Social Sciences Reviews | November 15, 2013

redstar Bahadur, Gaiutra. Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture. Univ. of Chicago. Nov. 2013. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226034423. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780226043388. HIST

Guyana-born U.S. journalist Bahadur has written a masterly chronicle of the lives of “coolie women” (and also “coolie men”), indentured laborers who were transported from India to the Caribbean from 1838 (i.e., after slavery was outlawed in the British Empire) to 1920, by which time such indentures had ceased. The work focuses on the author’s great-grandmother, who, pregnant and alone, sailed from Calcutta to Georgetown, Guyana (formerly British Guiana), in 1903. Bahadur sheds light on the subaltern lives of these women: their recruitment in India, their middle passages, their struggles to survive in the new world. The stories are both poignant and horrific: abuse, promiscuity, rape, mutilation, cuckoldry, and murder abound (according to Bahadur, this legacy still survives in Guyana), owing to the shortage of women and the double struggle between “men and women, colonizer and colonized.” The author investigates the lives of the Scottish supervisors on the sugar plantations and their complicated relationships with the coolie women. Bahadur’s extensive research draws from archival material, historical records, primary and oral sources, family history, fiction, and poetry. VERDICT This spellbinding account of a story that needed to be told is highly recommended.—Ravi Shenoy, Naperville, IL

redstar Graham, Ian. The Ultimate Book of Impostors: Over 100 True Stories of the Greatest Phonies and Frauds. Sourcebooks. Nov. 2013. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781402288678. pap. $16.99. CRIME

Children’s book author and illustrator Graham (Ripley’s Mighty Machines; Fighting Crime) writes stories of impostors from the past 500 years—not your typical swindlers but rather those who assumed a false identity for the purpose of fraud. The author provides a summary of each character, indicating how the individual was able to pull off the deception before being exposed. Readers will recognize some of the famous deceivers, such as “Anastasia”; Ferdinand Waldo Demara, who masqueraded as many different people; and Frank Abagnale, now an FBI consultant. They’ll also learn about lesser-known tricksters, including women who posed as men until their gender was revealed after death, the captain from Köpenick, and the Caucasian American who posed as Chinese magician “Chung Ling Soo.” There are interesting tidbits throughout in gray shaded boxes that some might find distracting. Graham states that the impostors featured here are failures because we know about them. How many others are out there right now of whom we are unaware? Verdict True crime buffs will enjoy this well-written book and will find it almost impossible to put down once they start. This work should be in every public library’s true crime section; highly recommended.—Michael Sawyer, Pine Bluff, AR

redstar Goldberg, Daniel & Linus Larsson. Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game That Changed Everything. Seven Stories. Nov. 2013. 256p. tr. from Swedish by Jennifer Hawkins. illus. ISBN 9781609805371. $21.95. SOC SCI

Freelance Swedish journalists Goldberg and Larsson, here translated by Hawkins, shine a spotlight on Markus Persson (b. 1979), creator of the cult video game smash Minecraft. Among Persson’s early obsessions were building things out of LEGO pieces and programming simple games on his family’s Commodore 128. As his family struggled—his father and sister battled drug addiction and his parents divorced—Persson grew more engrossed in the world of computers. But it wasn’t until he worked as a programmer in a for-profit environment that he felt inspired to combine his childhood passions and create Minecraft. Goldberg and Larsson explain how Persson’s online persona, “Notch,” encouraged players to contribute to the game before he completed it and made them feel invested in its quality, circumstances enabling its overnight success. The authors also cover the ensuing launch of Persson’s video game company, Mojang. The heart of the book, however, is Persson’s compelling personal story and his adherence to his personal philosophy before, during, and after his game’s phenomenal success (it has sold millions of copies). VERDICT This is a timely, original work that isn’t just for Minecraft fans. Aspiring and professional game programmers will love it, too, as will those who enjoy reading success stories.—Paul Stenis, ­Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Countess of Carnarvon. Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey. Broadway: Crown. 2013. 368p. photos. index. ISBN 9780385344968. pap $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781444762143. BIOG

Farris, Scott. Kennedy & Reagan: Why Their Legacies Endure. Lyons. Nov. 2013. 336p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780762781447. $27.95.BIOG

Ferling, John. Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation. Bloomsbury. 2013. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608195282. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781608195428. BIOG


Caudill, Edward. Intelligently Designed: How Creationists Built the Campaign Against Evolution. Univ. of Illinois. Nov. 2013. 216p. notes. index. ISBN 9780252038013. $85; pap. ISBN 9780252076992. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780252095306. COMM


Berman, Jonathan. Success in Africa: CEO Insights from a Continent on the Rise. Bibliomotion. 2013. 224p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781937134464. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781937134471. BUS

redstar Glaser, Judith E. Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Bibliomotion. 2013. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781937134679. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781937134686. BUS

Zarate, Juan C. Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare. Public Affairs. 2013. 512p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610391153. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781610391160. BUS


Cunningham, Anne E. & Jamie Zibulsky. Book Smart: How To Develop and Support Successful, Motivated Readers. Oxford Univ. Jan. 2014. 264p. notes. ISBN 9780199843930. $24.95. ED

Englander, Elizabeth Kandel. Bullying and Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs To Know. Harvard Education. 2013. 197p. notes. index. ISBN 9781612506005. $44.95; pap. ISBN 9781612505992. $24.95. ED


Bogar, Thomas A. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre. Regnery History. Nov. 2013. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781621570837. $27.95. HIST

Coughlin, Con. Churchill’s First War: Young Winston at War with the Afghans. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2014. 320p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250043047. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841048. HIST

Feeser, Andrea. Red, White, and Black Make Blue: Indigo in the Fabric of Colonial South Carolina Life. Univ. of Georgia. Nov. 2013. 168p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780820338170. $69.95; pap. ISBN 9780820345536. $24.95. HIST

Lloyd, Nick. Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I. Basic: Perseus. Jan. 2014. 384p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465074921. $29.99. HIST

McMahon, Darrin M. Divine Fury: A History of Genius. Basic: Perseus. 2013. 358p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780465003259. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465069910. HIST

Most, Doug. The Race Underground: Boston, New York and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America’s First Subway. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2014. 352p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312591328. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466842007. HIST


redstar Clear, Todd R. & Natasha A. Frost. The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America. New York Univ. Dec. 2013. 272p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814717196. $30. CRIME


Berry, Jeffrey M. & Sarah Sobieraj. The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility. Oxford Univ. Jan. 2014. 320p. illus. ISBN 9780199928972. $34.95. POL SCI


Bloom, Paul. Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. Crown. Nov. 2013. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9780307886842. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307886866. PSYCH

redstar Chase, Ronald. Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science. Johns Hopkins. Nov. 2013. 232p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781421410906. $45; pap. ISBN 9781421410913. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421410920. PSYCH

Farber, Claire & William Vernick. Brand Guys: Find Out Which Brand of Guy Is Right for You and Find the Love of Your Life. Motivational. 2013. 200p. ISBN 9781628650198. pap. $19.95. PSYCH

Gladwell, Malcolm. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Little, Brown. 2013. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780316204361. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316204385. PSYCH


Blay, Yaba (text) & Noelle Théard (photos). (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race. BLACKprint. Dec. 2013. 284p. photos. notes. ISBN 9780989664509. $40. SOC SCI

Erickson, Karla A. How We Die Now: Intimacy and the Work of Dying. Temple Univ. 2013. 212p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439908242. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781439908259. SOC SCI

Majd, Hooman. The Ministry of Guidance Invites You To Not Stay: An American Family in Iran. Doubleday. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780385535328. $26.95. SOC SCI