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SirReadaLot.org


We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

April 2007, Issue #97

Guide to This Issue

Arts & Photography / Architecture

Lighthouses: A Pop-Up Gallery of America's Most Beloved Beacons by Linda Costello, Bruce Foster & Al Mitchell, with photography by Wendy Edelson (Thunder Bay Press)

Mariners have ventured onto the seas for thousands of years, and for nearly that long their comrades on land have used light to call them home from the deep.… To make their voyages easier and safer (especially at night), friends and well-wishers began to bank fires on coastal summits.…

…Perhaps the earliest of these ‘light houses’ was the mighty Pharos in ancient Alexandria, a hustling Mediterranean grain port. …Built around 280 BC and soaring nearly 450 feet into the sky, it was not only the first but also the tallest lighthouse in history. A roaring fire blazed day and night in an enormous cauldron on its roof, producing a light that could be seen from fifty miles at sea. The ancients were so impressed with the lighthouse that they counted it among the Seven Wonders of the World.  – from the Introduction

From the busy Atlantic waters to the rugged Pacific coast, readers explore the country's most historic and beautiful lighthouses with three-dimensional pop-ups. Lighthouses: A Pop-Up Gallery of America's Most Beloved Beacons features more than 25 color photographs and original illustrations showcasing America's coastal guardians.

From the historical to the technical, author Al Mitchell, a renowned expert in the field of lighthouse study, explains the important roles played by each beacon through the years.

Lighthouses includes five architecturally accurate three dimensional pop-ups designed by acclaimed paper engineer Linda Costello. The pop-ups stand approximately 9 1/2 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter and demonstrate each lighthouse's unique design and function.

Readers turn the pages to reveal original, illustrated pop-up scenes; each scene in Lighthouses demonstrates how these elegant structures serve the nation as effective navigational markers and cherished attractions. After the introduction, which gives a brief history, comes (1) Northeastern Lights – Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine. This is followed by (2) Mid-Atlantic Lights – Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina's distinctive black-and-white barber pole, (3) Great Lakes Lights – Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota, (4) Pacific Coast Lights – Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the beacon for California's Gold rush traffic, and finally (5) Florida Lights – Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. The book concludes with an afterword entitled Saving America's Lighthouses.

Lighthouses celebrates several of America's finest and most historic surviving lighthouses with amazing pop-ups. Each of these grand old lights bears a storied past, and each cuts a striking figure, as highlighted on the three-dimensional pages.

The quintessential collection for any lighthouse admirer, Lighthouses: A Pop-Up Gallery of America's Most Beloved Beacons captures the splendor of these popular maritime landmarks – the ultimate book for admirers of lighthouses and architecture.

Arts & Photography / Graphic Design

Type Idea Index by Jim Krause (Index Series: How Design)

The basic principle behind Type Idea Index is simple: ideas breed ideas. The book is designed to expand readers’ knowledge of type and helps them brainstorm new ideas.

Type Idea Index is not a how-to book; it is a what-if book, full of typographic samples that are designed to prompt viewers to consider a variety of creative approaches for all kinds of design projects. Type Idea Index offers an in-depth examination of the creative and practical issues involved in the important areas of type design, including such as font anatomy, headlines, and body texts.  

Each of the visuals being put forth has something to do with typefaces or hand-drawn letters. The samples have been custom-created to offer ideas, inspiration and information to anyone looking for ways to expand their ability to convey themes, deliver messages and communicate information through typography and design. Readers will find themselves face to face with 650-plus, custom-created examples of typography and type-intensive design. Type Idea Index is the sixth installment in the best-selling, globally popular Index series by design expert Jim Kraus: Idea Index, Layout Index, Color Index, Design Basics Index, and Photo Idea Index.

If readers thumb through the pages of Type Idea Index they will see plenty of photos, illustrations, patterns and decorations that accompany and integrate themselves into the typographic samples. Why this expanded focus? It's because real world layouts often include both typographic and non-typographic elements, and in an effort to be as designer-friendly and useable as possible, this book offers ideas pertaining not only to the use of typefaces, but to the environs in which the type is presented as well.

Type Idea Index takes a different structural approach compared to most books on typography. Here, theme rules and outcomes (logos, headlines, etc.) follow. Type Idea Index’s content is divided into seven broad thematic categories: Energy, Elegance, Order, Rebellion, Technology, Organic and Specific Eras. Within each of these chapters readers will find sections related to a variety of typographic and design outcomes. At the end of each chapter is a mini-essay called a Focus Topic. These essays deal with subjects related to type, design and creativity.

Typefaces from over 150 different font families are featured in the book. Most of the samples appearing in its pages contain type that has been used without modifications; some samples use type that has been altered to fit the needs of a particular design (graphic elements added, characters re-proportioned, digital effects applied, etc.). At the end of each chapter a full listing of the font families used in that section are also listed.

Type Idea Index is a little vinyl-bound tool – an idea-generating, horizon-expanding, knowledge-broadening power tool that can be used to boost the creative output of designer-illustrators and anyone else who uses type. The book eschews the ponderous style found in other books in favor of a fresh, accessible approach. Type Idea Index, with its lively and engaging perspective, will enhance readers' appreciation for – and creative dexterity with – all things typographic.

Arts & Photography / Painting

Pieter de Hooch: A Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy by Wayne E. Franits (Getty Museum Studies on Art Series: Getty Publications)

In the hushed stillness of what is most likely early morning, a dutiful mother butters bread for her young son, who stands patiently and respectfully at her side. The artist has captured a trivial moment in a daily routine and imbued it with an almost sacrosanct quality, thereby eternalizing it for posterity. This splendid scene makes the viewer feel as if he or she is encroaching upon a mother and son absorbed in their hallowed morning ritual, a feeling no doubt intensified by the immaculate interior that they occupy. Only one object tarnishes this otherwise unsullied space: a discarded toy top, lying on the floor to the left. The painting exudes a resplendent air of domesticity, orderliness, and virtue.

A Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy was executed by the Dutch painter Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684) sometime between 1661 and 1663, possibly during his sojourn in Delft but most likely while he resided in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, we do not know whether De Hooch painted this picture with a specific patron in mind or whether he intended it for sale on the open market. In fact, nothing is known about its early history. The very first reference to the painting was made only in 1750 in the catalogue to an auction in Amsterdam in April of that year, where it was described as being ‘very natural and artful.’

In Pieter de Hooch, author Wayne Franits, professor of fine arts at Syracuse University and specialist in seventeenth-century Dutch art, provides answers to some of the questions that might be raised by modern-day viewers of De Hooch's canvas, starting with the question: Who was Pieter de Hooch? What insights into Dutch daily life during the so-called Golden Age can be gleaned from it? What associations did A Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy evoke for seventeenth-century viewers?

The first chapter of Pieter de Hooch examines the Getty Museum's De Hooch in relation to the artist's life and work, exploring the artist's stylistic development and his complex relationship to other painters in the Dutch republic. Chapter two shifts to the subject matter of the painting, placing it within the broader context of seventeenth-century Dutch concepts of domesticity and child rearing. Contemporary Dutch authors were quite opinionated about these concepts and, consequently, their writings are particularly revealing as readers seek to assess contemporary responses to paintings such as De Hooch's. The final chapter ties A Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy and related domestic imagery to the wider framework of the market for such art in De Hooch's day. This chapter explores in detail the question of the degree to which the painting provides an accurate reflection of life during that era.

In Pieter de Hooch Franits places the subject matter of the painting within the broader context of seventeenth-century Dutch concepts of domesticity and child rearing and ties it to social and cultural developments in the Netherlands during the second half of the seventeenth century. Though the book amplifies and perhaps demystifies various perspectives, the significance of De Hooch's canvas within its original context, these perspectives cannot supplant – and are not intended to supplant – what visitors to the Getty Museum most enjoy about the picture: its enchanting beauty.

Audio / Health, Mind & Body / Religion & Spirituality / Buddhism / Philosophy

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill (2 Audio CDs, running time 2 hours) by Matthieu Ricard (Sounds True)

What is the one thing everyone wants? Happiness. But where do we find it? For a number of years, French Buddhist monk and former cell biologist Matthieu Ricard has been working with scientists and meditators to find out. Ricard is a major participant in the research and collaboration between cognitive scientists and Buddhist practitioners, spearheaded by the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute. They are exploring the effects of meditation on the brain and its correlation with happiness. What he has discovered: "Happiness is not something you seek, but rather it is a skill you develop."

In Happiness, Richard merges the newest scientific research with traditional Buddhist teachings and contemporary Western philosophy to show readers how unexpectedly attainable happiness is. Happiness, according to Ricard, cannot be found in fleeting experiences of pleasure – the joy of a sunny day, the refreshing taste of an ice cream cone, the ecstasy of sex – but only in the depths of an individual's being. Happiness is not self-interested, but rather compassionate, seeking the well-being of others. If we are truly happy, writes Ricard, we can change the world because of our compassion for others and our desire to end hatred and bring happiness even to those we don't like.

Listeners join Ricard on the audio adaptation of Happiness to learn more about:

  • How to use mind training to cultivate sukha – a blissful state of being that arises when we release ourselves from mental blindness and afflictive emotions.
  • Ethics: how this perennial field of philosophy sheds light on the ‘science of happiness’.
  • Guided imagery to relieve pain – both emotional and physical.
  • Practices for working with your mind to develop attention, focus, and clarity – a foundation for inner peace.
  • How to transcend the ego and time to enter ‘the state of flow’.
  • Exercises to exchange suffering for happiness not only for ourselves, but for all of the world and more.

For millennia, philosophers, writers and artists have sought the key to human happiness.…For Ricard, happiness is a deep state of well-being and wisdom that flourishes in every moment of life, despite the inevitability of suffering. Individuals can, however, learn to minimize suffering in life by practicing moderation in all things, as well as meditation. Meditative exercises that individuals can practice to achieve happiness appear in each chapter. Ricard (Tibet: A Compassionate Eye) doesn't have much new to tell us about his subject, but he imbues these reflections with his own deep sense of happiness and verve. – Publishers Weekly

When first published in France, Ricard's Happiness sold over 80,000 copies in the first month of its release. That sounds like a big number, but it may be just the first glimmer of interest, as evidence grows of the measurable effects of inner well-being on our bodies and minds, and as we continue to reach for the state of being that transcends all circumstances and emotions – happiness.

Audio / Religion & Spirituality / Christianity / Romance

It Happens Every Spring (Unabridged Audio CD, 8 CDs approximate running time 10 hours) by Gary Chapman & Catherine Palmer (Four Seasons Series: Oasis Audio)

Gary Chapman, director of Marriage & Family Life Consultants, Inc., host of A Growing Marriage, and author of the best-selling book The Five Love Languages, brings his teaching and insight to a new audience with It Happens Every Spring, the first book in the new Four Seasons series. Co-author Catherine Palmer is the Christy Award-winning, CBA best-selling author of more than forty novels.

The fictional counterpart to Chapman's non-fiction book The Four Seasons of Marriage, It Happens Every Spring is set in Deepwater Cove, a small community on the Lake of the Ozarks. It tells the story of Steve and Brenda Hanson, a middle-aged couple who are drifting apart. Brenda Hansen is lost. The last of her three children have left home to go to college and she's facing the empty nest for the first time. She has looked forward to this time, puttering around and tending her husband, Steve. But Steve is totally engrossed in his real estate business and never at home. When he does come home, it's just to fall in bed exhausted. He never notices anything she does around the house, and doesn't seem to care.

When a simple homeless man appears on Steve and Brenda's doorstep, the beauty shop is set abuzz, especially when Brenda lets him sleep on their porch. Then there’s that unsavory business moving in next to the beauty shop and the entire community gets turned upside down.

Brenda decides to remodel the basement and hires handyman, Nick, to do the work. Nick is attentive and constantly complimenting her on her choices and her appearance, and he notices even the slightest little thing. Soon, Brenda is living for Nick's appearance at her house, and putting Steve's physical needs off. Will Brenda come to her senses before it’s too late, or are Steve and Brenda headed for divorce court?

It Happens Every Spring is well-written and insightful. Many couples may just recognize themselves while reading the Hanson's story, hopefully in time to avoid some of the same mistakes. Recommended. Four stars! – Craig Allen Hart, Christian Fiction Online

Relational expert Chapman rewrites his core message in fiction, teaming with prolific Christian novelist Palmer in this first in a projected tetralogy highlighting the concepts taught in Chapman's The Four Seasons of a Marriage. … Five local women start a club (‘TLC’) to help one another through problems in their relationships and their community. … However, the novel's scenes too often conspire to illustrate a counseling point, and the included study guide reinforces the idea that this is self-help disguised as fiction. – Publishers Weekly

I simply loved It Happens Every Spring. Despite its serious theme, it had its lighter moments as well and balanced out to make an excellent story. … I would recommend It Happens Every Spring for every Christian married woman, and even for those women not yet married. – CindyJean

In combining Chapman's practical knowledge with award-winning author Palmer's considerable writing abilities, Tyndale House Publishers has found a winning team, if this first offering, It Happens Every Spring, is any indication.

Business & Investing / Economics / Anthropology / History / Asia

China's Transformations: The Stories beyond the Headlines edited by Lionel M. Jensen & Timothy B. Weston, with a foreword by Jonathan S. Noble (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)

China's Transformations is the successor volume to China beyond the Headlines. Edited by Lionel M. Jensen, professor and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame and Timothy B. Weston, associate professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder, it takes readers even farther beyond the ‘front stage’ to explore a China few Westerners have seen. The contributors argue that the great gap between what specialists understand and what the general public believes has led to distorted and potentially dangerous misunderstandings of the most powerful emerging player on the global stage. Seeking to bridge that gap, a group of prominent scholars, journalists, and activists challenges readers to move past the typical images of China presented by the media and to think about the common problems shared by China and the United States. In addition to the editors, contributors include: Bei Dao, Susan D. Blum, Timothy Cheek, Martin Fackler, John Gittings, Howard Goldblatt, Peter Hays Gries, Sandra Teresa Hyde, Tong Lam, Sylvia Li-chun Lin, Jonathan Noble, Tim Oakes, David Ownby, Judith Shapiro, and, Xiao Qiang.

China's Transformations, an entirely new set of essays, explores such critical issues as environmental degradation, nationalism, unemployment, film and literature, news reporting, the Internet, sex tourism, and the costs of the economic boom. The book portrays the complexity of life in contemporary China and how surprisingly often it speaks to the American experience.

Contents of China's Transformations in addition to a foreword, introduction and afterword, include:

Part I: Front Stage

  1. Trouble-Makers or Truth-Sayers? The Peculiar Status of Foreign Correspondents in China – Martin Fackler
  2. The Political Roots of China's Environmental Degradation – Judith Shapiro
  3. Fueling China's Capitalist Transformation: The Human Cost – Timothy B. Weston
  4. Qigong, Falun Gong, and the Body Politic in Contemporary China – David Ownby
  5. Narratives to Live By: The Century of Humiliation and Chinese National Identity Today – Peter Hays Gries
  6. The Internet: A Force to Transform Chinese Society? – Xiao Qiang
  7. The Politics of Filmmaking and Movie Watching – Sylvia Li-chün Lin

Part II: Back Stage

  1. Fictional China – Howard Goldblatt
  2. Of Rice and Meat: Real Chinese Food – Susan D. Blum
  3. Herding the Masses: Public Opinion and Democracy in Today's China – Tong Lam
  4. Sex Tourism and Lure of the Ethnic Erotic in Southwest China – Sandra Teresa Hyde
  5. Welcome to Paradise! A Sino-U.S. Joint-Venture Project – Tim Oakes
  6. The New Chinese Intellectual: Globalized, Disoriented, Reoriented – Timothy Cheek
  7. Reporting China since the 1960s – John Gittings

It has been over six years since the publication of China beyond the Headlines (2000), an experiment in public dialogue, the success of which was displayed in the book's ongoing popularity. This work acquired an audience of general readers, faculty, and undergraduate students that sustained several printings and a partial revision. It became a popular text in courses on modern Chinese history and Chinese politics because it offered accessible, interpretative snapshots of a place that increasing numbers of U.S. citizens wanted to understand. But rather than expand and update an already popular text, the editors Jensen and Weston decided to return to the diverse and rapidly developing topic of contemporary China in the interest of producing a different book governed by the same principles. China's Transformations is the consequence of their reengagement with both the prominent and the obscure dimensions of the Chinese everyday.

In China beyond the Headlines, Jensen and Weston say that as academics they were concerned with establishing a dialogue with the general public, in particular U.S. readers (although one of the pleasant surprises of the first book was its popularity in China). They asked all their contributors to write for educated but unknowing readers and to be candid about the circumstances of their profession as expert on a region of the world that was once a curiosity but has now become the focus of political attention and economic value. In assembling China's Transformations, an entirely new volume of readings, they wanted to return to certain topics from the first book, while also expanding the range of coverage to include areas that may have been beyond the headlines in 2000 but are front-page news now: environmental degradation, epidemiological distress, the sex trade, popular film, children's literature, Falun Gong, fiscal crises, public opinion surveys, the Internet revolution, and expanding, intensified labor violence. They found, not entirely to their amazement, that many of the stories they had followed had changed.

The journalistic conceit of China beyond the Headlines ensured the revelatory reportorial quality of some of the contributions, such as those on China's nascent ultra-nationalism; the counter-hegemonic popular culture of the Uighurs; ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism; unemployment and labor unrest; and the regional, rural immiseration brought on by the marketization of the Chinese national economy. However, that first volume still lacked an authentic journalistic perspective on the politics of representation, the making of news in China, and the reporting of that news in the West. In China's Transformations, readers has the advantage of two such journalistic voices, Martin Fackler's and John Gittings's, while Xiao Qiang's chapter on the Internet in China addresses journalistic issues from a third perspective. These chapters permit readers to understand better the grand complexity of how the story, any story, gets out of China and before the eyes of interested Western readers, as well as something about information dissemination in China itself.

During the final editing and revising of China beyond the Headlines in the fall of 1999 and winter of 2000, the editors were mindful of the accelerating pace of material change in contemporary China, and they attempted to include as much reportage as they could. However in the intervening period, China has changed at a preternatural rate, with a dizzying speed unsettling for native and foreigner alike.

Unlike the first book, which was largely the product of a symposium on contemporary Chinese politics, China's Transformations collects a commissioned set of chapters drawn from a number of the same contributors but now focused on different topics. They have gathered these chapters under two distinct headings: front stage (qiantai) and back stage (houtai), which are literal translations of the Chinese terms for public and private behavior. The front-stage chapters cover more familiar ground for general readers and those things that have been in the news with greater frequency, but this section also contains a few chapters that reflect what is on the front stage, meaning what defines the explicit everyday of the Chinese. The back-stage section consists of chapters on topics less familiar to general readers but critical to a description of present-day life in China.

According to China's Transformations, a markedly different international context now governs our perceptions as compared to the time when the first book was published. The contrasting effects produced by the changed circumstances of China and the United States are striking: the world and the United States have, for the most part, moved beyond the sense that China poses an imminent threat to world stability; and it is the United States that registers polarizing reactions in world politics. Arguably, the United States is now an international pariah: it is the only major national power other than Australia that is not a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol; it is the only developed country that practices capital punishment; it is the only developed country that considers itself not bound by the Geneva Conventions and that is opposed to the international movement to ban landmines; and it is the world's largest debtor nation. In short, the United States, more than China, is one of the greatest threats to world peace.

In the oft-cited revolutionary changes of China's economy, citizens of the United States, as well as people all over the world, sense the emergence of something altogether new, different, and in many ways challenging. Bill Gates, in an address before the 2005 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, warned that the countries in attendance should be particularly mindful of the meteoric rise of the Chinese economy and see in it the passing of the global economic torch from the United States and Europe. It is important to keep in mind that China, with about 20 percent of the world's population, is running a substantial trade surplus, meaning it produces considerably more than it consumes. How then would one characterize the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world's population but which consumes 26 percent of the world's oil supply and had a trade deficit (by consuming more than it produced) in 2006 of around $776 billion? The United States is certainly on the international stage the world's most gluttonous nation, with China not far behind, and the consequences for our global future will be harrowing. Yet there is good reason to believe that the competitive drive of these two grand, national powers may lead to greater cooperation than conflict, in no small measure because the planet cannot long sustain the damage wrought by their pursuit of their national agendas. It is encouraging to observe recent changes in U.S. federal funding favoring school programs focused on Chinese – more than 2,400 primary and secondary schools have applied for such funding – and to hope that an inevitable cultural confluence might trump competition.

Clear, readable, and compelling – an excellent collection of essays that I will certainly use myself. – Rana Mitter, Oxford University

I intend to adopt this terrific book. It’s the perfect blend of accessible prose and rigorous scholarship on important but seldom covered topics. – Karl Gerth, University of South Carolina

Complexity is not a quality common to the political and media portraits of “China on the Rise” that flood the popular consciousness and culture is ignored in the interest of political prejudice. Written by those who see inside policy-making circles, China's Transformations reveals how much still needs to be done in terms of understanding the full complexity of U.S.-China relations, both within policy-making circles and within local communities throughout the country. What China's Transformations addresses is culture, because in this understanding the exaggerated differences between China and the United States become points of complement rather than conflict.

China's Transformations offers a fresh perspective and adds the necessary complexity. The book vividly draws out less well-represented stories – the Internet revolution in China, the rise of public opinion surveys, the ominous inflation of labor unrest, unregulated development schemes and the water crisis, the epidemic of sex tourism, Chinese foodways, and current reading habits in China – so that readers may draw closer to the complex texture of the everyday. The text may prove valuable in promoting understanding between the people of the two countries.

Business & Investing / Economics / Politics / Globalization

A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption edited by Steven Hiatt, with an introduction by John Perkins (BK Currents Series: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.)

A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption (6 CDs, abridged, running time 7 hours) edited by Steven Hiatt, with an introduction by John Perkins, read by Erik Synnestvedt (The Audio Partners Publishing Group)

If my Confessions could send such a strong message to the public, it made sense that multiple confessions – or the stories about people who need to confess – might reach even more people... The intrepid contributors to this book uncover events that have taken place across a wide range of countries, all Economic Hit Man game plans under a variety of guises. Each sheds more light on the building of an empire that is contrary to American principles of democracy and equality. – from the introduction by John Perkins

John Perkins’ controversial exposé, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, became an international word-of-mouth sensation and a long-running New York Times bestseller. However, the revelations that Perkins presented in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man were, actually, only a glimpse into the world of economic hit men. It turns out this secret world is even bigger, deeper, and more sinister than even Perkins knew. In A Game as Old as Empire, edited by Steven Hiatt, editor and writer for several Bay Area companies, and president of Editcetera, a cooperative of publishing professionals, Perkins is now joined by a dozen contributors: journalists, investigators, activists, and even other economic hit men. They go much further in revealing how the EHM game has functioned, and continues to function, in many countries around the world. Through detailed confessions and hard facts and figures, A Game as Old as Empire unearths the truth about what is really going on in the world.

In chapters covering countries across the globe, the authors tell how multinational corporations, governments, powerful individuals, banks, other financial institutions, and quasi-governmental agencies operate to enrich small elites and corporate coffers while often impoverishing masses of people and creating debt and dependency that economically enslave countries for generations. Each chapter focuses on a particular case, offering concrete examples of how the economic hit man game is still being played:

  • An officer of an offshore bank tells how he hid hundreds of millions of dollars in embezzled money from around the world.
  • A former staffer exposes how and why the World Bank looks the other way when corrupt elites steal international aid funds.
  • Investigative reporters tell the first-person story of a British mercenary in Nigeria hired to defend a European oil company from local people desperate to share in the wealth being extracted from their land – and what happened to him after he was taken hostage.
  • A nonprofit aid worker offers an eyewitness account of the atrocities committed by militias in Congo – militias financed in part by multinationals in exchange for access to the coltan ore used to make cellphones and laptops.
  • An oil industry researcher profiles an unlikely Economic Hit Man – a consultant who is quietly writing oil production sharing agreements that will cost the Iraqi people $200 billion.

In A Game as Old as Empire readers learn how the IMF and World Bank really function, how resource-rich countries are being stripped of their assets, and how cycles of debt and dependency are created and perpetuated. The methods that the authors describe range from the clearly sinister (such as bribery, fraud, looting, money laundering, threats, and even the use of ‘jackals’ and other means of violence) to the seemingly altruistic (such as many types of debt relief, development assistance, and foreign aid) that are in fact highly exploitative. The authors and others show how this system of corruption and plunder operates in real life, and reveal the price that the rest of the world pays as a result.

After presenting these particular cases, A Game as Old as Empire connects the dots – showing how the various pieces of this system come together to create the world’s first truly global empire. The book then offers a call to action, explaining what ordinary citizens can do to confront and unravel this destructive network of control.

I’ve long known that the institutions of global finance are corrupt, but I was stunned by the insider stories presented in A Game as Old as Empire. With billions of lives and the planet itself at stake, this book sets the stage for serious political mobilization to end this crime against humanity. Buy it. Read it. Mobilize. Send copies to your favorite talk show hosts and bloggers, your Senators and your member of Congress. – David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

A wide variety of in-the-know authors corroborate and expand upon Perkins' story. And it's frightening stuff. A Game as Old as Empire is well referenced, very readable and perversely entertaining. Hard data is combined with first person narratives and the machinations of international economics are made accessible for the layperson. – Common Ground, Whole Life Times, Conscious Choice and EverGreen Monthly (syndicated review)

This book should provide the last nail in the coffin of the ‘Washington Consensus’: an economic model that has increased global inequality, prevented democratic rule, and destroyed the environment. These insider accounts lay to rest any naïve belief that transnational banks and corporations can bring ‘development’ to poor countries. – Kevin Danaher, Co-founder, Global Exchange

A Game as Old as Empire is well referenced, very readable and perversely entertaining. Hard data is combined with first-person narratives and the machinations of international economics are made accessible for the layperson. And the book goes one step further by offering hope and practical advice. The chapter "Global Uprising: The Web of Resistance" by policy-analyst Antonia Juhasz sheds light on how people can change the corruption and help create a better world. …With chapters such as "The Human Cost of Cheap Cell Phones" and "Hijacking Iraq's Oil Reserves," A Game as Old as Empire has a conscience-pricking currency. This is an important book that should be read by anyone who wants to know how the world is run to the advantage of the wealthy few and the malicious disadvantage of the many poor. – Adarian Zupp, Common Ground Magazine

A Game as Old as Empire provides the first full inside look at how the dark and dirty world functions. It shows convincingly that the economic hit man game and the web of global corruption are far more widespread, pervasive, and destructive than Perkins described in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It concludes with a call to action offering ordinary citizens as well as activists advice about what they can do to confront and change this destructive web of control. The audio version is competently read by Erik Synnestvedt, a regular of stage and television, who has also recorded dozens of audio books and done extensive voiceover work nationwide.

A Game as Old as Empire is part of the BK Currents Series, which advances social and economic justice by exploring the intersections between business and society. Offering a combination of thoughtful analysis and progressive alternatives, BK Currents titles promote positive change at the national and global levels.

Business & Investing / Human Resources / Psychology & Counseling / Law

Job and Work Analysis: Methods, Research, and Applications for Human Resource Management, 2nd edition by Michael T. Brannick, Edward L. Levine, & Frederick P. Morgeson (Sage Publications)

Although job analysis has been with us since the dawn of scientific management, it still provides valuable guidance for those who wish to develop new programs or improve existing ones that enhance the contributions of people in organizations. Such programs can help people work smarter, improve hiring and training, make jobs safer, provide a more satisfying work environment, and even allow some of us to make money watching other people work. Job and Work Analysis is written by Michael T. Brannick, associate professor, and Edward L. Levine, professor and chair, both in the Psychology Department at the University of South Florida; and Frederick P. Morgeson, Associate Professor of Management in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. 

In Job and Work Analysis, the authors describe several methods for discovering, understanding, and describing the nature of work and applying the results of job analysis to problems arising in the management of people at work. Methods that are commonly used in industrial engineering for applications such as work scheduling are given minimal attention. They treat the most important and commonly used methods in human resource management in enough detail that readers should become familiar with their value and uses. They show some of the marriages between job analysis methods and purposes. They incorporate some practical suggestions for doing job analysis based on research and on our own experience. In many places throughout Job and Work Analysis, the authors cross-reference other chapters that are relevant to the topic at hand. Job analysis and work analysis cover a host of activities; they are important because they form the basis for the solution of virtually every human resource problem.

Chapter 1 includes definitions and a brief coverage of the uses of job analysis. This chapter is intended to show the practical importance of the material covered in the subsequent chapters. The next four chapters describe the most important techniques of job analysis, with emphasis on those methods that can be used for more than one purpose. Chapter 2 focuses on work-oriented methods, that is, methods that center on what gets done. For example, in the job of auto mechanic, a work-oriented method would focus on tasks such as adjusting brakes. Chapter 3 focuses on worker-oriented methods, that is, methods that center on how the worker does the work. For example, in the job of mechanic, the analysis might focus on the knowledge or judgment used to select the proper tool for the job. Chapter 4 focuses on hybrid methods, that is, those methods that try to gather work- and worker-oriented information simultaneously. Chapter 5 focuses on techniques used to analyze managerial jobs and methods for analyzing the jobs of teams.

Chapter 6 covers job analysis and the law. Job and Work Analysis mentions the most important statutes and describes their implications for conducting job analysis in such a way as to keep out of legal trouble. The next two chapters describe applications of job analysis. The authors focus on how best to ‘marry’ the purpose and method; they also describe and critique research literature that is relevant for each of the topics. Chapter 7 covers several common human resource applications, including job descriptions, performance appraisal, compensation, and job design. Chapter 8 covers topics most dear to the heart of many an industrial psychologist, namely, staffing and training. The final two chapters cover two rather different topics. In Chapter 9, the authors discuss doing a job analysis study. They offer a theoretical rationale and practical advice about planning and organizing a job analysis study and collecting and analyzing data. Chapter 10 focuses on the future of job analysis.

New to the Second Edition of Job and Work Analysis:

  • New co-author Morgeson’s background in business management brings a new perspective and balance to the presentation of material.
  • Expanded coverage is offered on O*NET, strategic job analysis, competencies and competency modeling, and inaccuracy in job analysis ratings.
  • New text boxes provide bio sketches of famous names in job analysis to put a personal face on research.
  • Additional examples and cases illustrate the ‘how-to’ of job analysis in real-life settings.

A companion website offers instructors and students supplemental materials such as course syllabi, examples of data collected as part of a job analysis, task inventory data, and the opportunity to practice data analysis, among other things.

This is a very important book. It is an essential text for any graduate program in applied industrial and organizational psychology. The first edition is the best text on the market today, and the second edition is a huge improvement. Nice work! – Bill Attenweiler, Northern Kentucky University

Thoroughly updated and revised, Job and Work Analysis, Second Edition is the only book currently on the market to present the most important and commonly used methods in human resource management in such detail. The authors clearly outline how organizations can create programs to improve hiring and training, make jobs safer, provide a satisfying work environment, and help employees work smarter. Throughout, they provide practical tips on how to conduct a job analysis, often offering anecdotes from their own experiences.

Job and Work Analysis is intended mainly for undergraduate and graduate students in classes covering human resources management, including classes in job analysis, industrial psychology, organizational behavior, and more specific classes in areas such as personnel selection, training, and compensation. The book can stand on its own or be used with another text that covers the class content. Professionals in a variety of areas, especially human resources or personnel, may find the book useful, and it should be particularly helpful to those new to the human resources function in companies and in government.

Cooking, Food & Wine

Back to the Family: Food Tastes Better Shared with the Ones You Love by Art Smith, with Michael Austin & photography by Stephen Hamilton (Rutledge Hill Press)

Sharing a meal with people you love is timeless and one of life's most fulfilling pleasures. – Art Smith

A generation ago, seeing a family gathered around the dining table for a meal was a familiar sight. It was a time for coming together, sharing the events of the day, and offering encouragement and support to one another. It was an opportunity to do what every family needs to do – spend a little quality time together.

Back to the Family is a call to revisit the heart of every home – the kitchen. Art Smith urges readers to gather loved ones and celebrate mealtime with recipes gleaned from his own southern family traditions and more than twenty years of experience as a world-traveled personal chef.

Back to the Family is a companion to Smith's New York Times bestseller and James Beard award-winning cookbook, Back to the Table. Smith, television personality in his own right, is the personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and a contributing editor to O Magazine. Co-author Michael Austin is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine, travel, and pop culture and photographer Stephen Hamilton is an award-winning, commercial culinary photographer.

The book stresses the importance of recognizing old food traditions (family recipes, meals, memories, etc.) and the equal importance of creating new and healthier food traditions. Of the more than 150 recipes and more than 140 photographs, a sampling includes:

  • Church Lady Deviled Eggs
  • Mache and Baby Spinach Salad with Apples, Toasted Pecans and Parmesan Shavings
  • Chicken and Okra Gumbo
  • Puree of Wild Mushroom Soup
  • Mushroom with Goat Cheese Omelet
  • Sweet Ancho Rubbed Tenderloin
  • Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Coconut-Chili-Ginger Sauce
  • Tequila-Lime Shrimp
  • Pork Stew with Green Salsa and Fingerling Potatoes

Back to the Family contains an assortment of recipes sparked from Smith's Southern upbringing, such as Chicken and Waffles, Baked Cheese Grits, Chicken and Dumplings and Okra Fritters. And then there is a variety of sweet treats, from Strawberry Pretzel Surprise, to Black Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and from German Chocolate Cake with Pecan-Coconut frosting to Banana-Blueberry Muffin Tops.

Expanding on the themes that made his James Beard Award-winning Back to the Family cookbook such a success – namely, its focus on comfort foods, togetherness and ease of preparation – Smith's latest, winning collection of over 150 recipes easily meets the standard set by its predecessor. The key to Smith's appeal lies in his ability to combine new flavors with comfort food favorites. … Smith takes great pride in sharing his secrets, which range from brining chicken before frying to adding sour cream to his pancakes, imparting both tang and tenderness. While not exactly revolutionary, the results will be for those who've previously attempted such dishes and gotten mediocre results. Smith even demystifies the oft-troublesome soufflé, and offers easy-to-follow recipes for everything from basic pizza dough to Classic Ceviche. Veteran cooks will probably have many of Smith's dishes in their repertoire, but those just starting out or looking for a standard, go-to cookbook will find this volume indispensable. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Packed with stunning photos of food, family and warm stories of ties to relatives, Smith's cookbook offers an abundance of uniquely flavorful meals. For those anxious to embrace the pleasure of preparing and sharing a meal with loved ones, Back to the Family is a beautifully designed book providing mouth-watering recipes. Along with stunning photos of food and family, Smith provides a wonderful, reminiscent eating and reading experience. Many of the recipes – such as Addie Mae's Potato Salad and Aunt Evelyn's Pound Cake – are inspired by Smith's southern upbringing. Others – like Tomato Pie – are less traditional, but no less flavorful.

Children’s / Ages infant-3 years

Finger Puppet Friends: Little Duck, Little Ladybug, Little Lamb, and Little Bee! [Board book; Boxed set] by Imagebooks (Chronicle Books)

Meet Little Duck, swimming in the pond.

He’s hoping to play peek-a-boo with someone who comes along.

Little Duck loves the water and the flowers and the sky.

But he needs a friend to play with. Little Duck is very shy!

Look, here’s someone to play with! I bet you can guess who.

His best friend in all the world…

Little Duck can play with YOU! – text from Little Duck

Finger Puppet Friends contains sweet, simple rhyming text and interactive finger puppets, which combine for hours of play. The boxed set includes four finger puppet board books, and that’s four friends for baby. Each book measures 9 x 9 inches; each is 12 thick, board-book pages long with full color throughout.

There are the wildly popular finger puppet board books Little Duck, Little Ladybug, Little Lamb and Little Bee boxed for gift-giving. The highlight of the books is, of course, the finger puppets, which are attached to the back of the book with their heads sticking through a hole to the front. Anyone who has had a chance to play with a small child and the finger puppet board books knows: babies and toddlers go nut over these books. In fact, they are in a sense more toys than books.

Children’s / Ages 4-8 / History & Historical Fiction / Biographies

Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Chris Ellison (Tales of Young Americans Series: Sleeping Bear Press)

Rudy thought about Pa’s warning to look out for himself. But he knew that on his own, the only thing he’d get was another door slammed in his face. His stomach ached for food he didn’t know how to get. And that’s all there was to it. Sometimes a fella did need somebody besides himself. – from the book

In 1932, Akron, Ohio is no better off than other parts of the country. Since Black Tuesday in ‘29, companies are closed, men all over the state are out of work, and families are running out of hope. Thirteen-year-old Rudy in Rudy Rides the Rails wants to help but doesn’t know where to turn. His father, sullen and withdrawn, spends his time sulking on their front porch. His mother is desperate, not knowing how she will feed and care for her family. When Rudy learns of other boys leaving town and heading west to seek their fortunes, he hops a train figuring at least there will be one less mouth to feed at home.

Rudy Rides the Rails is based on the real-life experiences of a boy named Rudy and the spirit of American adventure experienced by so many during the Great Depression. Dedicated to Rambling Rudy, a gentleman hobo who rode the rails during the Great Depression, Rudy Rides the Rails tells story of more than a quarter of a million teenagers who left their homes to lighten their family's burdens or in search of a better life in the 1930's. Met with the same mixed reactions as our twenty-first-century homeless – ridicule and cruelty along with understanding and kindness, Rudy learned so much from people who had so little.

Author Dandi Daley Mackall met the real ‘Ramblin' Rudy,’ Rudy Phillips, in 2000. While the story is a work of fiction, his life and experiences are captured in the story. Mackall’s own family's history is also reflected in the story. During the Depression her grandmother never understood how hoboes would know to stop at her house...until she found the smiling cat carved into the oak free on the front lawn. (Readers will have to read the story to understand this.) Mackall teaches novel writing for the Institute for Children's Literature, conducts writing workshops across the United States and keynotes at conferences and young authors events.

As Rudy lives the hobo life while he ‘rides the rails’ to California, young readers are given a poignant, snapshot view and testament of Depression-era America. The book is beautifully illustrated with full-page watercolors by artist Chris Ellison, who has been illustrating both children's and adult historical fiction for the past 15 years.

Part of the growing Tales of Young Americans series, Rudy Rides the Rails joins other poignant and enriching historical fiction from Sleeping Bear Press where children's lives are filled with adventure, intrigue, and consequence.

Education / Elementary / Counseling

Emotional Coaching: A Practical Programme to Support Young People by Robyn Hromek (Lucky Duck Books: Paul Chapman Publishing)

Resilient kids ‘bounce back’ from the inevitable crises that come along. Most young people are skilled in dealing with frustration, teasing, disappointments and generally maintain good relationships. For some young people the lack of affirming relationships and positive experiences leads to personal, social, emotional and behavioral difficulties.

For them, emotional control is tricky and any perceived threat is met with furious, sometimes physical defense or taken to heart and added to a store of negative self-concept. These young people need a supportive team of people who understand the nature of emotional difficulties and are willing to maintain relationships with them. With education, skill development and social support, most young people with mild to moderate emotional difficulties will develop adaptive coping skills.

Coaching provides a chance to invent new and promising futures through goal setting and skill development. Emotional coaching, as explained in Emotional Coaching, focuses on deciphering and managing emotions in oneself and others. Coaches are able to mediate between young people and emotional crises in a way that empowers them to take responsibility for their reactions and increase self-regulation. Research suggests the longer and the more supported the coaching program is, the better. This means people from the 'natural' settings of extended families, communities and schools – teachers, counselors, psychologists, heads, deputies, aides – make excellent coaches. As part of the immediate environment they are able to debrief young people and provide support.

The emotional issues addressed in Emotional Coaching are common themes among the challenges faced by young people: friendships, teasing, anxiety, anger, depression, schoolwork and happiness. The chapters set out current understandings around the issues, who should benefit, what to cover in coaching sessions and when to refer on to other professionals. The reflection sheets and games reinforce teaching around each theme and are designed for use with individuals, small groups and in the classroom to teach about emotions.

The strategies outlined in the book are all designed to be brief and solution focused. The program includes seven different workbooks and therapeutic board games giving young people the opportunity to practice problem solving and goal setting.

Chapters in Emotional Coaching include:

  1. Emotional Development – The nature of emotions; emotional development and resilience.
  2. Emotional Difficulties – Stressors and developmental anxieties; antisocial behavior and aggression; negative cycles of criticism; shame, anger and violence; effective interventions.
  3. Emotional Coaching – Advantages; young people who may benefit; qualities of a coach; coaching relationship and processes; rewards and motivation and when to seek professional help.
  4. Coaching Strategies – Philosophic and encouraging styles; cognitive behavioral therapy and emotional first aid; therapeutic games and reflections sheets to provide guided practice; respond to crises with Life Space Interviews and restorative practice.
  5. Tricks and Spells for Kids – Emotional firstaid plans; relaxation and guided imagery; slow breathing; boss of worries; gratitude; mindfulness; helpful words; humor; emotional freedom technique.
  6. Friendships – Circles of friendships; successful friendships; dealing with rejection; coaching sessions; reflection sheets; ‘Friendly Friends’ the game.
  7. Resilience: Pests and Bullies – Pests, bullies and bystanders; scripts, humor and cool talk; behavior rehearsal; teachers and parents; coaching sessions; reflection sheets; ‘Tease’ the game.
  8. Anxiety: The Scariest Thing – Early intervention; working with anxious young people; coaching sessions; reflection sheets; ‘The Scariest Thing’ game.
  9. Anger Management: Think Again – Physical responses and self calming; pro-social skills; justified anger; coaching sessions; reflection sheets; 'Think Again' the game.
  10. Success at School: COPS – Confidence, organization, persistence, social skills; robbers; values, virtues and character strengths; goals and rewards; coaching sessions, reflection sheets; ‘COPS’ the game.
  11. Coping: FishBowl – Cultural stereotypes; cognitive behavioral therapy; when to seek help; coping sessions; reflection sheets; ‘FishBowl’ the game.
  12. Authentic Happiness: BLISS – Responsibility and materialism; authentic happiness; BLISS and the BlissBombs; coaching sessions; reflection sheets; ‘BLISS’ the game.

The thoughts and ideas in Emotional Coaching are based on Robyn Hromek’s research and years of experience as an emotional coach to children and young people. They are based on the belief that young people are a work in progress and for most, emotional and behavioral problems are just a phase. Programs that include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), guided imagery, relaxation, slow breathing and behavioral changes, etc., are effective in teaching children about emotional regulation.

This is an innovative and therapeutic program. The book comes with a CD-ROM. There are seven named folders on the CD-ROM, containing the gameboards, game cards, reflection sheets and other items needed for each game. The pack of materials in Emotional Coaching provides teachers, mentors, assistants and others with all they need to support young people through an ‘emotional coaching’ program. Facilitators' notes and comprehensive guidance on how to deliver emotional coaching, structure and rationale are all provided, giving the adults who support these challenging young people the skills and confidence to engage them in the program.

Education / Reference

Reading Against Democracy: The Broken Promises of Reading Instruction by Patrick Shannon (Heinemann)

Think the goal of America's schools is to immerse students in literate behaviors so they can participate in America's rich democratic tradition? Think again. Reading Against Democracy is the book that lays out the story of where literacy education has gone wrong, where it's headed, and what steps readers can take to make sure their children are educated like people, not trained like employees.

Author Patrick Shannon's Broken Promises was hailed by Language Arts as one of nine seminal references on literacy and inequality in education. But, according to Shannon, so much has changed, and worsened, since its publication that instead of revising his classic book, Shannon has written an almost entirely new book. The result, Reading Against Democracy, is Shannon's look at how businesses and political interests broke the promise that American education would teach students how to think, read, and write as citizens.

Shannon, professor of education at Penn State University and a member of the Reading Hall of Fame, describes how business, government, and educational experts have consistently trumped the civic rationales for education with the economic. He explains how attempts to make instructional outcomes more predictable for business have led to a curricular formula that serves American students poorly at home as well as, ironically, in the global economy.

Why write a new version of Broken Promises? Because, says Shannon in Reading Against Democracy, if the Reading First Initiative were not supported by business and reading experts, or federal officials and educational publishers ignored reading research and reading researchers, then teachers could plan reading programs based on students' and communities' needs. With business, reading experts, and the state working separately, the public would deem most teachers to be successful and would consider most students able to read sufficiently well to graduate from high school and enter the workforce.

Learning to read at school promised to make the public both strong and wise – strong enough to defend itself against moral, political, and economic temptations likely to lead it astray and wise enough so that all members could participate in the governance of their own lives individually and collectively. The new promise, however, directs our attention exclusively to the economic possibilities and consequences of reading, hiding the other aspects of the original promises from our vision of reading education and removing them from further discussions. In this way, the new promise limits our relationships to text (and therefore each other), reducing them to the accumulation of skills in order to raise our human capital, later to be sold to others in employment.

According to Shannon, it is becoming clearer each day in schools across America, the new promises, policies, and practices of reading instruction are not benign, appropriate, or necessary. Reading Against Democracy illuminates the past and current relations that created and maintained the inequalities in the continued negotiations of possible meanings of reading education; it documents the consequences of past and current negotiations and programs; and it identifies contradictions between the consequent social structures from past negotiations and the individual and social needs of a democratic public. To make sense of the present, to envision a different future, and to take more strategic action, we must understand the past and how the market ideology of capitalism became the most dynamic force in reading education.

Shannon begins with three chapters that review the original promises of reading education and their imperfect pursuit, from the inception of formal reading programs in America through the intrusion of the industrial ideology and promises of the early and middle twentieth century to the recognition during the 1980s that a market ideology would be employed. Chapter 4 presents the opposition to the industrial rationale for reading education from the turn of the nineteenth century until the 1990s, when it appeared for a moment that a learner-centered reading education was possible, perhaps likely. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 describe the dynamic influences of the state, business, and reading science upon reading education during the last two decades, including the new promises, policies, and practices of Educate America and No Child Left Behind, focused exclusively on reading as human capital. Chapters 8 and 9 detail the consequences of these new laws for teachers and students. Finally in Chapter 10, Shannon describes new efforts to reinsert the promise of civic reading into American classrooms.

According to Shannon, since the first edition of Broken Promises, more educators and researchers have joined the project to defeat the rationalization of reading education and to invigorate a civic reading toward living democracy. Their work provides context, texture, and extensions to Shannon’s and points to the multitude of ways to enter this struggle.

Thoughtful teachers, chafing at restrictions and mandates, are asking themselves, "How did it come to this?" Patrick Shannon's book provides fascinating, thoroughly-researched answers, with an empowering perspective and a hopeful path out of this current nonsense. – Randy and Katherine Bomer, authors of For a Better World

Education is not a disinterested process, nor does it foster many innocent bystanders or casual observers. Pat helps us understand the players, the policies and the programs that influence classroom practices, research agendas, and literacy assessments, and provides the ‘big picture’ of literacy education that enables us to comprehend today's educational landscape. – Frank Serafini, author of Lessons in Comprehension

[Reading Against Democracy] is certain to inspire educators who are discouraged by recent developments to continue their work for equity, humanity, and social justice in our schools. It reminds us that we do not stand alone, but that there are, and there will continue to be, scores of dedicated educators seeking humane and thoughtful ways of helping children to learn. – Catherine Compton-Lily

Reading Against Democracy, is a fully documented, up-to-date, and convincing look at how businesses and political interests broke the promise that American education would teach students how to think, read, and write as citizens. Although the current situation in reading education seems bleak in the United States, if readers examine it closely, they will see it is far from hopeless. If students, teachers, researchers, and parents become aware of the reasons for the present conditions and work together strategically, then they can develop reading programs that keep the original promises of democratic life. This book is a call to get to work.

Education / Social Sciences / Anthropology / Popular Culture / Politics

If Kids Could Vote: Children, Democracy, and the Media by Sally Sugarman (Lexington Books)

Children provide strange echoes of adult discourse. When a seven-year-old girl looking at an assortment of colorful pool toys can pick up a blue plastic hand grenade and wonder aloud, "What messages are they sending children?" we do not necessarily gain insight into the thought processes of this age group, but awareness of the ubiquity of these type of facile questions. – from the book

Preparing children to become citizens of a democracy requires recognition of the different ways in which children learn about politics. Kids in the United States currently spend most of their lives in controlled situations such as schools where the dependency they experience in their homes is reinforced. Books, films, television, and video games influence how children think about democracy.

Building on previous research and including interviews and surveys of children, If Kids Could Vote examines the effect of the media including television, video games, films, books, and textbooks on children's ideas about democracy as well as the implications that their classroom and media experiences have on their preparation for citizenship. Besides presenting the children's voices, Sally Sugarman, emeritus faculty from Bennington College where she taught Childhood Studies for thirty-five years, also examines various aspects of the media and the school situation to see how they affect the children's thinking. Changes that might improve the children's understanding and knowledge of democ­racy are also suggested.

Interviews and surveys of children during three Presidential election years and two non-Presidential years show how some sixth-graders in a Vermont town react to the political issues raised in those elections.

Chapters in If Kids Could Vote include:

  1. The Changing Nature of Childhood and the Media
  2. The Beginnings of the Study
  3. A Look at Three Elections
  4. Politics and the Media in a Non-Election Year
  5. Books, Textbooks, and the Classroom
  6. The New Media
  7. Educating for Democracy

According to Sugarman, examining children's ideas about democracy has significance on many levels. Children provide a perspective on what the society values, but perceived through the prism of dependency. The powerless are by their very position astute observers of the powerful. They may not be accurate observers, but they are sensitive to the underlying themes in the messages that the society offers them.

If Kids Could Vote looks at some specific children as they ponder the questions of democracy and citizenship. It also examines some of the media that engage them. What do children learn about democracy from Harry Potter and Sponge Bob? Listening to adults, some of them believe that the media teach children a great deal, and not all of the lessons are beneficial.

Is it different for children than it is for the unemployed factory worker? In the United States in the twenty-first century, race, class and gender are still meaningful categories in terms of power and politics. Recognizing the limitations of her research, in If Kids Could Vote Sugarman looks at how some specific children feel about the stories that the media, schools and parents tell them about the nature of democracy. Living in the Northeastern United States, their responses may be different than those of children in other parts of the country. However, they are consumers of the same media tales as children throughout the country. Sugarman’s research tests how these shared lessons reflect and shape the political system in which citizens in the United States live.

Although a great deal can be learned by examining wide contrasts such as third world children with those in first world countries, If Kids Could Vote limits itself to a small group of children in the United States. Sugarman notes, however, how language affects our constructs; just the use of first and third world has implications of superiority and inferiority. The media have changed not only in the content, but also in form. Computer children are thought to be like the immigrant children of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, knowing more than their parents do about the new culture. Although we may not want to romanti­cize the children as millennials, the technology does empower them as well as give them new vehicles for constructing their ideas about the world in which they live.

Presidential elections focus the attention of the nation on the issue of democracy. Elongated political campaigns saturate the airwaves with claims and counter claims about how the nation should be governed. Television, the Internet and the classroom declare to children that this is an important moment when democracy is demonstrated in action. In If Kids Could Vote children were interviewed and surveyed during three presidential election years and one non-presidential election year. The study began when the nation was at peace. It was concluded when the nation was at war. Even though the children interviewed and surveyed are different at each time period, the impact of major events on children's thinking is evident. As during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, the impact of the media on children's ideas is intensified at such moments. With the advent of 24/7 news programs as well as the Internet with its invitation to respond to the news, children experience an intensity of messages that may be unique in the history of childhood. How do these messages prepare them to be citizens of a democracy? Through interviews, surveys and analysis of texts, If Kids Could Vote addresses that question.

If Kids Could Vote is a fascinating investigation into the formation of children's polit­ical consciousness. Told through the voices of children themselves, it demonstrates how children construct ideas about citizenship and democracy from messages they receive at home, at school, and in the media. A must read for parents, teachers, and politicians seeking to understand their influence on the next generation of voters. – David Phillips, Wesleyan University

What it means and what it takes to be a citizen lies at the heart of this important book. If our belief in the promise of schooling for democracy is to be taken seriously, Sally Sugarman gives us a wake-up call. With a strong mix of critical awareness and hope, she awakens us – adults – to what is at stake when we settle for a vision of school success content to rely upon superficial, rigid standards and a narrow-minded landscape of experiences. – Frank Pignatelli, Bank Street College of Education

This is an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of how children perceive pol­itics and the media. Sally Sugarman really knows children. She is well respected for her influence on the scholarly analysis of popular culture. Here she provides a superb contribution to our further understanding of them, and of course ourselves. This is a very impressive, very well-written book and will be referred to by researchers and reporters for at least the next decade. – Michael Kalinowski, University of New Hampshire

This book has much to teach about how kids learn, urging adults and children to work together to make democracy work in a changing world. Sugarman, a longtime scholar of childhood, believes that if kids could vote, there might not be any more wars. Maybe. If Kids Could Vote should be of interest to parents, teachers, and those involved in media literacy, popular culture, and child development.

Engineering / Science / Sociology / Law

The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage by Jamie Benidickson, with a foreword by Graeme Wynn (University of British Columbia)

To most, the flush of a toilet is routine – the way we banish waste and ensure cleanliness. It is safe, efficient, necessary, nonpolitical, and utterly unremarkable. Yet Jamie Benidickson’s examination of the social and legal history of sewage in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom demonstrates that the uncontroversial reputation of flushing is deceptive.

According to Benidickson, who teaches at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, The Culture of Flushing's point of departure is readers’ personal bodily functions, or rather functions that may have appeared to be personal until their integration through flushing with public waters and watercourses was legislated, engineered, and financed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Viewed from a somewhat more technical perspective, a series of revolutionary initiatives, first associated with the waterborne removal of organic materials from burgeoning cities, then with the bacterial transmission of disease, and eventually involving chemical and mechanical means of purifying water supplies, now underpins vast networks of municipal infrastructure linking waste to water.

The practice of dumping or discharging waste into rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans is longstanding. It received official sanction in Europe and North America, however, only in the nineteenth century, when a peculiar combination of circumstances accompanying urban and industrial growth encouraged sewerage and waterborne waste removal. The introduction of water supply systems in municipalities across Europe and North America increased pressure to remove wastewater from sodden urban landscapes, particularly after the water closet replaced the privy pit and cesspool. A widespread contemporary belief that disease originated in the decay of organic materials suggested that great advances in public health might be achieved by using municipal water flow to flush household wastes into the waterways and to direct manure from the streets to the same destination. Running water, presumed to purify itself, was not considered to be at serious risk from sewerage. This cluster of ideas, emerging as the common law faced growing pressure from intense river usage and before the role of bacteria in disease transmission was understood, nurtured flushing on a grand scale.

Water became a ‘sink’ by design. Indeed, observers have been known to remark that "water is one of the most valuable media for the disposal of municipal, industrial and agricultural residuals." It has even been argued on occasion that such usage enjoys the exalted legal status of a right, a central element of our perilous fantasy that the planet was created for human convenience. The evolution of these views, the prac­tices on which they have rested, and some of the values that constrain and condone such perceptions of water, along with some of the consequences, are the subject of The Culture of Flushing.

Twenty-first-century debate about water is now well under way. Water wars – a phenomenon expected to differ significantly from the water fights of our youth – are widely forecast. The focus of such conflicts is ordinarily presumed to be the availability of water, yet this vital concern is not unrelated to its quality, for variations in water quality may constrain water use or influence costs. If it should seem desirable to retain water quality, or to regain it where it has been lost, there may be some virtue in examining the social and legal processes that led to deterioration and in considering mechanisms designed to forestall that result. The dilemma presented by the need to sustain environmental quality alongside economic activity has become virtually all-pervasive in industrialized societies. Various ways of managing that reconciliation have been adopted. These have included legal control measures, economic incentives designed to influence the behavior of water users, and technological initiatives whose adoption promises – always – more than it will ever deliver.

The adoption of flushing found support in practices and institutions that reflected values, attitudes, and assumptions whose meandering course is a vital part of the story. As a use of water, waste removal presented its own peculiar demands, whose insidious ascendance and subsequent decline within the legal hierarchy in Britain, the United States, and Canada are The Culture of Flushing's central theme. There are, of course, important differences among and within the legal regimes of these jurisdictions, even though they generally share common law traditions. In relation to the practice of flushing, however, striking similarities are notable, whether these resulted from shared legal assumptions or the influence of other professionals whose trans-Atlantic careers and exchanges encouraged the continuing diffusion of learning throughout the public health and sanitary engineering communities.

With reference to the early nineteenth century, Chapters 1 and 2 introduce key aspects of the cluster of ideas and values that influenced decisions about the use of water. Included in the chapters is a description of early – and largely unsuccessful – attempts by navigation, fishing, and riparian interests to check or forestall a growing inclination to discharge waste materials into water. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 describe the introduction of municipal water supply systems by expanding urban communities; rapid growth in water consumption for a variety of purposes, including domestic flushing via the water closet; and the resultant need – influenced by the contemporary understanding of disease – to remove water and wastes from urban centers. Chapters 6 and 7 address the consequences of nineteenth-century sewage for downstream residents, for public health, and for the search for treatment procedures to reduce the volume of raw sewage and untreated industrial waste discharged. Many of the general themes are illustrated quite dramatically in the history of Chicago's water supply and sewage. As Chapter 8 of The Culture of Flushing shows, the Chicago experience generated considerable legal controversy and some particularly vigorous and imaginative defenses of flushing before significant sewage treatment measures were finally implemented.

Implementation of sewage treatment proceeded only slowly, especially as resources began to shift toward drinking-water treatment as a more direct means of safeguarding human health, a transition outlined in Chapter 9. Resistance to wastewater and sewage treatment was frequently encouraged by rudimentary calculations of costs and benefits that largely excluded the possible environmental impacts of flushing. As the twentieth century advanced, some waterways were explicitly dedicated to waste removal, reflecting a powerful assumption – documented in Chapter 10 – that streams are nature's sewers. Early environmentalists, resolute anglers, and concerned policymakers responded to the widespread degradation of waterways with a range of strategies described in Chapter 11 as a riparian resurrection. As Chapter 12 indicates, any number of solutions to the challenges of deteriorating water quality were explored. Late-twentieth-century water quality initiatives combining further waves of litigation and a series of statutory reforms must now be integrated alongside new technology with contemporary insights into the importance of biodiversity and sustainability.

According to The Culture of Flushing we need a generation of transformation more than occasional international ‘water years,’ or even ‘water decades,’ however welcome these may be. It would not hurt at all to renegotiate human relationships with waterways, for a number of assumptions underpinning human entitlements to water resources may be ready for serious reexamination. Biodiversity, sustainability, and ecological integrity – although none of these concepts is free from controversy – are sufficiently well understood that their incorporation as norms into legislation is already widely underway. These emerging societal objectives will require explicit legal protection in order to reinforce the indirect environmental safeguards that have been intermittently provided by riparian rights claims, fisheries cases, and navigation.

The Culture of Flushing does a fine job of comparing issues across national borders, and is one of only a very few studies that integrates English, American, and Canadian experiences. This is a very good synthesis of an important topic that should be of interest to scholars in many fields and to people in many walks of life. – Martin V. Melosi, professor of history, University of Houston, and author of Effluent America and The Sanitary City.
Jamie Benidickson has produced an uncommonly wide-ranging and boundary-crossing book ... Many legal texts deal with water rights but few combine legal approaches and a rich understanding of context to address the questions posed by sewage and waste disposal. Concerned about environmental degradation, Benidickson ... encourages us to think again about the choices we make, the risks we take, and the responsibilities we have as we navigate our ways through what has become a conspicuously waste-full and menacing world. – from the Foreword by Graeme Wynn

The Culture of Flushing brings together American, Canadian and British sources to integrate issues across national borders and is particularly relevant in a time when community water quality can no longer be taken for granted, as it investigates and clarifies the murky evolution of waste treatment. While outlining the history of the legislation of flushing, the book offers no clear policy prescription, but it does indicate the context, noting that the impacts on the environment, the adverse consequences, of doing nothing will be horrific. Those concerned with protecting water quality and the environment will find it unique, comprehensive, and accessible. The book is essential reading for specialists in environmental history, environmental law, public health, engineering, and public policy.

Entertainment / Music / Ethnic

Martinù's Mysterious Accident: Essays in Memory of Michael Henderson edited by Michael Beckerman (Studies in Czech Music Series No. 4: Pendragon Press)

Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was one of the most prolific composers in the 20th century. Despite the fact that he lived for several years in the United States and had many of his works premiered in this country, he still stands as an enigma. Martinù's Mysterious Accident is a collection of essays by an international group of experts, dedicated to the memory of Michael Henderson, who died in 1994 at the age of 47. Henderson was in the process of writing a biography of the composer.

The essays contained in this collection zigzag across the Martinu landscape. But the book begins with an assortment of materials before getting to the essays. Martinù's Mysterious Accident begins by introducing Michael Henderson and Martinu, the subject of his biographical research. Two reminiscences open the volume: Graham Melville-Mason provides a brief biography, and Jaroslav Mihule describes his first meeting with Henderson. After these pieces, this first section takes on an epistolary form which highlights the reality that – apart from a limited group of aficionados – the critical reception of Martinu's work has never been uniform. It is as easy to come across scholars who either dislike his music, or know nothing about it, as it is to meet eager supporters. Henderson cleverly exploited this in his two letters about the composer, where he takes ‘both sides’ of a putative Martinu controversy; the biographical summary at the end of the second letter is a warm overview. In keeping with Henderson's letters, the editor of the volume, Michael Beckerman wrote his own response to him. In it he goes through Martinu's second piano concerto to discover not so much how it is put together – for knowing that is close to impossible – but how he, and others, might respond to it. In the process, Beckerman touches on such topics as ‘Czechness,’ idylls, and Martinu's birth in the tower.

The second part of Martinù's Mysterious Accident is dedicated to essays about the composer. These essays include a range of new approaches to Martinu – Jan Smaczny looks at the little-known cantata ‘Gilgamesh’; Judy Mabary gives a concise history of Martinu’s collaboration with choreographer Eric Hawkins, The Strangler; Ales Brezina looks penetratingly at the often tortured relationship between Martino and the Czechoslovak government; and editor Beckerman explores questions of construction in Martinu's Piano Concerto No. 2. A shorter piece by Czech scholar Jaroslav Mihule is also included.

The title essay, "Martinu's Mysterious Accident," and the one that follows, "Bohuslav Martinu and Viterslava Kapralova," are the closest readers will get to what the chapters of Henderson's Martinu book might have been. The drastic injuries suffered by Martinu after his accidental fall from a balcony colored the last decade of his life in ways we still do not fully understand. Catching him in his prime, it slowed him down in many ways. Henderson's argument that the works Martinu composed shortly ‘after the fall’ reflect a ‘sharp drop in focus and quality’ should lead to the kinds of debates that help us to clarify such a major biographical issue. Henderson's second essay invokes another critical issue of Martinu's biography, his relationship to Viterslava Kapralova. This short introduction to the relationship will doubtless be amended by future biographers.

Martinu, of course, did not compose in a vacuum. It is certain that things that may have seemed to him aesthetic choices were a result of complex world events. Ales Brezina, head of the Martinu Foundation and now a leading film composer, explores how the individual, buffeted by the state, tries nonetheless to find a firm anchor. Toward the end of his study, he reconstructs an ‘ideal’ model of Martinu's triumphant postwar return to Czechoslovakia, making the reality all the more tragic. In the essay that follows, Jan Smaczny picks up the themes of homelands and a Czech style and approach, by looking at the connection between Martinu’s Greek Passion and his late cantatas.

Martinù's Mysterious Accident mentions Martinu’s uneven critical reception and the role it plays in the composer's contemporary reputation. This is seen nowhere more clearly than in Byron Adams's ‘Martinu and the American Critics.’ While the history of music still tends to be written in great swaths of passing time, Adams shows readers that in ‘real time,’ things are never so simple. Taste, whatever it is, is rarely a matter of uniformity; and readers may be fascinated by the variety of viewpoints from such critics as Downes, Persichetti, and Thomson.

The next two essays, by Judith Mabary and Erik Entwistle, deal with specific works by Martinu, and their first performers. Mabary studies the composer's little-known Strangler and its connections to choreographers Martha Graham and Erick Hawkins, while Entwistle looks at Martinu's piano sonata in the context of Rudolf Serkin's performance.

The next section of Martinù's Mysterious Accident offers the words of the composer himself. Though he has acquired the reputation of a reticent figure, Martinu was eloquent and bold in his attempt to fight for a new operatic aesthetic in the 1930s. Written as much for consumption at home as abroad, the composer speculated about just what a ‘Czech theater’ might be in relation to his opera The Plays of Mary.

As a kind of appendix Beckerman includes a discussion about Martinu between himself and Jirka Kratochvil. These conversations took place over several months and they reflect sheer delight in Martinu and his music. If anything, the book revels in that delight and the memory of Henderson's love for Martinu.

Entertainment / Music / Instruction

The Singer's Companion: A Guide to Improving Your Voice and Performance by Brent Monahan (Limelight Editions)

The objective of this book is not to make you sing freely but to let you sing freely, in complete mastery of your vocal mechanism and your artistic goals. It is not intended to complicate but rather to simplify, not to clutter up but to clear away. – Brent Monahan, from the Introduction

The Singer's Companion combines the author's extensive research on hundreds of professional singers' and singing teachers' books with 30 years of personal teaching experience. Monahan simplifies the art of learning to sing well, focusing not on physiology or theories, but rather providing practical advice and techniques, as taught by renowned experts, universities, and conservatories. The language is simple, and minimal space is given to theory. As each aspect of good singing and artistry is explained, quotations from dozens of the best singers and teachers, such as Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Eileen Farrell, Manuel Garcia, and Emma Seiler, help the singer to grasp the concept. The building of the vocal instrument and the artist is the focus.

According to Monahan every great singer, whether consciously or unconsciously, uses the techniques and skills readers learn here. Overall, "what we want to do is tantamount to taking an everyday car and – by providing a detailed owner's manual for understanding care and use (the mental element) and retuning, repainting, and polishing it (the physical element) – gradually transforming handling and appearance," declares Monahan in the introduction to his book.

Basing his guide on the empirical or observation-based approach to teaching singing, Monahan, a singer since he was 11 years old and a teacher with more than three decades of experience in addressing vocal issues, discusses the mechanics of good singing in Part I of the book. In addition to stance, breathing, and range, the topics discussed in this section include phonation, resonance, singing and health, practice, and vocal exercises. Part II covers the artistry of singing, from musicianship to pronunciation and diction to performance.

The Singer's Companion also includes exercise sheets, sample songs, illustrations, as well as a CD with exercises, sample songs, and common errors with their corrections. Illustrative diagrams appear in the text.

In an accessible, easy-to-use format, Monahan has distilled the depository of knowledge on singing, presenting the tried-and-true methods that have endured for centuries. Brilliant singers and teachers, prove the point with dozens of charming and pithy quotations. Singers, from classical to popular, from would-be professionals to diligent choir members, can benefit from The Singer's Companion, a concise, down-to-earth, easy-to-use, yet thorough, companion. Especially helpful are "What to do when this thing doesn't work" diagnostic sections and vocal exercises favored by teachers over the ages.

Health, Mind & Body / Psychology & Counseling / Social Work / Human Behavior

The Human Experience: Description, Explanation and Judgment by Elizabeth DePoy & Stephen French Gilson (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)

Whether we are aware of it or not, everything we do in our lives is based on one or more theories. Each day from the time we get out of bed until we go to sleep at night, our lives are guided by theories – theories of social propriety that help us make decisions about how we behave and why; theories of weather that underpin all forecasting and help us figure out if we should be wearing shorts or a winter coat; theories about the nature of our days and what constitutes a productive and good day that influence what activities we do during the day. The hallmark of professional practice is the use of theory to guide understanding and decisions about how to proceed. Theory and its intertwined relationship with professional action is the subject of The Human Experience.

Theory of human nature and behavior has come a long way, from early views of humans and human phenomena as determined by the gods to contemporary advances that have identified the human genome and its many minuscule yet powerful influences on human behavior. But have we really changed our views of who we are and what makes us tick? – from the Preface

The Human Experience is a comprehensive text that examines, analyzes, and applies theories of humans, environments, and human-environment interaction to professional thinking and action. Through the lens of their original theory – explanatory legitimacy – the authors differentiate descriptive from explanatory theories, and analyze the purposive, epistemological, and value base of theory in six major theoretical domains: longitudinal theories, environmental theories, categorical theories, systems theories, and contemporary and emerging theories.

The authors, Elizabeth DePoy and Stephen French Gilson, professors in the School of Social Work and co-coordinators of Interdisciplinary Disability Studies at the University of Maine, highlight the previously unexamined values and assumptions that underlie theory, its generation, and its use in professional practice. Because they teach human behavior, the authors wanted to write a book that answered two essential questions that they always urge their students to ask: How do you know? And so what? By asking how do you know, they question the evidentiary and logical basis of claims and can then evaluate the efficacy of the knowledge claims. By asking so what, they are implored to determine the worth and application of their knowledge. How do we and should we use what we know to reach our professional goals, aims, and mission?

DePoy and Gilson say that, while there are many excellent texts written for human behavior classes that borrow and apply theories from disciplines such as biology, psychology, economics, public policy, sociology, and other areas, the authors began conversations in 2001 about the need for original social work theory to describe and explain humans and their environments. Explanatory legitimacy, the theory that they apply to the examination of humans and their environments in The Human Experience, was coming together when they wrote Evaluation Practice in 2003, but was not coagulated sufficient for use. They worked on explanatory legitimacy and finally used it to examine disability as diversity, resulting in the publication of Rethinking Disability in 2004. It worked well to tease out descriptive from explanatory theories and to locate categories of human diversity within a value perimeter. But as they were working on these two arenas of social work thinking and practice, they realized that their focus needed to expand to the essential knowledge base of social work, humans, and their environments.

