April Reading

Say, friends, do you like my reviews? Then perhaps you might take a peek at the reviews at Unshelved: you may recognize a name!

Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 star meals at a 1 star price by Coolio, the ghetto gourmet
A celebrity cookbook that is an actual cookbook! I liked that he emphasized easy recipes for the low on cash, a nice starting place when cooking. I also liked that he emphasizes the positive social aspects of home cooking, including impressing the ladies. Important note to the single gentleman reader: it is totally true that women like a man who can cook. Even if it is only at the primitive brainstem level, cooking will only improve your chances in love. Three stars.

The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy by James Cross Giblin (Y) (got a free review copy from the publishers)
I enjoy reading history to fill in the gaps in my historical knowledge, so I feel that the best ones make me gasp and think “no way!” about what I learned. This one did that: it’s the life and political life of McCarthy, looking especially on the backroom political struggles and jockeying by other politicians to make best political use of his headline-grabbing. It’s aimed at teen readers, so has all the benefits: no need to find stunning new revelations in order to tell this compelling story, excellent use of photographs and political cartoons of the time (and not just crammed into 5 plates at the center of the book, but put where they best inform the text), and no assumption that you already know all the players. Giblin is also very generous in sharing how he used his research sources in the end matter. He also talks about how strongly he felt about McCarthy’s negative effect on the country in an endnote, which almost surprised me after reading his even tone and amply supported text– he did not sound remotely emotional before then, making his work all the more convincing. Things I will go on and on about if you get me talking about this book: reading about so many politicians who have military bases named after them now, how the GOP used McCarthy as a deniable asset in appearing sufficiently anti-Communist, how McCarthy was only censured on his treatment of other Senators but not on his abusive behavior in hearings or his use of slander and forged documents, the unspoken trial of Roy Cohn’s sexuality in the Army-McCarthy hearings, and the clear assent of the people in the whole Communist hunting affair. Five stars.

Strange maps: an Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs
I thought this would be one of the better books based on a website, but it turns out that I really did depend on the website’s ability to enlarge the pictures of the various interesting maps– I can’t read the labels anymore! One star.