Monday, July 25, 2011

Ebook of the Week -The Fruit, the Tree and the Serpent : Why We See so Well.

Isbell, Lynne A. The Fruit, the Tree and the Serpent : Why We See so Well.

Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2009.

Lynne Isbell has developed a thesis that exceptional aspects of vision in humans and other primates evolved largely to help detect and avoid venomous snakes. She weaves together facts from anthropology, neuroscience, paleontology, and psychology to explain our emotional connection to snakes. The book is interesting and funny and the author manages to make even complex arguments accessible. Her book should be of great interest to biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, as well as the lay reader looking for a fascinating read.

Previewed by Joanne Helouvry.  Click here to read the book.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Check Out HathiTrust!

Hathitrust (, founded in October 2008 by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and now with over 50 of the largest libraries in the world as members, is the next big thing in online digital books for its members and for the public. Its fast-growing holdings (numbering over 9 million total volumes, about half of which are book titles) include content from the Google Books initiative, Microsoft’s projects to digitize library contents worldwide, and contents from all its member libraries. It indexes both public-domain works and works still in copyright, and – the best part – much of its content is downloadable in full directly from the HathiTrust website. Readers can create permanent labeled collections of titles, complete with a form of catalog records for each title, within the site. (Guests can register for free!)

Hathitrust also includes content from other well-known public digitization projects such as Project Gutenberg (public domain works) and the Internet Archive project (Web content). In doing so, it is creating a massive online archive of all kinds of content while still maintaining a strong commitment to preservation of book and serial titles. Membership in Hathitrust is open to institutions worldwide – let’s hope it grows and prospers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

E-Book of the Week - Anatomy of a Trial : Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson

Hayslett, Jerrianne.  Anatomy of a Trial : Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Columbia : University of Missouri Press, 2008.

The recent trial and acquittal of Casey Anthony in the death of her two-year-old daughter has awakened memories of and evoked comparisons with the 1994-95 murder trial of O.J. Simpson. In both cases media and public attention were riveted upon the proceedings, and in both cases there was a widely-held perception that justice was not done in the end. In this insider account of the Simpson trial, Hayslett, the Los Angeles court’s information officer and media liaison, provides a unique perspective on what she terms “a very public yet poorly understood trial.” Hayslett defends the performance of the much-maligned Judge Lance Ito and discusses how this trial led to the tightening of media access to judicial proceedings. It is worthy of note that one factor that allowed the Anthony trial to go viral is that Florida law allows cameras in courtroom, and hence enabled almost continuous live coverage of the proceedings.

Preview by Jack Ray.  Click here to read the book.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

E-Book of the Week - Reel Men at War: Masculinity and the American War Film

Donald, Ralph and Karen MacDonald.  Reel Men at War : Masculinity and the American War Film. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2011.

Reel Men at War examines how depictions of manhood in films about war affect young men. Representations of appropriate codes of manly behavior and behaviors to avoid during war are looked at through 143 scenes of American war in film in the forms of screenplay text, acting, and directing choices. Commentary by psychologist Dr. Karen MacDonald is provided at the end of each chapter analyzing the psychological ramifications of viewing these films.

Previewed by Danielle Johnson.  Click here to read the book.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

E-Book of the Week: Cult Magazines A to Z

Kemp, Earl Ortiz, Luis. Cult Magazines A to Z : A Compendium of Culturally Obsessive and Curiously Expressive Publications.  New York: NonStop Press, 2009.  219 p. 

 Exploring the subcultures of mid-20th-century America, editors Kemp and Ortiz have collected the work of 19 contributors (including themselves) that document the huge quantity of 'cult', or at least special-interest, magazines that thrived beneath the mainstream in the period between 1925 and 1990, prior to the rise of the Internet.  This collection reveals how thousands of these specialized magazines were produced, and how they attempted to gratify the fans of every fad, taste, obsession, and hush-hush desire. This guide reveals the scope and inclinations of the various publications' imaginative publishers and eccentric editors, as it goes behind the scenes of titles such as Amazing StoriesDoctor DeathGee-WhizJaybirdPhantom Detective, and True Thrills. Featuring full-color reproductions of hundreds of distinctive magazine cover images, this reference's backgrounds, histories, and essays offer a panoramic picture of a bygone era.

Previewed by John Breitmeyer.  Click here to read the book