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We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

October 2006, Issue 91

Guide to This Issue

Arts & Photography

Philip Trager by Barbara L. Michaels, Eiko Otake, Norton Owen, Clare Rogan, Andrew Szegdy-Maszak, Stephanie Wiles & John Wood (Steidl Publishing)

A native of Connecticut and alumnus of Wesleyan University (B.A. 1956), Philip Trager is a preeminent photographer of architecture and dance. For more than three decades, his photographs have received wide critical acclaim both in America and abroad. Trager’s distinctly personal images of buildings are regarded as landmark works in architectural photography and have become standard documents for architectural and art historians, as well as architects. His expressionistic photographs of dancers in outdoor settings capture the essence of the work of many of the best contemporary choreographers and have reinvigorated the field of dance photography.

Published on the anniversary of his 40th year as a working photographer, Philip Trager presents a complete overview of the photographs of Trager, one of the most important photographers of architecture and dance of the twentieth century. It chronicles work from his books and unpublished photographs from a wide range of projects.

For this chronicle of Trager’s entire career, essays by distinguished specialists preface each major theme. Philip Trager includes an extensive interview with the artist, an illustrated section of selected projects and commissions, and a chronology and bibliography. The book was written by art historian and writer Barbara L. Michaels, curator of the Abbott-Levy Atget Collection at the Museum of Modern Art; Eiko Otake,  dancer/choreographer; Norton Owen, Director of Preservation for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival; Clare I. Rogan, Curator of the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University; Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Professor of Classical Studies at Wesleyan University; Stephanie Wiles, John G. W. Cowles Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College; and prize-winning poet and photographic critic John Wood, professor in both English literature and photographic history at McNeese University in Louisiana. The contents of Philip Trager, in addition to the many plates, includes:

  • Foreword – Jeremy Adamson
  • Introduction – Stephanie Wiles, Clare Rogan
  • The Formal Eye – John Wood
  • Phil Trager: An Appreciation – Andrew Szegedy-Maszak
  • "Looking Backward": A Conversation with Philip Trager – Stephanie Wiles
  • An Affinity for Architecture: Philip Trager's Photographs of Buildings – Barbara L. Michaels
  • Creatures of Nature – Norton Owen
  • Working with Phil – Eiko Otake
  • A Chronicle of Philip Trager's Life in Photography
  • Chronology and Selected Exhibitions – Clare Rogan
  • Bibliography – Clare Rogan

Philip Trager spans Trager's career, from his earliest photographs of New England to his more recent explorations of dance and architecture. While some photographs arose from commissions, virtually all others were conceived with book projects in mind. In many cases, particularly in his body of New York photographs, Trager's pictures move beyond evocative and artistic interpretation of a specific monument or site to assume the role of architectural documents, chronicling buildings that have since been lost. In Trager's images, as the essays in Philip Trager reveal, readers see and experience familiar scenes afresh. As photographed by Trager, discrete subjects such as a Colonial-era Connecticut house, a mid-twentieth-century New York streetscape, a sixteenth-century Palladian villa, a view of nineteenth-century Paris, and the arc of a contemporary dancer are lifted out of their temporal experience and re-presented as timeless archetypes – of form, of structural massing, of light and shadow, of poetic movement. The exacting formal structure of his architectural views, along with the absence of human action, infuses them with a sense of timelessness, allowing the spirit of his artistic genius to elevate readers’ aesthetic experience of them.

Trager's work is about form. There is nothing schizophrenic in the eye or art of Philip Trager; his genius has been to see the obvious connections between the dance and architecture. Trager's art is a rhapsody of these two supreme human expressions of form, the concrete, physical shapes of buildings and the ephemeral, spirit-like, and constantly dissolving shapes of dance. Architecture and dance are what Trager weaves, like counter-pointed melodies, into the composition of a canticle to form. To see these two groups of work brought together in one book allows readers to forget about both dance and architecture and see what it is that Trager actually sees – the beauty, but more importantly, the power and often the joy of form.

… Trager's are the most moving images of [the church at Rancho de Taos] I have seen and are unlike any other artist's because of his unique handling of the forms. The difference in what he saw and what everyone has always seen is made particularly clear in one of these photographs. Trager avoided the well-known look and the shape of the church to capture the most ancient, most mystical aspect of its form. He saw past the bulky, late eighteenth-century adobe walls and looked upon a megalithic temple or some fragment of a ring of ancient menhirs and dolmens. This church, the nearby Santuario de Chimayo, with its sacred, healing dirt, and others in this part of New Mexico are still considered sources of miracles, destinations for pilgrims. They are primitive, mythic places, and Trager's photographs deepen their mythology and insist that the roots of their antiquity go much further back in time than Spaniards and priests. –John Wood, The Formal Eye

Trager is a master of form...the viewer is transported...into the third dimension.... images... full of dramatic chiaroscuro. – Shawn O'Sullivan, B&W Magazine

Regarded as modern albums, Trager's books capture the spirit of their subject matter in luminous and compelling photographs and Philip Trager is the no exception. This overview of his work offers readers full access to one of the twentieth century’s most important photographers of architecture and dance, combining work from his previous monographs with unpublished photographs from a wide range of projects. Trager's joy at being a photographer leaps off the pages of this book.

Audio / Biographies & Memoirs / History / Science

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (6 Audio CDs, Running time: 7 hours, 47 minutes) by David Quammen, narrated by Grover Gardner (The Audio Partners)

Evolution, during the early nineteenth century, was an idea in the air. Other thinkers had suggested it, but no one had proposed a cogent explanation for how evolution occurs. Then, in September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that ‘natural selection’ among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific basis of Darwin's twenty-one-year delay constitute a tangled tale that elucidates the character of the man who initiated an intellectual revolution. The Reluctant Mr. Darwin tells how the cautious and socially shy naturalist gained enough confidence and evidence to publish a book that would displace humankind from its privileged position as a special creation. For example, he raised pigeons and theorized that domestic varieties could be traced back to a species of wild dove. And he floated asparagus seeds in saltwater to explain how plants moved from one continent to another.
Drawing from Darwin's secret ‘transmutation’ notebooks and his personal letters, David Quammen, three-time winner of the National Magazine Award, has in The Reluctant Mr. Darwin sketched a life portrait of the man whose work never ceases to be controversial.

Charles Darwin took 20 years to write his theory of natural selection: he produced On the Origin of Species only on learning that he was about to be scooped. Was he a chronic procrastinator? Or was he afraid of the reaction of his peers, who had scorned earlier books on the ‘transmutation’ of species? A bit of both came into play, but as acclaimed science journalist Quammen (Song of the Dodo) shows, during those two decades, Darwin was busy conducting scientific research that would bolster his observations of the finches and mockingbirds of the Galápagos Islands. … This often slyly witty book stands out among the flood of books being published for Darwin's bicentenary. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
… Quammen sets the excerpts in a companionable narrative that collects Darwin's eccentricities, appealing sensitivity, and intellectual journey into formulating the foundations of evolutionary theory. Walking readers through the origin and the content of The Origin of Species, Quammen proves an informative, often wry guide to Darwin's life and continuing influence. – Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin provides and vivid and fresh look at Darwin's most radical idea, and the mysteriously slow process by which he revealed it. This is a book for everyone who has ever wondered about who this man was and what he said. The audio version is dramatically read by Grover Gardner, actor, director, award-winning narrator named one of the ‘Best Voices of the Century’ by AudioFile and ‘Narrator of the Year for 2005’ by Publishers Weekly.

Business & Investing / Environment

Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story by Kim Cameron & Marc Lavine (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.)

Once in a great while we find an organization whose performance is so much better than expectations that it is difficult to believe that this level of success is possible – for example, the Revolutionary Army in 1776, the John Wooden-era UCLA basketball teams, or the success of the Grameen Bank movement.

Making the Impossible Possible tells the story of positively deviant performance – the achievement of extraordinary success well beyond the expectations of almost any outside observer. Authors Kim Cameron, professor of management and organizations at Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and professor of higher education in the School of Education at the University of Michigan and Marc Lavine, doctoral student and instructor in the Department of Organization Studies at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, present the story of an organiza­tion that reached a level of performance that was considered impossible. Their account describes how a single organization experienced a devastating loss – the loss of mission and subsequent languishing performance – and then, despite its problematic circumstances, achieved a level of success well beyond expectations.

The most contaminated nuclear plant in the country, Rocky Flats was an environmental disaster and the site of rampant worker unrest. Although it was estimated that it would take 70 years and $36 billion to clean up and close the facility, something stunning happened. Now on its way to becoming a wildlife refuge, the project is running 60 years ahead of schedule and $30 billion under budget. In Making the Impossible Possible, Cameron and Lavine explain how this performance was achieved and how other organizations can apply the same methods to achieve breakthrough levels of performance. The authors discovered that the Rocky Flats leaders used a distinctive ‘abundance approach,’ identifying and building on sources of strength, resilience, and vitality rather than sim­ply solving problems and overcoming difficulties. Drawing on numerous firsthand accounts and public records, they identify 21 specific leadership practices and key techniques that were funda­mental to this innovative approach.

In chapter 1, Cameron and Lavine describe in detail the conditions that were encountered by Kaiser-Hill managers when they arrived at Rocky Flats in July of 1995. This chapter explains what an abundance approach to change is and why it leads to remarkable performance. The contract signing between Kaiser-Hill and the Department of Energy marked the beginning of the saga at Rocky Flats. Chapter 2 provides a detailed description of the conditions under which the facility was operating prior to the intervention of Kaiser-Hill.

According to the authors, quite frequently in their interviews, employees cited the roles played by certain leaders as being particularly important. Chapter 3 elaborates some of the leadership roles that differentiate abundance-oriented leaders from more traditional leaders. The Competing Values Framework, a powerful tool to help interpret complex arrays of information, has been the subject of research for a quarter-century and has proven to be of great value in understanding leadership and organizational performance. Chapter 4 of Making the Impossible Possible provides a detailed explanation of the Framework.

Chapters 5 through 8 identify and illustrate the four general cate­gories of enablers of positive deviance. Chapter 5 illustrates the four enablers associated with visionary and symbolic leadership: facilitating innovation, risk-taking, visionary thinking, and symbolic leadership – a clear, shared vision; symbolic leadership activities; innovation and creativity; and meaningful work. Chapter 6 illustrates the four enablers associated with careful, clear, and controlled leadership: maintaining stability, carefully controlling processes, precise objectives, and financial discipline – goal clarity; new contracts and an interagency agreement; detailed planning, ‘projectizing,’ measurement, milestones, and accountability; and stable funding. Chapter 7 illustrates four enablers associated with collaborative, engaging, and participative leadership: supportive interpersonal relationships, developing human capital, openness, and nurturing a collaborative culture – organizational culture change; collaboration; trust and credibility; and human capital and social relationships. Chapter 8 illustrates the four enablers associated with rigorous, uncompromising, and results-oriented leadership: power and politics, pressure to perform, striving for wealth, and external stakeholders – external stakeholder engagement, external political strategies, bold action and pressure to succeed, and incentives to perform. Chapter 9 elaborates the key leadership principles learned. Appendix 1 presents some of the contrary perspectives regarding Rocky Flats' performance.

This is a remarkable book detailing a remarkable case study of outstanding organizational performance. The fundamental lesson – that extraordinary performance is possible if leaders focus on what can be and use mistakes and false starts for learning rather than blaming and evaluating – is one that every leader ought to embrace. – Jeffrey Pfeffer, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

As a Colorado State Legislator, I challenged both Kaiser-Hill and the DOE to accomplish closure and cleanup of Rocky Flats by 2006, a goal deemed impossible to achieve by almost everyone. This book explains how this extraordinary success was accomplished and what others can learn about achieving similar outstanding success. – Federico Pena, Former United States Secretary of Energy, and Former United States Secretary of Transportation

The cleanup and closure of Rocky Flats is a story of success that exceeded the expectations of virtually every knowledgeable observer. You will learn the organizational practices and leadership lessons that explain how extraordinary performance was achieved in the face of great difficulty. I highly recommend the book. – Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and former U.S. Secretary of Energy

Making the Impossible Possible describes a fascinating and thoroughly researched case study and concludes by revealing the ten leadership principles ultimately responsible for the Rocky Flats turnaround. In doing so, it provides a complete guide for anyone, for any organization, wanting to understand and apply the lessons of this remarkable, history-making achievement.

Computers & Internet / Business & Culture / Sociology

Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers as the Fifth Estate by Stephen D. Cooper (Marquette Books)

Who’s watching the watchdog, anyway?

The metaphor of watchdog has long been popular as shorthand for the structural role of the free press in a representative democracy. If the people need a watchdog to make sure the institution of government does not abuse the power they have granted it, would there not be a need for a comparable check on the press, as a social institution with power in its own right?

Watching the Watchdog, by Stephen D. Cooper, associate professor of communication at Marshall University, is not an endorsement or a criticism of the ideological or political views of any bloggers. Instead, this work is an exploration of the distinct types of media criticism which have evolved in the blogosphere.

Watching the Watchdog is a small book that packs a punch larger than its size would suggest. The blogosphere – that murky universe in which blogs exist – is a relatively new phenomenon, and it is also a poorly understood one. A blog is a single Web site, focused on self-publishing documents written by one individual or perhaps a small group. Those who write blogs are called bloggers. Cooper examines that group of bloggers which arose specifically to monitor the actions of the mainstream media. As an example of their powerful public presence, consider the controversy surrounding Dan Rather's use of certain documents describing President Bush's National Guard service. Their exposure as forgeries came not though the mainstream media, but through the insightful critique of bloggers. The power of bloggers is great, according to Cooper, and thus compels readers to take a closer look at who they are and how they operate.

Within the blogosphere, Cooper illuminates those bloggers acting as media critics and demonstrates their influence in the public sphere. He fleshes out an understanding of the actions of media bloggers by demonstrating how their writings have grown into four distinct genres: critiques of news accuracy, critiques of news framing, critiques of news agenda-setting, and critiques of journalistic practices.

According to Cooper, if Edmund Burke was onto a fundamental insight when he said the press was, in a practical sense, the Fourth Estate of the legislature, we might now be seeing the emergence of a Fifth Estate in our social system, a watcher of the watchdog. The thesis of Watching the Watchdog is that the blogosphere is in the process of maturing into a full-fledged social institution, albeit a non-traditional one: emergent, self-organizing, and self-regulating.

What I particularly appreciate about Watching the Watchdog is how Cooper examines blogging as a phenomenon, instead of examining it from a specific political point of view. Bloggers come in all political persuasions, are a diversified group, and offer alternative points of view for consideration. Cooper allows this important truth into his examination. He illuminates the working of the blogosphere in all its heterogeneous glory…. The concern is with the grass roots actions the media criticism of bloggers represents, not on whether or not their criticism fits into a particular political niche. – Jim A. Kuypers, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, from the Foreword

Watching the Watchdog recognizes both the nature of blogs and the general lack of knowledge about how they work: Cooper does a remarkable job of making sense of it all, focusing on those bloggers acting as critics of the mainstream media in America. The main contribution of this book is that it helps readers understand the value of blog content as that content specifically relates to the public discussion of various events and issues and the real contribution of bloggers to the process of democratic deliberation.

Cooking, Food & Wine

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland (W.W. Norton)

 Just when readers thought they knew everything about Asian food, along comes James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor.

Oseland, executive editor of Saveur, has spent two decades exploring the foods of the Spice Islands – few can introduce readers to the birthplace of spice as he does. Oseland takes readers on a culinary journey to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, the tropical archipelago that lies between Thailand and Australia. He brings readers the Nyonya dishes of Singapore and Malaysia, the fiery specialties of West Sumatra, and the spicy-aromatic stews of Java. Native home of nutmeg, cloves, galangal, and turmeric – and some of the most lavishly spiced dishes on the planet – these countries have lured spice seekers for millennia.

Oseland has culled his recipes from twenty years of intimate contact with home cooks and diverse markets. In 1982, Oseland, an art student living in San Francisco, was invited to the region by a fellow classmate. In short order, he was seduced by the fresh, flavorful foods he ate: spice-infused curries, bright vegetable stirfries, and succulent satays. Hungry to know how these dishes were prepared, Oseland ventured into the family's kitchen. There he was a foreigner twice over; in Indonesia, cooking is usually the province of women. Still, he learned the secrets of Indonesian cooking, from how to grind chiles to how to choose the freshest vegeta­bles at the market.

Over the next two decades, he immersed himself in the regional cuisines of the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali, Sumatra, and the Spice Islands, as well as of neighboring Malaysia and Singapore, countries whose foods are closely linked to those of Indonesia. He trekked through rice paddies, shopped in open-air markets, slurped noodles in food stalls, and became friends with the finest home cooks and street vendors, always taking notes.

In Cradle of Flavor, Oseland invites readers to share in his passion. More than a cookbook, it celebrates colorful people, majestic places, and unforgettable food. Among the book’s features:

  • 100 authentic recipes for a full range of dishes, from sambals, dipping sauces, and street foods to foods of celebration (goat, beef and pork).
  • Recipes for such classics as gado-gado, chicken satay, beef rendang . . . even a recipe for a Singapore Sling cocktail.
  • Many dishes for non-meat eaters, including tempe and tofu braises and citrusy vegetable salads.
  • A detailed chapter, 'In the Kitchen,' that walks readers through cooking techniques, including how to make flavoring pastes and what visual cues will tell readers when a curry is fully cooked.
  • A richly detailed glossary written with the expertise of years spent navigating Asian markets, providing tips from how to decipher the label on a can of coconut milk to choosing the freshest bundle of water spinach and locating an ingredient on the Internet.
  • Detailed maps of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, plus descriptions of the distinct cuisines of each.
  • 16 pages of full color, featuring a color photograph of each ingredient needed to make the recipes.

