| Web Exclusives|
|Editors' Picks May 2008. Choice, v.45, no. 09, May 2008.|
To highlight the wide range of publications reviewed in Choice, each month Choice editors feature some noteworthy reviews from the current issue.
Bais, Sander. Very special relativity: an illustrated guide. Harvard, 2007. 120p index afp ISBN 9780674026117, $20.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5049 QC173 CIP
This is an absolutely delightful little book. Physicist Bais (Univ. of Amsterdam) explains special relativity using the graphical approach first developed by Hermann Minkowski in the early 20th century. This approach uses simple two-dimensional diagrams (one space dimension and one time dimension) to develop the concepts of special relativity in a simple and almost commonsense fashion in the same way that similar diagrams are used in Newtonian physics. The difference, of course, is that the metric (the way in which distances are calculated) for special relativity is different than the one used in Newtonian physics. The material in this book is not new, but it is presented in a logically and illustratively consistent fashion from one page to the next, with the diagrams on the even-numbered pages and the explanations on the facing page. The result is a work that is pleasing to the eye and to the mind. Students exposed to special relativity for the first time will benefit greatly from this presentation of the subject. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General libraries; lower-division undergraduate, technical program, and high school libraries. -- A. Spero, formerly, University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
[E] 45-5034 Internet Resource. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
Cassidy, Rebecca. Horse people: thoroughbred culture in Lexington and Newmarket. Johns Hopkins, 2007. 208p bibl index afp ISBN 9780801887031, $49.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5068 SF284 CIP
Cassidy (anthropology, Goldsmiths College, Univ. of London, UK) provides a shrewd look at the culture of horseracing--specifically, at the industry and all its related personalities, from owners to stableboys. The author selected Newmarket, England (home of Newmarket Racecourse), and Lexington, Kentucky (home of the Kentucky Derby), for her fieldwork and her study spans the period from 1996 to 2004. Her vantage point is that of the participant, not the observer, because she actually lived as a "horse person"--exercising horses, mucking stalls, and proving her "worth" through her ability to be "helpful." Like many professions, the horse world has its own "speak," and the particular vitality of Cassiday's effort--and this book--lies in Cassidy's ability to capture "the talk" of the industry. Combining thorough research with an excellent writing style, this volume goes beyond such personal accounts as Jane Smiley's A Year at the Races (2004) and Nan Mooney's My Racing Heart (2002). Not about the sport of horseracing per se, this is an entertaining and enjoyable anthropological study of relationships between humans and animals. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers, all levels. -- A. Salter, Oglethorpe University
Chen, Xiaoming. From the May Fourth Movement to communist revolution: Guo Moruo and the Chinese path to communism. State University of New York, 2007. 156p bibl index afp ISBN 9780791471371, $60.00. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5142 HX418 CIP
Chen Xiaoming's book is an in-depth analysis of how and why Guo Moruo (1892-1978), an influential Chinese writer, converted to communism during the May Fourth Movement (1919-1925). Chen uses Guo's and others' writings and publications about Guo at that time to track the path of his transition. The author finds that the match between Marxist communism's promise of individual emancipation and the Confucian orientational model (self-cultivation, regulating family, managing the state, and harmonizing the world) in Guo's belief system and in his personal life cause him to abandon other ideals for communism. Chen offers an explanation for the debate about Guo's political integrity--whether he was a loyal communist or opportunist--because of the longevity of his career as a writer, scholar, and government official in modern Chinese history. Readers outside of China may be more interested in how Chinese intellectuals adopted communism during the 1920s. The extensive bibliography contributes to the value of the study. Summing Up: Recommended. Collections supporting faculty and graduate students in Chinese studies. -- R. Wang, Central Michigan University
Coward, Noël. The letters of Noël Coward, ed. by Barry Day. Knopf, 2007. 780p index ISBN 9780375423031, $37.50. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-4766 PR6005 CIP
This wonderful book is more than just a collection of letters. Day (who also edited and annotated Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics, CH, Jul'99, 32-6214) immerses the reader in the life and affairs of the noted playwright and lyricist (who also acted, directed, composed music, wrote fiction and memoirs, and painted) by including background for the letters along with pictures, lyrics, cables, poems, playbills, diary entries, and replies by correspondents. Coward was always "on": he even wrote letters in impromptu verse. Anyone wanting a breezy view of Coward's take on celebrities of the stage and screen will not be disappointed, but the book goes well beyond that. The reader actually lives Coward's life with him in the theater, in public and in private, in palaces and in an unending succession of hotels. In short, the book reads like a novel. Part 3, which covers WW II--when Coward wrote, directed, produced, scored, and acted in the classic film In Which We Serve (1942)--is particularly interesting. This volume will renew interest in the life and work of a man who gave sophistication a good name. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, researchers, professionals, and general readers. -- M. J. Emery, Cottey College
