Nonfiction Previews, Jun. 2013, Pt. 1: Cutting-Edge Social/Political Titles To Stir Discussion

Angel, Katherine. Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult To Tell. Farrar. Jun. 2103. 304p. ISBN 9780374280406. $26. SOCIAL SCIENCE/WOMEN’S STUDIES
In her discussion of female sexual desire, Angel draws on personal experience, but this is hardly memoir. A postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine at Warwick University in England, Angel brings in her studies of sex as an academic to offer a considered exploration of the tension between masculine and feminine, self and society, and what women say they want vs. what they privately desire. Already making waves in the U.K., where Angel is attaining a Germaine Greer–like rep; decidedly great for debate (so the reading group guide is a plus).

Corchado, Alfredo. Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jun. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781594204395. $27.95. MEMOIR
A Neiman, Wilson, and Rockefeller fellow, the Mexico bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News, and the recipient of several awards for his courageous reporting, Corchado has covered government corruption, violence in Juarez, and, of course, the drug cartels. But then he received a tip that really demanded investigation: a dangerous paramilitary group that controls drug routes in northern Mexico had reportedly targeted him for murder. Corchado’s personal account (starting with his being raised in California after his parents fled north) conveys dark truths about our increasingly violent neighbor and therefore bears reading.

Fagan, Brian. The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781608196920. $30. SCIENCE
Emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of best sellers Cro-Magnon and The Great Warming, Fagan addresses a topic that everyone in the metropolitan New York–New Jersey area can tell you right now is very important: the rising ocean waters. Fagan provides context, giving a history of surging levels over 15,000 years. The problem isn’t simply that the waters are rising—ever faster since since 1860—but that the earth’s population has increased so drastically since then, especially in threatened areas. A real warning.

Hart, Carl. High Price: Choice, Necessity, and How We Become Who We Are by a Rogue Neuroscientist. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062015884. $26.99; eISBN 9780062198938. MEMOIR
Rogue neuroscientist? Hart is in fact Columbia University’s first tenured African American professor in the sciences, and he’s contributed significantly to our understanding of addiction. What’s especially telling here: as a scientist, he can talk about how drugs, choice, and pleasure mesh in the brain and in society, while as someone who grew up in a rough Miami neighborhood, dealing drugs and engaging in petty larceny, he can add a personal perspective. With a 40,000-copy first printing.  

Nasr, Amir Ahmad. My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind and Broke My Heart—and Doubt Freed My Soul. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781250016799. $26.99; eISBN 9781250016485. MEMOIR
Following a suffocating fundamentalist upbringing, Nasr found freedom through the Internet. In 2006 he launched the blog The Sudanese Thinker, a threetime Weblog Award finalist that appeared anonymously until the Arab Spring. Per his Twitter account (nearly 6000 followers), he’s a “Leading Sudanese Blogger Turned Writer, Digital Activist & Mischievous Entrepreneur. Libertarian. Fan of Science. Hippie Sufi. Thinking Aloud. Thinking Allowed,” which gives you a feeling for his insouciant openmindedness. A wide-ranging memoir that doubles as a call for freedom, directed at the upcoming generation of Muslims worldwide. Obviously a big social media push.

Sunstein, Cass. Simpler. S. & S. Jun. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781476726595. $24.99; eISBN 9781476726618. POLITICAL SCIENCE
When top legal scholar Sunstein became administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, he was quoted as proclaiming that he wanted to make federal regulation “as sensible as possible.” And he seems to have done that: he’s streamlined the mortgage and student loan processes, clarified aspects of President Obama’s health care act and the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law, redone the stale food pyramid, and mandated new rules for everything from fuel efficiency to salmonella in eggs. Some critics, though, are deeply worried that his tinkering has done serious damage in areas like environmental protection. Here’s his chance to explain himself; important for the politically concerned.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.