Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"The Cost of Counterterrorism"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Cost of Counterterrorism: Power, Politics, and Liberty by Laura K. Donohue.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the aftermath of a terrorist attack political stakes are high: legislators fear being seen as lenient or indifferent and often grant the executive broader authorities without thorough debate. The judiciary's role, too, is restricted: constitutional structure and cultural norms narrow the courts' ability to check the executive at all but the margins. The dominant 'Security or Freedom' framework for evaluating counterterrorist law thus fails to capture an important characteristic: increased executive power that shifts the balance between branches of government. This book re-calculates the cost of counterterrorist law to the United Kingdom and the United States, arguing that the damage caused is significantly greater than first appears. Donohue warns that the proliferation of biological and nuclear materials, together with willingness on the part of extremists to sacrifice themselves, may drive each country to take increasingly drastic measures with a resultant shift in the basic structure of both states.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"The Comanche Empire"

New from Yale University Press: The Comanche Empire by Pekka Hämäläinen.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, at the high tide of imperial struggles in North America, an indigenous empire rose to dominate the fiercely contested lands of the American Southwest, the southern Great Plains, and northern Mexico. This powerful empire, built by the Comanche Indians, eclipsed its various European rivals in military prowess, political prestige, economic power, commercial reach, and cultural influence. Yet, until now, the Comanche empire has gone unrecognized in historical accounts.

This compelling and original book uncovers the lost story of the Comanches. It is a story that challenges the idea of indigenous peoples as victims of European expansion and offers a new model for the history of colonial expansion, colonial frontiers, and Native-European relations in North America and elsewhere. Pekka Hämäläinen shows in vivid detail how the Comanches built their unique empire and resisted European colonization, and why they fell to defeat in 1875. With extensive knowledge and deep insight, the author brings into clear relief the Comanches’ remarkable impact on the trajectory of history.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"The Theological Origins of Modernity"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Theological Origins of Modernity by Michael Allen Gillespie.

About the book, from the publisher:
Exhuming the long-buried religious roots of our ostensibly godless age, Michael Allen Gillespie reveals in this landmark study that modernity is much less secular than conventional wisdom suggests.

Taking as his starting point the collapse of the medieval world, Gillespie argues that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life—and that they did so not out of hostility but in order to sustain certain religious beliefs. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology. We’re still trying, Gillespie contends, to resolve the tensions inherent in our ideas of God, man, and nature—tensions that arose in the late Middle Ages during a titanic struggle between contradictory elements within Christianity. In the end, Gillespie shows that understanding modernity’s continuing entanglement with Christian metaphysics is crucial to comprehending the hidden possibilities of our confrontation with radical Islam and with the dualistic elements of our own tradition.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Hiroshima: The World's Bomb"

New from Oxford University Press: Hiroshima: The World's Bomb by Andrew J. Rotter.

About the book, from the publisher:
The US decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima remains one of the most controversial events of the twentieth century. But as this fascinating new history shows, the bomb dropped by an American pilot that hot August morning was in many ways the world's bomb, in both a technological and a moral sense. And it was the world that would have to face its consequences, strategically, diplomatically, and culturally, in the years ahead.

In this fast-paced and insightful narrative, Andrew J. Rotter tells the international story behind the development of the atom bomb, ranging from the global crises that led to the Second World War to the largely unavailing attempts to control the spread of nuclear weapons and the evolution of the nuclear arms race after the war had ended. He details the growth in the 1930s and '40s of a world-wide community of scientists dedicated to developing a weapon that could undo the evil in Nazi Germany, and he describes the harnessing of their efforts by the US wartime government. Rotter also sheds light on the political and strategic decisions that led to the bombing itself, the impact of the bomb on Hiroshima and the endgame of the Pacific War, the effects of the bombing and the bomb on society and culture, and the state of all things nuclear in the early 21st century world.

Hiroshima: The World's Bomb illuminates a pivotal moment in the development of the modern age. In an era of stateless terrorism, where there are as many as ten nuclear powers, it is a story that remains central to our understanding of the world.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"A History of Histories"

New from Knopf: A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century by John Burrow.

About the book, from the publisher:
This unprecedented book by one of Britain’s most admired historians describes the intellectual impact that the study and consideration of history has had in the Western world over the past 2,500 years.

