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

(source: Library Journal, 15/03/2011)

Information et communication

Carlson, Matt. On the Condition of Anonymity: Unnamed Sources and the Battle for Journalism. Univ. of Illinois. (History of Communication). Apr. 2011. c.216p. index. ISBN 9780252035999. $45. COMM
Anonymous sources have always been a staple of American journalism, and the relationship among unnamed sources, reporters, and audiences is complex. Carlson (communication, St. Louis Univ.) argues that anonymous sources have contributed to journalism’s greatest coups (think Watergate) and biggest failures, including weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He claims journalism, embedded in the culture, is culturally constructed and cannot be completely autonomous or objective. After introducing this problem, he devotes five chapters to examining prewar reporting of the New York Times and Washington Post on Iraq, 60 Minutes and the National Guard service of President Bush, Newsweek and the 2005 Koran abuse story, Deep Throat and Watergate, and the Valerie Plame leak. In conclusion, Carlson suggests guiding principles for unnamed-sourcing practices. VERDICT Carlson raises important issues related to sources and to the structural forces currently challenging the meaning of journalism in today’s multimedia world. The academic prose will be a barrier for some readers, but the timely topic should be of interest to practicing journalists and scholars.—Judy Solberg, Seattle Univ. Lib.

Hart, Jack. Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction. Univ. of Chicago. Jul. 2011. c.248p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226318141. $25. COMM
In his latest book, Hart (A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work) focuses on narrative nonfiction, a genre he got to know well during his career as managing editor of the Oregonian. Each chapter covers different aspects of narrative storytelling for burgeoning writers who want to hone their technique and find their voice. Hart provides excerpts and diagrams to help writers execute scene, character, and action. The chapter devoted to structure is particularly helpful. As in Hart’s first book, most of the examples are drawn from his experiences collaborating with successful writers. He also discusses distinctions among different forms of narrative and ethical dilemmas faced by creative nonfiction writers. VERDICT This much-needed book fills a niche, particularly as it also covers the editor’s perspective. Beginning and advanced writers, particularly journalists, will find useful tips on how to make their writing resonate with readers.—Karen McCoy, Fort Lewis Coll. Lib., Durango, CO


Coyle, Diane. The Economics of Enough: How To Run the Economy As If the Future Matters. Princeton Univ. Mar. 2011. c.336p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691145181. $24.95. BUS
Noted economist Coyle (Univ. of Manchester; Sex, Drugs & Economics: An Unconventional Introduction to Economics) analyzes current governmental policymaking, business practices, and societal trends to examine the world that future generations will inherit. Societies in the industrialized world may face a future plagued by high tax burdens relating to public health care and pension costs generated by an aging population with low birthrates. Diminishing natural resources and climate change will also be factors with which to contend. The nine chapters examine possible solutions, such as productivity gains from information and communication technologies, restructuring by societies, and savings by individuals. Coyle also advocates new measurements beyond gross domestic product that account for intangible items. Coverage of topics like management of state pension funds seems especially timely. VERDICT Designed for readers well versed in economics, this book offers an in-depth economic analysis that often supports arguments with philosophical and sociological theories. Because of its complexity, it is recommended solely for academic collections.—Caroline Geck, MLS, Newark, NJ

Levin, Martin P. All I Know About Management I Learned from My Dog. Skyhorse, dist. by Norton. Apr. 2011. c.128p. photogs. ISBN 9781616083243. $19.95. BUS
This is a business parable centered around the adoption and care of a golden retriever named Angel. After his wife’s death, Levin, who worked in book publishing and law, adopted a 12-year-old dog from the ASPCA and spent the next two years rehabilitating it from a scared animal into a happy companion. Along the way, he realizes the methods used in helping his dog correlated to those in managing and rehabilitating businesses. Levin reduces his methodology to four main rules covering the relationship of trust and leadership, how to communicate, the importance of problem solving and decision making, and the value of perseverance. The chapters fluctuate between stories about Angel and anecdotes about Harry Truman, Cesar Milan, Malcolm Gladwell, and Stephen King, among others. VERDICT At 128 pages, the book leaves readers wanting more. The stories of Levin and Angel and business lessons aren’t given proper space to develop, and the book is more of a collection of stories than a cohesive path to better management. Though aimed at business readers, dog lovers might enjoy it more.— John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston


Lofton, Kathryn. Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon. Univ. of California. Mar. 2011. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520259270. $55; pap. ISBN 9780520267527. $22.95. SOC SCI
Lofton (American studies & religious studies, Yale) elucidates the particular significance of Oprah Winfrey in modern culture and how her presence has achieved icono-religious status from the sheer pervasion of her brand and what it imbues for believers. Winfrey’s ascent in the annals of cultural studies did not begin until after it became clear that The Oprah Winfrey Show was a game changer. This dense volume adds to the building scholarship on Winfrey by expanding on Lofton’s 2006 piece in the Journal of Popular Culture . Lofton here successfully provides further insight into the Oprah gospel by parsing out the omnipresent mechanisms through which the relentless admonishments and associated consumables are conveyed, as well as by extensively analyzing what that very act of conveyance overtly and covertly signifies to audiences. VERDICT Casual readers and fans of Oprah may find the tone and language of this serious study daunting—don’t mistake this for an easy read—but budding and active scholars of cultural, popular, and religious studies will read with interest. —Jewell Anderson, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ. Lib., Savannah

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