4 Booklist April 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
Lucretia Mott. Hunt posits that the feminist
movement actually began not with Gloria
Steinem in the 1960s or the Seneca Falls
Convention in 1848 but at the Anti-Slavery
Convention of American Women, held in
New York City in 1837. A passionate group of
interracial abolitionist women intent on ending slavery, Mott and her peers were treated
unequally among the male abolitionists with
whom they worked side by side and thus set
about “emancipating” themselves and forming
their own organization. In a well-researched,
thoroughly accessible book, Hunt takes us
on a journey through Mott’s and the author’s
own lives and feminist evolutions. Featuring
historical photographs and documents, this
intriguing book sheds long-overdue light on
Mott and the other brave women who organized alongside her. —Glendy X. Mattalia
Be like the Fox: Machiavelli in His
By Erica Benner.
May 2017. 384p. Norton, $27.95 (9780393609721).
A half-millennium after Cardinal Reginald
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History
Pole denounced ;e Prince as a book “stink[ing]
of Satan’s every wickedness,” millions still
share the churchman’s view
of the book’s author as an
unprincipled counselor to
the powerful, justifying
any cruelty, any mendacity,
that o;ers political advan-
tage. But in that notorious
velli—Benner sees a man
actually committed to moral principles that
sustain a democratic republic. Schooled by
brutal contemporary realities that once sent
him to prison and exposed him to torture, this
ethical thinker learns a new craftiness. Deploy-
ing the same creative skills he uses to depict
diverse characters in his literary art (in, for
instance, his allegorical poem ;e Golden Ass
and his sharply satiric play ;e Mandrake), the
Florentine writer learns to slyly embed his own
convictions in an interplay of voices, even in
his personal correspondence and his published
political analyses, such as Discourses on Livy
and, yes, ;e Prince. Guided by Benner, readers
penetrate the benign deception in the Floren-
tine author’s authorial ventriloquism and so
learn to recognize the subtle but profoundly
humane implications of his most famous work,
ignored by centuries of readers deaf to the iro-
ny undercutting its amoral recommendations.
A persuasive challenge to the received opinion
of a Renaissance titan. —Bryce Christensen
of How Our Government Segregated
By Richard Rothstein.
May 2017. 336p. illus. Norton/Liveright, $27.95
Recent demonstrations in cities across America against the murder of African Americans
by police returned the question of segregation
in housing to the fore. While the term de facto
segregation is often used to assert that this is
the result of private decisions or personal acts
of discrimination, Rothstein argues that the
real history of segregation is primarily that of
explicit or de jure government policy, with personal actions secondary. From wartime public
housing to the FHA refusing to insure mortgages for African Americans and many cases in
between, government policy at all levels violated the Reconstruction-era constitutional
amendments mandating equal protections.
Ghettos were deliberately created by o;cial
policy. Rothstein provides plenty of evidence
to support each example, including interviews,
court cases, law codes, and newspapers, along
with secondary sources on each aspect of government discrimination. ;ere is an extensive
FAQ section for further discussion. ;is is essential reading for anyone interested in social
justice, poverty, American history, and race relations, and its narrative non;ction style will
also draw general readers. ;is is a timely work
that should ;nd a place in the current national
discussion. —James Pekoll
He Calls Me By Lightning: The Life
of Caliph Washington and the
Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern
Justice, and the Death Penalty.
By S. Jonathan Bass.
May 2017. 320p. illus. Norton/Liveright, $26.95
In the 1950s, the small Alabama town of
Bessemer was notoriously corrupt, as local
politicians, police, and ordinary citizens all “wet their
beaks” in seeking illicit profits. Although the majority
of the population was black,
this was still the Jim Crow
era and whites dominated
all aspects of government,
especially the police and
court systems. On July 12, 1957, after a
brief car chase, a white police o;cer, James
Clark, died from a single bullet wound that
ravaged his internal organs. ;e supposed
murderer, a 17-year-old African American,
Caliph Washington, ;ed the scene but was
captured, quickly convicted, and sentenced
to death. ;us began a decades-long struggle in the courts that played out against the
context of the civil rights movement and the
slow dismantling of white supremacy in this
southern enclave. Bass, a professor of history
at Alabama’s Samford University, examines
the prolonged legal and political battle to save
Washington, and the broader social milieu in
which the case unfolded, showing both insight
and compassion. His chronicle includes a fascinating cast of characters, including police
o;cers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and,
most vividly, the arch-segregationist governor
George Wallace. ;is is an outstanding look
at both an apparent travesty of justice and the
system that produced it. —Jay Freeman
Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a
By Sarah Menkedick.
May 2017. 272p. Pantheon, $25 (9781101871416);
e-book (9781101871423). 306.874.
Following nearly a decade spent traveling
the globe, writer Menkedick ;nds herself
back on her father’s farm, newly pregnant and
struggling with the concept of settling down.
“After years of looping around and around,
seeking and ;nding and striking out again, I
come to understand under an Ohio sky . . . the
singular circularity of my search.” ;is feeling
of movement comes through in her writing,
and the reader must be patient as Menkedick
thoughtfully considers her life’s evolution.
Her meditations on pregnancy shift like the
tide as she propels herself outward, recalling
past travels, and then draws inward, re;ecting
on her newfound stillness. As a new mother,
Menkedick strives to hold on to her artist lifestyle despite the pressure of today’s parenting
conventions, hoping instead to live slowly and
in the moment with her young family. “;is is
the mystery: moments of calm knowing that
contain within them nothing larger than the
everyday.” Menkedick’s ;rst book gracefully
Appearing below is a list of all the print reference titles reviewed in this issue. Reference
librarians should also remember that all Booklist reference reviews can be accessed by
Booklist subscribers on Booklist Online.
Covering American Politics in the 21st Century: An Encyclopedia of News Media Titans, Trends, and Controversies. By Lee Banville. p. 3.
The Enigma of the Owl: An Illustrated Natural History. By Mike Unwin and David
Tipling. p. 5.
Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre. By Thomas S. Hischak. p. 10.
Stationery Fever: From Paper Clips to Pencils and Everything in Between. By John Z.
Komurki and Luca Bendandi. p. 10.
Television Series of the 1970s: Essential Facts and Quirky Details. By Vincent Terrace. p. 5.
Working Americans, 1898–2016, Volume XIV: African Americans. Ed. by Scott Derks. p. 5.
The World of Ancient Egypt: A Daily Life Encyclopedia. By Peter Lacovara. p. 20.