New Publications

George M. Eberhart

Devil at the Confluence, by Kevin Belford (210 pages, October 2009), pays belated tribute to a city that played a major role in the development of ragtime and blues music—St. Louis, the city at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Belford, a professional illustrator, started out to make a series of portraits in honor of St. Louis blues and jazz musicians prior to World War II. When he found out how little research had been done on them compared to blues musicians further south, he launched a massive project to reestablish the city’s musical heritage. Here he sets the record straight with a wealth of primary research, noting that what became ragtime music was played in the city as early as 1888, and quoting St. Louis piano bluesman Stump Johnson on blues origins: “St. Louis had some of the best blues singers that ever there was in the history of the blues. The levee at St. Louis was known throughout the country as the origination of blues.” Belford’s original color portraits of some 60 musicians, rare photos, newspaper clippings, ads, record labels, and other ephemera make this a fascinating and original contribution to blues history. Accompanied by a CD with 14 blues cuts. $39.95. Virginia Publishing. 978-1-891442-49-0.

Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties, by Brett Abbott (236 pages, July 2010), showcases the work of nine freelance photojournalists whose projects are a mixture of advocacy and objective reporting. Written to accompany an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum in June–November 2010, the book begins with a historical introduction to photojournalism, then looks in depth at the work of Leonard Freed (Black in White America, 1968), Philip Jones Griffiths (Vietnam Inc., 1971), W. Eugene and Aileen M. Smith (Minamata, 1975), Susan Meiselas (Nicaragua, June 1978–July 1979, 1981), Mary Ellen Mark (Streetwise, 1988), Lauren Greenfield (Fast Forward, 1997, and Girl Culture, 2002), Larry Towell (The Mennonites, 2000), Sebastião Salgado (Migrations, 2000), and James Nachtwey, The Sacrifice (installation, 2007). $49.95. Getty Publications. 978-1-60606-022-3.

Every Day of the Civil War: A Chronological Encyclopedia, by Bud Hannings (631 pages, September 2010), sets out to chronicle the military engagements of the entire war on both land and sea. Each day’s events are organized by the state in which they occurred, followed by Naval and Marine Corps actions, and the appointments, promotions, and resignations of officers in both the Union and Confederate military. The level of detail far exceeds that attempted by the Civil War Almanac (World Almanac, 1983). Political events are not covered, except for major ones like presidential inaugurations or the Emancipation Proclamation. Appendices include rosters of Union and Confederate generals, their highest rank, and year of graduation from West Point; prominent Union Naval officers; major naval actions; and Medal of Honor recipients. The index is nicely comprehensive, and the text is broken up by contemporary maps and engravings. $125.00. McFarland. 978-0-7864-4464-9.

In Defense of Leon Trotsky, by David North (194 pages, August 2010), was written to counter errors in three recent biographies of one of the most prominent leaders of the 1917 revolution and founder of the Red Army, who was exiled, vilified, and finally executed on the orders of Stalin in 1940. North has many bones to pick with Geoffrey Swain, Trotsky: Profiles in Power (Longman, 2006), Ian D. Thatcher, Trotsky (Routledge, 2003), and Robert Service, Trotsky: A Biography (Harvard University, 2009). As chairman of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party, North has an ideological interest in clearing Trotsky’s name from Stalinist and anticommunist slanders and distortions in this compilation of essays and lectures. Yet his criticisms underscore the fact that, 70 years after Trotsky’s death, there is still much to clarify and assess about the man’s writings, philosophy, and historical legacy. $15.95. Mehring Books. 978-1-893638-05-1.

The MLS Project: An Assessment after Sixty Years, by Boyd Keith Swigger (163 pages, September 2010), calls for a reexamination of ALA’s decision in 1951 to make the MLS the primary degree for entry into the profession. Swigger, a professor at Texas Woman’s University SLIS, examines why the decision was made and whether or not it is a currently valid model for today’s students. He suggests some new approaches, including the creation of new accrediting agencies, recognition of LIS bachelor’s degrees, and building multiple models for training in librarianship. $50.00. Scarecrow. 978-0-8108-7703-0.

The Tunguska Mystery, by Vladimir Rubtsov (318 pages, August 2009), is one of the most thorough English-language examinations of the little-understood Tunguska event of June 30, 1908—the devastating aerial explosion over the Siberian forest that has been attributed to a stony asteroid fragment, the icy core of a comet, an antimatter collision, a tectonic event, and even a nuclear explosion, though not one of these adequately accounts for all the circumstances. Rubtsov, a Ukrainian with a doctorate in the philosophy of science from the Russian Academy of Sciences, analyzes the extensive Russian research (much of which has never been translated), from the first Soviet expedition in 1921 to a series of centennial conferences in 2008, and looks at the anomalies: atmospheric phenomena both before and after the event, the atypical features of the aerial object seen by some 500 Evenki eyewitnesses, the lack of an impact crater or findable meteoritic debris, the radial pattern of the 800 square miles of leveled trees, the zone of upright trees at the epicenter, the accelerated growth of post-event vegetation, and the unusual concentration of rare earths found at the epicenter. Rubtsov’s commentary is critical and professional, although he fails to sufficiently assess the theory that Tunguska was caused by a geothermal outgassing (proposed by Andrey Olkhovatov and Wolfgang Kundt) as well as evidence (not yet verified) that nearby Lake Cheko is a secondary impact crater. $29.95. Springer. 978-0-387-76573-0.

George Eberhart celebrates milestone

This issue marks the 30-year anniversary of George Eberhart’s authorship of the C&RL News New Publications department. George’s reviews are always informative, well written, and highly entertaining at the same time. Reading them is one of my favorite parts of editing the News on a monthly basis.

You may know George from his “day job” as senior editor of American Libraries and editor of AL Direct, but we are proud to have him as part of the C&RL News family, as well. Congratulations George, and we’ll look forward to another 30 years of reviews!

David Free, editor-in-chief

Copyright © American Library Association, 2010

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