Editors’ Picks for August 2021

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

book covers

1.5 generation Korean diaspora: a comparative understanding of identity, culture, and transnationalism, ed. by Jane Yeonjae Lee and Minjin Kim. Lexington Books, 2020 (c2021). 210p ISBN 9781793621115, $100.00; ISBN 9781793621122 ebook, $45.00.

Editors Lee (Kyung Hee Univ., South Korea) and Kim (Univ. of Cincinnati) bring together research on 1.5 generation Koreans who immigrated to the US, New Zealand, Canada, and Argentina as children. Recognizing that there is no universal definition of the 1.5 generation, the editors broadly describe this group as children born in their home country who immigrated to another country with their first-generation parents, making them not quite first- or second-generation Korean. Chapters analyze the unique and complex diversity of 1.5 generation Koreans by exploring multiple components of this group through interviews and ethnographic research. Some themes include ethnic identity negotiations, love and marriage, parenthood, health care, and Korean churches. The collection is divided into four sections: “Community, Identity, and Belonging”; “Family and Gender”; “Health and Well-Being”; and “Transnationalism and Entrepreneurship.” Each section analyzes how 1.5 generation Koreans’ upbringing shaped their identity and relationships. This volume fills a significant gap in the research on the 1.5 generation Korean diaspora and paves the way for further research on this topic. It will be a valuable resource for readers studying sociology and migration, particularly within the Korean diaspora. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. —T. Chan, MIT Libraries

Bohaker, Heidi. Doodem and council fire: Anishinaabe governance through alliance. Toronto, 2020. 304p bibl index ISBN 9781442647312, $65.00; ISBN 9781442667877 ebook, $65.00.

Doodem and Council Fire breaks new ground by expanding the emerging canon exploring the intersection of indigenous people and the construction of empires by focusing on autochthonous Anishinabek tradition. The text uses doodem (a unique marking of community belonging, sometimes represented pictorially) to tell a captivating political narrative in five parts. The text begins with an explanation of the relationship between doodem and origin stories by introducing the reader to the importance of maintaining relations to specific territory and persons, and situating the reader in the four directions of family: future descendants, ancestors, spouses, and doodem kin. The work then makes important contributions to the political and legal connections in Anishinaabe law by articulating “Anishinaabe Constitutionalism” and documenting the political and governance structures during the 18th century. Finally, the text explores how these structures evolved through extensive contact and engagement with colonial powers, being altered by both Christianity and settler colonialism. Overall, this is a remarkably thorough and well-documented examination of the intersection between Anishinaabe ethnography and chthonic legal and governance practices. It is both anthropology and political history, and will be enjoyed by both audiences. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —G. Christensen, University of North Dakota

Christenson, Dino. The myth of the imperial presidency: how public opinion checks the unilateral executive, by Dino P. Christenson and Douglas L. Kriner. Chicago, 2020. 240p bibl index ISBN 9780226704364, $90.00; ISBN 9780226704364 pbk, $30.00; ISBN 9780226704531 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Those who fret that the US separation of powers system cannot confront a “unilateral presidency” may find comfort in this work. Christenson (Boston Univ.) and Kriner (Cornell Univ.) have collaborated on a new book that upends conventional wisdom across a variety of issues and partisan landscapes, concluding that there is a “paucity” of truly unilateral—permanent and major—executive branch actions. To measure and analyze these issues, the authors emphasize executive order mentions in The New York Times, original survey experiments, case studies, and public opinion. On the latter, interestingly, unilateral actions do not move the needle much in presidential approval ratings. Partisanship and congressional responses (or lack of them) are far more dynamic, showing inconsistency regarding the so-called ideal, constitutionally driven balance of powers. The authors confront then-president Trump as an outlier in his open embrace of unilateralism, while also noting the consequences for his political capital. Demonstrating repeated instances of institutional resistance across Congress in recent decades on foreign and domestic policy, they conclude that constitutional theorists and the public should encourage the House and Senate to lead the charge, even at the risk of divided partisan government. In contrast, federal courts do not possess the same array of powers and often demur when invited to provide institutional ballast. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. —J. Farrier, University of Louisville

Disability, media, and representations: other bodies, ed. by Jacob Johanssen and Diana Garrisi. Routledge, 2021 (c2020). 196p index ISBN 9781138603011, $160.00; ISBN 9780429469244 ebook, $48.95.

Johannsen (St. Mary’s Univ., London) and Garrisi (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool Univ., Suzhou) have edited a very timely interdisciplinary anthology exploring media use by persons affected by disability and media representations of disability. Consistent across the chapters is a theme of “othering”—in media and discursive practices that represent disabled bodies as other, less-than-human, and outside the neoliberal polity. Media examined include social media platforms, serialized television, news and journalism, and government documents and broadcast media. In separate chapters, various authors study, for example, the “dis-ablism” of Reddit contributors; the “branding” of disability activists on social media; autoethnographic accounts of breast cancer; Twitter as a platform for disruption and counterdiscourses; studies of Japanese, North Korean, and South African representations and deployments of disability as a gendered and/or nation-defining concept; and a comparative study of German and UK access to media by persons with disabilities. The international scope (spanning the US, Japan, North Korea, Germany, South Africa, and the UK) and intersectional approach to representation (i.e., representations of people with disabilities and self-representation) make this volume an important contribution to disability studies. It will be very useful in introductory disability studies classes, while it is also sophisticated enough to advance scholarship and clarify thought in the field. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and faculty. —J. L. Croissant, University of Arizona

Donovan, Lisa. Teacher as curator: formative assessment and arts-based strategies, by Lisa Donovan and Sarah Anderberg . Teachers College Press, 2020. 224p bibl index ISBN 9780807764497, $99.00; ISBN 9780807764480 pbk, $32.95; ISBN 9780807779149 ebook, $26.36.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the modality of online learning across the US, propelling educators to reexamine their students’ learning environments. As students try to reconnect with the traditional classroom, teachers are reflecting on the gaps between their students’ transformations and achievements resulting from virtual formats. Donavan (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) and Anderberg (California County Superintendents Educational Services Association) employ the power of the practitioner to document and reflect on their own creative and innovative practices by examining research, design, authentic assessment, and the art of storytelling. Through seven chapters, they offer numerous creative assessment strategies for suggested incorporation into the classroom for culturally responsive learning. The case for the process of curation and arts-based strategies in formative assessment provides a deeper understanding of the creative process for all learners. Readers will discover learning stories as a tool for authentic assessment to close the feedback loop for their students. As students engage in problem solving, reflection, and artistic exploration in the content curriculum, the process of learning shifts to a student-centered classroom enhanced by critical thinking and collaboration. Kindergarten through university educators will benefit from reading this book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —D. Pellegrino, University of Scranton

Mahdi, Waleed F. Arab Americans in film: from Hollywood and Egyptian stereotypes to self-representation. Syracuse, 2020. 304p filmography bibl index ISBN 9780815636717, $75.00; ISBN 9780815636816 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780815654964 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Mahdi (Univ. of Oklahoma) takes an interesting approach to the subject of representation, discussing portrayals of Arab Americans in Hollywood films as well as in Egyptian cinema, and as shown in films created by Arab American directors. Early Hollywood depicted Arabs as either romantically exotic or the sinister Other. Later, in an era of tension and conflict in the Middle East, romance was dropped in favor of demonization, and Arab Americans were routinely presented as potential terrorists. In Egypt the same political trends led to depictions of Egyptian Americans who returned to Egypt either as greedy, conniving materialists who had turned their backs on Egyptian religion and traditions, or as deeply conflicted individuals faced with a choice between the “American Dream” and their Egyptian roots. After 9/11, Mahdi detects a shift toward more nuanced representations and notes the emergence of successful Arab American actors (e.g., Tony Shaloub, Rami Malek), though most Arab American actors continue to have to play the evil Arab. Currently, Mahdi is encouraged by the rise of Arab American writers, comedians, and musicians, and by the works of directors including Cherien Dabis, Sam Kadi, and Rola Nashef, whose films portray ordinary Arab Americans and their efforts to make a life in America and deal with intergenerational conflicts. A fascinating book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —W. A. Vincent, Michigan State University

Moral responsibility in the twenty-first century: just war theory and the ethical challenges of autonomous weapons systems, ed. by Steven C. Roach and Amy E. Eckert. SUNY Press, 2020. 246p bibl index ISBN 9781438480015, $95.00; ISBN 9781438480022 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Given that the just war tradition has ancient roots (Cicero) and that its transmission through Western culture has depended on Christian theorists (Augustine and Aquinas), the question arises as to how relevant a secular tradition of just war theorizing can be in the age of modern warfare. Just war thinking has adapted to changed historical circumstances, and the eight essays in this edited volume address changes to its applicability brought on specifically by contemporary warfare technologies. The just war criterion of legitimate authority plays a central role in the discussions, and a core issue in the essays is the contemporary problem presented by autonomous weapons and the relinquishing of moral responsibility for such weapons. Issues addressed in the volume include the rights of robots, the role of artificial intelligence, responsibility in private military and/or security companies, and the difference between traditional and revisionist just war theorizing. Laura Sjoberg’s essay, which deserves a wide readership, adopts a feminist perspective and situates the just war construct within the whole structure of contemporary violence, deeming nonviolence a “fantasy.” Roach (Univ. of South Florida) and Eckert (Metropolitan State Univ. of Denver) have provided a sophisticated collection for advanced readers. The volume contributes significantly to an ever-expanding discussion of war, just war, violence, and moral responsibility. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. —L. Steffen, Lehigh University

