Monday, December 31, 2007

"The Hunt for Nazi Spies"

Recently from the University of Chicago Press: The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France by Simon Kitson.

About the book, from the publisher:
From 1940 to 1942, French secret agents arrested more than two thousand spies working for the Germans and executed several dozen of them—all despite the Vichy government’s declared collaboration with the Third Reich. A previously untold chapter in the history of World War II, this duplicitous activity is the gripping subject of The Hunt for Nazi Spies, a tautly narrated chronicle of the Vichy regime’s attempts to maintain sovereignty while supporting its Nazi occupiers.

Simon Kitson informs this remarkable story with findings from his investigation—the first by any historian—of thousands of Vichy documents seized in turn by the Nazis and the Soviets and returned to France only in the 1990s. His pioneering detective work uncovers a puzzling paradox: a French government that was hunting down left-wing activists and supporters of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French forces was also working to undermine the influence of German spies who were pursuing the same Gaullists and resisters. In light of this apparent contradiction, Kitson does not deny that Vichy France was committed to assisting the Nazi cause, but illuminates the complex agendas that characterized the collaboration and shows how it was possible to be both anti-German and anti-Gaullist.

Combining nuanced conclusions with dramatic accounts of the lives of spies on both sides, The Hunt for Nazi Spies adds an important new dimension to our understanding of the French predicament under German occupation and the shadowy world of World War II espionage.
Read an excerpt from The Hunt for Nazi Spies.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Beyond Citizenship"

New from Oxford University Press: Beyond Citizenship: American Identity After Globalization by Peter J. Spiro.

About the book, from the publisher:
American identity has always been capacious as a concept but narrow in its application. Citizenship has mostly been about being here, either through birth or residence. The territorial premises for citizenship have worked to resolve the peculiar challenges of American identity. But globalization is detaching identity from location. What used to define American was rooted in American space. Now one can be anywhere and be an American, politically or culturally. Against that backdrop, it becomes difficult to draw the boundaries of human community in a meaningful way. Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete, even as we cling to them. Beyond Citizenship charts the trajectory of American citizenship and shows how American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization.

Peter J. Spiro describes how citizenship law once reflected and shaped the American national character. Spiro explores the histories of birthright citizenship, naturalization, dual citizenship, and how those legal regimes helped reinforce an otherwise fragile national identity. But on a shifting global landscape, citizenship status has become increasingly divorced from any sense of actual community on the ground. As the bonds of citizenship dissipate, membership in the nation-state becomes less meaningful. The rights and obligations distinctive to citizenship are now trivial. Naturalization requirements have been relaxed, dual citizenship embraced, and territorial birthright citizenship entrenched -- developments that are all irreversible. Loyalties, meanwhile, are moving to transnational communities defined in many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation. These communities, Spiro boldly argues, are replacing bonds that once connected people to the nation-state, with profound implications for the future of governance.

Learned, incisive, and sweeping in scope, Beyond Citizenship offers a provocative look at how globalization is changing the very definition of who we are and where we belong.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Doomsday Men"

New from St. Martin's Press: Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon by P.D. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:

This is the gripping, untold story of the doomsday bomb—the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. In 1950, Hungarian-born scientist Leo Szilard made a dramatic announcement on American radio: science was on the verge of creating a doomsday bomb. For the first time in history, mankind realized that he had within his grasp a truly God-like power, the ability to destroy life itself. The shockwave from this statement reverberated across the following decade and beyond.

If detonated, Szilard's doomsday device—a huge cobalt-clad H-bomb—would pollute the atmosphere with radioactivity and end all life on earth. The scientific creators of such apocalyptic weapons had transformed the laws of nature into instruments of mass destruction and for many people in the Cold War there was little to distinguish real scientists from that “fictional master of megadeath,” Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Indeed, as PD Smith’s chilling account shows, the dream of the superweapon begins in popular culture. This is a story that cannot be told without the iconic films and fictions that portray our deadly fascination with superweapons, from H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds to Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Although scientists admitted it was possible to build the cobalt bomb, no superpower would admit to having created one. However, it remained a terrifying possibility, striking fear into the hearts of people around the world. The story of the cobalt bomb is an unwritten chapter of the Cold War, but now PD Smith reveals the personalities behind this feared technology and shows how the scientists responsible for the twentieth century’s most terrible weapons grew up in a culture dreaming of superweapons and Wellsian utopias. He argues that, in the end, the doomsday machine became the ultimate symbol of humanity’s deepest fears about the science of destruction.

Visit P.D. Smith's website.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"American Sovereigns"

New from Cambridge University Press: American Sovereigns: The People and America's Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War by Christian G. Fritz.

About the book, from the publisher:
American Sovereigns is a path-breaking interpretation of America's political history and constitutionalism that explores how Americans struggled over the idea that the people would rule as the sovereign after the American Revolution. National and state debates about government action, law, and the people's political powers reveal how Americans sought to understand how a collective sovereign-the people-could both play the role as the ruler and yet be ruled by governments of their own choosing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Franco and Hitler"

New from Yale University Press: Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II by Stanley G. Payne.

About the book, from the publisher:

Was Franco sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Why didn't Spain enter World War II? In what ways did Spain collaborate with the Third Reich? How much did Spain assist Jewish refugees?

This is the first book in any language to answer these intriguing questions. Stanley Payne, a leading historian of modern Spain, explores the full range of Franco’s relationship with Hitler, from 1936 to the fall of the Reich in 1945. But as Payne brilliantly shows, relations between these two dictators were not only a matter of realpolitik. These two titanic egos engaged in an extraordinary tragicomic drama often verging on the dark absurdity of a Beckett or Ionesco play.

Whereas Payne investigates the evolving relationship of the two regimes up to the conclusion of World War II, his principal concern is the enigma of Spain’s unique position during the war, as a semi-fascist country struggling to maintain a tortured neutrality. Why Spain did not enter the war as a German ally, joining with Hitler to seize Gibraltar and close the Mediterranean to the British navy, is at the center of Payne’s narrative. Franco’s only personal meeting with Hitler, in 1940 to discuss precisely this, is recounted here in groundbreaking detail that also sheds significant new light on the Spanish government’s vacillating policy toward Jewish refugees, on the Holocaust, and on Spain’s German connection throughout the duration of the war.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Experiments in Ethics"

Coming in January from Harvard University Press: Experiments in Ethics by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

About the book, from the publisher:

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Wounds of Memory"

New from Cambridge University Press: Wounds of Memory: The Politics of War in Germany by Maja Zehfuss.

