Social Sciences Reviews

starred review star Borman, Tracy. Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I. Bantam. Apr. 2012. c.336p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780553808148. $30. BIOG

Borman (chief executive, Heritage Education Trust; Elizabeth’s Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen) traces the life of the important but often forgotten Matilda of Flanders (1031‚ 83). While women at this time played solely a background role in social and political spheres, Borman argues that Matilda showed great agency both before her marriage to William the Conqueror and during her time as Duchess of Normandy and Queen of England. Drawing from contemporaneous chronicles and legal documents, Borman creates a vivid portrait of a strong woman who was not at all uncomfortable delving into the antagonistic and decidedly masculine realm of court politics. Further, she contends that Matilda’s refined presence as queen helped calm the newly conquered English and assisted in providing a smooth transition for the Norman dynasty in England, as her haughty lineage‚ she was, after all, granddaughter of the King of France‚ made up for her husband’s well-known illegitimacy. VERDICT A highly useful work that sheds light on the life of a surprisingly obscure but important figure in English history. As Borman suggests, Matilda did perhaps serve as an exemplar for later authoritative queens such as Elizabeth I and Victoria.‚ Brian Renvall, Mesalands Community Coll., Tucumcari, NM

starred review star Rappaport, Helen. A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy. St. Martin’s. 2012. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312621056. $26.99. BIOG

Rappaport’s (The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg) book is a revelation, presenting the story behind Queen Victoria’s relationship with her beloved Consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Whereas historically Victoria was known as a steadfast, confident queen from the beginning of her reign in 1837, this well-researched study shows otherwise: it was Albert who actually ran the empire, directing a pliant Victoria and usurping her role as monarch. Though a sickly man prone to stomach ailments, he never allowed his illnesses to keep him from performing the duties of a head of state. Only upon Albert’s death in late 1861 was Victoria allowed to emerge, assuming the strength and spirit of her late and much-mourned husband for the following four decades of her reign. Rappaport has revealed the true commanding presence of Albert: strong father, dictatorial husband, and king without the title‚ going so far as to describe the period as Albertian rather than Victorian, a powerful and startling statement. VERDICT This riveting biography, which draws on documents previously overlooked, is a work of scholarship that would enhance any collection. Recommended for all readers of historical royal biography or 19th-century British history.‚ Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin P.L., IL

starred review star Parry, Richard Lloyd. People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo‚ and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up. Farrar. Jun. 2012. c.464p. photogs. ISBN 9780374230593. pap. $16. CRIME

This true crime tale reads like a novel, but few of its fictional counterparts have this much insight into murder cases and the psychology of the people involved. Foreign correspondent and author Parry (Tokyo bureau chief, The Times; In the Time of Madness: Indonesia on the Edge of Chaos) tells the story of Lucie Blackman, a young Englishwoman who mysteriously disappeared in Japan in 2000. He vividly captures the atmosphere and culture of Tokyo, where Blackman lived before she disappeared, and tells of her family’s excruciating attempts to find answers and the bizarre trial of the man accused of her brutal murder. Parry remains objective but writes sympathetically of all involved. He delves into the lives of members of the victim’s family as well as of the accused man, adding layer upon layer of complexity to an already complicated case. VERDICT Parry’s prose is reminiscent of true crime greats Truman Capote and Vincent Bugliosi. This well-written story, likely to elicit tears and even nightmares from readers, is recommended for all who enjoy true crime, thrillers, and cross-cultural narratives.‚ Ryan Claringbole, Chesapeake P.L., VA

The following titles are reviewed in the April 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Aldrich, Robert. Gay Lives. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. Apr. 2012. 304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500251904. $29.95. BIOG

starred review star Cohen, Rich. The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King. Farrar. Jun. 2012. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374299279. $27. BIOG

Kaplan, Alice. Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2012. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780226424385. $26. BIOG

Kierner, Cynthia A. Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times. Univ. of North Carolina. May 2012. c.376p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807835524. $35. BIOG

Updegrove, Mark K. Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency. Crown. 2012. c.400p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307887719. $27. BIOG

Wilson, A.N. Hitler. Basic Bks: Perseus. Apr. 2012. c.240p. bibliog. ISBN 9780465031283. $24.99. BIOG

starred review star Zimmerman, Jean. Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance. Houghton Harcourt. 2012. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780151014477. $26. BIOG


Groth, Janet. The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker. Algonquin. Jun. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781616201319. $19.95. COMM


