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SirReadaLot.org


We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

January 2006, Issue #81

Guide to This Issue

Issue Contents: Seeing Rothko, Irving Fine: An American Composer, Coming Home to Myself, How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World, The High Peaks of the Pacific Northwest, Apartment Living, Learning the Secrets of World Leaders, Outsourcing, The Integration of Work and Personal Life, Children's Books: Challenger: America's Favorite Eagle, World War II, Computers: Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, Food: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan, Perfect Party Food, Today's Kitchen Cookbook, The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle, Education: Educational Performance, Film: Memoirs of a Geisha: A Portrait of the Film, Sports: Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers, Health: The Death of Mammography, Stories from Adoptive Families, When Violence Begins at Home, History: American Civil War Ironclad, Quintana Roo Archaeology, The Peoples of Early North America, The Conquest of the Middle East, Home Style: Zen Bride, Charles Faudree's Country French Living, American Homes: How They Shape Our Landscape, Fiction: The Masque of the Black Tulip, Science: Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources, Biofears And Environmental Anxieties, A History of Space Exploration, Religion: Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, Hearing Women's Stories in the Old Testament, The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels

Arts & Photography

Seeing Rothko edited by Glenn Phillips & Thomas Crow (Issues and Debates Series: Getty), in a collection of essays, examines the art of viewing a Rothko painting. 

Mark Rothko's work has variously been described as transcendental, tragic, mystical, violent, or serene; as representative of the void; as opening onto the experience of the sublime, as exhilaratingly intellectual; or as profoundly spiritual – to mention just a few examples. If much of the importance of Rothko's work lies within a highly experiential, self-aware perceptual mode that sustained attention to these canvases is said to trigger, one might first wonder, given this variety of descrip­tions, just how many different perceptual experiences Rothko's work might engage. Do writers describe the experience of seeing Rothko so differently because they each genuinely experience something different in front of the work? Or instead, might it be that the perceptual, bodily experience of seeing Rothko is actually quite similar for everyone but that their cognitive abilities to process, identify, recall, and represent those sensations differ irreconcilably?

In a series of essays by contemporary scholars, Seeing Rothko, edited by Glenn Phillips, research associate and consulting curator in Contemporary Programs and Research at the Getty Research Institute, and Thomas Crow, director of the Getty Research Institute and professor of art history at the University of Southern California, explores the experience of standing before Rothko’s most compelling artistic creations.

Throughout his artistic career, Rothko (1903-1970) was concerned with what other people saw when they looked at his canvases. As his work shifted from figurative imagery to glowing fields of color, his concern expanded to the settings in which his canvases were exhibited. Described by H. W. Janson as being ‘akin to a trancelike rapture,’ the act of seeing an original Rothko painting is the most significant aspect of the work. The essays in Seeing Rothko argue that the human scale of the canvases and the nuances of color – layers of flat and glossy paints, drip marks, and recognizable brushstrokes – are lost in reproductions of the works. The viewer's physical proximity to the work, the setting in which the painting has been placed, and physiological responses such as eyestrain also add to the overall experience and interpretation of the work.

Rothko's own well-documented concern over the precise environments in which his work was to be displayed and his con­tinual anxiety over misinterpretation of his work support the idea that the success of a Rothko painting hinges not just on the details of pigment present on canvas but somehow extends to the nature of the viewing encounter itself, as if the work is only successfully completed when it generates a particular, perhaps profound, affect in a properly receptive viewer.

Particularly in projects such as the Seagram murals and the paintings for the Rothko Chapel, Rothko tried to translate the nature of the aesthetic encounter between a viewer and his art into the entirety of a space itself. Briony Fer in “Rothko and Repetition” sees this as an ultimately success­ful redemptive model for painting, which "preserves the possibility of the aes­thetic in already spectacular forms."

Seeing Rothko is divided into two parts. The first is comprised of essays, including a profile and history of the artist's career; Rothko's transition from figurative paintings to his fields of color; a comparison between the effects of staring at a Rothko painting on the eyes and popular relaxation methods from the 1950s; a discussion of the Rothko Chapel; and an analysis of repetition in Rothko's work. The book includes essays by David Antin, Dore Ashton, Thomas Crow, John Elderfield, Briony Fer, Charles Harrison, Miguel Lopez-Remiro, Sarah Rich, and Jeffrey Weiss, and an introduction by Glenn Phillips.

Irreconcilable contradictions abound throughout Rothko's work, and they may, in fact, be at the core of the Rothko viewing experience. Rather than attempting to resolve these contradictions, perhaps editors Phillips and Crow can draw an anal­ogy from seeing Rothko's work and simply note the value in the process of discovering those contradictions in the first place. Rothko was not a prolific writer, but his writing has been continuously valuable to scholars. Although many of Rothko's unpublished manuscripts and letters are now all too familiar, others are still obscure. The editors include "Reading Rothko: A Selected Bibliography of His Written Works," a bibliography of Rothko's writings that are available in public archives or collections, including many underutilized texts that date between 1950 and 1970, a period during which Rothko was thought to have written little. As Miguel Lopez-Remiro notes in his introduction to this list, the study of Rothko's texts "confirms, first, that Rothko was an intellectual whose writings have a significantly literary quality and, second, that he made statements regarding his art over the entire course of his artistic career... annulling the fallacy that relates silence to his classic formal practice."

A plates section of 46 color reproductions is also included. The second part of the book includes facsimiles of the "Marshall Jenkins" sketchbook and the artist's "Scribble Book," in which he jotted down ideas about teaching art to children, as well as an essay on the sketchbook.

Seeing Rothko is a richly illustrated volume of essays, analytic, personal, even poetic, focusing on the complex experience of encountering Rothko’s paintings, individually and in various contexts. The book will encourage further avenues of research and lead to the uncovering of new contradictions in Mark Rothko's art, so that we may continue seeing Rothko in new ways.
 

Art & Architecture / Composers & Musicians / Biographies & Memoirs

Irving Fine: An American Composer in His Time by Phillip Ramey (Lives in Music Series, No. 8: Pendragon Press) 

…a beautiful spirit in the world of music [who] brought honor to everything he touched. – Leonard Bernstein

Phillip Ramey's Irving Fine is a study of the life and music of an artist of extraordinary refinement and dis­tinction who was also an innovative educator. This book is partly based on the reminiscences of the composer's family, friends and colleagues, and the portrait that emerges of Fine (1914-1962) is sketched only by those who spoke to the author from first-hand knowledge. Ramey, a composer and pianist, discusses Fine's brief teaching career in the 1940s at his alma mater, Harvard Univer­sity. Fine was convinced he was shadowed by a ma­lign tradition of tacit anti-Semitism. Ramey then discusses his sub­sequent years at the newly opened Brandeis Uni­versity, where he flourished, founding the music department and introducing a landmark perform­ing arts festival.

In the Foreword, Pulitzer Prize-winning com­poser Richard Wernick, who studied under Fine at Brandeis, describes the remarkable growth of Fine's compositional style and aesthetic during the many years he knew him. This evolution embraced Stravinskian neoclassicism and romantically in­flected serialism, producing such recognized masterpieces as the Toccata Concertante for Orches­tra, the Partita for Wind Quintet and the Symphony. Fine's growth stemmed from not only his probing musical and creative intellect but also his personal and professional relationships with Aaron Copland and four Boston-associated composers: Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Harold Shapero and Arthur Berger. In addition to their Harvard and Brandeis connections, these men all worked at Tanglewood under the guidance of the legendary conductor Serge Koussevitzky.

The images in Irving Fine's photo section were gleaned from the albums of family and friends and show Fine from his youth to a few days before his death. They include his family, his Tanglewood and Brandeis activities, Koussevitzky, and contemporary composers such as Copland, Bernstein and Darius Milhaud, as well as the row chart for his String Quartet, from the Library of Congress's Irving Fine Collection. Ramey has also provided a chronological list of Fine's compositions.

Phillip Ramey is the ideal biographer of that excellent, too-neglected composer, Irvin Fine. I read the book with deep admiration for both Fine and the author. – Ned Rorem

In Irving Fine, Fine is shown as a musical aristocrat, an unusually refined artist well on his way to major status. The book ultimately shows the tragedy of a life cut short.

Arts & Photography / Architecture

The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World by Deyan Sudjic (The Penguin Press)

Why have presidents, prime ministers, mayors, millionaires, and despots all come to share such a fascination with massive building projects?
Architecture critics most often write about buildings as a form of art, promulgating an ‘auteur theory’ of architecture that focuses on the dazzling brilliance of the big names, such as Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry, and underplaying the role of the wealthy and powerful in forcing the architects' hands. Deyan Sudjic in The Edifice Complex puts forth a contrarian view. Architecture must be understood as an expression of power and as a weapon, or form of propaganda that is used in ways both subtle and grandiose as a means of achieving and maintaining power – of carving a legacy out of glass, steel, and stone.
While most architecture books focus on a certain building or a specific architect, The Edifice Complex takes a look at a broad range of buildings and large-scale building schemes – both the impressively effective and the disastrously ill conceived. Sudjic, one of the world's premier architecture critics (London’s Observer magazine), takes readers behind the scenes of the stories of the great political manipulators of architecture in the twentieth century, from the great dictators of fascism – Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin – and their megalomaniacal plans for rebuilding Berlin, Rome, and Moscow, to power-broker businessmen such as Nelson Rockefeller; and from the ‘theme park’ propaganda of the presidential libraries to the vainglorious symbolism of Saddam Hussein's Mother of All Battles Mosque. While some leaders have used architecture as a means of consolidating control over a nation, others have employed architecture to shape a new national identity, as Ataturk did to a large degree of success in Turkey and the shahs attempted and failed to do in Iran.
But what of the architects? Sudjic also examines the role they play in lending their talents to these efforts, from those who have all too willingly aided and abetted, such as Albert Speer, to those who have courted the powerful while remaining true to their art, such as Mies van der Rohe.

"To build," Sudjic writes, "is to reconstruct reality as we wish it to be." Thus, he argues, architecture must be understood not solely as an art: its political implications are often too great. The Edifice Complex shows how architecture is used in ways both subtle and grandiose to impress, glorify, or intimidate, as an instrument of nation building and as an expression of ego or a bid for immortality.

Everything is political, especially architecture, Sudjic demonstrates in this provocative consideration of the world's most notable architectural triumphs and the masters who commissioned them. … Architecture connoisseurs will appreciate the gossipy histories and the original lines of thought, but readers less familiar with the subject may feel dizzied by Sudjic's erudite collages. – Publishers Weekly
Sudjic, the architectural critic for London's Observer matches an electrifying writing style with an invaluable international perspective and a shrewd understanding of the politics of architecture to create a unique and revelatory history of modern architectural excess, the bitter fruits of what he calls "the edifice complex." … And in his lively critiques of trendsetting architects Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry, Yung Ho Chang, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind and the controversy over the World Trade Center site, Sudjic astutely parses both the psychological and political dimensions of architecture, a timely subject given the sure-to-be heated debate over how to rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Gulf states. – Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

[Sudjic] is fascinated by the baroque dance through which prominent architects and their masters enable each other's dreams of immortality.... [An] intellectually robust look at the delicate relationship between profound design and filthy lucre. – Kirkus Reviews

A spirited account of egotism in architecture – Financial Times

Fascinating...evocative... The Edifice Complex is essential reading for anyone who cares about the physical world around them, for architecture is the most overwhelming of cultural forms. – The Independent

A thrilling and passionately indignant trawl through vanity's most polluted depths. – The Times (London)

As compelling a read as a popular novel...At times, it is as though the worlds of academe and the gossip column collide. – Norman Foster

In this wide-angle look at a fascinating range of buildings, Sudjic transports readers behind the scenes of many large-scale building schemes. The Edifice Complex is a captivating, eye-opening exploration of architecture as an expression of power. The book offers a brilliant reinterpretation of the role of buildings in our lives and of the age-old question why we build.
 

Arts & Photography / Travel

Seven Summits: The High Peaks of the Pacific Northwest by Art Wolfe, with text by Michael Lanza (Sasquatch Books) 

Art Wolfe’s photographs are a superb evocation of some of the moat breathtaking spectacles in the world – Sir David Attenborough

It has been nearly eight years since Art Wolfe released a regional book; it was worth the wait. Seven Summits is the culmination of nearly 35 years worth of exploring and photographing. While the famed seven summits of the seven continents remain an alpinist's ultimate challenge, the Pacific Northwest has its own version of the seven summits: Flood, Adams, St. Helens, Ranier, Glacier, Shuksan, and Baker – stunning peaks that crown the Cascade Range. Wolfe, a native of the Pacific Northwest, captures their untamed beauty from near and far in images that reveal high snowfields, lush old-growth forests, and the haunting blue light of glaciers.

An internationally acclaimed landscape and wildlife photographer, Wolfe has become synonymous with stunning, jaw-dropping photography of the natural world. Wolfe's award-winning work has comprised many regional and national books including, The Elements, Edge of the Earth/Corner of the Sky, and The Living Wild. Wolfe's true love is for the environment, and his passion and commitment to it is evidenced in his photography. In Seven Summits, Wolfe teams up with Backpacker Magazine's Northwest Editor, Michael Lanza, to showcase and narrate the beauty of these mountains. Wolfe draws out the distinct personalities of each peak: the perfect conical shape of Adams floating alone on the horizon; the volcanic landscape of St. Helens; the stone and ice that make up glacier; the serene glacial patterns of Baker; the ethereal snow and ice caves of Shuksan, and of course the crown jewel of the Cascades; Ranier, which stands an impressive 7,000 feet above its neighbor peaklets at 14,411.1 feet.

In addition to basic facts such as elevation, longitude, and latitude, Lanza supplies little known facts and compendiums such as:

  • More than 10,000 climbers attempt to climb Mt. Hood each year, and 500 of those ascents have been done with a dog named Ranger.
  • Twenty-three years of potential water supply for Seattle is locked up in Mt. Ranier's glaciers.
  • 70% of Mount St. Helens was obliterated by the 1980 eruption.
  • 8.5 square miles of Glacier Peak are covered in ice.

In an effort to capture the many moods of the mountains, Wolfe spends at least nine months of the year living out of a backpack, traveling to remote regions to put himself in a position to capture these precious and astonishing images. A climber and hiker, he seeks out the unique and special views that are not accessible by land vehicles or airplanes.

The striking, indeed breathtaking, photographs in Seven Summits convey the many moods of these untamed mountains, which for many people represent the last pure and wild places on the planet.
 

Biographies & Memoirs / Autobiographies / Cooking, Food & Wine

Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, & Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living by Julie Powell (Thorndike Press Large Print Nonfiction Series: Thorndike) 

Julie Powell is thirty years old, living in a run-down apartment in Queens, and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job. Needing something to break the monotony of her life, she invents a deranged assignment: she will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking and cook all 524 recipes in the span of one year. At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier into the more complicated realm of aspics and crepes, she realizes there's more to it than meets the eye.

Julie & Julia recounts the story that Powell told in 2004 via blog. With Julia’s stern warble always in her ear, Powell, who be came an instant Internet celebrity, haunts the local butcher, buying kidneys and sweetbreads. She sends her husband on late-night runs for yet more butter and rarely serves dinner before midnight. She discovers how to mold the perfect Orange Bavarian, the trick to extracting marrow from bone, and the intense pleasure of eating liver. And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life’s ordinariness through humor, hysteria, and perseverance.

… Her writing is feisty and unrestrained, especially as she details killing lobsters, tackling marrowbones and cooking late into the night. Occasionally the diarist instinct overwhelms the generally tight structure and Powell goes on unrelated tangents, but her voice is endearing enough that readers will quickly forgive such lapses. Both home cooks and devotees of Bridget Jones-style dishing will be caught up in Powell's funny, sharp-tongued but generous writing. – Publishers Weekly
In her adolescence, Powell came across Joy of Sex and Mastering the Art of French Cooking and forever linked the two in her mind, finding something absolutely sensual about cooking. …As she moves from simple potato soup to more complicated crepes, Powell engages the help of her husband, brother, and friend, as well as the hundreds of fans she attracts to her blog. … The tougher the shopping and cooking assignment, the more sensual the experience, as Powell discovers incredible determination and hidden talents in cooking, writing, and living. This is a joyful, humorous account of one woman's efforts to find meaning in her life. – Vanessa Bush, Booklist

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Powell, in Julie & Julia recounts how she conquered every recipe, achieved her goal, and saved her soul. An upbeat, fun read.

Business & Investing / Biographies & Memoirs

One of a Kind: Learning the Secrets of World Leaders by Walter H. Diamond, edited by Dorothy B. Diamond (Syracuse University Press) 

A world-renowned tax authority, author, and economist shares lessons in life and observations on great men he has met and known.

In One of a Kind, Walter H. Diamond tells how his prestigious career evolved and how he came to recognize – and cultivate – personal and intellectual traits that were crucial to achievement, such as perseverance, memory, and affinity for foreigners.

Diamond's work as a bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury led to new challenges in World War II. As an officer in the U.S. Navy he was involved in six military operations in both the Pacific and Europe, including D-day. He was asked to engineer the safe return of 1,800 survivors of a sunken flotilla.

As trade and investment adviser at the U.N. he helped more than 100 world leaders – from kings to presidents, prime ministers to finance ministers – draft plans for fighting poverty. Now Diamond tells what he feels separates the great from the weak, which leaders have impressed him most, and why. Finally, he offers a revelatory assessment on terrorism, and a feasible route to world peace.

In the prologue, editor Dorothy Diamond, coauthor of many of her husband’s tax and trade books, offers insights into how she carved a successful niche for herself as a woman journalist in advertis­ing during and after World War II and how her professional life with her husband enriched their partnership.

In the epilogue Diamond says: “Having met more than one hundred leaders from one hundred countries or territories in more than 120 visits, what has impressed me the most is that every one of them has wanted to give their poor and underprivileged citizens a better life.” He concludes with “The road to world peace is through world trade, these leaders reminded me.” One of a Kind is a detailed, yet highly readable, memoir showing the Diamonds’ unique view of the world.
 

Business & Investing / Human Resources Management / Training & Development

Outsourcing Training and Development: Factors for Success by Judith Hale (Pfeiffer) With businesses under mounting pressure to contend with continued worker shortage and the constant need to cut costs, organizations are increasingly outsourcing their training functions.

In Outsourcing Training and Development, human resource management and training expert Judy Hale demystifies training outsourcing and details how companies can successfully outsource their training and development needs – from the entire learning function to selected services and programs. It also covers the labyrinth of contractual, interpersonal, and legal dimensions inherent in any decision to partner with another service provider. Filled with practical tips, guidelines, and tools, Outsourcing Training and Development explains how to determine

  • What type of external resources will be required.
  • What to expect of external resources.
  • What will be required in terms of program deliverables, reports, quality assurance, risk management, and reporting relationships.
  • The level of readiness to outsource deliverables ranging from managing the training and development function to specific program elements.
  • The contractual elements that best protect an organization’s interests.
  • How to collaborate effectively with all of the functions involved in outsourcing decisions.

In step-by-step details, Judith Hale outlines how to make the right decisions about outsourcing, securing the proper agreements and keeping the process on track. In an easy-to-read format with figures and charts, this is an indispensable tool for those involved in outsourcing. – Jack Phillips, chairman, ROI Institute, Inc.

The charts, tables, and guidelines are superb resources for both sides of the relationship, and Hale’s many examples let us learn from others who have traveled this potentially treacherous path before. Outsourcing Training and Development is the perfect map! – James J. Hill, Jr., CEO, Proofpoint Systems Inc.

Buy this book and use it. What I like most about the book is that it does not paint outsourcing as the panacea that some might think that it is. Like anything else, outsourcing requires hard thinking, planning and managing. Judy Hale gives you that and much more. – William J. Rothwell, Professor-in-Charge, Workforce Education and Development, The Pennsylvania State University

Based on the real-world experience of human resource vice presidents and consultants from a variety of organizations, Outsourcing Training and Development is a one-stop guide to implementing a successful outsourced training program.
 

Business & Investing / Organizational Behavior

Flexible Working and Organizational Change: The Integration of Work and Personal Life edited by Bram Peper, Anneke Van Doorne-Huiskes, & Laura Den Dulk (Edward Elgar Publishing) 

Organizations and the nature of work have undergone fundamental changes in recent decades. At the same time, the traditional family pattern in Europe is being challenged by the growing number of dual-income families, and by the rise of women’s employment. The central aim of Flexible Working and Organizational Change is to consider to what extent changes in organizations and in the nature of jobs are compatible with the need, increasingly expressed by employees, for greater integration between work and family life. The book, edited by Bram Peper, Lecturer of Sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Anneke van Doorne-Huiskes, Professor of Sociology; and Laura den Dulk, Researcher, both at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, questions what sort of dilemmas modern and future employees face, in terms of shaping their careers and organizing their lives at home. The authors formulate answers to these problematic questions by shedding light on relevant developments in the European labor markets, the European workplaces, in (flexible) working patterns, changing preferences for working hours and in gender relations at work.

In recent years a research team from different Dutch universities have cooperated in the Netherlands' Organization for Scientific Research funded research program ‘New Organizational Structures and Workers of the Future’. The general question being addressed through several separate projects is whether and how labor organizations are changing – in terms of shape, structure, model of careers, organization of work and cultural values – and whether these changes are compatible with the need many employees have expressed for more integration between work and personal life.

In order to discuss the outcomes of the research program in an international context, a European meeting was organized in June 2002 in Rotterdam. A small group of researchers from different European countries were invited to discuss current changes in organizational structures and culture and in preferences and behavior of employers and employees regarding work-life issues in their countries.

Flexible Working and Organizational Change grew out of that meeting. All the contributions were first discussed as papers, and then rewritten as chapters.

Questions discussed in the book include: What sort of dilemmas do modern and future employees face, in terms of shaping their careers and organizing their lives at home? Do developments vary in European organizations or is convergence the dominant outcome of observation? Given global changes in technology, economy and socio-cultural life and given changing preferences of workers, what will the managerial issues be for the near future? Flexible Working and Organizational Change sheds light on these questions.

In Part I of the book, the context is set. In Chapter 2, den Dulk, Peper and van Doorne-Huiskes focus on employment patterns of working parents across European welfare states. They make clear that all over Europe the number of dual-earner families is increasing. Dual-earner families, however, differ in their division of paid work among each other across countries. The rapid rise of the dual-earner family poses a major challenge to the European welfare states in terms of reconciliation of paid work and care at home.

In Chapter 3 the question is raised whether organizational changes and the modernization of work have gendered dimensions and what the consequences of modernization of work are for the integration of work and personal life. It appears that modernization of work generally provokes ambivalent feelings Chapter 3 also shows the different impact of organizational changes on the integration of work and personal life.

In Chapter 4, van der Lippe and Schippers make clear that in policy and research increasing attention is given to new labor arrangements in the Netherlands. These new labor arrangements and changes in the organization of work may affect individual workers in their ‘struggle’ for the reconciliation of work and family life. Van der Lippe and Schippers indicate, due to changes in the organization of work, the possible danger of more time pressure for many workers and fading borders between work and home. Goedicke and Trappe focus, in Chapter 5, on strong and rather sudden changes in society and their impact on patterns of occupational sex segregation. The German Unification provides an extraordinary opportunity for examining these processes of change. In a comparative framework for the years 1991-1997 they analyze the differences and similarities of segregation levels and patterns in the two parts of Germany in the beginning of the 1990s. The authors conclude that by the end of the 1990s both parts of Germany were characterized by nearly the same level of occupational sex segregation. The economic and welfare gap between East and West seems to be widening since the end of the 1990s.

Part II of Flexible Working and Organizational Change focuses on flexible working patterns and its relations with gender. In chapter 6, Perrons indicates that contemporary changes in the state and in the market are shaping work and life in contradictory ways. In Chapter 6 Perrons explores some of these contradictions. The new economy is understood in various ways and similarly has contradictory effects. Linking the new economy with information and communication technologies has extended the temporal and spatial boundaries of paid work, allowing people to combine paid work with caring responsibilities more easily. Chapter 6 draws on these ideas about the gendered nature of social divisions in the new economy, in order to explain the apparent paradox between the proliferation of policies to promote gender equality on the one hand and the continuing reproduction of gender inequality on the other.

In Chapter 7, Caprile and Kruger focus on changes in working time in Spain and their impact on the integration of work and personal life. In Chapter 8, Need, Steijn and Gesthuizen discuss the increase of flexible work arrangements all over Europe. From a social inequality perspective the question could be raised whether flexible work harms or helps the workers involved. This question is of special interest, the authors argue, since it can solve a dilemma for job-seekers: should they accept an offer of flexible work because it will help them in getting another (better) job? Or should they decline the offer because it will close doors to better (permanent) jobs? The focus of this chapter is on the long-term career effects of flexible work.

Part III of Flexible Working and Organizational Change elaborates changing working times, the take-up of leave facilities and developments in teleworking in Europe. Chapter 9 focuses on the preferences of employers and employees concerning working hours and working time patterns in Finland. From a European perspective, Finland is an interesting case because of the high rate of women in full-time employment. In Chapter 10, Baaijens, van Doorne-Huiskes and Schippers raise the question whether employees in the Netherlands want to work more or fewer hours than they actually do. Their research shows that both individual and work-related characteristics, for example working overtime on a regular basis or insufficient staffing, are important in explaining the desire of employees to work more or fewer hours. Following in Chapter 11, Hansen investigates how job and organizational conditions influence the career aspirations of male and female employees. Focus is on the promotion opportunities that employees see for themselves, if they think about applying for a job internally and if they consider applying externally.

In Chapter 12, Deven develops a conceptual model to assess the use of parental leave by fathers. Literature related to fatherhood and fathering is taken as the overall starting point for his analysis. Deven concludes that appropriate research on determinants of fathers' use of parental leave should simultaneously focus on the relations between mothers and fathers in the family and the relations of each of the parents with their respective employers. In Chapter 13, van Klaveren, Tijdens, Peters and Wetzels focus on telework, which is facilitated by the development of information and communications technology (ICT). European research shows that telework enjoys widespread interest among (potential) workers throughout the European Union. This also holds true for the Netherlands. Although productivity gains of 10 to 15 per cent are often observed, many employers, remarkably enough, show little enthusiasm for their employees engaging in telework.

In Part IV the focus is on the integration of work and personal life and its outlook for the future. In Chapter 14, Lewis and Rapoport reflect on what needs to happen to move forward towards gender equitable work – personal life integration. The authors draw particularly on two Ford Foundation funded studies; a current study, ‘Looking Backwards to Go Forward: The Integration of Paid Work and Personal Life’, and its precursor, published in the book Beyond Work-Family Balance: Advancing Gender Equity and Workplace Performance. Both studies are concerned with enhancing equity and the integration of paid work and personal life. The ‘Looking Backwards to Go Forwards’ study attempts to understand the ways in which the integration of paid work and personal life has been played out over time and in diverse contexts. The central concern is to identify the sticking points which are currently holding back more fundamental change towards gender equitable integration of paid work with the rest of our lives, in order to think creatively about how to move forwards. These issues are analyzed in six countries.

In the last chapter, van Doorne-Huiskes, Peper and den Dulk summarize the main findings and trends that are analyzed in Flexible Working and Organizational Change. A research agenda for the coming decade is suggested. This agenda is closely related to important managerial and policy issues: how to realize integration of work and personal life in a gender equitable way.

The book goes far in analyzing the compatibility between workers’ and employers’ needs, for workers, the need to integrate home and work life, for employers, the nature of jobs. With a focus on future developments, Flexible Working and Organizational Change will be of interest to labor market researchers and social policymakers in Europe, and also students in the social sciences, human resource management and social policy.
 

Children’s

Challenger: America's Favorite Eagle by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen (Sleeping Bear Press) tells the extraordinary story of an orphaned eagle who not only came to live with humans but also came to help educate them on the plight of the endangered American eagle and other birds of prey. 

This is the story of Challenger; born in a Louisiana pine forest, the young bald eagle seems destined to a life of airy freedom in the wild. Nature, however, had other plans and the young chick is blown from his nest and his nurturing parents during a storm, and is subsequently taken in by humans. After several failed attempts to release the bird back into the wild, Challenger was taken to the American Eagle Foundation. When state and federal wildlife agencies asked trainer Al Cecere to help, he recognized the rare opportunity to work with an uninjured eagle that had imprinted on humans. He knew Challenger, as a free flying bald eagle, a sight few Americans actually witness, could become an ambassador bringing attention to the plight of his species

As told by award-winning author Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen, now Challenger is the country's most popular winged mascot. Some readers will recognize the eagle from the appearances he has made – ranging from such varied venues as the White House and the 100th Anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Pentagon and the Olympic Torch Ceremony. In addition, Challenger has flown at the World Series and during the 100th Anniversary Flight at Kitty Hawk. He has also appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, the Disney Channel, and Animal Planet.

Lively text and dramatic illustrations bring to life the uplifting, true story of challenger, America’s most famous eagle. While my six-year old cannot put it down, this children’s book is so much fun that adults will enjoy it just as much. – David Seideman, Editor-in-chief Audubon Magazine

Raven and van Frankenhuyzen, the author-illustrator team of the award-winning Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, combine their talents once again in the inspiring, true story of Challenger. A South Carolina resident, Raven once again draws inspiration from the world, from the challenges and the triumphs of the human (and sometimes animal) spirit.
 

Computers & the Internet / Web Development

Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 by John Paul Mueller (Sybex) 

Visual Web Developer 2005 is the component of Visual Studio 2005, a powerful tool that facilitates large-scale Internet programming. The product contains new projects, wizards, and visual tools to make web development easier and faster. It contains Server Explorer for easy database connections and access to such tools as Crystal Reports, event logs, and performance counters, and new special features in Microsoft Internet Information Services for working with Visual Web Developer. It also includes the personal Web Starter Kit, a sample application to get users up and running quickly. Perhaps most important of all, Visual Web Developer supports team development and testing to ensure source-code control for large enterprises.
Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, written by John Paul Mueller shows team members and leaders how to use its power in several key dimensions. Readers master dozens of built-in features for creating a large, high-performance website based on ASP.NET 2.0. They work with dynamic data, both reading from and writing to databases. And throughout, they learn how Visual Studio 2005 supports a more efficient group process in terms of design, development, and deployment.

Coverage includes

  • Reaping the benefits of master pages and themes.
  • Generating site maps and other navigational aids automatically.
  • Building a shopping cart application for the website.
  • Adding search functionality to the website.
  • Creating a flexible user environment using Webpart technology.
  • Increasing application performance using client-side and server-side scripting technologies.
  • Giving users the ability to change the website's theme to meet specific needs.
  • Using components and controls to add special effects and user customization.
  • Improving team efficiency using modern development and design techniques.
  • Monitoring and responding to usage statistics.
  • Combining technologies to get the best possible results from large applications.
  • Making the site accessible to everyone.

Everything is brought together with the enterprise-scale example, ‘ABC Incorporated,’ that runs throughout the book. While reading and using Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, readers create a large-scale corporate Web site for ‘ABC, Incorporated’. That is, instead of simply dis­covering what ASP.NET provides, readers actually put this information into action by building a complex Web site.
Readers will find that the pages look consistent, yet Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 shows them that the repeated material is included only once. Themes add to master pages by letting readers give the Web site a consistent feel. Every page uses the same colors automatically. Of course, readers might want to give the users a choice. The ABC Incorporated Web example shows readers how to do that too. A simple change on the main page lets users switch between themes.

One of the most interesting new features in Visual Studio is WebParts. Imagine providing a little extra code that lets users move items around, get rid of items they don't want, and add items back in when they remove too much – all without bothering the developer. Developers provide all of the content that anyone will need and the individual users choose what they want. Visual Studio has a wealth of impressive new Web development features and readers will find the majority of them discussed in Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.

Mueller, freelance writer and technical editor who has written over 68 books, says that one of the major goals for writing this book is to discover the real world functionality of ASP.NET 2.0. Readers will be surprised at the number of things that Visual Studio can do – he says he was pretty amazed by the time he completed this project.

Mastering Web Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 gives readers the opportunity to be right at home in the world's most powerful web development environment. The book demon­strates that Visual Studio can help readers create Web sites of moderate size without the usual array of widgets and lost time of other products. Readers can get to work almost immediately and use this book as a guide while they create the masterpiece that is their Web site.

This book isn't for everyone, but it will meet the needs of anyone who wants to see what ASP.NET 2.0 and the .NET Framework 2.0 provide, but who doesn't want to spend a lot of time and effort doing it. Readers must know a programming language at least a little bit, as well as Visual Basic or C#; the two languages used for the examples. This is a book no web developer, and no web-dependent organization, should be without. And all of the sample code is available for download from the book’s product page.
 

Children / Young Adult, Grade 8 & Up / History

World War II edited by Don Nardo (Opposing Viewpoints in World History Series: Thomson Gale/Greenhaven Press) 

Based on Greenhaven Press's critically acclaimed Opposing Viewpoints series, Opposing Viewpoints in World History is a critical thinking resource for the study of world history. Each anthology explores a divisive issue of history through primary and secondary documents arranged in a pro/con format. While prominent speakers of the past debate the important issues of the time, historians and other commentators continue the discussion by highlighting issues that are still debated today. The point/counterpoint structure challenges readers to exercise and sharpen their critical thinking skills while highlighting the most important issues throughout history. Introductions and chapter prefaces provide context, and bibliographies, indexes, and annotated tables of contents offer tools for further research.

By featuring both con­temporaneous and retrospective disputes over historical events in a pro/con format, the Opposing Viewpoints in World History se­ries helps readers gain a deeper understanding of important historical issues and see how historical judgments unfold. Each article is preceded by a concise sum­mary of its main ideas and information about the author. An in-depth book introduction and prefaces to each chapter provide background and context. An annotated table of contents and in­dex help readers quickly locate material of interest. Each book also features an extensive bibliography for further research, questions designed to spark discussion and promote close reading and crit­ical thinking, and a chronology of events.

World War II first describes the titanic conflict known as World War II, which began with Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in September 1939 and ended with Japan's surrender to the Allies in September 1945. The importance of this war to humanity and the course of his­tory is made clear, if for no other reason, by its sheer size and scope. Nearly every country on the planet was either directly in­volved in or profoundly affected by it. Moreover, the death toll was staggering. The death count in the cited source, Martin Gilbert, lists only the groups that suffered a million or more dead, yet it still exceeds 46 million. Some historians suspect that at least 50 million people in all died in what was unquestionably the largest and most destructive con­flict in history.

According to editor Don Nardo, sharp differences of opinion in political, economic, and social matters caused this enormous and tragic war. And disagreements over how it should be fought divided leaders on both sides. So it is perhaps not surprising that nearly every aspect of the conflict was fraught with controversy and debate of one kind or another. These debates were particularly heated in the United States, which ultimately emerged from the war as the strongest, most influen­tial nation on earth.

For example, according to World War II, Americans could not agree on whether to get involved in the war in the first place. After the fighting broke out in Europe in 1939, debates raged in the United States over whether the country should help its allies, especially Britain, in the fight against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Some Americans argued that their nation must take a stand against a despot who, in their view, was clearly bent on global conquest. In contrast, others were con­fident that Hitler's aims were limited to the European sphere and wanted the country to remain neutral. They thought it prudent to avoid committing precious American troops and resources to what seemed to be someone else's fight.

Af­ter France fell to the Nazis in June 1940, the British were the last major bastion of democracy left facing Hitler's rapidly advancing juggernaut. Many Americans felt it was morally wrong to refuse aid to a sister democracy in need. Accordingly, in January 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a pivotal speech to Con­gress calling on his nation to rise to the role of ‘the great arsenal of democracy,’ while maintaining its neutrality. “Every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world,” he said.

Enough Americans agreed with this position that aid to Britain and other allies, in the form of the Lend Lease program, soon went into effect. Under this program, America lent arms and other war materials to the Allies, who were not required to repay the loans until after the war. Yet opposition to these efforts remained strong in many quarters. Those who opposed Roosevelt's policy feared that it would prove impossible for the United States to stop at merely material aid; sooner or later, they warned, it would be drawn into the seething conflict and perhaps be consumed by it. Topics covered in World War II include:

  1. Who Was to Blame for the Pearl Harbor Attack?
  2. Was the Internment of Japanese Americans Justified?
  3. Was Dropping the Atomic Bomb Necessary?
  4. Did the Allies Fight World War II Morally and Effectively?

World War II is compilation of essays examining international and domestic controversies and provides a historical perspective for contemporary policy discussions. The first three chapters combine both contemporaneous and retrospective essays. In contrast, all of the readings in the final chapter, which discusses how the U.S. should have responded to the Holocaust, the conduct of the war, and the war's contribution to the military-industrial complex, are taken from recent scholarly works. The list for further reading includes both primary and secondary sources and periodical articles as well as Web sites. Six of the readings (on Japanese internment, the atomic bomb, and analysis of the effects of the war) are duplicated from the 1997 edition, which focuses more on domestic issues.

… even casual researchers or readers will not be able to miss how much the 1940s debates on the missed intelligence clues of Pearl Harbor, the treatment of a visible ethnic minority, and the importance of morality in how a democracy conducts a war mirror our current national discussion about the war on terrorism. The timeliness of the readings and the inclusion of new topics make this revision different and thought-provoking enough to justify its purchase. – Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, Missouri, School Library Journal

With its many useful features, World War II, together with all the books in the Opposing Viewpoints in World History series is a unique resource for examining complex historical topics and promoting critical thinking.
 

Cooking, Food & Wine

The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan by Mari Fujii (Kodansha) 

The low-carb diet craze may be officially over. This January the FDA updated its dietary guidelines and food pyramid recommending that Americans consume substantially more vegetables, fresh fruit, and whole grains than ever before.

Meanwhile, scientists from George Washington University and Georgetown University Hospital just published a study in the September issue of The American Journal of Medicine showing that a high-carb, vegan diet can cause major weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, and that participants found it easy to follow.

It seems to follow that what Americans need right now is not more diet books but rather great cookbooks that can teach them how to make healthy and delicious recipes on a daily basis.

While Japanese cuisine has become popular in the West, far less is known about the traditional fare originating from Japan's Buddhist temples, shojin ryori. Natural and healthy, temple food is based on fresh seasonal vegetables, and staples such as grains and tofu. For centuries, these dishes have been a way of life – and a refreshing change of pace – for monks whose days are spent in rigorous self-discipline. Enter The Enlightened Kitchen.

Married to a Buddhist monk, author Mari Fujii has taught temple cuisine for over twenty years. In these pages, she presents sixty recipes, many adapted for the Western kitchen but all true to their roots. Her Carrot and Mushroom Soymilk Soup combines traditional sensibilities with modern taste requirements. The Ginger Rice lends a welcome flair to a common staple, and Banana Tempura is a light, fruity variation of this worldwide favorite.

Mari Fujii's offerings are wide-ranging. The Enlightened Kitchen opens with soups and salads, then sweeps into tofu, beans, vegetables, rice and desserts. A well-considered appendix explains the finer points of cooking rice and making stock, and a detailed glossary provides valuable tips on selecting, using, and storing ingredients.

In addition to mouthwatering recipes for soups, salads, tofu, beans, vegetables, rice, and desserts, Fujii teaches readers the physical and spiritual benefits of using seasonal ingredients and following the flow of nature. In an age when processed, additive-laden foods are everywhere, readers will be surprised to find just how delicious the natural flavors of fresh vegetables can be.

Japan's temple cuisine uses no animal products. All ingredients come from healthy plant sources: vegetables, seaweed, wild plants, grains, legumes and root vegetables, a way of eating that has numerous physical and spiritual benefits. It also emphasizes using seasonal ingredients at their peak, when they're freshest and tastiest, being kind to the environment, and cooking with natural ingredients. Some tempting dishes are:

  • Soups: Deep-Fried Lotus Root Soup, Carrot & Mushroom Soymilk Soup
  • Salads: Soy Bean & Sukkonbu (seaweed) Salad with Lemon-Miso Dressing, Spinach & Arugula Salad with Piquant Sesame Dressing
  • Tofu & Beans: Tofu Fried Almonds, Deep-fried Yuba (tofu skin) Rolls
  • Vegetables: Asparagus and Carrots with Walnut Dressing, Shitake Mushrooms Stuffed with Tofu
  • Potatoes, Grains & Rice: Scattered Vegetable Sushi, Buckwheat Crepes
  • Desserts: Soymilk Mouse with Blueberry Sauce, Pears in Wine

Fujii teaches the importance of drawing out the natural flavors of ingredients rather than smothering with heavy sauces or spices.

Lavish full-color photographs, easy-to-follow instructions, and a wealth of information about the ingredients make it easy to bring the magic of Japan's temple cuisine into readers’ own kitchens. With an invaluable appendix that teaches cooks how to work with rice, how to make sweet vinegared ginger, and how to make the two basic stocks for many of recipes in the book, konbu and shitake stocks, as well as a handy glossary of Asian and Japanese ingredients available in supermarkets, natural food stores and online, The Enlightened Kitchen is sure to be a favorite new guide for cooks looking for healthy recipes to make them eat and feel better in the new year. Brimming over with delicious recipes based on the centuries-old vegetarian cuisine of Japan's Buddhist temples, The Enlightened Kitchen is a must for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone with an interest in healthy eating.
 

Cooking, Food & Wine

Perfect Party Food: All the Recipes and Tips You'll Ever Need for Stress-Free Entertaining from the Diva of Do-Ahead by Diane Phillips (The Harvard Common Press) 

How do you throw a party without stressing out?

Plan ahead and do-ahead.

Diane Phillips, the Diva of Do-Ahead, is on a mission to show readers how to handle entertaining with ease. Perfect Party Food helps readers get out of the kitchen and into their own party. She presents nearly 500 recipes that can all be made ahead of time – some days and even weeks – that taste delicious, and are designed to be served buffet style. Everything from appetizers to desserts, that readers can prepare in advance so most of the work is done before the party even begins. The book includes dips and spreads, ‘small bites’ like Pigs in a Blanket and Prosciutto Pinwheels, salads, side dishes, main dishes, breads, beverages and desserts. There's also a chapter on breakfast and brunch. Handy icons show which recipes are just right for a backyard barbecue, an elegant cocktail party, or an all-night blow-out bash. Dozens of menu suggestions, templates for figuring out the menu range and quantities, easy decorating tips, and guidelines for stocking a bar complete this guide to entertaining.

If readers walk away with just one lesson from this hulking volume, it's that planning is essential when you're entertaining guests. … Phillips's advice on how much food readers will need is helpful, as are her ‘diva rescues’ tips (e.g., what to do if extra people show up for the party; if your rice burns; if your layer cake ‘looks like Mt. Etna erupting’; etc.). Encompassing casual, ‘grazing,’ holiday, informal and elegant events, this book will be essential for novices and may also teach some old dogs new tricks. – Publishers Weekly
… First, no cuisine is ignored; more than 500 recipes representing traditional and not-so-well-known ethnic dishes stand ready for selection. Second, there is plenty of advice on preparation …. Third, there are tips and shortcuts for recipe parts that can easily be completed and frozen or refrigerated. Nothing truly out of the ordinary, unless such choices as roasted beet salad and Creole vinaigrette count as unusual, but a good foundation for great food outcomes. – Barbara Jacobs, Booklist

Perfect Party Food is the ultimate resource for throwing every kind of party imaginable. This guide to entertaining gives readers a foolproof do-ahead plan so that they actually have time to enjoy their own party. With serving ideas, recipe shortcuts and variations, money-saving tips, and plenty of other strategies to help readers host parties – guests will talk about the party for months afterward.
 

Cooking, Food & Wine

Today's Kitchen Cookbook by Stephanie Karpinske & Laurie Dolphin (Meredith Books) 

Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, and Ann Curry welcome readers to the table with this new cookbook featuring recipes from some of their favorite chefs – chefs who heat up the kitchen on Today.

In this one-of-a-kind cookbook, the hosts of Today bring together a collection of recipes from featured chefs, including Steven Raichlen, Sandra Lee, Jamie Oliver, Cary Neff, Sara Foster, Ina Garten, Suzanne Somers, and The Scotto Family. Today's Kitchen Cookbook has mouthwatering dishes like Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa, Roasted Pepper Salad, Mama’s Fried Chicken, and Polka Dot Cheesecake – there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. Readers will find dishes for the family, gourmet offerings, healthy and quick meals, and a special holiday section. Plus there’s a recipe for every skill level, from novices in the kitchen to experienced cooks. And there are recipes from the Today hosts as well, including Katie's Lemon Chicken and Al's Chili.

The book includes:

  • More than 120 recipes
  • Holiday menus for year-round celebrations
  • Cooking tips from the experts
  • Photos from Today’s Kitchen segments, backstage tales, and up-close and personal star anecdotes.
  • Favorite foods and cooking memories from Katie, Matt, Al and Ann

Special Note: Through the generosity of contributors to the book, a portion of book proceeds will benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, dedicated to innovative initial and ongoing research into the treatments and cures of leukemia, cancer, and AIDS.
Today's Kitchen Cookbook captures the energy of the show, the celebrity status of its hosts, memorable moments from the past, and the best-of-the-best featured recipes – so readers can put on their chef’s hats and enjoy a taste of Today while benefiting a worthy cause.
 

Education

Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance: International Perspectives on the Contexts of Learning by Julian Elliott, Neil R. Hufton, Wayne Willis, & Leonid Ilyushin (Palgrave Macmillan) 

In the course of the study reported in Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance, the authors asked a Kentucky teenager what would happen if a new Principal came into his school and sought to introduce greater academic demands that would necessarily eat into out-of-school time. The boy immediately and confidently replied,

He wouldn't last two weeks. The parents would run him out of town.

This off-the-cuff, but assured, remark says volumes about what truly matters in many communities in the US and, perhaps to a lesser extent, in England, and is indicative of perspectives that will not easily be changed by target setting, high stakes testing, pedagogic reform or any other externally imposed school-based policy initiatives.

Why is it that so many children in the USA and England are described as unmotivated, uninterested and disengaged at school, in comparison with their peers in Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim? Is it really the case that curriculum reform and high stakes testing will remedy the very real concern of educationalists, psychologists, parents, and the general public, and result in the high degrees of educational commitment that are often more prevalent in other cultures?

Despite the ongoing search for effective teaching approaches, it would appear that for many children, motivation is the central issue. Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance explores aspects of young people's environments of learning which might explain observed variation in their motivation to learn in school.

Drawing upon findings from a major research program undertaken in sites in England, the USA and Russia, and recent research in the area of student motivation, Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance identifies key factors that provide insight into our current predicament, including children's self-perceptions, goals, interests and aspirations, peer and parental influences, teacher perceptions, school traditions and practices, and the pervasive influence of broader social, cultural, historical and economic factors.

Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance centers upon findings from the four authors’ researches into achieve­ment motivation in Eastern Kentucky, United States; Sunderland, in the Northeast of England; and St Petersburg, Russia. The authors are Julian G. Elliott, Professor of Education at the University of Durham, UK, formerly a teacher in mainstream and special schools, and an educational (school) psychologist; Neil R. Hufton, formerly Principal Lecturer in Education at the University of Sunderland, UK, and a former teacher; Wayne Willis, Professor of Education at Morehead State University, Kentucky; and Leonid Illushin, Head of the Department of Modernization of Education, Regional and International Cooperation in the Committee of Education in the St Petersburg Government, and a teacher at Hertzen State University and St Petersburg State University, Russia.

The origins of their research program lay in several visits that they made to Kentucky; Sunderland, England; and St. Petersburg, Russia, where they were immediately struck by a significant difference in work-rate and educational standards, between superior performance in the Russian context on the one hand, and that of the Anglo-American on the other.

Consideration of Russia's educational standards in relation to those of other countries is difficult, particularly given its infrequent involve­ment in international comparative studies. However, commentators as diverse as Ross Perot and the World Bank have remarked upon the country's reputation for educational excellence. Anecdotal accounts of visits to Soviet/Russian classrooms and of the performance of émigrés to Western schools have frequently described performance in science and mathematics two to four years ahead of their Western peers. Visitor accounts have also frequently testified to Russian children's disciplined and motivated approach to learning. Performance in TIMSS suggested performance largely superior to the United States and England and, prior to this, the OECD commented upon the country's high levels of academic achievement. The authors were mindful that in selecting discrete locations in three countries with a total number of more than 450 million people, they could not hope to provide a representative picture of a particular nation-state, and thus, have not perceived our work as aiming to make transnational comparisons, as such. Certainly, the authors recognized that Sunderland and Kentucky were compara­tively underperforming regions in their countries, while St Petersburg was a city that encompassed a more highly educated student body than one might typically find elsewhere in Russia.

