Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"The Land of Open Graves"

New from the University of California Press: The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail by Jason De León with photographs by Michael Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

Drawing on the four major fields of anthropology, De León uses an innovative combination of ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, and forensic science to produce a scathing critique of “Prevention through Deterrence,” the federal border enforcement policy that encourages migrants to cross in areas characterized by extreme environmental conditions and high risk of death. For two decades, this policy has failed to deter border crossers while successfully turning the rugged terrain of southern Arizona into a killing field.

In harrowing detail, De León chronicles the journeys of people who have made dozens of attempts to cross the border and uncovers the stories of the objects and bodies left behind in the desert.

The Land of Open Graves will spark debate and controversy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Building the Land of Dreams"

New from Princeton University Press: Building the Land of Dreams: New Orleans and the Transformation of Early America by Eberhard L. Faber.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1795, New Orleans was a sleepy outpost at the edge of Spain’s American empire. By the 1820s, it was teeming with life, its levees packed with cotton and sugar. New Orleans had become the unquestioned urban capital of the antebellum South. Looking at this remarkable period filled with ideological struggle, class politics, and powerful personalities, Building the Land of Dreams is the narrative biography of a fascinating city at the most crucial turning point in its history.

Eberhard Faber tells the vivid story of how American rule forced New Orleans through a vast transition: from the ordered colonial world of hierarchy and subordination to the fluid, unpredictable chaos of democratic capitalism. The change in authority, from imperial Spain to Jeffersonian America, transformed everything. As the city’s diverse people struggled over the terms of the transition, they built the foundations of a dynamic, contentious hybrid metropolis. Faber describes the vital individuals who played a role in New Orleans history: from the wealthy creole planters who dreaded the influx of revolutionary ideas, to the American arrivistes who combined idealistic visions of a new republican society with selfish dreams of quick plantation fortunes, to Thomas Jefferson himself, whose powerful democratic vision for Louisiana eventually conflicted with his equally strong sense of realpolitik and desire to strengthen the American union.

Revealing how New Orleans was formed by America’s greatest impulses and ambitions, Building the Land of Dreams is an inspired exploration of one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Visit Eberhard L. Faber's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Royal Fever"

New from the University of California Press: Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture by Cele C. Otnes and Pauline Maclaran.

About the book, from the publisher:
No monarchy has proved more captivating than that of the British Royal Family. Across the globe, an estimated 2.4 billion people watched the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on television. In contemporary global consumer culture, why is the British monarchy still so compelling? Rooted in fieldwork conducted from 2005 to 2014, this book explores how and why consumers around the world leverage a wide range of products, services, and experiences to satisfy their fascination with the British Royal Family brand. It demonstrates the monarchy’s power as a brand whose narrative has existed for more than a thousand years, one that shapes consumer behavior and that retains its economic and cultural significance in the twenty-first century.

The authors explore the myriad ways consumer culture and the Royal Family intersect across collectors, commemorative objects, fashion, historic sites, media products, Royal brands, and tourist experiences.Taking a case study approach, the book examines both producer and consumer perspectives. Specific chapters illustrate how those responsible for orchestrating experiences related to the British monarchy engage the public by creating compelling consumer experiences. Others reveal how and why people devote their time, effort, and money to Royal consumption—from a woman who boasts a collection of over 10,000 pieces of British Royal Family trinkets to a retired American stockbroker who spends three months each year in England hunting for rare and expensive memorabilia. Royal Fever highlights the important role the Royal Family continues to play in many people’s lives and its ongoing contribution as a pillar of iconic British culture.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Stealing Helen"

New from Princeton University Press: Stealing Helen: The Myth of the Abducted Wife in Comparative Perspective by Lowell Edmunds.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s a familiar story: a beautiful woman is abducted and her husband journeys to recover her. This story’s best-known incarnation is also a central Greek myth—the abduction of Helen that led to the Trojan War. Stealing Helen surveys a vast range of folktales and texts exhibiting the story pattern of the abducted beautiful wife and makes a detailed comparison with the Helen of Troy myth. Lowell Edmunds shows that certain Sanskrit, Welsh, and Old Irish texts suggest there was an Indo-European story of the abducted wife before the Helen myth of the Iliad became known.

