Reviews

Review: David Schmid, Natural Born Celebrities

February 23, 2006
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Review: David Schmid, Natural Born Celebrities

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries recently reviewed David Schmid’s Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture: "Schmid’s intriguing book thoroughly investigates the ‘celebrity’ serial killer phenomenon that has made killers like Jack the Ripper as famous as any movie star. Schmid explores how and why serial killers have obtained fame, the consequences of that fame, and what the killers’ celebrity status says about the roles that violence and fame play in culture. The subject matter is well researched and organized.… By examining the public fascination with serial killers, Schmid forces readers to confront their own roles in the creation of ‘celebrity’ serial killers and the public interest that generates celebrity status." Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London

February 22, 2006
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Review: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London

Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 has received the Longman-History Today Book of the Year 2006 award. History Today Editor Peter Furtado described it as "not a story of persecution, but a lucid, sane and fascinating account of how gay people negotiated space for themselves within a hostile cultural environment, dealing with policing, housing, geography, identity and politics." The current edition of the Times Higher Education Supplement features a review of Queer London by Matt Cook: "A ground-breaking work. While middle-class lives and writing have tended to compel the attention of most historians of homosexuality, Matt Houlbrook has looked more widely and found a rich seam of new evidence. It has allowed him to construct a complex, compelling account of interwar sexualities and to map a new, intimate geography of London.… There is a nostalgia here for a world lost. This brings a rare warmth to the book: Houlbrook has a genuine affection for the men and places he describes. Occasionally his spectacles feel just a little too rose (or lilac) tinted. He is right to suggest that some of our understandings of queer life have narrowed since the war, but I find it . . .

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Review: Carlo Rotella, Cut Time

February 22, 2006
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Review: Carlo Rotella, Cut Time

Carlo Rotella’s Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, chronicles his immersion in the fight world, from the brutal classroom of the gym to the spectacle of fight night. Cut Time was recently reviewed in the Columbus Dispatch: "Like venerable boxing writer W. C. Heinz (The Professional), Rotella studies the ring event to discover its meaning rather than burying it under a load of preconceived significance in the manner of Norman Mailer (Advertisements for Myself). Even so, Rotella remains aware that fight writing is not primarily ‘an account of what happened’ but ‘an expression of what a fight or fighter means to a writer.’" Read an excerpt. . . .

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Shoot! featured on BBC Radio Four

February 21, 2006
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Shoot! featured on BBC Radio Four

Luigi Pirandello’s Shoot!: The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator was recently featured on the BBC Radio Four program "Open Book." Originally published in Italian in 1915, Shoot! is one of the first novels to take as its subject the heady world of early motion pictures. Based on the absurdist journals of fictional Italian camera operator Serafino Gubbio, Shoot! documents the infancy of film in Europe—complete with proto-divas, laughable production schedules, and cost-cutting measures with priceless effects—and offers a glimpse of the modern world through the camera’s lens. Listen to an archive of the program by following the link on the Open Book Web site. . . .

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Review: Harry Collins, Dr. Golem

February 21, 2006
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Review: Harry Collins, Dr. Golem

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries praised Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch’s Dr. Golem: How to Think about Medicine: "This gem of a book is well written, thought provoking, and an enjoyable read. Highly recommended." A creature of Jewish mythology, a golem is an animated being made by man from clay and water who knows neither his own strength nor the extent of his ignorance. Like science and technology, the subjects of Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch’s previous volumes, medicine is also a golem, and this Dr. Golem should not be blamed for its mistakes—they are, after all, our mistakes. The problem lies in its well-meaning clumsiness. Dr. Golem explores some of the mysteries and complexities of medicine while untangling the inherent conundrums of scientific research and highlighting its vagaries. Driven by the question of what to do in the face of the fallibility of medicine, Dr. Golem encourages a more inquisitive attitude toward the explanations and accounts offered by medical science. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review, Luigi Pirandello, Shoot!

February 16, 2006
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Review, Luigi Pirandello, Shoot!

Earlier this month, a nice review of Luigi Pirandello’s Shoot!: The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator appeared in the New York Sun. Reviewer Adele Kudish praised the novel’s translator, C. K. Scott Moncrieff: "His Shoot! is the only English version ever published and proves to be a truly timeless and important rendering of Pirandello’s novel. Moncrieff skillfully re-created Pirandello’s dreamlike prose, which flitters in and out of consciousness, according to the mechanized tempo of Gubbio turning the handle of his machine." . . .

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Review: Orville Gilbert Brim, How Healthy Are We?

February 15, 2006
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Review: Orville Gilbert Brim, How Healthy Are We?

How Healthy Are We?: A National Study of Well-Being at Midlife, edited by Orville Gilbert Brim, Carol D. Ryff, and Ronald C. Kessler, was recently reviewed by Psychiatric Services: A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association: "It is an impressive and lengthy compendium and a valuable contribution to the epidemiology literature, including valuable insights into a range of psychosocial factors that define and affect middle-aged life in our society." . . .

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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

February 14, 2006
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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

Adekeye Adebajo recently reviewed Andrew Apter’s The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria for the Times Literary Supplement: "Traditional studies of Nigerian foreign policy have often ignored the cultural dimensions of Nigeria’s efforts to play a leadership role in Africa, although Nigeria has historically assigned itself the role—as the largest black nation on earth, comprising one in every five sub-Saharan Africans—of protecting black people globally. The country’s diplomats have, therefore, tried to champion the rights and interests of black people not just in Africa, but, for example, also in Brazil. Andrew Apter fills a gap in the literature by focusing on the spectacular Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), which was hosted by Nigeria in 1977." . . .

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Review: Edward Castronova, Synthetic Worlds

February 8, 2006
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Review: Edward Castronova, Synthetic Worlds

Tim Harford reviewed nine popular economics books in the Chronicle of Higher Education, including Edward Castronova’s Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Harford says that "Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations." Harford also wrote a longer review of the book last month for the Financial Times; that review is available on his website. You can also read our interview with Castronova. . . .

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Review: Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Cézanne and Provence

February 7, 2006
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Review: Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Cézanne and Provence

Aruna D’Souza reviewed four new books on Cézanne in the new issue of Bookforum, including Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer’s Cézanne and Provence: The Painter in His Culture: "Cézanne and Provence manages definitively to rewrite this canonical artistic biography, in part through Athanassoglou-Kallmyer’s close interrogation of the particular valence of Cézanne’s embrace of a Provençal regionalism in the last decades of his life, and through her examination of his ties to the culture of his birth throughout his career. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer’s thesis is simple and elegant: that Cézanne, far from being disengaged from the world in a hermitlike search for optical truth, was part of a group of intellectuals that included his closest childhood friends (such as, most familiarly, the poet and nationalist Joachim Gasquet) and whose Provençal patriotism was not at all out of step with a general regionalist impulse that took hold outside Paris in the mid-1880s. Thus, this group’s desire to preserve traditional Provençal culture, language, customs, and artifacts—all of which were being threatened by the homogenizing forces of modernization, industrialization, political centralization, and urban mass culture—was not part of a reactionary conservatism, argues Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, but (at least in those early years, before 1900) was perfectly in concert with leftist . . .

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