Editors’ Picks for July 2017

11 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

editors' picks july 2017

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Annovi, Gian Maria. Pier Paolo Pasolini: performing authorship. Columbia, 2017. 258p bibl index ISBN 9780231180306, $60.00; ISBN 9780231542708 ebook, $59.99.

Annovi (USC) provides a masterful overview of the way Pasolini (1922–75) performed authorship throughout his multidisciplinary career—in theater, film, art, criticism, and literature. Annovi shows how in his work Pasolini connects implicitly and explicitly to “death of the author” theories in both Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes. She writes that Foucault links to Pasolini through “the Velázquez effect,” a mirrored structure that runs from Velázquez’s Las meninas (1656) through Foucault’s The Order of Things (1966; Eng. tr., 1970) to Pasolini’s Calderón (1973) and Salò (1975). Regarding Barthes, Annovi further develops the Barthes-Pasolini relationship recounted in Viola Brisolin’s Power and Subjectivity in the Late Work of Roland Barthes and Pier Paolo Pasolini (2011) around the concept of the author. Although the author is not dead, neither is the author simply alive. And Pasolini’s author is not a cinematic auteur. Annovi argues that Pasolini replies to Cahiers du cinéma auteurist theories by casting Orson Welles as the film director in La ricotta (1963). Annovi does especially brilliant work with ideas about celebrity, Pasolini’s self-portraits, and contours of queer identity. There are many first-rate critical books in many languages on Pasolini’s writings and films, but Annovi’s superbly clear and sophisticated treatment is without doubt among the best. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —S. C. Dillon, Bates College

APA handbook of comparative psychology: v.1: Basic concepts, methods, neural substrate, and behavior; v.2: Perception, learning, and cognition, ed. by Josep Call et al. American Psychological Association, 2017. 2v bibl index ISBN 9781433823480, $395.00.

Part of the “APA Handbooks in Psychology Series” and APA Reference Books Collection, this impressive two-volume set comprises writings from major scholars and researchers in comparative psychology from around the globe. These contributors represent a broad cross-disciplinary range, including psychology, biology, anthropology, linguistics, neuroscience, etc. In this vast and ever-evolving field, emphasis is placed on behavior, physiology, learning, and cognition across multiple animal species (including humans), under the broader subject of evolutionary theory. Writings incorporate classical findings and history of comparative psychology, as well as current research and explorations for the future. Research methods, statistical tools, and new approaches to research are covered, including the importance of technological advances (genetics, etc.). The text also incorporates the evolution of cognition, sociality, and language, along with other topics such as attachment theory, biological rhythms, parenting, predator/anti-predator behavior, conflict resolution, sensory processes, attention, memory, decision-making, problem solving, empathy, and more. All articles are extensively researched, detailed, well written, and thoroughly documented. Sources are listed at the end of each chapter, and an expansive index is included at the end of each volume. These two volumes will serve as excellent additions to general and comparative psychology collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; faculty and professionals. —J. Bailey, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Bates, David. William the Conqueror. Yale, 2016. 596p bibl index ISBN 9780300118759, $40.00; ISBN 9780300183832 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Bates’s monumental study of William the Conqueror, 15 years in the making, defines the author’s career and readers’ understanding of the character and influence of the 11th-century Norman’s life. Bates (fellow, Univ. of East Anglia, UK) has a comprehensive knowledge of the primary sources for William’s life, but what distinguishes this biography is how the author places that life convincingly in the context of its time, interpreted through a variety of recent theoretical approaches drawn from cultural history, anthropology, and related fields. Doing so allows Bates to bring William into sharper focus in terms of his performance of kingship, piety, masculinity, and other topics, and so to resolve (or at least suggest plausible resolutions of) the seeming contradictions in William’s character that have challenged historians from as early as the 12th century. Above all, Bates brings a humanistic perspective to his task, assessing William not just in terms of the significance and impressiveness of his achievements but also with respect for “the silent voices of the thousands whose lives William the Conqueror ruined.” The result is a joy to read, consistently illuminating, stimulating, and full of suggestions for further paths of research. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —S. Morillo, Wabash College

Baxter, Veronica. Applied theatre: performing health and wellbeing, by Veronoca Baxter and Katherine E. Low. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2017. 315p index ISBN 9781472584564, $108.00; ISBN 9781472584571 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9781472584588 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Emphasizing ways in which performance techniques can support the promotion of health care, Applied Theatre is a valuable, well-researched study on a topic of practical concern. Reconsidering established notions of how illness and wellness are broadly understood, the collection examines both practical and aesthetic concerns in reconsidering prevailing concepts. In part 1, Baxter (Univ. of Cape Town, South Africa) and Low (Univ. of London, UK), both specialists in applied theater, introduce the book and establish its goals. The chapters in part 2 are multifaceted: primarily geographical, they identify specific health problems facing populations in the “global” north (ageing citizenry) and south (higher birth rate, more youthful population), and the aesthetic and research means by which these “local” problems can be addressed. The more interesting parts of each chapter are case studies and interviews with artists and medical practitioners, many in the developing world, dealing with hygiene and sanitation concerns, rural development issues, and so on. Though pitched at practitioners using theatrical techniques in health care broadly defined, the volume offers fascinating angles on a little-explored subject that will interest readers in a variety of disciplines. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. —J. Fisher, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Boys and men in African American families, ed. by Linda M. Burton et al. Springer, 2016. 272p bibl index (National symposium on family issues, 7) ISBN 9783319438467, $99.99; ISBN 9783319438474 ebook, $79.99.

These papers by a group of 38 mostly Ivy League sociologists emanate from a 2015 symposium on family issues at Penn State. The 16 interdisciplinary chapters range across public health, education, psychology, and sociology, and cover and isolate challenges encountered by African American men and boys in the US. The authors emphasize how these cohorts survive and maintain resilience via community support and existing resources, pointing out risk factors and interventionist strategies, narrated through case studies. This is clearly a useful study that will aid researchers and public policy makers who tackle stressful issues related to poverty, urban family structure, adult health, and fatherhood. The contributors come from a wide range of fields, giving this study both breadth and depth in terms of interdisciplinary perspectives on social problems that largely originate from poverty and discrimination. Those in power should heed the varied conclusions that all of the contributors tend to lean toward—an intersectional, nuanced approach in solving longstanding, racialized discrimination. Crucially, society will never gain from emasculating African American males. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries. —M. Christian, Lehman College

Breisch, Kenneth A. The Los Angeles Central Library: building an architectural icon, 1872–1933. Getty Research Institute, 2016. 209p bibl index ISBN 9781606064900, $45.00.

While older cities had already established public libraries with ambitious, purpose-built facilities, Los Angeles, starting in 1913, located its central library on two floors of a downtown office building—the commercial-style Metropolitan Building, now residential lofts. With WW I impeding efforts to realize an expressly designed library facility, it was not until the 1920s that funds were in place to achieve that goal. Having won the commission via a two-stage competition, architect Bertram Goodhue, a committed Gothicist for much of his career, stood out for his ease with Spanish colonial motifs. Along with the Nebraska State Capitol building, the Los Angeles Central Library marked the culmination of the architect’s career with original designs that blended a streamlined, free interpretation of classicism, beaux-arts planning, and monumentality into what came to be known as medieval modernism. With comprehensive notes and a wonderfully detailed and navigable index, this fine example of scholarship is comprehensive in its story of the growth of support for a public library in Los Angeles; of the evolution of early designs with a signature, central ribbed dome and tiled pyramid-topped tower; and of the sculpture and murals that make the building a true Gesamtkunstwerk, or synthesis of art forms. The study is essential for all architecture and urban history collections. Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels. —P. Glassman, Yeshiva University

The Colombia reader: history, culture, politics, ed. by Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, Marco Palacios, and Ana María Gómez López. Duke, 2016 (c2017). 634p bibl index ISBN 9780822362074, $119.95; ISBN 9780822362289 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780822373865 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Since publishing The Brazil Reader in 1999 (CH, Nov’99, 37-1720), Duke’s country readers series has staked a claim as the most exciting resource for teaching and, more broadly, as an immersive experience in Latin American national histories, claiming the place previously held by the “Cambridge Histories of Latin America.” The Duke series is part of the larger effort to make primary sources, whether full texts or selections, available in translation to a broad readership. The scope and ambition of the project, which now includes 12 readers on individual Latin American countries, two on individual cities, and several volumes on countries outside of Latin America, sets the country readers apart from similar efforts. In place of the usual chronological arrangement, the editors offer an exciting and novel approach by organizing the volume thematically: human geography, religion, city and country, lived inequalities, violence, economic change and continuity, and transnational Colombia. Within these seven categories, the roughly 100 translated texts and examples of visual culture present an intoxicating survey of Colombian history, culture, thought, and experience. Including a wide range of photographs and reproductions of works of art, this remarkable and exciting collection is an indispensable work for all libraries, all scholars of Colombia, Latin Americanists of all sorts, and any interested reader. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. —J. M. Rosenthal, Western Connecticut State University

Harvey, Paul. Christianity and race in the American South: a history. Chicago, 2016. 260p index ISBN 9780226415352, $40.00; ISBN 9780226415499 ebook, $40.00.

In his introduction, Harvey (history, Univ. of Colorado, Colorado Springs) describes this book as “a narrative history of race and southern Christianities from the late sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries.” He provides an excellent survey of the many ways southern people have told their story through arguments, ideas, visions, and dreams as well as practices and expressions. White theologians and evangelical believers are the major speakers and actors of a multiversed story. Readers hear the voices of whites and blacks, masters and slaves, those who are powerful and those who are without power. After creative explorations, Harvey turns, in chapter 7, to civil rights and the definitive transformation of southern religious history. He is correct in observing that the Civil Rights Movement led to the creation of a truly new South—a “South of economic dynamism, conservative politics, megachurch interdenominationalism, and racial reconciliation efforts.” The last chapter explores the multifaceted diversity in the South, including the 2015 murders at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a hate crime that made newspaper headlines across the US and was mourned by blacks and whites alike. Reflecting 25 years of writing, this book is worthy of careful reading and reflection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —G. H. Shriver, Georgia Southern University

Rosenboim, Or. The emergence of globalism. Princeton, 2017. 338p bibl index ISBN 9780691168722, $37.50; ISBN 9781400885237 ebook, contact publisher for price.

A product of doctoral research, this book is a tour de force on the theories of political philosophers from Great Britain, the US, and Western Europe dealing with the creation of a stable world order in the era emerging just before World War II to the middle of the Cold War. Rosenboim, a political research fellow (Cambridge), presents in a most impressive manner a wide range of American and European intellectual elites’ approach to the study and ultimate creation of a structured world order. Under the separate themes of the history of geopolitics, cosmopolitanism, federalism, and democratic theory, the author captures the significance of thought of such luminaries as Raymond Aron, David Mitrany, E. H. Carr, Owen Lattimore, Nicholas Spykman, Friedrich Hayek, Michael Polanyi, and H. G. Wells, among others. The major focus and most significant contribution is a discussion on the formation of ideas of order in world politics. Rosenboim examines the tensions between the then-growing recognition of pluralism and the emergence of a humanitarian notion of global unity. This meta-analysis is unquestionably a necessary addition to a reading list for students of international relations. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —S. R. Silverburg, Catawba College

Shames, Shauna. Out of the running: why millennials reject political careers and why it matters. New York University, 2017. 231p bibl index ISBN 9781479825998, $89.00; ISBN 9781479877485 pbk, $27.00; ISBN 9781479801282 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Ambition—the desire to run for political office—is essential for democracy. Without a supply of candidates to seek office and challenge incumbents, the possibilities of accountability diminish. Despite this importance, there are many smart and capable individuals who are reluctant to run for office. This book provides a very careful and accessible analysis of law students at Harvard and their reactions to the possibility of running. It explores their perceptions of the attractions for running along with their views of the costs it will impose. The decision of whether to consider running is clearly complicated. Many wish to make a contribution and help resolve policy problems, but they dislike the need to raise money, the intrusions on their privacy by constituents and the media, and the consumption of their free time. Nevertheless some weigh all these matters and consider running. This is a very valuable book for understanding all the matters citizens think about in considering a run for office. The book also does an excellent job examining how possible candidates see the contemporary political process. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. M. Stonecash, Syracuse University

War stories: the war memoir in history and literature, ed. by Philip Dwyer. Berghahn Books, 2016 (c2017). 324p bibl index ISBN 9781785333071, $130.00; ISBN 9781785333088 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Through this edited volume of 13 deeply researched articles analyzing war memoirs from the 17th century to the present, the authors showcase how stories about war influence not only personal lives but also history, policy, and public opinion. The articles, originating from a 2010 Australian symposium, all provide insights and are all engaging, a trait not often found in edited volumes. The topics range over time (from 17th-century European wars to present-day Afghanistan) and over continents (Europe, North America, Asia, Africa). They cover how war stories propagandize, provide therapy, justify, inflame, and affect both recall and people’s social construction of war. The authors cover not only wartime leaders and officers, but also on-the-ground soldiers, indirect participants, and citizens at home. Significantly, they cover differential perspectives (for example, views of men/women, WW II Japanese, both Indians and Pakistanis during partition). Besides drawing content from memoirs, the articles incorporate narrative theory, memoir theory, and grounded history. One article instructively dissects how silence in memoirs is deeply rhetorical and faceted. Dwyer’s own introductory article incisively orients readers not only to the memoir field, but also to the various perspectives and approaches inherent in war memoir presentation. Fascinating studies and a great read. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. —J. B. Wolford, University of Missouri—St. Louis