Monday, May 30, 2016

"Running the Rails"

New from Cornell University Press: Running the Rails: Capital and Labor in the Philadelphia Transit Industry by James Wolfinger.

About the book, from the publisher:
Philadelphia exploded in violence in 1910. The general strike that year was a notable point, but not a unique one, in a generations-long history of conflict between the workers and management at one of the nation's largest privately owned transit systems. In Running the Rails, James Wolfinger uses the history of Philadelphia’s sprawling public transportation system to explore how labor relations shifted from the 1880s to the 1960s. As transit workers adapted to fast-paced technological innovation to keep the city’s people and commerce on the move, management sought to limit its employees’ rights. Raw violence, welfare capitalism, race-baiting, and smear campaigns against unions were among the strategies managers used to control the company’s labor force and enhance corporate profits, often at the expense of the workers’ and the city’s well-being.

Public service workers and their unions come under frequent attack for being a "special interest" or a hindrance to the smooth functioning of society. This book offers readers a different, historically grounded way of thinking about the people who keep their cities running. Working in public transit is a difficult job now, as it was a century ago. The benefits and decent wages Philadelphia public transit workers secured—advances that were hard-won and well deserved—came as a result of fighting for decades against their exploitation. Given capital’s great power in American society and management's enduring quest to control its workforce, it is remarkable to see how much Philadelphia’s transit workers achieved.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Black Natural Law"

New from Oxford University Press: Black Natural Law by Vincent W. Lloyd.

About the book, from the publisher:
Black Natural Law offers a new way of understanding the African American political tradition. Iconoclastically attacking left (including James Baldwin and Audre Lorde), right (including Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson), and center (Barack Obama), Vincent William Lloyd charges that many Black leaders today embrace secular, white modes of political engagement, abandoning the deep connections between religious, philosophical, and political ideas that once animated Black politics. By telling the stories of Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Lloyd shows how appeals to a higher law, or God's law, have long fueled Black political engagement. Such appeals do not seek to implement divine directives on earth; rather, they pose a challenge to the wisdom of the world, and they mobilize communities for collective action. Black natural law is deeply democratic: while charismatic leaders may provide the occasion for reflection and mobilization, all are capable of discerning the higher law using our human capacities for reason and emotion.

At a time when continuing racial injustice poses a deep moral challenge, the most powerful intellectual resources in the struggle for justice have been abandoned. Black Natural Law recovers a rich tradition, and it examines just how this tradition was forgotten. A Black intellectual class emerged that was disconnected from social movement organizing and beholden to white interests. Appeals to higher law became politically impotent: overly rational or overly sentimental. Recovering the Black natural law tradition provides a powerful resource for confronting police violence, mass incarceration, and today's gross racial inequities.

Black Natural Law will change the way we understand natural law, a topic central to the Western ethical and political tradition. While drawing particularly on African American resources, Black Natural Law speaks to all who seek politics animated by justice.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Religion on the Battlefield"

New from Cornell University Press: Religion on the Battlefield by Ron E. Hassner.

About the book, from the publisher:
How does religion shape the modern battlefield? Ron E. Hassner proposes that religion acts as a force multiplier, both enabling and constraining military operations. This is true not only for religiously radicalized fighters but also for professional soldiers. In the last century, religion has influenced modern militaries in the timing of attacks, the selection of targets for assault, the zeal with which units execute their mission, and the ability of individual soldiers to face the challenge of war. Religious ideas have not provided the reasons why conventional militaries fight, but religious practices have influenced their ability to do so effectively.

In Religion on the Battlefield, Hassner focuses on the everyday practice of religion in a military context: the prayers, rituals, fasts, and feasts of the religious practitioners who make up the bulk of the adversaries in, bystanders to, and observers of armed conflicts. To show that religious practices have influenced battlefield decision making, Hassner draws most of his examples from major wars involving Western militaries. They include British soldiers in the trenches of World War I, U.S. pilots in World War II, and U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hassner shows that even modern, rational, and bureaucratized military organizations have taken—and must take—religious practice into account in the conduct of war.
The Page 99 Test: War on Sacred Grounds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"The Political Economy of Progress"

New from Oxford University Press: The Political Economy of Progress: John Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism by Joseph Persky.

About the book, from the publisher:
While there had been much radical thought before John Stuart Mill, Joseph Persky argues it was Mill, as he moved to the left, who provided the radical wing of liberalism with its first serious analytical foundation, a political economy of progress that still echoes today. A rereading of Mill's mature work suggests his theoretical understanding of accumulation led him to see laissez-faire capitalism as a transitional system. Deeply committed to the egalitarian precepts of the Enlightenment, Mill advocated gradualism and rejected revolutionary expropriation on utilitarian grounds: gradualism, not expropriation, promised meaningful long-term gains for the working classes. He endorsed laissez-faire capitalism because his theory of accumulation saw that system approaching a stationary state characterized by a great reduction in inequality and an expansion of cooperative production. These tendencies, in combination with an aggressive reform agenda made possible by the extension of the franchise, promised to provide a material base for social progress and individual development. The Political Economy of Progress goes on to claim that Mill's radical political economy anticipated more than a little of Marx's analysis of capitalism and laid a foundation for the work of Fabians and other gradualist radicals in the 20th century. More recently, modern philosophic radicals, such as Rawls, have deep links to this Millean political economy. These links are still worthy of development. In particular, a politically meaningful acceptance of Rawls's radical liberalism waits on a movement capable of re-engineering the workplace in a manner consistent with Mill's endorsement of worker management.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Possession"

New from Yale University Press: Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present by Erin L. Thompson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Whether it's the discovery of $1.6 billion in Nazi-looted art or the news that Syrian rebels are looting UNESCO archaeological sites to buy arms, art crime commands headlines. Erin Thompson, America's only professor of art crime, explores the dark history of looting, smuggling, and forgery that lies at the heart of many private art collections and many of the world's most renowned museums.

Enlivened by fascinating personalities and scandalous events, Possession shows how collecting antiquities has been a way of creating identity, informed by a desire to annex the past while providing an illicit thrill along the way. Thompson's accounts of history's most infamous collectors—from the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who stole a life-sized nude Greek statue for his bedroom, to Queen Christina of Sweden, who habitually pilfered small antiquities from her fellow aristocrats, to Sir William Hamilton, who forced his mistress to enact poses from his collection of Greek vases—are as mesmerizing as they are revealing.
Visit Erin L. Thompson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 26, 2016

"The Politics of Innovation"

New from Oxford University Press: The Politics of Innovation: Why Some Countries Are Better Than Others at Science and Technology by Mark Zachary Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why are some countries better than others at science and technology (S&T)? Written in an approachable style, The Politics of Innovation provides readers from all backgrounds and levels of expertise a comprehensive introduction to the debates over national S&T competitiveness. It synthesizes over fifty years of theory and research on national innovation rates, bringing together the current political and economic wisdom, and latest findings, about how nations become S&T leaders. Many experts mistakenly believe that domestic institutions and policies determine national innovation rates. However, after decades of research, there is still no agreement on precisely how this happens, exactly which institutions matter, and little aggregate evidence has been produced to support any particular explanation. Yet, despite these problems, a core faith in a relationship between domestic institutions and national innovation rates remains widely held and little challenged. The Politics of Innovation confronts head-on this contradiction between theory, evidence, and the popularity of the institutions-innovation hypothesis. It presents extensive evidence to show that domestic institutions and policies do not determine innovation rates. Instead, it argues that social networks are as important as institutions in determining national innovation rates. The Politics of Innovation also introduces a new theory of "creative insecurity" which explains how institutions, policies, and networks are all subservient to politics. It argues that, ultimately, each country's balance of domestic rivalries vs. external threats, and the ensuing political fights, are what drive S&T competitiveness. In making its case, The Politics of Innovation draws upon statistical analysis and comparative case studies of the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Turkey, Israel, Russia and a dozen countries across Western Europe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Rogue Justice"

New from Crown: Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State by Karen J. Greenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The definitive account of how America’s War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security.

The day after September 11, President Bush tasked the attorney general with preventing another terrorist attack on the United States. From that day forward, the Bush administration turned to the Department of Justice to give its imprimatur to activities that had previously been unthinkable—from the NSA’s spying on US citizens to indefinite detention to torture. Many of these activities were secretly authorized, others done in the light of day.

When President Obama took office, many observers expected a reversal of these encroachments upon civil liberties and justice, but the new administration found the rogue policies to be deeply entrenched and, at times, worth preserving. Obama ramped up targeted killings, held fast to aggressive surveillance policies, and fell short on bringing reform to detention and interrogation.

