Livres en sciences sociales: comptes rendus (janvier 2011)

Social Sciences Reviews, January 2011

(source: Library Journal, 13/01/2011)


Gibbon, Piers with Jane Houston. Tribe: Endangered Peoples Around the World. Firefly. 2010. 192p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781554077427. $45. ANTHRO
Today there are over 150 million people belonging to endangered tribal groups around the world. In this large-format book, British author and frequent TV science host Gibbon travels the globe to explore over 200 of these indigenous groups and to offer insight into the alternative ways humanity approaches daily living in specific environments. The vivid photographs throughout, depicting personal adornment and dress, marriage rituals, hunting practices, food gathering, and tribal housing, together with brief ethnographic information, are the labor of many professionals who have spent years in the field among tribal peoples; Gibbon provides a 21st-century perspective on what remains of these cultures. He also includes information for further online research regarding travel, charities, and indigenous studies. VERDICT A visually driven overview of many tribes that normally do not receive exposure in basic anthropology books. The textual information is brief and narrow in scope, so this is not a book for in-depth analysis of particular cultures or practices. Best suited for the lay anthropologist or reader of National Geographic.—Angela M. Forret, Clive P.L., Des Moines

Information et communication

Davis, Belva with Victoria Haddock. Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism. PoliPoint. Feb. 2011. c.249p. photogs. ISBN 9781936227068. $24.95. COMM
Pioneering journalist Davis, writing with Haddock, tells her fascinating story in this highly readable memoir. Davis grew up hand to mouth in Louisiana and then Oakland. Unable to afford college, she began writing for African American publications and later moved to radio and local television news. Despite resistance at every turn because of her race and gender, her fame and influence grew with each career move. Davis covered the defining events of her time and place, including the Berkeley protests of the late 1960s, Jim Jones and the massacre at Jonestown, the Harvey Milk/George Moscone shootings, and the rise of AIDS. She took reporting trips to Cuba, Israel, and East Africa. She also managed to raise two children, promote innumerable causes, and cultivate friendships with an impressive list of celebrities. While Davis is justifiably proud of her achievements, her lack of a college education and her feelings of inadequacy as a mother continue to haunt her. VERDICT Davis is an engaging, likable personality with an inspiring story. Recommended for any reader interested in journalism, history, or gender and race relations in the United States.—David Gibbs, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

Rose, Frank. The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories. Norton. Feb. 2011. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780393076011. $26.95. COMM
While we’ve yet to experience a fully interactive media platform like the “holodeck” from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Rose (contributing editor, Wired; West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer) theorizes that we are encountering a profound shift in the way we play, consume, and communicate. He explains that our experiences with television, movies, games, and advertisements are becoming increasingly more immersive and consumer-driven. We are no longer content to let the entertainment and advertising companies tell us what to watch on TV or buy in the store. Instead of passively receiving information or stories from one source, we now get a “media mix,” where one idea, one story, is “told” over different platforms—on the Internet, on television, in a game. VERDICT Like Marshall McLuhan’s groundbreaking 1964 book, Understanding Media, this engrossing study of how new media is reshaping the entertainment, advertising, and communication industries is an essential read for professionals in the fields of digital communications, marketing, and advertising, as well as for fans of gaming and pop culture.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Wilson, John K. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh’s Assault on Reason. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2011. c.352p. index. ISBN 9780312612146. $25.99. COMM
The nearly 20 million people who listen to Rush Limbaugh regularly are not likely to pick up this critique documenting the distortions and negative tactics he uses to entertain and to advance a conservative agenda. The likeliest audience is readers who already believe that Limbaugh is racist, sexist, and homophobic. Wilson (Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies) has spent hours listening to Limbaugh broadcasts and reading transcripts. To illustrate how dangerous and extreme Limbaugh’s ideas are, he examines the language he uses to describe women and minorities, dissects “Limbaughnomics,” and documents the misinformation broadcast on health-care reform. Wilson decries Limbaugh’s impact on civil political discourse. VERDICT With over 2000 footnotes, this book almost serves as a reference tool to document Limbaugh’s extreme views. It provides more description than analysis and, with its extensive documentation, can be slow reading. Of interest to liberal readers and scholars concerned about Limbaugh’s influence on American society and politics.—Judy Solberg, Seattle Univ. Lib.


Brandon, Ruth. Ugly Beauty: Helena Rubinstein, L’Oréal, and the Blemished History of Looking Good. Harper: HarperCollins. Feb. 2011. c.304p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780061740404. $26.99. BUS
Beauty became a huge business in the last century, largely through the pioneering efforts of Helena Rubinstein and L’Oréal creator Eugène Schueller. Brandon (Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres) provides a deep, probing account of how their companies grew to dominate the market and how their merger combined not only products but the founders’ opposing philosophies. Rubinstein never quite left behind her humble origins in the Kraków ghetto of late 19th-century Poland during her incredible evolution into the world’s first-ever, self-made woman tycoon. Her competitor and ultimate purchaser of her empire Schueller was himself of “humble” origins but through formal science study followed a very different path. Brandon skillfully proceeds from individual histories to explore the improbable phenomenon of bringing together the life’s work of these business giants, whose goals, ethics, and backgrounds could hardly have been more incompatible. The final result was an enormously lucrative global enterprise. VERDICT This engaging book should appeal not only to beauty enthusiasts but also to students of corporate histories, who will relish the compelling aspects of the unlikely crossing of paths of two hugely successful entrepreneurs.—Richard Drezen, Brooklyn, NY

Buffett, Mary & David Clark. Warren Buffett and the Art of Stock Arbitrage: Proven Strategies for Arbitrage and Other Special Investment Situations. Scribner. 2010. c.176p. ISBN 9781439198827. $25. BUS
The latest exploration of Warren Buffet’s financial prowess from his former ­daughter-in-law Buffett and Clark, authors of six previous books on his investment strategies, takes the reader into the world of arbitrage and special situation investing. Arbitrage, the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two markets by buying in one market and selling in another, has been one of Buffett’s strongest financial operations, but almost nothing has been written about his methodology. Aimed at the casual investor, the book explains how anyone can use these strategies in his or her own portfolio. The writing is concise and straightforward, the examples are current and clear, and there are simple formulas on how to determine risk in both arbitrage and valuing liquidations. They also simplify the complicated situations of mergers, acquisitions, hostile takeovers, securities buybacks, and corporate liquidations to give readers an idea of how to find and understand their investment potential. VERDICT This book will appeal to investors looking for an introduction to arbitrage and special situations. The authors successfully outline this complicated world and explain how Buffett has harnessed these events for profit. Recommended.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Freese, Thomas A. Sell Yourself First: The Most Critical Element in Every Sales Effort. Portfolio. Jan. 2011. c.256p. index. ISBN 9781591843658. $25.95. BUS
Be honest with your customers. Acknowledge your industry’s dark side. Stop trying to persuade your customers, and solve their problems instead. You are constantly selling yourself. Here, Freese, founder and president of QBS Research, Inc., a sales-training firm, covers a lot of familiar ground to help salespeople improve their technique with clients. But there’s a twist—many of the sales strategies are accomplished through Freese’s Question Based Selling (QBS) process, in which salespeople engage customers in dialog rather than give the standard presentation. After laying some fundamental groundwork, Freese walks readers through strategizing questions to use in their QBS approach to developing trust, establishing a customer’s needs, and closing the sale, with nods to creating curiosity and storytelling methods. VERDICT Recommended if you need to refresh your sales-methods collection. A useful title for public libraries and readers in or considering sales.—Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR

Steinbaum, Harlan. Tough Calls from the Corner Office: Top Business Leaders Reveal Their Career-Defining Moments. HarperBusiness: HarperCollins. Feb. 2011. c.288p. ISBN 9780061802492. $25.99. BUS
Business is often complex, and many business leaders have faced major crises or life-changing experiences that led to pivotal developments. These events shaped them profoundly, often making them better leaders and decision makers. Steinbaum, a former CEO, has compiled short stories of “defining moments” in the lives of 39 professionals across different industries and organizations. The stories are organized into nine chapters focusing on different themes, such as career choices and organizational culture changes. A conclusion provides key ideas the author identified in writing this volume, and a distinctive appendix offers “Executive Advice and Wisdom” from 30 contributors. VERDICT Since many insights are the outcome of personnel decisions, this is suitable for human-resource and other management professionals and can be used as an alternative to textbook readings in business and human-resource programs. Although the book deals with major upheavals in business figures’ lives, it is also an inspiring and enjoyable read, suitable for public libraries, too.—Caroline Geck, MLS, Newark, NJ

Turner, Jamie & Reshma Shah. How To Make Money with Social Media: An Insider’s Guide on Using New and Emerging Media To Grow Your Business. FT: Pearson. 2010. c.304p. ISBN 9780132100564. $24.99. BUS
Web 2.0 has changed the way many enterprises do business. Marketing campaigns must operate on a totally new level. To stay viable, many companies have revamped their marketing strategies to take advantage of opportunities created by social media services. Turner, chief content officer for, and Shah (marketing, Goizueta Business Sch., Emory Univ.) offer insights and resources for business professionals needing guidance in the new social media business environment. Web 2.0 offers an abundance of channels and interesting methods for how companies can reach customers and promote products. The authors also stress traditional marketing ideas, such as the importance of planning and measurements and the determination of campaign successes based on purchases. VERDICT This book is not a self-help guide to instant riches but offers a variety of strategies and quick tips to the experienced marketer in an entertaining and light tone. Callout boxes showcase key ideas. Although not a textbook, it would be an excellent choice to complement readings in marketing courses.—Caroline Geck, MLS, Newark, NJ

Ulrich, Carmen Wong. The Real Cost of Living: Making the Best Choices for You, Your Life, and Your Money. Perigee: Berkley. 2010. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780399536441. pap. $14.95. BUS
Personal finance expert and former host of CNBC’s On the Money, Ulrich (Generation Debt: Take Control of Your Money) arrived at her profession through a nontraditional route: she has a master’s degree in psychology. So naturally, her approach to personal choices in life encompasses more than simply their economic implications. She recognizes that it’s not just about money—even when it is. Ulrich examines the “real costs” of life events like marriage and divorce, family, college, bad habits, and being your own boss, in addition to the more traditional monetary arenas of credit cards, saving, investing, and home ownership. She demonstrates how understanding the emotional and psychological motivations driving financial decisions is as important as calculating the bottom line. VERDICT Since few of us are robotic enough to make choices based on purely rational motives, this book will help readers consider personal financial decisions from a more holistic vantage. It will ring true for those wanting to dig a little deeper when weighing their financial decisions.—Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin–Whitewater Lib.

Sciences politiques

Bergen, Peter L. The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and al-Qaeda. Free Pr: S. & S. Jan. 2011. c.480p. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780743278935. $28. INT AFFAIRS
CNN reporter Bergen (The Osama bin Laden I Know), one of the foremost Western experts on al-Qaeda, presents a compelling narrative of the history of the battle against al-Qaeda since 9/11. Relying on a variety of sources, including the jihadists and U.S. government documents, interviews with al-Qaeda operatives and senior Washington officials, and his own extensive field experience, the author describes success and failure in the “war on terror.” He divides his book into two major parts. Part 1 describes al-Qaeda’s misunderstanding of the West and its capabilities and Washington’s policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Part 2, Bergen explains the lessons that the U.S. military learned from its mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq and how it later used its experience in these two countries to take the initiative from al-Qaeda and its affiliates. However, as General Sir David Richards, the head of Britain’s armed forces, recently noted, al-Qaeda cannot be beaten, but it can be contained and weakened. VERDICT This highly readable book is suitable for specialists and nonspecialists alike.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile

Kristol, Irving. The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942–2009. Basic Bks: Perseus. Feb. 2011. c.400p. bibliog. ISBN 9780465022236. $29.95. POL SCI
Kristol (1920–2009), referred to as the father of neoconservatism, was associated with, among other outlets, Commentary and the publishing house Basic Books. He became one of the most influential postwar public intellectuals. This collection of 48 of his essays on history, religion, economics, politics, and other topics is something of a family tribute, edited by his widow, historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, and with a foreword by his son William Kristol (Weekly Standard). Kristol took on the Right early in his career, but it was usually the Left he had in his sights, even aiming at the American Library Association in 1995: “Today if a school board decides that certain books are inappropriate…the librarian cries ‘censorship.’ The American Library Association has convinced itself that only the school librarian has the constitutional right of book selection.” If these words make Kristol seem like the worst of reactionaries, he was not. Verdict Readers new to Kristol will find this an excellent introduction to a forceful, provocative, and witty writer. Even if they seldom agree with what they read, they’ll likely enjoy him more than they may admit. The selections here barely overlap with Kristol’s own earlier collection, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea. With a thorough bibliography.—Bob Nardini, Nashville

Morozov, Evgeny. The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jan. 2011. c.432p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781586488741. $27.95. POL SCI
Morozov (contributing editor, Foreign Policy), currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University, here examines the evolving role of the Internet in activism, dissent, and authoritarian regimes. He investigates the impact of a range of media on social revolution and activism from television in East Germany to Twitter during Iran’s Green Revolution, intertwining that analysis with discussion of the ways governments are able to use the Internet for surveillance of political activity, propaganda dissemination, and censorship. In his complex examination, he analyzes the effect of the proliferation of available entertainment and access to consumer goods on the potential for political activity, arguing that opening societies to further consumerism and to Western cultural media has in some ways deterred political activism. Morozov’s argument that the West conflates democratization with consumerism uncovers a critique of the West here for its complacent belief that the Internet and supposed freedom of information is a certain pathway to democratization. VERDICT Highly recommended and likely to be popular with political observers, policy wonks, activists, information junkies, and academics. [See also The Offensive Internet, reviewed on page opposite.—Ed.]—Candice A. Kail, Columbia Univ. Libs., New York

