Contributing reviewers Nell Altizer, Patricia Angley, Alana Bell, Judith Coullie, Michael Fassiotto, Douglas Hilt, Noel Kent, Gabriel Merle, Dawn Morais, Forrest R. Pitts, and Barbara Bennett Peterson provided the excerpts for this issue.
Publications reviewed include the American Quarterly, American Scientist, Far Eastern Economic Review, (Toronto) Globe and Mail, Guardian Weekly, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of World History, Le Monde des Livres, New York Review of Books (NYRB), New York Times Book Review (NYTBR), Pacific Historical Review, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Science, Washington Post National Weekly Edition (WP), and Women's Review of Books, and from South Africa, The Big Issue, Cape Times, City Press, The Herald, H-Net Book Review, Mmegi, New Contrast, Off the Bookshelf, Pretoria News, Saturday Dispatch, Saturday Star, Scrutiny2, Sowetan, The Spectator, Sunday Independent, The Star, True Love, and Witness.
An Pham Xuan
Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent. Larry Berman. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian/Collins, 2007. 328 pp. $25.95.
"Berman's book appears 32 years after the war, yet, amazingly, adds significantly to our understanding of what happened. Students of American failures—who have had so much new material to ponder—will be richly rewarded by reading this book. So will Le Carre fans—not for its style but for its remarkable substance."
Robert G. Kaiser. WP, Aug. 6–12, 2007: 38–39.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Perfect Hostage: A Life of Aung San Suu Kyi.Justin Wintle. London: Hutchinson, 2007. 336 pp. £18.99.
Since the author was unable to contact his under-house-arrest subject, "the result is less a Life than a history, in which the story of Aung . . . and herremarkable father, Aung San, architect of Burma's independence, runs like athread through a dense and detailed narrative." "If Perfect Hostage tells youdisappointingly little about Aung's real character or personal life, it provides aremarkable picture of what one individual can come to symbolize, given courage and endurance."
Caroline Moorhead. TLS, July 13, 2007: 9. [End Page 670]
The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Saartjie Baartman.Rachel Holmes. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2007. 239 pp. R155.
This story is inherently fascinating and littered with a diverse cast of highly unlikable characters, ranging from Baartman's lowly black master, to the foremost European scientist of the day, Georges Léopold Chrétien Cuvier, on whom Holmes performs a veritable hatchet job. Holmes's preoccupation with Baartman's relationship to paternalistic figures stands in the way of a fuller understanding of the European world in which the young South African moved. Had the history of Britain been more broadly told, The Hottentot Venus would be a better book, and Saartjie would be much plainer to see.
Caroline Elkins. Saturday Dispatch, Apr. 21, 2007: 23.
Born in South Africa in 1789, Saartjie Baartman, who performed under the name of 'the Hottentot Venus', became one of the most famous theatrical attractions of Georgian London. Exhibited like an animal by her masters (Dunlop, an English naval doctor and Cesars, his servant) for the entertainment of a paying crowd, she was routinely obliged to suffer sharp prods in the buttocks from her curious audience who 'wished to ascertain that all was natural'. Tears would roll silently down her face; the sighs she emitted on stage became as great a wonder as her Venusian form. A shocked Macaulay took Dunlop and Cesars to court, but he lost the case and they then departed for Paris, where slavery was legal. This is where her story becomes almost too horrible to bear. Taken over by a showman called Reaux, her schedule became unbearably demanding and she was frequently seen crying uncontrollably. Reaux drove her on mercilessly, plying her with brandy which furthered her descent into alcoholism and illness. After she died at the age of 26, her body was sold to evolutionists at the natural History Museum and Reaux became a rich man. . . . Holmes's biography is gripping and meticulously researched.
Zenga Longmore. The Spectator, Mar. 10, 2007 (online ed).
Ali: The Life of Ali Bacher.Rodney Hartman. Johannesburg: Penguin, 2006. 594 pp. R120.
Shining at cricket as a youth, and going on to captain one of South Africa's finest national teams, Ali Bacher went on to become a key administrator in the sport. Written by an award-winning sports journalist, the story is detailed and slick, at times reading like a thriller, at others like armchair history. It is a very compelling read.
Brendan Seery. Saturday Star, Nov. 18, 2006: 16. [End Page 671]
Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century.Mike Dash. New York: Crown, 2007. 449 pp. $24.95.
Dash "researched the case meticulously, and wisely incorporates into the story enough pertinent New York City history to provide context and atmosphere. Hence the duality of the book's title, in which Lieutenant Becker's is the trial of the century and 'Satan's Circus' refers to the name used by clergymen and reformers for the area New Yorkers always called the Tenderloin, which Dash describes as stretching from 23rd to 57th Street, between 6th and 10th Avenues."
Vincent Patrick. NYTBR, Sept. 9, 2007: 31.
Odyssey to Freedom. George Bizos. Johannesburg: Random House, 2007. 616 pp. R270.
Bizos's name is synonymous with the struggle against apartheid, playing a role in all major trials of the 50-year fight against the Nationalist state. Friend to Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Bizos acted as an advocate for their law firm long before Tambo escaped into exile and Mandela went on trial. Escaping from Greece during the Nazi occupation, the teenage Bizos eventually ended up in South Africa. . . . His memoirs provide a rare insight into the courts during the height of apartheid. Odyssey to Freedom is not just about South Africa's long journey to democracy: it is also the story of a young immigrant, battling to fit in. Even after South Africa attained democratic government, Bizos continued to fight for human rights in South Africa and Zimbabwe. This is a stunning account.
Kevin Ritchie. The Star, May 31, 2007: 24.
Blades: I'm Available: A Rugby Memoir.Hugh Bladen. Johannesburg: Zytek, 2007. 400 pp. R160.
The memoirs of this rugby flyhalf (rated in his heyday, four or so decades ago, as one of South Africa's best) are required reading for those with an interest in sport because they cover more than four decades in which he was involved in playing and then in the administration of rugby. However, the book could have done with the eye of a professional editor.
Brendan Seery. Saturday Star, Nov. 18, 2006: 16.
Blair, Tony. See Campbell, Alastair.
Willem Boshoff.Ivan Vladislavic. Johannesburg: David Krut, 2005. 128 pp. R157. [End Page 672]
Ivan Vladislavic's encounter with the art and persona of Willem Boshoff is characterized by a fine blend of joy, curiosity, delight and awe. Boshoff's responses to being alive in South Africa are expressed in forms that are complex beyond normal comprehension and consciousness. . . . The account of Boshoff's life and work begins as detailed, explicit, even wordy. But at the end of the book, Vladislavic's commentary quietly disappears, leaving the reader with pages of Boshoff's work to look at, alone. Vladislavic manages to look deeply into Boshoff's world without having to invoke glib explanations of Boshoff's particular forms or processes of creativity. Instead, manageable chunks of Boshoff's works are offered to the reader to consider, but with an awareness that there is always a powerful presence of the unexplained and the inexplicable.
Michael Gardiner. Scrutiny2 11.2 (2006): 113–16.
So This is the World & Here I Am In It.Di Brandt. Edmonton: NeWest, 2007. 244 pp. $24.95.
A collection of creative essays by Canadian poet, Di Brandt. "Brandt's Mennonite heritage bookends So This Is the World & Here I Am In It, the 10th publication in NeWest Press's Writer as Critic Series, and forms a midway investigation called Je jelieda, je vechied: [roughly: the more educated you are, the more corrupt]: Canadian Mennonite (Alter) Identifications. . . . When [Brandt] loves her own, when she cleaves to blood and bone, she writes some of the most ecstatic prose in Canadian letters."
J. S. Porter. Globe and Mail, Aug. 18, 2007: D2.
The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries.Alastair Campbell. London/New York: Hutchinson/Knopf, 2007. 794 pp. £25, $35.00.
"The truth has coloured much reaction to this book. But to those who remember the enthusiasm with which the world greeted Tony Blair in 1997, it is more than worthless propaganda. The inside looks at life on the Blair team are too raw and perceptive to be concocted, and Campbell is a lively writer. This [sic] result is a highly readable account of a defining decade in British politics."
Tim Luckhurst. Globe and Mail, Aug. 11, 2007: D8.
"Thousands of words in this diary are devoted to the tawdry trivia that drive a tabloid culture. Yet the consequences of the most fateful decision of our time—and what is probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in the history of the Anglo-American partnership—are left unexamined. That decision is one thing Alastair Campbell can't blame on the media."
James P. Rubin. NYTBR, Sept. 2, 2007: 22. [End Page 673]
"Many readers will dislike both the tone and the content of The Blair Years. . . . Campbell has sought, honourably by his own lights, to publish an interesting account of his nine years at Blair's side when it still has high market value; simultaneously, he has tried to minimize damage to his beloved Labour tribe. . . . Alistair Campbell has a good eyewitness's story to tell here. He tells half of it in terms at least as honest as those employed by his detractors."
Michael White. TLS, Aug. 17, 2007: 11.
Caraman, Frédéric Thomas De
Colonial Cambodia's "Bad Frenchmen": The Rise of French Rule and the Life of Thomas Caraman, 1840–87.Gregor Muller. New York: Routledge, 2006. 312 pp. $135.
"In Colonial Cambodia's 'Bad Frenchman', Gregor Muller utilizes new material from French, Vietnamese, and Cambodian archives to offer a unique and intriguing look at the rise of the French colonial state in Cambodia. He intertwines the French encroachment on Cambodia with a biographical narrative of Frédéric Thomas de Caraman, who envisioned himself at the center of the colonial enterprise and yet found himself at its margins. . . . Caraman's greed, arrogance, ignorance, racism, and overbearing sense of entitlement embody the core elements of the colonial spirit of the time in their extremity."
Chie Ikeya. Journal of Asian Studies 66.3 (Aug. 2007): 869–71.
Catherine Carswell: A Biography.Jan Pilditch. London: John Donald, 2007. 225 pp. £20.
"As the first full-length biography of Catherine Carswell, Pilditch's book is welcomed. Like Carswell's book on Burns, it is for 'good general readers.' But it is still not all that it might be."
Michael Lister. TLS, Aug. 10, 2007: 8.
Carvajal, José María De Jesús
José María de Jesús Carvajal: The Life and Times of a Mexican Revolutionary. Joseph E. Chance. San Antonio, TX: Trinity UP, 2006. 283 pp. $35.00.
"José María de Jesús Carvajal, born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1809 and mentored by Stephen F. Austin, spent his life fighting for Liberal reform in the turbulent nation of Mexico. His actions affected the Texas-Mexican border and U.S.-Mexican diplomacy, yet his name or actions are not commonly known to students of history. . . . From this superbly written biography, readers learn of the uncertainty Tejanos faced after the Texas Rebellion, failed attempts to oppose the Centralists by forming independent republics in Northern Mexico, Anglo American participation in Mexican rebellions, [End Page 674] and the actions the U.S. government undertook to curtail rebel activity along the border."
Ana Luisa Martinez. Pacific Historical Review 76.3 (Aug. 2007): 473–74.
The Man Who Discovered Flight: George Cayley and the First Airplane. Richard Dee. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007. 328 pp. $32.99.
"In this fascinating biography, which adroitly captures the conjunction of character and circumstance, English neuroscientist Richard Dee—who was born to a family of aviators and is currently in Canada conducting research on astronaut disorientation—sketches a portrait of [an early pioneer of flight] who deserves a loftier place in the history of aviation."
Jonathan Vance. Globe and Mail, July 7, 2007: D16.
Marc Chagall.Jonathan Wilson. New York: Nextbook/Schocken, 2007. $19.95.
"Wilson, the author of 'A Palestine Affair' and other books, depicts Chagall as a luftmensch—not in the word's metaphorical sense ('an individual overly involved in intellectual pursuits') but in its literal one: 'man of the air.'"
Tara McKelvey. NYTBR, Sept. 2, 2007: 19.
Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President.Stephen F. Hayes. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 578 pp. $27.95.
Hayes's book, "like so much surrounding Cheney, was a bit of a hush-hush undertaking, and some readers may wonder if Hayes, a conservative writer with an established view of the vice president (one of his articles was titled 'Dick Cheney Was Right'), is an appropriate author for this biography. But the access he received was unique. His nearly 30 hours with Cheney, including sessions on Air Force Two heading home from Afghanistan and Iraq, may equal the time the vice president has spent with all other journalists put together."
Carl M. Cannon. NYTBR, Sept. 2, 2007: 17.
"Hayes, a staff writer for the Weekly Standard, wrote a previous book attempting to prove a close pre-war connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Here, he offers highly selective versions of this and other Bush-era controversies, from unwarranted wiretapping to Hussein's alleged nuclear weapons programs. He makes no energetic effort to get inside the workings of the Bush administration and leaves out much of what is already known. While the first half of the book finds Cheney and Rumsfeld energetically plotting their way through Nixon and Ford White Houses, Rumsfeld, despite [End Page 675] his central role in the Bush administration, more or less disappears from the narrative after Cheney selects him as Bush's Defense secretary. Battles with Colin Powell and, to a lesser extent, with Condoleezza Rice that helped define the administration's national security policymaking are ignored or given short shrift."
Karen DeYoung. WP, July 30–Aug. 5, 2007: 38–39.
Churchill and the Jews.Martin Gilbert. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007. 359 pp. $39.99.
"Sir Martin Gilbert, the prolific historian and Churchill's official biographer, has been collecting material on this subject for nearly 40 years. No one knows this topic better, and readers of this volume will be persuaded . . . that the great man's affinity was both sincerely felt and tenaciously pursued. As to the explanation for this attachment, however, as to the influences that moved Churchill differently than so many others of his culture and upbringing, and as to how this fit with the rest of his world view, the story is incomplete."
Michael Marrus. Globe and Mail, July 14, 2007: D3.
Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency.Nigel Hamilton. New York: Public Affairs, 2007. 766 pp. $32.00.
"Hamilton is the author of a well-regarded biography of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and of 'JFK: Reckless Youth,' a salacious account of John F. Kennedy's early years. He has also written a similarly voyeuristic volume about Clinton, centering on his pre-White House personal life. Here Hamilton spends more time on Clinton's public record, but his true interest seems to lie more with psychodrama and sex scandals than with the mechanics of American politics."
Michael Crowley. NYTBR, Aug. 5, 2007: 13.
"Hamilton's m.o. is to lay out the facts as others have reported them, then freestyle his own analytical riffs, which are replete with oddish analogies, including lessons from Shakespeare, Machiavelli, 'Anna Karenina,' 'The Remains of the Day' and maybe Led Zeppelin II; I can't be sure about that last one. His writing, while brisk and clear, is likewise a tad strange. It's the rare presidential biographer who pockmarks his prose with exclamation points and modern-day slang."
Bryan Burrough. WP, July 30–Aug. 5, 2007: 38.
