Nonfiction, April 12, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

The complexity of contemporary life; for Daykin’s many fans; an important story of the Holocaust; if we often think TGIF, then we are in the wrong career; for those interested in police work and criminal justice; this memoir will resonate with fans of Pastiloff; readers seeking a contemporary narrative of bygone agrarian life; for those with nascent interest in political arrangements

Week ending April 12, 2019

Barker, Meg-John & Alex Iantaffi. Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between. Jessica Kingsley. May 2019. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781785924798. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781784508647. SOC SCI
When one hears the word binary, it is usually thought of as relating to sexuality and gender. The genius of this book, though it is initially framed in those terms, is that it productively explores the ways in which “binary” can apply to many other aspects of human relations and psychology. Barker is an accomplished therapist and author of Queer: A Graphic History, while Iantaffi is an independent scholar. They point out that there are many occasions in social life and culture in which we are presented with either/or decisions. For example, healthy/disabled bodies, normal/abnormal psyches are examined. This is primarily a self-help book that takes the binary, complicates it, and makes suggestions for how to move beyond binary thinking. There are “thought experiments” included to help readers get through this process. There are also important suggestions on how to slow down in order to take a moment to reflect on and analyze what the book has to offer.
VERDICT Recommended for readers seeking self-help books that reflect the complexity of contemporary life.—David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia

Coffin, David Page. Sewing Shirts with a Perfect Fit: The Ultimate Guide to Fit, Style, and Construction from Collared and Cuffed to Blouses and Tunics. Quarry: Quarto. 2018. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781589239524. pap. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781631596902. FIBER CRAFTS
In the introduction, this volume book claims to be for “sewists of all sewing and patternmaking skills,” but the work feels a bit advanced for that claim. Later, the book seems to admit to this point. “So that sewers of any experience level can follow along,” there is a link to a website with additional information and more detailed instructions. The text is split into five sections: Overview, Fitting, Draping Loose Fitting Shirts, Draping Fitted Shirts, and Fitting Tight Shirts. Also featured are four projects: jacket, V-neck, wrapped shirtdress, and Western shirt. It is well illustrated with color photos and drawings, and the step-by-step instructions are in plain English. The index seems short at only two and a half pages. A one-page resource list is provided. The envelope of “pattern tools” is a nice touch, with a size range from 3XS to 3XL. These patterns slide out easily but are challenging to replace.
VERDICT A well-laid-out and well-thought-out book for users with advanced sewing skills.—Beth Bland, Milwaukee

Daykin, Rosie. Let Me Feed You: Everyday Recipes Offering the Comfort of Home. Appetite. Apr. 2019. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780147531087. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780147531094. COOKING
Daykin is the owner of the popular Butter Baked Goods café in Vancouver, BC, and the author of two baking books highlighting the sweet treats offered there. In this, her third cookbook after Butter Baked Goods and Butter Celebrates!, Daykin expands her offerings to include recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. Many of the recipes, such as those for deli-style soups, salads, and sandwiches, will be familiar to Butter’s loyal customers, while others (meatloaf and lasagna) are personal family favorites. Daykin’s recipes are appealing and straightforward, and the inclusion of step-by-step photographs for more complicated items such as croissants will inspire reader confidence. She happily treats readers to plenty of personal asides on topics such as her pets, her extensive dinnerware collection, and interior design tips, which lends a relaxed, conversational feel to the book.
VERDICT Daykin’s recipes may not be groundbreaking, but her distinctive and quirky voice shines through in this attractive work. Recommended for Daykin’s many fans and regional cookery collections.—Kelsy Peterson, Forest Hill Coll., Melbourne, Australia

