Nonfiction, November 16, 2018 | Xpress Reviews

For die-hard Grateful Dead devotees; an eye-opener, this title persuasively incites readers to examine the studies and methodologies involved in the autism controversy; for anyone trying to look behind the noise of our current cultural landscape; parents who have benefited from or are considering sperm donation will want to read this book; readers will fall in love with the descriptions of the various rescue dog; highly recommended for vegan and flexitarian foodies

Week ending November 16, 2018

Free All Along: The Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Interviews . New Pr. Jan. 2019. 256p. ed. by Stephen Drury Smith & Catherine Ellis. bibliog. ISBN 9781595588180. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781595589828. HIST
In 1964, poet and critic Robert Penn Warren (1905–89) spent several months recording interviews with approximately 60 leaders of the civil rights movement. His research resulted in the publication in 1965 of his book Who Speaks for the Negro? The sprawling tome was not well received at the time and fell out of print for many years but was reissued in 2014 with a new introduction by David W. Blight. The Robert Penn Warren Center at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, now hosts all the recordings and transcripts online. Free All Along is a compilation of 20 of those interviews, including those with Ralph Ellison, Malcolm X, Whitney Young, Bayard Rustin, and James Baldwin. They offer a snapshot of the state of the movement in 1964 and show the disparate views of the leadership at the time. They also include now-cringeworthy statements by both Warren and his interviewees on women, race, and class.
VERDICT Readers would be better served with the recent reissued Who Speaks for the Negro? and the availability of the full interviews online.—Kate Stewart, Arizona Historical Soc., Tucson

Barnes, Barry & Bob Trudeau. The Grateful Dead’s 100 Essential Songs: The Music Never Stops. Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2018. 310p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538110577. $34; ebk. ISBN 9781538110584. MUSIC
After ruminating over sometimes puzzling Grateful Dead lyrics, poring over the tapes of more than 2,000 Dead concerts and dozens of albums, and digesting the vast online Dead archival resources, Barnes ( Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead) and Trudeau, two self-proclaimed and enthusiastic Deadheads, present 100 of their favorite songs by the group in alphabetical order. Spurred by a meeting of the Grateful Dead Scholars Caucus, the authors focus mostly on original Dead compositions but include a few often-played covers by other artists. The level of detail will entice Deadheads but may be too in-depth for general readers. Barnes and Trudeau meticulously unpack background material about each tune, describe when and how often it’s been played in concert and on record, and chronicle the evolution of the song during the band’s 30-year career (1965–95). Most important, they provide links to websites with song lyrics and to videos of the best performances of the songs, allowing fans to experience the band’s improvisational prowess and diverse musical palette.
VERDICT For die-hard Grateful Dead devotees.—David P. Szatmary, formerly with the Univ. of Washington, Seattle

redstarHandley, J.B. How To End the Autism Epidemic. Chelsea Green. Sept. 2018. 304p. notes. ISBN 9781603588249. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781603588256. PSYCH
The question of whether vaccines cause autism—despite the medical profession’s and public health officials’ continued reassurance to the contrary—is still a hotly contested debate. Encouraging readers to follow the money, Handley, cofounder of the nonprofit Generation Rescue and father of a child with autism, passionately argues his case that they do in this book, which shines much-needed light into the dim corners of autism research. With U.S. autism rates exploding (now one in 36 children), hard facts seem to be hard to come by, and knowing whom to trust is even more difficult. Handley asks readers to assess the research and form their own opinions of the epidemic, arguing that so much of what we “know” about autism is colored by politics and often diametrically opposed opinions. An eye-opener, this title persuasively incites readers to examine the studies and methodologies involved in the controversy.
VERDICT Highly recommended for parents, caregivers, and physicians working and living with this population.—Virginia Johnson, John Curtis P.L., Hanover, MA

Havrilesky, Heather. What If This Were Enough? Essays. Doubleday. Oct. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9780385542883. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385542890. SOC SCI
In a collection of 19 essays, Havrilesky ( How To Be a Person in the World) advocates for living a fuller life by eschewing overconsumption and accepting the present, imperfect moment. She examines America’s cultural delusions to understand how we can reject our current destructive lifestyle. A trip to Disneyland exposes how we have collectively surrendered our agency to branding and corporate fantasy. With foodie culture’s emphasis on overpriced luxury items, food has become a status symbol for the wealthy rather than a healthy, affordable, and sustainable need available to everyone. The television show The Entourage and celebrity Instagram accounts depict an escapist fantasy lifestyle in which luxury is disguised as easy and painless. Comparing the HBO series character Tony Soprano to Harvey Weinstein, Havrilesky draws a connection between America’s moral decline and the elevation of unethical and immoral villains to heroes in our cultural artifacts. Three of the best essays—“Lost Treasure,” “True Romance,” and “My Mother’s House”—ground Havrilesky’s philosophy within her personal experiences without the burden of cultural critique.
VERDICT This collection, which is recommended for public libraries, will appeal to readers of Havrilesky’s “Ask Polly” column, or anyone trying to look behind the noise of our current cultural landscape.—Chris Wilkes, Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA

Hertz, Rosanna & Margaret K. Nelson. Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin. Oxford Univ. Dec. 2018. 312p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190888275. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780190888299. SOC SCI
Hertz (1919 50th Reunion Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, Wellesley Coll.; Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice) and Nelson (A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology Emerita, Middlebury Coll.; Parenting Out of Control) discuss the complexities of and advances in reproductive technology along with the changing definitions of marriage and parenting and evolving societal ideas about what constitutes a “family.” Their academic analysis also touches on value-laden ideas about desirable traits in a person and the legal implications that have stemmed from choosing sperm donors and donating sperm and eggs. The authors treat as well the impact of social media and how it can help potential parents find donors and connect children of the same sperm donor with one another. Wendy Kramer and Naomi Cahn cover similar ground in Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families (2013), but this work by Hertz and Nelson relays the details of a rapidly changing field.
VERDICT An important contribution to the literature. Parents who have benefited from or are considering sperm donation will want to read this book, as will medical practitioners, social workers, and lawyers.—Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ

Hubbard, Kate. Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England. Harper. Feb. 2019. 384p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062302991. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062303011. BIOG
The woman we know today as Bess of Hardwick (1527–1608) began her life as a minor squire’s daughter and ended it as a countess and one of the wealthiest women in Elizabethan England. Her social and financial climb relied on her four advantageous marriages, her canny (and sometimes ruthless) management of money and property, and her own indomitable drive, all of which Hubbard’s (Serving Victoria) biography delves into with varying degrees of thoroughness. Hubbard has a particular interest in Bess’s architectural accomplishments, and much space is given to describing not only Bess’s houses but also the houses designed and built by her contemporaries that likely provided her with inspiration, resulting in a book that informs well enough on the surrounding details but leaves its main subject somewhat obscured.
VERDICT Hubbard’s extensive use of letters and other primary sources results in a fine exploration of Bess’s various relationships and of Elizabethan construction and architectural design, but readers trying to uncover the heart of Bess herself may find the digressive descriptions of building layouts and lists of furnishings too numerous. Overall, this work would be an interesting companion read to Mary Lovell’s Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder.—Kathleen McCallister, Coll. of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Longworth, Karina. Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood. Custom House. Nov. 2018. 544p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062440518. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062440532. FILM
Author Longworth (Hollywood Frame by Frame), creator of the podcast You Must Remember This, attempts to contextualize a bygone era of Hollywood with the #MeToo movement. She frames filmmaker, aviator, and mogul Howard Hughes (1905–76) by the women he pursued, whether they were interested or not. Longworth examines Ava Gardner, who “couldn’t get rid of matter who [she] was with”; pioneering actor-turned-director Ida Lupino, who met him at age 16 and denied having any romance with him; and actor Gina Lollobrigida, whom the producer invited to Hollywood, only to ask her to leave her husband. For Hughes, all of these women, from starlets to film legends, boiled down to fuel for his playboy image. This timely publication makes for difficult reading at points. Though the book tries to give the women a voice, it often silences them by repeating the sensationalistic rumors of gossip columns. However, the author obviously devoted much preparation to this volume, and the bibliography is an excellent resource for researchers of the Golden Age of film.
VERDICT Longworth’s scholarship makes this a strong choice for those interested in old Hollywood, but her lack of nuance when discussing the individuals victimized by Hughes may turn off readers seeking an intricate exploration of how the film industry perpetuated rape culture.—Jennifer Thompson, Richland Lib., Columbia, SC

Melville, Wilma with Paul Lobo. Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America’s Greatest Disaster-Search Partners. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2019. 336p. notes. ISBN 9781250179913. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250179920. SOC SCI
Having assisted the rescue efforts after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Melville realized that, when it comes to live search-and-rescue efforts, the U.S. is woefully underprepared for such disasters. To that effect, she organizes the Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to help train both dogs and handlers for disasters, natural and human-made. Redefining the entire process from dog selection, the how of training, and even the type of handler, the foundation’s pilot program was ready just in time to help with one of the biggest disasters in our country’s history: the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The book has wit, warmth, and humor but also moments of heartbreak and tears of joy scattered throughout. It is a testament to what a dream can become and how it takes a group of committed people to realize it.
VERDICT Readers will fall in love with the descriptions of the various rescue dogs and delight in the personalities, of both the people and the animals, that jump off the page. A feel-good read that anyone, from teens on up, can enjoy.—Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO

Oakley, Gaz. Vegan 100: Over 100 Incredible Recipes from Avant-Garde Vegan. Quadrille. Feb. 2018. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9781787131248. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781787132467. COOKING
Instagram and YouTube sensation Oakley (@avantgardevegan) debuts a bold vegan cooking collection featuring recipes that helped him to give up meat and dairy. These include such vibrant dishes as Moroccan chickpea “omelette,” Sriracha “meatballs” with noodles and griddled vegetables, and New York–style baked coconut and vanilla “cheesecake,” with stewed rhubarb. Though none are difficult to prepare, they do require specialty ingredients (e.g., lecithin granules, pomegranate molasses) and equipment (e.g., high-speed blender, spiralizer).
VERDICT Highly recommended for vegan and flexitarian foodies who love to cook and don’t mind British measurements. Visually, this stunning vegan title recalls Dennis Prescott’s Eat Delicious, another Instagram account–turned–cookbook.—Lisa Campbell, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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