How did America veer so far from its founding principles of justice? Rogue Justice connects the dots for the first time—from the Patriot Act to today’s military commissions, from terrorism prosecutions to intelligence priorities, from the ACLU’s activism to Edward Snowden’s revelations. And it poses a stark question: Will the American justice system ever recover from the compromises it made for the war on terror?

Riveting and deeply reported, Rogue Justice could only have been written by Karen Greenberg, one of this country’s top experts on Guantánamo, torture, and terrorism, with a deep knowledge of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Now she brings to life the full story of law and policy after 9/11, introducing us to the key players and events, showing that time and again, when liberty and security have clashed, justice has been the victim.
Karen J. Greenberg is the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University.

The Page 99 Test: The Least Worst Place.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"The Rivers Ran Backward"

New from Oxford University Press: The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border by Christopher Phillips.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most Americans imagine the Civil War in terms of clear and defined boundaries of freedom and slavery: a straightforward division between the slave states of Kentucky and Missouri and the free states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas. However, residents of these western border states, Abraham Lincoln's home region, had far more ambiguous identities-and contested political loyalties-than we commonly assume.

In The Rivers Ran Backward, Christopher Phillips sheds light on the fluid political cultures of the "Middle Border" states during the Civil War era. Far from forming a fixed and static boundary between the North and South, the border states experienced fierce internal conflicts over their political and social loyalties. White supremacy and widespread support for the existence of slavery pervaded the "free" states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, which had much closer economic and cultural ties to the South, while those in Kentucky and Missouri held little identification with the South except over slavery. Debates raged at every level, from the individual to the state, in parlors, churches, schools, and public meeting places, among families, neighbors, and friends. Ultimately, the pervasive violence of the Civil War and the cultural politics that raged in its aftermath proved to be the strongest determining factor in shaping these states' regional identities, leaving an indelible imprint on the way in which Americans think of themselves and others in the nation.

The Rivers Ran Backward reveals the complex history of the western border states as they struggled with questions of nationalism, racial politics, secession, neutrality, loyalty, and even place-as the Civil War tore the nation, and themselves, apart. In this major work, Phillips shows that the Civil War was more than a conflict pitting the North against the South, but one within the West that permanently reshaped American regions.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 23, 2016

"Northern Character"

New from Fordham University Press: Northern Character: College-Educated New Englanders, Honor, Nationalism, and Leadership in the Civil War Era by Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai.

About the book, from the publisher:
The elite young men who inhabited northern antebellum states—the New Brahmins—developed their leadership class identity based on the term “character”: an idealized internal standard of behavior consisting most importantly of educated, independent thought and selfless action. With its unique focus on Union honor, nationalism, and masculinity, Northern Character addresses the motivating factors of these young college-educated Yankees who rushed into the armed forces to take their place at the forefront of the Union’s war.

This social and intellectual history tells the New Brahmins’ story from the campus to the battlefield and, for the fortunate ones, home again. Northern Character examines how these good and moral “men of character” interacted with common soldiers and faced battle, reacted to seeing the South and real southerners, and approached race, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Fall of the Sultanate"

New from Oxford University Press: Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire, 1908-1922 by Ryan Gingeras.

About the book, from the publisher:
The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was by no means a singular event. After six hundred years of ruling over the peoples of North Africa, the Balkans and Middle East, the death throes of sultanate encompassed a series of wars, insurrections, and revolutions spanning the early twentieth century. This volume encompasses a full accounting of the political, economic, social, and international forces that brought about the passing of the Ottoman state. In surveying the many tragedies that transpired in the years between 1908 and 1922, Fall of the Sultanate explores the causes that eventually led so many to view the legacy of the Ottomans with loathing and resentment.

The volume provides a retelling of this critical history as seen through the eyes of those who lived through the Ottoman collapse. Drawing upon a large gamut of sources in multiple languages, Ryan Gingeras strikes a critical balance in presenting and interpreting the most impactful experiences that shaped the lives of the empire's last generation. The story presented here takes into account the perspectives of the empire's diverse population as well as the leaders who piloted the state to its end. In surveying the personal, communal, and national struggles that defined Italy's invasion of Libya, the Balkan War, the Great War, and the Turkish War of Independence, Fall of the Sultanate presents readers with a fresh and comprehensive exposition of how and why Ottoman imperial rule ended in bloodshed and disillusionment.
--Marshal Zeringue