More recent international studies give the impression that the English government's drive to cover the basics of English and mathematics, and teach science from a young age have paid off. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) undertaken by the IEA compared the reading performance of over 140,000 ten year olds in 35 countries using measures of understanding and use of language, rather than simple reading accuracy (decoding). Ranked third, children in England were, on average, among the most able readers, although, consistent with earlier findings, they also exhibited one of the widest spans of attainment. In the PIRLS study, children in the United States also scored well, achieving ninth place.

Another international comparative study of 15 year olds across 32 nations, the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) undertaken in 2000, has similarly indicated strong UK performance in English, math and science (seventh, eighth and fourth respectively), with performance in the United States rather closer to the international mean. Prais has heavily criticized both the object­ives and methods of PISA. The stated desire of the study's designers not to assess mastery of the school curriculum but, rather, to assess how students might cope with everyday life situations is, he contends, likely to militate against education systems that emphasize more formal knowledge-based approaches. Prais also dismisses findings from countries, such as England, where almost half of the original representative sample of students failed to participate (note: the United States also had a very low participation rate).

Increases in test performance over time may not necessarily be indica­tive of meaningful improvement. Tymms points to several data sources that lead him to conclude that the apparently impressive rises in mathematics and reading in UK schools may be illusory.

Interested to gain more understanding of factors that influenced student motivation, the authors undertook a series of studies of the three milieu, over a five-year period, geared to exploring the complex relationship between schooling, educational reform, differing value systems and the impact of socioeconomic factors. In considering their approach, the authors were greatly influenced by Bronfenbrenner's approach to human development that likens aspects of the ecological environment to a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls in which each nestles inside another. At the innermost level, the micro system, lies the immediate settings in which an individual functions. Next, at the level of the mesosystem, one considers how these different settings, the school, the home, the playground, the shopping mall and so on interconnect. Exosystems, the third level, consists of some settings in which the individual is not even present, for example, the development of the young child may be affected by events that occur in the parents' workplace such as a promotion or pay increase. At the supraordinate level, the macro system refers to the comprehensive network of relational systems that operates within a culture. This includes such elements as educational and vocational opportunities, sociopolitical and socioeconomic factors and the various roles and responsibilities accorded by society to individuals on the basis of such variables as age, ethnicity and gender. As we note, in relation to recent transformation in Russia (see Chapter 8), the macro system may now be increasingly open to global influences.

Bronfenbrenner's ecological approach contends that the scientific study of human development should concern itself with the progressive mutual accommodation between the developing individual, the dynamic-ally changing settings in which the person lives, and the larger contexts in which such settings are embedded, succinctly articu­late this position:

Development is a function of factors that relate to the immediate activity in which one or more people are involved (the micro genetic level of analysis), age and developing characteristics of the studied person or people as they are developing over the life span (the ontogenetic level), the culture-wide symbols, values and beliefs, technologies and institutions (factors relating to the cultural-historical level of analysis), as well as the development of the species (the phylogenetic level). There is hierarchical organization but also interconnections at each and every level. Because of the interconnections, understanding development requires analysis that captures all levels, although the phylogenetic level, being virtually unchanging for all except those studying devel­opment over archaeological time, is rarely considered. This means, in effect, studying aspects of developing individuals, relations between those individuals and their immediately surrounding world (both people and objectives), and the broader cultural-historical context. Analysis at only one level is insufficient to make sense of development.

In trying to gain a richer understanding of those factors that influence student academic motivation in the three milieu, we sought to draw upon multiple layers involving student perspectives and the views and; or influence of peers, parents, teachers, the culture of the classroom and school, educational practices, educational legislation and policy, socio-economic and sociocultural factors. Given the demands of such an enterprise, the authors decided not to undertake a detailed study of pedagogic practices in each milieu, as this would be a massive undertaking beyond the resources of a small team. Rather, they drew upon existing work to inform our analyses, in particular, the highly acclaimed comparative study of primary education in these countries.

Elliott, Hufton, Willis and Ilyushin saw the absence of ecosystemic perspectives as problematic for current theorizing about motivation and learning. While the past decade has seen an increase in research examining how peers, parents and teachers separately influence learning and achievement (although peer influences upon motivation have, until recently, been relatively neglected), there is still a relative dearth of studies examining how motivation, engagement and learning occur within macro-level states of affairs. Of course, this largely reflects the dominant paradigm within educational psychology, which while beginning to draw increasingly upon methodological approaches from anthropology and sociology, too seldom contributes to broader multidisciplinary investigations that offer the promise of providing richer and more comprehensive understandings of social phenomena.

In books such as this, it is the convention that authors should draw upon reported findings in order to provide a series of recommendations for improving educational performance. It is the authors’ position in Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance that this could hardly serve any useful purpose. The authors’ research has led them to agree with Miller and Goodnow that teaching and learning practices are culturally embedded within broader socialization practices, which themselves reflect underlying value systems. At the same time, if they do not feel able to make positive recommendations, there are nonetheless certain strictures that we feel do emerge from our research.

There can be little serious doubt that much poor motivation, if not generated, is exacerbated by formal differentiation between peer students, whether at the level of the classroom, the school or the system. Here, the Russian experience of managing differentiation is informative. It suggests that reducing formal differentiation amongst students need not be incompatible with high achievement for those capable of it. By contrast, it is arguable that, in the English system, early and persistent differentiation procures positional advantage for a minority of students, at the expense of longer-term educational gains for the majority. Nor is it clear that the minority which benefits needs early differentiation to do so. Thus, without refusing an appropriate place to differentiation, it would seem advantageous to seek to delay and minimize its adverse effects to the greatest extent compatible with achieving other, validly competitive system goals.

The authors may not have wholly absorbed some implications for individual human development of the fact that, in many educational systems, education is now not so much offered to, as required of, students. This is not a new development in Russia, but it is in England and Kentucky and, again, the Russian experience may be suggestive. Since we can hardly expect students to be motivated to meet the requirement on them, unless the education we are requiring has potentially valuable human meaning, there are obvious implications that curricula should instantiate such meaning and pedagogy share it. But it may also be that teacher-student relations need to become more ‘engaged’: that is, if I am going to make you learn, I must also help you more to learn, and this may mean my being more concerned – and having the practical means to be more concerned – for you as a developing human, with a history and a future, than is captured by thinking of myself either as a ‘curriculum deliverer’ or as a ‘facilitator of learning’. At present, the authors suspect we do not really have the conceptual frameworks to describe and evaluate teachers' professional relationships with students which partake of both ‘child- and subject-centeredness’. Motivating many young people to learn on prescribed curricula may involve developing and acting within new forms of discourse.

Finally, according to Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance, if the function of schooling is centrally conceived as the preparation of students for the labor market, we can hardly be surprised if motivation to learn generally correlates with students' estimates of their future marketability. As a Kentucky teacher suc­cinctly put it,

We sold kids a bill of goods there, for a while, ‘Go to college. You'll have a great job’, and that's not necessarily true anymore...

But, education is the means of many more human goods than the economic. Motivating many young people may involve finding ways to celebrate and value those goods which steer between cultural elitism and pragmatic utilitarianism.

The authors think these could all be ways forward to increase overall motivation to learn in school, but they are not optimistic that they will prove politically available, in any of their three countries, at any time soon. They would expect each state to determine its own values and goals and the price it is prepared to pay for these. They would not expect England to quickly give up premature differentiation; Kentucky, pragmatic utilitarianism; or Russia, a cultural canon which constrains individuality in the pursuit of non-economic goods.

The kinds of shift in thinking that would be required can be illustrated by an American example. Following TIMSS, the US government (as it England) sought to emulate the performance of those countries that achieved most highly. Thus, in 1989, President Bush announced Education Goals 2000, in which one goal was that by the year 2000, US students would be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement. But, this was never likely to succeed for, to achieve this, more than the sorts of reforms offered by KERA, despite some isolated school successes, would be necessary. A commitment to academic learning, and a radical change of student lifestyle would be required that would never meet with the approval of the populace.

Elliott, Hufton, Willis, and Illushin's new book is one of the first to bring together diverse international perspectives on adolescent motivation. Using data from England, the United States, and Russia, these authors provide thorough and enlightening comparisons of student motivation across these settings. The book situates students' achievement motivation within the unique historical contexts of each of these societies, and incorporates current state-of-the-art psychological theory and research. This book will appeal to a broad readership, including researchers, teachers, policy-makers, and parents. – Eric M. Anderman, PhD, University of Kentucky

Arguing that current perspectives on motivation are too narrow, Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance draws upon a major five year international study that has examined the impact of factors at the level of the child, the school, the family and wider society. In the book, the fallacies of many current ‘answers’ to resolving student apathy are laid bare. In providing recommendations for policy and practice, the text sets a challenge to those who seek simplistic solutions to problems of student apathy and disaffection. Motivation, Engagement and Educational Performance, assuming it gets a reading at the highest levels, which is a big assumption, is going to shake things up a bit.

Entertainment / Movies

Memoirs of a Geisha: A Portrait of the Film by Peggy Mulloy, photography by David James (Newmarket Press)
Featuring numerous full-color photographs and drawings, Memoirs of a Geisha captures the artistry and romance behind the exquisite new film from Rob Marshall, the director of the Oscar-winning film Chicago, starring Ziyi Zhang (House of Flying Daggers) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai).
Produced by Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick, and Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay by Robin Swicord and Doug Wright, Memoirs of a Geisha features an all-star Asian cast.
Based on the internationally acclaimed novel by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha is a sweeping romantic epic set in the mysterious and exotic world that still casts a potent spell today. The story begins in the years before WWII when a penniless Japanese child is torn from her family to work as a servant in a geisha house. Despite a treacherous rival who nearly breaks her spirit, the girl blossoms into the legendary geisha Sayuri (Zhang). Beautiful and accomplished, Sayuri captivates the most powerful men of her day, but is haunted by her secret love for the one man who is out of her reach (Watanabe).
Written by author and publicist Peggy Mulloy, who was on the set during the entire production of the movie, Memoirs of a Geisha, the pictorial moviebook, explores the intricate process of recreating the period and world of the geisha. Special sections showcase production design, makeup, choreography, and costumes, featuring kimonos created especially for the movie by five-time Oscar-nominated costume designer Colleen Atwood. Sidebars throughout also provide historical background on the geisha culture.

Memoirs of a Geisha features as its centerpiece a 84-page portfolio of striking visuals from Memoirs of a Geisha. In the book, readers are taken behind the scenes to discover firsthand how the film-maker and his team re-created the romantic and exotic world of the geisha in Japan during the 1930s and '40s. Highlighting these images are dozens of concept drawings illustrating the work of Academy Award-winning production designer John Myhre and costume designer Atwood.

In the "Making Memoirs" section, readers learn about the seven-year journey of producers Fisher, Wick, and Spielberg in their quest to make the movie. Other parts of this section offer insights and anecdotes from cast and crew about the sets; the incredibly challenging choreogra­phy; the elaborate costumes, make-up, and hairstyles; and the often grueling four-month shoot that began in the autumn of 2004 on a Los Angeles soundstage and wrapped in a remote region of Japan. Finally, historical photographs illuminate a brief history of the tradition and ongoing mystique of the geisha, as well as the importance of sumo wrestling and its place in Japanese culture.

Arthur Golden's 1997 tale appealed to director Marshall (Chicago) for the same reasons it attracted millions of readers: because it "not only peers into the fascinating and forbidden world of a geisha's life in 1930s Japan, but also tells the emotional tale of one particular girl's journey." This accompanying volume to the forthcoming film based on the book will certainly enchant fans. In his introduction, Golden recalls how ‘curious’ it was for him to walk around a full-scale geisha district of the 1930s built on a field in California and know that such a detailed set grew out of his grueling experience writing the novel. …The book's final portion is devoted to the making of the film, with archival images of geisha, a concept illustration of a cherry-blossom-viewing party and notes on how, for example, the structural surfaces of the buildings on the set were sandblasted to add texture and age. – Publishers Weekly

Memoirs of a Geisha is a stunning art/photography book capturing the movies with extensive portfolio of photographs, history of geisha and behind-the-scenes filmmaking story. For anyone who read and loved Golden's international bestseller and wondered how this epic romance could ever be brought to the screen, this book will be both riveting and informative. And for anyone who just plain loves the movies, here is a glimpse into the filmmaking process and the extraordinary efforts that went into creating one of the most spectacular and unforgettable films of this decade.

 
Entertainment / Music / Biographies & Memoirs

Coming Home to Myself: A Memoir by Wynonna Judd, with Patsi Bale Cox (New American Library) is the no-holds-barred memoir from the beloved music superstar.

From the heart of one of the most beloved performers in music comes a memoir of triumph, heartbreak, and personal victory – a coming-of-age account of a private search for harmony and a public rise to fame. Coming Home to Myself is the result of an emotional journey – a personal discovery that taught Wynonna Judd to love not just what she does, but who she is.

For more than 20 years, Judd has thrilled music fans around the world with her voice and her warm, witty personality. First with her mother Naomi as part of the Judds and then as a solo artist, Judd traveled ‘from here to Singapore’ (and everywhere in between) and, in the process, picked up twenty #1 hits, five Grammys, and sold 29 million albums.

As told to music journalist Patsi Bale Cox, this is the story of Judd's life, loves, and the journey from her poor Kentucky childhood to the career of a superstar.

A gypsy-like childhood had left her lonely and insecure, but at the age of nine, Wynonna picked up a guitar and found her gift. Music gave her a purpose. When she was eighteen, she and her mother, Naomi, auditioned live for RCA Records and were signed on the spot. By 1985, less than two years later, the duo had two platinum albums and six #1 singles. Judd had become a cor­poration, yet she wasn't in charge of her own life.

After nearly a decade of stardom, and Naomi's life-threatening illness, Judd was a hugely successful solo artist. She had two children, but she was divorced, almost bankrupt, and dangerously ill. After twenty years in the business, with just as many #1 hit sin­gles, Judd had hit a wall.

In 2004, Judd took stock of her life. Although her new album was a hit and she had recently remarried, she was eating and drinking too much, and she was exhausted from trying to please everyone from her mother to her manager. She wanted desperately to change her life and decided that the only way to guarantee follow-through was to make the change public. A series of emotional and honest episodes on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" revealed the fragile woman behind the superstar. Judd also began keeping a journal that detailed the painful journey she took to rid herself of her demons, to regain her self-esteem, and after almost 40 years, to finally learn how to care for herself.

Coming Home to Myself is a poignant account of Judd's life in and out of the spotlight.

The book is a candid memoir of survival, strength, hope, and forgiveness, filled with a message which will resonate with those who have dreamed of finding themselves, and who need courage and inspiration to begin their own journey.
 

Entertainment / Sports

The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers in the Words of Those Who Lived It by Roland Lazenby (McGraw-Hill) covers the wild 60-year history of the world's most popular basketball team. 

From their birth in 1946 as the Detroit Gems – when they were not quite as bright as their name – to their 6 championships in 13 seasons in Minneapolis to their current-day domination of the game, the Los Angeles Lakers have long been one of the NBA's most exciting teams. In this star-studded tour behind the locker-room door, acclaimed sportswriter Roland Lazenby in The Show guides readers as he brings the story of this charismatic team to life in an unprecedented oral history.

Through in-depth interviews with players, coaches, and many other key figures, Lazenby, the author of numerous sports books, follows the Lakers from their birthplace in Minneapolis to their eventual successes and failures in Los Angeles, shows readers why the 14-time NBA champion Lakers are a celebrated favorite for sports fans all over America.

Weaving more than 500 interviews with play­ers, coaches, and other key figures into a  narrative fabric, Lazenby crafts a mosaic of perspectives on the history and evolu­tion of the Lakers. The Lakers' greatest stars are in The Show: Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant, along with dozens of other unforgettables.

There's a team plane crash-landing in a snowstorm, at least two financial near-failures, more than a few bewildering real estate transac­tions, a high-profile rape case, a low-profile indecent exposure case, an unsolved murder, the firings of several winning coaches, and enough sexual high jinks to qualify as a soap opera – all of it occasioned in and around the team's 28 Finals appearances. There are cameo appearances by Hollywood celebrities including super-fan Jack Nicholson, who has his own special way of rooting for the team.