Investigating Helen’s status in ancient Greek sources, Edmunds argues that if Helen was just one trope of the abducted wife, the quest for Helen’s origin in Spartan cult can be abandoned, as can the quest for an Indo-European goddess who grew into the Helen myth. He explains that Helen was not a divine essence but a narrative figure that could replicate itself as needed, at various times or places in ancient Greece. Edmunds recovers some of these narrative Helens, such as those of the Pythagoreans and of Simon Magus, which then inspired the Helens of the Faust legend and Goethe.

Stealing Helen offers a detailed critique of prevailing views behind the “real” Helen and presents an eye-opening exploration of the many sources for this international mythical and literary icon.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"A Taste of Power"

New from the University of California Press: A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities by Katharina Vester.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the founding of the United States, culinary texts and practices have played a crucial role in the making of cultural identities and social hierarchies. A Taste of Power examines culinary writing and practices as forces for the production of social order and, at the same time, points of cultural resistance. Culinary writing has helped shape dominant ideas of nationalism, gender, and sexuality, suggesting that eating right is a gateway to becoming an American, a good citizen, an ideal man, or a perfect wife and mother.

In this brilliant interdisciplinary work, Katharina Vester examines how cookbooks became a way for women to participate in nation-building before they had access to the vote or public office, for Americans to distinguish themselves from Europeans, for middle-class authors to assert their class privileges, for men to claim superiority over women in the kitchen, and for lesbian authors to insert themselves into the heteronormative economy of culinary culture. A Taste of Power engages in close reading of a wide variety of sources and genres to uncover the intersections of food, politics, and privilege in American culture.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Citizen Sailors"

New from Harvard University Press: Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution by Nathan Perl-Rosenthal.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the decades after the United States formally declared its independence in 1776, Americans struggled to gain recognition of their new republic and their rights as citizens. None had to fight harder than the nation’s seamen, whose labor took them far from home and deep into the Atlantic world. Citizen Sailors tells the story of how their efforts to become American at sea in the midst of war and revolution created the first national, racially inclusive model of United States citizenship.

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal immerses us in sailors’ pursuit of safe passage through the ocean world during the turbulent age of revolution. Challenged by British press-gangs and French privateersmen, who considered them Britons and rejected their citizenship claims, American seamen demanded that the U.S. government take action to protect them. In response, federal leaders created a system of national identification documents for sailors and issued them to tens of thousands of mariners of all races—nearly a century before such credentials came into wider use.

Citizenship for American sailors was strikingly ahead of its time: it marked the federal government’s most extensive foray into defining the boundaries of national belonging until the Civil War era, and the government’s most explicit recognition of black Americans’ equal membership as well. This remarkable system succeeded in safeguarding seafarers, but it fell victim to rising racism and nativism after 1815. Not until the twentieth century would the United States again embrace such an inclusive vision of American nationhood.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Hitler at Home"

New from Yale University Press: Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Adolf Hitler’s makeover from rabble-rouser to statesman coincided with a series of dramatic home renovations he undertook during the mid-1930s. This provocative book exposes the dictator’s preoccupation with his private persona, which was shaped by the aesthetic and ideological management of his domestic architecture. Hitler’s bachelor life stirred rumors, and the Nazi regime relied on the dictator’s three dwellings—the Old Chancellery in Berlin, his apartment in Munich, and the Berghof, his mountain home on the Obersalzberg—to foster the myth of the Führer as a morally upstanding and refined man. Author Despina Stratigakos also reveals the previously untold story of Hitler’s interior designer, Gerdy Troost, through newly discovered archival sources.

