Sunday, May 28, 2017

"The New Politics of Class"

New from Oxford University Press: The New Politics of Class: The Political Exclusion of the British Working Class by Geoffrey Evans and James Tilley.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book explores the new politics of class in 21st century Britain. It shows how the changing shape of the class structure since 1945 has led political parties to change, which has both reduced class voting and increased class non-voting.

This argument is developed in three stages. The first is to show that there has been enormous social continuity in class divisions. The authors demonstrate this using extensive evidence on class and educational inequality, perceptions of inequality, identity and awareness, and political attitudes over more than fifty years.

The second stage is to show that there has been enormous political change in response to changing class sizes. Party policies, politicians' rhetoric, and the social composition of political elites have radically altered. Parties offer similar policies, appeal less to specific classes, and are populated by people from more similar backgrounds. Simultaneously the mass media have stopped talking about the politics of class.

The third stage is to show that these political changes have had three major consequences. First, as Labour and the Conservatives became more similar, class differences in party preferences disappeared. Second, new parties, most notably UKIP, have taken working class voters from the mainstream parties. Third, and most importantly, the lack of choice offered by the mainstream parties has led to a huge increase in class-based abstention from voting. Working class people have become much less likely to vote. In that sense, Britain appears to have followed the US down a path of working class political exclusion, ultimately undermining the representativeness of our democracy. They conclude with a discussion of the Brexit referendum and the role that working class alienation played in its historic outcome.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Who Will Lead Us?"

New from the University of California Press: Who Will Lead Us?: The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America by Samuel C. Heilman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hasidism, a movement many believed had passed its golden age, has had an extraordinary revival since it was nearly decimated in the Holocaust and repressed in the Soviet Union. Hasidic communities, now settled primarily in North America and Israel, have reversed the losses they suffered and are growing exponentially. With powerful attachments to the past, mysticism, community, tradition, and charismatic leadership, Hasidism seems the opposite of contemporary Western culture, yet it has thrived in the democratic countries and culture of the West. How? Who Will Lead Us? finds the answers to this question in the fascinating story of five contemporary Hasidic dynasties and their handling of the delicate issue of leadership and succession.

Revolving around the central figure of the rebbe, the book explores two dynasties with too few successors, two with too many successors, and one that believes their last rebbe continues to lead them even after his death. Samuel C. Heilman, recognized as a foremost expert on modern Jewish Orthodoxy, here provides outsiders with the essential guide to continuity in the Hasidic world.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 27, 2017

"Hard Target"

New from Stanford University Press: Hard Target: Sanctions, Inducements, and the Case of North Korea by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland.

About the book, from the publisher:
Because authoritarian regimes like North Korea can impose the costs of sanctions on their citizens, these regimes constitute "hard targets." Yet authoritarian regimes may also be immune—and even hostile—to economic inducements if such inducements imply reform and opening. This book captures the effects of sanctions and inducements on North Korea and provides a detailed reconstruction of the role of economic incentives in the bargaining around the country's nuclear program.

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland draw on an array of evidence to show the reluctance of the North Korean leadership to weaken its grip on foreign economic activity. They argue that inducements have limited effect on the regime, and instead urge policymakers to think in terms of gradual strategies. Hard Target connects economic statecraft to the marketization process to understand North Korea and addresses a larger debate over the merits and demerits of "engagement" with adversaries.
The Page 69 Test: Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Avenging the People"

New from Oxford University Press: Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson, the Rule of Law, and the American Nation by J.M. Opal.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most Americans know Andrew Jackson as a frontier rebel against political and diplomatic norms, a "populist" champion of ordinary people against the elitist legacy of the Founding Fathers. Many date the onset of American democracy to his 1829 inauguration.

Despite his reverence for the "sovereign people," however, Jackson spent much of his career limiting that sovereignty, imposing new and often unpopular legal regimes over American lands and markets. He made his name as a lawyer, businessman, and official along the Carolina and Tennessee frontiers, at times ejecting white squatters from native lands and returning slaves to native planters in the name of federal authority and international law. On the other hand, he waged total war on the Cherokees and Creeks who terrorized western settlements and raged at the national statesmen who refused to "avenge the blood" of innocent colonists. During the long war in the south and west from 1811 to 1818 he brushed aside legal restraints on holy genocide and mass retaliation, presenting himself as the only man who would protect white families from hostile empires, "heathen" warriors, and rebellious slaves. He became a towering hero to those who saw the United States as uniquely lawful and victimized. And he used that legend to beat back a range of political, economic, and moral alternatives for the republican future.

Drawing from new evidence about Jackson and the southern frontiers, Avenging the People boldly reinterprets the grim and principled man whose version of American nationhood continues to shape American democracy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 26, 2017

"American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream"

New from the University of Chicago Press: American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream by Julia L. Mickenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
If you were an independent, adventurous, liberated American woman in the 1920s or 1930s where might you have sought escape from the constraints and compromises of bourgeois living? Paris and the Left Bank quickly come to mind. But would you have ever thought of Russia and the wilds of Siberia? This choice was not as unusual as it seems now. As Julia L. Mickenberg uncovers in American Girls in Red Russia, there is a forgotten counterpoint to the story of the Lost Generation: beginning in the late nineteenth century, Russian revolutionary ideology attracted many women, including suffragists, reformers, educators, journalists, and artists, as well as curious travelers. Some were famous, like Isadora Duncan or Lillian Hellman; some were committed radicals, though more were just intrigued by the “Soviet experiment.” But all came to Russia in search of social arrangements that would be more equitable, just, and satisfying. And most in the end were disillusioned, some by the mundane realities, others by horrifying truths.

Mickenberg reveals the complex motives that drew American women to Russia as they sought models for a revolutionary new era in which women would be not merely independent of men, but also equal builders of a new society. Soviet women, after all, earned the right to vote in 1917, and they also had abortion rights, property rights, the right to divorce, maternity benefits, and state-supported childcare. Even women from Soviet national minorities—many recently unveiled—became public figures, as African American and Jewish women noted. Yet as Mickenberg’s collective biography shows, Russia turned out to be as much a grim commune as a utopia of freedom, replete with economic, social, and sexual inequities.

American Girls in Red Russia recounts the experiences of women who saved starving children from the Russian famine, worked on rural communes in Siberia, wrote for Moscow or New York newspapers, or performed on Soviet stages. Mickenberg finally tells these forgotten stories, full of hope and grave disappointments.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Democratization and Authoritarian Party Survival"

New from Oxford University Press: Democratization and Authoritarian Party Survival: Mexico's PRI by Joy Langston.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Mexico's authoritarian Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) was defeated in the 2000 presidential election after seventy-one years of uninterrupted rule, many analysts believed the party would inevitably splinter and collapse. An authoritarian party without control over government resources and without a strong national executive creates both opportunity and incentive for ambitious politicians to leave the party and join a separate faction. To the surprise of many, however, the PRI managed to deviate from this pattern, and returned triumphantly to the presidency in 2012.

Democratization and Authoritarian Party Survival: Mexico's PRI argues that those authoritarian parties that survive the transition to democratic elections do so because they are able to adjust to electoral challenges and the rigors of the ballot box more quickly and effectively than their internal party rivals. Such as in the case of the PRI, these electorally-oriented vote winners find ways to cooperate and avoid the dangers of internal ruptures. Those authoritarian parties in which vote-winning factions are unable to defeat their intra-party rivals, or those that divide and fragment, are less likely to survive the transition to democratic voting.

Despite the interest in Mexico's former hegemonic party and its return to power, no full-length monograph has been dedicated to studying its transformation. This book takes a long lens view of authoritarian party survival and zeros in on the transformation of Mexico's PRI, making a substantive and novel contribution to the wider literature on party organizational change, authoritarian party survival, and democratization.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The First Serious Optimist"

New from Princeton University Press: The First Serious Optimist: A. C. Pigou and the Birth of Welfare Economics by Ian Kumekawa.

About the book, from the publisher:
A groundbreaking intellectual biography of one of the twentieth century's most influential economists

The First Serious Optimist is an intellectual biography of the British economist A. C. Pigou (1877–1959), a founder of welfare economics and one of the twentieth century's most important and original thinkers. Though long overshadowed by his intellectual rival John Maynard Keynes, Pigou was instrumental in focusing economics
 on the public welfare. And his reputation is experiencing a renaissance today, in part because his idea of "externalities" or spillover costs is the basis of carbon taxes. Drawing from a wealth of archival sources, Ian Kumekawa tells how Pigou reshaped the way the public thinks about the economic role of government and the way economists think about the public good.

Setting Pigou's ideas in their personal, political, social, and ethical context, the book follows him as he evolved from a liberal Edwardian bon vivant to a reserved but reform-minded economics professor. With World War I, Pigou entered government service, but soon became disenchanted with the state he encountered. As his ideas were challenged in the interwar period, he found himself increasingly alienated from his profession. But with the rise of the Labour Party following World War II, the elderly Pigou re-embraced a mind-set that inspired a colleague to describe him as "the first serious optimist."

The story not just of Pigou but also of twentieth-century economics, The First Serious Optimist explores the biographical and historical origins of some of the most important economic ideas of the past hundred years. It is a timely reminder of the ethical roots of economics and the discipline's long history as an active intermediary between the state and the market.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Theorizing Race in the Americas"

New from Oxford University Press: Theorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos by Juliet Hooker.

About the book,from the publisher:
In 1845 two thinkers from the American hemisphere - the Argentinean statesman Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, and the fugitive ex-slave, abolitionist leader, and orator from the United States, Frederick Douglass - both published their first works. Each would become the most famous and enduring texts in what were both prolific careers, and they ensured Sarmiento and Douglass' position as leading figures in the canon of Latin American and U.S. African-American political thought, respectively. But despite the fact that both deal directly with key political and philosophical questions in the Americas, Douglass and Sarmiento, like African-American and Latin American thought more generally, are never read alongside each other. This may be because their ideas about race differed dramatically. Sarmiento advocated the Europeanization of Latin America and espoused a virulent form of anti-indigenous racism, while Douglass opposed slavery and defended the full humanity of black persons. Still, as Juliet Hooker contends, looking at the two together allows one to chart a hemispheric intellectual geography of race that challenges political theory's preoccupation with and assumptions about East / West comparisons, and questions the use of comparison as a tool in the production of theory and philosophy.

By juxtaposing four prominent nineteenth and twentieth-century thinkers - Frederick Douglass, Domingo F. Sarmiento, W. E. B. Du Bois, and José Vasconcelos - her book will be the first to bring African-American and Latin American political thought into conversation. Hooker stresses that Latin American and U.S. ideas about race were not developed in isolation, but grew out of transnational intellectual exchanges across the Americas. In so doing, she shows that nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. and Latin American thinkers each looked to political models in the 'other' America to advance racial projects in their own countries. Reading these four intellectuals as hemispheric thinkers, Hooker foregrounds elements of their work that have been dismissed by dominant readings, and provides a crucial platform to bridge the canons of Latin American and African-American political thought.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Antifundamentalism in Modern America"

New from Cornell University Press: Antifundamentalism in Modern America by David Harrington Watt.

About the book, from the publisher:
David Harrington Watt's Antifundamentalism in Modern America gives us a pathbreaking account of the role that the fear of fundamentalism has played—and continues to play—in American culture. Fundamentalism has never been a neutral category of analysis, and Watt scrutinizes the various political purposes that the concept has been made to serve. In 1920, the conservative Baptist writer Curtis Lee Laws coined the word "fundamentalists." Watt examines the antifundamentalist polemics of Harry Emerson Fosdick, Talcott Parsons, Stanley Kramer, and Richard Hofstadter, which convinced many Americans that religious fundamentalists were almost by definition backward, intolerant, and anti-intellectual and that fundamentalism was a dangerous form of religion that had no legitimate place in the modern world.

For almost fifty years, the concept of fundamentalism was linked almost exclusively to Protestant Christians. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the establishment of an Islamic republic led to a more elastic understanding of the nature of fundamentalism. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Americans became accustomed to using fundamentalism as a way of talking about Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, as well as Christians. Many Americans came to see Protestant fundamentalism as an expression of a larger phenomenon that was wreaking havoc all over the world. Antifundamentalism in Modern America is the first book to provide an overview of the way that the fear of fundamentalism has shaped U.S. culture, and it will lead readers to rethink their understanding of what fundamentalism is and what it does
Visit David Harrington Watt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness"

New from Oxford University Press: My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness by Howard Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
On the early morning of March 16, 1968, American soldiers from three platoons of Charlie Company (1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division), entered a group of hamlets located in the Son Tinh district of South Vietnam, located near the Demilitarized Zone and known as "Pinkville" because of the high level of Vietcong infiltration. The soldiers, many still teenagers who had been in the country for three months, were on a "search and destroy" mission. The Tet Offensive had occurred only weeks earlier and in the same area and had made them jittery; so had mounting losses from booby traps and a seemingly invisible enemy. Three hours after the GIs entered the hamlets, more than five hundred unarmed villagers lay dead, killed in cold blood. The atrocity took its name from one of the hamlets, known by the Americans as My Lai 4.

Military authorities attempted to suppress the news of My Lai, until some who had been there, in particular a helicopter pilot named Hugh Thompson and a door gunner named Lawrence Colburn, spoke up about what they had seen. The official line was that the villagers had been killed by artillery and gunship fire rather than by small arms. That line soon began to fray. Lieutenant William Calley, one of the platoon leaders, admitted to shooting the villagers but insisted that he had acted upon orders. An exposé of the massacre and cover-up by journalist Seymour Hersh, followed by graphic photographs, incited international outrage, and Congressional and U.S. Army inquiries began. Calley and nearly thirty other officers were charged with war crimes, though Calley alone was convicted and would serve three and a half years under house arrest before being paroled in 1974.

My Lai polarized American sentiment. Many saw Calley as a scapegoat, the victim of a doomed strategy in an unwinnable war. Others saw a war criminal. President Nixon was poised to offer a presidential pardon. The atrocity intensified opposition to the war, devastating any pretense of American moral superiority. Its effect on military morale and policy was profound and enduring. The Army implemented reforms and began enforcing adherence to the Hague and Geneva conventions. Before launching an offensive during Desert Storm in 1991, one general warned his brigade commanders, "No My Lais in this division--do you hear me?"

Compelling, comprehensive, and haunting, based on both exhaustive archival research and extensive interviews, Howard Jones's My Lai will stand as the definitive book on one of the most devastating events in American military history.
The Page 99 Test: The Bay of Pigs.

The Page 99 Test: Blue and Gray Diplomacy.

--Marshal Zeringue