Editors’ Picks for May 2017

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

Selected by the Choice editors from among the hundreds of reviews published this month, these titles stand out for their excellence, timeliness, originality, or sheer reading pleasure. For more information on the Choice platform of products and services, visit www.choice360.org.

Ching, Nigel. The fundamentals of acupuncture. Singing Dragon, 2016. 752p index ISBN 9781848193130, $95.00; ISBN 9780857012661 ebook, $95.00.

The scholarly foundations for Chinese medicine date back through time and are documented by literally thousands of extant historical texts. Periods of reassessment punctuate practice in all systems of medicine; in Chinese medicine, the 1950s were a profound time of reorganization under Mao Zedong’s newly established People’s Republic of China. Having decided to retain elements of traditional Chinese medicine as part of the new health care system, the question then became, “Which aspects should be preserved?” The result was a coherent system of traditional principles and practices that could be taught, utilized by millions, and assessed for therapeutic efficacy. This highly recommended work clearly lays out the “standard model of acupuncture practice,” which has become the accepted “road map” worldwide. The publisher, Singing Dragon, stands out as one of the foremost publishers in the fields of traditional world medicines. The work helpfully includes notes, references, a bibliography, and a glossary. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. —J. Saxton, Bastyr University

Cohen, Ronald D. Depression folk: grassroots music and left-wing politics in 1930s America. North Carolina, 2016. 201p index ISBN 9781469630465, $85.00; ISBN 9781469628813 ebook, $27.95; ISBN 9781469628820 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Cohen (emer., history, Indiana Univ. Northwest) has become known for thought-provoking studies of American folk music and its complex role in American culture. Several of his previous works, among them Roots of the Revival (CH, Apr’15, 52-4107), also focus on particular time periods. In examining the 1930s, Cohen of course puts special emphasis on the Great Depression. Though many scholars have examined folk music’s connection with labor unions and leftist politics in the 20th century, this carefully researched study still sheds new light on the subject. For example, Cohen provides background information about the work of a number of folk song collectors, not just the most famous ones (e.g., John Lomax and Alan Lomax). And he offers in-depth discussion of the work the US government provided for many folk musicians under Roosevelt’s New Deal arts programs, and how that support dried up as the nation gradually transitioned from a depression economy to a war-time economy. Cohen’s approachable writing style makes this book appropriate for general readers as well as scholars of folk music, cultural history, and American politics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. —D. Arnold, University of North Texas

Gilliver, Peter. The making of the Oxford English dictionary. Oxford, 2016. 625p bibl index ISBN 9780199283620, $65.00; ISBN 9780191826092 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This detailed historical account of the Oxford English Dictionary is written by a long-time OED staff member and lexicographer who made extensive use of the holdings of the Oxford University Press archives as well as other archival and library holdings at Oxford and elsewhere in the world. The result is an encyclopedic treatment not only of the project’s history and the lives and careers of its editors but also of the compositorial methodology involved in putting such an enormous product together—from the earliest slips of definitions on paper contributed by readers of early English texts to the modern mining of online resources, Twitter included. The volume includes many photographs of staff and locations, reproductions of the slips, edited page proofs, and other items illustrating the process of editorial work and printing. The volume explains editorial policies and shows the lengths to which the editors often went in seeking information on specific words, writing to people such as Alfred Lord Tennyson or the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, to elucidate something. The information in this volume, much of it gleaned through careful analysis of written correspondence and annotations on the primary archival material, makes this history definitive. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —W. Miller, Florida Atlantic University

Introvigne, Massimo. Satanism: a social history. Brill, 2016. 655p bibl indexes (Aries book series. Texts and studies in Western esotericism, 21) ISBN 9789004288287, $255.00; ISBN 9789004244962 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Introvigne (sociology of religion, Pontifical Salesian Univ., Torino, Italy) provides an encyclopedic summary of virtually every writing about Satanism and every group associated with it in Western Europe and the US from the later 17th century to the present. Although he claims authentic Satanism requires an organized group with committed adherents, here he broadens the focus. Social history means including what society has labeled as Satanic and what anti-Satanic writers have attacked. The author thus examines literature insisting that Freemasonry in the late 19th century was Satanic, heavy metal music, Charles Manson and his cluster of followers, Wicca and other expressions of witchcraft, as well as entities such as Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. Just under half the book focuses on renewed interest in things Satanic since 1950. The book’s broad sweep and its content make it valuable more as a reference work than as an analytic, critical study. Despite its massive size, the study would be richer for probing matters such as social conditions that foster and nurture interest in Satanism. Sixty-plus pages of bibliography offer readers tools for further study. Of interest to students and scholars of new religious movements, the occult, and current religious phenomena. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —C. H. Lippy, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Knopp, Lisa. Bread: a memoir of hunger. Missouri, 2016. 173p bibl afp ISBN 9780826221025, $24.95; ISBN 9780826273673 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Knopp’s Bread: A Memoir of Hunger is a compelling piece of nonfiction literature that chronicles the author’s personal battle with the taboo, yet relatable, subject of disordered eating. Knopp (English, Univ. of Nebraska-Omaha) offers a unique form of storytelling as she combines evidence-based content with her own real-life experiences and makes her revelations easily digestible for readers. This work addresses societal pressures leading to disordered eating and asks readers to reflect on their own relationships with food and how they view themselves in terms of both mind and body. Disordered eating is often misunderstood, and conversations surrounding the topic are challenging to tackle; Knopp provides an informative, intriguing account of her experiences, lending a voice to those who experience similar circumstances and who frequently feel ignored. The title under review is an interesting complement to The Truth about Exercise Addiction (CH, Sep’15, 53-0286). This reviewer highly recommends Knopp’s book. Summing Up:Highly recommended. All readers. —C. Hauff, University of South Alabama

Natural resource conflicts: from blood diamonds to rainforest destruction: v.1: International conflicts, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific; v.2: The Americas, Europe, and key concepts, ed. by M. Troy Burnett. ABC-CLIO, 2016. 2v bibl index afp ISBN 9781610694643, $189.00; ISBN 9781610694650 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This two-volume reference work edited by Burnett (geography and earth sciences, Mount Royal Univ., Calgary, Canada) could easily serve as supplemental reading for a variety of classes in environmental or conservation science, human geography, or anthropology. Sixty-six sets of articles present people, places, and concepts. Examples of topics covered include sustainable development, overpopulation, Malthusian theory, fossil fuels and climate change, carbon taxes, Bedouins, Darfur, and (as the subtitle suggests) conflict (or blood) diamonds. The volumes are organized geographically, and the contributors address large-scale issues as well as local-level problems throughout the world. Each treatment begins with a question followed by an overview that provides background and sets the stage for a pair of authors’ further viewpoints on the topic. A sampling of titles reflects the great range of subject matter addressed: “Can It Be Argued that the Wealth Generated from Oil is a Primary Cause of the Disempowerment of Women in the Middle East?”; “Do the Economics of Hydraulic Fracturing Outweigh the Risks?”; “How are Issues and Conflicts over Invasive Species Being Addressed?” A section on key concepts at the end of the second volume is an expanded glossary with entries for nearly 150 topics. Major ones are described in two or more pages; more straightforward topics have only short descriptions. Detailed biographies of the contributors, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography appear at the end of each volume. Each volume conveniently includes the full table of contents; a sufficiently detailed index appears at the end of the second volume only. A carefully thought-out work, filled with critical issues critically addressed by a strong team of experts. Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school, community college, and undergraduate through graduate students. —F. G. Shrode, Utah State University

Phillips, Nickie D. Beyond blurred lines: rape culture in popular media. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016 (c2017). 297p index ISBN 9781442246270, $38.00; ISBN 9781442246287 ebook, $37.99.

