Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, March 30, 2012

Week ending March 30, 2012

Baldwin, Rosecrans. Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down. Farrar. May 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780374146689. $26. TRAV
Novelist Baldwin (You Lost Me There) imagined Paris as a romantic, decadent city full of artists living la vie bohéme. When Baldwin accepted a copywriting position at a French advertising agency in the city, he discovered that Paris was different from what he’d expected but also exactly what he’d always dreamed. Like the latter half of David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day, Baldwin describes the difficulties of getting by in France with a language barrier while immersing himself in Parisian culture at home, on the town, and at the office. Baldwin and his wife both experience missteps and miscommunications while adjusting to their new life abroad. They learn that Paris is a beautiful place‚ but not for the faint of heart.
Verdict
A book to tempt anyone flirting with the idea of life abroad and sure to strike a chord with any foreigners currently living in the City of Lights. For readers familiar with Paris, Baldwin’s work is not typical; instead, it’s a nitty-gritty travelog about one writer’s sometimes difficult transformation from New Yorker to Parisian.‚ Melissa Culbertson, Homewood, IL

Jenkins, Mark Collins & David A. Taylor. The War of 1812 and the Rise of the U.S. Navy. National Geographic, dist. by Random. Apr. 2012. c.280p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781426209338. $30. HIST
This handsome, oversize book is the official U.S. Navy companion to the bicentennial of the War of 1812, which marked the rise of the U.S. Navy to global prominence. Jenkins and Taylor arrange the book chronologically into five chapters and include naval actions on the Great Lakes as well as the final action at New Orleans. The narrative is enlivened by the inclusion of a whole range of primary source recollections of the war by marines and sailors, their wives and families, and civilians. Some of these diaries and letters are illustrated in full color, along with hundreds of other objects and images including oil portraits, prints illustrating frigate battles, recruiting posters, books and pamphlets published before the smoke had cleared, ship models whittled from bone by prisoners to while away their time in captivity, and flags, pennants, and uniforms worn by combatants. These all make for an impressive visual array, with many never-before-published selections. Text and images support each other impressively.
Verdict
A fine choice as a colorful and accessible introduction to the war and to the navy’s role in it. Highly recommended for general readers including high school students.‚ David Lee Poremba, Windermere, FL

Nusser, Susan. Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. c.288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780312569907. $25.99. SPORTS
This book takes readers behind the scenes of the Thoroughbred industry, revealing the money, dedication, and expertise that go into producing the world’s fastest racehorses. Nusser (writing, Carroll Univ.; In Service to the Horse) features the Taylor Made Farm, one of the largest breeders of racing Thoroughbreds, and shows how the operation requires facility managers, office staff, accountants, vets, grooms, trainers, and more to produce champions. She looks at foals from the 2009 season from birth through their sale as yearlings and describes the daily life of the farm, including farrier visits, grooming routines, and instructions to the yearlings to walk nicely for buyers. She includes specifics of Thoroughbred breeding that may be new even to experienced equestrians, such as leg-straightening surgeries that have become standard and the effect of economic downturns on horse breeders. Nusser clearly knows horse behavior, and her details about the horses shine.
Verdict
Not just for racing enthusiasts, this book will be enjoyed by horse lovers of all kinds.‚ Amy Ford, St. Mary’s Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD

Russell, Dick. The Life and Ideas of James Hillman. Vol. 1: The Making of a Psychologist. Skyhorse, dist. by Norton. Apr. 2012. c.528p. ISBN 9781611454628. $35. PSYCH
Psychologist and neo-Jungian James Hillman (1926‚ 2011) is best known to the general public from an appearance on Oprah that catapulted his 1996 book The Soul’s Code to the top of the best sellers lists. In that title (one of more than 20 that he wrote), Hillman posited that a person’s early life can best be understood in retrospect, as preparation for a mature life’s task. Here, in the first of a two-volume authorized biography, Russell (On the Trail of the JFK Assassins) applies this method to Hillman’s own early years, emphasizing how his family history, education, and travels displayed many connections to Carl Jung, foreshadowing his later career as the director of the Jung Institute in Zurich. Born in Atlantic City in a hotelier family, Hillman traveled extensively in the 1940s and 1950s as a member of the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps and then as a student.
Verdict
A very readable biography, this book is recommended for general and scholarly individuals with an interest in neo-Jungian and depth psychology.‚ Mary Ann Hughes, Shelton, WA

Scheiner, Gary. Think Like a Pancreas: A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes with Insulin. Da Capo Lifelong. 2012. c.306p. illus. index. ISBN 9780738215143. pap. $17. HEALTH
An update of the first, 2004 edition, this book is geared toward diabetic patients who use insulin and want to manage their diabetes better. Certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist Scheiner, who has had the disease for over 25 years, explains the short- and long-term effects of managing diabetes successfully as well as the three keys to control: tools, skills, and attitude. He also looks at the 2 Bs, basal insulin and bolus insulin, and at how to use them effectively as well as the physical, environmental, and other factors that raise or lower blood sugar. The last chapter includes diabetes management counseling resources, associations, websites, blogs, recommended reading, and products. The appendix has other helpful resources such as log sheets and a glycemic index of common foods.
Verdict
Striking a balance between a casual and professional tone, Scheiner presents this material in an approachable manner. For those who want a simple overview of diabetes, The American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes is a better fit. Recommended for public and consumer health libraries, especially those with the first edition.‚ Rebecca Raszewski, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago

Tobbell, Dominique A. Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and Its Consequences. Univ. of California. 2011. c.310p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520271135. $65; pap. ISBN 9780520271142. $26.95. MED
Today’s health-care discussions are full of complaints about Big Pharma’s pricing and marketing practices. Tobbell (history of medicine, Univ. of Minnesota) demonstrates that these arguments are not new; rather, they were central to debates about drug reform in the 1950s and 1960s. This book presents a detailed history of how the drug industry allied with physicians to influence health policy and oppose government regulation of prescription drugs. The first half describes how the pharmaceutical industry built ties to the medical profession after World War II, while the second half discusses how these groups united to oppose government efforts to address drug prices, marketing practices, and generic drugs. They were largely successful by arguing that increased government regulation would reduce innovation and bring the United States closer to socialized medicine‚ approaches that should sound familiar to anyone following current discussions of health reform.
Verdict
Tobbell’s book is well written, evenhanded, and supported by nearly 50 pages of notes citing both primary and secondary sources. By providing historical context for today’s controversies about drug prices and health-care reform, it will be useful to any readers interested or involved in these issues.‚ Janet A. Crum, City of Hope, Duarte, CA

Werner, Florian. Cow: A Bovine Biography. Greystone: Douglas & McIntyre, dist. by PGW. 2012. 240p. tr. by Doris Ecker. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781553655817. pap. $16.95. PETS
Neither a biography of cows as they are today nor in history, this latest book by German writer Werner originally appeared in 2009 as Die Kuh. A literary and cultural history, it presents the cow in fragments, in chapters about its parts, its products, and its activities, such as mooing, ruminating, and being herded. The text also focuses on cow metaphors for human culture and behaviors, frequently sexual. Although well translated, the text relies heavily on German literature and news. Its notes and bibliography depends upon creative works rather than animal science. Agricultural and veterinary insights come mainly from the introduction by Temple Grandin and chapters that reference Grandin and veterinarian Michael Brackmann; the index reflects the scarcity of animal science coverage.
Verdict
Animal lovers curious about cows would be better served by M.R. Montgomery’s A Cow’s Life: The Surprising History of Cattle and How the Black Angus Came To Be Home on the Range. Werner’s title is best suited to an academic audience who seek stories, quotes, and occasional illustrations from literature, art, religion, and myth.‚ Kristine Alpi, North Carolina State Univ. Libs., Raleigh

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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"