Editors’ Picks for July 2021

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

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Applied Science and Technology Source Ultimate. EBSCO, 2021. Contact publisher for pricing. Internet Resource.

Applied Science and Technology Source Ultimate provides access to a wide variety of journals, magazines, trade publications, and some books that are focused on scientific, engineering, and technological research,” wrote Joseph Kraus for ccAdvisor. The database encompasses over 5,000 sources, “and about 1,750 of those provide some form of full-text access.” Altogether, Kraus estimated that the database contains 8 to 10 million records, which can be browsed using the basic and advanced search options common to EBSCO products. Results should appear ordered by relevance, but sometimes this may not be the case. However, users can change the results to redisplay by date, source, or author. Further, the advanced search function allows users to limit results by Full Text, Published Date, Document Type, and ISSN, among other options. The database also includes tools “to view and manage Google Drive files and folders,” which can help students save citations or full-text items more easily to a Google Drive account. However, this may also raise concerns about granting EBSCO access to their accounts.

As with other EBSCO products, the interface is clean and easy to use. Before acquiring this product, however, Kraus recommended librarians “download the list of 5,000 sources covered to determine if their patrons would find Ultimate’s content worthwhile.” As alternatives, libraries “could consider other tiers of the database, such as the Applied Science & Technology IndexAS&T Full Text, or the AS&T Source database,” particularly if cost is a factor, Kraus noted. Some competitors would be the SciTech Premium Collection from ProQuest, OneFile from Gale, Ei Compendex by Elsevier, and Inspec from IET. Of those, the latter two overlap substantially with Applied Science and Technology Source Ultimate. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Joseph R. Kraus, Colorado School of Mines, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2021 by The Charleston Company.—Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Blume, Lesley M. M. Fallout: the Hiroshima cover-up and the reporter who revealed it to the world. Simon & Schuster, 2020. 288p index ISBN 9781982128517, $27.00; ISBN 9781982128531 pbk, $17.00; ISBN 9781982128555 ebook, $12.99.

Like the subject of her own investigation, Blume provides readers with an engrossing page-turner focused on the writing and publication of John Hersey’s exposé, “Hiroshima,” originally published in the August 31, 1946, issue of the New Yorker. In this study of early Cold War journalism, Blume masterfully pieces together what has been deleted, ignored, distorted, and censored by those in positions of power, with regard to dropping the atomic bomb on Japanese civilians, including the stories of the six survivors of the blast whose experiences Hersey narrated. In the face of great challenges, Hersey succeeded in humanizing these victims and changing public attitudes about the use and moral implications of nuclear warfare. The magnificent scope of Blume’s inquiry includes interviews that gave her access to heretofore unpublished manuscripts, as well as research in multilingual archives and the John Hersey Papers at Yale University’s Beinecke Library. While historical in nature, this work’s contemporary relevance is clear, as readers are prompted to examine their own role in demanding transparency and accountability from elected officials, military leaders, scientists, journalists, and academics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. —K. Dennehy, California State University, Fullerton

Gibelyou, Cameron. Big ideas: a guide to the history of everything, by Cameron Gibelyou and Douglas Northrop. Princeton, 2020. 464p index ISBN 9780190201210 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780190201227 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In this clear, thought-provoking study, Gibelyou and Northrop (both, Univ. of Michigan) present a universal history in the tradition of Big History. It differs from other Big Histories in that it devotes more attention to the sciences, providing valuable overviews of fields ranging from astronomy and mathematics to geology and biology. The book continues by examining human origins and the patterns of recorded history before arguing that modernity represents a fundamentally different type of existence for humanity. Throughout, the work pays particular attention to how knowledge is produced, analyzing how evidence is evaluated across the sciences and the humanities. Each discipline generates information in its own fashion, yet the authors make clear how every field can draw on and enhance insights from the others to strengthen humanity’s collective knowledge. The final chapter pulls all of these ideas together, arguing that the interpretation of evidence—how it is gathered, used, and understood—requires an interdisciplinary approach to better understand the story of the universe. This is a valuable work that showcases not only the strengths of Big History but also the benefits of cooperation between academic disciplines. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers, advanced undergraduates through faculty, and professionals. —T. Anderson, Merrimack College

Gosden, Chris. Magic: a history: from alchemy to witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the present. Farrar, Straus and Giroux 482p bibl index ISBN 9780374200121, $30.00.