In The Human Experience the authors have used some familiar and some unfamiliar language to categorize and name theory genres. Given their focus on value, pluralistic meanings, and the contemporary understandings that bring us to examine the importance of symbols, they have chosen their words carefully. In order to locate theories within one of these genres, they looked not only at content and scope but at the values that inhere in each. They share these commonalities with readers in the chapter sections that they have named ‘heuristics.’ By heuristics, they mean the central, unchangeable backbone of each of the six genres:

  • Longitudinal theories include those that have been traditionally referred to as developmental theory, life span theory, and so forth. What they wanted to communicate through the term ‘longitudinal’ is the central position of time and the value on time-specific desirables in human behavior, organizational behavior, environmental behavior, and phylogenetic behavior.
  • Environmental theories are those that describe and address the desirable sets of conditions; for humans, organizations, communities, systems, and so forth. They include theories that span the smallest interior aspects within our organic bodies to virtual environments.
  • Categorical theories are those that parse humans into taxonomies on the basis of embodied or exterior characteristics, and value elements such as race, class, gender, ability, ethnicity and culture as primary explanations for the behavior of individuals, families, communities, organizations, and even our globe.
  • They did not change the term ‘systems theories’ because it is viable and accurate, but have expanded their coverage of systems beyond linear systems to discuss complex, chaotic systems that can describe and explain the complex world of the twenty-first century and beyond.
  • And finally, they have posited contemporary and emerging theories, which that delimit by their postmodern flavor, and turn this lens back on their own theory, explanatory legitimacy, to analyze and question its values, symbols, and application.

After critically discussing each genre, positing its heuristics, and visiting with its central theories, they analyze and illustrate how each describes and explains its content domain and can be used to inform professional thinking and action.

The importance of The Human Experience cannot be overestimated. It is a clarion call, an invitation for the allied health professions, and particular­ly for social work, to enter the twenty-first century. The Human Experience takes social theory, makes it accessible and attractive, and points the way to a better way of analyzing human situations, which will lead to a better method of achieving social justice and alleviating suffering. – Tina Passman, Ph.D., M.Dix, associate professor of classical languages and literature and chair of the interdisciplinary Disability Studies Academic Committee, Center for Community Inclusion, University of Maine

DePoy and Gilson present a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis of theory and related assumptions and values that moves theory from the sidelines to its central role in human services practice across the disciplines. The Human Experience is an exceptional text that should be required pre-service reading for all disciplines in the human services – and will surely find its way to the bookshelf of thinking human services professionals everywhere. – Lucille A. Zeph, Ed.D., director and associate professor of education, Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, University of Maine

In this textbook, DePoy and Gilson introduce the social work field to an innovative, postmodernist conceptual approach for understanding human behavior, appearance, and experience. This text will revolutionize the way instructors think about and teach their human behavior courses and will challenge students to examine how values influence which human behaviors are considered legitimate for social work services and which types of professional responses should be provided. The text includes numerous interesting case examples and thinking points, which encourage the students to engage in critical reflection about the material. DePoy and Gilson incorporate recent postmodern thinking in the chapters on emergent and contem­porary approaches to theory, including an inventive section on visual culture. – Elizabeth P. Cramer, Ph.D., associate professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work

The book is aimed at students of social work and all health and human services professionals. The Human Experience will excite readers about theory of humans in context and demonstrate the critical role that theory plays not only in their professional activity but also in every aspect of their private or personal lives. By making the study of theory understandable and even fun, The Human Experience will go a long way toward helping to remove the trepidation about the nature of theory, the difficulty in understanding theory and the skepticism about the relationship between theory and practice. So as readers use theory to understand others in their professional domain, they can remember that theory applies to themselves as well. And maybe after reading this book, readers will come to the understanding that their thinking will always be a work in progress.

Health, Mind & Body / Religion & Spirituality / Alternative Medicine

Hypnotic Use of Waking Dreams: Exploring Near Death Experiences without the Flatlines by Paul W. Schenk, with a foreword by Raymond A. Moody (Crown House Publishing)

Dr. Paul Schenk is a skilled and sensitive therapist who has had the courage – and the kindness – to integrate the spiritual dimension of life into his therapy. ...– from the foreword by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., MD

People who undergo near-death experiences often have profound and life changing experiences. It is as if the whole of their lives has been put into focus and they can see relationships, experiences, and their hopes and dreams in a completely new light.

In Hypnotic Use of Waking Dreams Paul W. Schenk shows readers how they can help clients experience some of the life-changing benefits of a near-death experience without the life-threatening cardiovascular crisis. With full length annotated case transcripts, readers learn how to facilitate the experiences and explore the many other things they can do with hypnotically facilitated waking dreams.

According to Schenk, the therapeutic usefulness of dream interpretation is deeply rooted in psychotherapy. The therapeutic use of waking dreams is independent of both the clinician’s and the client’s beliefs about reincarnation because the dream content can be understood as being just good fiction as it is in classical dream analysis. The Hypnotic Use of Waking Dreams bypasses the controversy associated with past life therapy, i.e., that if reincarnation doesn’t exist, neither can past life therapy. It provides a more traditional approach to understanding and utilizing the kinds of chemical experiences that occur with this interactive approach to hypnotically facilitated dream-like imagery. Shenk, American Society of Clinical Hypnosis approved hypnotherapist in private practice in Atlanta, integrates classic teachings on dream interpretation and trauma treatment with decades of published work on near death experiences. The resulting applications to a variety of presenting clinical problems are demonstrated with extensive case transcripts.

... The book relates case after riveting case of people who, under Dr. Schenk's guidance and with his support, have plumbed parts of themselves that are not normally accessible to awareness. These case studies certainly are page-turners, to say the least. Yet, the deeper message is that abilities lie within all of us and are easier to access than we usually imagine. – from the foreword by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., MD

So why not attempt to create this moment of epiphany but without the imminent danger of losing one's life? Why not use this moment of life change to change one's life? Using a combination of hypnosis and dynamic reverie the author explores these ideas and illustrates their practical use to tackle many presenting problems. The case histories show the scope and possibilities of this method of provoking insight and realisation. – Thomas Connelly D.Hyp. (Distinction) FBSCH, FBAMH, Secretary of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis

This little book is a gem and I cannot imagine any serious psychotherapist, or student of psychotherapy, not needing to read it very carefully in the pursuit of successful psychotherapeutic practice. ... the case studies presented and discussed in this book provide a striking breakthrough for psychoanalytic therapy as a source of mental and spiritual healing and health. – Robert Atmeder, Professor of Philosophy, and The Alan McCullough Distinguished Professor, Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. Author of Beyond Death and Death and Personal Survival

Opens the reader up to the imagery world of waking dreams. A book that will leave you thinking. – Tom Barber, CCTS Senior Tutor
 A major innovative contribution to the spiritual use of psychotherapy. – Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., author of Lessons from the Light

Hypnotic Use of Waking Dreams is not another platitude-filled New Age book about dreams, near-death experiences, or reincarnation. Instead, it is a gripping chronicle of ordinary people's adventures in exploring a vitally important, but mostly subterranean, dimension of the mind. Readers do not have to believe in reincarnation to make use of these tools.

History / Americas / Biographies & Memoirs

America's Presidents: Facts, Photos, and Memorabilia from the Nation's Chief Executives by Chuck Wills (Rutledge Hill Press)

The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands. – Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U.S. President

On September 17, 1787, the delegates of the Constitutional Convention signed into effect the document framing the new nation's government and establishing the U.S. presidency. The founders unanimously selected George Washington as the first person to fill this formidable role, and from that day forward it has been occupied by an extraordinary cast.

Written by Chuck Wills, former editorial director for DK Publishing, Inc., and international and co-editions editor for Rodale Books International, America's Presidents combines images, removable memorabilia, and text to tell the story of all 42 of America's Commanders in Chief from George Washington to George W. Bush. The book covers their personalities, their politics, and their significant contributions.

Readers of America's Presidents will marvel at the presidency's rich legacy as they examine:

  • John Adams's handwritten letter expressing his hopes for future occupants of the White House.
  • An original draft of the Gettysburg Address in Abraham Lincoln's own hand.
  • A ticket to Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial.
  • The 1939 letter from Albert Einstein to Franklin Roosevelt warning the president that Nazi Germany was developing atomic weapons.
  • John F. Kennedy's letter to Nikita Khrushchev concerning removal of missiles from Cuba.
  • Speech notes, campaign posters, executive orders, and more.

America's Presidents shares insight into the personalities and politics of the men who have held the chief executive's office. Colorful images, accessible text, and fascinating interactive documents combine to illuminate the presidents' considerable impact on history. What is remarkable about this book is that one feels one is actually holding letters and other documents when examining the facsimiles in this interactive book.

History / Europe / Military / World War II

The Buchenwald Child: Truth, Fiction, and Propaganda by Bill Niven (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture Series: Camden House)

For its leaders, the German Democratic Republic was founded on the legacy of communist resistance to Nazism. They laid particular emphasis on events at Buchenwald. where communist-led prisoners allegedly threw off the fascist yoke in a heroic act of self-liberation (although in reality they were liberated by the American army). A key strand in the Buchenwald narrative was the tale of the rescue by communist prisoners of a three-year-old Polish, Jewish prisoner, Stefan Jerzy Zweig. His story became a powerful focus for the country's celebration of its antifascist past. Bruno Apitz's novel Naked among Wolves, which describes Zweig's rescue, was published in 1958 and became an immediate bestseller. It was later adapted into a highly successful cinema film, and became a staple of the school curriculum. In 1963, a campaign to find Zweig – by this time a grown man – met with success when he was located in Lyon and offered the chance to study in the GDR.

In The Buchenwald Child Bill Niven, Professor of Contemporary German History at the Nottingham Trent University, U.K., sets out to establish what really happened to Zweig in Buchenwald. How was he protected by adult prisoners, and at what price? (There is evidence that a Sinto boy was sent to Auschwitz in Zweig's place, perhaps as a result of the influence of the communist prisoners, evidence that was suppressed in the GDR.) Stefan Zweig was one of just over 900 children whom American forces liberated at Buchenwald concentration camp on 11 April 1945. Up until that point, his entire short life had been spent in Nazi captivity: born in the Cracow ghetto on 28 January 1941, he survived incarceration in a series of Nazi camps in Poland before being transported to Buchenwald in the late summer of 1944. Without the perseverance, imagination, and resourcefulness of his father, Zacharias, Stefan would never have survived; at Buchenwald, a number of other prisoners, notably communists, were also involved in his rescue.

The Buchenwald Child, for the most part, is about the way the story of this rescue was told in the German Democratic Republic (1949-90); the final chapter considers changes in the telling of the rescue story since 1990. The Buchenwald Child is, therefore, not in first instance a book about the rescue itself. The opening chapter does provide an overview of Zacharias's report of his son's rescue, and it examines other sources that also shed light on the circumstances of that rescue; all later representations need to be measured for their accuracy against these facts. But by and large this is a monograph about the way the rescue of Stefan at Buchenwald was remembered.

What Niven sets out to explore in The Buchenwald Child is the molding of the past in the interests of collective identity in the present. Much recent work on memory takes its cue from Maurice Halbwachs, the French sociologist who developed the idea that the way we remember is a function of social frameworks, which themselves serve to underpin the collective memory of any given group, be this the family, a religious community, or the professional environment in which we work.

Initially, it was the former Buchenwald prisoners themselves who set about developing a cult of memory. The social framework was the male collective of those communist prisoners who had either played their part in the communist underground at Buchenwald or had taken on functions within the camp's SS-imposed ‘self-administration.’ In the immediate postwar period, members of this collective found themselves occupying important political and administrative positions in the Soviet-occupied zone. In the course of 1946 and 1947, however, as a result of rumors that charges might be brought against communist camp functionaries at the Buchenwald trials in Dachau for complicity in SS crimes, the collective came under pressure to justify its conduct, especially when subjected to an internal investigation by the SED (Socialist Unity Party). This led to an essentially defensive program of self-glorification. Former Buchenwald prisoners in East Germany set about exaggerating the extent, effectiveness, and probity of communist resistance at Buchenwald. A narrative of heroic resistance was generated, a narrative that, in confirmation of the theories of Halbwachs, was born of the exigencies of the present.

As chapter 2 demonstrates, between 1955 and 1958 the collective memory of Buchenwald's communist prisoners was transformed into the official memory of the SED. A massive memorial complex was erected on the south-facing slope of the Ettersberg hill near Buchenwald – under the guiding hand of GDR Minister-President Otto Grotewohl. Following the end of hopes of German reunification, the two Germanys seemed implacably pitched against one another. Under such circumstances, it became more important than ever for each German state to seek to legitimize its claim to be the better Germany by laying exclusive claim to positive traditions in German history. For the SED, this resistance narrative was to be understood as expressive of the courage and effectiveness of antifascist resistance as a whole, not as a narrative that singled out the achievements of Buchenwald's communists over those of other antifascists.

The assimilation of the heroic Buchenwald resistance narrative into official memory again confirms Halbwachs's argument that the past is being continually molded to fit the exigencies of the present. A focal point of collective memory of Buchenwald in the GDR was the rescue of Stefan Zweig. The latter half of chapter 2 explores references to the rescue story in eastern Germany/the GDR between 1946 and 1958, references made particularly in exhibitions and documentation about Buchenwald. These references were brief, but they were not without significance. Indeed, the very brevity of early references to Zweig in the GDR enabled an iconic image to be established. The claim that a very young child, the personification of innocence and vulnerability, had survived thanks to antifascist solidarity was simultaneously a claim that the communists at Buchenwald had acted in a truly paternal, altruistic, and courageous manner, and that they had triumphed over death even when it was at its most imminent.

Certainly Bruno Apitz's novel Naked among Wolves (Naekt unter Wolfen), published in mid-1958, was significantly inspired by the story of Zweig's rescue. Chapter 3 examines the genesis of the novel, which began life in 1954 as a proposal for a film. Thanks to Naked among Wolves, the desired view of Buchenwald as a site of heroic resistance, hitherto largely a feature of the collective memory of former Buchenwald prisoners and of ‘official’ memory, established itself in the consciousness of the GDR's population as a whole. That Naked among Wolves was genuinely popular with the GDR's reading public had much to do with its dramatic and sentimental account of a child's rescue from the brutality of the SS. But in the GDR Apitz's fable was popular for another, albeit largely subconscious, reason. GDR readers, in identifying with the image it projected of antifascist solidarity, were able to reimagine themselves as belonging to a victim and resistance collective, and to associate Nazi criminality exclusively with the SS.

Naked among Wolves is a novel, not a documentary report. Chapter 4 begins by examining the process by which its fictional status was nevertheless increasingly disavowed. Chapter 4 argues that the making of the 1963 DEFA film of Naked among Wolves was the result, not just of the wish to popularize Apitz's tale even more, but also of the desire to reinforce its canonical status by underpinning its supposed authenticity. Behind an almost fetishistic concern for authenticity of milieu was the hope that it, in turn, would authenticate the image of resistance the film conveyed. From today's perspective, there adheres to this concern the same defensive overcompensation that characterized the self-glorification of Buchenwald's communist former prisoners in the late 1940s. Was there concern that the GDR public doubted the heroic image of communist resistance, or at least the details of the child's rescue? Niven believes, and demonstrates, that there were such doubts.

Chapter 5 traces the search to find Stefan and the efforts to bring him to the GDR, where he studied and lived between 1964 and 1972. Stefan Zweig's presence in the GDR was framed as the conclusive proof of the absolute effectiveness and humanity of communist resistance as depicted by Apitz. Again and again, his experience of Buchenwald was presented to the GDR public as identical to that of the fictional Stefan Cyliak in Naked among Wolves. This campaign of equivalence could be maintained only by suppressing the full facts of Zweig's rescue. In late 1963, a copy of Zacharias Zweig's own account of Stefan's rescue was made available to the BZ am Abend (among others). Yet rather than publish this account in its entirety, which would have drawn attention to discrepancies between it and Naked among Wolves, BZ am Abend serialized it in truncated form. The lesson of this is that myths, which need to carry his­torical conviction to retain their force, can generally only do this by means of a masquerade of authenticity.

Chapter 6 also shows that, to a limited degree, there developed in the GDR a literary reception of Naked among Wolves. Critical intertextuality, however, never seriously perturbed the canonical status in the GDR of Apitz's novel and its image of communist resistance. This changed radically with the fall of the Wall, and particularly with German unification. As chapter 6 demonstrates, the typical view in united Germany is that Buchenwald's communists, far from being heroes, were utterly complicit in the SS system. Transport lists demonstrating that a Sinto boy was sent to Auschwitz in place of Stefan – probably as a result of the intervention of communist prisoners – can now be seen at the Buchenwald Memorial Site.

The post-1990 period, as chapter 6 shows, has seen a complete deconstruction of the GDR's version of Zweig's rescue. A story about rescue has become a story about protection at the cost of another boy's life, so effectively a story about death, even murder. It has become a story about similarities between fascist and communist ideologies and practices, overlooking the rather obvious fact that communists at Buchenwald were prisoners – however privileged in relative terms the position of some of them, and however dubious their role in the camp's self-administration. The result is that the deconstruction of a GDR myth has gone hand in hand with a remythification. For the post-1990 view of communist resistance at Buchenwald and of Zweig's rescue is in some respects as distorted as the GDR view it has ousted. In the concluding part of chapter 6, Niven also con­siders the effect of the ongoing deployment of the Zweig rescue story on Zweig himself. In 2005, just after Niven had submitted what he thought would be the final typescript of the current book, Zweig's own book, Tears Alone Are Not Enough (Tranen allein genügen nicht), appeared in print. In a brief epilogue, Niven considers its content and arguments. It is, in many respects, a Holocaust survivor's angry riposte to decades of exploitation.

In this perceptive, insightful study, Bill Niven does much to illuminate how history, memory, and politics intersected in the German Democratic Republic. Niven brilliantly shows how tales of Communist resistance in the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald became key parts of a foundational narrative of antifascism in East Germany and how that narrative quickly disintegrated after German unification in the 1990s. He powerfully demonstrates how modern states use and abuse the past in ways that translate history into myth. Drawing on archival sources, oral histories, film, and literary texts, The Buchenwald Child is a wonderful example of interdisciplinary scholarship at its best. – Robert G. Moeller, University of California. Irvine, author of War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany

Insightful and provocative, The Buchenwald Child shows how the Bunchenwald Child myth was constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed to fit the changes in politics and culture in post-World War II Germany. The book explores how collective memory is constructed and converted into myth.

History / World War II / Biographies & Memoirs

My Father's Secret War: A Memoir by Lucinda Franks (Miramax)

My Father's Secret War is a well-known reporter's account of her investigation into her father's past as she reconnects with him after decades of estrangement.

When she was a young girl, Lucinda Frank's father was a revered figure. He was tall and handsome, with courtly manners, given to outrageous compliments. He was an avid lepidopterist whose butterfly collection is now with New York's Museum of Natural History. He watched the stars in the night sky cheek-to-cheek with Lucinda and named the constellations. He cared for his wife, tenderly, in the final months of her battle with cancer and helped preserve her dignity even in the last stages. He was a big-hearted defender of the oppressed and the powerless, a blue-blooded New Englander who was vehemently anti-anti-Semitic.

But Tom Franks was also a troubled man. He was an alcoholic; a failure in his profession; a philanderer; and a frightening figure who verbally raged at his wife until Lucinda clung about his waist begging him to stop. He appeared to be a paranoiac who obsessively collected handguns, stowed them throughout the house (under Lucinda's mattress, under his own mattress, on the bookshelf, beneath the kitchen sink, in the hall closet under a hat) and loaded them with bullets he molded in the basement. He was distant, cold, and abstract, a veteran of World War II who evaded any real discussion of the war: what he had done in it and what it had done to him.

As she grew from a little girl into a young adult, Lucinda came to reject her father – as she felt he was rejecting her. She fled the family and forged a life for herself that didn't include him. And though she would become a success – a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, mother of two bright kids, wife of the district attorney of New York County – she was never able to forgive him for destroying her childhood dream of family happiness. She yearned to find out who the silent, stoical, emotionally inaccessible man she once admired really was.

Franks grows to understand her father as the disease claims him. As he becomes increasingly unable to care for himself in later years, Franks uses her journalistic expertise to uncover the secret details of her father's experience as a young Navy lieutenant. To her surprise, she learns that the reserved man she grew up with had, in fact, been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War It.

My Father's Secret War begins in the present, with a shocking discovery. Lucinda, duty-bound to help pick up the pieces after her father is evicted from his home, finds a hidden cache of war memorabilia. In it is foreign currency from around Europe, false identification cards, photo negatives of blurry military targets, and most disturbingly, a Nazi SS officer's cap with a swastika and skull-and-crossbones insignia. Tom refuses to discuss these things. But Lucinda's reporter's instincts are roused – what had her father done in the war? Who had he had been? What is he hiding?

Franks employs every reporter's trick she has to get him to break his oath of silence and finally chip away his facade. Ultimately she discovers that Tom Franks had been a hero with the American military. He was among the first wave of soldiers to arrive at the Ohrdruf concentration camp, a satellite of the Buchenwald death camp and the first concentration camp liberated by the Allies. He worked undercover as an SS officer, a fisherman, and a dockworker; he trained resistance fighters in the arts of defense, interrogation, and even assassination; he fought in the major battles of the Pacific Theater; he took part in military operations with names like Operation Moonshine, Overcast, and Paperclip; he witnessed horrible atrocities, such as Japanese soldiers using live prisoners for bayonet practice, and was ordered to commit as many horrors as he had seen.

As Franks learns the truth of her father's past, her admiration and respect for him – so long buried as to seem dead – reemerges. She learns to love her father, and by extension herself; everything he had accomplished becomes hers, awakening in her a confidence and spirituality she had never before possessed. Franks discovers that the spirit of the real Tom Franks was killed by the war.

Lucinda Franks' personal quest to learn more about 'her father's secret war' is a moving suspense story, brilliantly written and suffused with sensitivity and yearning. – Elie Wiesel

Here is one of the most original memoirs of our time – an unsparing double portrait of an elusive and mysterious man and the daughter determined to learn the fullest truth about his life. Richly documented by the author's research into U.S. military intelligence records and her father's private correspondence, My Father's Secret War moves with the dramatic and moral urgency of a Graham Greene novel. – Joyce Carol Oates

Beautifully written, packed with raw emotion, deep affection, and newfound, unexpected respect for a man his daughter hardly knew until it was almost too late. – Booklist

Perhaps it is the experience of the newspaperwoman, the mercilessly objective journalist, that supplies the strength for this honesty, this bold integrity.... At the same time she achieves a novelist's tenderness, a novelist's suspense, a novelist's art. The father's portrait is indelible.... My Father's Secret War opens every gate, every valve of the heart, and lets us in – into history, into hurt, into dismay and out again, and finally into transcendent love. – Cynthia Ozick

My Father's Secret War tells the story of a devoted daughter's search to understand a father broken and drained by the Second World War – a father who at the same time attracts, repels, and obsesses her. Lucinda Franks' memoir is a fascinating combination of sensitivity, suspense, and mystery told against the Nazi nightmare. – Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Sensitive, affecting . . . Franks earnestly and perceptively confronts real emotional situations. – Publishers Weekly

Meticulously researched, My Father's Secret War is a stunning and unforgettable memoir, a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family. A masterpiece of pacing and suspense, and brightened by incandescent prose, the book is both a page-turning account of long-buried secrets finally coming to light, and a paean to the alchemy of love – how the deep, abiding connection between a child and parent can transform misunderstanding and regret into intimacy and hope, pain into peace, and loss into rebirth.

Home & Garden / Crafts & Hobbies

Bead Love: Simply Fabulous Jewelry with Big Beautiful Beads by Jane La Ferla (Lark Books)

Jewelry featuring big, beautiful beads is one of today's hottest fashion accessories. According to Bead Love, a selection of the Crafters Choice Book Club, jewelry strung with large beads made of natural materials such as wood are in style, and a beribboned bracelet is a great example of why this trend is so popular.

For the true aficionado, nothing is more exciting than a one-of-a-kind, beautiful bead – be it a wooden bead or a cut gemstone. But what can obsessed beaders do with all those collectables that never fail to catch the eye?

They can make the spectacular pieces of jewelry shown in Bead Love, which showcases the most exquisite beads available. Newcomers can achieve success, thanks to a basics section with enough hand-holding for the most intimidated beginners. The instructions given in the book cover it all, from fashioning a simple ear wire to enlarging the bead’s hole. The book begins with an introductory reference to the tools, materials, and techniques readers will need to make the projects that follow. Then readers learn how to create a lariat with one large, stunning bead on each end. They learn to coil silver wire around a purchased chain, and add carved wooden beads. They also learn to loop candy-colored resin beads onto stretchy elastic cords for bold, slip-on bangles.

The projects are selected to stimulate imagination and creativity – on one necklace, a chunky branch of red coral which resembles a chili pepper adds visual spice. The coral is strung off­center – an unexpected twist. Readers also find an elegant choker with a playful side. What makes it fun is the way viewers’ eyes move rhythmically over a series of dangling turquoise orbs. While the design looks fresh and spontaneous, the layout of the dangles is choreographed to ensure that the turquoise orbs remain the principal dancers. In another project, vintage glass flowers and leaves in soft colors offset oversized faceted briolette drops on a pair of earrings. These earrings evoke the appearance of spring flowers spilling gracefully from a garden basket.

The projects in Bead Love give crafters 40 reasons to express their passion for beads – from glistening gemstones to flame-worked glass orbs. The book makes it easy to make a fashion statement with jewelry crafted with today's popular larger beads, from iridescent dichroic glass segments to opulent gemstones. Whichever look readers like – retro, boho, traditional, contemporary – they will find gorgeous necklaces, bracelets, and earrings – pieces that will give the crafter’s wardrobe a touch of elegance and casual sophistication.

Literature & Fiction

Then We Came to the End: A Novel by Joshua Ferris (Little Brown and Company)

No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris depicts in his debut novel Then We Came to the End is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.

Among the coworkers fighting for their jobs and their precious perks: Tom Mota, recently divorced and inexplicably wearing three company polo shirts, one on top of the other, every day; Joe Pope, a workaholic and perpetual victim of office sabotage; Carl Garbedian, whose unchecked depression has led him to ‘borrow’ Janine Gorjanc's medication and black out his windows; Chris Yop, suspected of stealing Tom Mota's chair; and Marcia Dwyer, with whom Benny Shassburger is in love, despite her mean streak and badly dated haircut. As one colleague after another is laid off, everyone strikes their best business-as-usual pose, pretending to make headway on the mysterious pro bono ad campaign that is their only remaining ‘work.’ Meanwhile tempers flare, office furniture disappears, and the survivors parse their bosses' decisions in ever-more­paranoid sessions at the nearest bar.

A wildly original, totally off-the-wall, all-around wonderful first novel Then We Came to the End moves only briefly beyond the confines of the workplace but encompasses a whole world of feeling. Laugh? It almost made me wish I had a job. – Geoff Dyer, author of Out of Sheer Rage and But Beautiful

A hilarious and knowing evisceration of the hopes, dreams, and grim realities of cubicle life, penned with a witty DeVriesian sharpness, Then We Came to the End is a brilliant debut. – Katharine Weber, author of Triangle and The Music Lesson

In this wildly funny debut from former ad man Ferris, a group of copywriters and designers at a Chicago ad agency face layoffs at the end of the '90s boom. …Ferris has the downward-spiraling office down cold, and his use of the narrative ‘we’ brilliantly conveys the collective fear, pettiness, idiocy and also humanity of high-level office drones as anxiety rises to a fever pitch. Only once does Ferris shift from the first person plural (for an extended fugue on Lynn's realization that she may be ill), and the perspective feels natural throughout. At once delightfully freakish and entirely credible, Ferris's cast makes a real impression. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Then We Came to the End is a wickedly funny, big-hearted novel about life in the office, and it signals the arrival of a talented new writer. With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environment – the one we pretend is normal five days a week.

Home & Garden / Reference

How to Propagate: Techniques and Tips for Over 1000 Plants by John Cushnie (Ball Publishing)

Almost all modern home gardeners run to a nursery at the start of every new growing season and stock up on perennials, maple saplings, and shrubs. Or, if home gardeners are planning something on a grander scale, they often rely on landscape contractors to tell them what to do and to supply the plants – but they don't have to.

Propagating one’s own plants is far from a difficult gardening feat, and it can be an exhilarating gardening accomplishment. According to the author John Cushnie, propagating one’s own plants is also enormous fun. There is a great sense of satisfaction to be gained when something that is notoriously difficult to root starts to grow. Who knows, when growing from seed, readers may produce a brand new variety and end up having a plant named after them!

The propagation techniques explained in How to Propagate make it easy to propagate many common plants. With step-by-step instructions and photographs, Cushnie explains how to sow seed, take cuttings, divide, layer and graft. Detailed information on plant hygiene, temperature, humidity and timing, and the care of newborn plants up to planting time round out budding propagators’ knowledge, and get them started on the road to home-grown success.

Cushnie has been propagating plants for more than 40 years, and is the author of Gardener's Question Time and Trees for the Yard and Garden. He is the presenter of BBC-TV's The Greenmount Garden and writes for the Daily Telegraph, Interior, Living, and Gardener's World. Some of the techniques he teaches are almost foolproof, even for complete beginners; others are a bit trickier, but all are readily achievable for amateur gardeners prepared to give it a try, accept the occasional failure, and revel in the triumphs.

With a directory of over 1,000 plants, explaining which method is most likely to succeed in each case, How to Propagate is a long overdue bible on propagation that will be indispensable to beginners and committed enthusiasts alike. The book gives clear, detailed instructions accompanied by plenty of photographs, for all the methods of propagation that home gardeners are likely to want to use. But there is a real danger – like a lot of other gardeners, some readers may become obsessed with propagation and want to do it all the time.

Home & Garden / Reference

Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest by George Oxford Miller (Voyageur Press)

Gardeners use native plants for many reasons. In addition to providing year-round beauty with relatively little maintenance, landscaping with native plants contributes to the repair of the natural ecosystem and brings us closer to the environment. As the world heats up and we become more conscious of our place in the natural scheme, the appeal of the native plants of the Southwest becomes more compelling for gardeners.

The array of native plant material available to the Southwestern gardener is diverse and spectacular, providing seemingly endless opportunities for creative and attractive landscapes. With such a diverse and spectacular array of native plant material available to gardeners in Arizona and New Mexico, the opportunities for creative and attractive landscapes are seemingly endless.

In Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest, environmental photojournalist writer and third-generation nurseryman, George Oxford Miller offers a guide to choosing the best of the best among the native plants of Arizona and New Mexico. Covering wildflowers, shrubs, trees, vines, cacti, and groundcovers, this comprehensive, richly illustrated book selects the species that combine ornamental qualities, growth habit, adaptability, low maintenance, and beauty for the highest landscape value. The illustrations, maps, and charts provide guidelines for species selection and planting, ongoing maintenance, landscape design, and water and energy conservation. In-depth plant profiles describe the habitat requirements for more than 350 native plant species, subspecies, and varieties, with photographs illustrating how each plant looks and responds to landscape conditions.

Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest assumes four premises. First, landscaping increases property values and aesthetic appeal and can decrease monthly utility expenses. Second, indigenous plants are superior to most imported species for landscaping because natives are naturally adapted to the region's climate and soil. Third, and most important, landscaping with plants from one’s native area helps repair the environment. Human development can be expected to alter the countryside from its natural state, but it doesn't have to eradicate the biological heritage of our native plants and animals. We can all do our part by replacing some of the plants removed to build our houses, streets, and businesses. Lastly, by drawing on the rich native plant life of the Southwest, we can create stunning garden designs that appeal to all the senses and offer a peaceful retreat in our own backyards.

According to Miller, the botanical diversity of the Southwest encompasses mile-high mesas, foothills, mountains with snow-capped peaks, conifer forests, alpine meadows, canyon lands, and all four North American deserts. That a plant is native to Arizona or New Mexico, however, does not imply that it can be planted anywhere within the region. Each of the fifteen (or more) major vegetative provinces recognized by botanists has a unique community of plants adapted to its specific soil and climatic conditions. For the purposes of landscape applications, Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest divides the Southwest into seven landscape zones, depending on the temperature variations, frost-free days, moisture, and altitude gradients.

Many of the thousands of native plants growing in the region have characteristics that will enhance their landscapes with attractive foliage, flowers, fruit, or bark throughout the year. Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest describes the trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, groundcovers, and cacti with exceptional landscape merit. Miller favors plants with a wide landscape range over those with very specific or demanding habitat requirements, though some exceptional specialties are included. The "Native Plant Profiles" describe each species and variety in detail, including each plant's range; specific soil, moisture, and shade requirements; temperature tolerance; size, shape, and suitable landscaping uses; and flower, foliage, and fruit characteristics. Photographs of the selected species helps homeowners, nursery workers, and landscapers decide which plants can best suit their needs.

Before going out and buying new plants, however, gardeners must first come to understand their own landscape and the requirements of establishing a garden using native plants. The maps and listing of Southwest landscape zones in Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest helps readers identify the rainfall and temperature variation within their area. The individual chapters address the issues of landscape maintenance, landscaping to attract wildlife, and landscaping for energy and water conservation, including xeriscaping with drought-tolerant species, with listings of appropriate plants for each situation. The appendices at the back of the book offer suggestions of plants for specific landscape needs. Separate listings itemize evergreen plants and tell readers how to colors cape for year-round beauty with flowering trees and shrubs.

This is a comprehensive and definitive guide – Landscaping with Native Plants of the Southwest helps readers analyze their yards and decide which plants best match their specific habitats. As the interest in native-plant landscaping and xeriscaping continues to grow, this reference volume, complete with stunning photographs, will find a place on the shelf of every gardener and landscaper in the region – or of anybody interested in recreating the beauty of the Southwest in a hot, dry corner of the yard.

Literature & Fiction / History & Criticism / World Literature

Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature: Studies in Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, and Donne by Murray Roston (Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies Series: Duquesne University Press)

Deconstructionist critics have argued that literary works contain conflicting or contradictory meanings, thus creating an aporia, or impasse, that prevents readers from interpreting the work. In Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature, however, Murray Roston, professor of English at Bar-Ilan University and per­manent adjunct professor of English at UCLA, offers detailed and essentially new analyses of works by Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson, and Donne, arguing that the seemingly contradictory presence of traditional and subversive elements in their major works actually creates the source of much of their literary achievement.

The chapters in Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature explore The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, The Faerie Queene, Volpone, and the Meditations of John Donne, highlighting the creative tension between centripetal and centrifugal factors (borrowing Bakhtin's terms). As Roston demonstrates, this tension exists in a variety of genres, including poetry, epic, and drama.

The tension between tradition and subversion, both linguistic and cultural, then, can be seen to produce not aporia in any negative sense, but a positive complexity of response from the audience, animating and profoundly enriching each work. In The Merchant of Venice, for example, Shakespeare merges the previously despised figure of the merchant with a Christ-like figure, brilliantly reasserting the Christian condemnation of profiteering while simultaneously advocating its seeming opposite, a validation of the burgeoning mercantile activity of the Renaissance.

As Roston explains, postmodernist criticism, by acknowledging the arbitrary quality of language and the diacritical nature of sign or word, has led to the view that all literary works contain insoluble disparities entailing ultimately irreconcilable readings. The application of Bakhtin's theory to those literary genres that he excluded from it – poetry, drama, and epic – constitutes a challenge to the deconstructionists' view of aporia, suggesting that the conflict of text and subtext that they have come to regard as negating any possibility of coherent interpretation needs to be seen as a positive feature, a complexity of response, animating, profoundly enriching, and, at times, forming the motive force of each work. Such is the theme coordinating the chapters in Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature, an exploration of the creative tension between centripetal and centrifugal factors, between tradition and subversion, in the variegated genres, as well as from a further genre that might, because of its doctrinal affiliation, be thought exempt from such inner conflict, namely, religious prose which, he acknowledges, might be thought to be exempt from such inner conflict because of its doctrinal and theological focus.

Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature is a thoughtful study, rich in both historical scholarship and in its survey of modern criticism. Even those who are quite familiar with the texts discussed in the book will find Roston's focus on the tension between maintaining the expectations of the culture and pulling toward new ideas an illuminating way to freshly consider these literary works.

Outdoors & Nature / Hunting & Fishing / Crafts & Hobbies

Mastering the Art of Fly Tying: Complete Instructions for 160 Freshwater Flies from Simple to Complex by G. Randolph Erskine (Ragged Mountain Press)

…In the late 1920s, my father introduced me to fly-fishing on the Housatonic and Salmon Rivers in Connecticut. After I lost a number of his flies, he introduced me to his friend and fly supplier, Len Comstock. Len offered not flies but lessons in how to tie them. I gladly agreed to take the lessons, and received an old, blacksmith-made vise; some tools; thread, beeswax, hooks, pieces of bucktail, tinsel, and other materials; and three or four lessons. My first efforts were not beautiful, but they caught fish. College, law school, and marriage thereafter reduced my fishing time, but I still tied a few flies from time to time….I showed my creations to several stores that sold flies as a sideline and got some small orders to support my hobby. Soon, however, cheap foreign flies closed these markets to my high-priced flies, and I started tying only for my own use. …

In the 1970s, Cook, Newton & Smith's successor decided to revive the old optic bucktail line of flies based on the original framed sample panel. …During one winter I duplicated all of the patterns in the sample panel, in several sizes, and determined that I would not make a living, much less a fortune, as a professional flytier. I did, however, learn a number of useful production methods and developed considerable skill in thread control and in producing painted eyes, plus I bought a canoe with the proceeds from that one order.

For several years I taught both basic fly tying and an advanced course in tying flies that have spun/cut-and-folded hair bodies for the local adult education program.…Originally, I prepared flies for my students to copy, demonstrated tying the fly, and then coached them as they tied their own copy. Over time I prepared detailed written instructions instead, which students used independently – without my usual demonstration or coaching – to produce new flies with ease. They commented that the instructions were too good to merely go into their files and should instead be made into a book and shared with other flytiers. …– from the Preface

In Mastering the Art of Fly Tying, one of the world’s most experienced fly-tying instructors reveals that the secret to fly tying is not learning to tie each fly individually, but mastering and building upon the necessary skills and techniques. The 160 flies in this guide are organized from simple to complex, rather than by type of fly as in other books.

Veteran fly-tier G. Randolph Erskine presents patterns grouped by type. He teaches the essential skills in logical order, starting with the simplest beginner's fly and progressing to spectacular, full-dress, feather-wing salmon flies. Readers gain skills and confidence with each new fly they tie and build an exceptional collection of flies as they go. With Mastering the Art of Fly Tying, readers learn:

  • Tools and materials they need and how to obtain them.
  • Basic skills such as dubbing, spinning and trimming hair, whip-finishing, wing burning, and doubling the hackle.
  • Critical measurements for each pattern – information often left out of other fly-tying books.
  • Classic dry and wet flies, caddis and mayflies, nymphs, emergers, stillborns, bucktails/streamers, midges, terrestrials, salmon flies, and more – 160  freshwater files in all.

Erskine learned to tie flies as a Boy Scout in the late 1920s and spent almost 80 years perfecting his art. He was a professional fly-tier in the 1970s and taught fly-tying classes for 30 years, gave demonstrations at sports shows, and shared his many decades of expertise with a never-ending succession of grateful apprentices. Erskine also wrote Fly of the Month columns for the Housatonic Fly Fisherman's Association. He died in 2006 after finishing the final edit for Mastering the Art of Fly Tying.

According to Erskine, there is no need for readers to reinvent the wheel or make mistakes for want of detailed instructions. By following the instructions in Mastering the Art of Fly Tying, readers develop a good understanding of the many phases of fly tying. They can then go on tying happily or, if they are so inclined, perfect new and better methods or designs for flies.

Mastering the Art of Fly Tying is a stunningly photographed and comprehensive manual carefully detailing for readers how to tie 160 flies. www.SirReadaLot.org   reviews the book here in the hopes that fly tying may enrich readers’ lives as it obviously has that of Erskine’s.

Politics / Biographies & Memoirs

The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President's Life after the White House by R. Emmett Tyrrell (Thomas Nelson)

The American Spectator founder and editor in chief offers an investigative look into a former president's life in The Clinton Crack-Up. According to R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., "No president since Harding has left the White House with such a tattered, tawdry legacy. Yet, Clinton has repristinated himself. In this book, I believe I satisfactorily explain how and why. As a journalist I am proud to say that I am one of the few who have remained blameless."

According to Tyrrell, Bill Clinton is the boy president that never grew up, the high-school jock of America's political locker room – complete with fawning co-eds and a bully's cocksure posture. But as the New York Times best-selling author maintains, behind the facade is a disaster of a man – undisciplined, unbalanced, and unscrupulous.

As a nationally syndicated columnist, Tyrrell led the charge in breaking the stories of the Clinton scandals. From ‘Troopergate’ to ‘Travelgate’ to ‘Filegate’ and on to the more arcane aspects of Whitewater, his work and his magazine kept the drumbeat beating. Then came Monica and impeachment. And in Clinton's last days came ‘Pardongate’ and the trashing of the White House, both the consequence of the earlier scandals. The Clintons left the White House for their post-White House lives, and as Tyrrell reveals in The Clinton Crack-Up, he followed them like a sleuth.

Tyrrell lays out the story of Clinton's post-presidential lifestyle, including his bouts with emotional distress, his endless globe trotting, his dubious foreign contacts, his role in Hillary's presidential run, and her apprehensions about ‘the nightlife’. In this chronicle of the Clinton retirement, readers observe Clinton exploiting his former office. They learn how he revived his political career, adapting it toward advancing Hillary toward residency once again at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Tyrrell makes the case that Hillary's presidential prospects are a direct consequence of Clinton's restless retirement.

Tyrrell follows the former president's trail from Washington to Harlem, from Chappaqua to Hong Kong, from his double-wide presidential library with the penthouse on top in Little Rock to the money changers' dens of Dubai. Readers of The Clinton Crack-Up glimpse Clinton contending with the shadows that continue to weigh heavily on his mind, and learn of the loneliness that stalks him now in retirement as he contends with his legacy, according to Tyrell, ruined. Tyrrell describes a Clinton rarely reported: easily distracted, easily seduced, a prodigal child of the Sixties as prone to squander his potential as an elder statesman as he was while ensconced in the West Wing.

The Clinton Crack-Up also contains Appendices detailing the crimes of those Clinton pardoned and the venues of his public appearances complete with dollar amounts received.

Told in his signature ribald style, Tyrrell in The Clinton Crack-Up takes a look at the post-presidency of Clinton, his legacy, and his future in American politics – including his backdoor chance at returning to the White House in 2008. With his characteristic investigative eye and Menckenesque prose, Tyrrell focuses a magnifying glass on Clinton's emotional depression, globe trotting and international deal-making, ongoing womanizing, and all else he takes a mind to.

Professional & Technical / Criminology / Law

Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice by Christopher R. Williams & Bruce A. Arrigo (Prentice Hall)

Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice offers an introduction to the convergence of ethics and morality with issues of crime, law, and justice. Placing an emphasis on the concepts, principles and theories that comprise ethical thought, the book demonstrates how these concepts can be used to examine ethical issues within the field. According to authors, Christopher R. Williams, associate professor of criminology at the University of West Georgia and Bruce A. Arrigo, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, critical thinking and reasoning skills are central, as is its discussion of meta-ethics and moral psychology. Case studies and illustrations provide practical examples, while coverage of theory emphasizes how the ethics field can inform our understanding of moral issues in criminal justice.

Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice discusses the concepts that represent ethical thought and how they can inform our understanding of moral issues in criminal justice and guide our thoughts, choices, conduct and decisions. It links the issues to the broader study of ethics and morality and shows how sound reflection and reasoned decisions can resolve ethical dilemmas. It discusses how concepts such as free will and determinism, relativism, self-interest, moral motivation and development are critical to understanding issues and controversies in criminal justice such as lawmaking, criminal punishment, and unethical professional behavior. The case studies highlight people and events from the world of crime, law and justice. Ample illustrations, examples, and counterexamples throughout the text to clarify concepts, ideas, and applications of concepts and ideas.

Features of Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice include:

  • Emphasis on reasoning and critical thinking skills.
  • Examination of practical issues and/or controversies relevant to careers in criminal justice, the ‘helping’ professions, and justice studies.
  • Lists of key terms and concepts.
  • Questions for review and discussion.
  • Lists of further suggested readings.

Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice consists of eleven substantive chapters organized into three sections. In each of the three sections, a fundamental domain of inquiry within ethics is explored, and in each chapter a substantive issue within that domain is reviewed. Wherever relevant, practical illustrations and useful examples drawn from the field of criminology and criminal justice are strategically located throughout each chapter.

Part I of the text is entitled "An Invitation to Ethics." It contains two chapters. The commentary here introduces students to the field of ethics by emphasizing its value, subject, and scope, particularly in light of criminal justice concerns. Chapter 1 explains the role and importance of morality and the value of ethical inquiry, both within and outside of the criminal justice context. Highlighting several key problems with laws and codes of conduct, the need for morality and ethical inquiry for criminal justice practitioners and non-practitioners alike is discussed. Specific concerns impacting the three main ‘spheres’ of criminal justice (laws and lawmaking, social justice, and criminal justice practice) are described and the special moral requirements placed on professionals within the system of criminal justice are reviewed. In Chapter 2, a more thorough introduction to the field of ethics is provided. Focusing on the importance of choice-making, readers are encouraged to reflect upon their responsibility for making ethically responsible decisions. With this in mind, the role that values play in the choices that we make is considered. Chapter 2 concludes with a brief introduction to the three primary categories of ethical inquiry (meta-, normative, and applied), as well as to the domains of normative ethical inquiry (character, intentions, actions, and consequences).

Part II of Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice is entitled "Meta-ethics and Moral Psychology." Several crucial meta-ethical concerns that inform issues of crime, law, and justice are examined. When most people think of ethics, they consider its normative domain. There are a number of important assumptions and concerns about human nature and social conduct that must be addressed before doing any meaningful thinking about what we should do and how we should live – questions about: (1) human freedom and the determination of human behavior; (2) the relativity of moral values and the possibility of moral objectivity and universality; (3) the degree to which self-interest necessarily informs our decisions; (4) the age-old question of why we should be moral, and (5) the psychological question of how morality develops. The first three – freedom, relativity, and self-interest – can be thought of as obstacles or challenges to thinking and decision-making in ethics. As such, Chapters 3, 4, and 5 examine these challenges and their relevance, especially in relation to criminal justice. The latter two – moral motivation and moral development – are often categorized as themes originating from moral psychology. Concluding Part II of Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice, Chapters 6 and 7 discuss the psychological dimensions of ethics and morality.

Part III is entitled "Normative Ethics: Theory and Application." This section investigates the normative domain of ethical decision-making. As the chapters in this portion of the book make clear, normative ethics attempts to formulate guidelines, standards, and/or principles of right and wrong, good and evil, and to provide answers to questions such as, "What should I do?" and "How should I be?" These ‘theories’ or frameworks, function as ‘tools’ with which to assess various types of policy- and practice-based concerns in criminal justice, ideally yielding both reasoned judgments and informed solutions.

