New Reviews in Choice

Some excerpts from recent reviews in the March 2009 Choice Magazine:

The Hidden Costs of Clean Election Reform by Frederic Charles Schaffer
“As a result of a variety of voting irregularities in presidential and subpresidential elections since 2000, a broad-scale reform effort was made to clean up electoral administration. . . . Schaffer focuses on the unanticipated consequences of these reforms. . . . He devotes separate chapters to the four groups responsible for perverting electoral reforms: legislators who enact the new rules, election administrators who implement them, candidates and parties bound by the new rules, and civic educators who teach the public new ways to behave. This is a cutting-edge study of why and how reforms can go bad. Essential. All readership levels.”—E. C. Dreyer

Surrealism and the Art of Crime by Jonathan P. Eburne
“For most people, crime is an abstraction, but an abstraction that generates surreal fear; hence the popularity of mysteries and horror stories. Aldous Huxley said the subject matter of literature came from the crime pages of newspapers, in effect, real life. Auden said a poet is a ‘gossip.’ Eburne knows this and respects the psyche’s integral measure of terror in this examination of ‘the role of violent crime in the writing, art, and political thought of the surrealist movement’ after the horrors of WWI. Copiously (in places grotesquely) illustrated, this study is an original take on the necessary blend of politics and sociology and their nefarious offshoots of gutter journalism, lurid dime novels, rumor, propaganda, and finally, serious art—a shaky, volatile mix that is in one’s face, mind, and sometimes nightmares. The visuals contribute viscerally to the substantive research, presented in journalistic, readable prose that depicts the noirish nature of subjects and people. Would one expect otherwise with chapters titled ‘On Murder, Considered as One of the Surrealist Arts,’ ‘Germaine Berton and the Ethics of Assassination,’ and ‘Persecution Mania’? This book is well done and delicious fun. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, general readers.”—D. G. Izzo

Choose and Focus: Japanese Business Strategies for the 21st Century by Ulrike Schaede
“Are the traditional Japanese business models and management approaches that proved so successful in the 1970s and 1980s changing? Schaede says yes, as evidenced by Japan’s economic upswing between 2002 and (mid) 2008. Using her knowledge of Japanese language and culture to better understand contemporary Japanese business, she successfully argues that a new business strategy is being used by large and small firms, and particularly by firms rooted in component and materials industries. . . . Schaede analyzes and explains new models of mergers/acquisitions/takeovers, reorganizations, and restructuring, which are often driven by competition both within and outside Japan, and the use of venture capital and start-ups. This easy-to-read book is valuable for anyone doing business in and with Japan or wanting to learn about business practices there. Highly recommended.”—J. W. Leonard

Forgotten Firebrand: James Redpath and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America by John R. McKivigan
“McKivigan offers a measured biography of the too-little-remembered James Redpath, who was at the cutting edge of a series of mid- and late-nineteenth-century reform movements. Redpath was a staunch abolitionist, close ally of John Brown, biographer, diplomat, radical publisher, war correspondent, head of schools in occupied South Carolina, architect of a lyceum bureau, champion of the Irish poor, and a ghostwriter for Jefferson Davis. He was also a longtime friend and supporter of both Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, among other writers. Redpath was one of the progenitors of popular culture in the US through the release of inexpensive paperbacks, the presentation of public lectures, and the offering of publicity for Thomas A. Edison involving the phonograph. Two of the book’s more intriguing sections discuss Redpath’s association with the assault on Harpers Ferry designed to spark a mass slave revolt, and his ties to the former president of the Confederacy. McKivigan notes the uniqueness of Redpath’s close ties to both slaves and slaveholders while underscoring that the reformer remained dedicated to equality for blacks and whites. Recommended. For general libraries and up.”—R. C. Cottrell

Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience by Barry Allen
“Situated at the intersection of philosophy of technology and philosophy of art, this book explores the influence of aesthetic considerations on technical design and the impact of technology on art. It is more a philosophical commonplace book than a systematic treatise, but this is its great virtue. Allen displays formidable erudition, drawing on a wide range of natural and social scientific literatures, art history, and both the Continental and analytical philosophical traditions. The book is packed with fascinating and sometimes little-known information about human evolution (particularly the evolution of the human hand, language, and cognition), the design of bridges, the history of technology, the nature of tools (and how they are unique to humans), and a host of other subjects. . . . The book is full of insights into art and technology, and all readers interested in philosophy of technology or philosophy of art can learn something from it. Recommended.”—J. O. Young

New Reviews in Choice