In this extensive yet accessible survey, Gosden (Univ. of Oxford, UK) offers an overview of magical practices from prehistory to the present across a broad range of regions and cultures. He argues that magic should not be seen as an archaic or primitive practice, but as one strand of the “triple helix,” alongside religion and science, through which human beings have sought to interpret and impact the world. The practices he discusses (e.g., divination, invocation of spirits, the casting of spells) reflect belief in an enchanted cosmos, which rejects the alienation of humanity from nature in favor of a vision in which inanimate objects are suffused with life forces that can be controlled by the magician’s will. Gosden’s focus on archaeological evidence allows him to analyze prehistoric societies, from the ancient Near East to pre-Roman Europe to remote regions of Siberia and sub-Saharan Africa, for which few written records exist, and to draw intriguing parallels between societies across space and time. Gosden has less to say about the modern world, but demonstrates persuasively that claims of “the decline of magic” have been greatly exaggerated. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty. —D. A. Harvey, New College of Florida

Hart, William B. “For the good of their souls”: performing Christianity in eighteenth-century Mohawk country. Massachusetts, 2020. 284p index ISBN 9781625344946, $90.00; ISBN 9781625344953 pbk, $26.95; ISBN 9781613767412 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Hart (Middlebury College) examines Mohawk interaction with Church of England missionaries in two significant Mohawk communities, Tiononderoge and Canajoharie, in 18th-century upper New York. Hart’s purpose is not to identify the extent of Mohawk conversion; rather, his goal—which he achieves—is to reveal the ways in which the Mohawk people adapted Christianity as part of their political and cultural survival strategies. In addition to illustrating Mohawk agency in relationships with Christianity, this work also illustrates the state of community among baptized and non-baptized Mohawks. This historiographic contribution is valuable because it reveals that the presence and role of Christianity in Native communities was more nuanced than Christian missionaries and other sources often acknowledged. As the last major work about Christian Mohawks’ experience was produced in the early 20th century, a new examination that takes into consideration new theories and research is welcome. Though Hart sought to use as many Native sources as possible, the lack of such sources necessitated a dependence on documents created by Europeans and Americans. However, this does not detract from the valuable new insights he provides. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty. —T. K. Byron, Dalton State College

Hope, Bradley. Blood and oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s ruthless quest for global power, by Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck. Hachette Books, 2020. 346p index ISBN 9780306846663, $29.00; ISBN 9780306846656 ebook, $15.99.

This excellent book by Hope and Scheck, correspondents for the Wall Street Journal, provides a thorough journalistic account of the bold policies Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has ruthlessly pursued and of his struggle to become the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. The authors rely heavily on interviews with unnamed people possessing firsthand knowledge (though never depending on only one person’s account of any event, they assure readers), but supplement this with available documents. They provide lively, informative accounts of how the emerging strongman suddenly imprisoned hundreds of members of the country’s elite in a luxury hotel and forced them to give up vast amounts of corruptly gained wealth; held the Lebanese prime minister captive to force his resignation; and had Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of his, murdered and sawed into pieces. They also detail his adoption of revolutionary plans to end Saudi dependence on oil. Anyone interested in the dynamics of the Saudi royal family—specialists in various social sciences, as well as general readers—will find this an enlightened work, as will others who have a broader interest in personalistic struggles for power in authoritarian regimes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals. —G. E. Perry, emeritus, Indiana State University

The Impacts of racism and bias on Black people pursuing careers in science, engineering, and medicine: proceedings of a workshop, ed. by Cato T. Laurencin. National Academies Press, 2020. 106p ISBN 9780309679541, $50.00; ISBN 9780309679572 ebook, $40.99.

