Friday, February 29, 2008

"School Lunch Politics"

New from Princeton University Press: School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program by Susan Levine.

About the book
, from the publisher:

Whether kids love or hate the food served there, the American school lunchroom is the stage for one of the most popular yet flawed social welfare programs in our nation's history. School Lunch Politics covers this complex and fascinating part of American culture, from its origins in early twentieth-century nutrition science, through the establishment of the National School Lunch Program in 1946, to the transformation of school meals into a poverty program during the 1970s and 1980s. Susan Levine investigates the politics and culture of food; most specifically, who decides what American children should be eating, what policies develop from those decisions, and how these policies might be better implemented.

Even now, the school lunch program remains problematic, a juggling act between modern beliefs about food, nutrition science, and public welfare. Levine points to the program menus' dependence on agricultural surplus commodities more than on children's nutritional needs, and she discusses the political policy barriers that have limited the number of children receiving meals and which children were served. But she also shows why the school lunch program has outlasted almost every other twentieth-century federal welfare initiative. In the midst of privatization, federal budget cuts, and suspect nutritional guidelines where even ketchup might be categorized as a vegetable, the program remains popular and feeds children who would otherwise go hungry.

As politicians and the media talk about a national obesity epidemic, School Lunch Politics is a timely arrival to the food policy debates shaping American health, welfare, and equality.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Liberty of Conscience"

New from Basic Books: Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality by Martha Nussbaum.

About the book, from the publisher:
In one of the great triumphs of the colonial and Revolutionary periods, the founders of the future United States overcame religious intolerance in favor of a constitutional order dedicated to fair treatment for people’s deeply held conscientious beliefs. It granted equal liberty of conscience to all and took a firm stand against religious establishment. This respect for religious difference, acclaimed scholar Martha Nussbaum writes, formed our democracy. Yet today there are signs that this legacy is misunderstood. The prominence of a particular type of Christianity in our public life suggests the unequal worth of citizens who hold different religious beliefs, or no beliefs. Other people, meanwhile, seek to curtail the influence of religion in public life in a way that is itself unbalanced and unfair. Such partisan efforts, Nussbaum argues, violate the spirit of our Constitution. Liberty of Conscience is a historical and conceptual study of the American tradition of religious freedom. Weaving together political history, philosophical ideas, and key constitutional cases, this is a rich chronicle of an ideal of equality that has always been central to our history but is now in serious danger.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"A Fragile Freedom"

New from Yale University Press: A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book is the first to chronicle the lives of African American women in the urban north during the early years of the republic. A Fragile Freedom investigates how African American women in Philadelphia journeyed from enslavement to the precarious status of “free persons” in the decades leading up to the Civil War and examines comparable developments in the cities of New York and Boston.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar argues that early nineteenth-century Philadelphia, where most African Americans were free, enacted a kind of rehearsal for the national emancipation that followed in the post–Civil War years. She explores the lives of the “regular” women of antebellum Philadelphia, the free black institutions that took root there, and the previously unrecognized importance of African American women to the history of American cities.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"History and the Supernatural in Medieval England"

New from Cambridge University Press: History and the Supernatural in Medieval England by C. S. Watkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a fascinating study of religious culture in England from 1050 to 1250. Drawing on the wealth of material about religious belief and practice that survives in the chronicles, Carl Watkins explores accounts of signs, prophecies, astrology, magic, beliefs about death and the miraculous and demonic. He challenges some of the prevailing assumptions about religious belief, questioning in particular the attachment of many historians to terms such as 'clerical' and 'lay', 'popular' and 'elite', 'Christian' and 'pagan' as explanatory categories. The evidence of the chronicles is also set in its broader context through explorations of miracle collections, penitential manuals, exempla and sermons. The book traces shifts in the way the supernatural was conceptualized by learned writers and the ways in which broader patterns of belief evolved during this period. This original account sheds important new light on belief during a period in which the religious landscape was transformed.

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Inside the Presidential Debates"

New this Spring from the University of Chicago Press: Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future by Newton N. Minow and Craig L. Lamay.

