Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Weimar Germany"

New from Princeton University Press: Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy by Eric D. Weitz.

About the book, from the publisher:

Weimar Germany still fascinates us, and now this complex and remarkably creative period and place has the history it deserves. Eric Weitz's new book reveals the Weimar era as a time of strikingly progressive achievements -- and even greater promise. With a rich thematic narrative and detailed portraits of some of Weimar's greatest figures, this comprehensive history recaptures the excitement and drama as it unfolded, viewing Weimar in its own right -- and not as a mere prelude to the Nazi era.

Weimar Germany tells how Germans rose from the defeat of World War I and the turbulence of revolution to forge democratic institutions and make Berlin a world capital of avant-garde art. Setting the stage for this story, Weitz takes the reader on a walking tour of Berlin to see and feel what life was like there in the 1920s, when modernity and the modern city -- with its bright lights, cinemas, "new women," cabarets, and sleek department stores -- were new. We learn how Germans enjoyed better working conditions and new social benefits and listened to the utopian prophets of everything from radical socialism to communal housing to nudism. Weimar Germany also explores the period's revolutionary cultural creativity, from the new architecture of Erich Mendelsohn, Bruno Taut, and Walter Gropius to Hannah Höch's photomontages and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's theater. Other chapters assess the period's turbulent politics and economy, and the recipes for fulfilling sex lives propounded by new "sexologists." Yet Weimar Germany also shows how entrenched elites continually challenged Weimar's achievements and ultimately joined with a new radical Right led by the Nazis to form a coalition that destroyed the republic.

Thoroughly up-to-date, skillfully written, and strikingly illustrated, Weimar Germany brings to life as never before an era of creativity unmatched in the twentieth century-one whose influence and inspiration we still feel today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Clinging to Mammy"

New from Harvard University Press: Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America by Micki McElya.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Deadly Companions"

Forthcoming from Oxford University Press: Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History by Dorothy H. Crawford.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ever since we started huddling together in caves, the story of human history has been inextricably wed to the story of microbes. Bacteria and viruses have evolved and spread among us, shaping our society even as our changing human culture has shaped their evolutionary path.

Combining tales of devastating epidemics with accessible science and fascinating history, Deadly Companions reveals how closely microbes have evolved with us over the millennia, shaping human civilization through infection, disease, and deadly pandemic. Beginning with a dramatic account of the SARS pandemic at the start of the 21st century, Dorothy Crawford takes us back in time to follow the interlinked history of microbes and humanity, offering an up-to-date look at ancient plagues and epidemics, and identifying key changes in the way humans have lived -- such as our move from hunter-gatherer to farmer to city-dweller -- which made us ever more vulnerable to microbe attack.

Showing that how we live our lives today -- with increased crowding and air travel -- puts us once again at risk, Crawford asks whether we might ever conquer microbes completely, and whether we need a more microbe-centric view of the world. Among the possible answers, one thing becomes clear: that for generations to come, our deadly companions will continue to influence our lives.
The Page 69 Test: Deadly Companions.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"The Death of Socrates"

New from Harvard University Press: The Death of Socrates by Emily Wilson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Friday, October 26, 2007

"On the Fireline"

New from the University of Chicago Press: On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters by Matthew Desmond.

About the book, from the publisher:
Burning to death is a hellish way to die. Yet every year men and women across the country risk their lives for low pay to fight forest fires. Living in remote encampments and isolated from their friends and family, these firefighters stand ready to chase smoke at a moment’s notice. And when a fire does break out, they face a chaotic inferno armed with only hand tools, hard hats, and little else. So what motivates them to put their lives on the line and face heat so intense it can melt steel?

In this rugged account of a rugged profession, Matthew Desmond explores the heart and soul of the wildland firefighter. Having joined a firecrew in Northern Arizona as a young man, Desmond relates his experiences with intimate knowledge and native ease, adroitly balancing emotion with analysis, action with insight. On the Fireline shows that these firefighters aren’t the adrenaline junkies or romantic heroes they’re so often portrayed as. Their choice to take on such hazardous work grows naturally from their rural, working-class values, which the Forest Service taps into as it conditions them to risk their lives. Along with exploring how firefighters become acclimated to the hazards of the job, On the Fireline candidly examines the more everyday facets of their lives as well — we hear their jokes, witness their fights, and observe the close bonds they form while waiting for the next alarm to sound.

Matthew Desmond’s revealing and often gripping book is truly one of a kind: an immersion into a dangerous world, a moving portrait of the lives of young people, a sophisticated analysis of a high-risk profession — and a captivating read.
Read an excerpt from On the Fireline.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"What We Know About Climate Change"

New from the MIT Press: What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel.

About the book, from the publisher:
The vast majority of scientists agree that human activity has significantly increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere -- most dramatically since the 1970s. In February 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human-produced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are chiefly to blame, to a certainty of more than 90 percent. Yet global warming skeptics and ill-informed elected officials continue to dismiss this broad scientific consensus. In What We Know About Climate Change, MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel outlines the basic science of global warming and how the current consensus has emerged. Although it is impossible to predict exactly when the most dramatic effects of global warming will be felt, he argues, we can be confident that we face real dangers. Emanuel, whose work was widely cited in media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, warns that global warming will contribute to an increase in the intensity and power of hurricanes and flooding and more rapidly advancing deserts.

But just as our actions have created the looming crisis, so too might they avert it. Emanuel calls for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gases and criticizes the media for playing down the dangers of global warming (and, in search of "balance," quoting extremists who deny its existence).

An afterword by environmental policy experts Judith Layzer and William Moomaw discusses how the United States could lead the way in the policy changes required to deal with global warming.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"The American Mission and the 'Evil Empire'"

New from Cambridge University Press: The American Mission and the 'Evil Empire': The Crusade for a 'Free Russia' since 1881 by David S. Foglesong.

About the book, from the publisher:
David Foglesong tells the fascinating story of American efforts to liberate and remake Russia since the 1880s. He analyzes the involvement of journalists, political activists, propagandists, missionaries, diplomats, engineers, and others in this grand crusade, paying special attention to the influence of religious beliefs on Americans’ sense of duty to emancipate, convert, or reform Russia. He discusses the impact of popular debates about changing Russia on how Americans felt about the United States, showing how the belief that Russia was being remade in America's image reaffirmed faith in America's special virtue and historic mission and that opposition to the spread of American influence in Russia was characterized as evil from the late nineteenth century. While the main focus is on American thinking and action, the book also discusses the responses of Russian and Soviet governments, Russian Orthodox priests, and ordinary Russians to American propaganda campaigns, missionary work, and popular culture.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"America's Three Regimes"

New from Oxford University Press: America's Three Regimes: A New Political History by Morton Keller.

About the book
, from the publisher:
When historians take the long view, they look at "ages" or "eras" (the Age of Jackson, the Progressive Era). But these time spans last no longer than a decade or so. In this groundbreaking new book, Morton Keller divides our nation's history into three regimes, each of which lasts many, many decades, allowing us to appreciate, as never before, the slow steady evolution of American public life.

Americans like to think of our society as eternally young and effervescent. But the reality is very different. A proper history of America must be as much about continuity, persistence, and evolution as about transformation and revolution. To provide this proper history, Keller groups America's past into three long regimes -- Deferential and Republican, from the colonial period to the 1820s; Party and Democratic, from the 1830s to the 1930s; and Populist and Bureaucratic, from the 1930s to the present.

This approach yields many new insights. We discover, for instance, that the history of colonial America, the Revolution, and the Early Republic is a more unified story than usually assumed. The Civil War, industrialization, and the Progressive era did relatively little to alter the character of the democratic-party regime that lasted from the 1830s to the 1930s. And the populist-bureaucratic regime in which we live today has seen changes in politics, government, and law as profound as those that occurred in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

As Keller underscores the sheer staying power of America's public institutions, he sheds light on current concerns as well: in particular, will the current political polarization continue or will more moderate forces prevail.

Here then is a major contribution to United States history -- an entirely new way to look at our past, our present, and our future -- packed with provocative and original observations about American public life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution"

New from Hill and Wang: Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton.

About the book, from the publisher:

Average Americans Were the True Framers of the Constitution

Woody Holton upends what we think we know of the Constitution’s origins by telling the history of the average Americans who challenged the framers of the Constitution and forced on them the revisions that produced the document we now venerate. The framers who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 were determined to reverse America’s post–Revolutionary War slide into democracy. They believed too many middling Americans exercised too much influence over state and national policies. That the framers were only partially successful in curtailing citizen rights is due to the reaction, sometimes violent, of unruly average Americans.

If not to protect civil liberties and the freedom of the people, what motivated the framers? In Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, Holton provides the startling discovery that the primary purpose of the Constitution was, simply put, to make America more attractive to investment. And the linchpin to that endeavor was taking power away from the states and ultimately away from the people. In an eye-opening interpretation of the Constitution, Holton captures how the same class of Americans that produced Shays’s Rebellion in Massachusetts (and rebellions in damn near every other state) produced the Constitution we now revere.
The Page 69 Test: Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Appeasing Bankers"

New from Princeton University Press: Appeasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War by Jonathan Kirshner.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Appeasing Bankers, Jonathan Kirshner shows that bankers dread war -- an aversion rooted in pragmatism, not idealism. "Sound money, not war" is hardly a pacifist rallying cry. The financial world values economic stability above all else, and crises and war threaten that stability. States that pursue appeasement when assertiveness -- or even conflict -- is warranted, Kirshner demonstrates, are often appeasing their own bankers. And these realities are increasingly shaping state strategy in a world of global financial markets. Yet the role of these financial preferences in world politics has been widely misunderstood and underappreciated. Liberal scholars have tended to lump finance together with other commercial groups; theorists of imperialism (including, most famously, Lenin) have misunderstood the preferences of finance; and realist scholars have failed to appreciate how the national interest, and proposals to advance it, are debated and contested by actors within societies. Finance's interest in peace is both pronounced and predictable, regardless of time or place. Bankers, Kirshner shows, have even opposed assertive foreign policies when caution seems to go against their nation's interest (as in interwar France) or their own long-term political interest (as during the Falklands crisis, when British bankers failed to support their ally Margaret Thatcher). Examining these and other cases, including the Spanish-American War, interwar Japan, and the United States during the Cold War, Appeasing Bankers shows that, when faced with the prospect of war or international political crisis, national financial communities favor caution and demonstrate a marked aversion to war.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Resisting Global Toxics"

New from the MIT Press: Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice by David Naguib Pellow.

About the book, from the publisher:
Every year, nations and corporations in the "global North" produce millions of tons of toxic waste. Too often this hazardous material -- linked to high rates of illness and death and widespread ecosystem damage -- is exported to poor communities of color around the world. In Resisting Global Toxics, David Naguib Pellow examines this practice and charts the emergence of transnational environmental justice movements to challenge and reverse it. Pellow argues that waste dumping across national boundaries from rich to poor communities is a form of transnational environmental inequality that reflects North/South divisions in a globalized world, and that it must be theorized in the context of race, class, nation, and environment.

Building on environmental justice studies, environmental sociology, social movement theory, and race theory, and drawing on his own research, interviews, and participant observations, Pellow investigates the phenomenon of global environmental inequality and considers the work of activists, organizations, and networks resisting it. He traces the transnational waste trade from its beginnings in the 1980s to the present day, examining global garbage dumping, the toxic pesticides that are the legacy of the Green Revolution in agriculture, and today's scourge of dumping and remanufacturing high tech and electronics products. The rise of the transnational environmental movements described in Resisting Global Toxics charts a pragmatic path toward environmental justice, human rights, and sustainability.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Diamonds, Gold and War"

