Livres en sciences sociales: comptes rendus (2) (février 2011)

(source: Library Journal, 15/02/2011)

Economie

Desjardins, Lisa & Rick Emerson. Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance. Avery: Penguin Group (USA). May 2011. c.304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781583334270. pap. $16. ECON
Desjardins (Capitol Hill correspondent, CNNRadio) and radio broadcaster Emerson deliver woefully incomplete and sometimes irresponsibly bad financial advice, such as directing readers to ask their bank for investing guidance, the sum total of their words on that subject. This seems tremendously short shrift because experts typically advise that retirement saving should be started as early as possible to maximize the effect of compound interest. Furthermore, it is usually recommended that one seek investment guidance from fee-based professionals rather than those who sell commission-eligible products, which is what one normally encounters at the local bank. The inadequate counsel is wrapped in an overabundance of unfunny genre fiction–style zombie adventure narrative. Excluding white space, work sheets, and the zombie gimmick material, the authors manage to include just 124 pages of topical content. VERDICT Although the zombie theme is temptingly timely, the bad far outweighs the good here. Those searching for a personal finance text for the uninitiated would be far better served by Andrew Tobias’s classic The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need.—Steve Wilson, Dayton Metro Lib., OH

Guber, Peter. Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story. Crown Business. Mar. 2011. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780307587954. $26. BUS
True business leaders know that stories, not facts and statistics, sell an idea. Guber, chair/CEO of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, offers insight on how to craft and deliver a story that will bring an idea to life. Guber liberally draws on the wealth of stories from his years of experience as a Hollywood studio executive and includes anecdotes from former President Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, Deepak Chopra, Alice Walker, Gene Simmons, Wolfgang Puck, and dozens of others on how they have used personal stories to motivate. While books by Stephen Denning (e.g., The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling) and Annette Simmons (e.g., The Story Factor) delve into how storytelling can be used to lead organizations, Guber focuses on how it can be employed in negotiations as well. VERDICT This will appeal to the casual business reader and those interested in the entertainment industry.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Irwin, Douglas A. Peddling Protectionism: Smoot-Hawley and the Great Depression. Princeton Univ.Mar. 2011. c.250p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691150321. $24.95. BUS
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, named after the two congressmen who sponsored it, raised U.S. duties on thousands of imported goods. Its ramifications on world trade reverberated for decades. In this comprehensive history, Irwin (economics, Dartmouth; Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade) examines the political wrangling that caused the yearlong delay in its passage. Major political figures and special interest groups supported and opposed tariffs according to whether they represented exporters or importers, agriculturalists or manufacturers, and northern or southern concerns. It was clear that the tariff would create advantages for only a select few. Coincidentally, the act’s passage occurred at the onset of the Great Depression, and the authors show exactly how these events affected each other. Readers will especially like the many historical political cartoons that accompany the text. The book furnishes references and an appendix containing an important primary document from 1930, “The Economists’ Statement Against the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.” VERDICT Since trade is such an important activity in modern economies, this book is recommended for graduate business, history, and special library trade collections as well as for readers interested in economic history.—Caroline Geck, MLS, Newark, NJ

Lindsell-Roberts, Sheryl. New Rules for Today’s Workplace: Strategies for Success in the Virtual World. Houghton Harcourt.Apr. 2011. c.304p. illus. index. ISBN 9780547428086. pap. $13.95. BUS
The author of 23 previous books, Lindsell-Roberts (135 Tips for Writing Successful Business Documents) here presents a solid introduction to getting started in today’s “world of work.” She focuses on four major areas—social networking, working effectively with different generations or cultures, presenting and meeting virtually, and working or managing virtually. She covers a lot of ground in each area, including basic descriptions of what various social network programs do, differences between baby boomers and Gen X and Y workers, tips for telecommuting and creating a work-life balance, and how to conduct an online meeting. VERDICT Lindsell-Roberts touches on many of the current trends in the business world and offers useful tips for entrepreneurs and those who work for them. Full of bulleted points and anecdotes, this is quick and easy reading; a good book for those new to business or technology.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Sciences politiques

