Favorite New Books, Music, & More

Utne Weeder

| November-December 2003


POLITICS  Better Together: Restoring the American Community by Robert Putnam and Lewis M. Feldstein with Don Cohen (Simon & Schuster, $26.95). Sociologist Robert Putnam, creator of the “bowling alone” theory of community decline, now takes a look at what works across America. In these stories of successful efforts to solve problems and enrich community life, from activist Chicano church groups in the Rio Grande Valley to neighborhood libraries in Chicago, we rejoice in a new sense of what's possible in tough situations.
Jay Walljasper

REBELS  The Bandit Queen of India by Phoolan Devi, with Marie-Thérese Cuny and Paul Rambali (Lyons Press, $22.95). Given in marriage at 11 to a husband who raped and beat her, Phoolan Devi eventually escaped her oppressive village, was kidnapped by bandits, then became a legendary bandit herself, renowned for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. Elected to Parliament in 1996 and gunned down by assassins in 2001, Phoolan Devi and her resistance to tyranny live on in this first-person account compiled from tapes.
Chris Dodge

WOMEN'S HISTORY  A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone (Norton, $35). Peppered throughout with photographs, personal stories, and more than 50 recipes (including one for baked locusts), this fascinating culinary history documents the intimate, ever-changing ties between American women and food—from milking cows and churning butter in the colonial era to throwing Tupperware parties in the 1950s to microwaving single-serve frozen lasagna packages today.
Anjula Razdan

SPIRITUALITY/PHILOSOPHY  A Secret History of Consciousness by Gary Lachman (Lindisfarne Books, $19.95). Modern scientists tend to believe that consciousness rises entirely from the brain. Lachman, a rock musician who has played with Iggy Pop and Blondie, among others, has written a remarkably thoughtful survey of those who have argued otherwise. Armchair psychonauts and skeptics alike will find much to ponder in this entertaining look at the Western mind's wilder flights through inner space.
Jeremiah Creedon


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