Editors’ Picks for August 2018

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

Daliot-Bul, Michal. The anime boom in the United States: lessons for global creative industries, by Michal Daliot-Bul and Nissim Otmazgin. Harvard University Asia Center, 2017. 212p bibl index (Harvard East Asian monographs, 406) ISBN 9780674976993, $39.95.

This book has long been needed. Amid the many treatises on the contents, fans, images, artistic qualities, and sociocultural meanings of anime, there is finally a study of factors such as transnationalism, globalization, conglomeration, entrepreneurship, and hybridity relative to Japanese animation. Daliot-Bul (Univ. of Haifa., Israel) and Otmazgin (Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) provide an interdisciplinary approach to their subject that emanates from their cultural studies and political economy specialties and in the process cohesively blend history, theory, and methodology. They make comparative analyses of Japanese and American ways of conducting business and television animation history, show how anime inspired American animation, and question the premise of anime’s demise. Another strength of this book is the rigor of the authors’ search for answers, especially through many interviews with animation producers, executives, researchers, and government personnel in six cities in Israel, Japan, Korea, and the US. The Anime Boom in the United States excellently pries open another area of animation study through a methodically conducted research scheme and a non-academic writing style. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. A. Lent, independent scholar

Gottman, John Mordechai. The science of couples and family therapy: behind the scenes at the love lab, by John Mordechai Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman. W. W. Norton, 2018. 340p bibl index ISBN 9780393712742, $35.00; ISBN 9780393712759 ebook, contact publisher for price.

The Gottmans are giants in the clinical psychology realm. They are responsible for the creation of the Gottman Institute, Gottman Sound Relationship House Therapy, and Gottman Method Couples Therapy. This text traces the evolution of their theory, based upon general systems theory approach, called the Sound Relationship House. The Sound Relationship House consists of two supportive “columns,” trust and commitment, and seven “stories”: know one another’s world, share fondness and admiration, turn toward instead of away, the positive perspective, manage conflict, make life dreams come true, and create shared meaning. Each element is described in theoretical and practical terms. Perhaps most distinctive is the analysis of how the emotionally expressive parent affects the emotional experience of the infant child and vice versa—an analysis that has powerful consequences for a child’s development. The crucial distinction here is between “emotion dismissing” and “emotion coaching.” This book presents essential knowledge for all manner of family therapists: psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and their students. The authors make a compelling case for the argument that clinicians and researchers mutually benefit by working together. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. —D. Sydiaha, emeritus, University of Saskatchewan

Jones, Matthew. Science fiction cinema and 1950s Britain: recontextualizing cultural anxiety. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017 (c2018). 229p bibl filmography index ISBN 9781501322532, $120.00; ISBN 9781501322549 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In this innovative rereading of the 1950s, Jones (De Montfort Univ., UK) challenges decades of critical orthodoxy based on well-known US-centric readings of the meaning of science-fiction cinema. Contra largely alarmist and anxiety-induced interpretations (embodied most famously in Susan Sontag’s influential 1965 essay “The Imagination of Disaster,” published in Commentary), Jones shows that the meaning of SF films in Britain allowed for both worries and wish fulfillment. In addition to considering the reception of US films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Jones examines less canonical British fare such as Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959). The choice to analyze films that allegorize environmental issues, immigration, and political subversion against rhetoric in the news media and government/public service films is inspired, especially given the lack of traditional sources for reception study (e.g., audience surveys). Many of Jones’s arguments suggest recalibration rather than total rethink. For instance, he argues that in Britain fear of ideological subversion was embodied less in the anonymity of the masses and the neighborhood and more in worry about infiltration of the highest levels of government, a fear realized in the Cambridge spy ring of Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, and other establishment elites. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —K. M. Flanagan, University of Pittsburgh

