Monday, July 28, 2014

"American Biodefense"

New from Cornell University Press: American Biodefense: How Dangerous Ideas about Biological Weapons Shape National Security by Frank L. Smith III.

About the book, from the publisher:
Biological weapons have threatened U.S. national security since at least World War II. Historically, however, the U.S. military has neglected research, development, acquisition, and doctrine for biodefense. Following September 11 and the anthrax letters of 2001, the United States started spending billions of dollars per year on medical countermeasures and biological detection systems. But most of this funding now comes from the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Department of Defense. Why has the U.S. military neglected biodefense and allowed civilian organizations to take the lead in defending the country against biological attacks? In American Biodefense, Frank L. Smith III addresses this puzzling and largely untold story about science, technology, and national security.

Smith argues that organizational frames and stereotypes have caused both military neglect and the rise of civilian biodefense. In the armed services, influential ideas about kinetic warfare have undermined defense against biological warfare. The influence of these ideas on science and technology challenges the conventional wisdom that national security policy is driven by threats or bureaucratic interests. Given the ideas at work inside the U.S. military, Smith explains how the lessons learned from biodefense can help solve other important problems that range from radiation weapons to cyber attacks.
Visit Frank L. Smith III's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Sod Busting"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Sod Busting: How Families Made Farms on the Nineteenth-Century Plains by David B. Danbom.

About the book, from the publisher:
Prairie busting is central to the lore of westward expansion, but how was it actually accomplished with little more than animal and human power? In Sod Busting, David B. Danbom tells the story of Great Plains settlement in a way it has seldom been told before.

Stretching beyond the sweeping accounts typical of standard textbooks, Danbom challenges students to think about the many practicalities of surviving on the Great Plains in the late nineteenth century by providing a detailed account of how settlers acquired land and made homes, farms, and communities. He examines the physical and climatic obstacles of the plains—perhaps America’s most inhospitable frontier—and shows how settlers sheltered themselves, gained access to fuel and water, and broke the land for agriculture.

Treating the Great Plains as a post-industrial frontier, Danbom delves into the economic motivations of settlers, as well as the physically and economically difficult process of farm making. He explains how settlers got the capital they needed to succeed and how they used the labor of the entire family to survive until farms returned profits. He examines closely the business decisions that determined the success or failure of these farmers in a boom-and-bust economy; details the creation of churches, schools, and service centers that enriched the social and material lives of the settlers; and shows how the support of government, railroads, and other businesses contributed to the success of plains settlement.

Based on contemporary accounts, settlers’ reminiscences, and the work of other historians, Sod Busting dives deeply into the practical realities of how things worked to make vivid one of the quintessentially American experiences, breaking new land.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Dangerous Guests"

New from Cornell University Press: Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence by Ken Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Dangerous Guests, Ken Miller reveals how wartime pressures nurtured a budding patriotism in the ethnically diverse revolutionary community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During the War for Independence, American revolutionaries held more than thirteen thousand prisoners—both British regulars and their so-called Hessian auxiliaries—in makeshift detention camps far from the fighting. As the Americans' principal site for incarcerating enemy prisoners of war, Lancaster stood at the nexus of two vastly different revolutionary worlds: one national, the other intensely local. Captives came under the control of local officials loosely supervised by state and national authorities. Concentrating the prisoners in the heart of their communities brought the revolutionaries’ enemies to their doorstep, with residents now facing a daily war at home.

Many prisoners openly defied their hosts, fleeing, plotting, and rebelling, often with the clandestine support of local loyalists. By early 1779, General George Washington, furious over the captives’ ongoing attempts to subvert the American war effort, branded them "dangerous guests in the bowels of our Country." The challenge of creating an autonomous national identity in the newly emerging United States was nowhere more evident than in Lancaster, where the establishment of a detention camp served as a flashpoint for new conflict in a community already unsettled by stark ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences. Many Lancaster residents soon sympathized with the Hessians detained in their town while the loyalist population considered the British detainees to be the true patriots of the war. Miller demonstrates that in Lancaster, the notably local character of the war reinforced not only preoccupations with internal security but also novel commitments to cause and country.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 25, 2014

"Americans Against the City"

New from Oxford University Press: Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century by Steven Conn.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is a paradox of American life that we are a highly urbanized nation filled with people deeply ambivalent about urban life. An aversion to urban density and all that it contributes to urban life, and a perception that the city was the place where "big government" first took root in America fostered what historian Steven Conn terms the "anti-urban impulse." In response, anti-urbanists called for the decentralization of the city, and rejected the role of government in American life in favor of a return to the pioneer virtues of independence and self-sufficiency.

In this provocative and sweeping book, Conn explores the anti-urban impulse across the 20th century, examining how the ideas born of it have shaped both the places in which Americans live and work, and the anti-government politics so strong today. Beginning in the booming industrial cities of the Progressive era at the turn of the 20th century, where debate surrounding these questions first arose, Conn examines the progression of anti-urban movements. He describes the decentralist movement of the 1930s, the attempt to revive the American small town in the mid-century, the anti-urban basis of urban renewal in the 1950s and '60s, and the Nixon administration's program of building new towns as a response to the urban crisis, illustrating how, by the middle of the 20th century, anti-urbanism was at the center of the politics of the New Right. Concluding with an exploration of the New Urbanist experiments at the turn of the 21st century, Conn demonstrates the full breadth of the anti-urban impulse, from its inception to the present day. Engagingly written, thoroughly researched, and forcefully argued, Americans Against the City is important reading for anyone who cares not just about the history of our cities, but about their future as well.
The Page 99 Test: History's Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Constructive Illusions"

New from Cornell University Press: Constructive Illusions: Misperceiving the Origins of International Cooperation by Eric Grynaviski.

About the book, from the publisher:
Are the best international agreements products of mutual understanding? The conventional wisdom in economics, sociology, and political science is that accurate perceptions of others' interests, beliefs, and ideologies promote cooperation. Obstacles to international cooperation therefore emerge from misperception and misunderstanding. In Constructive Illusions, Eric Grynaviski challenges this conventional wisdom by arguing that when nations wrongly believe they share a mutual understanding, international cooperation is actually more likely, and more productive, than if they had a genuine understanding of each other's position.

Mutual understanding can lead to breakdowns in cooperation by revealing intractable conflicts of interest, identity, and ideology. Incorrectly assuming a mutual understanding exists, in contrast, can enhance cooperation by making actors confident that collaborative ventures are in both parties’ best interest and that both parties have a reliable understanding of the terms of cooperation. Grynaviski shows how such constructive misunderstandings allowed for cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1979.

During détente, the superpowers reached more than 150 agreements, established standing consultative committees, regularly held high-level summit meetings, and engaged in global crisis management. The turn from enmity to cooperation was so stark that many observers predicted a permanent end to the Cold War. Why did the superpowers move from confrontation to cooperation? Grynaviski’s theory of the role of misunderstanding in cooperation provides an explanation that is significantly different from liberal institutionalist and constructivist approaches. This book’s central claim is that states can form what French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing called "a superb agreement based on complete misunderstanding."
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"The Road to Iraq"

New from Edinburgh University Press: The Road to Iraq: American Neoconservatism and the Iraq War by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad.

About the book, from the publisher:
What were the causes of the Iraq War? Who were the main players? How was the war sold to the decision makers? Despite all that has been written on the Iraq war DS the myriad scholarly, journalistic and polemical works DS the answers to these questions remain shrouded in an ideological mist. The Road to Iraq is an empirical investigation that dispels this fog.

Discover how a small but ideologically coherent and socially cohesive group of determined political agents used the contingency of 9/11 to overwhelm a sceptical foreign policy establishment, military brass and intelligence apparatus.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"There Goes the Gayborhood?"

New from Princeton University Press: There Goes the Gayborhood? by Amin Ghaziani.

About the book, from the publisher:
Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. But as our society increasingly accepts gays and lesbians into the mainstream, are “gayborhoods” destined to disappear? Amin Ghaziani provides an incisive look at the origins of these unique cultural enclaves, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future.

Drawing on a wealth of evidence--including census data, opinion polls, hundreds of newspaper reports from across the United States, and more than one hundred original interviews with residents in Chicago, one of the most paradigmatic cities in America--There Goes the Gayborhood? argues that political gains and societal acceptance are allowing gays and lesbians to imagine expansive possibilities for a life beyond the gayborhood. The dawn of a new post-gay era is altering the character and composition of existing enclaves across the country, but the spirit of integration can coexist alongside the celebration of differences in subtle and sometimes surprising ways.

Exploring the intimate relationship between sexuality and the city, this cutting-edge book reveals how gayborhoods, like the cities that surround them, are organic and continually evolving places. Gayborhoods have nurtured sexual minorities throughout the twentieth century and, despite the unstoppable forces of flux, will remain resonant and revelatory features of urban life.
Visit Amin Ghaziani's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Selling Our Souls"

New from Princeton University Press: Selling Our Souls: The Commodification of Hospital Care in the United States by Adam D. Reich.

About the book, from the publisher:
Health care costs make up nearly a fifth of U.S. gross domestic product, but health care is a peculiar thing to buy and sell. Both a scarce resource and a basic need, it involves physical and emotional vulnerability and at the same time it operates as big business. Patients have little choice but to trust those who provide them care, but even those providers confront a great deal of medical uncertainty about the services they offer. Selling Our Souls looks at the contradictions inherent in one particular health care market—hospital care. Based on extensive interviews and observations across the three hospitals of one California city, the book explores the tensions embedded in the market for hospital care, how different hospitals manage these tensions, the historical trajectories driving disparities in contemporary hospital practice, and the perils and possibilities of various models of care.

As Adam Reich shows, the book’s three featured hospitals could not be more different in background or contemporary practice. PubliCare was founded in the late nineteenth century as an almshouse in order to address the needs of the destitute. HolyCare was founded by an order of nuns in the mid-twentieth century, offering spiritual comfort to the paying patient. And GroupCare was founded in the late twentieth century to rationalize and economize care for middle-class patients and their employers. Reich explains how these legacies play out today in terms of the hospitals’ different responses to similar market pressures, and the varieties of care that result.

Selling Our Souls is an in-depth investigation into how hospital organizations and the people who work in them make sense of and respond to the modern health care market.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"The Social Roots of Risk"

New from Stanford University Press: The Social Roots of Risk: Producing Disasters, Promoting Resilience by Kathleen Tierney.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first decade of the 21st century saw a remarkable number of large-scale disasters. Earthquakes in Haiti and Sumatra underscored the serious economic consequences that catastrophic events can have on developing countries, while 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina showed that first world nations remain vulnerable.

The Social Roots of Risk argues against the widespread notion that cataclysmic occurrences are singular events, driven by forces beyond our control. Instead, Kathleen Tierney contends that disasters of all types—be they natural, technological, or economic—are rooted in common social and institutional sources. Put another way, risks and disasters are produced by the social order itself—by governing bodies, organizations, and groups that push for economic growth, oppose risk-reducing regulation, and escape responsibility for tremendous losses when they occur.

Considering a wide range of historical and looming events—from a potential mega-earthquake in Tokyo that would cause devastation far greater than what we saw in 2011, to BP's accident history prior to the 2010 blowout—Tierney illustrates trends in our behavior, connecting what seem like one-off events to illuminate historical patterns.

Like risk, human resilience also emerges from the social order, and this book makes a powerful case that we already have a significant capacity to reduce the losses that disasters produce. A provocative rethinking of the way that we approach and remedy disasters, The Social Roots of Risk leaves readers with a better understanding of how our own actions make us vulnerable to the next big crisis—and what we can do to prevent it.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 18, 2014

"The Dollar and National Security"

New from Stanford University Press: The Dollar and National Security: The Monetary Component of Hard Power by Paul Viotti.

About the book, from the publisher:
Defense establishments and the armed forces they organize, train, equip, and deploy depend upon the security of capital and capital flows, mechanisms that have become increasingly globalized. Military capabilities are thus closely tied not only to the size of the economic base from which they are drawn, but also to the viability of global convertibility and exchange arrangements. Although the general public has a stake in these economic matters, the interests and interpretive understandings held by policy elites matter most—in particular those among the owners or managers of capital who focus on international finance and the international monetary regimes that sustain global commerce and their capital positions.

In The Dollar and National Security, Paul Viotti explores the links between global capital flows, these policy elites, and national security. After establishing the historical link between currency, gold, and security, he continues the monetary-security story by examining the instrumental role the dollar has played in American economic and national security over the past seven decades. He reveals how perceived individual and collective interests are the key drivers toward building the kind of durable consensus necessary to sustain the external financing of American foreign and national security policy, and addresses the future implications for national security as decision-makers in the BRICs and other countries position themselves to assume an even larger policy presence in global commercial, monetary, and security matters.
--Marshal Zeringue