Monday, June 30, 2008


New from Stanford University Press: Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, edited by Robert N. Proctor and Londa Schiebinger.

About the book, from the publisher:
What don't we know, and why don't we know it? What keeps ignorance alive, or allows it to be used as a political instrument? Agnotology—the study of ignorance—provides a new theoretical perspective to broaden traditional questions about "how we know" to ask: Why don't we know what we don't know? The essays assembled in Agnotology show that ignorance is often more than just an absence of knowledge; it can also be the outcome of cultural and political struggles. Ignorance has a history and a political geography, but there are also things people don't want you to know ("Doubt is our product" is the tobacco industry slogan). Individual chapters treat examples from the realms of global climate change, military secrecy, female orgasm, environmental denialism, Native American paleontology, theoretical archaeology, racial ignorance, and more. The goal of this volume is to better understand how and why various forms of knowing do not come to be, or have disappeared, or have become invisible.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"White Protestant Nation"

New from Atlantic Monthly Press: White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement by Allan J. Lichtman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Spanning nearly one hundred years of American political history, and abounding with outsize characters—from Lindbergh to Goldwater to Gingrich to Abramoff—White Protestant Nation offers a penetrating look at the origins, evolution, and triumph (at times) of modern conservatism.

In the long-awaited new book from the author of The Keys to the White House—which The Baltimore Sun called “a must book for political junkies” and which remains influential after more than fifteen years in print—Allan J. Lichtman has produced a deft and wide-ranging examination of the rise of conservatism in America from the end of World War I to today.

Lichtman is both a professor of political history at American University and a veteran journalist, and after ten years of prodigious research, he has produced what may be the definitive history of the modern conservative movement in America. He has combed through nearly one hundred manuscript collections— he has the confidential memos of Billy Graham, Dick Armey, and many others; the internal strategy papers of the big foundations; the secret correspondence between William F. Buckley Jr. and the Franco regime; and much more—to capture the entire tapestry and trajectory of the conservative movement.

He brings to life a gallery of dynamic right-wing personalities, from luminaries such as Strom Thurmond, Phyllis Schlafly, and Bill Kristol to indispensable inside operators like financiers Frank Gannett and J. Howard Pew. He explodes the conventional wisdom that modern conservative politics began with Goldwater and instead traces the roots of today’s movement to the 1920s. He shows how modern conservatism was born out of post–World War I fears that secular, pluralistic, and cosmopolitan forces threatened America’s national identity. And he lays bare the tactics that conservatives have used for generations to put their slant on policy and culture; to choke the growth of the liberal state; and to build the most powerful media, fundraising, and intellectual network in the history of representative government.

Perfect for readers of Thomas Frank, Kevin Phillips, and John Dean, and a natural counterpart to The Good Fight, Peter Beinart’s recent book on liberalism, White Protestant Nation is entertaining, provocative, enlightening, and essential reading for anyone who cares about modern American politics and its history.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Firebrand of Liberty"

New from W.W. Norton: Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash.

About the book, from the publisher:
A nearly forgotten Civil War episode is restored to history in this masterful account.

In March 1863, nine hundred black Union soldiers, led by white officers, invaded Florida and seized the town of Jacksonville. They were among the first African American troops in the Northern army, and their expedition into enemy territory was like no other in the Civil War. It was intended as an assault on slavery by which thousands would be freed.

At the center of the story is prominent abolitionist Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who led one of the regiments. After waging battle for three weeks, Higginson and his men were mysteriously ordered to withdraw, their mission a seeming failure. Yet their successes in resisting the Confederates and collaborating with white Union forces persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to begin full-scale recruitment of black troops, a momentous decision that helped turned the tide of the war.

Using long-neglected primary sources, historian Stephen V. Ash’s stirring narrative re-creates this event with insight, vivid characterizations, and a keen sense of drama.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"The Black Death"

New from Da Capo Press: The Black Death: A Personal History by John Hatcher.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this fresh approach to the history of the Black Death, world-renowned scholar John Hatcher re-creates everyday life in a mid-fourteenth century rural English village. By focusing on the experiences of ordinary villagers as they lived-and died-during the Black Death (1345-50), Hatcher vividly places the reader directly inside those tumultuous times and describes in fascinating detail the day-to-day existence of people struggling with the tragic effects of the plague. Dramatic scenes portray how contemporaries must have felt and thought about these momentous events: what they knew and didn’t know about the horrors of the disease, what they believed about death and God’s vengeance, and how they tried to make sense of it all despite frantic rumors, frightening tales, and fearful sermons.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"In a Dark Time"

New from Harvard University Press: In a Dark Time: Memory, Community, and Gendered Nationalism in Postwar Okinawa by Linda Isako Angst.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the reversion of Okinawa from American occupation to Japanese sovereignty in 1972, these subtropical islands have become the site of a complex colonial and postcolonial relationship of resistance and dependence between Okinawa, Japan, and the United States.