Treating the practice of history not as an isolated pursuit but as an aspect of human society and an essential part of the culture of Europe and America, John Burrow magnificently brings to life and explains the distinctive qualities found in the work of historians from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks to the present, including Livy, Tacitus, Bede, Froissart, Clarendon, Gibbon, Macaulay, Michelet, Prescott and Parkman. The author sets out not to give us the history of academic discipline but a history of choices: the choice of pasts, and the ways they have been demarcated, investigated, presented and even sometimes learned from as they have changed according to political, religious, cultural, and (often most important) partisan and patriotic circumstances. Burrow aims, as well, to change our perceptions of the crucial turning points in the history of history, allowing the ideas that historians have had about both their own times and their founding civilizations to emerge with unexpected freshness.

Burrow argues that looking at the history of history is one of the most interesting ways we have to understand the past. Certainly, this volume stands alone in its ambition, scale and fascination.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Beijing's Games"

Recently from Rowman & Littlefield: Beijing's Games: What the Olympics Mean to China by Susan Brownell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why is hosting the Olympic Games so important to China? What is the significance of a quintessential symbol of Western civilization taking place in the heart of the Far East? Will the Olympics change China, or will China change the Olympics? Susan Brownell sets the historical and cultural stage for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by exploring the vital links among sports, gender, state power, Chinese nationalism, and China's national image in the West over the past century. She places the 2008 Games within the context of China's hundred-year engagement with the Olympic movement to illuminate what the Games mean to China and what the Beijing Olympic Games will mean for China's relationship with the outside world. Brownell's deeply informed analysis ranges from nineteenth-century orientalism to Cold War politics and post-Cold War "China bashing."

Drawing on her decades of engagement as a college athlete in China, university professor, media expert, and advisor to the International Olympic Committee, the author utilizes her personal experiences and access to unique sources to paint an evocative and human picture of the passion that many Chinese people feel for the Olympic Games. Her book will appeal to scholars and students across the social sciences. It will also be essential reading for journalists and sports enthusiasts who want to understand the fascinating story behind the Beijing Olympics.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Religion in American Politics"

Recently from Princeton University Press: Religion in American Politics: A Short History by Frank Lambert.

About the book, from the publisher:
The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention blocked the establishment of Christianity as a national religion. But they could not keep religion out of American politics. From the election of 1800, when Federalist clergymen charged that deist Thomas Jefferson was unfit to lead a "Christian nation," to today, when some Democrats want to embrace the so-called Religious Left in order to compete with the Republicans and the Religious Right, religion has always been part of American politics. In Religion in American Politics, Frank Lambert tells the fascinating story of the uneasy relations between religion and politics from the founding to the twenty-first century.

Lambert examines how antebellum Protestant unity was challenged by sectionalism as both North and South invoked religious justification; how Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" competed with the anticapitalist "Social Gospel" during postwar industrialization; how the civil rights movement was perhaps the most effective religious intervention in politics in American history; and how the alliance between the Republican Party and the Religious Right has, in many ways, realized the founders' fears of religious-political electoral coalitions. In these and other cases, Lambert shows that religion became sectarian and partisan whenever it entered the political fray, and that religious agendas have always mixed with nonreligious ones.

Religion in American Politics brings rare historical perspective and insight to a subject that was just as important--and controversial--in 1776 as it is today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me"

New from Harvard University Press: The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me: The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Jonathan Rieder.

About the book, from the publisher:
“You don’t know me,” Martin Luther King, Jr., once declared to those who criticized his denunciation of the Vietnam War, who wanted to confine him to the ghetto of “black” issues. Now, forty years after being felled by an assassin’s bullet, it is still difficult to take the measure of the man: apostle of peace or angry prophet; sublime exponent of a beloved community or fiery Moses leading his people up from bondage; black preacher or translator of blackness to the white world?

This book explores the extraordinary performances through which King played with all of these possibilities, and others too, blending and gliding in and out of idioms and identities. Taking us deep into King’s backstage discussions with colleagues, his preaching to black congregations, his exhortations in mass meetings, and his crossover addresses to whites, Jonathan Rieder tells a powerful story about the tangle of race, talk, and identity in the life of one of America’s greatest moral and political leaders.