Peck, James. Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights. Metropolitan: Holt. Mar. 2011. c.384p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780805083286. $28. POL SCI
The United States has always embraced a solid rhetoric of individual freedom and democratic equality. Or has it? Drawing on a wealth of now public national security documents, Peck (director, U.S.-China Book Publication Project; Washington’s China) illuminates our government’s ideological journey toward a cohesive national doctrine. Peck argues that our current international posturing as a global protector of human rights evolved primarily as a justification for protecting our own self-interests at home and growing our power abroad. Although his conclusion that Americans should look to other rising global powers is debatable and a bit unexpected, Peck’s argument that the human rights values we espouse fall apart when applied to our own treatment of other nations and citizens is both convincing and sobering. VERDICT An engaging and original look at America’s foreign policy, accessible and well researched. Recommended for both interested general readers and foreign policy specialists.—April Younglove, Rochester Regional Lib. Council, NY


Saunders, Doug. Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World. Pantheon. Mar. 2011. c.368p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780375425493. $27.95. SOC SCI
A rural to urban migration is playing out now around the world, driven by a desire to escape rural poverty for an opportunity to attain urban middle-class status. London-based journalist Saunders (European bureau chief, Globe and Mail, Toronto) details the landscape of arrival cities—those urban subunits with larger migrant concentrations—around the world and the circumstances of today’s migrant classes from arrival to assimilation. Through a panoramic look at 20 arrival cities and a seemingly innumerable number of migrant stories, Saunders argues that opportunities for education, owning housing, residing with immediate family members, and building businesses within these arrival cities determine whether migrant families are able to become successful, urban middle-class citizens or become stuck in an urban poverty turning to violence or extreme cultural or religious fundamentalism. He also evaluates the effect of arrival cities on both the villages left behind and the middle-class urban areas being striven toward. VERDICT While this book is presented as popular reading, the depth and breadth of the material often gives it more of an academic feel. Recommended to those seriously interested in current global class mobility and factors in successful migration.—Catherine McMullen, MLIS, Portland, OR

Settersten, Richard & Barbara E. Ray. Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone. Bantam. Jan. 2011. c.272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780553807400. pap. $15. SOC SCI
Cogent, coherent, and corrective, this engaging summary of recent research puts to rest the stereotype of American young adults as entitled, maturity-averse slackers. Indeed, Settersten (human development & family sciences, Oregon State Univ.) and Ray, a writer and Communications Director for the MacArthur Network on Transitions to Adulthood, do document the many ways that touch points of adulthood (college degree, independent living, marriage, savings) are happening years later for people currently in their twenties and thirties than for their parents and grandparents. But they also make a solid case that the revised schedule is appropriate to the times. Of far greater concern than delayed milestones is the vast disparity of resources and opportunities—and results, such as lifetime income—between “swimmers,” as the authors term college-educated youth with strong family support and wide social networks, and “treaders,” a larger group of young people suffering chronic, generational resource deficits and, frequently and ironically, a too-fast entry into the world of parenthood and employment, with little hope of advancement. VERDICT Based on a large, multidisciplinary study by the Mac­Arthur Research Network, this book is myth busting and eye-opening. It should be required reading for parents, educators, policymakers, sociologists, and this group’s most important stakeholder: young adults themselves.—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus

Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing. New York Univ. 2010. c.304p. ed. by Harvey Molotch & Laura Norén. photogs. index. ISBN 9780814795880. $75; ISBN 9780814795897. pap. $18.95. SOC SCI
This profound and surprising book takes up a subject usually kept private: the public restroom. These scholarly but mostly accessible new examinations of the topic provide fascinating insight on cultural notions of cleanliness and filth, public and private. Molotch (sociology, New York Univ.) and Norén (doctoral candidate, sociology, New York Univ.) show that the public restroom also turns out to be a lens through which to examine attitudes about gender and class. The contributing scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including history, sociology, urban planning, and cultural studies, leave no stone unturned in an engrossing exploration of the politics, economics, and history of the lowly toilet, with pieces that are wide-ranging without seeming incoherent. There are playful touches throughout, including “rest stops” (brief texts by the editors accompanied by images), but the seriousness of the subject does not escape the reader. Which people have access to adequate facilities and under what conditions is a matter of legal, cultural, medical, and ethical consequence. VERDICT Scholars from a range of disciplines including those listed above, as well as women’s studies, law, and architecture, will appreciate this wonderful book. Although some chapters may prove too specialized, general readers will also find much to enjoy here.—Rachel Bridgewater, Reed Coll. Lib., OR

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