Sunday, April 08, 2007

Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan: A Readers' Advisory Sample

I have been playing around with what a readers' advisory reference book (or database) entry should include. I have been trying to find a way to include appeal factors, such as story elements, tone, and writing style. Here is a sample for your examination. Comments and recommendations are encouraged.

Macmillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World. Random House, 2007. 404 pp. ISBN: 9781400061273

Richard Nixon took great risks when he went to China in 1972. Some administration officials feared for his safety. Others doubted Mao would meet him, causing political embarrassment. Failure might help his political opponents back home. Margaret Macmillan describes the leaders, their negotiations, and the photo opportunities in her day by day account.

Subjects: 1970s; China; Foreign Relations; Mao, Zedong; Nixon, Richard; Presidents

Story elements: Adventure, Episode/Slice of life, Enemies, Success story

Tone: Admiring

Writing Style: Narrative, Journalistic

Features: Bibliography, Index, Maps, Photographs, Notes in back

Now try: The big band-influenced opera Nixon in China by John Adams and Alice Goodman, which focuses on Nixon and Mao, their wives, and their deputies, Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai. For background read The Kissinger transcripts: the top secret talks with Beijing and Moscow. Also, former Nixon staffer John Ehrlichman turned the event into an adventure novel The China Card.

This form resembles the entries in Real Story: A Guide to Nonfiction Reading Interests by Sarah Statz Cords. The idea of appeal factors comes from Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library by Joyce G. Saricks. I did not include a line for pacing because I have not found an objective way of measuring it. I am also a little uncertain about the terms I use for writing style. The books may all turn out to be narrative.

If you have an opinion on whether this is a useful form for a readers' advisory tool, let me know.


Michelle McLean said...

Great job Rick. I would not normally read a book like that, but your review piqued my interest.

Laura said...

I'd like to know if the book has photographs or other illustrations, but other than that, this looks great!