20 Booklist August2016 www.booklistreader.com
there are similarities. Central Asians (
especially those from the former Soviet Union
Asian countries) have more recently migrated
to America and are typically associated with
the more established Asian communities.
This work focuses primarily on Chinese
Americans. (There is some coverage on
Indian Americans, and virtually none on
Arab Americans.) The alphabetically arranged entries focus on various aspects of
Asian American life, beginning with a historical perspective and leading the reader to
contemporary times. Essays generally start
with common generalizations but explore
differences among various Asian American
communities. Sidebars included in some essays explore specific differences within the
broader Asian community. This approach
helps readers appreciate the rich diversity that Asian Americans weave into the
American tapestry and get a glimpse of the
differences within Asian communities. Covering differences among the disparate Asian
American cultures in a two-volume work
necessarily leads to errors of omission. However, this work covers most of the salient
features relevant to an introductory study of
Asian American life. Most essays provide adequate in-depth coverage of similarities and
differences without overwhelming students.
Though there is an extensive bibliography
at the end, more useful are the references
at the end of each essay, as they provide
references specific to the topic of interest.
Recommended for academic libraries and
general readers interested in Asian American
culture. —Muhammed Hassanali
The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji
and the Fight for Arab Independence,
By Laila Parsons.
Aug. 2016. 320p. Hill & Wang, $26 (9780809067121).
Anticolonialist and Arab nationalist Fawzi
Danger Close: One Woman’s Epic
al-Qawuqji was an important if overlooked
figure in the fight for Arab independence dur-
ing WWI and WWII. With the dissolution
of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, al-Qawuqji
was set adrift along with other ex-Ottoman
soldiers whose desire for a united Arab state
replaced their allegiance to the kingdom.
Parsons focuses on 1914–48, during which
al-Qawuqji led rebellions all over the Middle
East, opposing the French in Syria, the Brit-
ish in Iraq, and the Palestinian Mandate and
Zionism. Using excerpts from letters and
al-Qawuqji’s memoir, Parsons captures al-
Qawuqji as quixotic and charismatic, if at
times desperate and reckless, and brings to
the fore his relentless pursuit of a greater Arab
state, despite sometimes insurmountable op-
position from colonial powers, religious and
ethnic groups, and other rebel leaders. Parsons
contrasts her well-researched and documented
biography with other considerations of al-
Qawuqji, giving it an academic and rigorous
feel. But in light of ongoing political upheaval
in the Middle East, Parsons’ coverage of this
key figure and formative period is especially
relevant. —Sarah Grant
Journey as a Combat Helicopter Pilot in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
By Amber Smith.
Sept. 2016. 288p. Atria, $25 (9781501116384). 956.
Former U.S. Army helicopter pilot Smith
presents a straightforward, largely apolitical account of her time in the military, during which
she flew two combat tours, in Iraq (2005) and
Afghanistan (2008). Smith flew the Kiowa
Warrior helicopter and provides plenty of
detail about her sometimes harrowing flying
experiences both in the U.S. and overseas. She
also guides readers though a brief overview of
her childhood and what it was like growing up
in a family whose aviation background dates
back to WWII and included both a flying
mother and father. There are no major revelations about sexism here as Smith focuses on the
mechanics of flight and her friendships with
men and women in her unit. The descriptions
in the air will resonate, and her inside look at
the U.S. Army will appeal to many, especially
those who share her experiences or are thinking
of embarking on a similar career. Though not
as eloquent as other recent military memoirs,
Danger Close does provide a unique viewpoint
of combat helicopter operations, and as a female pilot, Smith offers a valuable perspective.
YA: Teens considering a military career,
especially young women, will appreciate
Smith’s candor and detailed observations.
Fields of Battle: Pearl Harbor, the Rose
Bowl, and the Boys Who Went to War.
By Brian Curtis.
Sept. 2016. 320p. illus. Flatiron, $29.99
(9781250059581); e-book, $14.99 (9781250059604).
In this remarkable book, Curtis masterfully
Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories
connects two seemingly unrelated events: the
1942 Rose Bowl and WWII. On New Year’s
Day in 1942, the Rose Bowl game between
Duke and Oregon State was played, not in
Pasadena, California—too near the West
Coast—but in Durham, North Carolina,
thanks to lobbying efforts to save the game,
led by Wallace Wade, Duke’s coach. Sports
Illustrated writer Curtis convincingly makes
his case for the game being “the greatest met-
aphor for American grit and determination
that the country had ever seen.” The story
extends beyond the field to the personal
lives of the players, many of whom served
heroically in the war. Perhaps the most mov-
ing of the stories Curtis recounts is that of
Duke player Charles Haynes, whose life was
saved by Frank Parker, a former footballer
at Oregon State, who rescued Haynes after
a serious injury left him badly wounded on
an Italian battleground. Haynes and Parker
met at the game’s fiftieth reunion, the first
time they had seen each other since 1945.
This book has much in common with Laura
Hillenbrand’s best-selling Unbroken (2014)
and should evoke similar strong emotions.
of Daring Pioneer Women.
By Marianne Monson.
Sept. 2016. 208p. illus. Shadow Mountain, $19.99
(9781629722276); e-book (9781629722278). 920.72.
Monson reimagines the campfire tall tale by
introducing readers to overlooked tales of many
forgotten heroines of the American West. She
details the lives of 12 women who pushed west
in search of land, gold, and freedom, undertaking risky journeys despite sexism, racism,
and classism. Each biographical story defines
perseverance, and there are inspiring examples
of courage on each page as well as new lessons
in how to live. Monson succinctly portrays a
pioneering suffragette, a Sioux writer, and the
most celebrated stagecoach driver in the West,
who hid her gender most of her life. Another
impressive pioneer is Clara Brown, a former
slave who helped others make their ways from
bondage to a better life in Colorado. Monson’s
accounts of these women who defied gender
roles, who lived and breathed feminism, will
resonate with all interested in the long-hidden
chapters in American history. A compact, informative, briskly paced, emotionally rich,
and eye-opening set of microbiographies
that will change truncated views of the West.
YA: These accessible and lively tales of
trailblazing American women of the
West will resonate with teens interested in
history and women’s lives. AP.
Incarnations: India in Fifty Lives.
By Sunil Khilnani.
Sept. 2016. 464p. illus. Farrar, $30 (9780374175498).
How does one capture the multifaceted
complexities of a country like India? His-
torian Khilnani (The Idea of India, 1998)
presents a novel approach: weave a tapestry of
50 figures from the country’s rich and ancient
history that serves not only as an innovative
introduction to the world’s largest democracy
but also a gauge to evaluate how that past
informs the present. Here, then, is a peek at
freedom-fighter Subhash Chandra Bose, who
is regularly cited as an icon worth emulating
by India’s contemporary nationalist move-
ment. As a counterbalance of sorts, we have
the Muslim emperor Akbar, named by the
country’s liberals as a ready “rebuttal to Hindu
nationalist arguments that Muslim rule in In-
dia was an unremitting dark age for Hindus.”
The well-researched yet short chapters cover
a lot of ground with ease, and Khilnani suc-
ceeds in achieving his goal of emphasizing the
continued relevance of history. This unusual
view of India also spotlights how different fac-
tions of raucous contemporary Indian society
use the past as ballast to further their own
agendas for the future. —Poornima Apte
Continued on p. 22