About the book, from the publisher:
Newton Minow’s long engagement with the world of television began nearly fifty years ago when President Kennedy appointed him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. As its head, Minow would famously dub TV a “vast wasteland,” thus inaugurating a career dedicated to reforming television to better serve the public interest. Since then, he has been chairman of PBS and on the board of CBS and elsewhere, but his most lasting contribution remains his leadership on televised presidential debates. He was assistant counsel to Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson when Stevenson first proposed the idea of the debates in 1960; he served as cochair of the presidential debates in 1976 and 1980; and he helped create and is currently vice chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized the debates for the last two decades.

Written with longtime collaborator Craig LaMay, this fascinating history offers readers for the first time a genuinely inside look into the origins of the presidential debates and the many battles—both legal and personal—that have determined who has been allowed to debate and under what circumstances. The authors do not dismiss the criticism of the presidential debates in recent years but do come down solidly in favor of them, arguing that they are one of the great accomplishments of modern American electoral politics. As they remind us, the debates were once unique in the democratic world, are now emulated across the globe, and they offer the public the only real chance to see the candidates speak in direct response to one another in a discussion of major social, economic, and foreign policy issues.

Looking to the challenges posed by third-party candidates and the emergence of new media such as YouTube, Minow and LaMay ultimately make recommendations for the future, calling for the debates to become less formal, with candidates allowed to question each other and citizens allowed to question candidates directly. They also explore the many ways in which the Internet might serve to broaden the debates’ appeal and informative power. Whether it’s Clinton vs. Giuliani or McCain vs. Obama and a third candidate, Inside the Presidential Debates will be welcomed in 2008 by anyone interested in where this crucial part of our democracy is headed—and how it got there.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Faith on the Margins"

New from Harvard University Press: Faith on the Margins: Catholics and Catholicism in the Dutch Golden Age by Charles H. Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"The Magna Carta Manifesto"

New from the University of California Press: The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All by Peter Linebaugh.

About the book, from the publisher:
This remarkable book shines a fierce light on the current state of liberty and shows how longstanding restraints against tyranny -- and the rights of habeas corpus, trial by jury, and due process of law, and the prohibition of torture -- are being abridged. In providing a sweeping history of Magna Carta, the source of these protections since 1215, this powerful book demonstrates how these ancient rights are repeatedly laid aside when the greed of privatization, the lust for power, and the ambition of empire seize a state. Peter Linebaugh draws on primary sources to construct a wholly original history of the Great Charter and its scarcely-known companion, the Charter of the Forest, which was created at the same time to protect the subsistence rights of the poor.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"On Global Order"

New from Oxford University Press: On Global Order: Power, Values, and the Constitution on International Society by Andrew Hurrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
How is the world organized politically? How should it be organized? What forms of political organization are required to deal with such global challenges as climate change, terrorism or nuclear proliferation? Drawing on work in international law, international relations and global governance, this book provides a clear and wide-ranging introduction to the analysis of global political order--how patterns of governance and institutionalization in world politics have already changed; what the most important challenges are; and what the way forward might look like.

The first section develops three analytical frameworks: a world of sovereign states capable of only limited cooperation; a world of ever-denser international institutions embodying the idea of an international community; and a world in which global governance moves beyond the state and into the realms of markets, civil society and networks. Part II examines five of the most important issues facing contemporary international society: nationalism and the politics of identity; human rights and democracy; war, violence and collective security; the ecological challenge; and the management of economic globalization in a highly unequal world. Part III considers the idea of an emerging multi-regional system; and the picture of global order built around US empire. The conclusion looks at the normative implications. If international society has indeed been changing in the ways discussed in this book, what ought we to do? And, still more crucially, who is the 'we' that is to be at the centre of this drive to create a morally better world?

This book is concerned with the fate of international society in an era of globalization and the ability of the inherited society of sovereign states to provide a practically viable and normatively acceptable framework for global political order. It lays particular emphasis on the different forms of global inequality and the problems of legitimacy that these create and on the challenges posed by cultural diversity and value conflict.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Lincoln and Douglas"

New from Simon & Schuster: Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America by Allen C. Guelzo.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history.

