Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, December 9, 2011

Week ending December 9, 2011

Aldous, Richard. Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship. Norton. Mar. 2012. c.352p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780393069006. $27.95. HIST
Aldous (British history & literature, Bard Coll.; The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs. Disraeli) now pairs two giants of the 20th century, focusing on the personal and especially the political relationship between leaders whose bond is frequently placed at the center of the West’s Cold War triumph. Aldous aims to shift historical emphasis away from the public’s sentimentality about this friendship and toward the exacting diplomatic engagement between the leaders of two‚Ķstates of vastly different strengths and interests. Recently unclassified material helps him make his points, but the disagreements of Reagan and Thatcher over issues such as Grenada and nuclear disarmament are far from new to the record, e.g., Nicholas Wapshott’s Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage, although Aldous’s emphasis decidedly is. Although this book may adjust our focus on details, it will not likely shift our larger view of these two leaders.
Meryl Streep’s film portrayal in The Iron Lady, out this month, is bound to spike interest in Thatcher, but general readers will be disappointed by this book’s narrow scope, while academics may be inclined to slight a book that uses end-of-chapter phrases like The result would shake Thatcher‚Ķto the core.‚ Bob Nardini, Nashville

Baecque, Antoine de. Tim Burton. Cahiers du cinéma, dist. by Phaidon. 2011. 128p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9782866428068. $39.95. FILM
Tim Burton is a unique figure in modern American cinema. According to Baecque (coauthor, Truffaut: A Biography), former editor in chief of Cahiers du cinéma, Burton sidesteps traditional cinema, pursuing his visions of fairy tales; childhood stories; the fantastic, even macabre; and feverish dreams, while still enjoying a degree of independence and box office success. This book covers Burton’s utterly ordinary upbringing near Hollywood’s dream factory, his rather unhappy apprenticeship as an animator at the Disney studio, his surprising breakout success directing Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and his subsequent films, which vary from reworking old formulas (Batman) to personal obsessions (Edward Scissorhands; Beetlejuice). Burton admits that he consistently places visual values over storytelling, but he has been lucky to find actors like Johnny Depp to realize his quirky characters.
While not the first study of Burton, this lavish book, filled with inviting, full-color illustrations, will appeal to Burton’s numerous fans. Coverage is up-to-date and informed and includes his animated hits like The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. Recommended.‚ Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA

Diski, Jenny. What I Don’t Know About Animals. Yale Univ. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. ISBN 9780300176841. $26. PETS
English writer Diski (Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking Around America with Interruptions) is known for her quirky intelligence and wry insights. Here she paradoxically announces that she has written a book about her incomplete understanding of animals‚ whatever that means‚ and then, of course, demonstrates an impressive breadth of knowledge and depth of reflection. Not confined to any particular perspective, Diski offers musings about animals from various vantage points. She includes chapters that cover the symbolic and personal significance of animals to humans, drawing from philosophy to discuss how people have thought of the relationship over time. Furthermore, she ponders the linguistic conventions of naming animals, individually and as species. From philosophy, she moves to the science, describing animals in their natural habitats and in that most unnatural of settings, the scientific laboratory. In the end, the plethora of perspectives will show readers how much they, too, don’t know about animals‚ as well as how much they do.
A superb and provocative book that will appeal especially to animal lovers who enjoy books such as Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson’s Animals in Translation.‚ Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA

Henning, Randolph C. The Architecture of Alfred Browning Parker: Miami’s Maverick Modernist. Univ. Pr. of Florida. 2011. 400p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780813036779. $50. ARCHITECTURE
This is the first book-length study of the important modernist architect (some would say Florida’s foremost modern architect) Alfred Browning Parker (1916‚ 2011). Parker was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and sought to design affordable houses that would embody local craft traditions. Parker received national recognition in the 1950s and embraced the organic philosophy that the best architecture is anchored in its regional roots‚ for Florida, the tropical environment. Known mostly for his residential architecture, Parker had a diverse and prolific design career. In this impressive volume, Henning, a practicing architecture and Wright scholar (e.g., Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin), provides a detailed overview of both Parker’s life and work, highlighting nearly 70 important residential and commercial buildings designed from the 1940s through the start of the 21st century. Lavishly illustrated with nearly 400 color photographs, the book contains generous quotations from selected writings by Parker, many from his 1965 book, You and Architecture.
This handsomely produced and well-written work is an important addition to modern architecture and the modernist ecofriendly building movement: the definitive work on Florida’s most famous modern architect. Most highly recommended.‚ Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton

Hickey, Donald R. & Connie D. Clark. The Rockets’ Red Glare: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812. Johns Hopkins. 2011. 264p. illus. index. ISBN 9781421401553. $39.95. HIST
Often called the forgotten conflict, the War of 1812 has always been one of our least understood wars. Initiated to redress wrongs committed on the high seas (e.g., impressing American sailors into the Royal Navy), the war was supported only by segments of the population and almost caused the secession of the New England states from the Union. Full of military blunders and poor planning and logistics, it ended with the destruction of Washington, DC, by the British, the loss and reconquest of the Old Northwest territory, and the unnecessary and bloody Battle of New Orleans, which occurred after the peace treaty. The issue of impressments was not in fact addressed. Hickey (history, Wayne State Coll.; The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict) and Clark begin their oversize and handsomely illustrated book in 1793 and carry it forward through the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. They end with a chapter that will help readers understand the legacy of the war. The narrative is easy to follow, with each chapter broken down into easily digested sections.
Plainly written and nicely illustrated, including a center section of color plates, this book commends itself to both the general reader and students of the conflict.‚ David Lee Poremba, Windermere, FL

Humm, Daniel & Will Guidara (text) & Francesco Tonelli (photogs.). Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook. Little, Brown. 2011. 384p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780316098519. $50. COOKING
Humm and Guidara are, respectively, the executive chef and the general manager of the four-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park, located in the historic Metropolitan Life Building in Manhattan. The recipes are arranged by season‚ e.g., Veal Glazed Sweetbreads with Smoked Potatoes, Chestnuts, and White Truffles for autumn and Suckling Pig Belly with Peas, Mint and Lettuce for spring. In addition to entrées, there are recipes for hors d’oeuvres, desserts, pickles, granolas, and mignardises. Readers are introduced to sous vide cooking and the use of liquid nitrogen for quick freezing .The adventurous cook may try the recipes, but the authors warn that they require a well-equipped kitchen in addition to time, commitment, and persistence. A distinctive feature is a 24-hour time line of a day in the life of the restaurant, plus floor plans of the dining room and kitchen with job descriptions and location of the staff from ma√Ætre d’ and executive sous chef to florist and porter.
Rather than a cookbook, this is more like a work of photographic art that beautifully displays epicurean creations. Recommended for culinary collections in academic and large public libraries or for individuals who dream about making culinary works of art. [See Prepub Alert, 5/16/11.]‚ Christine E. Bulson, formerly with SUNY Oneonta Lib.

Jawer, Michael A. & Marc S. Micozzi, M.D. Your Emotional Type: Key to the Therapies That Will Work for You. Healing Arts: Inner Traditions. Dec. 2011. c.194p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594774317. pap. $14.95. PSYCH
Jawer and Micozzi (coauthors, The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion) posit that there is no mind/body dichotomy, that people fall on a continuum of thin to thick boundaries of their personality type, and that in modern society there seem to be a number of chronic illnesses that are not necessarily caused by a germ, gene, or trauma. These illnesses instead develop with roots in our emotional lives. The boundaries refer to our sense of self, where we stop and another begins. The authors describe various conditions and argue that knowledge of boundary type will help determine the best kind of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat it. In particular, they discuss conditions such as asthma, eczema, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypertension. The book includes questionnaires to help readers determine their own boundary type and an appendix of summarized scientific studies that support CAM treatment, as well as an extensive list of organizations to contact for further information.
Verdict A convincing guide meant to supplement professional medical care, the book unintentionally makes some illnesses sound psychosomatic. Recommended for readers interested in self-help. An optional purchase for most libraries.‚ Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ. Lib., Memphis

