Livres en sciences sociales: comptes rendus (sept. 2011)

(source: Library Journal, 01/09/2011)

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Information et communication

Phillips, Warren H. Newspaperman: Inside the News Business at the Wall Street Journal . McGraw-Hill. Sept. 2011. c.352p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780071776905. $30. COMM
For over a century, the Wall Street Journal has remained one of the most respected and informative sources of business and financial news throughout the world. One of the key figures behind the paper’s success, Phillips traces his career with the paper in a concise, well-crafted memoir. Beginning in 1947 as a reporter and retiring in 1992 as publisher and CEO of parent company Dow Jones & Company, he records his experiences from reporting in the field in post–World War II Europe to presiding over the paper’s profitable expansion into foreign markets to guiding the company through the transition into the digital era. He sprinkles his story with personal anecdotes and insights into the journalism profession. VERDICT Readers of “Greatest Generation” memoirs and biographies and journalism students will enjoy Phillips’s work. For a similar read, see Richard J. Tofel’s Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, the Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Economie

Holland, R. William. Cracking the New Job Market: The 7 Rules for Getting Hired in Any Economy. AMACOM: American Management Assn. 2011. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780814417348. pap. $17.95. BUS
In the new, competitive job market, many books on job hunting have recommended demonstrating one’s value, exploiting social media connections, and crafting careful interview strategies to gain employment. Holland, an HR and career management consultant, covers all of these in a clear, positive style and adds advice not often seen, on such topics as how parents can get their children started effectively and how to manage finances during unemployment. The chapter on résumé creation details a strategy for close reading of want ads and provides before and after examples, plus sample cover letters. In the chapter on negotiating benefits, Holland walks the reader through prioritizing wants and needs. The traditional face-to-face interview is amply covered, as are mealtime interviews, group competitions, telephone and video interviews, and hostile questions. VERDICT Three of the seven rules included here are about demonstrating or creating value—not exactly new ideas—but the content of this book deserves a second look. Recommended for public and academic career services collections.—Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland, OR

Kaplan, Robert Steven. What To Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential. Harvard Business Pr. 2011. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781422170014. $26.95. BUS
In this guide to developing and honing leadership skills, Kaplan (management practice, Harvard Business School; cochairman, Draper Richards Kaplan Fdn.; former vice chairman, Goldman Sachs) explains, “the critical premise of this book is that by knowing how and when to ask critical questions, a young professional as well as a senior leader can take greater ownership of his or her organization and career.” He focuses on seven basic areas for inquiry and self-evaluation: “Vision and Priorities,” “Managing Your Time,” “Giving and Getting Feedback,” “Succession Planning and Delegation,” “Evaluation and Alignment,” “The Leader as Role Model,” and “Reaching Your Potential.” In a final chapter, he discusses ways to make inquiry and self-evaluation a regular part of leadership activities. In the chapter on time management, appropriate questions to ask include, “Do I know how I spend my time?” and “Does it match my key priorities?” Kaplan follows these questions by analyzing the importance of effective time-management strategies and the establishment of priorities. Each chapter includes case studies and a list of suggested follow-up steps. VERDICT This is a practical book for students and others who wish to develop their leadership skills. Highly recommended.—Lucy Heckman, St. John’s Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY

Moran, Richard A. Sins and CEOs: Lessons from Leaders and Losers That Will Change Your Career. Heliotrope. Sept. 2011. c.137p. ISBN 9780983294023. pap. $16.95. BUS
Moran (Never Confuse a Memo with Reality) here offers a collection of stories about leadership (successful and disastrous) culled from his work as a consultant and venture capitalist. The book identifies nine common character flaws exhibited by business leaders and shows how they affect corporations. Moran labels these flaws as sins and divides them into passive and active types. Each chapter focuses on a particular sin (cowardice or arrogance, for example) and is split into four sections. The first section is taken up with anecdotes about CEOs and managers who have committed the sin, followed by a list of temptations leading to that sin and a short section on how the culprits might change their actions (redemption). The final section contains the chapter’s main takeaway. VERDICT While the author’s reliance on religious terminology can become tiresome, the examples are entertaining as well as illustrative. Recommended, especially for those in business leadership positions, as they will identify with the characters in Moran’s anecdotes.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Sciences politiques

Gardner, Lloyd C. The Road to Tahrir Square: Egypt and the United States from the Rise of Nasser to the Fall of Mubarak. New Pr., dist. by Perseus. Oct. 2011. c.240p. index. ISBN 9781595587213. pap. $17.95. INT AFFAIRS
Gardner (history, Rutgers Univ.; The Long Road to Baghdad) is a well-known authority on the Middle East. His narrative here portrays Egypt as an essential actor in the region over the past 70 years, taking leading roles at the end of the British Mandate in Palestine and creation of Israel, as well as in several regional conflicts. While the United States was trying to define a new international role for itself at the end of World War II and into the Cold War, it was juggling the existing tensions and rivalries around Egypt. Successive U.S. administrations plied successive Egyptian rulers with both economic and military assistance, trying to develop a stable ally. The recently deposed leader Hosni Mubarak provided that stability for 30 years. VERDICT Gardner’s coverage is more in-depth for the earlier years of his focus, i.e., under President Nasser, and, in spite of the title’s implication, lighter for the past 15 years, but many titles on U.S.-Egypt relations cover relatively shorter periods (even William J. Burns’s Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955–1981, which is considered relatively comprehensive). Informed readers will find this useful background to current headlines on a topic likely to persist well into the future.—Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York

