Review | Short Takes
Anthony Dias Blue’s Pocket Guide to Wine 2007. By ANTHONY DIAS BLUE ’62. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 384 pp. $15 paperback.
The second edition of this annual guide, due to be published this fall, is designed to take the confusion out of buying wine. “It is not geared toward high-end connoisseurs with deep pockets and unlimited cellar space,” Blue writes in the preface to last year’s guide. “It avoids ‘wine-speak.’ It eschews snobbery.” Organized by region, the book focuses on American wines and up-and-coming wine regions around the world, including in Israel, Lebanon, China and India. Blue is the 2001 winner of the James Beard Award for his daily radio spot.
Conversations with August Wilson. Edited by JACKSON R. BRYER ’59 and Mary C. Hartig. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 2006. 260 pp. $20 paperback.
This volume is a collection of interviews that playwright Wilson gave from 1984 to 2004. Wilson, who died in 2005, wrote 10 plays depicting African-American life, each work set in a different decade of the 20th century. Two of the plays—Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990)—won the Pulitzer Prize. Some critics have called Wilson the most significant American playwright since Edward Albee. In the interviews he calls for more black theater companies and talks about his major influences, including James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka. Bryer is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Maryland.
Cooperstown, Otsego and the World As Seen By the Badger. By ROBERT B. SEAVER ’46. Cooperstown, N.Y.: Pilar Press, 2005. 261 pp. $18 paperback.
The more than 100 tales, observations and histories in this collection first appeared in the Freeman’s Journal, a weekly newspaper in upstate Cooperstown, N.Y. In the book are 30 years of Seaver’s musings as a columnist for the paper. Topics include local cheese factories and golf courses, World War I aviators, autumn leaves and spring gardening. Seaver died in March after a long career as a teacher.
Cutting Remarks: Insights and Recollections of a Surgeon. By SIDNEY M. SCHWAB ’66, M.D. Berkeley, Calif.: Frog Ltd., 2006. 240 pp. $15.95 paperback.
This memoir centers on Schwab’s internship and residency in general surgery at the University of California at San Francisco in the 1970s. It also touches on his years in medical school and his detour into the Vietnam War. Schwab writes from behind the scenes about how the medical profession has changed over the past several decades, noting, for example, that surgeons today need to perform more operations because insurance reimbursement has declined by half. In one chapter, Schwab writes about a father who donated a kidney to his 10-year-old daughter, only to have the girl’s body reject the organ. “At night when I visited [the girl],” Schwab writes, “she sobbed from somewhere I couldn’t reach, for herself, for her dad, for the reappearance of the dialysis machine. I sat, listened and gave her my hand.”
The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. By Bobby Henderson, illustrated by TIM MAK ’02. New York City: Villard, 2006. 192 pp. $13.95 paperback.
Mak did the line drawings, including an image of a crab-like monster with spaghetti legs, for this spoof on Intelligent Design. The book, with a cover designed to look like a Bible, was nominated for a Quill Award in the humor category.
In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture. By TED MERWIN ’90. New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers University Press, 2006. 215 pp. $23.95 paperback.
Merwin argues in this volume that American Jewish popular culture was born in the 1920s in New York City, the creative epicenter of the Jazz Age. During that period second-generation Jews moved out of the city’s Lower East Side and “made it” on the vaudeville circuit and on Broadway. “Why scholars have chosen to ignore such a vital period in the history of Jewish entertainment is mystifying,” Merwin writes in the introduction. He contends that Jewish entertainers from the 1920s, like Fanny Brice and George Jessel, laid the groundwork for Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld and other contemporary Jewish cultural icons. Merwin is a professor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He has served as theater critic for The Jewish Week, and his reviews have appeared in The New York Times.
Java Concurrency in Practice. By BRIAN GOETZ ’87 with other authors. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2006. 384 pp. $49.99 paperback.
This book teaches Java techies how to build reliable, scalable, maintainable concurrent applications. “This is the book you need if you’re writing—or designing, or debugging, or maintaining or contemplating—multithreaded Java programs,” writes reviewer Ted Neward, an expert in the field. “You owe it to yourself and your users to read this book, cover to cover.” Goetz has been a software consultant for 20 years.
The Practice of Federal Criminal Law: Prosecution and Defense. By Harry I. Subin, Barry Berke and ERIC TIRSCHWELL ’88. St. Paul, Minn.: Thomson/West, 2006. 599 pp. $64 paperback.
This textbook presents each stage of a federal criminal investigation through the lens of a hypothetical case. It walks the reader through investigative strategies, arrest, the indictment process and plea bargaining. It also details the stages of a trial, including opening statements, direct and cross-examinations, closing arguments, jury deliberations and sentencing. Tirschwell has served as an assistant U.S. attorney and is now a partner at a private firm, where he focuses his practice on white-collar defense.
Railway Man’s Son. By HUGH HAWKINS, Anson D. Morse Professor of History and American Studies, Emeritus. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2006. 196 pp. $24.95 hardcover.
Hugh Hawkins was 7 years old when his father’s job with the Rock Island Railroad forced his family to relocate to far western Kansas. Before he turned 12, the family had lived in three “Rock Island towns.” In this memoir, the longtime Amherst professor recalls his childhood in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression—and also offers insight into the meaning of family, the nature of memory and the complexities of class.
Seeing America: Painting and Sculpture from the Permanent Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. Edited by Marjorie B. Searl, with three essays by PETER O. BROWN ’62. Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2006. 316 pp. $65 paperback.
In this catalog, Brown writes about three 19th-century paintings—View of West Point by Thomas Chambers, Portrait of Colonel Nathaniel Rochester by an unknown artist and Shooting Flamingoes by George Catlin. Brown has been a member of the gallery’s board of managers for 34 years and has served as its president and chairman.
Shameless: Sexual Dissidence in American Culture. By ARLENE STEIN ’80. New York City: New York University Press, 2006. 211 pp. $21 paperback.
“American culture,” Stein writes in this book, “is a curious mix of the shameless and the shamers, a seemingly endless parade of Pamela Andersons and Jerry Falwells strutting their stuff and wagging their fingers.” Living in San Francisco in the 1980s, Stein witnessed the rise of HIV, the emergence of gay and lesbian politics and debates about female sexuality. Shameless takes on the sexual contradictions of U.S. culture and reviews the changes in gay rights since the 1970s, including what Stein considers a rise in homophobia in conservative politics and an unprecedented attack on sexual freedom today. Stein is an associate professor of sociology and women’s studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Three Bhakti Voices: Mirabai, Surdas and Kabir in Their Times and Ours. By JOHN STRATTON HAWLEY ’63. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2005. 439 pp. $39.95 hardcover.
Hawley, a scholar of Hindi language and literature, researched and wrote this collection of essays over two decades. The book is a study of three poet-saints—Mirabai, Surdas and Kabir—who transformed the landscape of North Indian religion in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is aimed at readers who are interested in bhakti, which is a southern Asian devotional movement, and in the evolution of North Indian cultural motifs and institutions. Hawley is a professor of religion at Barnard College in New York City.
Winter Soldiers. By the Winterfilm Collective, including FREDERICK ARONOW ’67. New York City: New Yorker Video, 2006. 95 minutes. $24.95 DVD.
In this 1972 documentary, released this year on DVD, U.S. veterans provide public testimony on the atrocities they personally committed or witnessed during the Vietnam War. The movie is an oral history that also features official newsreel clips and still photographs, including, according to a 1972 New York Times review, one of a triumphant GI standing at the head of someone he’d just murdered.