What carried this one-term congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country's most formidable politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas directly in one of his greatest speeches -- "A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- and confronted Douglas on the questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. As this brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation.

Of course, the great issue between Lincoln and Douglas was slavery. Douglas was the champion of "popular sovereignty," of letting states and territories decide for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a moral line, arguing that slavery was a violation both of natural law and of the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. No majority could ever make slavery right, he argued.

Lincoln lost that Senate race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," whom almost everyone thought was unbeatable. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history.

The encounters between Lincoln and Douglas engage a key question in American political life: What is democracy's purpose? Is it to satisfy the desires of the majority? Or is it to achieve a just and moral public order? These were the real questions in 1858 that led to the Civil War. They remain questions for Americans today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Creating the National Security State"

New from Princeton University Press: Creating the National Security State: A History of the Law That Transformed America by Douglas T. Stuart.

About the book, from the publisher:

For the last sixty years, American foreign and defense policymaking has been dominated by a network of institutions created by one piece of legislation -- the 1947 National Security Act. This is the definitive study of the intense political and bureaucratic struggles that surrounded the passage and initial implementation of the law. Focusing on the critical years from 1937 to 1960, Douglas Stuart shows how disputes over the lessons of Pearl Harbor and World War II informed the debates that culminated in the legislation, and how the new national security agencies were subsequently transformed by battles over missions, budgets, and influence during the early cold war.

Stuart provides an in-depth account of the fight over Truman's plan for unification of the armed services, demonstrating how this dispute colored debates about institutional reform. He traces the rise of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the transformation of the CIA, and the institutionalization of the National Security Council. He also illustrates how the development of this network of national security institutions resulted in the progressive marginalization of the State Department.

Stuart concludes with some insights that will be of value to anyone interested in the current debate over institutional reform.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"The Politics of Official Apologies"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Politics of Official Apologies by Melissa Nobles.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the political uses of official apologies in the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Nobles explores why minority groups demand such apologies and why governments do or do not offer them. She argues that apologies can help to alter the terms and meanings of national membership. Minorities demand apologies in order to focus attention on historical injustices, the rectification of which, they argue, should guide changes in present-day government policies. When employed by political actors, apologies play an important, if under appreciated, role in bringing certain views about history and moral obligation to bear in public life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Fruits and Plains"

New from Harvard University Press: Fruits and Plains: The Horticultural Transformation of America by Philip J. Pauly.

About the book, from the publisher:

The engineering of plants has a long history on this continent. Fields, forests, orchards, and prairies are the result of repeated campaigns by amateurs, tradesmen, and scientists to introduce desirable plants, both American and foreign, while preventing growth of alien riff-raff. These horticulturists coaxed plants along in new environments and, through grafting and hybridizing, created new varieties. Over the last 250 years, their activities transformed the American landscape.

"Horticulture" may bring to mind white-glove garden clubs and genteel lectures about growing better roses. But Philip J. Pauly wants us to think of horticulturalists as pioneer "biotechnologists," hacking their plants to create a landscape that reflects their ambitions and ideals. Those standards have shaped the look of suburban neighborhoods, city parks, and the "native" produce available in our supermarkets.

In telling the histories of Concord grapes and Japanese cherry trees, the problem of the prairie and the war on the Medfly, Pauly hopes to provide a new understanding of not only how horticulture shaped the vegetation around us, but how it influenced our experiences of the native, the naturalized, and the alien -- and how better to manage the landscapes around us.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Living the Policy Process"

New from Oxford University Press: Living the Policy Process by Philip B. Heymann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Policymaking in large bureaucracies is hardly a simple process. Even the most respected policymakers have to contend with obstacles that seemingly have little to do with the issue at hand -- office politics, work structure, and shifting political environments. Yet learning to manage such complex environments is necessary for good policymaking. In Living the Policy Process, Philip Heymann outlines the complex thought processes of policymakers as they struggle to influence both foreign and domestic policy decisions from within the United States government bureaucracy.

