Social Sciences Reviews | December 2012

Library Journal Reviews starred review Sotomayor, Sonia. My Beloved World. Knopf. Jan. 2013. 336p. photogs. ISBN 9780307594884. $27.95. AUTOBIOG

In this revealing memoir, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor candidly and gracefully recounts her formative years growing up in the South Bronx in “a tiny microcosm of Hispanic New York City,” among an extended family of Puerto Rican immigrants. Her descriptions of the neighborhoods, relatives, and routines of those years are vital, loving, and incisive, as she traces her growth into adulthood, and examines both strengths and failings. She then moves on to her decision to apply to Ivy League colleges, the challenges of coping with unfamiliar environments, her education at Princeton (with the library as her refuge), and her education and career as a lawyer, assistant district attorney, and newly appointed judge in 1992, at which point she draws to a close. Throughout, Sotomayor summons forth the stories that influenced her drive and character, while also painting evocative portraits of scenes and loved ones long gone. An early example: diagnosed as diabetic at age seven, Sotomayor quickly saw that household volatility meant she must be responsible for her own insulin injections; her memoir shows both her continued self-reliance and her passion for community. ­VERDICT Sure to be in demand. Recommended for all readers from advanced junior high on up.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal

Library Journal Reviews starred review Roll, David L. The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler. Oxford Univ. Jan. 2013. 520p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199891955. $34.95. HIST

America’s best presidents have shared the knack of attracting talent to their administrations. This was surely the case with FDR’s selection of Harry Hopkins as his closest adviser. Though Hopkins and FDR were from different social classes and areas of the country, they were alike in other ways, especially in their apparent decisions to live life to the fullest despite poor health, by self-actualizing through the political arena—one as president and the other as almost a shadow president. To some extent this book is an update of Robert Sherwood’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (1948), but attorney Roll (Louis Johnson and the Arming of America ), whose book is half the length, seems to share his subject’s ability to cut to the chase. The bulk of his book deals with Hopkins’s time in the White House, where he became FDR’s closest confidant during World War II, serving as de facto secretary of state and national security adviser. VERDICT This delightful book—a genuine page turner—portrays the relationship between FDR and Hopkins in a balanced manner while maintaining the reader’s interest with insights into the important players of World War II. Scholars and general readers interested in the era will thoroughly enjoy it. An essential purchase. —William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport

Library Journal Reviews starred review Polo, Marco. The Travels of Marco Polo: The Illustrated Edition. Sterling Signature. 2012. 400p. ed. by Morris Rossabi. tr. from Italian by Henry Yule. illus. index. ISBN 9781402796302. $40. HIST

The adventures of the Venetian merchant-traveler Polo (1254–1324), who traveled to Persia, China, Indonesia, and back, were written down by Rustichello di Pisa and published in the early 13th century. They have been popular ever since. This edition uses the 1871 translation by Yule, subsequently revised by Henri Cordier. The text is vigorous and stately. This beautiful book is a joy to hold, leaf through, and read. Not intended for scholars but rather for sophisticated lay readers, it will not fail to please its intended audience, so well constructed is it in every detail by editor Rossabi (history, Queens Coll., CUNY; Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists ), from its well-chosen, lavish, and informative illustrations to its copious footnotes, which alert readers to the modern equivalents of Polo’s terms, names, and locations. Forget the historical significance: this is one of the best travel narratives ever, written by an author with an acute eye and a lively imagination. It holds up even today. VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended. Though it may resemble a coffee-table book, this sumptuous edition will delight readers of all ages. —David Keymer, Modesto, CA

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


Frank, Jeffrey. Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage. S. & S. Feb. 2013. 448p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781416587019. $30. BIOG

Lawrence, Ernest R. Alone with the Past: The Life and Photographic Art of Roland W. Reed. Afton Historical Society Pr. 2012. 248p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781890434847. $45. BIOG

Rey, Marie-Pierre. Alexander I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon. Northern Illinois Univ. 2012. 504p. tr. from French by Susan Emanuel. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780875804668. $39.95. BIOG

Sperber, Jonathan. Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life. Norton. Mar. 2013. 512p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780871404671. $35. BIOG


