Honore, Carl. /In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed/. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, c2004.
(Available through Consortium: BJ 1498 .H66 2004)*
The point of In Praise of Slowness is to give the reader an appreciation for conducting their life in a more leisurely manner. Honore breaks down his book into various chapters that divide life into sections such as work, food, sex, etc. In each chapter, Honore shows how each facet of life can be conducted more slowly. He backs up his narrative with personal experience, scientific studies, and interviews with other followers of the slow lifestyle.
This set-up is remarkably tempting. Honore makes his readers want to slow down their lives, even if it is just a little bit. The text has a remarkably calming affect on the reader – you want to read more slowly and taking pleasure in your surrounding as you do so. At the same time, Honore’s text can make the reader feel guilty. Many readers can’t follow all of his suggestions. Honore also he neglects the financial and community costs of the slow lifestyle.
Honore’s book is full of good ideas, but it comes across more as wishful thinking more than practical. In the end, Honore is advocating for a better balance in life. He asserts that although we do things quickly, we should be aware of our speed and attempt to slow down more often.
Megan Gates, Stacks Supervisor
*Brooks, Max. /World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars/. New York: Three Rivers Press, c2006.
(Available through Consortium: PS 3602 .R6445 W67 2006)*
This book is a terrifyingly entertaining romp that has the reader alternatively laughing, cringing, and hoping they don’t have nightmares. In a word, this book is spectacular. Brooks takes your typical zombie apocalypse concept and creates an unexpectedly great work of literature and social commentary.
World War Z mimics the author Studs Terkel. Brooks creates a series of oral history interviews; every word of this book, aside from the introduction, is a verbal account of how various people survived the plague of undead. This layout gives an all-encompassing view of the zombie war. Brooks is able to craft a myriad of individual stories that feel eerily real. The way Brooks writes makes each character seem alive. The oral history form also means that Brooks explores all areas of the zombies’ effect on the world. He covers everything from doctors to politicians to soldiers to refugees. Furthermore, this allows Brooks to cover the affect the zombie attack had on air, water, and land. Brooks has written a “what if” of the entire world.
Brooks turns a book about zombies into an enlightened view of human reactions to famine, disease, and war. And, the whole work is compulsively readable.
Megan Gates, Stacks Supervisor
Baker, Kimball. Go to the Worker: America’s Labor Apostles. Marquette University Press, 2010.
HD6338.2.U5 B35 2010
There is a middle path between extreme capitalism and totalitarianism and ten American labor ‘apostles’ of the Roman Catholic Church showed the way. Author Kim Baker draws on a variety of sources, particularly his own interviews with the subjects, to tell the story of the priests and laymen who, using papal encyclicals as their guides, promoted the rights of working people from the 1920s and later, against the twin challenges of extreme capitalism on one hand and the dangers of fascist and communist dictatorships on the other. These ten include seven priests: George G. Higgins, Charles O. Rice, John Hayes, Philip Carey, Karl Hubble, Thomas Darby, and Joseph Buckley; and three laymen: John Cort, Bert Donlin, and Ed Marciniak. They also represent the working class of four major industrial cities (New York with Cort, Carey, Buckley and Darby; Chicago with Hayes, Higgins, and Marciniak; Detriot with Donlin and Hubble; and Pittsburgh with Rice). He also provides interesting vignettes on some other individuals and places such as Dennis Comey in Philadelphia, Jerome Drolet in New Orleans, Mort Gaven and Edward Boyle in Boston, and Linna Bresette, Field Secretary of the NCWC’s Social Action Department who crisscrossed the country from 1921 to 1951 organizing labor-management-government conferences promoting worker justice. If the aforementioned men are labor’s ‘apostles,’ no less so is Bresette, perhaps the Mary Magdalene of the American labor movement, whose tireless efforts are now largely forgotten (except by Baker of course). Throughout his text Baker shows how these ten, in addition to having the papal encyclicals as guides, were also influenced by thinkers and activists of their time: Dorothy Day, John A. Ryan, Francis Haas, and others. Baker is also somewhat critical of Fr. John F. Cronin, who, like Higgins, Hayes, and Bresette, worked for the NCWC Social Action Department, but also had close ties to the FBI in the struggle against Communism, for which Baker argues Cronin lost his way. On the issue of the controversial role of communists in the American labor movement, Baker is to be commended for his fair and balanced account, being neither a red baiter, as many on the right are, nor a red apologist, as are many academics. This book is a worthy tribute to these ‘apostles’ of labor.
William J. Shepherd, Associate Archivist
Leonard, Elmore. Djibouti. New York: William Morrow, c2010. (Mullen Library, Popular Reading: PS3562 .E55 D55 2010)
It must have been an irresistible idea for one of America’s preeminent crime writers to tackle Somali piracy. In practice, however, it seems like Elmore Leonard struggled over what to make of his story as much as his protagonist documentary makers struggled over what to make of the film within the story. Should they frame the pirates as oppressed people? As criminals? As money hustlers? The work, like the fictional documentary within, holds the viewpoint of outsiders attempting to look in but finding no window through which they can really see. The plot eventually veers away from the Somalis to focus almost entirely on American visitors and expats trying to get in on the action. Even the villain is an American ex-con turned al Queda who is never entirely accepted by his peers. The Somalis are as foreign by the end of the book as they were at the start, and our filmmakers (and possibly the author) seem no closer to an understanding that they can share.
Gena Chattin, Electronic Services GLP