A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.Carl Bernstein. New York: Knopf, 2007. 628 pp. $27.95. [End Page 676]
Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, Jr. Boston: Little, Brown, 2007. 438 pp. $29.99.
"In the last month and a half, three extremely well-respected journalists have come out with two books that attempt to divine who the real Hillary might be. One, Carl Bernstein's 'Woman in Charge,' is plainly sympathetic, while the other, Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.'s 'Her Way,' is more severe. (If there's any doubt as to which is which, just consult the two book covers—Gerth and Van Natta's shows Hillary in, quite literally, a much harsher light.) Both go off the rails at the moments their grand unified theories can't quite accommodate the facts, and both practically narcotize readers when they descend into rote recapitulations of the Clinton scandals. But it's Bernstein who ultimately makes the sharper, more lasting impression, despite the soft-focus portrait of the junior senator from New York on his cover. While he plows some of the same emotional terrain as previous Hillary biographers—notably Gail Sheehy in 'Hillary's Choice'—his book holds together as a piece of writing, and he keeps the psychobabble to a merciful minimum. He also attempts to write a genuine biography, describing and interpreting the life Hillary has led and the varieties of forces that shaped her. Gerth and Van Natta are more apt to treat the former first lady as a supercomputer—unfeeling and cool to the touch, mutely calculating in binary code."
Adam Goodheart. NYTBR, Aug. 5, 2007: 6.
"Jeff Gerth is no stranger to executive-branch scandals. . . . He covered the Whitewater when he was a reporter for The New York Times, and his co-author, Don Van Natta Jr., is an investigative journalist for The Times who did no shortage of Lewinsky reporting himself. These experiences have heavily informed the sensibilities of 'Her Way.' (Cynics might add that Gerth's wife is a top foreign policy aide to Christopher Dodd, another Democratic presidential hopeful, but Gerth's Whitewater reporting seems far more influential in forming the book's biases.)"
Jennifer Senior. NYTBR, July 15, 2007: 8–9.
"Three decades have passed since Carl Bernstein wrote his last book on U.S. politics, 'The Final Days,' co-authored with Bob Woodward. But he has not lost his reporter's touch, and his new book, 'A Woman in Charge,' has already refocused serious questions—and supplied new information—about Hillary and Bill Clinton, their past behavior and their current ambitions to regain the White House." "In 'Her Way,' New York Times reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Jeff Gerth have painted the couple's unprecedented duality of skill and ambition even more boldly. The Clintons, they claim, sought and planned for sequential power: eight years in the White House for him, then eight years for her. Whether the authors' evidence holds up—denials have already been reported—remains to be seen. Taken together, however, these two volumes foreshadow what may well become a central issue of the 2008 [End Page 677] presidential campaign: In light of the endless deceits, interest-group baggage, messianic overtones and shameless money politics of the two Bush dynasts (presidents number 41 and 43), do American voters want to empower yet another dubious dynasty (Clinton presidents number 42 and 44)?"
Kevin Phillips. WP, June 25–July 8, 2007: 38.
Conan Doyle, Arthur
Conan Doyle: The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes.Andrew Lycett. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007. 525 pp
In the public mind Conan Doyle is forever associated with his cerebraldetective and loyal assistant Dr. Watson. Yet throughout his productive life Doyle considered himself foremost as the author of medieval tales and historical novels. For him, the Sherlock Holmesshort stories and the ghostly Hound of the Baskervilles were a welcome source of additional income until he tired of his own creation and had the detective conveniently killed, only to have to resuscitate him at the urging of his many readers, including Queen Victoria.But the reality of Doyle's life was much darker. As Lycett points outin his excellent biography, Doyle spent all his life pulled between thefactual and the imaginative. The central paradox of his life was his 'becoming a spiritualist so soon after creating the quintessentially rational Sherlock Holmes.' Through spiritualism, Doyle sought to contact the recently bereaved but also to insulate himself from daily reality. Much of his later writing was marked by strange theories such as The Coming of the Fairies and The Case for Spirit Photography. Nevertheless, he was a shrewd investor, and diedboth famous and wealthy.
Guardian Weekly, Oct. 5–11, 2007: 34–35.
Conedera, Bishop Juan Gerardi
The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? Francisco Goldman. New York: Grove, 2007. 396 pp. $25.00.
"Becoming by turns a little bit Columbo, Jason Bourne and Seymour Hersh, Goldman gives us the anatomy of a crime while opening a window to a misunderstood neighboring country that is flirting with anarchy. More, he offers an overdue indictment of brutal war criminals who were not just behind the one killing, but also contributed to a generation of atrocities."
Carolyn Curiel. NYTBR, Sept. 30, 2007: 8.
King of Infinite Space: Donald Coxeter, the Man Who Saved Geometry. Siobhan Roberts. New York: Walker, 2006. 272 pp. $27.95.
"It's a safe bet that few people outside of narrow mathematical circles have ever heard the name Donald Coxeter, despite the fact that many mathematicians regard him as the greatest geometer of the 20th century. His métier was [End Page 678] classical geometry—the study of those solids we encounter in high school. . . . But he found three dimensions confining. With little but his mind's eye to illuminate the terrain, Coxeter climbed into the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth dimensions to explore, construct and classify geometric objects according to their symmetry properties. Decades later, Coxeter's work is turning up in arcane fields such as string theory and microbiology. . . . The most engaging aspect of the book is its chronicle of the war between geometry and algebra, which pits Coxeter, geometry's David, against Nicolas Bourbaki [a secret society of French mathematicians], algebra's Goliath."
James Robert Brown. American Scientist 95.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2007): 179–81.
Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist.Lois Gordon. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. 447 pp. $32.50.
" . . . can we believe everything we read here? "Lois Gordon is too keen to establish Nancy's credentials as a siren, where there is no need." "There are numerous elementary errors." "Lois Gordon's book . . . adds little wisdom to [Anne Chisholm's 1979 biography] but it does tell an arresting story of interestingtimes."
Ariane Bankes. TLS, July 6, 2007: 34.
Brother, I'm Dying.Edwidge Danticat. New York: Knopf, 2007. 272 pp. $23.95.
"'A man who repudiates his language for another changes his identity,' wrote E. M. Cioran, a Romanian exile in Paris for nearly 60 years: 'He breaks with his memories and, to a certain point, with himself.' 'Brother, I'm Dying,' in its cool, understated way, begins to gesture in that direction. Danticat's father died shortly after Joseph [his brother] and was buried under the same tombstone; she imagines them together again in Beausejour [Haiti], reconciled and happy once more. But she makes no indication of how she might reconcile these shattering events with her own near-miraculous American odyssey. It's hard to imagine how anyone could."
Jess Row. NYTBR, Sept. 9, 2007: 1, 10.
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of the Theory of Evolution.David Quammen. New York: Norton, 2006. 304 pp. $22.95.
"The theory of evolution by natural selection, jointly proposed by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, is rightly regarded as the foundation stone of modern biology and underpins much of how the human race has come to [End Page 679] comprehend itself. . . . Darwin's interactions with Wallace are given clear-eyed examination: the subtle combination of panic, generosity, admiration, and regret that each man displayed toward the other is brought newly alive. . . . David Quammen's Reluctant Mr. Darwin is a complete delight."
Janet Browne. Science 314 (17 Nov. 2006): 1086–87.
C. Day-Lewis: A Life.Peter Sanford. London: Continuum, 2007. 384 pp. £25.
"Peter Sanford's useful book assembles a vast amount of background detail, butit is in other respects calamitous. . . . [H]e seldom makes critical or analytical use" of poems . . . his discussions of literary history . . . are rudimentary. The author's shortcomings are an occasion for sorrow."
Neil Powell. TLS, Aug. 17, 2007: 7.
De Lens, Aline R., Marie Lenéru, and Marguerite De Saint-Marceaux
Journal 1894–1927.Marguerite de Saint-Marceaux. Edited under the direction of Myriam Chimènes, preface by Michelle Perrot. Paris: Fayard, 2007. 1470 pp. Euro50.
Journal 1893–1918. "Je me sens devenir inexorable." Marie Lenéru. Preface and notes by François Broche. Ed. Bartillat, 2007. 290 pp. Euro22.
Journal 1902–1924. "L'amour, je le supplie de m'épargner." Aline R. de Lens. Text revised by Antoinette Weill, preface by Sapho. Ed. La Cause des Livres, 2007. 368 pp. Euro20.
In these three diaries, which appear at the same time, the great war was the central event. A world is collapsing and all alien concerns seem derisory. The diaries account for that collapse, and express sadness when a close relation dies of it. All three diarists belong to the rich, cultivated middle class. The parallel stops here. Marguerite de Saint-Marceaux's text shows little of the diarist's inner world. It is a (thorough, original) testimony on the cultural and social microcosm of the time. Conversely, both other diarists question their own lives and beings. A friend of Maurice Barrès, a reader of Nietzsche, endowed with a great vitality in spite of her handicap (she became deaf at 14), Marie Lenéru thinks that "great feelings come from the brain." In fact, she displays an unshakable spirit of independence. Aline R. de Lens is a complex personality. Besides her talent as a painter and writer, the great affair of her life was her chaste union with André Revillaud, whom she met in 1908 and married in 1911—a desire for purity not linked to any religious vow, which constitutes the surprise and finally the interest of that journal.
Patrick Kéchichian. Le Monde des Livres, July 06, 2007: 3.
Robert Desnos.Anne Egger. Paris: Fayard, 2007. 1166 pp. Euro42. [End Page 680]
Poet, creator of surprising images, always on an equal footing with the marvellous, Desnos (1900–1945) exercised—by vocation and necessity—all sorts of trades: script writer, cabaret singer, journalist. His culture on cinema, music, theatre, aviation and science was phenomenal. He belonged to the surrealist movement—for a while only, as he refused indoctrination: "I don't accept watchwords." His desire to be "not oneself but everyone" and his personal ethical values impregnate his lyrical poetry. For instance, as a radio man he invented in 1934 a program devoted to "the most beautiful dreams" of the listeners. He was faithful in love and friendship, whether with Yvonne Georges, Youki or Antonin Artaud. During the war he became involved in the resistance movement and died in a nazi camp on June 8, 1945. Anne Egger's biography is admirably meticulous. One may regret that the poet's trajectory should not emerge more clearly.
Renaud Ego. Le Monde des Livres, July 13, 2007: 7.
Serendipity Road.Catherine DeVrye. Toronto: McArthur, 2007. 374 pp. $24.95.
"[W]ho cannot empathize with another memoirist, Catherine DeVrye, given up by her biological mother and then left to fend for herself—again—after losing both adoptive parents suddenly when barely in her 20s? Memories, even tragic ones, however, are not sufficient justification for foisting them on the rest of us. . . . DeVrye's mangled metaphors are numbing, although she apparently enjoys great success in Australia as a motivational speaker."
Paula Todd. Globe and Mail, Aug. 11, 2007: D11.
Diana, Princess of Wales
The Diana Chronicles.Tina Brown. New York: Doubleday, 2007. 542 pp. $27.50.
"Diana's tragicomedy is Shakespearean in scale, with its slippery royal machinations, its agonized ironies, its seething jealousies and heartbreaking inevitability. Brown is no Shakespeare. But she gives us a walloping good read."
Diana McLellan. WP, July 9–15, 2007: 39.
The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. Michael Barrier. Berkeley: U of California P, 2007. 411 pp. $29.95.
Walt Disney: The Biography. Neal Gabler. London: Aurum, 2007. 700 pp. £25.
Gabler is the first biographer to have had complete access to the jealouslyguarded Disney archives. "Together Gabler and Barrier suggest a dull, cold, control freak, driven by capricious enthusiasms, a workaholic technophile [End Page 681] of little vivacity and no humour." They have "done their research: Barrier illuminates animation; while Gabler clarifies studio history."
Sarah Churchwell. TLS, Aug. 17, 2007: 23–24.
Du Toit, Natalie
Natalie du Toit: Tumble Turn.Tracey Hawthorne. Cape Town: Oshun, 2006. 208 pp. R133.
When the South African swimming sensation lost her leg in a scooter accident, no one believed she would walk again, never mind compete as a swimmer. But thanks to her indomitable spirit, du Toit dived straight back in and made history in 2002, competing in the 800m able-bodied freestyle Commonwealth Game final. This is an inspiring book.
True Love, Feb. 2007: 164.
Crossing the Borders of Power: The Memoirs of Colin Eglin.Colin Eglin. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2007. 364 pp. R225.
This autobiography is a vibrant account by the former leader of the Opposition (the Progressive Party) at the frontline of the long hard struggle from apartheid to democracy in South Africa during the second half of the 20th century. With his remarkably retentive memory, backed up by careful research, Eglin has recorded never before published discussions, interviews, stories and insightful impressions about his contemporaries.
Fiona Chisholm. Cape Times, Life, Mar. 20, 2007: 5.
The publication of Colin Eglin's autobiography is an important event in South African political and social history. It is rather more than the story of one man's life of singular achievement. It places the tumultuous half-century of apartheid rule in clear perspective, as seen from the vantage point of an intellectually gifted liberal. . . . Historians and a broader readership will find much to interest and intrigue them in this readable account.
Gerald Shaw. Cape Times, Apr. 20, 2007: 9.
Eichman, Adolf. See Petain, Philippe.
Einstein: His Life and Universe.Walter Isaacson. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 718 pp. $32.00.
"Walter Isaacson's enjoyable and informative new biography of Albert Einstein provides a popular and judicious account of the latest Einstein scholarship. Isaacson is the first Einstein biographer to have access to the trove of personal letters released under the terms of a bequest by Einstein's step-daughter Margot Einstein. . . . [F]or those who wish to read only the highlights and to [End Page 682] see the letters set in the context of Einstein's life, Isaacson's book provides an excellent summary.
Daniel Kennefick. American Scientist 95.5 (Sept.-Oct. 2007): 443–44.
AND Einstein: A Biography. Jürgen Neffe. Trans. Shelley Frisch. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007. 487 pp. $30.00.
"Two new books try to capture again [Einstein's] science, politics, and private life. . . . Isaacson and Neffe, both successful journalists, shared a privilege that their predecessors lacked: access to Einstein's most private correspondence that had remained closed in the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem until the summer of 2006. . . . Neffe interviewed a number of leading (mostly German) researchers whose work reflects themes of Einstein's physics. . . . Isaacson presents Einstein's ideas with greater clarity."
Jereoen van Dongen. Science 317 (10 Aug. 2007): 752–53.
Ike: An American Hero.Michael Korda. New York: Harper/HarperCollins, 2007. 779 pp. $34.95.
"In 'Ike,' Korda constantly keeps his subject's fluctuating moods in the forefront. His primary goal, apparently, is to humanize this mythic figure, and he succeeds. There are, however, no new historical revelations in these 779 pages; nor are old primary sources analyzed anew. Even key secondary sources like Russell R. Weigley's magnificent 'Eisenhower's Lieutenants' are flat-out ignored. Instead, Korda, who was editor in chief of Simon & Schuster for nearly 40 years, sets himself up as a kind of Anglophilic interpreter of Eisenhower, drawing on his own long-ago cold-war-era compulsory service in the Royal Air Force to support his understanding of World War II."
Douglas Brinkley. NYTBR, Sept. 30, 2007: 14.
15 Stars—Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall: Three Generals Who Saved the American Century. Stanley Weintraub. New York: Free Press, 2007. 541 pp. $30.00.
Partners in Command: George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace. Mark Perry. New York: Penguin, 2007. 472 pp. $29.95.
"These books by Weintraub and Perry are both competent studies. Neither breaks any notably new ground. The endnotes in both volumes include relatively few references to fresh, unpublished sources. Neither offers a startling angle or theme that alters our existing view of these famous generals. . . . Yet, though told before, the story of such incandescent, flawed men and their rivalries, tensions and triumphs will always attract readers. And as we absorb the worst news from Iraq, these two books allow us to ponder the crucial relationship that exists between a president and his top commanders."
Michael Beschloss. NYTBR, Aug. 5, 2007: 10. [End Page 683]
Total Cold War: Eisenhower's Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad. Kenneth Osgood. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2006. 506 pp. $45.00.
"Osgood persuasively argues that 'the imperative of shaping, influencing, and at times manipulating public opinion pervaded the entire U.S. approach to the Cold War' (p. 363). As a general, Eisenhower had come to fully appreciate how the power of ideas can affect the actions of men in combat. 'I am convinced that the expenditure of men and money in wielding the spoken and written word was an important contributing factor in undermining the enemy's will to fight' (p. 49). . . . Eisenhower employed both governmental and private-sector resources. Agencies such as the United States Information Agency (USIA) promoted bucolic images of life in the United States, where 'people's capitalism' permitted laborers and capitalists both to share in the wealth [and] the Atomic Energy Commission . . . conducted 'atoms for peace.'"
Kevin R. Kosar. Presidential Studies Quarterly 37.3 (Sept. 2007): 568–70.
The Man Who Forgot How to Read. Howard Engel. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2007. 157 pp. $24.95.
A memoir of the crime writer's experience with alexia sine agraphia ("word blindness") brought on by a stroke. Engel's book "charts a long journey as it recounts his bafflement, frustration, forbearance, and eventual triumph. It is emphatically clinical without being merely dry or technical as it describes how Engel and various doctors and therapists . . . dealt with the 'insult' to his brain."
Keith Garebian. Globe and Mail, Sept. 1, 2007: D13.
The Obsession: Tragedy in the North Atlantic.John Chipman. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2007. 243 pp. $32.00.
The story of Evensen's ill-fated yacht trip from Toronto to Norway. "As a window into the life of Thomas Evensen, a Canadian of Norwegian ancestry, The Obsession is an engrossing read; as a telling of the sailing expedition that led to Evensen's death, the book is a frustrating experience. . . . Unfortunately, the book is plagued by the steady appearance of distracting errors in geography, terminology and history. Some mistakes are just annoying to people familiar with boats, but they cloud any reader's understanding of the story."
Gordon Laco. Globe and Mail, Aug. 11, 2007: D10.
Everleigh, Ada and Minna
Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul.Karen Abbott. New York: Random House, 2007. 356 pp. $25.95.
"'Sin in the Second City,' a delicious history by Karen Abbott, makes a case [End Page 684] for the cultural importance of the Everleigh Club, which from 1900 to 1911 classed up the Levee district, the basest part of a town that rivaled Tammany Hall-era New York for corruption. The club played host to Theodore Dreiser, Prince Henry of Prussia and Jack Johnson, and served as a national example of decadence run amok."
Ada Calhoun. NYTBR, Aug. 12, 2007: 9.
The Iambics of Newfoundland: Notes from an Unknown Shore.Robert Finch. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2007. 270 pp. $29.95.
"Robert Finch, author of many naturalist books about Cape Cod, and editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing, is a truly wonderful guide. He combines the best qualities of the portraitist, travel writer, naturalist, historian, cultural commentator and wide-eyed innocent to give us a shifting, contingent, fragmentary, but lucid and living and true picture of Newfoundland and Labrador as it was at the close of this last century. . . . The Iambics of Newfoundland should be shelved with the best travel literature available to us."
Ken Babstock. Globe and Mail, Aug. 4, 2007: D10.
The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius.Joyce E. Chaplin. New York: Basic Books, 2006. 431 pp. $27.50.
"Franklin's fame as a scientist came from his legendary demonstration that lightning is electrical and from experiments that led to the principle of conservation. Chaplin's book, however, presents a many-decades-long example of something that might be just as important: how science and the rest of culture once interpenetrated deeply. . . . [T]he few minor inaccuracies in the book do not distract from her elegant demonstration of the unity of Franklin's scientific and civic activities."
H. Frederick Dylla. Science 315 (9 Feb. 2007): 768.
Frost, David. See Nixon, Richard.
Gagliano, Anna, and Mary Gordon
Circling My Mother.Mary Gordon. New York: Pantheon, 2007. 254 pp. $24.00.
"Gordon's mother, Anna Gagliano Gordon, was born in 1908; she died 94 years later in a world that had undergone the Great Depression, two World Wars and various 'revolutions' in civil rights, feminism and information. This book about her life portrays a strong, steadfast woman, along with an era of womanhood that is now gone." In this book, Gordon "focused her considerable literary skills on sculpting a sense of the complex relationships among [End Page 685] women—mothers, daughters, sisters, friends—in a revolutionary time when the traditional power of family was broken."
Marianne Apostolides. Globe and Mail, Aug. 25, 2007: D7.
"What's inspiring about 'Circling My Mother' is Gordon's deeply personal portrayal of her mother. Anna Gagliano is not someone who feels she must have large ideas about what's wrong with Catholicism. Instead, like those famous midcentury Catholics, Gordon's mother attends to the nourishment of her own particular religious vocation, a vocation less glamorous than Merton's and Day's but no less divine—a vocation as a single mother, as one afflicted by polio, as a woman in full belief of the love of God."
Darcey Steinke. NYTBR, Aug. 26, 2007: 1, 10.
Galbraith, John Kenneth
John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics.Richard Parker. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007. 820 pp. $35.00.
"Parker's massive book does more than narrate Galbraith's life. Much of the textis devoted to a well-written history of public-policy controversies since the 1930s, and economists' and politicians' thinking about them, together with all of the personalities involved."
Barbara R. Bergmann. TLS, Aug. 10, 2007: 25–26.
House of Happy Endings. Leslie Garis. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007. 339 pp. $25.00.
"Dramatically dysfunctional families have become a staple subject for memoirists. Fortunately, Garis, an accomplished magazine writer in her own right, has not written a book that attempts to settle old scores. It has taken her decades to bravely piece together a coherent narrative that makes sense to her and accounts for a great deal of suffering."
Joyce Johnson. NYTBR, Aug. 19, 2007: 7.
The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son. David Gilmour. Markham, ON: Thomas Allen, 2007. 242 pp. $27.95.
When the author's son dropped out of school at 16, Gilmour offered him "freedom from school and employment on the condition that the boy join him in watching and discussing a minimum of three feature films a week." Though overly focused on their relationships with women, "this book is meaningful, is insightful, is valuable. On a social level alone, it challenges our notions of education, of productivity, of high schools that have fallen catastrophically behind in their capability to inspire young men. It is, what's more, a compelling, often tender account of a parent's deep concern for his child."
Charles Wilkins. Globe and Mail, Sept. 29, 2007: D28. [End Page 686]
Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man.Dale Peterson. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 2006. 768 pp. $35.00.
"Peterson (a lecturer in Tufts University's English Department) provides an exhaustive chronology of [Goodall's] life to date. She was born in 1934 as Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall. Her father was a race-car driver for Aston Martin; he, too, loved to be on the go. Her mother, Vanne, came from a strongly matriarchal family that was a stable foundation during World War II and as the Morris-Goodall marriage fell apart. [Jane] attracted a bevy of men and was engaged to several. But she left them all in her dust when she sailed for Africa in 1957. . . . Goodall accepted employment with the notoriously lecherous Louis Leakey at the Kenya National Museums and not only foiled his ardor but managed to turn Leakey into a pillar of support. . . . [M]issing from this biography is any criticism. Peterson is a fan and apparently reluctant to interview anyone besides other fans."
Meredith F. Small. Science 315 (16 Mar. 2007): 1498–99.
No Cold Kitchen: A Biography of Nadine Gordimer.Ronald Suresh Roberts. Johannesburg: STE, 2005. 733 pp.
The relationship of the once-authorized biographer to his subject terminated rancorously, allegedly because of unwanted delving into her personal affairs, the naming of names, and general intrusion beyond the confines of his mandate. Described . . . as a graduate of Balliol College Oxford and Harvard Law School, those who have met Roberts nevertheless tend to agree that he is an "egregious carpetbagger." In this text, Roberts links Gordimer's individualism to an anti-Americanism which, vindictively, is turned against her. Roberts's reliance on Stephen Clingman's pioneering study of Gordimer's creativity is inadequately honoured. And Roberts finds contradictions everywhere, suggesting his incomplete understanding of the imagination of any writer.
Peter Wilhelm. New Contrast 34.3 (2006): 72–79.
Greene, Belle De Costa
An Illuminated Life: Belle de Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Privilege.Heidi Ardizzone. New York: Norton, 2007. 580 pp. $35.00.
"The first book-length biography of Greene, 'An Illuminated Life' aims to revive this fascinating woman for posterity. Greene destroyed most of her papers before she died, and the author consulted thousands of sources for 'clues to Belle's social life and experiences.' But despite the thoroughness of Ardizzone's research, her repetitive prose often prevents her from telling Greene's story in an engaging way."
Caroline Weber. NYTBR, July 22, 2007: 16. [End Page 687]
Hawking, Stephen, and Jane Hawking
Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.Jane Hawking. Richmond, Surrey, UK: Alma Books, 2007. 403 pp. $32.95.
"Jane Hawking's memoir is an account of her 25-year marriage to Stephen and its very public end, when Stephen left to live with one of his nurses. Jane believes she was unfairly cast as the villain of the story by Stephen, his family and the media. The 403-page book is a justification of just about every aspect of her relationship with Stephen. Sometimes self-pitying, it is also insightful, compassionate and frequently moving. (Be aware that Travelling to Infinity is actually a slightly abridged version of Jane Hawking's Music to Move the Stars: A Life with Stephen, originally published in 1999.)
Kurt Kleiner. Globe and Mail, Aug. 18, 2007: D3.
How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living From Kate the Great. Karen Karbo. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007. $19.95.
"Despite lapses, the book captures Hollywood mores ('When asked why he wouldn't allow Hepburn top billing, Tracy replied, "This is a movie, not a lifeboat"') and largely succeeds as an hommage to 'Miss Hepburn,' who is, as one critic says, 'vivid, varying little, adored by a vast public.'"
Tara McKelvey. NYTBR, Sept. 2, 2007: 19.
The Inner Circle: Reflections on the Last Days of White Rule. Jan Heunis. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2007. 207 pp. R130.
Jan Heunis, son of the former National Party minister, joined the South African Department of Foreign Affairs as legal advisor after graduating from Stellenbosch. Now he's penned the most undiplomatic memoirs I've come across for the period immediately prior to the end of white rule. Nor is he shy of making highly personal comments and imputations about the noxious characters who then infested the corridors of power. His entirely justified tribute to his father as a reformist will not appeal to moral absolutists who like to portray all Nat supporters as depraved racist oppressors, but for this reviewer it confirms the view that we're all rather more complicated. Some reservations notwithstanding, I recommend this book as a valuable contribution to our understanding of South Africa's transition to democracy.
James Mitchell. The Star: Tonight, June 14, 2007: 10.
Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940–1941.Ian Kershaw. New York: Penguin, 2007. 624 pp. $35.00.
"Within 483 pages of text, that's a lot to get through, and for that reason [End Page 688] 'Fateful Choices' sometimes feels like a college textbook's survey history. At times the chewy prose is very slow slogging. Kershaw's analysis centers on the process of decision making, the war of memos and meetings and—particularly with Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini—the influence of personality and absolute power in leading up to disastrous choices."
Vince Rinehart. WP, Aug. 20–26, 2007: 38–39.
Twilight Journey: One Man's Journey to Find his Roots.Berkeley: U of California P, 2006. 329 pp. $24.95.
Scholars invested in transnational and comparative research can only dream of documenting lives like David Houze's. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1965, Houze immigrated with his coloured mother to Meridian, Mississippi, as a baby to live with his father, an African-American merchant mariner. On discovering photos of half-sisters whose existence he had not known about, he decided in 1992 to journey to South Africa to reconnect with his sisters and answer questions about his own identity. In South Africa, he immersed himself in the birth of the new democracy. . . . He sees the coloured people as neither black nor white, "the nowhere people, the twilight people without a culture, stuck in the proverbial middle," and this resonates with his own disjointed identity, a "half South African, half American . . . half-caste." . . . This structurally flawed, overambitious book lacks a bold editorial red pen and flounders in authorial ambiguity and becomes neither scholarship, nor journalism, nor memoir, although each of these approaches contributes to the work.
Andrew Offenburger. H-Net Book Review May 2007 (online ed.)
Huysmans et l'Evangile du réel.Emmanuel Godo. Paris: Cerf, 2007. 330 pp. Euro24.
J. K. Huysmans. Le forçat de la vie. Patrice Locmant. Bartillat, 2007. 282 pp. Euro20.
Charles Marie Georges Huysmans, who preferred to be called Joris-Karl, was a civil servant in the Ministry of the Interior, and an employee writing novels in the naturalistic line, as well as a life of a XVth c. Dutch mystic woman. Inwardly he had an intense spiritual life which, through a slow, laborious metamorphosis, led him to embrace catholicism. Says E. Godo: "Huysmans might well be the missing link between Rabelais and Céline," an unexpected but fairly convincing observation. As for Locmant, sensitive to Huysmans's talent (a rich, original vocabulary; the virtuosity of his novels), he also shows us his many faceted life: the dandy, interested in black masses, the eulogist of monastic life, the denigrator of his time, the discoverer of unknown talents (Cézanne, Degas), and the dedicated writer. An excellent work.
Pierre-Robert Leclercq. Le Monde des Livres, July 13, 2007: 7. [End Page 689]
Marginal Man: The Dark Vision of Harold Innis.Alexander John Watson. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2006. 525 pp. $65.00 cloth, $35.00 paper.
"Few—if any—English Canadians have exerted a more profound influence on that country's intellectual landscape than Harold Innis. His well-known monograph, The Fur Trade in Canada, first appeared in 1930 and remains in print. . . . The book elaborated the staples thesis, an approach to Canadian history whose impact is analogous to Turner's frontier thesis, and established Innis's reputation as Canada's leading economic historian. . . . He also began to examine the role of media and communications in history, work that would help to establish 'communication studies' as a significant area of scholarly inquiry."
Jeremy Mouat. Pacific Historical Review 76.3 (Aug. 2007): 468–69.
The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving.Andrew Burstein. New York: Basic, 2007. 420 pp. $27.50.
"A lifelong bachelor (Burstein speculates he 'may have been gay, without acting on the impulse'), Irving was a rover: he wrote his famous New York sketches in England (his on-and-off home from 1815 to 1832) and developed a consuming passion for Spain, writing a biography of Columbus. Irving, Burstein writes, 'created a national literature where there was thought to be none.'"
Matthew Price. NYTBR, Aug. 26, 2007: 17.
Stripped: The King of Teaze.Lolly Jackson and Vincent Marino. [Johannesburg]: Read Me, 2006. 320 pp. R250.
Born in Congo, Lolly Jackson grew up on the East Rand in South Africa. He was thrown out of primary school for drawing a picture of two teachers in flagrante, and was expelled from high school for punching his headmaster as he caned a boy. What followed was a surprisingly successful interlude in the South African Defence Force as a conscript and then a series of dead-end jobs, interspersed with an increasingly colourful and priapic romp through the 1970s. His relationship with an exotic dancer led to the opening of the first of the chain of upmarket strip clubs, Teazers. . . . Jackson lives by a code, a warped and often bizarre code to the more fastidious and conservative among us. If you can get past fairly poor editing, the story is told with gruff good humour, coupled with a visceral honesty—so much so, that the detail with which Jackson settles old scores and rekindles old flames shows little concern for the litigious minefield that publishing can be. This is an eye-watering, sometimes excruciating but always enthralling read.
Kevin Ritchie. The Star, Dec. 7, 2006: 10. [End Page 690]
The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855–1873.Ed. Pierre A. Walker and Greg W. Sacharias. Intro. Alfred Habegger. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2007. Vol. 1: 391 pp. $90.00, Vol. 2: 524 pp. $95.00.
"We now have the first two volumes of what will eventually be a 140 plus-volume set of the complete letters of Henry James. The entire collection of some ten thousand letters will be published by the University of Nebraska Press over the coming years. (The largest previous collection was Leon Edel's four volumes of 1,084 letters published between 1974 and 1984.) This set will bring together letters scattered across many different archives and from many different books, some out of print; a quarter of the letters have never been published previously. The volumes are beautiful, solidly put together, with big type, wide margins, and copious annotations remarking on cross-outs and misspellings and new words written over old ones. All the foreign phrases are translated and potted biographies of the people mentioned are supplied. If James refers, for instance, to a story he's written, the editors provide the reader in a note with the full name of the story and where it was published and when. At the end of each volume are an index, a bibliography of works cited, a biographical register, and even genealogical charts of the families intertwined with the James family."
Edmund V. White. NYRB, Oct. 11, 2007: 43–48.
William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism.Robert D. Richardson. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. 622 pp. $30.00.
"Robert Richardson shows in his new life of James the same sympathy with his subject that he brought to the biography of Emerson. That does not mean he is blind to the shortcomings of either man. James was volatile, easily bored, moody, subject to depression and insomnia. In his quest for new sensations he sometimes neglected his wife and children. He could be rude and insulting, as when he not only turned down an invitation to join the American Philosophical Society but gratuitously insulted it and its members. He was easily smitten by smart and pretty young women; and though he seems not to have had sex with any of them, his serial flirtations were deeply hurtful to his wife."
Garry Wills. NYRB, July 19, 2007: 45–46.
Joubert, Alain, and Jacques Lederer
Une goutte d'éternité.Alain Joubert. Ed. Maurice Nadeau, 2007. 134 pp. Euro16.
Sa dernière journée. Jacques Lederer. Ed. Melville/Leo Scheer, 2007. 144 pp. Euro15.
We owe to Philippe Lejeune the concept of "autobiographical pact." These two [End Page 691] narratives illustrate what could be called a "Farewell pact." Alain Joubert's Drop of Eternity testifies to the existence of sublime, or absolute, or mad love. For such a love it was convenient to organize a decent departure, both Nicole and Alain refusing to spoil their last months "in the horror of an endless final stage." Jacques Lederer had been Georges Perec's friend. He had seen him die "without having time to settle his own business or look at Death in the face." So, when Michèle Desbordes, whom Perec had been in love with, expressed her wish to be accompanied in her last trials, he accepted. The narrative of her last day is full of dignity and humor. Michèle Desbordes could say "I have succeeded in everything: my life, my work, my life as a woman." And her departure. Beyond the emotion this kind of books may rouse, beyond the biographical interest, one finds a burning problem of our societies: euthanasia.
Jean-Luc Douin. Le Monde des Livres, July 6, 2007: 4.
Kahn, Shah Rukh
King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema.Anupama Chopra. New York: Warner, 2007. 250 pp. $31.99.
"How Shah Rukh defied the odds to become King Kahn is the subject of Anupama Chopra's smart biography, The King of Bollywood. . . . Her book is not just an insightful biography of Shah Rukh, it's a witty and thoughtful history of the Wild West that is Bollywood and, by extension, a portrait of the New India."
Sparkle Hayter. Globe and Mail, Aug. 25, 2007: D8.
Kasztner's Train: The True Story of Rezsõ Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust.Anna Porter. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2007. 491 pp. $37.95.
The story of a Transylvanian native and member of the Hungarian Zionist movement, who negotiated the escape of Jews from the Nazis. "While there have been several books and many articles on Kasztner, Porter's is the first attempt in English to present a truly comprehensive account of a life that Porter sees as both heroic and tormented by false accusations. . . . [Porter] writes well, with a sharp eye for the absurd, yet her many factual mistakes will do more than annoy the specialist: They are misleading. Furthermore, she shows a lack of understanding for the history of the region."
István Deák. Globe and Mail, Sept. 22, 2007: D6.
Merle's Door: Lessons From a Freethinking Dog.Ted Kerasote. New York: Harcourt, 2007. 380 pp. $29.95.
A memoir of Kerasote's life in the wilderness with his stray lab mix, Merle. [End Page 692] "Inasmuch as Merle's Door occasionally irritated me, it is a thoroughly-researched, philosophical, sentimental and sometimes breathtaking book. . . . Kerasote is a cabin-dwelling, elk-hunting, rough-and-tumble iconoclast, who believes his dog should run (and think) freely. He installs a dog door in his cabin and the adventure begins. . . . An educated and erudite man with a great deal of writing skill, [Kerasote] can instantly place the reader in whatever wilderness spot he happens to be writing about." The review faults the writer for over-writing and pontificating, but is generally positive.
Diane Baker Mason. Globe and Mail, July 7, 2007: D8.
Dog Days.Jon Katz. New York: Villard, 2007. 270 pp. $29.95.
The book is a collection of stories of Katz's life with his dogs. "Dog Days is a very good book. . . . [Katz] writes a series of pleasant stories which successfully entertain. A transplanted 'flatlander' who runs a small hobby-type farm in upstate New York, Katz makes his living writing good, solid, best-selling dog books. . . . Katz's Labs and Border Collies are delightful characters, who do their dog jobs according to their breeding, training and individual dispositions."
Diane Baker Mason. Globe and Mail, July 7, 2007: D8.
Brett Kebble: The Inside Story.Barry Sergeant. Zebra, 2006.
This tells the story of the man who died in a hail of bullets, and of peculiar relationships and murky arrangements compelled by extraordinary greed in recent years in post-apartheid South Africa.
Maureen Isaacson. The Sunday Independent, Dec. 24, 2006: 16.
Kerouac, Jack, and Edie Kerouac-Parker
You'll Be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac.Edie Kerouac-Parker. San Francisco: City Lights, 2007. 279 pp. $14.99.
A memoir by Kerouac's first wife, "You'll Be Okay is a cynical exploitation of a sadly deluded, obviously emotionally damaged woman. . . . Irrespective of the unremitting, numbing banality of You'll Be Okay's prose . . . reading it is a painful exercise in eavesdropping on a fellow human being's desperate attempt to locate a life's-worth of meaning that stubbornly refuses to materialize."
Ray Robertson. Globe and Mail, Sept. 8, 2007: D5.
Touch My Blood.Fred Khumalo. Cape Town: Umuzi, 2006. 196 pp. R135.
This memoir recounts the madness that swept through KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) during the apartheid years.
Maureen Isaacson. The Sunday Independent, Dec. 24, 2006: 16. [End Page 693]
This no-holds barred autobiography is bound to capture the reader's attention from the start and is truly worth reading. Khumalo portrays a graphic picture of his teenage years in KwaZulu-Natal, when he not only had to bear the brunt of the apartheid system but was also under threat from anti-ANC Inkatha supporters. Khumalo writes with both warmth and humour.
Jimmy Matyu. The Herald, TGIF, Feb. 9, 2007: 5.
Acts of Love.Pat Krause. Regina, Saskatchewan: Coteau, 2007. 242 pp. $19.95.
A memoir by a writer and broadcaster for the CBC in Saskatchewan, focused around her love for her father and husband, who recently died of cancer. "Krause's best writing is about the lives of others. In this way, her memoir is not a self-story but a selfless story, which perhaps is easier for modest Canadians to stomach; it is also what makes her story one-dimensional. . . . [To stand alone, tales must breathe—survive—on their own. Krause's do not, and while that weakens Acts of Love as a literary work, it does not diminish its impact as a family record of memories."
Paula Todd. Globe and Mail, Aug. 11, 2007: D11.
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World.Lucette Lagnado. New York: Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007. 340 pp. $25.95.
"Lagnado traces the story of a family so connected to Cairo that they held on until they were forced out, thankfully alive. 'Alas, what no one could stop was the cultural Holocaust—the hundreds of synagogues shuttered for lack of attendance, the cemeteries looted of their headstones, the flourishing Jewish-owned shops abandoned by their owners, the schools suddenly bereft of any students.' Some will blanch at her use of the word 'Holocaust' here, arguing that only the World War II murders of European Jews are worthy of this term. But the wholesale destruction of Middle Eastern Jewish life, along with the even more devastating evisceration of individual lives, was nothing short of a catastrophe—and not only for the Jews. Leon Lagnado, like many others, had a love affair with this city, and 'The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit' is a story about what happens when two such lovers are torn apart."
Alana Newhouse. NYTBR, Aug. 12, 2007: 11.
Lederer, Jacques. See Joubert, Alain.
Lenéru, Marie. See De Lens, Aline R. [End Page 694]
Aldo Leopold's Odyssey: Rediscovering the Author of A Sand County Almanac. Julianne Lutz Newton. Washington, D.C.: Island, 2006. 483 pp. $35.00.
"In Odyssey, an essay from his posthumously published masterpiece, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold traced the fictive histories of two atoms, pulled from parent rock and sent into ecological circulation at two different moments in North American history. . . . [I]n the hands of Julianne Lutz Newton, the [atoms] become parables of Leopold's own intellectual journey and his contributions to ecological science. Newton has managed to produce a study of refreshing originality by focusing on aspects of Leopold's odyssey that have received less attention, while all but ignoring the well-worn paths of previous Leopold scholarship. Hers . . . is an innovative slice through Leopold's life."
Paul S. Sutter. American Scientist 95.5 (Sept.-Oct. 2007): 458–59.
"Leopold devoted most of his adult life to formulating a collective land ethic that incorporated an understanding of ecology and evolution. In Aldo Leopold's Odyssey, Julianne Lutz Newton has meticulously traced the origins, evolution, and broad dissemination of Leopold's ideas regarding conservation."
Frederick R. Davis. Science 316 (27 Apr. 2007): 545.
Starring Brian Linehan: A Life Behind the Scenes.George Anthony. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007. 342 pp. $34.99.
Television interviewer Linehan's "career makes for heady reading, and much of it sounds like fun. . . . The actual life story was less fun, but Anthony, who shared champagne, martinis and stiletto-sharp gossip with Linehan, doesn't shrink from exposing this in what amounts to a genuinely engrossing homage and inquiry, despite some ticker-tape documentary notes, an extremely vague chronology and an inordinate amount of trivia. . . . Anthony writes as an insider, but he doesn't lack objectivity as he shows how Brian Linehan was his own creation, one who kept changing the year of his birth (1943) and the explanation for his pug nose."
Keith Garebian. Globe and Mail, Sept. 29, 2007: D29.
On the Outside Looking in: Colliding with Apartheid and Other Authorities. Alan Lipman. www.zabalaza.net (online publication).
An anti-Zionist Jew, Lipman nevertheless fought in the Israeli Palmach during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War; he joined the South African Communist Party in the same year. The allegiance was short-lived: horrified by the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary, he and his wife defected from the SACP in 1955. Banned by the South African government, they went into exile in [End Page 695] Wales, where Lipman rose to sit on the national executive of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Returning to South Africa, he stood for parliament on an ANC ticket, yet today considers himself an "ultra-leftist in Thabo Mbeki's terms".
Saturday Star, June 30, 2007: 19.
Blowing Up Russia.Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky. London: Gibson Square, 2007. 317 pp. $21.95.
Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB. Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko. New York: Free Press, 2007. 369 pp. $34.00.
"Litvinenko, an ex-KGB agent, and Felshtinsky, a historian, couldn't find a publisher for this book. Then Litvinenko was poisoned and the murder changed everything. Blowing Up Russia tells the story, based on Litvinenko's insider knowledge of spying, of how the secret services fabricated terrorist attacks and waged a campaign to have their then-little-known man, Vladimir Putin, elected." Death of a Dissident is "a straightforward account of the rise and fall of the oligarchs . . . in Yeltsin's and Putin's Russia. Sometimes Goldfarb is truly perceptive. . . . [Litvinenko] is absent from much of the book; as in life, he appears as a foot soldier in other people's wars. Some readers will be surprised that his death and the subsequent investigation are dealt with in little more than 30 pages at the very end of the book. Personally, I was relieved that Goldfarb had avoided a sensational retelling of this tragedy. . . . Litvinenko's widow's contribution to the book, though small, is sufficient to show us that he was a loving and gentle man."
Timothy Phillips. Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007: D8.
A Dream Fulfilled: Memoirs of an African Diplomat.Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe. Houghton: Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust, 2006. 144 pp. R150
Lujabe-Rankoe charts her incredible journey as a freedom fighter and diplomat over three decades, vividly describing her life, from a village in the Eastern Cape to the intrusion of racial politics that forced her into exile. She writes honestly and potently about how members of her family fought and died during the bitter apartheid years. She reflects on how she had to negotiate the personal and the political, and do her best to raise her children. What comes across beautifully in this autobiography is that Lujabe-Rankoe is an ordinary person who would have loved to live without the drama of war and exile. . . . This is a gem of a book.
Nokuthula Mazibuko. City Press, May 27, 2007: 20. [End Page 696]
Macarthur, Douglas. See Eisenhower, Dwight.
Macdonald, Sir John A.
John A.: The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald.Vol. 1: 1815–1867. Richard Gwyn. Toronto: Random House Canada, 494 pp. $37.00.
"Richard Gwyn's portrait of the early years of John A. Macdonald contains few surprises. . . . Though Gwyn's account is occasionally muddled, especially his account of responsible government, he fully chronicles the Kinston apprentice's progress to the point where politics would become 'his life, fame his spur, and power his addiction.' . . . John A., written by an accomplished journalist . . . and biographer, brings a fresh approach to some familiar events and personalities. But, readable as it is, the book is no substitute for Donald Creighton's John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician (1952) which remains, in Gwyn's generous estimate, one of 'the greatest achievements in Canadian historiography.'"
Ramsay Cook. Globe and Mail, Sept. 29, 2007: D3.
My Life with the SA Defence Force.Magnus Malan. Pretoria: Protea Book House, 2006. 528 pp. R190.
It's hardly an inspirational title but it echoes Magnus Malan's flat, factual writing style. During the apartheid years, Malan rose to become head of the professional army, then of the defence force and finally its political master as minister of defence. In the process he was to preside over the building of the most effective military force ever in this part of the world. Towards the end of the book he analyses some claims accepted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He accuses the TRC of ignoring evidence that failed to fit preconceived attitudes. He also notes how the TRC gilded over the horrors perpetrated by the liberation movements: "We [i.e. the defence force under the apartheid government] did not . . . destroy or damage 7187 houses of black citizens . . . ; we did not destroy or damage 1770 schools and 1265 shops owned mainly by blacks. . . . We did not kill 399 blacks by necklacing, or 372 by setting fire to them or their houses." . . . Malan argues that the main enemy was the Soviet Union and its surrogates, rather than the ANC and other liberation movements.
James Mitchell. The Star, Feb. 8, 2007: 10.
In this autobiography Malan comes across as stolid, unimaginative and politically maladroit, blinkered by the norms and attitudes of his upbringing. He was a devoted acolyte of his mentor, P. W. Botha, whose obsessions with communism and the "total onslaught" Malan shared. Malan says that in this book he seeks to correct "certain misconceptions" about the defence force [End Page 697] during apartheid. It is a most unconvincing apologia. . . . Under Malan, the culture of the army became emphatically Afrikaans and thoroughly imbued with the political goals of Afrikaner nationalism. He says that no fewer than 500,000 young conscripts passed through the system in the 1970s and 80s. Some of those were profoundly traumatized by the horrors they experienced on the border and in Angola. . . . I found this book to be poorly constructed and lacking coherence. Yet anyone who shared General Malan's myopic view of the southern African conflict could well find his story absorbing.
Gerald Shaw. Cape Times, Jan. 19, 2007: 7.
The Nelson Mandela Story. Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob. Kestell: Samoja Books, 2006. 300 pp. R130.
Although this book promises an "intimate in-depth look at Mandela the man rather than the politician," we are not told what the author's relationship is to the subject, nor does she provide evidence of interviews with any of Mandela's associates, family members or friends, relying entirely—it would seem—on secondary sources. What the biography delivers is a readable if slightly sentimental compendium of Mandela's life, with inadequate in-text citations of sources of quotations.
Sharon Dell. The Witness, Mar. 7 2007 (online ed.)
Mandela: The Authorised Portrait. Mike Nicol et al. Highlands North: Wild Dog Press, 2006. 356 pp. R350.
This biography, personally authorized by Mandela, charts his epic journey from the rolling hills of the Transkei to his election as president in the new South Africa. Containing previously unpublished material by Mandela himself (including some of the letters he wrote from prison) and more than 250 photographs, this stunning book depicts both the serious and light sides of Mandela, who has a good sense of humour. This book is not to be missed.
Jimmy Matyu. The Herald, TGIF. Jan. 26, 2007: 5.
The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History.Linda Colley. New York: Pantheon, 2007. 363 pp. $27.50.
"Not rich or well-born, Marsh knew how to place a high value on her worth as a human being, possessing an inner toughness that enabled her to breast the storms of a difficult existence. In a tour de force of scholarly investigation, Linda Colley has brought her to life, by following the surprisingly numerous tracks that ordinary people can sometimes, though rarely, leave behind them. In a previous book, Captives, Colley has shown the cost of imperial expansion to some ordinary Britons who were captured by its enemies. Marsh figured briefly in that book as one such victim. The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh follows [End Page 698] the travails and triumphs of an ordinary woman who exploited the chances that came her way within a world run by men."
Edmund S. Morgan and Marie Morgan. NYRB, Sept. 27, 2007: 57–59.
"'The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh' is a dazzling performance of historical scholarship that reveals just enough of what Colley describes in her acknowledgements as 'the ordeal of tracking Elizabeth Marsh' to allow readers the sense that they too are on the trail of this compulsively itinerant woman."
Megan Marshall. NYTBR, Sept. 16, 2007: 7.
Marshall, George. See Eisenhower, Dwight.
Matesiczky, Marie-Louise Von
The Undiscovvered Expressionist: A Life of Marie-Louise von Matesiczky. Jill Lloyd. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. 304 pp. £25.
"Although she met von Matesiczky only once, Jill Lloyd has brought the artist's faintly mysterious character, eccentric family background and complicated personal relationships vividly to life in this sensitively written book. . . . Lloyd has translated into English numerous letters and documents which help build up a picture of this independent-minded but surprisingly diffident woman. . . . At the same time, Lloyd paints a moving portrait of a doomed society, that of the rich, cultured Jews of late Hapsburg Vienna.
Richard Calvocoresi. TLS, July 20, 2007: 24.
My Mother's Daughter.Rona Maynard. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007. 260 pp. $34.99.
A memoir by the former editor of Chatelaine Magazine. "Upbeat and angry—especially when settling old scores—Maynard's memoir taps into the witches brew of clear-eyed candour and emotional ambivalence that colours many of our mother-daughter relationships. It's also a moving tribute to the unswerving, often unnerving matriarchal passion that powered one family's Canadian odyssey from shtetl to Bay Street in three vibrant generations."
Elizabeth Grove-White. Globe and Mail, Sept. 22, 2007: D8.
Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them. John McCain with Mark Salter. Lebanon, IN: Twelve, 2007. 456 pp. $25.99.
"For all his emphasis on honor and nobility of character, he never confronts the fact that the Bush administration has systematically debauched those virtues in its contorted efforts to battle terrorism. The real value of McCain's book, then, may be that it reveals why he is unlikely to win the presidency."
Jacob Heilbrunn. NYTBR, Sept. 9, 2007: 26. [End Page 699]
The Gayton McKenzie Story.Charles Cilliers. Cape Town: X-Concepts Books, 2006. 248 pp. R135.
At the age of five, Gayton McKenzie witnessed a murder. When he was six, he stole for the first time. When he was nine he saw a neighbour being stabbed to death. And at 12 he could dismantle and assemble a gun. In this book, he tells his story of the challenges faced in a gang-infested society (in South Africa) to Cilliers, leading to his life in prison and his exposure of the gross corruption of authorities. The book examines the horrors of rape, pimping and prostitution behind bars. To parents who read this book, pass it on to your children, it will surely inspire them.
Mzi Oliphant. Sowetan, Feb. 13, 2007: 11.
Les Disparus [The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million].Daniel Mendelsohn. Trans. Pierre Guglielmina. Paris: Flammarion, 2007. 650 pp. Euro26.
Jonathan Littell obtained the Goncourt Prize for Les Bienveillantes, Daniel Mendelsohn the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Lost. Both books are among the most original and best documented in recent years, and neither writer is a historian. So much for the likeness. Otherwise, Littell opted for fiction to probe the soul of an imaginary nazi torturer. Mendelsohn led a breathtaking inquiry to re-build the life of six real persons: his great-uncle Shmiel J¨ager, his wife and their four daughters. In this sense, The Lost appears as the anti-Bienveillantes. Considering the meticulous transcription of dozens of hours of conversation Mendelsohn had with some survivors of the Jewish ghettos, one wonders how he could restore them so closely. The answer is that he registered all the interviews with a camera, which restored not only the words but the silences, the gestures, the looks, the emotions. A precision which did not prevent the author from modestly admitting doubts, recognizing the role of the unexpected and good luck, and expressing the final conviction that some of the past is lost for ever.
Thomas Wieder. Le Monde des Livres, Aug. 31, 2007: 7.
Oscar Micheaux, the Great and Only: The Life of America's First Black Filmmaker.Patrick McGilligan. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 402 pp. $29.95.
"McGilligan, biographer of Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang and George Cukor, has synthesized the advance work of [other] scholars and written 'Oscar Micheaux,' a popular life of this colorful figure. . . . McGilligan's prose style may be pedestrian, but he organizes his biographical materials into a lively, readable tale."
Phillip Lopate. NYTBR, Aug. 5, 2007: 16. [End Page 700]
Mishima's Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend.Christopher Ross. Washington, D.C.: Da Capo, 2007. 272 pp. $26.00.
"On one level, the book is about the author's quest to find the actual sword used to end Mishima's life. . . . But it is Mr. Ross's insights into Mishima's literary eccentricities and his extensive research into Japan's martial arts, the history and variation of the samurai code and the art of Japanese sword-making that make up the backbone of the book. . . . Mr. Ross does not see Mishima as a gateway into the soul of Japan, but rather as a tragic figure who thrust his own inadequacies and fantasies on the nation."
Michael Judge. Far Eastern Economic Review July/Aug. 2007: 71–73.
Remember Me? A Memoir.Mary Monaghan. Cape Town: Tortoise, 2007. 154 pp. R120.
The early euphoria of the relationship between Irish nationals Mary and John, leading to their wedding in Johannesburg, gives way to debt and desertion. This book kept me up all night, turning the pages, as this true-life, stranger-than-fiction tale unfolded.
Jean von Witt. Cape Times, Apr. 26, 2007: 15.
The Americano: Fighting with Castro for Cuba's Freedom.Aran Shetterly. New York: Algonquin, 2007. 300 pp. $24.95.
"Shetterly nicely weaves FBI, CIA and State Department files on Morgan into his narrative. He should have been as careful with other material. In his most egregious error, he misreports the circumstances and date of the celebrated photograph of Che Guevara, then bases a theory about Che and Morgan on his mistaken story."
Tom Miller. WP, Aug. 20–26, 2007: 38.
Mountbatten, Louis, Edwina Mountbatten, and Jawaharlal Nehru
Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire.Alex von Tunzelmann. New York: Holt, 2007. 401 pp. $30.00.
"This is a book more concerned with the smaller, more colorful threads of individual character than with the broader tapestry of history. . . . Woven through it is the poignant love affair between Edwina Mountbatten and Nehru. Whether that relationship was ever consummated is unknown, and unimportant. What is certain is that it was intense. . . . Dickie knew about the relationship, and was not only tolerant but encouraging. Edwina's passion for Nehru was echoed in her determination to help his people, and as the carnage spread, she plunged fearlessly into the squalid refugee camps and hospitals."
Ben Macintyre. NYTBR, Sept. 2, 2007: 13. [End Page 701]
Müller's Lab.Laura Otis. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. 336 pp. £32.99.
"In this close study of Johannes Müller, the greatest 'great physiologist' of 19th-century Germany, as viewed by seven of his students, the literary scholar, historian, and MacArthur award recipient Laura Otis (Emory University) shows how Müller the person became reconstructed as Müller the historical character. These men, all of whom became distinguished scientists themselves, encountered Müller at different points in his career, for different spans of time, and interpreted him through their varying perspectives and scientific interests. They invented not one Müller but several, each according to his needs. Otis shows what historical and literary perspectives can add to scientists' own accounts."
Lyon K. Nyhart. Science 317 (21 Sept. 2007): 1685.
Memoirs: 1939–1993.Brian Mulroney. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007. 1,121 pp. $50.00.
"The Memoirs provide enough personal and biting anecdotes to satisfy any political junkie. . . . Personality was his great strength, but personalizing everything was his great weakness as prime minister. And the flaw of this book is that he personalizes the greatest issue on which history will judge him: his attempt to rewrite the Constitution governing Canada. . . . Obsessively, he assails Pierre Trudeau, returning to the attack again and again even stooping to the mean and petty. . . . These Memoirs are a good read and a valuable historical record, if only because they lay out so fully Mulroney's witness to his age. But Mulroney might not be happy with the ultimate verdict on the book—and on himself."
William Johnson. Globe and Mail, Sept. 15, 2007: D5.
Mussolini, Benito. See Hitler, Adolf.
The Orange Trees of Baghdad: In Search of My Lost Family. Leilah Nadir. Toronto: Key Porter, 2007. 326 pp. $32.95.
The memoir of a woman of Christian Arab ancestry. Nadir's "Iraq—which exists as one of reconstructed memories of her father, who left when he was 16, stories of her Iraqi aunties in London, and telephone calls and e-mail correspondence with the relatives trapped inside war-torn Iraq—rarely manages to transcend the very sense of disconnection she documents so well. . . . While The Orange Trees of Baghdad provides important information about the plight of Iraqi civilians, its sepia-toned narrative never manages to capture the vibrant, messy, living colours of the Middle East."
Hadani Ditmars. Globe and Mail, Sept. 8, 2007: D7. [End Page 702]
Nehru, Jawaharlal. See Mountbatten, Louis and Edwina.
The Day I Died: A True Story of Survival.Thembelani Ngenelwa. Cape Town: Kwela Books, 2007. 126 pp. R97.
Ngenelwa narrates the brutal and senseless attack on him by four thugs in 2003 in Germiston. Unemployed at the time, he was out walking with some friends when they were attacked. He was shot several times and left for dead on a railway line. Recounting his attempts to regain his life, Ngenelwa gives an honest account of crime in South Africa, but lacks the emotive factor and has many spelling errors.
Tebogo Monama. Sowetan, June 19, 2007: 17.
Richard Milhous Nixon: The Invincible Quest.Conrad Black. London: Quercus, 2007. 1,152 pp. £30.
"From the outset, Black makes clear whose side he is on. . . . He is identifying with his subject to the point of indistinguishibiilty. . . . At the time of the writing, Black has vowed to clear his own name. But he cannot, for all his 1,100 pages oftrying, clear Richard Nixon's."
Anthony Holden. TLS, Aug. 10, 2007: 24.
AND David Frost
The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of The Frost/Nixon Interviews. James Reston, Jr. New York: Harmony, 2007. 207 pp. $22.00.
"Frost used what Reston calls a showman's sense of pitch-perfect timing to ambush Nixon—causing Reston to conclude that Frost wasn't a lightweight at all but rather a model of journalistic excellence. Frost 'knew how to read his lines' and understood that the camera would show Nixon evading Frost's questions. Reston also credits Frost with aggressively using Reston's research; Frost had the kind of 'courage' that 'no journalist in America' had because he went 'far beyond the narrow American definition of "objective journalism"' to serve as an advocate in zealous pursuit of Nixon. Although Frost later took a job interviewing celebrities on his own talk show, his place in history had been secured."
Matthew Dallek. WP, July 30–Aug. 5, 2007: 39.
Dances with Devils: A Journalist's Search for the Truth.Jacques Pauw. Cape Town: Zebra, 2006. 393 pp. R225.
Pauw, possibly the pre-eminent journalist in South Africa, has written a book that is riveting reading. He describes his standard upbringing in an Afrikaner household, his political enlightenment and his career.
Yves Vanderhaegen. The Witness, Feb. 14, 2007 (online ed.) [End Page 703]
This is the kind of book you simply cannot put down, no matter how harrowing, obscene or disheartening the subjects tackled are. Whether it's the unimaginable horror of the Rwandan genocide, the brutality of the apartheid-era security police, child soldiers in Sierra Leone or two utterly down-and-out heroin addicts in Mozambique, Pauw never flinches in showing the human side of a story. Never an easy read, it nevertheless showcases Pauw's incredible talents as an investigative journalist.
B. D. The Big Issue, June 2007: 33.
Petain, Philippe, and Adolf Eichman
Jugements derniers. Les procès Pétain, de Nuremberg et Eichman.Joseph Kessel. Paris: Tallandier, "Texto," 2007. 238 pp. Euro6,50.
After World War II, Kessel covered some big political trials. He was not much interested in procedure, only in men. Hence a number of purple passages. And behind these, and the sparkling style, a discourse which, through its obsessions (for example "good" Vichy v. "bad" Vichy") and its unvoiced comments, is marked by thinking methods decidedly outdated. These Court records must be read for two reasons: they have a great literary quality, and they tell us how our point of view on World War II has evolved.
Thomas Wieder. Le Monde des Livres, June 22, 2007: 10.
Robert Peel: A Biography.Douglas Hurd. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007. 436 pp. £25.
"Hurd gives as vividly as [Norman] Gash the sense of how odd Peel was. . . . Hurdexpounds Peel's achievements with lucidity, eloquence and not a little charm. Yet he never seems quite sure of how remarkable those achievements were."
Ferdinand Mount. TLS, Aug. 24, 2007: 8–9.
A Russian Diary.Anna Politkovskaya. Trans. Arch Tait. London: Harvill Secker, 2007. 323 pp. $45.95.
"Anna Politkovskaya . . . is a malcontent, exposing the corruption and redundant ideologies of the country she lives in to a foreign audience that can do little or nothing to help. . . . Obsessed with the plight of her country and its people, Politkovskaya often seems not to have a personal life. . . . Instead, Russia truly is the subject of this diary. . . . [Politkovskaya] never talks about a decision made in the Kremlin or an opportunity missed by the half-wit opposition without also describing its effects on the lives and deaths of ordinary Russians in the villages, hospitals, prisons and schools of a wounded country. Hers is a diary for all of them."
Timothy Phillips. Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007: D8. [End Page 704]
Me, Chi, and Bruce Lee: Adventures in Martial Arts.Brian Preston. Toronto: Penguin, 2007. 304 pp. $24.00.
This is the story of Preston's travels "to China, Las Vegas and even small-town B.C. in order to learn the history of martial arts and discern their impact on both the lives of the practitioners and the culture at large. . . . Though Me, Chi, and Bruce Lee does include some more technical descriptions of the martial arts in question, Preston has a knack for relating what he sees and feels in a similarly colourful manner. . . . He's just as good at getting his subjects to articulate why they do what they do."
Jason Anderson. Globe and Mail, July 14, 2007: D5.
The Reagan Diaries.Ed. Douglas Brinkley. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 767 pp. $43.95.
"Reagan's White House diaries, beginning on Jan. 20, 1981, and closing on Jan. 20, 1989, show the president to have been a diligent manager of state business and a morally serious Christian. . . . [T]he diaries mainly confirm what we know of great historical events, adding details rather than entirely new facts or fresh interpretations. . . . Historian Douglas Brinkley edits the diaries skillfully and with useful bridging notes. One minor criticism is that important issues sometimes just get forgotten, but most likely by the diarist rather than the editor."
John O'Sullivan. Globe and Mail, July 7, 2007: D3.
"Memoirs, biographies, and policy studies gradually replaced the bungling-bumbling caricature [of Reagan] with more realistic depictions, but it is only now, with the publication of his diaries, that we encounter a shrewd and watchful Reagan. . . . Douglas Brinkley, to whom this precious historical document was unaccountably consigned, has not done any of the things that should have been required of the editor of such material. . . . He does not provide any explanatory material at all . . . The index is unacceptably cursory and full of mistakes. . . Worse still, the diaries are incomplete, with many entries fully or partially abridged, not to conceal crimes or misdemeanours, but just to shorten the text."
Edward N. Luttwak. TLS, July 27, 2007: 3–5.
Ronald Reagan, Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History. John Patrick Diggins. New York:Norton, 2007. 512 pp. £19.
Ronald Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination. Richard Reeves. New York: Simon &Schuster, 2007. 592 pp. £16.
Diggins "sees Reagan as 'a thoughtful, determined man of character and vision'"who as president provided "confident leadership." His Reagan was "a [End Page 705] liberal romantic who opened up the American mind to the full blaze of Emersonianoptimism . . . but left it closed to duty, wisdom and conscience." Diggins fails to "understand Reagan as he understood himself." Reeves's account "takes Reagan seriously, undertakes to understand him as he understood himself, and in the end succeeds in bringing him to life." "Reeves great achievement is to allowthe real Reagan to step out of these well-written pages."
Gary L. McDowell. TLS, July 27, 2007: 7–8.
Rheticus, Georg Joachim
The First Copernican: Georg Joachim Rheticus and the Rise of the Copernican Revolution.Dennis Danielson. New York: Walker, 2006. 264 pp. $25.95.
"In The First Copernican, Dennis Danielson brings learning, admiration and precise scholarship to the task of writing the first popular biography of this puzzling figure. His excellent book reconstructs Rheticus's life in crisp, well-documented detail. Danielson's thoughtful, well-written book portrays Rheticus as a talented mathematician and astronomer, but one who proved most successful, in the end, as an intermediary and a publicist."
Anthony Grafton. American Scientist 95.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2007): 177–79.
Leni Riefenstahl: A Life.Jürgen Trimborn. Trans. Edna McCown. New York: Faber and Faber, 2007. 351 pp. $30.00.
Trimborn's text is "as knotty as the century [Riefenstahl] outlived." "[W]hile recognizing Riefenstahl's talent," Trimborn "insists on viewing her art within its political context and on judging the choices she made accordingly. His compelling portrait leaves no doubt about her culpability and about the energy she spent to deny it." Kosta also notes that the translator, Edna McCown, "has done a fine job in capturing the nuance and tenor of the original."
Barbara Kosta. Women's Review of Books 24.5 (2007): 19, 22.
The House the Rockefellers Built: A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America.Robert F. Dalzell, Jr. and Lee Baldwin Dalzell. New York: John Macrae/Holt, 2007. 333 pp. $30.00.
"The Dalzells try to turn the building of Kykuit [the Rockefeller family home] into an epic father-son battle. Junior, they write, 'had cared enough about building it his way, and not Senior's, to risk all that he risked in the process, including his father's at times quite palpable disapproval, which in turn made of his performance something bold and courageous.' Such heavy breathing has an unintended comic effect, as, two pages later, we read that even while the bills were still coming in for Kykuit—with cost overruns on the garden near 45-fold—Junior asked his father for a loan of almost $2 million toward [End Page 706] the purchase of some Chinese porcelain, which he had begun to collect obsessively. After Junior had a bit of a tantrum (you can almost hear him stamping his foot as he writes, 'A fondness for these porcelains is my only hobby—the only thing for which I have cared to spend money'), Senior simply gave him the money. Junior had a lot of nerve, but not courage."
Dominique Browning. NYTBR, Aug. 19, 2007: 7.
Sacco, Nicola, and Bartolomo Vanzetti
Sacco & Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind. Bruce Watson. New York: Viking, 2007. 433 pp. $25.95.
"The internet is full of claims and counterclaims, declarations and speculations, to the extent that Watson must be commended for taking on a subject that is sure to bring him vilification from true believers of all viewpoints. My own view is that he has done a fair, workmanlike job, and deserves full credit for it."
Jonathan Yardley. WP, Sept. 3–9, 2007: 38.
Saint-Georges, Chevalier De
The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow.Gabriel Banat. New York: Pendragon, 2007. 566 pp. $56.00.
"Charles Burney does not mention Saint-Georges in his A General History of Music (1776–1789) and one of the legends about him is that his scores were destroyed during the racist period of Napolean's Consulate. However, Gabriel Banat makes the point in his fascinating biography that Saint-Georges did not disappear completely from the annals of French musical history following his death. His name comes up in early-twentieth-century histories of the violin and in works on Haydn, even if it isn't always remembered in these books that he was black."
Darryl Pinckney. NYRB, Aug. 16, 2007: 36–38.
L'aube le soir ou la nuit.Yasmina Reza. Paris: Flammarion, 2007. 192 pp. Euro18.
Reza followed the candidate for the Presidency of the French Republic during his campaign. The reader will savor this lucid, mothering, caustic, at times cruel, always tasty book: baby into President, the history of a molting. Food for thought for biographers interested in the new French President.
Franck Nouchi. Le Monde des Livres, Aug. 24, 2007: 3.
The Troublemaker: Michael Scott and His Lonely Struggle against Injustice.Anne Yates and Lewis Chester. Johannesburg: STE, 2006. 388 pp. R146.
Before he died, Reverend Michael Scott (1907–1983) felt that his life had [End Page 707] been wasted. Famous for his support for two causes—of the Herero in South West Africa (now Namibia) and of the cause of peace in north-eastern India—he was a man of many contradictions. Strong in character, yet often confused and suspicious, the Anglican pastor committed his life to chastity and non-violence, perhaps because as a child in England he suffered taunts from neighbourhood youth and sexual abuse (from a headmaster). At the age of 20, on doctor's orders to live for a spell in 'a dry warm climate," Scott worked in a leprosarium east of Cape Town and started his theological training in Grahamstown. A few years later, back in London, he joined the communist party and was then sent to India. Returning to South Africa in 1943, he made his witness in a shantytown near Johannesburg. In 1947, he became aware of the desperate situation of the Hereros, working to alert the world to their oppression. . . . A fascinating story and well worth reading, this biography suffers from an over-reliance on secondary sources.
Sheridan Griswold. Mmegi, Feb. 2, 2007 (online ed.)
Scott of the Antarctic: A Life of Courage and Tragedy. David Crane. New York: Knopf, 2007. 572 pp. $30.00.
"David Crane's fine biography of Captain Robert Falcon Scott begins on St. Valentine's Day, 1913, at the moment of his greatest glory—his funeral in St. Paul's Cathedral in the presence of the King, the archbishop of Canterbury, and all the grandees of the land, military and civilian, in full dress regalia. The service was short, with no sermon, and at its close, when the band of the Coldstream Guards played the national anthem, a crowd of ten thousand mourners outside the cathedral sang along with the congregation."
Al Alvarez. NYRB, Sept. 27, 2007: 81–84.
Scully, William Charles
Unconventional Reminiscences.William Charles Scully. Johannesburg: Penguin, 2006. 276 pp. R100.
Born in Dublin in 1855, Scully's family emigrated to the Eastern Cape Colony (in southern Africa). Joining in the diamond rush, he went prospecting in Kimberley and Pilgrim's Rest before (despite having no knowledge of the law) he was appointed assistant magistrate. Studying furiously paid off and he was promoted several times, eventually becoming chief magistrate in Port Elizabeth in the 1900s. The book's great virtue is that it captures a lost world of teeming game and wide-open spaces. This is a book one wants to share with others and to quote. His self-deprecating tales give the impression of a man who loved life, did extraordinary things, and had a talent for telling his stories in a way that is both charming and unaffected.
Peter Sullivan. Pretoria News, Apr. 7, 2007: 4. [End Page 708]
Shakespeare Revealed: A Biography.René Weis. London: John Murray, 2007. 444 pp. $39.99.
Shakespeare the Thinker. A. D. Nuttall. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. 428 pp. $31.95.
"It is the exhaustive details about Shakespeare's connections, both in Stratford and in London, that form the most original sections of [Weis's] work. . . . The minutiae about those connected to Shakespeare, and about the places he lived, combine to create a vivid sense of his world. . . . Sensationally, Weis gives us a new image of the Bard, more revolutionary than the mischievous young man in the recently discovered Sanders portrait: a lame Shakespeare. Weis bases this hypothesis mostly on phrases from the poet's writing, and one anecdote recorded by an 18th-century editor. . . . Nuttall is chiefly interested in tracing Shakespeare's thoughts and ideas from play to play. . . . Despite tackling complex philosophical theories, Nuttall mostly achieves a conversational tone, and conveys a sense of his old-fashioned personality. . . . Shakespeare the Thinker resembles Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human in that it reveals scant interest in theatrical production, but it is not as comprehensive a study as Bloom's."
Philippa Sheppard. Globe and Mail, July 7, 2007: D6.
The Kremlin's Scholar: A Memoir of Soviet Politics Under Stalin and Khrushchev.Dmitrii Shepilov. Trans. Anthony Austin. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. 444 pp. $40.00.
"Shepilov rose to prominence under Stalin, then plummeted from grace when he was implicated in an aborted coup attempt on Khrushchev. As the editor of Pravda, director of the Communist Party's Bureau of Propaganda and Agitation, and Secretary of the Central Committee, Shepilov had a unique vantage point for this insider look at the vicious rivalries of Soviet politics."
Timothy Phillips. Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007: D9.
The Long March.Sun Shuyun. New York: Doubleday, 2007. 270 pp. $34.00.
"Sun Shuyun, a London- and Beijing-based filmmaker and writer . . . is a child of the Cultural Revolution, brought up on a diet of political hyperbole that glorified the march and its great leader. For the 70th anniversary of the march, the intrepid Sun, now disabused of the idealism of her childhood, set off to retrace the march, and to find out what really happened. . . . Her engrossing book combines her observations, the interviews, published records and the myths she remembers from her childhood. The combination is very effective; the book creates a vivid sense of time and place."
Diana Lary. Globe and Mail, Aug. 4, 2007: D8. [End Page 709]
The Fox and the Flies.Charles Van Onselen. Cape Town: Jonathan Cape, 2007. 646 pp. R260.
This is a meticulously researched biography of Joseph Silver, maybe Joseph Isaacs (or a host of other pseudonyms), born Joseph Lis: a pimp, white slaver, police informer, and violent psychopath who was, in the biographer's opinion, probably Jack the Ripper. It is also a fascinating social history of what happens within societies in flux. Escaping his native Poland at the age of 16, Silver plied his vicious trades all around the Atlantic, South and South West Africa and South America.
Margaret von Klemperer. The Witness, Apr. 11, 2007 (online ed.)
The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian.Heather Ewing. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007. 448 pp. $26.95.
"Ewing's is a cradle-to-grave biography with an institutional twist. . . . By writing an international history of a European traveler and his American institution,Heather Ewing has helped James Smithson to secure his place in posterity that he sought so desperately."
Patricia Fara. TLS, Sept. 7, 2007: 7.
Stalin, Joseph. See Also Hitler, Adolf.
Young Stalin.Simon Sebag Montefiore. Toronto/London: McArthur/Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007. 397 pp. $34.95, £25.
"Montefiore's biography tells of the beginnings of a Georgian cobbler's son who trained as a priest, was praised as a poet, excelled as a henchman, fathered numerous illegitimate children and, as arguably the most brutal politician of the 20th century, was responsible for deaths of millions of his countrymen."
Timothy Phillips. Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007: D9.
"In his racy biography [Montefiore] cannot resist a good story. The result is a readable but highly coloured portrait of Stalin from his birth to the October Revolution. . . . Montefiore has gone to great pains to find new sources, particularly in Georgia. . . . What they contribute mainly, however, is another layer of stories to the Stalinist myth."
Alfred Rieber. TLS, Aug. 17, 2007: 10.
Stanley, Henry Morton
Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer.Tim Jeal. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. 570 pp. $38.00.
This is "a magnificent new life of the man, by Tim Jeal, a biography that has many echoes for our own time."
Paul Theroux. NYTBR, Sept. 30, 2007: 12. [End Page 710]
Stein, Gertrude, and Alice B. Toklas
Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice.Janet Malcolm. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. 229 pp. $25.00.
"Here in this slender, elegant book is much wisdom, not only about Stein and Toklas and their peculiar ménage, but also about the creation of personal mythologies in general. If 'Two Lives' has a weakness, it is that one wishes, at the end, for more."
Katie Roiphe. NYTBR, Sept. 23, 2007: 7.
The Book of David.David Steinberg. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 191 pp. $27.99.
"The gentle irreverence is blended smoothly with self-deprecating confessions of a showbiz lifetime that is still as much of a surprise to the man who has lived it as it is to the reader. . . . The stream of consciousness Steinberg releases in The Book of David is of biblical proportions, and is reminiscent of an old Smothers Brothers set piece as interpreted by Monty Python. Those under the age of 50, though, may find themselves adrift in a sea of disjointed pop-culture references for which they have few touchstones."
Glenda Fordham. Globe and Mail, July 28, 2007: D10.
Publish and Be Damned.Chris Steyn-Barlow. Galago, 2006. 368 pp. R240.
The reminiscences of South African journalist Steyn-Barlow relate her work on the Stander bank robbery gang, the Van Rooyen paedophile horror and the National Intelligence Agency bugging scandal where the South African government was caught spying on its own ministers. She recounts the progression of her stories in minute detail, exposing the ways in which all parties—editors, reporters, government officials—respond to emerging facts and how they all work their separate agendas, sometimes courageously, often not. . . . If you can wade through the long-winded writing, Publish and be Damned has some interesting nuggets on stories that made headlines from the late-apartheid era into the transition to democracy.
Yves Vanderhaegen. The Witness, Feb. 14, 2007 (online ed.)
Chapters of Childhood. Gertrud Strauss. Cowies Hill: Solo Collective, 2007. 164 pp. R90.
This is the memoir of sorts of Gertrud Straus, who was born to German Lutheran parents and raised in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in the late 1930s and 1940s. Strauss's writing is beautiful and eloquent, and subtly captures the troubling undercurrents of that seemingly idyllic time. [End Page 711] The adults' fears of a potential uprising by their oppressed workers impinge on the consciousness of any sensitive child at that time. . . . Strauss's eccentric characters come to life; her language is evocative. This is a great read.
Janet van Eeden. The Witness, Mar. 7, 2007 (online ed.)
Talleyrand, Charles Maurice De, Prince De Benevent
Talleyrand. Mémoires & correspondances. Edition presented by Emmanuel de Waresquiel. Paris: Robert Laffont, "Bouquins," 2007. 1632 pp. Euro32.
For Emmanuel de Waresquiel, himself author of a remarkable biography of Talleyrand (Talleyrand, le prince immobile, Fayard, 2003), all the revisions, amendments, modifications brought to the original text of the Memoirs were made by Talleyrand himself. Motivation: self interest. "Talleyrand didn't write his Memoirs as a disenchanted or unrecognized actor taking a posthumous revenge on life, in the way Cardinal de Retz or Chateaubriand did, but in order to puzzle. It was probably the ultimate aim of a man who said 'I want that for centuries people will go on discussing on what I was, what I thought, what I wanted.' In the text everything is thought out, nothing is gratuitous. The result is naturally subjective, but fascinating. The volume closes with his correspondence with the duchess of Beauffrémont: in that section only does the man show under the mask of the sphinx—a little, that is.
Jérôme Gautheret. Le Monde des Livres, June 22, 2007: 7.
Edith Thomas, passionnément résistante[Edith Thomas: A Passion for Resistance]. Dorothy Kaufmann. Trans. Danielle Wargny. Ed. Autrement, 2007. 266 pp. Euro20.
"Girls like me, not pretty, lame, what is their place in life? Well, they invent subterfuges or refuges, namely God or the Revolution." So spoke Edith Thomas. She covered the Spanish War, joined the communist party in 1942, organized in her own house the reunions of the Writers' National Committee, worked in the maquis, also for the underground Lettres Françaises and the Editions de Minuit. In 1949, overcome by doubts after the Rajk and Tito affairs, she left the communist party. Passionately involved in the Resistance, she embodies that "feminine humanism" she was longing for: classical, cultivated, animated by a spirit of justice and a great intellectual integrity.
Le Monde des Livres, July 13, 2007: 7.
Toklas, Alice B. See Stein, Gertrude.
Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life.Beverly Lowry. New York: Doubleday, 2007. 418 pp. $26.00.
"Lowry's genuine admiration for Tubman shines through on every page. She [End Page 712] has tried earnestly, if not always successfully, to bring emotional immediacy to her story by presenting events as she imagines Tubman may have seen and felt them. Lowry has also done some independent research, immersing herself in period texts and traveling to Tubman country in Maryland. Indeed, some of the book's more convincing sections are those that unpack the world of the white farmers who owned or employed Tubman and the members of her family. . . . But Lowry's hazy grasp of historical context undermines her authority."
Fergus M. Bordewich. WP, July 16–22, 2007: 38.
Vanzetti, Bartolomeo. See Sacco, Nicolo.
The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War, and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England. Adrian Tinniswood. New York: Riverhead, 2007. 569 pp. $35.00.
"In 'The Verneys,' the British historian Adrian Tinniswood tries to peel away that varnish, providing an intimate look at the lives of a family of prosperous Buckinghamshire gentlefolk. While the Verneys were not quite famous in their own time, their story—like that of every family, then and now—was inevitably shaped by the tides of history. In their case, this included the colonization of America, the downfall of Charles I and the ensuing English Civil War, the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution that placed William and Mary on the throne."
Adam Goodheart. NYTBR, Aug. 5, 2007: 17.
"Tinniswood's fluently written account of the seventeenth-century Verneys of Buckinghamshire makes enjoyable reading. . . . If there is a broader message to be taken from Tinniswood's account of the Verneys, it is that individual experiences can only with difficulty be made to fit sociological models."
G. W. Bernard. TLS, July 27, 2007: 24.
Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America.Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. New York: Random House, 2007. 231 pp. $24.95.
"'Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America' is much more than an occasional throwaway. Using the bare bones of what is known about Vespucci to expatiate on subjects as diverse as the brutal world of Renaissance Italy, the importance of trade winds to world history and the poetics of travel writing, Fernandez-Armesto has written a provocative primer on how navigators like Columbus and Vespucci set loose the cultural storm that eventually created the world we live in today."
Nathaniel Philbrick. NYTBR, Aug. 12, 2007: 12. [End Page 713]
" . . . it is the fascinating tale of Amerigo Vespucci, a small-time Florentine trader with a talent for self-promotion who reinvented himself as explorer and stargazer, and whose reputation has since become entangled in webs of myth. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's eminently readable book carefully disentangles these webs to show the part Vespucci actually played in the story."
Mary Hollingsworth. WP, Sept. 3–9, 2007: 39.
Victorian Erotic Memoirist
Ma vie secrète [My secret life]. Anonymous. Vols. I and II. Trans. Mathias Pauvert. Ed. De la Musardine, "Lectures amoureuses," 2007. 704 pp. Euro10,80.
Not a masterpiece, but a curio, a bizarre object: the desire (fantasm?) to say everything. The author—probably an upper middle class Victorian gentleman—tells, without emotion, without the least idea of transgression, without the least touch of scorn towards women, how he possessed some twelve hundred of them and what happened exactly and how, with what degree of intensity and what quality of sensation. We are far from Georges Bataille's books, and closer to La vie sexuelle of Catherine M. The history of the book is interesting in itself: first published in 1890 (less than 100 copies), then in 1902 in Amsterdam, then in 1962 by George Legman in London, and in 1994 by Stock in Paris.
Patrick Kéchichian. Le Monde des Livres, June 29, 2007: 11.
Voltaire. Pierre Milza. Paris: Perrin, 2007. 916 pp. Euro26,50.
Pierre Milza conceals nothing of Voltaire's pushiness and acquisitive instincts. And indeed Arouet became a successful go-getter. But the fascinating point is that at 64, rich and famous, Voltaire began a second career: he fought noble fights (in favour of Calas and Sirven for example).Waging war against the infâme and more generally against all kinds of obscurantisms, he didn't hesitate to run risks. He thus became the intellectual "friend of mankind," and created the notion of "public outcry." In short, not really likeable in his early years, he grew old gracefully. At 67 he declared he was at war with fools and at peace with himself—a modest declaration for a philosopher. Pierre Milza is not a historian of the XVIIIth century, but after writing on Mussolini and tackling Napoleon III, one can see that he succeeds in biography.
Roger Pol-Droit. Le Monde des Livres, Sept. 07, 2007: 10.
The Volterra Chronicles: The Life and Times of an Extraordinary Mathematician, 1860–1940.Judith R. Goldstein. Providence: American Mathematical Society, 2007. xxvi + 310 pp. $59.00.
"The name Volterra is widely known today as half of the eponym Lotka-Volterra. [End Page 714] The Lotka-Volterra equations describe the dynamics of predator-prey relations, explaining, for example, why populations of hares and lynxes tend to oscillate, never settling down to a stable equilibrium. The model is a keystone of modern ecology. In 1905 [Volterra] was named a Senator of the Kingdom of Italy, a life-time appointment to the upper house of parliament. He was also elected president of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the prestigious academy that traces its history back to Galileo. . . . Volterra was Jewish, and that fact alone would have been enough to ensure his eventual expulsion from the inner circle, but he hastened his ostracism by steadfast and outspoken anti-fascism. The final crisis came in 1931, when all professors in Italian universities were compelled to sign an oath of allegiance to the fascist government. Out of 1,250 professors, Volterra was one of only 12 who refused."
Brian Hayes. American Scientist 95.4 (July-Aug. 2007): 362–64.
The Great Man—Sir Robert Walpole: Scoundrel, Genius and Britain's First Prime Minister.Edward Pearce. London: Cape, 2007. 496 pp. £25.
Pearce's book "falls short" of being a definitive biography. The thesis that "Walpole created a New Establishment" is "discussed only briefly" and because of a"lack of social or political context . . . fascinating questions are mooted . . . but not discussed in any depth."
Jonathan Conklin. TLS, July 27, 2007: 8.
Where War Lives.Paul Watson. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007. 384 pp. $34.99.
"For the past two decades, Canadian journalist Paul Watson has been reporting from some of the most dangerous places in the world. In this book, he takes readers on a whirlwind visit to Where War Lives not only in the literal sense, but also in the troubled soul of the author. . . . In Where War Lives, Paul Watson takes the reader into some dark corners of the world, exposes them to the adrenaline-pumping rush of reporting from the battlefield and shows his own mental frailty. Watson is a natural storyteller, and he has one hell of a story to tell."
Scott Taylor. Globe and Mail, Sept. 1, 2007: D10.
Street Kid: One Child's Desperate Fight for Survival.Judy Westwater. London: Harper Collins, 2006. 320 pp. R130.
Judy Westwater lived an extraordinary life. Abducted by her father and treated to a childhood of terror, slavery and abuse in post-war Manchester, she was then brought to South Africa where she was left to fend for herself on [End Page 715] the streets. For a while there is a reprieve, when she joins the circus. But back with her psychopathic father and his girlfriend, she determines to get back to England to her mother and sisters. The tale stops when she is able to leave her father again, except for her account of founding the organization to help street children in South Africa. Sad, uplifting—well worth having on library shelves where there are girl readers.
Off the Bookshelf 17.4 (2006): 7–8.
Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes's Doomed Love.Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2006. 280 pp. $27.95.
"The authors' argument is that although there are many studies of Sylvia Plath, Assia Wevill, who also spent six years with Hughes, 'has been effectively written out of his story. Any influence she may have exerted on him or his work has been diminished or dismissed.'" The authors have trouble "fully substantiating" their claim. They do, however, show "that Assia Wevill was an interesting woman in her own right." Nevertheless, Bere objects to the biography reading, at times, like a literary soap opera with "many uncorroborated facts," "hearsay," and "sheer conjecture."
Carol Bere. Women's Review of Books 24.5 (2007): 28–29.
The Zookeeper's Wife.Diane Ackerman. New York: Norton, 2007. 368 pp. $24.95.
"This is an absorbing book, diminished sometimes by the choppy way Ackerman balances Antonina's account with the larger story of the Warsaw Holocaust. For me, the more interesting story is Antonina's. She was not, as her husband once called her, 'a housewife,' but the alpha female in a unique menagerie. I would gladly read another book, perhaps a novel, based again on Antonina's writings. She was special, and as the remaining members of her generation die off, a voice like hers should not be allowed to fade into the silence."
D. T. Max. NYTBR, Sept. 9, 2007: 9.
Pour violon seul. Souvenirs d'enfance dans l'En-deçà 1938–1945.Aldo Zargani. Translated from Italian by Olivier Favier. Edition de l'Eclat, 2007. 322 pp. Euro18.
December 1943: the world of Aldo Zargani, a Turin Jewish child, collapses—separations, hiding, deportations. In 1995, at 62, he decides to wage war, what he calls his "psychic" war against the Third Reich, in order to restore [End Page 716] the child vision of the unthinkable and hand it down. His book (only recently translated into French) is not a historian's book: it is full of digressions; humor and disorder reign in his admirable narrative, which rings like a bold burst of human dignity.
P.(atrick) K.(échichian). Le Monde des Livres, Aug. 3, 2007: 7.
Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China.Kang Zhengguo. Trans. Susan Wilf. New York: Norton, 2007. 455 pp. $35.00.
"Moving from the Chinese macrocosm to its microcosm, Kang Zhengguo, who now teaches at Yale University, offers a powerful account of one man's journey through a system that punished him for not conforming to its norms, and how he came through. Considered the most powerful evocation of ordinary life in Communist China, the book's Chinese edition won a literary prize from Beijing University."
Diana Lary. Globe and Mail, Aug. 4, 2007: D8.
Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life.Sofka Zinovieff. London: Granta, 2007. 346 pp. $29.95.
"Sofka Dolgorouky went from being a princess in Tsarist Russia to a member of the British Communist Party. Zinovieff, inspired by her grandmother's diary as a young woman in Nazi-occupied Paris, explores Sofka's 'turbulent, often scandalous' life in this revolution-steeped biography."
Timothy Phillips. Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007: D9.
The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zakofsky. Mark Scroggins. London: Shoemaker and Hoard, 2007. 756 pp. £30.
" . . . if Zukofsky the poet is given his due in this well-documented and incisive book, the man himself remains elusive." The "paradoxes" that "abound" inZukofsky's life remain "enigmatic."
Marjorie Perloff. TLS, Sept. 7,2007: 36.
Collections, Group Biographies, Life Writing Theory, and Other
Works of Interest
All That Glittered: The Golden Age of Drama on Broadway, 1919–1959. Ethan Mordden. New York: St. Martin's, 2007. 340 pp. $32.95.
"Mordden has heretofore concentrated primarily on musicals—his seven-volume history of that form through the 20th century is a must for devotees—but [End Page 717] here he shows equal comfort and enthusiasm in addressing the once-flourishing arena of the straight play."
Chip Crews. WP, June 4–10, 2007: 39.
The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth Century America. Nigel Cliff. New York: Random House, 2007. 312 pp. $26.95.
"Quibbles aside, 'The Shakespeare Riots' is an intriguing, thought-provoking book. 'If this were played upon a stage now,' remarks Fabian in 'Twelfth Night,' 'I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.' But it's all true, and to Cliff's credit, he turns this most improbable episode of history into a lively and compelling drama."
Daniel Stashower. WP, June 4–10, 2007: 39.
African American Tennis Players
Charging the Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters.Cecil Harris and Larryette Kyle-DeBose. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2007. 267 pp. $26.95.
"Harris, a sportswriter, and Kyle-DeBose, an author and photojournalist, make racism a recurring theme, arguing that it has dealt a devastating blow to black tennis dreams. They write, 'The unspoken but persistent vibe that you are not welcome, that others would be happier if you went away, a vibe that black tennis players have sensed on the main tour for decades, makes it difficult to find the rhythm and comfort zone needed to perform at your best.'"
Toure. NYTBR, July 22, 2007: 12.
Cultures and Identities in Colonial British America.Ed. Robert Olwell and Alan Tully. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2006. 386 pp. $50.00.
"What made Americans American? With an impressive collection of accessible essays from twelve historians, Alan Tully and Robert Olwell explore the permutations of culture and identity on the periphery of the British Empire. . . . While the blend of European, African, and Native American cultures created pronounced and distinct differences between New England, the Middle Atlantic, Chesapeake, the Deep South, and the islands by the end of the colonial period, at the same time an 'American' identity was emerging. Collectively, the essays provide geographically diverse views of American cultural development."
Marcia Schmidt Blaine. Journal of World History 18.2 (June 2007): 240–43.
Asian Criminal Leaders
Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and South-East Asia.Joe Studwell. London: Profile, 2007. 352 pp. £15.
"Mr. Studwell excels at providing an insightful description of the conduct of [End Page 718] power and its effect on economic and enterprise development in the region. . . . [H]is interviews provide few insights into how [the Asian godfathers]viewed their relationship with government leaders, particularly following regime change. No insights are offered of how the godfathers viewed ethnic relations in their countries. . . . Mr. Studwell suggests that the godfathers are quite unaware of the changes occurring in their societies, especially the level and scope of poverty."
Terence Gomez. Far Eastern Economic Review Sept. 2007: 73–76.
Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption.Laura J. Miller. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. 328 pp. $20.00.
"After providing her readers with a historical overview of the evolution of bookselling from the colonial period through the rise of the superstores, Miller spends the next four chapters illustrating how rationalization has altered the dynamics of the book retail industry and how independents have adapted to these changes. . . . Miller is especially effective in demonstrating how the ABA [American Booksellers Association] evolved from an apolitical organization that existed to support the interests of all booksellers (including its chain members) to an activist group that marshaled its resources to benefit the cause of its independents."
J. V. Gatewood. American Quarterly 59.2 (June 2007): 503–510.
Dropsie Avenue. Biographie d'une rue du Bronx.Will Eisner. Ed. Delcourt, "Contrebande," 2007. 176 pp. Euro14,95.
In this strip cartoon Will Eisner describes the generations of diverse origins and cultures which have followed one another from 1870 onward in a Bronx street. An implacable picture of racist meannesses, but also a tribute to human solidarities, a history of social rise and decay. An ode (devoid of naiveness) to the richness of the American melting pot.
Y.(ves)-M.(arie) L.(abé). Le Monde des Livres, July 13, 2007: 11.
Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World.Joan Druett. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007. 284 pp. $24.95.
"Drawn from a number of memoirs, 'Island of the Lost' recounts the privations of not just one but two parties of castaways who, unbeknownst to each other, clawed themselves out of the heaving sea on opposite ends of the main [Auckland] island in 1864. Their divergent experiences provide a riveting study of the extremes of human nature and the effects of good (and bad) leadership."
Florence Williams. NYTBR, July 15, 2007: 26. [End Page 719]
Celebrity Secrets: Government Files on the Rich and Famous.Nick Redfern. New York: Paraview Pocket Books, 2007. 220 pp. $14.00.
Redfern "paints a progressively damning portrait of a government obsessed with pop culture's power and paranoid about controlling its message, as unnerved by the possibility of a riot breaking out at a Beatles concert as it is by the thought of Rock Hudson portraying an F.B.I. agent in a motion picture."
Dave Itzkoff. NYTBR, Sept. 9, 2007: 20.
Central Intelligence Agency
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.Tim Weiner. New York: Doubleday, 2007. 702 pp. $27.95.
"'Legacy of Ashes' succeeds as both journalism and history, and it is must reading for anyone interested in the CIA or American intelligence since World War II."
David Wise. WP, Aug. 6–12, 2007: 38.
Musicians from a Different Shore: Asians and Asian Americans in Classical Music.Mari Yoshihara. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2007. 288 pp. $29.50.
"[A]n academic but accessible read. Interpretations through the lenses of culture, race, class and gender are not belabored. . . . Ms. Yoshihara excels at sketching out the biographies of these musicians, who also speak for themselves in large chunks of interviews reproduced verbatim. . . . Their accounts of navigating professional and cultural pitfalls . . . make Musicians a worthwhile purchase for anyone who's struggled with similar issues of identity, authenticity and achievement."
Nick Frisch. Far Eastern Economic Review Sept. 2007: 67–69.
First Ladies and the Press: The Unfinished Partnership for the Media Age. Maurine H. Beasley. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 2005. 335 pp. $22.95.
"With a prescient tone, Maurine H. Beasley cautions the reader to handle the role of first lady carefully, as it may be a training ground for future presidents. This book gives the reader a comprehensive look at the love-hate relationship that first ladies have endured with the press, which has often limited their sphere of influence by imposing stereotypical ideas of what an American woman should be. . . . Exquisitely written, First Ladies and the Press begins with Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with the 'newspaper girls' . . . explores Jackie Kennedy and her deft construction of Camelot . . . examines the feminism exhibited by Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford . . . [and] Laura Bush's nurturing persona after September 11, 2001."
Nichola Gutgold. Presidential Studies Quarterly 37.3 (Sept. 2007): 574–76. [End Page 720]
Homeless Canadian Women
All Our Sisters: Stories of Homeless Women in Canada.Susan Scott. Guelph, ON: Broadview, 2007. 210 pp. $26.95.
Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out. Cathy Crowe et al. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2007. 178 pp. $26.95.
"Sixty women from Vancouver to Ottawa participated in the interviews for All Our Sisters; they gave a great deal of themselves, straightforward, without melodrama, but somehow that makes their stories, their everyday lives, even more chilling and desperate. . . . The book's not easy reading; the subject matter precludes that, but Scott is an excellent guide." A collection of narratives by Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe and ten homeless people who were among those who refused to leave "Tent City" ("ramshackle 'housing' on a polluted section of Toronto's waterfront) for shelters between 1999 and 2002, "[t]here is nothing elaborate or literary about Dying for a Home. It suits the material it offers up: barebones narratives, one-way conversations that generously assume any intelligent listener will agree and be equally appalled at the obstacles and inanities of the social-welfare system." The "self-profiles" included here are "both poignant and instructive."
Pat Capponi. Globe and Mail, July 14, 2007: D8.
We Know Who We Are: Métis Identity in a Montana Community.Martha Harroun Foster. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2006. 306 pp. $29.95.
"As Foster points out in this thorough and masterful study of the Spring Creek Métis community in the Judith Basin of central Montana, the history of the Métis people is a 'microcosm' of the fundamental problems of racial and cultural identity in North America. Their story involves not only the evolution of a new ethnic identity created from Chippewa, Cree, French, and Scottish ancestry in the eighteenth-century fur trade, but a succession of subsequent economic niches and community ties that disregarded the U.S.-Canadian border."
Beth LaDow. Pacific Historical Review 76.3 (Aug. 2007): 485–86.
Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood.Ed. Cori Howard. Toronto: Key Porter, 2007. 328 pp. $32.95.
"Howard decided to put together a collection of essays that would address the central question that plagued her: How could women who had been 'raised with more opportunities and choices than any previous generation of women . . . be so unprepared for motherhood?' . . . The contributors are predominantly white, educated, heterosexual, working, urban and articulate. Most are writers; most have partners; most have the luxury of choice. Other groups are represented: single, rural, first nations, lesbian, stay-at-home, financially [End Page 721] challenged. . . . If you are looking for some fine, intelligent writing about grace, passion and joy in the face of fatigue, disorientation and sore nipples, Between Interruptions is an excellent place to start."
Sarah Harvey. Globe and Mail, Sept. 1, 2007: D7.
Who Leads Whom? Presidents, Policy, and the Public.Brandice Canes-Wrone. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. 214 pp. $18.00.
"At base, the argument of Who Leads Whom? centers on presidents' rational incentive to consider current public opinion in their strategic decisions to make public-policy appeals and how this translates into presidential success in Congress. Canes-Wrone shows that the public influences the president's propensity to make public appeals. . . . [P]residential appeals increase the president's legislative success in part because the president appeals on policies that are already supported by current public opinion. . . . Canes-Wrone argues convincingly that limited pandering does not result in bad public policy, because presidents still only tend to publicize those popular policies that they believe will improve societal welfare."
Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha. Presidential Studies Quarterly 37.3
(Sept. 2007): 567–68.
Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789–1989. Michael Beschloss. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 430 pp. $28.00.
"Beschloss concludes his book by saying that some of his courageous presidents learned the art or leadership by reading about the past. Let us hope that no future presidents turn to this book in search of insights about how to lead. For if they did, they would learn more about how presidents can be turned into myths than about the actual decisions they had to make."
Alan Wolfe. WP, June 18–24, 2007: 38.
Supreme Court Justices
The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.Jeffrey Toobin. New York: Doubleday, 2007. 369 pp. $27.95.
"'The Nine' is engaging, erudite, candid and accessible, often hard to put down. Toobin is a natural storyteller, and the stories he tells—how a coalition of centrist justices saved Roe v. Wade; why Rehnquist, despite having loathed the rights granted to criminal suspects by Miranda v. Arizona, eventually declined to overturn the decision; how right-wing firebrands deep-sixed the Supreme Court candidacies of Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers—are gripping. But its greatest surprise is that there are few great surprises. Toobin writes about the court more fluidly and fluently than anyone, but his buddies on the bench didn't tell him much we don't already know."
David Margolick. NYTBR, Sept. 23, 2007: 1, 10. [End Page 722]
Sicilian Women Immigrants
Beyond Cannery Row: Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915–1999.Carol Lynn McKibben. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2006. 162 pp. $18.00.
"This gender-based study focuses on a unique pattern of migration between three fishing towns in northwestern Sicily and Monterey, California, which highlights the influence of women on both migration and settlement. Women's labor and initiative emerge as critical factors in the departure from Sicily and the subsequent social cohesion and economic development in Monterey. . . . Carol McKibben describes the fast-paced labor of the fishermen's wives in the sardine factories where they represented one-third of the work force. The world of work outside the cannery included homemaking, caring for babies and boarders, running businesses, lending money, and investing in land. Not surprisingly, by 1951 Sicilians owned one-third of the homes among Monterey's population of 19,000."
Gloria R. Lothrop. Pacific Historical Review 76.3 (Aug. 2007): 492–94.
Virginians in Early America
Dominion of Memories: Jefferson, Madison, and the Decline of Virginia. Susan Dunn. New York: Basic, 2007. $27.50.
"Slavery's role in the decline of the South is an old story, but Dunn, a professor of humanities at Williams College, finds fresh insights by making a case study of Virginia. She emphasizes the significance of lesser-known figures like Thomas Roderick Dew, who in 1832 published an essay that laid the intellectual groundwork for an uncompromisingly pro-slavery ideology, and Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, who anticipated secession with an 1836 novel envisioning a Southern rebellion. Dunn's chief aim, though, is to show the complicity of Jefferson and Madison in Virginia's stagnation."
Mick Sussman. NYTBR, Sept. 16, 2007: 24.
Women in History
Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. New York: Knopf, 2007. 284 pp. $24.00.
"Ulrich, a Harvard historian whose 'Midwife's Tale' won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for history, uses 'three classic works in Western feminism' as a springboard for examining the theme of 'bad' behavior. Could the popularity of her slogan, she wondered, be explained by 'feminism, postfeminism or something much older?' The answer emerges in Ulrich's choice of texts: Christine de Pizan's 'Book of the City of Ladies,' written in 1405; Elizabeth Cady Stanton's 'Eighty Years and More,' published in 1898; and 'A Room of One's Own,' based on two lectures Virginia Woolf gave in 1928—all works by women who 'turned to history as a way of making sense of their own lives.'"
Kathryn Harrison. NYTBR, Sept. 30, 2007: 13.