Books, Noted
A sampling of books new to the shelves of The Center's library

Garden in the Machine: A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place
Scott MacDonald, University of California Press, 2001
This is a book that needed to be written, but we thought nobody would. It’s a subjective selection, to be sure (as most of you - our readership - knows, just about everything is about “place,” ultimately, so there has to be some limiting criteria!), but MacDonald has good taste, and further limits the scope of the subject by dwelling, mostly, on American or America-based filmmakers.

Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster
Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro, Warner Books, 2002
An account of the events of December 3, 1984, mostly from selected townspeople’s stories of that day, when the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal sprang a leak and immersed half a million people in a toxic fog that ultimately killed as many as 30,000 people. Not a happy book.

The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit and the Birth of Television
Evan I. Schwartz, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002
Philo T. Farnsworth is that “lone inventor” that created the first version of an electronic television system, fully understanding the implications of his creation. This book discusses his struggle to develop his idea into an industry, which he lost to unscrupulous Big Business (in this case RCA and NBC). After television, Farnsworth pursued nuclear fusion as a limitless energy source, and died in relative obscurity at home in Salt Lake City in 1971.

Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein’s Brain
Carolyn Abraham, St. Martin’s Press, 2002
The story of what happened to the “1.2 cerebral kilograms that reshaped our view of the universe” between Einstein’s death in 1955 and 1996, when it was finally returned to the Princeton Medical Center, after being carted around, mostly by Thomas Harvey, the pathologist who originally extracted it from the legendary scientist’s cranial cavity, then disappeared with it.

Wildest Alaska: Journeys of Great Peril in Lituya Bay
Philip L. Fradkin, University of California Press, 2001
The latest book from the author of Magnitude 8, The Seven States of California, Fallout, and A River No More, is about a bay in the Gulf of Alaska where the environmental forces are wild and dangerous beyond the scale of human survival, even today. In 1958, for example, the bay was struck by one of the largest tidal waves in history, which sloshed through the inundated valley like water in a pothole after a car drives through it. The forces of nature are, apparently, still in control in some places.

Latitude Zero: Tales of the Equator
Gianni Guadalupi and Antony Shugaar, Carroll&Graf, 2001
Following the great success of Dava Sobel’s book on longitude, comes this new title on the ultimate latitude: the Equator. While Sobel’s book was about invention of the navigational construct (the book was subtitled “The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time”), Latitude Zero is about the broad history and romantic visionings of the equatorial regions. Despite these dissimilarities, these books, taken together, solidly anchor the world along its X and Y axis.

Warm Sands: Uranium Mill Tailings Policy in the Atomic West
Eric W. Mogren, University of New Mexico Press, 2002
A summary of the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action project (UMTRA), a federal program to clean up mine waste and radioactive contamination from the most polluted uranium mining sites, mostly in the western United States. UMTRA was active from 1978 to 1998, and was one of the largest earth-moving projects in America, that created a network of trapezoidal radioactive waste mounds, capped with coarse rock, and composed of tailings and the bull-dozed refineries, that stand as permanent landform monuments to the nuclear era.

Tourism Planning: Basics, Concepts, Cases - Third Edition
Clare A. Gunn, Taylor and Francis, Publishers, 1994
This classic academic guide for the tourism industry has been updated (for the 1994 edition), and continues to provide insight into the structure and mechanisms of the tourist realm.

Rudy Vanderlans, Gingko Press, 2001
A large format photo book of the author’s driving trip through the desert of southern California, looking at “ephemera:” signs, gas stations, roadside this and that, where nearly every image looks like it was taken without getting out of the car (and the rearview mirror is often casually part of the shot). A simple, elegant, and stylish book that effectively evokes the place through the extended glance of the alien tourist, with a romantic and European perspective.

Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology
Jeffrey T. Richelson, Westview Press, 2001
A straight-ahead tale of the programs and activities over the years of the branch of the CIA that develops gadgets, focussing on the characters and people that operated the division. Included are the micro/spy stuff of LSD experiments and kitty cats with implants, but the dominant role of the DS&T is as “landscape photographer,” commissioning the development of the most advanced cameras in the world, along with the aircraft and satellites to carry them, in order to get a good picture of the ground. Though the DS&T is still around, most of the satellite development for the intelligence community is now handled by the National Reconnaissance Office, about which the book is yet to be written.

Derailed: What Went Wrong and What to Do About America’s Passenger Trains
Joseph Vranich, St. Martin’s Press, 1997
Put Amtrak, the federally-supported national passenger rail system, out of its misery, and encourage private industry to develop highspeed maglev trains. OK. Will do.

Free Flight: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel
James Fallows, PublicAffairs, 2001
Most of the time spent on an airplane trip is actually spent on the ground, getting to the airport, waiting in line at the airport, waiting for two hundred people to sit down and stow bags before the plane can move, then taxiing slowly around a vast sky harbor. The author of this book suggests that we develop an industry for small and fast “air taxis,” that use small regional airports, which are generally a lot closer to where you are and where you want to go, instead of the big centralized, out of the way airports, with thousands of people to deal with. Makes sense, maybe more so in this security era.

Guardians of the Parks: A History of the National Parks and Conservation Association
John C. Miles, Taylor & Francis, 1995
The National Park Service is one thing, and the National Parks and Conservation Association is another. Many books exist on the former, only this one on the latter. Yet both entities work together in the establishment and management of America’s 360+ national parks.

One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture
Kenneth D. Rose, New York University Press, 2001
Though a pretty good book on the subject, it dwells on the 1950’s and ‘60’s, a time when the domestic civil defense “backyard” bunker was encouraged by the federal government, and treats the bunker era as a relic of the past, despite the fact that bunkers are very much still in use by government and businesses.

Underwater and Underground Bases
Richard Sauder, Adventures Unlimited Press, 2001
Dr. Sauder’s sequel to his 1995 Underground Bases and Tunnels: What is the Government Trying to Hide? which was a milestone of inspiring, speculative reasoning on the subject.

Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World
Roland Schaer, Gregory Claeys, and Lyman Tower Sargent, Editors, New York Public Library/Oxford University Press, 2000
A big book of essays covering the subject from a broad and historic perspective, with images drawn from an exhibit of the same name, shown in the public libraries of New York and Paris.

Transportation in America
William L. Richter, Editors, ABC-CLIO, 1995
A historical encyclopedia with alphabetical entries. A handy reference book, especially for famous figures, events, and government policies.