Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, September 7, 2012

Week ending September 7, 2012

Anderson, Nicole D. & others. Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Guide to Maximizing Brain Health and Reducing Risk of Dementia. Oxford Univ. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780199764822. $21.95. MED
All part of Baycrest, a geriatric facility affiliated with the University of Toronto, senior scientist Anderson, clinical neuropsychologist Kelly J. Murphy, and cognitive health program director Angela K. Troyer want to help manage the increasing number of people who, living longer, are at great risk of developing cognitive problems. They provide much needed information about the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as well as the potential of MCI progressing to Alzheimer’s. Though scholarly in tone, the book clearly and completely describes current accepted practices of diagnosing, managing, and reducing the risk for MCI; the descriptions of the role that anxiety and depression play in MCI are particularly helpful to understanding this condition. The authors incorporate current research findings, explain research principles, and discuss what is now known and unknown about MCI. Chapters on how to improve memory function will be useful to all readers and of great interest to those aged 60 and above.
This book’s most significant contribution is that is helps fill the chasm between books geared toward academics and those for patients or caregivers. Recommended.—Fran Mentch, Cleveland State Univ.

Dobbin, Claire. London Underground Maps: Art, Design and Cartography. Ashgate. 2012. 136p. illus. ISBN 9781848221048. $70. GRAPHIC ARTS
Beautifully designed and executed and lavishly illustrated, this book carefully delineates the history of the London Underground’s maps, their influence on design and art, and their practical use as a public service. Beginning in 1900 and working through the lovely geographically oriented illustrated maps of MacDonald Gill, Dobbin (senior curator, London Transport Museum) illuminates and emphasizes the significance of Harry Beck’s iconic diagrammatic maps, the first of which appeared in 1933. Beck’s design set the standard for metropolitan transport maps well beyond London, and the clean, useful, and immediately recognizable design has become a common feature on T-shirts, posters, and a wide variety of collectibles, some of which are shown in this book. On a more serious note, Beck’s shift to a more abstract design is explored in the context of mapping and the visual representation of information.
Much more than a novelty book, this volume will appeal to students of design, map lovers, Anglophiles, and history buffs, as well as to casual readers looking for a handsome coffee-table book to browse.—Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

McClusky, Pamela & others. Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art. Yale Univ. 2012. c.176p. illus. ISBN 9780300180039. $50. FINE ARTS
If Western audiences are sophisticated enough to recognize the accuracy (and beauty) of Chinese brush paintings of vertical limestone mountains wreathed in clouds or Cezanne’s fractured views of Mont Sainte-Victoire, then it’s time they try to see how the original inhabitants of Australia have depicted their life and landscape. The exhibition catalog of the Kaplan & Levi collection of Australian Aboriginal art currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum, this book carefully examines dozens of drawings and paintings by Australian artists and compares their motifs to the physical and psychological worlds of the continent. McClusky (curator, African & Oceanic art, Seattle Art Museum) and three fellow curators create a pathway for readers to begin to understand the metaphorical meaning of the artworks. Though all of the works are stunning as simple abstractions, each is a conscious depiction of physical space and real life either past or present. The full-color illustrations are accompanied by a page of text providing a clear explanation of the imagery used and its meaning.
This visually rich exploration of Aboriginal art will appeal both to the art world and the interested reader.—David McClelland, Andover, NY

McFarland, Philip. Mark Twain and the Colonel: Samuel L. Clemens, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Arrival of a New Century. Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. c.456p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442212268. $28. HIST
Author McFarland (Hawthorne in Concord) succeeds in his purpose of portraying the similarities and differences between two iconic American personages as they responded to the issues of their day—imperialism, racism, corporations, and the end of America’s westward movement—during the period from 1890 until Mark Twain’s death in 1910. Lyrically written and unobtrusively annotated, this book of musings on episodes in the lives of two lovers of language, both proficient in several European tongues, who embodied much of their country’s culture at the dawn of the 20th century, also includes several other individuals of note. Among them are Booker T. Washington, Andrew Carnegie, and H.H. Rogers of Standard Oil, whose business acumen Twain greatly admired. Based largely on secondary rather than primary sources, the book may surprise some with the comment that the skeptical Twain and the optimistic Roosevelt privately disliked each other. Both were noted travelers, often touring the lecture circuit. Twain spent nearly all of the 1890s (and some time thereafter) residing in Europe where, after business mishaps, he claimed he could live more cheaply.
Verdict Recommended for aficionados of turn-of-the-20th-century American literature and history, especially the general reader.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Lib. of Congress

Muller, Richard A. Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines. Norton. 2012. c.288p. photogs. ISBN 9780393081619. $26.95. SCI
Muller (physics, Univ. of California, Berkeley; The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide) here takes many aspects of the oversensationalized energy industry and boils them down for easy consumption and understanding. While its title suggests Muller’s target audience is only political aspirants, this book will help anyone to make energy policy decisions. Covering natural gas, nuclear power, solar, wind, wave, and fuel cells, as well as many others, Muller shares his own opinion on each energy source, then explains himself with the science and calculations that led him to those opinions. Each chapter begins with a brief overview of the source and the most pertinent information about it, helpful for those without time to read the more in-depth explanations that follow. Muller recognizes that some of his conclusions may not be popular, and his self-awareness makes this book entertaining as well as informative.
A more accurate title would be Energy Policy for Everyone; recommended for anyone interested in energy sources, whether they’re making decisions for their home or a nation. The science is easy to follow, and the prose flows along with it.—Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology, Portland

Rollyson, Carl. Dana Andrews: Hollywood Enigma. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. (Hollywood Legends). Sept. 2012. c.352p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781604735673. $35. FILM
Dana Andrews (1909–92) was an overlooked, underrated actor, despite performances in classic 1940s films such as The Best Years of Our Lives, Laura, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Elia Kazan’s Boomerang! Rollyson (journalist, Baruch Coll., CUNY; Biography: A User’s Guide) describes Andrews as a master at portraying “conflicted emotion,” whose adoption of a “male mask” made him ideally suited to film noir. Unfortunately, this mask also concealed his addiction to alcohol, which increasingly limited his career, ultimately leading to parts in shoddy B-films, dinner theater, and even a role in a television soap opera. Rollyson tells a sympathetic account of a decent, hardworking actor who championed liberal causes (though his minister father supported the Ku Klux Klan), fought Hollywood’s blacklist, and brought reforms in his stint as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Finally, with great effort, Andrews overcame alcoholism and served as an advocate and public face for education and understanding of this debilitating illness.
Drawing on access to Andrews’s family and his extensive personal archives, this biography provides an admiring but unflinching look at Andrews’s life and career. Recommended for fans of Hollywood’s Golden Age. [This is the Turner Classic Movie channel’s September Book of the Month.—Ed.]—Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA

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"