From their humble beginnings in Detroit to their celebrated present-day status as Hollywood icons, readers will get the inside scoop straight from the people who lived it firsthand. Readers learn how:

  • Shaquille O'Neal gave rookie Kobe Bryant the nickname "Showboat,'' serenading Bryant with his unique brand of love song.
  • Wilt Chamberlain wasn't exactly the ladies man everyone thought he was.
  • An unsolved murder spooked the hiring of Jerry Tarkanian as Lakers coach.
  • The daughter of owner Jerry Buss posed nude for Playboy in the team offices.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came to resent Magic's relationship with Jerry Buss.
  • Magic Johnson battled Norm Nixon for control of the team.
  • Coach Phil Jackson beat a tom-tom and burned sage sticks to drive away evil spirits and get his warriors ready for battle.

Lazenby, having written excellent books on current Lakers coach Phil Jackson and top Lakers player Kobe Bryant, possesses tremendous insight into the team, plus the trust of players and coaches, which helps him deliver this entertaining oral history. Fans – and detractors – of today's Lakers will devour the book's second half, which presents insights into the Kareem-Magic years, especially about the women and drugs readily available to NBA players. But Lazenby also presents how the 1940s rivalry between center George Mikan and guard Jim Pollard parallels the recent rivalry between center Shaquille O'Neal and guard Bryant. – Publishers Weekly

Rich with original stories at turns hilarious and heartbreaking, The Show is an entertaining account of life among the Lakers, told as only those who lived it could tell it. Using his flair for storytelling and eye for detail, Lazenby blends these voices into a compelling epic, showing readers exactly why the Lakers are a beloved favorite of sports fans around the world. As surprising, and ultimately satisfying as the Los Angeles Lakers themselves, this book is a courtside ticket to the game behind the game.
 

Health, Mind & Body / Diet

The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle by Joan O’Keefe & James O’Keefe (Andrews McMeel Publishing) 

The Forever Young program is the scientifically based plan that will bring your life back into synch with your genetic identity, restoring your youthful vigor and glow, while at the same time optimizing your health, quality of life, and longevity. – James O'Keefe, MD and Joan O'Keefe, RD

With currently 30,000 diet books available, many people still don't know what to believe, how to eat, or what is right for their family. Cardiologist James O'Keefe and his wife, nutritionist Joan O'Keefe, have developed a simple program that allows families to live active lives, eat nutritious and delicious foods, and get back to the natural way of living. The O'Keefes' The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle combines the best of both the ancient and modern worlds. It not only reintroduces readers to the diet, physical activity, and lifestyle that allows them to thrive in their native environment, but it also teaches how to take advantage of the greatest and safest modern pharmacologic breakthroughs.

According to the O’Keefes, living in 21st century America seems to promote an unbalanced life: too much work and not enough play, excessive calories and not enough fresh foods, too much stress and not enough fun, too much TV and too little exercise, too much rushing and not enough rest, too much materialism and not enough spiritualism. Socially, we are the people of a highly advanced technological civilization, but from a genetic perspective, we remain citizens of the Paleolithic Era that ended 10,000 years ago. Most health problems today result from this mismatch between the world we are designed for and the different one we live in. The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle is a common sense diet and way of living that's based on the protein-rich, medically proven Hunter-Gatherer diet that promotes weight loss, improves energy, sleep, and concentration.

The program also emphasizes the importance of intangibles such as humor, spirituality, and love, discussing how these elements can improve readers’ health, appearance, and energy level. The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle includes chapters such as "How Excess Calories and ‘Garbage’ Can Trash Your Health," "Strong Bones and a Sunny Disposition," "Flexibility, Breathing, and Yoga," and "Hurry, Scurry, Work, and Worry: Time Poverty in America." The book also presents concepts such as nutritional supplements and anti-aging prescription drugs. The second part of the book deals specifically with lifestyle, discussing topics such as exercise, sleep, and faith. Throughout the book, the O'Keefes support their program with studies from leading research institutes, including the Mayo Clinic, The American Medical Association, and the National Academy of Science.

In a field plagued by ‘miracle’ diets and sketchy information, The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle presents a commonsense plan that improves satiety; promotes wholesome, fresh, and easily obtained foods; and reinforces a rational, holistic, mind-body approach to diet and lifestyle. The simple, easy-to-understand program is a complete package that can help provide a lifetime of energy and good health.
 

Health, Mind & Body / Disorders & Diseases

The Death of Mammography: How Our Best Defense against Breast Cancer Is Being Driven to Extinction by René Jackson & Alberto Righi (Caveat Press) 

Today, the best diagnostic tool for detecting breast cancer is being driven to extinction by lawsuits. According to Rene Jackson, R.N., B.S.N., M.S. Special Procedures Nurse in Medical Imaging at Charlotte Medical Center, Punta Gorda, Florida, and Alberto Righi, M.D., medical director of a radiology group in Florida, in The Death of Mammography, women must fight back. Early detection of breast cancer can make the difference between life and death. But the number of women needing regular mammograms outpaces the capacity of dwindling ranks of radiologists able and willing to read a mammogram.

Mammography is the best diagnostic tool available today. However, radiologists across the country, faced with the prospect of litigation and the high cost of malpractice insurance, now refuse to read mammograms. Radiology students are passing over specializing in breast imaging, and in the last few years over 700 mammography centers across the United States have closed their doors. Today, the number of women needing regular mammograms exceeds the capacity of the dwindling ranks of radiologists able and willing to read a mammogram.

The Death of Mammography offers:

  • Explains mammography technology
  • Describes the biology of breast cancer and treatment options.
  • Tells how medical professionals make healthcare decisions.
  • Reveals how legislative and legal issues strangle breast-cancer screening.
  • Offers realistic solutions and reforms.
  • Extensive list of breast cancer and tort reform resources.
  • Threads a personal account of a court case through the book, evoking the frustrations and fears that are a part of this issue.

The Death of Mammography presents the sobering realization that this most effective screening procedure for the diagnosis of breast cancer may become unavailable if unreasonable litigation and excessive jury awards force radiologists to abandon the field. This well-researched volume is essential for all women and medical professionals, so that they are prepared to take active roles in ensuring the continued availability of this life-saving imaging study. – Ronald L. Eisenberg, M.D., J.D., author of Radiology and the Law (Springer)

This book is sure to cause all its readers to ponder whether mammography as a diagnostic test can survive the morass of malpractice litigation in which the nation presently finds itself mired. – Leonard Berlin, MD, Chair, Department of Radiology, Rush North Shore Medical Center, Illinois

The Death of Mammography powerfully evokes the frustrations, providing a comprehensive analysis of the crisis and specific, realistic solutions.

Health, Mind & Body / Parenting & Families

A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Families edited by Pamela Kruger & Jill Smolowe (Riverhead) comes just in time for November’s National Adoption Month.
Adoption now affects more American families than ever before – 1.5 million adopted children live in the United States today, and 60 percent of Americans report some kind of personal connection to adoption. Happily, this surge has coincided with an increasing mainstream acceptance of adoption as just another way to form a family, complete with its own frustrations and joys.
A Love Like No Other discusses those frustrations and joys. Edited by Pamela Kruger and Jill Smolowe, both writers and editors themselves, the book features twenty leading writers, all of whom are adoptive parents, discussing their personal experiences. Writers include twenty renowned and award-winning authors and journalists who share the trials, complexities, and joys of raising adopted children, with a candor that is rarely encountered. Among the distinguished writers are winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Emmy Award, Pen-West Award, Lambda Literary Award, a nationally syndicated sex columnist, and the author of the first novel selected by the Oprah Winfrey Book Club.

They include adoptive parents of children of other races, like Emily Prager, who grapples with how to best keep her daughter connected to her Chinese roots; parents whose families blend biological children and adopted children, like bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard; single mothers of only children, like journalist Sheila Stainback; and same-sex adoptive parents like Jesse Green, who wonders how his sons will feel when instructed to make a Mother's Day card. They live in big cities and small towns, and have adopted domestically and overseas. Some of their stories soberingly address the potential complications of adoptive parenting, while others tell of happily enriched family lives.

A Love Like No Other offers a wide-ranging depiction of the humbling and transcendent experiences of adoptive mothers and fathers. Doug Hood swells with pride as he watches his twelve-year-old daughter work with orphans in China, for which she received a Healing the Children award. On his first night of parenthood, reluctant father Joe Treen vows to assassinate the president of Playtex (a plan conceived while mixing baby formula in a foreign hotel) – only to be thwarted by his daughter's outstretched arms. Other writers lament the largely unspoken pangs of pain, anger, and disappointment that only a disconnect between child and parent can bring. Melissa Faye Greene repeatedly asks herself about her new four-year-old-son, "Do you love him yet?" Bob Shacochis shares the agony of listening to the 15-year-old niece who is under his legal guardianship declare, "I can't love anybody... I'm incapable of love." Bonnie Miller Rubin, who spent years trying to mainstream her daughter, suffers humility when she concludes that she must send her deeply troubled teenage daughter to a residential facility.

Scattered among ten states, these modern-day families are headed by different-sex and same-sex couples, single mothers and single fathers, divorced parents and parents who were adopted themselves. The children, who range from toddlers to teens, were adopted domestically and internationally, from orphanages, the foster care system, and blood relatives' homes. As these writers show, adoption issues burrow deep into children's and parents' hearts and minds – and don't go away. Instead, they tend to evolve, not resolve; mature, not melt away. Laura Shaine Cunningham, an adult adoptee who searched unsuccessfully for her own birth father, wrestles with her two daughters' reluctance to visit their homelands or meet their birth parents. Single mother Marcelle Clements finds her son questioning his happy acceptance of adoption after kindergarten classmates make snide remarks. Dan Savage secretly yearns for his son's birth mother to abandon him...again. And Jill Smolowe confronts the challenges of honoring a daughter's ethnic heritage that she does not share.

Through their stories, in A Love Like No Other, the writers demonstrate that what for them is everyday family life can seem baffling to people unfamiliar with adoption. There are dialogues to open and lessons to share; adoption policies to reform; and stigmas and myths to dispel. After years of keeping their innermost thoughts to themselves, many of these writers are sharing their fears and concerns for the first time.

From various perspectives, 20 adoptive parents offer evocative, sometimes provocative, personal essays that have the liveliness and immediacy of prose fiction. … Diverse as this collection is, it's worth noting that the essayists are professional writers (they include Jacquelyn Mitchard, Emily Prager and Dan Savage), most of the children are preadolescent and 11 of the adoptions are transnational (five of them from China). – Publishers Weekly

You'd think by now that adoption's so deep in our culture that the next thing we'll be giving our kids is Barbie's Chinese baby; but our families are still a curiosity – still regarded as a little on the shady side of regular. – Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of Which Ones Are Yours?

Adoption is, in part, an act of imagination an act that biological birth requires, too, if less obviously. How is this new life connected to you? How do you make it yours? – Jesse Green, author of The Day That Hallmark Forgot

Reality's not virtual. And adopting children, even when it's extremely difficult, is a lot easier than raising children. – Jenifer Levin, author of Special Needs

Finally, a book on family values – real family values, without any sanctimonious talk of religion or politics....from Melissa Fay Greene's bracingly honest and touching account to Jacquelyn Mitchard's laugh-out-loud, tell-it-like-it-is essay, these stories are evidence of the power of family, in all its various shapes and forms. – Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City So Real

Impressive for both its breadth and its quality, A Love Like No Other is a timely and heartwarming mosaic of the contemporary lives of adoptive parents and their children. In elegant prose and with refreshing honesty, these essays introduce readers to a group of families they won't soon forget. The delightful and harrowing truths that unfold promise to enhance understanding for adoptive parents, children, relatives, friends, faculties and policy makers, and challenge the negative stereotypes that adoptive parents encounter routinely in the media – and often, where they least expect it.
 

Health, Mind & Body / Self-Help / Psychology & Counseling

When Violence Begins at Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse, second edition by K. J. Wilson (Hunter House Publishers) 

Since its initial publication, When Violence Begins at Home has provided professionals and victims of abuse with guidance on everything from indicators of an abusive relationship to domestic violence legislation, from anti-burnout tips for helpers to advice on leaving an abusive partner.

Dr. K. J. Wilson, former director of training for SafePlace and an adjunct professor with the University of Maryland (University College), has survived domestic violence herself and worked for many years in one of the country's first shelters for battered women. She encourages women to take control of their lives – and provides them with the tools to do so. For example, she advises women to plan every aspect of flight before leaving an abuser and provides practical information for each step of the way, including how to change social security numbers, handle checking accounts and mail forwarding and navigate the court system to stay out of reach of the spouse. This updated edition addresses new research and programs.

When Violence Begins at Home, second edition, has information on

  • The parenting behaviors of batterers
  • Date rape drugs, teen sexual assault and cyber-stalking
  • Pregnancy and domestic violence
  • Domestic violence in the military
  • The effectiveness of batterer-intervention programs

Current controversial social and legal issues are also covered, and a new chapter devotes attention to the challenging – and rewarding – role of those who work with battered women and their children. Special chapters clarify the responsibilities – and limitations – of friends and family, shelters, health-care providers, law-enforcement officers, employers and clergy. There is a safety plan that a woman can use to survive an attack and a comprehensive resources section listing books, websites and agencies available to helpers and those in need.

Dr. Wilson informs every chapter with deep compassion and hard-won, practical knowledge. I predict this book will take its place as an indispensable guide for professionals and those still trapped in relationships of abuse. – Susan Brownmiller, author of Against Her Will

This book will be the bible of domestic-violence advocates for years to come. – Del Martin, author of Battered Wives

… A final chapter presents a history of misogyny. Wilson is sensitive to cultural differences and their impact on women from various backgrounds. An appendix offers myriad resources in the form of support groups and print materials. Full of practical advice from someone with extensive experience in the field of domestic violence, this is strongly recommended for all collections. – Valerie Diamond, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, Library Journal

When Violence Begins at Home is a comprehensive, far-reaching reference, which will be invaluable to both battered women and their caregivers.

History / Americas / Civil War

Ironclad by Paul Clancy (International Marine / McGraw-Hill)

 

‘A cheesebox on a shingle,’ scoffed one observer as the USS Monitor steamed slowly toward the Confederacy's hulking iron battleship in March 1862. ‘A tin can on a shingle,’ said another. But the odd-looking contraption with its revolving gun turret revolutionized naval warfare. Its one great battle in the spring of 1862 marked the obsolescence of wooden fighting ships and may have saved the Union. Its terrible end in a winter storm off Cape Hatteras condemned sixteen sailors to a watery grave. And the recovery of its 200-ton turret in August 2002 capped the largest, most complex and hazardous ocean salvage operation in history.

In the tradition of Ship of Gold, the true story of the Civil War ironclad that saved the Union Navy only to sink in a storm – and its remarkable salvage 140 years later – Ironclad tells the saga of the warship USS Monitor and its salvage, one of the most complex and dangerous in history. The Monitor is followed through its maiden voyage from New York to Hampton Roads, its battle with the Merrimack, and its loss off Cape Hatteras. At the same time, author-journalist Paul Clancy, who covered this story for the Virginia-Pilot, takes readers behind the scenes of an improbable collaboration between navy divers and cautious archaeologists working 240 feet deep.

Ironclad weaves two dramatic stories from the past and the present: the genesis of this audacious little ship, its great moment in history, and its final journey. To write the book, Clancy studied the letters and diaries of the Monitor's long-ago sailors, and he moved among the salvage divers and archaeologists in the summer of 2002. John L. Worden, captain of the Monitor, strides from these pages no less vividly than the remarkable Bobbie Scholley, the woman commander of 160 Navy divers on an extreme mission.

Clancy writes history as it really happens, the improbable conjunction of personalities, ideas, circumstances, and chance.

Because of both the extraordinary eyewitness accounts of survivors, and interviews with the divers and detectives involved, this book blends nautical tragedy with narrative drama.

In Ironclad, the cries of drowning Union sailors sound a ghostly undertone to the cough of diesel generators and the clanging of compression-chamber doors on a huge recovery barge. The din and screech of cannonballs on iron plating echo beneath the hum of electronic monitors and the garbled voices of Navy divers working at the edge of human technology and endurance in water 240 feet deep.

