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The Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 6 June 2022 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice World History Shelf Military Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer
Jay Bergen
Devault Graves Books
9781942531425, $28.95 paperback/$9.99 eBook

Fans of the Beatles rock group may think they've read it all, given the plethora of books about the group and its individual members; but they can't make this claim until they've read Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer: The Untold Story. Unlike other biographies about the Beatles, this book will appeal to a wider audience than rock music history fans alone, probing the issues of artists' rights, mob relationships, legal processes, and lawyer and judge operations with equal attention to detail.

Attorney Jay Bergen was partner in a major New York legal firm when he was tapped to represent John Lennon in a battle over the ownership and rights of his musical creations. The lawsuit revolved around an attempt by Roulette Records owner and mobster-connected Morris Levy to circumvent and acquire Lennon's works by releasing an unauthorized version of the same record Lennon had created, Rock 'n Roll. Levy had used rough mixes of John's unfinished Rock 'n' Roll recordings, claiming that the former Beatle had verbally agreed to the arrangement. The resulting lawsuit and countersuit between Levy and Lennon was about more than a single album's ownership. It would establish precedent for determining musician rights, and occurred at a pivotal time in Lennon's life, as he was on the cusp of becoming a father and family man in the 1970s.

Many Beatles fans that have focused on their music will have missed this legal struggle, which operated largely behind the scenes. This is yet another reason why Bergen's story is essential reading for any Beatles fan as well as musicians who want to protect their creative rights. Bergen's in-depth survey moves between courtroom proceedings and his first-person accounts of interactions with Lennon on not just professional, but personal levels. His chatty, accessible tone reflects a serious relationship and struggle that captures the minutiae of back-and-forth court proceedings as well as Lennon's concern over his case's impact on Yoko and his life.

Many insights into the business of music and its promotion are also provided as the case winds through court. Readers who anticipated yet another Lennon biography should prepare for something satisfyingly different in this legal treatise. It's a far wider-ranging survey than most Beatles examinations and offers a rare opportunity to not just see inside a judge and lawyer's minds, but to examine the processes by which creative works and their ownership are established and protected. All this melds with Bergen's personal observations of John and Yoko to add depth and lively interpersonal discourses to the legal battle.

Anyone involved in the business of making, promoting, or protecting musical rights needs Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer: The Untold Story as a study in perseverance and process. It's very highly recommended.

The World History Shelf

The Museum
Samuel J. Redman
NYU Press
41 Lafayette St., 5th Floor, New York NY 10003
9781479809332, $24.95 HC, $14.72 Kindle, 232pp

The Museum: A Short History of Crisis and Resilience should be in any arts collection as a powerful examination of the museum, its historic role in times of crisis, and the physical and cultural conflicts that often affect its presence, development, and longevity. Chapters explore major world history and events and their impact on museums, considering past events, challenges that shaped their future, and the possibilities of how cultural institutions can weather crisis.

Historian and professional Samuel J. Redman lends a fine analytical eye to the discussions that blend historical events with broader questions about museum operations, community presence, and special challenges. The result is a detailed blend of reports and analysis that charts the evolution of the museum and the nature of its contents: "Museums of all kinds were asked to retool and re-imagine their role in society for the war effort."

The Military Shelf

Moro Warrior
Thomas McKenna
Armin Lear Press Inc.
9781956450088, $30.00 Hardcover/$21.95 Paper

History collections strong in Asian history in general and World War II collections in particular will want to acquire Thomas McKenna's Moro Warrior: A Philippine Chieftain, an American Schoolmaster, and The Untold Story of the Most Remarkable Resistance Fighters of World War II in the Pacific in their holdings. It's a remarkable venture into 1942 Philippine history that delves into the Moros (Philippine Muslims), who were the first U.S. soldiers of the Pacific War to challenge Japanese troops in jungle warfare.

They were also the original inhabitants of the southern Philippines, and were the only Muslim population ever formally colonized by the United States. Thomas McKenna's survey reads with the drama of fiction, making it an enticing history attractive to readers who may hold little prior familiarity with the Philippines or with Moros. The facts that form the background of his probe are couched in action-packed scenes, social and political insights, and military events that juxtapose personal lives with McKenna's research conundrums and achievements. From disrupted trade networks and the involvement of different peoples in the jungle warfare to different difficulties faced by these diverse tribes, McKenna succeeds in depicting the challenges and changes war brought to an archipelago populated by very different communities.