Library Journal Reviews starred review Burman, Leonard E. & Joel Slemrod. Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs To Know. Oxford Univ. 2012. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199890262. pap. $16.95. ECON

Freeland, Chrystia.Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. Penguin Pr. 2012. 336p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594204098. $27.95. ECON

Lin, Justin Yifu.The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off. Princeton Univ. 2012. 344p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691155890. $27.95. ECON

Panitch, Leo & Sam Gindin.The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire. Verso. 2012. 464p. index. ISBN 9781844677429. $29.95. ECON

Weatherall, James Owen. The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2013. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547317274. $27. ECON

Whitacre, Ed.American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA. Grand Central Publishing. Feb. 2013. 304p. index. ISBN 9781455513017. $28.99. BUS


Lanier, Heather Kirn. Teaching in the Terrordome: Two Years in West Baltimore with Teach for America. Univ. of Missouri. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780826219862. pap. $19.95. ed

Wood, John. Creating Room To Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy. Viking. Feb. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780670025985. $27.95. ed


Busch, Andrew E. Truman’s Triumphs: The 1948 Election and the Making of Postwar America. Univ. Pr. of Kansas. ( American Presidential Elections). 2012. 272p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780700618668. $37.50; pap. ISBN 9780700618675. $19.95. HIST

Cardini, Franco.The Companion to Medieval Society. McGill-Queens Univ. Dec. 2012. 288p. tr. from Italian by Corrado Federici. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780773541030. $49.95. HIST

Coogan, Tim Pat. The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy. Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. 288p. photogs. notes.ISBN 9780230109520. $28. HIST

Cooper, John.The Queen’s Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England. Pegasus. Feb. 2013. 448p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781605984100. $27.95. HIST

Fulbrook, Mary. A Small Town Near Auschwitz : Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust. Oxford Univ. 2012. 464p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780199603305. $34.95. HIST

Lepore, Jill.The Story of America: Essays on Origins Princeton Univ. 2012. 420p. index. notes. ISBN 9780691153995. $27.95. HIST

Phillips, Kevin. 1775: A Good Year for Revolution. Viking. 2012. 656p. bibliog. index. maps. notes. ISBN 9780670025121. $36. HIST

Turney, Chris.1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica. Counterpoint. 2012. 320p. index. ISBN 9781582437897. $27. HIST

Willis, Deborah & Barbara Krauthamer.Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery. Temple Univ. Dec. 2012. 240p. notes. photogs. index. ISBN 9781439909850. $35. HIST


Crosby, Molly Caldwell. The Great Pearl Heist: London’s Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard’s Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Necklace. Berkley. Dec. 2012. 304p. index. ISBN 9780425252802. $25.95. crime

Eubanks, Sharon Y. & Stanton A. Glantz. Bad Acts: The Racketeering Case Against the Tobacco Industry. American Public Health Assoc. 2012. c.294p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780875530178. $28.50. CRIME

Gibson, Larry S. Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice. Prometheus. Dec. 2012. 390p. illus. ISBN 9781616145712. $28. law

McConnell, David. American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men. Akashic. Mar. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781617751325. pap. $15.95. CRIME

Strong, Thomas. Strong Advocate: The Life of a Trial Lawyer. Univ. of Missouri. Dec. 2012. c.294p. photogs.ISBN 9780826219978. $29.95. LAW


Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions. White Cloud Pr. (I Speak for Myself). 2012. 230p. ed. by Maytha Alhassen & Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. ISBN 9781935952718. pap. $16.95. INT AFFAIRS

Brynen, Rex & Others. Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World.Lynne Rienner. Dec. 2012. 350p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781588268532. $68.50. ISBN 9781588268785. pap. $27.50. INT AFFAIRS

Shambaugh, David. China Goes Global: The Partial Power. Oxford Univ. Feb. 2013. 416p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199860142. $29.95. INT AFFAIRS


Reagin, Nancy R. & Janice Liedl. Star Wars and History. Wiley. (Pop Culture and History). 2012. 328p. notes. index. photogs. ISBN 9780470602003. $29.95. SOC SCI

Sadowski, Michael.In a Queer Voice: Journeys of Resilience from Adolescence to Adulthood. Temple Univ. Jan. 2013. 206p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439908020. pap. $25.95 SOC SCI