Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Religion of a Different Color"

New from Oxford University Press: Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness by W. Paul Reeve.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mormonism is one of the few homegrown religions in the United States, one that emerged out of the religious fervor of the early nineteenth century. Yet, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have struggled for status and recognition. In this book, W. Paul Reeve explores the ways in which nineteenth century Protestant white America made outsiders out of an inside religious group. Much of what has been written on Mormon otherness centers upon economic, cultural, doctrinal, marital, and political differences that set Mormons apart from mainstream America. Reeve instead looks at how Protestants racialized Mormons, using physical differences in order to define Mormons as non-White to help justify their expulsion from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. He analyzes and contextualizes the rhetoric on Mormons as a race with period discussions of the Native American, African American, Oriental, Turk/Islam, and European immigrant races. He also examines how Mormon male, female, and child bodies were characterized in these racialized debates. For instance, while Mormons argued that polygamy was ordained by God, and so created angelic, celestial, and elevated offspring, their opponents suggested that the children were degenerate and deformed.

The Protestant white majority was convinced that Mormonism represented a racial-not merely religious-departure from the mainstream and spent considerable effort attempting to deny Mormon whiteness. Being white brought access to political, social, and economic power, all aspects of citizenship in which outsiders sought to limit or prevent Mormon participation. At least a part of those efforts came through persistent attacks on the collective Mormon body, ways in which outsiders suggested that Mormons were physically different, racially more similar to marginalized groups than they were white. Medical doctors went so far as to suggest that Mormon polygamy was spawning a new race. Mormons responded with aspirations toward whiteness. It was a back and forth struggle between what outsiders imagined and what Mormons believed. Mormons ultimately emerged triumphant, but not unscathed. Mormon leaders moved away from universalistic ideals toward segregated priesthood and temples, policies firmly in place by the early twentieth century. So successful were Mormons at claiming whiteness for themselves that by the time Mormon Mitt Romney sought the White House in 2012, he was labeled "the whitest white man to run for office in recent memory." Ending with reflections on ongoing views of the Mormon body, this groundbreaking book brings together literatures on religion, whiteness studies, and nineteenth century racial history with the history of politics and migration.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"On Becoming a Teen Mom"

New from the University of California Press: On Becoming a Teen Mom: Life before Pregnancy by Mary Patrice Erdmans and Timothy Black.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 2013, New York City launched a public education campaign with posters of frowning or crying children saying such things as “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen” and “Honestly, Mom, chances are he won’t stay with you.” Campaigns like this support a public narrative that portrays teen mothers as threatening the moral order, bankrupting state coffers, and causing high rates of poverty, incarceration, and school dropout. These efforts demonize teen mothers but tell us nothing about their lives before they became pregnant.

In this myth-shattering book, the authors tell the life stories of 108 brown, white, and black teen mothers, exposing the problems in their lives often overlooked in pregnancy prevention campaigns. Some stories are tragic and painful, marked by sexual abuse, partner violence, and school failure. Others depict "girl next door" characters whose unintended pregnancies lay bare insidious gender disparities. Offering a fresh perspective on the links between teen births and social inequalities, this book demonstrates how the intersecting hierarchies of gender, race, and class shape the biographies of young mothers.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Competing Visions of Empire"

New from Yale University Press: Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire by Abigail L. Swingen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Abigail L. Swingen’s insightful study provides a new framework for understanding the origins of the British Empire while exploring how England’s original imperial designs influenced contemporary English politics and debates about labor, economy, and overseas trade. Focusing on the ideological connections between the growth of unfree labor in the English colonies, particularly the use of enslaved Africans, and the development of British imperialism during the early modern period, the author examines the overlapping, often competing agendas of planters, merchants, privateers, colonial officials, and imperial authorities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Abigail Swingen is an assistant professor of history at Texas Tech University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Listening to Killers"

New from the University of California Press: Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases by James Garbarino.

About the book, from the publisher:
Listening to Killers offers an inside look at twenty years' worth of murder files from Dr. James Garbarino, a leading expert psychological witness who listens to killers so that he can testify in court. The author offers detailed accounts of how killers travel a path that leads from childhood innocence to lethal violence in adolescence or adulthood. He places the emotional and moral damage of each individual killer within a larger scientific framework of social, psychological, anthropological, and biological research on human development. By linking individual cases to broad social and cultural issues and illustrating the social toxicity and unresolved trauma that drive some people to kill, Dr. Garbarino highlights the humanity we share with killers and the role of understanding and empathy in breaking the cycle of violence.
James Garbarino holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and was Founding Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. He was formerly Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, and he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has served as an adviser to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. He is the author of Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Leaving the Jewish Fold"

New from Princeton University Press: Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish History by Todd Endelman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the French Revolution and World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jews left the Jewish fold—by becoming Christians or, in liberal states, by intermarrying. Telling the stories of both famous and obscure individuals, Leaving the Jewish Fold explores the nature of this drift and defection from Judaism in Europe and America from the eighteenth century to today. Arguing that religious conviction was rarely a motive for Jews who became Christians, Todd Endelman shows that those who severed their Jewish ties were driven above all by pragmatic concerns—especially the desire to escape the stigma of Jewishness and its social, occupational, and emotional burdens.

Through a detailed and colorful narrative, Endelman considers the social settings, national contexts, and historical circumstances that encouraged Jews to abandon Judaism, and factors that worked to the opposite effect. Demonstrating that anti-Jewish prejudice weighed more heavily on the Jews of Germany and Austria than those living in France and other liberal states as early as the first half of the nineteenth century, he reexamines how Germany’s political and social development deviated from other European states. Endelman also reveals that liberal societies such as Great Britain and the United States, which tolerated Jewish integration, promoted radical assimilation and the dissolution of Jewish ties as often as hostile, illiberal societies such as Germany and Poland.

Bringing together extensive research across several languages, Leaving the Jewish Fold will be the essential work on conversion and assimilation in modern Jewish history for years to come.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"American Burke"

New from the University Press of Kansas: American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan by Greg Weiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927–2003) may be best known as a statesman. He served in the administrations of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford; was ambassador to India and the United Nations; and represented New York in the U.S. Senate for four terms. But he was also an intellectual of the first order, whose books and papers on topics ranging from welfare policy and ethnicity in American society to international law stirred debate and steered policy. Moynihan was, journalist Michael Barone remarked, “the nation’s best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson.” He was, Greg Weiner argues, America’s answer to the 18th-century Anglo-Irish scholar-statesman Edmund Burke. Both stood at the intersection of thought and action, denouncing tyranny, defending the family, championing reform. Yet while Burke is typically claimed by conservatives, Weiner calls Moynihan a “Burkean liberal” who respected both the indispensability of government and the complexity of society. And a reclamation of Moynihan’s Burkean liberalism, Weiner suggests, could do wonders for the polarized politics of our day.

In its incisive analysis of Moynihan’s political thought, American Burke lays out the terms for such a recovery. The book traces Moynihan’s development through the broad sweep of his writings and career. “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” Moynihan once wrote. “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” In his ability to embrace both of these truths, this “American Burke” makes it bracingly clear that a wise political thinker can also be an effective political actor, and that commitments to both liberal and conservative values can coexist peaceably and productively. Weiner’s work is not only a thorough and thoroughly engaging intellectual exploration of one of the most important politicians of the twentieth century; it is also a timely prescription for the healing of our broken system.
Visit Greg Weiner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 20, 2015

"The Left Side of History"

New from Duke University Press: The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe by Kristen Ghodsee.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Left Side of History Kristen Ghodsee tells the stories of partisans fighting behind the lines in Nazi-allied Bulgaria during World War II: British officer Frank Thompson, brother of the great historian E.P. Thompson, and fourteen-year-old Elena Lagadinova, the youngest female member of the armed anti-fascist resistance. But these people were not merely anti-fascist; they were pro-communist, idealists moved by their socialist principles to fight and sometimes die for a cause they believed to be right. Victory brought forty years of communist dictatorship followed by unbridled capitalism after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Today in democratic Eastern Europe there is ever-increasing despair, disenchantment with the post-communist present, and growing nostalgia for the communist past. These phenomena are difficult to understand in the West, where “communism” is a dirty word that is quickly equated with Stalin and Soviet labor camps. By starting with the stories of people like Thompson and Lagadinova, Ghodsee provides a more nuanced understanding of how communist ideals could inspire ordinary people to make extraordinary sacrifices.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Anonymous Soldiers"

New from Knopf: Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947 by Bruce Hoffman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A landmark history, based on newly available documents, of the battles between Jews, Arabs, and the British that led to the creation of Israel

Anonymous Soldiers brilliantly re-creates the crucial period in the establishment of Israel, chronicling the three decades of growing anticolonial unrest that culminated in the end of British rule and the UN resolution to create two separate states. This groundbreaking book tells in riveting, previously unknown detail the story of how Britain, in the twilight of empire, struggled and ultimately failed to reconcile competing Arab and Jewish demands and uprisings. Bruce Hoffman, America’s leading expert on terrorism, shines new light on the bombing of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo, the leadership of Menachem Begin, the life and death of Abraham Stern, and much else. Above all, Hoffman shows exactly how the underdog “anonymous soldiers” of Irgun and Lehi defeated the British and set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the creation of the formidable nation-state of Israel.