 

James Oseland has had the incredible good fortune of traveling Southeast Asia and exploring its vast culinary offerings and traditions. With evocative stories and clear, thorough recipes that everyone can (and should!) attempt, Cradle of Flavor helps bring the sights, aromas, and flavors of Southeast Asia back to your own kitchen. – Ming Tsai, chef/owner, Blue Ginger, and author of Ming's Master Recipes

I cannot remember ever being more excited to work from a cookbook. James Oseland introduces an enchanting cuisine, a world of new flavors and traditions with passion, depth, charm, and wisdom. …I've been cooking for over thirty years and am proud to say that I hung on his every word as I pounced on these recipes. Everyone who loves cooking – or food! – should buy this book. – Judy Rodgers, author of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

In my opinion, James Oseland is one of the greatest interpreters of Southeast Asian cuisine. His food is magical and his writing impeccable. His passion, palate, and immense knowledge are evident on every page of Cradle of Flavor. The recipes, written with the clarity of a brilliant teacher, are precise, accessible, and produce delicious results. You will love this book as much as I do. – Julie Sahni, author of Classic Indian Cooking

… Oseland's instructions are detailed, and he makes a convincing case that with a little time and care, the best of these complex, interrelated cuisines can be enjoyed thousands of miles from their origin. – Publishers Weekly

Cradle of Flavor is the first book to reveal the undiscovered jewels of Southeast Asian cuisine. Oseland's twenty-three-year love affair with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore and their people has resulted in an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the world's cuisines. With Cradle of Flavor, fans of Javanese Satay, Singaporean Stir-Fried Noodles, and Indonesian curries can finally make them in their own kitchens. Whether readers have visited the countries before or have never experienced the region's extraordinary cuisine firsthand, the clarity of his recipes make this book one that they will turn to again and again.

Entertainment / Humor

Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh? by Jimmy Carr & Lucy Greeves (Gotham)

I was in a bookstore last week. There was a third off all titles. I bought The Lion, the Witch. – Jimmy Carr

As the host of the hit game show Distraction (now in its third season on Comedy Central) and one of the premier stand-up acts working today, award-winning comedian Jimmy Carr has won over millions of fans around the world with his trademark rapier wit, laced with “exquisitely economical and perfectly timed one-liners” (The Guardian). For Only Joking he teams up with friend and fellow comedy writer Lucy Greeves to take an in-depth look at where humor comes from and how it works, through exploring its purest form: the joke.

Only Joking begins with the mechanism of laughter – how it happens and why even infants do it – then delves into the power of the punch line, exploring the basics of all jokes, from the use of shock and surprise to advanced stand-up techniques such as the ‘pull-back/reveal.’ Carr and Greeves go on to explore taboo humor, jokes that bomb, and the psychology of finding something funny. They look into the longstanding connection between politics and humor, and discuss the survival prospects for contentious jokes in the current political climate. Only Joking answers the questions:

  • Why do we tell jokes?
  • How do they work?
  • Is laughter an evolutionary advantage?
  • Why do some jokes kill while others bomb?
  • Who were the first comedians?
  • What is the importance of subversive and political humor?
  • Why are there fewer female comics?
  • Why can't women remember punch lines?
  • What are the components of a good joke?
  • How do children learn to joke?
  • What's yellow and dangerous?

Throughout Only Joking they conjure up a supporting cast of colorful joke enthusiasts, from Sigmund Freud to Lenny Bruce, and discuss their influence on the jokes we tell today. The book features hundreds of jokes from dozens of comedians such as Jack Handey, Bill Maher, Chris Rock, Jackie Mason, Steve Martin, Rosanne Barr, Sarah Silverman, Steven Wright, Emo Phillips, and Jimmy Carr, all to illustrate a point or get a laugh (but usually both).

One senses he will become one of the best comedians Britain has ever produced. – Edinburgh Evening News

The brightest British Comic hope for a long, long while. – Irish Times

His perfectly timed one-liners have set the new standard. – Daily Telegraph

Carr specializes in one-liners, twisted little aphorisms, the sort of thing you might find in a fortune cookie baked by Satan. – Sunday Herald

A wonder to behold...he plays with your boundaries, but you love it. If Jimmy Carr can do to a body what he does to a mind, then his girlfriend must be the happiest woman on the planet. – Scotsman

Comedy genius...definitely get into this Carr; he's the Rolls Royce of comedy. – Edinburgh Metro

… Tucked here and there are some delightful digressions, including a short bio of a dirty-joke collector, a history of joke books and the story of the development of television laugh tracks. In the end, Carr and Greeves remind readers not to confuse ‘seriousness of purpose’ with a ‘solemn’ attitude: just because people joke about something doesn't mean they're not taking it seriously. And that goes for the history of joking, too. – Publishers Weekly

Only Joking is a wonderfully entertaining and informative look at where humor comes from and how it works, exploring the concept of humor from every possible angle in its purest form: the joke. Packed with comedic insight and quips from comic geniuses, Only Joking is a rollicking analysis of why joking will always be close to the human heart – and an irresistible exploration of humor that makes clear why we need a good laugh now more than ever.

Entertainment / Movies / Anthropology

Women of Blaxploitation: How the Black Action Film Heroine Changed American Popular Culture by Yvonne D. Sims (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

With the Civil Rights movement of the sixties fresh in their perspective, movie producers of the early 1970s began to make films aimed at the underserved African American audience. Over the next five years or so, a number of cheaply made, so-called blaxploitation movies featured African American actresses in roles which broke traditional molds. Typically long on flash and violence, this genre nonetheless did a great deal toward redefining the perception of African American actresses, breaking traditional African American female stereotypes and laying the groundwork for later feminine action heroines.

Women of Blaxploitation is a critical study examining the ways in which the blaxploitation heroines reshaped the presentation of African American actresses and, to a certain degree, the perception of African American females in general. Written by Yvonne D. Sims, assistant professor of English at South Carolina State University, it discusses the social, political and cultural context in which blaxploitation films emerged. Women of Blaxploitation focuses on four African American actresses – Pam Grier, Tamara Dobson, Teresa Graves and Jeanne Belle – providing critical and audience response to their films as well as insight into the perspectives of the actresses themselves. The eventual demise of the blaxploitation genre due to formulaic plots and lack of character development is also discussed. Finally, the work addresses the mainstreaming of the action heroine in general and a recent resurgence of interest in black action movies. Relevant film stills and a selected filmography including cast list and plot synopsis are also included.

In Chapter 1 of Women of Blaxploitation, "Reshaping African American Femininity: Mammy, Aunt Jemima, Sapphire and Action Heroine," emphasis is placed on film as a media outlet that shapes perceptions about African Americans. Sims discusses Grier, Dobson, Graves and Bell's contributions to the action heroine genre and end the chapter with conclusions about the action genre and the origins of the action heroine. Chapter 2, "Cultivating the Seed," opens by looking at the social, political and cultural framework of the 1960s that was integral to the rise of blaxploitation movies. One studio, American International Pictures (AIP), with its history of capitalizing on trends in American culture, rushed to fill the void by producing many of the blaxploitation films, particularly those that were focused on action.

Chapter 3, "Here Comes the Queen," interweaves an analysis of Grier's films with the actress's perspective on her heroines. Chapter 4, "Call Me Cleo," examines Dobson's role in Cleopa­tra Jones (1973) and the sequel, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975). The chapter considers her perspective on playing a new type of heroine, with an analysis of the characteristics that make Cleo an action heroine. Chapter 5, "Love That Woman and Watch the Dynamite," discusses the impact of the action heroine on the small screen as well as a lesser-known action heroine in another blaxploitation film, T.N.T. Jackson. In contrast to Grier and Dobson, Graves followed a different path, having already established a television presence.

In Chapter 6 of Women of Blaxploitation, "The End of Blaxploitation," Sims explores the demise of the genre. By 1975, African Americans had grown weary of blaxploitation movies. When studios such as AIP and Warner Brothers discovered that African Americans wanted to see a diverse range of movies and that they no longer had to make films specifically geared towards this market, they stopped production on them and moved on to the next trend. In Chapter 7, "Aliens, Terminators and Outlaws: The Mainstreaming of the Action Heroine," Sims discusses the mainstreaming of the action heroine in popular cinema. Although interest in blaxploitation films may have waned, the action heroine persevered as a result of the trailblazing genre in the 1970s. Chapter 8, "Metamorphosis of the Black Action Heroine," discusses the factors that led to a resurgence of interest in blaxploitation movies with Quentin Tarantino's rediscovery of Pam Grier in Jackie Brown. The chapter also explores whether audiences are as excited about an African American action heroine as they were initially by Pam Grier's Coffy and Tamara Dobson's Cleopatra Jones.

According to Sims, in Women of Blaxploitation, it also remains to be seen whether or not the sub-genre of action heroines remains a viable commodity in Hollywood. Without a strong character similar to Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley, there may be little interest in producing more action heroine movies. Despite concerns that the genre itself may be diminishing, with good scripts and strong characters, there is hope that a new black action heroine will emerge and capture the attention of critics and audiences alike. While Halle Berry's Catwoman was unable to return the action heroine to her racial roots, the possibility remains strong that her remake of Pam Grier's Foxy Brown may attract new audiences to blaxploitation while returning the action hero­ine to her position in popular cinema and with it a willingness to offer African American actresses more opportunities to portray such a heroine.

It is important to acknowledge the contributions of African American actresses to the action heroine genre and its subsequent trail blazing for all action heroines in decades to come. The question remains whether Grier, Dobson, Graves and Bell brought to life a new heroine that was revolutionary or whether their characters replaced the mammy, the exotic other, Aunt Jemima and Sapphire with alternate sexual stereotypes of African American women. Readers may draw their own conclusions about these actresses and their contributions to blaxploitation as presented in Women of Blaxploitation. Regardless, the book begins a long-overdue dialogue on what Peter Shields has called a misunderstood historical moment in film among scholars, critics and fans.

Entertainment / Music

On the Line: The Story of A Chorus Line by Robert Viagas, Baayork Lee, & Thomas Walsh (Limelight Editions)

A Chorus Line, the biggest Broadway hit of its generation, is returning to Times Square in a fall 2006 revival. The show is based on a series of taped discussions made in the mid 1970s with some of the top ‘gypsies’ (veteran Broadway dancers), many of whom went on to play characters based on themselves in the Tony- and Pulitzer-prize-winning musical.

A Chorus Line was the longest-running show in Broadway history for a time, and this fall’s major revival takes place more than thirty years after its premiere. Back in the day, A Chorus Line "brought Broadway back to life . . . Broadway had a goal again; had a drive again . . . ," asserts Robert Viagas in the preface of the new, updated book On the Line, which he co-authored with two of the show's original cast members, Baayork Lee and multiple Tony-winner Thommie Walsh. A Chorus Line's young cast, contemporary and ‘attention-grabbing’ characters, and original story – much of it based on the real-life stories of the cast members themselves – helped to draw in ‘baby boomer’ audiences, and brought much-needed financial support to a major theater group, the New York Shakespeare Festival, as well as the Schubert Organization, according to Viagas in the preface.

In many ways,  On the Line is a continuation of the show itself. In this collective oral history, the 19 original cast members tell how they got involved with the project, how they labored through the months of workshops that shaped it, and what its success has meant for their lives and careers. In particular, they get an insider’s look at co-creators Michael Bennett, Joseph Papp, Ed Kleban – and each other.

Originally published in 1990, On the Line has been updated to continue telling their stories over the past 16 years. Program director Viagas, founder of Playbill On-Line, together with director Lee, who is now choreographing the revival, and international director and choreographer Walsh, provide details about cast members, for example, Wayne Cilento ("I Can Do That"), who has become a Tony-winning choreographer of shows like Wicked and Aida; Kelly Bishop ("Can the adults smoke?"), who has become a TV star on Gilmore Girls; and Trish Garland, who has become a California fitness guru.

(On the previous edition) Based primarily on interviews with the original 19 dancers … For exhaustive theater collections and diehard Chorus Line fans. – Eric W. Johnson, Univ. of Bridgeport Lib., Ct., Library Journal

On the Line paints intimate and frank portraits of the cast members and brings back, especially for the boomer generation, an era gone by.

Entertainment / Music / History

The Operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer by Robert Ignatius Letellier (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)

There is no need to found Meyerbeer societies, or to build a special Meyerbeer theater. All the public are his admirers, and the whole of Europe his Bayreuth. – Eduard Hanslick, 1891

How things were to change in the twentieth century. Many opera lovers today have never heard of Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864); his life and work have been largely forgotten. There is little knowledge of his operas, let alone a perception of his operatic oeuvre as an integral artistic sequence.

The Operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer endeavors to redress some of this ignorance. It offers a presentation and reading of his stage works, the complete Meyerbeer operas, considered chronologically in terms of the unfolding of the composer's life and artistic concerns.

While his four grands opéras have never been totally forgotten, the works of Letellier’s young adulthood are virtually unknown. According to Robert Ignatius Letellier, member of Trinity College (Cambridge), the Salzburg Center for Research in the Early English Novel (University of Salzburg), the Maryvale Institute (Birmingham), and the Institute for Continuing Education at Madingley Hall (Cambridge), Letellier’s early German operas are completely disregarded, dismissed as dry academic exercises. Investigation shows them to be full of innovation and pioneering impulses, especially in the use of recurring motifs. The Italian operas, for long equally unknown, have begun to fare a little better. There have been major revivals of Il Crociato in Egitto, and more recently, of Margherita d'Anjou and Semiramide riconosciuta. In them, vivid invention, musical ingenuity, and a profound sense of theater, increasingly bear comparison with Rossini. But these operas are far more than imitations: they show an apprehension of convention and genre that is nothing less than a dismantling of accepted formulas, and a highly original reconstruction of them.

The French operas all enjoyed great fame and illustrious stage careers. During his lifetime, Meyerbeer was one of the leading composers in Europe. Robert le Diable, Les Huguenots, Le Prophete, and L 'Africaine were not only the culminating peaks of the traditions of French grand opera, but milestones in the evolution of opera as an art form, and hence major contributions to the heritage of Western culture.

As told in The Operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer, the power of Meyerbeer's musical voice was of decisive influence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the number of performances his works received during his lifetime, and until the First World War, is almost without equal. The greatest singers of the age appeared in his operas, and hundreds of transcriptions, arrangements, and fantasias testify to the ubiquitous popularity of his music. Meyerbeer was also a great dramatic artist in his own right, and his operas, seen as a whole, present an astonishingly integrated view of the world, held together by recurrent themes and an ever-evolving sense of theatrical coherence. His contributions to the history of dramatic art, the details of his operas, the annals of his stage, deserve to be better known – The Operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer may go a long way toward making that happen.

Entertainment / Puzzles & Games

The Bridge Player's Bible: Illustrated Strategies for Staying Ahead of the Game by Julian Pottage (Barron’s)

Bridge, one of the world’s most widely played card games, requires skill, concentration, and practice on the part of its players. The Bridge Player's Bible is visual guide in a ring binder designed to help beginners master the rules and principles while also explaining strategies that both beginners and experienced players need to command for successful play. Julian Pottage presents more than 300 illustrated examples of bid structures, then instructs on how to rank, decode, and defend. Separate chapters focus on opening bids, responses, rebids, slam bidding, opening leads, general play techniques, both no-trump and suit contracts, defensive leads and returns, and many other topics that are central to a well-played game. The book teaches bridge strategies, including endgames, as well as key bridge players’ techniques, communication through bids and signals, hand valuation, planning, counting, inferences, and deceptive card playing. The Bridge Player's Bible also features a glossary, an index, and more than 300 color illustrations.

Pottage sees bridge as the greatest of all card games. It is a game for four players, with two partnerships in competition with each other. The game is played with a standard pack of 52 playing cards and each deal comprises two phases: the bidding, and the play. During bidding, the two sides compete to determine the trump suit (if any) and the number of tricks they expect to make. The last bid is the contract. The play is similar to any whist-type game, with tricks won by high cards and trumps. If the contract is made, the side that bid it will get a score. If not, the other side gets a score.

According to Pottage, the partnership element in bridge is what sets it apart from other well-known mind games such as chess, poker, and backgammon. The social element brings friendship, and often a partnership at the bridge table becomes one at home or vice versa. Bridge combines the cut and thrust of an auction as in poker with the beauty and juxtaposition of moves as in chess with the element of luck as in backgammon and blackjack. While it is common for bridge players to play chess or backgammon as well, it is very rare for them to abandon bridge in favor of another game. Often they have tried the other game first and found it not quite satisfying. Another measure of the game's strength is the fact that in 99 percent of bridge games little or no money changes hands. The game has such an inherent appeal that there is no need to add a financial element to make it interesting.

One of the beauties of bridge, The Bridge Player's Bible points out, is that players can learn the basics of the game in a few hours while it takes a lifetime to master. Even world champions will come across situations or opponents that they have not encountered before. This makes it almost impossible for anyone to become bored by the game.

The Bridge Player's Bible is a clear, comprehensive and compact take-anywhere guide written by a qualified teacher who has written over 20 books on the game.

Health, Mind & Body / Nutrition / Alternative Medicine

Nutritional Counseling for Lifestyle Change by Linda Snetselaar (Taylor & Francis, CRC Press)

The link between obesity and diabetes, heart disease, renal disease and death, is now undeniable. Every year more evidence shows the efficacy of proper diet and exercise over medication in the prevention of these diseases and their common precursor – obesity. Yet with all this information available, why are patients still unable to adhere to recommended dietary modifications? To simply change the diet is not enough, what is needed is lifestyle change.

Nutritional Counseling for Lifestyle Change provides the keys that have proven effective in 10- to 12- year clinical trials. The book uses research as a basis for work with patients and their eventual nutrition lifestyle change. The research places the work within the framework of social cognitive theory and stages of change theory with examples of ways to use each theory in maximizing the potential for nutrition lifestyle change. The goal of the research was to provide realistic ways of changing dietary behaviors. Author Linda Snetselaar draws on her professional experience to present a combination of ideas that include methods of communicating, strategies for behavioral change, ways to assess problems, and methods to facilitate self-management by the patient.

