Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
Obama’s Guantánamo: Stories from an Enduring Prison

Edited by Jonathan Hafetz. New York Univ., $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4798-5280-2

These searing essays on the “enduring prison” make an impressive follow-up to The Guantánamo Lawyers, an earlier collection coedited by Hafetz, a Seton Hall associate law professor. All of the contributors are lawyers who have represented Guantánamo Bay detainees, and they provide an insider look into a “legal black hole” where, they argue, the rule of law is suspended. Recounting stories of human rights violations inside the prison, the essays excoriate President Obama for his failure to close Guantánamo as promised. In their respective essays, Gary A. Isaac, Mark Fleming, and Omar Farah examine the landmark case Boumediene v. Bush, in which habeas corpus was restored for prisoners, to no avail. Other essayists boldly defend their clients’ rights to urgent medical assistance, safe expatriation after release, and the fair disclosure of classified records. Refuting the common perception of Guantánamo detainees as being, without exception, remorseless terrorists, these essays reveal the human side of prisoners who were often abducted under shaky pretexts and detained indefinitely to await trial. This book, from a legal perspective, looks deeply and insightfully into an American institution working in secret in the age of the War on Terror. (July)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future

Gretchen Bakke. Bloomsbury, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-60819-610-4

The omnipresent but seldom-noticed apparatus of electricity supply is in conspicuous upheaval, according to this interesting but scattershot history of America’s grid from Bakke, an assistant professor of anthropology at McGill University. She recounts the evolution of the grid from thousands of small-scale generators into giant utilities and explores the phenomena that she contends are now nibbling that model to death: environmental regulations, deregulated electricity markets, burgeoning wind and solar sectors, rooftop photovoltaics (PV), microgrids, and squirrels gnawing on transmission lines. Her lucid, accessible discussion is clear-eyed about the pitfalls of these developments, and she adopts a supportive, populist tone in discussing them as ways for folks to take control from centralized electricity monopolies. Unfortunately, small mistakes (rooftop PV is not “producing three times more electricity in California than are central station solar plants”—quite the opposite) and large misinterpretations (“big, expensive power plants... aren’t needed much, if at all, anymore,” she writes, though they still generate almost all U.S. electricity) undermine confidence in her judgments. Her tour of faddish green-energy doctrine—Amory Lovins is frequently invoked—makes a argument for the cultural inevitability of change, but the practical case for reinventing the current centralized grid, that triumph of collective provisioning, feels weak and ill-supported. Agent: Susan Rabiner, Susan Rabiner Literary. (July)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE

Pat Patterson, with Bertrand Hébert. ECW (Perseus/Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-77041-293-4

Two stories are at work in this memoir from Patterson, one of the greatest performers and creative minds in the history of professional wrestling. One story is the tale of a young French-Canadian man growing up in Montreal in the 1950s, struggling with his sexuality. He meets the love of his life in Boston and finds acceptance for their romance in both the broader society and his macho, closed-to-outsiders industry. “Being gay turned out to not be an issue at all,” he writes. “As long as I took five- and ten-dollar wrestling payoffs without complaining.” That story line is surprisingly wistful, tender, and accessible to all readers. The second, however, is a behind-the-scenes look into the wrestling world that will lose all but the most fervent fans. Many names from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are referenced without context. Others are purposefully not named. Major events are mentioned without details that might help newcomers grasp the situation. This inside-wrestling aspect may narrow the book’s readership. But Patterson is a very good storyteller, and his tales from the road about well-known personalities such as the fun-seeking Andre the Giant and the forever-young-at-heart Ray Stevens are wonderfully told, and many of the wrestlers’ time-killing pranks are laugh-out-loud funny. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Capital Offenses: Business Crime and Punishment in America’s Corporate Age

Samuel Buell. Norton, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-24783-1

Why isn’t half of Wall Street in jail? Or at least in court? Several years after the Great Recession, that is a question Main Street America would still like answered. Buell, a law professor at Duke University and former Enron prosecutor, has an answer, but probably not the one people want. In short: it’s complicated. In this comprehensive examination of white-collar criminal law, Buell cogently explains the difficulties inherent in corporate criminal prosecutions. First, corporations aren’t people, so they can’t be incarcerated. (Generally, they can only be embarrassed and fined.) Second, the misdoings of corporations, even when deadly—as with General Motors’s faulty ignition switch or the explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig—are seldom attributable to one person. Instead, they generally arise from systemic flaws in corporate culture or procedure. Aside from these difficulties, the laws governing corporate malfeasance are deliberately vague and often require that prosecutors prove malicious intent, making convictions difficult. Buell also explains why corporations, as engines of commerce and promoters of economic welfare, are given leniency and latitude that would never be offered to human beings. Without ever coming across as specious or barristerial, he has crafted a thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of crime on Wall Street vs. crime on Main Street. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Slippery Slope: Europe’s Troubled Future

Giles Merritt. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-19-875786-3

If Europe’s existence were formulated as a question, a good candidate would be one that’s been asked a lot: what is to be done? This is the question at the heart of Merritt’s (The Challenge of Freedom) study. Wasting no time, the author dispels 10 myths about Europe (things as banal as “Europe is rich” or “Europe is strong”) that he believes are obscuring the real situation: that Europe is on a steep downhill path. His prescriptions largely regard Europe’s place in a globalized age. He relates the EU’s status in the coming years to the rise of China and India (Europeans should engage, not fear) and the increasing role of major African states on the world stage (Europeans shouldn’t squander a great opportunity for growth and should put their minds toward changes in trade policy). Merritt argues for increased immigration primarily to fill gaps in the shrinking, aging workforce and to introduce more consumers, creating more demand within the market economy and, in turn, more jobs. These are viable solutions, but they’re only a few of the steps back from the cliff’s edge. His domestic solutions are likewise achievable, but everything within the book will be an uphill battle. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Navigating Life: Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me

