12 Booklist February 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
when we look at a weather forecast or turn
to our GPS systems for directions. The introduction succinctly outlines geography’s vast
scope and the various fields of knowledge that
contributed to its development. (Curiously
absent are criteria used to determine which
entries to include or exclude.) Most entries
are concise and stick closely to geography (
biographies tend to be longer).
Entries from ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary times are included.
Geographically, the entries cover ideas and
technologies from most of Europe, northern
Africa, the Middle East, and most of south
and east Asia. There is very little from pre-Columbian America, central Asia, central and
south Africa, and Oceania, possibly because
of the scarcity of current scholarship about
those regions. Most people do not realize how
profoundly geography touches daily aspects
of our lives, and that our worldview (cultural
and scientific) deeply impacts geography’s further advances. From the perspective of raising
awareness, this is an excellent reference for
middle-school and high-school students, and
for general readers interested in geography.
YA/C: Suitable for student research,
though the limited scope means teachers or
librarians should review the list of entries
when determining its usefulness. MH.
Age of Anger: A History of the
By Pankaj Mishra.
Feb. 2017. 400p. Farrar, $27 (9780374274788). 909.09821.
While contemporaries anticipated global
progress, American philosopher George Santayana warned of an impending “lava-wave of
primitive blindness and violence.” In recent
history, Mishra sees that
lava-wave—and seeks to
understand it. He finds essential interpretive insight in
the eighteenth-century clash
of the rationalist Voltaire
and the romantic Rousseau.
Challenging Voltaire’s desire
to create a society of individuals governed by enlightened self-interest,
not religion or tradition, Rousseau warned
that such a society would strip men of their
wholeness, their virtue, while locking them
in invidious competition. From Nietzsche,
Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Rimbaud, Toc-queville, and others, Mishra gleans evidence
that Voltaire’s heirs have indeed let loose a
dangerous dynamic by fostering widespread
hopes that only a privileged elite can satisfy.
Frustrated masses—uprooted from faith and
Agent 110: An American Spymaster and
historic communities—have joined lava-wave
authoritarian movements, or descended into
resentful (often violent) personal victim-
hood. Hence, the aggressive nationalism that
sparked Europe’s Great War of 1914–18;
hence, the murderous racism that built Aus-
chwitz; hence, the brutal class antipathies
that created the Gulag. Sadly, Mishra sees this
same lava-wave drama playing out again in
the twenty-first century, not only in Asia and
Africa but also in a Europe shattered by Brex-
it and an America rallying behind Donald
Trump. A disturbing but imperatively urgent
analysis. —Bryce Christensen
the German Resistance in WWII.
By Scott Miller.
Mar. 2017. 384p. Simon & Schuster, $28 (9781451693386);
e-book, $14.99 (9781451693409). 940.54.
Agent 110 was the code name for Allen
Dulles when he was sent to Bern, Switzerland, then a hotbed of spies, as a head
agent for the Office of Strategic Services
(OSS) in 1942. (Dulles later became the
first civilian director of the CIA.) Dulles’ official assignment was psychological warfare,
intelligence-gathering, and informant-cul-tivation. What he discovered, according to
this breath-catching narrative, was that the
German resistance movement wanted his
support in deposing Hitler. Miller, a former
writer for the Wall Street Journal and author
of The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the
American Century (2011), skillfully weaves
a double narrative of Dulles’ machinations
and those of the German resistance, explaining how they intersected and where they
parted. He gives readers wonderful details
throughout—for example, one assassination
plot against Hitler used bottles of Cointreau
because the designated bombs fitted exactly
into the square-shaped bottles. The story as a
whole is intriguing, but the desperately ingenious plots of the German resistance against
Hitler are the most riveting parts of this clandestine history. —Connie Fletcher
Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly
Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted
By Giles Milton.
Feb. 2017. 368p. illus. Picador, $28 (9781250119025).
Britain’s WWII sabotage organization, the
The Home That Was Our Country: A
Special Operations Executive (SOE), recur-
rently inspires accounts of its exploits, such
as Neal Bascomb’s The Winter Fortress (2016).
In his contribution to the SOE annals, Mil-
ton ( When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost
His Brain, 2016) draws on memoirs by SOE
personnel to profile Colin Gubbins, opera-
tions chief, and Millis Jefferis, designer of odd
weaponry. Playing up their unconventional-
ity, Milton accents the underhanded warfare
they planned and conducted. Gubbins’ 1940
assignment was to form a guerrilla army in
case Germany invaded Britain; when that
did not materialize, Gubbins refocused, at
Churchill’s behest, on industrial sabotage in
German-occupied Europe, including disable-
ment of a power plant, destruction of a dry
dock, assassination of Reinhard Heydrich,
capture of Axis ships, demolition of a railway
bridge, and immobilization of a German tank
division following D-Day. With conventional
land warfare resumed in 1944, SOE was dis-
banded. Eschewing a historical controversy
about the high human cost of SOE’s opera-
tions, Milton emphasizes the audacity and
eccentricity of SOE’s leaders, striking the
chord that makes the organization so popular
with history readers. —Gilbert Taylor
Memoir of Syria.
By Alia Malek.
Feb. 2017. 352p. Nation, $27.99 (9781568585321).
Lawyer and journalist Malek’s powerful
memoir beautifully captures the history of
her family and of their country. Born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrant
parents, Malek (A Country
Called Amreeka, 2009) always felt connected to her
Syrian family, especially her
grandmother Salma. Her
narrative begins in 1889
with Salma’s grandmother,
known for opening her
doors to anyone in need, and Salma’s father,
a charismatic community leader. Malek traces
their stories through Salma’s life in Damascus, her parents’ engagement and move to
Maryland, and her childhood visits back to
Syria. As an adult, Malek lives and travels extensively in the region. She experiences daily
life under the oppressive Assad regime, where
citizens live in constant fear of informants
and state violence. In 2011, Malek moves
to Damascus to renovate her grandmother’s
apartment while reporting anonymously on
the rise of resistance, activism, and armed
conflict in Syria. She operates under the ever-present threat of the secret police, known for
detaining and torturing suspected dissenters.
Malek’s writing vividly captures the personalities of her family members and friends as
well as her own impressions of Syria, allowing
readers insight into the personal stakes of the
ongoing war. —Laura Chanoux
YA: Young adults interested in history
and international affairs might
appreciate Malek’s deep, insider’s look
at life in Syria. LC.
Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost
By Paul Watson.
Mar. 2017. 384p. Norton, $27.95 (9780393249385).
Canadian photojournalist Watson was on
board the Coast Guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid
Laurier in 2014 when the Erebus, one of two
vessels of the lost 1845 Franklin Expedition
to conquer the Northwest Passage, was found
underwater, remarkably intact, off Victoria
Island in the territory of Nunavut. The other
vessel, the Terror, was found in 2016, not too
far south, in Terror Bay. This riveting book
traces the history of the Franklin Expedition
and the various attempts to locate the miss-