Typically, normative ethics is broken down into three basic frameworks. These frameworks consist of consequentialism, deontology, and virtue-based ethics. Part III of Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice dedicates a full chapter to each of these perspectives. The objective over the course of these three chapters is to explore the merits of weighing consequences, duties, and character when faced with moral issues and ethical dilemmas. Chapter 8 examines the importance of considering the effects – the likely benefits and costs – of our decisions and actions. Chapter 9 explores those perspectives that place less emphasis on the consequences of our actions and, instead, focuses on whether our actions themselves conform to relevant duties, principles, and obligations. Chapter 10 addresses the importance of developing good moral character and a healthy sense of integrity. Relevant illustrations from law, crime, and justice are utilized to help demonstrate how these philosophical ideas and topics routinely operate within the discipline of criminal justice.

The authors believe that what is most important may be the degree to which the theoretical frameworks offered by normative ethics represent useful templates for critical reflection and decision-making on matters of morality. To this extent, the chapters that comprise Part III offer students and professionals a number of essential ‘tools’ to interpret their everyday experiences and to direct their work-related practices in ways that are consistent with ethically sensible decision-making and conduct.

The final chapter of Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice may serve as a guide to thinking about ethics and for living a virtuous life. Chapter 11 showcases a range of fundamental ideas about reasoning, thinking, and judgment that foster careful reflection on moral beliefs and values. These ideas can assist students and practitioners when making moral choices about complex crime and justice problems. Readers are exposed to a number of points and directives about how to engage in sound reasoning and critical thinking, particularly as they respond to situational dilemmas in criminal justice as well as in their personal and professional lives. Chapter 11 provides direction not only in how to pursue and maintain thought, choice, and conduct that is ethical, it outlines a workable series of strategies for how to live virtuously and bring about justice in one's own life, those of others, and in society.

Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice is a clearly written and theoretically sophisticated introduction to ethical thinking for people interested in crime and criminal justice. Its hallmark is comprehensiveness and integration: Ethics is presented in rich detail covering basic approaches, central principles, and skills of critical thinking about moral problems. Criminal justice is considered across its whole breadth from lawmaking to enforcement and punishment. This is one of those rare books that will be equally at home in courses on moral philosophy and in courses on law, criminology, and criminal justice policy. – Jeffrey Reiman, American University, Washington, DC

Ethics, Crime and Criminal Justice explores, in an accessible, stimulating, and practical way, a range of value-based concepts and perspectives designed to familiarize students with their importance both within the complex world of crime and justice and outside of it. It provides a comprehensive overview of ethical concepts, principles, and theories and their relevance to crime, law, and criminal justice and, perhaps most importantly, equips readers with critical thinking tools that can be used repeatedly with moral and ethical concerns that arise within the field. The book is intended for law enforcement professionals.
 
Professional & Technical / Social Science / Education / Law

Coming to Critical Engagement: An Autoethnographic Exploration by Frank A. Fear, Cheryl L. Rosaen, Richard J. Bawden, & Pennie G. Foster-Fishman (University Press of America, Inc.)

Engagement is the label increasingly embraced by higher education to describe activities associated with serving the public interest. What had been viewed previously as service to, extension of, and outreach from is now engagement with as faculty members, students, and staff collaborate with partners in community affairs.

Coming to Critical Engagement describes how members of a faculty learning community have come to understand engagement as both intellectual endeavor and scholarly practice at the interface between academy and citizenry. The book argues that the academic community has a moral imperative to participate deliberately and consistently in democratic and systemic discourse with the public. Coming to Critical Engagement makes explicit the authors' frame of reference in their engagement work and presents examples of their engagements. They are all at Michigan State University: Frank A. Fear is Professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies; Cheryl L. Rosaen is Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education; Richard J. Bawden is Distinguished Visiting Professor; and Pennie G. Foster-Fishman is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. The authors say that any academic book is the tangible outcome of scholarly inquiry; the last step in the process of what has been ‘discovered’ and created, and is judged to be worth sharing. The production of text is sometimes little more than a reporting process. At other times, it is much more than that. This is one of those ‘other times.’

According to the authors, writing Coming to Critical Engagement was an inextricable feature of inquiry, serving both as a filter for understanding and as a vehicle for stimulating more ideas, more dialogue, more experimentation, and more writing. Over time, it became clear to the authors that the medium was indeed the message, and that this book would be an expression of engagement, not simply a document about it. They wrote; read what they wrote; talked about the writing; reflected on its transformative powers; and then wrote some more. All the while, the rest of their professional lives swirled through and across the writing project. They brought to their conversations what they were experiencing in the field and, likewise, they took learning from their conversations back out into the field.

Chapters in Coming to Critical Engagement include:

Part I – A Frame of Reference

  • Finding Our Voice: Locating Our Place
  • Stories of Critical Engagement
  • Living Our Way into a New Way of Thinking: An Exploration of Mindful Inquiry
  • Have We Ever Been Critically Engaged?

Part II – Digging into Engagement

  • Learning Through Discourse
  • From Building Connections to Developing Social Capital to Leverage Change
  • Co-Empowerment and Working toward Betterment
  • Critical Engagement, Transformation, and Development

Part III – Making Sense of It All

  • Coming to Critical Engagement: Personal Implications
  • Coming to Critical Engagement: Intellectual Implications

Coming to Critical Engagement was conceived and written together. It is a co-authored book, not an edited volume. By characterizing engagement as process, text, and stance, the authors came to understand engagement as opportunities to share their knowledge and learn with those who struggle for social justice; and to collaborate with them respectfully and responsibly for the purpose of improving life.

The authors began by devoting three months meeting once a week – to reading and discussing literature selections suggested by group members. The ambiance was seminar-like in nature – seeking to understand, raising questions of clarification, and pinpointing perceived areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Through disciplined conversation – primarily by analyzing the literature and their field experiences – they began generating insights into community-based practice, new ways of thinking about engagement. Recognizing that, they started converting meeting notes into text intended for collegial sharing, first, for conference presentations and, soon after, for publication as journal articles. The writing process had an unexpected outcome. They found themselves engaging in critically reflexive writing by creating understanding through writing. The writing process stimulated fresh ideas and had a generative effect. Writing thus became part of the inquiry process, not just an outcome of it.

What emerged over a period of more than three years was an iterative cycle of reading, sharing field experiences, engaging in dialogue, writing, and trying out in the field what they had learned at the table. As they repeated the cycle, the essential nature of their dialogue changed. They began probing more deeply into the substantive and practical dimensions of what they were creating together. Through discourse guided by a stance of criticality, they were able to convert what had been a cycle of tasks – reading, engaging in dialogue about field experiences, and writing – into a routine for transformative professional practice: Critique the work; incorporate learning from critique into practice’ and repeat the cycle.

The authors report that as time passed and their regular meetings proceeded, they were able to step back from the discourse to ask, "What organizational form have we created?" As they explored this matter more critically, it was clear that they were generating knowledge by engaging in discourse about existing disciplinary and professional knowledge, including their own practice experiences. That response caused them to search the literature for placeholders – labels – to better communicate what they were doing together. Then they found the term community of practice, a concept popularized by Etienne Wenger.

Coming to Critical Engagement is an expression of the authors’ discourse on engagement. Applying the term discourse in more popular terms, their intent is to contribute to the nascent discourse on the scholarship of engagement. Coming to Critical Engagement describes their journey – their coming to critical engagement – and their insights about the work itself. It also illuminates how these insights influence and inform how they go about their community-based work and learn from it. By offering their perspective they demonstrate how at least one group of scholars understands and practices engagement.

This work is distinguished by its thoughtful and scholarly foundations. Though engagement is guided by intuition, trial and error, and seat-of-the-pants notions, it fundamentally progresses because of its scholarly foundations, thoughtful reflections, and deep commitments. – Peg Barratt, Professor, Michigan State University

This is an insightful, critical, and scholarly book that sets out why universities should engage and what that might entail...More than ever [there is] a need for new forms of democratic discourse and collaborative actions to solve problems...This timely book will be widely welcomed. – Jules Pretty, Professor and Head of Biological Sciences Department, University of Essex and chief Editor, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability

Coming to Critical Engagement suggests helpful, hopeful thinking for people in academic contexts who wish to establish transformative practices as they interact with community partners. The [book] mov[es] away from the politics of institu­tional identity and mov[es] toward the pursuit of transformational discovery... and dramatically increases their chances of serving the greater good. – Stephen M. Buhler, Professor and Past Project Convener for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Leadership for Institutional Change, University of Nebraska, Empire State College

[Coming to Critical Engagement] encourages all of us to think about, write about, and share their reflections on their work as engaged scholars. The book is a call... [to] question their assumptions, collaborate with colleagues, and learn from and with those they claim they are trying to understand. – Alan Mandell, Professor and Director of the Mentoring Institute, Empire State College

At a time of unparalleled crisis and opportunity marking the painful birthing of the twenty-first century, Coming to Critical Engagement is a timely book offering a path to sanity amidst the voices of acquiescence or dissent. The authors bridge the gap between theory and practice through engaging stories and serious academic analysis. Coming to Critical Engagement describes an ideal, perhaps utopic, way for faculty to relate to each other, with a transformative model of engagement to assist the concerned academic in serving the public interest and bettering society. The openness and transparency advocated in their work is refreshing, especially today in a time of growing social inequities, and secretive rank-based leadership.

Religion & Spirituality

The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart by Joseph Chilton Pearce (Park Street Press)

We are all too aware of the endless variety of cruel and violent behavior reported to us in the media, reminded daily that in every corner of the world someone is suffering or dying at the hands of another. We have to ask: Is this violence and cruelty endemic to our nature? Are we, at our foundation, really so murderous? In The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit, Joseph Chilton Pearce, life-long advocate of human potential, sounds an emphatic no.

Author Pearce explains that, beneath our awareness, our culture imprints a negative force-field that blocks the natural rise of our spirit toward our true, innate nature of love and altruism. Further, he identifies religion as the primary cultural force behind this negative imprinting. Drawing from recent neuroscience, neurocardiology, cultural anthropology, and brain development research, Pearce says that the key to reversing this trend can be found in the interaction between infants and adults. The adult mindset effectively compromises the infant’s neural and hormonal interactions between the heart and the higher evolutionary structures of the developing brain, thus keeping us centered primarily in our most primitive and defensive neural foundations, generation after generation. Pearce shows us that if we allow the intelligence of the heart to take hold and flourish, we can reverse this unconscious loss of our true nature. 

The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit

  • Refutes the Neo-Darwinist assumption that violence is inherent in humanity.
  • Identifies religion as the sustaining force behind negative cultural imprinting.
  • Shows how infant-adult interactions unconsciously block the creative spirit.

Pearce is the author of The Biology of Transcendence, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, and Evolution’s End. For the past 35 years, he has lectured and led workshops teaching about the changing needs of children and the development of human society.

Once again, Joseph Chilton Pearce's genius and deep, essential humanity illuminate the most meaningful and important issue of our day – our relationship with Spirit and the all-too-often-toxic history and motivations of organized religion. – Thom Hartmann, author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

Joseph Chilton Pearce astounds with his ability to so clearly see and courageously state the most basic reason for chaos in the world – the closing down of inspirational love that can only come through heart-awareness. His piercing depiction of this dire state as due to the destructiveness of culture and religion is followed with an even more penetrating set of solutions, founded on insights into biological development, nurturing. and opening the heart to the future possibilities of love unconfined. The message has not been so clear since William Blake spoke of Jesus, the Imagination. – Robert Sardello, author of Love and the World and Silence

In this remarkable book Joseph Chilton Pearce goes to the very mimetic ‘DIVA’ of our culture and recodes it to affirm life's potential. He masterfully helps us to release the destructive aspects of religion and modern society, while affirming the magnificent reality of the spirit and the heartful intelligence that can guide us forward. – Barbara Marx Hubbard, president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution.

Building on Darwin, Pearce pleads that humanity rise above its lower, instinctual ‘brain’ to allow ‘our newest brain’ – the ‘fourth brain’ – to flourish. This will bring about a higher stage in evolution that prizes love and altruism. According to Pearce (The Biology of Transcendence), the biggest roadblocks to this new order are religion and science, which together promote violence and arrogance. …To overcome the terrible evils of science and religion and fulfill the promises of the fourth brain, we must cultivate what Pearce calls "the dynamic of the heart-brain-mind relationship," literally listening to our heart as a kind of brain itself that prioritizes love and intimate relationship above all else. Heavy on the science, Pearce's overall argument is slow going but worthwhile because of his fluid prose and intriguing understanding of human evolution. – Publishers Weekly

In The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit, bestselling author and cultural visionary Pearce, a life-long advocate of human potential, refutes the Neo-Darwinist assumption that violence is inherent in humanity. The book convincing indicts cultural imprinting as the cause of humankind’s cruel and violent behavior. Pearce’s call to hope is much needed in a world turning ever more violent.

Religion & Spirituality / Buddhism

Zurchungpa's Testament by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, based on Shechen Gyaltsap’s Annotated Edition, translated by the Padmakara Translation Group (Snow Lion Publications)

Zurchungpa's Testament is a renowned classic of Buddhism previously unavailable in English explained by one of the most renowned and respected teachers of the last generation. This volume gathers the collective wisdom of three of the greatest masters of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism – Zurchung Sherab Trakpa (1014-1074), Shechen Gyaltsap Rinpoche (1871-1926), and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991).

Zurchungpa's Eighty Chapters of Personal Advice was the final teaching given by the Nyingma master Zurchung Sherab Trakpa before he passed away. His counsels are the distillation of a lifetime's experience and comprise the practical instructions of a master who had made the teachings of the Great Perfection part of himself. The original text consists of almost 580 maxims, distilled from his own experience and deep study of the Buddha Dharma, organized into eighty chapters covering the entire path of Dzogchen, from fundamental teachings on devotion and renunciation through to a whole series of instructions that bring the Dzogchen view to life. Much of the meaning of these pithy, often cryptic instructions could be lost on readers without the help of the notes Shechen Gyaltsap Rinpoche provided in his annotated edition, which he based on the explanations he received from his own teacher, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The work has been translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, which has a distinguished reputation for its translations of Tibetan texts and teachings, and is renowned for its clear and accurate literary style.

Zurchungpa's Testament contains a complete, detailed teaching on Zurchungpa's text. This work was given in the summer of 1986, when Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche made one of his regular visits to the Dordogne in France, during which he gave a series of teachings to the three-year retreatants at Chanteloube, who had just completed the preliminary practices and were starting the ‘main’ practice of the sad­hanas and mantra recitations.

Dilgo Rinpoche says this about Zurchungpa's work: “...if we practice in accordance with the meaning of this, his final testament, it will greatly help us in the future. The way to do so is gradually, day after day, to reflect and meditate one by one on each of the pieces of advice in this series he has given us. Then they will be like flowers, which emerge as shoots in spring and grow day after day, finally coming into full bloom in summer.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991) was one of the foremost lamas to come out of Tibet and was revered for his wisdom and compassion by members of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was untiring in preserving and propagating the Dharma, through the publication of important Buddhist works (including twenty-five volumes of his own writings), the building of monasteries and stupas, and transmissions and instructions to countless practitioners. He made several visits to the West, where he had a large number of disciples.

As mentioned above, the Eighty Chapters were Zurchungpa's last teaching, the testament he gave to his disciples before passing away. It is hardly surprising, then, that he concerns himself exclusively with practice, and although a few of his instructions assume some basic theoretical knowledge of such topics as the five aggregates, the eight consciousnesses, the ten actions, and so on, the emphasis is on how to put such knowledge into practice. There is little in Zurchungpa's Testament that has not been written elsewhere, but that is not to say that Zurchungpa's text lacks originality. What is striking about his presentation of the Great Perfection is that while he often appears to repeat himself, he shifts slightly each time, lending contrast and perspective to the teaching and adapting his angle to the particular needs and intellectual capacities of his individ­ual students.

The Eighty Chapters are divided into five main sections. The first of these is a short introductory section on faith and devotion, which are essential qualities for anyone who wishes to understand the teachings and put them into practice. This is particularly true in the Mantrayana, where realization depends on being open to the teacher's blessings. The bulk of the text comprises three main sections, each dealing with one of the Three Trainings, which encapsulate the whole of the Buddha's teaching – discipline, concentration, and wisdom. The training in discipline, for Zurchungpa, is not merely a question of observing lists of do's and don'ts. While these things are certainly important, for him the essential point is to create circumstances that will help inner realization to blossom and to avoid those that will hinder such realization. A sincere desire to get out of samsara, a constant awareness of impermanence, and a vigilant mind are more important to him than the wearing of monastic robes. The section on the training in concentration deals not so much with how to concentrate, but rather with how to undistractedly keep in mind the view of the Great Perfection. And the realization of that view is the subject of the section on the training in wisdom. These are exceptionally profound instructions that need to be repeatedly heard from a qualified master. The fifth and final section contains a single chapter summarizing the whole text.

It is impossible to read this work with an open mind and heart without being deeply affected by the realized wisdom found on its pages. If we do not yet possess the deep trust, or faith, that makes our encounter with the Dharma fruitful, this book has all the qualities necessary to ripen our mind to the point where it can readily ‘mingle’ with the Dharma, as Dilgo Rinpoche put it. – Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., author of Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis

Among the senior Tibetan teachers in our generation, it is well known that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's commentaries are not merely scholarly explanations but interpretations coming directly from the depth of his own personal experience. This wonderful text by Zurchungpa is further enriched by his remarkable commentary. – Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche
… This book enshrines the living experience and heart of two truly realized masters translated by people who not only understand but also practice the teachings. – Ringu Tulku
An extraordinary guide to authentic spiritual practice combining the wisdom of three of the greatest masters of the Tibetan tradition. – Matthieu Ricard
… The consummate master, Zur-chung Shes-rab Grags, upheld the entire Nyingma tradition which, without interruption, has been transmitted to the present day. How wonderful it is that his exposition dating from the eleventh century – combined with the wisdom and blessing of the great twentieth century dzogchen master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche – is burgeoning in this new millennium. – Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

Originally intended as essential instructions for a group of practitioners in three-year retreat, Zurchungpa's Testament will serve as an indispensable guide to anyone who seriously wishes to practice the Great Perfection. It is important to have Rinpoche’s notes to explain Zurchungpa’s original text since the text was never meant to guide people working on their own. Some readers may find the later chapters difficult to understand, but those who have already received some ‘mind’ teachings will hopefully be able to use these chapters as reminders that help to deepen their practice and understanding. Readers who wish to get the most out of these teachings need to use the book hand in hand with the guidance of their own teacher.

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity / Reference

A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation, 2nd edition by Alec Gilmore (T & T Clark)

A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation is a resource for anyone who wants to understand how the Bible came together. Here readers can learn the history of the various texts behind the Bible, the versions in which specific text has appeared, the process of editing and compilation, and the different methods of interpretation that have developed over the centuries. Gilmore also provides ‘student notes’ on texts, versions, manuscripts, persons, places and terminology, covering the origins of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the English Bible, including recent translations. A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation reflects the latest advances in biblical scholarship, conveying to readers concise information on the key issues and topics.

According to author Alec Gilmore; Baptist minister in the UK with a lifetime's experience in pastoral work, lay training and adult education; several factors have contributed to A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation. One is the good biblical tradition of British nonconformity in which Gilmore grew up, with a sound emphasis on the importance of biblical scholarship and a firm rejection of anything approaching bibliolatry or fundamentalism. A second factor was a fascination with biblical languages, biblical texts, textual transmission and the growth of the canon which he wanted to share with everybody else. A third factor was the discovery that once the light began to shine many people wanted to know more. A fourth factor was a change of climate; in Britain, unlike the US, from the launching of the Revised Standard Version shortly after the war, new translations caught on. People began to argue which was the best, which the most reliable, and how they could decide which one to use.

According to Gilmore, the story has been told before, many times, but it is usually told in two parts. The first part deals with original manuscripts, their production, compilation and recognition, and tends to be left to a fairly limited number of specialists. The other part is the story of the English Bible, from Tyndale to the New Revised English Bible. A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation brings the two together so as to see the story whole.

But instead of simply telling the story again, this dictionary offers a work of reference. Students coming to the subject for the first time and finding themselves confronted with a mass of technical terms can find them alphabetically. Readers confronted with more translations than they know what to do with can find summaries to help them to make their own assessments. And those with time on their hands can work their way through the cross-references and make their own connections.

A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation is not complete; it is of necessity selective, and scholars and readers with a knowledge of the territory will want to challenge the selection of topics, and in some cases the explanations given and the information presented. Nor is it a final and definitive tool. On many of the issues there is considerable difference of opinion among professionals and it is not Gilmore’s intention even to reflect them all, never mind address them. What Gilmore does do is avoid error, acknowledge variety, cover what seemed essential to an understanding of the issues and encourage readers to use the book with an open mind and then pursue more detailed and varied study in other places.

In his preface to the second edition, Gilmore explains why he has added hermeneutics: in the last half-century there has been an explosion of interest in new methods of interpretation (hermeneutics) creating similar interest and yet more questions. On the other hand, he says, the addition poses one or two problems, not least that of maintaining the original character of A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation as basically historical and factual. Biblical hermeneutics is a different operation, less factual, more subjective, with its own specialisms, requiring a different set of skills, and allowing for infinite variety. Moreover, if the book were to cover the same period as the first edition from the beginning of sacred text to the present day, even limiting the book to Christian hermeneutics, the topic would be quite unmanageable within the time and space available.

So A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation is confined to the changes that have taken place in hermeneutics over the last half-century, such as feminist, liberation and literary readings, while providing entries on technical terms over the wider period, with occasional hints as to how some of the so-called newer methods have seeds if not actually roots in other and earlier generations, and offering some guidance to help readers on the next stage of the journey by means of an extended and improved bibliography.

In addition to adding hermeneutics, Gilmore has added altogether over 100 new entries, bringing the total to nearly 1000. Changes from the first edition are few, mainly the inclusion of material not available five years ago, a few improvements in presentation, and minor corrections. The exception is the treatment of people and their biographical material. In the first edition he gave a separate listing for each person associated with the various Bible entries, with an extensive use of cross-referencing and biographical details which often went beyond their immediate connection with the transmission of the Bible, without producing fully-comprehensive biographies which could more appropriately be found in other places. In this edition those biographies have been edited somewhat, limiting them to issues material to A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation, and Gilmore has not added comparable entries for people associated with hermeneutics since they have established their reputations, and are mostly still professionally active.

Reflecting the latest advances in biblical scholarship, A Concise Dictionary of Bible Origins & Interpretation is a handy and fascinating dictionary equipping readers with concise, manageable information on all the key issues and topics. It will be especially helpful to students of religion and related subjects and to religious educators in schools, colleges and churches of all denominations.

Religion & Spirituality / History / Middle East

Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence by Zachary Karabell (Alfred A. Knopf)

The story of conflict and confrontation between Islam and the West has become daily news, but throughout the ages Muslims, Christians, and Jews have shared more than enmity and war: there is also a rich and textured history of coexistence that has all but disappeared from collective memory. In Peace Be upon You, Zachary Karabell traces the legacy of tolerance and cooperation from the advent of Islam to the present day.
In a narrative spanning fourteen centuries, award-winning author and journalist Karabell introduces readers to the court of the caliphs in Baghdad, where scholars of various faiths engaged in spirited debate. In the ninth century, in medieval Spain, a Muslim caliph invited Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist theologians to compare beliefs. Jewish sages, Muslim philosophers, and Christian monks together deciphered the meaning of God and the universe, collaborating in translating important classical texts. Karabell offers a portrait of the Crusades that goes beyond the rivalry of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, and shows how Christians and Muslims lived side by side. And he paints a picture of religious autonomy in the Ottoman Empire.

