Nonfiction: Coming Out, Environmental Philosophy, Tom Yawkey, TM, Martin Luther King Jr. | Xpress Reviews

Week ending January 12, 2018

Allen, Tina Alexis. Hiding Out: A Memoir of Drugs, Deception, and Double Lives. Dey Street: HarperCollins. Feb. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062565679. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062565709. MEMOIR
Like Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, Hiding Out explores intertwined coming out narratives, both shrouded in their own secrecy. Allen crafts a fast-moving, cinematic account of her sexuality as it refutes the religious ideology she grows up with and as it intersects with her Catholic father’s own sexual identity. The author delineates how this secret became a bond between her and her father—one that also manifested in dangerous, self-destructive tendencies for both of them. Intensely personal as it is, this memoir showcases connections among religion, authority, gender, and sexuality that impact family dynamics and shape identity.
Verdict A candid story of redemption and self-discovery that should interest a variety of memoir readers.—Emily Bowles, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Jacoby, Susan. Why Baseball Matters. Yale Univ. Mar. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9780300224276. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780300235401. SPORTS
Jacoby (Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion) starts her latest book by relating personal stories about her earliest memories of baseball and how she grew to love the game. However, as the book continues, her negative tone about proposed solutions to improving baseball may turn off many readers. The purpose of the book is to explain why baseball matters today and that is not always achieved. It is not until the afterword that she provides her own suggestions for making the game better. These would be more effective if they were not as a separate chapter and were worked in throughout the entire book. In addition, some of the footnotes could have been incorporated into the narrative.
Verdict It is evident that the author has knowledge of the sport and a passion for baseball, but general readers and fans can find a host of other baseball books currently on the market about the sport in today’s society and the arguments about how and if the game needs to change.—Pamela Calfo, Baldwin Borough P.L., PA

Kaplan, Janice & Barnaby Marsh. How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck To Transform Work, Love, and Life. Dutton. Mar. 2018. 352p. notes. ISBN 9781101986394. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101986400. SELF-HELP
Luck often plays a role in our lives, which raises the question: Are there ways to improve one’s chances? This book by best-selling author Kaplan (The Gratitude Diaries) and scholar Marsh examines the ways one can advance the opportunities for being lucky in career, love, health, and more. Most of the advice is common sense: be willing to relocate, keep your eye out for chance, take risks but have a backup plan, and reach out to others and develop contacts since you never know who will turn out to be the link you need. Above all, have a positive attitude. The authors illustrate their advice with anecdotal evidence about real people; both the rich and famous and others not so well known but successful in their own way. All in all, despite the subtitle reference to the “science of luck” and although some mathematical theory is alluded to, it is hardly scientific.
Verdict A well-written, easy-to-read book that many will find enjoyable.—Harold D. Shane, Mathematics Emeritus, Baruch Coll. Lib., CUNY

Mueller, Martin Lee. Being Salmon, Being Human: Encountering the Wild in Us and Us in the Wild. Chelsea Green. 2017. 384p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781603587457. pap. $25. PHIL
In this lyrical nonfiction debut, philosophy PhD Mueller critiques modern Western society’s attitudes toward the natural world, using salmon as both case study and controlling metaphor, juxtaposing the modern salmon farming industry with Native American tradition. The result is a cross-disciplinary work interweaving aspects of philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and environmental ecology to advocate for a more empathetic, respectful, and holistic approach toward interacting with the natural world. Mueller creates an accessible introduction to environmental philosophy—the branch of philosophy dealing with humans’ relationship to nature—with a strong narrative thread.
Verdict Appropriate for academic libraries and large public libraries. May hold special interest for institutions based in the Pacific Northwest.—Lindsay Morton, P.L. of Science, San Francisco

Nowlin, Bill. Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox. Univ. of Nebraska. Feb. 2018. 560p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780803296831. $36.95. SPORTS
The Boston Red Sox are one of Major League Baseball’s most famous teams. After they notoriously traded Babe Ruth in 1920, the Sox went on to be one of the worst teams in baseball for the rest of that decade. In 1932, 30-year-old Tom Yawkey bought the team for $1.2 million and was the sole owner from 1932 until his death in 1976. Nowlin (Ted Williams at War) has written a well-researched biography about the fascinating journey of the Red Sox during the Yawkey era. Although the team never won a World Series under Yawkey’s stewardship, he was able to produce players such as Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski. Nowlin touches on all aspects of Yawkey’s life as a philanthropist as well as an aggressive deal-maker, even with regard to controversial issues.
Verdict This is the most in-depth book written about Yawkey; Red Sox and baseball history fans will appreciate it.—Gus Palas, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL

Roth, Bob. Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation. S. & S. Feb. 2018. 224p. notes. ISBN 9781501161216. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781501161230. REL
Transcendental meditation (TM) was brought to the United States by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 1950s and early 1960s, specifically to teach the Western mind a simple technique to reduce stress and increase personal resiliency. Since that time, hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted to show the efficacy of this particular style of meditation. Roth, a longtime teacher of TM and CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing meditation to inner-city children, writes knowingly and convincingly of the value a meditative practice with no dogma, religion, or philosophy attached. He expertly differentiates TM from other types of meditation and discusses extensively the scientifically proven benefits such as cardiovascular health, reduction of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and alleviation of anxiety disorders. Punctuated throughout are testimonials of healing and life-changing results by TM mediators including celebrities such as Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, and Hugh Jackman.
Verdict A thorough explanation of what transcendental meditation is and is not that will appeal to readers of mindfulness and seekers of stress reduction and mental composure.—Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States Lib., Portland, OR

Sharkey, Patrick. Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence. Norton. Jan. 2018. 272p. notes. ISBN 9780393609608. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393609615. SOC SCI
Providing background on recent reductions in urban crime and the need to prevent an increase in crime and violence, Sharkey, chair of New York University’s Department of Sociology and author of Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality, makes the case that the movement against urban inequality must focus not only on justice but on investment. He recommends that the principles of “durable urban policy should guide this effort” of housing equality. Investing in affordable housing, confronting joblessness, supporting working parents, bolstering wages of workers at the bottom, and providing access to quality education are some of the areas offered as in need of improvement and involvement.
Verdict Well documented with numerous footnotes, this book is recommended for students of urban policy and sociology as well as city planners.—Karen Venturella Malnati, Union Cty. Coll. Libs, Cranford, NJ

To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Harvard Univ. Feb. 2018. 430p. ed. by Tommie Shelby & Brandon M. Terry. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780674980754. $35. SOC SCI
A theologian by training though never an elected political leader, Martin Luther King Jr. was a hybrid moral leader. This collection of 15 original essays, edited by Shelby (Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and Philosophy) and Terry (African and African American studies, social studies; both Harvard Univ.) present King as a kind of political philosopher and theorist. Among the best essays are those by Karuna Mantena (political science, Yale Univ.) and Martha C. Nussbaum (philosophy, Univ. of Chicago), which compare King’s nonviolent resistance with that of other civil rights leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Neither Gandhi nor King was elected, but the men found creative solutions to advance Indian independence and African American civil rights, respectively. The collection is hardly a page-turner except for the eloquent essay by Cornell West (Harvard Univ.) on King’s legacy, past and present.
Verdict This edited volume will be useful primarily in academic courses dealing with African American studies.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport

Wallen, Amy E. When We Were Ghouls: A Memoir of Ghost Stories. Univ. of Nebraska. Mar. 2018. 294p. illus. ISBN 9780803296954. pap. $19.95. BIOG
Wallen (MoonPies and Movie Stars) presents an asymmetrical and often unnerving portrait of childhood on her journey of self-reflection and memory to discover her past and its relationship with the present. Her youth was spent globe-trotting as a result of her father’s work with an oil company; stories of her life in Nevada, Nigeria, Peru, and Bolivia offer interesting, if uneven, glimpses into her world. The book begins with a sudden remembrance of the family looting a pre-Incan grave site and later displaying the artifacts throughout their home. Searching to fill gaps in her memory, Wallen calls her parents, whose memories have faded in late age, and is faced with her father’s memory loss and her mother’s denial-turned-disapproval as she recalls, “We were ghouls.” Throughout, Wallen seeks to find the truth behind her childhood memories just as strongly as she longs for love, particularly from her mother. This memoir is at its best in capturing elusive experiences in interesting worlds and situations but is diminished by the author’s tone, which often comes across as disagreeable.
Verdict An additional purchase where similar titles circulate widely.—Mattie Cook, Lake Odessa Community Lib., MI

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