Social Sciences Book Reviews (page 630)

HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Dec. 16, 1991

"A fine, example-filled account of how different times and different mores produce different psychosomatic illnesses."
Like other cultural phenomena, psychosomatic illnesses are subject to changes in fashion; here, Shorter (The Healthy Century, 1987, etc.) has applied his considerable skill in researching medical history to an examination of these trends from the mid-18th century to the present. Read full book review >
EDGE CITY by Joel Garreau
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 10, 1991

"Still, a provocative work that brings to popular attention a major restructuring that is, as Garreau says, all around us but largely ignored by professional architects and planners."
After the suburbanization of America in the 50's, when people followed new highways out to new one-family homes, came the malling of America in the 60's and 70's and then, in the 80's, the high- rise office buildings that brought the jobs suburb-ward and added critical mass to dozens of ``urban'' clumps now bigger than many of the major old cities they surround. Read full book review >

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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 26, 1991

"While the women in question exert a pull on the popular imagination, Smith's rewarmed capsule bios and shallow psychological speculation provide neither insight nor entertainment. (Photographs.)"
What quality do women who've had multiple attachments to famous men share? ``Ordinariness,'' theorizes Smith (Doctor's Wives, 1980, etc.) in this flimsy study: They're ``the kind of women you pass pushing shopping carts to the market.'' Famous men are concentrating emotional energy on their work, Smith says, so a woman ``who wishes to please such a man must practice tremendous self-denial...Her importance to him becomes her sole source of self-satisfaction.'' Fifteen case histories follow, put together from secondary sources and an occasional interview; few of the profiles bear out Smith's thesis. Read full book review >
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

"Haute twaddle."
To see the world in a grain of sand might be within the powers of a Blake, but realists may doubt whether a high-tech consultant and his collaborator can accurately assess a generational subgroup and its impact on American society on the basis of 300 or so interviews over a seven-year period, plus ancillary statistical data. Read full book review >
HENRY AND CLARE by Ralph G. Martin
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

"Compelling, despite its flaws, with much scandalous detail. (Two 16-page photo inserts—not seen.)"
A dual biography of one of the ultimate ``power couples,'' which offers an abundance of juicy gossip leavened by some first- rate research and analysis. ``To the world,'' notes Martin (Golda, 1988; Charles & Diana, 1985, etc.), ``the Luces represented the peak of power, the ultimate American dream''—but, as he constantly stresses, beneath the glittering facade they endured a frequently miserable mismatch ``tarnished by constant competition, sharp cuts, and deep hurt.'' On the one hand there was the conscientious, shy, missionaries' son who co-founded (at 24) and remained the controlling force of Time Inc. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 1, 1999

"A tribute to the hard work and dedication of a forgotten hero in the battle for civil rights."
A fascinating chronicle that fills in an important but often overlooked gap in the early civil rights movement's history. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Melissa Sweet
author of SOME WRITER!
September 26, 2016

“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, two-time Caldecott Honor winner and 2014 Kirkus Prize finalist Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White's granddaughter. “Like Charlotte, Sweet spins a terrific story,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. “A masterful biography that will enchant young readers.” View video >