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

(source: Library Journal, 15/04/2011)

Information et communication

Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights?: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It. New Pr., dist. by Perseus. May 2011. c.400p. ed. by Robert W. McChesney & Victor Pickard. ISBN 9781595585486. pap. $19.95. COMM
Is it the end of journalism as we know it? Editors McChesney (communications, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Rich Media, Poor Democracy) and Pickard (media, culture, & communication, New York Univ.) present a collection of essays that attempt to analyze the American news media and what needs to be done to protect the Fourth Estate. The pieces address the current crisis of journalism, namely, that newspapers are disappearing, new digital media and social networks are fracturing audiences even more than cable TV did, and journalists are falling behind in their job to “fact-check, analyze, and critique information.” Written by both liberal and conservative journalists and media scholars, these essays offer a variety of ideas and solutions to the crisis. The collection highlights journalism’s role as a crucial component of democracy and as an institution that needs to be reinvigorated in the face of sweeping global technological and economic changes. VERDICT Journalism students and anyone concerned with the state of journalism and the state of the union should read this thought-provoking book.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL


Humes, Edward. Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart’s Green Revolution. HarperBusiness: HarperCollins. May 2011. c.272p. bibliog. ISBN 9780061690495. $27.99. BUS
Humes (Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet) expertly explains the working relationship between Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott and Blu Skye sustainability consultant Jib Ellison, who are working to redefine Wal-Mart as a green company, and how going green raised its bottom line. Because of its size and retail dominance, Wal-Mart has tremendous influence on suppliers, partners, competitors, and the global economy. Surprisingly, the retail chain has entered areas such as carbon emission reduction, water conservation, and renewable energy. Strides have been made in the growing of organic cotton, efficient supply chains, and packaging. The book gives clear-cut examples and discusses changes needed in the organizational culture to embrace environmental corporate responsibility. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers across income, age, and lifestyle brackets, because it discusses a topic that impacts the public. Recommended for all public and academic collections.—Caroline Geck, MLS, Newark, NJ

Koesterich, Russ. The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble: The Coming Deficit Debacle and How To Invest Now. McGraw-Hill. Apr. 2011. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780071753579. $28. ECON
The main thrust of Koesterich’s (The ETF Strategist: Balancing Risk and Reward for Superior Returns) new book is his advice for sound personal investing in the shadow of the advancing tidal wave of U.S. debt and the collateral damage to follow. After lucidly discussing the past and the future of that debt, he outlines the economic consequences of unrestrained state profligacy. He contemplates what should happen (higher inflation, slower growth, etc.), why it should happen, and where to look for signs of escalating problems. Specific indicators, data sources, release dates, agencies, and websites are named. Discussion of debt’s consequences morphs naturally into financial advice, as the author encyclopedically catalogs various asset classes along with how they would perform in “a deficit debacle.” Koesterich not only recommends what investors should consider for their portfolios, but also covers why they should buy assets and how. This is not a quick general investment lesson but a helpful, methodical “financial playbook” for realistic investors. VERDICT Highly recommended for those planning to invest over the next five years or more. It is not easy to find books that combine debt macroeconomics with sound financial advice, but Koesterich manages it well.—Jekabs Bikis, Dallas Baptist Univ., TX

Oshri, Ilan. Offshoring Strategies: Evolving Captive Center Models. MIT. 2011. c.254p. index. ISBN 9780262015608. $27.95. ECON
In this dense but highly readable volume, Oshri (Rotterdam Sch. of Management) traces the evolution of the captive center concept. Captive centers are wholly owned offshore subsidiaries that support the parent company by providing back-office services. Oshri uses the strategies employed by Fortune’s Global 250 firms to trace this evolution and to answer questions such as “How should a parent company strategically perceive its captive center in view of its allocation and utilization of resources?” and “What sets of capabilities should be developed offshore to support the evolution of a captive center?” There are six models for captive centers, each of which are outlined in detail. In addition, each model is illustrated with a case study that underscores Oshri’s thesis that if done right, with the requisite strategic planning, captive centers can add value and even become successful companies in their own right. VERDICT Owing to the specialized subject of this book, it is most appropriate for academic business and management collections, but it will bring insight to students and hard-core business readers.—Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal

Perlin, Ross. Intern Nation: How To Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. Verso, dist. by Norton. May 2011. c.272p. ISBN 9781844676866. $22.95. BUS
Does the world really need a book-length essay on the treatment and (non)payment of interns? Surprisingly, it might. Perlin’s comprehensive narrative, well supported with interview material, research, and insights from his personal internship experiences, ostensibly highlights abuses of interns’ indentured labor by corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government offices, but it also tells the broader story of an economy increasingly dependent on and confounded by all things “free.” Perlin opens by describing the Disney Program (which employs 7000–8000 interns annually) and focuses on its minimum wages, menial tasks, and enforced company housing. Subsequent chapters provide a history of the Fair Labor Standards Act, university collusion with companies offering internships, the practice of “selling” internships (whereby individuals pay a company to find them unpaid work), and the racism and classism inherent in this system. VERDICT The subject matter may seem too specific to appeal to a broad audience, but Perlin’s writing is engaging and the questions he raises are valid ones in an increasingly competitive job market. Those interested in fair labor practices and recent college grads looking for employment may be curious about—if frightened by—this book.—Sarah Statz Cords, The Reader’s Advisor Online

Sciences politiques

Barnett, Michael. Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism. Cornell Univ. Apr. 2011. c.312p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801447136. $29.95. INT AFFAIRS
Barnett (international affairs & political science, George Washington Univ.; Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda) divides his study of humanitarianism into three stages across 200 years: pre–World War II, World War II through the Cold War, and post–Cold War. First, abolitionist groups and missionaries dominated; after World War II came decolonization and developmental economics; and the third stage reveals the professionalization of agencies and their growing role as a part of global governance. Barnett identifies two types of humanitarian agencies: emergency (immediate relief of suffering) and alchemical (seeking to cure the underlying cause of suffering). He points to Bosnia and Rwanda to highlight the moral dilemma agencies face: they need the cooperation of local governments, even when those governments have caused the emergency or when aid may be diverted to the perpetrators. Barnett is critical of relief agencies, the UN in particular, for failure to address this dilemma appropriately. This is the first work to make such a strong connection between agency history and today’s circumstances. VERDICT Although all contributors to overseas relief agencies should consider these issues, Barnett’s treatment is scholarly, making this most suitable for his fellow academics and for humanitarian agency professionals.—Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York

Streatfeild, Dominic. A History of the World Since 9/11: Disaster, Deception, and Destruction in the War on Terror. Bloomsbury Pr., dist. by Macmillan. Aug. 2011. c.416p. index. ISBN 9781608192700. $27. INT AFFAIRS
The dark legacy of 9/11 includes thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, global instability, and the United States’ diminished international reputation, writes British journalist Streatfeild (Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control) in this bleak and gripping narrative. The author presents eight cases about the war on terror’s collateral damage. Included is the story of Vasudev Patel in Texas, who struggled hard for 20 years to achieve the American dream only to be gunned down by a deluded “patriot.” Other accounts describe the fate of 223 Iraqi refugees crammed into a boat that was denied port in Australia, an Afghan couple’s engagement party that turned into a blood bath when bad intelligence led to its bombing by American forces, and a case of mistaken identity that led to the capture and torture of an innocent man, wrongly believed to be a 9/11 planner. VERDICT Streatfeild skillfully uses the same thematic approach employed in Paul Hendrickson’s The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War, in which people far from the seat of power become the victims of government policy. This excellent work will mesmerize readers of current history.—Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA


Bronski, Michael. A Queer History of the United States. Beacon, dist. by Random. (ReVisioning American History). May 2011. c.288p. index. ISBN 9780807044391. $27.95. SOC SCI
This panoramic survey is less a history of homosexuality in the United States than a reexamination of American mores through a queer lens, a thematic analysis of the ways in which same-sex desire has reflected and shaped American morality over the past 500 years. Calling to mind Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, this is the first title in Beacon’s new “ReVisioning American History” series. Bronski (women’s and gender studies and Jewish studies, Dartmouth Coll.), who has been writing on LGBT topics for several decades, emphasizes the recurring historical tension between integrationist and anarchist paradigms of homosexuality, and he explores how various political and social movements—including transcendentalism, feminism, progressivism, and the labor and Civil Rights movements—have intersected with and diverged from the struggle for sexual freedom. The epilog covers the past two decades, which Bronski deems too recent to be treated as history. VERDICT Bronski does an impressive job weaving together existing LGBT scholarship with his own theoretical analysis. Recommended for anyone interested in gender, sexuality, or American history and culture.—David Gibbs, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

Xinran. Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love. Scribner. 2011. c.272p. ISBN 9781451610895. $25. SOC SCI
Xinran has already made great contributions to the study of Chinese history and culture with her previous works The Good Women of China and Sky Burial. Now she adds perhaps her most important work yet. The most painful secret of a Chinese woman’s life can be the “shame” of bearing a daughter. The crippling economy, one-child policy, and superstition keep this outdated practice alive. Since Xinran herself fostered a baby girl in China who was taken away from her, she writes from personal experience. To fully share these circumstances, she interviews Chinese women who had to give up or abort their daughters, the midwives, and also the families (usually Westerners) who have adopted Chinese girls. Even more moving is the afterword, a letter from an adoptive mother who writes to the birth mothers of her two daughters. She explains how the children have two loving mothers who are thankful for each other. VERDICT An essential read for those studying recent Chinese history, as well as international adoptions in the United States.—Susan Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL

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