Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Italian Way"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Italian Way: Food and Social Life by Douglas Harper and Patrizia Faccioli.

About the book, from the publisher:
Outside of Italy, the country’s culture and its food appear to be essentially synonymous. And indeed, as The Italian Way makes clear, preparing, cooking, and eating food play a central role in the daily activities of Italians from all walks of life. In this beautifully illustrated book, Douglas Harper and Patrizia Faccioli present a fascinating and colorful look at the Italian table.

The Italian Way focuses on two dozen families in the city of Bologna, elegantly weaving together Harper’s outsider perspective with Faccioli’s intimate knowledge of the local customs. The authors interview and observe these families as they go shopping for ingredients, cook together, and argue over who has to wash the dishes. Throughout, the authors elucidate the guiding principle of the Italian table—a delicate balance between the structure of tradition and the joy of improvisation. With its bite-sized history of food in Italy, including the five-hundred-year-old story of the country’s cookbooks, and Harper’s mouth-watering photographs, The Italian Way is a rich repast—insightful, informative, and inviting.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Superstitious Regimes"

New from Harvard University Press: Superstitious Regimes: Religion and the Politics of Chinese Modernity by Rebecca Nedostup.

About the book, from the publisher:
We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence.

These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Adoption in the Roman World"

New from Cambridge University Press: Adoption in the Roman World by Hugh Lindsay.

About the book, from the publisher:
Adoption in other cultures and other times provides a background to understanding the operation of adoption in the Roman worlds. This book considers the relationship of adoption to kinship structures in the Greek and Roman world. It considers the procedures for adoption followed by a separate analysis of testamentary cases, and the impact of adoption on nomenclature. The impact of adoption on inheritance arrangements is considered, including an account of how the families of freedmen were affected. Its use as a mode of succession at Rome is detailed, and this helps to understand the anxiety of childless Romans to procure a son through adoption, rather than simply to nominate heirs in their wills. The strategy also had political uses, and importantly it was used to rearrange natural succession in the imperial family. The book concludes with political adoptions, looking at the detailed case studies of Clodius and Octavian.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Capital Ideas"

New from Princeton University Press: Capital Ideas: The IMF and the Rise of Financial Liberalization by Jeffrey M. Chwieroth.

About the book, from the publisher:
The right of governments to employ capital controls has always been the official orthodoxy of the International Monetary Fund, and the organization's formal rules providing this right have not changed significantly since the IMF was founded in 1945. But informally, among the staff inside the IMF, these controls became heresy in the 1980s and 1990s, prompting critics to accuse the IMF of indiscriminately encouraging the liberalization of controls and precipitating a wave of financial crises in emerging markets in the late 1990s. In Capital Ideas, Jeffrey Chwieroth explores the inner workings of the IMF to understand how its staff's thinking about capital controls changed so radically. In doing so, he also provides an important case study of how international organizations work and evolve.

Drawing on original survey and archival research, extensive interviews, and scholarship from economics, politics, and sociology, Chwieroth traces the evolution of the IMF's approach to capital controls from the 1940s through spring 2009 and the first stages of the subprime credit crisis. He shows that IMF staff vigorously debated the legitimacy of capital controls and that these internal debates eventually changed the organization's behavior--despite the lack of major rule changes. He also shows that the IMF exercised a significant amount of autonomy despite the influence of member states. Normative and behavioral changes in international organizations, Chwieroth concludes, are driven not just by new rules but also by the evolving makeup, beliefs, debates, and strategic agency of their staffs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Hyperconflict"

New from Stanford University Press: Hyperconflict: Globalization and Insecurity by James H. Mittelman.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book addresses two questions that are central to the maintenance of stability in the international system in the twenty-first century: does globalization promote security or fuel insecurity? And what are the implications for world order?

Coming to grips with these matters effectively requires building a bridge between the geoeconomics and geopolitics of globalization, one that extends to the geostrategic realm. Not surprisingly, few analysts have sought to span this gulf.

Filling the void, Mittelman identifies systemic drivers of global security and insecurity and demonstrates how the intense interaction between them heightens insecurity at a world level. The emergent condition he labels hyperconflict—a state characterized by a reorganization of political violence, a growing climate of fear, and increasing instability at a world level. Ultimately, his analysis of these drivers and their interaction provides the basis for projections for future world order, offering an "early warning" to enable prevention of a gathering storm of hyperconflict, and the establishment of enduring peace.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Carjacked"

New from Palgrave Macmillan: Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives by Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Carjacked is an in-depth look at our obsession with cars. While the automobile’s contribution to global warming and the effects of volatile gas prices is widely known, the problems we face every day because of our cars are much more widespread and yet much less known -- from the surprising $14,000 that the average family pays each year for the vehicles it owns, to the increase in rates of obesity and asthma to which cars contribute, to the 40,000 deaths and 2.5 million crash injuries each and every year.

Carjacked details the complex impact of the automobile on modern society and shows us how to develop a healthier, cheaper, and greener relationship with cars.
Visit the Carjacked website.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Cosmic Noise"

New from Cambridge University Press: Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy by Woodruff T. Sullivan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Providing a definitive history of the formative years of radio astronomy, this book is invaluable for historians of science, scientists and engineers. The whole of worldwide radio and radar astronomy is covered, beginning with the discoveries by Jansky and Reber of cosmic noise before World War II, through the wartime detections of solar noise, the discovery of radio stars, lunar and meteor radar experiments, the detection of the hydrogen spectral line, to the discoveries of Hey, Ryle, Lovell and Pawsey in the decade following the war, revealing an entirely different sky from that of visual astronomy. Using contemporary literature, correspondence and photographs, the book tells the story of the people who shaped the intellectual, technical, and social aspects of the field now known as radio astronomy. The book features quotes from over a hundred interviews with pioneering radio astronomers, giving fascinating insights into the development of radio astronomy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Framing Equal Opportunity"

New from Stanford University Press: Framing Equal Opportunity: Law and the Politics of School Finance Reform by Michael Paris.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the struggle to ensure that schools receive their fair share of financial and educational resources, reformers translate policy goals into legal claims in a number of different ways. This enlightening new work uncovers the options reformers have in framing legal challenges and how the choices they make affect politics and policy beyond the courtroom.