About the book, from the publisher:
German memories of the Second World War are controversial, and they are used to justify different positions on the use of military force. In this book, Maja Zehfuss studies the articulation of memories in novels in order to discuss and challenge arguments deployed in political and public debate. She explores memories that have generated considerable controversy, such as the flight and expulsion of Germans from the East, the bombing of German cities and the ‘liberation’ of Germany in 1945. She shows how memory retrospectively produces a past while claiming merely to invoke it, drawing attention to the complexities and contradictions within how truth, ethics, emotion, subjectivity and time are conceptualised. Zehfuss argues that the tensions and uncertainties revealed raise political questions that must be confronted, beyond the safety net of knowledge. This is a compelling book which pursues an original approach in exploring the politics of invocations of memory.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife"

New from the University of Chicago Press: On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife by David Grazian.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s nighttime in the city and everybody’s working a hustle. Winking bartenders and smiling waitresses flirt their way to bigger tips. Hostesses and bouncers hit up the crowd of would-be customers for bribes. And on the other side of the velvet rope, single men and women are on a perpetual hunt to score — or at least pick up a phone number. Every night of the week they all play the same game, relentlessly competing for money, sex, self-esteem, and status.

David Grazian’s riveting tour of downtown Philadelphia and its newly bustling nightlife scene reveals the city as an urban playground where everyone dabbles in games of chance and perpetrates elaborate cons. Entertainment in the city has evolved into a professional industry replete with set designers, stage directors, and method actors whose dazzling illusions tempt even the shrewdest of customers. Public relations consultants, event planners, and a new breed of urban hustler—the so-called “reality marketer” who gets paid to party — all walk a fine line between spinning hype and outright duplicity. For the young and affluent, nightlife is a sport — a combative game of deception and risk complete with pregame drinking rituals and trendy uniforms. They navigate the dangers and delights of the city with a combination of wide-eyed optimism and streetwise savvy, drawing from their own bag of tricks that include everything from the right makeup and costume to fake IDs, counterfeit phone numbers, and wingmen.

As entertaining and illuminating as the confessional stories it recounts, David Grazian’s On the Make is a fascinating exposé of the smoke and mirrors employed in the city at night.

Friday, December 21, 2007

"The Origins of Reasonable Doubt"

New from Yale University Press: The Origins of Reasonable Doubt: Theological Roots of the Criminal Trial by James Q. Whitman.

About the book, from the publisher:
To be convicted of a crime in the United States, a person must be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But what is reasonable doubt? Even sophisticated legal experts find this fundamental doctrine difficult to explain. In this accessible book, James Q. Whitman digs deep into the history of the law and discovers that we have lost sight of the original purpose of “reasonable doubt.” It was not originally a legal rule at all, he shows, but a theological one.

The rule as we understand it today is intended to protect the accused. But Whitman traces its history back through centuries of Christian theology and common-law history to reveal that the original concern was to protect the souls of jurors. In Christian tradition, a person who experienced doubt yet convicted an innocent defendant was guilty of a mortal sin. Jurors fearful for their own souls were reassured that they were safe, as long as their doubts were not “reasonable.” Today, the old rule of reasonable doubt survives, but it has been turned to different purposes. The result is confusion for jurors, and a serious moral challenge for our system of justice.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment by Carrie N. Baker.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment examines how a diverse grassroots social movement created public policy on sexual harassment in the 1970s and 1980s. The collaboration of women from varying racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds strengthened the movement by representing the perspectives and activism of a broad range of women. Based on interviews and voluminous original research, this book is the first to show how the movement against sexual harassment fundamentally changed American life in ways that continue to advance women's opportunities today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Torture and the Twilight of Empire"

New from Princeton University Press: Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad by Marnia Lazreg.

About the book, from the publisher:

Torture and the Twilight of Empire looks at the intimate relationship between torture and colonial domination through a close examination of the French army's coercive tactics during the Algerian war from 1954 to 1962. By tracing the psychological, cultural, and political meanings of torture at the end of the French empire, Marnia Lazreg also sheds new light on the United States and its recourse to torture in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This book is nothing less than an anatomy of torture -- its methods, justifications, functions, and consequences. Drawing extensively from archives, confessions by former torturers, interviews with former soldiers, and war diaries, as well as writings by Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and others, Lazreg argues that occupying nations justify their systematic use of torture as a regrettable but necessary means of saving Western civilization from those who challenge their rule. She shows how torture was central to guerre révolutionnaire, a French theory of modern warfare that called for total war against the subject population and which informed a pacification strategy founded on brutal psychological techniques borrowed from totalitarian movements. Lazreg seeks to understand torture's impact on the Algerian population -- especially women -- and also on the French troops who became their torturers. She explores the roles Christianity and Islam played in rationalizing these acts, and the ways in which torture became not only routine but even acceptable.

Written by a preeminent historical sociologist, Torture and the Twilight of Empire holds particularly disturbing lessons for us today as we carry out the War on Terror.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"On Deep History and the Brain"

New from the University of California Press: On Deep History and the Brain by Daniel Lord Smail.

About the book, from the publisher:
When does history begin? What characterizes it? This brilliant and beautifully written book dissolves the logic of a beginning based on writing, civilization, or historical consciousness and offers a model for a history that escapes the continuing grip of the Judeo-Christian time frame. Daniel Lord Smail argues that, in the wake of the decade of the brain and the bestselling historical work of scientists like Jared Diamond, the time has come for fundamentally new ways of thinking about our past. He shows how recent work in evolution and paleohistory makes it possible to join the deep past with the recent past and abandon, once and for all, the idea of prehistory. Making an enormous literature accessible to the general reader, he lays out a bold new case for bringing neuroscience and neurobiology into the realm of history.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Law and Crime in the Roman World"

New from Cambridge University Press: Law and Crime in the Roman World by Jill Harries.

