Books: January-February 2004

January 31, 2004

 

Books 
South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History
By John W. Gordon A.M. '70, Ph.D. '75.
University of South Carolina Press, 2003.
208 pages. $29.95.

South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History Before it tried to secede from the Union, South Carolina played a pivotal role in giving it birth. The decisive battleground in the final theater of the Revolutionary War, it was the site of one-third of all combat and much of the very bloodiest. According to Gordon, a Vietnam veteran, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and former history professor and dean of undergraduate studies at The Citadel, the British found themselves in a bit of a pickle--having to wage a conventional war against American regular forces, the Continentals, and a counterinsurgency against partisan bands. Even if you already know the ending (they lost and went home), the details are fascinating.


Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball
By Brad Snyder '94.
McGraw-Hill/ Contemporary Books, 2003.
304 pages. $24.95.

Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball Snyder has dusted off a story long forgotten, if known at all, by fans of baseball. The Homestead Grays, the greatest team ever to play in the Negro Leagues, was also the greatest team ever to play in Griffith Stadium, home of the white Washington Senators. As a sideshow to a greatly inferior feature act, the Homestead Grays embodied the ironies and absurdities of an era, and its leading cast--sluggers like Buck Leonard and Joe Williams and a sports writer named Sam Lacy--were the pioneering forces behind eventual change. Snyder has retrieved a time lost between its bookends, Jackie and the Babe, shedding much-needed light on those who cracked baseball's color barrier so that others might one day break through.


Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent's Guide to Raising Multiracial Children
By Donna Jackson Nakazawa '82.
Perseus Publishing, 2003.
256 pages. $25.

Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent's Guide to Raising Multiracial Children The author grew up "a white woman in white America," married a Japanese man named Zenji, and discovered, as the mother of two, the challenges of multiracial identity in a color-conscious world. Through her children, who have "different" eyes and hair and parents who "don't match," she experienced the discomforting in-between, the "emotional knee-scrapes" of having no race to call one's own. Drawing on psychological research and interviews with more than sixty multiracial families, Nakazawa navigates a labyrinth of distinctions and terminological minutiae with clarity while addressing a multitude of real-life, parent-child configurations in the infinite range between "black" and "white." From suggesting scripts to help multiracial children gracefully react to sensitive comments, to illuminating the mindset of the multiracial adolescent, she offers readers, concerned or simply curious, a comforting guide to the unfamiliar.


 

The New York Times Dictionary of Money and Investing: The Essential A-To-Z Guide to the Language of the New Market
By Gretchen Morgenson and Campbell R. Harvey. Times Books/Henry Holt and Co., 2002.
400 pages. $17.

The New York Times Dictionary of Money and Investing: The Essential A-To-Z Guide to the Language of the New Market Everybody knows what "macaroni" is and everybody knows what "defense" is, but who in the world knows what a "macaroni defense" is? Harvey, the J. Paul Sticht Professor of international business at Duke, does. He and his co-author Morgenson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, have defined it along with almost every other obscure and unintelligible term in the universe of financial speak, from "abusive tax shelter" to "material adverse effect" to "zero-coupon convertible security." Websites are included for various organizations, and acronyms are cross-referenced to their complete names.


O God of Players: The Story of the Immaculata Mighty Macs
By Julie Byrne '90, A.M. '96, Ph.D. '00.
Columbia University Press, 2003.
320 pages. $22.50.

O God of Players: The Story of the Immaculata Mighty MacsThe Mighty Macs of Immaculata, a small Catholic school thirty miles west of Philadelphia, won the first three women's national college basketball championships ever played. They sweated and jumped and ran and did things that girls, at that time, did not do--especially Catholic girls. But they did them anyway and, when they won games, they won for women everywhere. Byrne, a religion professor at Texas Christian University, explores the history of religion and sports in the United States in all of its mid-century upheaval, culling information from hundreds of interviews with players and coaches to tell the story of a group of women whose rare combination of a love of God and a love of game made them truly "mighty."


Small Things Considered: Why There is No Perfect Design
By Henry Petroski.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.
304 pages. $25.

Small Things Considered: Why There is No Perfect Design In design, as in life, "nothing is perfect," writes Duke's Aleksander S. Vesic Professor of civil engineering, a history professor, and the author of nine previous books, including The Evolution of Useful Things, The Pencil, and To Engineer is Human. Petroski, an engineer with the rare ability to write clearly what he thinks--"America's poet laureate of technology," as one reviewer has called him--ponders the shortcomings and successes of household objects that are seldom the object of scientific study. The toothbrush, the chair, the doorknob: All are marvels of design. But, as with any attempt to satisfy competing constraints, all fall short of perfect--something that everyone will just have to live with.