A brilliant interpretive endeavor grounded in the sociology of culture, The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me delves into the intricacies of King’s sermons, speeches, storytelling, exhortations, jokes, jeremiads, taunts, repartee, eulogies, confessions, lamentation, and gallows humor, as well as the author’s interviews with members of King’s inner circle. The King who emerges is a distinctively modern figure who, in straddling the boundaries of diverse traditions, ultimately transcended them all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Angel of Vengeance"

New from St. Martin's Press: Angel of Vengeance: The Girl Assassin, the Governor of St. Petersburg, and Russia's Revolutionary World by Ana Siljak.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the Russian winter of 1878 a shy, aristocratic young woman named Vera Zasulich walked into the office of the governor of St. Petersburg, pulled a revolver from underneath her shawl, and shot General Fedor Trepov point blank. “Revenge!,” she cried, for the governor's brutal treatment of a political prisoner. Her trial for murder later that year became Russia's "trial of the century," closely followed by people all across Europe and America. On the day of the trial, huge crowds packed the courtroom. The cream of Russian society, attired in the finery of the day, arrived to witness the theatrical testimony and deliberations in the case of the young angel of vengeance. After the trial, Vera became a celebrated martyr for all social classes in Russia and became the public face of a burgeoning revolutionary fervor. Dostoyevsky (who attended the trial), Turgenev, Engels, and even Oscar Wilde all wrote about her extraordinary case. Her astonishing acquittal was celebrated across Europe, crowds filled the streets and the decision marked the changing face of Russia. After fleeing to Switzerland, Vera Zasulich became Russia's most famous "terroristka," inspiring a whole generation of Russian and European revolutionaries to embrace violence and martyrdom. Her influence led to a series of acts that collectively became part of “the age of assassinations.” In the now-forgotten story of Russia's most notorious terrorist, Ana Siljak captures Vera's extraordinary life story--from privileged child of nobility to revolutionary conspirator, from assassin to martyr to socialist icon and saint-- while colorfully evoking the drama of one of the world’s most closely watched trials and a Russia where political celebrities held sway.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"The Power Makers"

Coming soon from Bloomsbury USA: The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity, and the Men who Invented Modern America by Maury Klein.

About the book, from the publisher:
The dramatic story of the “power revolution” that turned America from an agrarian society into a technological superpower, and the dynamic, fiercely competitive inventors and entrepreneurs who made it happen—a riveting historical saga to rival McCullough’s The Great Bridge or Larson’s Thunderstruck.

Maury Klein, author of Rainbow’s End: The Crash of 1929, is one of America’s most acclaimed historians of business and industry. In The Power Makers, he offers an epic narrative of his greatest subject yet—the “power revolution” that transformed American life in the course of the nineteenth century.

The steam engine; the incandescent bulb; the electric motor—inventions such as these replaced backbreaking toil with machine labor and changed every aspect of daily life in the span of a few generations. The power revolution is not a tale of machines, however, but of men: inventors such as James Watt, Elihu Thomson, and Nikola Tesla; entrepreneurs such as George Westinghouse; savvy businessmen such as J.P. Morgan, Samuel Insull, and Charles Coffin of General Electric. Striding among them like a colossus is the figure of Thomas Edison, who was creative genius and business visionary at once. With consummate skill, Klein recreates their discoveries, their stunning triumphs and frequent failures, and their unceasing, tumultuous, and ferocious battles in the marketplace.

In Klein’s hands, their personalities and discoveries leap off the page. The Power Makers is a dazzling saga of inspired invention, dogged persistence, and business competition at its most naked and cutthroat—a tale of America in its most astonishing decades.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Seduced by Secrets"

New from Cambridge University Press: Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World by Kristie Macrakis.

About the book, from the publisher:
More fascinating than fiction, Seduced by Secrets takes the reader inside the real world of one of the most effective and feared spy agencies in history. The book reveals, for the first time, the secret technical methods and sources of the Stasi (East German Ministry for State Security) as it stole secrets from abroad and developed gadgets at home, employing universal, highly guarded techniques often used by other spy and security agencies. Seduced by Secrets draws on secret files from the Stasi archives, including CIA-acquired material, interviews and friendships, court documents, and unusual visits to spy sites, including "breaking into" a prison, to demonstrate that the Stasi overestimated the power of secrets to solve problems and created an insular spy culture more intent on securing its power than protecting national security. It recreates the Stasi's secret world of technology through biographies of agents, defectors, and officers and by visualizing James Bond–like techniques and gadgets. In this highly original book, Kristie Macrakis adds a new dimension to our understanding of the East German Ministry for State Security by bringing the topic into the realm of espionage history and exiting the political domain.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Free Trade Nation"

New from Oxford University Press: Free Trade Nation: Commerce, Consumption, and Civil Society in Modern Britain by Frank Trentmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
One of Britain's defining contributions to the modern world, Free Trade united civil society and commerce and gave birth to consumer power. In this book, Frank Trentmann shows how the doctrine of Free Trade contributed to the growth of a democratic culture in Britain -- and how it fell apart.

Far from the cold economic doctrine of today, in an earlier battle over globalization Free Trade was a passionately held ideal, central to public life and national identity. Free Trade inspired popular entertainment and advertising, in seaside resorts, shows, and shopping streets. It mobilized an alliance of elites and the people, businessmen and working-class women, imperialists and internationalists. Free Trade Nation follows the creation of this culture in nineteenth-century Britain, and its subsequent unraveling in the First World War and the depression of the 1930s, when consumers and internationalists, labor and business now attacked it for sacrificing international stability and domestic welfare at the temple of cheapness. These successful attacks marked the end of a defining chapter in history. The popular culture of Free Trade was never to return.

For anyone interested in the current problem of globalization, this book offers a vivid and thought-provoking perspective on the success and failure of Free Trade. For champions of trade liberalization, it is a reminder that culture, ethics and popular communication matter just as much as sound economics. Believers in Fair Trade, by contrast, will be surprised to learn that in the past it was Free Trade, not Fair Trade, that was seen to stand for values such as democracy, justice, and peace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"The Tokyo War Crimes Trial"

New from Harvard University Press: The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II by Yuma Totani.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book assesses the historical significance of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE)—commonly called the Tokyo trial—established as the eastern counterpart of the Nuremberg trial in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

Through extensive research in Japanese, American, Australian, and Indian archives, Yuma Totani taps into a large body of previously underexamined sources to explore some of the central misunderstandings and historiographical distortions that have persisted to the present day. Foregrounding these voluminous records, Totani disputes the notion that the trial was an exercise in “victors’ justice” in which the legal process was egregiously compromised for political and ideological reasons; rather, the author details the achievements of the Allied prosecution teams in documenting war crimes and establishing the responsibility of the accused parties to show how the IMTFE represented a sound application of the legal principles established at Nuremberg.

This study deepens our knowledge of the historical intricacies surrounding the Tokyo trial and advances our understanding of the Japanese conduct of war and occupation during World War II, the range of postwar debates on war guilt, and the relevance of the IMTFE to the continuing development of international humanitarian law.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"The Culture of Giving"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Culture of Giving: Informal Support and Gift-Exchange in Early Modern England by Ilana Krausman Ben-Amos.

About the book, from the publisher:
An innovative study of gift-giving, informal support and charity in England between the late sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries. Ilana Krausman Ben-Amos examines the adaptation and transformation of varied forms of informal help, challenging long held views and assumptions about the decline of voluntary giving and personal obligations in the transition from medieval to modern times. Merging historical research with insights drawn from theories of gift-giving, the book analyses practices of informal support within varied social networks, associations and groups over the entire period. It argues that the processes entailed in the Reformation, state formation and the implementation of the poor laws, as well as market and urban expansion, acted as powerful catalysts for many forms of informal help. Within certain boundaries, the early modern era witnessed the diversification, increase and invigoration, rather than the demise, of gift-giving and informal support.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The Soiling of Old Glory"

New from Bloomsbury Press: The Soiling of Old Glory by Louis P. Masur.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sometimes a moment can change history. This one took 1/250th of a second.

The photograph strikes us with visceral force, even years after the instant it captured. A white man, rage written on his face, lunges to spear a black man who is being held by another white. The assailant’s weapon is the American flag.

Boston, April 5, 1976: As the city simmered with racial tension over forced school busing, newsman Stanley Forman hurried to City Hall to photograph that day’s protest, arriving just in time to snap the image that his editor would title “The Soiling of Old Glory.” The photo made headlines across the U.S. and won Forman his second Pulitzer Prize. It shocked Boston, and America: Racial strife had not only not ended with the 1960s, it was alive and well in the cradle of liberty.

Louis P. Masur’s evocative “biography of a photograph” unpacks this arresting image in a tour de force of historical writing. He examines the power of photography and the meaning of the flag, asking why this one picture had so much impact. Most poignantly, Masur recreates the moment and its aftermath, drawing on extensive interviews with Forman and the figures in the photo to reveal not just how the incident happened, but how it changed the lives of the men in it. The Soiling of Old Glory, like the photograph it is named for, offers a dramatic window onto the turbulence of the 1970s and race relations in America.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Is There a Right to Remain Silent?"

New from Oxford University Press: Is There a Right to Remain Silent?: Coercive Interrogation and the Fifth Amendment After 9/11 by Alan M. Dershowitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
The right to remain silent, guaranteed by the famed Fifth Amendment case, Miranda v. Arizona , is perhaps one of the most easily recognized and oft-quoted constitutional rights in American culture. Yet despite its ubiquity, there is widespread misunderstanding about the right and the protections promised under the Fifth Amendment.

In Is There a Right to Remain Silent? renowned legal scholar and bestselling author Alan Dershowitz reveals precisely why our Fifth Amendment rights matter and how they are being reshaped, limited, and in some cases revoked in the wake of 9/11. As security concerns have heightened, law enforcement has increasingly turned its attention from punishing to preventing crime. Dershowitz argues that recent Supreme Court decisions have opened the door to coercive interrogations -- even when they amount to torture -- if they are undertaken to prevent a crime, especially a terrorist attack, and so long as the fruits of such interrogations are not introduced into evidence at the criminal trial of the coerced person. In effect, the court has given a green light to all preventive interrogation methods. By deftly tracing the evolution of the Fifth Amendment from its inception in the Bill of Rights to the present day, where national security is the nation's first priority, Dershowitz puts forward a bold reinterpretation of the Fifth Amendment for the post-9/11 world. As the world we live in changes from a "deterrent state" to the heightened vigilance of today's "preventative state," our construction, he argues, must also change. We must develop a jurisprudence that will contain both substantive and procedural rules for all actions taken by government officials in order to prevent harmful conduct-including terrorism.

Timely, provocative, and incisively written, Is There a Right to Remain Silent? presents an absorbing look at one of our most essential constitutional rights at one of the most critical moments in recent American history.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"On Zion's Mount"

New from Harvard University Press: On Zion's Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape by Jared Farmer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Shrouded in the lore of legendary Indians, Mt. Timpanogos beckons the urban populace of Utah. And yet, no “Indian” legend graced the mount until Mormon settlers conjured it—once they had displaced the local Indians, the Utes, from their actual landmark, Utah Lake. On Zion’s Mount tells the story of this curious shift. It is a quintessentially American story about the fraught process of making oneself “native” in a strange land. But it is also a complex tale of how cultures confer meaning on the environment—how they create homelands.

Only in Utah did Euro-American settlers conceive of having a homeland in the Native American sense—an endemic spiritual geography. They called it “Zion.” Mormonism, a religion indigenous to the United States, originally embraced Indians as “Lamanites,” or spiritual kin. On Zion’s Mount shows how, paradoxically, the Mormons created their homeland at the expense of the local Indians—and how they expressed their sense of belonging by investing Timpanogos with “Indian” meaning.

This same pattern was repeated across the United States. Jared Farmer reveals how settlers and their descendants (the new natives) bestowed “Indian” place names and recited pseudo-Indian legends about those places—cultural acts that still affect the way we think about American Indians and American landscapes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Castles, Battles, and Bombs"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Castles, Battles, and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History by Jurgen Brauer and Hubert Van Tuyll.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the walls of Troy to the sands of Iraq, humans have devoted staggering resources to the art and science of war. Yet while military history has long studied the economics of conflict, until now there have been few attempts to apply the principles of economics to military history.

In Castles, Battles, and Bombs, Jurgen Brauer and Hubert van Tuyll reconsider key episodes of military history from the point of view of economics—with dramatically insightful results. For example, when looked at as a question of sheer cost, the building of castles in the Middle Ages seems almost inevitable: though stunningly expensive, a strong castle was far cheaper to maintain than a standing army. Similarly, great commanders of the Age of Battle such as Napoleon, Marlborough, and Frederick the Great are shown to have engaged in cost/benefit calculations: because the risk of losing of an entire army usually far outweighed the potential spoils of victory, they actually chose to fight relatively few large engagements. The authors also reexamine the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II and provide new insights into France’s decision to develop nuclear weapons. Drawing on these examples and more, Brauer and Van Tuyll suggest lessons for today’s military, from counterterrorist strategy and military manpower planning to the use of private military companies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Innovative and thought-provoking—and written to be grasped by readers without a background in economics—Castles, Battles, and Bombs opens up a new perspective on war and strategy, sure to fascinate history buffs, scholars, and students alike.
Read an excerpt from Castles, Battles, and Bombs.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Russia on the Eve of Modernity"

New from Cambridge University Press: Russia on the Eve of Modernity: Popular Religion and Traditional Culture under the Last Tsars by Leonid Heretz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Russia on the Eve of Modernity is a pioneering exploration of a world that has been largely destroyed by revolutionary upheavals and obscured in historical memory by scholarly focus on elites. Drawing on traditional religious texts, ethnographic materials and contemporary accounts, this book brings to light the ideas and perceptions of the ordinary Russian people of the towns and countryside who continued to live in a pre-modern, non-Western culture that showed great resilience to the very end of the Romanov Empire. Leonid Heretz offers an overview of traditional Russian understandings of the world and its workings, and shows popular responses to events from the assassination of Alexander II to the First World War. This history of ordinary Russians illuminates key themes ranging from peasant monarchism to apocalyptic responses to intrusions from the modern world and will appeal to scholars of Russian history and the history of religion in modern Europe.

Friday, April 11, 2008


New from Harcourt Books: Bill Emmott's Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade.

About the book, from the publisher:
The former editor in chief of the Economist returns to the territory of his bestselling book The Sun Also Sets to lay out an entirely fresh analysis of the growing rivalry between China, India, and Japan and what it will mean for America, the global economy, and the twenty-first-century world.

Though books such as The World Is Flat and China Shakes the World consider them only as individual actors, Emmott argues that these three political and economic giants are closely intertwined by their fierce competition for influence, markets, resources, and strategic advantage. Rivals explains and explores the ways in which this sometimes bitter rivalry will play out over the next decade—in business, global politics, military competition, and the environment—and reveals the efforts of the United States to manipulate and benefit from this rivalry. Identifying the biggest risks born of these struggles, Rivals also outlines the ways these risks can and should be managed by all of us.
Visit Bill Emmott's website.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"The Sterilization Movement and Global Fertility in the Twentieth Century"

New from Oxford University Press: The Sterilization Movement and Global Fertility in the Twentieth Century by Ian R. Dowbiggin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many would be surprised to learn that the preferred method of birth control in the United States today is actually surgical sterilization. This book takes an historical look at the sterilization movement in post-World War II America, a revolution in modern contraceptive behavior. Focusing on leaders of the sterilization movement from the 1930's through the turn of the century, this book explores the historic linkages between environment, civil liberties, eugenics, population control, sex education, marriage counseling, and birth control movements in the 20th-century United States.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"The Politics of Presidential Appointments"

New from Princeton University Press: The Politics of Presidential Appointments: Political Control and Bureaucratic Performance by David E. Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many questioned whether the large number of political appointees in the Federal Emergency Management Agency contributed to the agency's poor handling of the catastrophe, ultimately costing hundreds of lives and causing immeasurable pain and suffering. The Politics of Presidential Appointments examines in depth how and why presidents use political appointees and how their choices impact government performance--for better or worse.

One way presidents can influence the permanent bureaucracy is by filling key posts with people who are sympathetic to their policy goals. But if the president's appointees lack competence and an agency fails in its mission--as with Katrina--the president is accused of employing his friends and allies to the detriment of the public. Through case studies and cutting-edge analysis, David Lewis takes a fascinating look at presidential appointments dating back to the 1960s to learn which jobs went to appointees, which agencies were more likely to have appointees, how the use of appointees varied by administration, and how it affected agency performance. He argues that presidents politicize even when it hurts performance--and often with support from Congress--because they need agencies to be responsive to presidential direction. He shows how agency missions and personnel--and whether they line up with the president's vision--determine which agencies presidents target with appointees, and he sheds new light on the important role patronage plays in appointment decisions.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Primeval Kinship"

New from Harvard University Press: Primeval Kinship: How Pair-Bonding Gave Birth to Human Society by Bernard Chapais.

About the book, from the publisher:
At some point in the course of evolution—from a primeval social organization of early hominids—all human societies, past and present, would emerge. In this account of the dawn of human society, Bernard Chapais shows that our knowledge about kinship and society in nonhuman primates supports, and informs, ideas first put forward by the distinguished social anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss.

Chapais contends that only a few evolutionary steps were required to bridge the gap between the kinship structures of our closest relatives—chimpanzees and bonobos—and the human kinship configuration. The pivotal event, the author proposes, was the evolution of sexual alliances. Pair-bonding transformed a social organization loosely based on kinship into one exhibiting the strong hold of kinship and affinity. The implication is that the gap between chimpanzee societies and pre-linguistic hominid societies is narrower than we might think.

Many books on kinship have been written by social anthropologists, but Primeval Kinship is the first book dedicated to the evolutionary origins of human kinship. And perhaps equally important, it is the first book to suggest that the study of kinship and social organization can provide a link between social and biological anthropology.

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Tides of History"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Tides of History: Ocean Science and Her Majesty's Navy by Michael S. Reidy.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the British sought to master the physical properties of the oceans; in the second half, they lorded over large portions of the oceans’ outer rim. The dominance of Her Majesty’s navy was due in no small part to collaboration between the British Admiralty, the maritime community, and the scientific elite. Together, they transformed the vast emptiness of the ocean into an ordered and bounded grid. In the process, the modern scientist emerged. Science itself expanded from a limited and local undertaking receiving parsimonious state support to worldwide and relatively well financed research involving a hierarchy of practitioners.

Analyzing the economic, political, social, and scientific changes on which the British sailed to power, Tides of History shows how the British Admiralty collaborated closely not only with scholars, such as William Whewell, but also with the maritime community — sailors, local tide table makers, dockyard officials, and harbormasters — in order to systematize knowledge of the world’s oceans, coasts, ports, and estuaries. As Michael S. Reidy points out, Britain’s security and prosperity as a maritime nation depended on its ability to maneuver through the oceans and dominate coasts and channels. The practice of science and the rise of the scientist became inextricably linked to the process of European expansion.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"Ghosts of War in Vietnam"

New from Cambridge University Press: Ghosts of War in Vietnam by Heonik Kwon.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a fascinating and truly groundbreaking study of the Vietnamese experience and memory of the Vietnam War through the lens of popular imaginings about the wandering souls of the war dead. These ghosts of war play an important part in postwar Vietnamese historical narrative and imagination and Heonik Kwon explores the intimate ritual ties with these unsettled identities which still survive in Vietnam today as well as the actions of those who hope to liberate these hidden but vital historical presences from their uprooted social existence. Taking a unique approach to the cultural history of war, he introduces gripping stories about spirits claiming social justice and about his own efforts to wrestle with the physical and spiritual presence of ghosts. Although these actions are fantastical, this book shows how examining their stories can illuminate critical issues of war and collective memory in Vietnam and the modern world more generally.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Free Speech and Human Dignity"

New from Yale University Press: Free Speech and Human Dignity by Steven Heyman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Debates over hate speech, pornography, and other sorts of controversial speech raise issues that go to the core of the First Amendment. Supporters of regulation argue that these forms of expression cause serious injury to individuals and groups, assaulting their dignity as human beings and citizens. Civil libertarians respond that our commitment to free speech is measured by our willingness to protect it, even when it causes harm or offends our deepest values.

In this important book, Steven J. Heyman presents a theory of the First Amendment that seeks to overcome the conflict between free speech and human dignity. This liberal humanist theory recognizes a strong right to freedom of expression while also providing protection against the most serious forms of assaultive speech. Heyman then uses the theory to illuminate a wide range of contemporary disputes, from flag burning and antiabortion demonstrations to pornography and hate speech.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"The Necessity of Theater"

New from Oxford University Press: The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched by Paul Woodruff.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is unique and essential about theater? What separates it from other arts? Do we need "theater" in some fundamental way? The art of theater, as Paul Woodruff says in this elegant and unique book, is as necessary - and as powerful - as language itself. Defining theater broadly, including sporting events and social rituals, he treats traditional theater as only one possibility in an art that - at its most powerful - can change lives and (as some peoples believe) bring a divine presence to earth.

The Necessity of Theater analyzes the unique power of theater by separating it into the twin arts of watching and being watched, practiced together in harmony by watchers and the watched. Whereas performers practice the art of being watched - making their actions worth watching, and paying attention to action, choice, plot, character, mimesis, and the sacredness of performance space - audiences practice the art of watching: paying close attention. A good audience is emotionally engaged as spectators; their engagement takes a form of empathy that can lead to a special kind of human wisdom. As Plato implied, theater cannot teach us transcendent truths, but it can teach us about ourselves.

Characteristically thoughtful, pribing, and original, Paul Woodruff makes the case for theater as a unique form of expression connected to our most human insticts. The Necessity of Theater should appeal to anyone seriously interested or involved in theater or performance more broadly.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Keep Watching the Skies!"

New from Princeton University Press: Keep Watching the Skies!: The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age by W. Patrick McCray.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, thousands of ordinary people across the globe seized the opportunity to participate in the start of the Space Age. Known as the "Moonwatchers," these largely forgotten citizen-scientists helped professional astronomers by providing critical and otherwise unavailable information about the first satellites. In Keep Watching the Skies!, Patrick McCray tells the story of this network of pioneers who, fueled by civic pride and exhilarated by space exploration, took part in the twentieth century's biggest scientific endeavor.

Around the world, thousands of teenagers, homemakers, teachers, amateur astronomers, and other citizens joined Moonwatch teams. Despite their diverse backgrounds and nationalities, they shared a remarkable faith in the transformative power of science--a faith inspired by the Cold War culture in which they lived. Against the backdrop of the space race and technological advancement, ordinary people developed an unprecedented desire to contribute to scientific knowledge and to investigate their place in the cosmos. Using homemade telescopes and other gadgets, Moonwatchers witnessed firsthand the astonishing beginning of the Space Age. In the process, these amateur scientists organized themselves into a worldwide network of satellite spotters that still exists today.

Drawing on previously unexamined letters, photos, scrapbooks, and interviews, Keep Watching the Skies! recreates a pivotal event from a perspective never before examined--that of ordinary people who leaped at a chance to take part in the excitement of space exploration.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"The Bridge at the Edge of the World"

New from Yale University Press: The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability by James Gustave Speth.

About the book, from the publisher:
How serious are the threats to our environment? Here is one measure of the problem: if we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in. Of course human activities are not holding at current levels—they are accelerating, dramatically—and so, too, is the pace of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification. In this book Gus Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning and a widely respected environmentalist, begins with the observation that the environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to decline, to the point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe.

Speth contends that this situation is a severe indictment of the economic and political system we call modern capitalism. Our vital task is now to change the operating instructions for today’s destructive world economy before it is too late. The book is about how to do that.
Visit The Bridge at the Edge of the World website.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"The Faithful"

New from Harvard University Press: The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America by James M. O'Toole.

About the book, from the publisher:
Shaken by the ongoing clergy sexual abuse scandal, and challenged from within by social and theological division, Catholics in America are at a crossroads. But is today’s situation unique? And where will Catholicism go from here? With the belief that we understand our present by studying our past, James O’Toole offers a bold and panoramic history of the American Catholic laity.

O’Toole tells the story of this ancient church from the perspective of ordinary Americans, the lay believers who have kept their faith despite persecution from without and clergy abuse from within. It is an epic tale, from the first settlements of Catholics in the colonies to the turmoil of the scandal-ridden present, and through the church’s many American incarnations in between. We see Catholics’ complex relationship to Rome and to their own American nation. O’Toole brings to life both the grand sweep of institutional change and the daily practice that sustained believers. The Faithful pays particular attention to the intricacies of prayer and ritual—the ways men and women have found to express their faith as Catholics over the centuries.

With an intimate knowledge of the dilemmas and hopes of today’s church, O’Toole presents a new vision and offers a glimpse into the possible future of the church and its parishioners. Moving past the pulpit and into the pews, The Faithful is an unmatched look at the American Catholic laity. Today’s Catholics will find much to educate and inspire them in these pages, and non-Catholics will gain a newfound understanding of their religious brethren.