4 Booklist October 1, 2015 www.booklistreader.com
Journalism & Publishing
Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E. B.
White, James Thurber, and the Golden
Age of the New Yorker.
By Thomas Vinciguerra.
Nov. 2015. 352p. Norton, $27.95 (9780393240030). 071.
Multifaceted diamond that it is and has
been nearly since its 1925 inception, the
New Yorker magazine can be seen in many
different lights (see Between You & Me,
2015, by editor-proofer Mary Norris). Here,
author Vinciguerra takes a close look, focus-
ing on the early and sometimes lesser figures
who came to walk the halls and shape the
burgeoning magazine. Vinciguerra’s writ-
ing has a way of bringing these characters
to sparkling life; using quotes, anecdotes,
and descriptive prose, he gives great nods to
such sometimes-background figures as John
Chapin Mosher, the dedicated denier of un-
solicited manuscripts; James Thurber, whose
contributions ranged from witty observa-
tions to art; and countless others who came
and went but who left a mark, which Vin-
ciguerra ferrets out and celebrates. Founding
editor Harold Ross bristles brightly in these
pages; Katharine White gets her due for her
never-ending contributions. New Yorker
readers are a dedicated lot and will snap this
“golden age” volume up, adding it to their
view of the vibrant, eccentric, shape-shifting
rag that touches them, and the world, with
its words and pictures. —Eloise Kinney
Battling the Gods: Atheism in the
By Tim Whitmarsh.
Nov. 2015. 304p. Knopf, $27.95 (9780307958327).
Among the scrolls retrieved from beneath
the lava that destroyed Pompeii, a work
of Prodicus of Ceos declares, “The gods of
popular belief do not exist.” That provocative
declaration attracts Whitmarsh, a historian in-
tent on tracing a lineage of unbelievers among
the ancient Greeks. That lineage includes the
historian Thucydides, who discerned no di-
vine influences in the Peloponnesian War; the
whose physics involved only
the chance movement of at-
oms; and the poet Diagoras
of Melos, perhaps the first
person to advance atheism
as an intellectual virtue. Pre-
dictably, early Greek atheists
aroused the ire of pious con-
temporaries, including Athenian legislators,
who outlawed unbelief as a threat to their
democracy, and Plato, who justified such le-
gal measures. Deep irony—underscored by
Whitmarsh—inheres in Plato’s justifications
for laws against impiety, given that his revered
teacher, Socrates, was condemned under
such a law. Further ironies emerge in the way
Christian apologists claimed Greek icono-
clasts as forerunners whose doubts about the
Greek gods cleared the ground for faith in the
true God. Not all readers will share Whit-
marsh’s dismay at how Christianity drove
atheism underground for centuries. But fans
of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and the other
New Atheists will value his account of their
forebears. —Bryce Christensen
American Indian Women.
By Patrick Deval.
Oct. 2015. 224p. illus. Abbeville, $35 (9780789212474).
Ethnologist Deval explores the role of Amerindian women in their own cultures from
before the arrival of European explorers to
the present. He provides examples, backed
up by oral tradition and primary research
sources, of what constituted the domain
of Amerindian women during precolonial
times and points out their later influence on
the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S.
In his exploration of Native encounters with
European colonists, Deval goes beyond the
“myths” of Pocahontas and Sacajawea to the
“warrior women” who led their people in bat-
tle against the English in the 1600s, and the
effect of Native intermarriages with French
trappers in the later conquest of the West.
Deval demonstrates that the American Indi-
an Schools were not successful in destroying
tribal cultures and concludes with a study of
the American Indian Renaissance, which is
enriched by female chiefs, educators, and ad-
vocates for the civil rights of contemporary
tribes. Profusely illustrated, Deval’s volume
makes a valuable contribution to our knowl-
edge of the often-overlooked place of Native
women both in the past of their tribes and
in the broader present. —Deborah Donovan
YA/C: The illustrations make this a
particularly appealing resource for YAs
exploring Native American and U.S.
history, as well as women’s studies. DD.
Arcadia. By Iain Pears. Knopf, $27.95 (9781101946824); e-book (9781101946831). Feb. 2016.
Pears offers a complex tale that has distinct shades of science fiction; the story is told
in 10 plotlines.
Dark Corners. By Ruth Rendell. Scribner, $26 (9781501119422). Dec.
The late Rendell (she passed away in May of this year) wrote her last novel about a
man who inherits a house in a nice part of London, but the house comes with some
A Doubter’s Almanac. By Ethan Canin. Random, $28 (9781400068265). Feb. 2016.
Canin made a literary splash with his 1988 debut, Emperor of the Air, and continued
to pen high-demand works, including America America (2008). His latest novel follows
the shadow of genius cast over the generations of the family of brilliant mathematician
Eleanor. By Jason Gurley. Penguin, $26 (9781101903513). Jan. 2016.
A gripping family saga that has strong elements of fantasy, this literary tour de force is
garnering lots of pre-pub buzz.
The High Mountains of Portugal. By Yann Martel. Spiegel & Grau, $27 (9780812997170);
e-book (9780812997187). Feb. 2016.
Martel set the literary world afire with Life of Pi (2002); his new novel is, like Pi, an allegory, this one set in various periods of time in the history of Portugal.
Kick-Back. By Chelsea Cain. Simon & Schuster, $25.95 (9781476749891); e-book
(9781476749921). Jan 2016.
The second novel to feature martial arts expert Kick Lannigan; great action and characterization.
Margaret Thatcher: Everything She Wants. By Charles Moore. Knopf, $35
(9780307958969); e-book (9780307958976). Jan. 2016.
This is the second volume of the authorized biography of controversial British prime minister Margaret Thatcher; obviously, for very active history and political science collections.
HIGH-DEMAND HOT LIST
Look for reviews of these high-demand titles in forthcoming issues of
Booklist. —Brad Hooper