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The Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 7 July 2017 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Political Science Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Writing/Publishing Shelf Computer Shelf Biography Shelf
Literary Studies Shelf Technology Shelf Language Studies Shelf
Music Shelf Cookbook Shelf Military Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Audiobook Shelf Fiction Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Psychology Shelf Education Shelf
Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal
Jack Ewing
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393254501 $27.95

Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal focuses on the revelation that Volkswagen had installed software in its cars to thwart emissions testing devices: a fact that led to massive recalls, lawsuits, and scandal that revealed not just Volkswagen's actions, but the depths to which efforts went to circumvent the law. Surprisingly, this is the first book to, years later, discuss the power, corruption, and high-level involvements behind the company's deception and cover-up. These details reveal not just one company's actions and illegalities, but the dangerous connections between business and political interests which allowed it to occur unchecked until whistleblowers revealed the truth.

Retcon Game
Andrew J. Friedenthal
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
9781496811325 $65.00

Retcon Game: Retroactive Continuity and the Hyperlinking of America is recommended for college-level readers of American history, sociology and cultural inquiry, and considers how retroactive continuity has moved from its roots in comic book culture to popular media presentations and beyond. In modern society, electronic media can easily be edited and changed, deleted, or adjusted - and Retcon Game considers the changing and changeable nature of source materials and information in modern America. The past is not a stable series of verifiable events, but a situation in flux which can be constantly rewritten - and this affects worldviews and perceptions of reality itself. College-level audiences will relish the discussions of Retcon Game.

The Political Science Shelf

Drain the Swamp
Congressman Ken Buck with Bill Blankschaen
300 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001
9781621576389 $28.99

Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think offers an insider's focus on Congressional processes and corruption, and adopts a bipartisan examination of the forces at work on Washington politics which pulls no punches and features no heroes or saving grace. From lavish parties and paid opinions to votes sold to the highest bidder, how both Republicans and Democrats have worked together against taxpayer interests, and politicians right up to the President who have said one thing and supported another, this is a thought-provoking, damning consideration that provides a fearsome, fierce condemnation of Washington's business as usual, and should be on the shelves of any political studies collection.

The Social Issues Shelf

Black and Blue
Jeff Pegues
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882577 $24.00

Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between the Police and Black America comes with the authority and experience of a CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent who provides statistics and facts from both sides of community-police interests, and who explores a wide range of social, political, and security issues central to law enforcement and public safety. Pegues had access to some of the top officials in the country, including FBI director James Comey and the police chiefs of top cities, and he's interviewed community leaders and others who offer their different perspectives on problems and solutions. The result is an exploration which is key to understanding the nature of police forces, their concerns, and the issues that are central to public health and safety efforts. The result is also recommended for discussion and debate at the high school to college and community levels.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Crash! Boom! Bang! How to Write Action Movies
Michael Lucker
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932634 $26.95

Crash! Boom! Bang! How to Write Action Movies provides an insider's look at writing action films and comes from a professional screenwriter and teacher who pairs observations of the industry with writer's tips. It is designed for writers who are already familiar with action and adventure productions, who want to hone and refine their screenwriting skills in the genre; but newcomers will also find it a fine introduction to features of the action production, and will find the process quite accessible and logical. From outlining stories and producing snappy dialogue to tightening up writing, this produces plenty of examples from successful action productions to illustrate all the concepts of what separates casual from superior writing.

The Computer Shelf

C Programming: A Self-Teaching Introduction
R. Chopra
Mercury Learning
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
9781683920908 $44.95

C Programming: A Self-Teaching Introduction is intended as a workbook of self-teaching routines and approaches and comes from an instructor familiar with student processes at the novice learning level. Students just entering into not only C programming environments but programming in general receive a primer that defines terms within the context of C programming approaches, covering major topics and blending real-world application examples with discussions of C relationships, code approaches, and explanations of why some approaches are more useful than others. Output examples after running C routines are analyzed and explained and the result is a primer that isn't just about C programming alone, but about basic, common best practices.

