A unique contribution to war literature.



A collective biography of five shell-shocked veterans of trench warfare.

Delving into mountains of personal papers, letters and photographs in London’s Imperial War Museum, Barrett (Modern Literary and Cultural Theory/Queen Mary, Univ. of London; Imagination in Theory: Culture, Writing, Words, and Things, 1999, etc.) tells stories of three soldiers and two military doctors. All witnessed terrible things, suffered mental breakdowns and seemed to recover, but the experience permanently colored their lives. Investigating the flood of psychiatric casualties among uninjured soldiers, World War I physicians preferred an organic cause, so the term “shell shock” entered the vocabulary. Experts explained that soldiers in proximity to explosions suffered subtle brain injuries, but readers will share the author’s shock at discovering how much the simple horror of trench life contributed to their breakdowns. Soldiers walked, slept, ate and fought among dead and rotting bodies and body parts. The smell of decaying corpses grew more intense during the summer and after battles, but it never vanished. “I thought by now the horrors of war could no longer shock me. I was wrong,” writes Bombardier Ronald Skirth. “It must have been some ghoulish influence that drew me to the old battlefield and three months after the fighting had ceased the mangled, putrefying bodies of men and beasts still lay awaiting burial.” Classic WWI memoirs (by Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and others) mention disgusting details of trench warfare, but those were written for publication and after time had softened the memories. The soldiers profiled here recorded their uncensored feelings on the spot. “The significant context of these life stories,” writes Barrett, “is not what can be remembered, but what has survived for us to study.” Fear and the death of comrades figure prominently, but it was the nauseating sights and smells that dominated their thoughts. When one of the author’s subjects, a doctor, revealed this to a postwar Parliamentary investigation into shell-shock, it was censored.

A unique contribution to war literature.

Pub Date: April 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-84467-104-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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A welcome contribution from a newcomer who provides both a different view and balance in addressing one of the country's...


A fresh, provocative analysis of the debate on education and employment.

Up-and-coming economist Moretti (Economics/Univ. of California, Berkeley) takes issue with the “[w]idespread misconception…that the problem of inequality in the United States is all about the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99 percent.” The most important aspect of inequality today, he writes, is the widening gap between the 45 million workers with college degrees and the 80 million without—a difference he claims affects every area of peoples' lives. The college-educated part of the population underpins the growth of America's economy of innovation in life sciences, information technology, media and other areas of globally leading research work. Moretti studies the relationship among geographic concentration, innovation and workplace education levels to identify the direct and indirect benefits. He shows that this clustering favors the promotion of self-feeding processes of growth, directly affecting wage levels, both in the innovative industries as well as the sectors that service them. Indirect benefits also accrue from knowledge and other spillovers, which accompany clustering in innovation hubs. Moretti presents research-based evidence supporting his view that the public and private economic benefits of education and research are such that increased federal subsidies would more than pay for themselves. The author fears the development of geographic segregation and Balkanization along education lines if these issues of long-term economic benefits are left inadequately addressed.

A welcome contribution from a newcomer who provides both a different view and balance in addressing one of the country's more profound problems.

Pub Date: May 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-75011-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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An informative and creatively multilayered Google guidebook from the businessman’s perspective.


Two distinguished technology executives share the methodology behind what made Google a global business leader.

Former Google CEO Schmidt (co-author: The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, 2013) and former senior vice president of products Rosenberg share accumulated wisdom and business acumen from their early careers in technology, then later as management at the Internet search giant. Though little is particularly revelatory or unexpected, the companywide processes that have made Google a household name remain timely and relevant within today’s digitized culture. After several months at Google, the authors found it necessary to retool their management strategies by emphasizing employee culture, codifying company values, and rethinking the way staff is internally positioned in order to best compliment their efforts and potential. Their text places “Googlers” front and center as they adopted the business systems first implemented by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who stressed the importance of company-wide open communication. Schmidt and Rosenberg discuss the value of technological insights, Google’s effective “growth mindset” hiring practices, staff meeting maximization, email tips, and the company’s effective solutions to branding competition and product development complications. They also offer a condensed, two-page strategy checklist that serves as an apt blueprint for managers. At times, statements leak into self-congratulatory territory, as when Schmidt and Rosenberg insinuate that a majority of business plans are flawed and that the Google model is superior. Analogies focused on corporate retention and methods of maximizing Google’s historically impressive culture of “smart creatives” reflect the firm’s legacy of spinning intellect and creativity into Internet gold. The authors also demarcate legendary application missteps like “Wave” and “Buzz” while applauding the independent thinkers responsible for catapulting the company into the upper echelons of technological innovation.

An informative and creatively multilayered Google guidebook from the businessman’s perspective.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1455582341

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Business Plus/Grand Central

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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