At the height of the Third Reich, media outlets around the world showcased Hitler’s homes to audiences eager for behind-the-scenes stories. After the war, fascination with Hitler’s domestic life continued as soldiers and journalists searched his dwellings for insights into his psychology. The book’s rich illustrations, many previously unpublished, offer readers a rare glimpse into the decisions involved in the making of Hitler’s homes and into the sheer power of the propaganda that influenced how the world saw him.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"The Cherokee Diaspora"

Featured at Yale University Press: The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity by Gregory D. Smithers.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Cherokee are one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States, with more than three hundred thousand people across the country claiming tribal membership and nearly one million people internationally professing to have at least one Cherokee Indian ancestor. In this revealing history of Cherokee migration and resettlement, Gregory Smithers uncovers the origins of the Cherokee diaspora and explores how communities and individuals have negotiated their Cherokee identities, even when geographically removed from the Cherokee Nation headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the author transports the reader back in time to tell the poignant story of the Cherokee people migrating throughout North America, including their forced exile along the infamous Trail of Tears (1838–39). Smithers tells a remarkable story of courage, cultural innovation, and resilience, exploring the importance of migration and removal, land and tradition, culture and language in defining what it has meant to be Cherokee for a widely scattered people.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Walter Camp: Football and the Modern Man"

New from Oxford University Press: Walter Camp: Football and the Modern Man by Julie Des Jardins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans are obsessed with football, yet they know little about the man who shaped the game to make it uniquely technical, physical, and 'man-making' at once. Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football," was the foremost authority on American athletics and arguably the greatest amateur American athlete of his time.

In Walter Camp: Football and the Modern Man, Julie Des Jardins chronicles the life of the clock company executive and self-made athlete who remade football and redefined the ideal man. As a student at Yale University, Camp was a varsity letterman who led the earliest efforts to codify the rules and organization of football-including the line of scrimmage and "downs"-to make it distinct from English rugby. He also invented the All-America Football Team and wrote some of the first football fiction, guides, and sports page coverage, making him the foremost popularizer of the game. Within a decade American football was an obsession on college campuses of the Northeast. By the turn of the century, it was a bona fide national pastime.

Since the Civil War, college men of good breeding had not a physical skirmish to harden them. They had grown soft, Americans feared, both in body and attitude. Camp saw football as the antidote to the degeneration of these young men. When massive numbers of college football players enlisted to fight in World War I, Camp held them up as proof that football turned men effective and courageous. His influence over the game, however, was not always viewed as beneficial. Under his watch, dozens of college and high school players were killed or maimed on the gridiron. President Theodore Roosevelt urged him to reform football to prevent administrators from banning it, but Camp was ambivalent about removing the very physicality that made the game man-making in his eyes. The criticism targeted at him over the aggressiveness of football still haunts the game today.

In this fast-paced biography, Julie Des Jardins shows how the "gentleman athlete" was as much the arbiter of football as he was the arbiter of modern manhood. Though eventually football took on meanings that Camp never intended, his impact on the professional and college game is simply unsurpassed.
Visit Julie Des Jardins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 28, 2015

"Sailing the Water’s Edge"

New from Princeton University Press: Sailing the Water’s Edge: The Domestic Politics of American Foreign Policy by Helen V. Milner & Dustin Tingley.

About the book, from the publisher:
When engaging with other countries, the U.S. government has a number of different policy instruments at its disposal, including foreign aid, international trade, and the use of military force. But what determines which policies are chosen? Does the United States rely too much on the use of military power and coercion in its foreign policies? Sailing the Water’s Edge focuses on how domestic U.S. politics—in particular the interactions between the president, Congress, interest groups, bureaucratic institutions, and the public—have influenced foreign policy choices since World War II and shows why presidents have more control over some policy instruments than others. Presidential power matters and it varies systematically across policy instruments.

Helen Milner and Dustin Tingley consider how Congress and interest groups have substantial material interests in and ideological divisions around certain issues and that these factors constrain presidents from applying specific tools. As a result, presidents select instruments that they have more control over, such as use of the military. This militarization of U.S. foreign policy raises concerns about the nature of American engagement, substitution among policy tools, and the future of U.S. foreign policy. Milner and Tingley explore whether American foreign policy will remain guided by a grand strategy of liberal internationalism, what affects American foreign policy successes and failures, and the role of U.S. intelligence collection in shaping foreign policy. The authors support their arguments with rigorous theorizing, quantitative analysis, and focused case studies, such as U.S. foreign policy in Sub-Saharan Africa across two presidential administrations.

Sailing the Water’s Edge examines the importance of domestic political coalitions and institutions on the formation of American foreign policy.
--Marshal Zeringue