About the book, from the publisher:
What was crime in ancient Rome? Was it defined by law or social attitudes? How did damage to the individual differ from offences against the community as a whole? This book explores competing legal and extra-legal discourses in a number of areas, including theft, official malpractice, treason, sexual misconduct, crimes of violence, homicide, magic and perceptions of deviance. It argues that court practice was responsive to social change, despite the ingrained conservatism of the legal tradition, and that judges and litigants were in part responsible for the harsher operation of justice in Late Antiquity. Consideration is also given to how attitudes to crime were shaped not only by legal experts but also by the rhetorical education and practices of advocates, and by popular and even elite indifference to the finer points of law.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"American Transcendentalism: A History"

New from Hill & Wang: American Transcendentalism: A History by Philip F. Gura.

About the book, from the publisher:
The First Comprehensive History of Transcendentalism

American Transcendentalism is a comprehensive narrative history of America’s first group of public intellectuals, the men and women who defined American literature and indelibly marked American reform in the decades before and following the America Civil War. Philip F. Gura masterfully traces their intellectual genealogy to transatlantic religious and philosophical ideas, illustrating how these informed the fierce local theological debates that, so often first in Massachusetts and eventually throughout America, gave rise to practical, personal, and quixotic attempts to improve, even perfect the world. The transcendentalists would painfully bifurcate over what could be attained and how, one half epitomized by Ralph Waldo Emerson and stressing self-reliant individualism, the other by Orestes Brownson, George Ripley, and Theodore Parker, emphasizing commitment to the larger social good.

By the 1850s, the uniquely American problem of slavery dissolved differences as transcendentalists turned ever more exclusively to abolition. Along with their early inheritance from European Romanticism, America’s transcendentalists abandoned their interest in general humanitarian reform. By war’s end, transcendentalism had become identified exclusively with Emersonian self-reliance, congruent with the national ethos of political liberalism and market capitalism.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Remaking U.S. Trade Policy"

New from Cornell University Press: Remaking U.S. Trade Policy: From Protectionism to Globalization by Nitsan Chorev.

About the book, from the publisher:
The emergence of globalization was neither accidental nor inevitable. To make the “free flow” of commodities, capital, and money possible, governments first had to introduce a new political infrastructure. In Remaking U.S. Trade Policy, Nitsan Chorev focuses on trade liberalization in the United States from the 1930s to the present as she explores the political origins of today's global economy.

The ability of the U.S. government to impose its preferences on other governments is an important part of the story of globalization, but what is central to Chorev's analysis is understanding why the nation's leaders supported trade liberalization in the first place. For Chorev, the explanation lies in domestic political struggles. Advocates of free trade prevailed in the struggle with protectionists by working to change the institutions governing trade policy, replacing institutional arrangements that favored protectionism with new ones that favored a free-market approach.

The new institutional arrangements shifted authority from a protectionist Congress to liberal agencies at the executive branch and to the World Trade Organization. These transformations entailed a move from a politicized location, in which direct negotiations and debates dominate the process of decision-making, to bureaucratic and judicial arenas where a legal logic dominates and the citizens have little voice.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Messengers of Sex"

New from Cambridge University Press: Messengers of Sex: Hormones, Biomedicine and Feminism by Celia Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the early twentieth century, hormones have commonly been understood as 'messengers of sex'. They are seen as essential to the development and functioning of healthy reproductive male and female bodies; millions take them as medications in the treatment of fertility, infertility and ageing. However, in contemporary society, hormones are both disturbed and disturbing; invading our environments and bodies through plastics, food and water, environmental estrogens and other chemicals, threatening irreversible, inter-generational bodily change. Using a wide range of sources, from physiology textbooks to popular parenting books and pharmaceutical advertisements, Celia Roberts analyses the multiple ways in which sex hormones have come to matter to us today. Bringing feminist theories of the body into dialogue with science and technology studies, she develops tools to address one of the most important questions facing feminism today: how is biological sex conceivable?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"The Shifting Grounds of Race"

New from Princeton University Press: The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles by Scott Kurashige.

About the book, from the publisher:

Los Angeles has attracted intense attention as a "world city" characterized by multiculturalism and globalization. Yet, little is known about the historical transformation of a place whose leaders proudly proclaimed themselves white supremacists less than a century ago. In The Shifting Grounds of Race, Scott Kurashige highlights the role African Americans and Japanese Americans played in the social and political struggles that remade twentieth-century Los Angeles.

Linking paradigmatic events like Japanese American internment and the Black civil rights movement, Kurashige transcends the usual "black/white" dichotomy to explore the multiethnic dimensions of segregation and integration. Racism and sprawl shaped the dominant image of Los Angeles as a "white city." But they simultaneously fostered a shared oppositional consciousness among Black and Japanese Americans living as neighbors within diverse urban communities.

Kurashige demonstrates why African Americans and Japanese Americans joined forces in the battle against discrimination and why the trajectories of the two groups diverged. Connecting local developments to national and international concerns, he reveals how critical shifts in postwar politics were shaped by a multiracial discourse that promoted the acceptance of Japanese Americans as a "model minority" while binding African Americans to the social ills underlying the 1965 Watts Rebellion. Multicultural Los Angeles ultimately encompassed both the new prosperity arising from transpacific commerce and the enduring problem of race and class divisions.

This extraordinarily ambitious book adds new depth and complexity to our understanding of the "urban crisis" and offers a window into America's multiethnic future.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Practical Mystic"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Practical Mystic: Religion, Science, and A. S. Eddington by Matthew Stanley.

About the book
, from the publisher:
Science and religion have long been thought incompatible. But nowhere has this apparent contradiction been more fully resolved than in the figure of A. S. Eddington (1882–1944), a pioneer in astrophysics, relativity, and the popularization of science, and a devout Quaker. Practical Mystic uses the figure of Eddington to shows how religious and scientific values can interact and overlap without compromising the integrity of either.

Eddington was a world-class scientist who not only maintained his religious belief throughout his scientific career but also defended the interrelation of science and religion while drawing inspiration from both for his practices. For instance, at a time when a strict adherence to deductive principles of physics had proved fruitless for understanding the nature of stars, insights from Quaker mysticism led Eddington to argue that an outlook less concerned with certainty and more concerned with further exploration was necessary to overcome the obstacles of incomplete and uncertain knowledge.