Focusing on two of the most controversial and far-reaching court decisions in the nation in school finance and education reform, Framing Equal Opportunity follows lawyers and activists in New Jersey and Kentucky as they negotiate the complicated political terrain of educational change in their respective states. Unlike other books on law and reform, this work emphasizes the importance of legal translation—the process through which reformers transform their visions and goals into plausible legal claims. As it reveals, the kinds of arguments lawyers choose to make matter not only to their success in the courtroom, but also to the nature of the political fights they face in the community at large.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Partisan Sort"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans by Matthew Levendusky.

About the book, from the publisher:
As Washington elites drifted toward ideological poles over the past few decades, did ordinary Americans follow their lead? In The Partisan Sort, Matthew Levendusky reveals that we have responded to this trend—but not, for the most part, by becoming more extreme ourselves. While polarization has filtered down to a small minority of voters, it also has had the more significant effect of reconfiguring the way we sort ourselves into political parties.

In a marked realignment since the 1970s—when partisan affiliation did not depend on ideology and both major parties had strong liberal and conservative factions—liberals today overwhelmingly identify with Democrats, as conservatives do with Republicans. This “sorting,” Levendusky contends, results directly from the increasingly polarized terms in which political leaders define their parties. Exploring its far-reaching implications for the American political landscape, he demonstrates that sorting makes voters more loyally partisan, allowing campaigns to focus more attention on mobilizing committed supporters. Ultimately, Levendusky concludes, this new link between party and ideology represents a sea change in American politics.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Augustine's Intellectual Conversion"

New from Cambridge University Press: Augustine's Intellectual Conversion: The Journey from Platonism to Christianity by Brian Dobell.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines Augustine's intellectual conversion from Platonism to Christianity, as described at Confessions 7.9.13-21.27. It is widely assumed that this occurred in the summer of 386, shortly before Augustine's volitional conversion in the garden at Milan. Brian Dobell argues, however, that Augustine’s intellectual conversion did not occur until the mid 390s, and develops this claim by comparing Confessions 7.9.13-21.27 with a number of important passages and themes from Augustine's early writings. He thus invites the reader to consider anew the problem of Augustine's conversion in 386: was it to Platonism or Christianity? His original and important study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in the history of philosophy and the history of theology.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"The Marne, 1914"

New from Random House: The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World by Holger H. Herwig.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is one of the essential events of military history, a cataclysmic encounter that prevented a quick German victory in World War I and changed the course of two wars and the world. Now, for the first time in a generation, here is a bold new account of the Battle of the Marne. A landmark work by a distinguished scholar, The Marne, 1914 gives, for the first time, all sides of the story. In remarkable detail, and with exclusive information based on newly unearthed documents, Holger H. Herwig superbly re-creates the dramatic battle, revealing how the German force was foiled and years of brutal trench warfare were made inevitable.

Herwig brilliantly reinterprets Germany’s aggressive “Schlieffen Plan”–commonly considered militarism run amok–as a carefully crafted, years-in-the-making design to avoid a protracted war against superior coalitions. He also paints a new portrait of the run-up to the Marne: the Battle of the Frontiers, long thought a coherent assault but really a series of haphazard engagements that left “heaps of corpses,” France demoralized, Belgium in ruins, and Germany emboldened to take Paris.

Finally, Herwig puts in dazzling relief the Battle of the Marne itself: the French resolve to win, which included the exodus of 100,000 people from Paris (where even pigeons were placed under state control in case radio communications broke down), the crucial lack of coordination between Germany’s First and Second Armies, and the fateful “day of rest” taken by the Third Army. He provides revelatory new facts about the all-important order of retreat by Germany’s Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hentsch, previously an event hardly documented and here freshly reconstructed from diary excerpts.

Herwig also provides stunning cameos of all the important players: Germany’s Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke, progressively despairing and self-pitying as his plans go awry; his rival, France’s Joseph Joffre, seemingly weak but secretly unflappable and steely; and Commander of the British Expeditionary Force John French, arrogant, combative, and mercurial.

The Marne, 1914 puts into context the battle’s rich historical significance: how it turned the war into a four-year-long fiasco that taught Europe to accept a new form of barbarism and stoked the furnace for the fires of World War II. Revelatory and riveting, this will be the new source on this seminal event.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Moving Politics"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP's Fight against AIDS by Deborah B. Gould.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the late 1980s, after a decade spent engaged in more routine interest-group politics, thousands of lesbians and gay men responded to the AIDS crisis by defiantly and dramatically taking to the streets. But by the early 1990s, the organization they founded, ACT UP, was no more—even as the AIDS epidemic raged on. Weaving together interviews with activists, extensive research, and reflections on the author’s time as a member of the organization, Moving Politics is the first book to chronicle the rise and fall of ACT UP, highlighting a key factor in its trajectory: emotion.

Surprisingly overlooked by many scholars of social movements, emotion, Gould argues, plays a fundamental role in political activism. From anger to hope, pride to shame, and solidarity to despair, feelings played a significant part in ACT UP’s provocative style of protest, which included raucous demonstrations, die-ins, and other kinds of street theater. Detailing the movement’s public triumphs and private setbacks, Moving Politics is the definitive account of ACT UP’s origin, development, and decline as well as a searching look at the role of emotion in contentious politics.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"The Italian Inquisition"

New from Yale University Press: The Italian Inquisition by Christopher F. Black.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Italian Inquisition, or Holy Office, was established in 1542, stimulated partly by the earlier Spanish operation. Certainly Spain’s “black legend” affected opinions of the Inquisition in Italy, but as this pioneering book shows, there were significant differences between their operations, targets, and casualties.

In this pioneering history of the Italian Inquisition, Christopher F. Black charts how it developed and changed over time. He maps its cumbersome means of command, supervision, and action, as well as its role as a surprisingly approachable regulatory body working within communities. Ranging right across the Italian panorama, and rooting his enquiry in striking individual cases, Black uncovers Inquisitional procedure from denunciation to punishment. This scrupulous and richly rewarding book shows how the Inquisition shaped Italy’s religious and social worlds.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"The Good Communist"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Good Communist: Elite Training and State Building in Today's China by Frank N. Pieke.

About the book, from the publisher:
Has China become just another capitalist country in a socialist cloak? Will the Chinese Communist Party’s rule survive the next ten years of modernization and globalization? Frank Pieke investigates these conundrums in this fascinating account of how government officials are trained for placement in the Chinese Communist Party. Through in-depth interviews with staff members and aspiring trainees, he shows that while the Chinese Communist Party has undergone a radical transformation since the revolutionary years under Mao, it is still incumbent upon cadres, who are selected through a highly rigorous process, to be ideologically and politically committed to the party. It is the lessons learnt through their teachers that shape the political and economic decisions they will make in power. The book offers unique insights into the structure and the ideological culture of the Chinese government, and how it has reinvented itself over the last three decades as a neo-socialist state.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Serving Their Country"

New from Harvard University Press: Serving Their Country: American Indian Politics and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century by Paul C. Rosier.

About the book, from the publisher:
Over the twentieth century, American Indians fought for their right to be both American and Indian. In an illuminating book, Paul C. Rosier traces how Indians defined democracy, citizenship, and patriotism in both domestic and international contexts.

Battles over the place of Indians in the fabric of American life took place on reservations, in wartime service, in cold war rhetoric, and in the courtroom. The Society of American Indians, founded in 1911, asserted that America needed Indian cultural and spiritual values. In World War II, Indians fought for their ancestral homelands and for the United States. The domestic struggle of Indian nations to defend their cultures intersected with the international cold war stand against termination—the attempt by the federal government to end the reservation system. Native Americans seized on the ideals of freedom and self-determination to convince the government to preserve reservations as places of cultural strength. Red Power activists in the 1960s and 1970s drew on Third World independence movements to assert an ethnic nationalism that erupted in a series of protests—in Iroquois country, in the Pacific Northwest, during the occupation of Alcatraz Island, and at Wounded Knee.

Believing in an empire of liberty for all, Native Americans pressed the United States to honor its obligations at home and abroad. Like African Americans, twentieth-century Native Americans served as a visible symbol of an America searching for rights and justice. American history is incomplete without their story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Buddhist Warfare"

New from Oxford University Press: Buddhist Warfare by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.

Buddhist soldiers in sixth century China were given the illustrious status of Bodhisattva after killing their adversaries. In seventeenth century Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama endorsed a Mongol ruler's killing of his rivals. And in modern-day Thailand, Buddhist soldiers carry out their duties undercover, as fully ordained monks armed with guns.

Buddhist Warfare demonstrates that the discourse on religion and violence, usually applied to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, can no longer exclude Buddhist traditions. The book examines Buddhist military action in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and shows that even the most unlikely and allegedly pacifist religious traditions are susceptible to the violent tendencies of man.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Aphrodite's Island"

New from the University of California Press: Aphrodite's Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti by Anne Salmond.

About the book, from the publisher:
Aphrodite's Island is a bold new account of the European discovery of Tahiti, the Pacific island of mythic status that has figured so powerfully in European imaginings about sexuality, the exotic, and the nobility or bestiality of "savages." In this groundbreaking book, Anne Salmond takes readers to the center of the shared history to furnish rich insights into Tahitian perceptions of the visitors while illuminating the full extent of European fascination with Tahiti. As she discerns the impact and meaning of the European effect on the islands, she demonstrates how, during the early contact period, the mythologies of Europe and Tahiti intersected and became entwined. Drawing on Tahitian oral histories, European manuscripts and artworks, collections of Tahitian artifacts, and illustrated with contemporary sketches, paintings, and engravings from the voyages, Aphrodite's Island provides a vivid account of the Europeans' Tahitian adventures. At the same time, the book's compelling insights into Tahitian life significantly change the way we view the history of this small island during a period when it became a crossroads for Europe.
Read an excerpt from Aphrodite's Island.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Us Against Them"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion by Donald R. Kinder and Cindy D. Kam.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ethnocentrism—our tendency to partition the human world into in-groups and out-groups—pervades societies around the world. Surprisingly, though, few scholars have explored its role in political life. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam fill this gap with Us Against Them, their definitive explanation of how ethnocentrism shapes American public opinion.

Arguing that humans are broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam explore its impact on our attitudes toward an array of issues, including the war on terror, humanitarian assistance, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, and the reform of social programs. The authors ground their study in previous theories from a wide range of disciplines, establishing a new framework for understanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politically consequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence to identify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes public opinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States, the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends on circumstance. Exploring the implications of these findings for political knowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies outside the United States, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding of how democracy functions.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism"

New from Stanford University Press: Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism by Arianne Chernock.

About the book, from the publisher:
Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism calls fresh attention to the forgotten but foundational contributions of men to the creation of modern British feminism. Focusing on the revolutionary 1790s, the book introduces several dozen male reformers who insisted that women's emancipation would be key to the establishment of a truly just and rational society. These men proposed educational reforms, assisted women writers into print, and used their training in religion, medicine, history, and the law to challenge common assumptions about women's legal and political entitlements.

This book uses men's engagement with women's rights as a platform to reconsider understandings of gender in eighteenth-century Britain, the meaning and legacy of feminism, and feminism's relationship more generally to traditions of radical reform and enlightenment.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"The Life of the Longhouse"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Life of the Longhouse: An Archaeology of Ethnicity by Peter Metcalf.

About the book, from the publisher:
For two centuries, travellers were amazed at the massive buildings found along the rivers that flow from the mountainous interior of Borneo. They concentrated hundreds of people under one roof, in the middle of empty rainforests. There was no practical necessity for this arrangement, and it remains a mystery. Peter Metcalf provides an answer by showing the historical context, using both oral histories and colonial records. The key factor was a pre-modern trading system that funneled rare and exotic jungle products to China via the ancient coastal city of Brunei. Meanwhile the elite manufactured goods traded upriver shaped the political and religious institutions of longhouse society. However, the apparent permanence of longhouses was an illusion. In historical terms, longhouse communities were both mobile and labile, and the patterns of ethnicity they created more closely resemble the contemporary world than any stereotype of “tribal” societies.
Read an excerpt from The Life of the Longhouse.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"A Sudden Terror"

New from Harvard University Press: A Sudden Terror: The Plot to Murder the Pope in Renaissance Rome by Anthony F. D'Elia.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1468, on the final night of Carnival in Rome, Pope Paul II sat enthroned above the boisterous crowd, when a scuffle caught his eye. His guards had intercepted a mysterious stranger trying urgently to convey a warning—conspirators were lying in wait to slay the pontiff. Twenty humanist intellectuals were quickly arrested, tortured on the rack, and imprisoned in separate cells in the damp dungeon of Castel Sant’Angelo.

Anthony D’Elia offers a compelling, surprising story that reveals a Renaissance world that witnessed the rebirth of interest in the classics, a thriving homoerotic culture, the clash of Christian and pagan values, the contest between republicanism and a papal monarchy, and tensions separating Christian Europeans and Muslim Turks. Using newly discovered sources, he shows why the pope targeted the humanists, who were seen as dangerously pagan in their Epicurean morals and their Platonic beliefs about the soul and insurrectionist in their support of a more democratic Church. Their fascination with Sultan Mehmed II connected them to the Ottoman Turks, enemies of Christendom, and the love of the classical world tied them to recent rebellious attempts to replace papal rule with a republic harking back to the glorious days of Roman antiquity.

From the cosmetic-wearing, parrot-loving pontiff to the Turkish sultan, savage in war but obsessed with Italian culture, D’Elia brings to life a Renaissance world full of pageantry, mayhem, and conspiracy and offers a fresh interpretation of humanism as a dynamic communal movement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"The Political Centrist"

New from Vanderbilt University Press: The Political Centrist by John Lawrence Hill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today almost half of all Americans decline to define themselves as either "liberal" or "conservative." In fact, modern liberalism and conservatism seem hopelessly fragmented ideologies. Liberals claim to believe in individual freedom yet advocate a more collectivistic approach to government and an increasingly paternalistic role for the state. Conservatives are hopelessly divided between two incompatible ideals--the highly individualistic, limited-state philosophy of classical liberalism and an older, more collectivistic tradition of cultural conservatism that holds government responsible for shaping social morality. As a result, modern liberals are economic collectivists and moral individualists, while conservatives are economic individualists and moral collectivists.

Centrists reject each of these fragmented and polarized approaches to politics. We believe that government has a role to play in structuring social and economic opportunities and in reinforcing basic moral norms, yet we are deeply troubled by ever-expanding government. We reject libertarianism, left-liberalism, and the various schools of conservatism as a model for government.

Part I of The Political Centrist briefly traces the trajectory of the liberal and conservative traditions. It argues that modern liberalism is an unprincipled fusion of classical liberal and socialist ideals while modern conservatism is an untenable hybrid of economic liberalism and social conservatism. Part II offers a centrist approach to many of the most contentious contemporary political and social issues. Those include:

-- abortion
-- affirmative action
-- the death penalty
-- gay marriage
-- illegal immigration
-- judicial activism
-- the relationship of religion and politics
-- the role of government in the economy
Read the introduction to The Political Centrist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"The Unfinished Revolution"

New from Oxford University Press: The Unfinished Revolution: How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work, and Gender in America by Kathleen Gerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The vast changes in family life--the rise of single, same-sex, and two-paycheck parents--have often been blamed for declining morality and unhappy children. Drawing upon pioneering research with the children of the gender revolution, Kathleen Gerson reveals that it is not a lack of "family values," but rigid social and economic forces that make it difficult to live out those values.

In the controversial public debate over modern American families, The Unfinished Revolution takes a measured approach, looking at the young adults who grew up in the tumultuous post-feminist period. Despite the entrance of women into the workforce and the blurring of once clearly defined gender boundaries, men and women live in a world where the demands of balancing parenting and work, autonomy and commitment, time and money are left largely unresolved. Gerson finds that while an overwhelming majority of young men and women see an egalitarian balance within committed relationships as the ideal, today's social and economic realities remain based on traditional--and now obsolete--distinctions between breadwinning and caretaking. In this equity vacuum, men and women develop conflicting strategies, with women stressing self-reliance and men seeking a new traditionalism.

With compassion for all perspectives, Gerson argues that whether one decides to give in to traditionally imbalanced relationships or to avoid marriage completely, these approaches are second-best responses, not personal preferences or inherent attributes, and they will shift if new options can be created to help people achieve their egalitarian aspirations. The Unfinished Revolution makes clear recommendations for the kinds of workplace and community changes that would best bring about a more egalitarian family life--a new flexibility at work and at home that benefits families, encourages a thriving economy, and helps women and men integrate love and work.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'"If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die"'

New from Princeton University Press: "If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die": How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor by Geoffrey Robinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a book about a terrible spate of mass violence. It is also about a rare success in bringing such violence to an end. "If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die" tells the story of East Timor, a half-island that suffered genocide after Indonesia invaded in 1975, and which was again laid to waste after the population voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999. Before international forces intervened, more than half the population had been displaced and 1,500 people killed. Geoffrey Robinson, an expert in Southeast Asian history, was in East Timor with the United Nations in 1999 and provides a gripping first-person account of the violence, as well as a rigorous assessment of the politics and history behind it.

Robinson debunks claims that the militias committing the violence in East Timor acted spontaneously, attributing their actions instead to the calculation of Indonesian leaders, and to a "culture of terror" within the Indonesian army. He argues that major powers--notably the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom--were complicit in the genocide of the late 1970s and the violence of 1999. At the same time, Robinson stresses that armed intervention supported by those powers in late 1999 was vital in averting a second genocide. Advocating accountability, the book chronicles the failure to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

A riveting narrative filled with personal observations, documentary evidence, and eyewitness accounts, "If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die" engages essential questions about political violence, international humanitarian intervention, genocide, and transitional justice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed"

New from Yale University Press: Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed by Mary Heimann.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book, the most thoroughly researched and accurate history of Czechoslovakia to appear in English, tells the story of the country from its founding in 1918 to partition in 1992—from fledgling democracy through Nazi occupation, Communist rule, and invasion by the Soviet Union to, at last, democracy again.

The common Western view of Czechoslovakia has been that of a small nation that was sacrificed at Munich in 1938 and betrayed to the Soviets in 1948, and which rebelled heroically against the repression of the Soviet Union during the Prague Spring of 1968. Mary Heimann dispels these myths and shows how intolerant nationalism and an unhelpful sense of victimhood led Czech and Slovak authorities to discriminate against minorities, compete with the Nazis to persecute Jews and Gypsies, and pave the way for the Communist police state. She also reveals Alexander Dubcek, held to be a national hero and standard-bearer for democracy, to be an unprincipled apparatchik. Well written, revisionist, and accessible, this groundbreaking book should become the standard history of Czechoslovakia for years to come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Hitler's Panzers"

New from Berkley: Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare by Dennis Showalter.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating account of Nazi Germany’s armored forces by the author of Patton and Rommel.

Determined to secure a quick, decisive victory on the World War II battlefields, Adolf Hitler adopted an attack plan that combined tools with technique— the formidable Panzer divisions. Self-contained armored units able to operate independently, the Panzers became the German army’s fighting core as well as its moral focus, establishing an entirely new military doctrine.

In Hitler’s Panzers renowned World War II scholar Dennis Showalter presents a comprehensive and unbiased study of Nazi Germany’s armored forces. By delving deeply into a detailed history of the theory, strategy, myths, and realities of Germany’s technologically innovative approach to warfare, Showalter provides a look at the military lessons of the past, and a speculation on how the Panzer ethos may be implemented in the future of international conflict.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"An Outsider in the White House"

New from Cornell University Press: An Outsider in the White House: Jimmy Carter, His Advisors, and the Making of American Foreign Policy by Betty Glad.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jimmy Carter entered the White House with a desire for a collegial staff that would aid his foreign-policy decision making. He wound up with a “team of rivals” who contended for influence and who fought over his every move regarding relations with the USSR, the Peoples' Republic of China, arms control, and other crucial foreign-policy issues. In two areas-the Camp David Accords and the return of the Canal to Panama-Carter's successes were attributable to his particular political skills and the assistance of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and other professional diplomats. The ultimate victor in the other battles was Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a motivated tactician. Carter, the outsider who had sought to change the political culture of the executive office, found himself dependent on the very insiders of the political and diplomatic establishment against whom he had campaigned.

Based on recently declassified documents in the Carter Library, materials not previously noted in the Vance papers, and a wide variety of interviews, Betty Glad's An Outsider in the White House is a rich and nuanced depiction of the relationship between policy and character. It is also a poignant history of damaged ideals. Carter's absolute commitment to human rights foundered on what were seen as national security interests. New data from the archives reveal how Carter's government sought the aid of Pope John Paul II to undercut the human-rights efforts of the El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. A moralistic approach toward the Soviet Union undermined Carter's early desire to reduce East-West conflicts and cut nuclear arms. As a result, by 1980 the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) was in limbo, and a nuclear counterforce doctrine had been adopted.

Near the end of Carter's single term in office Vance stepped down as secretary of state, in part because Brzezinski's “muscular diplomacy” had come to dominate Carter's foreign policy. When Vance's successor, Edmund Muskie, took over, the State Department was reduced to implementing policies made by Brzezinski and his allies. For Carter, the rivalry for influence in the White House was concluded and the results, as Glad shows, were a mixed record and an uncertain presidential legacy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Southern Horrors"

New from Harvard University Press: Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching by Crystal N. Feimster.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1880 and 1930, close to 200 women were murdered by lynch mobs in the American South. Many more were tarred and feathered, burned, whipped, or raped. In this brutal world of white supremacist politics and patriarchy, a world violently divided by race, gender, and class, black and white women defended themselves and challenged the male power brokers. Crystal Feimster breaks new ground in her story of the racial politics of the postbellum South by focusing on the volatile issue of sexual violence.

Pairing the lives of two Southern women—Ida B. Wells, who fearlessly branded lynching a white tool of political terror against southern blacks, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching black men accused of raping white women—Feimster makes visible the ways in which black and white women sought protection and political power in the New South. While Wells was black and Felton was white, both were journalists, temperance women, suffragists, and anti-rape activists. By placing their concerns at the center of southern politics, Feimster illuminates a critical and novel aspect of southern racial and sexual dynamics. Despite being on opposite sides of the lynching question, both Wells and Felton sought protection from sexual violence and political empowerment for women.

Southern Horrors provides a startling view into the Jim Crow South where the precarious and subordinate position of women linked black and white anti-rape activists together in fragile political alliances. It is a story that reveals how the complex drama of political power, race, and sex played out in the lives of Southern women.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Snitching"

New from NYU Press: Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice by Alexandra Natapoff.

About the book, from the publisher:
Albert Burrell spent thirteen years on death row for a murder he did not commit. Atlanta police killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during a misguided raid on her home. After being released by Chicago prosecutors, Darryl Moore—drug dealer, hit man, and rapist—returned home to rape an eleven-year-old girl.

Such tragedies are consequences of snitching—police and prosecutors offering deals to criminal offenders in exchange for information. Although it is nearly invisible to the public, criminal snitching has invaded the American legal system in risky and sometimes shocking ways. Snitching is the first comprehensive analysis of this powerful and problematic practice, in which informant deals generate unreliable evidence, allow criminals to escape punishment, endanger the innocent, compromise the integrity of police work, and exacerbate tension between police and poor urban residents. Driven by dozens of real-life stories and debacles, the book exposes the social destruction that snitching can cause in high-crime African American neighborhoods, and how using criminal informants renders our entire penal process more secretive and less fair. Natapoff also uncovers the farreaching legal, political, and cultural significance of snitching: from the war on drugs to hip hop music, from the FBI’s mishandling of its murderous mafia informants to the new surge in white collar and terrorism informing. She explains how existing law functions and proposes new reforms. By delving into the secretive world of criminal informants, Snitching reveals deep and often disturbing truths about the way American justice really works.
Visit the Snitching blog.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Securing the Peace"

New from Princeton University Press: Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars by Monica Duffy Toft.

About the book, from the publisher:
Timely and pathbreaking, Securing the Peace is the first book to explore the complete spectrum of civil war terminations, including negotiated settlements, military victories by governments and rebels, and stalemates and ceasefires. Examining the outcomes of all civil war terminations since 1940, Monica Toft develops a general theory of postwar stability, showing how third-party guarantees may not be the best option. She demonstrates that thorough security-sector reform plays a critical role in establishing peace over the long term.

Much of the thinking in this area has centered on third parties presiding over the maintenance of negotiated settlements, but the problem with this focus is that fewer than a quarter of recent civil wars have ended this way. Furthermore, these settlements have been precarious, often resulting in a recurrence of war. Toft finds that military victory, especially victory by rebels, lends itself to a more durable peace. She argues for the importance of the security sector--the police and military--and explains that victories are more stable when governments can maintain order. Toft presents statistical evaluations and in-depth case studies that include El Salvador, Sudan, and Uganda to reveal that where the security sector remains robust, stability and democracy are likely to follow.

An original and thoughtful reassessment of civil war terminations, Securing the Peace will interest all those concerned about resolving our world's most pressing conflicts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Naked City"

New from Oxford University Press: Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin.

About the book, from the publisher:
As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, art galleries, small boutiques, upscale food markets, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic restaurants, and old, family-owned shops. These signify a place's authenticity, in contrast to the bland standardization of the suburbs and exurbs.

But as Sharon Zukin shows in Naked City, the rapid and pervasive demand for authenticity--evident in escalating real estate prices, expensive stores, and closely monitored urban streetscapes--has helped drive out the very people who first lent a neighborhood its authentic aura: immigrants, the working class, and artists. Zukin traces this economic and social evolution in six archetypal New York areas--Williamsburg, Harlem, the East Village, Union Square, Red Hook, and the city's community gardens--and travels to both the city's first IKEA store and the World Trade Center site. She shows that for followers of Jane Jacobs, this transformation is a perversion of what was supposed to happen. Indeed, Naked City is a sobering update of Jacobs' legendary 1962 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Like Jacobs, Zukin looks at what gives neighborhoods a sense of place, but argues that over time, the emphasis on neighborhood distinctiveness has become a tool of economic elites to drive up real estate values and effectively force out the neighborhood "characters" that Jacobs so evocatively idealized.

With a journalist's eye and the understanding of a longtime critic and observer, Zukin's panoramic survey of contemporary New York explains how our desire to consume authentic experience has become a central force in making cities more exclusive.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"In the Name of God and Country"

New from Yale University Press: In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History by Michael Fellman.

About the book, from the publisher:
With insight and originality, Michael Fellman argues that terrorism, in various forms, has been a constant and driving force in American history. In part, this is due to the nature of American republicanism and Protestant Christianity, which he believes contain a core of moral absolutism and self-righteousness that perpetrators of terrorism use to justify their actions. Fellman also argues that there is an intrinsic relationship between terrorist acts by non-state groups and responses on the part of the state; unlike many observers, he believes that both the action and the reaction constitute terrorism.

Fellman’s compelling narrative focuses on five key episodes: John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; terrorism during the American Civil War, especially race warfare and guerrilla warfare; the organized “White Line” paramilitary destruction of Reconstruction in Mississippi; the Haymarket Affair and its aftermath; and the Philippine-American war of 1899–1902. In an epilogue, he applies this history to illuminate the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of terrorism in the so-called war on terror. In the Name of God and Country demonstrates the centrality of terrorism in shaping America even to this day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Kristallnacht 1938"

New from Harvard University Press: Kristallnacht 1938 by Alan E. Steinweis.

About the book, from the publisher:
On November 7, 1938, a Jewish teenager, Herschel Grynszpan, fatally shot a German diplomat in Paris. Within three days anti-Jewish violence erupted throughout Germany, initially incited by local Nazi officials, and ultimately sanctioned by the decisions of Hitler and Goebbels at the pinnacle of the Third Reich. As synagogues burned and Jews were beaten in the streets, police stood aside. Men, women, and children—many neighbors of the victims—participated enthusiastically in acts of violence, rituals of humiliation, and looting. By the night of November 10, a nationwide antisemitic pogrom had inflicted massive destruction on synagogues, Jewish schools, and Jewish-owned businesses. During and after this spasm of violence and plunder, 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, where hundreds would perish in the following months.

Kristallnacht revealed to the world the intent and extent of Nazi Judeophobia. However, it was seen essentially as the work of the Nazi leadership. Now, Alan Steinweis counters that view in his vision of Kristallnacht as a veritable pogrom—a popular cathartic convulsion of antisemitic violence that was manipulated from above but executed from below by large numbers of ordinary Germans rioting in the streets, heckling and taunting Jews, cheering Stormtroopers' hostility, and looting Jewish property on a massive scale.

Based on original research in the trials of the pogrom's perpetrators and the testimonies of its Jewish survivors, Steinweis brings to light the evidence of mob action by all sectors of the civilian population. Kristallnacht 1938 reveals the true depth and nature of popular antisemitism in Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"The Environment and the People in American Cities"

New from Duke University Press: The Environment and the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s: Disorder, Inequality, and Social Change by Dorceta E. Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Environment and the People in American Cities, Dorceta E. Taylor provides an in-depth examination of the development of urban environments, and urban environmentalism, in the United States. Taylor focuses on the evolution of the city, the emergence of elite reformers, the framing of environmental problems, and the perceptions of and responses to breakdowns in social order, from the seventeenth century through the twentieth. She demonstrates how social inequalities repeatedly informed the adjudication of questions related to health, safety, and land access and use. While many accounts of environmental history begin and end with wildlife and wilderness, Taylor shows that the city offers important clues to understanding the evolution of American environmental activism.

Taylor traces the progression of several major thrusts in urban environmental activism, including the alleviation of poverty; sanitary reform and public health; safe, affordable, and adequate housing; parks, playgrounds, and open space; occupational health and safety; consumer protection (food and product safety); and land use and urban planning. At the same time, she presents a historical analysis of the ways race, class, and gender shaped experiences and perceptions of the environment as well as environmental activism and the construction of environmental discourses. Throughout her analysis, Taylor illuminates connections between the social and environmental conflicts of the past and those of the present. She describes the displacement of people of color for the production of natural open space for the white and wealthy, the close proximity between garbage and communities of color in early America, the cozy relationship between middle-class environmentalists and the business community, and the continuous resistance against environmental inequalities on the part of ordinary residents from marginal communities.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"The Eyes of the People"

New from Oxford University Press: The Eyes of the People: Democracy in an Age of Spectatorship by Jeffrey Edward Green.

About the book, from the publisher:
For centuries it has been assumed that democracy must refer to the empowerment of the People's voice. In this pioneering book, Jeffrey Edward Green makes the case for considering the People as an ocular entity rather than a vocal one. Green argues that it is both possible and desirable to understand democracy in terms of what the People gets to see instead of the traditional focus on what it gets to say.

The Eyes of the People examines democracy from the perspective of everyday citizens in their everyday lives. While it is customary to understand the citizen as a decision-maker, in fact most citizens rarely engage in decision-making and do not even have clear views on most political issues. The ordinary citizen is not a decision-maker but a spectator who watches and listens to the select few empowered to decide. Grounded on this everyday phenomenon of spectatorship, The Eyes of the People constructs a democratic theory applicable to the way democracy is actually experienced by most people most of the time.

In approaching democracy from the perspective of the People's eyes, Green rediscovers and rehabilitates a forgotten "plebiscitarian" alternative within the history of democratic thought. Building off the contributions of a wide range of thinkers-including Aristotle, Shakespeare, Benjamin Constant, Max Weber, Joseph Schumpeter, and many others-Green outlines a novel democratic paradigm centered on empowering the People's gaze through forcing politicians to appear in public under conditions they do not fully control.