Keel, Terence. Divine variations: how Christian thought became racial science. Stanford, 2018. 188p bibl index ISBN 9780804795401, $60.00; ISBN 9781503604377 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Describing this work as “a provincializing project of sorts,” Keel (history and black studies, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) argues that the formation of the race concept among European and American scientists over the past three centuries was informed by Christian intellectual history, and that this history was far more determinative of modern ideas of race than has been recognized. Explicating connections between Christian thought and scientific ideas of race, Keel observes that the biblical creation narrative and account of the subsequent dispersal of populations, especially the account of Noah’s three sons, appear to inform much scientific theory of distinct racial differences. That theory’s unacknowledged and largely unrecognized dependence on the biblical narrative enables Western science to make secular claims, and claims of universal significance for all human populations. Keel effectively challenges such claims and introduces examples to support his views. This volume is a critical contribution to study of the concept of race and a formidable challenge to many commonplace assumptions. Equally important, it compels the reader to reevaluate the extent to which science and religion are clearly distinct realms of thought, and offers new ways of thinking about their relationship. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. —S. C. Pearson, emeritus, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

Mathisen, Erik. The loyal republic: traitors, slaves, and the remaking of citizenship in Civil War America. North Carolina, 2018. 221p index ISBN 9781469636320, $34.95; ISBN 9781469636337 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Authors have written more than 50,000 books about the Civil War since 1865. Over the past 25 years, historians have produced a spate of works about how the Civil War impacted citizenship. In The Loyal Republic, Mathisen (Queen Mary Univ. of London) provides a new perspective on this important topic. Mathisen uses the lens of the Mississippi Valley to focus on the obligations of citizens to the state rather than the individual’s rights within the polity. Mathisen correctly asserts that the Civil War transformed the concept of what it means to be a citizen, and that loyalty became the key aspect of citizenship. Mathisen emphasizes that post-war Northern public opinion branded Southerners as disloyal traitors rather than individuals who had different views on the future direction of the country. He also successfully argues that African Americans bolstered their claim to citizenship through their wartime loyalty to the US. The author’s conclusions would have more validity if he extended his study beyond the Mississippi Valley. Despite this minor criticism, this well-researched work should become a welcome addition to any Civil War collection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. R. Hedtke, Cabrini College

McClendon, Gwyneth H. Envy in politics. Princeton, 2018. 231p ISBN 9780691178653, $29.95; ISBN 9781400889815 ebook, contact publisher for price.

A delightful combination of cross-disciplinary theory, large-N surveys, elite interviews, and a field experiment are used to triangulate how within-group status motivations (envy, spite, and the desire for admiration) explain otherwise puzzling variations in political behavior. Survey data from South Africa and the US illustrate that people will support redistributive policies that hurt their pocketbooks when those policies improve their relative position compared to their neighbors, especially when social ties are weak. Local politicians in South Africa were less likely to spend money on housing that would fail to help all qualified families, thus making some neighbors visibly better off than others, if they thought it would exacerbate existing tensions and jealousies. Supporters of a New Jersey LGBT advocacy group were more likely to participate in a local rally and march when incentivized with the promise of within-group acclaim. “Even though such actions are materially costly, people are more likely to participate if they know that their political participation will be observed and admired by in-group members.” Overall, this excellent, eclectic, and thought-provoking book is sure to inspire intense discussion and significant follow-up research. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —M. R. Michelson, Menlo College

Pryor, Francis. Stonehenge: the story of a sacred landscape. Pegasus Books, 2018. 207p index ISBN 9781681776408, $26.95; ISBN 9781681777030 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Taking a chronological approach from the earliest human settlement to the present day, archaeologist Pryor presents scholars’ understanding of Stonehenge as a religious landscape from its inception to abandonment. Once looked at as an isolated circle of stones remarkable mainly as an engineering feat, Stonehenge is now understood as a focal point of a vast religious worldview that spread over a large portion of southern England. Construction and ritual activity at the monument site may date from about 3300 BCE to 1500 BCE, at which time the religious landscapes of Britain changed to reflect a different belief system. Stonehenge was part of a sacred landscape guiding the ritual journey from the land of the living to the realm of the ancestors. The monument was changed continuously as Britons refined their ideas of the afterlife. At the same time, the surrounding earthen mounds, burial chambers, and other significant landscape features were in flux. Britons tweaked their landscape as they refined their worldview. Stonehenge was constantly “under construction.” So many misconceptions about Stonehenge have been promoted in the past that this well-informed publication is a required purchase for libraries. Summing Up: Essential. All public and academic levels/libraries. —D. J. Shepherd, independent scholar

