Arts & Humanities Reviews | May 1, 2013

Collins, Steven & Latayne C. Scott. Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament’s Most Infamous City. Howard: S. & S. 2013. 304p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781451684308. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451684377. REL

Collins (archeology, Trinity Southwest Univ.; The Search for Sodom and Gomorrah) and Scott (The Mormon Mirage) relate Collins’s search for the fabled wicked cities of the Bible. Despite the prevailing view among scholars that Sodom and Gomorrah were mythical, Collins maintains that the cities actually existed and reports on his search for them, eventually settling on a location, Tell el-Hammam, north of the Dead Sea in present-day Jordan. Although finely argued, Collins’s work originates from an unapologetically religious point of view, and his assumption of the historicity of certain biblical tales, for instance the Exodus, will prove controversial to many scholars and skeptics. The authors include “backstory” segments between chapters, interspersing archaeological detail with memoir. Backstory chapters provide flavor and will help make the book accessible to a wider audience. VERDICT Although it provides the reader with insight into the practice and theory of archaeology in general and biblical archaeology in particular, Collins’s work will be contested in the academy. Recommended for general readers, particularly those with an interest in archaeology or biblical studies.—Matt Rice, Philadelphia

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design. Yale Univ. 2013. 256p. ed. by Tim Barringer. illus. ISBN 9780300194449. $60. FINE ARTS

This book, accompanying an exhibition of the same name, is a re-examination of the 19th-century English art movement, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In recent years, there has been much revisionist scholarship on all aspects of this movement and its artists, and thus the authors believe that it is time to view the art of this group in a new context. Here, their main premise is that the Pre-Raphaelite artists were the earliest of the historical avant-garde, radically changing the art and design of orthodox Victorian England. This was manifested both through the subject matter of their work, which turned to historical, mythological, and religious scenes, as well in their style and painting methods, which employed sharp lines and bright, iridescent colors drawn from early Italian Renaissance painting. The book unfolds chronologically and examines painting, drawing, sculpture, and the decorative arts (e.g., textiles and furniture) along themes such as nature, beauty, and paradise. ­VERDICT With its beautiful illustrations and overview format, this book is highly recommended for readers wanting a scholarly introduction to the topic.—­Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll. Lib., MA

Barber, Elizabeth Wayland. The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance. Norton. 2013. 429p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393065367. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780393089219.DANCE

The dancing goddesses of the title are the swan maidens, mermaids, and tree-spirits that would eventually morph into the “wilis” of the ballet Giselle, the Rusalka of Dvorák’s eponymous Czech opera, and the black and white swans of the ballet Swan Lake. Barber (archaeology & linguistics, emerita, Occidental Coll.; The Mummies of Ürümchi), a lifelong folk dancer, explores the origins of dance in this analysis of the folk customs and cultures of Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, and more. She also investigates the sources of a number of folk customs, such as rituals connected with celebrations of the solstice, weddings, childbirth, and initiations to adulthood. Her research material includes an array of books and articles in various Slavic languages, and her website ( provides full translations of many of these texts that could only be quoted or summarized in the book. VERDICT Dance historians and students of folklore and archaeology will find much to consider in this scholarly work. An impressive study that weaves together dance, folklore, culture, and mythology.—Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.

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


Doyle, Jennifer. Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art. Duke Univ. 2013. 248p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822353027. $84.95; ISBN 9780822353133. pap. $23.95. FINE ARTS

Grenier, Roger. A Box of Photographs. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2013. 128p. tr. from French by Alice Kaplan. photogs. ISBN 9780226308319. $20. PHOTOG

Holly, Michael Ann. The Melancholy Art. Princeton Univ. (Essays in the Arts). 2013. 224p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691139340. $24.95. FINE ARTS

Pump Me Up: DC Subculture of the 1980s. Gingko. 2013. 320p. ed. by Roger Gastman. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781584235132. $44.95. graphic arts

Saccani, Anna. LetterScapes: A Global Survey of Typographic Installations. Thames & Hudson. May 2013. 352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500241431. $50. GRAPHIC ARTS

Thaxton-Ward, Vanessa. One Shot: A Selection of Photographs by Reuben V. Burrell. Univ. of Virginia. 2013. 100p. photogs. ISBN 9780615695273. pap. $29.95. PHOTOG


Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women: An Annotated Edition. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2013. 624p. ed. by Daniel Shealy. illus. ISBN 9780674059719. $35. LIT

Leeming, David. Medusa: In the Mirror of Time. Reaktion Bks. 2013. 128p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781780230955. $25. LIT

Raphael, Frederic & Joseph Epstein. Distant Intimacy: A Friendship in the Age of the Internet. Yale Univ. May 2013. 352p. index. ISBN 9780300186949. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780300196207. LIT

Wilson, Andrew. Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted. Scribner. 2013. 368p. notes. index. ISBN 9781476710310. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781476714646. LIT


Cyrus, Billy Ray. Hillbilly Heart. New Harvest: Houghton Harcourt. 2013. 288p. photogs. discography. ISBN 9780547992655. $25. MUSIC

Hertzman, Marc A. Making Samba: A New History of Race and Music in Brazil. Duke Univ. 2013. 376p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822354154. $94.95; pap. ISBN 9780822354307. $25.95. MUSIC

Nochimson, Martha P. David Lynch Swerves: Uncertainty from Lost Highway to Inland Empire. Univ. of Texas. 2013. 240p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780292722958. $55. FILM

Peppiatt, Frank. When Variety Was King: Memoir of a TV Pioneer; Featuring Jackie Gleason, Sonny and Cher, Hee Haw, and More. ECW. 2013. 296p. ISBN 9781770411579. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781770903555. TV

Rich, B. Ruby. New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut. Duke Univ. Mar. 2013. 360p. bibliog. index. photogs. ISBN 9780822354116. $94.95; pap. ISBN 9780822354284. $25.95; FILM


Dennett, Daniel C. Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking. Norton. May 2013. 496p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393082067. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393240689. PHILOS

Ravven, Heidi M. The Self Beyond Itself: An Alternative History of Ethics, the New Brain Sciences, and the Myth of Free Will. New Pr. Jun. 2013. 528p. notes. ISBN 9781595585370. $31.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595588005.PHILOS


Black, Sophie Cabot. The Exchange. Graywolf. May 2013. 88p. ISBN 9781555976415. pap. $15. POETRY

Olstein, Lisa. Little Stranger. Copper Canyon. May 2013. 88p. ISBN 9781556594328. pap. $16. POETRY


Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture. IVP Academic: InterVarsity. 2013. 208p. ed. by Keith L. Johnson & Timothy Larsen. notes. index. ISBN 9780830827169. pap. $20. REL

Dalberg, Lana. Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine. SkyLight Paths. 2013. 288p. notes. ISBN 9781594734809. pap. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9781594735196. REL

O’Grady, Selina. And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus. St. Martin’s. 2013. 336p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250016812. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250016829. REL


Moss, Richard J. The Kingdom of Golf in America. Univ. of Nebraska. Jun. 2013. 408p. index. ISBN 9780803244825. $34.95. SPORTS