Focusing on three critical situations to illuminate the politics of policy choice -- the successful attempt to sell missiles to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s; the Iran-Contra scandal; and the FDA's attempt to regulate smoking as well as the efforts to do the same by an outside lobbyist -- Heymann dissects the intuitive yet rigorous framework that highly skilled policymakers follow to influence government outcomes. Throughout, he offers detailed accounts of the policy process at work in the Reagan, first Bush, and Clinton administrations, from the cabinet level down to the middle tiers of the federal bureaucracy.

Heymann deftly describes the shifting real-world conditions that government officials face as they struggle to shape the policy agenda. Ultimately, Living the Policy Process offers a clear, incisive look at the complex considerations involved from all perspectives, with concrete examples, and enriches the understanding of the overall policy process for students, scholars, and practitioners.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"After Tamerlane"

New from Bloomsbury Press: After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 by John Darwin.

About the book, from the publisher:

A Rise and Fall of the Great Powers for the post—Cold War era — a brilliantly written, sweeping new history of how empires have ebbed and flowed over the past six centuries.

The death of the great Tatar emperor Tamerlane in 1405, writes historian John Darwin, was a turning point in world history. Never again would a single warlord, raiding across the steppes, be able to unite Eurasia under his rule. After Tamerlane, a series of huge, stable empires were founded and consolidated — Chinese, Mughal, Persian, and Ottoman — realms of such grandeur, sophistication, and dynamism that they outclassed the fragmentary, quarrelsome nations of Europe in every respect. The nineteenth century saw these empires fall vulnerable to European conquest, creating an age of anarchy and exploitation, but this had largely ended by the twenty-first century, with new Chinese and Indian super-states and successful independent states in Turkey and Iran.

This elegantly written, magisterial account challenges the conventional narrative of the “Rise of the West,” showing that European ascendancy was neither foreordained nor a linear process. Indeed, it is likely to be a transitory phase. After Tamerlane is a vivid, bold, and innovative history of how empires rise and fall, from one of Britain’s leading scholars. It will take its place beside other provocative works of “large history,” from Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers to David Landes’s The Wealth and Poverty of Nations or Niall Ferguson’s Empire.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"The Craftsman"

New from Yale University Press: The Craftsman by Richard Sennett.

About the book, from the publisher:

Defining craftsmanship far more broadly than “skilled manual labor,” Richard Sennett maintains that the computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen engage in a craftsman’s work. Craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, says the author, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. In this thought-provoking book, one of our most distinguished public intellectuals explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world.

The Craftsman engages the many dimensions of skill — from the technical demands to the obsessive energy required to do good work. Craftsmanship leads Sennett across time and space, from ancient Roman brickmakers to Renaissance goldsmiths to the printing presses of Enlightenment Paris and the factories of industrial London; in the modern world he explores what experiences of good work are shared by computer programmers, nurses and doctors, musicians, glassblowers, and cooks. Unique in the scope of his thinking, Sennett expands previous notions of crafts and craftsmen and apprises us of the surprising extent to which we can learn about ourselves through the labor of making physical things.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"The Sino-Soviet Split"

New from Princeton University Press: The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World by Lorenz M. Lüthi.

About the book, from the publisher:

A decade after the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China established their formidable alliance in 1950, escalating public disagreements between them broke the international communist movement apart. In The Sino-Soviet Split, Lorenz Lüthi tells the story of this rupture, which became one of the defining events of the Cold War. Identifying the primary role of disputes over Marxist-Leninist ideology, Lüthi traces their devastating impact in sowing conflict between the two nations in the areas of economic development, party relations, and foreign policy. The source of this estrangement was Mao Zedong's ideological radicalization at a time when Soviet leaders, mainly Nikita Khrushchev, became committed to more pragmatic domestic and foreign policies.

Using a wide array of archival and documentary sources from three continents, Lüthi presents a richly detailed account of Sino-Soviet political relations in the 1950s and 1960s. He explores how Sino-Soviet relations were linked to Chinese domestic politics and to Mao's struggles with internal political rivals. Furthermore, Lüthi argues, the Sino-Soviet split had far-reaching consequences for the socialist camp and its connections to the nonaligned movement, the global Cold War, and the Vietnam War.

The Sino-Soviet Split provides a meticulous and cogent analysis of a major political fallout between two global powers, opening new areas of research for anyone interested in the history of international relations in the socialist world.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Predictably Irrational"

New from Harper: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin?

Why does recalling the Ten Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn't possibly be caught?

Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup?

Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full?

And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're in control. We think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we?

In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable — making us predictably irrational.

From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Ariely explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world — one small decision at a time.
Visit the Predictably Irrational website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"The Structural Evolution of Morality"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Structural Evolution of Morality by J. McKenzie Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is certainly the case that morality governs the interactions that take place between individuals. But what if morality exists because of these interactions? This book argues for the claim that much of the behaviour we view as ‘moral’ exists because acting in that way benefits each of us to the greatest extent possible, given the socially structured nature of society. Drawing upon aspects of evolutionary game theory, the theory of bounded rationality, and computational models of social networks, it shows both how moral behaviour can emerge in socially structured environments, and how it can persist even when it is not typically viewed as ‘rational’ from a traditional economic perspective. Since morality consists of much more than mere behaviour, this book also provides a theory of how moral principles and the moral sentiments play an indispensable role in effective choice, acting as ‘fast and frugal heuristics’ in social decision contexts.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"The Reaper's Garden"

New from Harvard University Press: The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery by Vincent Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Sounds: A Philosophical Theory"

New from Oxford University Press: Sounds: A Philosophical Theory by Casey O'Callaghan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Vision dominates philosophical thinking about perception, and theorizing about experience in cognitive science has traditionally focused on a visual model. In a radical departure from established practice, Casey O'Callaghan provides a systematic treatment of sound and sound experience, and shows how thinking about audition and appreciating the relationships between multiple sense modalities can enrich our understanding of perception and the mind.

Sounds proposes a novel theory of sounds and auditory perception. Against the widely accepted philosophical view that sounds are among the secondary or sensible qualities, O'Callaghan argues that, on any perceptually plausible account, sounds are events. But this does not imply that sounds are waves that propagate through a medium, such as air or water. Rather, sounds are events that take place in one's environment at or near the objects and happenings that bring them about. This account captures the way in which sounds essentially are creatures of time, and situates sounds in a world populated by items and events that have significance for us. Sounds are not ethereal, mysterious entities.

O'Callaghan's account of sounds and their perception discloses far greater variety among the kinds of things we perceive than traditional views acknowledge. But more importantly, investigating sounds and audition demonstrates that considering other sense modalities teaches what we could not otherwise learn from thinking exclusively about the visual. Sounds articulates a powerful account of echoes, reverberation, Doppler effects, and perceptual constancies that surpasses the explanatory richness of alternative theories, and also reveals a number of surprising cross-modal perceptual illusions. O'Callaghan argues that such illusions demonstrate that the perceptual modalities cannot be completely understood in isolation, and that the visuocentric model for theorizing about perception -- according to which perceptual modalities are discrete modes of experience and autonomous domains of philosophical and scientific inquiry -- ought to be abandoned.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

"Bad Samaritans"

New from Bloomsbury Press: Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang.

About the book, from the publisher:

A rising young star in the field of economics attacks the free-trade orthodoxy of The World Is Flat head-on — a crisp, contrarian history of global capitalism.

One economist has called Ha-Joon Chang “the most exciting thinker our profession has turned out in the past fifteen years.” With Bad Samaritans, this provocative scholar bursts into the debate on globalization and economic justice.

Using irreverent wit, an engagingly personal style, and a battery of examples, Chang blasts holes in the “World Is Flat” orthodoxy of Thomas Friedman and other liberal economists who argue that only unfettered capitalism and wide-open international trade can lift struggling nations out of poverty. On the contrary, Chang shows, today’s economic superpowers — from the U.S. to Britain to his native Korea — all attained prosperity by shameless protectionism and government intervention in industry. We have conveniently forgotten this fact, telling ourselves a fairy tale about the magic of free trade and — via our proxies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization — ramming policies that suit ourselves down the throat of the developing world.

Unlike typical economists who construct models of how the marketplace should work, Chang examines the past: what has actually happened. His pungently contrarian history demolishes one pillar after another of free-market mythology. We treat patents and copyrights as sacrosanct — but developed our own industries by studiously copying others’ technologies. We insist that centrally planned economies stifle growth — but many developing countries had higher GDP growth before they were pressured into deregulating their economies. Both justice and common sense, Chang argues, demand that we reevaluate the policies we force on nations that are struggling to follow in our footsteps.

Friday, February 8, 2008

"Culture in Chaos"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Stephen C. Lubkemann's Culture in Chaos: An Anthropology of the Social Condition in War.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fought in the wake of a decade of armed struggle against colonialism, the Mozambican civil war lasted from 1977 to 1992, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives while displacing millions more. As conflicts across the globe span decades and generations, Stephen C. Lubkemann suggests that we need a fresh perspective on war when it becomes the context for normal life rather than an exceptional event that disrupts it. Culture in Chaos calls for a new point of departure in the ethnography of war that investigates how the inhabitants of war zones live under trying new conditions and how culture and social relations are transformed as a result.

Lubkemann focuses on how Ndau social networks were fragmented by wartime displacement and the profound effect this had on gender relations. Demonstrating how wartime migration and post-conflict return were shaped by social struggles and interests that had little to do with the larger political reasons for the war, Lubkemann contests the assumption that wartime migration is always involuntary. His critical reexamination of displacement and his engagement with broader theories of agency and social change will be of interest to anthropologists, political scientists, historians, and demographers, and to anyone who works in a war zone or with refugees and migrants.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"The Fall of the Roman Household"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Fall of the Roman Household by Kate Cooper.

About the book, from the publisher:
Edward Gibbon laid the fall of the Roman Empire at Christianity’s door, suggesting that ‘pusillanimous youth preferred the penance of the monastic to the dangers of a military life ... whole legions were buried in these religious sanctuaries’. This surprising study suggests that, far from seeing Christianity as the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire, we should understand the Christianisation of the household as a central Roman survival strategy. By establishing new ‘ground rules’ for marriage and family life, the Roman Christians of the last century of the Western empire found a way to re-invent the Roman family as a social institution to weather the political, military, and social upheaval of two centuries of invasion and civil war. In doing so, these men and women - both clergy and lay - found themselves changing both what it meant to be Roman, and what it meant to be Christian.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Big Enough to Be Inconsistent"

New from Harvard University Press: Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race by George M. Fredrickson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"The Power of Precedent"

New from Oxford University Press: The Power of Precedent by Michael J. Gerhardt.

About the book, from the publisher:
The role that precedent plays in constitutional decisionmaking is a perennially divisive subject among scholars of law and American politics. The debate rages over both empirical and normative aspects of the issue: To what extent are the Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch constrained by precedent? To what extent should they be? Taking up a topic long overdue for comprehensive treatment, Michael Gerhardt connects the vast social science data and legal scholarship to provide the most wide-ranging assessment of precedent in several decades.

The Power of Precedent clearly outlines the major issues in the continuing debates on the significance of precedent and evenly considers all sides. For the Supreme Court, precedents take many forms, including not only the Court's past opinions, but also norms, historical practices, and traditions that the justices have deliberately chosen to follow. In these forms, precedent exerts more force than is commonly acknowledged. This force is encapsulated in the implementation and recognition of what Gerhardt calls the "golden rule of precedent," a major dynamic in constitutional law. The rule calls upon justices and other public authorities to recognize that since they expect others to respect their own precedents, they must provide the same respect to others' precedents. Gerhardt's extensive exploration of precedent leads him to formulate a more expansive definition of it, one that encompasses not only the prior constitutional decisions of courts but also the constitutional judgments of other public authorities. Gerhardt concludes his study by looking at what the future holds for the concept, as he examines the decisions and attitudes toward precedent exhibited by the shift from the Rehnquist to the Roberts Court.

