4 Booklist February 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
Philosophy & Psychology
How Emotions are Made: The
Secret Life of the Brain.
By Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Mar. 2017. 448p. HMH, $29 (9780544133310). 153.
Prepare to have your brain twisted around as
psychology professor Barrett
takes it on a tour of itself. A
brain learning about the brain
via words on a page is clearly
a concept Barrett relishes.
Her enthusiasm for her topic
brightens every amazing fact
and theory about where our
emotions come from. Hint:
it’s not what you think. Indeed, each chap-
ter is chockablock with startling insights. The
brain’s neurotransmitters, plasticity, microwir-
ing, degeneracy, multipurpose circuitry, and
more comprise a complex system whose basic
function is to balance our “body budget,” dis-
pensing and apportioning what is necessary to
keep us alive and healthy enough to reproduce.
To accomplish this task, the brain must be both
architect (of our individual and collective re-
alities) and electrical engineer. And to pull that
off, it must be continuously attuned to how we
feel. It is “affect”—loosely translated: physical
feelings—that rules the mind. With that bit
of news, Barrett explodes the myth that we are
rational beings. All this is quite a drastic turn
from centuries of bad guessing, beginning with
the ancient Egyptians, who pulled the brain
out through the nose when preparing a body
for burial because they believed it was a useless
organ. Barrett’s figurative selfie of the brain is
brilliant. —Donna Chavez
Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet.
By Lyndal Roper.
Mar. 2017. 592p. illus. Random, $40 (9780812996197).
Roper says this is a psychobiography, though
not in the mold of the most famous one, Erik
Erikson’s psychoanalytic Young Man Luther
(1958), a work rooted in its subject’s early psy-
chosexual development. She is more concerned
with the mature man who, at
34, launched the Protestant
Reformation by posting 95
theses on Christian faith on
the Castle Church door in
Wittenberg on October 31,
1517. She doesn’t elide Lu-
ther’s background as son of a
prosperous silver mine owner
and his literate wife (who probably assured
Martin’s education) nor the conflict with his fa-
ther over choosing scholarly monasticism rather
than the family business. By the time of the the-
ses, that conflict was long resolved. Yet Luther
continued to develop, eventually repudiating
all but three sacraments, priestly celibacy, mo-
nasticism, and clerical privilege and establishing
the Protestant sine qua non of the fellowship of
all believers. Facilitating Roper’s pursuit is the
ocean of writing Luther and his fellow reform-
ers produced with great candor, vehemence,
and rancor. Luther wasn’t an easy man, and
he fell out with many great associates, cowed
others, and disconcerted much of his wider fol-
lowing by refusing to rebel against secular as
well as religious authority (more disconcerting
nowadays is his hallucinatory anti-Semitism).
Arguably the most consequential figure in
Western history between Jesus and Napoléon,
Luther fully merits the grace and perceptiveness
of Roper’s fine book. —Ray Olson
Melton’s Encyclopedia of American
Religions. 9th ed.
By J. Gordon Melton.
2v. 2016. 1,720p. illus. Gale, $528 (9781414406879).
Melton’s EAR has been a staple in religious
reference for more than 30 years. The oversized, one-volume eighth edition of 2009 has
been substantially updated and split in two.
The much larger volume 1 is devoted to the
U.S.; volume 2, almost entirely to Canada.
Both volumes have the same look and feel,
each divided into 26 sections ( 24 “major
religious families” and two “unclassified” categories). In toto, more than 2,300 religious
entities receive entries, 380 of which are brand
new. Nearly 90 percent of the content of the
2009 edition has been revised or updated.
The EAR is known for its microscopic approach to the myriad subgroups that constitute
North American religion. Included are not just
churches and synagogues but also religious associations, foundations, institutes, alliances,
and societies of various kinds. Coverage of
“Defunct Organizations” encompasses more
than 170 pages of volume 2, organized into
Melton’s 26 categories. The encyclopedia is as
eclectic as it has ever been, with every conceivable major group (Christian and otherwise)
included, along with lesser-knowns that
could easily be overlooked (e.g., Latter Rain
Pentecostals, Norse Heathenism, drug-related
groups, and LGBT-oriented churches). Each
of the 24 “major” categories is introduced by a
substantive overview. For example, the “
Baptist Family” section of the Canadian volume
has a 10-page introduction with a lengthy
resource list. Chronologies (in graph form)
accompany most overviews, as do, occasionally, geographical maps and religious “family
trees.” Membership statistics accompany most
entries and are generally taken from 2013–15
data sources. A general index of more than
100 pages greatly increases the work’s func-tionality. Simply put, the EAR continues to
have no serious rivals when it comes to scope
and authority. — Wade Osburn
An American Sickness: How
Healthcare Became Big Business
and How You Can Take It Back.
By Elisabeth Rosenthal.
Apr. 2017. 416p. Penguin, $28 (9781594206757).
Physicians take the Hippocratic oath to
do no harm. But the businessmen running
the country’s medical industry worry about
reaping profits, not about reliably delivering
quality results. As a result, the U.S. spends
nearly 20 percent of its national budget,
$3 trillion, on healthcare. In this in-depth
analysis of a malfunctioning
system, Rosenthal makes a
compelling case against the
hospital and pharmaceuti-
cal executives behind the
“money chase,” and it’s hard
to imagine a more educated,
credible guide. The daugh-
ter of a doctor, Rosenthal
holds a degree in biology from Stanford, a
master’s degree in English from Cambridge,
and a medical degree from Harvard, and she
writes about health for the New York Times.
The patients she interviewed share mind-bog-
gling stories. One tells of a hospital bill for
$132,000 for an infusion of an arthritis drug
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.
Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History: A Nautical History of the World. By
Ian Graham. p. 8
American Women Speak. By Mary Ellen Snodgrass. p. 20
Buildings and Landmarks of Medieval Europe: The Middle Ages Revealed. By James
B. Tschen-Emmons. p. 8
Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions. By J. Gordon Melton. p.4
The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies. Ed. by Abbie E. Goldberg. p. 8
Same-Sex Marriage: A Reference Handbook. 2nd ed. By David E. Newton. p. 8