Nonfiction on Conservation, Clinton’s Campaign, Best Travel 2018, and Energy & Politics | Xpress Reviews

Week ending January 19, 2018

Carlson, Hans M. Walking Toward Moosalamoo: A Natural History of Terra Nullius. Homebound Pubns. Mar. 2018. 424p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781947003576. pap. $19.95. TRAV
Conservationist, former professor (American Indian studies, Univ. of Minnesota), and author Carlson (Home Is the Hunter: The James Bay Cree and Their Land) showcases a wide sweep of knowledge throughout this hybrid travel memoir/land philosophy text. A largely pessimistic view of all the ways Americans have destroyed the earth, Carlson’s writings are heady and full of history. The philosophical text contrasts greatly with his travel writing about three summers he hiked toward Mount Moosalamoo in Vermont, which is lyrical and appreciative of the land. Carlson delves into such topics as colonial domination, storytelling, fossil fuel, the Western inability to understand Native beliefs, competition among businesses, and the failures of the civil rights movement. His many arguments on how man has neglected the earth are persuasive and depressing. He writes of the earth and the animals that populate it as entities humans must speak with and cease wounding. Many ideas are explored, but they often don’t connect to the book’s travel narrative segments. Few solutions or suggestions for improvement are offered until the final pages, and even then few practical options are given aside from returning to gardening, local manufacturing, and finding ways to combine private ownership with common lands.
Verdict For readers interested in nature-related philosophy.—Katie Lawrence, Grand Rapids

Clinton, Hillary Rodham. What Happened. S. & S. 2017. 512p. index. ISBN 9781501175565. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781501175572. POL SCI
Readers will find here much more than an analysis or explanation of the unexpected outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Clinton certainly addresses the campaign and its many twists and turns, but she also provides background on her path to becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major political party. She methodically describes the obstructions she faced, such as the traditional resistance to female officeholders at all levels, Russia’s weaponized information, and the unique complications presented by her use of a private email account during her service as Secretary of State. One fascinating section describes a nearly hour-by-hour schedule for a typical day in the life of a presidential candidate. Clinton presents extensive statistics to demonstrate the inaccuracy of reasons offered by pundits for her loss, such as her unpopularity. She believes that winning three million more votes than the successful candidate dispels that interpretation. Throughout the book, Clinton describes the frustration her campaign experienced when her legislative message was constantly overshadowed by media coverage of her email mistakes or other nonissue-related stories. Clinton provides an engaging narrative about her background and effort to attain the country’s highest office as well as a revealing expression of her emotions following her defeat.
Verdict Readers interested in learning about the 2016 presidential campaign and Clinton will find this to be a satisfying and informative book.—Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018. Lonely Planet. 2017. 208p. photos. maps. index. ISBN 9781786579706. $17.99. TRAV
Once again, Lonely Planet has produced its best in travel for the new year, providing lovely, colorful overviews of the top ten countries, regions, and cities to visit. Each entry is four to six pages long, with enticing photographs, sample itineraries, unmissable experiences, and best times to go. Supplemental lists include best value destinations, culture trips, new openings, and places to stay. The authors also include a few pages with top trends in types of travel, which for 2018 includes destination races and exploratory cruises. Much of this information is available by other publications on the Internet (National Geographic, Forbes, and others provide easily findable lists). Additionally, the two-page advertisement for Lonely Planet guides on the inside back cover give the sense that this is essentially a sales pitch for the company’s travel guides. That said, this book features a nice overview of travel possibilities.
Verdict A beautiful, concise guide for future and armchair travelers to thumb through and see what is now trendy in travel.—Louise Feldmann, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins

O’Sullivan, Meghan L. Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. S. & S. 2017. 512p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781501107931. $29; ebk. ISBN 9781501107955. POL SCI
In this work, O’Sullivan (director, Geopolitics of Energy Project & Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Univ; Shrewd Sanctions: Statecraft and State Sponsors of Terrorism), former special assistant to President George W. Bush, describes how policy and technology changes in the oil and especially natural gas industry dramatically increased energy supply and lowered prices. Like Daniel Yergin’s The Quest, the book’s focus is energy markets’ broad but often opaque influence on world economies, alliances, and conflicts. O’Sullivan argues that the recent supply increase has benefited the United States and laid the ground for further strategic gains. The book is best when it explains how the shifting energy landscape drove political and economic factors, such as the weakening Russian economy, which set the stage for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Emerging energy sources, such as wind and solar, receive relatively little coverage. The conclusion’s predictions and strategic recommendations, however, seem dated in light of postelection events.
Verdict Recommended with reservations for readers interested in how global energy markets shaped the U.S. political context in 2016.—Jennifer M. Miller, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles



  1. Opal says:

    “What Happened” should be retitled “It’s Everyone Else’s Fault But Mine”. She lost to Donald Trump for crying out loud.

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