Doctoroff, Tom. What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and China’s Modern Consumer. Palgrave Macmillan. May 2012. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780230340305. $27. COMMERCE

Hoffman, Bryce G. American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight To Save Ford Motor Company. Crown. 2012. c.432p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307886057. $26. BUS

Roberts, Alasdair. America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837. Cornell Univ. Apr. 2012. c.264p. illus. index. ISBN 9780801450334. $26. ECON


Delbanco, Andrew. College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. Princeton Univ. Apr. 2012. c.240p. index.ISBN 9780691130736. $24.95. ED


Goodwin, George. Fatal Colours: Towton 1461; England’s Most Brutal Battle. Norton. Apr. 2012. c.288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393080841. $27.95. HIST

starred review star Jackson, Joe. Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race To Cross the Atlantic. Farrar. May 2012. c.544p.
illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374106751. $30. HIST

Kriwaczek, Paul. Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. c.320p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781250000071. $27.99. HIST

Pagnamenta, Peter. Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830 1890. Norton. Jun. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780393072396. $27.95. HIST

Powell, Lawrence N. The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans. Harvard Univ. 2012. c.430p. illus. index. ISBN 9780674059870. $29.95. HIST

Raphael, Ray. Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive. Knopf. 2012. c.336p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307595270. $27.95. HIST

starred review star Smith, P.D. City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Jun. 2012. c.352p. illus. index. ISBN 9781608196760. $40. HIST

starred review star Ward, Geoffrey C. A Disposition To Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor’s Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States. Knopf. May 2012. c.432p. photogs. bibliog. index.
ISBN 9780679445302. $28.95. HIST

Law & Crime

Armstrong, Michael. They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption. Columbia Univ. Jun. 2012. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780231153546. $29.50. CRIME


Carpenter, James C. First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life. Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. c.480p. index. ISBN 9781442213906. $39.95. PARAPSYCH

Political Science

Bengio, Ofra. The Kurds of Iraq: Building a State Within a State. Lynne Rienner. Apr. 2012. c.350p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781588268365. $68.50. INT AFFAIRS

Clift, Eleanor & Matthew Spieler. Selecting a President. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. (Fundamentals of American Government). May 2012. c.208p. index. ISBN 9781250004499. $19.99. POL SCI

Owen, Roger. The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life. Harvard Univ. May 2012. c.272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674065833. $24.95. POL SCI

Peritz, Aki & Eric Rosenbach. Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns That Killed Bin Laden and Devastated al-Qaeda. PublicAffairs: Perseus. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9781610391283. $27.99. INT AFFAIRS

starred review star Popkin, Samuel L. The Candidate: What It Takes To Win‚ and Hold‚ the White House. Oxford Univ. May 2012. c.360p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199922079. $27.95. POL SCI

Sollenberger, Mitchel A. & Mark J. Rozell. The President’s Czars: Undermining Congress and the Constitution. Univ. of Kansas. (Studies in Government and Public Policy). Apr. 2012. c.356p. index. ISBN 9780700618354. $39.95; pap. ISBN 9780700618361. $24.95. POL SCI


starred review star Bateson, John. The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. Univ. of California. Apr. 2012. c.328p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520272408. $29.95. PSYCH

Baumgartner, Jennifer. You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You. Da Capo. 2012. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780738215204. pap. $16. PSYCH

Finland, Glen. Next Stop: A Memoir. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Apr. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780399158605. $25.95. PSYCH

Likens, Aaron. Finding Kansas: Living and Decoding Asperger’s Syndrome. Perigee: Berkley. Apr. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780399537332. pap. $16. PSYCH

Segal, Nancy L. Born Together‚ Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study. Harvard Univ. Jun. 2012. c.416p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780674055469. $49.95. PSYCH

Social Sciences

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2012. c.272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547391403. $24. SOC SCI

Here Come the Brides! Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage. Seal: Perseus. 2012. c.448p. ed. by Audrey Bilger & Michele Kort. illus. ISBN 9781580053921. pap. $17. SOC SCI

Hochschild, Arlie Russell. The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times. Metropolitan: Holt. May 2012. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780805088892. $27. SOC SCI

Willerslev, Rane. On the Run in Siberia. Univ. of Minnesota. May 2012. c.240p. tr. from Danish by Coilín √ìhAiseadha. illus.

ISBN 9780816676262. $60; pap. ISBN 9780816676279. $19.95. SOC SCI

Travel & Geography

Everton, Macduff. The Modern Maya: Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán. Univ. of Texas. 2012. c.368p. photogs. ISBN 9780292726932. $50. TRAV