Editors’ Picks: August Edition

11 reviews from the August issue of Choice, specially selected by the editors.

The Bloomsbury encyclopedia of design, ed. by Clive Edwards with Harriet Atkinson et al. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. 3v bibl index ISBN 9781472521576, $725.00.
Those who appreciated The Design Encyclopedia by Mel Byars (CH, Jan’05, 42-2538), designated an Outstanding Academic Title more than a decade ago, will observe that Edwards (Loughborough Univ., UK) has produced a fine, three-volume scholarly reference work on historic and contemporary design that will be welcomed by all disciplines influenced by design. The scope of this new book is the last 150 years, and there is comprehensive coverage of most design areas—graphic, fashion, furniture, automotive, and even information design. Contemporary themes reflected in the book are its interdisciplinary approach to design, sustainability in design, and global design history. A team of editors assisted Edwards in compiling the works’ some 1,800 alphabetically arranged entries.

The major subjects covered include historical aspects (particularly the major design movements); the designers, studios, and their productions; the concepts (such as globalization, the environment and race); design practice (processes used by designers in the past, as well as the digital technologies used today); geography (featuring overviews of design in countries from five continents); and dissemination (including design organizations, educational institutions, and periodicals). Approximately 200 international scholars contributed the signed entries, which range from brief definitions to short essays. Valuable bibliographies are included, and the many entries and cross-references allow readers to find related entries within the work. Black-and-white images from Getty Images and other archival collections significantly enhance the information presented. This reference work will be highly valued by faculty and students for years to come. —Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.

Cohen, Stephen S. Concrete economics: the Hamilton approach to economic growth and policy, by Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong. Harvard Business Review Press, 2016. 223p index afp ISBN 9781422189818, $28.00; ISBN 9781422189825 ebook, $28.00.
Concrete economics reflects the pragmatic policies responsible for American economic development from independence through the 1960s. It is the embodiment of Alexander Hamilton’s very visible hand expanding the economic space necessary for markets to flourish. It is the antithesis of the free market ideology that has increasingly dominated American economic policy over the last half century. The authors note the irony of America’s economic competitors successfully adopting Hamiltonian policies as the American economy is hobbled by its newfound devotion to Smithian principles. Worse still, as America’s manufacturing sector succumbs to foreign competition, the dubious activities of the burgeoning financial sector have managed to appropriate the lion’s share of America’s corporate profits. In the global quest for economic growth, government policies strongly influence relative outcomes. Absent effective American involvement, the global economy becomes a creature of foreign governmental design. From Hamilton to Lincoln to FDR and Eisenhower, pragmatic governmental policies have successfully overcome America’s recurring economic dilemmas. In its current dilemma, America now requires another economic redesign. That redesign, the authors argue, should be the consequence of pragmatic policies, not laissez-faire theoretical abstractions. —Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.

Encyclopedia of mental health, ed. by Howard S. Friedman. 2nd ed. Elsevier/Academic Press, 2015. 4v bibl index ISBN 9780123970459, $1,475.00; ISBN 9780123977533 ebook, $1,475.00.
The long-awaited second edition of Encyclopedia of Mental Health (CH, Sep’98, 36-0036), edited by Friedman (Univ. of California, Riverside), presents updated, expertly written entries that move beyond pathology-centric views and promote a more health-based approach that covers biological, social, family, and cultural aspects of mental health. More concise than its predecessor, the work appropriately covers the subject matter one might expect (depression, emotional intelligence, resilience, self-esteem, etc.) and embraces such contemporary multidisciplinary topics as animal-assisted interventions, behavioral economics, bullying, hoarding, LGBT issues, social media, virtual reality exposure therapy, etc. This expansive set contains 245 alphabetically arranged, peer-reviewed entries that range from three to 15 pages in length. All entries provide references, and most include a glossary of key terms and extensive cross-references to other entries in the encyclopedia, with many tables and figures (some in color). A volume-specific table of contents appears in each of the four volumes, with the first identifying the more than 450 contributors and the last featuring a comprehensive index.

Unlike the previous edition, there are no external cues on the books’ spines indicating their alphabetical range of content, so browsing the contents is the only way to tell what each volume contains. The list of contributors would be more useful if it was cross-referenced with entry titles. Despite these disappointments about the encyclopedia’s production and its cost, this excellent reference work remains an essential foundation for any psychology collection. Comparable works include the 3rd edition (2012) of The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health (CH, Jun’08, 45-5326) or Ada Kahn and Jan Fawcett’s Encyclopedia of Mental Health (CH, May’08, 45-4739), although now dated and far less detailed. An e-book version of the encyclopedia, perhaps more user-friendly for academic audiences, is available via Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform (CH, Nov’12, 50-1430). —Summing Up: Essential. Undergraduates through faculty/researchers; professionals/practitioners.

Epstein, Lee. The Supreme Court compendium: data, decisions, and developments, by Lee Epstein et al. 6th ed. SAGE Publishing/CQ Press, 2015. 840p bibl index afp ISBN 9781483376608, $195.00; ISBN 9781483376615 ebook, contact publisher for price.
The ambitious goal of this work has remained consistent, from the first edition, published in 1994 (CH, Sep’94, 32-0024), to the fifth (CH, May ‘12, 49-4833): to provide a comprehensive collection of data and relevant information on the US Supreme Court. This work provides a remarkably eclectic range of charts, data, and statistics, including longitudinal analyses of the court and its members. The four academic editors were diligent in their updating, fully rewriting source notes to conform to the naming conventions of the Supreme Court Database (CH, May’10, 47-4801). The well-organized chapters present (among much other information) the chronology of important events in the court’s history, including those pertaining to women and minorities, as well as the background, education, personal finances, length of service, and publications of the justices. The work even includes a section listing vendors that publish Supreme Court decisions. The exhaustive range of information in this invaluable ready-reference work does for Supreme Court aficionados what the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (2003) does for baseball junkies in providing answers to every conceivable question: the most unsuccessful president in trying to nominate justices? (John Tyler); the number of questions individual justices asked during oral arguments; classic statements made from the bench; cases in which members of Congress filed friend of the court briefs; etc. For including much original research—superbly organized and indexed—in easy-to-read type and firmly bound with durable paper, the work merits superlative praise reserved for the best in reference-book publishing. —Summing Up: Essential. All libraries/levels.

Folktales and fairy tales: traditions and texts from around the world, ed. by Anne E. Duggan and Donald Haase with Helen Callow. 2nd ed. Greenwood, 2016. 4v bibl index afp ISBN 9781610692533, $415.00; ISBN 9781610692540 ebook, contact publisher for price.
As the editors rightly point out, there is no lack of interest in fairy tales in the contemporary world, if their representations in popular culture are any indication. Duggan and Haase (both, Wayne State Univ.) have built on the earlier edition, Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales (CH, Aug’08, 45-6537). The most noticeable change is an additional fourth volume, which is an anthology of texts. There are probably at least 100 additional entries over the previous edition, and a comparison between the two editions suggests many entries have been rewritten and titles added to the bibliographies. Probably the most important point to be made about the encyclopedia is that the authors are highly qualified and respected scholars in the field. The earlier edition was stellar, the only caveat being there needed to be more of it. And now in this second edition, one fortunately does have more, even if more could be added.

The anthology, while interesting and containing a combination of sources that are unlikely to be found in most libraries, seems superfluous to the set’s reference function. The fourth volume also includes a bibliography divided into four sections covering collections and anthologies, studies and scholarship, journals and serials, and websites (with annotations). The bibliography is a great resource for the beginning scholar, though it would be better if it were divided into small chunks. More annotations would help as well. This encyclopedic work is indispensable, and there is nothing remotely like it in English except the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales (CH, May’16, 53-3832), which offers more, but shorter, entries. Libraries of all sizes and types will want to add it. —Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels.

