12 Booklist October 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
probing observation and striving toward
timelessness invoke the shimmering stillness
of painting. But there’s also a lot of motion;
for instance, by the creatures under piled
planks in “wormwork” when they’re exposed;
by “oystercatchers in flight”; in “flesh,” by
light and life in an Adriaen Coorte still life.
There is always so much there in these poems,
namely, the ongoing richness of a world full of
significance if hardly of transparency, a richness that, as the title implies, both comforts
and exhilarates. —Ray Olson
Geography & Travel
A Wretched and Precarious
Situation: In Search of the Last
By David Welky.
Nov. 2016. 480p. illus. Norton, $28.95 (9780393254419).
In this original addition to the annals of
Arctic exploration, historian Welky (The
Thousand Year Flood, 2011) recounts an expedition that evolved out of Robert Peary’s
quests for the North Pole. Mounted in 1913,
it was to find “Crocker Land,” an unexplored
continent Peary claimed to have seen. Peary’s
reputation made it credible and fired the
ambition of his acolytes. Donald MacMillan
organized the campaign. A meticulous quartermaster, he managed supplies better than
men, overcoming a shipwreck to deliver his
expedition to winter quarters. MacMillan
also prepared his team well
for their sledge journey.
But this central act in the
drama revealed MacMillan’s limitations; he was
so fixated on his objective that he little noticed
the mental instability of
his American companion,
Fitzhugh Green, or the worries of his two
Inuit guides. After a brutal experience of
cold, wind, and starvation, the party found
no Crocker Land, and an incident occurred
that was so ghastly MacMillan concealed it:
Green murdered a guide named Piugattoq.
For reasons that polar epics always attract
readers—the hero confronting nature, the
pitiless extremities of that nature, and the
psychological warping polar regions seem
to induce—Welky’s well-judged and well-
written revival of this obscure expedition
augurs to be as popular as any in the polar-
exploration genre. —Gilbert Taylor
The 60s: The Story of a Decade.
By The New Yorker. Ed. by Henry Finder.
Oct. 2016. 752p. Random, $35 (9780679644835).
From the chilling initial article, an excerpt from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, to
the breathtaking last story by Isaac Bashe-vis Singer (the pieces are arranged topically
rather than chronologically), this latest in the
series of decade-by-decade anthologies taken
from the pages of one astonishing magazine not only demonstrates George Packer’s
contention that the ’60s were the decade
in which The New Yorker developed a social
conscience but also shows its continuing
commitment to the finest quality in everything from political reportage (Hannah
Arendt on Eichmann; Richard Rovere; Calvin Trillin) to poetry (James Dickey, Sylvia
Plath) and fiction. It is hard to tell, indeed,
whether it is the rich decades or the articles
(and brief introductions to each section),
The Global Water Crisis.
By David E. Newton.
2016. 354p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $60 (9781440839801);
e-book (9781440839818). 333.91.
Similar to other titles in ABC-CLIO’s
Contemporary World Issues series, this
book is divided into a section of detailed
background and history; a set of figures
and tables; and an annotated bibliography
of books, articles, reports, and Internet
sites on the topic of the global water crisis.
There is an in-depth look at issues such as
water scarcity, water disputes, and sanitation as well as a selection of opposing
viewpoints and brief profiles of key people
and organizations. Suitable for young adult
and nonspecialist researchers, this concise,
single-volume resource would be a good
addition to high-school and academic libraries in need of information on this hot topic.
The Philosophy Book: From the Vedas
to the New Atheists, 250 Milestones in
the History of Philosophy.
By Gregory Bassham.
2016. 528p. illus. Sterling, $29.95 (9781454918479).
This volume on philosophy, part of the
Sterling Milestones series, presents the
topic in an easy-to-digest chronological
format. Entries begin with the Vedas, circa
1500 BCE and end with the triple theory of
ethics in 2011. All the major players show
up in between (Confucius, Plato, Aristo-
tle, Hobbes, Kant). Each entry provides
a page describing a theory, a document,
or a person along with a related full-page
color image. Browsing through the entries
sequentially gives the reader a sense of
how philosophy developed over time, and
an index allows readers to find entries by
subject. This book would make an excel-
lent starting point for students and is very
browsable for the general reader. Visual
appeal, highly readable information, and an
excellent price point make this entire se-
ries highly recommended for most public
libraries. —Rebecca Vnuk
Spaceships: A Popular History.
By Ron Miller.
2016. 256p. illus. Smithsonian, $34.95
Space really is our final frontier, and
mankind has been figuring out how to
get there for a long, long time. With this
new book, Smithsonian has published a
heavily illustrated (the only pages without
illustrations are the index!) compendium
of all things related to human space flight.
Combining actual history with speculation
and viewing it from a very international
perspective, Miller’s book does an excel-
lent job of presenting the topic from our
collective imagination (Star Trek, Star
Wars, and Buck Rogers) as well as from
reality (Apollo, Mir Space Station, and the
space shuttle). It will be enjoyed equally
by history buffs, science-fiction fans, and
scientists. —David Tyckoson
Why Don’t Americans Vote? Causes
Ed. by Bridgett A. King and Kathleen
2016. 227p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $48 (9781440841156).
With the 2016 presidential election rapidly approaching, contributing editors and
Auburn University political science professors King and Hale provide a timely look
at the reasons behind and the results of
Americans who do not vote. Twenty brief
but thorough chapters allow the subject to
be examined from numerous angles, from
the past to the present, and include recommendations for the future. Such factors
as preelection polling, voter registration
qualifications, gerrymandering, and the
two-party system are concisely handled. It
is noted that the rate of voter turnout has
caused concern since the late nineteenth
century. Anyone interested in learning
about voter turnout in U.S. elections will
find something of interest in this slim volume. —Jim Frutchey
REFERENCE BOOKS IN BRIEF