Social Sciences Book Reviews (page 623)

Released: May 12, 1993

"Rambling oral history without much at the core."
Columbia anthropologist Newman (Falling from Grace, 1988) fords the Hudson River and discovers suburbia—as well as a shrieking discontent that will surprise few. ``In the decades that followed the Great Depression,'' according to Newman, ``Americans came to assume that prosperity was their birthright....The economic realities of the 1980s and 1990s have crushed these expectations.'' The younger residents of Pleasanton, New Jersey, have known this for some time: Despite their college educations and tenacious work habits, they are unable to give their children many of the advantages—large homes, full- time mothers, good schools—that they received as a matter of course from their own, far less privileged, parents. Read full book review >
Released: May 10, 1993

"By combining expert legal discussion with affecting personal memoir, Bartholet offers an important exploration of the societal barriers to adoption, as well as invaluable support to would-be parents who face these seemingly insurmountable obstacles."
A seminal volume on the worldwide mindset that allows orphaned or unwanted children to waste away in institutions while childless adults struggle to breach the barriers that keep them from building families. Read full book review >

STONEWALL by Martin Duberman
Released: May 6, 1993

"An important and absorbing addition to gay studies. (B&w photos—not seen)"
An engrossing—and long-overdue—look at one of the seminal events in the history of gay activism: the Stonewall Riots of June 27-July 2, 1969. Read full book review >
Released: May 5, 1993

"With an introduction by Paul Monette and an afterword by Fred (Mister) Rogers: A virtuous, unflinching, and unsentimental account of one boy's courage amid some of the world's worst cruelties."
Extraordinary autobiography of child abuse, nomadic street life, and, finally, AIDS—written with uncommon sophistication by a 14-year-old. Read full book review >
Released: May 3, 1993

"Fishman attempts to examine feminism's impact on too many aspects of Jewish life, and the subsequent lack of focus weakens her thesis—which, in any case, will appeal most strongly to those already committed to both feminism and traditional Judaism."
An uneven analysis by Fishman (a senior research associate at Brandeis), who argues here—only sometimes convincingly—that feminism has brought a 'breath of life' into a faltering American Jewish community. Read full book review >

Released: May 3, 1993

"Still, their friends and caregivers will want to know about it, and the basic premise will be welcome to many."
A study of divorced older women that has important things to say to them—above all, that their lives may just be beginning anew after the long hiatuses of their marriages. Read full book review >
CHICAGO JAZZ by William Howland Kenney
Released: May 1, 1993

"A worthy bringing-back of Chicago's Roaring Twenties, with the jazz history layered like beds of coal beneath the phonograph recordings. (Twenty halftones)"
Cultural history of early Chicago jazz, less anecdotal than social, told in an impersonal voice that distances the reader from the music but strives to dig beneath an ``isolated world of instrumental mastery, chord progressions, and orchestral formations and disintegrations.'' A rousing history of Chicago jazz that buries its nose in the fumes and funk of the cafes and dance halls, in other words, is not what one gets here—or, rather, is what one gets only when Kenney (American Studies/Kent State) quotes leading figures in their own voices. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1993

"Harris has an eye for detail that many novelists might envy, and a fine prose style—qualities that, combined with the powerful subject matter here, result in an energetic and emotionally satisfying work."
Harris's continuing search for his identity as a black American, previously documented in Mississippi Solo (1988) and Native Stranger (1992), now takes him on a compelling motorcycle journey through the American South. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1993

Spark's autobiography takes her from her Edinburgh childhood in the 20's to just after the publication of her first novel, The Comforters, in the 50's. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1993

"T'is no pity she was a whore—but a writer she is not. (Photographs—not seen)"
The title should read Cop to Call Girl to Confessor, since Almodovar—who quit the LAPD in 1982 in order to hook—has apparently given up the life in order to tell all ``and make millions of dollars.'' The money may be forthcoming—but critical raves likely won't. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1993

"Sharply observed, literate travel writing that drives home just how big—and big-souled—this country really is. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs, one map—not seen)"
Duncan's Out West (1987), which retraced the route of Lewis and Clark, took the author to some remote locales—but to nothing like the outposts of civilization that he reports on in this solid, well-informed survey of the 132 counties in the American West that have population densities of fewer than two people per square mile. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1993

"In spite of the confused motives: an exhaustive and provocative work, already creating a stir. (Eighteen halftones)"
Direct, brief, well-informed, and polemical (``How will Americans respond to the news that Huck...was part black?''), Fishkin (American Studies/University of Texas, Austin) provides a questionable but dramatic genealogy of Huckleberry Finn's African- American ancestors as a gesture toward ``desegregating'' American literary history. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
H.W. Brands
October 11, 2016

As noted historian H.W. Brands reveals in his new book The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War, at the height of the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman committed a gaffe that sent shock waves around the world. When asked by a reporter about the possible use of atomic weapons in response to China's entry into the war, Truman replied testily, "The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has." This suggested that General Douglas MacArthur, the willful, fearless, and highly decorated commander of the American and U.N. forces, had his finger on the nuclear trigger. A correction quickly followed, but the damage was done; two visions for America's path forward were clearly in opposition, and one man would have to make way. Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. General MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The contest of wills between these two titanic characters unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of a faraway war and terrors conjured at home by Joseph McCarthy. “An exciting, well-written comparison study of two American leaders at loggerheads during the Korean War crisis,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >