Social Sciences Reviews | February 15, 2013

Thompson, Bob. Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier.Crown. Mar. 2013. 384p. notes. ISBN 9780307720894. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780307720917. BIOG

Providing a splendid foray into the popular culture of American frontiersman Davy Crockett, Thompson (former Washington Post journalist and editor) follows in Crockett’s footsteps from his Tennessee roots to his death in Texas. Crockett has long been considered a hero of the Battle of the Alamo and aggressively commercialized across America. Unlike Michael Wallis’s David Crockett: The Lion of the West, a traditional, formal biography, Thompson’s title provides a personal narrative of his own travels and encounters with modern “ghosts of the wild frontier,” these being reenactors, curators, and businessmen, each seeking to understand, define and/or promote Crockett’s legacy in his or her own way. Documenting his work with basic historical sources, Thompson seeks to understand Crockett’s spirit by delving into the consciousness of modern society, which means recognizing and understanding the influence of Walt Disney, Fess Parker, and others. VERDICT An enjoyable and entertaining account of Thompson coming to terms with the Tennessee congressman and frontier hero, and ultimately demonstrating the continuing relevance of the Crockett legend to Texas and America. This will be a popular read in public libraries and among Western enthusiasts.—Nathan Bender, Laramie, WY

Library Journal Reviews starred review Prioleau, Betsy. Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them. Norton. Feb. 2013. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9780393068375. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393089912. SOC SCI

This is the male complement to Prioleau’s 2004 treatise on the history and allure of sirens, Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love. Here she debunks the myth that the stereotypical “bad boy” is the most desirable male archetype and investigates the many men (real and fictitious) throughout history who have had a way with women. With exceptional vocabulary and bright prose, Prioleau (former scholar in residence, cultural history, New York Univ.) offers a thoroughly researched, irresistible, accessible look at ladies’ men. From well-known characters such as Casanova and Don Juan to contemporary and historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Albert Camus, and Jack Nicholson, who had great success as seducers, Prioleau teases out the qualities that render certain men magnetic for women. She also offers historical, scientific, and sociological perspectives, as well as interviews with today’s Romeos, who reveal the sometimes unexpected secrets to their success. VERDICT A frank, fascinating look at the characteristics of historical and contemporary seducers. Lovers of social and cultural history, as well as the merely romantically curious, will enjoy it.—Elizabeth Winter, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta

Gristwood, Sarah. Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses. Basic Bks: Perseus. Mar. 2013. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465018314. $28.99. BIOG

Most accounts of the Wars of the Roses have focused largely on the men involved. Here British journalist and biographer Gristwood (Arbella: England’s Lost Queen) concentrates on the women tied to those men and their roles in the conflict during the second half of the 15th century. By exploring the lives of seven women—Marguerite of Anjou (wife of Henry VI), Cecily Neville (mother of Edward IV), Elizabeth Woodville (mother of the princes in the Tower), Anne Neville (wife of Richard III), Margaret of Burgundy (sister of Edward IV and Richard III), Elizabeth of York (Edward IV’s daughter and wife to Henry VII), and Margaret Beaufort (mother to Henry VII)—Gristwood shows their strongly interconnected roles during the wars. Naturally, each woman’s primary role was to marry and produce an heir, but Gristwood shows how they also exuded influence by directing public opinion, conspiring for power, and acting as regents in both official and unofficial capacities.VERDICT This title deftly navigates a period of shifting alliances in a clear, concise fashion. Highly recommended for any academic or casual reader interested in the Wars of the Roses. Fans of Alison Weir’s historical fiction and nonfiction works, as well as fans of Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction series, “The Cousin’s War,” are likely to enjoy this.—Rebekah Kati, Walden Univ. Lib., Morrisville, NC

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


Shlaes, Amity. Coolidge. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2013. 480p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780061967559. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780062097972. BIOG


Hofmeyer, Isabel. Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading. Harvard Univ. Mar. 2013. 232p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780674072794. $24.95. COMM


Admati, Anat & Martin Hellwig. The Banker’s New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do About It. Princeton Univ. Mar. 2013. 328p. notes. bibliog. index.ISBN 9780691156842. $27.95. ECON

