Arts & Humanities Reviews | April 15, 2013

Library Journal Reviews starred review Stach, Reiner. Kafka: The Years of Insight. Princeton Univ. Jul. 2013. 736p. tr. from German by Shelley Frisch. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691147512. $35. LIT

Restriction to archival research material has predetermined the publishing sequence of Stach’s tripartite biography. The first, Kafka: The Decisive Years, covered Franz Kafka’s most markedly creative period (1910–15). The volume dealing with Kafka’s family history and formative years is forthcoming. Stach’s current volume—with marginal overlap—covers the period from 1916 to 1924, his terminal years. Beset by a world war that irreparably shattered lives, landscapes, cities, and ideals, a neurotic and insomniac Kafka was obsessed with finding the time and space to feed his hunger: writing. But the expectations, desires, and burdens of everyday life seemed to conspire against him: his father’s disapprobation, his job at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute, his turbulent courtships with Felice Bauer, Milena Jesenská, and Dora Diamant, and finally his encounter with malignant and fatal tuberculosis. In time, his work overshadowed the details of his life. Braiding letters, diaries, memoirs, and notebooks with concentrated literary and historical commentary, Stach here writes about the life events that informed the art of Kafka’s writing. VERDICT This work is a monumental accomplishment with a first-rate translation by scholar Frisch.—Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal

Library Journal Reviews starred review Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Viking. Jun. 2013. 400p. photogs. notes. index. ISBN 9780670025817. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101622742. SPORTS

In this sweeping saga, Brown (Under a Flaming Sky; The Indifferent Stars Above) vividly relates how, in 1936, nine working-class rowers from the University of Washington captured gold at the Berlin Olympics. Mentored not just by their coach but by legendary boat-builder George Pocock, these athletes overcame the hopelessness common during the Great Depression by learning to trust themselves and one another, and by rowing with grace and power. The crew’s camaraderie and unmatched precision surpassed expectations, shocking the sporting world. Brown faithfully conveys rowing’s stoic persistence, passion, and pain. He captures how and why this team rowed in flawless harmony. The story’s depth comes from the memories that rower Joe Rantz shared with Brown shortly before his death as well as from Brown’s interviews with crewmates’ friends and family and their archives. In a brief epilog, Brown comments on the rowers’ post-Olympic accomplishments. ­VERDICT Those who enjoy reading about Olympic history or amateur or collegiate sports will savor Brown’s superb book, much as they would enjoy David Halberstam’s The Amateurs: The Story of Four Young Men and Their Quest for an Olympic Gold Medal, which examined the 1984 single scull trials.—Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge­, MA

Library Journal Reviews starred review Dunkel, Tom. Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line. Atlantic Monthly. Apr. 2013. 368p. notes. ISBN 9780802120120. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802193452. SPORTS

Freelance journalist Dunkel provides a captivating recollection of the Bismarck, ND, Churchills, an integrated baseball team that won the 1935 semi-pro national championship held in Wichita, KS. While organized baseball remained segregated, Bismarck owner Neil Churchill refused to give in to prevailing racial sensibilities, whether they involved his ballplayers dining together or performing on the diamond. He put together a potent, integrated ball club, attracting some of the Negro League’s finest, including legendary pitchers Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith and catcher Quincy Trouppe. Paige’s brilliance, exemplified by his rising fastball and pinpoint control, drew thousands to the games he pitched and enabled Bismarck to carve out a spot in baseball history. The team proved unable to repeat the next year, falling in the semifinal round, because in his typically peripatetic fashion, Paige failed to return to the team. VERDICT This work delivers an important rendering of a too-little-remembered challenge to American society’s segregated practices. Strongly recommended.—Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico

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


Bottoms, Greg. Spiritual American Trash: Portraits from the Margins of Art and Faith. Counterpoint. Apr. 2013. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781619020597. pap. $15.95. FINE ARTS

Elias, Hajni & Guiseppe Eskenazi. A Dealer’s Hand: The Chinese Art World Through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi. Scala. 2013. 352p. illus. ISBN 9781857598018. $125. FINE ARTS

Saillard, Olivier. Madame Grès: Sculptural Fashion. Hannibal. 2012. 216p. photogs. ISBN 9789491376276. $60. DEC ARTS


Boitani, Piero. The Gospel According to Shakespeare. Univ. of Notre Dame. 2013. 152p. tr. from Italian by Vittorio Montemaggi & Rachel Jacoff. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780268022358. pap. $27. LIT

Stoker, Bram. The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years. Robson. May 2013. 336p. ed. by Elizabeth Miller & Dacre Stoker. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781849541886. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781849543293. LIT


Adler, Tim. The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty. Aurum. 2013. 336p. photogs. ISBN 9781845136239. $29.95. FILM

Golden, Eve. John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars. Univ. of Kentucky. Apr. 2013. 358p. notes. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813141626. $39.95. FILM

Library Journal Reviews starred review O’Brien, Geoffrey. Stolen Glimpses, Captive Shadows: Writing on Film 2002–2012. Counterpoint. Jun. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781619021709. $25. FILM

O’Brien, Timothy J. & David Ensminger. Mojo Hand: The Life and Music of Lightnin’ Hopkins. Univ. of Texas. Apr. 2013. 304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780292745155. $29.95. MUSIC

Whiteis, David. Southern Soul-Blues. Univ. of Illinois. May 2013. 344p. (Music in American Life). photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780252034794. $90; pap. ISBN 9780252079085. $24.95. MUSIC


Goodin, David K. The New Rationalism: Albert Schweitzer’s Philosophy of Reverence for Life. McGill-Queens Univ. 2013. 264p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780773541085. $34.95. PHIL


Library Journal Reviews starred review Carson, Anne. Red Doc>. Knopf. 2013. 160p. notes. ISBN 9780307960580. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307960597. poetry

Creech, Morri. The Sleep of Reason. Waywiser, dist. by Dufour. 2013. 72p. ISBN 9781904130536. pap. $16.95. poetry

Library Journal Reviews starred review Herrera, Juan Felipe. Senegal Taxi. Univ. of Arizona. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9780816530151. pap. $15.95. poetry

Library Journal Reviews starred review Hicok, Bob. Elegy Owed. Copper Canyon. Apr. 2013. 113p. ISBN 9781556594366. $22. poetry

Library Journal Reviews starred review Phillips, Carl. Silverchest. Farrar. Apr. 2013. 64p. ISBN 9780374261214. $23. poetry

Library Journal Reviews starred review Sachs, Nelly. Glowing Enigmas. Tavern. Apr. 2013. 120p. tr. from the German by Michael Hamburger. ISBN 9781935635277. $30. poetry

Walker, Alice. The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers. New Pr. Apr. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9781595588760. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595588876. poetry


Fulgham, Nicole Baker. Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do To Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids. Brazos. Apr. 2013. 256p. notes. ISBN 9781587433276. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441241375. REL

Ralph, Margaret Nutting. Why the Catholic Church Must Change: A Necessary Conversation. Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2013. 200p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442220782. $34; ebk. ISBN 9781442220799. REL

Rosenbaum, Robert Meikyo. Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching. Wisdom. May 2013. 260p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781614290254. pap. $17.95. REL

Toth, James. Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Racial Islamic Intellectual. Oxford Univ. Apr. 2013. 400p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780199790883. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780199969609. REL