Nonfiction, September 7, 2018

Required reading where technology meets the customer; suitable for those championing new ideas in an old company; Garrett’s titles is less “Fire and Fury” and more Bob Woodward; of appeal to those interested in critical librarianship

Week ending September 7, 2018

Chambers, John & Diane Brady. Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World. Hachette. Sept. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780316486545. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316486538. BUS
In many ways, this book is a footnote to Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization, as Cisco chair emeritus Chambers, with journalist Brady, shares his personal insights into the hard work that kept Cisco at the top of the tech revolution. Remarkably, Cisco was able to succeed among other Silicon Valley competitors. Chambers details particularly apropos events in relation to the growth of the digital industry and in varying degrees to other business and commercial sectors—spotlighting disruption and nonlinear advancement. To this end, he advocates for companies to develop pattern recognition coupled with time-established principles, such as commitment to both employees and customers. Notable advice includes how best to find and merge with other organizations that will forge future growth.
VERDICT While most applicable to those in the business-to-business world, this should be required reading for companies in which technology meets the customer. Cable businesses should especially consider.—Steven Silkunas, Fernandina Beach, FL

Comstock, Beth with Tahl Raz. Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change. Currency. Sept. 2018. 416p. illus. index. ISBN 9780451498298. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780451498304. BUS
For years, the slogan of General Electric (GE) has been “We Bring Good Things to Life,” and former GE vice chair and head of business innovations Comstock was a large part of that mission. Here she turns 25-plus years of experience into a work advertised as general business advice but is in fact primarily a corporate biography based on Comstock’s tenure at GE. Under her leadership, the company tried a variety of ventures, specifically focusing on environmental and digital initiatives. While some pointers and management tips are sprinkled throughout, Comstock, with writer Raz (Never Eat Alone), presents more of a behind-the-scenes look at the business that includes interesting stories but also a lot of minutia and details on deals, corporate meetings, and office politics. Comstock even mentions being head-hunted by Steve Jobs for a position at Apple, which she ultimately rejected.
VERDICT Suitable for anyone interested in the day-to-day management of championing new ideas in an old company. Purchase where there’s interest.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Garrett, Major. Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary Presidency. All Points. Sept. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781250185914. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250185921. POL SCI
A political journalist since 1990, Garrett ( The Enduring Revolution: The Inside Story of the Republican Ascendancy and Why It Will Continue ) is most notable as a White House correspondent, first for Fox News and now at CBS News. All his experience, however, did not prepare him for President Donald Trump, whom he considered “a silly reality TV celebrity running a silly campaign for the presidency.” This book rehashes the Trump administration’s “searing and noisy” first year, which included consequential policy changes in deregulation, taxes, judicial appointments, and immigration, alongside the firing of FBI director James Comey and the ongoing investigation into Russian electoral interference. Garrett’s ruminative prolog, at turns incisive and disjointed, gives way to chapters dedicated to single events or topics taken from current headlines. If journalism is the first draft of history, then works like this are the second: more expansive and detailed than typical newspaper stories but destined to be quickly outdated.
VERDICT Less Fire and Fury and more Bob Woodward, this title’s success will depend on readers’ willingness to relive 2017 in American politics.—Chad Comello, Morton Grove P.L., IL

Librarians with Spines: Information Agitators in an Age of Stagnation. Hinchas de Poesia. 2017. 194p. ed. by Yago S. Cura & Max Macias. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780984539888. pap. $22.50. PRO MEDIA
Cura (bilingual outreach librarian, Los Angeles P.L.) and Macias (instructional librarian, Portland Community Coll., OR) have compiled nine essays that highlight how librarians are empowering their community with new programs and ideas and challenge assumptions about librarians. Librarian contributors tackle themes such as diversity, power dynamics, and the needs of underserved populations. Diana Lopez and Aquita Winslow describe the importance of mentoring and retaining people of color in the library profession, while kYmberly Keeton uses hip-hop to engage students in a college information literacy class. Mary Rayme examines the lack of institutional support for prison libraries despite the high prison population in the United States. ALA president and LJ Mover & Shaker Loida García-Febo emphasizes that libraries can close the digital divide for girls of color by providing access to technological education and resources. Anthony Bishop and Kael Moffat explore how the predominance of whiteness in the library profession affects people of color, with a specific focus on LIS education.
VERDICT Although the pieces vary in academic rigor, they are well written and will appeal to those interested in critical librarianship.—Chris Wilkes, Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA

Nussbaum, Martha C. The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis. S. & S. Jul. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9781501172496. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501172502. PHIL
Nussbaum (Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, Univ. of Chicago; The Fragility of Goodness) here attempts to explain the current U.S. political climate as one driven by fear: the fear of losing one’s livelihood, country, etc., and of the “other,” such as immigrants, minorities, women, and/or the wealthy. The first chapter contains a dialog between Nussbaum and an imaginary “defender of fear.” The text then explores how anxiety might influence behavior, both personal and political. But this line of reasoning belies appearances. Fear is ancient, yet the status quo cannot be described as politics as usual—something has changed. One worries that the shift is born not out of fear but lack of concern with the truth. “Truth matters,” Nussbaum claims, but still contends that angst causes hysteria that undermines rational deliberation. Yet the 2016 election was not immediately preceded by a recent domestic terrorist attack or threat of impending nuclear annihilation; previous U.S. elections have been prefaced by assaults on the truth, e.g., news programs moved from reporting facts to debating them and politicians ignoring and skewing facts out of dubious political loyalty.
VERDICT Not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/29/18.]—William Simkulet, Mid-Michigan Community Coll., Mt. Pleasant

LJ Reviews

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