Sociologist Phillips (St. Francis College, Brooklyn) explains that “rape culture” as a concept has existed for over 25 years, but has only become popularized in the last decade. Phillips does not aim to show statistics about rape or showcase in-depth interviews with victims. Rather, she relies on extensive data and resources to unearth how “‘rape culture’ entered the collective imagination.” Although the concept was originated among academics and legal scholars, it began to be used to explain sexual violence that occurred on a day-to-day basis. Phillips explains that the phrase was used to describe, characterize, or criticize performances on the Video Music Awards, or allegations against Bill Cosby and others on popular media. TV shows, comic books, and video games have similarly brought rape culture into mainstream culture. The author aptly examines college campuses as well as how Title IX has impacted the on-campus dynamics around sexual assaults. This book has significant value not because it discusses why rape happens or what caused rape culture, but because it traces the history of the concept and its social meaning. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. —Y. Kiuchi, Michigan State University

Pinello, Daniel R. America’s war on same-sex couples and their families: and how the courts rescued them. Cambridge, 2016. 330p bibl index ISBN 9781107123595, $99.99; ISBN 9781107559004 pbk, $34.99.

In seeking to answer the question about the importance of same-sex couples seeking to obtain their rights from the judiciary, the author notes: “No other avenue for the comprehensive consummation of this meaningful social change [marriage equality] was elsewhere on the US policy-making horizon during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries…. There was simply no viable hope for marriage equality … other than through the judiciary.” Carefully chronicling the effects of the efforts of 20 states to pass restrictive constitutional amendments known as Super-DOMAs (named after the federal Defense of Marriage Act), the author examines these restrictive constitutional amendments, designed to ban recognition of all forms of relationship rights for same-sex couples. Those rights include financial rights, rights to jointly own property, and spousal health care decision rights, among others. These Super-DOMA proposals were advanced by suggesting their existence would also help fortify the institution of heterosexual marriage. Such promises, however, did not produce the promised results, such as lower divorce rates than among non-Super-DOMA states. This is an excellent, well-researched look at the question of whether the judicial system can effectively bring about social change in terms of marriage equality. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —W. K. Hall, Bradley University

Stewart, Ian. Calculating the cosmos: how mathematics unveils the universe. Basic Books, 2016. 346p index ISBN 9780465096107, $27.99; ISBN 9780465096114 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Despite its title, no mathematics appears in this book. Mathematician Stewart’s goal is to illustrate how physicists use mathematics to comprehend the operation of the universe. To the extent that the mathematical theories reproduce observations, one can say that the phenomena being investigated are “understood.” The success of mathematics in this endeavor is remarkable; there is no reason to expect it to work so well over a wide range of applications. Stewart does an exceptional job carrying out his program. His writing is very lucid and smooth. The topics covered begin with the collapse of the solar nebula to form the sun and planets. He then segues into an account of the various theories of formation of the Earth’s moon. Moving on from there is a discussion of the formation of the solar system, exoplanets, black holes, galaxies, galactic clusters, and dark matter. The section on black holes is one of the most thorough among books of this genre. In the reviewer’s awareness, the section on calculating interplanetary orbits for spacecraft does not appear in any popular science book. The work is highly recommended for community college and general libraries. Summing Up:Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. —A. Spero, University of California

Ten neglected classics of philosophy, ed. by Eric Schliesser. Oxford, 2016 (c2017). 279p bibl index ISBN 9780199928903, $99.00; ISBN 9780199928927 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780190268923 ebook, contact publisher for price.

The reader can decide if the works discussed in this collection are true classics, but at the very least they are neglected gems that deserve another reading. The selection of individuals/works discussed is eclectic, ranging from the ancient philosopher Gorgias (c.487–376 BCE) to recent thinkers such as F. H. Bradley, Ernst Cassirer, and Jonathan Bennett. Some less familiar names appear (François Fénelon, Hermann Lotze) along with some one might not think of as philosophers (Jane Addams, Edith Stein, W. E. B. Du Bois). This reviewer’s favorite chapter is Elizabeth Anderson’s, which features Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” (?1797), a plan to abolish poverty in England. The plan included, Anderson writes, “a universal social insurance system comprising old-age pensions and disability support and universal stakeholder grants for young adults, funded by a 10% inheritance tax focused on land.” Paine’s work is not truly neglected, witness the fact that the US Social Security Administration provides the full text on its website (ssa.gov/history/paine4.html); one could wish this were required reading for leaders in Washington. Schliesser’s book offers what contributor Alan Richardson says is an invitation to readers “to enlarge their philosophical field of vision.” Good index and bibliographies, and impeccable scholarship throughout. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —D. Stewart, Ohio University