Journalism & Publishing
By Robert Gottlieb.
Sept. 2016. 352p. Farrar, $28 (9780374279929). 070.5.
Gottlieb’s constant and eclectic reading,
along with a “series of flukes,” delivered him to
the publishing world, the ideal arena not only
for his passion for books but also for his boundless energy and gift for fruitful collaborations.
An exceptionally accomplished and influential
editor and the author of numerous profiles
(Lives and Letters, 2011) and biographies (
Balanchine, Bernhardt), Gottlieb now tells his
many-faceted life story with zest and precision,
standouts as Joseph Heller, Robert Caro, Toni
Morrison, Doris Lessing, and John le Carré,
and tells incisive tales of helping the famous
craft their memoirs, including Bill Clinton and
National Book Award–winner Lauren Bacall.
Though he avers, “Work is my natural state of
being,” clearly his longtime marriage to actor
Maria Tucci and his close friendships with writers and publishing professionals, so eloquently
celebrated here, have inspired and sustained
him. While book lovers will revel in Gottlieb’s
intimate publishing revelations, his memoir is
also a vital, generous, and captivating story of a
life lived to the fullest. —Donna Seaman
Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great
American Sex Scandal of 1936.
By Edward Sorel.
Oct. 2016. 176p. illus. Norton/Liveright, $25.95
Prominent illustrator and cartoonist Sorel
grew up in the Bronx during the Great De-
pression as a “latchkey kid” who entertained
himself by drawing and
going to the movies, pas-
sions that fuel this unique,
witty, deeply involving il-
lustrated chronicle of his
long enthrallment with the
movie star Mary Astor. His
obsession was triggered in
1965 when he ripped up
an old linoleum floor and discovered a layer of
tabloid newspapers from 1936 recounting in
screeching headlines Astor’s scandalous cus-
tody battle for her daughter after her current
husband got hold of her diary and its explicit
record of her affair with playwright George
S. Kaufman. Steeped in Astor’s troubled life,
Sorel recounts her monstrous parents’ brutal
exploitation of her beauty and talent, her ini-
tiation into acting and sex by John Barrymore,
her disastrous marriages to cruel mooches, her
love for Kaufman, her depression, her vicious
prosecution, and her triumphant grace under
pressure. Sorel deftly mixes in compelling epi-
sodes from his own life, including run-ins with
the FBI and the impetus for the left-wing po-
litical satire in his famous work for the Nation,
the Atlantic, and the New Yorker. Sorel’s writ-
ing is jaunty and affecting, and his jazzily
dynamic and keenly expressive drawings mas-
terfully capture the edginess and glamour of
Astor’s world as he brings the underappreci-
ated actor back into the limelight with verve
and empathy. —Donna Seaman
Open to Debate: How William F.
Buckley Put Liberal America on the
By Heather Hendershot.
Oct. 2016. 432p. illus. Broadside, $28.99
How is it that sixties firebrands such as Eldridge Cleaver, Germaine Greer, and Noam
Chomsky found a favorable venue for voicing
their revolutionary messages on a public-issues
television show hosted by an
iconic American conservative? Hendershot answers this
puzzling question by looking
closely at how that show—
Firing Line—reflected the
remarkable personality of its
charismatic host, William F.
Buckley. As she surveys the
33 years during which Buckley hosted almost
1,500 episodes, Hendershot recognizes that
this cerebral conservative used the program as
a platform to shape and promulgate the con-
servative cause, giving special attention to the
Goldwater Revolution. But Hendershot mar-
vels at the diversity of progressive and radical
thinkers Buckley invited to share his broadcast
stage. Though herself a liberal who shares few
of his political views, Hendershot lauds Buck-
ley for the intelligence, honesty, wit, civility,
and élan with which he developed meaningful
dialogues with these diverse thinkers, dialogues
that actually enriched viewers’ understanding
of the complexities of the nation’s political life.
Indeed, she laments the difficulty of finding
anything remotely similar to Buckley’s Fir-
ing Line in the predictable and slogan-driven
current programming of Fox News on the
right and MSNBC on the left. A cogent re-
minder of what political broadcasting could be.
Philosophy & Psychology
The Voices Within: The History &
Science of How We Talk to Ourselves.
By Charles Fernyhough.
Oct. 2016. 320p. Basic, $27.99 (9780465096800).
Do you think in voices? In text? Pictures?
Is it hard to pin down mentally, let alone in
words, how your own thoughts flit across your
mind’s stage? Then imagine how much harder is the
task of researchers—such
as Fernyhough, a psychology professor at Durham
University, in England—
who work to pin down the
thought patterns of others.
as well as related work by many others, form
the backbone of this title; interspersed among
the accessible scientific descriptions are related observations ranging from the reading
habits of Saint Augustine to the chatter of the
author’s toddler. As in the best scientific writing, Fernyhough presents his own viewpoints
clearly but also provides readers with an overview of other positions taken in the field. The
material can be used with patrons who have
Appearing below is a list of all the print reference titles reviewed in this issue. Reference
librarians should also remember that all Booklist reference reviews can be accessed by
Booklist subscribers on Booklist Online.
American Women: Great Lives from History. Ed. by Mary K. Trigg. p. 33
Conservation Directory, 2017: The Guide to Worldwide Environmental Organizations.
Ed. by Lindsey Breuer. p. 18
Gamechangers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History. By Molly Schiot. p. 37
Gun Politics in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context. By Harry L. Wilson. p. 12
The Handy State-by-State Answer Book: Faces, Places, and Famous Dates for All Fifty
States. By Samuel Willard Crompton. p. 18
Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia. Ed. by Jose Luis Morin. p. 12
Native American Almanac: More Than 50,000 Years of the Cultures and Histories of
Indigenous Peoples. By Yvonne Wakim Dennis and others. p. 35
Continued on p. 8