The book provides examples from work completed in actual patient settings, emphasizing why a strategy works and what may have happened when it is not successful.

Using science-based predictors of behavior change, Nutritional Counseling for Lifestyle Change focuses on the concept of ‘tailoring’ for individuals and shows how to achieve it. It focuses on the individual in whom the nutrition counselor is trying to facilitate change. Scripts provide a road map for nutritional counselors to follow in working with patients. Using specific examples of dialogue that occurs with each age group, Snetselaar, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, addresses the concepts of intervention and motivation in reluctant patients and gives detailed tips on how to tailor treatment strategies to individual patients’ needs. Chapters on reeducating the parents when the patient is an adolescent, identifying and managing stress, and locating patient-centered counseling and support groups give practitioners the necessary tools to empower their patients for the lifelong path to better health.

Nutritional Counseling for Lifestyle Change also discusses exercise and stress reduction and covers organizational skills necessary to implement lifestyle change.

The book says that new research is needed in the area of emotions and the role they play in maintaining nutrition lifestyle change. Regarding the area of emotions, the book discusses the concept of internal disinhibition and the role it may play in providing a methodology to use in helping persons who relapse because of feelings that trigger inappropriate eating behaviors and to use in forming appropriate coping mechanisms.

Nutritional Counseling for Lifestyle Change is a timely and comprehensive book focusing on the need for modification in dietary practices in today’s world. It provides clinicians with easy-to-follow instructions on how to change dietary behavior.

Health, Mind & Body / Psychology & Counseling

Expectation: The Very Best Therapy Book by Rubin Battino (Crown House Publishing Limited)

This practical book is about utilizing the power of expectation in working with clients. It is Rubin Battino's contention in Expectation that creating an environment where the client expects to change is the foundation of doing effective brief therapy. His own private practice is one where he rarely sees clients more than once or twice. Clients know in advance that this is the way that he works, and so their expectation is that during each session they are going to get down to the hard stuff and resolve their concerns, insofar as that is possible. This means working as if each session were the last one. So Expectation is about all of the things that are designed to work in a single-session mode. There will, of course, still be some clients who will need many more sessions, but creating the expectation that each session will be the last creates an impetus towards change that is vital in the therapeutic process.

After presenting the basic outline of this approach, the remainder of the book details (chapter by chapter) the specific approaches that Battino, Adjunct Professor at Wright State University in the Department of Human Services and president of The Milton H. Erickson Society at Dayton, Ohio, finds most useful in this work. These include:

  • Rapport
  • Hypnotic Language
  • Metaphor and Hypnosis
  • Solution-Oriented Approaches
  • The Work of de Shazer and Associates
  • Bill O'Hanlon's Approaches
  • Lucas Derks's Social Panorama
  • Erickson and Very Brief Therapy
  • Jay Haley and Ordeal Therapy
  • Ambiguous Function Assignments
  • Burns's Nature-Guided Therapy
  • Richard R. Kopp's Metaphor Therapy
  • Rossi's Rapid Methods
  • Ideodynamic Methods (mostly D. B. Cheek)
  • NLP Approaches
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Rituals and Ceremonies
  • Provocative Therapy
  • Duncan, Miller, and Sparks' "Heroic Client"
  • Moshe Talmon's Single Session Therapy (SST)

 

Rubin Battino has written a book that once again meets the superb standards of his previous works. Challenging preconceptions that therapy is a prolonged endeavor, Expectation is insightful and thought provoking and is a valuable reference manual for those seeking a solid grounding in very brief approaches to therapy. Rubin clearly explains his eclectic and pragmatic approach, one that has been drawn from a number of sources that allow him to complete the entire process of therapy in only one or two sessions. Another must-have book from this respected author and therapist. – Peter Mabbutt, FBSCH, FBAMH, Director of Studies, London College of Clinical Hypnosis

Expectation is a delightful compendium of dozens of interventions taken from a variety of current approaches to brief therapy. It is designed to familiarize therapists with skill sets which can help them work effectively and briefly. It is a wonderful contribution to the field of Brief Therapy. – Stephen Lankton, MSW, DAHB, Editor, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

Expectation is the definitive guide to how Rubin Battino carries out therapy. Powerful and immensely practical, it is an essential addition to any therapist's library.

Health, Mind & Body / Psychology & Counseling

New Paradigms for Treating Relationships edited by Jill Savege Scharff & David E. Scharff (Jason Aronson)

New Paradigms for Treating Relationships is a contemporary international perspective on the theory and practice of analytic couple and family therapy. Edited by Jill Savege Scharff, and David E. Scharff, co-directors of the International Psychotherapy Institute, clinical professors of psychiatry at Georgetown University, and teaching analysts at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, the book summarizes theory, sets it in context, and illustrates the concepts with clinical illustrations.

According to New Paradigms for Treating Relationships, Freud began the process of applying psychoanalysis to group process, art, civilization, and war, but he did not extend his analytic reach to the family. The authors credit John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic's Children's Department with the introduction of family treatment. The Tavistock was a hotbed of applied psychoanalysis, including work on organizational consultation, education, and understanding marital and family dynamics. In the 1980s the Scharffs began their writing on couple, sex, and family therapy from an object relations perspective, but they were not alone. Analysts in Europe and South America have continued to value analytic fam­ily and couple therapy, but analytic family therapists in the United States, unfamiliar with these analysts' languages and psychoanalytic traditions, have not been able to read their contributions.

That began to change when the Scharffs proposed a workshop in family therapy and invited some of the analysts to present at the International Psychotherapy Institute Conference on Object Relations Couple and Family Therapy in New Orleans in 2003. Some of the chapters in New Paradigms for Treating Relationships were first presented as papers at that conference. To contributions from English-speaking Great Britain, Australia, Panama, and the East and West Coasts of the United States, they bring those from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia. They bring together research on neurophysiology, affect regulation, infant attachment, adult attachment, couple relating, divorce, and remarriage; clinical insights on sibling rivalry and play; and concepts of defense against annihilatory and Oedipal anxieties from theories of individ­ual object relations and marital interaction. This rich input from related fields augments the psychoanalytic approach to families (in part 1) and couples (in part 2).

The contributors to New Paradigms for Treating Relationships discuss the levels of communication in a family, sibling and parental relationships, and the stress of severe illness, psychosis, divorce, and remarriage on individual and family functioning. They write from Freudian, object relations, intersubjective, relational, and systemic perspectives, but the dominant orientation (although not exclusively so) is object relations theory, the one the editors find most flexible. Some of the contributors describe straightforward clinical applications in the consulting room. Others propose new models of applied therapy requiring technical innovation in concert with psychoanalytic insight.

The Scharffs and the other contributors explore the impact of narcissism, sexual dysfunction, and sadomasochism on the couple bond. They illustrate homosexual unions, intercultural couples, divorce, and remarriage. They deal with defenses against functioning as a couple. They cover brief therapy, sex therapy, and intensive analytic couple therapy with dream interpretation. Starting from a base in object relations theory, we then apply adult attachment research, findings from neuroscience, chaos theory, intersubjectivity, and theory of the analytic third to therapeutic strategies with couples.

Contributors to New Paradigms for Treating Relationships show how spouses react to aspects of each parent and sibling that they find in one another, and then treat one another accordingly. They show how a therapist is co-opted to form a dyad with one spouse and works through that transference phenomenon by proving that she can include both spouses in her mind, and so she facilitates couple functioning. They demonstrate in many clinical examples the oscillation of identification with exciting and rejecting objects, and the analysis of symptoms as defenses against the loss of the good object. They show therapists linking clinical work and theory as they think about and learn from experience. They show them talking with adults and playing with children, dealing with resistance to interpretation, being devalued in the transference, interpreting projective identifications, mourning, and working through, as they apply object relations theory and technique in couple and family therapy.

In case you thought that creative psychoanalytic thinking about marital and family relationships had come to an end years ago, take another look. This new book, edited by the preeminent object-relations family therapists, Jill Savege Scharff and David E. Scharff, is the best volume in this field to appear in many years. It will broaden and deepen the understanding of couple and fami­ly relationships of therapists of all theoretical orientations. – Alan S. Gurman, emeritus professor of psychiatry and director of family therapy training, University of Wisconsin Medical School

In New Paradigms for Treating Relationships the Scharffs have assembled a rich collection of psychoanalytic thinking about the family generously illustrated with case studies to show how complex abstractions are lived out and put into practice. – Michael P. Nichols, author of The Lost Art of Listening

New Paradigms for Treating Relationships brings previously unheard voices from many countries together to create a global perspective that brings depth and breadth to psychoanalytic couple and family therapy. The book demonstrates the value placed internationally on applying psychoanalytic insight to understanding family dynamics and devising treatment for families and couples. The book gives access to the illuminating ways of thinking about analytic couple and family therapy described in the Spanish, French, and German literature. It widens readers’ focus while staying true to the in-depth way of working with the unconscious that is characteristic of psychoanalysis. This clearly written and engaging book is essential for practicing couple and family therapists, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, teachers of psychotherapy, as well as for students of psychoanalysis and philosophy.

History / Americas / Biographies & Memoirs

John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier by Albert L. Hurtado (University of Oklahoma Press)

In the history of the American frontier, John Sutter (1803-1880) looms large. A Swiss expatriate who attempted to create a personal empire in California's Sacramento Valley, he founded New Helvetia, a cosmopolitan settlement whose economy depended on Indian slaves and free laborers. New Helvetia drew overland immigrants to California in the 1840s and then – after gold was discovered by Sutter's employees – a flood of fortune seekers. Sutter was poised to become one of the richest men in the West, but rapacious settlers and his own poor business sense sent his dreams crashing.

Albert L. Hurtado, professor and chair of modern American history at the University of Oklahoma, has written a biography of Sutter, mining a wealth of sources to create a fully documented account of the man and his times. John Sutter explores Sutter's life in the broader context of America's rush for westward expansion while plumbing the inner dynamics of this empire-builder.

Sutter was a quintessential outsider driven by anxiety over status – a man of talent, vision, and heroic ambitions who became the victim of his own inadequacies as a businessman and his inability to adjust to a rapidly changing frontier. Hurtado reveals a man whose need for respect was a driving force for good and ill, a well mannered, likable person with a ruthless, even brutal side exacerbated by habitual drinking. Sutter was full of contradictions. While building a reputation as a humanitarian friend of destitute immigrants, he callously exploited Indians, a fact that continues to sully his reputation today. Nevertheless, this penniless dreamer became one of the most important men in California and a major player in the American conquest and the period that followed.

The story of American California begins with the ambitious, elusive, morally compromised life of John Sutter. Thanks to this tirelessly researched and richly detailed biography, the ambiguous life of Sutter the Founder – fully revealed in all its tarnished glory – yields to larger ambiguities of exploitation and empire that continue to disturb the present. – Kevin Starr, author of California: A History

… The strength of [John Sutter] is Hurtado's willingness to portray Sutter's faults: his reliance on cheap, even enslaved, Indian labor; his efforts, when California entered the Union, to prohibit Indian suffrage. And Hurtado captures Sutter's excesses: he was a lousy businessman who loved to spend rather than accumulate money, and he lived lavishly, purchasing ‘splendid clothes,’ portraits of himself, and other trappings of wealth and success. …While this is likely to be the definitive scholarly biography of Sutter, it's too plodding to appeal to a broad audience. – Publishers Weekly

An authoritative biography of an important figure, John Sutter also offers an insightful look at California history, frontier entrepreneurship, and the American conquest of the West. This portrait of an enigmatic figure explores Sutter's life in the broader context of the gold rush while plumbing the man’s inner dynamics.

History / Americas / U.S. / Biographies & Memoirs / Women

The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty by Jean Zimmerman (Harcourt)

She arrived in New Amsterdam from Holland in 1659, a brash and ambitious twenty-two-year-old bent on making her way in the New World. Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse promptly built an empire of trading ships, furs, and real estate that included all of Westchester County. The Dutch called such women ‘she-merchants,’ and Margaret became the wealthiest in the colony, while raising five children and keeping a spotless linen closet.

Author Jean Zimmerman in The Women of the House traces the astonishing rise of Margaret and the Philipse women who followed her, who would transform Margaret's storehouse on the banks of the Hudson into a veritable mansion, Philipse Manor Hall. The last Philipse to live there, her great-granddaughter, Mary Philipse Morris – the ‘It’ girl of mid-1700s New York – was even courted by George Washington. But privilege couldn't shelter the family from the Revolution, which raged on Mary's doorstep.

Living in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, author Zimmerman had passed by Philipse Manor Hall in downtown Yonkers many times in her life, and had wondered idly who could have built this stone and brick mansion, so elegant and yet so incongruous now in its urban wasteland setting. One day, she investigated. She found that the house was the creation of a Dutch-born fur trader and ship merchant named Margaret Hardenbroeck, who set up house here in the wilderness with her husband Frederick Philipse in 1682. Zimmerman, an avid consumer of women's history, felt a bit ‘miffed,’ as she puts it, that as big a deal as Hardenbroeck was in her time, she had never even heard her name – or the name of other strong pioneer women who must have existed in early New York. "As important as each was in her own time, their names have now just about faded away," writes Zimmerman. "Like so many women of history, their tales have been dwarfed by those of the men in their lives, men with political titles or public jobs, men who could legally own property."

In The Women of the House, Zimmerman rights that injustice, bringing to life the exciting, colorful and sometimes pungent frontier environs of early New York – and its strong, gutsy women. She researched merchant fleets of the seventeenth century, groot kamers and early birthing practices, genteel tea parties and rowdy taverns of lower Manhattan, the lore of the fur trade, the slave trade in Madagascar, West Indian planter society, salt meadows, sucket spoons, mourning rings, fine imported linens, the Hudson crowded with sloops and yachts, the vast quiet of farmland on Manhattan in winter.

In the book Zimmerman tells

  • How she was able to find so much information on these women, when it is difficult even to find their names in the ‘official record.’
  • How the women of the Philipse clan were definitely not always admirable – some were snooty aristocrats and fat cats, some were slave owners and Tories.
  • What ultimately happened to Margaret Philipse's descendents and why the house is no longer in the family's hands.

 

A tale of the American dream with a feminine twist. – Library Journal

Zimmerman's prodigious research unearths a mother lode of data on colonial American women, from the differences in ... inheritance laws to the fact that wealthy female colonists eschewed underpants ... – Publishers Weekly

This extraordinary story of an American dynasty founded and perpetuated by women will be a valuable addition to both colonial and women's history collections. – Booklist

Zimmerman’s story of Margaret and her female descendents speaks to both the creation of America and the creation of American womanhood. Mining extensive primary sources, Zimmerman brings readers into the parlors, bedrooms, counting-houses, parties, birthing chambers, genteel parlors, rowdy Manhattan markets, and cramped decks of transatlantic ships of early colonial America and vividly restores a forgotten group of women to life in The Women of the House. In a bold, vivid narrative that challenges all our assumptions about colonial women, she traces the astonishing rise of Margaret and the generations of Philipse women who would later transform Margaret's storehouse on the banks of the Hudson into a stately mansion, called Philipse Manor Hall that still stands today. In sensual, gritty detail she animates the New York frontier these four very well-off women inhabited.

History / Americas / U.S. / Civil War

A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom by David Williams & series editor Howard Zinn (The New Press)

Historian David Williams has written an account of the American Civil War though the eyes of ordinary people – foot soldiers, slaves, women, prisoners of war, draft resisters, Native Americans, and others. Moving beyond presidents and generals, A People's History of the Civil War tells a powerful story of America's most destructive conflict. In the first book to view the Civil War through the eyes of common people, Williams, professor of history at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, presents long-overlooked perspectives and forgotten voices, offering a comprehensive account of the war to general readers.

The Civil War's most decisive battles, Williams argues, took place not only on the fields of Gettysburg, Antietam, and Vicksburg, but also on the streets of New York, in prison camps, in the West, and on the starving home front. Laboring people, urban and rural, fought for economic justice. Women struggled for rights, opportunities, and their family's survival. Volunteers and conscripts demanded respect. Native Americans struggled to hold their land and maintain their very existence. And African Americans made the Civil War a war for freedom long before Lincoln embraced emancipation.

Illustrated with little-known anecdotes and firsthand testimony, the book is an intimate glimpse into the personal acts of bravery and human kindness that elevated a terrible fight into a sometimes noble cause.

A journey through the marginalized groups that influenced the course of the Civil War.... A perspective that is seldom discussed and sorely lacking. – Civil War Times

Quammen writes with effortless control over his material and a silent passion. – Los Angeles Times

This is really not a history of the Civil War but, rather, a litany of the economic and social injustices of mid-nineteenth-century America, followed by a recounting of some of the efforts to resist those injustices. Williams sheds interesting light on aspects of the Civil War era that are often given scant attention in more conventional histories. He shows the spirit and surprising strength of anti-secessionist movements in the South and explores, in depth, the resentment of many Southern soldiers and civilians over what they perceived as a ‘rich man's war, poor man's fight.’ … – Jay Freeman, Booklist

A more complete and honest portrait of the war.... meticulously researched and persuasively argued. – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Does for the Civil War what Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States did for the study of American history in general, providing alternative interpretations to counterbalance traditional historical views. Highly recommended. – Library Journal

Through his exhaustive research into contemporary letters, journals, and local newspaper reports David Williams exposes this ‘rich man's war and poor man's fight’ for what Walt Whitman called a ‘seething hell’... highly readable history. – Morning Star (London)

Readable social history, ’bottom up’ history at its best, A People's History of the Civil War offers a rich and complex portrait of a nation at war with itself. While overlooking the fact that abolitionist motivation actually sprang mostly from the middle and upper classes, it nevertheless recovers the long-overlooked perspectives and forgotten voices of one of the defining chapters of American history.

