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

(source: Library Journal, 15/06/2011)

Information et communication

Muller, Judy. Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories from Small Towns. Univ. of Nebraska. Jul. 2011. c.264p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780803230163. $24.95. COMM
Unlike in larger metropolitan areas, newspapers in small towns and rural America remain robust, quirky, central resources of information. With solid reporting and an engaging and humorous writing style, Emmy and Peabody Award–winning journalist Muller (communication & journalism, Univ. of Southern California; Now This: Radio, Television…and the Real World) presents perspectives from publishers and editors of weekly newspapers from small towns across America, including Norwood, CO, where she currently resides. The interviews reveal how these hardworking editors provide a voice for the community, while at the same time often dealing with the isolation and social ostracism that come with covering news about their neighbors and friends. Muller also spent time with the townspeople to find out what their paper meant to them and their community. VERDICT These accounts of small-town journalism and small-town life will delight armchair travelers and give hope to journalism students and newspaper aficionados alike.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Economie

Cortese, Amy. Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How To Profit from It. Wiley. Jun. 2011. c.244p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780470911389. $22.95. BUS
With the recent crash of the financial markets, many investors are looking for new places to put their money. At the same time, many small businesses are finding it ever more difficult to get credit. Cortese, a former BusinessWeek editor, covers this current confluence, providing examples of how investing in local small businesses can be beneficial to all parties. Her examples include a brewpub in Austin, TX, with a multitude of “owners,” an organic dairy farm in upstate New York that found “angel” investors through a sign they posted at their farmers market stand (almost getting themselves in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission along the way), and a former Iraq War veteran struggling to get funding to open a day-care center. Various types of funding methods are discussed, including cooperatives, credit unions, local stock exchanges, community development funds, public venture capital, and raising money through social networking. ­VERDICT Timely and easy to read, this is a nice introduction to something many of us have never considered. A good choice for public libraries and fruitful reading for small businesses and investors.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Ferrara, Peter. America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb: How the Looming Debt Crisis Threatens the American Dream—and How We Can Turn the Tide Before It’s Too Late. Broadside. Jun. 2011. c.448p. ISBN 9780062025777. $25.99. ECON
Beyond an economic warning, this is an ambitious roadmap to economic reform and recovery for America. Voluminous statistics, numerous sources, and substantive issues make the book extremely credible. Readers will find explanations of the 2008 financial crisis and proposals to improve the situation. They will also be disabused of media distortions and inconsistencies that mislead the public’s economic understanding. Ferrara (President Obama’s Tax Piracy)—director of the Institute for Policy Innovation, former Reagan White House Office of Policy Development member, and former associate deputy attorney general under the first President Bush—outlines the calamitous path America has traveled and proposes multiple reforms that need both liberals’ and conservatives’ attention to avoid detonating the bankruptcy bomb. The reforms repeatedly demonstrate how present policies hurt poor and low-income Americans; restrain economic growth; endanger health care, education, Social Security, pensions, and states; and create disincentives that cause increased welfare enrollment, crime, and counterproductive activities. A comparison with Chilean Social Security, for example, shows U.S. ineptitude. Ferrara’s plea: “Can we talk?” VERDICT Enlightening for serious readers, politicians, and those concerned about America’s future.—Joanne B. Conrad, Geneseo, NY

Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration; America’s Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present. Oxford Univ. Jun. 2011. c.528p. maps. index. ISBN 9780195369892. $34.95. BUS
This final volume of Klein’s three-volume chronicle of the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad (Union Pacific 1862–1893; Union Pacific 1894–1969) traces the evolution of the company and the American railroad industry from 1969 to the present. Klein (history, Univ. of Rhode Island), a Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Life and Legend of Jay Gould, describes the 1969 railroad environment as being overbuilt, highly regulated, increasingly competitive, and hamstrung by intractable labor agreements. He explains that the financially strong but tradition-bound UP then began an ongoing effort to modernize management methods, incorporate technological advances, streamline work, and grow its business. By 1980, with government deregulation in full swing, the UP began strengthening its business through mergers, diversification, corporate restructuring, and emphasizing quality and service. Klein skillfully weaves together personalities and anecdotes with management successes and missteps to show how the UP made it through these often turbulent decades to thrive as a vital transportation link and as one of only four surviving major American railroads. ­VERDICT Klein’s lively yet comprehensive business history is highly recommended for all readers interested in business or railroads.—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Martin, Chuck. The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile. Nicholas Brealey. 2011. c.207p. index. ISBN 9781857885644. $28.95. BUS
In the progression of entertainment and information technologies from large to small, some authors call mobile the “fourth screen” after movies, television, and computers. Martin (director, Ctr. for Media Research, MediaPost) omits movies from the evolution and dubs mobile the third. Mobile technologies continue to proliferate, but there are few books about using them for marketing; books on social media marketing typically allocate a chapter to this topic. Martin fills a niche with this slim, information-packed volume. Readers will learn how to leverage a mobile device’s GPS information to tailor promotional offers to consumers via location-based marketing and how consumers’ information-seeking behavior changes on mobile technology; how to adjust their advertising to suit the mobile platform and the user’s behavior; how best to provide opt-in text messaging; and more. He takes care to accommodate readers of all awareness levels by including glossaries. Bulleted lists, statistical tables, and paragraph-length examples leaven the content. VERDICT This book will appeal to upper-division entrepreneurship students as well as practitioners.—Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR

Opdyke, Jeff D. Protecting Your Parents’ Money: The Essential Guide to Helping Mom and Dad Navigate the Finances of Retirement. HarperBusiness: HarperCollins. Jul. 2011. c.320p. ISBN 9780061358203. pap. $15.99. ECON
This guide offers sound advice for handling the financial issues stemming from medical care and daily living situations for seniors. Opdyke has covered this area for the past two decades in his Wall Street Journal column and in his previous books on family financial planning, Piggybanking and Financially Ever After. He here discusses the essential aspects for adults who manage their parents’ finances. Opdyke begins with how to broach the subject and goes on to detail the practical matters of financial planning—from what documents to check to how to manage pensions, social security, and monthly budgets. The last two chapters focus on the myriad financial issues tied to medical care, including assisted care and supplemental insurance. The book also includes a glossary and work sheet. VERDICT This is one of the only books to provide clear instructions for adult children dealing with their parents’ financial needs. Recommended.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Solomon, Lewis D. America’s Water and Wastewater Crisis: The Role of Private Enterprise. Transaction. Jul. 2011. c.218p. index. ISBN 9781412818230. $39.95. BUS
Water is essential to human survival, yet most of us do not often think about the water we use. Water is perceived as a free public service rather than as a valuable commodity. In this distinctive book, Solomon (Van Vleck Research Professor of Law, George Washington Univ. Law Sch.) discusses the historical development and regulation of U.S. water resources and provides a comprehensive overview of current challenges, such as aging water infrastructures, conservation efforts, dwindling natural supplies, population growth, funding, security, technological advances, and wastewater treatment. Case studies of such cities as Atlanta and Indianapolis are provided. Solomon identifies future trends like project privatizations and increases in partnerships between private and public organizations and offers advice about how to fine-tune these partnerships so they are win-win situations. VERDICT Because the information here may be hard to find quickly by other means, the book will most benefit urban planners and policymakers. The content is illuminating and will appeal to readers with an interest in civic affairs.—Caroline Geck, MLS, Newark, NJ

Zweigenhaft, Richard L. & G. William Domhoff. The New CEOs: Women, African American, Latino, and Asian American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies. Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2011. c.216p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442207653. $32.95. BUS
According to Zweigenhaft (psychology, Guildford Coll.; Diversity in the Power Elite: How It Happened, Why It Matters) and Domhoff (sociology, Univ. of California; Who Rules America? Challenges to Corporate and Class Dominance), there are 74 women and people of color who have been at the helm of Fortune 500 companies. This book seeks not to analyze why, but rather to explore the individuals themselves—their backgrounds as well as their impact on the companies they lead. The first chapter is devoted to women CEOs, and subsequent chapters individually address each of the ethnicities (further divided by CEO and heritage).The book’s latter part is a comparison between traditional CEOs and companies led by the “new CEOs.” Zweigenhaft and Domhoff clearly and concisely profile the CEOs and companies using a combination of biographical and data-driven research. There are no comparable works available. VERDICT This book succeeds at showing the intersection of culture, politics, ethnicity, and feminism through the lens of business diversity studies. An excellent book for scholars interested in data-driven sociology, psychology, and cultural studies relating to business and for readers in the business world.—Poppy Johnson-Renvall, Central New Mexico Community Coll., Albuquerque

Sciences politiques

Brown, Michael D. & Ted Schwarz. Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm; Hurricane Katrina, the Bush White House, and Beyond. Taylor. Jun. 2011. c.224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589794856. $24.95. POL SCI
Even when our government is successful, e.g., in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, the truth of what actually occurred can be hard to come by. But when the government’s actions are widely considered to have been a failure, the truth can be even more difficult to uncover. Brown was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, and he took most of the heat for the government’s poor response to the disaster. Here, he claims he was the scapegoat—and he makes a great case that there is plenty of blame to go around, with ample evidence that politicians at the local, state, and national levels were inept and concerned more about their image than the people in need. He also shows how the news media contributed to the mayhem that followed the hurricane. VERDICT Brown’s version of events will be of interest to politics junkies, journalists, and the millions of people whose lives were impacted by Katrina. In offering the other side of the story, Brown presents valuable information for historians who will eventually decide where to place the blame for the inadequate relief efforts.—Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA

Lehrer, Jim. Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to McCain-Obama. Random. Sept. 2011. c.224p. index. ISBN 9781400069170. $26. POL SCI
“Tension city” is the phrase George H.W. Bush applied to his presidential debates when he spoke years later to Lehrer, who has just retired from anchoring PBS News­Hour. Here, Lehrer recounts his experiences in front of the camera between 1988 and 2008 as moderator of 11 of these televised election-year spectacles. Although the subtitle takes in a longer chronology, Lehrer’s coverage of pre-1988 debates is somewhat cursory, and not every presidential election after Kennedy-Nixon included debates. Lehrer offers his own insights and opinions but doesn’t present much new information. George H.W. Bush disliked the debates, but Bill Clinton relished them. Nobody witnessed more of the moments that defined these contests than Lehrer. The manner in which he moderated the debates is also the manner of this evenhanded account of his successes and missteps as well as those of the contenders. VERDICT Much of the material here came from oral history interviews and a 2000 PBS documentary, giving the book a slightly warmed-over taste. Even so, it is an easy, agreeable read but those wanting a more substantial first-person account could try Newton N. Minow and Craig L. LaMay’s Inside the Presidential Debates.—Bob Nardini, Nashville

Nowotny, Thomas. Diplomacy and Global Governance: Service in an Age of Worldwide Interdependence. Transaction. 2011. c.295p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781412818445. $49.95. INT AFFAIRS
Former Austrian diplomat Nowotny (political science, Univ. of Vienna; Strawberries in Winter: On Global Trends and Global Governance) became convinced by his years of practical experience that the demands on government and its representatives now require a different type of diplomat than the generalists who have dominated the corps. He argues that a diplomat is no longer the sole channel of communication between one government and another; nation-states are no longer the primary actors on the world stage. Dominant issues like environmental protection, climate change, and terrorism are no respecters of borders. According to Nowotny, multilateral organizations like the World Bank, the UN, and nongovernmental relief agencies are at least as important as governments and often have better technical expertise on staff. To succeed in this more complex setting, Nowotny recommends recruiting technical experts to serve in a country’s diplomatic corps and establishing a “multilateral track” to allow some diplomats to specialize in working with other agencies. His other suggestions, e.g., shared embassy facilities and outsourcing some traditional functions, will be more controversial in the field. VERDICT By setting his real-world experience on an academic foundation, Nowotny has produced a thoughtful study that will interest those in the diplomatic services and those who hope to enter.—Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., NY

Sociologie

Jennings, Ken. Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks. Scribner. Sept. 2011. c.288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781439167175. $25. SOC SCI
In 2004 Jennings won $2.52 million on Jeopardy!, which he chronicled in Brainiac. Now, in this witty and fast-paced narrative, he reveals himself as a “maphead,” a cartophile who, as a child, took his atlas to bed with him. In exploring America’s relationship to maps and geography, he introduces us to the geography and map division of the Library of Congress. We enter the world of international antique map dealers by attending the Royal Geographic Society’s London Map Fair and meet younger mapheads at the annual National Geographic Bee. Next we encounter the world of the “roadgeeks,” who monitor every change in our roads and highways and their signage. Wildest of all are the thousands of people caught up in geocaching, stashing and locating little treasure troves via a website and GPS coordinates. The final visit is with Brian McClendon in his Google Geo office at Google Earth’s California headquarters and a discussion of “augmented reality,” the apotheosis of mapping. ­VERDICT This will be a delightful adventure for map mavens and those who enjoyed Mark Monmonier’s From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow and Mark Stein’s How the States Got Their Shapes. [Stein’s sequel, How the States Got Their Shapes Too, is reviewed on p. 101.—Ed.]—Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL

Owings, Alison. Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans. Rutgers Univ. 2011. c.376p. index. ISBN 9780813549651. $26.95. SOC SCI
Owings (Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich) presents a wide-ranging collection of personal stories as told by Native Americans from Maine to Hawaii. She conceived of collecting these oral histories when confronted with her own ignorance about both the historic and the modern lives of native peoples. Each chapter is devoted to an individual or group of individuals from a specific tribe, and Owings wisely lets the speakers tell their own stories, often in their own words. The sum is a rich collection that is poignant, funny, heartbreaking, and very real. The vast diversity in Native America is evident. Each interviewee comes across multidimensionally, strongly and openly identifying with his or her tribe or nation, while balancing tradition, language, heritage, politics, and identity with the day-to-day business of working, parenting, creating, traveling, and living. Similarities are evident, but so are rich differences in perspective, status, circumstance, and outlook. The book is engaging and thoughtfully conceived and effectively communicates Owings’s central thesis—that Native Americans are alive, well, and thriving and have much to teach and share with the rest of us. VERDICT Recommended for all readers of nonfiction, and highly recommended for anyone living in or near Native communities.—Julie Edwards, Univ. of Montana, Missoula, Lib.

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