New Publications

George M. Eberhart

Answer Them Nothing: Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren Jeffs, by Debra Weyermann (386 pages, August 2011), chronicles the story of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a splinter group of Mormons who practice polygamy (“plural marriage”) and are headquartered at the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. Its leader, Warren Jeffs, was convicted in San Angelo, Texas, in August 2011 of two counts of sexual assault on a minor and is now serving a sentence of life plus 20 years. During the trial, prosecutors showed evidence that Jeffs had 78 plural wives, including 12 girls married at age 16 and another 12 who were 15 or younger. Weyermann presents a thorough account of FLDS beliefs, practices, and criminal activities, beginning with the 1953 raid by National Guard troops on its former compound in Short Creek, Arizona. $24.95. Chicago Review Press. 978-1-56976-531-9.

Atomic Postcards: Radioactive Messages from the Cold War, by John O’Brian and Jeremy Borsos (188 pages, May 2011), features a collection of 128 postcards, published between 1945 and 1989, that depict atomic bomb tests, nuclear missiles, atomic processing plants, nuclear-energy museum exhibits, atomic ships and submarines, nuclear physicists, and nuclear power plants. From Army photos of the devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to a set of real photos of a 1953 mushroom cloud from the Nevada Test Site as an advertisement for a Las Vegas hotel and casino, the images speak volumes about the Cold War era and its fears. O’Brian, an art historian at the University of British Columbia, and Borsos, a Canadian visual artist, write in the introduction that the postcards are strange hybrids of tourism and terror, of nationalism and pacifism (two of the cards have been stamped with “Pray for Peace” cancellations), where “the extraordinary keeps company with the ordinary, the excessive with the banal.” Information on the titles, captions, dates, publishers, and handwritten messages for each card are provided in an appendix. $45.00. Intellect / University of Chicago. 978-1-84150-431-5.

Back from the Dead: Remakes of the Romero Zombie Films as Markers of Their Times, by Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. (244 pages, June 2011), analyzes the zombie films of George Romero and their remakes by other directors in order to see how the shifting ecology of the undead over time resonates with the audience’s fear of war, terrorism, social malaise, and spiritual apocalypse. Romero began the current zombie craze with his 1968 cult film Night of the Living Dead and has kept the pallid, shambling, revivified genre going with Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), and others. Wetmore’s close reading of these films weds the passion of a fanboy with the objectivity of an academic and results in a dissection that is both insightful and entertaining. $40.00. McFarland. 978-0-7864-4642-1.

McFarland is on a major zombie kick this year, with three additional books released in four months. Generation Zombie: Essays on the Living Dead in Modern Culture, edited by Stephanie Boluk and Wylie Lenz (259 pages, June 2011), collects some academic perspectives on z-horror, including zombie origins, environmental contagion, living-dead crowd psychology, and zombies on campus. Two books edited by Christopher M. Moreman and Cory James Rushton, Race, Oppression, and the Zombie (232 pages, July 2011) and Zombies Are Us (220 pages, September 2011), focus on cross-cultural appropriations of the Caribbean zombie tradition and zombie sociology respectively.

The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, by Marc Levinson (358 pages, September 2011), traces the rise of the first billion-dollar grocery store from its founding in 1859 to its decline in the 1960s following unfavorable antitrust verdicts in the late 1940s and the deaths of its two debt-averse and innovative owners in the 1950s. Brothers George and John Hartford had guided the Great Atlantic & Pacific from tea company to grocery-store chain and finally to a supermarket empire where American families in 39 states bought their food. A&Ps were the Walmarts of their day, threatening the existence of mom-and-pop stores across the country with lower prices and a wide range of products that included recognizable store brands like Eight O’Clock Coffee. Levinson tells the story entertainingly and sympathetically. $27.95. Hill and Wang. 978-0-8090-9543-8.

Just My Type: A Book about Fonts, by Simon Garfield (356 pages, September 2011), is a playful series of musings on the uses, meanings, and aesthetics of typefaces. Although fonts have been around for 560 years, it’s only been in the past two decades since the introduction of desktop publishing that they have become household words to anyone but graphic designers. Garfield leads us through such byways as the stigma of Comic Sans, type designers from Caxton to Cavazos, the romance of the ampersand, the clarity of Helvetica, the death and rebirth of German gothic, the politics of Gotham, the lore of hot metal, the typography of transportation, and a selection of the worst fonts in the world. $27.50. Gotham Books. 978-1-592-40652-4.

Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1876–1956, by Wayne A. Wiegand (244 pages, October 2011), looks closely at four midwestern public libraries—in Sauk Centre, Minnesota; Osage, Iowa; Lexington, Michigan; and Rhinelander, Wisconsin—and the roles they played in encouraging reading, providing safe civic spaces, and reinforcing local social values. Wiegand finds little evidence, however, that these libraries existed to provide information to fuel political discourse or to counter established cultural viewpoints. His analysis of their collections during this time period provides some intriguing details about their book selection choices. $25.95. University of Iowa. 978-1-60938-067-0.

Toward a Better Life: America’s New Immigrants in Their Own Words, by Peter Morton Coan (379 pages, October 2011), brings together 32 firsthand accounts written by immigrants to the United States from 1898 to 2000. Some came through Ellis Island before it closed in 1954, others were refugees, still others crossed the border illegally. Coan, who also compiled Ellis Island Interviews: In Their Own Words (Facts on File, 1997), arranges the accounts by decade, interspersed with immigration statistics, photos, key events, and famous immigrants of the period. Their stories explain why they left their homelands, what they endured in coming here, and what became of them and their families. $26.00. Prometheus. 978-1-61614-394-7.

Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide, by Jessamyn C. West (258 pages, May 2011), will come in handy for librarians who have to explain basic computer procedures and safeguards to anyone else, whether incoming freshmen, senior faculty, or their grandmothers. Although written primarily for public librarians, West’s book gives advice that is general enough for many situations and includes tips on basic instruction techniques, browsing and search engines, e-mail hazards, software, online databases, and troubleshooting technical problems, all of it interspersed with practical philosophy and engaging anecdotes that make for a fun read. $40.00. Libraries Unlimited. 978-1-59884-453-5.

Copyright 2011© American Library Association

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