Choice: Editors’ Picks

Choice, v.50, no. 06, February 2013.

To highlight the wide range of publications reviewed in Choice, each month Choice editors feature some noteworthy reviews from the current issue.

Andrews, Julia F. The art of modern China, by Julia F. Andrews and Kuiyi Shen. California, 2012. 364p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780520238145, $80.00; ISBN 9780520271067 pbk, $30.00.
50-3055 N6490 MARC

This is a superb, illuminating study of Chinese art over the past century and a half. Both Andrews (Ohio State Univ.) and Shen (Univ. of California, San Diego) are major scholars who have published widely in the field. In this exceedingly accessible book they trace the history of Chinese art from the end of the First Opium War and the opening of China to the West in 1842 to the present, constantly immersing art in the social, political, and economic cultures of the times. Their emphasis on the interrelatedness of art and society reveals a tradition more prominent in China than in the West, and is the prime focus of the text. Thirteen chapters chronologically unroll a history that the authors treat in great detail. This is obviously not a publication dominated by glossy images, as seen in the recent flood of publications on Chinese modern art; however, the insertion into the text of 300 relatively small illustrations adequately supports the lucid writing. Included are one map, a glossary with Chinese characters, and a chronology of major events. This is a must buy for college libraries. It is the best book available on the history of modern Chinese art. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. -- D. K. Haworth, emeritus, Carleton College

Burgin, Angus. The great persuasion: reinventing free markets since the Depression. Harvard, 2012. 303p index afp; ISBN 9780674058132, $29.95.
50-3373 HB95 2012-15061 CIP

The Great Persuasion joins Daniel Stedman Jones's Masters of the Universe (2012) as another new history of neoliberalism that provides more nuance and depth to an understanding of the reemergence of classical liberal ideas in the latter half of the 20th century. Both books provide closer historical examinations that reveal not only the reserve of the movement's leading figures regarding the benefits of free markets, but also the variety of views within the movement about markets, governments, and civil society. Burgin's is the better of the two works because of its careful historical detail and attention to the differing contexts within which the members of the Mont Pelerin Society operated. The Great Persuasion introduces readers not only to F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, but also to the central roles that the new European and American conservatives played, as well as the background to developments that occurred in Chicago in the 1930s. Burgin (history, Johns Hopkins Univ.) has produced a book that is essential reading for students and researchers at all levels regarding postwar intellectual history. Summing Up: Essential. Public and academic library collections, lower-division undergraduate and up.
-- R. B. Emmett, James Madison College, Michigan State University

Colors of confinement: rare Kodachrome photographs of Japanese American incarceration in World War II, ed. by Eric L. Muller; photographs by Bill Manbo. North Carolina/Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, 2012. 122p index afp ISBN 0807835730, $35.00; ISBN 9780807835739, $35.00.
50-3438 D769 2011-52817 CIP

Historians and sociologists began to analyze the causes and effects of the WW II internment of Japanese Americans almost as soon as it concluded. While both seminal authors and up-and-comers in the field have provided a trove of knowledge on the topic, it is only recently that personal accounts and perspectives of the internment have garnered much attention (Looking like the Enemy, Mary Gruenewald, 2005; Journey to Topaz, Yoshiko Uchida, 1971). Here, Muller et al. have created an excellent book with wide-reaching appeal whose focal point and strength are Bill Manbo's photographs. These images offer readers glimpses of the internment that are in vivid color and, unlike government-sanctioned photos, candid and earnest. Accompanying these photos are essays written by scholars and a witness to the internment. However, the book goes beyond providing a figurative and literal snapshot of Manbo and the internment. Reminding readers that the internment is more than just a topic to be explored, it shows that having a camera meant retaining a piece of normal life. And, thankfully, that camera has given the world powerful images that capture the cultural duality that flourished at Heart Mountain. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. -- J. T. Rasel, Strayer University

Crist, David. The twilight war: the secret history of America's thirty-year conflict with Iran. Penguin, 2012. 638p index; ISBN 9781594203411, $36.00.
50-3502 E183 2011-50573 CIP

One of the world's oldest democracies and one of its newest theocracies have been on the verge of hostilities since 1979. The US broke off diplomatic relations with Iran during the hostage crisis that followed the fall of the Shah. They have not been resumed. In the last 30 years, the US has used military force to attempt a hostage rescue, provided assistance to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, used naval power to keep the Persian Gulf sea lanes open to traffic, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, suffered at the hands of Iranian-backed terrorist groups, opposed Iranian interference in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and actively monitored and manipulated the Iranian nuclear power program. Crist tells the convoluted story of US-Iranian conflict in a well-written, carefully researched, and lively book that sheds light on what he calls the "twilight war." Casual readers of the news over the last few decades will be reminded about how often the two countries nearly came to blows; serious students of history will be pleased to find the extensive interview quotes that give these episodes a richer context and explanation. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above.
-- R. A. Strong, Washington & Lee University