Linda Isako Angst provides a glimpse behind the historical and geopolitical dimensions of the Okinawan experience by drawing attention to the diverse perspectives of women from different generational and economic backgrounds. Angst recounts the memories and experiences of these women—including farming and fishing women who survived forced mass suicides during the final battle of World War II, and their daughters in the postwar era; the elite Himeyuri student nurses and their surviving classmates; postwar feminists and other women activists in the powerful anti-base movement; and scores of “ordinary” women who worked in and around U.S. military bases in the postwar decades—to chart the development of Okinawan political subjectivity through the critical roles of women in their social, political, and economic contributions to a gender-inflected politics of identity. By foregrounding these compelling personal narratives, this coherent ethnography reveals how Okinawan women can offer a critical view of the modern Japanese nation-state from its margins.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The United Nations Security Council and War"

New from Oxford University Press: The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945 by Vaughan Lowe, Adam Roberts, Jennifer Welsh and Dominik Zaum.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is the first major exploration of the United Nations Security Council's part in addressing the problem of war, both civil and international, since 1945. Both during and after the Cold War the Council has acted in a limited and selective manner, and its work has sometimes resulted in failure. It has not been--and was never equipped to be--the centre of a comprehensive system of collective security. However, it remains the body charged with primary responsibility for international peace and security. It offers unique opportunities for international consultation and military collaboration, and for developing legal and normative frameworks. It has played a part in the reduction in the incidence of international war in the period since1945.

This study examines the extent to which the work of the UN Security Council, as it has evolved, has or has not replaced older systems of power politics and practices regarding the use of force. Its starting point is the failure to implement the UN Charter scheme of having combat forces under direct UN command. Instead, the Council has advanced the use of international peacekeeping forces; it has authorized coalitions of states to take military action; and it has developed some unanticipated roles such as the establishment of post-conflict transitional administrations, international criminal tribunals, and anti-terrorism committees.

The book, bringing together distinguished scholars and practitioners, draws on the methods of the lawyer, the historian, the student of international relations, and the practitioner. It begins with an introductory overview of the Council's evolving roles and responsibilities. It then discusses specific thematic issues, and through a wide range of case studies examines the scope and limitations of the Council's involvement in war. It offers frank accounts of how belligerents viewed the UN, and how the Council acted and sometimes failed to act. The appendices provide comprehensive information--much of it not previously brought together in this form--of the extraordinary range of the Council's activities.

This book is a project of the Oxford Leverhulme Programme on the Changing Character of War.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Unequal Democracy"

New from Princeton University Press: Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unequal Democracy debunks many myths about politics in contemporary America, using the widening gap between the rich and the poor to shed disturbing light on the workings of American democracy. Larry Bartels shows that increasing inequality is not simply the result of economic forces, but the product of broad-reaching policy choices in a political system dominated by partisan ideologies and the interests of the wealthy.

Bartels demonstrates that elected officials respond to the views of affluent constituents but ignore the views of poor people. He shows that Republican presidents in particular have consistently produced much less income growth for middle-class and working-poor families than for affluent families, greatly increasing inequality. He provides revealing case studies of key policy shifts contributing to inequality, including the massive Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the erosion of the minimum wage. Finally, he challenges conventional explanations for why many voters seem to vote against their own economic interests, contending that working-class voters have not been lured into the Republican camp by "values issues" like abortion and gay marriage, as commonly believed, but that Republican presidents have been remarkably successful in timing income growth to cater to short-sighted voters.

