Nonfiction, March 15, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

A glimpse into new knowledge about our universe; the state-of-the-art in mathematics; tips to help students succeed; a significant moment in popular music; a riveting, head-shaking read; readers of the history of slavery will be engrossed; not for general readers interested in comics history; for academic libraries with a strong law collection

Week ending March 15, 2019

 

Brenner, Andrea Malkin & Lara Hope Schwartz. How To College: What To Know Before You Go (and When You’re There). Griffin: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2019. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781250225184. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250225191. ED
Attending college is a joyful yet anxiety-producing rite of passage for many young adults. Brenner (sociology, director, American Univ. Experience, American Univ.) and Schwartz (government, American Univ. Sch. of Public Affairs) offer high school students and their families practical advice to lessen the stress. They cover working with advisers and professors, developing crucial academic skills, and fostering professional relationships to aid in future employment, as well as cultivating friendships, trying new experiences, and communicating appropriately. The authors also underscore the importance of learning how to navigate mass transit, manage money, do laundry, make medical appointments, and stay healthy. Abundant lists identify topics students should discuss with parents heading off to college; other lists outline specific skills to practice at home and those to hone once on campus.
VERDICT A useful, comprehensive guide with tips to help students succeed in college and beyond.—Lydia Olszak, Bosler Memorial Lib., Carlisle, PA

Edgers, Geoff. Walk This Way: Run-DMC, Aerosmith, and the Song That Changed American Music Forever. Blue Rider. Feb. 2019. 288p. photos. ISBN 9780735212237. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735212251. MUSIC
By any measure, the Steven Tyler–Joe Perry composition “Walk This Way” has had an amazing—and surprising—run. Recorded in 1975 for Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic LP, the lyrics were a last-minute addition, but the tune was a success and has remained a band staple ever since. Eleven years later, producer Rick Rubin convinced a hesitant Run-DMC to invite Perry and Tyler into the studio, and with the help of a fabulous music video depicting the literal breaking of the wall between rock and hip-hop, a song was created that transformed the course of music and brought hip-hop into the mainstream, opening the door to MTV and the popular charts. In the same manner of juxtaposition, journalist, author, and filmmaker Edgers alternates Run-DMC chapters with ones about Aerosmith, and his access to the participants and his eye for detail result in an excellent read. Describing a song as one that “changed American music forever” is a bold statement. Edgers effectively makes his case.
VERDICT A well-written account of a significant moment in popular music and culture. Anyone interested in the direction of contemporary music will find much to enjoy here.Bill Baars, formerly with Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Gardner, Charles A. Dannemora: Two Escaped Killers, Three Weeks of Terror, and the Largest Manhunt Ever in New York State. Kensington. Feb. 2019. 272p. index. ISBN 9780806539249. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780806539263. CRIME
In June 2015, two prisoners escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY, a state facility near the Canadian border. Gardner, a retired correctional training lieutenant, describes the events that preceded the escape and the three-week manhunt that followed. The story is bizarre; it is no wonder that it was recently adapted into a TV series for Showtime. Gardner describes Clinton Correctional as a safe and secure facility where local residents work as guards and support staff. Enter Joyce Mitchell, a civilian employee who hatches a plan with career criminals Richard Matt and David Sweat, helping them dig a tunnel and escape. She then met them outside and they were to drive to Canada, leaving behind Mitchell’s abusive husband. All goes as planned—except Mitchell chickens out at the last minute, and the two men are left to fend for themselves in upstate New York’s wild and wooly North Country. The greater portion of the book recounts the efforts by law enforcement to locate the men. Writing in a simple, no-nonsense style, Gardner grips readers with details of the hunt, ending with the death of Matt and the capture of Sweat.
VERDICT A riveting, head-shaking read for anyone interested in stranger-than-fiction tales, the criminal justice system, or Great Escape–style adventures.—Frances O. Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY

Helg, Aline. Slave No More: Self-Liberation Before Abolitionism in the Americas. Univ. of North Carolina. Mar. 2019. 368p. tr. from French by Lara Vergnaud. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469649634. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781469649641. HIST
More than 12 million enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas from the time of the European conquest in the 16th century to the emancipation of Brazilian slaves in 1888. Over that time, many slaves adopted various strategies to leave behind a barbarous world of beatings, deprivation, sexual violence, and death in exchange for personal autonomy. Only during the last few decades has the historiography of slavery begun to address the varying perspectives of slaves throughout the region. Helg (history, Univ. of Geneva; Our Rightful Share) deftly examines the porous borders between slavery and freedom in the Colonial Americas long before abolitionists took up their cause. Taking a comparative approach that spans the entirety of the New World, Helg underscores the agency of blacks in their own struggle for emancipation. The author focuses her study on the four primary modes of freedom, including flight and marronage, legal emancipation (manumission), military service, and revolt, while emphasizing how those strategies varied in singular contexts and over time.
VERDICT Both academics and general readers of the history of slavery will be engrossed by this valuable contribution to the field.—Brian Odom, Madison, AL

Kidman, Shawna. Comic Books Incorporated: How the Business of Comics Became the Business of Hollywood. Univ. of California. Apr. 2019. 328p. ISBN 9780520297562. pap. $34.95. BUS
Kidman (communication, Univ. of California, San Diego) examines the industry side of comic books from the 1950s to the present with a focus on distribution, finance, and law. The author argues that the distribution model of the mid-1950s could not sustain the glut of publishers and comics. Although perceived as censorship, the comics code allowed successful distributors to eliminate unwanted independent publishers. Kidman’s case study of Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, reveals how copyright law sided with corporations over original artists and writers. The rise of underground comics in the 1970s created a new distribution model in which they were sold directly to specialty comics stores. This change resulted in a readership audience and industry, consisting primarily of educated white men. Kidman describes how comics’ crossover into other media has been a constant, from as early as Superman’s radio show in the 1940s. However, Hollywood studios were risk-averse to take on comic book movies after failures in the 1980s. Yet, comics films proliferated in the 2000s with the rising success of blockbusters as well as a shift in how Hollywood financed its productions.
VERDICT Primarily for an academic audience with interest in media and industry studies; not for general readers interested in comics history.—Chris Wilkes, Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA

Seo, Sarah A. Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom. Harvard Univ. Apr. 2019. 352p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674980860. $28.95. LAW
Seo (law, Univ. of Iowa) illustrates how the rise of the automobile industry impacted the introduction of new traffic laws. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which standardized traffic laws. Before that, in 1925, the Supreme Court (in Carroll v. United States) ruled that automobiles were exempt from Fourth Amendment protections, thus allowing police to stop and search a car without a warrant. In some cases, police used excessive force, seriously injuring or even killing drivers and passengers, often claiming resistance to arrest or self-defense. Seo uses several court rulings to illustrate the ways automobiles have progressively been policed. She also pens a lengthy chapter explaining Fourth Amendment issues governing automobiles.
VERDICT While this work is interesting and scholarly, average readers will have a difficult time maintaining attention. Recommended for legal holdings and academic libraries with a strong law collection.—Michael Sawyer, Daytona Beach, FL

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