Social Science Reviews | November 1, 2012


starred review star Lubet, Steven. John Brown’s Spy: The Adventurous Life and Tragic Confession of John E. Cook. Yale Univ. Nov. 2012. c.336p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300180497. $28. BIOG

With a dramatist’s gift for storytelling, Lubet (law, Northwestern Univ.; The Importance of Being Honest: How Lying, Secrecy, and Hypocrisy Collide with Truth in Law) brings to life John E. Cook, a key coconspirator in the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, and the capture and trial of John Brown’s confederates. The particular genius of Lubet’s book is in his accounting of Cook and the other men in Brown’s so-called army, most of whom have been little studied. He also untangles the jurisdictional and legal issues surrounding decisions about how and where Brown and the other captives were tried and shows how Cook’s confession after the raid provided enough specific witness to condemn his compatriots yet not enough to give away the whole conspiracy. Cook’s prominence was brief, as the “martyrdom” of Brown on the gallows eclipsed memory of the others and even redeemed Cook’s seeming betrayal. VERDICT Lubet’s book will not much change the story line on Brown’s raid and its meaning, but it does take readers on a ride through the frantic days surrounding Brown’s raid that will make them “feel” the moment as much as understand it. Recommended.—Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph’s Univ., Philadelphia

starred review star Macfarlane, Robert. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. Viking. 2012. c.448p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780670025114. $27.95. TRAV

Walking is an intimate way to experience a landscape because it proceeds at a pace that lets travelers contemplate nature, history, and self. In his travels around Great Britain and other countries, Macfarlane (English, Univ. of Cambridge; The Wild Places) follows a variety of old paths (called “ways”) on both land and sea, some that date back thousands of years. This highly readable narrative weaves together landscape, local history and myth, art, literature, natural history, ritual, and the internal dialog familiar to any who have spent time alone in nature. The people he meets and the places he visits are luminous and extraordinary in the retelling as Macfarlane explores the idea of place and of self as well as the close relationship between the two. The book closes with a brief biography of fellow path walker and author Edward Thomas (1878–1917), from whom Macfarlane draws inspiration throughout the work. VERDICT The author’s love of the land and his elegant use of metaphor make for a moving book that anyone who loves being part of nature will treasure.—Sheila Kasperek, North Hall Lib., Mansfield Univ. of PA

Allen, Charles. Ashoka: The Search for India’s Lost Emperor. Overlook, dist. by Penguin. 2012. c.460p. illus. index. ISBN 9781468300710. $29.95. HIST

Historian Allen (The Buddha and Dr Führer) has produced a monumental account of the search for a lost and forgotten emperor. British antiquarians of the 18th and 19th centuries were puzzled when they found inscriptions in a forgotten script on rock faces and pillars strewn across the length and breadth of India. With painstaking research spanning two centuries, the pieces finally fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle, and the rock edicts and pillars were deciphered and connected to Emperor Ashoka. Born in the fourth century B.C.E., Ashoka, writes Allen, “forged India into a nation state” and was a “pioneer of nonviolence.” Excavations of archaeological remains of the period are ongoing. This book is as much about the antiquarians—their labors, rivalries, and sometimes serendipitous discoveries—as it is about Emperor Ashoka. VERDICT Well researched with 25 black-and-white photographs, a detailed appendix containing a translation of the rock inscriptions, and extensive notes, this is a fascinating read. Strongly recommended for academic libraries and collections dealing with history, archaeology, Buddhism, and South Asia.—Ravi Shenoy, Naperville, IL

The following titles are reviewed in the November 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Hale, Constance. Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing. Norton. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780393081169. $26.95. COMM

Zhu, Ying. Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Television. New Pr., dist. by Perseus. Nov. 2012. c.304p. index. ISBN 9781595584649. $27.95. COMM


Carey, Brainard. New Markets for Artists: How To Sell, Fund Projects, and Exhibit Using Social Media, DIY Pop-Ups, eBay, Kickstarter, and Much More. Allworth. 2012. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781581159134. pap. $24.95. BUS


Khan, Salman. The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. Twelve: Hachette. 2012. c.261p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781455508389. $26.99. ED


Blight, James G. & Janet M. Lang. The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy/Khrushchev/Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9781442216792. $39.95. HIST

Chaplin, Joyce E. Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit. S. & S. Nov. 2012. c.560p. illus. index. ISBN 9781416596196. $35. HIST

Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Ohio Univ. 2012. c.240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780821420065. $26.95. HIST

Warwick, Sarah. Upstairs and Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey. Carlton, dist. by Sterling. Nov. 2012. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781847327901. $24.95. HIST


Promise Unfulfilled: Juvenile Justice in America. IDEA. 2012. c.256p. ed. by Cathryn Crawford with Lorraine Boissoneault. bibliog. ISBN 9781617700392. pap. $24.95. LAW


Wasserman, James. In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966–1989. Ibis, dist. by Small Press Distribution. 2012. 312p. ISBN 9780892542017. $35. PARAPSYCH


Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. Free Pr: S. & S. Nov. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9781451621372. $25. PSYCH

Jung, C.G. & Hans Schmid-Guisan. The Question of Psychological Types: The Correspondence of C.G. Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan, 1915–1916. Princeton Univ. (Philemon Foundation). Dec. 2012. c.208p. bibliog. index. ed. by John Beebe and Ernst Falzeder. tr. from German by Ernst Falzeder.ISBN 9780691155616. $29.95. PSYCH

Prinz, Jesse. Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind. Norton. Nov. 2012. c.416p. index. ISBN 9780393061758. $29.95. PSYCH

Schneider, Susan M. The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World. Prometheus. Nov. 2012. c.350p. illus. ISBN 9781616146627. pap. $21. PSYCH


Gribbon, Kieron. Ireland’s County High Points: A Walking Guide. c.192p. ISBN 9781848891401. pap. $29.95.

Ryan, Jim. Scenic Walks in Killarney: A Walking Guide. c.96p. ISBN 9781848891463. pap. $17.95. ea. vol.: Collins Pr., dist. by Dufour. 2012. illus. TRAV

National Geographic. World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places. National Geographic Bks. 2012. c.319p. illus. index. ISBN 9781426209598. $40. TRAV