Sunday, September 30, 2007

"The Roman Triumph"

New from Harvard University Press: The Roman Triumph by Mary Beard.

About the book, from the publisher:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"Christianity's Dangerous Idea"

New from HarperSanFrancisco: Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution -- A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First by Alister McGrath.

About the book, from the publisher:

The "dangerous idea" lying at the heart of Protestantism is that the interpretation of the Bible is each individual's right and responsibility. The spread of this principle has resulted in five hundred years of remarkable innovation and adaptability, but it has also created cultural incoherence and social instability. Without any overarching authority to rein in "wayward" thought, opposing sides on controversial issues can only appeal to the Bible — yet the Bible is open to many diverse interpretations. Christianity's Dangerous Idea is the first book that attempts to define this core element of Protestantism and the religious and cultural dynamic that this dangerous idea unleashed, culminating in the remarkable new developments of the twentieth century.

At a time when Protestants will soon cease to be the predominant faith tradition in the United States, McGrath's landmark reassessment of the movement and its future is well-timed. Replete with helpful modern-day examples that explain the past, McGrath brings to life the Protestant movements and personalities that shaped history and the central Christian idea that continues to dramatically influence world events today.

Friday, September 28, 2007


New from Yale University Press: Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness by Christopher Lane.

About the book, from the publisher:
Read Christopher Lane's recent op-ed contribution to the New York Times, "Shy on Drugs."
In the 1970s, a small group of leading psychiatrists met behind closed doors and literally rewrote the book on their profession. Revising and greatly expanding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short), they turned what had been a thin, spiral-bound handbook into a hefty tome. Almost overnight the number of diagnoses exploded. The result was a windfall for the pharmaceutical industry and a massive conflict of interest for psychiatry at large. This spellbinding book is the first behind-the-scenes account of what really happened and why.

With unprecedented access to the American Psychiatric Association archives and previously classified memos from drug company executives, Christopher Lane unearths the disturbing truth: with little scientific justification and sometimes hilariously improbable rationales, hundreds of conditions — among them shyness — are now defined as psychiatric disorders and considered treatable with drugs. Lane shows how long-standing disagreements within the profession set the stage for these changes, and he assesses who has gained and what’s been lost in the process of medicalizing emotions. With dry wit, he demolishes the façade of objective research behind which the revolution in psychiatry has hidden. He finds a profession riddled with backbiting and jockeying, and even more troubling, a profession increasingly beholden to its corporate sponsors.
Author Interviews: Christopher Lane.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"The Whisperers"

Coming soon from Henry Holt and Metropolitan Books: The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia by Orlando Figes.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the award-winning author of A People’s Tragedy and Natasha’s Dance, a landmark account of what private life was like for Russians in the worst years of Soviet repression

There have been many accounts of the public aspects of Stalin’s dictatorship: the arrests and trials, the enslavement and killing in the gulags. No previous book, however, has explored the regime’s effect on people’s personal lives, what one historian called “the Stalinism that entered into all of us.” Now, drawing on a huge collection of newly discovered documents, The Whisperers reveals for the first time the inner world of ordinary Soviet citizens as they struggled to survive amidst the mistrust, fear, compromises, and betrayals that pervaded their existence.

Moving from the Revolution of 1917 to the death of Stalin and beyond, Orlando Figes re-creates the moral maze in which Russians found themselves, where one wrong turn could destroy a family or, perversely, end up saving it. He brings us inside cramped communal apartments, where minor squabbles could lead to fatal denunciations; he examines the Communist faithful, who often rationalized even their own arrest as a case of mistaken identity; and he casts a humanizing light on informers, demonstrating how, in a repressive system, anyone could easily become a collaborator.

A vast panoramic portrait of a society in which everyone spoke in whispers — whether to protect their families and friends, or to inform upon them — The Whisperers is a gripping account of lives lived in impossible times.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Beyond the Law"

New from Cambridge University Press: Beyond the Law: The Bush Administration's Unlawful Responses in the "War" on Terror by Jordan J. Paust.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book provides a detailed exposition of violations of international law authorized and abetted by secret memos, authorizations, and orders of the Bush administration. In particular, it describes why several executive claims were in error, what illegal authorizations were given, what illegal interrogation tactics were approved, and what illegal transfers and secret detentions occurred. It provides the most thorough documentation of cases demonstrating that the president is bound by the laws of war; that decisions to detain persons, decide their status, and mistreat them are subject to judicial review during the war; and that the commander-in-chief power is subject to restraints by Congress.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Violent Politics"

New from HarperCollins: Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk.

