Social Sciences Reviews | March 15, 2013

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewJohnson, Walter. River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2013. 542p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674045552. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780674074880. HIST

Johnson (history, African and African American studies, Harvard; Slavery’s Ghost: The Problem of Freedom in the Age of Emancipation) has written a book as big and bold as the Mississippi River valley region it surveys. In it, he maps the various interlocking connections among slavery, land surveys and speculation, steamboats, capital and credit, cotton planting, and more to show how President Jefferson’s promise of an “empire for liberty” to come from the Louisiana Purchase became instead a place of people grasping for advantage, gouging for wealth, and gaining through will and brutality. Readers will find Johnson’s discussions of steamboat technology, adaptations of new strains of cotton, and credit and market arrangements especially compelling as he makes the case for a modernizing, slave-based cotton empire that sought to extend its reach across the continent and, through violence, to claim Central America and Cuba as well. ­VERDICT An essential book for understanding the dynamism and direction of American economic ambitions and the human and environmental costs of the physical, political, and social energy that drove such ambitions and ended in civil war.—­Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph’s Univ., Philadelphia

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewDaniel, Pete. Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights. Univ. of North Carolina. Mar. 2013. 336p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781469602011. $34.95. HIST

In nine richly detailed and tightly argued chapters, Daniel (The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901–1969), award-winning historian of the U.S. South, exposes the systemic racism that dispossessed 93 of every 100 U.S. black farmers of their land and their livelihood between 1940 and 1974, reducing their numbers from 681,790 to 45,594. While the 1940s Double-V crusade for democracy abroad and at home extended into the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement, black farmers were nearly wiped out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in cahoots with agribusiness, Daniel shows. Intentionally twisting federal policy on farm aid, the USDA cut blacks off from credit, information, and public services. Black farmers’ $1 billion-plus class-action lawsuit in Pigford v. Glickman (1999) proved decades-long discrimination, as Daniel documents. VERDICT Soberingly revealing the dark underside of an era hailed for black success against racism, Daniel’s work exposes sickening, irreparable, racist destruction that compels reconception of popular memories of a generation of civil rights victories. This book belongs in any serious collection on U.S. civil rights, federal farm policy, or 20th-century America.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewEpstein, Edward Jay. The Annals of Unsolved Crime. Melville House. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781612190488. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781612190495. CRIME

Here Epstein (The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies) has written case studies of 35 controversial crimes. Several involve conspiracy theories, e.g., JFK’s assassination and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. He includes well-known historical cases (e.g., Jack the Ripper, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping), some (perhaps) lesser-known international crimes, and media-sensation cases such as those of Amanda Knox, O.J. Simpson, and JonBenet Ramsey. What makes this book unique is Epstein’s analysis of each case: he lays out each as though it were a detective story. After describing each case, he outlines theories, and offers his opinion on the most likely solution. Some of the cases are quite detailed and clearly reflect the author’s extensive research. Readers who crave these longer explanations will appreciate the further-reading list, which suggests definitive titles on each case. VERDICT Extremely entertaining, this book will be popular with fans of ripped-from-the-headlines crime tales and students of the more historical cases. Highly recommended.—Karen S. Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia

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


Alexandrov, Vladimir. The Black Russian. Atlantic Monthly. Mar. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780802120694. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802193766. BIOG

Hubbard, Kate. Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household. Harper. May 2013. 432p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062269911. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062269935. BIOG

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewVivanti, Corrado. Niccolo Machiavelli: An Intellectual Biography. Princeton Univ. Jun. 2013. 312p. notes. index. ISBN 9780691151014. $27.95. BIOG


Library Journal Reviews starred reviewHagstrom, Robert G. Investing: The Last Liberal Art. Columbia Univ. 2013. 208p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231160100. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780231531016. BUS

Kaplan, Robert E. & Robert B. Kaiser. Fear Your Strengths: What You Are Best at Could Be Your Biggest Problem. Berrett-Koehler. Apr. 2013. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9781609949044. pap. $19.95. BUS