History / U.S. / State & Local

Looking Beyond the Highway: Dixie Roads and Culture edited by Claudette Stager & Martha A. Carver (The University of Tennessee Press)

Today it seems natural to want to drive south to warmer climates for a vacation, but in the early twentieth century there was no easy way to head south. There were no federal-government-sponsored highways to Florida, Tennessee, or the Carolinas. It was not until the 1920s that the southern state highway departments took a lead role in road construction and not until the late 1920s that a federal routing plan systematically linked roads from state to state. Travelers who wanted to experience the warmer climate, cooling waters, or fresh air of the mountains had to find a route south before they could even begin the trip. Those who did go were twentieth-century pioneers, taking several days to motor to their destination while hoping that the roads would be passable and that they might find somewhere along the road to camp. The Dixie Highway was one of the first comprehensive interstate routes to bring people south. Begun by northern entrepreneur Carl Fisher, the road was to be a major route to the South so that people would visit his Florida hotels.

Looking Beyond the Highway is an examination of road history and roadside attractions in the South. Focused in part on numerous aspects of the material culture landscape of the Dixie Highway, the essays consider the politics of road-building, roadside entertainment, the buildings and businesses one might encounter along the road, and regional adaptations to the needs and desires of northern tourists.

Authors Claudette Stager, historic preservation specialist, and Martha Carver, historic preserva­tion manager, both at the Tennessee Department of Transportation, follow the Dixie Highway from southern Illinois to Florida with side-trips down other southern roads. The essays cover a wide variety of subjects, many of which will resonate with anyone who has ever lived in or vacationed in the South. Covering a landscape that includes Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Indiana, Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, and Illinois, Looking Beyond the Highway shows that there was and still is a distinctive southern culture and how roads have influenced that culture. The book is an outgrowth of work fostered by the Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA), work begun in 1977 by the oldest national organization that encourages the study of the unique historic significance of twentieth-century commercial landscape and culture.

Essentially Looking Beyond the Highway illustrates that early-twentieth-century interstate roads and the resulting roadside culture played a significant role in making southern states accessible. The road has had a permanent impact on the South because of the associated built environment. Much of this built environment, from motels to drive-ins to eateries, has disappeared. Occasionally the popular media will do a story on how homogenous the United States has become. This is usually blamed on chain businesses and our current interstate system. At the same time, there still are many misconceptions about the South as it was historically and as it is today. With fast roads and short vacation times, travelers speed through a state such as Tennessee, stopping only at an interstate rest area, and claim they have been there. There is a southern culture, and the chapters in this anthology reveal a small portion of it and how the early interstate roads influenced some of the development of the South.

Looking Beyond the Highway can be divided into two areas of interest – the development of roads and the resources that have strong connections to the roads. There are also several ‘subthemes’ that can be found in the anthology. Chapters on roads, nature and the impact on tourism, tourism and how it impacted nature, accommodations, places to stop along the road, destinations, and even a touch of religion are in the book. The variety and scope of all these ideas is shown in the two final chapters, in which Stager and Carver and the other essayists write about the impact of the road and roadside on culture.

No writing on the Dixie Highway can omit mention of Carl Fisher, who was the foremost promoter behind the north-south route. In "The Best Road South: The Failure of the Dixie Highway in Indiana," Suzanne Fischer explains how the highway's path was chosen in Fisher's home state. The mountains and swamps of the southern states had been road-building obstacles for years, resulting in few major routes, but a relatively flat northern state such as Indiana already had a network of highways. The failure to acknowledge the established routes – they were used because of their convenient location – and reuse them for the new Dixie Highway resulted in the failure of the highway as a southern transportation route in Indiana.

Martha Carver presents an overview of the development of the Dixie Highway Association and the road itself in her chapter "Drivin' the Dixie Highway in Tennessee."

Jeffrey L. Durbin details the highway's history in Georgia in "Heading South without Getting Sidetracked: The Dixie Highway in Georgia." As was the case in Tennessee, there were multiple routes, including one known as the Battlefield Route because of its proximity to battles fought during the Civil War in 1864.

Instead of focusing on the political nature of building the Dixie Highway, Walter S. Marder discusses the importance of choosing the right building material. "Pleasing the Eye: Brick Paving and the Dixie Highway in the Sunshine State" presents a brief history of brick paving for roads and highways, concentrating on Florida's choice of brick for parts of the Dixie Highway.

Once travelers reached Florida, they might drive on the Tamiami Trail, which spanned the state from Tampa on the west coast to Miami on the east coast. In "Connecting the East and West Coasts: The Tamiami Trail of the Sunshine State," Carrie Scupholm discusses its development. Even though part of the route overlapped the Dixie Highway, it was always known locally as the Tamiami Trail.

In Arkansas the establishment of roads was controlled through local "road improvement districts." Christie H. McLaren's "The Dollarway Road and Road Im­provement Districts in Arkansas, 1913-1921" discusses how the improvement districts hindered and helped Arkansas's system of roads. The Natchez Trace Parkway is both a southern road and a destination in and of itself. Begun in 1938 and completed in 2005, the parkway is an example of the federal government's efforts to commemorate an earlier road – the 1801 Natchez Trace. In "The Daughters of the American Revolution, Roane E Byrnes, and the Birth of the Natchez Trace Parkway" Sara Amy Leach explains how southern women, especially Roane Fleming Byrnes and the Daughters of the American Revolution, spearheaded this movement.

Automobile tourists had to have places to stay during their drive and at their destinations. Many scholars have studied and written about auto camping and motor courts, but few have looked at urban accommodations for tourists. R. Stephen Sennott looks at this phenomenon in "Roadside Luxury: Urban Hotels and Modern Streets along the Dixie Highway." Hotels had generally been constructed and operated with the traveling salesman in mind. Adapting this building form to families traveling long distances in cars meant adding amenities for people and for automobiles. With the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the early twentieth century, more people had the chance to experience summer in the mountains. Blythe Semmer's "Tourist Lodging in the Great Smoky Mountains and the Transition from Regional to National Style" shows how tourist accommodations adapted to the exquisite natural beauty of the mountains.

Myrtle Beach hotels and motels developed in yet another regional manner. In "Myrtle Beach: Music and Motels" Katherine Fuller describes the changing architectural designs of the beach resort's motels. However, as much as the accommodations, it was the beach music, based on African American rhythm and blues music that eventually made the resort popular.

In an era when air conditioning was a rarity, caves provided a cool break for the traveler. Ruth Nichols Kennoy and Robbie D. Jones write about caves as tourist attraction in "Caving and Clogging: Keepin' Cool in Tennessee Caves." Major caves such as Mammoth Cave in Kentucky were opened in the nineteenth century, but it was the popularity of automobile travel that resulted in increased commercial use of caves in the early twentieth century. Dances and tours were popular activities in southern caves until the interstate system rerouted tourists in the 1950s.

Why should people get dressed for church on vacation when they could come as they were, thus taking advantage of two aspects of roadside culture, the automobile and the drive-in theater? Carrie Scupholm explores a phenomenon that could fully develop only in warmer climates such as Florida in "Park 'n' Pray: An Examination of Drive-in Religion in Florida." Concrete crosses and other religious markers along what were major roads in the early to mid-twentieth century began as religious symbolism but have become roadside icons today. Martha Carver's "Get Right with God: Harrison Mayes's Roadside Advertising Campaign for the Lord" shows how these religious symbols along well-traveled routes evolved from the evangelical message that Mayes had intended into roadside folk art.

Karl Puljak's chapter looks at a building form that most have seen but have given little thought to the fireworks stand. "Buy One, Get Two Free: Fireworks" discusses why the stands are located where they are and mentions laws involved with selling fireworks.

Although fireworks stands are everywhere, another roadside property type, observation towers, are rarely seen. There are several roadside towers in Florida as Kimberly Hinder shows in "Viewpoints and Points of View: Florida's Early Tourist Towers." Looking out over the surrounding landscape is a vacation favorite; where there were no natural features to climb, entrepreneurs built towers to entice the weary traveler to stop.

Kevin J. Patrick writes about the dual nature of vacationing and the vacation roadside landscape in "Seeing the Scenic Upland South: Mother Nature and the Morphology of Tourist Landscapes." The scenic beauty of the Natural Bridge in Virginia, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and Ruby Falls in Tennessee are all part of or adjacent to manmade attractions built to intrigue the tourist.

Finally, Robert M. Craig relates automobile travelers and locales to the pilgrims and their stops in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. In a lighthearted comparison between the centuries, titled "Pilgrimage Route to Paradise: The Sacred and Profane along the Dixie Highway," he looks at advertising and souvenirs, accommodations and ‘tourist traps.’

The writing in Looking Beyond the Highway represents some of the best of southern culture. As lively as they are diverse, the essays provide a solid background for understanding roadside ephemera that have disappeared or are quickly disappearing.

Ranging from the serious to the light-hearted and including descriptions of American road and roadside icons, the book will appeal to anyone with an interest in road history and roadside architecture. One of the expressed aims of Looking Beyond the Highway is to get readers off those main roads and back onto the roads less traveled. After reading these chapters, readers will look past the highway and discover the impact that the road has had on culture and the built environment in the South and in their neighborhood.

History / U.S. / States & Local

The Town on Beaver Creek: The Story of a Lost Kentucky Community by Michelle Slatalla (Random House)

A town that floods repeatedly is bound to be lost eventually. But try telling that to the residents of Martin, Kentucky, who lived on the banks of Beaver Creek for nearly a century, stoically ignoring the foolishness of an existence that forced them to flee to high ground nearly every year. Upon returning home, they simply replaced the waterlogged linoleum in the kitchen. Again.

The Town on Beaver Creek is the story of an improbable place during its heyday, when 860 people lived in an isolated hill town they loved so much that they rebuilt it, year after year after year. Why? Maybe they couldn’t live without the annual Fat-Lean Men’s Ball Game sponsored by the PTA. Maybe the memory of the smell of chili wafting from the Hob Nob Café lured them back. Or perhaps they just couldn’t imagine a life without old Dick Osborn wandering down Main Street in a bathrobe, carrying a pot of steaming turnip greens and muttering to himself because, he said, he liked to hear a smart man talk.

In the 1930s, author Michelle Slatalla’s great-grandfather Fred, a railroad man, arrived in town to take a job transporting coal out of the booming mines that ringed the valley. The family, fresh from the civilization of bluegrass country, stepped off the train at the Martin depot to find gunslingers on the platform, moonshine brewing in the basement of Doc Stumbo’s hospital, and moviegoers patiently waiting for the final reel to arrive on horseback from the next town.

Before fate caught up with Martin, Slatalla’s great-grandmother Hesta moved her family from house to house so often that friends couldn’t remember which one to visit on a given day. The savviest businesswoman, Lula Slade, hit it big during the Depression by introducing exotic fare called spaghetti to the menu at her restaurant. And Tavis Flannery, the town’s only policeman, patrolled the streets wearing a mail-order bulletproof vest that laced under his arms like a ladies’ corset.

But in the end, the water won. The Town on Beaver Creek tells how after more than a century of floods, the federal government thought that the way to fix Martin’s problems was to demolish the town and rebuild it on higher ground. They sent bulldozers to Martin in 2005. Jan's Florist Shop and the Methodist Church went first, along with a couple of rickety rental houses old Dick Osborn used to rent out at the base of Mulberry Hill. The 800-odd remaining residents of the town on Beaver Creek, many of whom were born and grew old in the houses their parents built in the 1920s, watched the dump trucks lumber past their parlor windows.

When Slatalla, a columnist for The New York Times’ Thursday Styles section, learned the government was going to demolish the town, she set out to gather the history of a town her family called home for three generations. She went to Kentucky to collect stories – from her family and from a hundred other people who lived in Martin. With research materials that included court records, diaries, long-lost love letters, interviews, and newspaper archives, she reconstructs a portrait of the town in its prime, when snowball bushes bloomed behind picket fences, a distant train whistle signaled noon, and her grandparents fell in love in the springtime. The result is a remarkable new book, The Town on Beaver Creek.

You might think it difficult to become involved in the story of one seemingly ordinary family in eastern Kentucky – but not if you've read even a few pages of this utterly captivating book. To call it a small gem is only to undersell it: This is truly a jewel, crafted by a fine, fine writer. – Daniel Okrent, author of Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center

In the tradition of Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin' and Willie Morris's North Toward Home,…this is a lovingly written celebration of an extended family that just wouldn’t quit in the face of the worst that nature, disease, the Depression, scheming neighbors, and sheer bad luck could throw at them. – Howard Frank Mosher, author of Waiting for Teddy Williams and North Country

A luminous ode to the quaint sign that proclaimed `Martin, Pop. 860,' the C&O Cafe, the local ghosts . . . heartwarming, yet sober and unsentimental. – Kirkus Reviews

A vivid picture of small-town life, based on primary sources and oral histories. – Library Journal

Animated by Slatalla’s lively and humorous writing, The Town on Beaver Creek is an enchanting and intimate history of life on a twentieth-century frontier, evoking a time and place suspended forever in the amber of memory. This is a vivid and beautifully written portrait of small-town America, with an unforgettable cast of characters including corrupt politicians, powerful doctors, and the oddballs and outlaws that earned ‘Bloody Floyd’ County its nickname.

Home & Garden / Animal Care & Pets / Riding

The Seamless Seat: Creating the Ideal Connection with Your Horse by Kathleen Schmitt (The Lyons Press)

Riders, like leaders in any partnership, get better results when the job is rewarding for those carrying out the orders. The leading partner might be surprised to learn some of the reasons the performing partner enjoys a job (or not), but certainly the performing partner will prefer to understand the task and be fit enough to do it. I find horses hold enjoying life in general as a very high goal, so I find it is worthwhile to arrange for horses to enjoy the jobs we give them to do, even when they sometimes call on the horse's utmost will and strength. There is certainly joy in achievement for both horse and human. – from the Introduction

No matter which style of horseback riding one does, the foundation is the seat – the word that describes the rider's lower-body position that permits communication and control with the horse. A good seat, to which every rider aspires, is the result of coordinating one's body with the horse at rest or in motion. And although it is the first thing riders learn, to perfect the skill often takes many years of study and effort.

Although many instruction manuals delve into the subject, until now there has not been a book devoted to developing a seat that is applicable to all styles of riding. In The Seamless Seat, veteran instructor Kathleen Schmitt begins with a discussion of how we create an environment in which we can understand and then build a good seat. She goes on to show how human and equine anatomy interact, developing the ‘platform’ that is fundamental to a secure seat.

According to Schmitt, certified British Horse Society instructor, in The Seamless Seat, how the horse moves at the walk, trot, canter, and gallop, as well as its position at the halt and rein-back and its movement during transitions between gaits – all have a bearing on the rider's form and control. Those elements lead to the various types of seats: the passive, active, resisting, and unilateral, and knowing when each one is appropriate. That in turn leads to the rider's leg and arm positions and the rein and auxiliary aids, all of which become optimally effective when the secure ‘seamless’ seat has been achieved.

As Schmitt explains in The Seamless Seat, making the horse's even pace and good alignment from tail to ears one’s top priority before starting working on the specifics of a favorite sport just ensures that the horse will be able to use its talents to the fullest. Riding with this priority may require an essential mental shift at first, but developing the rider and the horse evenly and spreading the burden of work fairly over its skeleton and muscles is bound to improve performance in any sport.

Going about things with the horse's gymnastic development as a top priority adds a new level of interest to even the slowest trail ride and a new level of security and success in ever more challenging performances.

This book considers what the horse considers important, and makes the case that thinking in this way can result in a tremendous improvement in the horse's performance and the rider’s own comfort. Whether readers are riding English or Western, for pleasure or for competition, The Seamless Seat will certainly make them more educated and capable.

Home & Garden / Crafts & Hobbies

The Router Book: A Complete Guide to the Router and its Accessories by Pat Warner (The Taunton Press)

Readers need a complete guide to the most versatile tool in the woodworker's shop, the router. The Router Book covers it all – from the tool's wide range of uses to tips for maintaining it in the best condition. Router expert Pat Warner, author of four books and more than 70 articles on the router and router techniques, sorts through the great variety of tools on the market and offers sound, practical advice on choosing the right router for every woodworker's needs. This book covers bits, accessories, and a wide variety of routers, and surveys the router's many uses – from edgework to cutting joinery. Fixed-base, plunge routers, and laminate trimmers are introduced with evaluations of specific models of each type. Accessories such as guides, router tables, and jigs are what make the router capable of such diverse work; Warner not only describes a number of different types but also shows readers how to make their own. The Router Book includes:

  • Router buying advice.
  • Use and maintenance tips.
  • Key applications.
  • An up-to-date accessory guide.

 

In the hands of a skilled operator, the router is the most versatile tool, capable of an astonishing variety of woodworking operations. Warner shows readers how to get the most from their router, covering tools, accessories, and its use. …An excellent resource on a popular tool for public libraries. – Library Journal

Pat Warner clearly covers the fundamentals and he takes the techniques of routing to a new level. – Patrick Spielman, author of The Router Handbook

Ideal for anyone who owns, or is thinking of buying, a router, The Router Book delivers all the information readers will need to make the best choices on how to use routers in their home workshops. From choosing the right router for one’s own needs to correct operating methods and time-saving jigs, The Router Book slices quickly to the core of the subject.

Literature & Fiction / Religion & Spirituality

The Messiah of Morris Avenue (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series) [LARGE PRINT] by Tony Hendra (Thorndike Press)

The Messiah of Morris Avenue by Tony Hendra (Henry Holt & Co.)


Tony Hendra's Father Joe became a new classic of faith and spirituality – even for those not usually so inclined. Now Hendra, former editor in chief of Spy and an original editor of National Lampoon, is back with a novel set in a very reverent future where church and state walk hand in hand – The Messiah of Morris Avenue.

What if America were a theocracy dominated by the Christian Right? What if televangelists and charismatic clergymen were more powerful than elected politicians and blasphemy were a crime? Well, it’s come to pass. Hollywood is now Holywood. Presidents are elected – or really, appointed – on the basis of their religious fervor. Sweeping new laws render anything even remotely critical of religion illegal.

Fade-in as Johnny Greco – a fallen journalist nursing a few grudges along with his cocktails – who stumbles onto the story of a young man named Jay. Jay is driving around New Jersey preaching radical notions like kindness and generosity and tossing off miracles. How better, Johnny schemes, to stick it to the Reverend Sabbath, Americas #1 Holy Warrior, than to write a headline-making story announcing Jay as the Second Coming? Then something strange happens. Died-in-the-wool skeptic Johnny actually finds his own life being transformed by the new messiah.

The Messiah of Morris Avenue brings to life a savior who demonstrates the lessons that Jesus actually taught. Writing out of an evident frustration with those who feel they hold a monopoly on God, Hendra reminds readers of the unfailing power of genuine faith and gives them a few laughs in the process.

I was prepared for my usual serving of sharp Tony Hendra satire; I was not prepared for his sensitive and highly convincing exposition of the true teachings of Jesus Christ. I love this book. – George Carlin
Messiah is just what this country needs right now – a good dose of merriment in the face of craw-thumping righteousness. It's a romp of a book but (this is strange) the forgiving spirit of Father Joe hovers. It's hard to think of forgiveness in these rigid times but it's there in The Messiah of Morris Avenue. A rowdy book but, Lord, it's beautiful. – Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and Teacher Man
Hendra, author of the very moving memoir Father Joe (2004), returns to his satiric roots in this offbeat novel about the Second Coming. Fruits from the author's stints as editor of Spy and National Lampoon fall plentifully throughout this madcap tale, set in a near-future America in which the religious Right has taken over the country. … This is satire with a thoughtful heart, comedy with a serious message (several of them, in fact). Many of the author's sly allusions to contemporary society may elude younger readers, but adults of the right political persuasion will get a Swiftian kick out of it all. – David Pitt, Booklist

Hilarious and moving, full of heart and sharply observant, The Messiah of Morris Avenue brings to life a savior who reminds the world of what Jesus actually taught and wittily skewers all sorts of sanctimoniousness on both sides of the political spectrum.

Literature & Fiction / Romance

Caroline's Journal by Katherine Stone (Mira) For more than six years Seattle architect Caroline Wynn and her attorney husband, Jeffrey, have been trying to have a baby. Now, finally, in-vitro fertilization has worked for them and Caroline is pregnant. Both Caroline and Jeffrey are thrilled. And, wanting a lasting memory of the happiness she feels, Caroline decides to keep a pregnancy journal, writing to the baby she already loves, hence the title of bestselling novelist Katherine Stone’s 20-somethingth  novel, Caroline's Journal.

Caroline's pregnancy coincides with the trial of Jeffrey's career, the murder of a pregnant woman by her celebrity fiancé. For father-to-be Jeffrey, who is a prosecutor in the Seattle area, a man murdering his unborn child is as incomprehensible as it is painful.

But there are other dangers for pregnant women and their babies, perils that lurk in silence amid the joy. For Caroline, such perils are medical. Before long, she finds that her pregnancy is placing her health – and even her life – in jeopardy. But when it comes to a choice between her own life and her baby's, there's never, for Caroline, the slightest doubt.

It's a decision of love – for the baby she cherishes and the husband who loves Caroline more than she believed any man ever could. A man who deserves the chance to become the father he was meant to be.  

Harrowing health problems and a dramatic murder trial collide in this convoluted novel that idealizes pregnancy and romantic love in equal measure. Caroline, forced to grow up too quickly and mother her younger sister after their alcoholic parents' divorce, has difficulty conceiving a child of her own now that she's in her 30s. …Desperate to give her husband a child, Caroline puts her own life on the line when preeclampsia threatens both her and her unborn child. Blow-by-blows of Jeffrey's legal doings threaten to derail the plot, as do Caroline's journal entries (on the blastula: "Each cell accepted its destiny, and went about its task. Joyfully.”). Haul out the tissues for this genuine tearjerker, which makes up in sentimentality what it lacks in drama. – Publishers Weekly
Katherine Stone writes "in the vein of Danielle Steel and Sandra Brown." – Library Journal

For those who love realistic medical detail as well and a good cry, Stone, a physician who lives in the Pacific Northwest and now writes full time, in Caroline's Journal has written the ultimate tearjerker, medical romance.

Literature & Fiction / Romance

Every Eye: A Novel by Isobel English, with an introduction by Neville Braybrooke (David R. Godine)

Isobel English, a novelist of the 1950s, wrote three brief books about adultery and damnation admired today by Muriel Spark and Beryl Bainbridge. English (1924-1994) was the pen name of June Braybrooke, the wife of the poet and critic Neville Braybrooke (1923-2001). A Flaubertian perfectionist, she published novels and a volume of short stories, but each of them, in the words of Commonweal magazine, "a work of incontrovertable artistry – of truth, understanding, and haunting beauty." Every Eye, her second novel, was published in London in 1956.

In Every Eye Hatty, the middle-aged narrator, is ‘a stranger by birth’ and not really at home anywhere, least of all among her family. It is her family who, when she was a girl, made her feel awkward in every endeavor – even at the piano, for which she had a real gift – and who assigned her, long before her time, the role of a shabby-genteel West London spinster. She has understood very little of her own existence – a life seen, literally and metaphorically, through a squint. She remembers, with painful sadness, her first lover, a much older man, and their strange, aborted affair; it is the central mystery of her life. Now, while in Ibiza with the carefree, younger man who has just become her husband, the meaning of her past is revealing itself, its hidden patterns emerging from gray English shadows into the blazing, yellow Mediterranean sun.

Isobel English was an exceptionally talented young novelist of the mid 1950s. Every Eye is one of her most successful and sensitively written books, a romantic yet unsentimental story of a young woman's intricate relationships of family and love, intensely evocative of the period, remarkable in its observations of place and character. – Muriel Spark

Precise writing, a brisk wit, and a total avoidance of cliché distinguish Miss English's second novel. – Philip Oakes, Evening Standard
Her power lies in her ironic control of nuance . . . and in the rare (but effective) grotesqueness of her humor. – Val Warner
[Every Eye] is remarkable for the skill of its construction, and for the style of its writing. – John Betjeman, Daily Telegraph
Almost every sentence in Every Eye presents a visual surprise. – Benjamin Lytal, The New York Sun
Every Eye provides a wonderful opportunity for readers to become acquainted with the entrancing voice of a truly original writer. – The Wall Street Journal

"It is here, in Ibiza, that the book breaks free of its resentments," wrote Anita Brookner in praise of this too-long-forgotten novel. Every Eye, she said, is not only "a lucidly written account of various kinds of confusion" but also "a valuable lesson in where to look for freedom."  It is a brilliant novel worthy of review by a new generation of readers.

Literature & Fiction / Science Fiction

Paragaea: A Planetary Romance by Chris Roberson (PYR)

Paragaea is the story of Akilina ‘Leena’ Chirikov, who shortly after launching from Star Town in the Soviet Union in 1964 aboard Vostok 7 in Earth orbit, enters a strange silvery gateway and finds herself thrown into another dimension, a world of strange science and ancient mystery, a planet called Paragaea. There she meets another time-lost person from Earth, Lieutenant Hieronymus Bonaventure of the Royal Navy – who left home to fight the forces of Napoleon and never returned – and his companion, Balam – outlaw prince of the jaguar men. Bonaventure is interested only in adventure and amusement, while Balam only wants distraction until the day he can reclaim his throne. Having little better to do, they agree to help Chirikov find a way home.

In the tradition of the planetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, Paragaea was written by Chris Roberson, editor of the anthology series Adventure (MonkeyBrain), finalist for the Sidewise Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Paragaea is, in fact, a ‘hard’ science fiction adventure, grounded in the latest thinking in the fields of theoretical physics, artificial intelligence, genetics, and more. There is a rigorously rational explanation behind all of the unearthly elements, with most of the ‘magic’ the protagonist encounters being the product of a forgotten, trans-human, post-singularity culture that has long since disappeared. Chirikov, a strictly rational Soviet cosmonaut, interprets these as best she can, using the framework of early 1960s science. Being a dutiful Soviet, she wants only to return home to Earth, to inform her superiors about what she has discovered. But, as she struggles to stay alive in this dangerous, mysterious world, she soon finds herself developing ties to her companion Bonaventure that make her wonder whether she really wants to go home at all.

At the start of this entertaining speculative novel of lost races and time travelers from Roberson, cosmonaut Akilina ‘Leena’ Chirikova…. Roberson's style, in the best pulp manner, favors enthusiastic exposition and travelogue with dashes of swashbuckling. His colorful characters and setting transport readers to a simpler era when every story offered new worlds to explore. – Publishers Weekly
...a completely guileless, wide-eyed love letter to pulp adventure fiction of yore, chock full of monsters, lost cities, swordfights, high seas action, hairs-breath escapes from certain doom, really big scorpions, and chicks who kick ass…. Paragaea is geek crack… The book’s sensawunda and spirited storytelling are simply irresistible… fantastically entertaining… put Chris Roberson at the top of your reading list. – SF Reviews.net

...nothing less than the great old pulp adventure stories, made new with the considerable modern skills of Chris Roberson. – Mike Resnick, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Kirinyaga and Starship: Mutiny
A talented storyteller, [Roberson] has a unique ear, a clever eye, an eloquence all too rare in modern fiction. – Michael Moorcock, World Fantasy Award-winning author of The White Wolf’s Son

In the tradition of the planetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, Paragaea is a grand and unforgettable science fiction adventure.

Mysteries & Thrillers / True Accounts

Goodbye Evilwood: The Murders in Tinseltown by Vladimir Chernozemsky (Triumvirate Publications)

This is a tale of Hollywood past and present, a study of the roots of violence and murder, built upon a factual story …. In Hollywood, I found, if you turn on the spotlights bright enough, all sorts of nasty creatures can crawl out from behind fake rocks and painted scenery bent on the destruction of everyone who stands in their paths to glory. – Vladimir Chernozemsky

It all began with the death of a ballerina...

Goodbye Evilwood is a psychological mystery based on real events – a stark, behind-the-scenes story of greed, corruption, deadly jealousy and decadent morals, with star struck players caught in a tangled, dangerous Hollywood underworld.

Vladimir Chernozemsky, born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, came under intense political scrutiny while working as a documentary director and poet in Sofia. With Communist State Security agents after him for espionage, Vladimir made a harrowing escape to the West. From there he was constantly on the move – Paris, Rome, Casablanca, Algiers – eventually receiving asylum and citizenship in the U.S.

When Chernozemsky finally found asylum in the United States, he took work as an actor at the Arena Stage Theater in Washington, DC and later in Los Angeles. Although he had endured bizarre conditions in Bulgarian Commu­nist prison camps, and during his lengthy escape through North Africa and Europe – none of this prepared him for what he was to encounter when he entered the ‘movie life’ and became an insider in the fantasy world of Hollywood.

As he says in the preface to Goodbye Evilwood, he was shocked at the time – "actually more than a bit shocked...but then I was caught up in the fast-lane life of the sixties and seventies." Now, older and wiser, the author has crafted a novel about those events – his experiences and those of others, set during a particular era in Hollywood, with strange happenings, multiple murders, and the corrupt, decadent goings-on of the rich, famous and powerful.

A bumpy ride through Hollywood's raw underside and a murder mystery that keeps you guessing. Chernozemsky offers up a heartfelt slice of the hidden dangers that trip up the innocent in Tinseltown. – Pamela M. Palan, writer-producer

The author's first hand knowledge of the shady Hollywood past is a revelation... The graphic violence, perverse sexual tolerance and brainwashing right in front of our eyes, its all there. How the rights of a handful of rich and powerful people overstepped the rights of many others. And violence, evil, pornography and drugs were a way of life... – Pavel Tomov, author of Where Is My Spring?

Chernozemsky is the author of 47 novels, plays and screenplays written in five different languages. As told by the author who lived through it all, Goodbye Evilwood is a particularly enlightening, if somewhat rough, view of the U.S., given he is from a Soviet-influenced culture many Americans would assume is more ‘corrupt’ than ours.

Parenting & Families / Education

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn (Da Capo Press)

In the early '80s, about a third of 6- to 8-year-olds had to do homework on any given night; today, it's almost two thirds.

Death and taxes come later; what seems inevitable for children is the idea that, after spending the day at school, they must then complete more academic assignments at home. The predictable results: stress and conflict, frustration and exhaustion. Parents respond by reassuring themselves that at least the benefits outweigh the costs.

In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and parenting expert Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework – that it promotes higher achievement, ‘reinforces’ learning, and teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience.

So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil – or even demand a larger dose? Kohn's analysis describes how a mistrust of children, a set of misconceptions about learning, and a misguided focus on competitiveness have all left our kids with less free time. Pointing to parents who have fought back – and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework – Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.
Kohn's The Homework Myth:

  • Challenges the conventional wisdom about homework, showing that there are actually few benefits to offset the disadvantages (stress, family conflict, lost time for other activities, etc.).
  • Explains why these surprising findings actually make sense, showing how common misconceptions about learning lead us to believe that homework ‘reinforces’ what's taught during school.
  • Offers reasons why homework is so widely assigned and accepted despite the lack of supporting data. Foremost among them: the pressure to raise scores on standardized tests (rather than to improve learning) and a fundamental distrust of children.
  • Suggests that we should not only reduce the amount of homework and increase its quality, but change the ‘default’ in classrooms so that no homework is assigned except on those occasions when it's truly necessary – the opposite of what happens now.
  • Supplies examples of schools and individual teachers who have eliminated conventional forms of homework with uniformly excellent results.

 

Education watchdog and author Kohn (No Contest: The Case Against Competition) questions why teachers and parents continue to insist on overloading kids with homework when there are no definitive studies proving its overall learning benefits. Indeed, argues Kohn persuasively, homework can be detrimental to children's development by robbing families of quality evening time together and not allowing a kid time simply to be a kid. Americans in general advocate a tough-going approach to education and push teachers to give more drudgery nightly as a way of ‘building character.’ Yet Kohn shows that doing forced busywork only turns kids off to school and kills intellectual and creative curiosity. The American insistence on producing good worker bees "by sheer force or cleverness," notes Kohn, "reflects a stunning ignorance about how human beings function in the real world." …There aren't enough case studies in Kohn's work, but Kohn sounds an important note: parents need to ask more challenging questions of teachers and institutions. – Publishers Weekly

A book that's poised to start a movement, The Homework Myth makes it clear: the less homework children have, the more they'll learn outside the classroom. The incisive book provides a compelling exposé of homework, its negative effects, why it's so widely accepted, and what we can do about it.

Philosophy

Tricks of Time: Bergson, Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur in Search of Time, Self and Meaning by Mark S. Muldoon (Duquesne University Press)

Simone Weil once wrote that time is the most tragic subject human beings can think about. Time is tragic on two counts. First, philosophically, we are unable to conceive of time in its totality. Second, our need to understand time beyond a mere speculation of its nature is driven by the undeniable reality of our mortal lives. It is the bane of human existence to see our lives as finite when contrasted to the age of stars and cosmic realities. This contrast fuels much of our existential angst to question our nature, understand ourselves, and search for meaning.

Tricks of Time invites readers into the labyrinthine discussions of these issues under the auspices of three thinkers: Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Paul Ricoeur. All three are dubbed ‘the masters of disruption’ by Mark Muldoon, teacher at University Canada West in Victoria, British Columbia. Muldoon highlights the work of each philosopher to show how each ‘disrupts’ ‘clock time,’ drawing out and reclaiming aspects of our humanity neglected in systems that treat time merely as chronology. Outside of Augustine perhaps, no other set of philosophers in any particular school or epoch has offered us such a diverse and unique series of attempts to respond to the question: "What is time?" While not working in tandem – or even necessarily following one another's leads – but sharing the same French cultural and philosophical climate, Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, and Ricoeur reveal how interrogating the present constantly intercepts any neat and efficient closure to defining the self and meaning.

To test the thesis that time, self, and meaning act as a dynamic configuration across various philosophical systems, Muldoon in Tricks of Time looks closely at a particularly compact period of philosophical history where this triad of themes appears over and over again, with time being the determining factor of self and meaning. The historical snapshot that he finds exceptionally instructive covers approximately a century of philosophical endeavor. It begins with the ideas of Bergson (1859-1941), passes through the contributions of Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), and ends with the thought of Ricoeur (1913-2005).

In working his way through the three authors, Muldoon shows that self and meaning constellate around time. Each attempt to deepen our understanding of our temporal being invites an even deeper reflection on how to define the self and what level of meaning authenticates that self. If there is any source of inspiration behind Tricks of Time, it lies in Ricoeur's achievement in Time and Narrative and his grand claim that the narrative function attains its full meaning only when it becomes a condition of temporal existence.

The aim of Tricks of Time is to show just how strong the connection between time, narrative, self, and meaning is in both Bergson and Merleau-Ponty once viewed under the Ricoeurian optic to build a philosophical anthropology.

Perhaps the most contentious development of this ‘linguistic turn’ has been the idea that what we call ‘the self’ is not something that exists as an extra-linguistic existent or Cartesian agent. The self, rather, arises as a byproduct of our narrative practices. It is through narrative practices of all types that we eventually discern the character of our own ‘self,’ gain self-understanding, and forge meaning in our temporal lives. What a growing body of literature points out is that the narrative function is the privileged medium for understanding human experience. The function doesn't merely describe the self and meaning but helps form them. Therefore, the sense of identity that defines Tricks of Time is a non-essentialist view, one that is not dependent on an immutable substance or continuity theories. Rather, as Ricoeur proposes, narrative identity takes shape by the stories we tell and exchange with one another. These stories are rooted in national, religious, and familial traditions, offering master narratives that consciously and unconsciously serve as models for our own stories.

Finally, Muldoon contends that the question of meaning is no less ambiguous and unresolved than the problems of time and self. And he makes it clear that the notions of self and meaning constellate around time.

Tricks of Time is an attempt to reveal how the notions of self and meaning in a philosophical system are dependent on the philosopher's fundamental assumption about time. Following the lead of Ricoeur's central thesis, that time only becomes human to the extent that it is articulated through a narrative mode, Muldoon in Tricks of Time identifies unquestionable hints of the link between time and narrative in both Bergson and Merleau-Ponty. Each of their contributions is novel and unique, leading readers to take Ricoeur's claim seriously – namely, that time cannot, ultimately, be thought, it can only be lived and our lives recounted.

Professional & Technical / Engineering / Robotics / History

Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots by Timothy N. Hornyak (Kodansha International)

While the U.S. makes movies like Robocop and The Terminator, Japan is responsible for the friendly Mighty Atom, Aibo and Asimo. While the U.S. sponsors robot-on-robot destruction contests, Japan's feature tasks that mimic nonviolent human activities.

Why is Japan's reception of robots so different than that of the U.S.? What causes Americans to see robots as a hazard, threatening manufacturing jobs, and even (according to countless science-fiction books and movies) threatening the planet and the human race while the Japanese, on the contrary, seemingly can't wait for robots to appear in every home? How did fictional robots like Astro Boy come to dominate Japanese pop culture, and why do international Japanese corporations such as Honda, Sony, and Toyota spend millions on robot research and development, for no expected profit-making payoffs?

Loving the Machine attempts to answer this fundamental query by looking at Japan's historical connections with robots, its present fascination and leading technologies, and what the future holds.

In his profusely illustrated book Loving the Machine, science and technology journalist and Japan resident Timothy N. Hornyak shows the latest developments in Japanese robotics (from the human-like Repliee to Robo Garage's adorable Chroino), and finds out why the U.S. and Japan are of such different minds regarding mankind's mechanical offspring.

Through in-depth interviews with scientists, researchers, historians, artists, writers, and others influencing or influenced by the field of robotics, Hornyak takes readers on a tour through the robot kingdom. Interacting with the latest technological pets and playmates, interviewing the engineers and designers currently creating the inhabitants of tomorrow, he even visits the Osaka RoboCup, where every year teams of robots from across the world face off in games of soccer.

Loving the Machine opens in the 1600s, when craftsman formed automated dolls that served tea; Japanese robots took another leap forward in the 1950s when Mighty Atom (known to U.S. audiences as Astro Boy) launched a series of adventures that influenced generations of children and spawned numerous other mechanical heroes, including Mazinger Z, Mobile Suit Gundam, and the battling mega-mechs of contemporary anime and manga. Science fiction isn't the only place that plays home to robots: Hornyak visits industrial trade fairs and assembly lines, where robots have played a major role in transforming Japan into an exporting powerhouse.

Loving the Machine also looks to the future, when robots will increasingly interact with people on a daily basis. Hornyak shows how Japan is uniquely positioned to create the world's first mass robot culture. More charismatic with each generation, robots are not only becoming useful to a greater degree, they are also becoming progressively adept in serving human needs for companionship and productive interaction.

With over 80 color photographs and images, Loving the Machine is a spectacular overview of the world of robots – a world Hornyak predicts we will all be living in shortly. From the amazing automatons of feudal Japan to giant animated robots and the cutting-edge androids of today, the book is a fascinating journey of passion and discovery.

Professional & Technical / Medical

Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children, 3rd edition by Gilles Lyon, Edwin H. Kolodny & Gregory M. Pastores (McGraw Hill Medical)

Since the publication of the second edition of Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children a decade ago, our understanding of the molecular and biochemical basis of hereditary metabolic disorders (HMD) has progressed at an astonishing pace. New disorders have emerged and there is greater knowledge regarding the clinical variants of several known entities, although the factors that ultimately influence disease expression remain to be delineated. Confronted with these new scientific developments, to be proficient the physician must acquire sufficient knowledge of modern neuro­biologic techniques, including their application, complexities, and limitations, in order to be able to use them appropriately for diagnostic confir­mation, presymptomatic detection, heterozygote (carrier) screening, and family counseling.

Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children, 3rd edition, was written by Gilles Lyon, Adjunct Professor, Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine; Edwin H. Kolodny, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Medical Board of the Tisch Hospital and Co-Chairman of the Executive Advisory Committee of the General Clinical Research Center; and Gregory M. Pastores, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Member of the New York University Neurology Associates and New York University Neurogenetics Lab.

Organized by age groups from prenatal diagnosis to neonate to childhood, each chapter begins by describing symptoms (similar to the way a patient would present), and then guides readers through confirming the diagnosis and choosing the appropriate course of therapy.

Completely updated to reflect the significant advances made following the discovery of the DNA sequence on the human genome, the Third Edition of Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children clarifies the complicated genetics and biochemistry of these illnesses. New to the 3rd edition:

  • Coverage of newly discovered disorders – complete with differential diagnosis, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Tables categorizing diseases by mechanisms.
  • Treatment for disorders that previously had no known treatment options.
  • Thorough discussion of new molecular, biochemical, and brain imaging tests – and how to select the one most likely to reveal a particular disease.
  • Case examples with clinical pearls.
  • Web sites and contact information for patient support groups.

Neurometabolic diseases are so numerous and diverse in their clinical expres­sion that the physician needs guidelines. As in the first two editions, the authors of Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children present the hereditary metabolic disorders according to their age of onset – as maturation of the nervous system modulates the expression of disease, and many of the disorders that are covered strike preferentially during a limited period of life – and according to their predominant syndromes. For each disease, they provide biologic and radiologic information deemed necessary for the practitioner to arrive at a diagnosis and devise a care plan.

Although the age of onset of the hereditary metabolic disorders varies considerably, and for each disorder neurologic signs may appear at practically any time between infancy and adolescence or even adulthood, the majority of the individual conditions have an age of predilection. In each age period different diseases tend to have a common symptomatology, according to the degree of maturation of the brain. Therefore, the proposed approach to this complex field is to subdivide all the diseases into clinical categories according to the predominant age of onset, and their principal syndrome(s) – and temporal profile. Prepared with such knowledge, the clinician can narrow the range of diagnostic possibilities and select the appropriate laboratory tests more efficiently. This approach is a clinical one, and the information elaborated in the chapters in Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children is essentially for the practitioner. However, it is not possible to strictly separate the clinical and biological aspects of disease, and due importance has been given to biological data of diagnostic importance. The presentation of the neurometabolic disorders in this manner also should be helpful to the laboratory scientist.

Neurology of Hereditary Metabolic Diseases of Children provides the expert, up-to-date guidance readers need to identify, understand, and treat neurogenetic disorders in children. Written in a readily-accessible, highly-readable style, this unique reference offers a sound starting point and clinical step-by-step approach to treating the complex and often baffling neurogenetic diseases found in children, and therefore it will prove to be invaluable to the non-specialist and specialist alike.

Professional & Technical / Medical / Reference

Basic Infection Control for Healthcare Providers, 2nd edition by Michael Kennamer (Thomson Delmar Learning)

Infection control is a dynamic field. Practically every month discoveries are made, court decisions are formed, and outbreaks are tracked. The future of infection control is exciting. Even as readers are reading this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health officials, are monitoring emerging infectious diseases in an attempt to prevent outbreaks. Changes in this field come often and have far-reaching consequences.

Basic Infection Control for Healthcare Providers, Second Edition, is a guide to preventing occupational exposure hazards and communicable and infectious diseases. This book, written by Mike Kennamer, currently director of workforce development at Northeast Alabama Community College where he previously served as chair of the skills training division and director of the EMS department, includes coverage on how to protect oneself from infectious agents and what do in case of infectious exposure. Discussions of the disease process and legal issues surrounding exposure and infectious diseases provide context for the material.
Kennamer says that several years ago he was teaching an infection control class for a multi-disciplined group of health care providers. The challenge, he discovered, was finding an appropriate book for the class. Books were available, but none that provided the breadth and depth of information that he wished to cover.

The solution, although not optimal, was to photocopy his notes for the students, adding to the material as he discovered topics that needed to be covered. This packet of notes developed into a small, self-published booklet that, after many classes, served as a foundation for the first edition of Basic Infection Control for Healthcare Providers.

In this, the second edition, Kennamer has integrated suggestions and input from health care professionals in a variety of disciplines, making this edition more valuable to a greater number of professions, including: child care providers, chiropractors, dentists, dental assistants, and hygienists, emergency medical services personnel, fire service personnel, industrial safety personnel, laboratory personnel, medical assistants, nursing home workers, nursing personnel, occupational therapists, physical therapy personnel, physicians, radiological technologists, respiratory therapists and technicians, shelter workers, sports medicine personnel, coaches, and trainers, teachers and school personnel, workers in business and industry.

The chapters are designed to give readers background information on the history of infection control, legal issues, how the process of disease works, the immune system, how to protect themselves in the workplace and from agents used as weapons, and what to do if they have been exposed to an infectious agent. The latter half of the book contains information an over 45 diseases including information on causative agents, body systems affected, susceptibility, routes of transmission, signs and symptoms, patient treatment, protective measures, immunizations, and incubation period.

Basic Infection Control for Healthcare Providers offers these features:

  • A listing of key terms alerts readers to terms that may be new or unfamiliar. These terms are bolded in the text and defined in the glossary.
  • Real-life case studies are used to illustrate key points followed by questions that promote critical thinking.
  • Questions for Discussion are based on learning objectives and answers may be found within the chapter.
  • A glossary provides definitions for more than 200 specialized terms.

New to this 2nd edition:

  • Diseases of Concern have moved from Chapter 5 to an Appendix, making the infor­mation easier to access.
  • Featured Case Study promotes critical thinking with scenarios based on real-life situations.
  • Newsmaker relates infection control information to actual occurrences that were publicized in the media. Critical Thinking Questions follow each Newsmaker feature.
  • Under the Microscope gives readers a chance to delve deeper into the topics being discussed.
  • Web Resources have been completely updated.

Basic Infection Control for Healthcare Providers, Second Edition provides current, relevant infor­mation about infection control and infectious disease. The blend of fundamental infection control content and reference resources makes this tool perfect for use in an instructional setting or as a reference for practicing health care providers.

Whether readers are just starting out as students in one of the many health-related professions or are experienced health care providers, this book will give them the information they need to protect themselves from infectious disease and protect themselves from legal repercussions. The many features, coupled with the content applicable to any of the health care disciplines, make Basic Infection Control for Healthcare Providers one that is as comprehensive as it is clear, concise, and easy to read.

Professional & Technical / Nursing Reference

Emergency Nursing Secrets: Your Emergency Questions Answered by Experts You Trust, 2nd Edition by Kathleen S. Oman & Jane Koziol-McLain (Nursing Secrets Series: Mosby Elsevier)

Emergency Nursing Secrets, 2nd Edition is written in a question-and-answer format, providing concise information in an easy-to-use layout. The text, edited by Kathleen S. Oman, Research Nurse Scientist, University of Colorado Hospital and Health Sciences Center, Denver, and Jane Koziol-McLain, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, includes questions and answers about topics commonly encountered in emergency departments and in trauma care.

Emergency Nursing Secrets is written by experts in the field of emergency nursing and there are 40 contributors. This unique resource provides essential information about the emergency nurse's role in caring for patients with a variety of urgent care needs. The book is divided into four logical sections – Practice Topics, Chief Complaints, Trauma Care, and Special Populations – for quick access to vital information.

Oman and Koziol-McLain asked the chapter authors to include concepts that inform emergency nursing practice: patient advocacy, family involvement, collaborative practice, patient teaching, ethical decision making, and evidence-based practice. They share with readers the diversity and challenges of emergency nursing practice from caring for a child who is experiencing a febrile seizure, to balancing the competing priorities during trauma resuscitation, to making changes that better the plight of the underserved.

Part of the highly acclaimed Nursing Secrets Series, the book features:

  • Concise answers with valuable pearls, tips, and memory aids.
  • The 100 Top Secrets – key points every emergency nurse should know – listed in the front of the book for quick reference.
  • Key Points boxes, bulleted lists, and tables that highlight key concepts for quick review.
  • Internet Resources boxes that direct readers to additional information on the Internet.
  • A thorough index that makes it easy to find essential information.

Oman and Koziol-McLain say they began thinking about this second edition shortly after the first edition was published. They have included additional content and topics such as resuscitation issues, endocrine and hematological emergencies, and drug- and alcohol-impaired patients. This revised second edition of Emergency Nursing Secrets also provides expanded emergency preparedness coverage, including bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

The contributors to Emergency Nursing Secrets have captured the knowledge, enthusiasm, and heart of emergency nursing. Focused and concise, this comprehensive resource is designed for both new and experienced emergency nurses and provides a wealth of helpful ‘secrets’ of practice. Logically organized for quick access to key information, the book provides a quick-reference review for board certification exam for students, written in an outline format.

Religion & Spirituality / Buddhism / New Age

Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Altars: A Pop-Up Gallery of Traditional Art and Wisdom (Board book) by Robert Beer (New World Library)

The home altar has become an increasingly popular tool for contemporary seekers, allowing them to tap their spirituality informally, at any time of the day. This pop-up book puts a new twist on the phenomenon by showcasing female Buddhist deities in a delightfully unusual format. Designed to resemble a Tibetan temple, Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Altars presents three-dimensional renderings of traditional thangka paintings. It features doors that open from the middle of the front cover, a sturdy tab-insert closure, and elastic loops to hold each altar in place.

According to author Beer, two of the great spiritual traditions of ancient India, the Buddhist and Hindu Tantric traditions, place a profound significance on the role of the goddess. In Hindu Tantra the goddess, or devi, is frequently identified by the Sanskrit term shakti, meaning ‘all-pervasive power or energy,’ or by the term vidyadhara, meaning ‘knowledge holder.’ The exquisitely detailed illustrations in Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Altars are adaptations of traditional Tibetan paintings, each accompanied by a brief description of the goddess and her attributes, as well as a mantra to use in meditation. Four important goddesses appear in the book:

  • White Tara, to alleviate illnesses and remove obstacles.
  • Vaeudhara, to increase prosperity, fertility, and happiness.
  • Kurukulla, to attract and influence through the power of love and desire.
  • Vajrayogini, to cultivate the bliss and clarity of enlightened wisdom.

The text and illustrations are by Robert Beer, author and illustrator of The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs; the concept is by Tad Wise, author of Blessings on the Wind: The Mystery and Meaning of Tibetan Prayer Flags; and the paper engineering is by Bruce Foster, the creator behind dozens of pop-up titles, including Charles Schulz's Peanuts: A Pop-Up Celebration and several books custom designed for art museums.

To use the pop-up altar, readers simply open to the page of the goddess of their choice, secure the upper corners with the elastic loops, and set Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Altars down on a flat surface with the two doors of its cover propped open. They have now created a standing personal shrine. The fold-out lower flap contains a brief description of each goddess on its inside and her Sanskrit mantra on its outside. According to Beer, mantra is ‘enlightened speech,’ and when one vividly imagines oneself in the form of a deity while reciting the mantra repeatedly and meditating upon the deity's divine qualities, then one can rapidly purify all aspects of the body (actions), speech (words), and the mind (thoughts). The Dalai Lama explains it simply: "In brief, the Body of a Buddha is attained through meditating upon it."

With Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Altars, focusing one’s meditation practice is made simpler. The book cleverly presents four stunning, three-dimensional altars, each depicting a revered goddess. By meditating on these images, readers can identify with the goddesses' divine qualities to enrich their lives.

Religion & Spirituality / Science

The Visionary Window: A Quantum Physicist's Guide to Enlightenment by Amit Goswami, with a foreword by Deepak Chopra (Quest Books)

Perhaps the greatest challenge of living in the world today is compartmentalization, torn as readers are between two competing worldviews – one the godless, rationalized creation of the old separatist Newtonian science, the other the spiritual knowledge that resonates abidingly in the heart. Amit Goswami, one of the quantum physicists interviewed in the 2004 hit film, What the Bleep Do We Know!?, offers The Visionary Window to readers as a guide to the practice of quantum yoga.

In his other book, The Self-Aware Universe, Goswami argued that consciousness is the ground of all being and that this metaphysics is a more inclusive and appropriate one for present and future science. In The Visionary Window he shows how the new metaphysics can deal with what Ken Wilber and others call the great chain of being – from nonlife to life to beings with mind to soul to spirit. With this extension of scientific cosmology and the new breakthroughs of thought developed in this book about the methodologies of science and spiritual traditions, he then shows that an integration of science and spirituality is now an accomplished fact.

“What's more real – this book or your awareness of it?” asks Goswami. Amazingly, Goswami, Professor Emeritus in the physics department at the University of Oregon, says that it's awareness. Reared in the Hindu tradition, he integrates Western science with Eastern mysticism to show that conscious­ness is the ground of all being. Goswami's scientific paradigm addresses the most engrossing questions ever asked:

  • Who are we and what is our purpose?
  • Are thoughts real? Do prayers have power?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Can eternal life and the existence of God be proven?
  • Do miracles occur?

Many of the answers, says this physicist, are up to readers. What he reveals points the way to the next evolutionary leap. According to Goswami, the institutional separation of science and spirituality began in the seventeenth century in the West when the philosopher Rene Descartes divided reality into mind (the domain of religion) and matter (the domain of science). This division spread to Asia through the British domination of the East in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The separatist paradigm of science, developed further by Newton and others, gave way, however, in the twentieth century to a new paradigm, quantum physics. This new understanding has created a window in the boundary wall separating science and spirituality. The Visionary Window is one of the early explorations of this window.

As Goswami says, the word quantum means a discrete quantity, and it (rightly) elicits images of tiny submicroscopic objects. It is with submicroscopic phenomena that quantum physics began. But after almost a century of using it to delve into the mystery of matter, it is clear that quantum physics by itself is not complete; the observer, consciousness, is necessary to complete it. Logic dictates, as Goswami demonstrates, that this consciousness, necessary for the closure of quantum physics, is the same consciousness that mystics throughout the world and recorded history have encountered.

Thus opens the visionary window, the opportunity to invite into science the idea of consciousness as the ground of all being and to recognize it as the metaphysical basis for a new paradigm of science – a science within consciousness.

Goswami agrees that spirit is eternal, and science must be based within the truth of eternal spirit. But within the eternal spirit, there is the question of cosmology and its evolution, which spiritual traditions themselves are forever trying to decipher. This is where science can be a valuable co-contributor.

In this way, if The Self-Aware Universe can be compared to Newton's breakthrough that started modern science, The Visionary Window can be compared to the subsequent developments by Maxwell and Einstein that completed the classical physics worldview.

Part I of The Visionary Window introduces quantum mechanics methodically and demonstrates how it demolishes the tenets of material realism. It also shows how an analysis of the quantum measurement question leads to the same picture of consciousness that spiritual teachers have described for millennia.

Part II establishes the main premises and assumptions of the new paradigm with a view to developing a more general cosmology than the materialist one. Goswami traces the origins of the division of the world into secular and sacred. He then takes up the creationists' issues and demonstrate creative purposiveness in biological evolution. Finally, he delves into cosmology in its most general form and show that it is consonant with the spiritual traditions' vision.

If you read one book introducing you to quantum physics and spirituality, choose this one. You're in for a profound awakening. – Betsy Chasse, filmmaker, What the Bleep Do We Know!?

I have rarely read a book that gave me so much hope for the future. – Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Goswami tells a good, often enlightening, story and is a fine teacher of quantum physics for the layperson. – Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., author of The Yoga of Time Travel and The Spiritual Universe

Goswami ranges far, wide, and deep. – Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., author of The Evolutionary Mind and A New Science of Life

The Visionary Window demonstrates that the metaphysics of monistic idealism can encompass material realism and dualism. The book provides a thrilling synthesis of science and mysticism by a quantum physicist reared in the Hindu tradition with a thorough knowledge of Indian sacred literature. Goswami offers solid, scientific explanations for the concept of universal consciousness and the existence of mind beyond the function of the brain. The cartography of inner space he offers is complete and satisfying and is consonant with the spiritual traditions of the world. Thoughtful readers will love his ingenious mix of data and ideas from Eastern philosophy, transpersonal psychology, and quantum physics to explore the scientific principles for why and how spiritual practice works.

Science / Astronomy / Cosmology

Brave New Universe: Illuminating the Darkest Secrets of the Cosmos by Paul Halpern & Paul Wesson (Joseph Henry Press)

For the first time in history, astronomers have pinned down the age, mass and shape of the universe. Yet these breakthroughs have also revealed an astonishing fact: 96% of the universe is composed of mysterious, invisible substances called dark matter and dark energy. It seems that the more we know about the cosmos, the more we come face to face with its greatest enigmas. Brave New Universe looks at new scientific discoveries that are answering long-standing questions about the universe – and challenging the limits of our imaginations.

Using modern instruments such as the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) astronomers have access to information about the age and composition of the universe. By producing such exact results, high-resolution satellite data and novel telescopic techniques have transformed one of science’s most speculative fields into a triumph of meticulous and rigorous detection. Yet, as the technological tools grow increasingly robust, as we are able to see further and know more, we find that we have even more questions. Authors Paul Halpern, professor of physics and mathematics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and Paul Wesson, professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and founder of the 5D Space-Time-Matter Consortium, ask in Brave New Universe: could there be realms beyond ordinary space? Might time, space, and matter simply be illusions? What unique blend of cosmological factors influences life on Earth?

Featuring interviews with leaders in the field as well as thought-provoking descriptions of their work, Brave New Universe is a guided tour of current advances and controversies in cosmology. Included in the book are:

  • Astonishing recent discoveries showing that the bulk of the universe is composed of unknown substances.
  • Extraordinary new theories being put forth to explain these strange features.
  • Investigations of dark energy (the force that causes the universe to accelerate faster and faster) and dark matter (the invisible glue that holds galaxies together).
  • Explanations of bizarre scientific ideas such as shadow realms, unseen higher dimensions, and collisions between parallel universes.
  • Interviews with many leading researchers in the fields of astronomy and cosmology.

 

Anyone who has followed recent news stories about big developments in cosmology, from inflation to dark energy, or the search for the missing mass and the puzzle of what happened before the Big Bang, will be intrigued by Brave New Universe. Paul Halpern and Paul Wesson have done a service for astronomy buffs by pulling together in one place an overview of these exciting new ideas…. – John Bribbin, author of The Origins of the Future

Writing in the tradition of Arthur Eddington, authors Halpern and Wesson combine insights from observational astronomy, theoretical physics, and philosophy of science to provide a picture, on the largest scales, of what we know about our universe and what we might hope to know some day in the future. – Virginia Trimble, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine

Halpern and Wesson take us on a lucid and often lyrical tour of the modern history of physics and cosmology with a strong personal connection to the history of discovery and an unabashedly open-minded look at what the future has in store. Their Brave New Universe is an expose of elegant analogies, cross-discipline connections, and the philosophy, history, and business of science. – Jeremy Darling, Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, University of Colorado

Brave New Universe is quite a trip – it raises thought provoking questions, answers quite a few, and asks many more than it answers. As a matter of fact, it is quite unsettling to ask, for example, what is real. The solidity of mass is a phantom – could the passage of time be an illusion as well? The book is for those who like to explore the really big questions and don’t have to have all the answers.

Science / Astronomy

Meteorites and the Early Solar System II edited by Dante S. Lauretta & Harry Y. McSween Jr., with a foreword by Richard P. Binzel (The University of Arizona Space Science Series: University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston)

I would sooner believe Yankee professors would lie than stones would fall from the heavens. – Thomas Jefferson, 1807, following a meteorite fall in Weston, Connecticut

The fact that stones fell from the sky was known to ancient peoples and recorded in many legends and histories. Aristotle was forced to conclude that these stones were raised high in the air by the wind before falling back to Earth. During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, natural scientists debated whether or not such stones could form in the atmosphere. The theory that material from outer space entered Earth's atmosphere, produced fireballs and meteors, and subsequently dropped meteorites did not become widely accepted by the scientific community until the end of the eighteenth century.

Two hundred years later, Meteorites and the Early Solar System II provides a bicentennial benchmark for the field with the goal of serving as the foundation for ongoing advancement. According to editors Dante S. Lauretta and Harry Y. McSween, Jr., with a foreword by Richard P. Binzel of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, our modern view recognizes meteorites as messengers across both space and time. Meteorites lure and challenge us to trace their origins and unravel their recorded histories of early solar system and planet-building processes. Newly recognized pieces of the puzzle include micrometeorites, interplanetary dust particles, and presolar grains, where the latter are identifiable as samples from multiple stellar systems.

Asteroids range in size from microscopic particles to masses of many tons. The geologic diversity of asteroids and other rocky bodies of the solar system are displayed in the enormous variety of textures and mineralogies observed in meteorites. Meteorites and the Early Solar System II synthesizes our current understanding of the early solar system, summarizing information about processes that occurred before its formation.

Eighty-eight authors convey the beauty and complexity of the mostly consistent, but sometimes conflicting, messages delivered to and decoded within the laboratories of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Huston laboratories. The story of how these basic data constrain, challenge, break, and reshape our models for solar system history is science at its best.

Broad international interaction continues to be as important to meteoritics today as it was two centuries ago, as exemplified by authors from nine different countries contributing to the book. Recovery of returned samples from the Genesis mission, the return of samples from the Stardust mission, and the Hayabusa (MUSES-C) mission all point to a future of international exploration and in situ sample collection. Being able to target the selection of samples, rather than being at the mercy of random delivery mechanisms, offers the potential for answering carefully focused science questions that we are only beginning to define.

In contrast to most books on meteorites, this volume is process-oriented and emphasizes the constraints that meteoritical investigations place on the nature, duration, and extent of the primary processes that occurred during the early stages of solar system formation. The book is arranged chronologically, with each section representing a different epoch in the formation and processing of planetary material.

A key distinction of Meteorites and the Early Solar System II from the first Meteorites and the Early Solar System is the emphasis on the connection between astrophysics and meteoritics. In the past two decades this area of research rapidly matured and is now a cornerstone of modern meteoritics. A synthesis of this field is presented in the section that covers "The Presolar Epoch."

Another major advance since the publication of the first Meteorites and the Early Solar System is the role of meteoritics in understanding the astrophysical processes of star and planet formation. Today meteorite studies provide constraints on the proximity of supernovae and AGB stars to the solar nebula, the role of high-energy photon irradiation in establishing the chemistry of solar system materials, and the likelihood of solar system formation in a region of high-mass star formation similar to the Orion nebula. These fields are summarized in both "The Disk Formation Epoch" and "The First Nebular Epoch" sections of Meteorites and the Early Solar System II. The cross-talk between the astrophysical and meteoritic communities have greatly strengthened both fields. This complementarity is demonstrated throughout this volume in sections related to "Materials Processing in the Nebula" and "The Formation of Planetesimals."

Another key distinction of this volume from its predecessor in the Space Science Series was the decision to extend the scope beyond the formation of chondritic planetesimals and tell the story of "Parent-Body Alteration and Metamorphism," culminating in "Melting and Differentiation." These disciplines are central to meteoritics and provide otherwise unavailable insights into the development of the terrestrial planets. Meteorites and the Early Solar System II ends with a series of chapters describing the connections between "Meteorites and the Earth." This section emphasizes the contributions of meteoritics to understanding the formation of our home planet and that of our planetary companion and neighbors. In addition, Lauretta and McSween describe the effects on meteorites from their residence on the surface of Earth, both to provide a means to see through these processes back to the early history of the solar system and also to better understand the care that must be taken to preserve these treasures for future generations of scientists.

Meteorites and the Early Solar System II is a comprehensive yet accessible volume whose target audience is new researchers entering the field as well as current practitioners expanding and updating their horizons with their eyes open for new cross-disciplinary connections. The volume will be valuable both as a textbook for graduate courses on meteoritics and as a reference for meteoriticists and researchers in allied fields worldwide for years to come. William K. Hartmann provides a modern masterpiece in planetary art for the cover, and Phil A. Bland captures the stunning image of an incoming meteor that adorns the back cover.

Social Science / Community

The Seductions of Community: Emancipations, Oppressions, Quandaries edited by Gerald W. Creed (School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series: School of American Research Press)

The concept of ‘community’ is ubiquitous in the way we talk and think about life in the twenty-first century. Political and economic projects, from rainforest conservation to urban empowerment zones, focus on ‘the community’ as the appropriate vehicle and target of change. Some scholars see a decline of community and predict dire social consequences; others criticize the concept itself for its ideological baggage and lack of clear definition.

Moving the debate to a deeper level, the contributors to The Seductions of Community aspire to understand the various ways ‘community’ is deployed and the work it performs in different contexts. They compare the many cases where scholars and activists use ‘community’ generically with instances in which the notion of community is less pervasive or even non-existent.

The Seductions of Community began as a deconstructive project to interrogate the term ‘community,’ but according to editor Gerald W. Creed, Department of Anthropology, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, the contributing team ended up constituting a community of participants, confounding the very objective that inspired them. Tongue in cheek, he blames this compli­cation on the School of American Research (SAR), which financed the effort, provided a lovely environment for its actualization, and even coordinated community-building social activities. In this idyllic setting, he says it was hard not to feel like a community. The contributors include Creed, Peter Brosius, Kate Crehan, Miranda Joseph, Aisha Khan, Susan H. Lees, Gyanendra Pandey, Michael Watts, and Mary Weismantel.

According to Creed, the invocations of community conjure a collection of romantic associations, a cosmopolitan replacement for an imagined rural past that we alternately desire and disdain. The essays in The Seductions of Community aim to loosen these strictures so that we can get closer to community’s lofty ideals. Drawing on different historical and geographical contexts, these essays carry through these interrogations of com­munity with different assessments and conclusions.

Realizing the intentions set out for The Seductions of Community required strategies of inquiry that can circumvent the snares of community, so the contributors first developed a collection of important questions to help get at the content and impact of community without reifying it. First, it is crucial to discern who is deploying the term and with what objective (if any). What do people who identify themselves as a community think the concept implies? Are there disjunctures of meaning and intent between actors using the term in the same place and time (for example, the anthropologist, local activists, state representatives, NGO/IO workers, and local residents)? How do such conceptualizations differ over time? Is community the translation of an indigenous term? If so, why exactly is community used as the English equivalent? Are communities constituted by the research techniques used to study them? What are the relationships between concepts of community and identity vectors such as race, class, gender, family, and nation? Do communities fulfill particular roles in political organization or the mobi­lization and distribution of resources? Do violence and conflict help constitute, destroy, or redefine notions of community? Is community implicated with other complex notions such as culture, minority, diaspora, authenticity, or development? If so, how?

Miranda Joseph in her chapter in The Seductions of Community builds upon her earlier interrogation of community and capitalism by examining connections between ideas of community, debt, and incarceration. Romantic assumptions in the program of the ‘restorative justice’ efforts can conceal the structural relations and causes of high incarceration rates, with the dangerous prospect of actually reinforcing the structures of power they protest. The point is that romantic aspects of community are dangerous, but their ultimate impact depends upon other factors surrounding their deployment.

These ‘other factors’ are central to the chapter on Nigeria in which Michael Watts offers a direct attack on idealized notions of community by considering the possibility of violent communities. He shows how the political economy of oil prevents the constitution of communities that could facilitate governance and capitalism. If communities are central to these modern processes, then the impossibility of such communities may explain why Nigeria has been unable to constitute an effective modern state. At the same time, the oxymoronic feel to the notion of ‘communities of violence’ confirms the presence of quite different expectations for the term.

Kate Crehan, who has also written about fractured communities in Africa as well as the problematic notions of community held by aid workers there, turns to the inner city of London and finds uncanny parallels in the community rhetoric of urban regeneration. Focusing on a community arts project – the construction of a large mural in a public housing estate – she highlights the role of material expressions and representations for people in identifying community. Aisha Khan shows how particular assumptions about community led researchers to conclude that Afro-Caribbean populations lacked communities, while Indo-Caribbean peoples had them by default (and perhaps to a fault, albeit a faulty version). Preconceptions about community interacted with assumptions about different cultures of origin and the differential impact of slavery and indenture to shape the scholarly profile and social policy of the area.

Khan's formula for the importance of homeland may also shed light on the role of Zionism in the Jewish diaspora, where different attitudes toward Israel differentiate Jewish communities. Susan Lees, however, takes a different tack and shows how Jews living in the town of Tenafly, New Jersey, come to loggerheads precisely over their different ideas of community. A conflict over the public posting of religious symbols pitted Orthodox Jews against an alliance of assimilated Jews and gentiles in the town. Here, notions of community are clearly more than just derivative outcomes of political struggles – they provoke the conflict, illustrating exactly why the simple appeal to community is not the solution to contemporary troubles.

Mary Weismantel provides an example where the idea of community has a more explicit structural history – the indigenous Andean ayllu. The activists find the essentialized ayllu of modern anthropology, which was rightly criticized by postmodern critics, to be a useful symbol of the future they seek to (re)establish. Like Crehan's community nostalgia, the value of the ayllu is its ability to will itself into being as a political project.

Peter Brosius in his chapter in The Seductions of Community provides readers with another warning from the world of conservation. He examines the recent shift from a community-based model of resource management to a regional one. However laudable, the assumptions conservationists held about ‘communities’ produced programs that could never work. The communities defined and delineated by community-based conservation programs did not facilitate governance or capital productivity (via the accounting demands of conservation funders), so they were redefined into units both more compatible with statecraft and more amenable to financial regulation.

Gyanendra Pandey notes the recurrent evaluation of community according to natural and unnatural criteria. In India, as elsewhere, the ‘natural’ came to be defined as the ‘national’ through the naturalization of the nation-state political form. But to be effective in this political action, communities need to be recognized as ‘natural units.’ It is this tension between natural and political that marks the discourse of community for Pandey. According to Creed, the essential political dimension to community that Pandey underlines is evident in each of the chapters. The question remains as to whether these efforts facilitate modern governance or not, and if not, with what consequence? Clearly Nigeria's proliferating ‘violent communities’ do not constitute avenues of modern governance, but they hardly present a desirable alternative to it. The Andean ayllu may offer such promise, but we should not lose sight of the difference between actual relations on the ground and the ideal images of community. The utility of the latter must ultimately be evaluated by their products, and the weight of history does not suggest optimism. Still, it is important to remember, as the examples described by Watts and Lees illustrate, that behind the failure of one community is often the success of another.

As the contributors state, while each of the papers in The Seductions of Community reveals something about community that is rarely recognized or specified in contemporary community discour­ses, they also show us how treating community critically opens up new empirical insights. By focusing on community, we gain insight into the limitation of Gandhi's politics. We learn why petro-capitalism produces particular social dysfunctions. We gain new appreciation for why notions of homeland figure so centrally for diasporic communities. We begin to appreciate the different political prospects of related social movements such as ‘restorative justice’ and ‘transformative justice,’ or more generally why projects with very similar complaints and objectives can produce different impacts. In other words, while we may begin with the community as subject, by cross-examining it we gain unex­pected insights into the contexts where it is (or is not) deployed. This may be the most compelling case for redeeming the term.

According to Creed, the changed social context of the twenty-first century may reshape the impact or consequences of community proliferations, even those driven by very progressive objec­tives. Clearly, the current forces of globalization and ‘deterritorialization,’ driven by capitalisms and imperialisms, have contributed greatly to people's desire for the moorings and attachments offered by community. If these same communities are mechanisms of governance and capital growth, then we are in a terrible dilemma. Our own efforts at redress underwrite the very system and forces that generate our discontent. This is why the current fascination with community is more significant than earlier ones and why more attention must be paid to ensure that efforts in the name of community are moving toward the objectives to which they aspire. We cannot simply rely on earlier exhortations – they need updating and rehearsing.