About the book, from the publisher:

No problem is greater in today's Middle East than the terrorist tactics of insurgents in Iraq. They offer strategic success to those who utilize them, and they confound those who are trying to bring some sense of calm and order to the region.

Noted Middle East expert William R. Polk here illuminates the role played by guerrilla warriors in several conflicts throughout world history, including the American Revolution, and struggles in Ireland, Algeria, and Spain. He eventually moves through Vietnam and into the present day, where the lessons of this history are needed more than ever as we grapple with the ongoing campaign for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"David Hume: Moral and Political Theorist"

New from Oxford University Press: David Hume: Moral and Political Theorist by Russell Hardin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Russell Hardin presents a new explication of David Hume's moral and political theory. With Hume, he holds that our normative views can be scientifically explained but they cannot be justified as true. Hume argued for the psychological basis of such views. In particular, he argued for sympathy as the mirroring of the psychological sensations and emotions of others. By placing Hume in the developing tradition of social science, as a strong forerunner of his younger friend Adam Smith, Hardin demonstrates Hume's strong strategic sense, his nascent utilitarianism, his powerful theory of convention as a main source of social and political order, and his recognition of moral and political theory as a single enterprise.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Telling About Society"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Howard S. Becker's Telling About Society.

About the book, from the publisher:
I Remember, one of French writer Georges Perec’s most famous pieces, consists of 480 numbered paragraphs — each just a few short lines recalling a memory from his childhood. The work has neither a beginning nor an end. Nor does it contain any analysis. But it nonetheless reveals profound truths about French society during the 1940s and 50s.

Taking Perec’s book as its cue, Telling About Society explores the unconventional ways we communicate what we know about society to others. The third in distinguished teacher Howard Becker’s best-selling series of writing guides for social scientists, the book explores the many ways knowledge about society can be shared and interpreted through different forms of telling — fiction, films, photographs, maps, even mathematical models — many of which remain outside the boundaries of conventional social science. Eight case studies, including the photographs of Walker Evans, the plays of George Bernard Shaw, the novels of Jane Austen and Italo Calvino, and the sociology of Erving Goffman, provide convincing support for Becker’s argument: that every way of telling about society is perfect — for some purpose. The trick is, as Becker notes, to discover what purpose is served by doing it this way rather than that.

With Becker’s trademark humor and eminently practical advice, Telling About Society is an ideal guide for social scientists in all fields, for artists interested in saying something about society, and for anyone interested in communicating knowledge in unconventional ways.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"The Politics of the Veil"

New from Princeton University Press: The Politics of the Veil by Joan Wallach Scott.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 2004, the French government instituted a ban on the wearing of "conspicuous signs" of religious affiliation in public schools. Though the ban applies to everyone, it is aimed at Muslim girls wearing headscarves. Proponents of the law insist it upholds France's values of secular liberalism and regard the headscarf as symbolic of Islam's resistance to modernity. The Politics of the Veil is an explosive refutation of this view, one that bears important implications for us all.

Joan Wallach Scott, the renowned pioneer of gender studies, argues that the law is symptomatic of France's failure to integrate its former colonial subjects as full citizens. She examines the long history of racism behind the law as well as the ideological barriers thrown up against Muslim assimilation. She emphasizes the conflicting approaches to sexuality that lie at the heart of the debate -- how French supporters of the ban view sexual openness as the standard for normalcy, emancipation, and individuality, and the sexual modesty implicit in the headscarf as proof that Muslims can never become fully French. Scott maintains that the law, far from reconciling religious and ethnic differences, only exacerbates them. She shows how the insistence on homogeneity is no longer feasible for France--or the West in general--and how it creates the very "clash of civilizations" said to be at the root of these tensions.

The Politics of the Veil calls for a new vision of community where common ground is found amid our differences, and where the embracing of diversity -- not its suppression -- is recognized as the best path to social harmony.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"The Fall of Napoleon, Vol. I"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Fall of Napoleon: Volume 1, The Allied Invasion of France, 1813–1814 by Michael V. Leggiere.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book tells the story of the invasion of France at the twilight of Napoleon’s empire. With over a million men under arms throughout central Europe, Coalition forces poured over the Rhine River to invade France between late November 1813 and early January 1814. Three principle army groups drove across the great German landmark, smashing the exhausted French forces that attempted to defend the eastern frontier. In less than a month, French forces ingloriously retreated from the Rhine to the Marne; Allied forces were within one week of reaching Paris. This book provides the first complete, English-language study of the invasion of France along a front that extended from Holland to Switzerland.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Auto Mania"

Coming soon from Yale University Press: Auto Mania: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment by Tom McCarthy.

About the book, from the publisher:
The twentieth-century American experience with the automobile has much to tell us about the relationship between consumer capitalism and the environment, Tom McCarthy contends. In Auto Mania he presents the first environmental history of the automobile that shows how consumer desire (and manufacturer decisions) created impacts across the product lifecycle — from raw material extraction to manufacturing to consumer use to disposal.

From the provocative public antics of young millionaires who owned the first cars early in the twentieth century to the SUV craze of the 1990s, Auto Mania explores developments that touched the environment. Along the way McCarthy examines how Henry Ford’s fetish for waste reduction tempered the environmental impacts of Model T mass production; how Elvis Presley’s widely shared postwar desire for Cadillacs made matters worse; how the 1970s energy crisis hurt small cars; and why baby boomers ignored worries about global warming.

McCarthy shows that problems were recognized early. The difficulty was addressing them, a matter less of doing scientific research and educating the public than implementing solutions through America’s market economy and democratic government. Consumer and producer interests have rarely aligned in helpful ways, and automakers and consumers have made powerful opponents of regulation. The result has been a mixed record of environmental reform with troubling prospects for the future.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"The Lion and the Unicorn"

New from W.W. Norton: The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone Vs. Disraeli by Richard Aldous.

About the book, from the publisher:
The vicious political struggle that electrified Victorian society, brilliantly re-created for a new generation.

William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were the fiercest political rivals of the nineteenth century. Their intense mutual hatred was both ideologically driven and deeply personal. Their vitriolic duels, carried out over decades, lend profound insight into the social and political currents that dominated Victorian England. To Disraeli — a legendary dandy descended from Sephardic Jews — his antagonist was an “unprincipled maniac” characterized by an “extraordinary mixture of envy, vindictiveness, hypocrisy, and superstition.” For the conservative aristocrat Gladstone, his rival was “the Grand Corrupter,” whose destruction he plotted “day and night, week by week, month by month.” In the tradition of Roy Jenkins and A. N. Wilson, Richard Aldous has written an outstanding political biography, giving us the first dual portrait of this intense and momentous rivalry. Aldous’s vivid narrative style — by turns powerful, witty, and stirring — brings new life to the Gladstone and Disraeli story and confirms a perennial truth: in politics, everything is personal.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Why Cooperate?"

New from Oxford University Press: Scott Barrett's Why Cooperate?: The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods.

About the book, from the publisher:
Climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the threat of a global pandemic have the potential to impact each of our lives. Preventing these threats poses a serious global challenge, but ignoring them could have disastrous consequences. How do we engineer institutions to change incentives so that these global public goods are provided?

Scott Barrett provides a thought provoking and accessible introduction to the issues surrounding the provision of global public goods. Using a variety of examples to illustrate past successes and failures, he shows how international cooperation, institutional design, and the clever use of incentives can work together to ensure the effective delivery of global public goods.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Motorized Obsessions"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Motorized Obsessions: Life, Liberty, and the Small-Bore Engine by Paul R. Josephson.

About the book, from the publisher:
From dirt bikes and jet skis to weed wackers and snowblowers, machines powered by small gas engines have become a permanent — and loud — fixture in American culture. But fifty years of high-speed fun and pristine lawns have not come without cost. In the first comprehensive history of the small-bore engine and the technology it powers, Paul R. Josephson explores the political, environmental, and public health issues surrounding one of America's most dangerous pastimes. Each chapter tells the story of an ecosystem within the United States and the devices that wreak havoc on it — personal watercraft (PWCs) on inland lakes and rivers; all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in deserts and forests; lawn mowers and leaf blowers in suburbia. In addition to environmental impacts, Josephson discusses the development and promotion of these technologies, the legal and regulatory efforts made to improve their safety and environmental soundness, and the role of owners' clubs in encouraging responsible operation. Synthesizing information from medical journals, recent environmental research, nongovernmental organizations, and manufacturers, Josephson's compelling history leads to one irrefutable conclusion: these machines cannot be operated without loss of life and loss of habitat.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"The Stillborn God"

New from Knopf: The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West by Mark Lilla.

About the book, from the publisher:
Religious passions are again driving world politics. The quest to bring political life under God’s authority has been revived, confounding expectations of a secular future. In this major book, Mark Lilla reveals the sources of this age-old quest — and its surprising role in shaping Western thought.

The story could not be more timely. Most civilizations in history have been organized on the basis of a political theology – a myth or revelation about the correct ordering of society. Yet due to a crisis in Western Christendom nearly five hundred years ago, a novel intellectual challenge to political theology arose in Europe. By portraying religion as an expression of human nature, not a divine gift, modern Western thinkers found a way to free politics from God’s authority and build barriers against destructive religious passions.

But the temptations of political theology are always present, even in the West. As Lilla vividly shows, the urge to reconnect politics to religion remained strong and took novel forms in modern European thought. By the Second World War a forceful political messianism had arisen, justifying the most deadly ideologies of the age.

Making us question what we thought we knew about religion, politics, and the fate of civilizations, Lilla reminds us of the modern West’s unique trajectory and what is required to remain on it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"The Warhol Economy"

New from Princeton University Press: The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art, and Music Drive New York City by Elizabeth Currid.

About the book, from the publisher:

Which is more important to New York City's economy, the gleaming corporate office -- or the grungy rock club that launches the best new bands? If you said "office," think again. In The Warhol Economy, Elizabeth Currid argues that creative industries like fashion, art, and music drive the economy of New York as much as -- if not more than -- finance, real estate, and law. And these creative industries are fueled by the social life that whirls around the clubs, galleries, music venues, and fashion shows where creative people meet, network, exchange ideas, pass judgments, and set the trends that shape popular culture.

The implications of Currid's argument are far-reaching, and not just for New York. Urban policymakers, she suggests, have not only seriously underestimated the importance of the cultural economy, but they have failed to recognize that it depends on a vibrant creative social scene. They haven't understood, in other words, the social, cultural, and economic mix that Currid calls the Warhol economy.

With vivid first-person reporting about New York's creative scene, Currid takes the reader into the city spaces where the social and economic lives of creativity merge. The book has fascinating original interviews with many of New York's important creative figures, including fashion designers Zac Posen and Diane von Furstenberg, artists Ryan McGinness and Futura, and members of the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

The economics of art and culture in New York and other cities has been greatly misunderstood and underrated. The Warhol Economy explains how the cultural economy works-and why it is vital to all great cities.

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Bush, the Detainees, and the Constitution"

New from the University of Kansas Press: Bush, the Detainees, and the Constitution: The Battle over Presidential Power in the War on Terror by Howard Ball.

About the book, from the publisher:

The infamous detainees of Guantánamo, garbed in their bright orange prison jumpsuits, have come to symbolize a host of controversial policies and powers claimed by President George W. Bush in the so-called war on terror. Designated as “enemy combatants,” a vaguely defined and previously unrecognized category in the international laws of war, they have been at the center of a legal firestorm challenging the Bush administration’s conduct of the war.

Howard Ball, one of our nation’s leading constitutional authorities, takes a close look at the White House’s defense of its detainee program (what some have called an “American gulag”), the court actions used to challenge that enormous expansion of unchecked presidential power, and the potential threats to American democracy should those actions ultimately fail. Focusing on the Enemy Combatants Cases of 2004 and 2006 — including Rasul v. Bush, Hamdi v. Bush, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld — Ball examines competing legal arguments pitting the detainees’ fundamental human rights (including habeas corpus) against Bush’s proclamation that he alone has the authority to decide their fate, as well as efforts by the Court and Congress to reclaim their own authority in such matters.

Ball describes how the administration repeatedly found ways to evade both the letter and spirit of the Court’s decisions through new legislation, presidential signing statements, and even redefinition of the status of the detainees. He also examines the official context of the cases — including the two Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, the “Patriot Act,” and the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program — as well as other factors such as presidential claims to “state secrets privilege,” the torture controversy, and the impact of the 2006 elections.

Ball reminds us once again that, in a time of war, there will always be a great tension between the need for security and the constitutional protection of due process. Ultimately, he tells a troubling story about the relationship between absolute presidential power and the principles of representative government, one that thoughtful readers cannot afford to ignore.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Unmodern Men in the Modern World"

New from Cambridge University Press: Unmodern Men in the Modern World: Radical Islam, Terrorism, and the War on Modernity by Michael J. Mazarr.

About the book, from the publisher:
Five years into the war on terror, we still don't understand the supposed "enemy." Official analyses of radical Islam remain simplistic and unhelpful for understanding the motivations and mindsets of people still characterized simply as "evildoers who hate freedom." This book offers a new way of understanding this challenge and figuring out what to do about it. It concludes with specific policy suggestions for a new approach to replace the badly-failing current strategy. This book approaches radical Islam by putting it into a comparative context. It makes a big, bold argument about the character of the threat and the nature of world politics in this provocative and wide-ranging examination of radical Islamists.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"The Search for Meaning"

New from the University of California Press: The Search for Meaning: A Short History by Dennis Ford.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Search for Meaning: A Short History, Dennis Ford explores eight approaches human beings have pursued over time to invest life with meaning and to infuse order into a seemingly chaotic universe. These include myth, philosophy, science, postmodernism, pragmatism, archetypal psychology, metaphysics, and naturalism. In engaging, companionable prose, Ford boils down these systems to their bare essentials, showing the difference between viewing the world from a religious point of view and that of a naturalist, and comparing a scientific worldview to a philosophical one. Ford investigates the contributions of the Greeks, Kant, and William James, and brings the discussion up to date with contemporary thinkers. He proffers the refreshing idea that in today's world, the answers provided by traditional religions to increasingly difficult questions have lost their currency for many and that the reductive or rationalist answers provided by science and postmodernism are themselves rife with unexamined assumptions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Heil Hitler"

Coming soon from Henry Holt and Metropolitan Books: Heil Hitler: On the Meaning of a Gesture by Tilman Allert.

About the book, from the publisher:
A strikingly original investigation of the origins and dissemination of the world’s most infamous greeting

Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. In Heil Hitler: The History of a Gesture, sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interaction — the greeting — to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society.

Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura.

The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated, Heil Hitler offers new insight into how the Third Reich’s rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"What Makes a Terrorist"

Published this summer by Princeton University Press: Alan B. Krueger's What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism.

About the book, from the publisher:

Many popular ideas about terrorists and why they seek to harm us are fueled by falsehoods and misinformation. Leading politicians and scholars have argued that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite the wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class, and often college-educated, backgrounds. In What Makes a Terrorist, Alan Krueger argues that if we are to correctly assess the root causes of terrorism and successfully address the threat, we must think more like economists do.

Krueger is an influential economist who has applied rigorous statistical analysis to a range of tough issues, from the minimum wage and education to the occurrence of hate crimes. In this book, he explains why our tactics in the fight against terrorism must be based on more than anecdote and speculation. Krueger closely examines the factors that motivate individuals to participate in terrorism, drawing inferences from terrorists' own backgrounds and the economic, social, and political conditions in the societies from which they come. He describes which countries are the most likely breeding grounds for terrorists, and which ones are most likely to be their targets. Krueger addresses the economic and psychological consequences of terrorism. He puts the terrorist threat squarely into perspective, revealing how our nation's sizeable economy is diverse and resilient enough to withstand the comparatively limited effects of most terrorist strikes. And he calls on the media to be more responsible in reporting on terrorism.

What Makes a Terrorist brings needed clarity to one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Coming soon from the University of Chicago Press: Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer by Michael A. Elliott.

About the book
, from the publisher:
On a hot summer day in 1876, George Armstrong Custer led the Seventh Cavalry to the most famous defeat in U.S. military history. Badly outnumbered and exhausted from a day of forced marches, Custer’s forces were quickly overwhelmed by warriors from the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The Seventh Cavalry lost more than half of the 400 men who rode into the Indian camp, and every soldier under Custer’s direct command was killed.

It’s easy to understand why this tremendous defeat shocked the American public at the time. But with Custerology, Michael A. Elliott tackles the far more complicated question of why the battle retains such power for Americans today. Weaving vivid historical accounts of Custer at Little Bighorn with contemporary commemorations that range from battle reenactments to the unfinished Crazy Horse memorial, Elliott reveals a Custer and a West whose legacies are still vigorously contested. He takes readers to each of the important places of Custer’s life, from his Civil War home in Michigan to the site of his famous demise, to show how more than a century later, the legacy of Custer still haunts the American imagination. Along the way, Elliott introduces us to Native American activists, Park Service rangers, and devoted history buffs; draws us into the arcana of Custerology and the back rooms of High Plains bars; and reveals how Custer and the Indian Wars continue to be both a powerful symbol of America’s bloody past and a crucial key to understanding the nation’s multicultural present.

By turns dramatic and meditative, Custerology moves seamlessly between past and present, delivering both a bracing narrative and a potent reminder of why we care so much about history in the first place.
Read an excerpt from Custerology.

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Faith in the Halls of Power"

New from Oxford University Press: Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite by D. Michael Lindsay.

About the book, from the publisher:
Evangelicals, once at the periphery of American life, now wield power in the White House and on Wall Street, at Harvard and in Hollywood. How have they reached the pinnacles of power in such a short time? And what does this mean for evangelicals -- and for America?

Drawing on personal interviews with an astonishing array of prominent Americans -- including two former Presidents, dozens of political and government leaders, more than 100 top business executives, plus Hollywood moguls, intellectuals, athletes, and other powerful figures -- D. Michael Lindsay shows first-hand how they are bringing their vision of moral leadership into the public square. This riveting volume tells us who the real evangelical power brokers are, how they rose to prominence, and what they're doing with their clout. Lindsay reveals that evangelicals are now at home in the executive suite and on the studio lot, and from those lofty perches they have used their influence, money, and ideas to build up the evangelical movement and introduce it to the wider American society. They are leaders of powerful institutions and their goals are ambitious -- to bring Christian principles to bear on virtually every aspect of American life.

Along the way, the book is packed with fascinating stories and striking insights. Lindsay shows how evangelicals became a force in American foreign policy, how Fortune 500 companies are becoming faith-friendly, and how the new generation of the faithful is led by cosmopolitan evangelicals. These are well-educated men and women who read both The New York Times and Christianity Today, and who are wary of the evangelical masses' penchant for polarizing rhetoric, apocalyptic pot-boilers, and bad Christian rock. Perhaps most startling is the importance of personal relationships between leaders -- a quiet conversation after Bible study can have more impact than thousands of people marching in the streets.

Faith in the Halls of Power takes us inside the rarified world of the evangelical elite -- beyond the hysterical panic and chest-thumping pride -- to give us the real story behind the evangelical ascendancy in America.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"The Genesis of Industrial America, 1870–1920"

New from Cambridge University Press: Maury Klein's The Genesis of Industrial America, 1870–1920.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a bold new interpretation of American business history during the formative years 1870–1920, which mark the dawn of modern big business. It focuses on four major revolutions that ushered in this new era: those in power, transportation, communication, and organization. Using the metaphor of America as an economic hothouse uniquely suited to rapid economic growth during these years, it analyzes the interplay of key factors such as entrepreneurial talent, technology, land, natural resources, law, mass markets, and the rise of cities. It also delineates the process that laid the foundation for the modern era, in which virtually every human activity became a business, and, in most cases, a big business. The book also profiles numerous major entrepreneurs whose careers and activities illustrate broader trends and themes. It utilizes a wide variety of sources, including novels from the period, to produce a lively narrative.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Enemies of Intelligence"

Coming this month from Columbia University Press: Richard K. Betts's Enemies of Intelligence: Knowledge and Power in American National Security.

About the book, from the publisher:
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the false assessment of Saddam Hussein's weapons arsenal were terrible reminders that good information is essential to national security. These failures convinced the American public that their intelligence system was broken and prompted a radical reorganization of agencies and personnel, but as Richard K. Betts argues in this book, critics and politicians have severely underestimated the obstacles to true reform.

One of the nation's foremost political scientists, Betts draws on three decades of work within the U.S. intelligence community to illuminate the paradoxes and problems that frustrate the intelligence process. Unlike America's efforts to improve its defenses against natural disasters, strengthening its strategic assessment capabilities means outwitting crafty enemies who operate beyond U.S. borders. It also requires looking within to the organizational and political dynamics of collecting information and determining its implications for policy.

Combining academic research with personal experience, Betts outlines strategies for better intelligence gathering and assessment. He describes how fixing one malfunction can create another; in what ways expertise can be both a vital tool and a source of error and misjudgment; the pitfalls of always striving for accuracy in intelligence, which in some cases can render it worthless; the danger, though unavoidable, of "politicizing" intelligence; and the issue of secrecy - when it is excessive, when it is insufficient, and how limiting privacy can in fact protect civil liberties.

Betts argues that when it comes to intelligence, citizens and politicians should focus less on consistent solutions and more on achieving a delicate balance between conflicting requirements. He also emphasizes the substantial success of the intelligence community, despite its well-publicized blunders, and highlights elements of the intelligence process that need preservation and protection. Many reformers are quick to respond to scandals and failures without detailed, historical knowledge of how the system works. Grounding his arguments in extensive theory and policy analysis, Betts takes a comprehensive and realistic look at how knowledge and power can work together to face the intelligence challenges of the twenty-first century.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Godly Republic"

Coming soon from the University of California Press: Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America's Faith-Based Future by John J. DiIulio, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
"Do you know if you are going to heaven?" Shortly after being appointed the first Director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives -- the "faith czar" -- John J. DiIulio Jr. was asked this question. Suddenly DiIulio, a Catholic Democrat who pioneered programs for inner-city children, was acutely aware that he was no longer a private citizen who might have humored the television evangelist standing before him. Now he was, as he recalls in his introduction -- "responsible for assisting the president in faithfully upholding the Constitution ... and faithfully acting in the public interest without regard to religious identities." Using his brief tenure in the Bush administration as a springboard, this lively, informative, and entertaining book leaps into the ongoing debate over whether as a nation America is Christian or secular and to what degree church-state separation is compelled by the Constitution. Avoiding political pieties, DiIulio makes an impassioned case for a middle way. Written by a leading political scholar, Godly Republic offers a fast-paced, faith-inspired, and fact-based approach to enhancing America's civic future for one and all.

Monday, September 3, 2007

"The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism"

New from Yale University Press: The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism by George McKenna.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this absorbing book, George McKenna ranges across the entire panorama of American history to track the development of American patriotism. That patriotism — shaped by Reformation Protestantism and imbued with the American Puritan belief in a providential “errand” — has evolved over 350 years and influenced American political culture in both positive and negative ways, McKenna shows. The germ of the patriotism, an activist theology that stressed collective rather than individual salvation, began in the late 1630s in New England and traveled across the continent, eventually becoming a national phenomenon. Today, American patriotism still reflects its origins in the seventeenth century.

By encouraging cohesion in a nation of diverse peoples and inspiring social reform, American patriotism has sometimes been a force for good. But the book also uncovers a darker side of the nation’s patriotism — a prejudice against the South in the nineteenth century, for example, and a tendency toward nativism and anti-Catholicism. Ironically, a great reversal has occurred, and today the most fervent believers in the Puritan narrative are the former “outsiders” — Catholics and Southerners. McKenna offers an interesting new perspective on patriotism’s role throughout American history, and he concludes with trenchant thoughts on its role in the post-9/11 era.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

"The Right Talk"

New this summer from Princeton University Press: The Right Talk: How Conservatives Transformed the Great Society Into the Economic Society by Mark A. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:

Political analyst Mark Smith offers the most original and compelling explanation yet of America's startling swing to the political right. How did the GOP transform itself from a party outgunned and outmaneuvered into one that today defines the nation's most important policy choices? Why have Democrats in recent decades often been unable to get their message heard? And where does the country go from here?

Conventional wisdom attributes the Republican resurgence to a political bait and switch -- the notion that conservatives win elections on social issues like abortion and religious expression, but once in office implement far-reaching policies on the economic issues downplayed during campaigns. Smith illuminates instead the eye-opening reality that economic matters have become more central, not less, to campaigns and the public agenda. He analyzes a half century of speeches, campaign advertisements, party platforms, and intellectual writings, systematically showing how Republican politicians and conservative intellectuals increasingly gave economic justifications for policies they once defended through appeals to freedom. He explains how Democrats similarly conceived economic justifications for their own policies, but unlike Republicans they changed positions on issues rather than simply offering new arguments and thus helped push the national discourse inexorably to the right.

The Right Talk brings clarity, reason, and hard-nosed evidence to a contentious subject. Certain to enrich the debate about the conservative ascendancy in America, this book will provoke discussions and reactions for years to come.