Sigmund, Karl. Exact thinking in demented times: the Vienna Circle and the epic quest for the foundations of science. Basic Books, 2017. 449p bibl index ISBN 9780465096954, $32.00; ISBN 9780201608977 ebook, $17.99.

A group of eminent philosophers, physicists, and mathematicians with a common aim of providing a sound basis for the growth of scientific knowledge met in Vienna from 1924 to 1936. Repelled by prevailing philosophical “systems,” they championed logic, empiricism, and precision. Their cogent and influential work was (correctly) viewed as a threat to nationalist ideologies and fascism; but well after the dislocation of most members—largely to Britain and the US—their work profoundly impacted the modern world, bringing major advances to the foundations of mathematics and the sciences, computation, and language. Sigmund (mathematics, Univ. of Vienna) adroitly interleaves careful exposition of important ideas, depiction of an exciting if sobering historical chapter, and a group biography of fascinating intellectual heroes. General readers will gain a basis for understanding this important thread of 20th-century thought, which has influenced everything from road signs to computers and digital communication to economic theory. Specialists will appreciate learning about the broader context and background for founders or progenitors of contemporary research in their area. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —D. Bantz, University of Alaska

Streeby, Shelley. Imagining the future of climate change: world-making through science fiction and activism. California, 2018. 157p bibl ISBN 9780520294448, $85.00; ISBN 9780520294455 pbk, $18.95; ISBN 9780520967557 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In this slim volume, Streeby (Univ. of California, San Diego) presents a wealth of analysis on wide-ranging issues that are driving anthropogenic climate change. Although her work relates to environmental humanities, she goes beyond ‘words’ to critically engage and examine real-life deeds. Why are communities of color sparsely represented in mainstream environmental organizations? What is the role of Indigenous science in understanding climate change? These and similar concerns are then projected onto science fiction and its evolutionary genres, the major manifestation of which is what Streeby calls climate change fiction, or “cli-fi.” In particular, Streeby chronicles the many contributions of Indigenous authors to further the discussion of climate change. In parallel, she mines Afro and Latino science fiction to retrieve the environmental concerns of communities of color. In this quest, Streeby travels back in time to reinterpret classic works from an array of bygone authors to demonstrate how science fiction is grounded in material realities of its temporal and spatial context. In short, this volume is an important contribution to environmental humanities and environmental justice literatures, deserving a place on the shelf in both undergraduate and graduate collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —T. Niazi, University of Wisconsin

Understanding America’s gun culture, ed. by Craig Hovey and Lisa Fisher. Lexington Books, 2018. 174p bibl index ISBN 9781498568128, $90.00; ISBN 9781498568135 ebook, $85.50.

This ambitiously titled work, published in the context of high-profile mass shootings, contains eight chapters of uneven quality, as is often the case with edited books. Valuable contributions focus on the rhetoric surrounding gun ownership, the gun culture of law-abiding citizens, and a study on the profiles of mass shooters in school settings. At first glance, the book suffers from having two chapters on the same subject: reconciling Christian ethics and US gun ownership. However, the Christian ethics chapter, by Matt Stolick, is the standout chapter of the book. He writes an excellent overview of gun laws in relation to the gun industry, though the chapter would have been better placed toward the front of the book. Chapters on social violence and gender differences in Caribbean and German gun culture are interesting but seem out of place in this collection. Overall, this book contributes to the literature on gun culture, even if it doesn’t fully live up to its ambitious title. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —R. P. Lorenzo, Prairie View A&M University