Findlay, Ronald. Power and plenty: trade, war, and the world economy in the second millennium, by Ronald Findlay and Kevin H. O'Rourke. Princeton, 2007. 619p bibl index afp ISBN 9780691118543, $39.50. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5095 HF1379 MARC
This magisterial volume presents an analytical history of world trade from 1000 CE to the present, with informed speculation about future trends thrown in for good measure. It is a very considerable achievement, for which Findlay (Columbia Univ.) and O'Rourke (Trinity College, Dublin) deserve great praise. The book is a dense explication of the political, technological, and economic forces that have shaped world patterns of trade and production. Major sections analyze the economic consequences of Genghis Khan (world trade, 1000-1500), the introduction of trade with the New World (1500-1650), the age of mercantilism (1650-1780), the "great specialization" caused by the Industrial Revolution (1780-1914), and the collapse of globalization (1914-39) and its rebirth (1939-present). Many scholars know parts of the story told here, but few know it all. Adding global context and long history perspectives to specialized knowledge yields many interesting insights, making this a very useful volume and a valuable addition to trade and economic history collections. The current global expansion of manufacturing, for example, takes on new meaning when considered alongside "the great specialization" of the 19th century. Excellent bibliography. Summing Up: Essential. Academic collections, lower-division undergraduate through faculty/research, and professional libraries. -- M. Veseth, University of Puget Sound
Henriksen, Thomas H. American power after the Berlin Wall. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 250p bibl index afp ISBN 9780230600942, $74.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5232 E840 CIP
A particular merit of Hendriksen's narrative is that he has produced in one volume a very readable, balanced account of American foreign interventions from the end of the Cold War through the second Iraq War. Though Hendriksen (Stanford Univ., Hoover Institution) is critical of some policies, he finds that US successes on balance outweigh the failures and that there was a greater continuity between the Clinton and both Bush administrations than is generally recognized. A constant motive behind US policies was a desire to create stability in regional crises abroad. The author's major premise is that world order necessitates the willingness of either a superpower or some coalition of capable powers to act when instability threatens a vital region. In the second Iraq War stability via regime changed failed, and the mission morphed into stability via democratic self-rule. American experience in the Middle East to date demonstrates that democracy cannot be achieved by military means alone, and that democracy itself is no guarantee of stability, though that remains a fundamental goal of foreign policy. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. -- J. L. Nogee, emeritus, University of Houston
Hornblum, Allen M. Sentenced to science: one black man's story of imprisonment in America. Pennsylvania State, 2007. 207p index afp ISBN 9780271033365, $24.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5027 R853 CIP
This book follows Hornblum's Acres of Skin (CH, Nov'98, 36-1607) on the same topic: using prisoners in medical and military research experiments in US penal institutions. The ethical issues raised are reflected in other works, such as David Resnik's The Price of Truth: How Money Affects the Norms of Science (CH, Jul'07, 44-6200), but not as powerfully. The dangerous combination of scientific research, motivated by its value to pharmaceutical companies, and the ability to use a captive population in jails (who desperately need the $30 test allowance to supplement prison wages of less than a dollar a day) contributes to horrendous results. Hornblum (Temple Univ.) effectively juxtaposes a frightening, graphic narrative of one nonaggressive, functionally illiterate prisoner's life, in the aftermath of continuing bouts with skin lesions, mental disorders, and extreme bowel problems (purportedly from jail experiments), with general background, producing a convincing condemnation of the practice of using prisoners as guinea pigs. Drug addiction, crimes, illiteracy, unfounded trust in others, and peer pressure all contribute to a prisoner's desperate agreement to be a subject in experiments, a decision that can turn life into a living hell. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. -- J. Gough, Red Deer College
Inslee, Jay. Apollo's fire: igniting America's clean-energy economy, by Jay Inslee and Bracken Hendricks. Island Press, 2008. 387p index afp ISBN 9781597261753, $25.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-4937 HD9502 CIP
Inslee is a charismatic, enthusiastic congressional representative from Oregon, for whom global climate change has become a consuming concern. The book, with a foreword by former President Clinton, sketches some of the basic issues involved in global warming and the disproportionate emission of greenhouse gases in the US. Besides Inslee's wry anecdotes of personal exchanges with President Bush, the work describes the activities of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition that includes unions, environmental groups, and business organizations seeking realistic approaches to large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. The initiatives include auto redesign, exploitation of renewable energy sources, and energy conservation measures. The book's proposals go beyond many environmentalist visions that offer bold assertions but lack realism; they include clean coal and nuclear power and extend treatment into technical and economic detail. The work of the Apollo Alliance is being incorporated into a bill being prepared for submission in the House of Representatives. Except for somewhat reduced readability due to small font size (with wide spacing), this book can be highly recommended for content and effective writing, as well as impact. Suitable for environmental policy and engineering curricula and all persons interested in global climate issues and greenhouse gas reduction. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals. -- F. T. Manheim, George Mason University
Landsburg, Steven E. More sex is safer sex: the unconventional wisdom of economics. Free Press, 2007. 275p index ISBN 9781416532217, $26.00. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5098 HB849 CIP
Landsburg (Univ. of Rochester), best known for The Armchair Economist (CH, Mar'94, 31-3884) and his "Everyday Economics" columns in Slate magazine (in which much of this material originated), promises at the outset that this new work is "about unconventional applications of conventional economics." And for the most part he delivers, though not without making some economists--both his enemies and his admirers (of which this reviewer is in the latter category)--wince. Landsburg is always witty, creative, and provocative. Were his case studies and issues less over-the-top, he would sacrifice little in the way of readership and be more effective in communicating to students, noneconomists, and public policy officials. But for some superb, logical, analytical approaches to reducing the spread of AIDS, explaining why the world is truly a tall person's oyster, increasing the effectiveness of charitable giving, holding elected officials more accountable for their spending habits, and encouraging jurors to do their jobs better, Landsburg is the go-to guy. He also helps explain why grocery carts have gotten bigger and how to be a more intelligent reader of daily news stories. Good chapter-by-chapter references for what are largely stand-alone essays. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; all levels of undergraduate students; professionals. -- A. R. Sanderson, University of Chicago
Larson, Edward J. A magnificent catastrophe: the tumultuous election of 1800, America's first presidential campaign. Free Press, 2007. 335p index ISBN 9780743293167, $27.00. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5166 E330 CIP
Larson (Pepperdine Univ.) is both a crack historian and a gifted writer. As in his 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning Summer for the Gods (CH, Dec'97, 35-2074), he successfully combines these two talents to remarkable effect in his latest study in Americana. The election of 1800 remains among the most interesting, having resulted in an electoral vote tie between Thomas Jefferson and his de facto "running-mate," the nefarious Aaron Burr. In the hands of a master storyteller like Larson, however, the study of this election becomes rather like the peeling of the layers of an onion, with rich discoveries along the way. Anyone who believes that modern electoral campaigns are corrupt and dishonest will be surprised to find that it was worse 200 years ago. This 1800 match was marked by personality conflicts, backstabbing, petty jealousies, and both inter- and intraparty conspiracies. Larson artfully enlightens readers as to the personalities and peccadilloes of the candidates and their sundry backers and detractors. Extensive, well-arranged endnotes enhance this book, which can be enjoyed by historical practitioners and lay readers with equal relish. Good history and a good read! Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. -- S. K. Hauser, Marquette University
Longo, Nicholas V.Why community matters: connecting education with civic life. State University of New York, 2007. 176p index afp ISBN 9780791471975, $65.50; ISBN 9780791471982, pbk $21.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5116 LC221 CIP
Longo (Miami Univ.) offers his reader thoughtful consideration of an old idea (and ideal)--civic engagement--whose time has come again. He describes in great detail the ideological framework and historical context for his premise that civic engagement is the underpinning of democracy. Longo traces this view of civic learning to the thinking and writing of John Dewey, Jane Addams, and Myles Horton among others. He illustrates civic engagement through the case examples of Hull House, Highlander Folk School, and the Neighborhood Learning Community. He grounds us in practice by defining civic engagement as public work, community involvement, community organizing, civic knowledge, conventional political action, and public dialogue. The author makes a compelling case for the reconsideration of the purposes of education as well as for a reconsideration of how and where education takes place; he concludes that it is community that matters and holds the promise in educating for democracy. The author reminds us, "The great reforming generations are the ones that marry the aspirations of service to the possibilities of politics and harness the good work done in local communities to transform a nation." Summing Up: Highly recommended. All undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. -- J.N. Petner, Lesley University
Manlow, Veronica. Designing clothes: culture and organization of the fashion industry. Transaction, 2007. 313p bibl index ISBN 9780765803986, $34.95.
Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5081 HD9940 CIP
This book goes beyond typical sociological studies of the fashion industry and how clothes are designed. Manlow (economics, Brooklyn College) provides an overview of these studies published over the past century, but then presents a very readable discussion of the competitive, seasonally based, 20th-century fashion industry, some successful designers, what is needed to create a design company with many employees, and how leadership and charisma are essential components in maintaining a major conglomerate in today's global clothing economy. Manlow gleaned interesting information that known designers presented in lectures to students and faculty at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Cultural arbiter Kenneth Cole, for example, used "social messages" and consciousness raising about the AIDS crisis in Africa as a way to market his line. In preparation for her PhD dissertation, Manlow studied the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation from inside, and she devotes one-third of this book to a case study of this company and its egalitarian policies and practices. She views Hilfiger as an ideal workplace community where designers and employees work collectively rather than competitively. Anyone interested in the American clothing/fashion industry will find this book a helpful introduction to its unique history and culture. Extensive bibliography. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All collections. -- B. B. Chico, Regis University
Michaelis, David. Schulz and Peanuts: a biography. Harper, 2007. 655p index ISBN 9780066213934, $34.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-4801 PN6727 MARC
Michaelis interweaves this fascinating biography of Charles Schulz with examples from his famous Peanuts strip, which echoed people and events in his life. The book benefits from a clear writing style, exhaustive research, and the author's unprecedented access to the cartoonist's family, friends, colleagues, business, and archives. But some of these strengths also lead to serious flaws: a proneness to gossip and stereotypes; overstatement, exaggeration, and overuse of literary license; delving into the mind of Schulz without the necessary psychoanalytical skills; inferring too much from Schulz's casual statements; assuming too much about the impact of his early life on his sense of being and career. Schulz's family and friends have challenged some of Michaelis's contentions and the overall tone of the book, pointing out publicly that the author's frame of reference was skewed and that some useful material provided by sources close to Schulz was either omitted or used with inferential twists that resulted in misjudgments and factual errors. Because of the wide-ranging appeal of Schulz and Peanuts, this book deserves a broad readership--one that keeps in mind that, contrary to the publisher's claim, this is not the "definitive" biography. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. All readers, all levels. -- J. A. Lent, Temple University
Mitchell, John B. Understanding assisted suicide: nine issues to consider. Michigan, 2007. 221p index afp ISBN 9780472099962, $55.00; ISBN 9780472069965 pbk, $19.95. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5030 R726 CIP
Mitchell (Seattle Univ. School of Law) offers an excellent book grounded in his attempt to understand his parent's confrontation with death, euthanasia, and his own involvement. The book is extremely well argued, equally well written, and superbly documented. The author considers issues that include moral and legal questions. Do culture and religion embrace the sanctity of life and thereby forbid suicide and euthanasia? If a particular suicide is justifiable, would condoning it create a "slippery slope" that causes the involuntary deaths of the most vulnerable, doing more societal harm than good? Does the principle of autonomy give people the right to choose death? Or is the choice of suicide evidence that one is irrational, lacking autonomy? Does the right to liberty give one a constitutional right to choose death? Or does it follow from the equal protection clause of the Constitution that to prohibit euthanasia (by the intentional administration of a lethal dose) in one case while allowing it in others (by discontinuing life support or administering lethal doses of morphine to "dull pain") is a dubious and arbitrary distinction? What happens when assisted suicide is decriminalized, as in the Netherlands and in Oregon? Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. -- R. Werner, Hamilton College