The Biography Shelf

The Flight
Dan Hampton
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062464392 $28.99

The Flight: Charles Lindbergh's Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing comes from an aviation historian who is himself a decorated fighter pilot, and who offers a vivid story of Lindbergh's first non-stop flight across the Atlantic in The Spirit of Saint Louis. Lest readers think this is another Lindbergh biography, it should be advised that the aviation focus includes many discussions of the history surrounding his achievement, aviation challenges, and social and political feelings of the times. The result reads like fiction and includes all the characters surrounding Lindbergh's life, but is a dramatic, involving survey of all the technical, social and political influences on the 1927 crossing and Lindbergh's flights as a whole.

The Literary Studies Shelf

The Secret History of Jane Eyre
John Pfordresher
W.W. Norton
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393248876 $26.95

The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Bronte Wrote Her Masterpiece comes from an English scholar who reveals the hidden story behind the novelist and her works, narrowing its focus to her masterpiece Jane Eyre and how it was created, and considering the author's intense drive for secrecy surrounding her project. Letters, diaries, and other materials were consulted as Pfordresher examined her life and how she created Jane Eyre, offering a fresh, new approach to her background and achievement which fills in many blanks about her life and the methods by which she created her famous work. No study of Charlotte Bronte could be complete without consulting this in-depth review.

The Technology Shelf

The ABCs of Fiber Optic Communication
Sudhir Warier
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630814144 $149.00

The ABCs of Fiber Optic Communication represents a unique achievement because it's the only handbook to cover both the basics of fiber optic communications and troubleshooting related to networks, manufacturing, optical equipment, and more. The latest advancements and the applications and makeup of the fiber system from theory to troubleshooting is covered in chapters that discuss fundamentals and problems such as transmission range, transport networks, system maintenance, and defects in fiber connectors. The result is packed with math and technical details and is a 'must' for any working in fiber optics.

The Language Studies Shelf

Vulgar Tongues
Max Decharne
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781681774640 $26.95

Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang is a lively survey of the English language that narrows its focus to slang, covering how such language often begins as a form of defiance and evolves into its own culture when it is adopted by mainstream English speakers as part of daily language. While readers might think this trend to be relatively new or particular to the English language; in fact slang has existed for centuries around the world, and embraces a range of populations, purposes, and subcultures. This fun pairing of linguistics and history will delight any who want a different focus on the origins and social and political purposes of slang.

The Music Shelf

The Show That Never Ends
David Weigel
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393242256 $26.95

The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock tells how progressive rock developed and changed, and why it remains a vibrant force in popular music today, and offers a survey of musicians, music, and cultural trends in American rock music that led to progressive rock's development in response to 1960s pop rock tunes. Five decades of rock music history pinpoints how prog rock differs from other forms of rock, what made it popular, and how various bands came to represent the evolving style. One doesn't expect such a survey to begin with classical composers; but this narrative seeks to define prog rock's roots in historical context, and so the sweeping overview, which encompasses rock music personalities, memoirs, interviews and bands, succeeds in crafting a wider-ranging survey that is both unexpected and refreshingly well-detailed.

Talking Machine West
Michael A. Amundson
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806156040 $34.95

Talking Machine West: A History and Catalogue of Tin Pan Alley's Western Recordings, 1902-1918 considers the real origins of the first western music fads in this country - the Tin Pan Alley musicians in the age prior to radio when cowboy and Indian songs were played in wind-up talking machine. These songs promoted a romantic image of the West, the cowboy, and the musicians who brought the period to life, but it was the talking machine industry, centered in New York, which recorded a wide range of cowboy and Indian music for mass listeners between 1902 and 1918. Until new, relatively little about this era was written for general-interest audiences, but Talking Machine West is both a catalog of western recordings and a lively history of how frontier music evolved and came to affect the rest of the country. The result is a highly recommended survey recommended for general-interest and scholarly music history holdings alike.

The Cookbook Shelf

Stirring Up Fun with Food
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gia Russo
Grand Central Life & Style
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781455538744 $28.00

Stirring Up Fun with Food: Over 115 Simple, Delicious Ways to Be Creative in the Kitchen is a family-oriented cookbook that focuses on healthy eating, encouraging kids to be adventurous with food choices, and also encouraging kids to be familiar with kitchen processes and cooking. Some 100 recipes use food crafting and creative entertaining and presentation techniques to impart these basics, pairing kid-friendly ingredients with fun food arrangements such as making strawberry hearts, putting together Cinco de Mayo celebration foods, or preparing dishes for Father's Day. By encouraging kids to think about creating food for entertainment, this cookbook offers a seasonal and holiday approach the entire family can enjoy, and is packed with color photos of foods and family.

Comfort Food Meanings and Memories
Michael Owen Jones and Lucy M. Long, Editors
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
9781496810854 $35.00

Comfort Food Meanings And Memories blends culinary history with folklore and a focus on how comfort foods were developed from American ethnic and family roots, offering insights on the idea of comfort foods, the types of foods that came to be regarded as such, and how local comfort foods and culinary tourism spread to become a part of local culture and cuisines across the country. Essays consider how anthropology, genealogy, and ethnic heritage intersect in the pursuit of answers to questions about food origins and popular trends. The blend of case history examples and scholarship creates a lively but well-researched guide essential for any culinary history collection, and while college-level readers will be its main audience, many a cook will pick up the book for its wide-ranging insights.

NYC Vegan
Michael Suchman & Ethan Ciment
Vegan Heritage Press LLC
P.O. Box 628, Woodstock, VA 22664-0628
9781941252338 $21.95

NYC Vegan: Iconic Recipes for a Taste of the Big Apple provides a fine celebration of old and modern New York tastes with a vegan twist, including ethnic, neighborhood, and regional specialties that range from soft pretzels and knishes to pot pies, Italian lasagna, and falafel. Recipes adapt these classics for vegan diets, and so include a number of ingredients to be found in a good health food market, from seitan and nutritional yeast to nondairy cheeses, tofu products, and tempeh. The result is a 'must' acquisition for any who hold affection for classic New York fare while harboring affection for vegan cuisine.

The Military Shelf

The Great Rescue
Peter Hernon
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062433862 $27.99

The Great Rescue: American Heroes, An Iconic Ship, and the Race to Save Europe in WWI offers a different kind of story about the U.S.S. Leviathan and its entry into the war, and documents the ship's journey through two concurrent disasters as it navigated the treacherous waters of a flu pandemic and a war alike. While many accounts of the ship document its harrowing North Atlantic crossing at the peak of the flu, a secondary story of its involvement in war and its influence on efforts to save England and France from defeat have been largely untold until now. Its multiple voyages and individual acts of heroism come alive in this powerful saga, which is hard to put down.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Best of Gordon Dickson Volume 1
Hank Davis, Editor
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476782171 $16.00

The Best of Gordon Dickson Volume 1 collects under one cover some fourteen of this long-time sci-fi great's varied works, which represent a satisfyingly diverse mix of themes and short stories. These were all chosen from the first half of his career and ranges from a spinster aunt who gains superpowers to men facing impossible odds with a squad of aliens. All are excellent, engrossing short stories designed to entertain and make the reader think, recommended for prior Dickson readers and newcomers alike.

The Audiobook Shelf

Hachette Audio
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104

These audio productions are top recommendation, pairing intriguing topics with narrative styles that are compelling and fresh. Mayte Garcia narrates The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince (9781478974253, $35.00), which tells of her unique connection to the musical superstar when they met backstage at a concert. She was a teenage belly dancer; he was already famous. Their friendship moved into collaborative realms and then into romance, and this reveals both their relationship and wedding and the forces that eventually separated them. Anyone interested in Prince must have this expose! Beau Lotto's Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently (9781478909163, $30.00) is also narrated by the author and provides a powerful survey of perception and what lies between a vision and the brain's interpretation of it. Over two decades of original research explores how the brain works, offering insights into optical illusions, the science of seeing and interpreting what is seen, and how perceptions operate and influence decision-making processes. The discussion comes alive in audio. James Patteron works with Frank Constantini, Emily Raymond and Brian Sitts in Two from the Heart (9781478948841, $35.00), the compelling saga of Anne, whose marriage, home, and career are all battered by disasters. Fraught with loss, Anne realizes she's lost touch with her world, and embarks on a cross-country road trip to gather the 'best stories' of friends, family and strangers alike. Her journey opens up new roads of understanding in this evocative, compelling story which is perfect for an audio listen on a car trip.

The Fiction Shelf

Price of Duty
Dale Brown
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062441973 $28.99

Price of Duty comes from the New York Times bestselling author of Iron Wolf deemed one of the top military writers in the nation, and here tackles a powerful contemporary theme in considering cyberwarfare and attacks. His military thriller is replete with cat-and-mouse games and events which come eerily close to real-world news as it presents a series of characters and U.S. allies who fall under the influence of a Russian cyber attack fostered by a Russian president who has foregone the expense of atomic build-up for the relative ease and cheapness of a cyber mission. As strikes hit around the world and the Russian tactics succeed, danger involves McLanahan and his team in an unprecedented struggle with an elusive enemy and tactics that may prove impossible to trace. The tension is exquisitely done.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Obesity Epidemic
Robyn Toomatch
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
9781421422497 $22.95

The Obesity Epidemic: Why Diets and Exercise Don't Work And What Does comes from a physician who considers who losing weight is so difficult, and examines the history, causes, and genetic and social influences on obesity. Her examination goes beyond maintaining that the problem lies in caloric intake and considers why food has become a problem and how it's marketed around the world. The latest research blends with some twenty years of working with overweight patients to consider the many answers that don't work and why it's important to make healthy eating routines much easier than they currently are. Any interested in the real roots of obesity around the world will find this a powerful probe.

The Psychology Shelf

Understanding OCD
Adam B. Lewin and Eric A. Storch, Editors
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849057837 $18.95

Understanding OCD: A Guide for Parents and Professionals provides a comprehensive survey of various childhood obsessive disorders, treatment options, and their symptoms and related illnesses, providing parents of a child newly diagnosed with OCD with a toolbox explaining the latest diagnostic procedures and what they mean in terms of treatment outcomes. As chapters explore how OCD can be managed at home, at school, and beyond, parents receive the latest research combined with tips and guidelines designed to help them understand the hierarchy of fear, psychological approaches, and how to handle treatment-resistant OCD.

Tools for Helpful Souls
Ilse Sand
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781785922961 $14.95

Tools for Helpful Souls focuses on sensitive people and personalities and considers how these people can make good caretakers, even though the effort can be a challenge for them. It comes from a theology graduate and former parish priest who has trained in psychotherapeutic circles, and it offers a coaching guide that tells how sensitive people can be supportive without finding their emotional resources drained by the effort. The result is filled with insights, exercises, and the kind of approach that encourages caregiving and self-preservation alike.

The Education Shelf

Unlocking English Learners' Potential
Diane Staehr Fenner and Sydney Snyder
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781506352770 $29.95

Unlocking English Learners' Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible is packed with ideas for content and ESOL teachers on how to meet content standards using new strategies backed by activities. The templates for success involve identifying paths to potential and reaching them through various techniques that build an English learner's skills and apply them to their reading and language development alike. From application activities and questions about teaching academic language to this audience to identifying what close text reading involves, this workbook is packed with keys to successful EL teaching techniques for modern audiences.

Take the Journey
James A. Percoco
Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781625311436 $29.33

Take the Journey: Teaching American History Through Place-Based Learning comes from a historian and educator who shows teachers how to take students to places where American history happened. The focus is on a 180-mile National Heritage area through various battlefields, presidential estates, and more, but while teachers may think that a personal appearance is required or difficult, the joy of this book is that it can be used in the classroom as well as on a local journey through American history. Chapters explore the basic concepts of place-based learning strategies as they encourage developing a virtual classroom that makes visiting and understanding these key areas a snap. Content elements include blog features while tips on using vodcasts to developing a reader's theater offer a wide range of possibilities to teachers seeking a wider-ranging approach to classroom history discussions than most.

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

The Writing Dead
Thomas Fahy
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
9781496813251 $30.00

The Writing Dead: Talking Terror with TV's Top Horror Writers goes behind the scenes of modern top horror shows and converses with writers who worked with actors, filmmakers and others about how these works were produced. Some thirteen interviews with top writers and producers discuss the making of such works as Hannibal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Dead Zone and more, offering a powerful set of insights that should be in every film collection.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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