Home / The Early Word: New Books for the Week of March 16, 2009

The Early Word: New Books for the Week of March 16, 2009

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This week features plenty of Sex and Politics: Two out of the three subjects ideal for mixed-company dinner conversation. Hopefully next week will see more on Religious topics.  


The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America
By Drew Pinsky, S. Mark Young

In examining the career trajectory — from fresh-faced star to train wreck — of such celebrities as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Anna Nicole Smith, the core finding of Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. S. Mark Young in The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America lies in psychological damage. Indeed, those who become celebrities are more likely to have certain kinds of narcissistic personality issues, often rooted in childhood trauma, with concomitant mood disturbances, melodramatic tendencies, and substance abuse problems than average Americans. Perfect paparazzi fodder, it seems. 

Now if we can only figure out why some American voters assume a “mirror effect” toward the melodramatic political tendencies of such celebrities as Sean Penn, George Clooney, and Susan Sarandan.

How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Educations That Made Them
By Daniel Wolff 

This history of American ideas provides an incisive look at the varieties of educational experience that shaped a dozen prominent Americans from Benjamin Franklin to Elvis Presley. Daniel Wolff explores the education, both in school and out, of Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, Sojourner Truth, Sarah Winnemucca, Henry Ford, W. E. B. Du Bois, Helen Keller, Rachel Carson, and John F. Kennedy. What ways and means formed the raw materials and motivations for these groundbreakers to learn the things that equipped them to change our world? Turns out the sources and resources ran the gamut. Abraham Lincoln, for example, received little in the way of formal education. After being taught to read by his mother, his voracious need for knowledge and new ideas induced him to read extensively on his own: "I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way that I could not understand." Henry Ford, in contrast, had little patience for books — "they mess up my mind," he wrote — but loving to work with his hands led to a lifelong love of engineering. Depending mostly on primary sources, Wolff relies on the words of his subjects, creating a valuable contribution to the history and understanding of the country's ideas and culture. How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Educations That Made Them bears out the fact that learning doesn't just happen in a classroom, and that an independent spirit and the school of hard knocks also turns out some of the sharper students, too.

Fractal Time: The Secret of 2012 and a New World Age
By Gregg Braden

Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy
By Leslie H. Gelb

1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Vol. II: The Fall of Vienna and the Battle of Aspern
By John Gill

Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (And Redeeming Promise) of Our Country
By William Greider

The 16% Solution, Revised Edition: How to Get High Interest Rates in a Low-Interest World with Tax Lien Certificates
By J.D. Moskowitz

Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa
By Dambisa Moyo, Foreword by Niall Ferguson

It's Not Necessarily Not the Truth: A Memoir
By Jaime Pressly

Stalking the Red Bear: The True Story of a U. S. Cold War Submarine's Covert Operations Against the Soviet Union
By Peter Sasgen

Weight of a Mustard Seed: An Iraqi General's Moral Journey During the Time of Saddam
By Wendell Steavenson

How the World Makes Love
By Franz Wisner


In a Gilded Cage (Molly Murphy Series #8)
By Rhys Bowen

Grave Goods
By Ariana Franklin

A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel
By Philip Kerr 

Maximum Ride: MAX
By James Patterson 

The Last Dickens: A Novel
By Matthew Pearl

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch