Social Sciences Book Reviews (page 626)

CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 6, 1991

"Feiler's first book (which, the publisher says, is the first book written by a Westerner who has taught in Japanese schools) is warm, intimate, and often very funny, bringing much-needed insight into Japanese grass-roots culture and the role of education in that land."
A young North American spends a year teaching in a rural Japanese school, where he watches day-to-day life with a delighted, observant eye. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 4, 1991

"Moreover, like the GOP, Brown doesn't discuss the S&L debacle, deficits, or any evidence counter to his claim that the GOP serves the economic self-interest of the middle class."
Polemic arguing that the Democratic Party is headed for the dustbin of history because the core electorate—the white middle- class—perceives it as dominated by minority concerns. Read full book review >

MAKE-BELIEVE MEDIA by Michael Parenti
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Sept. 2, 1991

"Prickly analysis, peppered with the remains of neatly dissected cultural icons."
Having previously taken aim at, among other topics, American foreign policy (The Sword and the Dollar, 1988) and media propaganda techniques (Inventing Reality, 1986), veteran progressive critic Parenti now delivers a swift kick to the assumption that American mass entertainment, although vapid, remains basically harmless. Read full book review >
ALL BUT THE WALTZ by Mary Clearman Blew
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

"A superbly realized vision."
In her first essay collection, Blew (a story collection, Runaway, 1990—not reviewed) joins the top echelon with 11 virtuoso pieces on life and death on the Montana Plains. Read full book review >
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 >
Kirkus Interview
Luis Alberto Urrea
April 21, 2015

Examining the borders between one nation and another, between one person and another, Luis Alberto Urrea’s latest story collection, The Water Museum, reveals his mastery of the short form. This collection includes the Edgar-award winning "Amapola" and his now-classic "Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses," which had the honor of being chosen for NPR's "Selected Shorts" not once but twice. Urrea has also recently published a poetry collection, Tijuana Book of the Dead, mixing lyricism and colloquial voices, mysticism and the daily grind. We talk to Urrea about both of his new books this week on Kirkus TV. View video >