Mudde, Cas. Populist radical right parties in Europe. Cambridge, 2007. 385p bibl index ISBN 9780521850810, $95.00; ISBN 9780521616324
pbk, $32.99. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-5219 JN50 CIP
In this groundbreaking book, Mudde (Univ. of Antwerp, Belgium) provides the first comprehensive analytical treatment of populist radical right parties in Europe, both west and east. Populist radical right parties are defined as political parties that combine nativism (itself a mixture of ethnic nationalism and xenophobia), authoritarianism, and populism. This definition allows the author first to "clearly delineate the borders between the populist radical right and other party families" such as conservatives, and then to identify those European parties which do in fact merit classification as populist radical right. The author then proceeds to examine a series of issues with regard to the ideology of populist radical right parties. The key findings here, in that they go against the views of much of the literature, are that these parties are centrist and not right wing in their economics, and that their lack of appeal to women is driven largely by women's lower sense of political efficacy. Finally, the book looks at various explanations for the origins and success (or failure) of such parties, ultimately emphasizing such supply-side issues as leadership, organization, ownership of key issues, and propaganda. Overall, a very thorough, careful, insightful, and impressive work. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. -- A. Siaroff, University of Lethbridge
The Spirit of the age: Victorian essays, ed. by Gertrude Himmelfarb. Yale, 2007. 327p afp ISBN 9780300123302, $35.00. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
45-4843 PR1366 MARC
For Victorian scholars, many of these 17 essays will be familiar landmarks of thought. The great Victorian writers represented are Carlyle, Mill (twice), Macaulay, Thackeray, Dickens, George Eliot, Bagehot, Ruskin, Newman, Arnold, Acton, Gladstone, Huxley, and Wilde, and only a little less famous, Beatrice Webb and Millicent Fawcett. Though the essays span 64 years and are diverse in subject and style, Himmelfarb (emer., Graduate Center, CUNY) has brought them together under a unifying theme explained in a two-part introduction. In the first, "The Spirit of the Age" (Mill's phrase), the editor reflects on the Victorians' predisposition to speculate about dominant trends and portents of their time, usually invoking themes like change, progress, and anxiety, with morality the underlying concern. In the second, "The Essay as Genre," she explains how the essay, a more discursive form of review, became the distinctive Victorian mode of intellectual discourse. Himmelfarb judiciously cut back several essays in order to make room for more. Though of course no single volume of essays can comprehend all the dimensions of the Victorian world--its science, religion, economics, politics, arts--this volume presents an exemplary overview of Victorian moral concerns and self-awareness through the words of its preeminent intellectuals. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. -- A. R. Vogeler, emeritus, California State University, Fullerton
Turning the Pages.
[E] 45-4713 Internet Resource. Reviewed in 2008may CHOICE.
[Visited Feb'08] Turning the Pages is a toolkit that was developed by Armadillo Systems and the British Library and is now being made available to other libraries. The newest version runs on Microsoft Vista. Using it with other operating systems requires the Adobe Shockwave plug-in. This project features 15 digitized books from the British Library, including works by William Blake (Notebook) and Leonardo da Vinci (Sketches). Difficult to use in person, these books are now available to the distance researcher. Turning the pages electronically truly mimics the way a researcher would examine a book. The images are wonderfully sharp. One can magnify them, moving the magnifier around the page at will. The site offers helpful notes, in written form and in audio format, which describe the page one is seeing. Additionally, clicking on a button provides general background notes on the book. One may also rotate some images. Turning the Pages captures the real look of each book, cover and all. This resource is remarkably fun to use, and superior to other tools of this sort. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries; all levels. -- M. S. Brown-Sica, University of Colorado at Denver
c American Library Association. Contact email@example.com for permission to reproduce or redistribute.