Paul Clancy’s masterful investigation into the recovery of the Monitor is at once a thrilling re-creation of an epic moment in naval history and a tense account of a dangerous, high-tech marine salvage operation. Big characters drive both narratives, making for a satisfying story of men – and women – on the high seas. – Peter Nichols, author of A Voyage for Madmen and Evolution's Captain

Ironclad is solid, up-to-date history written in riveting, heart pounding prose. – John B. Hightower, President and CEO, The Mariners' Museum

Ironclad is a fascinating glimpse into our nation's history, an engrossing story of heroism, human ingenuity, and intrigue wrapped in a great adventure. – Kevin F. McMurray, author of Deep Descent and Dark Descent

From the breakneck pace of the Monitor's conception, birth, and brief career, to the years of careful planning and perilous labor involved in her recovery, Ironclad tells a compelling tale of technological revolution, wartime heroism, undersea adventure, and forensic science. Journalist Clancy weaves three great sea adven­tures into a single mesmerizing tale of the life, death, and recovery of a ship that changed history. Naval heroism, the cold heart of battle, a killing storm, deep-water salvage, flesh-and-blood history – Ironclad has it all. But the book is ultimately about heroism in the past and the present – and the bonds between the two.

Clancy creates a memorable, fascinating read, including fresh insights into the sinking of the Union ship and giving the answer to an intriguing forensic mystery: the identities of the two sailors whose bones were found in the Monitor 's recovered turret. This book is must-reading for anyone interested in Civil War and naval history, diving and underwater salvage, or adventures at sea.

History / Americas / Archaeology

Quintana Roo Archaeology edited by Justine M. Shaw & Jennifer P. Mathews (The University of Arizona Press) 

The state of Quintana Roo, Mexico’s southern state, is often perceived by archaeologists as a blank spot on the map of the Maya world, a region generally assumed to hold little of interest thanks to its relative isolation from the rest of Mexico. But salvage archaeology required by recent development along the ‘Maya Riviera,’ along with a suite of other ongoing and recent research projects, have shown that the region was critical in connecting coastal and inland zones; it is now viewed as an important area in its own right from Preclassic through post-contact times.

The first volume devoted to the archaeology of Quintana Roo, Quintana Roo Archaeology reveals a long tradition of exploration and discovery in the region and an increasingly rich recent history of study. Covering a time span from the Formative period through the early twentieth century, it offers a sampling of recent and ongoing research by Mexican, North American, and European archaeologists. The book is edited by Justine M. Shaw, Professor of Anthropology at the College of the Redwoods and Principal Investigator of the Cochuah Regional Archaeological Survey, and Jennifer P. Mathews, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Trinity University and Co-Director of the Yalahau Regional Human Ecology Project.

Quintana Roo Archaeology is divided according to four geographic regions as an organizing device. Part I. An Overview of Coastal Quintana Roo; Part II. Northern Quintana Roo; Part III. Central Quintana Roo; and Part IV. Southern Quintana Roos.

Each of the chapters helps to integrate sites within and beyond the borders of the modern state, inviting readers to consider Quintana Roo as part of an interacting Maya world whose boundaries were entirely different from today. In taking in the range of the region, the authors consider studies in the northern part of the state resulting from modern development around Cancún; the mid-state sites of Muyil and Yo’okop, both of which witnessed continual occupations from the Middle Preclassic through the Postclassic; and new data from such southern sites as Cerros, Lagartera, and Chichmuul.

The contributions consider such subjects as ceramic controversies, settlement shifts, site planning strategies, epigraphic and iconographic materials, the impact of recent coastal development, and the interplay between ancient, historic, and modern use of the region. Many of the chapters confirm the region as a cultural corridor between Cobá and the southern lowland centers and address demographic shifts of the Terminal Classic through Postclassic periods, while others help elucidate some of Peter Harrison’s Uaymil Survey work of the 1970s.

Quintana Roo, long known as the Yucatan Peninsula's Empty Quarter, is beginning to emerge as a major area of inquiry in Maya archaeology. This collection of informative and thoughtful articles reflects a culture history spanning more than two millennia in the region, and the exciting new theoretical and methodological initiatives being applied by archaeologists to this record. A must for Mayanists and worthwhile for visitors to this part of the Maya world. – David A. Freidel, Southern Methodist University

Quintana Roo Archaeology unfolds a rich archaeological record spanning 2,500 years, depicting the depth and breadth of modern archaeological studies within the state. In the book, editors Shaw and Mathews have assembled a collection that depicts the depth and breadth of modern archaeological studies within the state. It is an important touchstone for Maya and Mesoamerican archaeologists, demonstrating the shifting web of connections between Quintana Roo sites and their neighbors. The first chapter is an invaluable resource that for the first time provides an extensive bibliography and a total overview of coastal archaeology in Quintana Roo. Quintana Roo Archaeology holds the promise that Maya archaeologists will now begin to recognize the importance of Quintana Roo and to integrate this region into their broader understanding of the ancient Maya.
 

History / Americas / Social Sciences / Race Relations

Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America, 5th Edition by Gary B. Nash (Pearson Prentice Hall) is a history text of America's colonial period emphasizing the interaction of three cultures – colonialists, Indians, and blacks. 

"God is English."

Thus John Aylmer, a pious English clergyman, exhorted his parishioners in 1558, attempting to fill them with piety and patriotism. That thought, though never stated directly, has echoed ever since through our history books. As schoolchildren, most of us have been brought up on what has passed for the greatest success story of human history, the epic tale of how a proud, brave off-shoot of the English-speaking people tried to reverse the laws of history by demonstrating what the human spirit, liberated from the shackles of tradition, myth, and oppressive authority, could do in a newly discovered corner of the earth. For most Americans, colonial history begins with Sir Walter Raleigh and John Smith, and proceeds through William Bradford and John Winthrop to Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin. It ends with the Revolution, during which wilderness-conquering settlers pitted themselves against a mother coun­try that had grown tyrannical and won their independence against the odds.

In contrast to this is ethnocentric history, his­torians in this country have found it difficult to understand that the colonial period of our history is the story of a minority of English colonizers interacting with a majority of Iroquois, Delawares, Narragansetts, Pequots, Mahicans, Catawbas, Tuscaroras, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Ibos, Mandingos, Fulas, Yorubas, Ashantis, Germans, French, Spaniards, Swedes, Welsh, and Scots-Irish, to mention only some of the cultural strains present on the continent.

Historical revisionism often begins in this tentative way, turning a monochromatic cast of characters into a polychromatic one with the story line unchanged. Nearly thirty years ago, Vine Deloria, Jr., an outspoken In­dian leader, charged that much of the ‘new’ history "takes a basic ‘manifest destiny’ white interpretation of history and lovingly plugs a few feathers, woolly heads, and sombreros into the famous events of American history." But historians have moved beyond this crude form of multicultural history.

Written by acclaimed historian Gary B. Nash, University of California, Los Angeles, Red, White, and Black presents an interpretive account of the interactions between Native Americans, African Americans, and Euro Americans during the colonial and revolutionary eras. It reveals the crucial interconnections between North America's many peoples and illustrates the ease of their interactions in the first two centuries of European and African presence.

Extensively revised to incorporate an even greater hemispheric approach, the Fifth Edition of Red, White, and Black includes a new map showing the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Southwest, and Southeast, and new maps showing Queen Anne's War and Pontiac's uprising. The bibliographic essay has been completely updated and streamlined.

Nash, in explaining the origin of the text, says he took part, several decades ago, in redesigning the introductory course in American his­tory at the University of California, Los Angeles. This effort was directed at making American history more understandable to an ethnically, a socially, and an intellectually diverse undergraduate audience by studying the process of change that occurred when people of widely varying cultural backgrounds interacted over a period of four centuries. Although this does not sound like a startling innovation, he discovered that it required him to read broadly in areas that had largely escaped his notice during fifteen years of studying and teaching colonial American history – anthropology, ethno history, African history, and Latin American history.

When first drafting Red, White, and Black in 1972, Nash took Deloria's criticism to heart, believing that a fuller and deeper understanding of the colonial underpin­nings of American history must examine the interaction of many peoples, at all levels of society, from a wide range of cultural backgrounds over a period of several centuries. For the colonial and revolutionary period this means ex­ploring not only how the English and other Europeans ‘discovered’ North America and transplanted their cultures there, but also how societies that had been in North America and Africa for thousands of years were actively and intimately involved in the process of forging a new, multi-stranded cul­ture in what would become the United States. Africans were not merely en-slaved. Native Americans were not merely driven from the land. As Ralph Ellison, the African American writer, has reasoned: "Can a people ... live and develop for over three hundred years by simply reacting? Are American Ne­groes simply the creation of white men, or have they at least helped to create themselves out of what they found around them?" To include Africans and Indians in our history in this way, simply as victims of the more powerful Eu­ropeans, is hardly better than excluding them altogether.

Breaking through the notion of Indians and Africans being kneaded like dough according to the whims of the invading Europeans was one of the main goals of Red, White, and Black from the start. During the last two decades, as Nash has revised the book for new editions, a host of resourceful and talented anthro­pologists and historians have provided rich studies that add depth and com­plexity to this initial formulation. A body of historical literature now shows irrefutably how Africans and Native Americans were critically important participants in the making of American history. A consistent picture has emerged of the complex, intercultural birthing of the ‘New World.’ It is the story of transformation for all invoked, regardless of enormous inequalities in status, where European and Indian worlds blurred at the edges and merged, where Africans and Europeans made a new world together.

Much utility still remains in pointing out differences in technological levels – for example, the Europeans' ability to navigate across the Atlantic and to process iron and thereby to manufacture guns. But placing too much emphasis on technologi­cal advancement creates a mental trap in which Europeans are imagined as the principal agents of history, the African and Indian peoples as the passive victims, and the outcomes seemingly inevitable. Inevitability is a victor's story, one that robs history of its contingency and unexpected outcomes. Red, White, and Black presents historical outcomes as part of a tangled and an unpredictable human process where little is inexorable or foreordained.

Red, White, and Black adopts a cultural approach to our early history. It looks at the land mass we know as ‘North America’ as a place where a number of different societies converged during a particular period of history – between about 1550 and 1790, to use the European system of measuring time. In the most general terms we can define these cultural groups as Indian, African, and European, though this oversimplification is itself a Eurocentric device for classifying cultures. In other words, this book is not about early American history as usually defined – as the English colonization of thirteen colonies along the continent's eastern seaboard – but about the history of the peoples of North America during the two centuries leading toward the American Revolution.

The task in Red, White, and Black is to discover what happened when peoples from different continents, diverse among themselves, came into contact with each other at particular points in history. Social and cultural process and change are of primary concern: how societies were affected and how their des­tinies changed by the experience of contact with other societies. Red, White, and Black explores a dynamic process of interaction that shaped the history of American Indians, Europeans, and Africans in North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Today, genetic sciences have wiped away the long effort to establish a hierarchy of human types. Modern science finds that race is not biologically determined. Rather, it is socially and historically constructed. No objective foundation exists for the idea that a person belongs to one biological ‘race’ or another or that a particular number of distinct races exists. It is now appar­ent that Europeans in the Americas fashioned different codes of race rela­tions based on their own needs and attitudes concerning how people should be classified, treated, and separated. As Sidney Mintz wisely reminds us, “The ‘reality’ of race is thus as much a so­cial as a biological reality, the inheritance of physical traits serving as the raw material for social sorting devices, by which both stigmata and privileges may be systematically allocated.” This social sorting is highly arbitrary – down to the present day when, for example, the U.S. Census Bureau for many decades obliged every resident to choose one racial category as if no people whatso­ever existed with mixed cultural inheritances.

Red, White, and Black in­quires into the way human populations from different parts of the world, groups of people with cultural differences, brought into contact with each other, changed over the course of several centuries – and changed in a manner that would shape the course of American history for generations to come. The book helps students develop a fuller, deeper understanding of the nation's underpinnings.

History / Middle East

The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk (Alfred A. Knopf) 

During the thirty years that award-winning journalist Robert Fisk has been reporting on the Mid­dle East, he has covered every major event in the region, from the Algerian Civil War to the Iranian Revolu­tion, from the American hostage crisis in Beirut (as one of only two Western journalists in the city at the time) to the Iran-Iraq War, from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan to Israel's invasions of Lebanon, from the Gulf War to the invasion and ongoing war in Iraq. Now he brings his knowledge, his firsthand experience and his intimate understanding of the Middle East to The Great War for Civilisation, a book that addresses the complexity of its political history and its current state of affairs.

Passionate in his concerns about the region and relentless in his pursuit of the truth, Fisk has been able to enter the world of the Middle East and the lives of its people as few other journalists have. Fisk has lived in the Middle East for almost three decades, is Middle East Correspondent of The Independent and holds more British and international journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent.

In The Great War for Civilisation Fisk lays open the role of the West in the seemingly endless strife and warfare in the region, traces the growth of the West's involve­ment and influence there over the past one hundred years, and outlines the West's record of support for some of the most ruthless leaders in the Middle East. He chron­icles the ever-more-powerful military presence of the United States and tracks the consequent, increasingly virulent anti-Western – and particularly anti-American – sentiment among the region's Muslim populations.

Fisk interweaves this history with his own experiences in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, Is­rael, Palestine and Lebanon – on the front lines; behind the scenes; in the streets of cities and villages; and inside military headquarters, the hideouts of guerrillas, the homes of ordinary citizens. Here, too, are indelible por­traits of Osama bin Laden, Ayatollah Khomeini and Yassir Arafat, among others – all of whom he has met face-to-face – revelatory in their apprehension of the individuals and the ideologies they represent.

The Great War for Civilisation also tells the story of journalists in war: of their attempts to report the first, im­partial drafts of history, to monitor the centers of power, to challenge authority and to battle an increas­ingly partisan worldwide media in their determination to report the truth.

… But it is his stunning capacity for visceral description – he has seen, or tracked down firsthand accounts of, all the major events of the past 25 years – that makes this volume unique. Some of the chapters contain detailed accounts of torture and murder, which more squeamish readers may be inclined to skip, but such scenes are not gratuitous. They are designed to drive home Fisk's belief that "war is primarily not about victory or defeat but about death and the infliction of death." Though Fisk's political stances may sometimes be controversial, no one can deny that this volume is a stunning achievement. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Robert Fisk is one of the outstanding reporters of this generation. As a war correspondent he is unrivalled. – Financial Times (Britain)

The Great War for Civilisation is a vividly rendered work of stun­ning reportage. Fisk’s unblinking eyewitness testimony to the horrors of war places him squarely in the tradition of the great frontline reporters of the Second World War. His descriptions of lives mangled in the chaos of bat­tle and of the battles themselves are at once dreadful and heartrending. But it is also a book of  incisive analysis. Reach­ing back into the history of invasion, occupation and colonization in the region, Fisk sets forth the information in such a way to make it clear how a history of injustice "has condemned the Middle East to war." Unflinching, provocative, brilliantly written, The Great War for Civilisation is a work of major importance for today's world.
 

Home & Garden / Health, Mind & Body / Religion & Spirituality

Zen Bride by Nora Cabrera (Running Press) urges readers to be free to celebrate and experience the precious moments of their wedding day.

The further brides immerse themselves into the wedding planning process, the eas­ier it is to lose sight of the true meaning of matrimony.

Inspired by the strong market for books that deal with improving overall well-being, the focus of Zen Bride is on encouraging the anxious bride-to-be to balance mind, body, spirit, and heart as she creates her wedding experience.

Most wedding planning focuses on how the wedding will look on the outside; very little attention is focused on how the bride is feeling inside. Author Nora Cabrera urges readers not to resign themselves to believing "this is just the way it is when a bride plans her wedding!" On the contrary, one can find peace in the midst of chaos. Cabrera, a professional wedding planner, emphasizes the importance of staying present and grounded, and urges brides to appreciate the moments of joy, inspiration, and abundance that accompany planning for this most important day. Zen Bride, the book, includes aromatherapy suggestions, relaxation and meditation techniques, and plenty of poetic advice. The kit contains a selection of products scented with lavender, bath crystals, and a candle in a silver tin – plus a sleep mask.

Zen Bride:

  • Includes a relaxing lavender blend of aromatherapy goodies to indulge the bride's body, mind, and spirit, plus a 96-page inspirational and interactive book with a Journal section at the end to record thoughts and feelings.
  • Evokes a sense of calm through serene black and white photographs and positive reinforcement through quotes.

If Zen Bride does nothing else, it gives brides something to do to help relieve their anxiety. The kit provides tools brides can use to experience moments of bliss, creative inspiration, balance, tranquility, celebration, abundance, rejuvenation, and joy throughout the wedding planning process, on the big day, and into the life ahead.