Unequal Democracy is social science at its very best. It provides a deep and searching analysis of the political causes and consequences of America's growing income gap, and a sobering assessment of the capacity of the American political system to live up to its democratic ideals.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Corruption, Inequality, and the Rule of Law"

New from Cambridge University Press: Corruption, Inequality, and the Rule of Law: The Bulging Pocket Makes the Easy Life by Eric M. Uslaner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Corruption flouts rules of fairness and gives some people advantages that others don’t have. Corruption is persistent; there is little evidence that countries can escape the curse of corruption easily–or at all. Instead of focusing on institutional reform, Uslaner suggests that the roots of corruption lie in economic and legal inequality and low levels of generalized trust (which are not readily changed) and poor policy choices (which may be more likely to change). Economic inequality provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption–and, in turn, it leads to further inequalities. Just as corruption is persistent, inequality and trust do not change much over time in my cross-national aggregate analyses. Uslaner argues that high inequality leads to low trust and high corruption, and then to more inequality—an inequality trap and identifies direct linkages between inequality and trust in surveys of the mass public and elites in transition countries.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"The Age of Impeachment"

New from the University Press of Kansas: The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture Since 1960 by David E. Kyvig.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this magisterial new work, Bancroft Prize–winning historian David Kyvig chronicles the rise of a culture of impeachment since 1960—one that extends far beyond the infamous scandals surrounding Presidents Richard Nixon (Watergate) and Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky) and has dramatically altered the face of American politics.

A buzz word in today’s public life, “impeachment” was anything but that before 1960. Since then it has been transformed from a historically little-known and little-used tool of last resort into a political weapon of choice. By examining the details and consequences of impeachment episodes involving three Supreme Court justices, a vice president, five federal judges, and four presidents, Kyvig explores this seismic shift in our constitutional culture and gauges its ongoing implications for American political life.

Beginning with the John Birch Society’s campaign against Chief Justice Earl Warren, impeachment efforts became far more frequent after 1960, with eight actually ending in resignation or removal. In describing these efforts, Kyvig recounts stories and subplots about key political actors and the controversies they inspired. He argues that judicial cases are as important as the better-known presidential ones and shows why those cases that did not proceed—against not only Warren, but also Abe Fortas, William O. Douglas, Spiro Agnew, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush—are as illuminating as those that did.

Kyvig demonstrates that impeachment has been the bellwether of a changing—and increasingly toxic—political climate. Perhaps most important and ominous, the increasing threat of impeachment has encouraged presidents to hide potentially impeachable actions behind a thick veil of executive secrecy, while dramatically expanding executive power beyond the reach of either Congress or the courts.

Combining political and legal history at their best, Kyvig also explores the cultural impact of journalist David Frost, editorial cartoonist Herblock, and filmmakers Alan Pakula, Robert Altman, and Oliver Stone. A gifted storyteller, he presents a cautionary tale that should be read by all who care about our national government and its ability to survive and thrive in perilous times.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"When Is Discrimination Wrong?"

New from Harvard University Press: When Is Discrimination Wrong? by Deborah Hellman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A law requires black bus passengers to sit in the back of the bus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a drug for use by black heart failure patients. A state refuses to license drivers under age 16. A company avoids hiring women between the ages of 20 and 40. We routinely draw distinctions among people on the basis of characteristics that they possess or lack. While some distinctions are benign, many are morally troubling.

In this boldly conceived book, Deborah Hellman develops a much-needed general theory of discrimination. She demonstrates that many familiar ideas about when discrimination is wrong—when it is motivated by prejudice, grounded in stereotypes, or simply departs from merit-based decision-making—won’t adequately explain our widely shared intuitions.

Hellman argues that, in the end, distinguishing among people on the basis of traits is wrong when it demeans any of the people affected. She deftly explores the question of how we determine what is in fact demeaning.

Claims of wrongful discrimination are among the most common moral claims asserted in public and private life. Yet the roots of these claims are often left unanalyzed. When Is Discrimination Wrong? explores what it means to treat people as equals and thus takes up a central problem of democracy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Building the Devil's Empire"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Building the Devil's Empire: French Colonial New Orleans by Shannon Lee Dawdy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two years ago, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina inspired emotional elegies to the long and colorful history of New Orleans. But until now, the story of French New Orleans has remained largely untold. Building the Devil’s Empire is the first comprehensive history of the city’s early years, tracing the town’s development from its origins in 1718 as an imperial experiment in urban planning through its revolt against Spanish rule in 1768.

Shannon Lee Dawdy’s picaresque account of New Orleans’s wild youth features a cast of strong-willed captives, thin-skinned nobles, sharp-tongued women, and carousing travelers, as well as the sounds and smells that created the texture of everyday life there. During the French period, the city earned its reputation as the devil’s town, where laws were lax and pleasures abundant. Though New Orleans’s roguish character is sometimes exaggerated, Dawdy traces its early roots in the city’s political independence, active smuggling rings, and peculiar demographics—a diverse mix of Africans, Indians, Europeans, and Creoles all involved in the contentious process of building a new society. Dawdy also widens her lens to reveal the port city’s global significance, examining its role in the French Empire and the Caribbean, and she concludes that by exemplifying a kind of rogue colonialism—where governments, outlaws, and capitalism become entwined—New Orleans should prompt us to reconsider our notions of how colonialism works.

By the end of the French period, New Orleans was one of the most modern—and most American—towns in the New World. As the city enters a new phase in its history, Building the Devil’s Empire paints a rich and thoughtful portrait of its founding.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"China's Telecommunications Revolution"

Recently from Oxford University Press: China's Telecommunications Revolution by Eric Harwit.

About the book, from the publisher:
China's telecommunications industry has seen revolutionary transformation and growth over the past three decades. Chinese Internet users number nearly 150 million, and the PRC expects to quickly pass the US in total numbers of connected citizens. The number of mobile and fixed-line telephone users soared from a mere 2 million in 1980 to a total of nearly 800 million in 2007. China has been the most successful developing nation in history for spreading telecommunications access at an unparalleled rapid pace.

This book tells how China conducted its remarkable "telecommunications revolution". It examines both corporate and government policy to get citizens connected to both voice and data networks, looks at the potential challenges to the one-party government when citizens get this access, and considers the new opportunities for networking now offered to the people of one of the world's fastest growing economies.

The book is based on the author's fieldwork conducted in several Chinese cities, as well as extensive archival research. It focuses on key issues such as building and running the country's Internet, mobile phone company rivalry, foreign investment in the sector, and telecommunications in China's vibrant city of Shanghai. It also considers the country's internal "digital divide", and questions how equitable the telecommunications revolution has been. Finally, it examines the ways the PRC's entry to the World Trade Organization will shape the future course of telecommunications growth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Justice Across Borders"

New from Cambridge University Press: Justice Across Borders: The Struggle for Human Rights in U.S. Courts by Jeffrey Davis.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book studies the struggle to enforce international human rights law in federal courts. In 1980, a federal appeals court ruled that a Paraguayan family could sue a Paraguayan official under the Alien Tort Statute – a dormant provision of the 1789 Judiciary Act – for torture committed in Paraguay. Since then, courts have been wrestling with this step toward a universal approach to human rights law. The book examines attempts by human rights groups to use the law to enforce human rights norms. It explains the separation of powers issues arising when victims sue the United States or when the United States intervenes to urge dismissal of a claim. Moreover, it analyzes the controversies arising from attempts to hold foreign nations, foreign officials, and corporations liable under international human rights law. While Davis’s analysis is driven by social science methods, its foundation is the dramatic human story from which these cases arise.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships"

New from Yale University Press: Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships by Philip Ziegler.

About the book, from the publisher:

To be chosen as a Rhodes Scholar is to join the company of a highly select group: former scholars include presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, archbishops, authors, judges, and other important figures. Over 7,000 individuals have received the world’s most prestigious scholarship in the century since Cecil John Rhodes, the British-born founder of the De Beers diamond company, established through his will the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes scholarships. This fascinating history traces the evolution of the Trust and its scholarship program from Rhodes’s vision in 1902 to the new world of the twenty-first century.

Rhodes specified the criteria for selecting scholars, stipulating public service as their highest aim. An avowed imperialist, he dreamed of a white masculine Anglo-Saxon hegemony that would lead to world peace and prosperity. The book explores how the organization changed after the Empire faded and how Rhodes’s vision has been made relevant today, particularly through the vital contributions of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation in South Africa.

Prominent American Rhodes Scholars include:

J. William Fulbright – Robert Penn Warren – Bill Bradley – Wesley Clark – Bill Clinton – Strobe Talbott – David Souter – George Stephanopoulos

Monday, June 16, 2008

"The American Resting Place"

Recently from Houghton Mifflin: The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds by Marilyn Yalom.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping history of America as seen through its gravestones, graveyards, and burial practices, stunningly illustrated with eighty black-and-white photographs

Cemeteries and burial grounds, as illuminated by an acclaimed cultural historian, are unique windows onto our religious, ethnic, and deeply human history as Americans. The dedicated mother-son team of Marilyn and Reid Yalom visited hundreds of cemeteries to create The American Resting Place, following a coast-to-coast trajectory that mirrors the vast historical pattern of American migration. Yalom’s incisive, often poignant exploration of gravestone inscriptions reveal changing ideas about death and personal identity, and demonstrate how class and gender play out in stone. Rich particulars include the story of one seventeenth-century Bostonian who amassed a thousand pairs of gloves in his funeral-going lifetime, the unique burial rites and funerary symbols found in today’s Native American cultures, and a “lost” Czech community brought uncannily to life in Chicago’s Bohemian National Columbarium.

