Social Sciences Reviews | January 2013

Theoharis, Jeanne. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Beacon, dist. by Random. Jan. 2013. c.336p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807050477. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807050484. BIOG

Theoharis (political science, Brooklyn Coll.) deftly examines the established Parks narrative from myriad pertinent perspectives. She fills gaps in the story of the 1955 Montgomery, AL, bus boycott by illuminating this central character who was no one’s pawn, no organization’s plant, but a self-aware activist who unknowingly, but gladly, lit the fuse to the keg igniting the civil rights era. Relegated primarily to a symbolic role, Parks nonetheless traveled extensively, spoke eloquently, and worked tirelessly on behalf of civil rights organizations. However, her unwillingness to self-identify as a noteworthy individual had the unfortunate consequence that neither of the groups in whose fundraising she was so intimately involved (the NAACP and the Montgomery Improvement Association) felt emboldened to take much responsibility for the personal and economic fallout Parks and her family suffered as a result of her actions. They moved to Detroit in 1957, where she found ample opportunity to continue her work. Theoharis recounts the fascinating new allies Parks encountered as the years progressed and her politics stayed true. VERDICT This meticulously researched book is for everyone; advanced middle school and beyond.—Jewell Anderson, Armstrong Atlantic Univ. Lib., Savannah, GA

Library Journal Reviews starred review Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. Random. 2012. 560p. illus. ISBN 9781400067824. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780679645276. ECON

Taleb’s (risk engineering, New York Univ.; Black Swans) unorthodox thinking and luminescent style manifest themselves in a fusillade of neologisms, creative phraseology, and quirky illustrations. In his previous work, the author outlined the impact of rare, unpredictable events and foretold the impending financial crisis. Here he uses the concept of “antifragility” to show how we can protect ourselves from inevitable personal and societal calamities. The global financial crisis of 2008 is the watershed event of the narrative. Yet Taleb adroitly weaves in strands of psychology, child development, medicine, biology, civics, philosophy, education, military strategy, and the classics to explain how antifragility can make people and systems stronger in the same way that bones need stress to grow denser.  VERDICT Taleb’s tome is by turns entertaining, thought-provoking, silly, brilliant, and irreverent, yet his logic remains cogent and his message clear throughout. His wit and substance have already found him a worldwide audience; this book is likely to create him an even more robust fan bas e. —Carol Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Libs.

Goodman, Matthew. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World. Ballantine. illus. notes. bibliog. index. Mar. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780345527264. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780345527288. HIST

In November 1889, two young women reporters, Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, one backed by a newspaper and the other by a monthly periodical, set off on a race to see who could make it first around the world. No one had actually beaten the fictional 80 days set by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s 1873 novel. Bly went east, Bisland west. Bly won, though there were allegations of fraud. (In France, a mysterious travel agent gave Bisland misleading directions, delaying her passage by several days.) In the interest of efficient travel, neither of the young women could do much en route except eat, sleep, and scurry from conveyance to conveyance as they traveled around the world at a dizzying pace. Goodman writes exceedingly well, producing an engaging book in which he manages as best he can to maintain a level of excitement by including fascinating contextual information on a number of topics, especially the barriers facing women who sought to break out of the mold of feminine acquiescence in the 1890s. VERDICT A delightful trifle—solid history, though not wide ranging—filled with energizing details. History lovers will eat it up. —David Keymer, Modesto, CA

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


Holloway, Marguerite. The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor. Norton. Feb. 2013. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393071252. $26.95. BIOG


Berger, Jonah. Contagious: Why Things Catch On. S. & S. Mar. 2013. 224p. index. ISBN 9781451686579 $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451686593. BUS

Blinder, Alan S. After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead. Penguin.Jan. 2013. 462p. index. ISBN 9781594205309. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101605875. ECON


King, William Casey. Ambition, A History: From Vice to Virtue. Yale Univ. Jan. 2013. 256p. illus. index. notes. ISBN 9780300182804. $30. HIST

Martinez, Michael J. Terrorist Attacks on American Soil: From the Civil War to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. 424p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442203235. $55; ebk. ISBN 9781442203242. HIST

Stashower, Daniel. The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot To Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2013. 368p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312600228. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250023322 HIST

Toner, Jerry. Homer’s Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East. Harvard Univ. Mar. 2013. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780674073142. $29.95. HIST


Ferguson, Andrew Guthrie. Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen’s Guide to Constitutional Action. New York Univ.Jan. 2013. 224p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780814729038. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780814729052. LAW

Smith, Clive Stafford. The Injustice System: A Murder in Miami and a Trial Gone Wrong. Viking: Penguin.2012. 341p. notes. index. ISBN 9780670023707. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101585580. CRIME


I Still Believe Anita Hill. Feminist Pr. Jan. 2013. 248p. bibliog. ISBN 9781558618091. pap. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781558618107. POLI SCI

Library Journal Reviews starred review Ryan, Alan. On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present. Liveright: Norton.2012. 1152p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780871404657. $75; ebk. ISBN 9780871406781. POLI SCI


Library Journal Reviews starred review Friedman, Lawrence J. The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet. Columbia Univ. Feb. 2013. 464p. notes. index.ISBN 9780231162586. $29.95. PSYCH

Ortmann, David M. & Richard Sprott. Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities. Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. 176p. bibliog. ISBN 9781442217355. $34; ebk. ISBN 9781442217379. PSYCH


Brod, Harry. Superman Is Jewish?: How Comic Book Superheroes Came To Serve Truth, Justice, and the Jewish-American Way. Free Press. Nov. 2012. 240p. notes. ISBN 9781416595304. $25.00; ebk. ISBN 9781416598459. SOC SCI

The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading. Univ. of Illinois. 2012. 288p. ed. by Megan Sweeney. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780252037146. $85; ISBN 9780252078675. pap. $25.


Library Journal Reviews starred review Least Heat-Moon, William. Here,There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road. Little, Brown. Jan. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780316110242. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316225014. TRAVEL