Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"American Philosophy Before Pragmatism"

New from Oxford University Press: American Philosophy Before Pragmatism by Russell B. Goodman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Russell B. Goodman tells the story of the development of philosophy in America from the mid-18th century to the late 19th century. The key figures in this story, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, the writers of The Federalist, and the romantics (or 'transcendentalists') Emerson and Thoreau, were not professors but men of the world, whose deep formative influence on American thought brought philosophy together with religion, politics, and literature. Goodman considers their work in relation to the philosophers and other thinkers they found important: the deism of John Toland and Matthew Tindal, the moral sense theories of Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and David Hume, the political and religious philosophy of John Locke, the romanticism of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant. Goodman discusses Edwards's condemnation and Franklin's acceptance of deism, argues that Jefferson was an Epicurean in his metaphysical views and a Christian, Stoic, and Epicurean in his moral outlook, traces Emerson's debts to writers from Madame de Stael to William Ellery Channing, and considers Thoreau's orientation to the universe through sitting and walking.

The morality of American slavery is a major theme in American Philosophy before Pragmatism, introduced not to excuse or condemn, but to study how five formidably intelligent people thought about the question when it was--as it no longer is for us--open. Edwards, Franklin and Jefferson owned slaves, though Franklin and Jefferson played important roles in disturbing the uneasy American moral equilibrium that included slavery, even as they approved an American constitution that included it. Emerson and Thoreau were prominent public opponents of slavery in the eighteen forties and fifties. The book contains an Interlude on the concept of a republic and concludes with an Epilogue documenting some continuities in American philosophy, particularly between Emerson and the pragmatists.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"The Politics of Cultural Retreat"

New from Yale University Press: The Politics of Cultural Retreat: Imperial Bureaucracy in Austrian Galicia, 1772-1867 by Iryna Vushko.

About the book, from the publisher:
An illuminating history of state-building, nationalism, and bureaucracy, this book tells the story of how an international cohort of Austrian officials from Bohemia, Hungary, the Hapsburg Netherlands, Italy, and several German states administered Galicia from its annexation from Poland-Lithuania in 1772 until the beginning of Polish autonomy in 1867. Historian Iryna Vushko examines the interactions between these German-speaking bureaucrats and the local Galician population of Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews. She reveals how Enlightenment-inspired theories of modernity and supranational uniformity essentially backfired, ultimately bringing about results that starkly contradicted the original intentions and ideals of the imperial governors.
Iryna Vushko is assistant professor of history at Hunter College, City University of New York.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago"

New from Oxford University Press: Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago by Heath W. Carter.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Gilded Age America, rampant inequality gave rise to a new form of Christianity, one that sought to ease the sufferings of the poor not simply by saving their souls, but by transforming society. In Union Made, Heath W. Carter advances a bold new interpretation of the origins of American Social Christianity. While historians have often attributed the rise of the Social Gospel to middle-class ministers, seminary professors, and social reformers, this book places working people at the very center of the story. The major characters--blacksmiths, glove makers, teamsters, printers, and the like--have been mostly forgotten, but as Carter convincingly argues, their collective contribution to American Social Christianity was no less significant than that of Walter Rauschenbusch or Jane Addams.

Leading readers into the thick of late-19th-century Chicago's tumultuous history, Carter shows that countless working-class believers participated in the heated debates over the implications of Christianity for industrializing society, often with as much fervor as they did in other contests over wages and the length of the workday. The city's trade unionists, socialists, and anarchists advanced theological critiques of laissez faire capitalism and protested "scab ministers" who cozied up to the business elite. Their criticisms compounded church leaders' anxieties about losing the poor, such that by the turn-of-the-century many leading Christians were arguing that the only way to salvage hopes of a Christian America was for the churches to soften their position on "the labor question." As denomination after denomination did just that, it became apparent that the Social Gospel was, indeed, ascendant--from below.

At a time when the fate of the labor movement and rising economic inequality are once more pressing social concerns, Union Made opens the door for a new way forward--by changing the way we think about the past.
Visit Heath W. Carter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Russia in the Microphone Age"

New from Oxford University Press: Russia in the Microphone Age: A History of Soviet Radio, 1919-1970 by Stephen Lovell.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of radio begins alongside that of the Soviet state: Russia's first long-range transmission of the human voice occurred in 1919, during the civil war. Sound broadcasting was a medium of exceptional promise for this revolutionary regime. It could bring the Bolsheviks' message to the furthest corners of their enormous country. It had unprecedented impact: the voice of Moscow could now be wired into the very workplaces and living spaces of a population that was still only weakly literate.

The liveness and immediacy of broadcasting also created vivid new ways of communicating 'Sovietness' - whether through May Day parades and elections, the exploits of aviators and explorers, or show trials and public criticism. Yet, in the USSR as elsewhere, broadcasting was a medium in flux: technology, the broadcasting profession, and the listening audience were never static. Soviet radio was quickly earmarked as the mouthpiece of Soviet power, yet its history is also full of unintended consequences. The supreme irony of Soviet 'radiofication' was that its greatest triumph - the expansion of the wireless-listening public in the Cold War era - made possible its greatest failure, by turning a part of the Soviet audience into devotees of Western broadcasting.

Based on substantial original research in Moscow, St Petersburg, and Nizhnii Novgorod, Russia in the Microphone Age is the first full history of Soviet radio in English. In addition to the institutional and technological dimensions of the subject, it explores the development of programme content and broadcasting genres. It also goes in search of the mysterious figure of the Soviet listener. The result is a pioneering treatment of broadcasting as an integral part of Soviet culture from its early days in the 1920s until the dawn of the television age.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Slaves of One Master"

New from Yale University Press: Slaves of One Master: Globalization and Slavery in Arabia in the Age of Empire by Matthew S. Hopper.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this wide-ranging history of the African diaspora and slavery in Arabia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Matthew S. Hopper examines the interconnected themes of enslavement, globalization, and empire and challenges previously held conventions regarding Middle Eastern slavery and British imperialism. Whereas conventional historiography regards the Indian Ocean slave trade as fundamentally different from its Atlantic counterpart, Hopper’s study argues that both systems were influenced by global economic forces. The author goes on to dispute the triumphalist antislavery narrative that attributes the end of the slave trade between East Africa and the Persian Gulf to the efforts of the British Royal Navy, arguing instead that Great Britain allowed the inhuman practice to continue because it was vital to the Gulf economy and therefore vital to British interests in the region.

Hopper’s book links the personal stories of enslaved Africans to the impersonal global commodity chains their labor enabled, demonstrating how the growing demand for workers created by a global demand for Persian Gulf products compelled the enslavement of these people and their transportation to eastern Arabia. His provocative and deeply researched history fills a salient gap in the literature on the African diaspora.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Track Two Diplomacy in Theory and Practice"

New from Stanford University Press: Track Two Diplomacy in Theory and Practice by Peter Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
Track Two Diplomacy consists of informal dialogues among actors such as academics, religious leaders, retired senior officials, and NGO officials that can bring new ideas and new relationships to the official process of diplomacy.

Sadly, those involved in official diplomacy often have little understanding of and appreciation for the complex and nuanced role that Track Two can play, or for its limitations. And many Track Two practitioners are often unaware of the realities and pressures of the policy and diplomatic worlds, and not particularly adept at framing their efforts to make them accessible to hard-pressed officials. At the same time, those interested in the academic study of Track Two sometimes fail to understand the realities faced by either set of practitioners.

A need therefore exists for a work to bridge the divides between these constituencies and between the different types of Track Two practice—and this book crosses disciplines and traditions in order to do just that. It explores the various dimensions and guises of Track Two, the theory and practice of how they work, and how both practitioners and academics could more profitably assess Track Two. Overall, it provides a comprehensive picture of the range of activities pursued under this title, to provoke new thinking about how these activities relate to each other, to official diplomacy, and to academe.
The Page 99 Test: Open Skies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Christian Human Rights"

New from the University of Pennsylvania Press: Christian Human Rights by Samuel Moyn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Christian Human Rights, Samuel Moyn asserts that the rise of human rights after World War II was prefigured and inspired by a defense of the dignity of the human person that first arose in Christian churches and religious thought in the years just prior to the outbreak of the war. The Roman Catholic Church and transatlantic Protestant circles dominated the public discussion of the new principles in what became the last European golden age for the Christian faith. At the same time, West European governments after World War II, particularly in the ascendant Christian Democratic parties, became more tolerant of public expressions of religious piety. Human rights rose to public prominence in the space opened up by these dual developments of the early Cold War.