Still later, in Peace Be upon You Karabell turns to mid-twentieth-century Beirut, where disparate religions hammered out a national pact for sharing governance. As he explores the growing tensions of the modern era, Karabell traces the rise of Arab nationalism, the redrawing of the Middle East map in the wake of World War I, and the increased hostilities following the creation of the state of Israel. Through it all, he reminds readers that dialogue and friendship have always punctuated times of war and discord. Today, while some Muslims, Christians, and Jews engage in confrontation, others – in Dubai, in Turkey, and around the globe – find common ground. Remembering the legacy of coexistence and recognizing its prevalence even today is a vital ingredient to a more stable, secure world.

… Karabell concedes that some regimes have pursued ecumenical harmony merely to secure economic and political advantage, but he insists that such harmony actually reflects peace-fostering doctrines central to all of the Abrahamic faiths. Applying such doctrines, Karabell concedes, has grown more difficult in a modern world transformed by the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism. But he understands that Fundamentalists can pursue their bloody aims only by reducing the past to a litany of grievances crying out for vengeance. A book restoring to that past the complexities of peace and cooperation greatly enhances the prospects for the future. – Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)
The clash between Muslims, Christians, and Jews dominates the news these days, but as Zachary Karabell highlights, there is more to the relationship between these three faiths than violence. In a book that sweeps the reader across fourteen centuries from the birth of Islam to present-day Dubai, he tells the forgotten stories of coexistence and cooperation. Peace Be upon You reminds us of the possibility of a better future. – Fareed Zakaria, editor, Newsweek International
In this season of crisis, Zachary Karabell has written an important book about an often overlooked issue – relations between Arabs, Christians and Jews since ancient times. This vivid, fast-moving book should interest everyone who is concerned with the Middle East. Filled with extraordinary stories of cooperation and conflict, it illuminates, and could help guide us through, the present crisis. – Ambassador Richard Holbrooke
Even in the midst of war, history can open our eyes to the possibilities of peaceful coexistence. Peace Be upon You offers a lucid, comprehensive, and elegant account of Muslim-Jewish-Christian relations that reminds us of the good without shielding us from the bad. Free of cant or apology, it is indispensable reading for anyone who wants to get at the truth about the Middle East in a world of angry distortions. – Noah Feldman, author of Divided by God and What We Owe Iraq
At a time when the world craves peace among the religions, Zachary Karabell has provided a timely and moving roadmap of hope. Peace Be upon You is exactly what we most need right now: a reminder that coexistence has a history – and a future. Anyone who wonders whether the religions can get along must read this fascinating, revelatory book. – Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born

In this study, journalist Karabell challenges the view that Christians, Jews and Muslims have never gotten along by pointing to numerous, little-known periods of peaceful coexistence among the three religions. Peace Be upon You is a timely, realistic and much needed study.

Religion & Spirituality / New Age / Astrology

Alan Oken's Complete Astrology: The Classic Guide to Modern Astrology, 2nd edition by Alan Oken (Ibis Press)

Our job is to lovingly and consciously cooperate with the forces at work on this globe at this time.  Astrology provides a way to link the individual with a conscious attunement to the planetary forces that are part of and affect the whole. – from the book

More than fifteen years ago, Alan Oken pioneered the development of New Age astrology with the publication of three books collected in this comprehensive edition.  Now, newly updated, Alan Oken's Complete Astrology charts the cosmological pathway to greater personal fulfillment and spiritual attunement through a deeper, more intuitive understanding of the power of each individual – and the age in which we live. The book contains astrological charts and diagrams, line drawings, charts of contemporary celebrities, and an exhaustive bibliography.

The books Oken published between 1972 and 1976 were As Above, So Below; The Horoscope, the Road and Its Travelers; and Astrology: Evolution and Revolution. The books were well received and they provided a basis for a whole generation of astrology students. In 1980, these three books were collected into one larger volume and published under their current title, Alan Oken's Complete Astrology. That book was translated into a number of foreign languages and stayed in print until early in 2004.

In the foreword to the 1988 edition, Oken talks about the explosive popularity of astrology in the mid-1960s, and how astrology has since become integrated into life. The fact that astrology has evolved from its previous assignation as ‘newspaper nonsense’ to a level of serious study undertaken by literally millions of people has profound implications. It reveals that there is a need on the part of humanity to come into contact with those Lives and Forces who inhabit the transcendental universe. Just as humanity has evolved a multitude of alternative and diversified life styles, today's astrology has also developed a multifaceted system of branches for interpreting and guiding these current social trends. There is, for example, a substantial group of astrologers who work exclusively for commodity traders and stockbrokers. Others, called ‘mundane astrologers,’ work to forecast trends in weather and earthquake patterns. There is another group of astrologers who is collecting and studying the horoscopes of major airplane accidents. In the United States and Canada alone there are tens of thousands of full-time professional astrologers working at their computers and word processors, pouring out an enormous amount of research data on cosmic and terrestrial phenomena and their interrelationships.

As explained in Alan Oken's Complete Astrology, there are in reality only two main facets of astrology, no matter how varied and numerous the many avenues of its application and study: exoteric and esoteric. These correspond to the primary duality of life: the inner and the outer, essence and form, the life of the Soul and that of the personality. Exoteric astrology is based on and applied to what is termed the ‘three lower worlds’ of the personality: physical, emotional-desire, and the lower mental (reason). Esoteric astrology is centered in the ‘three higher worlds’ of the Soul: abstract mind (pure mental substance), intuition (perception into the movement and quality of energy), and what, for lack of a better term, may be called ‘the spiritual world.’

Exoteric astrology is useful and completely applicable to the lives of the great masses of humanity – those insisting on identifying exclusively with their physical needs, emotional drives, and personality-centered ideas. It is the astrology of daily life, daily problems and joys, of the ordinary experiences of physical life. This is the world of the ego and the world of relationships between people focused in egocentric affairs.

But according to Alan Oken's Complete Astrology, there is a growing minority of people who are realizing that they are more than flesh driven by desire and motivated by selfish thoughts. In spite of international terrorism and oppression, there is great hope for humanity and the loving and conscious externalization of the Human Soul. Millions of people all over the world are recognizing the urge to serve, to help the growth of the collective, to relieve the sufferings of others through the distribution of knowledge, services, and data.

Alan Oken's Complete Astrology is a book written primarily for the application of the exoteric. However, Oken gives it a definite spiritual undertone as well as an openly humanistic approach. This is in keeping with his beliefs about astrology's usefulness and application as a definite aid to personal growth and the expansion of individual and social consciousness. Should readers be inspired to study the more meta-physical and esoteric form of this subject, they are advised first to gain a good, solid grasp of exoteric astrology.

There is a reason why Alan Oken is one of the most sought-after professional astrologers in the world. … It is because he has unique and profound insights as to how astrology really works, and he communicates those ideas so well. Alan Oken's Complete Astrology contains three of his most famous, best-selling books under one cover, and would be an excellent addition to anyone's astrological library, from novice to professional. – Raymond Merriman, president of The International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR), Inc.

I am thrilled to see this powerful book back in print to replace my worn copy. As an astrology teacher for 35 years, it is on the top of my ‘must have’ texts for my students. It accomplishes the material, the esoteric, and the spiritual approach all in one volume by a most profound, world-renowned teacher and practitioner who teaches us how to grow in spirit and influence cosmically. It is a book to study and cherish. – Chris McCrae, vice-president of ISAR

Alan Oken's Complete Astrology was my first inspiration to pursue this most empowering of art/sciences, and 30 years later it is as relevant as ever! There is still no work as thorough or grounded, as a manual for both instruction . . . and enjoyment. It is wonderful that this timeless classic has returned to ‘switch on’ a new generation of students and practitioners. – Maggie Kerr, director of The Australian Institute for the Development of Consciousness

Alan Oken has a brilliant ability to present astrology in a clear way that is easily understandable for the reader. I highly recommend Alan Oken's Complete Astrology as a standard text for basic knowledge of the building blocks of astrology. Mr. Oken writes with a simplicity and a clarity that make the practical workings of astrology easily understandable for the reader. This book is a must for anyone seeking a clear and loving introduction to the study of astrology. – Jan Spiller, author of Astrology for the Soul; New Moon Astrology; and co-author of Spiritual Astrology

Featuring state-of-the-art astrological charts and diagrams, line drawings, charts of contemporary celebrities, and an exhaustive bibliography, this new edition of the classic trilogy is an accessible and informative guide to the heavens.  For both beginners and experts, Alan Oken's Complete Astrology is a key to understanding the laws of the new planetary age.

Social Sciences / Anthropology / Politics

Louisiana Creoles: Cultural Recovery and Mixed-Race Native American Identity by Andrew J. Jolivétte, with a foreword by Paula Gunn Allen (Lexington Books)

A decade and a half ago, a white buffalo calf was born in the northern Midwest. The white rancher who owned the calf's mother named her ‘Miracle.’ According to Lakota tradition, the birth of Miracle, which was a reiteration of a sacred event far back in Lakota history, signaled the beginning of the Age of Reconciliation. Among other Native nations, this era, that of the ‘Seventh Generation,’ means coming to terms with who we are now, a distinct but active, contributing part of American society. It means healing from the devastations wrought by four centuries of warfare, sometimes open, but mostly behind the scenes in the past fifty or so years.

If the Lakota and other Native nations' sense of ‘what time it is,’ is accurate, Andrew Jolivétte's Louisiana Creoles is truly a book which comes at the appointed time. For while the Creole experience speaks to a specific cultural group native to Louisiana, the larger question of ‘American’ identity as a mixed-race phenomenon is addressed within the pages of Jolivette's new book. – from the foreword by Paula Gunn Allen

Louisiana Creoles examines the recent efforts of the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center to document and preserve the distinct ethnic heritage of this unique American population. Andrew Jolivétte, assistant professor in the American Indian studies department at San Francisco State University, uses sociological inquiry to analyze the factors that influence ethnic and racial identity formation and community construction among Creoles of Color living in and out of the state of Louisiana. Including the voices of contemporary Creole organizations, preservationists, and grassroots organizers, Jolivétte offers an exploration of the ways in which history has impacted the ability of Creoles to self-define their own community in political, social, and legal contexts. Louisiana Creoles raises questions concerning the process of cultural formation and the politics of ethnic categories for multiracial communities in the United States.

Allen writes in the foreword: For those of us who have spent a lifetime living between identity borders, the idea that there is one race that is ‘American’ is manifestly contrary to experienced reality. For those like me who are neither black nor white, the more contemporary idea that there are two kinds of Americans – ‘ebony and ivory,’ as the song goes – is exasperating. Personally, I am a mixed-blood Laguna Pueblo woman. Or a mixed-race American. My father's family immigrated to the United States from Lebanon, where they were Maronites, thought by some scholars to be the native Lebanese, descended from the Phoenicians. On my mother's side, her mother's mother, Meta Atseye Gunn, was full-blood Laguna Pueblo. … Mother's grandfather, Kenneth Colin Campbell Gunn, was Scots-American from Ohio. One of their daughters, Agnes Gunn, married a mixed-blood Indian man who came to New Mexico from Montana, but was born in Edmonton, Canada. From their union, my mother was born. So what am I? Indian, Lebanese, ‘white’?

Beyond the questions of what constitutes ‘American,’ one must consider a larger issue: What is America? The portion of the Americas presently designated as ‘The United States’ is and has long been a place where people from elsewhere come and settle. From an American Indian point of view, it is a nation, indeed, a hemisphere, of boat people. Not everyone in the United States is Creole any more than we can all claim to be English or German. But acknowledging those groups that have been written out of history is valuable and meaningful to our understanding of this country's multiracial past, present, and future.

There has been much confusion in the state of Louisiana and even more throughout the nation about just exactly who the Creoles of Louisiana are. There are several things that Jolivétte set out to do in re-narrating the contemporary Creole experience. First and foremost, Louisiana Creoles investigates what historical events, both legal and social, have contributed to our understanding of Creoles today and why there has been so much confusion and lack of study of Creole-Indian identity.

Creoles according to the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center are "generally known as people of mixed French, African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, most of whom reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana." Uncovering how these ties were created in the first place and under what social, political, cultural, and material conditions called for Jolivétte to briefly go back to the pre-slavery period of 1840 to gain a glimpse into the three-tiered system of legal and social life that existed between whites, Creoles (Natives), and blacks. Investigating the period immediately after slavery, during the period of Reconstruction, and during Indian removal and displacement would also be prerequisites for answering the question of what historical events have led up to contemporary Creole-Indian identification in Louisiana. While some of Louisiana Creoles is based on primary data, much of the historical data draws on previous studies. It was important to tell the story of the rural Creole people who lived and still live in the country towns and parishes of the southwest and northwest parts of the state. Therefore, unlike the previous works on Creoles which have overemphasized New Orleans, this work is first and foremost about rethinking what it means to be Creole and Indian in the twenty-first century when issues of racial purity, ‘selling out,’ ‘passing,’ ‘race-trading,’ and ‘blood quantum’ still dominate the ways in which many Americans think about racial and ethnic identity.

In Louisiana Creoles, Jolivétte delves into the questions of how and why certain multi-ethnic populations are or are not recognized as American Indian communities. Two important questions he attempts to answer in his research are: Do mixed-race Creole populations with American Indian ancestry maintain their ethnic identifications with specific Indian groups and cultures as they change socially, legally, economically, and regionally? Have tribes that were ‘wiped out’ in Louisiana disappeared into extinction, or have they blended into a network of multiethnic Creole-Indian enclaves living across the United States and in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean? In answering these two questions, Jolivétte addresses the ways in which Creoles of Color, as a case study, inform sociological thinking about the cultural, legal, and racial status of Creoles and Indians in the United States.

Louisiana Creoles differs from other contemporary studies in its focus on Creoles outside of New Orleans, in its incorporation of American Indian history and identity into its analysis of the transformation of Creole identities overtime, in that it traces the current Creole ethnic resurgence movement, in its inclusion of the contemporary Creole voice, and finally in its discussion of Creole migration and the formation of a national and international community.

In chapter 2, "The Reconfiguring of Creole Indian Identity in Louisiana," Jolivétte begins by examining the early social, economic, racial, legal, and sexual context of contact between Indians, Africans, Europeans, and Creoles with a specific analysis of the role of gender in the formation of a Creole socio-cultural class consciousness. He specifically makes an assessment of how Creole-Indian women's socio-sexual relationships differed from those of enslaved African and Indian women which reveals a complex legal and sexual system that sig­nificantly impacted the healthy development of early Creole identity. Chapter 3, "Including Native Identity in the Creole of Color Movement," builds on the legal, economic, and gender considerations of chapter 2, by linking early historical racialization in Louisiana with recent scholarship on Creoles and Black-Indians to analyze the politics of recognition for Creoles as a mixed-race Indian population. Chapter 4, "Migratory Movement," like chapter 3 draws on historical context to explain the most salient factors in Creole migration and community recreation through the formation of ethnic enclaves. This chapter also explores how these migratory communities were the impetus in many ways to the development of a new Creole consciousness that has fueled the contemporary ethnic resurgence and preservationist activities of this group. Chapter 5, "Examining the Regional and Multi-Generational Context of Creole and American Indian Identity," brings together the historical context of Creole identity formation with the contemporary work being done by Creoles to gain recognition as a distinct mixed-race, ethnic population. Chapter 6, "(Re)Imagining and (Re)Writing Racial Categories," assesses the implications of Louisiana Creoles and mixed-race studies in deconstructing current racial categories in the United States in favor of ethnic categories that would distribute wealth and resources in a more equitable and accurate manner.

Louisiana Creoles is an insightful exploration of the complex experience of one of the longest-standing 'multiracial' communities in the United States as well as of contemporary individual and organizational efforts to document and preserve that experience. A major contribution to not only the growing body of literature on multiraciality, but also the larger body of research on questions of racial, gender, class, and cultural formations and the construction of identity. – G. Reginald Daniel, University of California, Santa Barbara; author, Race and Multiraciality in Brazil and the United States: Converging Paths?

Andrew Jolivétte has provided the reading audience with an excellent study of a much-needed topic: the historical and contemporary experiences of Creole people outside of the New Orleans area. A must-read for those interested in America's mixed race phenomenon. – Troy Johnson, California State University

By including the voices of contemporary Creole organizations, preservationists, and grassroots organizers, Jolivétte offers a comprehensive and insightful exploration of the ways in which history has impacted the ability of Creoles to self-define their own community in political, social, and legal contexts. Louisiana Creoles raises important questions concerning the process of cultural formation and the politics of ethnic categories for multiracial communities in the United States. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the themes found throughout the book are especially relevant for students of sociology and those interested in identity issues.

Social Sciences / Economics / Anthropology / Politics / Public Policy

Understanding Human Well-being: Analytical Approaches edited by Mark McGillivray & Matthew Clarke (United Nations University Press)

With more than a billion people living on less than one dollar per day, human well-being is a core issue for both researchers and policymakers. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a powerful reminder of this point. We now know more about human well-being and the related concepts of poverty and inequality than ever before, as a result of many conceptual and methodological advances and better data. Yet despite this, the vitality of underlying concepts and the quality of data are repeatedly challenged and there remains much to be desired, particularly with regard to the world's poorest countries. What exactly constitutes an improvement in well-being is often conten­tious, because the concept is ambiguous and conveys different messages to different audiences. For a long time human well-being was closely aligned to economic well-being and assessed solely in terms of income. More recently it has assumed multidimensional characteristics, perhaps best encapsulated by the attributes identified and targeted by the Millennium Development Goals.

Understanding Human Well-being examines advances in understanding well-being, poverty, and inequality concepts and corresponding empirical applications and case studies. The authors examine traditional monetary concepts and measurements, and non-monetary factors including educational achievement, longevity, health and subjective well-being. Among the empirical applications examined are the indices produced by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), including the well-known Human Development Index (HDI), one of many approaches that have done much to refocus attention on the importance of non-monetary measures of human well-being.

Understanding Human Well-being is an outcome of a UNU-WIDER project on the concept and measurement of human well-being under the direction of Anthony Shorrocks. The book is edited by Mark McGillivray, Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER in Helsinki and Inaugural Fellow of the Human Development and Capabilities Association, and Matthew Clarke, Program Leader (International Development) at the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, Melbourne.

The book’s orientation is largely consistent with the view that well-being is multi-dimensional. Identifying an exhaustive list of dimensions is no easy task; getting general agreement on the list and the relative importance of each component would appear to be an impossible one. It follows that identi­fying an exhaustive list of measures that all could agree on is also an impossible task, but there would appear to be general agreement that this list would include measures of health, education and income. Income is the most contentious of these variables, and many will argue that it is the least important. But it is difficult to argue that it is irrelevant and that it should be ignored altogether in the assessment and analysis of achieved well-being. The international community certainly does not subscribe to this view, given that reducing income poverty has been included among the MDGs.

Some of the book's chapters are purely conceptual, some are empirical and others a mix of the two. Some chapters review pre-existing concepts and measures, with a view of future developments, while others propose new measures or adjustments to pre-existing ones. Others provide case-study material relating to a mix of developing, transitional or developed countries.

Understanding Human Well-being is divided into three parts. Part I contains four chapters, each focusing on human well-being concepts. The seven chapters in part II provide various measures and empirical applications of human well-being, while part III includes four human well-being case studies.

Chapter 2 by Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi, Ruhi Saith and Frances Stewart asks whether it is important for general agreement around definitions of poverty to exist within the literature. Four approaches to the definition and measurement of poverty are reviewed in this chapter: the monetary, capability, social exclusion and participatory approaches. The theoretical underpinnings of the various measures and problems of operationalizing them are pointed out. Andrew Sumner discusses the measurement of poverty and well-being in chapter 3. He provides a historical overview of the last 50 years. This is followed by discussion of three groupings of indicators: those measures based primarily on economic well-being, those based on non-economic well-being and composite indicators.

Human well-being is conceptualized as four simultaneous qualities of life by Ruut Veenhoven in chapter 4. This chapter proposes a classification based on two bi-partitions; between life ‘chances’ and life ‘results’, and between ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ qualities. Together these dichotomies imply four qualities of life: livability of the environment, life-ability of the individual, external utility of life and inner appreciation of life.

The final chapter in part I, by Douglas A. Hicks, is concerned with inequalities, agency and well-being. Sen's capabilities approach has emphasized that inequalities can be analyzed in various di­mensions of human functioning. Relative deprivation negatively affects a person's well-being and contributes to a lack of agency. Conversely, some expressions of agency by disadvantaged persons can help reduce inequalities. This model provides a complex understanding of the dynamics of deprivation – and its alleviation.

In the first chapter of part II, Mina Baliamoune-Lutz introduces a fuzzy-set theory approach to measurement of human well-being. Baliamoune-Lutz suggests that Sen's influential work on human development has led economists to explore new areas that have become increasingly important for human well-being. In particular, Sen emphasizes the importance of the ‘freedom to choose’. This chapter proposes a framework that uses fuzzy-set theory to measure human well-being consistent with Sen's capability approach.

The need for monitoring countries' overall performance in sustainable development is discussed by Laurens Cherchye and Timo Kuosmanen in chapter 7. This chapter examines the so-called ‘benefit-of-the-doubt’ weighting method as a tool for identifying benchmarks without imposing strong normative judgment about sustainable development priorities. Using this method, Cher­chye and Kuosmanen construct a meta-index of sustainable development, which combines 14 existing aggregate sustainable development indices into a single synthesizing overall sustainable development index. They view this approach as a first step towards more systematic international comparisons.

Chapter 8, by Mark McGillivray and J. Ram Pillarisetti, looks at the issue of adjusting well-being indicators for gender disparities. It is specifically concerned with the gender-related development index and gender empowerment measure, composite indicators initially proposed by the UNDP in its Human Development Report 1995. It considers the extent to which these indices provide insights, with respect to country rankings, which pre-existing, non-gender-specific development indicators cannot provide.

Chapter 9, by Mariano Rojas, investigates human well-being from a subjective well-being approach. Using a Mexican database, Rojas shows that there is a weak relationship between subjective well-being and indicators of well-being such as income and consumption. Rojas argues that understanding and reducing poverty would be better served by a concept of human well-being which incorporates subjective well-being indicators and is based on the wholeness and complexity of human beings.

International inequality in well-being is examined by Mark McGillivray in chapter 10. Inter-country inequality in per capita income has been extensively researched over many decades. A smaller but steadily growing number of studies have examined inequality among countries in multidimensional well-being. Unlike previous studies, McGillivray also looks at inequality in each of the HDI's components and PPP GDP per capita, asking whether they tell more of a story with respect to inequality than the index as a whole.

Matthew Clarke applies a hierarchical approach to measuring human well-being to eight South-East Asian countries in chapter 11. This hierarchical approach is underpinned by a rigorous psychological theory of human motivation. The countries surveyed for the period 1985–2000 are Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. Results for Australia are also provided as a comparative benchmark.

The Australian experience is discussed in chapter 12 by Ann Harding, Rachel Lloyd, Anthea Bill and Anthony King. In recent years new spatial micro-simulation techniques, involving the creation of synthetic data about the socio-economic characteristics of households at a detailed regional level, have been developed. This chapter describes the results of initial attempts to link the new database to an existing static micro-simulation model of taxes and transfers in Australia, so that the spatial impact upon poverty and inequality of possible policy changes can be assessed.