Home & Garden / Interior Design

Charles Faudree's Country French Living by Charles Faudree with M.J. Van Deventer, photography by Jenifer Jordan (Gibbs Smith, Publisher)


From the best-selling author of Charles Faudree's French Country Signature comes Charles Faudree's Country French Living by Charles Faudree, with M. J. Van Deventer and photography by Jenifer Jordan, a collection of Faudree's newest room designs in the Country French style that has garnered him worldwide recognition.

As one of America's top 100 designers, Faudree's interpretation of Country French style has national and international appeal.

Charles Faudree's Country French Living features the latest Faudree collection – from the entryway to living spaces and private spaces, rooms for entertaining and outdoor spaces, Faudree teaches principles of design that make a house a Country French home. In the luxurious examples here, Faudree shows how to identify a pivotal fabric, a dominant color, or one magnificent antique that will dictate the style and design for a whole room. He turns a private space into a soothing sanctuary, and he brings order and balance to a room with symmetrical groupings that lend formality without stuffiness.
According to Faudree, just one distinctive piece of furniture, such as a towering armoire or an unusual commode, or a great accessory like a grand mirror or painting, will make the rest of the room seem more important. One outstanding piece can change the whole plan for a room. Faudree encourages clients to build their home around a few classic staples, just as they build a fashion wardrobe. He says he makes signature pieces a part of his home and cabin and move them from room to room to keep them fresh. But a signature piece doesn't have to be expensive. Painted furniture is really beautiful, so in vogue, and often quite reasonable in comparison to pricey antiques. The key is finding a piece one really loves and wants to live with forever.

From My Favorite Things to Living Spaces; Entertaining Spaces to Private Spaces, and Outdoor Spaces to Finishing Touches, Charles Faudree's Country French Living covers Faudree's perennial trademarks that make a house a Country French Home, including:

  • Beautiful, classic upholstery chairs
  • Fabrics enticing to the eye and the touch
  • Well-loved and perfectly placed antiques
  • A charming library that adds warmth and character
  • Walls and windows that enhance a room and add a proper finish
  • Symmetrical groupings that provide balance and order in a room

Charles Faudree's Country French Living also shows how to make the most of accessories like lamps, pillows, baskets, and paintings to finish a room and provide the charm and personality so important in a well-designed French Country setting.

Charles Faudree's Country French Living reveals that the true test of a beautiful room is in the details. Jordan's exquisite photography captures the very essence of Faudree's luxurious design sensibility, unfailingly evident in the details.
 

Mysteries & Thrillers / Historical

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig (Dutton) 

Harvard Law student and History PhD candidate Lauren Willig captivated critics and readers alike with her award-winning, debut novel, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation which Meg Cabot called "[a] genre-bending read that has it all: romance, mystery and adventure. Now, to the delight of her many fans, Willig returns with The Masque of the Black Tulip, another tale in which a modern woman finds romance – 200 years ago. The book continues the adventures of England’s greatest spy with a newly arrived adversary from France, the murderous Black Tulip.

Two hundred years ago, secret documents so sensitive they could alter the course of history were stolen from a courier with the London War Office. At the scene of the crime, the victim was left with a curious note containing only a small black symbol pinned to his chest. Authorities were baffled. It took two centuries for a young American history student, Eloise Kelly, to uncover the missing pieces of the puzzle….

As Eloise reads from an old codebook, she discovers that the Black Tulip, the deadliest spy in Napoleon’s arsenal, has returned to England with a terrifying mission. Only a pair of star-crossed lovers stand in the way of the Black Tulip. But will stopping the Black Tulip’s secret mission cost them their lives or, even worse, their love?

… like last time, Eloise and Colin's will-they-won't-they dance isn't nearly as interesting as what takes place in 1803. No matter. Willig knows her audience; Regency purists may gnash their teeth in frustration, but many more will delight in this easy-to-read romp and line up for the next installment. – Publishers Weekly
With such appealing characters and plots, one fears that Willig, currently a Harvard Law student and History Ph.D. candidate, will never get those degrees. – Kirkus Reviews

Charming...Willig's new work is again terribly clever and funny... – Library Journal

History’s most elusive spy, and England’s only hope for preventing a Napoleonic invasion, returns in this imaginative historical romance.  Jumping seamlessly back and forth between the past and the present, Willig brings readers a fun filled (and historically accurate!) tale of mystery, romance and intrigue. Anyone who enjoys mystery – with a dash of espionage and intrigue thrown in – will love The Masque of the Black Tulip.


Outdoors & Nature / Ecology / Economics

Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources: Research from Africa and India edited by Libor Jansky, Martin J. Haigh, & Haushila Prasad (Water Resources Management and Policy Series: United Nations University Press) 

More than a decade ago, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio, the Non-Government Organization (NGO) Forum produced a set of alternate treaties, which also set out a prospectus for the NGOs. They worried about the ‘erosion of basic values and the alienation and non-participation of almost all individuals in the building of their own future’. They recognized ‘the central role of education in shaping values and so­cial action’. This education would include developing ‘an ethical awareness’ and ‘a respect for all life cycles’, and it would self-impose ‘limits on humans' exploitation of other forms of life’. The human dimension of headwater management remains its major challenge.

Headwaters are the source of fresh water resources, the margins of drainage basins, and the first- and zero-order basins that surround every catchment. The challenge is to define appropriate, self-sustainable, management strategies and structures for these lands, which meet the needs of the headwater habitat, including its human inhabitants, and the needs of habitats downstream. Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources, edited by Libor Jansky, Senior Academic Programme Officer in the Environment and Sustainable Development Programme of the United Nations University, Tokyo; Martin Haigh, Professor of Geography at Oxford Brookes University; and Haushila Prasad, senior lecturer in the Department of Geography, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya, deals with these issues and the Nairobi Declaration for the International Year of Freshwater 2003. The book is a compilation of papers presented at the International Conference on Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources held in Nairobi, Kenya on 5-8 September 2002. It defines the concepts of headwater resources and later explains the engineering and technical aspects in sustainable management of various headwater resources in India and Africa. It also explains about local communities in the Nile interacting in developing sustainable management practices using indigenous knowledge of wetlands. A good description of the factors regulating fresh water quality in the Himalayan river system focusing mainly on two major rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, is also provided.

The contributors to Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources strive to anticipate emerging and future prob­lems; to discover integrated solutions to the problems already caused by land degradation, natural hazards, and development processes; and to help develop better land management, environmental protection, and landscape regeneration practices and policies. They also address the many challenges that remain: the concern for effective sharing of local experience in science and technology; community participation; the role of education; effectiveness and limits of current technology; the selection of appropriate policies and goals; modes of effective management; and the sustainability of current activities. The contributors to Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources analyze the current situation through field experiments that provide reliable information on the status of headwater resources in these regions.

The book contains 14 chapters, each by a different author. The conclusion to this book, and to the discussions at the larger conference from which this collection of papers is abstracted, is the Nairobi Declaration 2003, Chapter 1 in Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources. Water supply is a major linking theme. All reports underline the vital need for researchers to work with the community of land users to promote better land husbandry and to help those communities help themselves to adapt to a changing world.

The editors outline the many questions remaining to be answered, including:

  • Are we sharing lessons learned locally in science and technology effectively?
  • Are we engaging community participation properly?
  • Is our technology really working?
  • Are we really directing our research efforts to the most appropriate and necessary targets?
  • Are our activities sustainable?
  • Are our management structures appropriate?
  • Do we have the best policies?

Sustainable Management of Headwater Resources provides an understanding of current and prior situations and provides scientific analyses of local and regional headwater issues in India and Africa. The volume brings together the works of the important stakeholders from the fields of reality, from the researchers, scientists and policy-makers of developing countries. According to the editors, the challenge is to create a positive future, and that is up to us. Let us hope that the Nairobi Headwater Declara­tion and these scientific proceedings can advance better and active self-management of headwaters by their human populations and a more self-sustaining integration of the human within nature.

Politics / Environment

Making Threats: Biofears And Environmental Anxieties edited by Betsy Hartmann, Banu Subramaniam & Charles Zerner (Rowman & Littlefield, Inc.)

We live in times of proliferating fears. The daily updates on the ongoing ‘war on terrorism’ invoke, provoke, and amplify fear and anxiety as if they were necessary and important aspects of reality in the twenty-first century. "Fear Is Everywhere," a bumper sticker warns. "Scary Ads Campaign to a Grim New Level," declares the New York Times, referring to the use of fear in the presidential campaigns of 2004. Indeed, we are told to be alert – to people, plants, animals, things, sky, ground, air, and water – always vigilant to the possibilities of attack inside the house and out, at work and at play.

Narratives and images that invoke these anxieties abound in discussions about the environment: in media portrayals of deadly viruses and bacteria or lethal germs released into the air, water, or food supplies: in con­cerns about teeming Third World populations overrunning the United States: in images of exotic and alien species invasions that threaten to take over and destroy native and natural habitats; and in worries about imminent scarcity of oil, food, and water and soaring prices. What is at stake, we are told, is nothing short of ‘our way of life.’

Making Threats, edited by Betsy Hartmann, director of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College; Banu Subramaniam, associate professor of women's studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and Charles Zemer, professor of environmental studies at Sarah Lawrence College, addresses how environmental and biological fears are used to manufacture threats to individual, national, and global security. Hartmann, Subramaniam and Zerner say they developed this collection out of concern for the consequences of this escalating rhetoric of fear and threat in our supersaturated news world. And they are not alone in this endeavor – fear, in fact, is a growing area of study. Fear begets threat, and threat begets fear. This synergy is all the more stark in the United States, where the population, still terrorized by the events of September 11, is paying with money and lives for a ‘war on terror’ in Iraq and elsewhere, while public culture and discourse are increasingly militarized.

Making Threats is an attempt to begin a systematic examination of how environ­mental and biological fears in particular are produced and deployed. There is no one neat approach to the study of fear and threat, nor does this volume attempt to present all possible approaches. Rather, it shows how different disciplinary perspectives and theoretical insights can help illuminate how environmental and biological fears are produced and how threats to security are constructed.

Contributors to Making Threats come from a wide variety of perspectives, including environmental studies, political science, international se­curity, biology, sociology, and anthropology. They discuss what they share in common: the view that fears should be critically examined to avoid unnecessary alarm, scapegoating of people and nations as the ‘enemy Other,’ and the formulation of social, environmental, health, and national security policies on the basis of false or misleading premises. At a time of heightened anxiety and war, the contribu­tors call for engaged reflection. Making Threats is organized into five parts – Security, Scarcity, Purity, Circu­lation, and Terror – key conceptual motifs in the production of biofears and environmental anxieties and the propagation of threats.

The contributions in part I, Security, focus on the representation and con­struction of threats and the roles played by powerful institutions of the gov­ernment, market, and media. Ronnie Lipschutz and Heather Turcotte's "Duct Tape or Plastic? The Political Economy of Threats and the Production of Fear" explores how fear is produced through a political economy of threats and literally and figuratively sold to the American public. In "Making Civilian-Soldiers: The Militarization of Inner Space," Jackie Orr considers the contemporary militarization of U.S. civilian psychology within the historical context of World War II and Cold War efforts to target the psychic and emotional life of U.S. civilians as a necessary, battlefield. In his reflection piece "Consuming National Security," Paul A. Passavant argues that the post-Fordist, neoliberal state governs in large measure through consumption and that governing subjects as consumers means in­serting them into "networks of surveillance that can vastly expand state power."

The authors in part II. Scarcity, illustrate how literary, rhetorical, and performative lenses can be employed to understand the generation and persist­ence of fears of scarcity – in particular, Malthusian narratives of overpopula­tion that for over two centuries have exercised so much influence on economic, political, and environmental thought in the West. In "Malthusian­ism and the Terror of Scarcity," Larry Lohmann analyzes the relationship be­tween ‘daylight’ Malthusianism – the quasi-logarithmic relationship between food and population growth that underpins two centuries of thinking about private property, government policy, development, and biology – and the darker ‘Us vs. Them’ Malthusian terror narrative, in which the overbreeding poor threaten civilization and planetary survival. In his reflection piece "Scarcity, Modernity, Terror," Michael Watts ex­plores three narratives of scarcity – population growth as a driving force of resource scarcity and conflict (Malthusian scarcity), the ‘crisis’ of oil scarcity (the artificial scarcity of rents), and the never-to-be-satisfied, always escalat­ing consumer demand (the social world of scarcity) – and he examines how they are intertwined threads central to the discourse and practices of liberal governmentality.

In part III, Purity, of Making Threats the authors explore the consequences of the problem­atic nature/culture binary, and the related rhetoric of purity and pollution, in the construction of threats to the body and the environment. In "Decoding the Debate on 'Frankenfood,''' Hugh Gusterson analyzes how opponents of genetically modified foods often employ narratives of an idealized, pure na­ture threatened by a homogenized evil science in order to build public support, reinforcing unhelpful stereotype consideration of real risks. In "The Aliens Have Landed! Reflections on the Rhetoric of Biological Invasions,” Banu Subramaniam examines the contemporary discourse on bi­ological invasion and traces the interconnections between scientific theo­ries and rhetoric about nature with changing cultural and political conceptions of human immigration and foreigners. In his piece "Impure Biology: The Deadly Synergy of Racialization and Geneticization," Alan Goodman reflects on the salience of our obsession with ‘purity.’ He suggests that ‘race’ and the history of race are key to understanding our quest for a ‘pure’ nature and our fears of mixtures, hybrids, and miscegenation.

Part IV, Circulation, of Making Threats builds on the previous discussion to explore the pow­erful contradictions and connections between the rhetorics and politics of purity/nativism and the expansion of global capitalist ideology, markets, and institutions. In "Emerging Cartographies of Environmental Danger: Africa, Ebola, and AIDS," Charles Zerner examines the production of environmen­tal imagery and rhetorics and their links to racist geographies of African cul­ture and environment in policy discussions, fiction, nonfiction, and film. In her reflection "Feeling Invasion," Emily Martin describes an essential emotional contradiction of capitalism: at the same time that many of its activities deaden and flatten feeling or cause anxiety, it depends on consumer confidence and enthusiasm as well as manic market exuberance to function.

Part V, Terror, analyzes the rhetorical strategies of state and nonstate actors in the construction of national security threats and their relation to the pro­duction of violence.

In "Inventing Bioterrorism: The Political Construction of Civilian Risk" Jeanne Griillemin describes how outbreaks of life-threatening infectious diseases and the dangers of biological weapons are conventionally di­chotomized into categories of ‘natural’ and ‘intentional’ epidemics. In "Pernicious Peasants and Angry Young Men: The Strategic Demography of Threats," Betsy Hartmann and Anne Hendrixson explore the framing of na­tional security threats in demographic terms. In "Bioterrorism and National Security: Peripheral Threats, Core Vulnera­bilities," Richard A. Matthew writes about how the perennial alarmism of a large wing of the environmental movement has helped convince the public and policymakers that the world is a frightening and dangerous place.

This provocative collection of essays makes an important contribution to our understanding of how fears related to biological and environmental phenomena are produced and played out. A useful contribution to a debate that has been too often marked by extremes of induced terror and panglossian denial. – Ken Conca, associate professor of government and politics, University of Maryland

The chapters inform each other in a cumulative way, building a series of narratives of dangers as they in turn tackle matters of security, scarcity, purity, circulation, and terror. The book makes a substantial scholarly contribution that will work well as a text but is also such a well-crafted analysis of contemporary anxieties that it deserves to be widely read by the general public. – Simon Dalby, professor of geography and environmental studies, Carleton University

Making Threats is a remarkable compilation that makes links and connections no one else is making. This book offers a wonderful, though scary, examination of the manipulation of insider/outsider rhetoric as it plays out in racial, biological, social, and political realms. A must-read for these anxious times. – Joni Seager, dean of environmental studies, York University

By locating the production of environmental fears in specific sites; by identifying the actors and institutions staging these fears; by analyzing the dramaturgy, discourse, and imagery used in creating fearsome environmental ‘spectaculars’; in short, by giving fears histories, the authors in Making Threats contribute to scholarship on the environment and security that engages with some of the more potent and disturbing political and cultural aspects of the contemporary scene. The different analytical approaches the contributors present are tools that readers can use and apply to fear mongering and threat making in a variety of contexts – past, present, and future.
 