Johnson, Tim. Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World but Lost the Battle with China. Nation: Perseus. Feb. 2011. c.352p. index. ISBN 9781568586014. $26.99. INT AFFAIRS
The word “tragedy” in this title is apt; the book is engrossing and informative but not optimistic. Journalist Johnson (former Beijing bureau chief, McClatchy Newspapers) felt free to write about Tibet only after he left China. Although he spends little time on history and was never allowed to investigate political conditions in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (which makes up only a part of what Tibetans consider to be Tibet), he writes with informed passion, insight, and clarity about the Dalai Lama; other ethnic groups in the People’s Republic of China; contending factions of Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala, India; and their debates over resistance, negotiation, resignation, and violence. Johnson lucidly shows the dilemma: Beijing’s hard-liners stymie the efforts of the Dalai Lama to effect a compromise; Tibetan nationalists make it impossible for Beijing to offer one. Johnson also critically appraises both Western acolytes of the Tibetan spiritual leader for romantic hopes and Western business interests for shortsighted practicality. VERDICT A vivid and up-to-date picture for interested readers at all levels.—Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL

Sociologie

Rosenberg, Tina. Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World. Norton. Mar. 2011. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393068580. $25.95. SOC SCI
E.M. Forster bade us to “only connect,” and that is the message of this splendid book, an accessible treatment of the use of peer pressure as a force for positive change, with far-reaching implications for researchers and public policymakers in both government and the private sector. “A few years ago, if anyone had asked me about the transformational ability of positive peer pressure, I would have thought of Alcoholics Anonymous,” writes the MacArthur– and Pulitzer Prize–winning Rosenberg (contributing writer, New York Times Magazine; The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts After Communism) in her conclusion, “Now I see the possibilities everywhere.” Her wide-ranging examples of positive results from peer pressure include the reduction in U.S. teen smoking, minority students closing the achievement gap, and other successful grassroots efforts. Although four of her accounts here were published in earlier versions, there is enough additional material to justify the purchase of this volume. VERDICT There are, to be sure, plenty of studies documenting the negative effects of peer pressure, e.g., Pamela Paul’s Parenting, Inc. This book serves as an antidote. Promotional material likening it to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point does it a grievous disservice. Highly recommended.—Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ

Stacey, Judith. Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China. New York Univ. May 2011. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814783825. $27.95. SOC SCI
Stacey (sociology, New York Univ; In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age) presents three ethnographic portraits—gays in L.A., polygamists in South Africa, and the matrilineal, nonmarital Mosuo people of southwestern China—to demonstrate that the Ozzie and Harriet family ideal is not normal, natural, or universal. She criticizes that model’s failures, gender and sexual disparities, and hypocrisy, provocatively urging us to “unhitch” ourselves from the unsubstantiated belief that the model’s decline has caused our modern social ills. She advocates the acceptance of imaginative, diverse, flexible, equitable, and reasoned patterns of dedicated and responsible love, domesticity, and parenting, divorced from legal control. Extensively documented, the book consists of revisions of previous articles, now with interconnected arguments that are adequately woven together into a distinct and accessible work. The cultural examples highlighted are thought-provoking but fringe and disparate, and they somewhat force the argument. VERDICT The book will fuel the ongoing family values/marriage discourse by challenging conservatives, feminists, and proponents of same-sex marriage (about which Stacey has shifted her views). Recommended for academic and interested general readers.—Marge Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Bks: Perseus. 2011. c.400p. index. ISBN 9780465010219. $28.95. SOC SCI
Clinical psychologist—and sociologist of the Internet—Turkle (social studies of science & technology, MIT; Simulation and Its Discontents) presents a cautionary tale about what she calls the “robotic moment,” i.e., our current state of technological connection and societal disconnection that makes us willing to consider robots for true companionship. She tells two stories—of her research observing people with interactive but still rudimentary machines like Furbies and Paros and her experiences interviewing people (including many adolescents) about their digital habits and tools (e.g., texting, IM’ing, and Facebook). Although she tries to conclude on an up note, insisting we still have time to think carefully about how we use computers and connect to one another in an always-connected world, her tales of seniors ready to accept robot companions and kids seeking attention from parents addicted to their own Blackberries make for sobering reading. VERDICT Turkle’s findings are engaging and her conclusions thoughtful (she’s been called “Margaret Mead in cyberspace”). Her book is best for serious readers because those seeking livelier popular science writing might find her style here a bit dry.—Sarah Statz Cords, The Reader’s Advisor Online, Middleton, WI

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