Book Notes: March-April 2007

April 1, 2007
Books reviewed in Book Notes

The Encyclopedia of Duke Basketball
By John Roth ’80. Duke University Press, 2006. 438 pages. $34.95.

N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum, where Duke has played more games than any other arena apart from its own, was named after a former Trinity College student. Chris Moreland is the only women’s player in Duke history to average a double-double—20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds—during her 111-game career. These are just two of the tidbits of information contained in this comprehensive volume compiled by Roth, an analyst on the Duke Radio Network, editor of Blue Devil Weekly, and former Duke sports information director. Roth’s encyclopedia documents 101 years of Duke basketball with timelines, game reviews, and all the trivia a Duke fan could ask for.

God’s Country, Uncle Sam’s Land: Faith and Conflict in the American West
By Todd M. Kerstetter ’86. University of Illinois Press, 2006. 213 pages. $36.00.

The American West has been characterized, traditionally, as a land of freedom and rugged individualism. But Kerstetter, an associate professor of history at Texas Christian University, explores three cases where society and the federal government, at odds with religious movements, stepped in to define the boundaries of tolerance in the West. He analyzes Mormon history, including the Utah Expedition and Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 and subsequent decades of legislative and judicial restraint; the Lakota Ghost Dancers and the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 in South Dakota; and the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, in 1993.

Ninety Miles: Cuban Journeys in the Age of Castro
By Ian Michael James ’94. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2006. 203 pages. $24.95.

Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo was a rebel commander in Fidel Castro’s forces who turned against the government and spent twenty-two years in Cuban prisons. After being released and moving to Miami, he began a controversial campaign to promote change in Cuba through dialogue with Castro and returned to lead a new opposition movement.

Paquito D’Rivera was a boy when Castro’s rebels marched into Havana. His career as a musician prospered under the communist government, but seeking greater freedom, he defected to New York. Nancy Lledes Espinosa was born in the early years of Castro’s rule and was taught to respect the system. But she fell in love and abandoned her homeland. Journalist James proffers a wide-ranging history but also an intimately personal narrative that helps explain how Cubans think and feel about their country and their leader.

Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? What We’ve Learned from the Evidence
By William N. Eskridge Jr. and Darren R. Spedale ’93. Oxford University Press, 2006. 336 pages. $29.95.

Opponents of same-sex marriage often claim that allowing same-sex couples to marry will lead to the downfall of the institution of marriage and will do irreparable harm to children. But is this really the case? According to Eskridge, a Yale law professor, and Spedale, a corporate attorney, the answer is a resounding “no.” The authors look to Scandinavia, where gay couples have enjoyed the rights and benefits of marriage since 1989. Using empirical evidence, they examine the effects of gay marriage on couples, families, children, and communities, finding that if anything, the institution of marriage in the Scandinavian countries has been strengthened by gay unions.

Jump at the Sun: A Novel
By Kim McLarin ’86. William Morrow, 2006. 320 pages. $24.95.

Grace Jefferson’s grandmother, Rae, abandoned her children to fulfill her own dreams. Grace’s mother, Mattie, a child of the Jim Crow South, chose instead to sacrifice her own needs to raise her children right. Now Grace, a modern, self-made woman with a Ph.D. in sociology, two daughters, and a scientist husband who desperately wants a son, must find her own way.

Vietnam: A Natural History
By Eleanor Jane Sterling, Martha Maud Hurley, and Le Duc Minh. Illustrations by Joyce Ann Powzyk Ph.D. ’97. Yale University Press, 2006. 448 pages. $40.00.

Vietnam is a naturalist’s wonderland. Rich in plants, animals, and natural habitats, it shelters a significant portion of the world’s biological diversity. This comprehensive guide to the country’s spectacular flora, fauna, and rich variety of habitats explores the historical relationship between humans and the environment and chronicles recent conservation efforts. Powzyk, a visiting assistant professor of biology at Wesleyan University, contributes thirty-five original watercolor paintings of rare and unusual species.

Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing up in the 1970s
By Margaret Sartor. Bloomsbury, 2006. 273 pages. $19.95.

Sartor’s memoir evokes a teenage girl’s coming of age in the Deep South of the 1970s. Drawn from diaries, notebooks, and letters Sartor, now an instructor at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, kept from the ages of twelve to eighteen, the story has been edited and shaped, its narrative threads sewn together. Sartor, the adolescent, shares mundane preoccupations with bad hair and describes serious issues of family estrangement, sexual awakening, depression, the racial integration of her school, and her struggle with evangelical Christianity.

Body, Soul, and Baby: A Doctor’s Guide to the Complete Pregnancy Experience, from Preconception to Postpartum
By Tracy W. Gaudet ’84, M.D. ’91, with Paula Spencer. Bantam Dell, 2007. 528 pages. $26.00.
Gaudet, director of Duke’s Center for Integrative Medicine and a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, believes pregnancy can and should be a journey of self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-enrichment, rather than just a means to an end. She describes strategies for custom-building a pregnancy team and releasing the anxieties and stresses surrounding pregnancy, and discusses how soon-to-be mothers can achieve a healthier pregnancy, a more fulfilling birth experience, and a deeper bond with their baby by tuning into physical, psychological, and spiritual clues.

The 10 Best of Everything: An Ultimate Guide for Travelers
By Nathaniel Lande ’56 and Andrew Lande. National Geographic, 2006. 480 pages. $19.95, paper.

Where in the world can you find the best hamburger? The best vista? Flea market? Garden? This book comprises a series of detailed top-ten lists ranking the best-of-the-best in a stunning variety of categories, with recommendations spanning the globe. Also included are ten-best activities lists for various cities: New York, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, and Sydney among them; and twenty “classic adventures for the 21st-century traveler.” Packed with colorful illustrations and travel tips, the book draws on the experiences of journalist and filmmaker Nathaniel Lande.

Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design
By Henry Petroski. Princeton University Press, 2006. 235 pages. $22.95.

What makes a great design? Petroski, Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of civil engineering and professor of history, argues that the best designs are born of past failures. Making something better—by carefully anticipating and thus averting failure—is what invention and design are all about. He explores the nature of invention using examples ranging from child-resistant packaging for drugs to bridges and skyscrapers. Emphasizing that there is no surer road to eventual failure than modeling designs solely on past successes, he sheds new light on the destruction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in 2001.

The Initials of the Earth
By Jesús Díaz. Translation by Kathleen Ross. Duke University Press, 2006. 430 pages. $24.95, paper.

Many critics consider this to be the quintessential novel of the Cuban Revolution and the finest work by Cuban writer and filmmaker Díaz. Born in 1941, Diaz was a witness to the Revolution and an ardent supporter of it until the last decade of his life. He died in 2002 in Madrid. Originally written in the 1970s, then rewritten and published in 1987, it is Díaz’s first book to be translated into English. With a foreword by Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor of comparative literature and Romance studies at Duke.

Blame It on Paris
By Laura Florand A.M. ’00. Forge, 2006. 383 pages. $12.95, paper.

In her first novel/memoir, Florand, a senior lecturing fellow in Duke’s Romance studies department, provides an account of her unexpected romantic entanglement while on a Fulbright scholarship in Paris. Finding herself obsessing over a handsome waiter at a quaint restaurant, she invites him to a party and is thrilled when he calls her for a proper date instead. She soon finds herself unable to resist falling in love with Sebastian. But her scholarship is coming to an end. Will their love survive?