Editors’ Picks for January 2024

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.


One of the book’s many charms is its wide range of beautiful, full-color illustrations of the concepts involved, drawn from manuscripts, stained glass windows, and frescoes.

—C. C. Stayer, Independent Scholar

Adler, Gillian. Alle thyng hath tyme: time and medieval life, by Gillian Adler and Paul Strohm. Reaktion Books, 2023. 248p bibl index ISBN 9781789146790, $22.50; ISBN 9781789147223 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Alle Thyng Hath Tyme will broadly appeal to those who study the Middle Ages as well as those interested in human concepts of time and their representations in artwork. Adler (literature, Sarah Lawrence College) and Strohm (emer., humanities, Columbia Univ.) are both Chaucer scholars, and Adler has written previously about Chaucer’s views of time. The authors take readers on a full tour of the many ways medieval people conceived of and measured time, including their use of the liturgical day and year; the seasons; the planets; regnal years; and a variety of instruments including sundials, astrolabes, and mechanical clocks. Readers also have a chance to see how important figures like Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe thought about their experiences with time. The final chapters about the stages of human life and the expectation of the end times are particularly moving. One of the book’s many charms is its wide range of beautiful, full-color illustrations of the concepts involved, drawn from manuscripts, stained glass windows, and frescoes. This engaging work will interest students and scholars alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty. —C. C. Stayer, Independent Scholar


This volume will interest students in the fields of crimmigration, criminology, sociology, legal studies, and immigration studies.

—A. J. Trevino, Wheaton College

Arriaga, Felicia. Behind crimmigration: ICE, law enforcement, and resistance in America. North Carolina, 2023. 190p bibl index ISBN 9781469673226, $99.00; ISBN 9781469673233 pbk, $27.95; ISBN 9781469673240 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In this important regional study on the criminalization of immigration—i.e., crimmigration—Arriaga (Baruch College, CUNY) examines how a federal immigration enforcement program, which allows state and local law enforcement agencies to collaborate with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), operated throughout North Carolina. Arriaga discusses how the process of crimmigration became invisible and normalized at a time when the Latinx population—documented and undocumented—increased dramatically in that state. She also looks at how the Latinx community challenged intergovernmental crimmigration policies, practices, and politics. Arriaga sees the assigning of immigration enforcement responsibilities (which may lead to incarceration and deportation) to county commissioners and sheriff’s offices as an example of the “devolution of immigration federalism” (p. 4). This volume will interest students in the fields of crimmigration, criminology, sociology, legal studies, and immigration studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —A. J. Trevino, Wheaton College


It is a rich discussion of the many alternative perspectives and intellectual practices currently shaping computing.

—J. Brzezinski, McHenry County College

Becker, Christoph. Insolvent: how to reorient computing for just sustainability. MIT, 2023. 398p bibl index ISBN 9780262545600, $55.00; ISBN 9780262374651 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This book is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary critique of current perspectives on sustainability and justice in system design. Becker (Univ. of Toronto, Canada) tackles the complexities of technological and societal interactions. He illustrates the impacts of the increasingly opaque information technologies and the rapidly rising amount of computation, which raise significant sustainability questions and have unknown societal implications. Becker proposes changes to the conceptual frameworks of system dynamics and critical system thinking to show nonlinear, counterintuitive effects from minor leverage-point influences. The first part of the book discusses the societal impacts of computing systems, including sustainability, societal debts, and “problemism,” a term Becker uses to describe the preoccupation with problem-solving. In the second part, he presents new system design approaches that focus on sustainability and justice in the context of critical systems thinking. Becker discusses value-neutral, rational decision-making concepts and critical engineering requirements from the systemic point of view. Finally, he proposes a reorientation of professional experience and presents professional ethics codes for computing. The book is broadly addressed to readers within computing and neighboring fields. It is a rich discussion of the many alternative perspectives and intellectual practices currently shaping computing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —J. Brzezinski, McHenry County College


This invaluable resource should be included in any academic collection on genocide.

—C. A. Sproles, University of Louisville

The Cambridge world history of genocide, ed. by Ben Kiernan. Cambridge, 2023. 2234p 3v. bibl index ISBN 978110875973, $400.00; ISBN 9781108765480 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This expansive three-volume work, edited by noted genocide scholar Kiernan (Yale Univ.), chronicles the history of genocide from the ancient world to the present. Each volume contains essays by noted scholars in the field. Volume 1 covers ancient times through the medieval period. Volume 2 focuses on the eras of European conquest through WW I. The final volume addresses the 20th century to the present. Chapters include topics such as “Genocide in Ancient Mesopotamia during the Bronze and Iron Ages,” “Genocide in Northern Australia, 1824–1928,” and “The Genocide of the Romani people in Europe.” The scholarship on ancient and biblical genocide and the decimation of native populations, particularly in North America and Africa, stands as particularly noteworthy, as these areas have yet to be fully researched. Volume 3 devotes seven chapters to the atrocities during WW II, including the rape of Nanking, and also includes essays on current genocidal actions, such as those occurring against the Rohingyas in Myanmar and the slaughter in the Sudans. The set ends with an examination of the history of modern attempts to prevent genocide. This invaluable resource should be included in any academic collection on genocide. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —C. A. Sproles, University of Louisville


While this cogent framework omits broad swaths of the Global South (and the concerns of smaller, less funded urban units), its systematic analysis should be an engaging foundation for understanding what has been accomplished, what can be done in the future, and how action can be effectively channeled toward these vital urban issues.

—G. W. McDonogh, Bryn Mawr College

Global sustainable cities: city governments and our environmental future, ed. by Danielle Spiegel-Feld, Katrina Miriam Wyman, and John J. Coughlin. New York University, 2023. 384p bibl index ISBN 9781479805747, $99.00; ISBN 9781479805754 pbk, $35.00; ISBN 9781479805730 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This broad and highly readable comparative collection provides a valuable tool for scholars working with eager students and environmental activists who raise crucial urban ecological issues without always understanding the complex, interlocking legal and governance issues involved in the meaningful implementation of change. Chapter authors—both practitioners and scholars, including legal experts and scholars of ecology—provide clear, concise case studies in four key areas of action—water quality, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and adaptations to climate change—framed by general essays on environmental law and morality. These case clusters are anchored by multiple essays drawn from a limited set of global metropoles: New York, Berlin, London, Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing, and Abu Dhabi. Each essay, in turn, sets forth the complicated structures of regulations and implications that intersect in municipal, regional, and state action. While this cogent framework omits broad swaths of the Global South (and the concerns of smaller, less funded urban units), its systematic analysis should be an engaging foundation for understanding what has been accomplished, what can be done in the future, and how action can be effectively channeled toward these vital urban issues. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —G. W. McDonogh, Bryn Mawr College


By making a patient, example-riddled journey through the decades, readers see the progression of strategy and the advancement of policy from the days of the battleship fleet to the rise of the Information Age.

—S. R. DiMarco, Commonwealth University of PA

Hanley, Jr., John T. The US Navy and the national security establishment: a critical assessment. L. Rienner, 2023. 341p bibl index ISBN 9781685858520, $120.00; ISBN 9781685856489 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Hanley (fellow, U.S. Naval War College) poses several interesting thoughts on the role of the United States Navy in the context of the national security establishment, especially post–WW II. With a special focus on the evolution of the Navy’s organizational and operational dynamics, Hanley enlightens readers about what he describes as the interaction of the ecosystem—composed of Congress, the Department of Defense, and the defense industry—in an ever-changing, ever-evolving geopolitical environment. The rise of China, artificial intelligence, advances in intelligence gathering and analysis, and the role of the Navy as a learning organization expose possibilities and fragilities that one never would have imagined at the end of World War II. By making a patient, example-riddled journey through the decades, readers see the progression of strategy and the advancement of policy from the days of the battleship fleet to the rise of the Information Age. This complex and critical assessment is well researched yet still readable. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —S. R. DiMarco, Commonwealth University of PA


This beautifully written book is a must read for academic and nonacademic readers interested in peace building processes at the grassroots level.

—A. Arraras, Florida International University

​Lederach, Angela Jill. Feel the grass grow: ecologies of slow peace in Colombia. Stanford, 2023. 300p bibl index ISBN 9781503634640, $90.00; ISBN 9781503635685 pbk, $30.00; ISBN 9781503635692 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Drawing from extensive ethnographic and participatory research in Montes de María, Colombia, Lederach’s book examines campesinos’ historical struggle to defend land, life, and territory and build peace in Colombia. Lederach (anthropology, Creighton Univ.) criticizes traditional peace building approaches, referred to as “hurry peace,” that focus on state-centric and top-down domestic and/or international interventions. According to Lederach, haste/hurry peace perpetuates social inequality, violates human dignity, disrupts relations, and undermines local agency and participation. In contrast to these approaches, Lederach advances a theory of slow peace, which “offers a relational framework for peacebuilding as a multispecies, multigenerational, and permanent social process for liberation.” The last two chapters provide powerful, compelling examples of how social leaders created and sustained intercultural spaces for dialogue and coalition-building in their struggle to build slow peace in Colombia. This beautifully written book is a must read for academic and nonacademic readers interested in peace building processes at the grassroots level. Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels. —A. Arraras, Florida International University


Vivian’s thought-provoking book makes a substantial contribution to ongoing discussions about freedom of speech both within and outside the realm of college campuses.

—G. Thuswaldner, Whitworth University

Vivian, Bradford. Campus misinformation: the real threat to free speech in American higher education. Oxford, 2022 (c2023). 227p bibl index ISBN 9780197531273, $29.95; ISBN 9780197531303 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In recent years, trust in higher education has eroded. A survey conducted in 2022 showed that merely 55 percent of Americans held a positive view of the impact colleges and universities have on society. As Vivian (communication, Penn State Univ.) illustrates in his highly important book, misinformation about campuses has a lot to do with the negative perception of higher education. One frequently echoed accusation is that colleges and universities predominantly uphold progressive politics, thereby displaying hostility toward conservative viewpoints. However, Vivian argues that attempting to counterbalance progressive and conservative perspectives under the banner of “viewpoint diversity” might not be the solution. Instead, he asserts that genuine freedom of speech should ensure the inclusion of a wide array of diverse viewpoints, extending well beyond the confines of the progressive/conservative dichotomy. Vivian’s thought-provoking book makes a substantial contribution to ongoing discussions about freedom of speech both within and outside the realm of college campuses. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; general readers; professionals. —G. Thuswaldner, Whitworth University


Graced with several intriguing illustrations (presented in the text but omitted in the indexes), this slim volume, filled with fresh, sparking, and witty interpretations of Ovid’s main opus, will satisfy both the beginning and the advanced scholar.

—R. Cormier, emeritus, Longwood University

Williams, Gareth. On Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Columbia, 2023. 192p bibl index ISBN 9780231200707, $60.00; ISBN 9780231200714 pbk, $14.95; ISBN 9780231553759 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Here is a delightful volume worth reading for its singular insights and its stimulating variety. Williams (Columbia Univ.) has published a number of solid and articulate monographs. In this volume, he focuses by and large on just one text, Ovid’s amazing and powerful treatise on change. Individuality and ever-changing characterizations are the concerns of the opening chapter, “Diversity, Idiosyncrasy, and Self-Discovery in the Metamorphoses.” In the second chapter, Williams turns to the mutability of speech and language, showing “truth as an instrument of power,” which functions as a means to linguistic control. Williams covers two notorious and deviant episodes of incest in the third chapter, “The Paths of Deviance: Sexual Morality and the Incestuous Urge in the Metamorphoses.” The fourth chapter studies different versions of divine retribution, particularly under Augustus Caesar. Graced with several intriguing illustrations (presented in the text but omitted in the indexes), this slim volume, filled with fresh, sparking, and witty interpretations of Ovid’s main opus, will satisfy both the beginning and the advanced scholar. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through faculty. —R. Cormier, emeritus, Longwood University


Zee’s familiarity with quantum field theory, and field theory in general (including electromagnetism and gravity), is displayed brilliantly and humorously throughout the text.

—J. F. Burkhart, emeritus, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Zee, A. Quantum field theory, as simply as possible. Princeton, 2023. 372p bibl index ISBN 9780691174297, $39.95; ISBN 9780691239279 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Zee (Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) is a gifted, prolific writer: 200 scientific publications, 5 physics books for the general public, 3 graduate physics textbooks, and 1 Chinese cookbook. As in his earlier On Gravity (CH, Oct’18, 56-0687), Zee seems to transcend expected boundaries in writing on a difficult subject. This book is certain to appeal to, instruct, and entertain at many levels: motivated lay readers, physics students (undergraduate and graduate), and professional physicists who lack familiarity with the topic will enjoy reading it. Zee’s familiarity with quantum field theory, and field theory in general (including electromagnetism and gravity), is displayed brilliantly and humorously throughout the text. Zee starts with a review of classical physics, comparing Newton’s formulation to using the Lagrangian and the principle of least action, adding a little bit of special relativity along the way. This, a kind of extreme action, becomes the jumping-off platform for the rest of the book. Zee’s originality is shown, for example, in his explanation of virtual particles in part 5, chapter 1 (“Antimatter!”) and his discussion of the derivation of an expanding universe in part 5, chapter 5 (“Gravity and Curved Spacetime”). Additionally, this reviewer finds the endnotes nothing short of priceless. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —J. F. Burkhart, emeritus, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs