Thursday, April 24, 2014

"The Working Man's Reward"

New from Oxford University Press: The Working Man's Reward: Chicago's Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl by Elaine Lewinnek.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the 1860s and 1920s, Chicago's working-class immigrants designed the American dream of home-ownership. They imagined homes as small businesses, homes that were simultaneously a consumer-oriented respite from work and a productive space that workers hoped to control.

Stretching out of town along with Chicago's assembly-line factories, Chicago's early suburbs were remarkably socially and economically diverse. They were marketed by real estate developers and urban boosters with the elusive promise that homeownership might offer some bulwark against the vicissitudes of industrial capitalism, that homes might be "better than a bank for a poor man" and "the working man's reward." This promise evolved into what Lewinnek terms "the mortgages of whiteness," the hope that property values might increase if that property could be kept white. Suburbs also developed through nineteenth-century notions of the gendered respectability of domesticity, early ideas about city planning and land economics, and an evolving twentieth-century discourse about the racial attributes of property values. Looking at the persistent challenges of racial difference, economic inequality, and private property ownership that were present in urban design and planning from the start, Lewinnek argues that white Americans' attachment to property and community were not simply reactions to post-1945 Civil Rights Movement and federally enforced integration policies. Rather, Chicago's mostly immigrant working class bought homes, seeking an elusive respectability and class mobility, and trying to protect their property values against what they perceived as African American threats, which eventually flared in violent racial conflict.

The Working Man's Reward examines the roots of America's suburbanization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, showing how Chicagoans helped form America's urban sprawl.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"A Mad Catastrophe"

New from Basic Books: A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro.

About the book, from the publisher:
A prizewinning military historian explores a critical but overlooked cause for World War I: the staggering decrepitude of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Austro-Hungarian army that marched east and south to confront the Russians and Serbs in the opening campaigns of World War I had a glorious past but a pitiful present. Speaking a mystifying array of languages and lugging outdated weapons, the Austrian troops were hopelessly unprepared for the industrialized warfare that would shortly consume Europe.

As prizewinning historian Geoffrey Wawro explains in A Mad Catastrophe, the doomed Austrian conscripts were an unfortunate microcosm of the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself—both equally ripe for destruction. After the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914, Germany goaded the Empire into a war with Russia and Serbia. With the Germans massing their forces in the west to engage the French and the British, everything—the course of the war and the fate of empires and alliances from Constantinople to London—hinged on the Habsburgs' ability to crush Serbia and keep the Russians at bay. However, Austria-Hungary had been rotting from within for years, hollowed out by repression, cynicism, and corruption at the highest levels. Commanded by a dying emperor, Franz Joseph I, and a querulous celebrity general, Conrad von Hötzendorf, the Austro-Hungarians managed to bungle everything: their ultimatum to the Serbs, their declarations of war, their mobilization, and the pivotal battles in Galicia and Serbia. By the end of 1914, the Habsburg army lay in ruins and the outcome of the war seemed all but decided.

Drawing on deep archival research, Wawro charts the decline of the Empire before the war and reconstructs the great battles in the east and the Balkans in thrilling and tragic detail. A Mad Catastrophe is a riveting account of a neglected face of World War I, revealing how a once-mighty empire collapsed in the trenches of Serbia and the Eastern Front, changing the course of European history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"The Birth of the New Justice"

New from Oxford University Press: The Birth of the New Justice: The Internationalization of Crime and Punishment, 1919-1950 by Mark Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Birth of the New Justice is a history of the attempts to instate ad hoc and permanent international criminal courts and new international criminal laws from the end of World War I to the beginning of the Cold War. The purpose of these courts was to repress aggressive war, war crimes, terrorism, and genocide.

Rather than arguing that these legal projects were attempts by state governments to project a "liberal legalism" and create an international state system that limited sovereignty, Mark Lewis shows that European jurists in a variety of transnational organizations derived their motives from a range of ideological motives - liberal, conservative, utopian, humanitarian, nationalist, and particularist. European jurists at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 created a controversial new philosophy of prosecution and punishment, and during the following decades, jurists in different organizations, including the International Law Association, International Association for Criminal Law, the World Jewish Congress, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, transformed the ideas of the legitimacy of post-war trials and the concept of international crime to deal with myriad social and political problems. The concept of an international criminal court was never static, and the idea that national tribunals would form an integral part of an international system to enforce new laws was frequently advanced as a pragmatic-and politically convenient-solution.

The Birth of the New Justice shows that legal organizations were not merely interested in ensuring that the guilty were punished or that international peace was assured. They hoped to instil particular moral values, represent the interests of certain social groups, and even pursue national agendas. At the same time, their projects to define new types of crimes and ensure that old ones were truly punished also sprang from hopes that a new international political and moral order would check the power of the sovereign nation-state. When jurists had to scale back their projects, it was not only because state governments opposed them; it was also because they lacked political connections, did not build public support for their ideas, or decided that compromises were better than nothing.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 21, 2014

"The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War"

New from Oxford University Press: The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina by Federico Finchelstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Argentina is famous for its ties with fascism as well as its welcoming of Nazi war criminals after World War II. At mid-century, it was the home of Peronism. It was also the birthplace of the Dirty War and one of Latin America's most criminal dictatorships in the 1970s and early 1980s. How and why did all of these regimes emerge in a country that was "born liberal"? Why did these authoritarian traits first emerge in Argentina under the shadow of fascism?

In this book, Federico Finchelstein tells the history of modern Argentina as seen from the perspective of political violence and ideology. He focuses on the theory and practice of the fascist idea in Argentine political culture throughout the twentieth century, analyzing the connections between fascist theory and the Holocaust, antisemitism, and the military junta's practices of torture and state violence, with its networks of concentration camps and extermination. The book demonstrates how the state's war against its citizens was rooted in fascist ideology, explaining the Argentine variant of fascism, formed by nacionalistas, and its links with European fascism and Catholicism. It particularly emphasizes the genocidal dimensions of the persecution of Argentine Jewish victims. The destruction of the rule of law and military state terror during the Dirty War, Finchelstein shows, was the product of many political and ideological reformulations and personifications of fascism.

The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War provides a genealogy of state-sanctioned terror, revealing fascism as central to Argentina's political culture and its violent twentieth century.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Dealing with Darwin"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution by David N. Livingstone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Using place, politics, and rhetoric as analytical tools, historical geographer David N. Livingstone investigates how religious communities sharing a Scots Presbyterian heritage engaged with Darwin and Darwinism at the turn of the twentieth century. His findings, presented as the prestigious Gifford Lectures, transform our understandings of the relationship between science and religion.

The particulars of place—whether in Edinburgh, Belfast, Toronto, Princeton, or Columbia, South Carolina—shaped the response to Darwin’s theories. Were they tolerated, repudiated, or welcomed? Livingstone shows how Darwin was read in different ways, with meaning distilled from Darwin's texts depending on readers' own histories—their literary genealogies and cultural preoccupations. That the theory of evolution fared differently in different places, Livingstone writes, is "exactly what Darwin might have predicted. As the theory diffused, it diverged."

Dealing with Darwin shows the profound extent to which theological debates about evolution were rooted in such matters as anxieties over control of education, the politics of race relations, the nature of local scientific traditions, and challenges to traditional cultural identity. In some settings, conciliation with the new theory, even endorsement, was possible—demonstrating that attending to the specific nature of individual communities subverts an inclination to assume a single relationship between science and religion in general, evolution and Christianity in particular.

Livingstone concludes with contemporary examples to remind us that what scientists can say and what others can hear in different venues differ today just as much as they did in the past.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Culling the Masses"

New from Harvard University Press: Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas by David Scott FitzGerald and David Cook-Martín.

About the book, from the publisher:
Culling the Masses questions the widely held view that in the long run democracy and racism cannot coexist. David Scott FitzGerald and David Cook-Martín show that democracies were the first countries in the Americas to select immigrants by race, and undemocratic states the first to outlaw discrimination. Through analysis of legal records from twenty-two countries between 1790 and 2010, the authors present a history of the rise and fall of racial selection in the Western Hemisphere.

The United States led the way in using legal means to exclude “inferior” ethnic groups. Starting in 1790, Congress began passing nationality and immigration laws that prevented Africans and Asians from becoming citizens, on the grounds that they were inherently incapable of self-government. Similar policies were soon adopted by the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire, eventually spreading across Latin America as well.

Undemocratic regimes in Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Cuba reversed their discriminatory laws in the 1930s and 1940s, decades ahead of the United States and Canada. The conventional claim that racism and democracy are antithetical—because democracy depends on ideals of equality and fairness, which are incompatible with the notion of racial inferiority—cannot explain why liberal democracies were leaders in promoting racist policies and laggards in eliminating them. Ultimately, the authors argue, the changed racial geopolitics of World War II and the Cold War was necessary to convince North American countries to reform their immigration and citizenship laws.
The Page 99 Test: David Cook-Martín's The Scramble for Citizens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"The Lost Art of Dress"

New from Basic Books: The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of the women who taught Americans how to dress in the first half of the 20th century—and whose lessons we'd do well to remember today.

As a glance down any street in America quickly reveals, American women have forgotten how to dress. We chase fads, choose inappropriate materials and unattractive cuts, and waste energy tottering in heels when we could be moving gracefully. Quite simply, we lack the fashion know-how we need to dress professionally and flatteringly.

As historian and expert dressmaker Linda Przybyszewski reveals in The Lost Art of Dress, it wasn't always like this. In the first half of the twentieth century, a remarkable group of women—the so-called Dress Doctors—taught American women how to stretch each yard of fabric and dress well on a budget. Knowledge not money, they insisted, is the key to timeless fashion. Based in Home Economics departments across the country, the Dress Doctors offered advice on radio shows, at women's clubs, and in magazines. Millions of young girls read their books in school and at 4-H clothing clubs. As Przybyszewski shows, the Dress Doctors' concerns weren't purely superficial: they prized practicality, and empowered women to design and make clothing for both the workplace and the home. They championed skirts that would allow women to move about freely and campaigned against impractical and painful shoes. Armed with the Dress Doctors' simple design principles—harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis—modern American women from all classes could learn to dress for all occasions in a way that made them confident, engaged members of society.

A captivating and beautifully-illustrated look at the world of the Dress Doctors, The Lost Art of Dress introduces a new audience to their timeless rules of fashion and beauty—rules which, with a little help, we can certainly learn again.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"The Witch-Hunt Narrative"

New from Oxford University Press: The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology and the Sexual Abuse of Children by Ross E. Cheit.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the 1980s, a series of child sex abuse cases rocked the United States. The most famous case was the 1984 McMartin preschool case, but there were a number of others as well. By the latter part of the decade, the assumption was widespread that child sex abuse had become a serious problem in America. Yet within a few years, the concern about it died down considerably. The failure to convict anyone in the McMartin case and a widely publicized appellate decision in New Jersey that freed an accused molester had turned the dominant narrative on its head. In the early 1990s, a new narrative with remarkable staying power emerged: the child sex abuse cases were symptomatic of a 'moral panic' that had produced a witch hunt. A central claim in this new witch hunt narrative was that the children who testified were not reliable and easily swayed by prosecutorial suggestion. In time, the notion that child sex abuse was a product of sensationalized over-reporting and far less endemic than originally thought became the new common sense.

