Friday, June 29, 2012

Arlie Hochschild: The Outsourced Self

Arlie Hochschild discusses her elegant yet provocative book about the ways that the market has impacted what she calls "intimate life" in an interview with Jim Schaefer, host and executive producer of Riprap: The Academic Book Television Program.  A must read by this sociologist that is also fun and informative.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future

Jennifer Grandholm, Michigan's former Governor, and Dan Mulhern have turned the autobiography genre on its head with this excellent, well-written book.  Instead of  a self-indulgent recitation of select remembrances, the two scholars chose to reflect on the challenges of leadership in a state that was hit hard and first by the struggles over devastating unemployment in a global economy, huge budget deficits, technological upheavals, and foreign competition.  Yes, this narrative includes the drama that the state faced when the Big Three car companies nearly went bankrupt.  Our recommendation is to buy this book because you will gain insights, with specific details, into the ways that Michigan successfully has worked to have the car companies posting new profits and to enjoy the most improved job creation rate of any state in the United States.
Rating: Five out of five stars.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Human Trafficking and Slavery in America

It's often easier to point the accusing finger of wrongdoing at other people and other nations, but Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter have collecting damning evidence that slaves are hidden all around us in this country, in America! Their book, The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, is a must read for all citizens, not just those who are counselors, experts, law enforcement officers, and rescue and support groups. We should also all heed its call for action to stop this horrific crime that can involve the dishwasher in a neighborhood restaurant, the man sweeping the floor of a local department store, and maids in the house next door.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Russian Music

Mention Richard Taruskin, and music lovers' eyes will roll and heads will nod approvingly in response to his over four decades of redefining the field of Russian music study. This volume gathers thirty-six essays on composers ranging from Bortnyansky in the eighteenth to Tarnpolsky in the twenty-first, as well as all the famous names in between. In addition, the reader is treated to Taruskin's thoughts on the history and historiography of Russian music. As Taruskin observes, this book picks up the banner from its namesake: Gerald Abraham's On Russian Music: Critical and Historical Studies of Glinka's Operas, Balakriev's Works, etc., with chapters dealing with Compositions by Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaiksky, Mussorgsky, Glazunov, and various other aspects of Russian Music (published in 1939). Impressive. Rating: five out of five stars.

Living with Fire

Fires seem to to be raging around the United States all the time, with horrific consequences, so it's difficult, though necessary, to accept the premise that fire "plays a crucial role in North American forest ecosystems. Still, Sara E. Jensen and Guy R. McPherson, in their book, Living with Fire: Fire Ecology and Policy for the Twenty-First Century, support just that premise with "abundant and historical and analytic information. In sum, Jensen and McPherson argue that more research will enhance "increasingly nuanced and accurate" perceptions of fire ecology. This difficult and possibly bitter position (for those whose homes are burning up) is still helpful in understanding the wider context of these catastrophes. Rating: four of five stars.

When the Church Becomes Your Party

As Horace Clarence Boyer, author of The Golden Age of Gospel, says, "There is no doubt that 'today's gospel is not your mother's gospel,' so we should be thankful that we have Deborah Smith Pollard's When the Church Becomes Your Party to serve as our interpreter." That is indeed true, although Pollard also says her goal is "to reflect the sacred yet celebratory intentions that exist throughout the gospel music community despite the wide variety of sounds, performance styles, and controversies that often surround them." Indeed, Pollard fulfills that goal as she explores "what's going on right under our (upturned) noses," with "muscle t-shirts, tight jeans, cleavage" and "preachers in disguise" (holy hip hop artists). Rating: four out of five stars.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Darkening Peaks and Retreating Glaciers

As impact of global warming spreads around the world, scientists like Ben Orlove, Ellen Wiegandt, and Brian H. Luckman, are trying to help us understand just how bad it is in books like their edited anthology, Darkening Peaks: Glacier Retreat, Science, and Society. These three scholars are trying to tell us that the impressive and seemingly eternal glaciers we know ad love are trying to teach us a lesson at the beginning of the twenty-first century: just how vulnerable the earth is to the impact of human beings. The book shows the reader, through the extensive and complex observations, that clearly an environmental and cultural disaster is taking place. Rating: five out of five stars.