Four case studies of human well-being are presented in part III of Understanding Human Well-being. A number of these case studies look at income measures, in part due to reasons of data availability. In chapter 13 Oleksiy Ivaschenko discusses longevity in the regions of Russia, examining the impact of changes in poverty and public health spending on intertemporal variations in longevity using a unique regional-level dataset that covers 77 regions of Russia over the period 1994-2000. A dynamic panel data model is used as a tool for the empirical analysis.

Michael Grimm uses a dynamic micro-simulation model to analyze the distributional effects of an expansion of education in Cote d'Ivoire in the medium and long term in chapter 14. The simulations are performed in order to replicate several policies in force or subject to debate in this country. The direct effects between education and income as well as the different transmission channels, such as occupational choices, fertility and household composition, are analyzed.

Chapter 15, by Arne Bigsten and Abebe Shimeles, addresses issues related to the dynamics of income poverty using unique household panel data for urban and rural areas of Ethiopia for the period 1994-1997. Household characteristics that are correlated with the incidence of chronic poverty as well as vulnerability to poverty are highlighted. In chapter 16 they discuss which poverty reduction strategies are appropriate in rural areas compared to urban areas. Bigsten and Shimeles also discuss prospects for ‘pro-poor’ growth in Africa. Different growth patterns are simulated for Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda.

Understanding Human Well-being contains a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of human well-being, covering both conceptual advances and empirical applications. Despite all the clear and obvious difficulties in assessing human well-being, this task is crucial. Improving human well-being, especially of the poor, must be and remain a central task for public policymakers. The research in Understanding Human Well-being draws on this current broad consensus but also extends the analysis and offers new empirical results and insights. The topics covered provide a good illustration of the range of current research. The chapters in Understanding Human Well-being provide insights which will be useful to both researchers and policy-makers. The book will be valuable reading for a wide audience, not least of all those who have devoted themselves to improving the well-being of the poor.

Social Sciences / Politics / Philosophy

The Globalization of Nothing, 2nd edition by George Ritzer (Pine Forge Press)

The Globalization of Nothing is back in a revised and completely updated edition, with an even greater emphasis on the processes of globalization and how they relate to McDonaldization. As before, this book is structured around four sets of concepts addressing the issues of: ‘places/non-places,’ ‘things/non-things,’ ‘people/non-people,’ and ‘services/non-services.’

By drawing upon salient examples from everyday life, George Ritzer, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, invites readers to examine the nuances of these concepts in conjunction with the paradoxes within the process of the globalization of nothing. Critical questions are raised throughout, and readers are compelled not only to seek answers to these questions, but also to critically evaluate the questions as well as their answers.

This Edition of The Globalization of Nothing features:

  • A greater emphasis on the main topic of globalization.
  • A new way to conceptualize and theorize about globalization: This edition delves into two sub-processes of globalization – ‘glocalization’ and ‘grobalization.’
  • New material on consumer culture and its globalization as well as on the role of branding.
  • Examples from everyday life and a global consumer culture that will be readily recognizable to students.

Ritzer says he expected this to be a simple and easy revision coming so soon after the publication of the original edition of The Globalization of Nothing because he felt only minor changes were needed. However, once he began taking the book apart to check out each of its component parts, he discovered a number of problems. Above all, he found that he had really written two books. One, the book he had originally intended to write was on globalization, especially glocalization and the companion term, grobalization – coined there for the first time. The second dealt with his sense of ‘nothing’ and ‘something,’ as well as the something-nothing continuum. He discovered that he had to spend so much time developing and explaining the way those terms were used, that it ended up taking up more space than, and tended to distract one from, the discussion of globalization.

So he edited book to focus on globalization, and that is made abundantly clear in the largely new first chapter, which now offers an overview of globalization, of globalization theory, and of the unique ways in which those topics are addressed in The Globalization of Nothing. It is also clear in the last four chapters of the book that deal, successively, with elective affinities in the globalization of nothing, implications for the approach developed in the book for theorizing the relationship between globalization and culture, implications for understanding the globalization of consumer culture and the opposition to it, and ways of coping globally with the key problem identified in this book – loss amidst monumental abundance.

This dramatic expansion of the attention devoted to globalization means that since Ritzer wanted, if anything, to shorten the book in order to make its basic argument clearer, the amount of space devoted to nothing and something had to be reduced. The original edition's two basic chapters on conceptualizing nothing (and something) have been retained, although modified and in one case (Chapter 2) renamed. That chapter is now titled "Nothing (and Something): Another New Conceptualization". Chapter 3 is the least changed chapter in The Globalization of Nothing, and its title remains the same – "Meet the Nullities" – and it continues to be devoted to intro­ducing non-places, non-things, non-people, and non-services, as well as their companions – places, things, people, and services. Chapter 4 is new and brings together under the heading of "Nothing: Caveats and Clarifications" a number of issues that were scattered throughout the original edition of the book. Thus, nothing and something are now dealt with tightly, coherently, and briefly in three contiguous chapters.

In order to make The Globalization of Nothing shorter and more focused, several things have been deleted from this edition. First, the old Chapter 6 on consumption sites on the Internet has been eliminated, not because the issue was unimportant, but because it was much more about nothing and something than it was about glocalization-grobalization. Second, the Appendix has also been eliminated. Third, a number of specific discussions of nothing that were scattered throughout the book and that were not combined in the new Chapter 4 have also been eliminated.

The major additions to The Globalization of Nothing are almost all on the topic of globaliza­tion. Chapter 1 now offers a broad background on globalization and globalization theory in order to contextualize this book's contribution to that literature. Chapter 6 is almost entirely new and seeks to show the need for the idea of grobalization in globalization theory by carefully reviewing and critiquing works that purport to focus on glocalization, localization, and domestication. It is shown that grobalization is either explicitly or implicitly involved in those analyses even though it is either ignored or critiqued. Chapter 7 is made up of much new material, especially a discussion of consumer culture and its globalization as well as the role of branding in it. While some material carries over from the original edition, Chapter 8 is new in that there is additional coverage (e.g., of craft consumers and brand communities) and it is now focused on what can be done about the prob­em(s) identified in The Globalization of Nothing.

Written in a non-technical and accessible style, the book is an articulate economic thesis that postulates the short and long-term effects of globalization. The Globalization of Nothing is a philosophical and clarion warning regarding the creeping and homogenizing impersonality of severe economic forces. This edition is a shorter, tighter, and more focused book that deals focally and directly with globalization, at least as it relates to nothing and something. Readers will come away from this revision with not only a new way of looking at globalization but also a sense of the problems posed by the grobalization of nothing and the need to find ways to deal with its pernicious aspects.

This text can be used in a variety of courses in sociology departments, including Principles of Sociology, Social Change, Social Theory, Globalization, Consumerism, and Global Economy, in addition to related courses in departments of political science and economics.

Social Sciences / Popular Culture / History

Laboring to Play: Home Entertainment and the Spectacle of Middle-class Cultural Life, 1850-1920 by Melanie Dawson (University of Alabama Press)

The changing styles of middle-class home entertainments, Melanie Dawson argues, point to evolving ideas of class identity in U.S. culture. Drawing from 19th- and early-20th­century fiction, guidebooks on leisure, periodicals and newspaper columns, and a polemical examination of class structures, Laboring to Play interrogates the ways that leisure performances (parlor games, charades, home dramas, and tableaux vivants, etc.) encouraged participants to test out the boundaries that were beginning to define middle-class lifestyles.

From 19th-century parlor games involving grotesque physical contortions to early-20th-century recitations of an idealized past, leisure employments mediated between domestic and public spheres, individuals and class-based affiliations, and ideals of egalitarian social life and visible hierarchies based on privilege. Negotiating these paradigms, home entertainments provided their participants with unique ways of displaying individual ambitions within a world of polite social interaction.

In Laboring to Play Dawson, Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the College of William and Mary and coeditor of The American 1890s: A Cultural Reader deals with subjects as wide ranging as social performances, social history (etiquette and gentility), literary history, representations of childhood, and the history of the book.

Contents include:

  1. Labor, Leisure, and the Scope of Ungenteel Play
  2. Dramatic Regression: The Borrowed Pleasures and Privileges of Youth
  3. Fracturing Genteel Identity: The Cultural Work of Grotesque Play
  4. Skills Rewarded: Women's Lives Transformed through Entertainment
  5. Staging Disaster: Turn-of-the-Century Entertainment Scenes and the Failure of Personal Transformation
  6. Old Games, New Narratives, and the Specter of a Generational Divide
  7. Imagined Unity: Entertainment's Communal Spectacles and Shared Histories

A learned and engaging analysis based on an impressive body of research. . . . Dawson's focus on entertainment in the home has the benefit of providing us with a close and careful look at the intersections between ideologies of domesticity, class, and leisure. – Cynthia J. Davis, author of Bodily and Narrative Forms: The Influence of Medicine in American Literature, 1845-1915
…Highly effective are the detailed readings of the ‘entertainment chronotope’ in a number of important American literary texts, including Alcott's Little Women, Wharton's The House of Mirth, Lewis's Main Street, Gilman's Herland, and Cather's My Antonia. – William Gleason, author of The Leisure Ethic: Work and Play in American Literature, 1840-1940

Laboring to Play is a compelling analysis of how ‘middling’ Americans entertained themselves and how these entertainments changed over time. It examines the relationship between work and play as well as the role of game playing in American cultural and identity formation.

Sports / Biographies & Memoirs

Sweet: An Eight-Ball Odyssey by Heather Byer (Riverhead)

Every Monday, when I enter a bar with a pool table in the back, my teammates sprawled on bar stools or slouching near the rack of cues, raising an eyebrow and giving me a nod and a smile as I make my way toward the inner sanctum, feeling just a little superior as I pass the non‑pool-playing patrons, I feel a sense of anticipation, a tingling apprehension. Anything can happen tonight. Anything. – from the book

When Heather Byer moved to New York from the Midwest in the early 1990s, she was like thousands of newcomers before her: wholesome, overeducated, ready to jump head first into the ruthless, exciting world of literature or film. She eventually built a successful career as a movie executive, only to realize that something was missing from her life. She was stuck – stuck in a lifestyle of fancy lunches and high-powered temper tantrums, of working too hard for too little personal fulfillment. But as she relates in Sweet, instead of turning to therapy or yoga to relieve her angst, Byer found herself drawn to the dark and seductive world of pool.
The game of eight ball doesn't come easily to Byer, who has a perfectionist streak. Mark, her teacher, is patient – thrilled to have a blank slate to work with and eager to see her develop into a good player. Despite a slow start and a beginner's slump, Byer thrills to the game and its challenges; she loves how pool pushes her to discover parts of her character she has ignored or never reckoned with; how it brings her some measure of peace and anonymity but also introduces her to a new, somewhat cantankerous family of players; how it teaches her how to lose as well as how to win.

In Sweet, Byer recounts her first fumbling attempts to learn the game. She describes the hypnotic pull that surrounds the sport of pool: the netherworld of bars that serve as dens for substance abuse; the troubled players who lose themselves in the game; the constant quest for the win.

As her game improves, she finds her persona changing, becoming less verbal and analytical and more intuitive and physical as she meets a series of people who leave lasting impressions – a lanky, country-boy pool instructor; a good-hearted lawyer with a drinking problem; a strange South American bank-shot specialist; a hot-tempered woman with a nose ring and an endless supply of sex appeal; mentors and hustlers; friends and lovers. As she moves through this sometimes treacherous subculture, Byer describes her progress and mishaps on the tables. Ultimately, the humiliating losses and exhilarating wins – both in the pool bars and her personal life – alter how she thinks of the game and herself.

Byer shares her missteps and triumphs as she fights to become a respected pool player. Sweet also exposes Byer's struggle to shed her always-proper persona and allow her true pool-playing self to shine: a smart, vibrant woman willing to risk her self-image to enjoy a game without always having to be the best.

This take on the world of organized pool couldn't be more vivid. You may learn one or two pool tricks reading Sweet, but even better, you'll get to know Heather Byer. Heather's the book, and a lot more fun than shooting pool. – Elmore Leonard, author of The Hot Kid and Get Shorty

Sweet is a cool, sexy book, as thrilling and precisely complex as a bank shot that stops the cue ball in perfect position behind the eight ball. Heather Byer can certainly play, but much more important for our purposes, the lady can write. – James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street

In her fascinating memoir, Heather Byer, a former New York film exec and ‘nice girl from Ohio’ takes us – inside pool halls and the odd sharks who inhabit them. They teach, tease, and challenge her and the reader in this highly entertaining and inspiring journey of one woman's determination to make a passing interest a passion. – Elisabeth Robinson, author of The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

…Heather Byer's gutsy Sweet opens a window onto the dark world of New York's pool halls. One part memoir, one part suspenseful sports writing, Sweet follows Byer's quest to master a difficult and misunderstood game. As she negotiates her way among pool sharks and through league matches and barroom romances, she offers a sharp, savvy perspective on desire, ambition and the galling disadvantage of being a woman determined to play a man's game. And win. …The members of Byer's pool league are the highlight of the book. The female players "drink real beer (never lite), shrug off their pool losses like old bathrobes, wear leather jackets and thin scarves when it's 10 degrees outside and never seem to get cold"; they "wear dark lipstick, listen gamely to the boyfriends who worship them – tough, beautiful women who inspire me all the time, whether I'm looking at them through the lens of brainy-girl romanticism or not." And the men aren't half bad either. … Watching a tough, smart woman hone her game is thrilling; and when Byer sends an opponent packing, one can't help feeling that her hard-fought victory is truly sweet. – New York Times, March 4, 2007

Sweet is not only a sexy and engrossing look at the seductive powers of pool; it is also the story of a woman's bold encounter with herself. Perceptive, poignant, and darkly funny, Sweet, is both an unexpected memoir and a fascinating glimpse into a world few people know and even fewer understand. Byer vividly describes her progress and mishaps on the tables and around them as she moves through this fascinating, sometimes treacherous subculture.

Sports / Training / Philosophy / Ethics / Reference

Ethics in Sport, 2nd Edition edited by William J. Morgan (Human Kinetics)

The latest edition of Ethics in Sport doesn't rest on its laurels as the most comprehensive collection of literature to date on moral and ethical issues confronting sport in contemporary society. Edited by William J. Morgan, professor of sport humanities and interim director of the Center for Sport and Citizenship at Ohio State University in Columbus, former editor of the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, and former president of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport, the diverse anthology of essays in Ethics in Sport has been updated to reflect the latest issues of significance in the sporting world.

A primer on ethics has been added at the beginning of the text to make it more accessible to beginners. At the end of many of the essays, readers will find discussion questions to stimulate further thought. In addition, while some classic essays were retained from the first edition, more than half of the essays are new to the second edition.

Written by world-renowned scholars, Ethics in Sport, Second Edition, also includes three previously unpublished essays to provide readers with new perspectives on current themes and how they compare and contrast with already published views. In addition, the text features expanded sections on fair play and social ethics. A revamped section on drug use and genetic technology brings readers up to date on ethical questions in these controversial and rapidly changing areas.

Ethics in Sport, Second Edition, is composed of five parts. Part I, Metaethical Considerations of Sport, prepares students for the terminology ahead, defines how sport is to be understood in the text's ethical analyses, and explains the importance of this field in a sporting context. Part II, Competition and Fair Play: Considerations of Winning, Cheating, and Gamesmanship, is a survey and analysis of the timeless debate on good sportsmanship and cheating. It examines the issues of fair play, winning and athletic superiority, revising athletic tests and contests, success and failure in competitive athletics, cheating, intentional rule violations, and strategic fouling. Part III, The Limits of Being Human: Doping and Genetic Enhancement in Sport, considers the moral permissibility of using performance-enhancing drugs in sport and the controversial topic of genetic modification. Part IV, Gender and Sexual Equality in Sport, addresses the thorny issue of what constitutes sexual equality in sport and how best to achieve it. It examines gender roles perpetuated by sport that are harmful to women both inside and outside the athletic arena. Finally, Part V, Select Issues in the Social Ethics of Sport: Violence, Exploitation, Race, Spectatorship, and Disability, delves into some of the major social criticisms of sport, including violence in sport, sport heroism, and disability rights in sports and education.

Whether used as a textbook or as a professional reference, Ethics in Sport, Second Edition, is an essential resource of up-to-date readings addressing the rapidly developing ethical issues at the forefront of the sporting landscape. The new features make Ethics in Sport the ideal choice for sport management and sport studies courses. And the primer on ethics, added at the beginning of the text, makes it more accessible to readers with no background in ethical studies or philosophy.

Transportation / Professional & Technical / Engineering 

Farmall: Eight Decades of Innovation by Randy Leffingwell (MBI)

The first tractor I ever drove was a Farmall.… Farmall wasn't the first tractor. It wasn't even the first tractor from International Harvester, but it was the first tractor that was practical for all farmers.…But what made that original Farmall – the ancestor of generations of bright red agriculture machines – so successful? Was it the superior engineering? That was part of it. Was it the progressive design that allowed one machine to multi-task for more different jobs than anything that had come before? That was a big part of it too. Farmall represented an unwavering commitment to agriculture. Perhaps that is one of the reasons farmers identify so strongly with their tractors. Besides themselves, there was nothing on the farm that worked harder.… Besides the beautiful photography you'll see on every page, you will also get a sense for how the Farmall tractor helped revolutionize farming. – from the Introduction

It is the big red tractor that changed American farming. It's the tractor that ushered in engineering, manufacturing, and design innovations during America's postwar industrial boom. And when folks close their eyes and think of a tractor, this is the tractor they see. Award-winning author and photographer Randy Leffingwell tells the story of this incredible machine in Farmall, its successes, failures, and overwhelming popularity, with attention to detail and accuracy.

The Farmall tractor is the iconic symbol of American farming and fueled the growth and production of worldwide agriculture in the twentieth century. The engineering and design advances of the famous ‘big red tractor’ are evident in the agricultural machines of today. The vast number of operating Farmalls still working fields and orchards, decades after rolling off their assembly lines, is a testament to their dependability and customer loyalty.

Historic archival photography follows its evolution, and the researched text covers the business dealings, engineering developments, sales strategies, and customer relations through every Farmall generation. Beginning with the McCormick-Deering merger in 1902, the creation of International Harvester Corporation and the debut of the Farmall in the 1920s, through the demise and resurrection of the Farmall name by Case-IH in 2004, Leffingwell gives a full account of the big red tractor.

If you are looking to settle in for a long winter’s night with a beautifully photographed, carefully researched tractor book, this one should top your list. A solid addition to your library. – Farm Collector

Leffingwell's color photography, in-depth research, and masterful writing bring the Farmall story to life for enthusiasts and collectors in Farmall. Leffingwell combines his fascination for all things mechanical with a gift for language and a photographic eye honed by years as a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times to create fascinating and beautifully illustrated books. Readers get a sense of how the Farmall tractor helped revolutionize farming. The manufacturing, marketing, and sales strategies used in bringing the Farmall to life are fascinating models of American ingenuity.

Travel / Canada / History

Mountains So Sublime: Nineteenth-century British Travellers and the Lure of the Rocky Mountain West by Terry Abraham (University of Calgary Press)

Culled from both published and unpublished accounts, Mountains So Sublime presents the descriptions of the Rocky Mountain West by British adventurers, poets, and journalists representing a long tradition of relating to landscape and its appreciation in art. These early travelers found a landscape in the Rocky Mountain West not yet spoiled, and through the aesthetic of romantic poetry and landscape painting, were able to describe the vastness and sheer beauty of their surroundings.

According to author Terry Abraham, retired Head of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Idaho, these accounts underscore the realization at the end of the nineteenth century that the Rocky Mountains were a unique and treasured contribution to the world’s natural cultural heritage. In the hundred years following these accounts, the settlement of the West dramatically altered this serene landscape; however, the collection of letters in Mountains So Sublime gives readers a glimpse of an unspoiled terrain, and familiar places recounted by unfamiliar eyes can thus be seen anew.   

‘Picturesque,’ ‘immense,’ ‘fantastic’ and ‘sublime’ are a few of the ways early British travelers described the landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding terrain. As part of a long tradition of British travelers' tales, these tourists – explorers, sportsmen, writers, scientists, artists, missionaries, and merchants – sought ways to describe the vastness and strangeness of the North American landscape to a British audience. Using their published and unpublished accounts as source material, Mountains So Sublime weaves their observations, their aesthetic, and their ‘Britishness’ into a unique view of a nearly vanished West. Attempting to make their West real to their readers, these travelers encouraged the growing realization that North American scenery was a unique aspect of the world's natural heritage.

This compilation and discussion of British travelers' eyewitness accounts of their experiences in the North American West had its genesis in a convergence of opportunities. During some three decades as a special collections librarian in the centre of the vast Inland Northwest, that area between the Columbia River and the Bitterroot Mountains, Abraham says that developed a close acquaintanceship with the texts that document the history and development of the West. Knowledge of the books, however, did not extend to more than a brief introduction to their contents. In 1993, through the support of the University of Idaho Sabbatical Leave Committee, the University of Idaho Research Council, and the Idaho Library Association (as well as a later research fellowship from the Idaho Humanities Council), he had an opportunity to read these primary sources both in this country and in libraries in England. His reading served to reintroduce Abraham to the natural landscape of the study.

The first chapter of Mountains So Sublime serves as an introduction to many of the key players and the landscape they described. It focuses on the travelers' first impression of the monumental Rocky Mountains, whether from the east or the west. The second chapter delves more deeply into the biographies and traveling experiences of the eyewitnesses. Chapter three concentrates on five ‘literary’ types: three major authors, a poet, and a journalist/explorer. The next chapter is primarily a discussion of nineteenth-century ways of looking at landscape, describing a cultural background common to our many western travelers. Chapter five returns to the landscape, where descriptive passages written about specific landforms are presented and compared. The sixth chapter is also comparative; it presents the British travelers' observations of the particular attitudes toward landscape held by the local inhabitants. The final chapter, "Lost Landscapes," answers the question, "What message do these nineteenth-century wanderers have for today's inhabitants of the western landscape?"

These travelers' texts demonstrate the prominence of the landscape surrounding their often querulous comments on the American people. Above all else, it was the Rocky Mountains themselves – and their plateaus and tributary streams – that sent scientists, explorers, tourists, missionaries, and merchants into their lexical caches, seeking out the right words to convey to a British audience the immensity of their subject (which also represented themselves as an obstacle to so many of their plans).

Published and manuscript travelers' accounts of the Rocky Mountain West – some thirty of which are reviewed in Mountains So Sublime – both contributed to and conflicted with North Americans' changing views of their landscape. Although British travelers made few direct comparisons to British landscapes, they often fitted their views to European scenes. Over the fifty years that saw so many changes in the American West, the British were among those who sounded the note of caution, demonstrating environmental ‘pre-awareness’. Oscar Wilde, after praising the Rockies and Ohio's Miami River to a Dayton, Ohio group, cautioned, "You should never let your manufacturers pollute the air with smoke."'

This sense of environmental consciousness, as a recognition of the force of people upon the landscape, gives the purely descriptive passages an even stronger emotive power. British travelers were conscious of the many changes taking place around them, and they observed that the inviolate mountains were being blemished and desecrated. While seldom directly referenced, these writers were surely aware of the effect of human activities on their own landscape back home. Like the English countryside, the West was neither too vast nor too big to escape being overused and over-managed.

In Mountains So Sublime, Abraham attempts to give these sharp-eyed observers their overdue recognition. Accordingly, his choice of sources attempts to recover these tales, and is not comprehensive. Nevertheless today's readers can find much of interest in seeing the West through these earlier eyes as they can in Mountains So Sublime, and they will both enjoy and learn from the narratives. And further, they will discover surprising parallels between modern environmental and conservation issues and the concerns expressed by these early travelers.

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