BUSINESS/SELF-HELP
Delves Broughton’s New York Times best seller, Ahead of the Curve, detailed his MBA studies at Harvard (after years as a journalist). Here the author discusses selling‚ but not just as the fulcrum of commerce. Visiting a merchant in Morocco, a Zen-inspired Japanese saleswoman, infomercial genius Tony Sullivan, and art dealer Larry Gagosian, among others, he explains that we’re all into sales‚ whether we’re selling ourselves to a boss or our children on the virtues of doing homework‚ and how we can do a better job of it. Intriguing and possibly useful.

Ehrenhalt, Alan. The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City. Knopf. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780307272744. $26.95; eISBN 9780307957405. CURRENT AFFAIRS
With young adults and well-off retirees flowing in, immigrants and poorer folks flowing out, and the impulse to revitalize downtowns there if sometimes still defeated by urban sprawl, America’s cities are definitely changing‚ and sometimes swapping roles with those upstart suburbs (that’s the great inversion). From noted urbanologist Ehrenhalt, currently information director at the Pew Center on the States; not just for city libraries, since this new demographic affects everyone.

Folsom, Tom. Hopper: A Wild Ride to the Heart of the American Dream. Dutton. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780525952299. $27.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. BIOGRAPHY
He wrote, directed, and starred in the iconic Easy Rider, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., bought an early Warhol soup-can painting (thereafter building a notable contemporary art collection), championed hip-hop, and was arrested numerous times for carrying firearms and engaging in disorderly conduct. He’s Dennis Hopper, and his story is presented here as the story of American pop culture and even (if weirdly) the American Dream. From the author of the New York Times best-selling The Mad Ones; get unless you have really old-fashioned readers.

Fortey, Richard. Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind. Knopf. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780307263612. $28.95; eISBN 9780307957412. NATURAL HISTORY
Award-winning paleontologist Fortey, a longtime Fellow of the Royal Society formerly associated with London’s Natural History Museum, is one of those rare and wonderful science writers who can make even fossils come alive. That’s not just a cliché; remember Trilobite? Here, Fortey travels far and wide to show us the organisms and ecosystems (like the horseshoe crabs of the title) that did not get wiped out as evolution moved things along. Essential for the science-minded and delightful for the rest.

Herbert, Martha & Karen Weintraub. The Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be. Ballantine. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780345527196. $26; eISBN 9780345527219. Downloadable: Random Audio. HEALTH/MEDICINE
Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital neurologist Herbert argues that autism is not a deficiency of the brain but the brain’s reaction to bodily disorder stemming from various triggers, namely, specific foods, environmental toxins, viruses, and stress. Eliminating them radically diminishes the withdrawal we’ve been calling autism. Herbert is courting controversy here, but she is an internationally known expert in the field. And her book is a Harvard Health Publication, which says something; HHP books have big reach. Important for many readers.

Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals, 1947‚ 1983. Pantheon. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780307378880 $27.95; eISBN 9780307907141. MEMOIR
While Lindbergh published five volumes of letter and journal excerpts in her lifetime, much material remained when she died in 2001. This sixth and final volume begins in 1947 with Lindbergh pondering an unwanted pregnancy and moves on to her writing The Gift of the Sea, balancing children and career, missing her often-absent husband (in Europe with his common-law families, though she didn’t know), and dealing with the turmoil of the Sixties. Common issues, uncommon writing; Lindbergh still has eager readers.

Miller, William Lee. Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World. Knopf. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780307595645. $30; eISBN 9780307957542. BIOGRAPHY
Noted Lincoln biographer Miller takes on two other Presidents, Truman and Eisenhower, highlighting their similarities (those Midwestern roots), differences (Truman was a consummate politician, while Eisenhower resisted the game), and the passage of power as 1952 dawned. Good perspective as the presidential elections approach.

Romano, Carlin. America the Philosophical. Knopf. Apr. 2012. 544p. ISBN 9780679434702. $30; eISBN 9780307958211. PHILOSOPHY
Take that, Richard Hofstadler! Americans aren’t anti-intellectual. In fact, argues Romano, a distinguished book critic and professor of philosophy, American culture is more profoundly philosophical than any other culture in history, with ordinary Americans quick to question specious reasoning and trained minds just as quick to throw over stuffy debate for something refreshing. (Cyberphilosophy, anyone?) Okay, so I majored in philosophy and have a special interest in this book, but what could be more important than how we think‚ and how we think about ourselves? Full disclosure: I know the author, and I’m still recommending this book. With a five-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Sweet, Victoria. God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9781594488436. $27.95. HEALTH/MEDICINE
In the Middle Ages, the sick of France were cared for at a H√¥tel-Dieu (God’s hotel); later, almshouses tended more generally to the old and indigent. San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse left in the country, and Sweet has been a doctor there for 20 years, enjoying the practice of the kind of attentive medicine not much practiced elsewhere. Here’s what she has learned. Doubtless sweet in every way.

Sykes, Christopher Simon. David Hockney: A Rake’s Progress; the Authorized Biography. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780385531443. $35. BIOGRAPHY/ART
Everyone knows David Hockney’s paintings of cool blue California pools, but there’s much more to his art‚ and his life. Photographer/writer Sykes moves from Hockney’s 1937 birth in northern England to his breakout at a Young Contemporaries exhibition in London; escalating fame in the Sixties; experiments beyond painting, including set and costume design; and relationship with art student Peter Schlesinger even as the gay rights movement heated up. For art lovers and other sophisticated readers.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.