Fisman, Ray & Tim Sullivan. The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office. Twelve: Hachette. 2013. 302p. notes. index. ISBN 9780446571593. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455517534. BUS

Snyder, Steven. Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity. Berrett-Koehler. Mar. 2013. 216p. index. ISBN 9781609946449. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609946463. BUS


Library Journal Reviews starred review Bissonnette, Barbara. The Complete Guide to Getting a Job for People with Asperger’s Syndrome: Find the Right Career and Get Hired. Jessica Kingsley. Nov. 2012. 200p. bibliog. ISBN 9781849059213. $22.95.CAREERS

Conway, Jeremiah. The Alchemy of Teaching: The Transformation of Lives. Sentient. Feb. 2013. 176p. notes. ISBN 9781591811817. pap. $15.95. ED


Abrahamian, Ervand. The Coup: 1953, the CIA and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations. New Pr. Feb. 2013. 257p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781595588265. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595588623. HIST

Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms of the Nile. American Univ. in Cairo: dist. by Oxford Univ. 2012. 472p. ed. by Marjorie M. Fisher & others. maps. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9789774164781. $59.95. HIST

James, Rawn, Jr. The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military. Bloomsbury: dist. by Macmillan. 2013. 336p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608196081. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781608196173. HIST

Mellen, Joan. The Great Game in Cuba: How the CIA Sabotaged Its Own Plot To Unseat Fidel Castro. Skyhorse: dist. by Norton. Mar. 2013. 432p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781620874677. $24.95. HIST

Mort, Terry. The Wrath of Cochise: The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars. Pegasus. Apr. 2013. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605984223. $27.95. HIST

The Voice of the People: Letters from the Soviet Village, 1918-1932. Yale Univ. (Annals of Communism). 2013. 448p. ed. by A.K. Sokolov. trans. from Russian by C.J. Storella. notes. index. ISBN 9780300112337. $65. HIST


Library Journal Reviews starred review Houppert, Karen. Chasing Gideon: The Elusive Quest for Poor People’s Justice. New Pr., dist. by Perseus. Mar. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781595588692. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595588920. LAW


Allen, Tom. Dangerous Convictions: What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress. Oxford Univ. 2013. 248p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199931989. $24.95. POLI SCI


Library Journal Reviews starred review Konnikova, Maria. Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Viking. 2013. 288p. index. ISBN 9780670026579. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101606230. PSYCH

Samuel, Lawrence R. Sexidemic: A Cultural History of Sex in America. Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2013. 244p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442220409. $38; ISBN 9781442220416. PSYCH

Library Journal Reviews starred review Shorter, Edward. How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown. Oxford Univ. Mar. 2013. 304p. notes. ISBN 9780199948086. $29.95. PSYCH


Jayaraman, Saru. Behind the Kitchen Door. Cornell Univ. Feb. 2013. 208p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780801451720. $21.95. SOC SCI

Rubin, Jeffery & Emma Sokoloff-Rubin. Sustaining Activism: A Brazilian Women’s Movement and a Father-Daughter Collaboration. Duke Univ. Feb. 2013. 200p. photogs. notes. index. ISBN 9780822354215. pap. $22.95. SOC SCI

Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners. Univ. of Wisconsin. Jan. 2013. 312p.ed. by Jimm Elledge & David Groff. ISBN 9780299289409. $26.95; pap. ISBN 9780299289430. $16.95. SOC SCI


Boggan, Steve. Follow the Money: A Month in the Life of a Ten-Dollar Bill. Union Bks. Mar. 2013. 291p. ISBN 9781908526212. pap. $14.95. TRAVEL

Cooks, Clowns and Cowboys: 101 Skills and Experiences To Discover on Your Travels. Lonely Planet. Mar. 2013. 224p. index. photogs. ISBN 9781743210215. pap. $19.99. TRAVEL

Downie, David. Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James. Pegasus. Apr. 2013. 368p. photogs. ISBN 9781605984322. $27.95. TRAVEL

Gates, Moses. Hidden Cities: Travels to the Secret Corners of the World’s Great Metropolises. Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2013. 352p. photogs. ISBN 9781585429349. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101602768. TRAVEL