Moyn argues that human dignity became central to Christian political discourse as early as 1937. Pius XII's wartime Christmas addresses announced the basic idea of universal human rights as a principle of world, and not merely state, order. By focusing on the 1930s and 1940s, Moyn demonstrates how the language of human rights was separated from the secular heritage of the French Revolution and put to use by postwar democracies governed by Christian parties, which reinvented them to impose moral constraints on individuals, support conservative family structures, and preserve existing social hierarchies. The book ends with a provocative chapter that traces contemporary European struggles to assimilate Muslim immigrants to the continent's legacy of Christian human rights.
The Page 99 Test: The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History by Samuel Moyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"When Movements Anchor Parties"

New from Princeton University Press: When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History by Daniel Schlozman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout American history, some social movements, such as organized labor and the Christian Right, have forged influential alliances with political parties, while others, such as the antiwar movement, have not. When Movements Anchor Parties provides a bold new interpretation of American electoral history by examining five prominent movements and their relationships with political parties.

Taking readers from the Civil War to today, Daniel Schlozman shows how two powerful alliances—those of organized labor and Democrats in the New Deal, and the Christian Right and Republicans since the 1970s—have defined the basic priorities of parties and shaped the available alternatives in national politics. He traces how they diverged sharply from three other major social movements that failed to establish a place inside political parties—the abolitionists following the Civil War, the Populists in the 1890s, and the antiwar movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Moving beyond a view of political parties simply as collections of groups vying for preeminence, Schlozman explores how would-be influencers gain influence—or do not. He reveals how movements join with parties only when the alliance is beneficial to parties, and how alliance exacts a high price from movements. Their sweeping visions give way to compromise and partial victories. Yet as Schlozman demonstrates, it is well worth paying the price as movements reorient parties’ priorities.

Timely and compelling, When Movements Anchor Parties demonstrates how alliances have transformed American political parties.
Visit Daniel Schlozman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Deceit on the Road to War"

New from Cornell University Press: Deceit on the Road to War: Presidents, Politics, and American Democracy by John M. Schuessler.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Deceit on the Road to War, John M. Schuessler examines how U.S. presidents have deceived the American public about fundamental decisions of war and peace. Deception has been deliberate, he suggests, as presidents have sought to shift blame for war onto others in some cases and oversell its benefits in others. Such deceit is a natural outgrowth of the democratic process, in Schuessler's view, because elected leaders have powerful incentives to maximize domestic support for war and retain considerable ability to manipulate domestic audiences. They can exploit information and propaganda advantages to frame issues in misleading ways, cherry-pick supporting evidence, suppress damaging revelations, and otherwise skew the public debate to their benefit. These tactics are particularly effective before the outbreak of war, when the information gap between leaders and the public is greatest.

When resorting to deception, leaders take a calculated risk that the outcome of war will be favorable, expecting the public to adopt a forgiving attitude after victory is secured. The three cases featured in the book—Franklin Roosevelt and World War II, Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, and George W. Bush and the Iraq War—test these claims. Schuessler concludes that democracies are not as constrained in their ability to go to war as we might believe and that deception cannot be ruled out in all cases as contrary to the national interest.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Of Sand or Soil"

New from Princeton University Press: Of Sand or Soil: Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia by Nadav Samin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why do tribal genealogies matter in modern-day Saudi Arabia? What compels the strivers and climbers of the new Saudi Arabia to want to prove their authentic descent from one or another prestigious Arabian tribe? Of Sand or Soil looks at how genealogy and tribal belonging have informed the lives of past and present inhabitants of Saudi Arabia and how the Saudi government’s tacit glorification of tribal origins has shaped the powerful development of the kingdom’s genealogical culture.

Nadav Samin presents the first extended biographical exploration of the major twentieth-century Saudi scholar Ḥamad al-Jāsir, whose genealogical studies frame the story about belonging and identity in the modern kingdom. Samin examines the interplay between al-Jāsir’s genealogical project and his many hundreds of petitioners, mostly Saudis of nontribal or lower status origin who sought validation of their tribal roots in his genealogical texts. Investigating the Saudi relationship to this opaque, orally inscribed historical tradition, Samin considers the consequences of modern Saudi genealogical politics and how the most intimate anxieties of nontribal Saudis today are amplified by the governing strategies and kinship ideology of the Saudi state.

Challenging the impression that Saudi culture is determined by puritanical religiosity or rentier economic principles, Of Sand or Soil shows how the exploration and establishment of tribal genealogies have become influential phenomena in contemporary Saudi society. Beyond Saudi Arabia, this book casts important new light on the interplay between kinship ideas, oral narrative, and state formation in rapidly changing societies.
--Marshal Zeringue