The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Titan. 2011. 160p. ed. by Marcus Hearn. photogs. ISBN 9780857685551. $19.95. MUSIC
This collection of images of Jimi Hendrix culled from the archives of Rex Features, a British photographic press agency, centers mainly on his time in London during 1967 as he became one of rock’s most enduring icons. The volume, introduced and with text by Hearn (The Hammer Vault), contains over 100 black-and-white and color photos of Hendrix and his band, the Experience, that perfectly illustrate his photogenic qualities as a subject. Hendrix exudes what can be called a shy confidence with his piercing gaze and distinctive fashion choices of military jackets and brightly colored shirts and cravats. The pictures are primarily stills from photo shoots but also include some candid shots, backstage meetings with luminaries such as Eric Clapton and The Who, and views from live performances and recording sessions.
With only brief text and a narrow focus, this book is hardly a definitive photographic account of Hendrix’s whole career but instead illuminates with images the period during which he became a star. Hendrix enthusiasts and fans of Sixties rock will appreciate this book.‚ Jim Collins, Morristown‚ Morris Twp. Lib., NJ

Keaton, Diane. Then Again. Random. 2011. 302p. photogs. ISBN 9781400068784. $26. FILM
In 1977, Keaton won our hearts as the ditzy, goofy, and adorable Annie Hall in Woody Allen’s Academy Award‚ winning movie. Her carefree and happy-go-lucky attitude, tempered by her insecurities, in many ways launched her career, though she had already appeared in Allen’s Sleeper and her first big role came in Hair on Broadway. Until this eloquent, thoughtful, and often funny memoir, we knew little about Keaton’s life and her family. With an ingenious approach, Keaton weaves together with her own story a memoir of her mother, Dorothy, in whom Keaton finds deep inspiration. She offers a few glimpses of her relationships with Allen, Warren Beatty, and Al Pacino, and her descriptions of her family, especially Grammy Hall and Keaton’s brother, Randy, eerily parallel Annie’s family in Allen’s movie. The brilliance of Keaton’s memoir, however, comes in her deep probing of the power and love of family and its influence on our relationships with our own children.
This is a powerful memoir, written with verve by a woman who takes time to think as she writes. [See Prepub Alert, 5/9/11.]‚ Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL

Mawdsley, Evan. December 1941. Yale Univ. Dec. 2011. c.336p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300154450. $30. HIST
After his broad perspective in World War II: A New History, Mawdsley (honorary fellow, Univ. of Glasgow) focuses on the events that merged separate European and Asian wars into the world’s largest war, a decisive turning point in history and one involving complex interconnections. Mawdsley emphasizes that the events cannot be considered in isolation. The British pushed back Rommel in North Africa; the Germans were pushed back from Moscow, keeping the USSR, needed by the Allies, in the war. Japan’s titular attack on Pearl Harbor increased American involvement on the world stage and a new view of its global mission. An unexpected outcome of America entering the war was that the Nazis now felt free to go forward with their primary goal of exterminating the Jews.
This is traditional history, looking at the story at the highest levels, from extensive primary resources. It’s an accessible account that scholars as well as military history buffs will enjoy as we note Pearl Harbor’s 70th anniversary. General readers may also like Stanley Weintraub’ s Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941, which covers the broad strategy discussions between Churchill and FDR at the time.‚ Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL

Miller, Robin. Robin Takes 5: 500 Recipes, 5 Ingredients or Less, 500 Calories or Less, 5 Nights a Week at 5:00 PM. Andrews McMeel. 2011. c.480p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449408459. pap. $29.99. COOKING
Miller (Quick Fix Meals), a nutritionist and host of Food Network’s Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, brings her fans more of the quick and nutritious meals they crave. She not only keeps the ingredients lists short but also offers a brief list of items that cooks should have on hand: olive oil, cooking spray, salt, and pepper. Miller’s philosophy is that if cooks can prepare a meal in about 20 minutes with just a few ingredients, families will eat more nutritious, home-cooked meals. Her delicious recipes include Spring Pea Soup (which calls for frozen green peas, scallions, and ham), Strawberry Margarita Chicken Salad (lime juice, strawberries, and celery evoke the flavors of a margarita with none of the alcohol), and Cuban Steaks with Mint, Garlic, and Lime. Each recipe features nutritional information for calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Miller supplies busy families with fast, nutritious recipes that require only five ingredients or less. This useful compendium will motivate readers to cook more meals at home.‚ Carrie Scarr, West Fargo P.L., ND

Ó Drisceoil, Fachtna. The Missing Postman: What Really Happened to Larry Griffin? Mercier, dist. by Dufour. Jan. 2012. c.320p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9781856356930. pap. $23.95. TRUE CRIME
It was a cold and blustery Christmas Eve in 1929 in Stradbally, a small town in County Waterford, Ireland. Larry Griffin, the local postman, was making his last-minute deliveries but never returned home. After finding his abandoned bicycle on the side of the road the following day, the local Garda (police) began a search. Was his disappearance an accident or something more sinister? Several members of the community were implicated and later brought to trial. The missing postman case received worldwide attention but slowly drifted into obscurity after the prime witness to the event recanted his version. In 2009, the Irish-language television program Cláracha Gaeilge, similar to the American show Cold Case Files, presented a reconstructed version of this case. Given access to newly released Garda documents, broadcaster and TV writer √ì Drisceoil presents a compelling version of what may have happened. The author also includes a chapter at the end of the book that details what happened to the key players after the trial.
Essential for those interested in true crime mysteries and early 20th-century Irish history.‚ Claire Franek, Muhlenberg Cty. P.L., Greenville, KY

Rounding, Virginia. Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2012. c.400p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312381004. $29.99. HIST
Rounding (Catherine the Great) herself questions the necessity for yet another biography of members of the Romanov family. They’ve been covered in minute detail in so many books‚ notably, Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra and The Romanovs: The Final Chapter). So why another biography? The reason lies in the angle Rounding has chosen: a reexamination of previous scholarship combined with the use of documents‚ letters and diary entries‚ that have recently come to light. She closely examines the tsar and tsarina through the lens of their personal relationships: the marriage of Nicky and an adored but needy, jealous, and probable hypochondriac wife; the friendship between the tsarina and her close friend Ania Vyrubova; as well as the depth of the family’s reliance on the enigmatic Rasputin. Rounding’s observations and speculation as to how these relationships meshed creates an original work of scholarship.
Romanov buffs will be happily surprised by this fresh take; readers new to the history of the late Tsarist period in Russian history will be treated to a well-written and fascinating introduction.‚ Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin P.L., IL

Sandford, Christopher. Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. Palgrave Macmillan. Dec. 2011. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780230619500. $27. LIT
First meeting in 1920, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Houdini, the famous magician, began a friendship that eventually turned acrimonious over the subject of spiritualism. Disappointed by early attempts to contact deceased family members, the magician embarked on a campaign to reveal spiritualism as a sham that took advantage of the unsuspecting. Conan Doyle, on the other hand, strongly believed that the living could communicate with the dead. Film and music writer Sandford (Steve McQueen: The Biography) offers biographical information on both men, but his main focus is their conflict over the occult. His book joins others about this relationship. Bernard M.L. Ernst and Hereward Carrington’s Houdini and Conan Doyle: The Story of a Strange Friendship (1932) and Massimo Polidoro’s more recent Final Séance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle both explore the subject in depth. Sandford’s version successfully synthesizes the earlier works and also uses previously unpublished material.
The results will appeal to fans of both men and readers interested in spiritualism and mystery. The current Sherlock Holmes movie franchise may increase interest.‚ Nancy R. Ives, SUNY Geneseo

Swayze, Lisa Niemi. Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward. Atria: S. & S. Jan. 2012. c.336p. photogs. ISBN 9781439196359. $24. FILM
Actor Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing) was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 56 and given only months to live. After his diagnosis but before his death in 2009, Patrick and his wife, Lisa Niemi Swayze, penned The Time of My Life, a memoir covering his life, his 30-year career, and their 34-year marriage. Here, Lisa begins with her husband’s diagnosis and follows their lives over the year and a half that he struggled with the disease before his death at the age of 57. She shares in painful, almost excruciating day-to-day detail what it was like caring for him, which might be too much for many readers, but there is power and poignancy in Patrick’s last days. Swayze, an actress, director, and dancer in her own right, candidly relates what it feels like to lose a loved one after a valiant fight.
This book could be comforting to others caring for someone battling a fatal disease, as Swayze demonstrates the strength of the human spirit not only to carry on but to heal. National author publicity will generate requests.‚ Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA

Tilson, Jake. In at the Deep End: Cooking Fish Venice to Tokyo. Lyons: Globe Pequot. 2011. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9780762773800. pap. $24.95. COOKING
Tilson (A Tale of 12 Kitchens: Family Cooking in Four Countries) has always been scared of fish. The catch here is that as a cook, he couldn’t stand sidestepping store aisles and ice-filled market displays or overlooking intimidating recipes in cookbooks and menus. Having left categories of cooking unexplored for decades, his therapeutic approach was full submersion as an artist, designer, writer, and cook into world of seafood. From Venice to Sweden, Scotland to New York City, and Sydney to Japan, each leg of this tour not only showcases local ingredients but also surveys indigenous cookbooks and family kitchens. Though ambitious in geographical scope, the adventurous (yet humble and accessible) recipes‚ e.g., Cannellini con pasta e cozze (Mussels & Cannellini with Pasta), Nori Potato Cakes, Smoked Mackerel P√¢té, Herring in Oats, and Baked Striper Caponata‚ are occasioned with the intimacy of a diary.
Tilson’s journey relates the experience of food and presents it with a seamless congruence of visual narrative and diaristic travelog‚ a gastronomic scrapbook. Backed by an ingredient, recipe, and location index. A recommended choice for not-so-run-of-the-mill recipes, foodie travelers, and cooks looking to expand their palates.‚ Benjamin Malczewski, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI

Trujillo, Olga R. The Sum of My Parts: Survivor’s Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder. New Harbinger. 2011. c.248p. ISBN 9781572249912. pap. $18.95. PSYCH
This disturbing memoir of an abusive childhood is a case study of the causes and characteristics of dissociative identity disorder. Trujillo, an attorney who works on domestic violence issues, spares few details about family members’ attacks on her. Despite such cruelty, she married and pursued a successful legal career. She admits to having little memory of her traumatic childhood until frequent panic attacks and other troubling symptoms led her to seek psychiatric help. Trujillo discusses her treatment, which included hypnosis and extensive face-to-face sessions. While her marriage flounders throughout this process, she builds new relationships and her career thrives as she employs her newly developed coping mechanisms and insights into victimization. The book’s initial chapters are painfully graphic, and skeptical readers might question how much of these latent memories relied on the power of a therapist’s suggestion (see Debbie Nathan’s Sybil Exposed). Yet the rise of child abuse has been well documented, and this is a powerful story of resilience from a Latina perspective.
A notable contribution to the genre of child abuse memoirs, this book is recommended for general readers.‚ Antoinette Brinkman, Evansville, IN

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Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"