Professional & Technical / Architecture

Ranches, Rowhouses & Railroad Flats: American Homes: How They Shape Our Landscape and Neighborhoods by Christine Hunter (W. W. Norton & Company) 

Many creatures create a large proportion of the environment in which they live. The most extreme example is the termite, but each species of termite builds a predictable form of termi­tarium. In no species is the exact form of the built environ­ment less predictable and more variable than in man. – Paul Shepard, The Only World We’ve Got

Ranches, Rowhouses & Railroad Flats outlines the basic requirements of a dwelling; examines the broad spectrum of housing forms; looks at how cultural, legal, and technological standards have developed; and lays out the current criteria for a ‘minimum standard’ family home.
Architect Christine Hunter describes the three possible forms of housing – freestanding houses, attached houses, and apartments, often neglected in architectural literature. With diagrams and sketches she explains the inherent geometric and environmental qualities of each form and shows the rich variety of shapes they have taken, including colonial salt-boxes, mobile homes, bungalow courts, suburban tracts, townhouses, tenements, and luxury towers. She discusses the practical impact of each form on land consumption, access to jobs and shopping, transportation options, and energy use.
According to Hunter, an architect with Magnusson Architecture and Planning in New York, the conditions that have allowed Americans to continually build anew have often favored experimentation and creative thinking. At the same time, however, they have led us to deval­ue that which is already there. Nowhere has this tendency been more pronounced than in the area of homebuilding. An amazing formal variety of homes has been built in this country, but many of them no longer exist or remain relatively unknown. Because we learn little about local neighborhood history in school, much of the information that we do get comes from the real estate indus­try, the builders, the brokers, and the manufacturers of modern materials. The floor-plans and photos in magazines and newspa­pers are those of what is on the market and currently fashionable; existing older homes, unless they are very costly, are not given the same visual play.

Thus, unlike our view of what we classify as nature, our percep­tion of what is worthwhile in the built environment tends to be slanted toward the new and the pristine. We have learned to value old-growth forests and understand the ecological importance of rotting logs and even boggy wetlands, but find it harder to see the inherent worth or potential longevity of a mixed block of run-down rowhouses, especially if they have been altered over the years and no longer look ‘historic.’

The intention of Ranches, Rowhouses & Railroad Flats is to provide a framework to help readers look more closely at their homes and neighborhoods. It is an introductory examination of the three possible forms of hous­ing and the ways in which each has been designed and built in the United States. These homes, so familiar to us that we barely see them, are the basic building blocks of our communities. While there are lots of building types, the sheer number of homes – their overall mass and presence on the landscape – far outweighs that of other built structures. Where and how these homes are constructed and connected is closely related to everything else that we build, from stores, offices, and factories to schools, highways, and parks.

In order to provide a basis for comparing the three forms of housing, the first few chapters of Ranches, Rowhouses & Railroad Flats cover the evolution of spatial and legal standards for American dwellings. The central section then discusses the inherent geometric and environmental qualities of each form and presents examples showing how each has been built in the United States. The final chapter examines how these forms have been combined, with or without other build­ing types and public spaces, into neighborhoods, and how our thinking about what a neighborhood should contain has changed along with our homes and means of transportation.

According to Hunter, assembling this material has meant, in some cases, putting down on paper concepts and design practices that are so taken for granted today that they are rarely discussed. Answers to seemingly simple questions, such as why windows must legally open only in certain kinds of spaces, can be surprisingly hard to find; rules are embedded in the fine print of building codes when they should be important environmental issues. In other cases, Hunter has distilled information from established and far more detailed works, particularly historical studies of individual cities and styles of home-building.

For book collectors and those with an interest in the residential landscape, it belongs on a shelf with J.B. Jackson, Kenneth T. Jackson, and Amos Rapaport. If you don’t buy one copy, you should consider buying two. It is a great book to give to anyone who wants to understand the forces that shape our houses and neighborhoods. – Architecture Boston

Ranches, Rowhouses & Railroad Flats is a delightfully illustrated and readable introduction to the evolution of America's housing forms and the ways that they shape – and limit – the neighborhoods around them. Ranches, Rowhouses & Railroad Flats provides a framework for understanding what is fundamental – and what is possible – as each discipline addresses Americans' need for comfortable, attractive shelter and a sustainable society. Understanding the truly broad range of ‘real’ homes that we have built so far in this country is critical to making wise choices for the future. With vivid diagrams and sketches, this overview will be useful not only to readers with a casual or professional interest in architecture but also to those with wider environmental and community planning concerns.
Religion & Spirituality / Christianity

Isaiah: God Saves Sinners edited by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. (Preaching the Word Series: Crossway Books)

Isaiah is widely considered the deepest, richest, and most theologically significant book in the Old Testament. According to Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., it is, without question, a profound statement by God about his own sovereignty and majesty spoken through his chosen spokesman, the prophet Isaiah.

In this expository commentary on the book of Isaiah, Isaiah, Ortlund, Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, argues that Isaiah imparts a single vision of God throughout all sixty-six chapters. It is a unified, woven whole presenting God’s revelation of himself to mankind, breaking through pretense and clashing ‘with our intuitive sense of things.’ Ortlund makes a point of man’s disinterest in God and his unfailing inclination to disbelief, and thus the need for God to ‘interrupt our familiar ways of thinking.’

The emphasis of Isaiah is this: God saves sinners. He saves them willfully and powerfully and needs no help from us, presenting himself in all his unmistakable glory.

The single best resource for faithful biblical exposition available today. A great boon for genuine reformation! – Timothy George Dean, Samford University, Beeson Divinity School

For this outstanding series of expository commentaries, Kent Hughes has assembled a team of unusually gifted scholar-preachers. The series will be widely used and much sought after. – Eric J. Alexander Retired Senior Minister, St. George’s-Tron Parish Church, Glasgow, Scotland

The Preaching the Word commentary series is one of my favorites. The focus upon explaining a text with preaching it as the goal makes the series resonate with the priorities of the pulpit. No academic aloofness here, but down-to-earth, preacher-to-preacher meat for God’s people. – Bryan Chapell President, Covenant Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

I’m delighted to endorse the philosophy behind the series edited by my friend Kent Hughes. Here sounds out the voice not of the scholar in the study but of the scholar in the pulpit. The authors are all able teachers who regularly expound God’s living Word to his people. May this rich material give us ‘patterns of preaching’ that will not only feed the flock, but, by God’s grace, change the church. – R. C. Lucas Retired Rector, St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate, London, England

The message of Isaiah, shown thoroughly and thoughtfully in Isaiah, will reignite a passion for the glory of God in the hearts of believers and present that glory clearly to those who have yet to be brought to faith.

Isaiah is part of a Bible commentary series entitled Preaching the Word. The series is noted for its unqualified commitment to biblical authority, clear exposition of Scripture, readability, and practical application. R. Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor of The College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, is the general editor for the series, which will eventually encompass every book of the Bible. It is an ideal resource for pastors and teachers, as well as for personal Bible study.
 

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity / Feminism

Whispering the Word: Hearing Women's Stories in the Old Testament by Jacqueline E. Lapsley (Westminister John Knox)

In the past twenty-five years there has been an explosion of work focusing on women in the Old Testament. However, because much of this work has reflected a perspective that is either uninterested in or hostile to theological implications of the text, many Christian feminists wonder if they can simultaneously maintain their commitment to principles of gender equality and their faith in the Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament.

Writing in response to feminist biblical scholars who approach the Old Testament with a hermeneutic of suspicion, Princeton theologian Jacqueline Lapsley in Whispering the Word offers Christian feminists strategies to hear the subtle ideas and voices of the less powerful within the Old Testament texts. Reading and interpreting Old Testament narratives in which women are prominent, Lapsley considers how these stories may reflect God’s word. The book focuses on four biblical stories which feature women:

Rachel's confrontation with Laban, in the book of Genesis – the discussion of menstruation and ‘the way of women’.

  • Judges 19–21 – these chapters depict disturbing violence against women.
  • Moses' mother and sister saving baby Moses from death.
  • The book of Ruth – Naomi’s position.

In discussing these passages, Lapsley demonstrates how the narrative often attempts to shape the moral response of readers by revealing the intricacy and complexity of the moral world evoked. In this gentle shaping of readers’ ethical sensibilities, she argues, is where God may be whispering a word for us.

Rich, perceptive, and persuasive. Lapsley’s keen intelligence, discerning insight, and elegant style make this a delightful book to read. … In Whispering the Word Lapsley models the very best of biblical literary hermeneutics. – Carol Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Elegant, significant, and needed. I read it with hunger, for Lapsley’s work slips into the seemingly unbridgeable divide between feminists in academy and church. Just when I thought there was little left to say about the women and the Old Testament, I find new theological doors open and feminist interpretation newly sophisticated. – Kathleen M. O’Connor, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia

Jacqueline Lapsley pays close attention to narrative detail, but she also pays close attention to readers – both ancient and contemporary – and how their predispositions and social contexts affect the hearing of the text. Her own readings are subtle, yet so clearly presented that readers will be drawn into the drama of these stories and led more deeply into biblical narrative as a whole. – Ellen F. Davis, Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke University Divinity School

Whispering the Word draws attention to the words and actions of Biblical women. While the book is aimed primarily at academics, Lapsley’s sensitive reading of ancient text, as shown especially in the lucid introduction, makes it accessible to lay readers.

Science / Astronomy / Technology

A History of Space Exploration: And Its Future by Tim Furniss (Mercury Books) tells the story of humankind’s exploration of the final frontier.

As told in A History of Space Exploration by Tim Furniss, spaceflight journalist, the launch of the first rocket in 1926 led to the development of the first long-range missile – the A4, renamed V2 – fired in anger during the Second World War. The technology had advanced by 1957, to enable the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to be developed. This missile formed the basis of the first launch vehicle to carry a satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit, marking the beginning of the Space Age. Since then the Moon, all the planets in the solar system except Pluto, and an asteroid and a comet have been explored by spacecraft. Twelve men have walked on the Moon since the Space Age began, and over 400 people have experienced space travel. Satellites now provide the world with a range of services from environmental monitoring to mobile phone calls. Space station operations have become routine. The Hubble Space Telescope has enabled astronomers to peer 12 billion years into the past and to take their first look at a black hole. What else will be achieved in the coming decades, as space exploration takes on a new momentum? A History of Space Exploration

  • Traces the development of the rocket engine from its primitive beginnings to the creation of a terrifying weapon of vengeance toward the end of World War II.
  • Tells what happened when, during the Cold War, Americans woke one morning to hear a Russian spacecraft beeping above their heads.
  • Charts the progress of the first manned orbital craft and the Space Race for the moon.
  • Explores the moon with the Apollo missions; Mercury, Venus, and Mars with the landers; and the gas giants and strange outer planets with the fly-by probes.
  • Shows how commercial organizations are revolutionizing space travel for the future, starting with the International Space Station.
  • Reveals galaxies a long time ago and far, far away, through the Hubble Space telescope.
  • Marvels at the courage of brave men and women who have dared to work in the hostile environment of outer space.

This fascinating A History of Space Exploration is dedicated to the memory of the crew of the Space Shuttle SIS I07/Columbia which was lost on February 1, 2003: Commander Rick Husband, Pilot William McCool, Payload commander Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, David Brown, and Ilan Ramon. Furniss allows that the best tribute that can be paid to them will be to accept that the risk is worth it. If not, he says, we might as well shut the door on human space exploration.

Social Sciences / Biographies & Memoirs

Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels by Hella Winston (Beacon Press)

 

When sociologist Hella Winston began talking with Hasidic Jews for her doctoral dissertation in sociology, she was excited to be meeting with members of the highly insular Brooklyn Satmar sect. Although several Jewish journalists and scholars have produced admiring books describing the Lubavitch way of life and the group’s outreach efforts, very little has been written about the other Hasidic sects, despite their combined greater numbers. Unlike Lubavitch, members of these other groups do not engage in outreach and are raised to avoid all unnecessary contact with outside society. Winston’s access was unprecedented.
As a nonobservant Jew with little prior exposure to the Hasidic world, she never could have guessed what would happen next – that she would be introduced, slowly and covertly, to Hasidim from Satmar and other sects who were deeply unhappy with their highly restrictive way of life and sometimes desperately struggling to leave their communities. First there was Yossi, a young man who, though deeply attached to the Hasidic culture in which he was raised, longed for a life with fewer restrictions and more toler­ance. Yossi's efforts at making such a life, howev­er, were being severely hampered by his fourth grade English and math skills, his profound igno­rance of the ways of the outside world, and the looming threat that pursuing his desires would almost certainly lead to rejection by his family and friends. Then she met Dini, a young wife and mother whose decision to deviate even slightly from Hasidic standards of modesty led to threatening phone calls from anonymous men, warn­ing her that she needed to watch the way she was dressing if she wanted to remain a part of the community. Someone else introduced Winston to Steinmetz, a closet bibliophile who worked in a small Judaica store in his community and spent his days off anxiously evading discovery in the library of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, whose shelves contained non-Hasidic books he was forbidden to read but nonetheless devoured. There were others still who had actu­ally made the wrenching decision to leave their communities altogether.

In Unchosen, Winston exposes the difficult choices Yossi and other questioning Hasidim face as they struggle with the many restrictions of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Eventually gaining unprecedented access to the world of ‘Hasidic rebels,’ Winston first began talking with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, approaching the insular Satmar and Bobov sects, and then slowly learning of the anguish that has led many to silently question their community or completely break away. "For close to fifty years, scholars have been predicting the demise of these communities, forecasting their inevitable inability to resist the pull of the vast American mainstream," Winston writes. "So far, they have been proven wrong...But, if the lives of those described in this book are any indication, it appears that something might have to change sometime soon."

Unchosen offers six narrative profiles of young Hasidim – Winston interviewed close to sixty in total – each remarkably different, yet linked by the inner turmoil that causes them to wonder: Do I still believe? Can I leave and pursue a secular life in the outside world? Readers meet Dini, who becomes fed up with shaving and covering her head and starts frequenting a local bar in miniskirts and high heels; Chaim, who hosts informal gatherings for ‘misfits’ that can't fit into the kind of life that their community demands of them; Yitzchak, a Hasidic version of a rock star whose admirers would be shocked if they knew that he didn't believe in their idea of God; and Leah, beaten as a child for her ‘wild’ behavior and sexually molested when she was ten. Winston also meets Malkie, who has left her Lubavitcher community and formed Footsteps, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling and job resources, tutoring in English, and access to social events aimed at familiarizing Hasidim with secular society.

While chronicling Malkie's story, Winston introduces others in similar, sometimes desperate situations. She shows how unhappiness born out of fear, community pressure, sexual abuse, or a total loss of faith cannot always outweigh the problems of a fourth grade education, limited knowledge of English, and threats from family and neighborhood modesty patrols. Winston notes, "By painting the secular world as such a corrupt, dangerous (and ultimately even anti-Semitic) place, and by denying people the skills to engage with it productively... [the] communities [were built] not so much on the strength of their philosophies, but on people's most basic fears."

Unchosen brings to the light the complexity of living in modern America while being bound by a community's distinctly pre-modern worldview. The book also demonstrates the efforts of individuals who resist and follow their own path; one they have selected independently and for themselves.

Hella Winston's honest and compelling study of those aspects of Hasidic life long swept under the carpet is sure to spark controversy. But by bringing to light the coercion, fear, and sexual abuse long apparent to those of us who know the community well, she has done a service not only to the general public but especially to those community members brave enough to speak out. Balanced, well researched, and compassionate, told with narrative drive and great wit, Unchosen is a must read. – Naomi Ragen, author of Jephte’s Daughter, Sotab, and The Covenant

Unchosen is a terrific book. Winston tells a good story, full of engaging profiles, and she is insightful about what propels these rebels away and what holds them back. Beyond the interest and significance of the topic, Unchosen serves as a strong local lesson in one of the great social, cultur­al, and philosophical questions: What happens when we emerge, even a little, from the ideology of our group? How does doubt look and feel, what are its stages, and how does it work? Highly recommended. – Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt: A History and The End of the Soul

Winston shows us a Hasidic underworld where large families and a lack of secular education have resulted in extreme poverty and some serious at-risk behavior among youth. Her story of courage and intellectual rebellion will inspire anyone who has ever felt like a religious outcast. – Publishers Weekly, starred review

Already called a ‘must read’ by Hasidic blogger ‘Shtreimel,’ Unchosen tells the fascinating sto­ries of rebel Hasidim, serious questioners who long for greater personal and intellectual freedom than their communities allow. In so doing, Unchosen forces readers to reexamine these communities and asks them to consider what they choose not to see when they romanticize them.

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