This volume of proceedings reflects recorded presentations and discussions from a virtual workshop held in April 2020 to explore the role played by racism and bias in furthering the underrepresentation of Black Americans in STEM professions, especially medicine. Introduced by distinguished surgeon, biomedical innovator, and editor Laurencin (Univ. of Connecticut), the workshop was organized by the Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, established in 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine under Laurencin’s leadership. Convened just one month before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the workshop speaks importantly to our current time. Chapters follow the workshop agenda, with highlights of the presentations including keynote remarks by epidemiologist Camara Phyllis Jones (chapter 2), who characterized racism as a system of power and identified how it works at three different levels: institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized. Overviews of workshop discussions include footnotes to important references. All readers, from academe to those in public and private corporations, will find this volume an effective foundation from which to act within their own communities. Workshop participants included 30 distinguished scientists, all national leaders, as reflected in the biographical section (Appendix B). This is an essential pick for libraries supporting discussion and change within their institutions. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. —J. A. Ohles, Moravian College

Keyssar, Alexander. Why do we still have the electoral college?. Harvard, 2020. 531p index ISBN 9780674660151, $35.00; ISBN 9780674974104 ebook, contact publisher for price.

After a brief hiatus, the Electoral College has once again become the subject of scrutiny, and new scholarship has emerged examining the institution on a variety of fronts. Keyssar (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Univ.) provides perhaps the most exhaustive treatment of the oft-maligned body. Despite nearly a thousand attempts to reform or abolish it, the Electoral College has persisted. Keyssar sets out to help readers understand why this is the case. In rich detail, he illustrates how the complex nature of the Electoral College and the difficulties presented by the constitutional amendment process largely explain its resilience. Uncertainty over how changes to the presidential selection process would affect outcomes has also impeded change. He concludes by analyzing current efforts to reform the Electoral College and suggests that its continued existence is not inevitable, although changes to it would require bipartisan action, something that has eluded realization in recent decades. Keyssar’s treatise is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the Electoral College and its history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —R. M. Alexander, Ohio Northern University

Muller, S. Marek. Impersonating animals: rhetoric, ecofeminism, and animal rights law. Michigan State, 2020. 240p bibl index ISBN 9781611863666 pbk, $39.95; ISBN 9781609176419 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Muller (Florida Atlantic Univ.) sets the framework for a deeply provocative dive into the ideological rhetoric of ecofeminism, feminist legal studies, and critical animal studies. By considering animal rights within the context of rhetorical studies, Muller ontologically examines what constitutes a person, thereby reconfiguring rights. A thorough introduction provides the history of animal rights and establishes the purpose of the research, which the author states as the formation of a critical vegan rhetoric. Four chapters cover theory and method, nonhuman rights projects, case studies of the rhetoric of Gary Francione (Rain without ThunderCH, Mar’97, 34-3841) and Steven M. Wise (Drawing the LineCH, Nov’02, 40-1551), and the rhetoric of “earth jurisprudence.” The conclusion establishes a new method toward the goal of total liberation for animals by reconciling conflicting ideologies and minimizing the incoherence of existing animal rights laws. Other books cover the rhetoric of animal rights, such as Framing Farming, by Carrie P. Freeman (2014), but Muller makes the careful rhetorical move to dissolve the “animal-as-object” worldview. Anyone interested in animal rights is encouraged to read this book. History will surely record Muller as a champion for liberating animals, and this book as the premier text in communication and rhetorical studies regarding animal rights. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —K. L. Majocha, California University of Pennsylvania

Trecker, Max. Red money for the Global South: East-South economic relations in the Cold War. Routledge, 2020. 254p bibl index ISBN 9780367244750, $160.00; ISBN 9780429282683 ebook, $48.95.

Trecker’s informative monograph spans the breadth of the Cold War from the 1960s through the 1980s. His study engages every part of the Global South with varying attention based on how many projects and funds operated in a region through the auspices of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), a Soviet agency. Trecker (Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History, Germany) organizes his study thematically with a general chronological progression, and draws from the archives of CMEA as an institutional source for tracking historical East-South economic activity. The author makes a persuasive case for economic cooperation, not military hardware transfers or soft power athletic exchanges, as the central interaction between countries of the Eastern Bloc and those of the Global South. Shared political interests bolstered the trade arrangements as postcolonial sovereignty drove most new governments in the Global South and thus suited the emancipatory rhetoric of the East. When global trade dynamics began to shift in the 1980s, the Eastern Bloc states, not those of the Global South, lost ground in relative terms. Trecker’s study thus provides essential new insights into the dynamics of the middle and late Cold War. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —S. G. Jug, Baylor University