But did the new witch hunt narrative accurately represent reality? As Ross Cheit demonstrates in his exhaustive account of child sex abuse cases in the past two and a half decades, purveyors of the witch hunt narrative never did the hard work of examining court records in the many cases that reached the courts throughout the nation. Instead, they treated a couple of cases as representative and concluded that the issue was blown far out of proportion. Drawing on years of research into cases in a number of states, Cheit shows that the issue had not been blown out of proportion at all. In fact, child sex abuse convictions were regular occurrences, and the crime occurred far more frequently than conventional wisdom would have us believe. Cheit's aim is not to simply prove the narrative wrong, however. He also shows how a narrative based on empirically thin evidence became a theory with real social force, and how that theory stood at odds with a far more grim reality. The belief that the charge of child sex abuse was typically a hoax also left us unprepared to deal with the far greater scandal of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which, incidentally, has served to substantiate Cheit's thesis about the pervasiveness of the problem. In sum, The Witch-Hunt Narrative is a magisterial and empirically powerful account of the social dynamics that led to the denial of widespread human tragedy.
Learn more about The Witch-Hunt Narrative at the official website/blog WitchhuntNarrative.org and the book's Facebook fan page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"The Age of Evangelicalism"

New from Oxford University Press: The Age of Evangelicalism: America's Born-Again Years by Steven P. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the start of the twenty-first century, America was awash in a sea of evangelical talk. The Purpose Driven Life. Joel Osteen. The Left Behind novels. George W. Bush. Evangelicalism had become so powerful and pervasive that political scientist Alan Wolfe wrote of "a sense in which we are all evangelicals now."

Steven P. Miller offers a dramatically different perspective: the Bush years, he argues, did not mark the pinnacle of evangelical influence, but rather the beginning of its decline. The Age of Evangelicalism chronicles the place and meaning of evangelical Christianity in America since 1970, a period Miller defines as America's "born-again years." This was a time of evangelical scares, born-again spectacles, and battles over faith in the public square. From the Jesus chic of the 1970s to the satanism panic of the 1980s, the culture wars of the 1990s, and the faith-based vogue of the early 2000s, evangelicalism expanded beyond churches and entered the mainstream in ways both subtly and obviously influential.

Born-again Christianity permeated nearly every area of American life. It was broad enough to encompass Hal Lindsey's doomsday prophecies and Marabel Morgan's sex advice, Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Carter. It made an unlikely convert of Bob Dylan and an unlikely president of a divorced Hollywood actor. As Miller shows, evangelicalism influenced not only its devotees but its many detractors: religious conservatives, secular liberals, and just about everyone in between. The Age of Evangelicalism contained multitudes: it was the age of Christian hippies and the "silent majority," of Footloose and The Passion of the Christ, of Tammy Faye Bakker the disgraced televangelist and Tammy Faye Messner the gay icon. Barack Obama was as much a part of it as Billy Graham.

The Age of Evangelicalism tells the captivating story of how born-again Christianity shaped the cultural and political climate in which millions of Americans came to terms with their times.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 14, 2014

"The Cultivation of Taste"

New from Oxford University Press: The Cultivation of Taste: Chefs and the Organization of Fine Dining by Christel Lane.

About the book, from the publisher:
After many decades, if not centuries, of neglect of fine food and high-level restaurants in Britain, we are seeing a massive explosion of interest in food, cooking, and dining out. Christel Lane's book charts the process of this transformation and examines top contemporary restaurants and their chefs.

The Cultivation of Taste presents a comparative study of Michelin-starred restaurants in Britain and Germany, focusing on two countries without an indigenous haute cuisine but which nevertheless have developed internationally reputed fine-dining sectors. It compares their development to the fine-dining culture in France, as well as offering contrasts with that of the US, Spain, and the Nordic Countries. Written from a sociological perspective, chefs are portrayed as part of a complex network, in their relationships with their employees, their customers, gastronomic critics, suppliers of food, and even their financiers. It will appeal to academics in the areas of economic and cultural sociology, and those with an interest in small entrepreneurial firms and their work relations, but also to all those who have an interest in fine-dining restaurants and the chef patrons at the centre of them.

The book draws on a large number of interviews with renowned chefs, diners, and Michelin inspectors to provide an unprecedented insight into what goes on in Michelin-starred restaurants—what makes their chefs tick, intrigues their critics, and beguiles or annoys their customers. Restaurants are viewed not simply as businesses but as cultural enterprises that shape our taste in food, ambience, and sociality.
--Marshal Zeringue