November 1, 2016 Booklist 13 www.booklistonline.com
challenge the Big Oil companies to keep
them from establishing reserves in this city
that is known to be an important oil refinery in the state. Early cites extensively from
a variety of sources such as interviews, newspaper articles, and academic law journals to
illustrate how Richmond transformed itself
from a deteriorating city plagued with crime
and poverty for decades into a renewal city
that embraces community activism, reform,
and equity. Readers interested in American
politics, progressivism, community practice,
and local, labor, and social history will find
Early’s book to be informative, engaging, and
inspiring. —Raymond Pun
Order from your usual bookseller or wholesaler. Request a review copy on Edelweiss.
France: A Modern History from the
Revolution to the War with Terror.
By Jonathan Fenby.
Nov. 2016. 576p. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (9781250096838).
For most of the past 1,100 years, France
has been ruled by feudal kings, absolute
monarchs, and emperors. Yet it is the Revolution of 1789, with its universal appeals
to “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” that is
reverentially described as the foundation of
modern France and the key to its “
exceptional” character. But is that accurate? According
to historian Fenby (Tiger Head, Snake Tails,
2012), it is the widely disputed interpretation of the Revolution and its legacy that is
at the root of many of the divisions plaguing
France today. In their current manifestations,
these include divides between those at the
Left and the Right, disputes over the degree
of secularism in society, and disagreements
over how to fully assimilate millions of Muslims. At a deeper level, what is the nature of
French identity? In making connections to
the Revolution, Fenby reviews the past two
centuries of French history, including the
upheavals of 1832 and 1848, and the two
world wars. Although he, at times, paints
with too broad a brush, general readers will
find excellent value in this effort to understand this influential nation. —Jay Freeman
Island People: The Caribbean and
By Joshua Jelly-Schapiro.
Nov. 2016. 496p. Knopf, $28.95 (9780385349765). 972.9.
The Caribbean, with its historical ties to
globalization via slavery and sugar cane plantations and ongoing international diaspora,
that blended people from all over the world
to form the distinctive Caribbean culture despite its multitude of origins and languages.
He traces the history of the Greater Antilles,
Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Haiti and
the Dominican Republic as well as Antilles,
Cayman, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, and
others. He tells the stories of the lives of ordinary citizens, their carnivals and storytelling
traditions, and the histories of famous writers and artists who carried their Caribbean
flavor around the world, from Bob Marley to
Paule Marshall, C. L. R. James to Pedro Mir.
He also examines the adaptations to Western
culture as well as the spirit of rebellion embodied by such figures as Marcus Garvey,
Toussaint-Louverture, and Fidel Castro. This
is a fascinating look at a culture that continues
to draw travelers and send out messengers of
island culture. —Vanessa Bush
Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and
the Remaking of an American City.
By Steve Early.
Jan. 2017. 248p. Beacon, $27.95 (9780807094266). 979.4.
Early, a labor journalist and author most
recently of Save Our Unions: Dispatches from
a Movement in Distress (2013), covers 10
years of “glocal” politics, labor history, and
municipal reforms in Richmond, CA, a city
in the eastern region of the San Francisco
Bay area. Early writes passionately about the
citizens, politicians, and grassroots activists
of Richmond who campaigned for social
and economic justice and municipal reform
to reduce crime, raise minimum wage, and