Paradis, Michel. Last mission to Tokyo: the extraordinary story of the Doolittle Raiders and their final fight for justice. Simon & Schuster, 2020. 480p bibl index ISBN 9781501104718, $28.00; ISBN 9781501104749 ebook, $14.99.

Today, few Americans recall the heroism of the Doolittle Raid on April 18, 1942, when Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle led 80 airmen in a mission to bomb the Japanese mainland, designed to lift American morale following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now, on the dawn of the raid’s 80th anniversary, Paradis (Columbia Law School) reexamines the trial of those Japanese officers accused of the murder of three American POWs—Harold Spatz, Dean Hallmark, and William Farrow. Using archival materials, Paradis re-creates the drama of American military prosecutors seeking execution for the accused, while American and Japanese defense attorneys were searching for the truth. The verdict was not assured. Earlier, Douglas MacArthur, Allied commander in the Pacific, wanted a death sentence for the accused during the infamous Yamashita trial in 1946, less for what Yamashita did not do and more for the humiliating defeat MacArthur suffered in the Philippines. Most observers assumed the Japanese defendants in the Doolittle trial would meet a similar fate, if not for the determined effort of the defense, who discovered the truth behind the executions of the three Americans. Thisis a tour de force for those interested in military justice and the war crimes trials that followed in the war’s wake. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. —C. C. Lovett, Emporia State University

Researching perpetrators of genocide, ed. by Kjell Anderson and Erin Jessee. Wisconsin, 2020. 224p index ISBN 9780299329709, $79.95; ISBN 9780299329730 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Anderson (Univ. of Manitoba, Canada) and Jessee (Univ. of Glasgow, UK) have edited this excellent volume about perpetrators of genocide. While genocide studies have tended to focus on “survivors, rescuers, and bystanders,” this volume advances a greater understanding of those who perpetrate genocidal violence. Beyond providing readers with more context about perpetrators, the book also asks, “What are the ‘best practices’ for those conducting qualitative research among perpetrators of genocide?” The chapters that follow engage with these questions in Rwanda, Argentina, Syria, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. The volume’s strengths are its willingness to tackle challenging methodological questions as well as its acknowledgment of the “colonial quality” of most genocide scholarship and its call for other researchers to do more to “incorporate research by scholars in the Global South.” The editors share some best practices for engaging with this work, from research design to fieldwork to analysis, to advance these questions ethically. This is an essential volume for libraries serving advanced undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, researchers, and practitioners studying genocide, political science, history, and anthropology. Summing Up: Essential. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —C. Pinto, Mount Holyoke College

Stanley, Richard P. Conversational problem solving. American Mathematical Society, 2020. 178p bibl index ISBN 9781470456351 pbk, $50.00; ISBN 9781470456948 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Classifying mathematics as either serious or recreational makes sense only upon recognizing said designations as somewhat subjective, at best provisional, and—as is key here, not necessarily mutually exclusive. Indeed, the material in this book lives on the intersection: a chess book written in a similar spirit would contain fun, short brilliancies played by great masters and accompanied by sardonic annotations. Other books have packaged similar content as problems to be solved, followed by appendixes full of answers, and there is little doubt that the integrated presentation here actually makes spoilers nearly impossible to avoid. Indeed, by design, the book doesn’t generally call on readers to solve any problems themselves. Stanley (Univ. of Miami) posits a dialogue in which a fictional, slightly pompous professor challenges his eight fictional, genius-level, and diverse students and rarely stumps them all. The amusing conversations that ensue teach valuable problem-solving tricks that mathematicians use constantly, yet rarely try to systematize. Although the answers here generally arrive immediately, they come tersely, sometimes more like hints, so that a careful reading—not so passive after all—will actually demand mental effort much like digesting any theorem/proof book. A few old saws recur in the text, but they serve as points of departure for genuine novelties. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —D. V. Feldman, University of New Hampshire