Margaux Bergen. Penguin Press, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59420-629-0

With charming candor and insight, Bergen addresses her college-bound daughter, Charlotte, on subjects such as love, friendship, education, and work. The book’s eight essays offer advice on facing “the hidden horrors and private joys of adult life”: conversation tactics gleaned from friends and cab drivers, the importance of dental care (“This is America and teeth matter”), and impulse control (“learn why you drink”). She discusses career moves and handling prickly employers and sudden terminations with grace before meaningfully recounting her experience with depression and the death of her alcoholic father. Her comments on divorce are wise and sensitive, stressing the value of romantic love despite its risk, “the daily glory of understanding and being understood.” Bergen is at her most poignant when describing the fluctuations of intimacy and parental control with a child on the verge of adulthood: “I still watch over you but now you watch me too. I am not used to the scrutiny.” Bergen’s style belongs to the tradition of Michel de Montaigne, providing guidance through an alchemy of personal reminiscence and thoughts on the general human condition. Her story may not be remarkably exciting, but it is well told and piercing in its honesty. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Known and Strange Things: Essays

Teju Cole. Random House, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-8129-8978-6

Three experiences structure this first nonfiction collection from novelist Cole (Every Day Is for the Thief). The first section, “Reading Things,” offers appreciations of writers, among them Tomas Tranströmer, Sonali Deraniyagala, André Aciman, Ivan Vladislavic, and, especially, W.G. Sebald, whose work raises the same ethical questions Cole asks time and again. The second, “Seeing Things,” explores the work of visual artists, primarily photographers, from places as different as Mali, Russia, France, and South Africa, and casts keen-eyed scrutiny upon photography itself. Cole’s tripartite structure concludes with “Being There.” Throughout, Cole forges unexpected connections, as in “Unnamed Lake,” in which, over the course of one sleepless night, his mind wanders over different historical moments: a Nazi performance of Beethoven at the opening of the extermination camp in Belzec, Poland (1942); the death of the last Tasmanian tiger (1936); a military coup in Nigeria (1966); a ferry disaster in Bangladesh (2014); and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (1945). Cole is a literary performance artist, his words meticulously chosen and deployed with elegance and force. To read, see, and travel with him is to be changed by the questions that challenge him. As he observes of one writer, “The pleasure of reading him resides in the pleasure of his company”; the same may well be said of Cole. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea

Tristan Gooley. The Experiment, $19.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-61519-358-5

In this enthusiastic, if esoteric, volume, Gooley (The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs), a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Institute of Navigation, diagnoses humans with a lack of fascination with water and sets out to rectify this situation. He examines water in its various liquid forms, pointing readers toward the “physical clues, signs, and patterns to look for in water, whether you are standing by a puddle or gazing out across miles of ocean.” For example, Gooley identifies various types of puddles—including low-point, tracker, and navigator puddles—and reveals the reasons behind the ways they form, such as the ground beneath them, or the local flora and fauna. Similarly, he explains the differences among ripples, waves, and swells in larger bodies of water. Readers should be prepared for the occasional technical discussion, as when Gooley gives a rundown of the individual layers of water in a lake—epilimnion, thermocline, hypolimnion—and outlines an experiment readers can do at home to further explore them. The minutiae may turn off some readers, but avid and budding outdoorspeople will appreciate Gooley’s breadth of knowledge and accessible approach to his subject. Agent: Sophie Hicks, Sophie Hicks Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War

Chandra Manning. Knopf, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307-27120-4

Many readers are familiar with the idea that the emancipation of American slaves came as the result of the Civil War, but Manning (What This Cruel War Was Over), an assistant professor of history at Georgetown University, illustrates in this enlightening study that many enslaved men, women, and children—nearly half a million people—took advantage of wartime chaos and the proximity of Union forces to escape their owners and seek refuge among the soldiers. These “contrabands,” as they came to be called, experienced what was for many their first contact with the federal government. The relationship between these fugitives and the Union Army was unequal, yet based on mutual need: a sanctuary from enslavement for the former, and services for the latter, including laundry, nursing, and ditch digging. As Manning makes clear, “freed people enjoyed more success in obtaining their objectives under military authority than they did under civil authority,” and thus the war’s end in 1865 did not see the great majority of enslaved people gain their freedom. But when the former Confederate states were unwilling to transform slaves into citizens, Manning shows how the memory of the wartime alliance between contrabands and the Union Army made the federal government at least an occasional supporter of black rights over the next 100 years. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Peacock & Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny

A.S. Byatt. Knopf, $26.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-101-94747-0

In this persuasively argued essay, Booker Prize–winning novelist Byatt (Possession) makes a case for viewing the achievements of two seemingly dissimilar designers—William Morris (1834–1896) and Mariano Fortuny (1871–1949)—in the same light. The English-born Morris came from a bourgeois background and, like his associates Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones (both of who were members of the group of artists known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), looked to the medieval Christian tradition as inspiration for his fabric and textile designs. Fortuny, who was descended from an aristocratic Spanish family and designed fabrics in his Venice studio, had an imagination steeped in Mediterranean culture and informed by his fascination with ancient Cretan civilization in Knossos. Looking beyond the superficialities of both mens’ lives and work, Byatt finds kinship in their indebtedness to classic traditions, several shared motifs in their art (notably peacocks and pomegranates), and the balance of beauty and utility that they strove for in their productions. Byatt is an unabashed enthusiast of both her subjects, and her passion for their work enlivens every sentence of her text. Abundant illustrations bear out her contention that both men “created their own surroundings, changed the visual world around them, studied the forms of the past, and made them parts of new forms.” Color illus. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/20/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.