This is a towering accomplishment of research and narrative, and a book that is essential to anyone wishing to understand not just the origins of modern-day Israel or the current situation in the Middle East, but also the methodology of terrorism. Drawing on previously untapped archival resources in London, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, Bruce Hoffman has written one of the most detailed and sustained accounts of a terrorist and counterterrorist campaign that may ever have been seen, and in doing so has cast light on one of the most decisive world events in recent history. This will be the definitive account of the struggle for Israel for years to come.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"The Birth of Politics"

New from Princeton University Press: The Birth of Politics: Eight Greek and Roman Political Ideas and Why They Matter by Melissa Lane.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Birth of Politics, Melissa Lane introduces the reader to the foundations of Western political thought, from the Greeks, who invented democracy, to the Romans, who created a republic and then transformed it into an empire. Tracing the origins of our political concepts from Socrates to Plutarch to Cicero, Lane reminds us that the birth of politics was a story as much of individuals as ideas. Scouring the speeches of lawyers alongside the speculations of philosophers, and the reflections of ex-slaves next to the popular comedies and tragedies of the Greek and Roman stages, this book brings ancient ideas to life in unexpected ways.

Lane shows how the Greeks and Romans defined politics with distinctive concepts, vocabulary, and practices—all of which continue to influence politics and political aspirations around the world today. She focuses on eight political ideas from the Greco-Roman world that are especially influential today: justice, virtue, constitution, democracy, citizenship, cosmopolitanism, republic, and sovereignty. Lane also describes how the ancient formulations of these ideas often challenge widely held modern assumptions—for example, that it is possible to have political equality despite great economic inequality, or that political regimes can be indifferent to the moral character of their citizens.

A stimulating introduction to the origins of our political ideas and ideals, The Birth of Politics demonstrates how much we still have to learn from the political genius of the Greeks and Romans.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Mourning Lincoln"

New from Yale University Press: Mourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes.

About the book, from the publisher:
The news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, just days after Confederate surrender, astounded the war-weary nation. Massive crowds turned out for services and ceremonies. Countless expressions of grief and dismay were printed in newspapers and preached in sermons. Public responses to the assassination have been well chronicled, but this book is the first to delve into the personal and intimate responses of everyday people—northerners and southerners, soldiers and civilians, black people and white, men and women, rich and poor.

Through deep and thoughtful exploration of diaries, letters, and other personal writings penned during the spring and summer of 1865, Martha Hodes, one of our finest historians, captures the full range of reactions to the president’s death—far more diverse than public expressions would suggest. She tells a story of shock, glee, sorrow, anger, blame, and fear. “’Tis the saddest day in our history,” wrote a mournful man. It was “an electric shock to my soul,” wrote a woman who had escaped from slavery. “Glorious News!” a Lincoln enemy exulted. “Old Lincoln is dead, and I will kill the goddamned Negroes now,” an angry white southerner ranted. For the black soldiers of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts, it was all “too overwhelming, too lamentable, too distressing” to absorb.

There are many surprises in the story Hodes tells, not least the way in which even those utterly devastated by Lincoln’s demise easily interrupted their mourning rituals to attend to the most mundane aspects of everyday life. There is also the unexpected and unabated virulence of Lincoln’s northern critics, and the way Confederates simultaneously celebrated Lincoln’s death and instantly—on the very day he died—cast him as a fallen friend to the defeated white South.

Hodes brings to life a key moment of national uncertainty and confusion, when competing visions of America’s future proved irreconcilable and hopes for racial justice in the aftermath of the Civil War slipped from the nation’s grasp. Hodes masterfully brings the tragedy of Lincoln’s assassination alive in human terms—terms that continue to stagger and rivet us one hundred and fifty years after the event they so strikingly describe.
Visit Martha Hodes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue