Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, July 6, 2012

Week ending July 6, 2012

starred review starCobb, Charles E., Jr. This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. 2012. 256p. ed. by Leslie G. Kelen. photogs. index. ISBN 9781617031717. $45. PHOTOG
This powerful book portrays the civil rights movement through the eyes of nine remarkably sensitive and courageous photographers who were actively involved in this historic struggle, notably as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). These men and women‚ Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randolph, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama‚ captured the heart and soul of this story of hope and dignity in the face of hostility and violence. The selected 150 black-and-white photos take readers on an unforgettable journey from Freedom Summer and the ensuing years of heartbreak and, ultimately, triumph. Kelen (executive director, Ctr. for Documentary Expression and Arts) organizes the book along four themes: Black Life, Organizing for Freedom, State and Local Terror, and The Meredith March. SNCC veteran Cobb contributes an enlightening text that guides readers through these poignant years. The book concludes with fascinating interviews and biographies of all nine photographers.
Anyone interested in American social history, photography, and the civil rights movement will absolutely love this book. Highly recommended.—Raymond Bial, First Light Photography, Urbana, IL

Davies, Huw J. Wellington’s Wars: The Making of a Military Genius. Yale Univ. Jul. 2012. 336p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300164176. $38. HIST
One’s bookshelves groan with books covering all aspects of the lives of two of history’s greatest opponents: Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. The Iron Duke, victor at Waterloo, lives on in memory as an unbeatable general loved by all and feared by most. Author Davies (defense studies, Kings Coll., London) offers a new analysis of Wellington’s military career‚ one that is accurate yet will undoubtedly be controversial. He examines Wellington the man, who acquired his talent for winning by losing battles in India, running away from the battlefield when things didn’t turn out at all well. Wellington misjudged his opponents, failed to organize his collection of intelligence, and was so arrogant as to disbelieve intelligence when it went against what he wanted to accept as fact. If his brother had not been Governor-General in India at the same time, he probably would have been cashiered. He did, however, learn from his mistakes and acquired the ability to recognize the politics involved in coalition warfare, hence, his ultimate great successes.
This revisionist work, backed up by solid research in contemporary documents, will appeal to both scholars and dedicated readers in British military history and/or the Napoleonic wars.—David Lee Poremba, Windermere, FL

Figes, Kate. Couples: How We Make Love Last. Virago, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Jul. 2012. c.416p. bibliog. ISBN 9781844084708. pap. $14.95. PSYCH
In her latest book, Figes (The Big Fat Bitch Book for Girls) gives space to hundreds of couples from the UK whom she has interviewed about sexuality, romance, children, domestic violence, divorce, and their overall happiness with their spouse. What comes out from these conversations, and from the studies that Figes cites, is that to find happiness and longevity couples must take equal responsibilities for their family. By letting participants talk freely about their relationships, the book satisfies our natural curiosity about the lives of other couples. However, it focuses at great length on the negative aspects of relationships like abuse, divorce, and infidelity (a chapter for each of these topics). Figes includes several gay and lesbian couples among those interviewed.
The book does not offer a romanticized take on relationships but rather a realistic standpoint that admits the many difficulties couples go through. This makes for a sad reading at times and not the uplifting title readers might expect. Recommended for readers interested in self-help but not in sap.—Maryse Breton, Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, Montreal

starred review starHarrington, Daniel F. Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War. Univ. Pr. of Kentucky. 2012. c.504p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813136134. $40. HIST
Countless studies of the 1948-49 Berlin airlift have appeared over the past 60 years, but all previous work pales in comparison with Harrington’s remarkable study. Harrington (deputy command historian, U.S. Strategic Command) has spent the past three decades conducting multiarchival research in his quest to understand the complexities of the events that transpired in postwar Berlin during the second half of 1948 and first half of 1949 when the Allies conducted a massive airlift of supplies to that beleaguered city. According to Harrington (who has probably read every memo, primary document, and report produced by the participants), the Allies had not given much thought to the possibility that the Soviets would actually cut Berlin off from the rest of the world. When Stalin blocked ground access to the city in order to force the Allies to suspend their plans for a united West Germany, he evidently did not consider that the West would use its air force as a way to break his blockade. Harrington’s history of these tense months is without equal in the quality of its scholarship and interpretative framework and will certainly become the standard historical work on this well-known event.
Essential for both specialists and interested general readers.—Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

