Books in Brief

Books reviewed in The Atlantic Monthly in 2005

The Sky's the Limit, by Steven Gaines (Little, Brown)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Eminent Domains," May 2005)

"If, as Gaines asserts, 'real estate has become a voyeuristic preoccupation in America,' then this is one smutty book. It probes the world of Manhattan's most exclusive apartment houses ... and dishes plenty of tittle-tattle."


The Devil's Playground, by Nan Goldin (Phaidon)
Reviewed by Terry Castle ("Strange Butterflies," June 2005)

"Go on, admit it: she's now the greatest living American photographer... The autobiographical photographs making up this enormous volume ... are impossible to stop looking at."


Animals in Translation, By Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson (Scribner)
Reviewed by B. R. Myers ("If Pigs Could Swim," September 2005)

"Grandin's prose alone makes her new book, Animals in Translation, well worth a read. Fresh and irreverent, yet almost completely emotionless, the style suggests a cross between Holden Caulfield and Star Trek's Mr. Spock—which is so much better than it sounds that I wish Grandin would try her hand at fiction."


The Survivor, by John F. Harris (Random House)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Golden State," June 2005)

"Better accounts of the Clinton presidency will be written, but for now this is the best."


Open Wide, by Dade Hayes and Jonathan Bing (Miramax Books)
Reviewed by Tom Carson ("The Big Shill," May 2005)

"What [Hayes and Bing] have produced is a classic look at Hollywood in the age of box-office megabucks—a book to set alongside Lillian Ross's Picture, John Gregory Dunne's The Studio, and Steven Bach's Final Cut, the best of a genre that ought to be more crowded."


Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter (HarperBusiness)
Reviewed by Marc Cooper ("Thinking of Jackasses," April 2005)

"Liberal Canadian professors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter argue that an essentially self-gratifying 'idea of the counterculture' has turned into 'the conceptual template for all contemporary leftist politics.'"


Unraveled, by Maria Housden (Harmony Books)
Reviewed by Sandra Tsing Loh ("The Great Escape," September 2005)

"Was Unraveled as much of a New Age white upper-middle-class fantasy howler as I thought it was? Test reads by other mothers, trusted friends, revealed that if anything, the book seemed more of a Rorschach inkblot: women reacted, often weepily, to the individual strands that most resonated with their own experience."


Beat the Slots, by Marten Jensen (Cardoza Publishing)
Reviewed by Marc Cooper ("Sit and Spin," December 2005)

"Jensen, the so-called Doctor of Gambling, points out in his Beat the Slots that even an apparently low-stakes slot session can chew right through a hefty bankroll."


The Chosen, by Jerome Karabel (Houghton Mifflin)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("He Found It at the Movies," September 2005)

"Karabel ... is illuminating and quietly excoriating on the subject of class diversity at the elite schools—a value they don't prize nearly as highly as they do racial and ethnic diversity."


Guerrillas in Power: The Course of the Cuban Revolution, by K. S. Karol (Nation Books)
Reviewed by Steve Wasserman ("Cuba Libre," December 2005)

"No writer before [Karol] had enjoyed such complete access to confidential government files and to Castro and his comrades. Karol wrote an honest book, sharply criticizing Castro for becoming a caudillo."


The Face of Battle, By John Keegan (Anchor)
Reviewed by Terry Castle ("Gender Bending," September 2005)

"Keegan's now classic description of what it was like to be an ordinary soldier on the Agincourt, Waterloo, or Somme battlefields is harrowing, humane, profound."


The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West, by Gilles Kepel (Belknap)
Reviewed by Peter Beinart ("Backfire," March 2005)

"[Kepel's] discussions of the competing strains in Saudi Islamist thought and the influence of Internet imams on Muslims in France are worth the book's price alone. Yet amid this intricate history and fascinating micro-sociology are bizarre, unsupported assertions."


The Education of a French Model, by Kiki (Belmont Books)
Reviewed by Sally Singer ("The Lady Is a Tramp," July/August 2005)

"A smashing little memoir, with an introduction by a thoroughly smashed Ernest Hemingway, by Kiki de Montparnasse, the artist's model who was muse or whore to artist or john (depending on the soir) in Paris in the 1920s."


The Fourth Network : How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television, by David M. Kimmel (Ivan R. Dee)
Reviewed by Tom Carson ("The Murdoch Touch," January/February 2005)

"As a straightforward recap of how Murdoch did it—from buying Metromedia and assembling a ragtag group of indie affiliates to dickering with Congress and an FCC so happy to lean backward for him that it was nicknamed the Fox Communications Commission—The Fourth Network is an informative read. Its limitation is that despite his sweeping subtitle, Kimmel is really interested only in the business side of the story, and in a fairly pedestrian way."


Chanel, edited by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Elements of Style," July/August 2005)

"This swank book ... focuses on the continuities and evolution of the style of the house of Chanel from its inception, before the First World War, to its current permutation under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld. Fashion writing tends toward the gaseous, but Koda's introduction and the text of the exhibition catalogue nicely explain Chanel's innovations, clearly define the essential qualities of her designs, and concretely convey the workings of cut and construction."


Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, by George Lakoff (Chelsea Green Publishing)
Reviewed by Marc Cooper ("The Lost Crusade," April 2005)

"A feel-good self-help book for a stratum of despairing liberals who just can't believe how their commonsense message has been misunderstood by the eternally deceived masses."


Seven Pillars of Wisdom, By T. E. Lawrence (Anchor)
Reviewed by Terry Castle ("Gender Bending," September 2005)

"For insights into imperialism, the modern Middle East, and the kinky, coquettish personality of the twentieth century's strangest Englishman, this book is matchless."


How to Win Millions Playing Slot Machines! ... or Lose Trying, by Frank Legato (Bonus Books)
Reviewed by Marc Cooper ("Sit and Spin," December 2005)

"Legato ... knocks down every hoary myth about how to win at slots. Regardless of which mechanical apparatus is added; regardless of how many funny cartoons there are; 'regardless of whether they play the song from a TV show, give the player a board game to play, play the overture from Les Misérables, or get down on one knee and sing 'Mammy,' all modern slot machines are computers.'"

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