Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, June 29, 2012

Week ending June 29, 2012

Diamond, Becky Libourel. Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School. Westholme. 2012. c.296p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 97811594161575. $26. ED
Freelance writer Diamond has written a fascinating book about Eliza Goodfellow, a widow living in early 19th-century Philadelphia who owned a very successful bakery, ran the nation’s first cooking school, and maybe made the first lemon meringue pie. Diamond’s book gathers letters, research, old recipe books, and the diaries of Goodfellow’s students to reconstruct the woman and her world as well as the classes she taught‚ surprisingly, many young ladies saw it as a tedious requirement. Perhaps Goodfellow’s most well-known student was Eliza Leslie, who went on to write many popular cookbooks, and Diamond uses material from Leslie’s journals and recipe books to re-create the feel of being in one of Goodfellow’s courses. After placing Goodfellow’s school in the context of the American culinary landscape, Diamond goes on to examine the development of cooking schools as commercial enterprises in other areas of the Northeast.
Diamond’s book fills a large gap in American culinary history. Full of well-cited research, this book is easy to read and will appeal to anyone interested in cookery or early American history.— Carolyn M. Schwartz, Westfield State Univ. Lib., MA

Ferguson, Andy. Tracking Bodhidharma: A Journey to the Heart of Chinese Culture. Counterpoint. 2012. c.288p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781582438252. $26. TRAV
In this travelog, Ferguson (Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters & Their Teachings) traces the journey of the fifth-century first patriarch of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma, across China from Guangzhou, where he first landed, to Shanghai, where he purportedly died at the Thousand Saints Temple. Along the way, Ferguson examines contemporary Chinese culture, lamenting that many historical sites have given way to commercial enterprise. In exploring the authenticity of the legendary meeting between Emperor Wu of Liang and Bodhidharma, Ferguson examines the power struggle between the Chinese court and the Buddhist sect as well as the differences between the southern and northern schools of the religion. Of particular interest is his description of the layout of a traditional Zen temple, accompanied by an explanation of Zen Buddhist psychology.
Armchair travelers curious about the history of Zen Buddhism and religious tourism will find Ferguson’s work a treat.— Victor Or, Surrey Libs. & Vancouver P.L., BC

Goldberg, Abbie E. Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood. New York Univ. Jul. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814732243. pap. $22. PSYCH
The traditional nuclear family is in flux, and perhaps nothing illustrates that better than gay adoptive families. Goldberg (psychology, Clark Univ.; Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle) writes that gay adoptive fathers destabilize several key assumptions about family because they challenge the idea of biological family and traditional gender roles. As part of her research, she interviewed 70 gay men at various points in the adoption process with the aim of encouraging awareness of society’s heteronormative ideas of family. The book covers the experiences related to choosing parenthood, negotiating work and family, and dealing with legal issues.
While the book will be of primary interest to scholars in family or gender studies, readers in social work or legal studies may have something to gain from the personal insights collected within. Prospective gay parents should be directed to other sources for how-to-adopt information, but anyone interested in a research-based account of nontraditional family life will be well served by Goldberg’s study.‚ Mindy Rhiger, Mackin Educational Resources, Minneapolis

Peck, Robert McCracken & Patricia Tyson Stroud (text) with Rosamond Purcell (photogs). A Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Making of American Science. Univ. of Pennsylvania. 2012. c.438p. illus. index. ISBN 9780812243802. $75. SCI
This oversized volume is the Academy of Natural Sciences’ celebration of its bicentennial, a reminder that it’s the oldest natural history museum in the Western hemisphere. (It must now put at Drexel University at the end of its name owing to a new collaboration.) As self-celebrations go, this one is made great by its wonderful array of images, both historical and newly taken by photographer Purcell. However, the captions to the images, new and old, are inconsistent, leaving readers ignorant in many cases of when particular pieces were collected or where. Purcell’s photographs celebrate the original 19th-century labels and housing for many of the specimens as much as they do the pieces themselves‚ a meaningful tribute to the ongoing historical value of such components. The text by Peck (curator, art & artifacts, Academy of Natural Sciences; coauthor, with Valerie Bramwell, All in the Bones: A Biography of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins) and Stroud (The Man Who Had Been King: The American Exile of Napoleon’s Brother Joseph) is a chronological narrative of the academy’s history.
As the academy has been involved in much scientific exploration, there’s a lot that will interest history-of-science aficionados if they’re willing to make their way through some less gripping institutional details as well. A handsome volume that should be in all serious collections on the history of the natural sciences.— Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal

Prothero, Stephen. The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation. HarperOne: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. 544p. index. ISBN 9780062123435. $29.99. POL SCI
Prothero’s (religion, Boston Univ.; Religious Literacy: What Americans Need To Know) latest offering is a look at the ways in which the major documents and speeches in our nation’s history relate to or have developed from other founding documents. In sections named after parts of the Old and the New Testament, Prothero presents a particular document (e.g., John Winthrop’s A Model of Christian Charity, the words to The Star-Spangled Banner, Maya Lin on her Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, etc. ), then provides an annotated version of the document itself, and follows this up with commentary showing how subsequent notables, whether U.S. presidents, U.S. historians, or cultural critics, have made use of and/or interpreted the document. Readers are thus introduced to some of the most prolific, controversial, and iconic leaders and authors in American history. Prothero aims to reopen discourse on the defining issues and ideas that have been both divisive and uniting across our nation’s history.
Recommended for anyone interested in understanding and discussing the effects of foundational doctrines in American culture.— Tamela Chambers, Chicago Pub. Schs.

starred review starRead, D. Shane. Winning at Deposition. Westway. Aug. 2012. c.268p. ISBN 9780985027179. pap. $69.95. LAW
Assistant U. S. Attorney Read (Winning at Trial) has written a primer on the art and science of depositions designed to help both newer and more experienced attorneys. He accomplishes this by sharing fundamentals and subtle points gleaned from his years of experience. Using the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as a guide and actual case law as examples, Read offers material on how to take depositions, prepare witnesses, deal with experts, manage problems at deposition, and use depositions at trial. Practical tips highlighted in the text address such key skills as coping with opposing counsel interruptions, challenging the assumptions of expert witnesses, and properly impeaching a witness. Actual transcripts of depositions from high-profile cases that include Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson illustrate in-the-trenches techniques and strategy and add interest.
By smartly pairing printed text with online videos of common deposition situations on a companion website, this title sets itself apart from books like Albert Moore and Paul Bergman’s Nolo’s Deposition Handbook. An excellent instructive tool for practicing trial lawyers and those in training.— Joan Pedzich, formerly with Harris Beach PLLC, Pittsford, NY

Williams, Heather Andrea. Help Me To Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. Univ. of North Carolina. (John Hope Franklin Series in African American History & Culture). Jun. 2012. 272p. ed. by Waldo E. Martin Jr. & Patricia Sullivan. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807835548. $30. HIST
Inspired by information wanted advertisements that African Americans placed in newspapers to find loved ones after the Civil War, Williams (history, Univ. of North Carolina‚ Chapel Hill; Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom) examines the emotional and psychological effects of separation and reunion on both free and enslaved African Americans. Using primary sources including slave narratives, letters, extant interviews, and public records, Williams places families’ feelings of loss, grief, fear, anger, and hope in a historical framework. The first part of the book explores the separation of parents and children and husbands and wives as well as white attitudes toward the division of slave families. The second section describes the attempts at reunion by both freemen/women and slaves. Williams ends the work by considering narratives, both fictional and real, of reunions and provides an epilog on how genealogical research can help families start to heal some of the loss wrought by slavery.
Verdict An important addition to African American history collections.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston


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"