Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Subscribers can click the "login" button below to access the Table-of-Contents Database. (If you have not done so already, you will need to set up your digital access by going here.)

Or for immediate access you can click the "subscribe" link below.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries) , Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

For any other questions about PublshersWeekly.com, email service@publishersweekly.com.

Login or

Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis

Annie Jacobsen. Little, Brown, $30 (484p) ISBN 978-0-316-34936-9

Journalist Jacobsen (The Pentagon’s Brain) continues her disturbing excavations of the inner workings of the American defense and intelligence establishment in this fascinating exposé of governmental research into “anomalous mental phenomena.” The U.S. government sought to surveil its enemies and gain the upper hand in what was perceived to be a very real threat on Earth as well as in space. This was not merely a war of perception: the U.S.S.R. had embarked on ESP-based efforts of its own, including the bombardment of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow with focused microwaved beams. The result was an unprecedented arms race of the psychic kind. Readers may be familiar with MKUltra, the CIA’s program to develop mind-control techniques, but they’ll be surprised by the breadth and dedication of the government’s efforts to study paranormal activity, which included drafting the likes of science fiction author Aldous Huxley and self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller. Attempting to stay a step ahead of their foreign (and potential otherworldly) enemies, they investigated related phenomena, most notably remote viewing, which resulted in the creation of a dedicated remote viewing program in the U.S. Army. Jacobsen artfully deals card after dutifully researched card in her enthralling reportage on one of America’s most curious defense endeavors. Agent: James Hornfischer, Hornfischer Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Witness Tree: Seasons of Change with a Century-Old Oak

Lynda V. Mapes. Bloomsbury, $27 (240p) ISBN 978-1-63286-253-2

Seattle Times reporter Mapes (Elwha: A River Reborn) spends a year exploring the “miracle of the ordinary” through physical proximity to a single large but otherwise unexceptional specimen of a ubiquitous tree, the red oak, inside the Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts. The work echoes Thoreau’s retreat to Walden in form, though Mapes’s tree is less her teacher than a cherished primary source. Mapes occasionally bursts forth with moments of wonder in recounting her experience, but her overall style of engagement is more academic than sensual. She includes a broad range of expertise and perspective, seeking out archivists, phenologists, carpenters, soil ecologists, professional tree climbers, and local cows, and considering the technologies of webcams and drones. The net effect is pleasant but bland. Mapes displays a down-to-earth optimism in her smooth prose and cheerful banter in her conversations, but her experience feels overly planned and curated; her year-long narrative lacks any notable moments beyond her scheduled expert visits, especially when compared to the lively history of the area that she pulls from Harvard’s archives. Mapes acknowledges climate change fears but ends on a positive note about trees’ resilience and New England’s rewilding in the last century. Her work is unfortunately underwhelming. Agent: Elizabeth Wales, Wales Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors

David George Haskell. Viking, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-42752-0

In this inspiring but uneven account, Haskell (The Forest Unseen), professor of biology at Sewanee, investigates the myriad connections between trees and their natural surroundings. Trees do not exist in isolation, he notes, and though their “trunks seemingly stand as detached individuals, their lives subvert this atomistic view.” He devotes each of his 10 chapters (plus two interludes) to a particular tree, visiting Ecuador, Japan, and various points in North America. In Amazonian Ecuador, for example, Haskell calls attention to the ceibo tree, describing local hummingbirds, frogs, and monkeys before touching on oil-drilling camps now found in the rainforest. The heavy machinery cannot be ignored; “half of Ecuador’s export revenues and one third of the government’s budget come from oil.” Juxtaposing contrasting images of nature in urban landscapes, Haskell describes the worlds revolving around a cottonwood tree in Denver and a callery pear in Manhattan in lively chapters full of engaging digressions and meditations. But the chapters on a balsam fir in Ontario and maples in Tennessee and Illinois are harder to read, sometimes dazing readers with tangential and obscure references. Despite a few weak spots, Haskell’s study of interconnectedness reveals as much about humans as it does trees. Agent: Alice Martell, Martell Agency. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War

