18 Booklist March 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
in this regard, she does a good job of bringing these latter-day voyageurs to individual
life. Theirs was not all adventure, however;
sometimes it was a slog and, at such times,
the book becomes something of a slog, too,
but for the most part it moves briskly, nicely
capturing the spirit of adventure that underlay this remarkable eight-month expedition.
YA: This is a natural choice for
adventure-loving YA readers, who will
identify with the 16 teens who experienced
the expedition. MC.
Ed. by Enrique Ávila López.
2015. 427p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $89 (9781610696005). 946.
As Shakespeare noted, what’s past is
prologue—even for modernity. It is fitting
necessity, then, that this encyclopedia, emphasizing the recent and present of Spanish society
and culture, devotes its first subject chapters to
geography and history—two powerful, long-term shaping forces. These, as do the other
14 thematic chapters, explain the importance
of noteworthy topics. Even in the subsequent
chapters, the past informs the present—hence
entries on King Philip II, Averoes, Santiago de
Compostela, Generation of ’98, Alhambra Palace,
El Greco, and jamón (pork).
References to modern Spain’s most significant political events—the Civil War, the Franco
regime, the restoration of the monarchy, and
the post-Franco era—punctuate articles on
social and political topics. Other articles cover
topics such as transportation, the nine constitutions, political parties, agriculture, tourism,
the monarchy, gender roles, education, restaurants, fashion, and more; and testify to the
emphasis on the recent past and contemporary
Spain. Engaging “A day in the life” first-person
vignettes portray everyday contemporary life
for a university student, a school teacher, a
foreigner, and a housewife. Cross-references
among articles and bibliographies citing both
Spanish- and English-language sources offer
opportunities for learning more, amplified
by an appendix with chapter-specific bibliographies. A statistical appendix offers selected
facts and figures on demographics, health, national finance, trade, education, multinational
corporations, and other quantifiable social and
economic measures. This will, as its series title,
Understanding Modern Nations, implies, help
readers understand modern Spain, its society,
and its roots broadly and in many particulars.
Rightful Heritage: Franklin D.
Roosevelt and the Land of America.
By Douglas Brinkley.
Mar. 2016. 752p. illus. Harper, $35 (9780062089236).
As he did for Theodore Roosevelt in The
Wilderness Warrior (2009), fluent and percep-
tive historian Brinkley tells the full story of
Franklin Roosevelt’s grand and profound con-
servation efforts. FDR grew up in a verdant,
rolling paradise on his family’s Hudson River
estate, a precocious only child enthralled by
the living world and possessed of a scientist’s
ardor for fact and documentation. He never
lost his passion for nature as
he rose through the politi-
cal ranks, and he was always
happiest outdoors, even after
polio stole his ability to walk.
As president, Roosevelt zest-
fully traveled all over the
country, keenly observing
the land’s glory and abuses.
He believed fervently in the value of state and
national parks and revitalized and established
many, along with wilderness and wildlife pre-
serves protecting giant sequoias, organ-pipe
cactus, birds, fish, and bighorn sheep. Rec-
ognizing, during the Great Depression, the
“connection between conservation of natural
resources and America’s economic future,”
FDR put the unemployed to work in the Ci-
vilian Conservation Corps preserving habitats,
making public lands more accessible, and im-
proving the nation’s infrastructure. Brinkley
vividly tracks Roosevelt’s “political know-how,
legislative muscle, and fearlessness” from a
unique and important perspective in this en-
grossing and richly illuminating portrait of one
of the American environment’s most ardent
and effective champions. —Donna Seaman
Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects
of a New City.
By Adina Hoffman.
Apr. 2016. 368p. Farrar, $27 (9780374289102). 956.94.
Hoffman (My Happiness Bears No Relation to
Happiness, 2009), a longtime resident of Jerusalem, combines history, architectural survey,
and sociological analysis to examine the expansion and development of Jerusalem under
the period of the British Palestinian Mandate
(1918–1948). She views this development
through the prism of the achievements of
three architects. Erich Mendelsohn, a refugee
from Nazi Germany, hoped to continue his
celebrated career in the fertile ground of an
expanding city, but he was frustrated by the
stifling political turmoil. Likewise, Austen
St. Barbe Harrison found his efforts to meld
European and Islamic styles caught up in bureaucratic and cultural conflicts. Spyro Houris
was an obscure, apparently Arabized Greek
who challenged Hoffman’s investigative skills.
Although some writers claim that relations
between Jews and Arabs were harmonious
within the city before 1948, Hoffman shows
a city plagued with constant friction and tension as factions within various communities
jockey for advantage. This is a well-done survey of the period and of a city that continues
to attract and sadden both visitors and residents. —Jay Freeman
Valiant Ambition: George
Washington, Benedict Arnold, and
the Fate of the American Revolution.
By Nathaniel Philbrick.
May 2016. 448p. Viking, $30 (9780525426783). 973.
Philbrick (Bunker Hill, 2013) long ago es-
tablished his narrative-nonfiction bona fides
with such books as In the Heart of the Sea: The
Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (2000), win-
ner of the National Book Award and which
was recently made into a movie. His formi-
dable storytelling skills are
displayed anew in this rivet-
ing, perceptive account of
the American Revolution as
seen through a very defined
lens: the growing strength
of General Washington’s
leadership qualities as he
suppresses his propensity for
anger and sharpens his ability to rise above the
bickering of his staff and Congress to keep a
focus on the bigger picture of securing inde-
pendence, and on the growing frustration of
one of his best generals, Benedict Arnold, over
the slow pace of the war effort and Congress’
intrusive oversight. Granted, many pages
of this unforgettable book are given over to
troop activities in the field. But the beauty and
wisdom of the narrative as a whole lie in its
indelible picture of the troubles Washington
went through to lead a successful revolution,
and in isolating the personality traits and
exterior forces that would lead to the name
of Benedict Arnold becoming synonymous
with treason. Bound to draw a good reader-
ship to libraries’ American-history stacks.
We the People: The Modern-Day Figures
Who Have Reshaped the Founding
Fathers’ Vision of What America Is.
By Juan Williams.
Apr. 2016. 432p. Crown, $30 (9780307952042). 970.
The enormous changes in American society over the past five decades in immigration,
civil rights, and other sociological realms inspired high-profile commentator Williams
(Muzzled, 2011) to wonder what the founding fathers would have thought about our
times. Williams imagines their reactions as
he provides biographical sketches of pivotal
figures who played leading roles in various
movements and policy developments. Readers will recognize most of them, and the issues
they represent continue to be passionately
argued in the public square. Take immigration for example: contemporary debate stems
directly from reforms engineered by Senator
Edward Kennedy in 1965. Equal rights for
women (personified by Betty Friedan), mi-norities (Martin Luther King Jr.), and the
LGBTQ community (Harry Hay) would
have puzzled the founders, avers Williams.
The federal government’s expansion since
the 1960s prompts the least-known subject,
a Social Security bureaucrat named Robert
Ball. With environmentalist Rachel Carson,
human rights advocate Eleanor Roosevelt,
free-market guru Milton Friedman, evangelist Billy Graham, and right-to-bear-arms
advocate Charlton Heston, Williams combines personalities and issues across the
political spectrum in an appealing and accessible volume. —Gilbert Taylor