Epstein, Joseph. Essays in biography. Axios Press, 2012. 603p index; ISBN 9781604190687, $24.00.
50-3117 PS3555 2012-10035 CIP

Epstein (Northwestern Univ.), one of the best essayists in contemporary American letters, engages with an impressive array of subjects, for example, Malcolm Gladwell, George Washington, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and W. C. Fields. His book is divided into sections on Americans (the largest), Englishmen, popular culture, and "others." He could devote an entire section to critics, since he has pieces on Dwight Macdonald, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, and James Wolcott. Epstein's ability to capture a subject in a memorable 3,000 words should be the envy of biographers, who write at greater length but sometimes with no greater effect. Epstein brings to biography an incisive grasp of person and prose: "Washington was famous even before he was great, monumental while still drawing breath, apotheosized while still very much alive." In these 19 words, he builds a biographical schema that does not have to be labored over for 300 pages. He concludes that Washington's greatness inheres in his moral character, in his "genius for discerning right action." Something similar might be said about Epstein, who brings to biography a genius of discernment expressed in the just and moral character of his prose. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. -- C. Rollyson, Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY

From Cairo to Wall Street: voices from the global spring, ed. by Anya Schiffrin and Eamon Kircher-Allen; introd. by Joseph E. Stiglitz. New Press, 2012. 244p ISBN 1595588272 pbk, $16.95; ISBN 9781595588272 pbk, $16.95.
50-3339 HM881 2012-6256 MARC

This fascinating volume captures the nascent beginnings of what the editors refer to as the "Global Spring," a combination of the Arab Spring with the Occupy movements. Editors Schiffrin (Columbia Univ.) and Kircher-Allen (journalist) have gathered fascinating reports from the leaders/recorders of the peoples' movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Spain, Greece, the US, and other areas to give readers a rare, unfiltered, on-the-ground view of the beginnings and progress of these movements. These reports are reminiscent of John Reed's Ten Days That Shook the World (1919). While basic human rights seem central to the Arab movements, there is a strong connection between them and the Occupy movements in Western countries. Both are about the concentration of wealth and political power at the very top 1 percent of societies around the world. Both are about the transfer of economic malfeasance from the top 1 percent to the lower 99 percent. Both are about the transfer of political and economic power from ineffective politicians to the people. The editors provide an introduction to each section and short biographies of the contributors. The notes at the end of the text are sparse but include many web addresses for more information. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All collections and readership levels. -- C. J. Munson, Western Technical College

Gannon, Jack R. Deaf heritage: a narrative history of deaf America, by Jack R. Gannon with the National Association of the Deaf; ed. by Jane Butler and Laura-Jean Gilbert. Gallaudet, 2012. 483p bibl index afp; ISBN 9781563685149, $75.00;
ISBN 9781563685156 e-book, $75.00.
50-3444 HV2530 2011-45806 CIP

The original publication of Gannon's Deaf Heritage in 1981 marked a watershed moment in Deaf community history. Previously, narrow, medicalized interpretations of Deaf people primarily dominated scholarly studies and shaped mainstream views. Celebrating Deaf Americans as a distinct cultural group, Gannon offered a history "through deaf eyes." Panoramic in scope, Deaf Heritage presents a comparatively elite US community unified by American Sign Language, educational experiences, activist and social organizations, folklore, and values. In short, the author mapped the foundation of Deaf cultural history in the US and contributed directly to the emergence of Deaf studies as a scholarly interdisciplinary field. Re-released after three decades, Deaf Heritage includes an updated preface that offers a sweeping study of Deaf community accomplishments since 1981. As Gannon notes, significant change has marked US and global cultural Deaf history since the early 1980s. Hopefully, readers inspired by this classic reference work will contribute new chapters to the study of Deaf communities in the US and beyond. Summing Up: Essential. All general and undergraduate libraries, especially those who do not have the 1981 edition. -- S. Burch, Middlebury College

Glasser, Joshua M. The eighteen-day running mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a campaign in crisis. Yale, 2012. 381p index afp ISBN 0300176295, $26.00; ISBN 9780300176292, $26.00.
50-3531 E859 2012-2582 CIP

This book is an engrossing narrative of one of America's great political disasters: the aborted vice presidential candidacy of Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton as George McGovern's running mate in 1972. Glasser's account is meticulously documented. Though Glasser (researcher, Bloomberg Television) invents some conversations, they derive from a thorough investigation of available sources. McGovern and his campaign appear to have been dithering and remarkably inept throughout the episode. McGovern asked Eagleton to join the ticket at the very last minute, with no prior vetting. It was 18 days before McGovern learned from two of Eagleton's doctors, who had treated him for depression with electroshock therapy, that they had grave reservations about him joining the ticket. Upon learning this, McGovern asked Eagleton to step down. Eagleton, for his part, was uncooperative and adversarial throughout his tumultuous 18 days on the ticket. He did not disclose his medical history until pressed by the media and McGovern staff to do so, and he required McGovern to use political, not medical, reasons for dropping him from the ticket. This severely damaged McGovern's campaign but helped perpetuate Eagleton's Senate career. Glasser's excellent book nonetheless would benefit from a conclusion that relates the episode to contemporary vice presidential selection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. -- S. E. Schier, Carleton College

The Graphic canon: from the epic of Gilgameshto Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons, ed. by Russ Kick. Seven Stories Press, 2012. 501p bibl index ISBN 1609803760 pbk, $34.95; ISBN 9781609803766 pbk, $34.95.
50-3049 PN6714 2012-276 CIP

This delightful trove of comics and graphics adapted from and inspired by classic works of literature brings together mostly new works by dozens of contributors, from the legendary (e.g., Will Eisner, Robert Crumb) to newer talents (e.g., Fred Van Lente, Matt Wiegle). The diverse voices include women, Native American, Asian, queer, Jewish, and other creators; the artistic styles run the gamut of experimental to cartoonish to photo-realistic; and the tones of the adaptations range from serious to irreverent. One can imagine many potential audiences for this unique volume, including practitioners in art and design, students of world literatures and/or religious traditions, and instructors who deal with issues of adaptation and translation. Readers will be fascinated to see on display in one volume so many varied approaches to visualizing classic texts, including wordless comics adapting Beowulf and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a contemporary setting for Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18," a simultaneously textually faithful and visually stunning rendition of The Odyssey, and a lesbian reinterpretation of John Donne's "The Flea." Substantial notes on texts, translations, and contributors round out a bargain-priced, must-have title. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. -- D. Orcutt, North Carolina State University

Ingrassia, Paul. Engines of change: a history of the American dream in fifteen cars. Simon & Schuster, 2012. 395p bibl index; ISBN 9781451640632, $30.00.
50-3236 TL23 2012-2303 CIP

Ingrassia (Reuters), longtime automobile journalist and winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting (with Joseph White), is an excellent choice to take a detailed look at the cultural effects of the automobile in America. He makes this task manageable and interesting by exploring the history of 15 specific automobiles. These are not the 15 best or fastest or most successful cars, but impactful and interesting. They include opposites like the Corvette and the Volkswagen Beetle, and the Chrysler minivan and the Pontiac GTO. In each instance, Ingrassia writes clearly, professionally, and effortlessly, providing facts and anecdotes that are approachable and enjoyable. For example, his history of BMW includes this sentence: "Though virtually blind, Herbert Quandt had a vision for BMW." The book also contains wonderful chapter titles such as "The Jeep: From War to Suburbia, or How to Look Like You're Going Rock Climbing When You're Really Going to Nordstrom." The chapter on the Corvette followed by the chapter titled "The 1959 Cadillacs: Style, Status, and Race for the Biggest Tail Fins Ever" relate histories that are scaled down to just the right size for enjoyable reading. The book includes excellent photographs. A perfect gift for car enthusiasts. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. -- C. J. Myers, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

Krugman, Paul. End this depression now!. W. W. Norton, 2012. 259p index; ISBN 9780393088779, $24.95. 50-3535 HB3743 2012-9067 CIP