The Eyes of the People is at once a sweeping overview of the state of democratic theory and a call to rethink the meaning of democracy within the sociological and technological conditions of the twenty-first century.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"The Cosmopolitan Imagination"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Cosmopolitan Imagination: The Renewal of Critical Social Theory by Gerard Delanty.

About the book, from the publisher:
Gerard Delanty provides a comprehensive assessment of the idea of cosmopolitanism in social and political thought which links cosmopolitan theory with critical social theory. He argues that cosmopolitanism has a critical dimension which offers a solution to one of the weaknesses in the critical theory tradition: failure to respond to the challenges of globalization and intercultural communication. Critical cosmopolitanism, he proposes, is an approach that is not only relevant to social scientific analysis but also normatively grounded in a critical attitude. Delanty’s argument for a critical, sociologically oriented cosmopolitanism aims to avoid, on the one hand, purely normative conceptions of cosmopolitanism and, on the other, approaches that reduce cosmopolitanism to the empirical expression of diversity. He attempts to take cosmopolitan theory beyond the largely Western context with which it has generally been associated, claiming that cosmopolitan analysis must now take into account non-Western expressions of cosmopolitanism.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Freedom Struggles"

New from Harvard University Press: Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I by Adriane Lentz-Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
For many of the 200,000 black soldiers sent to Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, encounters with French civilians and colonial African troops led them to imagine a world beyond Jim Crow. They returned home to join activists working to make that world real. In narrating the efforts of African American soldiers and activists to gain full citizenship rights as recompense for military service, Adriane Lentz-Smith illuminates how World War I mobilized a generation.

Black and white soldiers clashed as much with one another as they did with external enemies. Race wars within the military and riots across the United States demonstrated the lengths to which white Americans would go to protect a carefully constructed caste system. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric of self-determination but battered by the harsh realities of segregation, African Americans fought their own “war for democracy,” from the rebellions of black draftees in French and American ports to the mutiny of Army Regulars in Houston, and from the lonely stances of stubborn individuals to organized national campaigns. African Americans abroad and at home reworked notions of nation and belonging, empire and diaspora, manhood and citizenship. By war’s end, they ceased trying to earn equal rights and resolved to demand them.

This beautifully written book reclaims World War I as a critical moment in the freedom struggle and places African Americans at the crossroads of social, military, and international history.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"America's Army"

New from Harvard University Press: America's Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force by Beth Bailey.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1973, not long after the last American combat troops returned from Vietnam, President Nixon fulfilled his campaign promise and ended the draft. No longer would young men find their futures determined by the selective service system; nor would the U.S. military have a guaranteed source of recruits.

America’s Army is the story of the all-volunteer force, from the draft protests and policy proposals of the 1960s through the Iraq War. It is also a history of America in the post-Vietnam era. In the Army, America directly confronted the legacies of civil rights and black power, the women’s movement, and gay rights. The volunteer force raised questions about the meaning of citizenship and the rights and obligations it carries; about whether liberty or equality is the more central American value; what role the military should play in American society not only in time of war, but in time of peace. And as the Army tried to create a volunteer force that could respond effectively to complex international situations, it had to compete with other “employers” in a national labor market and sell military service alongside soap and soft drinks.

Based on exhaustive archival research, as well as interviews with Army officers and recruiters, advertising executives, and policy makers, America’s Army confronts the political, moral, and social issues a volunteer force raises for a democratic society as well as for the defense of our nation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Terror in Chechnya"

New from Princeton University Press: Terror in Chechnya: Russia and the Tragedy of Civilians in War by Emma Gilligan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Terror in Chechnya is the definitive account of Russian war crimes in Chechnya. Emma Gilligan provides a comprehensive history of the second Chechen conflict of 1999 to 2005, revealing one of the most appalling human rights catastrophes of the modern era--one that has yet to be fully acknowledged by the international community. Drawing upon eyewitness testimony and interviews with refugees and key political and humanitarian figures, Gilligan tells for the first time the full story of the Russian military's systematic use of torture, disappearances, executions, and other punitive tactics against the Chechen population.

In Terror in Chechnya, Gilligan challenges Russian claims that civilian casualties in Chechnya were an unavoidable consequence of civil war. She argues that racism and nationalism were substantial factors in Russia's second war against the Chechens and the resulting refugee crisis. She does not ignore the war crimes committed by Chechen separatists and pro-Moscow forces. Gilligan traces the radicalization of Chechen fighters and sheds light on the Dubrovka and Beslan hostage crises, demonstrating how they undermined the separatist movement and in turn contributed to racial hatred against Chechens in Moscow.

A haunting testament of modern-day crimes against humanity, Terror in Chechnya also looks at the international response to the conflict, focusing on Europe's humanitarian and human rights efforts inside Chechnya.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Infectious Ideas"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis by Jennifer Brier.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Infectious Ideas, Jennifer Brier convincingly argues that the AIDS epidemic had a profound effect on the American political landscape. Viewing contemporary history from the perspective of the AIDS crisis, she provides rich, new understandings of the complex social and political trends of the post-1960s era.

Brier describes how AIDS workers--in groups as disparate as the gay and lesbian press, AIDS service organizations, private philanthropies, and the State Department--influenced American politics, especially on issues such as gay and lesbian rights, reproductive health, racial justice, and health care policy, even in the face of the expansion of the New Right. Indeed, the book shows that efforts to deal with AIDS produced significant fissures in the conservative movement during this period, especially when the State Department and USAID adopted AIDS as a centerpiece of its diplomatic strategy, including the distribution of millions of condoms overseas.

Infectious Ideas places recent social, cultural, and political events in a new light, making an important contribution to our understanding of the United States at the end of the twentieth century.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Dissenting Bodies"

New from Columbia University Press: Dissenting Bodies: Corporealities in Early New England by Martha L. Finch.

About the book, from the publisher:
For the Puritan separatists of seventeenth-century New England, "godliness," as manifested by the body, was the sign of election, and the body, with its material demands and metaphorical significance, became the axis upon which all colonial activity and religious meaning turned.

Drawing on literature, documents, and critical studies of embodiment as practiced in the New England colonies, Martha L. Finch launches a fascinating investigation into the scientific, theological, and cultural conceptions of corporeality at a pivotal moment in Anglo-Protestant history. Not only were settlers forced to interact bodily with native populations and other "new world" communities, they also fought starvation and illness; were whipped, branded, hanged, and murdered; sang, prayed, and preached; engaged in sexual relations; and were baptized according to their faith. All these activities shaped the colonists' understanding of their existence and the godly principles of their young society.