Authoritative and incisive, Gerhardt presents an in-depth look at this central yet understudied phenomenon at the core of all constitutional conflicts and one of undeniable importance to American law and politics. Ultimately, The Power of Precedent vividly illustrates how constitutional law is made and evolves both in and outside of the courts.

Monday, February 4, 2008

"Made with Words"

New from Princeton University Press: Made with Words: Hobbes on Language, Mind, and Politics by Philip Pettit.

About the book, from the publisher:

Hobbes's extreme political views have commanded so much attention that they have eclipsed his work on language and mind, and on reasoning, personhood, and group formation. But this work is of immense interest in itself, as Philip Pettit shows in Made with Words, and it critically shapes Hobbes's political philosophy.

Pettit argues that it was Hobbes, not later thinkers like Rousseau, who invented the invention of language thesis -- the idea that language is a cultural innovation that transformed the human mind. The invention, in Hobbes's story, is a double-edged sword. It enables human beings to reason, commit themselves as persons, and incorporate in groups. But it also allows them to agonize about the future and about their standing relative to one another; it takes them out of the Eden of animal silence and into a life of inescapable conflict--the state of nature. Still, if language leads into this wasteland, according to Hobbes, it can also lead out. It can enable people to establish a commonwealth where the words of law and morality have a common, enforceable sense, and where people can invoke the sanctions of an absolute sovereign to give their words to one another in credible commitment and contract.

Written by one of today's leading philosophers, Made with Words is both an original reinterpretation and a clear and lively introduction to Hobbes's thought.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


New from Cambridge University Press: Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification by Sanford C. Goldberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sanford Goldberg argues that a proper account of the communication of knowledge through speech has anti-individualistic implications for both epistemology and the philosophy of mind and language. In Part 1 he offers a novel argument for anti-individualism about mind and language, the view that the contents of one's thoughts and the meanings of one’s words depend for their individuation on one’s social and natural environment. In Part 2 he discusses the epistemic dimension of knowledge communication, arguing that the epistemic characteristics of communication-based beliefs depend on features of the cognitive and linguistic acts of the subject’s social peers. In acknowledging an ineliminable social dimension to mind, language, and the epistemic categories of knowledge, justification, and rationality, his book develops fundamental links between externalism in the philosophy of mind and language, on the one hand, and externalism is epistemology, on the other.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Police Interrogation and American Justice"

New from Harvard University Press: Police Interrogation and American Justice by Richard A. Leo.

About the book, from the publisher:

Friday, February 1, 2008

"The Powers to Lead"

New from Oxford University Press: The Powers to Lead by Joseph S. Nye.

About the book, from the publisher:
What qualities make a leader succeed in business or politics? In an era when the information revolution has dramatically changed the playing field, when old organizational hierarchies have given way to fluid networks of contacts, and when mistrust of leaders is on the rise, our ideas about leadership are clearly due for redefinition.

With The Powers to Lead, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. offers a sweeping look at the nature of leadership in today's world, in an illuminating blend of history, business case studies, psychological research, and more. As he observes, many now believe that the more authoritarian and coercive forms of leadership -- the hard power approaches of earlier military-industrial eras -- have been largely supplanted in postindustrial societies by soft power approaches that seek to attract, inspire, and persuade rather than dictate. Nye argues, however, that the most effective leaders are actually those who combine hard and soft power skills in proportions that vary with different situations. He calls this smart power. Drawing examples from the careers of leaders as disparate as Gandhi, Churchill, Lee Iacocca, and George W. Bush, Nye uses the concept of smart power to shed light on such topics as leadership types and skills, the needs and demands of followers, and the nature of good and bad leadership in terms of both ethics and effectiveness. In one particularly instructive chapter, he looks in depth at contextual intelligence -- the ability to understand changing environments, capitalize on trends, and use the flow of events to implement strategies.

Thoroughly grounded in the real world, rich in both analysis and anecdote, The Powers to Lead is sure to become a modern classic, a concise and lucid work applicable to every field, from small businesses and nonprofit organizations to nations on the world stage.