Given the pervasive and ever-increasing investment in community (both politically and socially), The Seductions of Community makes no pretension toward resolving the problems it depicts. The term is far too popular and powerful to be completely redeemed or displaced, as multiple efforts have shown. Indeed, the contributors could not even agree among themselves about the ultimate political (f)utility of the community project. The objective is rather to expose the diverse work that the notion does, often imperceptibly and unintentionally, and thereby instill a sense of caution and reflection.

This is an important volume with an important agenda. Through intense, sometimes disturbing critique, the authors call into question the hegemonic appeal of a word and its effects, prompting us to consider what a world beyond community might look like. – Andrew Shyock, University of Michigan

Thought provoking and wonderfully rich. – Rebecca Allahyari, author of Visions of Charm

The essays in The Seductions of Community demonstrate the critical value of using community as the focus of analysis, rather than simply an empty category of convenience. Arising from the advanced seminar “Reconsidering Community: The Unintended Consequence of an Intellectual Romance” in Santa Fe in April of 2003, the essays offer no alternative and virtually no hope, no solution. Gandhi stressed the importance of conversation as the means to the resolution of ‘difference’ in society. And Pandey concludes The Seductions of Community by saying that we still have the need for an idea, a concept, a dream such as community. www.sirreadalot.org  has a special interest in and commitment to community building, so this book was unsettling. Better for most of us to continue the romance, says this reviewer.

Social Sciences / Sociology / Race Relations

Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States, 2nd edition by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (Rowman & Littlefield)

The first edition of the best-selling Racism without Racists (2001) showed that alongside the subtle forms of discrimination typical of the post Civil Rights era, a powerful new ideology of ‘color-blind racism’ has emerged. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva documented how beneath the rhetorical maze of contemporary racial discourse lies an arsenal of arguments, phrases, and stories that whites use to account for and ultimately justify racial inequities.

In the first edition, Bonilla-Silva, research professor of sociology at Duke University, explored with systematic interview data the nature and components of post-civil rights racial ideology. Specifically, he documented the existence of a suave and apparently non-racial racial ideology, which he labels ‘color-blind racism’. He suggested this ideology, anchored on the decontextualized, ahistorical, and abstract extension of liberalism to racial matters, has become the organizational matrix whites use to explain and account for racial matters in America.

Bonilla-Silva tells the story: “The last words my mother told me before I left Puerto Rico in 1984 were: ‘Son, in the United States you need to walk and behave like a king.’ She also told me something to the effect that no matter what the ‘gringos’ said about me, I always had to remember that ‘I was as good if not better than them.’ At the time, I did not understand her advice. Over twenty years later, I fully understand her enormous wisdom. In this country, racial ‘others’ of dark complexion are always viewed as incapa­ble of doing much; we are regarded and treated as secondary actors only good for doing beds in hotels or working in fast-food restaurants. Therefore, my mother's advice (‘walk and behave like a king’) helped me develop the much needed emotional coraza (shield) to repel all the racial nonsense of ‘gringolandia’.”

Regarding updating Racism without Racists, Bonilla-Silva says he began to realize that his book has been adopted in large introductory-level courses in the social sciences and humanities, where didactic elements are of cardinal importance. Because of this, he has made additions to the book that should be pedagogically useful. He included a no-nonsense chapter titled, "Queries: Answers to ques­tions from concerned readers," where he discusses some objections to his work and provide answers to them. For the many professors who have asked him for copies of the questionnaire he used for his research, he has appended a copy. This will help those who want to give assignments based on the questions he used in his interviews.

He says many people have asked how other minority groups (e.g., Asian Americans, Latinos, etc.) fit in his color-blind racism argument. In the first edition, he barely said anything about other groups, although he belongs to one of those other groups – he is a black-looking Puerto Rican who self-identifies as Afro-Puerto Rican. In this edition Bonilla-Silva includes a chapter, based on ongoing work, in which he discusses the coordinates of racial stratification in 21st-century America. In the chapter he argues that the United States is developing a more complex and apparently ‘plural’ racial order that will mimic Latin American elements of racial stratification such as the existence of multiple racial strata and the salience of phenotype as a factor determining the life chances of individuals. Many readers have demanded he deal more squarely with policy matters and political strategies to challenge the racial status quo. Although he believes the best social policies follow heightened moments of social activism, he decided to provide a few pointers of how society may get there. Hence, he has added a short final chapter titled, "Postcript: What Is to Be Done (For Real)," where he addresses how readers might go about challenging color-blind racism.

Bonilla-Silva wants to advance an argument (the sophisticated nature of color-blind racism), an approach (analyzing racial ideology rather than ‘prejudice’), and a politics (fighting racial domination based on a group rights' agenda) that assist scholars and activists alike in their research and struggle against color-blind nonsense. He makes a strong case for the view that most whites endorse the ideology of color blindness and that this ideology is central to the maintenance of white privilege.

But if research is political by nature and his interpretation of the data is guided by his theoretical and political orientation, how can readers ascertain if his interpretation is better than those of other analysts? That is, how can we avoid the trap of relativism, of the idea that "all thinking is merely the expression of interest or power or group membership?" His answer to these questions is that his explanations – as well as those of other analysts – ought to be judged like maps. Judge his cartographic effort of drawing the boundaries of contemporary white racial ideology in terms of its usefulness (Does it help to better understand whites' views?), accuracy (Does it accurately depict whites' arguments about racial mat­ters?), details (Does it highlight elements of whites' collective representa­tions not discussed by others?), and clarity (Does it ultimately help readers move from here to there?).

Bonilla-Silva is careful to point out that the purpose of Racism without Racists is not to demonize whites or label them ‘racist.’ Hunting for ‘racists’ is the sport of choice of those who practice the ‘clinical approach’ to race relations – the careful separation of good and bad, tolerant and intolerant Americans. Because this book is anchored in a structural understanding of race relations, his goal is to uncover the col­lective practices (in this book, the ideological ones) that help reinforce the contemporary racial order. Historically, many good people supported slavery and Jim Crow.

Similarly, most ‘color-blind’ whites who oppose (or have serious reservations about) affirmative action, believe that blacks' problems are mostly their own doing, and do not see anything wrong with their own white lifestyle are good people, too. The analytical issue, then, is examining how many whites subscribe to an ideology that ultimately helps preserve racial inequality rather than assessing how many hate or love blacks and other minorities.

To those readers may still feel discomfort while reading this book, who see themselves as good people who may subscribe to many of the frames of color blindness), Bonilla-Silva urges them to make a personal and political movement away from claiming to be ‘nonracist’ to becoming ‘antiracist.’ Being an antiracist begins with understanding the institutional nature of racial matters and accepting that all actors in a racialized society are affected materially (receive benefits or disadvantages) and ideologically by the racial structure. This stand implies taking responsibility for one’s unwilling participation in these practices and beginning a new life committed to the goal of achieving real racial equality. The ride will be rough, but after readers’ eyes have been opened, there is no point in standing still.

To outline the chapters, in Racism without Racists Bonilla-Silva in chapter 2 explores in detail the dominant frameworks of color-blind racism, which emerged in the late 1960s. In chapter 3, he documents the main stylistic components of the ideology of color-blind racism. In chapter 4, he delves into the story lines ("The past is the past" or "I didn't get a job or promotion – or was not admitted to a certain college – because a black man got it.") and personal stories that have emerged in the post-Civil Rights era to provide color blind-racism's gut-level emotionality.

If researchers take seriously whites' self-profession to color blindness, they would expect significantly high levels of racial interaction with minorities in general and blacks in particular. Using the data from these two projects, in chapter 5, Bonilla-Silva examines whites' patterns of interracial interactions and conclude that they tend to navigate in what he labels as a ‘white habitus’ or a set of primary networks and associations with other whites that reinforces the racial order by fostering racial solidarity among whites and negative affect toward racial ‘others.’

In chapter 7 Bonilla-Silva addresses ‘race traitors,’ or whites who do not endorse the ideology of color blindness. After profiling college students and Detroit Area Study (DAS) respondents who fit the racial progressive mold, he suggests white women from working-class origins are the most likely candidates to commit racial treason in the United States. Nevertheless, he also shows that color-blind racism has affected even these progressive whites. If color-blind racism has affected racial progressives, has it affected blacks, too? Attempting to answer this question is the focus of chapter 6.

Using DAS data, he contends that although blacks have developed an oppositional ideology, color-blind racism has affected blacks in a mostly indirect fashion. Rather than totally controlling blacks' field of ideas and cognitions, color-blind racism has confused some issues, restricted the possibility of discussing others, and, overall, blunted the utopian character of blacks' oppositional views. In chapter 8, which is an entirely new chapter in this second edition, Bonilla-Silva challenges the assertions that the United States is still organized along a biracial divide and posits that the United States is slowly moving toward a triracial or ‘plural’ order similar to that found in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. In chapter 9 he summarizes his general findings and suggests an agenda for properly studying and contesting this new racial ideology and the racial structure that it supports. In chapter 10 he answers potential questions that readers might have based on questions he received from some readers of the first edition. Finally, at the end of Racism without Racists, he includes a ‘Postcript’ addressing the always-burning question of "What is to be done?"

Quick, fast-paced, and critical, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s insightful analysis provides an important critique of those who want to shift explanations of racial disparities from racism to cultural deficiencies. – Lee D. Baker, Duke University

Every white American should have the privilege to have that eureka moment: ‘Ah! Now I understand what being white means, in the most profound sense.’ The entire world looks different from then on. Racism without Racists leads white Americans to that very moment of discovery. – Judith Blau, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

This excellent book, suggested for more than just social scientists, is one of the few that provides ammunition for those who are seriously interested in breaking away from non-productive discussions of race and ethnic relations. This is a must read for all. Essential. – Choice

One of the brilliant new talents in social science. Bonilla-Silva dissects and demolishes with his data-honed scalpel the ideological framework of ‘color-blind racism’ that is now dominant across white America. – Joe R. Feagin, Texas A&M University

Color blindness is the ideology that currently sustains racial inequality in the United States. Only those whose minds and hearts are closed to the strong evidence of persistent prejudice and discrimination will fail to be convinced…by this powerful and incisive book. – George Fredrickson, Stanford University

As in the highly acclaimed first edition, Bonilla-Silva in Racism without Racists  continues to challenge color-blind thinking. This second edition goes further than most second editions in making significant changes both to make the book more useful for classroom teaching and also in closing the time-gap since the first edition.

Racism without Racists may serve as a wake-up call to color-blind liberal and progressive whites and confused members of minority communities who may favor equal opportunity but not affirmative action, who believe discrimination is not an important factor shaping the life chances of people of color, or who still wonder if racial minorities do in fact have an inferior culture that accounts for their status in America. Bonilla-Silva, as before, supports his arguments with systematic interview data and reference where his data or analysis differs from that of mainstream analysts so that readers can attempt to find alternative interpretations to his.

True Crime / Biographies & Memoirs

The Zebra Murders: A Season of Killing, Racial Madness, and Civil Rights by Prentice Earl Sanders & Bennett Cohen (Arcade Publishing)

”Her name was Quita Hague. She was twenty-eight years old, with long brown hair and freckles, and even on the autopsy table you could see the pretty, girlish features that made people think she was younger than her years. But that girlishness had been mutilated by the sharp edge of what seemed to be a machete. Hack marks covered her body, neck, and face. There was no pattern to the blows. She had been struck wildly, senselessly, as if her attackers had been fueled by madness.”

Prentice Earl Sanders recalls, "Looking at those wounds, and the horror of them, you couldn't help but wonder why. There was no sexual assault. Her husband's wallet was stolen, but there was almost no money in it. Even if robbery was the motive and the killers were just trying to silence them, they could have used their gun. But they didn't. Which meant they didn't just want to kill them. They wanted to mutilate them, to attack them with a violence that spoke of a hate I couldn't even imagine. A hate that went beyond reason."

As told by Sanders, the first black police chief of the San Francisco Police Department, one of the most decorated officers in the history of the department, recently retired, and Bennett Cohen, writer and producer in both television and film in The Zebra Murders, on the night of October 20, 1973, a white couple strolling down Telegraph Hill was set upon and butchered by four young black men.

Thus began a reign of terror that lasted six months and left 15 whites dead and the entire city in a state of panic. The intent was nothing less than an attempt to instigate a race war. With pressure on the San Francisco Police Department mounting daily, and the murders showing no sign of abating, young homicide detectives Sanders and his colleague Rotea Gilford – both African-American – were assigned to the cases. The problem was: Sanders and Gilford were in the midst of a trail-blazing suit against the SFPD for racial discrimination, which in those days was rampant. The backlash was immediate. The force needed Sanders’ and Gilford’s knowledge of the black community to help stem the brutal murders, but the SFPD made it known that in a tight situation no white back-up would be forthcoming. In these impossible conditions – the oppressive white power structure on the one hand, the violent black radicals on the other – Sanders and Gilford knew they were sitting ducks. Still, they set out to find those guilty of the Zebra Murders and bring them to justice.

Unfolding against a backdrop of social turmoil – when violent groups like the Weathermen, Black Liberation Army, and Symbionese Liberation Army were preaching armed revolution, when racism and resentment against the establishment simmered and the Nixon presidency was disintegrating under the pressures of the Watergate investigation – The Zebra Murders follows the twists and turns of the case through the eyes of the detectives, from the first machete murder to its bizarre link to the abduction of Patty Hearst. Pursuing justice on the streets while seeking it in the courts, they would become part of a larger story, com­prising both triumph and bitterness, and the Zebra Murders would become an object lesson on the risk of domestic terrorism and the perils for the nation of bigotry and disenfranchisement.

The Zebra Murders is a riveting account of parallel stories of a struggle against racism, and the violent underside of the black radical movement of the early 1970s. It is also the heretofore little known story of domestic terrorism perpetrated by blacks against whites. I found it hard to put down. Having finished it, the book continues to reverberate within me. – Julius Lester

… The book reads less like an objective assessment of these events than a memoir of Sanders's experiences with the investigation and his role in a civil lawsuit against the SFPD to combat rampant racial discrimination. … The efforts to compare the police tactics with post-9/11 targeting of Muslims will strike most readers as labored despite Sanders's insistence that the killings were acts of political terror, not mere serial killings. Nonetheless, this serves as a useful introduction to the case. – Publishers Weekly

The Zebra Murders is the riveting story of the apparently racially-motivated serial killings – black on white – that terrorized San Francisco in the fall and winter of 1973-74, and how they were solved by a team spearheaded by two trailblazing black detectives. Told by the city's first African-American police chief, who was one of those detectives, it is also the inspiring account of one of the landmark battles in the struggle for civil rights, led by the very officers who were at the forefront of the Zebra investigation.

Writing Skills / Reference

A Writer's Coach: An Editor's Guide to Words That Work by Jack Hart (Pantheon)

From one of the most acclaimed writing coaches in America – a man who has coached many reporters to Pulitzer prize-winning success – comes an indispensable guide to making your writing more coherent, precise, and powerful: A Writer's Coach.

In the book, Jack Hart, a managing editor at The Oregonian, shares the wisdom with which he has coached reporters to Pulitzer Prize-winning success. He gives advice on gathering ideas, writing theme statements and outlines, and using the ‘ladder of abstraction’ to add variety and texture to writing. He provides a lexicon of lead sentences. He shares his ideas for composing and sustaining powerful writing, and for ensuring that what readers write will be accessible to their audiences. Discussing the ways writers can trip themselves up – procrastination, writer’s block, and excessive polishing, to name just a few – Hart demonstrates how to overcome each obstacle. Excerpts from writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Joan Didion, and from articles gathered from magazines and newspapers provide inspiration and instructive examples of both inadequate and exemplary writing.

Formerly a professor at the University of Oregon, Hart has also taught at several other universities, at Harvard’s Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and at writers’ conferences throughout the United States.

Good writing, Hart states, is defined by some core characteristics: it radiates energy, is concise, has a personality, dances with a kind of rhythm, is clear, and is mechanically correct. Hart writes: “There's broad agreement on the goals. The trick is to achieve them in your own writing, regardless of your purpose. That means jumping from the abstractions – the broad goals such as clarity and color – to the actual hands-on-the-keyboard practices that work. This book is intended to help you make that leap. Once you take it, the series of specific decisions that makes up any act of writing won't seem nearly so daunting. You'll have a method designed to make writing manageable and a craft guaranteed to make it clearer, more forceful, and more effective.”

No one has a better command of good writing than Jack Hart. He pays attention to the tiniest details as well as the large concepts – and no concept is too big or too complex. His coaching has produced generations of fine writers. His book will help generations more. – Amanda Bennett, editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer

No newspaper editor in America has done more to inspire good writing than Jack Hart. With this book, his wisdom is now available to writers of all ages. – Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar, The Poynter Institute, and author of Writing Tools
At last, writers who have not had the opportunity to work with Jack Hart can benefit from his legendary skills as an editor. A Writer's Coach will be a godsend for reporters and editors. – Stuart Warner, writing coach and enterprise editor, Chicago Tribune
For decades, Jack Hart has been working behind the scenes with award-winning journalists. Now he has done us all a favor and is sharing some of his expertise. No matter what kind of writing you're doing – an article, a book, or just a memo to your boss – Jack can show you how to do it better. – Tom French, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer for Feature Writing

In A Writer's Coach, Hart displays the breadth of his thirty years of coaching experience to demystify the writing process and to explore every step – and the many possible missteps – in that varied process. A Writer's Coach will help anyone who writes – professionally or otherwise – create better prose. No matter if the end result is an office memo, a newspaper feature, or a personal memoir, this book is a valuable tool in making all readers’ writing stronger and more effective. Like a personal, portable, writing coach, Hart’s practical step-by-step approach is a boon to writers, editors, teachers, and students.

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