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

Source: Library Journal, 01/11/2011

Si vous souhaitez suggérer l’achat d’un ou plusieurs ouvrages à la BSPO, une seule adresse:

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Backhouse, Roger E. & Bradley W. Bateman. Capitalist Revolutionary: John Maynard Keynes. Harvard Univ. Nov. 2011. c.198p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674057753. $25.95. ECON
Though Keynesian economics fell into disrepute with the rise of the Chicago School in the 1970s, rumors of its permanent demise have been greatly exaggerated. John Maynard Keynes is back! Backhouse (history & philosophy of economics, Univ. of Birmingham) and Bateman (economics, Denison Univ.) provide a useful context for the many policymakers, journalists, economists, and historians who have recently rediscovered, rehabilitated, or revived Keynes’s thought. The duo portray Keynes as a nontrivial personality who was in equal measure economist and moral philosopher, revolutionary and conservative. The brief volume flows with merciful grace through the particulars of Keynesian economic thought, interweaving historical, biographical, and technical details. The Keynes who emerges is not a one-dimensional deficit-spending proponent but a complex philosopher-economist who earnestly calls for perpetual revolution of capitalism to preserve this imperfect but best-available economic system. VERDICT While this book is recommended as a primer for students (and teachers) of economic history, it will also enlighten the general reader interested in the ongoing policy debates of the post–great recession world.—Jekabs Bikis, Dallas Baptist Univ.

Bratton, William & Zachary Tumin. Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World. Crown Business. Jan. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307592392. $26. BUS
In this book about problem solving through collaboration, Bratton, former police chief of New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles, along with Tumin (John F. Kennedy Sch. of Government, Harvard), provides many successful examples of his philosophy in action taken from personal experience, international politics (e.g., the rescue of FARC-held hostages in Colombia), U.S. policy, industry, education, and health care. Inserted among these accounts are nuggets of commonsense information on, e.g., how to encourage and facilitate collaboration and ways to achieve buy-in from parties with divergent interests. These include ideas on “right-sizing,” or simplifying, problems; assembling teams; getting out of one’s “silo” (broadening one’s perspective); and building trust. There are lots of good ideas here, but—other than what can be gleaned from the anecdotes that make up the majority of the text—no real suggestions on how to implement them. VERDICT An engaging book filled with real-world examples of successful (and some failed) collaborations around the world but offering little new data or insight. Optional; purchase where there’s interest.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Masaoka, Jan. The Nonprofit’s Guide to Human Resources: Managing Your Employees and Volunteers. Nolo. Nov. 2011. c.350p. index. ISBN 9781413313758. pap. $49.99. BUS
Employees of nonprofit organizations (and librarians) are not always aware of their workplace’s singular human resources (HR) needs. For example, the involvement of stipend volunteers and interns raises special questions about minimum wage laws. And consider that while all employers must follow nondiscrimination laws regarding people with disabilities, some nonprofits may have mission-related reasons to discriminate favorably toward hiring people with disabilities. Masaoka (editor in chief, Blue Avocado) helps nonprofit HR employees understand the legal particulars and create policies around these and many other issues, including salaries and benefits, supervision and team leadership, terminations and layoffs, and workplace safety. Each chapter has been reviewed by an adviser working in nonprofit HR and features real-life examples and exposes common myths. Readers will occasionally encounter sample forms, letters, and policies. VERDICT The major reference works for nonprofit organizations cover some of these topics but not to the extent discussed in this important work. Recommended.—Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR

Pinkerton, Stewart. The Fall of the House of Forbes: The Inside Story of the Collapse of a Media Empire. St. Martin’s. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312658595. $25.99. BUS
Pinkerton’s nearly 20 years at Forbes—the stalwart, almost iconic financial publication—affords him an insider’s perspective on the magazine’s rise and fall. Forbes was launched in 1917 by B.C. Forbes, a scrappy, ambitious Scottish immigrant who combined an innovative layout with content grounded in American capitalism. The Forbes family faced problems common for family-owned businesses—when not feuding among themselves, they tended to spend outrageous sums with little or no concern for the bottom line. It infected the company culture; employees frequently padded expense accounts or ignored soaring costs. Even more ominously, Forbes’s presence on the Internet was all but ignored. Rounds of inevitable layoffs and cutbacks reduced the once-proud magazine to a much diminished presence with questionable long-term viability. VERDICT Although Pinkerton is a solid journalist who deftly chronicles the magazine’s rise and fall, his finger-pointing seems at times to be less a search for truth than an opportunity to settle personal scores. Given how many family-owned media companies continue to publish, this is truly a compelling tale for our time. Recommended for all readers interested in media and journalism.—Richard S. Drezen, Brooklyn, NY

OrangeReviewStar.2(Original Import)Taylor, Timothy. The Instant Economist: Everything You Need To Know About How the Economy Works. Plume: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780452297524. pap. $16. ECON
Taylor’s (managing editor, Journal of Economic Perspectives) volume can help conversationalists looking to raise the bar for their watercooler chats and casual readers who want to understand better the current economic condition of the United States. Taylor uses simple language with field-specific vocabulary to explain economic concepts, and each concept is successfully reinforced with a real-life—and usually entertaining—example. He hits all the subjects that might interest a layperson, such as division of labor, supply and demand, wages, competition and monopoly, inflation, banking, and trade, for a total of 36 petite chapters—just enough information to give the reader a basic but well-rounded understanding of the subject. VERDICT This highly readable, nonpoliticized look at some of the economic principles that shape our society, presented in an engaging, anecdotal fashion, is highly recommended for armchair economists and anyone with a general interest in the state of our economy.—Poppy Johnson-Renvall, Central New Mexico Community Coll. Lib., Albuquerque

Sciences politiques

OrangeReviewStar.2(Original Import)Soufan, Ali H. with Daniel Freedman. The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. Norton. 2011. 608p. ISBN 9780393079425. $26.95. INT AFFAIRS
This book stands out among the numerous books published on al-Qaeda because it provides information not found in other volumes; many have relied on Soufan’s information, at times anonymously, but none has offered all that is here. Soufan was the FBI’s most knowledgeable special agent dealing with al-Qaeda’s activities and became the source of the most useful actionable intelligence on this terrorist organization. As an interrogator with unique skills, Soufan gained firsthand, reliable information about many al-Qaeda operatives. What has been remarkable about the valuable information provided by Soufan to the FBI is that he obtained all of his data without resorting to torture and objected to the prevalent use of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were devised during the George W. Bush administration. This absorbing book details accounts of Soufan’s treasure trove of data that he provided to the U.S. government well before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some of which were ignored. VERDICT The best and most original book published in the West on al-Qaeda, this is highly recommended. (Although Soufan never worked for the CIA, the FBI submitted a draft of this book to the CIA, which redacted several sections. The CIA did not sign off on the index, which is why there is none.) [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/11.]—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile


Yu Hua. China in Ten Words. Pantheon. Nov. 2011. c.240p. tr. from Chinese by Allan H. Barr. ISBN 9780307379351. $25.95. SOC SCI
Yu is one of contemporary China’s most celebrated but controversial writers. With much wit and elegance, he reminisces here in separate pieces (only one has been previously published) about his country’s experiences over the past several decades, using personal stories as well as a piercing, critical examination of China’s political, economic, and social transformation from what was essentially a Third World state into a superpower. Best known for his novels, e.g., Brothers, which satirize the country’s moral depredation and its devolution into a hypercapitalist society, Yu chooses ten phrases—“people,” “leader,” “reading,” “writing,” “Lu Xun,” “disparity,” “revolution,” “grassroots,” “copycat,” and “bamboozle”—that capture what he sees as China’s most pressing issues over the last 60 years. His commentary is wide and varied, touching on everything from the country’s severe economic and social disparity since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s to his own rise from uneducated, small-town “teeth puller” to one of the most highly regarded writers of his time. VERDICT A marvelous book for those interested in contemporary China, by one of China’s foremost intellectuals.—Allan Cho, Univ. of British Columbia Lib., Vancouver

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