Arts & Humanities Reviews | October 15, 2012

starred review starHale, Sheila. Titian: His Life. Harper: HarperCollins. Dec. 2012. c.864p. illus. index. ISBN 9780060598761. $39.99. FINE ARTS

In this monumental book, Hale (The Man Who Lost His Language: A Case of Aphasia) sets forth what may become the definitive biography of Tiziano Vecellio (c.1480–1576), better known as Titian. Following an apprenticeship with fellow Venetian master Giovanni Bellini, Titian painted frescos, altarpieces, mythological stories, portraits, and more over the course of a career spanning seven decades—many of the works for emperors, kings, noblemen, and high-ranking members of the Catholic Church. Hale examines Titian’s life and career within the cultural, economic, political, and social contexts of 16th-century Venice and Italy. As she details his ambitious rise through Venetian society, she also tells the broader story of the artist’s stylistic evolution and the world he lived in. The author examines all the available contemporary accounts of Titian’s life and work, as well as including recent research. VERDICT This impressive, ambitious, scholarly, interdisciplinary, and somewhat overwhelming (because of its size and the breadth of its historical coverage) book straddles academic disciplines, including art history, history, and literature. Strongly recommended.—Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia

Kloester, Jennifer. Georgette Heyer. Sourcebooks. Jan. 2013. c.464p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781402271755. pap. $16.99. LIT

Georgette Heyer published her first novel, The Black Moth, in 1921 when she was 19 years old and published her 56th and last one more than 50 years later. Heyer is recognized today as the creator of the Regency genre of historical fiction. Kloester (Georgette Heyer’s Regency World) contends in this biography based on her PhD thesis that Heyer’s body of work—her historical novels, crime fiction, and especially Regency novels—continues to inspire readers and writers around the world and that her significance in the literary arena endures. With rare access to Heyer’s private papers as well as newly identified letters, Kloester perceptively analyzes Heyer’s novels. Plots, characters, sales figures, and income are detailed as she methodically chronicles the appearance of each novel and reveals the steady progress of Heyer’s rise to best-seller status. Kloester also documents Heyer’s family life, her relationships with business associates, and even her luncheon with Queen Elizabeth II, who described the novelist as “formidable.” VERDICT This well-written, thoroughly researched biography is more detailed than Jane Aiken Hodge’s The Private World of Georgette Heyer. Heyer enthusiasts and readers interested in popular romantic historical fiction or the Regency period of English literature will enjoy this.—Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN

starred review starMcCusker, John. Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz. Univ. of Mississippi. 2012. c.176p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781617036262. $35. MUSIC

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist McCusker (photographer, New Orleans Times-Picayune) delivers a definitive biography of jazz pioneer Edward “Kid” Ory (1886–1973) that chronicles his significance as an artistic innovator (he invented the “tailgate” style of trombone playing, one of the pillars of Dixieland jazz) and as a sideman in the seminal Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five sessions (during which he composed “Muskrat Ramble”). The author creates something beyond the standard chronological biography, masterfully using Ory’s life story to examine themes of race and economic oppression from the sugarcane fields of Ory’s youth to his self-identification as white in later years. (He was born into a mixed-race family.) McCusker buttresses his own research with Ory’s remarkable unpublished autobiography, which contains such gems as a description of a preteen Louis Armstrong sitting in with Ory’s group and the trombonist’s encounters with unrecorded jazz legend Buddy Bolden. This detailed record of Ory’s life challenges many assumptions about the period. VERDICT A well-researched look at an oft-chronicled period, this book uses solid research to dispense with romantic apocrypha. An essential title for any serious popular music collection.—John Frank, Los Angeles P.L.

The following titles are reviewed in the October 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Barter, Judith A. & Monica Obniski. For Kith and Kin: The Folk Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. Art Inst. of Chicago, dist. by Yale Univ. 2012. c.112p. illus. ISBN 9780300179729. $30. DEC ARTS

Fit Men Wanted: Original Posters from the Home Front. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2012. c.128p. illus. ISBN 9780500290552. pap. $29.95. GRAPHIC ARTS

Henry, Tom. The Life and Art of Luca Signorelli. Yale Univ. 2012. 472p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780300179262. $85. FINE ARTS

London, Stacy. The Truth About Style. Viking. Oct. 2012. c.215p. photogs. ISBN 9780670026234. $32.95. DEC ARTS

Travis, David. Karsh: Beyond the Camera. David R. Godine. 2012. c.168p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781567924381. pap. $24.95. PHOTOG

starred review starThe Picasso Project. The Complete Linoleum Cuts: 1939–1968. c.296p. ISBN 9781556603297.

starred review starThe Picasso Project. The Rose Period: 1905–1906. c.368p. ISBN 9781556603280.
ea vol: Alan Wofsy. (Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings, and Sculpture: A Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue 1885–1973). 2012. illus. bibliog. $150. FINE ARTS


Homegrown in Florida. Univ. of Florida. 2012. c.304p. ed. by William McKeen. photogs. ISBN 9780813042053. $24.95. LIT

McNair, Wesley. The Words I Chose: A Memoir of Family and Poetry. Carnegie Mellon, dist. by Cornell Univ. 2012. 184p. photogs. ISBN 9780887485572. pap. $19.95. LIT

The Master, the Modern Major General, and His Clever Wife: Henry James’s Letters to Field Marshal Lord Wolseley and Lady Wolseley, 1878–1913. Univ. of Virginia. Nov. 2012. c.264p. ed. by Alan G. James. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813932354. $50. LIT


Coffin, Lesley L. Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. (Hollywood Legend Series). Nov. 2012. c.224p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781617036378. $35. FILM

Miller, Carol. Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio. Ecco: HarperCollins. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780061845246. $26.99. COMM

Thomson, David. The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies. Farrar. Oct. 2012. c.528p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374191894. $35. FILM


Edmonds, David & Nigel Warburton. Philosophy Bites Back. Oxford Univ. Jan. 2013. c.288p. ISBN 9780199693009. $16.95. PHIL


Arthur, James. Charms Against Lightning. Copper Canyon. Oct. 2012. c.63p. ISBN 9781556593871. pap. $16. pOETRY


Barnes, Jane. Falling in Love with Joseph Smith: My Search for the Real Prophet. Tarcher: Penguin Group (USA). 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781585429257. $25.95. REL

Ehrman, Bart D. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Oxford Univ. Dec. 2012. c.624p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199928033. $39.95. REL

Sacks, Jonathan. The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning. Schocken. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780805243017. $28.95. REL