Books in Brief

Books reviewed in The Atlantic Monthly in 2005

Raising Boys Without Men, by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., with Linden Gross (Rodale)
Reviewed by Caitlin Flanagan ("Boys Will Be Boys," November 2005)

"One could logically conclude from this report that the very worst situation for a boy would be to have two fathers raise him—but I'm sure Drexler doesn't mean that. It's straight men she's afraid of, and it's been open season on them for such a long time that her preposterous book is unlikely to raise a ripple beyond its intended audience."

.....

The Stripping of the Altars, by Eamon Duffy (Yale)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Another World," October 2005)

"At once meticulous and lush, The Stripping of the Altars patiently and systematically recovers the lost world of medieval English Catholicism."

.....

Is Cuba Socialist?, by René Dumont (Deutsch)
Reviewed by Steve Wasserman ("Cuba Libre," December 2005)

"A French agronomist with expertise in the developing and newly independent nations of Africa, [Dumont] accepted an invitation from Castro to witness and critique the revolution then in the making. Dumont was appalled by what he saw: Cuba's far from withering state, the militarization of its economy, the idolatry surrounding its overindulged "maximum leader."

.....

Tired of Weeping: Mother Love, Child Death, and Poverty in Guinea-Bissau, by Jonina Einarsdottir (Wisconsin)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("He Found It at the Movies," September 2005)

"This compelling contribution to the anthropology of emotion carries a deeply unsettling implication.... it seems clear that many earlier societies were, and many of today's impoverished societies are, saturated with—even defined by—an inconsolable anguish."

.....

Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin, by David Evanier (Rodale Books)
Reviewed by David Hajdu (" Chameleon With a Toupee," January/February 2005)

"Evanier's portrait, true to its title, is one of a bright talent that soared quickly and erupted in a flash of glory."

.....

Persona Non Grata: A Memoir of Disenchantment With the Cuban Revolution, by Jorge Edwards, preface by Octavio Paz (Nation Books)
Reviewed by Steve Wasserman ("Cuba Libre," December 2005)

"Edwards, a renowned novelist, was Chilean President Salvador Allende's man in Havana in the winter of 1970-1971.... His indispensable memoir first appeared in English in 1977."

.....

The Third Reich in Power, by Richard J. Evans (Penguin)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("War Without End," November 2005)

"This, the second part of a three-volume history of Nazi Germany, covers the period from the Nazi seizure of power, in 1933, to the start of the Second World War, in 1939. A wonder of synthesis and acute judgment, this work when completed will be the definitive study for at least a generation. "

.....

Faithfull: An Autobiography, by Marianne Faithfull and David Dalton (Little, Brown & Co.)
Reviewed by Sally Singer ("The Lady Is a Tramp," July/August 2005)

"Were there ever more-glamorous groupies than Faithfull and her stunning partner in just about everything, Anita Pallenberg? They bed-swapped with the Stones, when getting inside Mick's trousers still meant something, and then Marianne dropped the Stones for drugs. This wonderfully matter-of-fact account of sixties decadence British-style is evidence that Faithfull cannot ultimately be charged with moral vacuity."

.....

The Singapore Grip, by J. G. Farrell (NYRB Books)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Golden State," June 2005)

"Farrell matchlessly conveys the dull terror of incipient disaster that seized [a] rich, modern, but isolated and artificial metropolis."

.....

A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (New York Review Books Classics)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("War Without End," November 2005)

"Two volumes of extraordinary lyrical beauty and discursive, staggering erudition.... An evocation of a lost Mitteleuropa of wild horses and dark forests, of ancient synagogues and vivacious Jewish coffeehouses, of Hussars and Uhlans, and of high-spirited and deeply eccentric patricians with vast libraries."

.....

My Life So Far, by Jane Fonda (Random House)
Reviewed by Tom Carson ("Calamity Jane," July/August 2005)

"No matter what your preconceptions are, Fonda's My Life So Far is never boring.... That Fonda can still be an unconscious narcissist after all these years is triumphant proof that she's as American as smart bombs and Bozo."

.....

The Mind of the Master Class, by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese (Cambridge)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Another World," October 2005)

"A work brilliant but at times exasperating, always tough-minded, often mischievous, and occasionally disappointing, the 800-plus-page The Mind of the Master Class is impossibly rich."

.....

An Autobiography (To the Is-Land, An Angel at My Table, The Envoy From Mirror City), by Janet Frame (George Braziller)
Reviewed by Terry Castle ("Gender Bending, Part 2," October 2005)

"Such poignancy, farce, tragedy, and joy—one can only pay homage."

.....

What's the Matter With Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank (Metropolitan Books)
Reviewed by Marc Cooper ("Thinking of Jackasses," April 2005)

"Thomas Frank wittily and skillfully deconstruct[s] what might be dubbed the Great Con Job: the conservative canard that somehow Democrats have cornered the market on elitism, while the GOP's bleeding heart is more with the little guy than with Enron's Kenneth Lay."

.....

Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition, by Bill Friedman (Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming)
Reviewed by Marc Cooper ("Sit and Spin," December 2005)

"In his Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition, an exhaustive 600-page, eight-pound study of every major casino in Nevada, the former casino executive Bill Friedman recognizes the cocooning allure of machine gambling, implicitly arguing that the snugger and more isolating a casino space is, the more inviting it is to machine players."

.....

The Golden West, by Daniel Fuchs (Black Sparrow)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Golden State," June 2005)

"Fuchs's fictional and nonfictional depictions of Los Angeles and the movie business have been assembled with great care and unusual intelligence in this collection. His appraisals are at once lyrical and hard: his ingenuous relish of the jasmine, orange blossoms, and honeysuckle in the soft air of a winter's night in Beverly Hills never diminished, even as he dissected the narcissistic desperation at the heart of the Hollywood enterprise."

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