Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Releases--Doug Most on Subways, Pedro Ferreira on Relativity, David Brion Davis on Slavery and Emancipation, Eric Jaffe on War Crimes and Madness, and Kelly Corrigan on Mom.

I heard Kelly Corrigan speak about her new memoir, Glitter and Glue (Ballantine), at the Heartland Fall Forum, and the wheels started turning about why the publisher chose to release the book in February, instead of the obvious April for Mother's Day promotions. Corrigan frames the story about a post-college trip to Australia, where she became nanny to a newly widowed father, which led her to reconsider her relationship with her own mom (in a positive way). Marion Winik in Newsday calls the book and author warm and witty.

I realized I just came back from Seattle and never once took the light rail, but I can vouch that I've done so on previous trips. I am fascinated by public transport, which is why I'm excited by The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway (St. Martin's Press), by Doug Most. Chicagoans might chaff at Most's contention that they were out of the running, but we all like a good rivalry and a third city would just confuse the issue. Kirkus Reviews calls this "an almost flawlessly conducted tour back to a time when major American cities dreamed big."

Another heated rivalry is recounted in Pedro G. Ferreira's The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). This one is timed for the 100th anniversary of that theory, The Theory of Relativity. Here's a Scientific American capsule review, lauding this work from the Oxford University professor. And here's another on the math blog of Columbia University.

Why not let Professor Ferreira explain it himself?

Yale (well, emeritusly) is the home of David Brion Davis, who has completed his long-in-the-making history of slavery and emancipation, called The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Knopf) following two groundbreaking works published in the 1960s and 1970s. John Stauffer in The Wall Street Journal called this "the best account we have of how abolitionists, led by free blacks, outlawed slavery throughout the New World in little more than a century."

Moving back into the 20th century (you're probably getting whiplash) is a book that's been out for a few weeks that I haven't yet highlighted. A Curious Madness: An American Combat Psychiatrist, a Japanese War Crimes Suspect, and an Unsolved Mystery from World War II (Scribner), by Eric Jaffe, is an account of man, Okawa Shumei, accused of Japanese war crimes and the American doctor charged with determining his sanity. It's actually a family story, as the doctor was the author's grandfather.  Sarah Halzack in The Washington Post called this "a richly layered exploration of the thin line between wellness and madness and the extent to which our understanding of those states is sometimes a matter of perception."

My goodness, we are featuring pretty heavy stuff this week. All titles are 20% off Boswell's Best in store, at least through Monday, February 10th.

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