Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, February 28, 2014

Week ending February 28, 2014

Elliott, Christopher. How To Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle). National Geographic. Mar. 2014. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781426212734. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781426212741. TRAV
Elliott, travel expert, columnist, and cofounder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, shares his knowledge in this well-organized, easily understood how-to-travel book. Covering subjects from luggage to effective complaining, he helps the travel consumer understand what factors to consider as well as the benefits and drawbacks of various options. He compares travel agents, online travel agencies, and booking directly and discusses how to find trustworthy information, both offline and online. Sidebars provide tips of what to do and what not to do. The “Problem Solved” articles recount consumer complaints that Elliott helped to solve, often when companies failed to refund travelers’ money. The author emphasizes the importance of paper trails and reading the fine print and offers invaluable details on numerous topics including cell phones, currency, insurance, health, cruises, time shares, and bus travel. Although many types of lodging are addressed, camping is not covered. An appendix provides contact information for major travel companies and organizations.
Verdict Whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or you travel regularly for business, this is a book you can use.—Janet Clapp, N. Clarendon, VT

starred review starGrovier, Kelly. 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age. Thames & Hudson. 2013. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780500239070. $50. FINE ARTS
100works022814In a marvelous combination of aesthetic sensibility, poetic imagery, and charming wit, art critic and poet Grovier (cofounder, European Romantic Review) examines what particular works of art have to say about our times and about ourselves. Many of the images have echoes of the past, while still managing to be of their own time and, perhaps, of the future. Not all the images cited will resound with all readers, but the great value of the title is the meticulous discussion of each artwork’s power to create myths and ideas: to expand and investigate this phenomenon without passing judgment. Grovier raises profound questions: What will survive after we are gone? What will posterity think of our age? How will we be seen as a culture? The excellent illustrations include Christo’s vision of orange flags in Central Park, Christian Boltanski’s orderly arrangements of clothes in the vastness of Paris’s Grand Palais, and Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, as well as the art of Marlene Dumas and the swaying structures of Ernesto Neto’s Leviathan Thot. This is at once a major look at contemporary artworks and a personal investigation of the self-image provoked by them.
Verdict A thoughtful view of the role of art in our society and its reflection of our culture both collective and personal. This title is a major addition to the literature of art criticism and philosophy.—Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York

Ingrid Bergman: A Life in Pictures. Schirmer/Mosel. 2013. 528p. ed. by Isabella Rossellini. photos. filmog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9783829606608. $129.95. FILM
Few performers were as lovingly scrutinized by the movie camera as Ingrid Bergman (1915–82), who photographed perfectly from all angles. This huge “visual biography” features hundreds of rare and candid photos of Bergman’s life and career, many culled from the actress’s personal archive. The book includes details of her childhood years in Sweden and her pursuit of an acting career there, until she caught the attention of American movie moguls, particularly producer David O. Selznick. The book also covers her affair with famed war photographer Robert Capa and an adulterous relationship with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, which scandalized America and led to her ten-year estrangement from Hollywood. While the book doesn’t mask Bergman’s flaws, it does credit her for intelligence, a tireless work ethic, and a strong love of family and loyalty to friends.
Verdict This tome features an appreciation from actress Liv Ullmann (who starred with Bergman in one of her last films, Autumn Sonota) and a rare, in-depth 1970s interview with the actress. Readers looking for a fuller treatment of the star should consult Bergman’s autobiography, or several other book-length biographical treatments. This book is recommended for all Bergman’s legions of fans—if they can lift it.—Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA

McKenna, Rachael Hale. The New York Dog. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Mar. 2014. 168p. illus. ISBN 9781617690907. $29.95. PETS
McKenna (Smitten; 101 Salivations: For the Love of Dogs) has a well-established brand in animal photography, with work that includes greeting cards, calendars, and posters. This collection of portraits moves from France (The French Dog) to the United States in celebration of New York’s pooches. A foreword from Georgina Bloomberg, featured with her five rescue dogs, sets the tone of dedication to the city and its canine inhabitants. While some humans are included with their pets, the focus is on the animals in their environments. From Valentino and Geisha in Manhattan to Oscar in Queens, the dogs’ stories are as varied as New York’s neighborhoods. The author also takes readers through the seasons, with cityscapes in sunshine and snow, and various settings from hard concrete streets to the city’s parks to posh apartments. McKenna worked on this project with the Humane Society of New York and plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to the organization.
Verdict Readers who like the author’s other books will enjoy this look at one of the country’s most celebrated cities and its lesser-known locales and residents.—Meagan Storey, Virginia Beach