New from PublicAffairs: Diamonds, Gold and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa by Martin Meredith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced first upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds, and then upon its richest deposits of gold. What followed was a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land, culminating in the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and in the devastation of the Boer republics. Martin Meredith’s magisterial account of those years portrays the great wealth and raw power, the deceit, corruption, and racism that lay behind Britain’s empire-building in southern Africa. Based on significant new research and filled with atmospheric detail, it focuses on the fascinating rivalry between diamond titan Cecil Rhodes and Paul Kruger, the Boer leader whose only education was the Bible, who believed the earth was flat, yet who defied Britain’s prime ministers and generals for nearly a quarter of a century. Diamonds, Gold and War makes palpable the cost of western greed to Africa’s native peoples, and explains the rise of the virulent Afrikaner nationalism that eventually took hold in South Africa, with repercussions lasting nearly a century.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Just Health"

Coming soon from Cambridge University Press: Just Health: Meeting Health Needs Fairly by Norman Daniels.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this new book by the award-winning author of Just Healthcare, Norman Daniels develops a comprehensive theory of justice for health that answers three key questions: What is the special moral importance of health? When are health inequalities unjust? How can we meet health needs fairly when we cannot meet them all? The theory has implications for national and global health policy: Can we meet health needs fairly in aging societies? Or protect health in the workplace while respecting individual liberty? Or meet professional obligations and obligations of justice without conflict?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

" 2.0"

New from Princeton University Press: 2.0 by Cass R. Sunstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

What happens to democracy and free speech if people use the Internet to create echo chambers -- to listen and speak only to the like-minded? What is the democratic benefit of the Internet's unlimited choices if citizens narrowly limit the information they receive, creating ever-smaller niches and fragmenting the shared public conversation on which democracy depends? Cass Sunstein first asked these questions before 9/11, in, and they have become even more urgent in the years since.

Now, in 2.0, Sunstein thoroughly rethinks the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet in a world where partisan Web logs have emerged as a significant force in politics and where cyber-jihadists have embraced the Internet to thwart democracy and spread violence.

Emphasizing the value of unplanned, unchosen encounters, the original provoked a strong reaction from cyber-optimists. In 2.0 Sunstein answers the critics and expands his argument to take account of new developments, including the blogosphere, and fresh evidence about how people are using the Internet. He demonstrates that the real question is how to avoid "information cocoons" and to ensure that the unrestricted choices made possible by technology do not undermine democracy. Sunstein also proposes new remedies and reforms -- focusing far less on what government should do, and much more on what consumers and producers should do -- to help democracy avoid the perils, and realize the promise, of the Internet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"The Slave Ship"

New from Viking Books: The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker.

About the book, from the author's website:
The missing link in the chain of American slavery

For more than three centuries slave ships carried millions of people from the coasts of Africa across the Atlantic to the New World. Much is known of the slave trade and the American plantation complex, but little of the ships that made it all possible. In The Slave Ship, award-winning historian Marcus Rediker draws on thirty years of research in maritime archives to create an unprecedented history of these vessels and the human drama acted out on their rolling decks. He reconstructs in chilling detail the lives, deaths, and terrors of captains, sailors, and the enslaved aboard a “floating dungeon” trailed by sharks. From the young African kidnapped from his village and sold to the slaver by a neighboring tribe; to the would-be priest who takes a job as a sailor on a slave ship only to be horrified by the evil he sees; to the captain who relishes having “a hell of my own,” Rediker illuminates the lives of people who were thought to have left no trace.

This is a tale of tragedy and terror, but also an epic of resilience, survival, and the creation of something entirely new, something that could only be called African-American. Marcus Rediker restores the slave ship to its rightful place alongside the plantation as a formative institution of slavery, as a place where a profound and still haunting history of race, class, and modern capitalism was made.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"A Revolution in Commerce"

New from Yale University Press: A Revolution in Commerce: The Parisian Merchant Court and the Rise of Commercial Society in Eighteenth-Century France by Amalia D. Kessler.

About the book, from the publisher:
This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive account of the juridiction consulaire, or Merchant Court, of eighteenth-century Paris. Drawing on extensive archival research, Amalia D. Kessler reconstructs the workings of the court and the commercial law that it applied and uses these to shed new light on questions about the relationship between commerce and modernity that are of deep and abiding interest to lawyers, historians, and social scientists alike.