By examining this intersection between liberal religion and astrophysics, Practical Mystic questions many common assumptions about the relationship between science and spirituality. Matthew Stanley’s analysis of Eddington’s personal convictions also reveals much about the practice, production, and dissemination of scientific knowledge at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"The Work of Global Justice"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Work of Global Justice: Human Rights as Practices by Fuyuki Kurasawa.

About the book, from the publisher:
Human rights have been generally understood as juridical products, organizational outcomes or abstract principles that are realized through formal means such as passing laws, creating institutions or formulating ideals. In this book, Fuyuki Kurasawa argues that we must reverse this 'top-down' focus by examining how groups and persons struggling against global injustices construct and enact human rights through five transnational forms of ethico-political practice: bearing witness, forgiveness, foresight, aid and solidarity. From these, he develops a new perspective highlighting the difficult social labour that constitutes the substance of what global justice is and ought to be, thereby reframing the terms of debates about human rights and providing the outlines of a critical cosmopolitanism centred around emancipatory struggles for an alternative globalization.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"The Case for Greatness"

New from Yale University Press: The Case for Greatness: Honorable Ambition and Its Critics by Robert Faulkner.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Case for Greatness is a spirited look at political ambition, good and bad, with particular attention to honorable ambition. Robert Faulkner contends that too many modern accounts of leadership slight such things as determination to excel, good judgment, justice, and a sense of honor — the very qualities that distinguish the truly great. And here he offers an attempt to recover “a reasonable understanding of excellence,” that which distinguishes a Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Lincoln from lesser leaders.

Faulkner finds the most telling diagnoses in antiquity and examines closely Aristotle’s great-souled man, two accounts of the spectacular and dubious Athenian politician Alcibiades, and the life of the imperial conqueror Cyrus the Great. There results a complex and compelling picture of greatness and its problems. Faulkner dissects military and imperial ambition, the art of leadership, and, in the later example of George Washington, ambition in the service of popular self-government. He also addresses modern indictments of even the best forms of political greatness, whether in the critical thinking of Hobbes, the idealism of Kant, the relativism and brutalism of Nietzsche, or the egalitarianism of Rawls and Arendt. He shows how modern philosophy came to doubt and indeed disdain even the best forms of ambition. This book is a nuanced defense of admirable ambition and the honor-seeking life, as well as an irresistible invitation to apply these terms to our own times and leaders.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


New from Oxford University Press: Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law by Douglas Husak.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the US, one out of every 138 residents is incarcerated. The size of the prison population has quadrupled since 1980. Approximately 2.4% of Americans are either on probation and parole. The US has the highest rate of criminal punishment in the Western world. The problem with American criminal law, as the philosopher of law Douglas Husak and many others see it, is that there is simply too much of it. Recent years have seen a dramatic expansion in the amount of criminal statutes, and in the resulting reliance on punishment for convictions under those laws. Husak argues that this is regrettable for several reasons, but most importantly, he says that much of the resulting punishment is unjust, excessive, and disproportionate. He also claims that it is destructive to the rule of law and undermines the principle of legality. What should be done?

Husak's goal in this book is to formulate a normative theory of criminalization that will allow us to distinguish which criminal laws are justified, and which are not -- something he sees as essential in order to reverse the trend towards too many criminal laws. The first part of his book makes the case that there is both too much criminal law and too much punishment, and clarifies the relationship between the two using empirical data. He then provides examples of dubious criminal laws enacted by legislatures, in particular statutes on drugs possession and guns. The latter part of the book develops his theory, which establishes principles that should set limits (both external and internal to the criminal law) on what we can and should criminalize.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"Church and State in America"

New from Cambridge University Press: Church and State in America: The First Two Centuries by James H. Hutson.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book describes American ideas about and policies toward the relationship between government and religion from the founding of Virginia in 1607 to the presidency of Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837. Four principles were paramount during this period: the importance of religion to the public welfare; the resulting obligation of government to support religion; liberty of conscience and voluntaryism; the requirement that churches be supported by free will gifts, not taxation. The relevance of the concept of the separation of church and state during this period is examined in detail.

Friday, December 7, 2007

"That Neutral Island"

New from Harvard University Press: That Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland During the Second World War by Clair Wills.

About the book, from the publisher:

When the world descended into war in 1939, few European countries remained neutral; but of those that did, none provoked more controversy than Ireland.

Despite Winston Churchill's best efforts to the contrary, the Irish premier Eamon de Valera stuck determinedly to Ireland's right to remain outside a conflict in which it had no enemies. Accusations of betrayal and hypocrisy poisoned the media; legends of Nazi spies roaming the country depicted Ireland as a haven for Hitler's friends. Where previous histories of Ireland in the war years have focused on high politics, That Neutral Island mines deeper layers of experience. Sean O'Faolain, Kate O'Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Flann O'Brien and Louis MacNeice are a handful of writers whose stories, letters, and diaries illuminate this small country as it suffered rationing, censorship, the threat of invasion, and a strange detachment from the war.

Clair Wills brings to life the atmosphere of a country forced largely to do without modern technology. She describes the work of those who recovered the bodies of British sailors and airmen from the sea. She unearths the motivations of thousands who left to join the British forces. And she shows how ordinary people struggled to make sense of the Nazi threat through the lens of antagonism to Britain, the former colonial power. She acutely targets the sleight-of-hand that hovers around the Irish definition of "neutrality."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Black and Blue"

New from Princeton University Press: Black and Blue: African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party by Paul Frymer.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the 1930s, fewer than one in one hundred U.S. labor union members were African American. By 1980, the figure was more than one in five. Black and Blue explores the politics and history that led to this dramatic integration of organized labor. In the process, the book tells a broader story about how the Democratic Party unintentionally sowed the seeds of labor's decline.

The labor and civil rights movements are the cornerstones of the Democratic Party, but for much of the twentieth century these movements worked independently of one another. Paul Frymer argues that as Democrats passed separate legislation to promote labor rights and racial equality they split the issues of class and race into two sets of institutions, neither of which had enough authority to integrate the labor movement.

From this division, the courts became the leading enforcers of workplace civil rights, threatening unions with bankruptcy if they resisted integration. The courts' previously unappreciated power, however, was also a problem: in diversifying unions, judges and lawyers enfeebled them financially, thus democratizing through destruction. Sharply delineating the double-edged sword of state and legal power, Black and Blue chronicles an achievement that was as problematic as it was remarkable, and that demonstrates the deficiencies of race- and class-based understandings of labor, equality, and power in America.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Turning on the Mind"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Turning on the Mind: French Philosophers on Television by Tamara Chaplin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1951, the eight o’clock nightly news reported on Jean-Paul Sartre for the first time. By the end of the twentieth century, more than 3,500 programs dealing with philosophy and its practitioners — including Bachelard, Badiou, Foucault, Lyotard, and Lévy — had aired on French television. According to Tamara Chaplin, this enduring commitment to bringing the most abstract and least visual of disciplines to the French public challenges our very assumptions about the incompatibility of elite culture and mass media. Indeed, it belies the conviction that television is inevitably anti-intellectual and the quintessential archenemy of the book.

Chaplin argues that the history of the televising of philosophy is crucial to understanding the struggle over French national identity in the postwar period. Linking this history to decolonization, modernization, and globalization, Turning On the Mind claims that we can understand neither the markedly public role that philosophy came to play in French society during the late twentieth century nor the renewed interest in ethics and political philosophy in the early twenty-first unless we acknowledge the work of television. Throughout, Chaplin insists that we jettison presumptions about the anti-intellectual nature of the visual field, engages critical questions about the survival of national cultures in a globalizing world, and encourages us to rethink philosophy itself, ultimately asserting that the content of the discipline is indivisible from the new media forms in which it has found expression.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"The Voices of the Dead"

New from Yale University Press: The Voices of the Dead: Stalin's Great Terror in the 1930s by Hiroaki Kuromiya.

About the book, from the publisher:
Swept up in the maelstrom of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937–1938, nearly a million people died. Most were ordinary citizens who left no records and as a result have been completely forgotten. This book is the first to attempt to retrieve their stories and reconstruct their lives, drawing upon recently declassified archives of the former Soviet Secret Police in Kiev. Hiroaki Kuromiya uncovers in the archives the hushed voices of the condemned, and he chronicles the lives of dozens of individuals who shared the same dehumanizing fate: all were falsely arrested, executed, and dumped in mass graves.

Kuromiya investigates the truth behind the fabricated records, filling in at least some of the details of the lives and deaths of ballerinas, priests, beggars, teachers, peasants, workers, soldiers, pensioners, homemakers, fugitives, peddlers, ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, Koreans, Jews, and others. In recounting the extraordinary stories gleaned from the secret files, Kuromiya not only commemorates the dead and forgotten but also proposes a new interpretation of Soviet society that provides useful insights into the enigma of Stalinist terror.

Monday, December 3, 2007

"The Re-enchantment of the World"

New from Oxford University Press: The Re-enchantment of the World: Art versus Religion by Gordon Graham.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Re-enchantment of the World is a philosophical exploration of the role of art and religion as sources of meaning in an increasingly material world dominated by science. Gordon Graham takes as his starting point Max Weber's idea that contemporary Western culture is marked by a 'disenchantment of the world' -- the loss of spiritual value in the wake of religion's decline and the triumph of the physical and biological sciences. Relating themes in Hegel, Nietzsche, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, and Gadamer to topics in contemporary philosophy of the arts, Graham explores the idea that art, now freed from its previous service to religion, has the potential to re-enchant the world. In so doing, he develops an argument that draws on the strengths of both 'analytical' and 'continental' traditions of philosophical reflection.

The opening chapter examines ways in which human lives can be made meaningful as a background to the debates surrounding secularization and secularism. Subsequent chapters are devoted to painting, literature, music, architecture, and festival with special attention given to Surrealism, 19th-century fiction, James Joyce, the music of J. S. Bach and the operas of Wagner. Graham concludes that that only religion properly so called can 'enchant the world', and that modern art's ambition to do so fails.

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Worst-Case Scenarios"

New from Harvard University Press: Worst-Case Scenarios by Cass R. Sunstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations by Stephen E. Braude.

About the book, from the publisher:
For over thirty years, Stephen Braude has studied the paranormal in everyday life, from extrasensory perception and psychokinesis to mediumship and materialization. The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations is a highly readable and often amusing account of his most memorable encounters with such phenomena. Here Braude recounts in fascinating detail five particular cases — some that challenge our most fundamental scientific beliefs and others that expose our own credulousness.

Braude begins with a south Florida woman who can make thin gold-colored foil appear spontaneously on her skin. He then travels to New York and California to test psychokinetic superstars — and frauds — like Joe Nuzum, who claim to move objects using only their minds. Along the way, Braude also investigates the startling allegations of K.R., a policeman in Annapolis who believes he can transfer images from photographs onto other objects — including his own body — and Ted Serios, a deceased Chicago elevator operator who could make a variety of different images appear on Polaroid film. Ultimately, Braude considers his wife’s surprisingly fruitful experiments with astrology, which she has used to guide professional soccer teams to the top of their leagues, as well as his own personal experiences with synchronicity — a phenomenon, he argues, that may need to be explained in terms of a refined, extensive, and dramatic form of psychokinesis.

Heady, provocative, and brimming with eye-opening details and suggestions, The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations will intrigue both adherents and detractors of its controversial subject matter alike.
Read an excerpt from the book.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Torture and Democracy"

New from Princeton University Press: Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali.

About the book, from the publisher:

This is the most comprehensive, and most comprehensively chilling, study of modern torture yet written. Darius Rejali, one of the world's leading experts on torture, takes the reader from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, from slavery and the electric chair to electrotorture in American inner cities, and from French and British colonial prison cells and the Spanish-American War to the fields of Vietnam, the wars of the Middle East, and the new democracies of Latin America and Europe.

As Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in these settings, he reaches startling conclusions. As the twentieth century progressed, he argues, democracies not only tortured, but set the international pace for torture. Dictatorships may have tortured more, and more indiscriminately, but the United States, Britain, and France pioneered and exported techniques that have become the lingua franca of modern torture: methods that leave no marks. Under the watchful eyes of reporters and human rights activists, low-level authorities in the world's oldest democracies were the first to learn that to scar a victim was to advertise iniquity and invite scandal. Long before the CIA even existed, police and soldiers turned instead to "clean" techniques, such as torture by electricity, ice, water, noise, drugs, and stress positions. As democracy and human rights spread after World War II, so too did these methods.

Rejali makes this troubling case in fluid, arresting prose and on the basis of unprecedented research -- conducted in multiple languages and on several continents -- begun years before most of us had ever heard of Osama bin Laden or Abu Ghraib. The author of a major study of Iranian torture, Rejali also tackles the controversial question of whether torture really works, answering the new apologists for torture point by point. A brave and disturbing book, this is the benchmark against which all future studies of modern torture will be measured.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"The Star Machine"

New from Knopf: The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger.

About the book, from the publisher:
From one of our leading film authorities, a rich, penetrating, amusing plum pudding of a book about the golden age of movies, full of Hollywood lore, anecdotes, and analysis.

Jeanine Basinger gives us an immensely entertaining look into the “star machine,” examining how, at the height of the studio system, from the 1930s to the 1950s, the studios worked to manufacture star actors and actresses. With revelatory insights and delightful asides, she shows us how the machine worked when it worked, how it failed when it didn’t, and how irrelevant it could sometimes be. She gives us the “human factor,” case studies focusing on big stars groomed into the system: the “awesomely beautiful” (and disillusioned) Tyrone Power; the seductive, disobedient Lana Turner; and a dazzling cast of others — Loretta Young, Errol Flynn, Irene Dunne, Deanna Durbin. She anatomizes their careers, showing how their fame happened, and what happened to them as a result. (Both Lana Turner and Errol Flynn, for instance, were involved in notorious court cases.) In her trenchantly observed conclusion, she explains what has become of the star machine and why the studios’ practice of “making” stars is no longer relevant.

Deeply engrossing, full of energy, wit, and wisdom, The Star Machine is destined to become an invaluable part of the film canon.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"The Conquests of Alexander the Great"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Conquests of Alexander the Great by Waldemar Heckel.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this book, Waldemar Heckel provides a revisionist overview of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Emphasizing the aims and impact of his military expeditions, the political consequences of military action, and the use of propaganda, both for motivation and justification, his underlying premise is that the basic goals of conquest and the keys to military superiority have not changed dramatically over the millennia. Indeed, as Heckel makes clear, many aristocratic and conquest societies are remarkably similar to that of Alexander in their basic aims and organization.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Divided by Faith"

New from Harvard University Press: Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe by Benjamin J. Kaplan.

About the book, from the publisher:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Hotel: An American History"

New from Yale University Press: Hotel: An American History by A. K. Sandoval-Strausz.

About the book, from the publisher:
When George Washington embarked on his presidential tours of 1789–91, the rudimentary inns and taverns of the day suddenly seemed dismally inadequate. But within a decade, Americans had built the first hotels — large and elegant structures that boasted private bedchambers and grand public ballrooms. This book recounts the enthralling history of the hotel in America — a saga in which politicians and prostitutes, tourists and tramps, conventioneers and confidence men, celebrities and salesmen all rub elbows. Hotel explores why the hotel was invented, how its architecture developed, and the many ways it influenced the course of United States history. The volume also presents a beautiful collection of more than 120 illustrations, many in full color, of hotel life in every era.

Hotel explores these topics and more:

· What it was like to sleep, eat, and socialize at a hotel in the mid-1800s

· How hotelkeepers dealt with the illicit activities of adulterers, thieves, and violent guests

· The stories behind America’s greatest hotels, including the Waldorf-Astoria, the Plaza, the Willard, the Blackstone, and the Fairmont

· Why Confederate spies plotted to burn down thirteen hotels in New York City during the Civil War

· How the development of steamboats and locomotives helped create a nationwide network of hotels

· How hotels became architectural models for apartment buildings

· The pivotal role of hotels in the civil rights movement
Check out a slide-show essay about the history of the hotel at Slate.

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Iron Curtain"

New from Oxford University Press: Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War by Patrick Wright.

About the book, from the publisher:
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent." With these words, in a now legendary speech given in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill famously warned the world of the threat of the Soviet Union.

Launched as an evocative metaphor, the "Iron Curtain" quickly became a brutal reality in the Cold War between Capitalist West and Communist East. Not surprisingly, for many years, people on both sides of the division have assumed that the story of the Iron Curtain began with Churchill's 1946 speech. In this fascinating investigation, Patrick Wright shows that this was decidedly not the case. Starting with its original use to describe an anti-fire device fitted into theatres, Iron Curtain tells the story of how the term evolved into such a powerful metaphor and the myriad ways in which it shaped the world for decades before the onset of the Cold War. Along the way, Wright offers fascinating perspectives on a rich array of historical characters and developments, from the lofty aspirations and disappointed fate of early twentieth century internationalists, through the topsy-turvy experiences of the first travelers to Soviet Russia, to the theatricalization of modern politics and international relations. And, as Wright poignantly suggests, the term captures a particular way of thinking about the world that long pre-dates the Cold War.

In reality the iron curtain was never just a frontier -- it was a psychological state, and it did not simply disappear with the Berlin Wall. In this brilliant culture history, Patrick Wright illuminates the life and legacy of this powerful metaphor.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Trying Leviathan"

New from Princeton University Press: Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature by D. Graham Burnett.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Moby-Dick, Ishmael declares, "Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the good old fashioned ground that a whale is a fish, and call upon holy Jonah to back me." Few readers today know just how much argument Ishmael is waiving aside. In fact, Melville's antihero here takes sides in one of the great controversies of the early nineteenth century -- one that ultimately had to be resolved in the courts of New York City. In Trying Leviathan, D. Graham Burnett recovers the strange story of Maurice v. Judd, an 1818 trial that pitted the new sciences of taxonomy against the then-popular -- and biblically sanctioned -- view that the whale was a fish. The immediate dispute was mundane: whether whale oil was fish oil and therefore subject to state inspection. But the trial fueled a sensational public debate in which nothing less than the order of nature -- and how we know it -- was at stake. Burnett vividly re-creates the trial, during which a parade of experts -- pea-coated whalemen, pompous philosophers, Jacobin lawyers -- took the witness stand, brandishing books, drawings, and anatomical reports, and telling tall tales from whaling voyages. Falling in the middle of the century between Linnaeus and Darwin, the trial dramatized a revolutionary period that saw radical transformations in the understanding of the natural world. Out went comfortable biblical categories, and in came new sorting methods based on the minutiae of interior anatomy -- and louche details about the sexual behaviors of God's creatures.

When leviathan breached in New York in 1818, this strange beast churned both the natural and social orders -- and not everyone would survive.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Winners Without Losers"

New from Cornell University Press: Winners Without Losers: Why Americans Should Care More about Global Economic Policy by Edward J. Lincoln.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the two decades since the United States became the world's only superpower, policymakers in Washington have seemingly abandoned many tools of statecraft and instead now rely on U.S. military strength as the key — and sometimes the sole — element of its global strategy. Yet economists see a world in which the salience of military power has been shrinking as greater affluence and deepening interdependence transform the global economy.

In Winners without Losers, Edward J. Lincoln, a highly regarded economist, contends that the best chance the United States has of ensuring peace and prosperity — for itself and for the rest of the world — will be found at conference tables rather than on the battlefield. Shining a spotlight on foreign trade policy as an agent for political change, this cogent and well-argued book urges policymakers, the business community, and citizens to find a path to increased stability by forging stronger international economic ties.

Interdependence is founded on cooperation with other nations, and in particular on multilateral institutions. Over the past five years, in particular, American policy has moved strongly away from cooperation and, in a single-minded pursuit of the “war against global terror,” has largely ignored economic issues. Extending the scope of his previous work, which started with the economic transformations of postwar Japan and more recently considered the evolution of economic linkages and cooperation in East Asia, Lincoln applies regional lessons to the world stage. More than a critique of current policies, Winners without Losers argues for a transformation of American foreign policy that recognizes the new realities of the globalized world-realities that America's leaders ignore at the nation's peril.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"On Nuclear Terrorism"

New from Harvard University Press: On Nuclear Terrorism by Michael Levi.

About the book, from the publisher:

Nuclear terrorism is such a disturbing prospect that we shy away from its details. Yet as a consequence, we fail to understand how best to defeat it. Michael Levi takes us inside nuclear terrorism and behind the decisions a terrorist leader would be faced with in pursuing a nuclear plot. Along the way, Levi identifies the many obstacles, large and small, that such a terrorist scheme might encounter, allowing him to discover a host of ways that any plan might be foiled.

Surveying the broad universe of plots and defenses, this accessible account shows how a wide-ranging defense that integrates the tools of weapon and materials security, law enforcement, intelligence, border controls, diplomacy, and the military can multiply, intensify, and compound the possibility that nuclear terrorists will fail. Levi draws from our long experience with terrorism and cautions us not to focus solely on the most harrowing yet most improbable threats. Nuclear terrorism shares much in common with other terrorist threats -- and as a result, he argues, defeating it is impossible unless we put our entire counterterrorism and homeland security house in order.

As long as we live in a nuclear age, no defense can completely eliminate nuclear terrorism. But this book reminds us that the right strategy can minimize the risks and shows us how to do it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Originalism, Federalism, and the American Constitutional Enterprise"

New from Yale University Press: Originalism, Federalism, and the American Constitutional Enterprise: A Historical Inquiry by Edward A. Purcell, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this lively historical examination of American federalism, a leading scholar in the field refutes the widely accepted notion that the founding fathers carefully crafted a constitutional balance of power between the states and the federal government. Edward A. Purcell Jr. bases his argument on close analysis of the Constitution’s original structure and the ways that structure both induced and accommodated changes over the centuries.

There was no clear agreement among the founding fathers regarding the “true” nature of American federalism, Purcell contends, nor was there a consensus on “correct” lines dividing state and national authority. Furthermore, even had there been some true “original” understanding, the elastic and dynamic nature of the constitutional structure would have made it impossible for subsequent generations to maintain any “original” or permanent balance. The author traces the evolution of federalism through the centuries, focusing particularly on shifting interpretations founded on political interests. He concludes with insights into current issues of federal power and a discussion of the grounds on which legitimate decisions about federal and state power should rest.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"The Europeanization of the World"

New from Princeton University Press: The Europeanization of the World: On the Origins of Human Rights and Democracy by John M. Headley.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Europeanization of the World puts forward a defense of Western civilization and the unique gifts it has bequeathed to the world-in particular, human rights and constitutional democracy-at a time when many around the globe equate the West with hubris and thinly veiled imperialism. John Headley argues that the Renaissance and the Reformation provided the effective currents for the development of two distinctive political ideas. The first is the idea of a common humanity, derived from antiquity, developed through natural law, and worked out in the new emerging global context to provide the basis for today's concept of universal human rights. The second is the idea of political dissent, first posited in the course of the Protestant Reformation and later maturing in the politics of the British monarchy.

Headley traces the development and implications of this first idea from antiquity to the present. He examines the English revolution of 1688 and party government in Britain and America into the early nineteenth century. And he challenges the now -- common stance in historical studies of moral posturing against the West. Headley contends that these unique ideas are Western civilization's most precious export, however presently distorted. Certainly European culture has its dark side -- Auschwitz is but one example. Yet as Headley shows, no other civilization in history has bequeathed so sustained a tradition of universalizing aspirations as the West. The Europeanization of the World makes an argument that is controversial but long overdue. Written by one of our preeminent scholars of the Renaissance and Reformation, this elegantly reasoned book is certain to spark a much-needed reappraisal of the Western tradition.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Privacy at Risk"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Privacy at Risk: The New Government Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment by Christopher Slobogin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Without our consent and often without our knowledge, the government can constantly monitor many of our daily activities, using closed circuit TV, global positioning systems, and a wide array of other sophisticated technologies. With just a few keystrokes, records containing our financial information, phone and e-mail logs, and sometimes even our medical histories can be readily accessed by law enforcement officials. As Christopher Slobogin explains in Privacy at Risk, these intrusive acts of surveillance are subject to very little regulation.

Applying the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, Slobogin argues that courts should prod legislatures into enacting more meaningful protection against government overreaching. In setting forth a comprehensive framework meant to preserve rights guaranteed by the Constitution without compromising the government’s ability to investigate criminal acts, Slobogin offers a balanced regulatory regime that should intrigue everyone concerned about privacy rights in the digital age.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Privacy in Peril"

New from Oxford University Press: Privacy in Peril: How We are Sacrificing a Fundamental Right in Exchange for Security and Convenience by James B. Rule.

About the book, from the publisher:
We are all accustomed to privacy horror stories, like identity theft, where stored personal data gets misdirected for criminal purposes. But we should worry less about the illegal uses of personal data, James B. Rule argues, and worry a lot more about the perfectly legal uses of our data by the government and private industry, uses which are far more widespread and far more dangerous to our interests than we'd ever suspect.

This provocative book takes readers on a probing, far-reaching tour of the erosion of privacy in American society, showing that we are often unwitting accomplices, providing personal data in exchange for security or convenience. The author reveals that in today's "information society," the personal data that we make available to virtually any organization for virtually any purpose is apt to surface elsewhere, applied to utterly different purposes. The mass collection and processing of personal information produces such tremendous efficiencies that both the public and private sector feel justified in pushing as far as they can into our private lives. And there is no easy cure. Indeed, there are many cases where privacy invasion is both hurtful to the individual and indispensable to an organization's quest for efficiency.

Unrestricted snooping into citizens' personal finances really does boost the profitability of the consumer credit industry. Insurance companies really can and do make more money by using intimate private data to decide whom to insure, and what to charge. And as long as we willingly accept the pursuit of profit, or the reduction of crime, or cutting government costs as sufficient reason for intensified scrutiny over private citizens' lives, then privacy values will remain endangered.

Rule offers no simple answers to this modern conundrum. Rather, he provides a sophisticated and often troubling account that promises to fundamentally alter the privacy debate.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"The Betrayal of Faith"

New from Harvard University Press: The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert by Emma Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"The Political Origins of Religious Liberty"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Political Origins of Religious Liberty by Anthony Gill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout history, governments have attempted to control religious organizations and limit religious freedom. However, over the past two hundred years the world has witnessed an expansion of religious liberty. What explains this rise in religious freedom? Anthony Gill argues that political leaders are more likely to allow religious freedom when such laws affect their ability to stay in power, and/or when religious freedoms are seen to enhance the economic well-being of their country.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Differential Diagnoses"

New from Cornell University Press: Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France by Paul V. Dutton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Although the United States spends 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care, more than 46 million people have no insurance coverage, while one in four Americans report difficulty paying for medical care. Indeed, the U.S. health care system, despite being the most expensive health care system in the world, ranked thirty-seventh in a comprehensive World Health Organization report. With health care spending only expected to increase, Americans are again debating new ideas for expanding coverage and cutting costs. According to the historian Paul V. Dutton, Americans should look to France, whose health care system captured the World Health Organization's number-one spot.

In Differential Diagnoses, Dutton debunks a common misconception among Americans that European health care systems are essentially similar to each other and vastly different from U.S. health care. In fact, the Americans and the French both distrust “socialized medicine.” Both peoples cherish patient choice, independent physicians, medical practice freedoms, and private insurers in a qualitatively different way than the Canadians, the British, and many others.

The United States and France have struggled with the same ideals of liberty and equality, but one country followed a path that led to universal health insurance; the other embraced private insurers and has only guaranteed coverage for the elderly and the very poor. How has France reconciled the competing ideals of individual liberty and social equality to assure universal coverage while protecting patient and practitioner freedoms? What can Americans learn from the French experience, and what can the French learn from the U.S. example? Differential Diagnoses answers these questions by comparing how employers, labor unions, insurers, political groups, the state, and medical professionals have shaped their nations' health care systems from the early years of the twentieth century to the present day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"After War"

New from Stanford University Press: After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy by Christopher Coyne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why does liberal democracy take hold in some countries but not in others? Why do we observe such different outcomes in military interventions, from Germany and Japan to Afghanistan and Iraq? Do efforts to export democracy help as much as they hurt? These are some of the most enduring questions of our time.

Historically, the United States has attempted to generate change in foreign countries by exporting liberal democratic institutions through military occupation and reconstruction. Despite these efforts, the record of U.S.-led reconstructions has been mixed, at best. For every West Germany or Japan, there is a Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, or Vietnam.

After War seeks to answer these critical foreign policy questions by bringing an economic mindset to a topic that has been traditionally tackled by historians, policymakers, and political scientists. Economics focuses on how incentives influence human action. Therefore, within an economic context, a successful reconstruction entails finding and establishing a set of incentives that makes citizens prefer a liberal democratic order. Coyne examines the mechanisms and institutions that contribute to the success of reconstruction programs by creating incentives for sustained cooperation.

Coyne emphasizes that the main threat to Western nations in the post-Cold War period will not come from a superpower, but rather from weak, failed, and conflict-torn states — and rogue groups within them. It is also critical to recognize that the dynamics at work — cultural, historical, and social — in these modern states are fundamentally different from those that the United States faced in the reconstructions of West Germany and Japan. As such, these historical cases of successful reconstruction are poor models for todays challenges. In Coynes view, policymakers and occupiers face an array of internal and external constraints in dealing with rogue states. These constraints are often greatest in the countries most in need of the political, economic, and social change. The irony is that these projects are least likely to succeed precisely where they are most needed.

Coyne offers two bold alternatives to reconstruction programs that could serve as catalysts for social change: principled non-intervention and unilateral free trade. Coyne points to major differences in these preferred approaches; whereas reconstruction projects involve a period of coerced military occupation, free trade-led reforms are voluntary. The book goes on to highlight the economic and cultural benefits of free trade.

While Coyne contends that a commitment to non-intervention and free trade may not lead to Western-style liberal democracies in conflict-torn countries, such a strategy could lay the groundwork for global peace.