Nonfiction Previews, Aug. 2013, Pt. 4: Pink Sari Revolution, Obama vs. Romney, and More

Balz, Dan. Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America. Viking. Aug. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780670025947. $32.95. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Chief correspondent at the Washington Post and author of the New York Times best-selling The Battle for America 2008, Balz is well positioned to offer this survey of the 2012 presidential campaign. Look for plenty of background on President Obama’s first four years and Romney’s wrangles within the Republican party.

Clark, Peter. How To Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times. Little, Brown. Aug. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780316204354. $20. REFERENCE/WRITING SKILLS
These days, we’re all writing short, not just in tweets but in emails, sales pitches, memos, headlines, titles, and more. A senior scholar at the Poynter Institute who’s been teaching writing for more than 30 years shows us how to do it best. There, I’ve said it all.

Fontanella-Khan, Amana. Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India. Norton. Aug. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780393062977. $26.95. SOCIAL SCIENCE/WOMEN’S STUDIES
We’ve read about the abuse of women in India; now here’s the homegrown response. Numbering 20,000, the Pink Gang is a woman’s vigilante group fighting for women’s rights in India. Yes, members wear pink saris (and carry pink batons), and they are led by Sampat Devi Pal, married at 13, all but illiterate, and a shining example of what women can do for themselves. Fontanella-Khan, seen on Slate’s “Double X,” the Daily Beast, and more, reports.

Johnson, George. The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest Mystery. Knopf. Aug. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780307595140. $27.85; ebk. ISBN 9780385349710. Downloadable: Random Audio MEDICINE
A science journalist whose work frequently appears in the New York Times, Johnson began investigating cancer after his wife’s diagnosis with the disease. Here he shows that an entirely new understanding of cancer is evolving as scientists downplay dietary and environmental factors while studying the petrified tumors still attached to the crumbly bones of dinosaurs and early humans. Elegant writing from an author whose previous title, The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, has sold nearly 40,000 copies.

Myers, PZ. The Happy Atheist. Pantheon. Aug. 2013. 176p. ISBN 9780307379344. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780307907455. Downloadable: Random Audio. SCIENCE/RELIGION
If. like a million others a month, you’ve visited University of Minnesota, Morris, biology professor Myers’s blog, Pharyngula, you know that it celebrates evolutionary science and disdains creationism and other aspects of biblical literalism as baseless. You also know that his tone is acidly hilarious. Grab it if you want to think.

Powell, Neil. Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music. Holt. Aug. 2013. 528p. ISBN 9780805097740. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780805097757. BIOGRAPHY/MUSIC
Poet/biographer Powell tells the story of Benjamin Britten, Britain’s most distinguished composer in the 20th century, whose centenary we celebrate this year. Folded in, of course, is an account of Britten’s nearly four-decade relationship with tenor Peter Pears, effectively making this is a dual biography. Britten wanted his music to be approachable, just what I expect of this biography.

Reilly, Brendan. One Doctor: Solving a Medical Mystery. Atria: S. & S. Aug. 2013. ISBN 9781476726298. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476726366. MEDICINE
Executive vice chair of medicine at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Reilly here portrays moments of drama he’s experienced throughout his medical practice while focusing on one symbolic case that defines the mystery of it all. Friend and patient Fred, an engineer whose invention included the navigational device removed from Amelia Earhart’s plane before her last flight, died shortly after he claimed to see angels. TV zealots should know that Reilly was physician-in-chief at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital when it served as inspiration for the hit series ER.

Wheeler, Sara. O My America!: Six Women and Their Second Acts in a New World. Farrar. Aug. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780374298814. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781466836907. HISTORY
Fanny Trollope, Anthony’s mother and author of Domestic Manners of the Americans; actress Fanny Kemble, who condemned slavery; economist Harriet Martineau; Yorkshire-born Rebecca Burlend; Rockies-climbing Isabella Bird; and novelist Catherine Hubback, a niece of Jane Austen who consigned her husband to a madhouse and left for San Francisco. London-based traveler writer and biographer Wheeler introduces them all, showing how they reinvented themselves after coming to wild and woolly America. Inspiring reading for the smart set.

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.