From fascinating past to startling future--DVDs embedded in tombstones, "green" burials, and “the new aesthetic of death”--The American Resting Place is the definitive history of the American cemetery.
Visit Marilyn Yalom's website.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Just How Stupid Are We?"

New from Basic Books: Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth about the American Voter by Rick Shenkman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Levees break in New Orleans. Iraq descends into chaos. The housing market teeters on the brink of collapse. Americans of all political stripes are heading into the 2008 election with the sense that something has gone terribly wrong with American politics. But what exactly? Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans blame Democrats. Greedy corporate executives, rogue journalists, faulty voting machines, irresponsible defense contractors-we blame them, too. The only thing everyone seems to agree on, in fact, is that the American people are entirely blameless. In Just How Stupid Are We?, best-selling historian and renowned myth-buster Rick Shenkman takes aim at our great national piety: the wisdom of the American people. The hard truth is that American democracy is more direct than ever-but voters are misusing, abusing, and abdicating their political power. Americans are paying less and less attention to politics at a time when they need to pay much more: Television has dumbed politics down to the basest possible level, while the real workings of politics have become vastly more complicated. Shenkman offers concrete proposals for reforming our institutions-the government, the media, civic organizations, political parties-to make them work better for the American people. But first, Shenkman argues, we must reform ourselves.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


New from Harvard University Press: Nexus: Strategic Communications and American Security in World War I by Jonathan Reed Winkler.

About the book, from the publisher:
In an illuminating study that blends diplomatic, military, technology, and business history, Jonathan Reed Winkler shows how U.S. officials during World War I discovered the enormous value of global communications.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, British control of the cable network affected the Americans’ ability to communicate internationally, and the development of radio worried the Navy about hemispheric security. The benefits of a U.S. network became evident during the war, especially in the gathering of intelligence. This led to the creation of a peacetime intelligence operation, later termed the “Black Chamber,” that was the forerunner of the National Security Agency.

After the war, U.S. companies worked to expand network service around the world but faced industrial limitations. Focused on security concerns, the Wilson administration objected to any collaboration with British companies that might alleviate this problem. Indeed, they went so far as to create a radio monopoly and use warships to block the landing of a cable at Miami.

These efforts set important precedents for later developments in telephony, shortwave radio, satellites—even the internet. In this absorbing history, Winkler sheds light on the early stages of the global infrastructure that helped launch the United States as the predominant power of the century.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Driving Democracy"

New from Cambridge University Press: Driving Democracy: Do Power Sharing Institutions Work? by Pippa Norris.

About the book, from the publisher:

Proposals for power-sharing constitutions remain controversial, as highlighted by current debates in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Sudan. This book updates and refines the theory of consociationalism, taking account of the flood of contemporary innovations in power-sharing institutions that have occurred worldwide. The book classifies and compares four types of political institutions: the electoral system, parliamentary or presidential executives, unitary or federal states, and the structure and independence of the mass media. The study tests the potential advantages and disadvantages of each of these institutions for democratic governance. Cross-national time-series data concerning trends in democracy are analyzed for all countries worldwide since the early 1970s. Chapters are enriched by comparing detailed case studies. The mixed-method research design illuminates the underlying causal mechanisms by examining historical developments and processes of institutional change within particular nations and regions.

• Mixed-method research design illuminates causal mechanisms underlying processes of institutional change • Combines analysis of cross-national time-series data for all countries worldwide with a series of detailed paired case studies • Updates and refines the theory of consociationalism

Visit Pippa Norris's webpage.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"French Theory"

New from the University of Minnesota Press: French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States by François Cusset, translated by Jeff Fort.

About the book, from the publisher:

The must-read exposé of America’s love/hate affair with French theory.

During the last three decades of the twentieth century, a disparate group of radical French thinkers achieved an improbable level of influence and fame in the United States. Compared by at least one journalist to the British rock ‘n’ roll invasion, the arrival of works by Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari on American shores in the late 1970s and 1980s caused a sensation.

Outside the academy, “French theory” had a profound impact on the era’s emerging identity politics while also becoming, in the 1980s, the target of right-wing propagandists. At the same time in academic departments across the country, their poststructuralist form of radical suspicion transformed disciplines from literature to anthropology to architecture. By the 1990s, French theory was woven deeply into America’s cultural and intellectual fabric.

French Theory is the first comprehensive account of the American fortunes of these unlikely philosophical celebrities. François Cusset looks at why America proved to be such fertile ground for French theory, how such demanding writings could become so widely influential, and the peculiarly American readings of these works. Reveling in the gossipy history, Cusset also provides a lively exploration of the many provocative critical practices inspired by French theory. Ultimately, he dares to shine a bright light on the exultation of these thinkers to assess the relevance of critical theory to social and political activism today—showing, finally, how French theory has become inextricably bound with American life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Was Jesus God?"

New from Oxford University Press: Was Jesus God? by Richard Swinburne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Writing clearly and powerfully, Swinburne argues that it is probable that the main Christian doctrines about the nature of God and his actions in the world are true. In virtue of his omnipotence and perfect goodness, the author shows, God must be a Trinity, live a human life in order to share our suffering, and found a church which would enable him to tell all humans about this. It is also quite probable that he would provide his human life as atonement for our wrongdoing, teach us how we should live, and tell us his plans for our future after death. Among founders of religions, Jesus uniquely satisfies the requirement of living the sort of human life which God would need to have lived. But to give us adequate reason to believe that Jesus was God, God would need to put his "signature" on the life of Jesus by an act which he alone could do--raise him from the dead. And there is adequate historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Sovereignty: God, State, and Self"

New from Basic Books: Sovereignty: God, State, and Self by Jean Bethke Elshtain.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout the history of human intellectual endeavor, sovereignty has cut across the diverse realms of theology, political thought, and psychology. From earliest Christian worship to the revolutionary ideas of Thomas Jefferson and Karl Marx, the debates about sovereignty-complete independence and self-government-have dominated our history. In this seminal work of political history and political theory, leading scholar and public intellectual Jean Bethke Elshtain examines the origins and meanings of “sovereignty” as it relates to all the ways we attempt to explain our world: God, state, and self. Examining the early modern ideas of God which formed the basis for the modern sovereign state, Elshtain carries her research from theology and philosophy into psychology, showing that political theories of state sovereignty fuel contemporary understandings of sovereignty of the self. As the basis of sovereign power shifts from God, to the state, to the self, Elshtain uncovers startling realities often hidden from view. Her thesis consists in nothing less than a thorough-going rethinking of our intellectual history through its keystone concept. The culmination of over thirty years of critically applauded work in feminism, international relations, political thought, and religion, Sovereignty opens new ground for our understanding of our own culture, its past, present, and future.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Growing Up in England"

New from Yale University Press: Growing Up in England: The Experience of Childhood 1600-1914 by Anthony Fletcher.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book presents an entirely fresh view of the upbringing of English children in upper and professional class families over three centuries. Drawing on direct testimony from contemporary diaries and letters, the book revises previous understandings of parenting and what it was like to grow up in the period between 1600 and 1914.

Using advice literature which set out developing ideologies of childhood, gender and parenting, the book explores the separate but complementary roles of mothers and fathers in raising their children. Male upbringing is discussed in terms of schooling, female through the moral and social context of a domestic schoolroom dominated by a governess. Boys were trained for the world, girls for society and marriage. Rare teenage diaries surviving from the Georgian and Victorian periods show teenagers speaking for themselves about education; relationships with parents, siblings and friends; and their social, class and gender identity.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"China's Communist Party"

New from the University of California Press: China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation by David L. Shambaugh.

About the book, from the publisher:
Few issues affect the future of China—and hence all the nations that interact with China—more than the nature of its ruling party and government. In this timely study, David Shambaugh assesses the strengths and weaknesses, durability, adaptability, and potential longevity of China's Communist Party (CCP). He argues that although the CCP has been in a protracted state of atrophy, it has undertaken a number of adaptive measures aimed at reinventing itself and strengthening its rule. Shambaugh's investigation draws on a unique set of inner-Party documents and interviews, and he finds that China's Communist Party is resilient and will continue to retain its grip on power.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"The Forbidden City"

New from Harvard University Press: The Forbidden City by Geremie R. Barmé.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Forbidden City (Zijin Cheng) lying at the heart of Beijing formed the hub of the Celestial Empire for five centuries. Over the past century it has led a reduced life as the refuge for a deposed emperor, as well as a heritage museum for monarchist, republican, and socialist citizens, and it has been celebrated and excoriated as a symbol of all that was magnificent and terrible in dynastic China’s legacy.

The Forbidden City’s vermilion walls have fueled literary fantasies that have become an intrinsic part of its disputed and documented history. Mao Zedong even considered razing the entire structure to make way for the buildings of a new socialist China. The fictions surrounding the Forbidden City have also had an international reach, and writers like Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Jorge Luis Borges, and Mervyn Peake have all succumbed to its myths. The politics it enshrined have provided the vocabulary of power that is used in China to the present day, though it is now better known as a film set or the background of displays of opera, rock, and fashion.

Geremie Barmé peels away the veneer of power, secrecy, inscrutability, and passions of imperial China, to provide a new and original history of the culture, politics, and architecture of the Forbidden City. Designed to overawe the visitor with the power of imperial China, the Forbidden City remains one of the true wonders of the world.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Habits of Empire"

New from Knopf: Habits of Empire: A History of American Expansion by Walter Nugent.

About the book, from the publisher:
Discussions abound today about the state of the union, its place in the world, and the founding fathers’ intentions. Did they want the United States to become a republic or an empire? Thomas Jefferson, after all, called the young nation an “empire for liberty.” Later words through two centuries all evoked empire: “manifest destiny” in the 1840s, “benevolent assimilation” in 1898, and “our responsibility to lead” in 2002.

Indeed, since Jefferson’s day, Americans have proudly proclaimed liberty and cherished democracy even as they have often behaved imperially. Habits of Empire documents this expansionist behavior by examining each of the nation’s territorial acquisitions since the first in 1782—how the land was acquired, how its previous occupants were removed or reduced, and how it was then settled and stabilized. By 1853, when the continental United States was fully established from sea to shining sea, the nation’s habit of empire-building had become firmly formed.

Each of the acquisitions is a story in itself. In Paris in 1782, the American negotiators—the crafty Benjamin Franklin, the crabby John Adams, and the crooked John Jay—stubbornly and with much luck pushed the new country’s western boundary to the Mississippi River and almost gained southern Canada as well. Hardly any Americans yet lived west of the Appalachians, and their armies had not conquered the region, but they won it nevertheless. That allowed Robert Livingston and James Monroe in 1803 to accept Napoleon’s astonishing offer to sell all of Louisiana. Through a volatile mix of leadership, luck, aggression, chicanery, rampant population growth, and self-confident ideology came the further acquisitions of Florida, Texas, Oregon, and the Southwest.

From the 1850s through the 1920s, America’s empire-building reached across the Pacific (from Alaska through Hawaii and Samoa to the Philippines) and around the Caribbean (from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and several “protectorates” to the Panama Canal and the Virgin Islands). After 1945, American expansion took a new global form, military and economic, and built on the need to contain the Soviet Union in the Cold War. After 2001 and the start of the “war on terror, ” it became both defensive and assertive.

Acclaimed historian Walter Nugent shows how the United States, asserting republican virtue but employing imperial force, has long lived with the contradiction inherent in Jefferson’s famous phrase “empire for liberty.” Enlightening, empathetic, comprehensive, and well-sourced, this book explains the deep roots of America’s imperialism as no other has done.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others"

New from Oxford University Press: Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others by David Day.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this bold, sweeping book, David Day surveys the ways in which one nation or society has supplanted another, and then sought to justify its occupation - for example, the English in Australia and North America, the Normans in England, the Spanish in Mexico, the Japanese in Korea, the Chinese in Tibet. Human history has been marked by territorial aggression and expansion, an endless cycle of ownership claims by dominant cultures over territory occupied by peoples unable to resist their advance. Day outlines the strategies, violent and subtle, such dominant cultures have used to stake and bolster their claims - by redrawing maps, rewriting history, recourse to legal argument, creative renaming, use of foundation stories, tilling of the soil, colonization and of course outright subjugation and even genocide. In the end the claims they make reveal their own sense of identity and self-justifying place in the world. This will be an important book, an accessible and captivating macro-narrative about empire, expansion, and dispossession.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Western Diseases"

New from Cambridge University Press: Western Diseases: An Evolutionary Perspective by Tessa M. Pollard.

About the book, from the publisher:
As a group, western diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, allergies and mental health problems constitute one of the major problems facing humans at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly as they extend into poorer countries. An evolutionary perspective has much to offer standard biomedical understandings of western diseases. At the heart of this approach is the notion that human evolution occurred in circumstances very different from the modern affluent western environment and that, as a consequence, human biology is not adapted to the contemporary western environment. Written with an anthropological perspective and aimed at advanced undergraduates and graduates taking courses in the ecology and evolution of disease, Tessa Pollard applies and extends this evolutionary perspective by analysing trends in rates of western diseases and providing a new synthesis of current understandings of evolutionary processes, and of the biology and epidemiology of disease.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"The Woman Who Discovered Printing"

New from Yale University Press: The Woman Who Discovered Printing by T.H. Barrett.

About the book, from the publisher:
This beguiling book asks a set of unusual and fascinating questions—why is early Chinese printing so little acknowledged, despite anticipating Gutenberg by centuries? Why are the religious elements of all early printing overlooked? And why did printing in China not have the immediate obvious impact it did in Europe?

T. H. Barrett, a leading scholar of medieval China, brings us the answers through the intriguing story of Empress Wu (AD 625–705) and the revolution in printing that occurred during her rule. Linking Asian and European history with substantial new research into Chinese sources, Barrett identifies methods of transmitting texts before printing and explains the historical context of seventh-century China. He explores the dynastic reasons behind Empress Wu’s specific interest in printing and the motivating role of her private religious beliefs. He also deduces from eighth- and ninth-century Chinese records an explanation for the lesser impact of the introduction of printing in China than in Europe. As Renaissance Europe was later astonished to learn of China’s achievement, so today’s reader will be fascinated by this engaging perspective on the history of printing and the technological superiority of Empress Wu’s China.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"Austerity Britain, 1945-1951"

New from Walker and Company: Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 by David Kynaston.

About the book, from the publisher:
A majestic people’s history of England in the years immediately following the end of World War II, and a surprise bestseller in the UK.

As much as any country, England bore the brunt of Germany’s aggression in World War II, and was ravaged in many ways at the war’s end. Celebrated historian David Kynaston has written an utterly original, compellingly readable account of the following six years, during which the country indomitably rebuilt itself.

Kynaston’s great genius is to chronicle England’s experience from bottom to top: coursing through the book, therefore, is an astonishing variety of ordinary, contemporary voices, eloquently and passionately displaying the country’s remarkable spirit even as they were unaware of what the future would hold. Together they present a fascinating portrait of the English people at a climactic point in history, and Kynaston skillfully links their stories to the bigger, headline-making events of the time. Their stories also jostle alongside those of more well-known figures like celebrated journalist-to-be Jon Arlott (making his first radio broadcast), actress Glenda Jackson, and writer Doris Lessing, newly arrived from Africa and struck by the leveling poverty of postwar Britain. Austerity Britain gives new meaning to the hardship and heroism experienced by England in the face of Germany’s assaults.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Emigrant Nation"

New from Harvard University Press: Emigrant Nation: The Making of Italy Abroad by Mark I. Choate.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1880 and 1915, thirteen million Italians left their homeland, launching the largest emigration from any country in recorded world history. As the young Italian state struggled to adapt to the exodus, it pioneered the establishment of a “global nation”—an Italy abroad cemented by ties of culture, religion, ethnicity, and economics.

In this wide-ranging work, Mark Choate examines the relationship between the Italian emigrants, their new communities, and their home country. The state maintained that emigrants were linked to Italy and to one another through a shared culture. Officials established a variety of programs to coordinate Italian communities worldwide. They fostered identity through schools, athletic groups, the Dante Alighieri Society, the Italian Geographic Society, the Catholic Church, Chambers of Commerce, and special banks to handle emigrant remittances. But the projects aimed at binding Italians together also raised intense debates over priorities and the emigrants’ best interests. Did encouraging loyalty to Italy make the emigrants less successful at integrating? Were funds better spent on supporting the home nation rather than sustaining overseas connections?

In its probing discussion of immigrant culture, transnational identities, and international politics, this fascinating book not only narrates the grand story of Italian emigration but also provides important background to immigration debates that continue to this day.