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  • Reviewed Elsewhere

Contributing reviewers Nell Altizer, Patricia Angley, Alana Bell, Michael Fassiotto, Marie-Christine Garneau, Theo Garneau, Douglas Hilt, Gabriel Merle, Dawn Morais, Barbara Bennett Peterson, Forrest R. Pitts, and Yvonne Ward provided the excerpts for this issue.

Publications reviewed include American Scientist, American Studies Quarterly, Australian Book Review, Far Eastern Economic Review, French Studies, [Toronto] Globe and Mail, Guardian Weekly, Journal of World History, Le Monde des Livres, The New Yorker, New York Review of Books (NYRB), New York Times Book Review (NYTBR), Le Nouvel Observateur, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Science, Studi Francesi, Washington Post National Weekly Edition (WP), and the Women’s Review of Books.

Alexander II of Russia
Alexandre II. Le printemps de la Russie. Hélène Carrère d’Encausse. Paris: Fayard, 2007. 532 pp. Euro26.

Using many heretofore unpublished documents, and led by a didactic ambition coupled with the will to set the problematics of “the Alexander moment” in his country, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse draws several parallels: with Lincoln, whose emancipatory strategy was contemporary with the abolition of serfdom in Russia; with Louis XVI (following on this point Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu and his writings of 1881), the King of France having been equally confronted with the imminence of a revolution; finally with Mikhail Gorbatchev and his own glasnost, the problem being the same—how far is it possible to reform without shaking the whole edifice? Alexander II was about to succeed when he was assassinated, thus appearing as a martyr—because he had been a true reformer.

Philippe-Jean Catinchi. Le Monde des Livres, June 6, 2008: 6.

Antonson, Rick
To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa. Rick Antonson. Toronto: Dundurn, 2008. 256 pp. $26.99.

The story of the president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver’s travels in West Africa in 2004. “Though the reader is primed for a detailed record of Antonson’s every mosquito bite, the chapters that follow are nicely embroidered with local tones and textures, a regional history of West Africa, the Tuareg people and accounts of early European exploration. Battling a serious case of tourist’s vanity, however, Antonson’s journey, which begins in Senegal and moves—by rail, road and water—east to Mali and north to Timbuktu, is marred by a sort of postmodern self-consciousness, so determined is he to have an unfettered, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Michelle Orange. Globe and Mail, Aug. 9, 2008: D1.

The Bacardis
Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba. Tom Gjelten. New York: Viking, 2008. 480 pp. $27.95.

“By the turn of the [last] century, as Gjelten lucidly recounts, the distilling operation that Facundo has begun in a shed was among the brands most closely identified with Cuba, and the Bacardis became inextricably entangled with the nation’s history. Facundo’s eldest son, Emilio, fought to overthrow the Spanish, thus inaugurating the firm’s tradition of promoting revolutionary and progressive politics.”

The New Yorker, Oct. 6, 2008: 91.

Gjelten’s book, “which is exhaustively researched, succeeds in painting a vivid portrait of the company’s early, scrappy years and its prominent role in the fight against Spanish rule. Emilio Bacardi, especially, comes to life as the book’s most powerful character, though one so strange that Gabriel Garcia Marquez might have invented him. Emilio was imprisoned twice by Spain off the coast of Morocco for his revolutionary activities. But he still managed to hold the company together, to serve as Santiago’s mayor during the unsettled years of the American occupation, to help found a salon called the Victor Hugo Freethinker Group, to practice theosophy in a predominantly Catholic country and to track down a genuine mummy on a trip to Egypt, which he bought as the centerpiece for a museum he had founded in Santiago. (Modest he was not; he signed his revolutionary correspondence with the name Phocion, after the Athenian statesman known as ‘the good.’)”

Randy Kennedy. NYTBR, Oct. 19, 2008: 16.

Bachmann, Ingeborg. See Celan, Paul.
My Guy Barbaro: A Jockey’s Journey Through Love, Triumph, and Heartbreak With America’s Favorite Horse. Edgar Prado with John Eisenberg. New York: Harper, 2008. 202 pp. $25.95.