Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Eleanor of Aquitaine"

New from Yale University Press: Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England by Ralph V. Turner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Eleanor of Aquitaine’s extraordinary life seems more likely to be found in the pages of fiction. Proud daughter of a distinguished French dynasty, she married the king of France, Louis VII, then the king of England, Henry II, and gave birth to two sons who rose to take the English throne—Richard the Lionheart and John. Renowned for her beauty, hungry for power, headstrong, and unconventional, Eleanor traveled on crusades, acted as regent for Henry II and later for Richard, incited rebellion, endured a fifteen-year imprisonment, and as an elderly widow still wielded political power with energy and enthusiasm.

This gripping biography is the definitive account of the most important queen of the Middle Ages. Ralph Turner, a leading historian of the twelfth century, strips away the myths that have accumulated around Eleanor—the “black legend” of her sexual appetite, for example—and challenges the accounts that relegate her to the shadows of the kings she married and bore. Turner focuses on a wealth of primary sources, including a collection of Eleanor’s own documents not previously accessible to scholars, and portrays a woman who sought control of her own destiny in the face of forceful resistance. A queen of unparalleled appeal, Eleanor of Aquitaine retains her power to fascinate even 800 years after her death.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California by Charlotte Brooks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the early 1900s and the late 1950s, the attitudes of white Californians toward their Asian American neighbors evolved from outright hostility to relative acceptance. Charlotte Brooks examines this transformation through the lens of California’s urban housing markets, arguing that the perceived foreignness of Asian Americans, which initially stranded them in segregated areas, eventually facilitated their integration into neighborhoods that rejected other minorities.

Against the backdrop of cold war efforts to win Asian hearts and minds, whites who saw little difference between Asians and Asian Americans increasingly advocated the latter group’s access to middle-class life and the residential areas that went with it. But as they transformed Asian Americans into a “model minority,” whites purposefully ignored the long backstory of Chinese and Japanese Americans’ early and largely failed attempts to participate in public and private housing programs. As Brooks tells this multifaceted story, she draws on a broad range of sources in multiple languages, giving voice to an array of community leaders, journalists, activists, and homeowners—and insightfully conveying the complexity of racialized housing in a multiracial society.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity"

New from Harvard University Press: Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity by William V. Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the Iliad to Aristophanes, from the gospel of Matthew to Augustine, Greek and Latin texts are constellated with descriptive images of dreams. Some are formulaic, others intensely vivid. The best ancient minds—Plato, Aristotle, the physician Galen, and others—struggled to understand the meaning of dreams.

With Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity the renowned ancient historian William Harris turns his attention to oneiric matters. This cultural history of dreams in antiquity draws on both contemporary post-Freudian science and careful critiques of the ancient texts. Harris traces the history of characteristic forms of dream-­description and relates them both to the ancient experience of dreaming and to literary and religious imperatives. He analyzes the nuances of Greek and Roman belief in the truth-telling potential of dreams, and in a final chapter offers an assessment of ancient attempts to understand dreams naturalistically.

How did dreaming culture evolve from Homer’s time to late antiquity? What did these dreams signify? And how do we read and understand ancient dreams through modern eyes? Harris takes an elusive subject and writes about it with rigor and precision, reminding us of specificities, contexts, and changing attitudes through history.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Why America Fights"

New from Oxford University Press: Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq by Susan A. Brewer.

About the book, from the publisher:
On the evening of September 11, 2002, with the Statue of Liberty shimmering in the background, television cameras captured President George W. Bush as he advocated war against Iraq. This carefully stage-managed performance, writes Susan A. Brewer, was the culmination of a long tradition of sophisticated wartime propaganda in America.

In Why America Fights, Brewer offers a fascinating history of how successive presidents have conducted what Donald Rumsfeld calls "perception management," from McKinley's war in the Philippines to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Brewer's intriguing account ranges from analyses of wartime messages to descriptions of the actual operations, from the dissemination of patriotic ads and posters to the management of newspaper, radio, and TV media. When Woodrow Wilson took the nation into World War I, he created the Committee on Public Information, led by George Creel, who called his job "the world's greatest adventure in advertising." In World War II, Roosevelt's Office of War Information avowed a "strategy of truth," though government propaganda still depicted Japanese soldiers as buck-toothed savages. In the Korean War, the Truman administration delineated differences between "good" and "evil" Asians, while portraying the conflict as a global battle between the Free World and Communism. After examining the ultimately failed struggle to cast the Vietnam War in a favorable light, Brewer shows how the Bush White House drew explicit lessons from that history as it engaged in an unprecedented effort to sell a preemptive war in Iraq. Yet the thrust of its message was not much different from McKinley's pronouncements about America's civilizing mission.

Impressively researched and argued, filled with surprising details, Why America Fights shows how presidents consistently have drummed up support for foreign wars by appealing to what Americans want to believe about themselves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Surrendering to Utopia"

New from Stanford University Press: Surrendering to Utopia: An Anthropology of Human Rights by Mark Goodale.

About the book, from the publisher:
Surrendering to Utopia is a critical and wide-ranging study of anthropology's contributions to human rights. Providing a unique window into the underlying political and intellectual currents that have shaped human rights in the postwar period, this ambitious work opens up new opportunities for research, analysis, and political action. At the book's core, the author describes a "well-tempered human rights"—an orientation to human rights in the twenty-first century that is shaped by a sense of humility, an appreciation for the disorienting fact of multiplicity, and a willingness to make the mundaneness of social practice a source of ethical inspiration.

In examining the curious history of anthropology's engagement with human rights, this book moves from more traditional anthropological topics within the broader human rights community—for example, relativism and the problem of culture—to consider a wider range of theoretical and empirical topics. Among others, it examines the link between anthropology and the emergence of "neoliberal" human rights, explores the claim that anthropology has played an important role in legitimizing these rights, and gauges whether or not this is evidence of anthropology's potential to transform human rights theory and practice more generally.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism by Cathy Gere.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began to excavate the palace of Knossos on Crete, bringing ancient Greek legends to life just as a new century dawned amid far-reaching questions about human history, art, and culture. Over the next three decades, Evans engaged in an unprecedented reconstruction project, creating a complex of concrete buildings on the site that owed at least as much to modernist architecture as they did to Bronze Age remains. In the process, he fired the imaginations of a whole generation of intellectuals and artists, whose work would drive movements as disparate as fascism and pacifism, feminism and psychoanalysis.

With Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, Cathy Gere relates the fascinating story of Evans’s excavation and its long-term effects on Western culture. Gere shows how Evans’s often-fanciful account of ancient Minoan society captivated a generation riven by serious doubts about the fundamental values of European civilization. After the First World War left the Enlightenment dream in tatters, the lost paradise that Evans offered in the concrete labyrinth—pacifist and matriarchal, pagan and cosmic—seemed to offer a new way forward for writers, artists, and thinkers such as Freud, James Joyce, Georgio de Chirico, Robert Graves, Hilda Doolittle, all of whom emerge as forceful characters in Gere’s account.

Assembling a brilliant, talented, and eccentric cast at a moment of tremendous intellectual vitality and wrenching change, Cathy Gere paints an unforgettable portrait of the age of concrete and the birth of modernism.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"First Peoples in a New World"

New from the University of California Press: First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America by David J. Meltzer.

About the book, from the publisher:
More than 12,000 years ago, in one of the greatest triumphs of prehistory, humans colonized North America, a continent that was then truly a new world. Just when and how they did so has been one of the most perplexing and controversial questions in archaeology. This dazzling, cutting-edge synthesis, written for a wide audience by an archaeologist who has long been at the center of these debates, tells the scientific story of the first Americans: where they came from, when they arrived, and how they met the challenges of moving across the vast, unknown landscapes of Ice Age North America. David J. Meltzer pulls together the latest ideas from archaeology, geology, linguistics, skeletal biology, genetics, and other fields to trace the breakthroughs that have revolutionized our understanding in recent years. Among many other topics, he explores disputes over the hemisphere's oldest and most controversial sites and considers how the first Americans coped with changing global climates. He also confronts some radical claims: that the Americas were colonized from Europe or that a crashing comet obliterated the Pleistocene megafauna. Full of entertaining descriptions of on-site encounters, personalities, and controversies, this is a compelling behind-the-scenes account of how science is illuminating our past.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Cosmopolitan Islanders"

New from Cambridge University Press: Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and the European Continent by Richard J. Evans.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Cosmopolitan Islanders one of the world’s leading historians asks why it is that so many prominent and influential British historians have devoted themselves to the study of the European continent. Books on the history of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and many other European countries, and of Europe more generally, have frequently reached the best-seller lists both in Britain and (in translation) in those European countries themselves. Yet the same is emphatically not true in reverse. Richard J. Evans traces the evolution of British interest in the history of Continental Europe from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century. He goes on to discuss why British historians who work on aspects of European history in the present day have chosen to do so and why this distinguished tradition is now under threat. Cosmopolitan Islanders ends with some reflections on what needs to be done to ensure its continuation in the future.
Visit the official website of Richard J. Evans.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Managed by the Markets"

New from Oxford University Press: Managed by the Markets: How Finance Re-Shaped America by Gerald F. Davis.

About the book, from the publisher:
In recent years, we've been rocked by a series of economic jolts, and all of them seemed to revolve around finance. And the most recent, the American mortgage meltdown, has sent shock waves around the world. Managed by the Markets offers an illuminating account of how finance has replaced manufacturing at the center of the American economy over the past three decades, explaining how the new finance-centered system works, how we got here, and what challenges lay ahead.

Since the early 1980s, Gerald F. Davis shows, finance and financial considerations have increasingly taken center stage, dramatically reshaping American society. Corporations now have an overriding focus on creating shareholder value, while their personnel practices no longer provide secure employment, economic mobility, health insurance, or retirement benefits. Instead, employees must become shareholding free-agents, left to their own fate. Banking has shifted from the traditional role of taking in deposits and making loans to the widespread use of "securitization," turning loans (such as mortgages or corporate debt) into bonds owned by institutional investors. The financial services industry is both more concentrated among large banks and mutual funds, yet more spread out among under-regulated specialists such as mortgage finance companies and hedge funds. And states increasingly act as "vendors" in a global marketplace of law, emulating firms such as Nike, hiring contractors to do much of the work of government.

As a result, individuals and households find their welfare tied to the stock market and the mortgage market as never before. And the turbulence of recent years starkly underscores the dangers of depending too much on financial markets. Written in the spirit of C. Wright Mills' penetrating The Power Elite and White Collar, this brilliant study provides an invaluable map of the finance-driven American society.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Buccaneers of the Caribbean"

New from Harvard University Press: Buccaneers of the Caribbean: How Piracy Forged an Empire by Jon Latimer.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the seventeenth century, sea raiders known as buccaneers controlled the Caribbean. Buccaneers were not pirates but privateers, licensed to attack the Spanish by the governments of England, France, and Holland. Jon Latimer charts the exploits of these men who followed few rules as they forged new empires.

Lacking effective naval power, the English, French, and Dutch developed privateering as the means of protecting their young New World colonies. They developed a form of semi-legal private warfare, often carried out regardless of political developments on the other side of the Atlantic, but usually with tacit approval from London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs of such figures as William Dampier, Sieur Raveneau de Lussan, Alexander Oliver Exquemelin, and Basil Ringrose, Jon Latimer portrays a world of madcap adventurers, daredevil seafarers, and dangerous rogues.

Piet Hein of the Dutch West India Company captured, off the coast of Cuba, the Spanish treasure fleet, laden with American silver, and funded the Dutch for eight months in their fight against Spain. The switch from tobacco to sugar transformed the Caribbean, and everyone scrambled for a quick profit in the slave trade. Oliver Cromwell’s ludicrous Western Design—a grand scheme to conquer Central America—fizzled spectacularly, while the surprising prosperity of Jamaica set England solidly on the road to empire. The infamous Henry Morgan conducted a dramatic raid through the tropical jungle of Panama that ended in the burning of Panama City.

From the crash of gunfire to the billowing sail on the horizon, Latimer brilliantly evokes the dramatic age of the buccaneers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"The Marvelous Hairy Girls"

New from Yale University Press: The Marvelous Hairy Girls: The Gonzales Sisters and Their Worlds by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book tells the extraordinary story of three sixteenth-century sisters who, along with their father and brothers, were afflicted with an extremely rare genetic condition that made them unusually hairy. Amazingly, the Gonzales sisters were not mocked or shunned, but were welcomed in the courts of Europe, spending much of their lives among nobles, musicians, and artists. Their double identity as humans and beasts made them intriguing, and the girls and their father were the subjects not only of medical investigations but also of a considerable number of portraits, some of which still hang in European castles today.

Using the Gonzales family as a lens, historian Merry Wiesner-Hanks examines their varied and wondrous times. The story of this family connects with every important change of their era—political and religious violence, colonial conquest, new forms of scholarship and science—and also provides insights into the complex relationships between beastliness, monstrosity, and gender in early modern life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Shop Class as Soulcraft"

New from Penguin: Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford.

About the book, from the publisher:
A philosopher / mechanic destroys the pretensions of the high-prestige workplace and makes an irresistible case for working with one’s hands

Shop Class as Soulcraft brings alive an experience that was once quite common, but now seems to be receding from society—the experience of making and fixing things with our hands. Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world, a sense of loss, and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day. For anyone who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life worth choosing.

On both economic and psychological grounds, Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a "knowledge worker," based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide.

But Crawford offers good news as well: the manual trades are very different from the assembly line, and from dumbed-down white collar work as well. They require careful thinking and are punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. Based on his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford makes a case for the intrinsic satisfactions and cognitive challenges of manual work. The work of builders and mechanics is secure; it cannot be outsourced, and it cannot be made obsolete. Such work ties us to the local communities in which we live, and instills the pride that comes from doing work that is genuinely useful. A wholly original debut, Shop Class as Soulcraft offers a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.
Visit Matthew B. Crawford's website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"The Geopolitics of Emotion"

New from Doubleday: The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World by Dominique Moisi.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first book to expose and investigate the far-reaching emotional impact of globalization.

In his celebrated 1993 book The Clash of Civilizations, political scientist Samuel Huntington argued that the fundamental source of conflict in the post–Cold War world would not be primarily ideological or economic, but cultural. In The Geopolitics of Emotion Dominique Moïsi, a leading authority on international affairs, demonstrates that our post-9/11 world has become divided by more than cultural fault lines between nations and civilizations. Moïsi brilliantly chronicles how the geopolitics of today is characterized by a “clash of emotions,” and how cultures of fear, humiliation, and hope are reshaping the world.

Moïsi contends that both the United States and Europe have been dominated by fears of the “other” and of their loss of a national identity and purpose. Instead of being united by their fears, the twin pillars of the West are more often divided by them—or, rather, by bitter debates over how best to confront or transcend them. For Muslims and Arabs, the combination of historical grievances, exclusion from the economic boon of globalization, and civil and religious conflicts extending from their homelands to the Muslim diaspora have created a culture of humiliation that is quickly devolving into a culture of hatred. Meanwhile, Asia has been able to concentrate on building a better future and seizing the economic initiative from the American-dominated West and so creating a new culture of hope.

