Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Great Crossings"

New from Oxford University Press: Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson by Christina Snyder.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson, prize-winning historian Christina Snyder reinterprets the history of Jacksonian America. Most often, this drama focuses on whites who turned west to conquer a continent, extending "liberty" as they went. Great Crossings also includes Native Americans from across the continent seeking new ways to assert anciently-held rights and people of African descent who challenged the United States to live up to its ideals. These diverse groups met in an experimental community in central Kentucky called Great Crossings, home to the first federal Indian school and a famous interracial family.

Great Crossings embodied monumental changes then transforming North America. The United States, within the span of a few decades, grew from an East Coast nation to a continental empire. The territorial growth of the United States forged a multicultural, multiracial society, but that diversity also sparked fierce debates over race, citizenship, and America's destiny. Great Crossings, a place of race-mixing and cultural exchange, emerged as a battleground. Its history provides an intimate view of the ambitions and struggles of Indians, settlers, and slaves who were trying to secure their place in a changing world. Through deep research and compelling prose, Snyder introduces us to a diverse range of historical actors: Richard Mentor Johnson, the politician who reportedly killed Tecumseh and then became schoolmaster to the sons of his former foes; Julia Chinn, Johnson's enslaved concubine, who fought for her children's freedom; and Peter Pitchlynn, a Choctaw intellectual who, even in the darkest days of Indian removal, argued for the future of Indian nations. Together, their stories demonstrate how this era transformed colonizers and the colonized alike, sowing the seeds of modern America.
The Page 99 Test: Slavery in Indian Country.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 24, 2017

"Japanese War Criminals"

New from Columbia University Press: Japanese War Criminals: The Politics of Justice After the Second World War by Sandra Wilson, Robert Cribb, Beatrice Trefalt, and Dean Aszkielowicz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Beginning in late 1945, the United States, Britain, China, Australia, France, the Netherlands, and later the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China convened national courts to prosecute Japanese military personnel for war crimes. The defendants included ethnic Koreans and Taiwanese who had served with the armed forces as Japanese subjects. In Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East tried Japanese leaders. While the fairness of these trials has been a focus for decades, Japanese War Criminals instead argues that the most important issues arose outside the courtroom. What was the legal basis for identifying and detaining subjects, determining who should be prosecuted, collecting evidence, and granting clemency after conviction? The answers to these questions helped set the norms for transitional justice in the postwar era and today contribute to strategies for addressing problematic areas of international law.

Examining the complex moral, ethical, legal, and political issues surrounding the Allied prosecution project, from the first investigations during the war to the final release of prisoners in 1958, Japanese War Criminals shows how a simple effort to punish the guilty evolved into a multidimensional struggle that muddied the assignment of criminal responsibility for war crimes. Over time, indignation in Japan over Allied military actions, particularly the deployment of the atomic bombs, eclipsed anger over Japanese atrocities, and, among the Western powers, new Cold War imperatives took hold. This book makes a unique contribution to our understanding of the construction of the postwar international order in Asia and to our comprehension of the difficulties of implementing transitional justice.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Everyday Law in Russia"

New from Cornell University Press: Everyday Law in Russia by Kathryn Hendley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Everyday Law in Russia challenges the prevailing common wisdom that Russians cannot rely on their law and that Russian courts are hopelessly politicized and corrupt. While acknowledging the persistence of verdicts dictated by the Kremlin in politically charged cases, Kathryn Hendley explores how ordinary Russian citizens experience law. Relying on her own extensive observational research in Russia's new justice-of-the-peace courts as well as her analysis of a series of focus groups, she documents Russians’ complicated attitudes regarding law. The same Russian citizen who might shy away from taking a dispute with a state agency or powerful individual to court might be willing to sue her insurance company if it refuses to compensate her for damages following an auto accident. Hendley finds that Russian judges pay close attention to the law in mundane disputes, which account for the vast majority of the cases brought to the Russian courts.

Any reluctance on the part of ordinary Russian citizens to use the courts is driven primarily by their fear of the time and cost—measured in both financial and emotional terms—of the judicial process. Like their American counterparts, Russians grow more willing to pursue disputes as the social distance between them and their opponents increases; Russians are loath to sue friends and neighbors, but are less reluctant when it comes to strangers or acquaintances. Hendley concludes that the "rule of law" rubric is ill suited to Russia and other authoritarian polities where law matters most—but not all—of the time.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Unorthodox Kin"

New from the University of California Press: Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging by Naomi Leite.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unorthodox Kin is a groundbreaking exploration of identity, relatedness, and belonging in a global era. Naomi Leite paints an intimate portrait of Portugal’s urban Marranos, who trace their ancestry to fifteenth-century Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism, as they seek to rejoin the Jewish people. Focusing on mutual imaginings and direct encounters between Marranos, Portuguese Jews, and foreign Jewish tourists and outreach workers, Leite tracks how visions of self and kin evolve over time and across social spaces, ending in a surprising path to belonging. A poignant evocation of how ideas of ancestry shape the present, how feelings of kinship arise among far-flung strangers, and how some find mystical connection in a world said to be disenchanted, this is a model study for anthropology today.
Naomi Leite is Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Director of Studies in Anthropology of Travel and Tourism at SOAS, University of London.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"American Covenant"

New from Princeton University Press: American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present by Philip Gorski.

About the book, from the publisher:
Was the United States founded as a Christian nation or a secular democracy? Neither, argues Philip Gorski in American Covenant. What the founders actually envisioned was a prophetic republic that would weave together the ethical vision of the Hebrew prophets and the Western political heritage of civic republicanism. In this ambitious book, Gorski shows why this civil religious tradition is now in peril—and with it the American experiment.

Gorski traces the historical development of prophetic republicanism from the Puritan era to the present day. He provides close readings of thinkers such as John Winthrop, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Hannah Arendt, along with insightful portraits of recent and contemporary religious and political leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Gorski shows how the founders' original vision for America is threatened by an internecine struggle between two rival traditions, religious nationalism and radical secularism. Religious nationalism is a form of militaristic hyperpatriotism that imagines the United States as a divine instrument in the final showdown between good and evil. Radical secularists fervently deny the positive contributions of the Judeo-Christian tradition to the American project and seek to remove all traces of religious expression from the public square. Gorski offers an unsparing critique of both, demonstrating how half a century of culture war has drowned out the quieter voices of the vital center.

American Covenant makes the compelling case that if we are to rebuild that vital center, we must recover the civil religious tradition on which the republic was founded.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 20, 2017

"The Complacent Class"

New from St. Martin's Press: The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream by Tyler Cowen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since Alexis de Tocqueville, restlessness has been accepted as a signature American trait. Our willingness to move, take risks, and adapt to change have produced a dynamic economy and a tradition of innovation from Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs.

The problem, according to legendary blogger, economist and best selling author Tyler Cowen, is that Americans today have broken from this tradition—we’re working harder than ever to avoid change. We're moving residences less, marrying people more like ourselves and choosing our music and our mates based on algorithms that wall us off from anything that might be too new or too different. Match.com matches us in love. Spotify and Pandora match us in music. Facebook matches us to just about everything else.

Of course, this “matching culture” brings tremendous positives: music we like, partners who make us happy, neighbors who want the same things. We’re more comfortable. But, according to Cowen, there are significant collateral downsides attending this comfort, among them heightened inequality and segregation and decreased incentives to innovate and create.

The Complacent Class argues that this cannot go on forever. We are postponing change, due to our near-sightedness and extreme desire for comfort, but ultimately this will make change, when it comes, harder. The forces unleashed by the Great Stagnation will eventually lead to a major fiscal and budgetary crisis: impossibly expensive rentals for our most attractive cities, worsening of residential segregation, and a decline in our work ethic. The only way to avoid this difficult future is for Americans to force themselves out of their comfortable slumber—to embrace their restless tradition again.
Visit Tyler Cowen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Live and Let Live"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict, and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood by Evelyn M. Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
“We are in a bind,” writes Evelyn M. Perry. While conventional wisdom asserts that residential racial and economic integration holds great promise for reducing inequality in the United States, Americans are demonstrably not very good at living with difference. Perry’s analysis of the multiethnic, mixed-income Milwaukee community of Riverwest, where residents maintain relative stability without insisting on conformity, advances our understanding of why and how neighborhoods matter. In response to the myriad urban quantitative assessments, Perry examines the impacts of neighborhood diversity using more than three years of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews. Her in-depth examination of life “on the block” expands our understanding of the mechanisms by which neighborhoods shape the perceptions, behaviors, and opportunities of those who live in them. Perry challenges researchers’ assumptions about what “good” communities look like and what well-regulated communities want. Live and Let Live shifts the conventional scholarly focus from “What can integration do?” to “How is integration done?”
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Hitler's American Model"

New from Princeton University Press: Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Q. Whitman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler's American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.

As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler's Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.

Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler's American Model upends understandings of America's influence on racist practices in the wider world.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Poets and Prophets of the Resistance"

New from Oxford University Press: Poets and Prophets of the Resistance: Intellectuals and the Origins of El Salvador's Civil War by Joaquín M. Chávez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Poets and Prophets of the Resistance offers a ground-up history and fresh interpretation of the polarization and mobilization that brought El Salvador to the eve of civil war in 1980. Challenging the dominant narrative that university students and political dissidents primarily formed the Salvadoran guerrillas, Joaquín Chávez argues that El Salvador's socioeconomic and political crises of the 1970s fomented a groundswell of urban and peasant intellectuals who collaborated to spur larger revolutionary social movements.

Drawing on new archival sources and in-depth interviews, Poets and Prophets of the Resistance contests the idea that urban militants and Roman Catholic priests influenced by Liberation Theology single-handedly organized and politicized peasant groups. Chávez shows instead how peasant intellectuals acted as political catalysts among their own communities first, particularly in the region of Chalatenango, laying the groundwork for the peasant movements that were to come. In this way, he contends, the Salvadoran insurgency emerged in a dialogue between urban and peasant intellectuals working together to create and execute a common revolutionary strategy--one that drew on cultures of resistance deeply rooted in the country's history, poetry, and religion. Focusing on this cross-pollination, this book introduces the idea that a "pedagogy of revolution" originated in this historical alliance between urban and peasant, making use of secular and Catholic pedagogies such as radio schools, literacy programs, and rural cooperatives. This pedagogy became more and more radicalized over time as it pushed back against the increasingly repressive structures of 1970s El Salvador.

Teasing out the roles of little-known groups such as the politically active "La Masacuata" literary movement, the contributions of Catholic Action intellectuals to the New Left, and the overlooked efforts of peasant leaders, Poets and Prophets of the Resistance demonstrates how trans-class political and cultural interactions drove the revolutionary mobilizations that anticipated the Salvadoran civil war.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Ordinary Jews"

New from Princeton University Press: Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust by Evgeny Finkel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Focusing on the choices and actions of Jews during the Holocaust, Ordinary Jews examines the different patterns of behavior of civilians targeted by mass violence. Relying on rich archival material and hundreds of survivors' testimonies, Evgeny Finkel presents a new framework for understanding the survival strategies in which Jews engaged: cooperation and collaboration, coping and compliance, evasion, and resistance. Finkel compares Jews' behavior in three Jewish ghettos—Minsk, Kraków, and Białystok—and shows that Jews' responses to Nazi genocide varied based on their experiences with prewar policies that either promoted or discouraged their integration into non-Jewish society.

Finkel demonstrates that while possible survival strategies were the same for everyone, individuals' choices varied across and within communities. In more cohesive and robust Jewish communities, coping—confronting the danger and trying to survive without leaving—was more organized and successful, while collaboration with the Nazis and attempts to escape the ghetto were minimal. In more heterogeneous Jewish communities, collaboration with the Nazis was more pervasive, while coping was disorganized. In localities with a history of peaceful interethnic relations, evasion was more widespread than in places where interethnic relations were hostile. State repression before WWII, to which local communities were subject, determined the viability of anti-Nazi Jewish resistance.

Exploring the critical influences shaping the decisions made by Jews in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe, Ordinary Jews sheds new light on the dynamics of collective violence and genocide.
--Marshal Zeringue