Editors’ Picks for April 2024

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

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The strength of this work is the author’s incorporation of a respected theoretical position, arising from the dominant society, in the successful treatment of Indigenous prisoners.

—F. E. Knowles, Valdosta State University

Corcoran, Carma. The incarceration of Native American women: creating pathways to wellness and recovery through gentle action theory. Nebraska, 2023. 200p bibl index ISBN 9781496224187, $55.00; ISBN 9781496236500 ebook, $55.00.

Corcoran (Lewis and Clark Law School; Portland State Univ.; Salish Kootenai College) examines the application of F. David Peat’s gentle action theory to the rehabilitation of Indigenous female prisoners. Indigenous peoples are grossly overrepresented in many correctional settings in North America, often finding that their alienation in a colonizers’ world is what leads to their supposed offenses. This same subjugation to the worldview of the more powerful Other also interferes with successful completion of the correctional cycle (i.e., release) and increases recidivism. Using gentle action theory, Corcoran illustrates the manner in which successful rehabilitation can take place in the lives of Indigenous women, drawing a parallel between Peat’s work and methods of Indigenous healing. Corcoran’s conclusions align with those of other Indigenous theorists who argue that a return to traditional healing helps Indigenous prisoners survive the system and reduces recidivism. The strength of this work is the author’s incorporation of a respected theoretical position, arising from the dominant society, in the successful treatment of Indigenous prisoners. The approach may therefore gain more acceptance in the strict and rigid realm of corrections that serves the colonizer state. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —F. E. Knowles, Valdosta State University


This book is well researched and well referenced with chapter notes and black-and-white illustrations.

—E. R. Paterson, emeritus, SUNY College at Cortland

Crowther, Kathleen M. Policing pregnant bodies: from ancient Greece to post-Roe America. Johns Hopkins, 2023. 288p bibl index ISBN 9781421447636, $29.95; ISBN 9781421447643 ebook, contact publisher for pricing.

Crowther (Univ. of Oklahoma), a very knowledgeable historian of reproduction, effectively draws together ancient and modern religious and philosophical thought about the importance of the developing fetus and the minimal role (as told from the mostly male perspective) of the pregnant female body. The fetus has been thoroughly studied, examined, and documented in much detail as a separate entity. The author discusses historical records of embryology and then explains its consequences in terms of less emphasis and attention on maternal morbidity and mortality. She points out that most maternal deaths are preventable and that pregnancy complications are more common than people believe. She also reports on criminal prosecutions of women who have miscarriages or stillbirths. Crowther links ancient and present fears about the dangers of the womb, the supposed toxic nature of menstrual blood, changing and contradictory advice about nutrition and exercise given to pregnant women, misinformation about conception and how to tell if a woman is pregnant, recommendations for avoiding miscarriage, quickening and “fetal heartbeat” bills and abortion bans, herbal abortifacients, slavery and sex workers, and much more. This book is well researched and well referenced with chapter notes and black-and-white illustrations. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —E. R. Paterson, emeritus, SUNY College at Cortland


This is a story that brings a smile, and a tear, with pathos and utmost sublimity.

—T. Lindvall, Virginia Wesleyan University

Eyman, Scott. Charlie Chaplin vs. America: when art, sex, and politics collided. Simon & Schuster, 2023. 432p bibl index ISBN 9781982176358, $29.99; ISBN 9781982176372 ebook, $14.99.

In this impressively substantial volume, bestselling biographer Eyman captures the ebullience, the arrogance, the brilliance, and the scandalous portrait of the great silent comedian, weaving together facts and legends into one of the most fascinating and compelling tapestries since Philomela’s. Scholarly without being pedantic, this readable work cross-stitches Chaplin’s own perverse sexual proclivities with the reactionary political witch hunt that alienated the non-conforming artist from his adopted country. Reconstructing the battle as America vs. Chaplin, Eyman begins the page-turning narrative with the likes of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and former President Richard Nixon lambasting the depraved and traitorous comic. While the book is a bit hagiographic, with the Everyman Chaplin emerging as a symbol of Zelensky’s Ukraine, Eyman excavates archival treasures that illuminate various facets of the Tramp’s trajectory from impoverished child to global star to American pariah. What Eyman gives readers, however, is a drama as enthralling as Charles Dickens could write, of a comic David battling the Goliath of the federal government. This is a story that brings a smile, and a tear, with pathos and utmost sublimity. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —T. Lindvall, Virginia Wesleyan University


The book is written in a captivating and engaging style, and space enthusiasts will enjoy it.

—J. Z. Kiss, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Grush, Loren. The six: the untold story of America’s first women astronauts. Scribner, 2023. 432p bibl index ISBN 9781982172800, $32.50; ISBN 9781982172824 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In the early history of NASA, astronauts were white men from the military fighter pilot ranks. While women lobbied to join the astronaut corps, NASA rejected their efforts and their political leadership. However, at the beginning of the Space Shuttle era in the late 1970s, NASA made a conscious effort to recruit women and more diverse candidates as astronauts. In addition, a new category of astronaut—the mission specialist, who performed a range of scientific, medical, and engineering experiments during a spaceflight mission—was created. These mission specialists typically had doctoral degrees (MD or PhD). In 1978, 6 women were selected from 8,000 applicants as mission specialists: Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon. Grush (science journalist) focuses on their individual and collective stories, illustrating the many societal and sexist challenges they faced. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, and Judith Resnik died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. All six made a unique mark on history. The book is written in a captivating and engaging style, and space enthusiasts will enjoy it. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels, especially general readers. —J. Z. Kiss, University of North Carolina Greensboro


Rather than pretend that there is a way to get the naming right once and for all, Jordan instead examines historical, literary, linguistic, philosophical, and spiritual intersections of human existence and queer identity.

—M. Marinucci, Eastern Washington University

Jordan, Mark D. Queer callings: untimely notes on names and desires. Fordham, 2023. 176p bibl index ISBN 9781531504533, $27.95; ISBN 9781531504557 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Jordan’s Queer Callings is queer not merely in its subject matter, but also in style and structure. It is neither chronological nor linear—a quality that is among its many strengths. To the extent that this book presents an argument, it is that the terminology associated with identity, particularly sex and gender identity, is inadequate. Jordan (Harvard Divinity School) pairs a call for further invention and innovation with an awareness that there is “no reason to expect that sex/gender words are going to settle down any time soon” (p. 17). Rather than pretend that there is a way to get the naming right once and for all, Jordan instead examines historical, literary, linguistic, philosophical, and spiritual intersections of human existence and queer identity. While this book avoids many of the conventions associated with scholarly texts, it is profoundly insightful and beautifully written. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; general readers. —M. Marinucci, Eastern Washington University


Although the book offers valuable insights into the roots of the MAGA movement, this reviewer would have preferred a more precise title focusing on the political exploitation of victim veteran concept. Nevertheless, this is an important new contribution to the literature on the legacy of the Vietnam War.

—K. B. Hannel, Saint Leo University

Lembcke, Jerry. The cult of the victim veteran: MAGA fantasies in lost-war America. Routledge, 2023. 130p bibl index ISBN 9781032490267, $170.00; ISBN 9781032490243 pbk, $48.95; ISBN 9781000912470 ebook, $48.95.

In his eighth book, The Cult of the Victim Veteran, Lembke (emer., Holy Cross College) asserts that in the era following the Vietnam War, “traumatized war veterans” in the US have become “the metamorphic stand-ins for the nation’s loss of pride and superiority” (p. 96). He further contends that political figures like Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Donald Trump were quick to leverage this constructed image for personal and political gain, to the detriment of the country and to Americans’ understanding of historical and contemporary events. Although the book offers valuable insights into the roots of the MAGA movement, this reviewer would have preferred a more precise title focusing on the political exploitation of victim veteran concept. Nevertheless, this is an important new contribution to the literature on the legacy of the Vietnam War. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —K. B. Hannel, Saint Leo University


Nieborg and Foxman situate their exploration in media and game studies, offering something for scholars of either area.

—K. Shotick, Northern Illinois University

Nieborg, David B. Mainstreaming and game journalism, by David B. Nieborg and Maxwell Foxman. MIT, 2023. 224p bibl index ISBN 9780262546287 pbk, $30.00; ISBN 9780262375511 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In this engaging exploration of video game journalism, Nieborg (media studies, Univ. of Toronto) and Foxman (media and game studies, Univ. of Oregon) ask if video games are becoming mainstream. With the ubiquity of casual games such as Candy Crush, it may seem that way, though the authors have a more nuanced take. Building off 20 conversations with game journalists, they explore the processes that disable and enable the mainstreaming of video games. The book begins with an historical examination of video game culture and moves through a characterization of the types of game journalists to a reflection on mainstreaming as a cultural process. Nieborg and Foxman situate their exploration in media and game studies, offering something for scholars of either area. The work is appropriate for a wide variety of readers, from undergraduates to scholars, offering the best of both readability and scholarly critique. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty. —K. Shotick, Northern Illinois University


Historical archaeology recognizes and appreciates the richness of African American culture, due in large part to Black archaeologists, past and present.

—C. C. Kolb, independent scholar

Orser, Charles E., Jr. Living ceramics, storied ground: a history of African American archaeology. University Press of Florida, 2023. 264p bibl index ISBN 9780813069791, $85.00; ISBN 9780813080260 pbk, $35.00; ISBN 9780813072975 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Orser (Arizona State Univ.) is the author of over 90 professional articles; the textbook Historical Archaeology (2017), now in its third edition; and eight other groundbreaking books, as well as the founder and editor of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology. He is a highly regarded anthropological historical archaeologist who studies African diaspora history and the culture of the kidnapped and enslaved, post-1492, as evidenced in residual materials and artifacts. In this volume, supported by a splendid bibliography, he highlights how archaeology can adopt anti-racist principles and develop partnerships with descendant communities. He examines influential and mistaken ideas of prominent scholars before stressing the contributions of Black writers W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Henry Bibb. He also recognizes the unsung archaeologists Charles Fairbanks, Jimmy Griffin, Adelaide and Ripley Bullen, Ivor and Audrey Noël Hume, Stanley South, Anna Agbe-Davies, and Julie Schabitsky. Chapters center on material culture (multicultural Colonoware pottery, white clay and terracotta smoking pipes, witch bottles), BaKongo cross-in-circle spiritualism, and uses of pits (a locus of religious shrines). Historical archaeology recognizes and appreciates the richness of African American culture, due in large part to Black archaeologists, past and present. A significant contribution to the literature. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals. —C. C. Kolb, independent scholar


This exploration of the discourse surrounding DH serves as a valuable resource for researchers, faculty, students, librarians, and administrators, offering profound insights into the dynamics of the field and its transformative role in humanistic inquiry.

—C. R. Hilburger, State University of New York at Fredonia

Ramsay, Stephen. On the digital humanities: essays and provocations. Minnesota, 2023. 202p bibl index ISBN 9781517915001, $104.00; ISBN 9781517915018 pbk, $26.00; ISBN 9781452969428 ebook, $26.00.

Ramsay’s collection of essays spans more than 15 years of influential work in the digital humanities (DH), providing a compelling exploration of diverse issues within the field and its transformative impact on humanistic inquiry. Covering both theoretical and practical topics—from hermeneutics and coding to digital humanities centers, text analysis, and teaching—Ramsay (English, Univ. of Nebraska) offers valuable insights to anyone interested in “the hottest thing in the humanities” (p. 165). The short but sweet chapter “Care of the Soul”thoughtfully incorporates recommendations for various stakeholders, making DH meaningful and approachable to academic department chairs, senior library administrators, students, library staff, and faculty. Ramsay concludes with an essay responding to the influential Debates in the Digital Humanities (2012), now an annual series, with a nuanced critique of the “deep fears and anxieties” within the work (p. 165). Simultaneously, he notes the uplifting nature of this discourse due to the power of debate. This exploration of the discourse surrounding DH serves as a valuable resource for researchers, faculty, students, librarians, and administrators, offering profound insights into the dynamics of the field and its transformative role in humanistic inquiry. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —C. R. Hilburger, State University of New York at Fredonia


Toyota illustrates these shin Issei women’s resiliency and strength as they adjusted to living in the US, arguing that they were activists who changed their lives for the better and transformed the Japanese American community in the process.

—T. Chan, MIT Libraries

Toyota, Tritia. Intimate strangers: shin Issei women and contemporary Japanese American community, 1980–2020. Temple, 2023. 244p bibl index ISBN 9781439923511, $110.00; ISBN 9781439923528 pbk, $32.95; ISBN 9781439923535 ebook, $32.95.

In Intimate Strangers, Toyota (anthropology, Univ. of California, Los Angeles) interviews Japanese women who migrated to the US in their twenties at the end of the 20th century. Known as shin Issei, these women had few skills and often did not know anyone when they arrived in the US. These women describe their lives before migrating when they still lived in Japan, a gendered society where they had few economic opportunities, prompting their decision to come to the US in search of a better life. Even still, they faced uncertain futures in their new country. They detail surviving in the US without legal status, living precarious lives under the radar, the racialization that Japanese Americans faced, and their search for community. Toyota illustrates these shin Issei women’s resiliency and strength as they adjusted to living in the US, arguing that they were activists who changed their lives for the better and transformed the Japanese American community in the process. In detailing these women’s stories, Toyota also analyzes how race, gender, and belonging intersect with their lives. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals. —T. Chan, MIT Libraries