Editors’ Picks for May 2020

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

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APA handbook of contemporary family psychology: v.1: Foundations, methods, and contemporary issues across the lifespan; v2: Applications and broad impact of family psychology; v.3: Family therapy and training, ed. by Barbara H. Fiese with Marianne Celano et al. American Psychological Association, 2018 (c2019). bibl index ISBN 9781433829642, $695.00.

This impressive and comprehensive handbook of family psychology is a badly needed and wonderful addition to the psychology reference collection. Editor Fiese (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) here brings together in three volumes the work of a comprehensive and impressive group of scholarly contributors. Volume 1 covers influential theories; contemporary issues; research methods; families across the lifespan; and contemporary families. Volume 2 includes family health; the intersection of family health with other systems; and family psychology and societal grand challenges. Volume 3 covers foundational issues in family therapy; family therapy models; couple therapy models; parenting programs; and education, training, and careers. One surprisingly shortchanged topic in this handbook is child sexual abuse and its role in the family system. The vast majority of substantiated sexual abuse cases involve a perpetrator within the family. Familial sexual abuse can unearth generational patterns and secrets, disrupt family patterns and functioning, and create significant trauma and stress. Users seeking reference material on this topic may turn to the Omnigraphics Child Abuse Sourcebook, (CH, Mar’05, 42-3793). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. —S. W. French, Illinois State University

Connor, Steven. Giving way: thoughts on unappreciated dispositions. Stanford, 2019. 240p index ISBN 9781503610248, $85.00; ISBN 9781503610835 pbk, $26.00; ISBN 9781503610842 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This book is, at its core, about acting with reserve and within limits, and it has the rare distinction of being appropriate for readers of all stripes. As a meditation on and analysis of giving way—a virtue lacking a single name, though “humility,” “restraint,” and “deference” are in the ballpark—the book abounds with linguistic and historical discussions of the various words associated with this disposition toward nonaggression of one’s self against the world. Literary examples dominate, but references to psychology, sociology, biology, and philosophy contribute to and support the book’s many insights. In an age of personal aggrandizement—ranging from the highest leaders’ posturings, to “stand your ground” laws, to the inane worldwide broadcast of one’s latest breakfast experiences on social media—the virtue of giving way is perhaps more in need of urgent attention and reflection than are other personal attributes. An invaluable resource, particularly for those interested in moral philosophy and psychology. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. —S. E. Forschler, independent scholar

Cook, Vaneesa Marie. Spiritual socialists: religion and the American Left. Pennsylvania, 2019. 260p index ISBN 9780812251654, $49.95.

The meaning of the word socialism is under debate in the present political environment, so Cook’s book could not have come at a more opportune time. Her subject is religious thinkers and activists—the “spiritual socialists” of the title—who have dotted the religious landscape since the first half of the 20th century. The group includes not only such well-known persons as Dorothy Day, Sherwood Eddy, and Martin Luther King Jr. but also less-familiar figures, among them African American civil rights activist Pauli Murray (1910–85), political activist A. J. Muste (1885–1967), and US vice-president (under Franklin D. Roosevelt) Henry Wallace (1888–1965). Cook does a good job of delineating what socialism meant to each of them—it was not a monolithic understanding—and how they kept the spiritual dimension of their work in focus. She also illuminates the debate between Christian “realists” such as Reinhold Niebuhr and the spiritualists who refused to succumb to the political pessimism of realism. The book is rich in information, and Cook’s analysis is critical albeit sympathetic. A must read for scholars of American religious history and those interested in what religion brings to the table in the present political climate. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. —F. G. Kirkpatrick, emeritus, Trinity College (CT)

Cortada, James W. Fake news nation: the long history of lies and misinterpretations in America, by James W. Cortada and William Aspray. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. 305p bibl index ISBN 9781538131107, $36.00; ISBN 9781538131114 ebook, $34.00.

This book offers a sweeping and powerful historical corrective to those who claim we are in a new “post-truth” era. Cortada (Univ. of Minnesota) and Aspray (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) thoroughly document how deliberate lies, half-truths, and misinformation have long been part and parcel of American democracy. Through a set of carefully constructed historical case studies, the authors show how misinformation is often a strategic tool for both individual and institutional political actors, and that it takes on different casts in harmony with the contemporary expressive styles of its day. By finding such analogues in the past, from scenarios of assassination to those of war, Cortada and Aspray leave us clear-eyed about the challenges of the present while providing a set of historical cases that those looking to correct misinformation can learn from, precisely because they arose in a radically different media era. In the end, this text reveals that we are not in a new era at all, and that the problem of misinformation, and its at times far-reaching consequences, has been ever-present during American self-rule. The premise here is that imagining otherwise takes us further from grappling with the problem and seeking its potential solutions. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —D. Kreiss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dethier, Jean. The art of earth architecture: past, present, future. Princeton Architectural, 2020. 511p bibl index ISBN 9781616898892, $125.00.

This informative tome speaks to a sustainable future, while “combat[ing] a deep-rooted cultural neglect.” Long-time curator at Centre Pompidou, Dethier (International Center for Earthen Architecture) sat on the jury of the 2016 Terra Award, the first international prize for contemporary earthen structures. In The Art of Earth Architecture Dethier explores the history of raw (non-fired) earth structures and settlements worldwide. The book opens—and concludes—by expressing concern over how “current capitalism” spurns natural resources and pointing out how earth architecture encourages well-being and a circular economy. Including some 700 color and black-and-white drawings and photographs, the book begins with discussion of the material itself—its merits and limitations. Chapters 1–3 delve into its application, looking at how, through archaeology and history, one can rediscover the variations of the material’s use both technically and artistically. Chapters 4 and 5 look at earth as a vital material for use today, and explore innovative changes to the use of raw earth and hurdles to its use over time. Chapter 6 covers its revival and contemporary use. The book concludes by laying out the obstacles that face earth architecture, the gains it has made, and the need for an educational revolution about its use. This is a perfect book for stimulating discussions about sustainable change and reevaluating city planning requirements. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —L. B. Allsopp, Arizona State University

Graney, Katherine E. Russia, the former Soviet republics, and Europe since 1989: transformation and tragedy. Oxford, 2019. 439p bibl index ISBN 9780190055080, $99.00; ISBN 9780190055097 pbk, $37.95; ISBN 9780190055103 ebook, contact publisher for price.

There are very few books that attempt to systematically compare the political trajectory of all 15 post-soviet states since the revolutions of 1989. Graney (Skidmore College), however, seeks to fill this massive gap in the literature. She focuses on the theme of Europeanization, since the question of drawing closer to Europe has been central to regional foreign and security policies and to domestic national identity debates. Using a “European-Orientalist Cultural Gradient” to measure this process, she calibrates the relationship with European values through three successive phases (Europhoria, Europhilia, and Europhobia) since 1991. The first third of the book provides thematic analysis of political, security, and cultural dimensions, while the remainder of the book consists of country studies grouped by region. Although economic policy is not directly addressed, apart from some tables on trade flows, Graney’s assessment is informed and insightful throughout. This volume is a singular achievement in covering social, political, and security issues across all 15 former Soviet republics. Both theoretically informed and empirically grounded, it will be invaluable to those teaching post-Soviet politics and for courses on European politics concerned with the EU’s eastern policy. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —P. Rutland, Wesleyan University

Humphreys, Laura-Zoe. Fidel between the lines: paranoia and ambivalence in late socialist Cuban cinema. Duke 287p bibl index ISBN 9781478005476, $104.95; ISBN 9781478006244 pbk, $27.95; ISBN 9781478006244 pbk, $27.95; ISBN 9781478007142 ebook, $27.95.

In Fidel between the Lines, Humphreys (communication, Tulane Univ.) wields an unusual interdisciplinary approach. She combines the methodologies of anthropology and film studies in order to explore how “allegory, paranoia, and ambivalence shaped the production and reception of Cuban cinema” (p. 62) during the revolutionary period—particularly the post-Soviet era. This scholarly treatise is appropriately theorized, and major influences—such as Fredric Jameson and Richard Hofstadter—are clearly recognized. Humphreys’s approach draws productively on her extensive ethnographic fieldwork (e. g., interviews), archival research in Cuba, and close textual analysis of selected films. Specific subjects examined include the controversies surrounding the satirical and explicitly allegorical fiction feature Alice in Wondertown (1991); the 2007 censorship debate among artists, intellectuals, and bureaucrats known as the “email war”; and the production history and reception of Cuba’s blockbuster “zombie comedy” Juan of the Dead (2011). Humphreys’s research is wide-ranging and up-to-date. The readable prose has clear lines of argumentation, and most key concepts are aptly elucidated. Cinema has long held a privileged place in the Cuban public sphere, and this creative study represents a major advance in understanding the island’s cultural politics. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —D. West, emeritus, University of Idaho

Lange, Patricia G. Thanks for watching: an anthropological study of video sharing on YouTube. University Press of Colorado, 2019. 352p bibl index ISBN 9781607329473, $119.00; ISBN 9781607329480 pbk, $42.95; ISBN 9781607329558 ebook, $35.95.

This is a longitudinal ethnographic study (spanning 2006 to 2018) of YouTube’s past and evolving footprint in today’s digital age. Using participant-observation techniques, Lange (California College of the Arts) created her own YouTube channel—a video blog—to interview, post, and meet participants who volunteered their experiences as either content creators or site visitors. Having collected and evaluated interviews, attended video festivals, analyzed more than 300 YouTube videos, and participated in focus groups, she identifies three ethnographic goals: to understand the evolution of a YouTube community; to test whether ethnographic research techniques are applicable in online environments; and to analyze the processes by which sharing, viewing, and posting comments develop levels of sociality. She uses the concept of the posthuman to recognize that videos subsume a life of their own, outliving humans, revealing alter egos, and illuminating diverse layers of personalities. Her research rejects stereotypes that online communities constitute isolated and/or self-centric individuals, and acknowledges that entangled within this community is the growing presence of monetization, the sharing of profits among those whose videos garner the most viewers. Lange’s research presents rich, comprehensive insight into YouTube’s social and cultural impact. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —A. C. Rosati, Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Murphy, John M. John F. Kennedy and the liberal persuasion. Michigan State, 2019. 419p bibl index ISBN 9781611863048 pbk, $39.95; ISBN 9781609175832 ebook, $31.95.

Kennedy scholars and media and communications specialists will find this book must reading. Murphy (communication, Univ. of Illinois) provides an intellectual framework for Kennedy’s pre-presidential years and his abbreviated tenure in the White House. Born into wealth and privilege, Kennedy possessed resources and advantages that other candidates lacked or never developed. In Murphy’s book, the “best and the brightest” refers not to Kennedy’s talented and dynamic cabinet but to aides and advisors like speechwriter and confidant Theodore Sorenson (a carryover from JFK’s Senate staff) and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Whereas other scholars have debated who should get credit for iconic lines or passages of the 35th president’s speeches, Murphy is content to call the collective efforts the “Kennedy brand.” Kennedy, of course, came of age when television and politics were coming together. It is likely that the cool medium served primarily as an accelerant to Kennedy’s predisposition for relying on speeches to address the issue of the moment, whether on the campaign trail, in a televised debate, or in one of his frequent press conferences or addresses. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates; graduate students. —B. Miller, University of Cincinnati-Clermont

The Punk reader: research transmissions from the local and the global, [ed.] by Russ Bestley et al. Intellect, 2019. 324p bibl index ISBN 9781789381290 pbk, $33.00; ISBN 9781789381306 ebook, $26.00.

Arranged in 13 chapters, this edited volume collects essays thematically tied to punk’s global influence outside the US and UK, which argue against the notion that global punk continues to model itself after Western definitions of punk. At its heart, the text explores seemingly disparate and international punk scenes to discuss concepts of authenticity, identity, and production, highlighting “the emergence of punk rock in both a contemporary and global sense” (p. 18). Content includes discussing punk scenes in countries not previously or extensively studied, such as Iran, Portugal, and Malaysia. Each chapter begins with the author’s abstract, keywords, and a brief biography. While a general audience can be included in its readership, the consistent use of scholarly terms makes this volume most favorable for graduate research or a professional audience in the areas of ethnomusicology and musicology. Of note are the detailed references provided at the end of each chapter, the copious footnotes, and the extensive index at the end of the book. Altogether, this scholarly collection effectively presents a cohesive look at a post-2000s global punk culture. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. —J. Jocson-Singh, Leonard Lief Library, Lehman College CUNY