Kessler shows how the merchants who were associated with the court — and not just elite thinkers and royal reformers — played a key role in reconceptualizing commerce as the credit-fueled private exchange necessary to sustain the social order. Deploying this modern conception of commerce in a variety of contexts, ranging from litigation over negotiable instruments to corporatist battles for status and jurisdiction, these merchants contributed (largely inadvertently and to their ultimate regret) to the demise of corporatism as both conceptual framework and institutional practice. In so doing, they helped bring about the social and political revolution of 1789.

Highly readable and engaging, A Revolution in Commerce provides important new insights into the rise of commercial modernity by demonstrating the remarkable role played by the law in ideological and institutional transformation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Physical Realization"

New from Oxford University Press: Physical Realization by Sydney Shoemaker.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Physical Realization, Sydney Shoemaker considers the question of how physicalism can be true: how can all facts about the world, including mental ones, be constituted by facts about the distribution in the world of physical properties? Physicalism requires that the mental properties of a person are 'realized in' the physical properties of that person, and that all instantiations of properties in macroscopic objects are realized in microphysical states of affairs. Shoemaker offers an account of both these sorts of realization, one which allows the realized properties to be causally efficacious. He also explores the implications of this account for a wide range of metaphysical issues, including the nature of persistence through time, the problem of material constitution, the possibility of emergent properties, and the nature of phenomenal consciousness.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Enhancing Evolution"

New from Princeton University Press: Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People by John Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:

Decisive biotechnological interventions in the lottery of human life -- to enhance our bodies and brains and perhaps irreversibly change our genetic makeup -- have been widely rejected as unethical and undesirable, and have often met with extreme hostility. But in Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning to make a forthright, sweeping, and rigorous ethical case for using biotechnology to improve human life.

Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing -- good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. But the book advocates far more than therapies designed to free us from sickness and disability. Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers -- from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he supports enhancing ourselves in almost any way we desire. And it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves, Harris says. In some cases, it's morally obligatory.

Whether one looks upon biotechnology with hope, fear, or a little of both, Enhancing Evolution makes a case for it that no one can ignore.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Political Disaffection in Cuba's Revolution and Exodus"

New from Cambridge University Press: Political Disaffection in Cuba's Revolution and Exodus by Silvia Pedraza.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this book, Silvia Pedraza links Cuba's revolution and its mass exodus not only as cause and consequence but also as profoundly social and human processes that were not only political and economic but also cognitive and emotive. But, ironically for a community that defined itself as being in exile, virtually no studies of its political attitudes exist, and certainly none that encompass the changing political attitudes over 47 years of the exodus. The book uses participant observation and in-depth interviews to gain insight into the political disaffection of Cuban refugees.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"The Five Front War"

New from John Wiley & Sons: The Five Front War: The Better Way to Fight Global Jihad by Daniel Byman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Scholar Daniel Byman offers a new approach to fighting the war on terrorism. He convincingly argues that two of the main solutions to terrorism offered by politicians-military intervention and the democratization of the Arab world-shouldn't even be our top priorities. Instead, he presents a fresh way to face intelligence and law enforcement challenges ahead: conduct counterinsurgency operations, undermine al-Qaeda's ideology, selectively push for reforms, and build key lasting alliances.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"The Liberals' Moment"

New from the University Press of Kansas: The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party by Bruce Miroff.

About the book, from the publisher:

When George McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election, Richard Nixon’s landslide victory buried more than an insurgent campaign. In resurrecting the largely forgotten story of McGovern’s remarkable presidential bid, Bruce Miroff reveals how his crushing defeat produced an identity crisis for liberals torn between their convictions and the political calculations required to win elections — a dilemma for Democrats that has never gone away.

Miroff follows the campaign from its surprising rise to its catastrophic fall to remind us how a dark-horse candidate captured the nomination — and then disastrously chose a running mate with a hidden past. Drawing on interviews with dozens of participants — including McGovern himself — who share a wealth of anecdotes and insights, Miroff traces the insurgency to the political struggles of the sixties, explores McGovern’s ideology, and assesses the Republican attack politics that linked McGovern to “acid, amnesty, and abortion.”

Miroff shows how the transformative election of 1972 signaled a major shift in the Democratic base — from urban blue-collar New Dealers to suburban, issue-oriented activists (feminists and gay rights advocates among them) — as the party shed its Cold War past and embraced an antiwar orientation. He also illuminates how the McGovern campaign mastered the new game of presidential primaries and explores the formative experiences of a generation of talented young political actors, including campaign manager Gary Hart, political newcomer Bill Clinton, and future party strategists Bob Shrum and John Podesta. In excavating the 1972 landslide, he follows the subsequent careers of the young McGovernites and describes the loss’s effects on later Democratic presidential campaigns.

By tracing the transformation of American liberalism and sixties idealism from their political crash in 1972 to the muddled centrism of the twenty-first century, The Liberals’ Moment shows what the McGovern insurgency has to teach us today — and identifies what Democrats must do in order to reassume the mantle of progressive change.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"The Middle Path"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Middle Path: Avoiding Environmental Catastrophe by Eric Lambin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The debate about global warming is over. There is no longer any question that human activity is causing the Earth’s climate to heat up at an increasingly rapid rate, with consequences that we are now only beginning to understand. Meanwhile, human population growth is placing unsustainable demands on everything from animal habitats to water supplies. Faced with radically different assessments of the long-term effects of global warming — from oil companies, scientists, business lobbies, and environmental groups — concerned citizens find it difficult to tell how dire the prognosis really is. Is life on Earth doomed, or is there still time to mitigate — even to reverse — the damage that has already been done?

In The Middle Path, noted geographer Eric Lambin provides a concise, readable summary of the present state of the environment and considers what must be done if environmental catastrophe is to be avoided. Finding merit in the arguments of both optimists and pessimists, Lambin argues that it is not too late to exploit the inherent tendency toward equilibrium of large-scale systems such as the earth’s environment. By relying upon a combination of remedies as global as international cap-and-trade emission treaties and as local as municipal programs promoting the use of bicycles rather than cars, it may yet be possible to rescue humanity from a potentially fatal crisis of its own making.

Based on rigorous scientific analysis, and strikingly free of ideological prejudice, The Middle Path presents a fresh view of our troubled future, brilliantly balancing tough-minded realism with humanitarian ideals of cooperation and ingenuity.
Read an excerpt from The Middle Path.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"The Future of Reputation"

New from Yale University Press: The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel J. Solove.

About the book, from the publisher:
Teeming with chatrooms, online discussion groups, and blogs, the Internet offers previously unimagined opportunities for personal expression and communication. But there’s a dark side to the story. A trail of information fragments about us is forever preserved on the Internet, instantly available in a Google search. A permanent chronicle of our private lives — often of dubious reliability and sometimes totally false — will follow us wherever we go, accessible to friends, strangers, dates, employers, neighbors, relatives, and anyone else who cares to look. This engrossing book, brimming with amazing examples of gossip, slander, and rumor on the Internet, explores the profound implications of the online collision between free speech and privacy.

Daniel Solove, an authority on information privacy law, offers a fascinating account of how the Internet is transforming gossip, the way we shame others, and our ability to protect our own reputations. Focusing on blogs, Internet communities, cybermobs, and other current trends, he shows that, ironically, the unconstrained flow of information on the Internet may impede opportunities for self-development and freedom. Long-standing notions of privacy need review, the author contends: unless we establish a balance between privacy and free speech, we may discover that the freedom of the Internet makes us less free.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Bipolar Expeditions"

New from Princeton University Press: Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture by Emily Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:

Manic behavior holds an undeniable fascination in American culture today. It fuels the plots of best-selling novels and the imagery of MTV videos, is acknowledged as the driving force for successful entrepreneurs like Ted Turner, and is celebrated as the source of the creativity of artists like Vincent Van Gogh and movie stars like Robin Williams. Bipolar Expeditions seeks to understand mania's appeal and how it weighs on the lives of Americans diagnosed with manic depression.