Goluboff, Risa. Vagrant nation: police power, constitutional change, and the making of the 1960s. Oxford, 2016. 471p index ISBN 9780199768448, $34.95; ISBN 9780190262266 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Goluboff (Univ. of Virginia) delivers an intelligently articulated, well-researched explication of vagrancy laws, including how new interpretations helped transform American society during the 1960s. In clear although sometimes intricate prose, the author presents a fascinating history of how this jurisprudential strand affected workers and radicals, the downtrodden and the seemingly aberrant, civil rights activists and women, criminal defendants, and countercultural participants. Vagrant Nation points to how vagrancy laws managed, nevertheless, to remain largely obscure until determined advocates helped delegitimize such legislation. The book features little-known plaintiffs, renowned attorneys such as Al Wirin and Ernest Besig, and liberal Supreme Court justices, particularly William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, and William J. Brennan. Over two decades, they helped prevent one way to criminalize “nonconformity, dissent, and disorder.” This was in keeping with the zeitgeist of the 1960s, when establishment verities were so often called into question. The battle was never fully won, however, with a high court–sanctioned turn toward stop-and-frisk police actions as well as reliance on laws pertaining to disorderly conduct and breach of peace. —Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.

Horak, Laura. Girls will be boys: cross-dressed women, lesbians, and American cinema, 1908–1934. Rutgers, 2016. 311p bibl index afp ISBN 9780813574837, $90.00; ISBN 9780813574820 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780813574844 ebook, $29.95.
One rarely comes across works that can recalibrate an entire field the way Horak’s does. This amazing book reconfigures cinematic depictions of cross-dressing and lesbianism. Horak (Carleton Univ., Canada) examines the relationship between aspects of popular culture—including literature and theater (The Well of Loneliness, The Captive)—and the emerging motion picture medium. The author demonstrates that there is not a linear path or corresponding relationship between cross-dressing and lesbian identity. She reveals that some 360 films from the early silent era featured women who cross-dressed but that such depictions were meant to “elevate” the medium and connect it to, as she writes in the introduction, “genteel Anglo-American theater.” She explains that in terms of reading cross-dressing or “inversion,” the silent film industry differentiated between sophisticated audiences and the mass audience. In the second part of the book, Horak explores the rise of trousers in women’s fashion and the increasing presence of lesbianism in American film. Meticulously researched and accessible, Girls Will Be Boys is a must read for anyone working in GLBT film, gender studies, or early American cinema. Few scholarly arguments as sophisticated as Horak’s are presented in such clear and precise language. —Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.

Living with climate change: how communities are surviving and thriving in a changing climate, by Jane A. Bullock et al. CRC Press, 2016. 286p bibl index ISBN 9781498725361 pbk, $50.96; ISBN 9781498725392 ebook, $41.97.
This book begins by recognizing that adaptation to climate change is unavoidable. Since 1992, more than 6,000 major disasters related to climate, weather, and water have occurred globally, and annual occurrences have doubled since 2004. The authors and 17 other experts review efforts by US communities to deal with hazards like rising sea level, floods, drought and water shortages, fires, earthquakes, and extreme weather events. The book includes detailed practical and theoretical information on US and a few foreign communities that have successfully adapted to hazards. It also contains comments from city mayors on dealing with various disasters. George Heartwell, former mayor of Grand Rapids, Michigan, notes that climate change may involve “ideological debate” for Congress. He goes on to state that “mayors and city councils … don’t have that luxury—we have the floods and tornadoes…. All over the world cities are getting the work of mitigation and adaptation done.” An egregious misspelling on the cover (“Communites”) and some badly prepared figures are minor flaws in an otherwise excellent compendium of concrete information and guidance (e.g., the critical importance of community and stakeholder involvement) on successful adaptation in the US. The book also references applicable federal agencies, resources, and programs. —Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers.

Randall, Lisa. Dark matter and the dinosaurs: the astounding interconnectedness of the universe. Ecco, 2015. 412p bibl index ISBN 9780062328472, $29.99; ISBN 9780062328519 ebook, $14.99.
Most readers will be familiar with the theory that an impact between a comet and Earth some 65 million years ago resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs. Here, award-winning theoretical physicist Randall (Harvard Univ.), author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door (2011) and Warped Passages (CH, Mar’06, 43-4084), carries this theory a major step forward by suggesting that dark matter, which makes up about 27 percent of the universe, played a major role in the extinction by nudging a large comet from the Oort cloud that subsequently impacted Earth. In making her case, the author explains a great deal about our galaxy and its inhabitants, dark energy and matter, and the working of the universe in general. A topic of this magnitude could make for heavy reading. However, the author has an entertaining writing style that is readily understandable to the layperson with little technical background. The 20-page “Supplementary Reading” section enhances the value of this excellent work. —Summing Up: Highly recommended. All library collections.

Risse, Guenter B. Driven by fear: epidemics and isolation in San Francisco’s house of pestilence. Illinois, 2016. 298p index afp ISBN 9780252039843, $95.00; ISBN 9780252081385 pbk, $30.00; ISBN 9780252039843 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Risse (Univ. of California, San Francisco) explores the personal, public, medical, and political responses to epidemic disease in San Francisco in the late 19th century via lucid and engaging descriptions of how race, class, and identity shaped attitudes to people diagnosed (often mistakenly) with contagious diseases (leprosy, plague, smallpox, and syphilis), how they should be cared for, and the politics of providing (often unnecessarily isolated and confining) physical space for them. It highlights in particular the impersonal and dehumanizing policies implemented in the name of public health. The clear narrative engages readers immediately, and most undergraduates will have little difficulty. More advanced students will savor the attention to historical detail. Risse has a long-established reputation as an innovative historian of medicine and of hospitals in particular and has brought his formidable capabilities to this book as well. Thoroughly grounding his book in rich primary sources, particularly newspapers (especially the San Francisco Chronicle), and medical sources, Risse provides a model for sound historical research and storytelling, both of considerable use to undergraduates. Far more than an isolated historical account, the work continually relates the historical implications to modern medical culture and practice. Part of the “History of Emotions” series. —Summing Up: Highly recommended. All library collections.

Tomes, Nancy. Remaking the American patient: how Madison Avenue and modern medicine turned patients into consumers. North Carolina, 2015. 538p bibl index afp ISBN 9781469622774, $45.00; ISBN 9781469622781 ebook, $34.99.
Consumers make choices. Here, Tomes (Stony Brook Univ.) tracks how America’s mainstream patients and their families became consumers who make choices about doctors and treatments. A “good patient” today questions everything, from diagnoses to treatments and costs. Tomes explains the 20th-century evolution of patients’ roles and expectations in terms of complex interactions among patients, advocates, policy makers, insurance companies, medical providers, retailers, and pharmaceutical firms. Her broad evidence and strong arguments are distinctly more balanced, intricate, and useful than the consumer-as-dupe subtitle implies. The lively narrative traces the patient-to-consumer evolution through patients’ experiences in doctors’ offices and drugstores, examining the influences of activists, politicians, and business people working behind the scenes. Tomes focuses on affluent, mainstream patient-consumers, who remain the targets of most attention from both providers and policy makers. Nonetheless, she shows how differential vulnerabilities and abilities have affected medical practice and surviving evidence as the mid-century’s “medical democracy” ideal gave way to a new ideal, the “patient as watchdog,” with mixed results. Tomes successfully derives valuable insights into current concerns from her historical analysis of the fading distinction between medical professionalism and commerce. Part of the “Studies in Social Medicine” series. —Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.