Library Journal Reviews

 Morrison, Robert. The English Opium Eater: A Biography of Thomas de Quincey. Pegasus. Dec. 2010. c.496p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605981321. $35. LIT
A scholar of Romantic and Victorian literature, and already coeditor of a collection of essays on this subject (Thomas De Quincey: New Theoretical and Critical Directions), Morrison here produces the first full biography of De Quincey in decades, a scholarly work that makes use of the complete spectrum of archival and published sources. De Quincey (1785–1859) was an autodidact whose most defining trait was his addictive personality, which manifested itself in parasitic relationships with the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, the constant shadow of debt, and a lifetime battle with alcoholism. Most notorious was De Quincey’s experience with opium addiction, which culminated in his major work, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821). While shocking to a Victorian audience, it became wildly popular for its tell-all approach to autobiography. Morrison’s treatment is comprehensive in its evenhanded presentation of unflattering details and emphasis on the tremendous impact De Quincey had on the birth of the mass market for journalism and literature in Great Britain. VERDICT Recommended for all students of the 19th-century British literary world and essential for comprehensive collections of Romantic and Victorian literature.—Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin Area P.L., IL

Digitization in the Real World: Lessons Learned from Small and Medium-Sized Digitization Projects. METRO. 2010. 592p. ed. by Kwong Bor Ng & Jason Kucsma. illus. ISBN 9780615379982. pap. $60. PRO MEDIA
Digitization of information is necessary to ensure that materials of importance are available to the widest number of people. Kucsma (emerging technologies mgr., Metropolitan New York Lib. Council) and Ng (Graduate Sch. of Library & Information Studies, Queens Coll., CUNY) offer more than 30 case studies by practitioners on their successful digitization projects at repositories including public libraries of all sizes, universities, and other institutions holding special collections. The contributors also address potential barriers to these projects, including time lines, staffing, training, equipment, content management, and optimized handling of nonprint materials. Ultimately, the message is that the time and effort required to preserve historic materials are more than worthwhile for the benefit of the safe storage and dissemination of the information. VERDICT Even nontechnical information professionals will find this book inspirational and easy to understand. For those with a more technical background, there is enough information about metadata to keep them content. Highly recommended for all library professional reading collections, as well as those concerned about the future of information preservation.—Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin Area P.L. Dist., IL

Gelardi, Julia P. From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847??1928. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2011. c.512p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312371159. $32.50. HIST
Freelance historian Gelardi (In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory) tells the story of the downfall of the Romanov empire, from Alexander III to Nicholas II, through the distinctive perspectives of four of its powerful if lesser-known women: Danish-born Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, mother of the last reigning Romanov, Nicholas II; and her in-laws, Queen Olga of Greece, Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, of both Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg, and Duchess Marie Pavlovna of Russia. Gelardi does an exceptional job of relating the last years of the Romanovs via the formerly underutilized perspectives of the women behind the men. VERDICT While Orlando Figes’s Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia used Tolstoy’s War and Peace as its framework, telling some of the same story, Gelardi offers a more richly detailed account, sure to captivate those with a deep interest in Russian and interrelated European history. Highly recommended.—Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin Area P.L. Dist., IL

Bright, Susie. Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir. Seal Pr: Perseus. Apr. 2011. c.328p. photogs. ISBN 9781580052641. $24.95. AUTOBIOG
Writing in explicit sexual detail that makes the Diaries of her feminist icon predecessor Anaïs Nin seem tame, Bright (Mommy’s Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn, and Cherry Pie) relates her life from childhood to the present. Sexually active from her early teens, Bright went on to champion the cause of female sexuality, breaking through social taboos, especially those concerning lesbianism. A founding member of the lesbian periodical On Our Backs, Bright produced writing and photography that reached a demographic largely ignored by the mainstream media. During her teenage years, she was active in socialist causes, traveling the United States and joining regional International Socialist groups bent on achieving extreme-liberal agendas. A supporter of the rights of those marginalized by society, the author makes clear that her purpose in life is to loosen society’s restrictions in order to allow freedom of expression for all. VERDICT Not for the prudish or faint of heart, Bright’s memoir would interest readers intent on learning about contemporary female sexual history from one of its most influential figures.—Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin Area P.L. Dist., IL


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s