Arts & Humanities Reviews, February 15, 2012

starred review star Anderson, Julie & others. The Art of Medicine: Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination. Univ. of Chicago. Feb. 2012. 256p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226749365. $50. FINE ARTS

This collection of hundreds of diverse objects, illustrated in exceptional color plates and drawn mostly from London’s Wellcome Collection, showcases the lore of illness, treatment, and wellness. Compiled by Anderson (history of medicine, Univ. of Kent), Emm Barnes (science outreach officer, Royal Holloway Univ.), and visual arts writer Emma Shackleton, these examples of art and artifacts depict medicine in perception and practice. The book aims to arouse interest in medicine and provides delightful, detailed visuals and explanations in six thematic sections. While many kinds of artistic styles and media are featured, only a few artists are spotlighted with their own subsections; however, artists in general are honored throughout as explorers and skillful recorders of scientific observation. VERDICT While this book lacks the scholarly depth of Jean Rousselot’s Medicine in Art: a Cultural History (1967, o.p.), it shines via its eclectic juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary objects like amulets, outsider art, microscopic photos, and medieval manuscripts. An enticing medical cabinet of art curiosities, this book’s offerings go down easily and make you want more. Highly recommended.‚ Marianne Laino Sade, Maryland Inst. Coll. of Art Lib., Baltimore

starred review star Friedlander, Lee. In the Picture: Self-Portraits, 1958‚ 2011. Yale Univ. 2011. c.392p. photogs. ISBN 9780300177299. $75. PHOTOG

Throughout his long career as a photographer and artist, Friedlander has produced five books of self-portraits. What makes this latest (and, one hopes, not last) volume of self- portraiture exceptional is its inclusion of five decades of work and many never-before-seen images. The pictures are arranged chronologically, and together they become a kind of de facto visual biography of the artist. Readers see Friedlander, his family, his friends, and his travels over the span of decades. The book is a wonderful record, too, of changes in artistic style‚ how Friedlander honed techniques over the years. He often photographs his shadow falling in front of his lens, consistently finding ways to situate it in wry and dynamic interplay with other elements in the frame or against a rough landscape, such as a desert floor, which gives it texture and depth. Photographing his reflection in mirrors or windows, he makes his own visage one small part of a complex arrangement of overlapping reflections, surfaces, and lines. VERDICT An excellent choice for photographers who wish to explore techniques of self-portraiture and readers interested in learning more about this great American photographer.‚ Michael Dashkin, New York

starred review star Bowman, Matthew. The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith. Random. 2012. c.352p. index. ISBN 9780679644903. $26. REL

With two Mormons among recent GOP presidential hopefuls, interest in Mormonism is at a new high. For readers looking for a historical introduction, there is no better book than this. Bowman (religion, Hampden-Sydney Coll.) manages the nearly impossible‚ he is both fair and objective. He clarifies that his book is a work of considered synthesis of other scholarship. He doesn’t overlook the heroic or the tawdry. He covers the famous trek west and such controversial topics as the origin of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s polygamous relationships, and Mormon ideas on race, all with appropriate detachment. He also covers contemporary topics of the modern Mormon church with riveting prose. Appendixes explain the structure of the church and offer brief biographies of the cast of characters. The bibliographic essay is a great starting place for further pursuing the topic and could serve as a syllabus for a Mormon history course. VERDICT Because Bowman writes so well, the general adult reader will find this as appealing as the scholar. Both believers and nonbelievers will be satisfied. Highly recommended.‚ David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia

starred review star Thompson, Augustine. Francis of Assisi: A New Biography. Cornell Univ. Apr. 2012. c.312p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801450709. $29.95. REL

This is not a typical biography of Francis of Assisi (1181‚ 1226). Thompson (history, Dominican Sch. of Philosophy & Theology, Graduate Theological Union; Cities of God), a Dominican priest and church historian, bases his biography solidly on verifiable material. He seeks the historical Francis, not the Francis of legend, and succeeds admirably in this task. Anyone interested in Francis will like the first part: a well-written, straightforward biography. In the second part, which will appeal to scholars and more serious readers, Thompson discusses in some detail the sources for Francis’s life, weighing one against another, and makes some judgments on the work of previous biographers. He also tries to distinguish practices instituted by Francis himself from those instituted later. Lawrence Cunningham’s Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life is equally scholarly but emphasizes Francis’s importance for spirituality. VERDICT A well-written, scholarly portrait of a saint whose biography has been based too often on legends. This one is accessible to the lay reader and a treasure for historians.‚ Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ

starred review star Clee, Nicholas. Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever. Overlook, dist. by Penguin. 2011. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781590207376. $26.95. SPORTS

This is a highly entertaining account of one of the most famous racehorses in history. Eclipse (1764‚ 89) was a legend in his time and, astonishingly, became the progenitor of all but three of the 50 most recent Kentucky Derby winners. Clee (columnist, Times, UK) chronicles both the life of the horse, who started racing at age five, and the Irish gambler Dennis O’Kelly, who purchased him soon thereafter. The author weaves in many other colorful characters who played a part in the story, including Sir Charles Bunbury (founder of the Jockey Club), the Earl of Derby (from whom classic races take their name), and King George IV. Eclipse was so famous that he modeled for George Stubbs, the preeminent equine painter; examples of art that Eclipse inspired are included in the book. For racing fans, Clee also includes histories of famous races, wagers, bloodlines, and the stories of some of Eclipse’s most celebrated offspring. VERDICT A richly detailed narrative that draws a portrait of the Georgian era of English sport and decadence as it proceeds. Not to be missed by readers who loved Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit or by horse lovers and horseracing fans generally.‚ Amy Ford, St. Mary’s Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD

The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Dupon, Olivier. The New Artisans. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2011. 320p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780500515853. $45. DEC ARTS

Glaser, Milton. In Search of the Miraculous: Or, One Thing Leads to Another. Overlook, dist. by Penguin. Feb. 2012. c.96p. illus. ISBN 9781590207222. pap. $19.95. GRAPHIC ARTS

Klein, Mason & Catherine Evans. The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936‚ 1951. Yale Univ. in assoc. with the Jewish Museum. 2011. 248p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300146875. $50. PHOTOG

O’Mahony, Marie. Advanced Textiles for Health and Well-Being. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2011. c.240p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500515877. $50. DEC ARTS

Robinson, Jack. On Show: Portraits 1958‚ 72. Palazzo Editions, dist. by Trafalgar Square. 2012. 192p. photogs. ISBN 9780956494221. $39.95. FINE ARTS

Srp, Karel & Lenka Byd≈æovská with Alison de Lima Greene & Jan Mergl. New Formations: Czech Avant-Garde and Modern Glass from the Roy and Mary Cullen Collection. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, dist. by Yale Univ. 2011. c.320p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780300169966. $75. FINE ARTS

Warren, Beth Gates. Artful Lives: Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather, and the Bohemians of Los Angeles. Getty. 2011. 396p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781606060704. $39.95. PHOTOG

Weiss, Ellen. Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington. NewSouth. 2011. c.400p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781588382481. $45. ARCHITECTURE


Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters. 4th ed. Oxford Univ. 2011. 688p. ed. by Deirdre Le Faye. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199576074. $45. LIT

Robinson, Marilynne. When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays. Farrar. Mar. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780374298784. $24. LIT

Performing Arts

Edwards, Rona & Monika Skerbelis. The Complete Filmmaker’s Guide to Film Festivals: Your All Access Pass to Launching Your Film on the Festival Circuit. Michael Wiese. Apr. 2012. c.361p. ISBN 9781615930883. pap. $26.95. FILM

Johnston, Kristen. Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster. Gallery: S. & S. Mar. 2012. c.256p. photogs. ISBN 9781451635058. $25. TV

Littlefield, Warren with T.R. Pearson. Top of the Rock: The Rise and Fall of Must See TV. Doubleday. May 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780385533744. $27.95. TV

Magee, Jeffrey. Irving Berlin’s American Musical Theater. Oxford Univ. (Broadway Legacies).Apr. 2012. c.408p. photogs. discog. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780195398267. $35. MUSIC

Neibaur, James L. Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist as Apprentice at Keystone Studios. Scarecrow. Mar. 2012. c.272p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810882423. $55. FILM

Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt. Duke Univ. Apr. 2012. c.336p. ed. by Eric Weisbard. illus. index. ISBN 9780822351085. pap. $25.95. MUSIC

Spaner, David. Shoot It!: Hollywood Inc. and the Rising of Independent Film. Arsenal Pulp, dist. by Consortium. Feb. 2012. c.320p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781551524085. pap. $22.95. FILM


Ryan, Michael. This Morning. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2012. c.96p. ISBN 9780547684598. $20. POETRY