Lietaer, Bernard & Jacqui Dunne. Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity. Berrett-Koehler. 2013. 288p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781609942960. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609942984. ECON


Anderson, C.W. Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age. Temple Univ. 2013. 210p. bibliog. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781439909331. $84.50; pap. ISBN 9781439909348. $27.95 COMM

Goldberg, Natalie. The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language. S. & S. Mar. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781451641240. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451641264. COMM

Stein, Ellin. That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick: The National Lampoon and the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream. Norton. Jun. 2013. 448p. notes. index. ISBN 9780393074093. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393084375. COMM


Gee, James Paul. The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning. Palgrave Macmillan. 2013. 256p. bibliog. ISBN 9780230342095. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781137324115. ED

Gross, Neil. Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care? Harvard Univ. Apr. 2013. 396p. notes. index. ISBN 9780674059092. $35. ED


Library Journal Reviews starred reviewAndrews, Edward E. Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World. Harvard Univ. Apr. 2013. 336p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674072466. $39.95. HIST

Di Bonaventura, Allegra. For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England. Liveright: Norton. Apr. 2013. 416p. bibliog. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780871404305. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871403476. HIST

Hecht, Susanna B. The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha. Univ. of Chicago. Mar. 2013. 600p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226322810. $45. HIST

King, Dean. The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys; The True Story. Little, Brown. May 2013. 448p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316167062. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316224789. HIST

Library Journal Reviews starred reviewMoore, Wendy. How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britain’s Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest To Train the Ideal Mate. Basic Bks. Apr. 2013. 368p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465065745. $28.99. HIST

Neer, Robert M. Napalm: An American Biography. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Apr. 2013. 352p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674073012. $29.95. HIST

Olson, Lynne. Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939–1941. Random. Mar. 2013. 576p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400069743; ebk. ISBN 9780679604716. $30. HIST

Williams, Mason B. City of Ambition:FDR, LaGuardia, and the Making of Modern New York. Norton. May 2013. 544p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780393066913. $29.95. HIST


Ball, Edward. The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures. Doubleday. 2013. 464p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385525756. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385535496. CRIME

Gerhardt, Michael J. The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy. Oxford Univ. Apr. 2013. 320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199967797. $34.95. LAW

Maclean, John N. The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57. Counterpoint. 2013. 320p. maps. photogs. ISBN 9781619020719. $26. CRIME


Lankov, Andrei. The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia. Oxford Univ. May 2013. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199964291. $27.95. Int Affairs

MacNeil, Neil & Richard A. Baker. The American Senate: An Insider’s History. Oxford Univ. Jun. 2013. 480p. bibliog. illus. index. notes. ISBN 9780195367614. $29.95. POL SCI


Fjelstad, Margalis. Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How To End the Drama and Get on with Life. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 190p. bibliog. ISBN 9781442220188. $38; ebk. ISBN 9781442220195. PSYCH

Hendrix, Harville & Helen Lakelly Hunt. Making Marriage Simple: 10 Truths for Changing the Relationship You Have into the One You Want. Harmony Bks. Mar. 2013. 208p. notes. ISBN 9780770437121. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780770437138. PSYCH

Reese, Elaine. Tell Me a Story: Sharing Stories To Enrich Your Child’s World. Oxford Univ. Jun. 2013. 272p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780199772650. $29.95. PSYCH

Taylor, Michael A. Hippocrates Cried: The Decline of American Psychiatry. Oxford Univ. May 2013. 320p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780199948062. $34.95. PSYCH


Library Journal Reviews starred reviewChu, Jeff. Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. Harper. Mar. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780062049735. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062049759. soc sci

Heinlein, Sabine. Among Murderers: Life After Prison. Univ. of California. Mar. 2013. 257p. ISBN 9780520272859. $29.95. soc sci


Behar, Ruth. Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys. Duke Univ. Apr. 2013. 200p. ISBN 9780822354673. $23.95. TRAVEL