Nobel Prize-winning economist Krugman (economics, Princeton Univ.) presents abundant evidence that the continuing effects of the great recession (or "lesser depression") could be solved quickly and decisively by implementing the prescriptions taught in many introductory macroeconomic courses. He argues that the tragedy of the current state of affairs is that policy makers already know what to do, but that political paralysis driven by anti-government ideologues and sarcastically referenced "very serious people" has caused institutional rejection of the hard-won practical knowledge produced by the economics profession and historical experience. The result: a "colossal muddle" that could have been avoided. Readers of Krugman's New York Times column and blog will be familiar with his main arguments, but there is even more powerful evidence and context leveraged here. He demonstrates that fears focused on the negative consequences of public spending are unsupported by the data or any coherent understanding of "liquidity trap"-driven depression economics. Krugman points out that Keynesian expectations have been validated throughout, arguing that governments as "spenders of last resort" need to aggressively boost economic demand and fight the actual crisis: massive and chronic levels of involuntary unemployment. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. -- S. E. Horn, Everett Community College

Lin, Justin Yifu. The quest for prosperity: how developing economies can take off. Princeton, 2012. 322p bibl index afp ISBN 0691155895, $27.95; ISBN 9780691155890, $27.95.
50-3378 HC59 2012-16049 CIP

The central question for growth economics has remained the same over the last century: Why are some countries so rich and others so poor? As Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Lucas put it so eloquently, "The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else." Lin, until recently the chief economist at the World Bank, attempts to grapple with these sorts of questions, hoping to provide a recipe that poor countries can use to catch up with the rich. Lin's starting point is a belief that there is "nothing truly mysterious" about the growth successes of countries such as China or Korea. Indeed, only if governments of developing countries pursue the right policies and promote private sector development in line with their comparative advantage--a new kind of structuralism--can they then succeed like other countries. The message is uplifting and daring in its simplicity. The book is peppered with deep insights from economic thought, practical wisdom, and personal experience, and is easily accessible to policy makers, business leaders, and undergraduates studying development economics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professional audiences as well as general readers. -- J. Bhattacharya, Iowa State University

McCool, Daniel. River republic: the fall and rise of America's rivers. Columbia, 2012. 388p index afp; ISBN 9780231161305, $34.50; ISBN 9780231504416 e-book, contact publisher for price.
50-3281 GB1215 CIP

As the US population expanded and land was converted to agriculture and urban uses, natural rivers often were viewed as impediments to progress or resources to be vigorously exploited. In this well-researched and well-written book, political scientist McCool (director, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program, Univ. of Utah) describes the history of management--or mismanagement, depending on one's perspective--of American rivers. Readers learn of the benefits to society of free-flowing rivers; the unintended damage and costs that can result when river ecosystems are altered by dams, levees, channelization, or pollution; and successful efforts currently underway across the US to restore some rivers to a more natural flow regime capable of supporting multiple uses and interests. The book is organized into three sections. "The Fall" describes the history of river alteration, principally by federal water development agencies; "Dismemberment" provides examples of the degradation of natural river ecosystems; and "Resurrection" is a hopeful conclusion with examples of river restoration projects involving cooperation between grassroots organizations and the government. A worthy addition to any high-school or university library. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. -- C. A. Ochs, University of Mississippi

Orwell, George. Diaries, ed. by Peter Davison. Liveright Publishing, 2012. 597p bibl index; ISBN 9780871404107, $39.95.
50-3136 PR6029 2012-9895 CIP

This volume brings together all 11 of Orwell's available extant diaries (one, possibly two, additional diaries are held in the closed archives of Stalin's NKVD), previously published in The Complete Works of George Orwell (20v, 1987-2000), also ed. by Davison, and in the widely available The Collected Essays, Journals, and Letters of George Orwell, ed. by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (4v, CH, May'69). The late Christopher Hitchens provides an introduction (one of the last things he wrote before his death in 2011), in which he rightly claims that the diaries "enrich ... understanding of how Orwell transmuted the raw material of everyday experience into some of his best-known novels and polemics." The diaries reveal Orwell's domestic life and his capacious interest in the world: an oft-repeated phrase in these writings is telling--"must find out." Although one thinks of Orwell as battling abstraction and lies, these diaries show that some of his resistance to tyranny comes from relish of everyday life and the belief that people should be free to live a good life of small virtues. Covering Orwell's time in Morocco, his Jura (Scotland) farm, years surrounding WW II, and experiences informing The Road to Wigan Pier, this is an important resource. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. -- J. M. Utell, Widener University

Quirke, Carol. Eyes on labor: news photography and America's working class. Oxford, 2012 (c2011). 358p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780199768226, $99.00; ISBN 9780199768233 pbk, $29.95.
50-3367 HD6508 2011-47913 CIP

