Reviews | Short Takes
Bringing Indians to the Book. By Albert Furtwangler ’64. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 2005. 232 pp. $22.50 paperback.
In 1831 a delegation of Northwest Indians reportedly made the arduous journey from the shores of the Pacific to the banks of the Missouri in order to visit the famous explorer William Clark. This delegation came, however, not on civic matters but on a religious quest, hoping, or so the reports ran, to discover the truth about the white men’s religion. The story of this meeting inspired a drive to send missionaries to the Northwest. Bringing Indians to the Book recounts the experiences of these missionaries and of the explorers on the Lewis and Clark Expedition who preceded them. Furtwangler is a professor emeritus at Mount Allison University.
The Daily Prayer of the Church. Edited by Philip Pfatteicher ’57. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lutheran University Press, 2005. 1,609 pp. $49.50 hardcover.
This complete prayer book includes text and music, an enriched calendar of festivals and commemorations and more. It is intended to be used whole or in part by clergy and laity alike. Pfatteicher, who was a member of the Liturgical Text Committee of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, has served in Lutheran parishes in Philadelphia and New York, and is currently serving as associate pastor of First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh and adjunct professor of sacred music at Duquesne University.
Dictionary Days. By Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture Ilan Stavans. Saint
Paul, Minn.: Graywolf Press, 2005. 256 pp. $17 hardcover.
A dictionary, despite its heroic effort to pin down language, is destined for failure the moment a single word is printed; language, with its eternal mutations, is forever uncontainable. In Dictionary Days, Stavans explores our very human need to “seize upon the meaning of a word.” Owner of hundreds of dictionaries, he follows a fascinating, zigzagging history of lexicography across many languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin and Cyrillic. Throughout his journey, Stavans spots strange inconsistencies, uncovers unusual origins and shares extraordinary and often hilarious anecdotes.
Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning. By Tripp Friedler ’82. New Orleans, La.: Trost Publishing, 2005. 118 pp. $19.95 hardcover.
Free Gulliver is a little book for big people. The book is designed to help slice through those problems that keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were put on this earth to do: that natural talent you can’t afford to pursue (not until you pay down your debts, not until the kids are in school, not until the kids are in college, not until you retire—Lilliputian-sized things keeping you from the life you love). Through interactive exercises, Free Gulliver aims to help the reader get moving toward delayed goals and dreams.
The Georgics of Virgil. Translated by David Ferry ’46. New York City: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. 202 pp. $30 hardcover.
John Dryden called Virgil’s Georgics, written between 37 and 30 B.C., “the best poem by the best poet.” Newly rendered by Ferry, a poet and translator, the Georgics celebrates crops, trees and animals—and, above all, the human beings who care for them. It takes the form of teaching about this care: the tilling of fields, the tending of vines, the raising of cattle and bees. Ferry is the winner of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.
The Gift of Science: Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition. By Roger Berkowitz ’90. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005. 222 pp. $49.95 hardcover.
A sweeping, revisionist account of 300 years of jurisprudence, this book examines the historical and philosophical roots of today’s legal crisis, drawing on major figures from the traditions of law, philosophy and history. The author suggests that law’s subordination to science has transformed law from an ethical order into a tool for social and economic ends. Berkowitz taught political science and law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst from 2000 to 2004. He now teaches at Bard College.
If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? By Melissa Kantor ’91. New York City: Hyperion, 2005. 283 pp. $15.95 paperback.
In her second novel, Kantor delivers humor and romance as she explores the struggle of finding your real prince, and, more importantly, yourself. Kantor’s previous novel, Confessions of a Not It Girl, received critical acclaim, including a spot in Booklist’s “Top Ten Romance Novels for Youths” in 2005. Kantor is a high school teacher in Brooklyn.
Louis Johnson and the Arming of America: The Roosevelt and Truman Years. By Keith D. McFarland and David Roll ’62. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2005. 452 pp. $35 hardcover.
As Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s assistant secretary of war, Louis Johnson was the architect of the industrial mobilization plans that put the nation on a war footing prior to its entry into World War II. Later, as Truman’s secretary of defense, Johnson was given the difficult job of unifying the armed forces and carrying out Truman’s orders to dramatically reduce defense expenditures. In both administrations, he was asked to confront and carry out extremely unpopular initiatives—massive undertakings that each president believed were vital to the nation’s security and economic welfare. This book tells the story of Johnson and his role in the two administrations, offering fresh insights into the core beliefs, political and leadership skills and the strengths and weaknesses of two of America’s greatest chief executives. Roll is a Steptoe & Johnson partner whose practice focuses on antitrust and regulatory law and litigation.
The Man Everybody Knew: Bruce Barton and the Making of Modern America. By Richard M. Fried ’63. Chicago:
Ivan R. Dee, 2005. 275 pp. $27.50 cloth.
Fried’s biography captures the full dimensions of Barton’s varied and fascinating life. More than a popularizer of the entrepreneurial Jesus, he was a prolific writer—of novels, magazine articles, interviews with the mighty, pithy editorials of uplift. He edited a weekly magazine that anticipated the format of Life. Most famously, he co-founded the advertising agency that became Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn and grew to symbolize Madison Avenue. He made GM and GE household initials. Barton’s religious writings, especially The Man Nobody Knows, epitomized modernist religious thought in the 1920s—at one point he had two religious books on the bestseller list. Fried is a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
On the Integration of Nature: Post-9/11 Biopolitical Notes. By Richard Grossinger ’66. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books, 2005. 315 pp. $15.95 paperback.
In his new book, Grossinger addresses life issues in almanac fashion with brief essays, science fiction tales, nonfiction narratives, obituaries, post-glacial landscapes, political editorials, music and book reviews and Buddhist commentary. Grossinger and his wife are the founding publishers of North Atlantic Books.
Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture. Edited by Rebecca L. Stein ’91 and Ted Swedenburg. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005. $24.95 paperback.
This book rethinks the conventional parameters of Middle East studies through attention to popular cultural forms, producers and communities of consumers. The volume has a broad historical scope, ranging from the late Ottoman
period to the second Palestinian uprising, with a focus on cultural forms and processes in Israel, Palestine and the
refugee camps of the Arab Middle East. Contributors consider the ways that Palestinian and Israeli popular culture influence and are influenced by political, economic, social and historical processes in the region. At the same time, they follow the circulation of Palestinian and Israeli cultural commodities and imaginations across borders and checkpoints and within the global marketplace. Stein is an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University.
The Sage of Sugar Hill: George S. Schuyler and the Harlem Renaissance. By Assistant Professor of Black Studies and American Studies Jeffrey B. Ferguson. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005. 320 pp. $40 cloth.
This book is the first to focus a bright light on the life and early career of George S. Schuyler, one of the most important intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. A popular journalist in black America, Schuyler wielded a sharp, double-edged wit to attack the foibles of both blacks and whites throughout the 1920s. Ferguson presents a new understanding of Schuyler as public intellectual while also offering insights into the relations between race and satire during a formative period of African-American cultural history.
Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite’s Half Dome. By Robert Madgic ’60. Springfield, N.J.: Burford Books, 2005. 264 pp. $24.95 hardcover.
On the evening of July 27, 1985, five hikers made a fateful choice to climb Yosemite’s fabled Half Dome, even as the sky darkened and thunder rolled. By night’s end, two would be dead from a lightning strike, three gravely wounded, and desperate EMTs would be overseeing a harrowing midnight helicopter rescue. Madgic chronicles the complete story with the aid of those involved in the disaster. A Half Dome climbing veteran, Madgic lives in Anderson, Calif.
Silver Kings. By James Guetti ’59. New York City: iUniverse, 2005. 214 pp. $15.95 paperback.
Guetti’s novel tells the story of a man’s persistent search—against the tides and constraints of more ordinary life—for independence and discovery. His ultimate discovery is that for him, this search was necessary, and that despite the losses, his memories are his reward. Guetti lives in Leverett, Mass.
Updike: America’s Man of Letters. By Henry Clay Folger Professor of English William H. Pritchard ’53. Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005.
350 pp. $22.95 paperback.
By the time he was 28, John Updike had published a collection of poetry, a collection of short stories and a novel. Over the next four decades he continued in these forms, along with criticism and reviews of literature and painting; in memoirs; and in commentary on his own writing. This paperback edition of Pritchard’s examination of Updike’s
life and work contains a new preface.
The Empress Josephine: Art and Royal Identity. By Carol Solomon Kiefer, curator of European art. Amherst, Mass.: Trustees of Amherst College, 2005. 116 pp. $35.95 paperback.
This catalog for the recent exhibition at the Mead Art Museum celebrates, in the words of Mead director Jill Meredith, “a remarkable individual who survived a tumultuous era to emerge as a royal consort and guiding intelligence behind the politics and cultural trends” of a new regime. Featuring essays by exhibition curator Carol Solomon Kiefer; Bernard Chevallier, director of the Musée de Malmaison in Rueil-Malmaison, France; and Alain Pougetoux, conservateur du patrimoine at Malmaison, the book also includes nearly 90 artworks. Handsomely designed and beautifully printed, the book provides an insightful overview of a fascinating life.
—Compiled by Samuel Masinter ’04