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The Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 5 May 2021 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf American History Shelf
Business Shelf General Fiction Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Everyday Evil
Monique Layton
Tidewater Press
9781775165965, $12.56 Paper; $9.99 Kindle

Everyday Evil: Why Our World is the Way It Is will reach social issues and philosophy readers alike with a multifaceted blend of history and contemporary inspection. It seeks to identify and trace elements of evil, from ancient to modern times.

The account opens with a philosophy-based examination of the definition of good and evil, free will, and responsibility, and justice. It then moves to chapters that examine how social, legal, and physical barriers are erected between groups, societies, and people.

As Everyday Evil considers the evolving history of man's injustices and attitudes towards others, from women and minority groups to other societies around the world, it provides a foundation for understanding the personification of evil and its identification and nature.

This is especially critical reading in modern times, where opposing groups accuse each other of inherent malicious, evil intent and portray themselves as being on the side of an identified 'good' that may actually be questionable in its definition and incarnation.

From Biblical quotes to the examination of precedent in other cultures and history, Monique Layton bases her discussion on solid information and interpretations which often offer intriguing reconsiderations of this background, as in her thoughts about witchcraft: "A French proverb from the thirteenth century, Qui veut noyer son chien l'accuse de la rage (Whoever wants to kill his dog will say it has rabies), encapsulates much of the past attitude towards women: unless they toed the line and did as they were told, any excuse would do to condemn them. The history of witchcraft is a case in point. Witchcraft was closely interwoven into the details of daily life over which people had little control."

The studious, information-backed reflections and interpretations are well done, supported by research, and offer much food for thought about human interpretations of the physical world and their place in it: "Going beyond our individual interpretation of sensory perceptions, what can we say about the way we understand whole situations, either taken out of context or given a specific slant? We know how easily our attention can be distracted and how unreliable our accounts are."

The result is highly recommended reading for students of history, sociology, philosophy, and psychology. Everyday Evil also promises to reach beyond these scholarly circles to general-interest readers with a special concern about the interpretation and broad modern applications of evil's presence in everyday life, offering much food for thought and discussion.

The Education Shelf

The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students With Learning Differences, 15th edition
Marybeth Kravets, M.A. and Imy F. Wax, M.S.
The Princeton Review
9780525570301, $31.99, PB, 752pp

Many may not realize that students with learning differences are fully capable of attending college. Nor might they know that many schools offer special programs and services for such attendees. The 15th updated edition of a basic reference for colleges for students with learning differences reviews all of these institutions that have good programs for a variety of learning differences, updating information to assure the latest amenities are represented. From special accommodations such as a distraction-reduced environment, assistive technology, and coaching and specialists to financial aid notes and campus life, this book packs in the details needed to make an informed decision. The admissions process, too, is given special focus, including required documentation and interview requirements. Organized by state and including both basic college info and special notes on difference-friendly approaches, this is the item of choice for any reference collection appealing to college-bound students at all levels of learning ability.

The American History Shelf

Jefferson Glass
c/o Globe Pequot
9781493048366, $26.95 HC, $15.19 Kindle, 400pp

Empire: The Pioneer Legacy of an American Ranch family belongs in any American history collection strong in Western sagas, and brings to life the story of a family whose interests and efforts paralleled that of the country to expand and develop. From an 1885 160-acre homestead ranch to its expansion to embrace tens of thousands of acres, range wars, and changing ranching products and purposes to meet new demands from the eastern part of the country, this is both a family chronicle and a concurrent review of how America developed and changed, and receives a lively tribute using an unexpected perspective.

c/o Globe Pequot

Two new history titles belong in any collection strong in lively, accessible surveys of women's roles in American social, political, and economic development.

Chris Enss's Iron Women: The Ladies Who Helped Build the Railroad (9781493037759, $19.95 PB, $14.49) follows the contributions women made to the expansion of the railroad across country even as an authoritative report claimed that "no woman had laid a rail and no woman had made a survey." So, what did they do? Plenty. Women have been connected with railroading efforts from 1838 to modern times, and this book considers their roles, their influence in how the rail lines were created, and their largely unheralded position that should be as central to American rail history as any man's. These biographical sketches of women who made a different blend into overall rail history to provide an illustrated and specific review of women who were architects, designers, hospitality ambassadors, engineers, and more.

Jan Cleere's Military Wives in Arizona Territory: A History of Women Who Shaped the Frontier (9781493052943, $19.95 PB, $14.49 Kindle, 216pp) surveys military wives who traveled into the then-undeveloped Arizona Territory in the 19th century to participate in newly established settlements alongside their men. Their letters, diaries, and journeys from army post experiences document the special challenges they endured and their role as part of the military posts that helped keep the frontier safe for others. Original research and history follows their movements and influences in a collection of narratives about early military wives that will interest not just military history holdings, but those strong in women's history.

The Business Shelf

Managing Generation Z
Robin Paggi & Kat Clowes
Quill Driver Books
2006 S Mary St, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610354004, $18.95 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 326pp

Managing Generation Z: How to Recruit, Onboard, Develop, and Retain the Newest Generation in the Workplace should be part of any manager or HR leader's reading as it considers the psyches and values of a generation born after 1996. It comes from a veteran HR manager and an educational consultant who worked with many Gen Z'ers, and provides a key to understanding the approaches to life and value sets of a generation usually managed by those from another era. From their tech-savvy abilities which might supersede those of their superiors to their naivety over professional interactions and office politics, this management guide is key to understanding this generation and tapping their inherent skills. Leaders who wish to guide these employees to greater heights will find discussions specific and important, from how Gen Z views time differently and reacts differently to time management requirements to how to create meaningful benefits to the job based on Gen Z values.

The General Fiction Shelf

Tears of Honor
James A. Ardaiz
Pace Press
c/o Linden Publishing
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721-9875
9781610359009, $19.95 PB, $11.49 Kindle, 480pp

Tears of Honor is a novel about Japanese Americans in World War II, and provides a gripping study in prejudice, justice, and heroism as it surveys the Japanese American soldiers who fought the Nazis in Europe even as their families were imprisoned in camps in America.

The heroes are Sammy and Freddy, who are dreaming of becoming baseball players when war leads them and their families to be viewed as enemies. Determined to prove their loyalty to their country, the boys enlist even as their families are placed in internment camps at home. As they struggle for honor, fight against the enemy at home and abroad, and come to realize their own perilous identity as Japanese Americans who are viewed with prejudice during times of war, Tears of Honor becomes emotionally charged with a fine blend of military clashes, history, and insights into prejudice and redemption in a gripping saga that is hard to put down and realistic in its roots.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Baen Books

Two new books from Baen provide readers with absorbing stories replete with high drama and adventure.

Robert E. Hampson and Sandra L. Medlock edit The Founder Effect (9781982125097, $16.00 TPB, $8.99 MMPB, $8.99 Kindle, 400pp), which presents short stories by Jody Lynn Nye, D.J. Butler, David Weber, and other Baen authors. These original works are set in the universe o 2185 CE in which humans control the solar system and are venturing to stars beyond to build a new civilization. The stories of these pioneers and how they look to build a new world are presented in a diverse selection of stories that capture personalities, people, and an objective that keeps changing as battles and confrontations emerge.

Will McCarthy's Lost in Transmission (9781982125035, $16.00 HC, $6.69 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 368pp) provides a vivid story of a crew of rebels who have been banished to a starship to settle new worlds. Their voyage is perilous and long (it's a century-long endeavor), royalty becomes entwined with crew in a shared exile that strips personalities and purposes to their core, and the intriguing tale of death and defiance in the Queendom of Sol adds a note of intrigue and adventure in a quest story that blends politics with high-tech challenges for a satisfyingly engrossing read.

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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