4 Booklist July2016 www.booklistreader.com
Journalism & Publishing
All at Sea.
By Decca Aitkenhead.
Aug. 2016. 224p. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $25
British journalist Aitkenhead’s tragic memoir hinges on the death of her partner, who
drowned while saving their young son. The
author brought the boy in, convinced that
his father was right behind them. Her shock
at his death, that a sweet family vacation
could end in such devastation, is palpable in
every word. It is this raw, unremitting emotion that grounds the book and makes it
compelling on a nearly visceral level. Aitkenhead pulls back from the first chapter’s pain
and takes readers into the story of how she
met this man years earlier, how they fell in
love while both were married and while she
was building an award-winning career and
he was an active drug-user and dealer. Candidly, she shares her family’s horror at the
match, her own confusion over their strong
attraction, and the wholly unexpected way in
which they managed to not only stay together but thrive, ultimately having two children.
While her grief is nearly incapacitating,
readers will appreciate the frank manner in
which she shares it. Intense and surprising
from start to finish. —Colleen Mondor
Full Marks for Trying: An Unlikely
Journey from the Raj to the Rag Trade.
By Brigid Keenan.
Aug. 2016. 208p. Bloomsbury, paper, $16.99
To understand Keenan’s life as a fashion
journalist, just change the setting of The
Devil Wears Prada to 1960s London. Iden-
tified as a “young meteor” in the fashion
world, Keenan found herself in charge of a
fashion page at a newspaper at the age of 21.
She fell into her career more than anything,
which she recounts here with verve along
with an equally energetic narrative of her
childhood in India during the final years of
the Raj. Certain aspects of her life growing
up in the 1950s and as a young woman in
the 1960s, from hair curlers to straightening
the seams of her stockings, will be familiar
to readers of a certain age. But other parts
of her story—riding elephants as a girl or
rushing madly to put together a feature on
what the queen would be wearing if she lived
in Paris—manage to be both glamorous and
firmly grounded in reality. Endearingly naive, amusingly candid, Keenan deserves full
marks for her work. —Bridget Thoreson
Aphrodite and the Rabbis: How the
Jews Adapted Roman Culture to Create
Judaism as We Know It.
By Burton L. Visotzky.
Sept. 2016. 256p. illus. St. Martin’s, $26.99
The Roman Empire fostered two lasting
religious movements. One usurped it institutionally. The other, rabbinic Judaism, absorbed
its culture much more fully than most realize.
Visotsky reveals how fully primarily by com-
paring rabbinic Jewish wisdom stories and
their classical analogues. Roles, motifs, and
even names were transferred directly from Ro-
man to Jewish parables. Preeminent non-Jews,
such as Alexander the Great and several Roman
emperors, were incorporated into Jewish sto-
ries. Jewish funerary art came to resemble that
of Roman cemeteries with their walled gardens
and commemorative pictures and sculpture.
Jewish education adopted the study and practice of classical rhetoric, the argumentative
performance art deemed essential to public service by Rome and Greece before it. Arguably
the most important change was the reorientation of Judaism away from the sacrificial cult of
the great temple in Jerusalem and toward the
intense study of the Torah in the manner of
classical philosophy; priests yielded to teachers.
An erudite, pertinently illustrated, and accessible work of religious history. —Ray Olson
Catholic Women Confront Their Church:
Stories of Hurt and Hope.
By Celia Viggo Wexler.
Sept. 2016. 216p. Rowman & Littlefield, $34
(9781442254138); e-book, $33.99 (9781442254145). 282.
Wexler, a journalist and lifelong Roman
Catholic, offers 10 biographical portraits
developed from interviews with women who
continue to practice Catholicism—or have
returned to it—in spite of social, political,
theological, and psychological issues they
have faced with the Church. In addition to the
well-known Sister Simone Campbell (Nuns
on the Bus), the subjects include Sharon
MacIsaac-McKenna, present at Vatican II
before leaving the religious life; Marianne Dud-dy-Burke, active in the American Church’s
LGBT DignityUSA; women who have persevered in Catholic academia in spite of its
sexism; and those who have suffered deeply
and personally through abuse by clergy or
racial injustice. Each woman’s story of internal conflict, theological development, and
spiritual growth is, of course, unique, and
yet together they form a nuanced account of
women in the American Church today and
offer models for those who experience both
deep belief and religious structural doubt.
An excellent companion to Sarah Bessey’s
Jesus Feminist (2013) and Michal Smart and
Barbara Ashkenas’ Kaddish: Women’s Voices.
How to Survive the Apocalypse:
Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at
the End of the World.
By Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson.
2016. 176p. Eerdmans, paper, $16 (9780802872715). 236.
Everyone loves an apocalypse. Ever since
humans have learned to tell stories, they have
told of Ragnarok, Armageddon, or an impending zombie horde. Apocalyptic themes
are rampant in popular culture, from the The
Walking Dead to The Hunger Games. Why
is the apocalypse such a popular trope, and
what does it mean that consumers cannot
get enough zombies? Drawing extensively on
the work of Canadian philosopher Charles
Taylor, the authors clearly explain what they
mean when they talk about apocalypse and
the secular age. The book clearly contrasts
premodern understandings of the self with
current understandings. Once understandings of the self in contemporary society are
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.
Directory of American Politics, 2016–2017: The Definitive Guide to Political Organizations and Resources in the United States. Ed. by Arlander C. Brown. p. 9
Folktales and Fairy Tales: Traditions and Texts from around the World. 2d ed. Ed. by
Anne E. Duggan and others. p. 9
Food in the Gilded Age: What Ordinary Americans Ate. By Robert Dirks. p. 9
How Everyday Products Are Made. 4th ed. p. 8
Painkillers: History, Science, and Issues. Ed. by Victor B. Stolberg. p. 10
The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia. Ed. by Genie Gertz and Patrick Boudreault. p. 6
Shakespeare’s Insults: A Pragmatic Dictionary. Ed. by Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin. p. 9
The Star Trek Book. By Paul Ruditis. p. 9
Television Series of the 1950s: Essential Facts and Quirky Details. By Vincent Terrace. p. 13
Television Series of the 1960s: Essential Facts and Quirky Details. By Vincent Terrace. p. 13