Peter Conradi. Oneworld, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-78607-041-8

In this balanced and timely work, Sunday Times foreign editor Conradi (The Great Survivors) charts the complex and turbulent course of U.S.-Russia relations since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., and investigates how the end of the Cold War failed to result in either conciliation or superpower cooperation. Working from exclusive interviews with principal players and assorted other sources, Conradi details how occasional moments of tentative cooperation—arms control deals, post-9/11 collaboration, the Iran nuclear deal—have masked a relationship fraught with tension, fundamentally different perspectives, and mutual misunderstandings. Russia’s primary sources of concern include NATO’s “relentless march eastward,” the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, perceived American political malfeasance in former Soviet territories, and Washington’s insistence on a U.S.-centered unipolar world order that ignores Russia’s desire to be treated respectfully and “as an equal.” Such factors, Conradi argues, contributed to Russia’s “sense of humiliation and encirclement.” The U.S. has taken issue with Russian President Putin’s growing domestic authoritarianism and “newfound assertiveness” abroad: intervention in Georgia, support for separatists in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and a role in the Syrian Civil War. Conradi blends these developments into a smooth narrative that provides welcome context for Russia’s recent revanchist behavior and insight into prospects for ongoing U.S.-Russian relations. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg, Andrew Nurnberg Associates (U.K.). (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Nature of Things: 24 Stories About Embracing Reality

Brigid Elsken Galloway. Flamepoint, $12.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-5371-5266-0

Self-professed Southern Buddhist Catholic Galloway has reported for NPR’s All Things Considered and is an instructor at the Institute for Conscious Being. Here, she reflects on her life and shares her personal path to dealing with a “D- (death, divorce, disease, downsizing)” life. She was raised as a Catholic but turned to Buddhist practices to gain perspective about her life; she also joined a 12-step program that she credits with enabling her to accept and not resist reality. This memoir has 12 chapters with themes such as awareness, honesty, and practice, each featuring two stories revealing how Galloway learned these lessons. In “Awareness,” Galloway realizes that her meltdown at McDonald’s had nothing to do with her son’s Happy Meal, but was about her own rage toward her mother’s late-stage degenerative dementia. In “Honesty,” Galloway shares her early childhood dream of becoming a saint and how she was punished for praying in a chapel; years later, after her second marriage failed, Galloway felt cynical about religion but still turned back to spirituality. In “Practice,” Galloway learns to accept responsibility for her actions after dealing with a car crash at a Buddhist monastery. These relatable stories of hardship are funny and moving and will appeal to those who are open to Galloway’s guidance. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
For the Record: Confessions of a Vinyl-Soundtrack Junkie

Bruce K. Hanson. CreateSpace, $11.99 trade paper (164p) ISBN 978-1-5349-9706-6

Hanson (The Peter Pan Chronicles) describes a fascination with musicals and their recorded soundtracks in this charming and informative story of his life as a “record geek.” Growing up in the 1960s, Hanson spent “joyful afternoons studying album covers and reading liner notes.” At age 12 he sold his comic books (Batman, Superman, etc.), making a beeline to a Manhattan record store to spend half his $200 profit. Hanson guides readers through his life and his treasured record collection, segueing neatly between recording trivia and anecdotes from his formative years as a “soundtrack junkie.” His parents didn’t expect this “dreamer” to amount to anything. Hanson adored singer Rosemary Clooney when he was eight, later moving on to follow Judy Garland, June Allyson, Barbara Cook, Debbie Reynolds, and other performers of the time. He also shares an interesting interview with Mary Martin, who played Peter Pan on Broadway. He attended high school on Staten Island, N.Y., and later continued studies in theatre arts, pottery, and sculpture, eventually becoming a visual arts teacher. Collectors will be entertained by Hanson’s impressive knowledge of records, including their graphics, cover art, and production details; his well-crafted and often humorous prose deftly conjures up the bygone era of musical theater’s golden age. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