Anthropologist Emily Martin guides us into the fascinating and sometimes disturbing worlds of mental-health support groups, mood charts, psychiatric rounds, the pharmaceutical industry, and psychotropic drugs. Charting how these worlds intersect with the wider popular culture, she reveals how people living under the description of bipolar disorder are often denied the status of being fully human, even while contemporary America exhibits a powerful affinity for manic behavior. Mania, Martin shows, has come to be regarded as a distant frontier that invites exploration because it seems to offer fame and profits to pioneers, while depression is imagined as something that should be eliminated altogether with the help of drugs.

Bipolar Expeditions argues that mania and depression have a cultural life outside the confines of diagnosis, that the experiences of people living with bipolar disorder belong fully to the human condition, and that even the most so-called rational everyday practices are intertwined with irrational ones.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

"The Day of Battle"

New from Henry Holt: The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the second volume of his epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the harrowing story of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy

In An Army at Dawn — winner of the Pulitzer Prize — Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the strengthening American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943 and then, mile by bloody mile, fight their way north toward Rome.

The Italian campaign’s outcome was never certain; in fact, Roosevelt, Churchill, and their military advisers engaged in heated debate about whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even a good idea. But once under way, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered, despite the agonizingly high price. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, and Monte Cassino were particularly difficult and lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. Led by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, one of the war’s most complex and controversial commanders, American officers and soldiers became increasingly determined and proficient. And with the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory at last began to seem inevitable.

Drawing on a wide array of primary source material, written with great drama and flair, this is narrative history of the first rank. With The Day of Battle, Atkinson has once again given us the definitive account of one of history’s most compelling military campaigns.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"Discovering God"

New from HarperSanFrancisco: Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief by Rodney Stark.

About the book, from the publisher:

Discovering God is a monumental history of the origins of the great religions from the Stone Age to the Modern Age. Sociologist Rodney Stark surveys the birth and growth of religions around the world — from the prehistoric era of primal beliefs; the history of the pyramids found in Iraq, Egypt, Mexico, and Cambodia; and the great "Axial Age" of Plato, Zoroaster, Confucius, and the Buddha, to the modern Christian missions and the global spread of Islam. He argues for a free-market theory of religion and for the controversial thesis that under the best, unimpeded conditions, the true, most authentic religions will survive and thrive. Among his many conclusions:

  • Despite decades of faulty reports that early religions were crude muddles of superstition, it turns out that primitive humans had surprisingly sophisticated notions about God and Creation.
  • The idea of "sin" appeared suddenly in the sixth century BCE and quickly reshaped religious ideas from Europe to China.
  • Some major world religions seem to lack any plausible traces of divine inspiration.
  • Ironically, some famous figures who attempted to found "Godless" religions ended up being worshiped as Gods.

Most people believe in the existence of God (or Gods), and this has apparently been so throughout human history. Many modern biologists and psychologists reject these spiritual ideas, especially those about the existence of God, as delusional. They claim that religion is a primitive survival mechanism that should have been discarded as humans evolved beyond the stage where belief in God served any useful purpose — that in modern societies, faith is a misleading crutch and an impediment to reason. In Discovering God, award-winning sociologist Rodney Stark responds to this position, arguing that it is our capacity to understand God that has evolved — that humans now know much more about God than they did in ancient times.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"The Balance of Power in International Relations"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Balance of Power in International Relations: Metaphors, Myths and Models by Richard Little.

About the book, from the publisher:
The balance of power has been a central concept in the theory and practice of international relations for the past five hundred years. It has also played a key role in some of the most important attempts to develop a theory of international politics in the contemporary study of international relations. In this book, Richard Little establishes a framework that treats the balance of power as a metaphor, a myth and a model. He then uses this framework to reassess four major texts that use the balance of power to promote a theoretical understanding of international relations: Hans J. Morgenthau's Politics Among Nations (1948), Hedley Bull's The Anarchical Society (1977), Kenneth N. Waltz's Theory of International Politics (1979) and John J. Mearsheimer's The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001). These reassessments allow the author to develop a more comprehensive model of the balance of power.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"Blasphemy in the Christian World"

New from Oxford University Press: Blasphemy in the Christian World by David S. Nash.

About the book, from the publisher:
Blasphemy -- the denial or denigration of God -- has a long history. Jesus was tried for blasphemy. Early Christians felt that the Jews in taking such action were themselves guilty of it. But it is not a story confined to the remote past. The publication in 2005 of 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper linking the prophet Mohammed to terrorism sparked outrage in the global Islamic community. And that was not an instance of blasphemy intruding itself upon a Western society unused to such issues within Christianity. In many societies blasphemy remained an offence in law and the prosecution of artistic productions profaning the sacred was still a possibility.

David Nash's new study focuses on the development of blasphemy in the Christian world. Tracing the subject from the Middle Ages to the present, he outlines the history of blasphemy as a concept, from a species of heresy to modern understandings of it as a crime against the sacred and individual religious identity. Investigating its appearance in speech, literature, popular publishing and the cinema, he disinters the likely motives and agendas of blasphemers themselves, as well as offering a glimpse of blasphemy's victims. In particular, he seeks to understand why this seemingly medieval offence has reappeared to become a distinctly modern presence in the West.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


New from the University of Chicago Press: Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration by Devah Pager.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nearly every job application asks it: have you ever been convicted of a crime? For the hundreds of thousands of young men leaving American prisons each year — a number that has exploded in recent decades with the growth of the prison system — their answer to that question may determine whether they can find work and begin rebuilding their lives.

The product of an innovative field experiment, Marked gives us our first real glimpse into the tremendous difficulties facing ex-offenders in the job market. Devah Pager matched up pairs of young men, randomly assigned them criminal records, then sent them on hundreds of real job searches throughout the city of Milwaukee. Her applicants were attractive, articulate, and capable — yet ex-offenders received less than half the callbacks of the equally qualified applicants without criminal backgrounds. Young black men, meanwhile, paid a particularly high price for the widespread assumptions about black criminality that underlie our era of mass incarceration: black applicants with clean records fared no better in their job searches than white men just out of prison. Such shocking barriers to legitimate work, Pager contends, are an important reason that many ex-prisoners soon find themselves back in the realm of poverty, underground employment, and crime that led them to prison in the first place.

Drawing much-needed attention to a problem that will continue to grow in coming years, Marked will ignite important debates over incarceration, discrimination, and the failures of our criminal justice system.
Read an excerpt from Marked.

Monday, October 1, 2007

"After the Baby Boomers"

New from Princeton University Press: After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion by Robert Wuthnow.

About the book, from the publisher:

Much has been written about the profound impact the post-World War II baby boomers had on American religion. But the lifestyles and beliefs of the generation that has followed -- and the influence these younger Americans in their twenties and thirties are having on the face of religion -- are not so well understood. It is this next wave of post-boomers that Robert Wuthnow examines in this illuminating book.

What are their churchgoing habits and spiritual interests and needs? How does their faith affect their families, their communities, and their politics? Interpreting new evidence from scores of in-depth interviews and surveys, Wuthnow reveals a generation of younger adults who, unlike the baby boomers that preceded them, are taking their time establishing themselves in careers, getting married, starting families of their own, and settling down--resulting in an estimated six million fewer regular churchgoers. He shows how the recent growth in evangelicalism is tapering off, and traces how biblical literalism, while still popular, is becoming less dogmatic and more preoccupied with practical guidance. At the same time, Wuthnow explains how conflicts between religious liberals and conservatives continue -- including among new immigrant groups such as Hispanics and Asians -- and how in the absence of institutional support many post-boomers have taken a more individualistic, improvised approach to spirituality. Wuthnow's fascinating analysis also explores the impacts of the Internet and so-called virtual churches, and the appeal of megachurches.

After the Baby Boomers offers us a tantalizing look at the future of American religion for decades to come.