Dyer, Jeff & others. Innovation Capital: How To Compete—and Win—Like the World’s Most Innovative Leaders. Harvard Business Review. Jun. 2019. 256p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781633696525. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781633696532. ECON
Based on interviews with successful business executives, including PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Tesla’s Elon Musk, this book aims to help readers succeed as innovative business leaders by building their “innovation capital.” This how-to manual by Dyer (Horace Beesley Distinguished Professor of Strategy at Brigham Young Univ.; coauthor, The Innovator’s DNA), Nathan Furr (strategy, INSEAD; coauthor, Leading Transformation), and Curtis Lefrandt (CEO, Innovator’s DNA consultancy) covers various improvement strategies for those wishing to become more persuasive and engaging business leaders. Early chapters thoroughly dissect the authors’ definition of “innovation capital”—who you are, who you know, and what you are known for—and how those things can be strategically leveraged to build and expand successful enterprises. The remaining chapters offer advice on communication, networking, and leadership in corporate environments, sharing anecdotes from well-known businesspersons throughout.
VERDICT The authors spend several chapters building the premise of the book and lack a critical definition of what constitutes “innovation” or why we should encourage it. Those who are already invested in the work style, success stories, and zeal for innovation commonly associated with Silicon Valley may appreciate the leadership advice offered here.—Sarah Schroeder, Univ. of Washington Bothell

Fairweather, Jack. The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission To Destroy Auschwitz. Custom House. Jun. 2019. 528p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062561411. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062561428. HIST
Fairweather, a former war reporter for the Washington Post and the Daily Telegraph, brings a touch of drama to a complex and detailed story: the Polish Resistance’s efforts to take down Auschwitz from the inside, notably with Witold Pilecki’s intentional arrest and stay in Auschwitz to bring international attention to its atrocities. The author attempts to understand what it was about Pilecki (1901–48) that helped him endure harrowing events. What unfolds is Pilecki’s story of luck along with having a strong network of friends and a knack for making alliances. The graphic and matter-of-fact accounts of violence, torture, and illness in the camp make for challenging reading. The contrast of the daily realities of life for prisoners against the struggle to get accurate information to the Allies in London and Washington, DC, is another obstacle, but one that the book clearly asks readers to respond to in their own time. The author shows how the Allies reacted directly to firsthand accounts by Pilecki and others, for example, by bombing the camp.
VERDICT Most appropriate for war or military history readers, but an important story of the Holocaust that deserves to be heard.—Margaret Heller, Loyola Univ. Chicago Libs.

Farmer, Penny. Dead in the Water: My Forty-Year Search for My Brother’s Killer. Diversion. Apr. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781635766196. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781635765762. CRIME
In 1978, Dr. Chris Farmer and Peta Frampton set off from the UK on a one-year trip around the world. Young and in love, they expected a year of adventure and discovery. Instead, their trip—and their lives—were cut short on a boat off the coast of Guatemala. Investigators quickly suspected the boat’s owner, Silas Duane Boston, of the murders, but no case was brought against him as a lack of reliable witnesses and international cooperation hindered the investigation. Almost 40 years later, Farmer’s sister tracks Boston and his sons down via Facebook. The sons, now grown and no longer under Boston’s control, are finally willing to tell the truth about their father, and the case is reopened. This is a fascinating tale of one man’s astonishing ability to thwart the authorities and a family unwilling to let his crimes go unpunished. The author’s penchant for sharing and repeating minute details and events drags down what might have been a more compulsive page-turner.
VERDICT Casual readers may find this a bit of a slog, but true crime buffs will enjoy the diligence of Farmer’s research and her family’s dedication to seeing justice done.—Portia Kapraun, Delphi P.L., IN

Feldman, Andrew. Ernesto: The Untold Story of Hemingway in Revolutionary Cuba. Melville House. May 2019. 512p. notes. index. ISBN 9781612196381. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781612196398. LIT
Feldman, a former researcher in residence at the Hemingway Museum and Library in Havana, Cuba, turns in a well-documented (with more than 1,300 endnotes) and complete biography of Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), providing supplemental material about Cuba’s history and politics for added background and context. Hemingway’s literary work, marriages, travels, wartime activities, relationships with his children, and deteriorating health are covered fully. However, chapters dealing with his time spent at his Cuban residence, Finca Vigía, indeed delve more deeply into the writer’s affection for his adopted home, his relations with friends and neighbors, and his reaction to political events leading to the fall of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, the rise of Fidel Castro, and the Hemingways’ departure from the island after the breakdown of U.S.-Cuban relations.
VERDICT While Feldman’s study offers new research, readers primarily interested in Hemingway may find more than they want to know about Cuban history here. A more focused account of his connections to the island can be found in Norberto Fuentes’s Hemingway in Cuba or Hilary Hemingway and Carlene Brennen’s Hemingway in Cuba, a better choice for general readers.—William Gargan, Emeritus, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY

Hischak, Thomas S. 1927: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Year. Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2019. 328p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538112779. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781538112786. HIST
In this piece of fluff, Hischak (emeritus, theater, SUNY Coll. at Cortland; 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year) explores the year 1927, writing brief snippets about events from each day’s headlines. The result? Substantive history is replaced by factoids with a focus on surface, not significance. Only occasionally are items followed up on in later entries. The author’s enthusiasm for film and stage often leads him to comment on the release of a new movie or play, or an actor’s emergence on the scene, or actorly scandals or deaths, the sort of flash and filigree that surround celebrity. There is also a great deal about sports—1927 was a banner year for Yankee star sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. And readers will learn about Charles Lindbergh’s flight, the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, and war and massacre in China, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Of interest are the author’s observations on silent films in the last great year before “talkies” took off.
VERDICT A light work of ephemera, not likely to appeal to most readers.—David Keymer, Cleveland

Hoffman, Allison. AmiguruMe Eats: Make Cute Scented Crochet Foods. Lark: Sterling. Apr. 2019. 152p. illus. ISBN 9781454710714. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781454710967. FIBER CRAFTS
Hoffman (AmiguruMe Eats) provides a delightful, unique offering of crochet patterns in the Japanese amigurumi style for a wide variety of small food items and some small cooking utensils. Each of the nearly 50 patterns is made with simple crochet stiches. Don’t know how to crochet? The author provides easy-to-follow instructions as well as plenty of pictures. Patterns include a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows, a taco, a cinnamon roll, a fried egg, and each food or utensil is given its own personality with an easy-to-make face. Additionally, Hoffman provides ideas and techniques to scent the crocheted foods. These small creations will delight the senses of children and adults alike.
VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn the basics of crochet or to make small crochet toys for children.—Karen White, Univ. of Tennessee at Martin

Markman, Art. Bring Your Brain to Work: Using Cognitive Science To Get a Job, Do It Well, and Advance Your Career. Harvard Business Review. Jun. 2019. 256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781633696112. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781633696129. ECON
With this career book, cognitive science is used to explain how to get a job, excel in a position, and move up or on in a career. Markman (Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Univ. of Texas at Austin) is executive director of the IC2 Institute and author of Smart Thinking. Through his research, he has identified three parts of the brain that influence why we work the way we do. Each chapter ends with a box showing how the motivational brain, the social brain, and the cognitive brain are affected by the current topic. Occasionally, there are boxes throughout the book on the jazz brain. This information is a bonus because of the brain’s ability to improvise. Markman encourages readers to use the sections of the book most applicable to their current situation. He pulls liberally from his own experiences and those of others, as well as research done in the field, to make an interesting and readable text. He states that if we often think TGIF then we are in the wrong career.
VERDICT A unique approach to an old topic. Anyone can get a tidbit from this book to make their current or future work environments better.—Bonnie A. Tollefson, Rogue Valley Manor Lib., Medford, OR

Meisner, Nadine. Marius Petipa: The Emperor’s Ballet Master. Oxford Univ. Jun. 2019. 514p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190659295. $34.95. DANCE
French-born dancer and choreographer Marius Petipa is most closely associated with the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg in the mid- to late 1800s and his work with family members in dance, opera, and theater companies internationally. Dance critic Meisner researched extensively in Russia, France, New York, and elsewhere to write this first biography in English of the master choreographer, whose influential works are still performed today. The author considers Petipa’s historical and social environments as they related to dance, with the most intense focus on Petipa, his father and brother, and other relatives. Working from company lists, letters, reviews, travel records, and Petipa’s own (not always accurate) writings, Meisner carefully documents the man’s life and contributions to ballet both before his death in 1910 and into modern times. The 150 pages of appendixes and detailed notes are fascinating (some are in Russian) and will aid further research.
VERDICT This scholarly work tracks down obscure references and untangles conflicting time lines on events in Petipa’s life. Suitable for academic dance collections.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX

Minowa, Naoko. Woven Leather Bags: How To Craft and Weave Purses, Pouches, Wallets and More. Stackpole. Apr. 2019. 104p. photos. ISBN 9780811738231. pap. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9780811768245. CRAFTS
Minowa (Finger Weaving Scarves & Wraps) teaches handweaving techniques and vegetable dyeing at the school she founded, Studio A Week. She is also chair of the Japan Senshoku (Dyeing) Association. Her second book offers 15 projects to make an array of bags, pouches, and other useful accessories out of woven leather strips. All pieces can be assembled without purchasing specialized tools, looms, or heavy-duty sewing machines. Precise directions are clearly written and supplemented with color photos. Techniques covered are basic weaving, leather braiding, adding linings, hand-stitching seams, installing metal hardware (snaps, rivets, closures, handles), and making leather embellishments. A resource list is included. Minowa also covers creating one’s own designs. Crafters who would like to explore this medium without investing a lot in equipment would find this to be a very handy introduction.
VERDICT A basic and budget-friendly approach to making a variety of useful and attractive items.—Deborah A. Broocker, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Dunwoody

Oliver, Willard M. Depolicing: When Police Officers Disengage. Lynne Rienner. Feb. 2019. 185p. ISBN 9781626377554. $65; ebk. ISBN 9781626377882. LAW
Oliver (August Vollmer; Policing America) discusses a new phenomenon appearing within police forces nationwide: depolicing, which occurs when police stop being proactive and retreat to serve the community at a bare minimum. In doing so, Oliver argues, the officers abandon effective police work. Because law enforcement personnel under this model are no longer writing citations or tickets and “walking the beat,” communities become victimized as criminals get away with breaking the law. Oliver explains that depolicing can happen for several reasons: backlash by the community resulting from officers’ aggressive action, media attention surrounding aggressive police activity, lack of leadership, and/or civil lawsuits. Unfortunately, Oliver does not offer a solution; instead, he suggests that the first step is simply admitting that depolicing is a problem in need of greater conversation and research. The author based his conclusions on 60 interviews with police officers throughout the country from 2014 to 2016.
VERDICT Those interested in police work and criminal justice may find this useful. Recommended for academic libraries with a strong criminal justice collection.—Michael Sawyer, Daytona Beach, FL

Pastiloff, Jennifer. On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking up, Living Real, and Listening Hard. Dutton. Jun. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781524743567. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781524743574. MEMOIR
Yoga instructor Pastiloff presents a deeply personal memoir of her journey from a troubled childhood in the 1970s to a confident and accomplished adult life. She candidly describes her grief after her father died suddenly when she was eight. The death resulted in the family moving out of her beloved home—an event that the author remembers with anguish and profound anger at her mother. Her problematic relationship with her mother further eroded Pastiloff’s ability to cope with the trials of adolescence—she unflinchingly tells of her struggles with anorexia and depression. She also frankly discusses coping with her gradual loss of hearing and the shame she associated with this condition. Early on, Pastiloff recognized writing as a means to making sense of her life. She studied poetry in college and started the Manifest-Station blog.
VERDICT Often humorous and at times painfully honest, this memoir of overcoming life’s challenges will resonate with fans of Pastiloff and readers who have faced their own personal struggles.—Mary Jennings, Camano Island Lib., WA

The Renaissance Nude. Getty. 2018. 432p. ed. by Thomas Kren & others. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606065846. $65. FINE ARTS
Published to accompany exhibitions at the Getty Museum and Royal Academy of Arts, London, this lavish catalog makes a grand presentation with more than 250 images and essays by 16 experts. Covering 1400–1530, the eight main pieces and 112 catalog entries address a variety of subjects, media, and functions. The thematic, nonlinear organization fosters the authors’ aim to spark discussion about the meanings of similar subject matter across temporal, geographic, and artistic milieus. For example, the subject of Christ’s crucifixion is represented in a series of images from a 100-year period, from the Netherlands, southern Germany, and the Veneto region of Italy. The easily understood discussions include the derivation of subjects from classical themes; the influence of humanism on the beginnings of life drawing; and the combination of observation, classical culture, and naturalism to create believable, relatable figures. Thoroughly researched, catalog entries and essays include endnotes and also offer information on inscriptions, provenance, selected references, and selected exhibitions where known.
VERDICT This catalog will be appreciated by studio artists, art historians, and interested readers.—Nancy J. Mactague, formerly with Aurora Univ. Lib., IL