Jen Sincero. Viking, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2297-7

Sincero, a success coach and motivational speaker, follows up the bestselling You Are a Badass with this peppy, if slightly flaky, envision-yourself-rich guide. Sincero, a freelance writer who was perpetually broke well into her 40s, describes working hard to change her attitude and get past her mental blocks about money and her own ability to attract it, earn it, and keep it. She guides readers through a similar process of cultivating a mindset conducive to garnering wealth. Her self-help approach asks readers to believe in the kindness of the universe (or a higher power), cultivate self-honesty, visualize success, meditate, and repeat affirmations. Backed up with success stories from those who’ve taken her advice, Sincero counsels readers that the secret to success is inside them—and the universe is on their side. Her friendly, cheeky tone should appeal to existing fans and younger get-rich-quick seekers, though the visualization message feels a bit too dated to garner a whole new audience. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Foundry Literary + Media. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River

David Owen. Riverhead, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59463-377-5

The Colorado River, the main water source of America’s desert Southwest, flows sorely vexed to the sea—almost—in this revealing investigation of hydroecology in extremis. New Yorker contributor Owen (The Conundrum) follows the Colorado from its Rocky Mountain headwaters to the point where it trickles out in the Mexican desert, well short of its historical outlet to the sea, visiting the massive infrastructures—the mighty Hoover Dam, giant pipes, pumping stations, canals, and humble sprinklers—that divert its waters for millions of uses. Along the way he encounters people whose lives entwine with the river, including lawyers wrangling endlessly over arbitrary apportionment rules—existing allotments grant various users more water than actually flows in the river—and utility planners trying to stretch the flow among a growing population, as well as ordinary farmers, boaters, and the quirky subculture of transient RV camps on its banks. Through his reportage, Owen teases out the contradictions of the complex issues surrounding the Colorado: water conservation efforts, he finds, can do more harm than good because allegedly “wasted” water often returns to replenish the river and aquifers. Rather than simply bemoan environmental degradation, Owen presents a deeper, more useful analysis of the subtle interplay between natural and human needs. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II

John W. Dower. Haymarket, $15.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-60846-723-5

Dower, professor emeritus of history at MIT and winner of a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize for 1999’s Embracing Defeat, counters the notion that a postwar Pax Americana, in which the U.S. assumed the role of the world’s police force, has led to decline of violence during this period. He asserts that though there are myriad conflicts and terrorist acts that do not involve the U.S., the U.S. and its allies remain key players and, indeed, perpetrators of many of the paroxysms of violence that have engulfed the globe. Moreover, the American conflicts in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia come complete with mayhem of a different order that is as deadly as the world wars. Dower delivers a convincing blow to publisher Henry Luce’s benign “American Century” thesis, positing that violence has continued at an epic pace through conventional combat and terrorism as well as through famine, disease, and displacement of people from their homelands. The U.S. often responds as victim rather than villain, but Bower concludes that the country’s preoccupation with its own exceptionalism continues to perpetuate the American hubris that fuels ever more violent international conflicts. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball

Keith Law. Morrow, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-249022-3

Baseball is full of truisms based on statistics, and Law sets out to debunk as many of them as he can. ESPN senior baseball writer Law brilliantly dismantles some of the game’s most sacred and most misleading statistics—including pitcher wins and saves, RBIs, and stolen bases—with a style in which smart trumps snarky. In fact, his book’s title is perfect. Law writes for the seasoned and savvy baseball fan, arguing that W stats such as WOBA (weighted on-base average), WRC (weighted runs created), WPA (win probability added), and WAR (wins above replacement) help teams and analysts place a more precise value on any given player’s production. Law boldly second-guesses real-game decisions made by managers and makes his case with examples that range from the sport’s early days through the 2016 postseason. As a new baseball season begins, Law challenges longtime fans to think differently about a game that he says has been hindered by inefficient traditions for far too long. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.