Quirke (American studies, SUNY, Old Westbury) examines the "symbolic battle about organized labor and its prospects," which unions, businesses, and media corporations have historically waged using photographic imagery. Making an important contribution in its coverage, Eyes on Labor fills a gap by analyzing this ongoing struggle, focusing on the period of unions' ascendancy from the 1930s to the early 1950s. An overview of the "static and staged" news photos of the early years of the medium is followed by chapters examining Lifemagazine (which initially "simultaneously celebrated and diminished" unions' struggles but increasingly became "shrill" in its opposition to strikes); news photographs' representations of the 1937 Hershey sit-down strike (an unsatisfying chapter because Quirke does not seem to grasp why Hershey won the public's sympathy); photos and newsreels of the 1937 "Memorial Day Massacre" when Chicago police killed ten protestors at the gates of Republic Steel; and the use of photographs by two unions--the hierarchical United Steel Workers and an unusually active, democratic local union in New York City. She concludes that messages in news photos of organized labor fell along unexpected lines, as "union newspapers promoted consumerism for workers as much as" Life magazine acted as "capitalism's cheerleader." Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of students; faculty; researchers; general readers. -- R. M. Whaples, Wake Forest University

Saylor, Michael. The mobile wave: how mobile intelligence will change everything. Vanguard Press, 2012. 281p bibl; ISBN 9781593157203, $25.99.
50-3311 QA76 2012-14540 MARC

It is easy to dismiss this book as one that contains no information beyond what readers already know. For example, who does not know that texting is replacing e-mail and personal conversation? And who cannot predict the demise of personal privacy due to technological advances in surveillance and electronic eavesdropping? But then what explains the fact that this reviewer had trouble putting this book down without reading it cover to cover? The answer is that The Mobile Wave is fascinating and thought provoking. Saylor (CEO, MicroStrategy), a science historian and scholar, clearly lays out the advances and future expectations in a wide array of fields related to mobile communications. These range from computing and entertainment to education and medicine. Each topic starts with a well-researched history. For example, the chapter titled "Paper" begins with the history of writing, starting around 3000 BCE. It then works its way through mass printing to e-books and the paperless society. The reader is left with a sense of awe and perhaps some trepidation and outright panic that things are moving too quickly. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. -- M. S. Roden, emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles

Suber, Peter. Open access. MIT, 2012. 242p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780262517638 pbk, $12.95.
50-2999 Z286 2011-38297 CIP

Drawing extensively on his previous online writings, world-renowned open access (OA) expert Suber (Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Harvard Open Access Project, among others) presents a well-written, concise explanation of OA. The book appeals to those with all levels of OA knowledge, from novice to expert, but it is especially beneficial for those unfamiliar with the subject. Suber removes much of the confusion about terminology and presents convincing, reasonable arguments that dispel many OA myths and obstacles. In ten well-organized chapters, the author defines OA, examines the motivation behind OA, presents options for institutional and funders' policies, confronts copyright issues, explains the economics of OA, and predicts what the future might hold. The extensive notes and references that accompany each chapter enhance the value of this important resource. Open Access should be required reading for everyone involved in the publishing cycle--from authors to publishers, including librarians and general readers. Everyone who reads this volume will gain a better understanding and appreciation of OA. MIT Press will provide open access to this book in June 2013. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.
-- T. M. Owen, University of Maryland

Theories and documents of contemporary art: a sourcebook of artists' writings, [ed.] by Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz. 2nd ed., rev. and expanded. California, 2012. 1,141p index afp; ISBN 9780520253742, $75.00; ISBN 9780520257184 pbk, $34.95.
50-3010 N6490 2011-38212 CIP

In this second edition, Stiles (Duke University) and coeditor Selz (emer., Univ. of California, Berkeley) significantly expand their seminal 1996 text to include more than 100 newly featured artists. The result is a collection of essays, interviews, and written statements that capture the vitality and global tenor of the contemporary art world. Among new selections, over half are writings from artists of non-North American or western European descent, with a significant portion of these entries from artists living in diaspora. Notable new artists include Orlan (France) and Mona Hatoum (Palestine), along with notorious public figures Ai Weiwei (China) and Banksy (Britain). In today's artistic climate, where artists increasingly strive to express and control the intellectual content of their works amid myriad social outlets for its reception, this book is an essential compendium of artists' first-person thoughts. Stiles's efforts culminate in an absolutely up-to-date, globally conscious volume of contemporary artists' writings representing 30 nations. Organized by movement, chapters begin with expository essays, including brief biographical information on included artists. Prior knowledge of contemporary art movements is useful. This book will be indispensable for artists and art historians alike, and a must for libraries. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty. -- A. Verplaetse, Naropa University
Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.


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