6 Booklist March 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
workmanlike in telling the story of how
federal agents and others closed in on the
murderers, securing life sentences (later
changed to death) against Klansmen Henry
Hays and James “Tiger” Knowles. But he
is at his best in recounting attorney Morris
Dees’ efforts to destroy the United Klans of
America and its leader Robert Shelton. It’s
like an episode of Law and Order with very
high stakes. Dees and his organization, the
Southern Poverty Law Center, used this trial
to win that overwhelming fight. The writing
is solid, the research (especially the interviews) imposing, the case important, and the
book’s unquestionable hero, Dees, emerges
powerfully. A great deal more will be written
about Dees and his role in civil rights in the
future, but this is a very good place to start.
Playing by the Rules: How Our Obsession
with Safety Is Putting Us All at Risk.
By Tracey Brown and Michael Hanlon.
Mar. 2016. 320p. Sourcebooks, paper, $14.99
Today’s world is full of arbitrary rules.
No more than 3. 4 ounces of liquid per
container carried onto an airplane. Can’t
volunteer to coach soccer until you pass a
background check, but it doesn’t matter if
you know the difference between a goal and
a base. The password to log online and check
your child’s grades requires you to come up
with a combination of three numbers, two
capital letters, and the promise to sacrifice a
goat—and you need to change it every three
months. Brown and Hanlon argue that these
rules not only don’t keep anyone safer, they
also put us at risk—by making us feel more
secure than we really are, or causing “rule
fatigue,” which leads to stress and noncompliance. In fast-paced chapters, the authors
outline a number of seemingly pointless
rules and advocate for challenging anything
that doesn’t make sense. Readers will enjoy
the anecdotes and will be inspired to rage
against the machine. After all, the code to
unlock the nukes during the Cuban Missile
Crisis was “00000000.” Can’t we go back to
a simpler time? —Rebecca Vnuk
Preparing for Baby: All the Legal,
Financial, Tax, and Insurance Information
New and Expectant Parents Need.
By Nihara Choudhri.
2015. 272p. American Bar Assn., paper, $19.95
This is a valuable resource for making valu-
able decisions. It provides the legal details and
definitions parents need to make challenging
decisions, and the Q&A format is a road
map for people who don’t know where—or
how—to start. Choudhri explores questions
many parents want to know but don’t know
who to ask. Should one hire a nanny “off the
books” or “on the books”? What about an au
pair? What’s an UTMA and an UGMA, and
which one should you get? With a law degree
and several marriage and family legal titles in
print, Choudhri is the expert with the an-
swers. The icons used in the book give it the
feel of the “for Dummies” series, and readers
may have to use the key in the introduction
to keep them all straight. The appendixes
provide a state-by-state chart for many of
the laws covered in the book, and the index
is useful. Preparing for Baby is essential for
public libraries, where it should be promoted
to expectant parents or parents with minors.
The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father.
By Kao Kalia Yang.
Mar. 2016. 288p. Holt/Metropolitan, $27
Yang, author of The Latehomecomer: A
Hmong Family Memoir (2008), builds upon
that beautiful chronicle in this hauntingly
lyrical tribute to her beloved father. As
she recounts his life as a fatherless child, a
refugee, and a stranger in a strange land, a
portrait emerges of a spiritual man who heals
his soul and elevates the lives of his children
with the rich artistry of his homespun compositions. To put it in accessible American
terms, Bee Yang “raps, jazzes, and sings the
blues when he dwells in the landscape of traditional Hmong song poetry.” Keeping alive
the stories, the history, and the culture of his
homeland, he passes them along to his children through an art form steeped in centuries
of tradition and lore. Barely keeping poverty
at bay, he makes sure his family is warm and
secure through the bitterly cold Minnesota
winters, paying homage to their collective
heritage until time and bitter circumstances
steal the songs. A memorable and moving
immigrant story. —Margaret Flanagan
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago
and American Segregation.
By Natalie Y. Moore.
Mar. 2016. 272p. illus. St. Martin’s, $27.99
A proud South Side native and South
Side bureau reporter for Chicago’s NPR
station, WBEZ, Moore seeks to dispel misconceptions about this large and diverse
community, “the heart of black America”
and a prime example of the consequences
of persistent racial segregation. Moore tells
the story of her African American family
and their “invisible” lives in a middle-class
neighborhood, a veritable “black cocoon.”
Their experiences play in counterpoint to
her thoughtful and clarifying investigation
into the sources of the chronic economic
and social afflictions plaguing most of the
South Side and other segregated urban areas
across the country, beginning with discriminatory banking and real-estate practices.
Moore vividly, even poetically, describes
neighborhood scenes bright and bleak;
cites intriguing studies; conducts telling
interviews about Chicago’s public-housing
debacle, struggling public schools, and the
effort to eradicate food deserts; and critiques
inaccurate, racialized media coverage. By
bringing the South Side into focus as a place
people cherish as home in spite of system-
atically racist obstacles to their well-being,
Moore refines our perception of the realities
of segregation and the many possible paths
to change. —Donna Seaman
YA/M: In addition to Moore’s tales
of her South Side childhood, her
informed and lucid take on segregation
will provide YAs with a fully
dimensional view of race and class in a
quintessentially American city. DS.
The Go-Giver Leader: A Little Story
about What Matters Most in Business.
By Bob Burg and John David Mann.
Mar. 2016. 176p. Portfolio, $25 (9780399562945).
Parables aren’t necessarily a novelty in business books. Burg and Mann build on their
experiences by centering on a tale of corporate
acquisition that solidly cements the five Go-Giver principles: hold the vision, build your
people, do the work, stand for something, and
practice giving leadership. Ben is a fast-rising
gung-ho salesperson in the Marden Group,
anxious to close a takeover deal with Allen
& Augustine, a high-end chair manufacturer.
His initial brash and bold approach is rejected, so he embarks on a journey of personal
development, talking with family, old friends,
and a few new acquaintances. What he learns
is truly applicable to any manager, anywhere.
And as he includes his “Eureka!” moments in
a notebook he calls Ben’s Manifesto, he sums
it up by saying, “I think we live to find out
who we are.” This is a fast read that reinforces
leadership fundamentals. The volume is supplemented by a discussion guide and Q&A
with the authors. —Barbara Jacobs
Good for the Money: My Fight to
Pay Back America.
By Bob Benmosche and others.
Apr. 2016. 288p. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9781250072184);
e-book (9781466883574). 330.973.
Benmosche’s remarkably candid and compelling autobiography reveals how he, as
the five-year CEO of AIG
Insurance, stayed true to
himself while rescuing the
company from the precipice
of bankruptcy from toxic,
(Sadly, Benmosche wasn’t
as lucky; he died in February 2015 of complications
of lung cancer.) The narrative speaks in
straightforward exposition and description,
explaining the arcane nature of what the
then-revised insurance company had invested in and, more important, what that meant.
There are true-life, riveting discussions of
TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program),
stories of working with the Fed and the
U.S. Treasury to recover after the taxpay-