Hayes, David L., M.D. & others. Understanding Your Pacemaker or Defibrillator: What Patients and Families Need To Know. Cardiotext. 2012. 169p. ISBN 9781935395553. pap. $18.95. HEALTH
Hayes (medicine, Coll. of Medicine, Mayo Clinic), certified cardiac device specialist Rebecca S. Fallon, and cardiac device patient Matthew D. Noble (One Beat at a Time: Living with Sudden Cardiac Death) focus directly on what readers need to know to make the decision to have and live with an ICD (implantable cardiac device), CRT (cardiac resynchronization therapy), or a pacemaker. This expert layered approach covers the hardware and technology itself and the anatomy of the heart, as well as the intangible emotional consequences. The text is readable, accessible, and impartial without being overwhelming. Each chapter tackles a particular area that each patient or caregiver will experience. Of note are sections that offer basic heart anatomy and (dys)function, questions to ask health professionals, an explanation of the procedures, follow-up care, possible complications, and how to live with the device, including how to deal with anxiety and depression and how to trust the device and become accustomed to living permanently with it. Extensive footnotes that include citations of relevant medical articles, a glossary, a list of online patient resources, and a detailed index add to the book’s usefulness.
As a consumer-oriented book on this topic, this title, written by an educated team dedicated to thoroughness, is unique. Recommended.—Elizabeth J. Eastwood, Los Alamos Cty. Lib. Syst., NM

Jackson, Kevin. Chronicles of Old London: Exploring England’s Historic Capital. Museyon Guides. 2012. 288p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780984633432. pap. $19.95. TRAV
Another in Museyon’s Chronicles series (Chronicles of Old New York), in this book London writer Jackson provides 30 stories of the city, starting with Boudicca’s revolt around 60 C.E. and ending with Prince William’s marriage in the present day. These vignettes cover a variety of historical and cultural figures from the Sex Pistols to Bloody Mary. In addition to the historical sketches, the volume presents nine walking tours with maps, photographs, and descriptions of sights along the way. Photographs and illustrations are numerous (over 450) and provide a visual backdrop that further highlights the content. There are no listings of places to stay or information on museum hours; this title is best as a supplement to a traditional guide. The numerous detailed neighborhood maps in the walking tours section will be especially useful.
A helpful and pleasant read for travelers looking for historical background and a few walking tours for a London trip. Interesting and fun to read, the book mixes light history with contemporary details.—Louise Feldmann, Colorado State Univ. Libs., Fort Collins

Soering, Jens. One Day in the Life of 179212: Notes from an American Prison. Lantern. Jul. 2012. c.176p. ISBN 9781690563458. pap. $18. CRIME
Soering’s memoir, like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, describes a single day in the medium-security prison where he is likely to spend the rest of his life. Life without parole has replaced the death penalty as the most severe sentence in many states and is an increasingly familiar part of the American criminal justice system. Understandably, the memoir is full of first-person commentary on that system. However, the most compelling part of the book is Soering’s explanations of why he is in prison at all. In 1986, he was arrested with his girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom for the murder of her parents. But is he guilty? Nothing connected Soering to the crime except for Haysom’s word. Originally an exchange student from Germany, Soering and his case have become a cause célèbre both here and abroad. Charges of inadequate counsel, political gaming, and withholding critical information have been made and are still unresolved.
The book should appeal to anyone interested in the U.S. criminal justice system, and Soering’s personal story in particular will strike a chord with readers of true crime.—Frances Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY

Talty, Stephan. Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2012. c.320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547614816. $28. HIST
Acting on his own, furious at the fascists of the Spanish Civil War, poultry farmer Juan Pujol sought to work for the British in World War II but was rebuffed. Not to be deterred, he sought acceptance as an agent for the Germans, who accepted him as a pro-Nazi operative. The British then accepted him as a double agent, Agent Garbo, and he fooled the Germans with a supposed network of informants in the UK. Meanwhile, the British had turned him into the centerpiece of the multifaceted efforts in 1944 to deceive the Germans as to the date and location of Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion. Employing archival material and interviews, Talty (Empire of Blue Water) gives readers a popular account of Agent Garbo’s vital work, with details of dangerous espionage and stressful daily life in wartime Spain and England, along with the ironic humor that one finds in wartime. Talty, rather briefly, follows Pujol’s life after the war.
This work complements Pujol’s own book, written with Nigel West, Operation Garbo (1986) and is recommended for a new generation of espionage and World War II intelligence buffs.—Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL

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"