His attention to these contrasting milieus and details that explore the cultures and lives of the diversity of the Philippines also lends to including Moro Warrior in not just Asian or military history collections, but in those which explore the nature and extent of Philippine culture.

Dialogue between characters, maps, and author notes personalize the entire experience, making for an unusually gripping read that should be part of any reading list strong in the Philippines and their history and culture.

McKenna intended this book as a tribute to his honorary uncle. It holds a sad posthumous note: "When it came time to tell my honorary uncle that this book was finally finished and ready to publish, it was too late. I had been away for too long and he was gone. I had failed to say goodbye to him or to thank him or to reassure him that his story would be told before he died. This book, the first of two planned books about Mohammad Adil, Edward Kuder, and the Moros in the twentieth century, is a belated tribute (a posthumous citation, as it were) to Mohammad Adil and his fellow Moro guerrillas."

That McKenna persisted to bring this tribute to the public eye is testimony to not just perseverance, but to filling the gaps in a story that needs to receive a world audience. Moro Warrior is highly recommended and holds the promises to appeal to a diverse audience with its special blend of lesser-known facts, original research, and attention to capturing the lives, thoughts, and culture of a nation challenged by war.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Seven Graces of Ageless Aging
Jason Elias
Five Element Healing Press
9780996654234, $18.00 Paper/$9.99 Kindle

The Seven Graces of Ageless Aging: How To Die Young as Late in Life as Possible is for those who would rewrite the basic script of what it means to grow old, and invites readers from all walks of life to reconsider this process.

Many books about aging write about youth-preserving routines, from exercise to nutrition. Helping the brain rewire its most basic tenets about aging, however, involves more than physical approaches. It involves cultivating a new paradigm of the process, from what it means to retire to reconsidering life, from relationships to embracing mindfulness on many different levels.

Jason Elias cautions that this does not involve a "one size fits all" approach, but represents a mindset that embraces flexibility and positivity. His contentions come backed by research and studies from different disciplines, as well. As the examples, stories, and advice unfolds, the focus on aging "naturally and gracefully" is supported by concrete actions that others have undertaken to move into and embrace aging as a new opportunity for growth.

Elias advocates "living life fully to the end." This involves an interconnected embrace of physical and mental approaches that, together, promote the feel of a full, purposeful life. As chapters move through mental and physical subjects, Elias refutes some common perceptions of health: "Many scientists and health professionals assert that inflammation causes many diseases and promotes premature aging. It's important to note, however, that inflammation serves a natural purpose...The body's inflammatory response often saves our lives, and helps the body overcome its challenge. The danger lies with chronic inflammation..." The "seven graces" he embraces are, in fact, a blueprint for not just facing advancing years, but reconsidering and reworking their structure and importance.

Health collections, new age readers, and general-interest readers who look for research-based advice will all find plenty of food for thought in this outstanding alternate vision of aging, which advocates making the most of one's years in many different ways.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471

Three new books by Baen provide engrossing stories that deserve a place in any community library sci-fi collection or the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction & fantasy fans.

Into the Real by John Ringo and Lydia Sherrer (9781982126001, $25.00) considers the impact of a collision between a game and real life, and will especially appeal to virtual reality gamers who will recognize many of the scenarios presented in this story. Lynn Raven is a master at WarMonger 2050, but even her skills are tested when she agrees to beta test a new augmented reality game that challenges her deepest fears. Her increasing involvement in the game mirrors dilemmas in real life as Lynn faces the fact that winning in this dangerous game might mean losing long-held beliefs about the world and her place in it. This thought-provoking, action-packed story takes some unexpected turns, making for a winning read.

Anne McCaffrey and S.M. Stirling's The City Who Fought (9781982126100, $16.00) is military sci-fi at its best and tells of Simeon, a shell-person brain who runs a remote space station, but is discontented with his charge; especially since he's now doing the job with a new partner who seems to have it in for him. Channa is unexpected and a rigid personality who keeps distracting him from his favorite hobby, wargaming. It's a hobby that may prove their salvation when an attack calls upon his skills to thwart.

Jane Lindskold's Aurora Borealis Bridge (9781982126025, $16.00) is the second book in the Over Where fantasy series, and is highly recommended reading for prior fans and newcomers alike. Peg, Meg, and Teg's entry into a universe where they are the only humans and magic is real challenged them in the first book, but here the dual finds new revelations that challenge not only their positions in this world, but their perception of their pasts. An engaging, engrossing story emerges to attract all ages to a new adventure.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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