Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, January 31, 2014

Week ending January 31, 2014

Cohen, Andrew. Lost Beneath the Ice: The Story of HMS Investigator. Dundurn. 2013. 152p. illus. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9781459719491. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459719514. HIST
After the disappearance of polar explorer Sir John Franklin during his 1845 journey to navigate the Northwest Passage, several rescue expeditions were dispatched. Among the searchers was Capt. Robert McClure, whose vessel HMS Investigator set out from England in 1850 and itself became trapped in the ice for three torturous years before help arrived. Cohen (journalism & international affairs, Carleton Univ.; While Canada Slept: How We Lost Our Place in the World) first presents a brief, engaging history of McClure’s troubled expedition, followed by an account of a 2010 Canadian expedition to locate the sunken remains of HMS Investigator. Following Cohen’s 37 pages of text, this large-format work includes over 100 pages of images, including evocative historical illustrations related to McClure’s original voyage, as well as many arguably less interesting color photographs provided by Parks Canada documenting the 2010 expedition and passably illuminating the harsh realities of polar travel.
Verdict Neither a pure coffee-table book nor a narrative history, but falling somewhere awkwardly in between, this work might better have been presented as a shorter piece in National Geographic magazine. Best suited to dedicated polar exploration buffs, but on this topic they are likely to prefer Brian Payton’s more historically in-depth work on the subject, The Ice Passage: A True Story of Ambition, Disaster, and Endurance in the Arctic Wilderness. (It does not cover the 2010 expedition.)—Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI

Jacobs, Michael. The Andalucía Guide. 5th ed. Interlink. 2013. 463p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781566569514. pap. $25. TRAV
Not for the casual traveler, the fifth edition of this text-heavy guide to Andalucía will speak to frequent visitors, extended residents, and those with an inexhaustible passion for the region. It focuses primarily on the historical and cultural heritage of the area, devoting fully half of the book to these narratives. The author’s thoroughness is not surprising considering his own experience living in and falling in love with the area, which he described in his 2004 memoir, The Factory of Light: Tales from My Andalucían Village. The book’s second half ostensibly delves into descriptions of specific places, but again these are not the restaurant and sightseeing recommendations found in the average travel guide. Rather, they provide windows into place-specific history and culture, explaining how this castle or that street informs the greater story of Andalucía.
Verdict This comprehensive, if occasionally stylistically overwrought, guide may fill a niche for Andalucía students and aficionados.—Audrey Barbakoff, Kitsap Regional Lib., Bainbridge Island, WA

Nüesch, Hanspeter. Ruth and Billy Graham: The Legacy of a Couple. Baker. 2013. 384p. photos. notes. ISBN 9780801016707. $19.99. REL
billygraham013114The life and legacy of Billy Graham has ascended once more to the national view as he nears the end of his life upon earth. His recent two books, Nearing Home and The Reason for My Hope, have reminded the nation of his impact on not only American evangelicalism but also the world. Although numerous biographies and biographical studies exist, Nüesch (national director, Campus Crusade for Christ International, Switzerland) focuses here on Billy and Ruth Bell Graham as a couple. Rather than employing a chronological treatment, the author delineates ten character traits that have exemplified the Grahams in public and personal life. By relaying anecdotes from their lifelong ministry partnership, the author challenges readers through example and scripture to inculcate those characteristics into their own lives. The Grahams’ lasting impact, writes Nüesch, is owing to these ten traits: partnership, authenticity, humility, intimacy with Christ, focus, integrity, faith, global responsibility, empowerment, and grace.
Verdict Readers who are interested in Christian biography or Christian living will appreciate being challenged by this overview of a couple who sought to evangelize others and deeply impacted 20th-century evangelical Christianity.—Ray Arnett, Fremont Area Dist. Lib., MI

Solomon, Brian. North American Railroad Family Trees: An Infographic History of the Industry’s Mergers and Evolution. Voyageur. 2013. 156p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780760344880. $40. HIST
Railroad names such as Nickel Plate, New York Central, and Sante Fe live on in railroading lore long after the demise of their namesake companies. Prolific railroad historian Solomon (Classic Locomotives: Steam and Diesel Power in 700 Photographs) tasks himself with bringing clarity to the bankruptcies, mergers, and acquisitions that over the last 150 years consolidated hundreds of American railroads into the handful of megasystems surviving today. His primary tool is a set of charts consisting of parallel, converging, and sometimes diverging color-coded lines showing the changing relationships among sets of railroads over time. Solomon concedes that the charts, which he supplements with time lines and route maps, are simplifications of events. His text is necessarily quite concise and serves mainly to place the charts in historical context. A sprinkling of colorful period maps and other illustrations with detailed captions provide additional interest. He concludes with a speculative chapter on possible future mergers or breakups.
Verdict Lay readers will enjoy thumbing through the illustrations and should find the overall work an adequate introduction. Savvy railroad enthusiasts would probably only use it as a quick reference.—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Whitechapel Society. Jack the Ripper: The Terrible Legacy. History Pr. 2013. 95p. illus. ISBN 9780752493312. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780752497303. CRIME
The Whitechapel Society, devoted to the study of Jack the Ripper, commissioned this monograph with ten papers that riff on the theme of victims. Rather than focusing just on the five women definitively known to be killed by Jack the Ripper (Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly), the essays consider a wide range of others who were directly affected by the murders, either because they were accused of the murders or failed to solve the crimes. The subjects include London Police Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, Freemasons, Jews, “Prince Eddy” (Prince Albert Victor), and actor Richard Mansfield. Any whisper of suspicion immediately set off wild speculation about Jack’s true identity. Many of these “victims” have lived on in infamy. While the monograph tries to be both scholarly and popular, it is not quite either. Readers might enjoy picking and choosing which papers to read, as the styles vary. The references, which include books, articles, films, and websites, will be of much interest to Ripper fans, and each essay includes illustrations.
Verdict With Jack the Ripper in the news yet again, this might be of interest to “Ripperologists.” Recommended only for collections with extensive Jack the Ripper collections.—Karen Sandlin Silverman, Scarborough H.S. Lib., ME