Finch focuses specifically on Plymouth Colony and those who endeavored to make visible what they believed to be God's divine will. Quakers, Indians, and others challenged these beliefs, and the constant struggle to survive, build cohesive communities, and regulate behavior forced further adjustments. Merging theological, medical, and other positions on corporeality with testimonies on colonial life, Finch brilliantly complicates our encounter with early Puritan New England.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"The International Politics of Intelligence Sharing"

New from Columbia University Press: The International Politics of Intelligence Sharing by James Igoe Walsh.

About the book, from the publisher:
The cross-border sharing of intelligence is fundamental to the establishment and preservation of security and stability. The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based in part on flawed intelligence, and current efforts to defeat al Qaeda would not be possible without an exchange of information among Britain, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the United States. While critical to national security and political campaigns, intelligence sharing can also be a minefield of manipulation and maneuvering, especially when secrecy makes independent verification of sources impossible.

In The International Politics of Intelligence Sharing, James Igoe Walsh advances novel strategies for securing more reliable intelligence. His approach puts states that seek information in control of other states' intelligence efforts. According to this hierarchical framework, states regularly draw agreements in which one power directly monitors and acts on another power's information-gathering activities-a more streamlined approach that prevents the dissemination of false "secrets." In developing this strategy, Walsh draws on recent theories of international cooperation and evaluates both historical and contemporary case studies of intelligence sharing. Readers with an interest in intelligence matters cannot ignore this urgent, timely, and evidence-based book.
Visit Jim Walsh's blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?"

New from Georgetown University Press: Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?: What History Teaches Us about Strategic Barriers and International Security by Brent L. Sterling.

About the book, from the publisher:
A number of nations, conspicuously Israel and the United States, have been increasingly attracted to the use of strategic barriers to promote national defense. In Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?, defense analyst Brent Sterling examines the historical use of strategic defenses such as walls or fortifications to evaluate their effectiveness and considers their implications for modern security.

Sterling studies six famous defenses spanning 2,500 years, representing both democratic and authoritarian regimes: the Long Walls of Athens, Hadrian’s Wall in Roman Britain, the Ming Great Wall of China, Louis XIV’s PrĂ© CarrĂ©, France’s Maginot Line, and Israel’s Bar Lev Line. Although many of these barriers were effective in the short term, they also affected the states that created them in terms of cost, strategic outlook, military readiness, and relations with neighbors. Sterling assesses how modern barriers against ground and air threats could influence threat perceptions, alter the military balance, and influence the builder’s subsequent policy choices.

Advocates and critics of strategic defenses often bolster their arguments by selectively distorting history. Sterling emphasizes the need for an impartial examination of what past experience can teach us. His study yields nuanced lessons about strategic barriers and international security and yields findings that are relevant for security scholars and compelling to general readers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Power over Peoples"

New from Princeton University Press: Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present by Daniel R. Headrick.

About the book, from the publisher:
For six hundred years, the nations of Europe and North America have periodically attempted to coerce, invade, or conquer other societies. They have relied on their superior technology to do so, yet these technologies have not always guaranteed success. Power over Peoples examines Western imperialism's complex relationship with technology, from the first Portuguese ships that ventured down the coast of Africa in the 1430s to America's conflicts in the Middle East today.

Why did the sailing vessels that gave the Portuguese a century-long advantage in the Indian Ocean fail to overcome Muslim galleys in the Red Sea? Why were the same weapons and methods that the Spanish used to conquer Mexico and Peru ineffective in Chile and Africa? Why didn't America's overwhelming air power assure success in Iraq and Afghanistan? In Power over Peoples, Daniel Headrick traces the evolution of Western technologies--from muskets and galleons to jet planes and smart bombs--and sheds light on the environmental and social factors that have brought victory in some cases and unforeseen defeat in others. He shows how superior technology translates into greater power over nature and sometimes even other peoples, yet how technological superiority is no guarantee of success in imperialist ventures--because the technology only delivers results in a specific environment, or because the society being attacked responds in unexpected ways.

Breathtaking in scope, Power over Peoples is a revealing history of technological innovation, its promise and limitations, and its central role in the rise and fall of empire.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Cuttin’ Up"

New from the University Press of Kansas: Cuttin’ Up: How Early Jazz Got America’s Ear by Court Carney.

About the book, from the publisher:
The emergence of jazz out of New Orleans is part of the American story, but the creation of this music was more than a regional phenomenon: it also crossed geographical, cultural, and technological lines. Court Carney takes a new look at the spread and acceptance of jazz in America, going beyond the familiar accounts of music historians and documentarians to show how jazz paralleled and propelled the broader changes taking place in America’s economy, society, politics, and culture.

Cuttin’ Up takes readers back to the 1920s and early 1930s to describe how jazz musicians navigated the rocky racial terrain of the music business—and how new media like the phonograph, radio, and film accelerated its diffusion and contributed to variations in its styles. The first history of jazz to emphasize the connections between these disseminating technologies and specific locales, it describes the distinctive styles that developed in four cities and tells how the opportunities of each influenced both musicians’ choices and the marketing of their music.

Carney begins his journey in New Orleans, where pioneers like Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden set the tone for the new music, then takes readers up the river to Chicago, where Joe Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, featuring a young Louis Armstrong, first put jazz on record. The genre received a major boost in New York through radio’s live broadcasts from venues like the Cotton Club, then came to a national audience when Los Angeles put it in the movies, starting with the appearance of Duke Ellington’s orchestra in Check and Double Check.

As Carney shows, the journey of jazz had its racial component as well, ranging from New Orleans’ melting pot to Chicago’s segregated music culture, from Harlem clubs catering to white clienteles to Hollywood’s reinforcement of stereotypes. And by pinpointing specific cultural turns in the process of bringing jazz to a national audience, he shows how jazz opens a window on the creation of a modernist spirit in America.

A 1930 tune called “Cuttin’ Up” captured the freewheeling spirit of this new music—an expression that also reflects the impact jazz and its diffusion had on the nation as it crossed geographic and social boundaries and integrated an array of styles into an exciting new hybrid. Deftly blending music history, urban history, and race studies, Cuttin’ Up recaptures the essence of jazz in its earliest days.