Social Sciences Reviews, Sept. 1, 2012

starred review starPantsov, Alexander V. with Steven I. Levine. Mao: The Real Story. S & S. Oct. 2012. c.768p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451654479. $35. BIOG

Pantsov (history & political science, Capital Univ., OH; The Bolsheviks and the Chinese Revolution 1919–1927) put decades of research into his comprehensive 2007 Russian-language biography of Mao, here translated and adapted by Levine (senior research assoc., Maureen & Mike Mansfield Ctr., Univ. of Montana; China’s Bitter Victory), himself the author of key studies on the Chinese revolution. Pantsov not only synthesizes Chinese, Russian, American, and European sources and scholarship but also delves into Moscow’s previously closed inner-party files on the Communist Party of China going back to the 1920s, which are stunning in their personal and organizational reporting. China scholars now will have to reassess every element of Mao’s career, both his strategies, which were indispensable to revolutionary success, as well as his dependence on Soviet leader Stalin. More important than Pantsov and Levine’s scholarly chops, however, is that they spin a balanced and utterly compelling story larded with telling and often newly uncovered anecdotes about Mao’s family, wives, comrades, rivals, and victims. The common sense of the authors’ judgments on Mao’s crimes and achievements builds on their insights into Mao’s complex personality (and, yes, sex life). VERDICT One of the most important China books of recent years and a page-turner, too. [See Prepub Alert, 4/30/12.]—Charles W. Hayford, Evanston, IL

starred review starChamberlain, Ava. The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Madness, and Murder in the Family of Jonathan Edwards. New York Univ. Oct. 2012. c.264p. illus. index. ISBN 9780814723722. $27.95. HIST

Chamberlain (religion, Wright State Univ.), an expert on religion in Colonial America, beautifully displays her expertise in this microhistory about Puritan goodwife Elizabeth Tuttle, the paternal grandmother of theologian Jonathan Edwards. The author presents the history of Tuttle’s family and the family she married into and points to the intense stress caused by the murder of Tuttle’s sister Sarah by her brother to explain why Tuttle and another sister, Mercy, became mentally unstable. Chamberlain posits that such circumstances led to Mercy’s killing her oldest son and to Tuttle herself being unfaithful to her husband—or so he alleged in court during their lengthy, bitter divorce. Nineteenth-century eugenicists cast Tuttle as Edwards’s crazy grandmother, a taint on the pristine Edwards family. Chamberlain paints a more human and sympathetic portrait. She condenses an immense amount of information into a relatively short book, with extensive notes showcasing the depth of research. The lack of a written record by Tuttle herself is a drawback, but Chamberlain uses the many other primary sources surrounding Tuttle’s life to flesh out the narrative. VERDICT This is a lovely book that will appeal to all readers intrigued by American history, women’s history, gender studies, or religious studies.—Crystal Goldman, San Jose St. Univ. Lib., CA

starred review starThomas, Evan. Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle To Save the World. Little, Brown. Sept. 2012. c.432p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316091046. $29.99. HIST

President Eisenhower has enjoyed sustained attention in the past few years (e.g., in Jean Edward Smith’s Eisenhower in War and Peace, among others). Now Thomas (journalism, Princeton Univ.; The War Lovers) has produced yet another valuable examination of Eisenhower as a crafty politician who navigated the treacherous waters of the early Cold War period with guile and cleverness, using the same competitive skills he displayed in his bridge and poker games to keep the peace with America’s intransigent foes. Thomas’s narrative is filled with insights, and his sources—both primary and secondary—are impressive. He depicts Eisenhower as a leader who had seen up close the destruction of war and who was committed to keeping the world from descending into another world war. He was distrustful of what he famously termed the military-industrial complex and labored to keep that burgeoning relationship in check. His youthful successor learned the hard way what Eisenhower intuitively knew: that if the United States enters a conflict, it needs to make sure it can win, a hard truth Americans have had to learn more than once since Eisenhower left office. VERDICT An important and well-written book; a valuable addition to any U.S. history or political science collection. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/12.]—Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

The following titles are reviewed in the September print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Goodman, Rob & Jimmy Soni. Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2012. 384p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312681234. $26.99. BIOG

Harwood, Craig S. & Gary B. Fogel. Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West. Univ. of Oklahoma. Nov. 2012. c.256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780806142647. $29.95. BIOG

Meacham, Jon. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Random. Nov. 2012. c.800p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400067664. $35. BIOG

Smokov, Mark T. He Rode with Butch and Sundance: The Story of Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan. Univ. of North Texas. 2012. c.464p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781574414707. $29.95. BIOG

Unger, Harlow Giles. John Quincy Adams. Da Capo. Sept. 2012. c.400p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780306821295. $27.50. BIOG


Povich, Lynn. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. PublicAffairs. Sept. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610391733. $25.99. COMM


Gleeson-White, Jane. Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance. Norton. Oct. 2012. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393088960. $25.95. ECON

Marshall, Alex. The Surprising Design of Market Economies. Univ. of Texas. Sept. 2012. c.274p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780292717770. $25. ECON

Mohn, Liz. Key Moments: Experiences in a Dedicated Life. Crown Business. 2012. c.208p. ISBN 9780770436018. $23. bus


Chertavian, Gerald. A Year Up: How a Pioneering Program Teaches Young Adults Real Skills for Real Jobs with Real Success. Viking. 2012. c.368p. index. ISBN 9780670023776. $26.95. educ


Ackroyd, Peter. Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors. Vol. 1. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2012. c.496p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250003614. $29.99. HIST

Bizot, François. Facing the Torturer. Knopf. Oct. 2012. c.224p. tr. from French by Charlotte Mandell & Antoine Audouard. ISBN 9780307273505. $25. HIST

McPherson, James M. War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861 1865. Univ. of North Carolina. Sept. 2012. c.304p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807835883. $35. HIST

starred review star The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Oct. 2012. c.640p. ed. by John Stauffer & Zoe Trodd. index. ISBN 9780674048850. $39.95. HIST


Baker, H. Robert. Prigg v. Pennsylvania: Slavery, The Supreme Court, and the Ambivalent Constitution. Univ. of Kansas. (Landmark Law Cases and American
Society.) Oct. 2012. c.216p. index. ISBN 9780700618644. $34.95; pap. ISBN 9780700618651. $16.95. LAW

starred review starHopwood, Shon & Dennis Burke. Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption. Crown. 2012. c.320p. illus. ISBN 9780307887832. $25. CRIME

Schechter, Harold. Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of. Ballantine. 2012. c.400p. illus. index. ISBN 9780345524478. pap. $20. CRIME

Stillman, Deanne. Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History. Nation: Perseus. 2012. c.320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781568586083. $26. CRIME


Kahn, Jeffrey P. Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2012. c.304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199796441. $34.95. PSYCH

starred review starSacks, Oliver. Hallucinations. Knopf. Nov. 2012. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307957245. $26.95. PSYCH


Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory. Indiana Univ. (The Modern Jewish Experience.) Oct. 2012. c.448p. ed. by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett & Jeffrey Shandler. ISBN 9780253006615. $80; pap. ISBN 9780523007391. $29. SOC SCI

Lee, Martin A. Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational , and Scientific. Scribner. 2012. c.528p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439102602. $35. SOC SCI

Mendoza, Louis G. A Journey Around Our America: A Memoir on Cycling, Immigration, and the Latinoization of the U.S. Univ. of Texas. Sept. 2012. c.234p. photogs. maps. ISBN 9780292742086. $55; pap. ISBN 9780292743878. $25. SOC SCI