Gerges, Fawaz A. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford Univ. Sept. 2011. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780199790654. $24.95.INT AFFAIRS
Gerges (director, Middle East Ctr., London Sch. of Economics; Journey of the Jihadist) argues that the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment are entangled within a “terrorism narrative” sustained by an inflated, distorted view of al-Qaeda’s operational capabilities and global reach, which he contends were drastically degraded even before Osama bin Laden’s death. The peaceful character of some recent revolutions in the Arab world appear to add weight to Gerges’s primary assertion, one of the major strands of this work, that al-Qaeda has long since lost any significant support or legitimacy, in part because of the indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims instigated by al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq, and that their ideology and tactics have been resoundingly rejected by large segments of the Arab populace. Gerges also focuses on al-Qaeda’s role in the increasing instability in Yemen and its influence on “homegrown” radicals in America. VERDICT A cogent examination of al-Qaeda’s historical trajectory that integrates major recent developments into its comprehensive analysis. This work will appeal to readers with an advanced grasp of Middle Eastern history and counterterrorism studies. It is not for general readers, although they may have seen Gerges speak accessibly as an expert on cable news.—Dennis J. Seese, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

Girardet, Edward. Killing the Cranes: A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan. Chelsea Green. Sept. 2011. c.416p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603583428. $27.95. INT AFFAIRS
Girardet (Afghanistan: The Soviet War) has spent more than three decades as a war correspondent covering conflicts around the world, frequently in Afghanistan, starting with the Soviet invasion in 1979. Having lived on the ground reporting alongside the mujahideen, he offers a sobering perspective. These guerrilla fighters, with U.S. financial aid, ousted the Soviet-backed regime in 1992. They in turn were ousted by the Taliban. During his frequent trips inside Afghanistan, in many cases entering illegally at great personal risk, Girardet was nearly killed (when mistaken for Salman Rushdie) and had a number of personal encounters with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden pre-9/11, unaware of the identity of the “tall Arab man” who was developing a hatred of the United States. VERDICT With his vast experience inside Afghanistan during different conflicts, Girardet presents strong evidence that foreign powers from the British to the Soviets to the Americans have all made the same mistakes by attempting to impose their own political models and values on a nation that does not fit into any Western mold. While this conclusion is hardly new, Girardet’s excellent work should be of particular interest to historians, foreign policy buffs, political scientists, and military personnel.—Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA

Starr, Paul. Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle Over Health Care Reform. Yale Univ. Oct. 2011. c.336p. index. ISBN 9780300171099. $28.50. POL SCI
Starr (sociology & public affairs, Princeton Univ.), who won the Pulitzer Prize almost 30 years ago for The Social Transformation of American Medicine, now recounts the long and largely unsuccessful fight to provide all Americans with health care. Early 20th-century progressives began the struggle, FDR tried halfheartedly during the New Deal, and even Richard Nixon supported national health care. Finally, a century later, President Obama, borrowing Mitt Romney’s individual mandate and leaving out the public option, passed health-care reform that doesn’t satisfy progressives and that socializes medicine, according to right-wing critics. Starr shows how the window of opportunity for health-care reform has opened several times in the last 100 years and how each time it has been slammed shut by powerful interests including the American Medical Association, big insurance companies, and the conservative politicians they support. Starr argues that the “protected public”—those with job-based insurance and recipients of government coverage—prevents major reform because enough Americans have some coverage to fear the consequences of change. VERDICT This is a must-read in order to understand why health-care reform has been and continues to be so difficult to achieve in America.—Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Iowa City

Sociologie

Harris-Perry, Melissa V. Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Yale Univ. Sept. 2011. c.392p. illus. index. ISBN 9780300165418. $28. SOC SCI
Harris-Perry (political science, Tulane Univ.; Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought) offers a fascinating academic discussion of barriers to African American women’s presence in American political culture. Central to her thesis is the democratic idea that an individual’s personal and national identity must be accurately recognized and named to permit full citizenship and pursuant political participation. She goes on to identify and analyze society’s rampant misrecognition of African American women and its insistence on viewing them within the narrow confines of stereotypes. The text includes examples of negative portrayals of African American women and Harris-Perry’s research on reportage on the impact of these portrayals. VERDICT This honest and unflinching display of the challenges to political participation in America offers readers little regarding strategies toward either overcoming or rectifying this situation. Further, when Harris-Perry draws the reader toward fictive parallels in which novelized African American women characters exhibit resilience while becoming the politicized embodiments of named stereotypes, the central issue becomes muddled. Recommended, nonetheless, for scholars and students of African American studies, feminism, political science, and American culture.—Jewell Anderson, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ. Lib., Savannah, GA

Oltuski, Alicia. Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life. Scribner. 2011. 368p. bibliog. ISBN 9781416545125. $24. SOC SCI
In this combination history, investigative report, and memoir, journalist Oltuski illuminates the secretive diamond industry from within. As the daughter of a Manhattan diamond dealer, Oltuski has access to the tightly knit community that handles most of the diamonds coming through the United States. She weaves together a broader history of the industry, such as the founding of the De Beers diamond company in South Africa and the more recent controversy over African “blood diamonds,” with personal stories of her family’s beginnings in the gem trade and her grandfather and father’s work in Manhattan’s 47th Street diamond district. She highlights the unexpected juxtaposition among the traditional, religious world of New York’s predominantly Jewish diamond dealers and the memorable characters, oddities of pricing and deal making, and threats of danger that are all endemic to the international diamond business. Only someone with Oltuski’s insider’s vantage point could provide such a comprehensive and colorful look at the many facets of a trade that has a broad public impact yet is largely hidden from view. VERDICT A distinctive and personal work that will captivate readers curious about the secret life of jewels.— Elizabeth L. Winter, Georgia Inst. of Tech. Lib., Atlanta

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