Scoblic, Barbara Hoffbeck. Lost Without the River: A Memoir. She Writes. Apr. 2019. 296p. ISBN 9781631525315. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631525322. MEMOIR
A remembered “home” exerts an inexorable pull throughout this debut memoir. Scoblic, the youngest of seven children born to a South Dakota farmer and his steadfast wife during years of Depression-era hardship and drought, provides a series of verbal snapshots of what life was like in that rugged yet beautiful terrain plagued by intense winters, floods, and the potential disasters of family farms. Scoblic recounts frequent episodes in her somewhat strained relationship with her taciturn father that contrast with descriptions of her mother’s almost saintly efforts to keep the Hoffbeck children safe, fed, and appropriately clothed for all events the devout Catholic family would attend. Scoblic’s yearning to escape her confined environment resulted in a tour with the Peace Corps and, ultimately, relocation to New York City. This late-in-life reminiscence of a way of life that has all but disappeared provides Scoblic with an opportunity to explore how the place she left a half century ago still seems like home.
VERDICT Readers seeking a firsthand, contemporary narrative of bygone agrarian life may be interested in Scoblic’s family-centered account of her early years in South Dakota.—Thérèse Purcell Nielsen, Huntington P.L., NY

Taylor, Astra. Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone. Metropolitan: Holt. May 2019. 368p. ISBN 9781250179845. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781250179852. POL SCI
Taylor, a documentary filmmaker, activist, and musician, characterizes democracy not as an end but as a process in which we balance contradictions. In eight chapters, she discusses a different ostensible contradiction: freedom vs. equality, historically viewed in tension but perhaps unnecessarily so; conflict vs. consensus, as Taylor defines consensus as a multiplicity of voices rather than unanimity among those in power; inclusion vs. exclusion, in which the author argues that the groups that comprise a nation have always been contested; coercion vs. choice, showing not only what the government can legitimately compel but who has the power to decide; spontaneity vs. structure, or how bursts of mass activism can change formal legal codes; expertise vs. popular opinion, a dichotomy that presumes, inaccurately, that experts are neutral; local vs. global horizons, in which we see multinational corporations impose a global outlook that favors profit; and, finally, presentism vs. futurism, preferring the quest for immediate profits rather than long-term survival. Democracy, she concludes, may be dying, but “social movements…[can be] a life raft.” Taylor’s writing is accessible and her erudite arguments thought-provoking.
VERDICT A useful primer for those with nascent interest in political arrangements.—Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC

Thibodeau, Craig. The Craft of Veneering. Taunton. 2018. 240p. illus. ISBN 9781631869006. pap. $29.95. DIY
This comprehensive guide on veneering is the first in several years to cover this popular woodworking activity. Thibodeau, a custom furniture designer and builder, won the VeneerTech Craftsman’s Challenge in 2016, and it shows. Perfect for beginners learning the basics as well as experts looking for fresh design ideas, this book provides helpful information for all levels of enthusiasts. This guide starts with explaining what veneer is, the many different types, how it is used, what supplies and tools are needed, and how to get started. Chapters are filled with color photos of enticing designs and projects of varying difficulty. There are also chapters on marquetry, parquetry, and projects that require curving, bending, edging, and cross-banding. A helpful glossary is included. Thibodeau includes details on where and how to get supplies, a gallery of veneer species, and a metric chart for sizing.
VERDICT Woodworkers of all levels interested in veneering, marquetry, or parquetry will want to add this to their collection.—Holly Hebert, Middle Tennessee State Univ., Murfreesboro

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