Livres en sciences sociales: comptes rendus (juin 2011)

(source: Library Journal, 01/06/2011)

Information et communication

Alexander, Amy. Uncovering Race: A Black Journalist’s Story of Reporting and Reinvention. Beacon, dist. by Random. Oct. 2011. c.240p. ISBN 9780807061008. $27.95. COMM
Alexander, who has been a staff writer at the San Francisco Examiner and a contributing writer at the Washington Post and Boston Globe, among other publications, focuses on how journalists of color disproportionally suffer from downsizing during hard economic times despite their important role in reaching new audiences who better reflect the demographics of an increasingly diverse American society. Through the lens of her career in newspapers, the Internet, and radio, Alexander criticizes the mainstream media’s failure to pay attention to minority points of view and offers examples of the bias and groupthink that can arise in homogeneous newsrooms. In the epilog, the meatiest section of the book, she addresses the sidelining of professional journalists in the Internet age and the pros and cons of the rise of advocacy and niche journalism, where commentary tends to displace reporting. VERDICT Alexander’s observations about race and the media are more interesting than her discussion of career history, which could have been enlivened with more personal details. An optional purchase in a crowded field.—David Gibbs, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

Wick, Steve. The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Palgrave Macmillan. Aug. 2011. c.288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780230623187. $27. COMM
The drama and tension of covering Europe during Hitler’s rise to power comes to life in this account of William Shirer’s early career. Wick (senior editor, Newsday) draws on Shirer’s diaries and letters to detail his thoughts and actions as he headed for Paris in 1925 to begin his journalism career. Framed as an adventure story, the book engages readers with an insider’s view of Shirer’s work and personal life, first with the Chicago Tribune, then with Hearst, and finally partnering with Edward R. Murrow to establish CBS radio news. Shirer was stationed in Paris, Vienna, India, and Berlin, and he knew or covered some of the best-known people of the era. Wick acknowledges the challenges of covering the Nazis under the watchful eye of German government censors but raises questions about whether journalists did enough to inform the world about the Nazi menace. He highlights a Jewish acquaintance of Shirer who sought his assistance in escaping Austria and whose fate is unknown. VERDICT Readers interested in Europe at the beginning of World War II or journalism history will be quickly drawn into this well-written book, which raises important questions about journalism that have resonance today.—Judy Solberg, Seattle Univ. Lib.

Economie

Greer, John Michael. The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered. New Society. Jun. 2011. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780865716735. pap. $18.95. ECON
In his September 2, 2009, New York Times column, Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman asked, “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?” That question embodied the soul-searching within economics that followed the field’s admitted spectacular failure to foresee and prevent the recent financial crisis known as the Great Recession. Greer (The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age) takes the foibles of modern macroeconomics as his jumping-off point for what turns out to be largely a critique of contemporary society’s organization, use, and management of natural resources. Drawing heavily on the work of E.F. Schumacher, Greer’s central thesis is that we don’t adequately value natural resources and irresponsibly consume them. He also explores the inevitable depletion of fossil fuels, the evils of money and the viability of other types of nonmoney economies, and the potential danger of excessive faith in technological progress. ­VERDICT While providing a handy summary of many concepts popular in “alternative economics,” this book is not particularly engaging, although the going green/environmental crowd might get behind Greer’s arguments.—Steve Wilson, Dayton Metro Lib., OH

Kirschner, Rick. How To Click with People: The Secret to Better Relationships in Business and in Life. Hyperion. Jul. 2011. c.272p. ISBN 9781401323202. $24.99. BUS
Anyone who has taken a leadership or effective-management seminar will recognize the concepts that motivational lecturer Kirschner (Dealing with Difficult People) here outlines. Kirschner tells us that clicking with others is based on resonance or feelings of similarity and that when these feelings do not happen naturally they can be created. He explains strategies for identifying and using a person’s motivation (values, reward, challenge, esteem, purpose, feelings) and communication style (action, accuracy, approval, appreciation) to create resonance or “blending”—both in person and at a distance (via phone, email, and online). Kirschner explains how to use behaviors such as connected listening, positive projection, and the seven core signals (affinity, comparison, conformity, reciprocity, authority, consistency, and scarcity) to achieve the click and to add persuasive power to our ideas. He also identifies nine stumbling blocks that impede clicking and suggests ways to overcome them. VERDICT A quick read with practical advice for improving communication, this will be of interest to first-time managers, new professionals, and those looking to improve their people skills.— Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal

Lofton, Louann. Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should Too. HarperBusiness: HarperCollins. Jul. 2011. c.272p. illus. index. ISBN 9780061567551. $25.99. BUS
Lofton cites research that finds female investors tend to trade less, shun risk, and perform more research than male investors. She also argues that Warren Buffett’s value-investing style is more feminine than masculine and well worth emulating. Lofton has three hooks here: applauding women investors for their reasonable temperaments; structuring chapters around anecdotes of superstar Buffett’s many successes; and making frequent references to The Motley Fool (www.fool.com), of which she is managing editor (cofounder Tom Gardner provides a foreword). Her book is an easy read but not a particularly helpful one—most readers enthralled with Buffett already know about his dedication to companies he understands, his buy-and-hold strategy, and his dependence on reading and research, all of which is simply rehashed here. VERDICT The appendixes, containing interviews with value-investing practitioners, are interesting, but readers serious about learning the nitty-gritty of Buffett’s style might be better served by a title like Vahan Janjigian’s Even Buffett Isn’t Perfect.—Sarah Statz Cords, The Reader’s Advisor Online

Sciences politiques

Warrick, Joby. The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA. Doubleday. Jul. 2011. c.304p. index. ISBN 9780385534185. $26.95. INT AFFAIRS
This is a true story that reads like a thrilling spy novel. Warrick (Washington Post ), a Pulitzer Prize winner whose specialty is covering intelligence, presents a riveting account of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, the presumptive Jordanian double agent recruited by the CIA in Washington’s war against al-Qaeda. For some time, al-Balawi had been sending invaluable, firsthand information to the CIA about the inner workings of al-Qaeda and its top leadership. Al-Balawi had purportedly become a confidant of al-Qaeda’s elusive No. 2 leader, Egyptian physician Ayman al-Zawahiri. The “double agent” had promised to provide the CIA with its biggest victory in its war on terrorism by delivering al-Zawahiri. After a waiting period, a special CIA team was to meet with the mysterious double agent in a secret spot in Khost, Afghanistan, to receive the much anticipated information about al-Zawahiri. On December 30, 2009, al-Balawi entered the location, but instead of delivering the anticipated intelligence, he detonated a 30-pound bomb strapped to his chest, killing himself and seven CIA agents. ­VERDICT Warrick’s straight journalistic report, without editorializing, is highly recommended both to those who follow the U.S. war on terror and to all readers of spy and espionage thrillers, whether fictional or not. [See Prepub Alert, 1/10/11.] —Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile

Sociologie

Levy, Michael. Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China’s Other Billion. Holt. Jul. 2011. c.256p. ISBN 9780805091960. pap. $15. SOC SCI
As in Peter Hessler’s River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze and Peter J. Vernezze’s recent Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice, and the (Chinese) Way, Peace Corps experience is the inspiration for Levy’s cheekier and freewheeling but insightful adventure story. Pundits describe a prosperous Chinese middle class living along the coast, but in 2005 Levy arrived in poor and isolated Guizhou, where the students he taught belonged to China’s “other billion.” At first it was hard to know which side knew less about the other—Levy, whose China background was shaky, or his hosts, whose understanding of his Judaism was limited to the fact that “Comrade Marx was Jewish” and so was Einstein. As Levy gets to know (and play basketball with) his students, his misadventures with squat toilets, confrontations with exotic foods, and bureaucratic snafus become less important than genuine debates over American democracy and the students’ belief that their authoritarian system has led to development, stability, and dignity. ­VERDICT Informative, snappy reading, though not essential.—Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL

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