Social Sciences Book Reviews (page 623)

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"Blending scholarship and ironic detachment, an admirably balanced treatment of a politician who provoked anything but objectivity during his Marion Barry-like career. (Thirty-five b&w photographs—not seen.)"
The first full-length biography—and likely the authoritative one for years to come—of the flamboyant black congressman who, as civil-rights gadfly and as libertine, exemplified the gap between our nation's ideals and practices that was given a name in Gunnar Myrdal's ``American Dilemma.'' Blessed with good looks, eloquence, and a bully pulpit (he succeeded his father as head of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the nation's largest black congregation), Powell became ``Mr. Civil Rights'' in the pre-King era by combining agitation and electoral politics. Read full book review >
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE, WOMEN OF VISION by Helen S. Astin
SOCIAL SCIENCES
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"A meandering portrait whose flat, nonchallenging style detracts substantially from the book's effectiveness."
A dry look at late-20th-century feminist leaders in academia, by a psychologist and professor of higher education at UCLA (Astin) and a senior program associate at the Center for Creative Leadership in San Diego (Leland). Read full book review >

HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"A disheartening look at the hazards to health we all face, and an urgent appeal to the medical community—and to the individual—to take action to deal with this sea of troubles."
An argument for a systems-approach to health that looks at ``the full spectrum of ills that are afflicting our planet, from the destruction of the seas and rain forests to the compromising of the human immune system.'' Beasley is director of Bard College Center's Institute of Health Policy and Practice. Read full book review >
SOCIAL SCIENCES
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"Offers some insight into the Klan and its most prominent member in the Midwest during the 20's, but a definitive book on the subject remains to be written."
Here, Tucker, formerly with the Indianapolis News and the Baltimore Sun, listlessly tackles the phenomenon of the KKK's popularity in the Midwest in the wake of WW I, charting its rapid rise to social prominence as well as its equally meteoric decline. Read full book review >
THE GOOD SOCIETY by Robert N. Bellah
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"An often incisive treatise that debunks some age-old truisms and sounds a cautiously optimistic note for the future."
Five academics (Bellah, Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, Steven Tipton) follow up an earlier work (Habits of the Heart, 1985, which examined America's conflict between individualism and social commitment) with one that focuses on institutions. Read full book review >

WILD SWANS by Jung Chang
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"Mostly, however, Chang offers an inspiring story of courage, sensitivity, intelligence, loyalty, and love, told objectively, without guilt or recrimination, in an unassuming and credible documentary style. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)"
An exceptional tribute to three generations of courageous and articulate Chinese women: the grandmother, born in 1909 into a still feudal society; the mother, a Communist official and then ``enemy of the people''; and the daughter, the author, raised during the reactionary Cultural Revolution, then sent abroad in 1978, when the story ends, to study in England, where she now, at age 39, serves as Director of Chinese Studies for External Services, Univ. of London. Read full book review >
RELIGION
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"An odd hybrid in which the personal and political awkwardly jostle one another and tend to get hopelessly mixed up in the fray."
Expressly following the feminist dictum that ``the personal is political,'' Pogrebin (Among Friends, 1986; Family Politics, 1983, etc.), a founding editor of Ms. magazine, mixes memoir with reportage to chart her dual commitment to Judaism and feminism. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"And for hapless New Yorkers who find themselves worn down by the present-day chaos of their city, Sante provides a strangely heartening reminder that nothing much has changed. (Nicely illustrated with rare photographs of the period- -some seen.)"
A guided tour through Manhattan's demimonde of the last century, conducted with exquisite relish by East Village journalist Sante (Esquire, The Village Voice, etc.), who speaks with all the authority of an eyewitness. Read full book review >
THE UNITED STATES OF INCOMPETENCE by Art Carey
SOCIAL SCIENCES
Released: Aug. 30, 1991

"Although writing with style and energy, Carey offers little new insight in what amounts to a compendium of every ill in the nation."
Fierce but flimsy examination by Carey (In Defense of Marriage, 1984) of how incompetence, compared here to a contagious disease, is ruining the country. Read full book review >
UNQUIET DAYS by Thomas Swick
SOCIAL SCIENCES
Released: Aug. 29, 1991

"Although beautifully written with loving detail, Swick's portrait contains more lush literary atmosphere than substance or insight."
Lovely but dull memoir of living and teaching English in Poland ten years ago, by the travel editor of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Read full book review >
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Aug. 28, 1991

"Without power or spark, but nevertheless offering stretches of dialogue that offer a picture of male concerns and interaction in group therapy."
A therapy book with a different slant, and little else, written from inside a men's group by the therapist. ``No one understands men,'' says Baraff, setting the chatty tone. Read full book review >
THE RIVERKEEPER by Alec Wilkinson
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 26, 1991

"Overall, skillfully wrought, evocative insights into little- known arenas of American life."
In three portraits, two reprinted from The New Yorker, Wilkinson (Big Sugar, 1989; Moonshine, 1985, etc.) examines the lives of people who earn their living on the water. ``The Blessing of the Fleet'' finds Wilkinson traveling to Provincetown, where for generations Portuguese-Americans have fished the waters off Cape Cod. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Gabrielle Zevin
March 3, 2015

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over—and see everything anew. “Zevin writes characters who grow and prosper,” our reviewer writes, “in a narrative that is sometimes sentimental, sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining.” View video >