Do these emotions represent underlying cultural tendencies characteristic of particular regions and populations today? How will these varying emotions influence the political, social, and cultural conflicts that roil our world? How can the West transcend its fear and avoid sliding into protectionism or militarism? What can the Muslim world do to overcome is legacy of humiliation? Will China and India manage to maintain their status as the cultures of hope? And what will the effect of the world economic crisis be? By delineating the necessity of confronting emotions to understand our changing world and deciphering the driving emotions behind our cultural differences, The Geopolitics of Emotion presents a provocative new perspective on globalization.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Cajun Breakdown"

New from Oxford University Press: Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American Made Music by Ryan André Brasseaux.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1946, Harry Choates, a Cajun fiddle virtuoso, changed the course of American musical history when his recording of the so-called Cajun national anthem "Jole Blon" reached number four on the national Billboard charts. Cajun music became part of the American consciousness for the first time thanks to the unprecedented success of this issue, as the French tune crossed cultural, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Country music stars Moon Mullican, Roy Acuff, Bob Wills, and Hank Snow rushed into the studio to record their own interpretations of the waltz-followed years later by Waylon Jennings and Bruce Springsteen. The cross-cultural musical legacy of this plaintive waltz also paved the way for Hank Williams Sr.'s Cajun-influenced hit "Jamabalaya."

Choates' "Jole Blon" represents the culmination of a centuries-old dialogue between the Cajun community and the rest of America. Joining into this dialogue is the most thoroughly researched and broadly conceived history of Cajun music yet published, Cajun Breakdown. Furthermore, the book examines the social and cultural roots of Cajun music's development through 1950 by raising broad questions about the ethnic experience in America and nature of indigenous American music. Since its inception, the Cajun community constantly refashioned influences from the American musical landscape despite the pressures of marginalization, denigration, and poverty. European and North American French songs, minstrel tunes, blues, jazz, hillbilly, Tin Pan Alley melodies, and western swing all became part of the Cajun musical equation. The idiom's synthetic nature suggests an extensive and intensive dialogue with popular culture, extinguishing the myth that Cajuns were an isolated folk group astray in the American South. Ryan Andre Brasseaux's work constitutes a bold and innovative exploration of a forgotten chapter in America's musical odyssey.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"A People's History of Christianity"

New from HarperOne: A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass.

About the book, from the publisher:
For too long, the history of Christianity has been told as the triumph of orthodox doctrine imposed through power and hierarchy. In A People's History of Christianity, historian and religion expert Diana Butler Bass reveals an alternate history that includes a deep social ethic and far-reaching inclusivity: "the other side of the story" is not a modern phenomenon, but has always been practiced within the church. Butler Bass persuasively argues that corrective—even subversive—beliefs and practices have always been hallmarks of Christianity and are necessary to nourish communities of faith.

In the same spirit as Howard Zinn's groundbreaking work The People's History of the United States, Butler Bass's A People's History of Christianity brings to life the movements, personalities, and spiritual disciplines that have always informed and ignited Christian worship and social activism.

A People's History of Christianity authenticates the vital, emerging Christian movements of our time, providing the historical evidence that celebrates these movements as thoroughly Christian and faithful to the mission and message of Jesus.
Visit the official Diana Butler Bass website.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"When Experiments Travel"

New from Princeton University Press: When Experiments Travel: Clinical Trials and the Global Search for Human Subjects by Adriana Petryna.

About the book, from the publisher:
The phenomenal growth of global pharmaceutical sales and the quest for innovation are driving an unprecedented search for human test subjects, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. Our hope for medical progress increasingly depends on the willingness of the world's poor to participate in clinical drug trials. While these experiments often provide those in need with vital and previously unattainable medical resources, the outsourcing and offshoring of trials also create new problems. In this groundbreaking book, anthropologist Adriana Petryna takes us deep into the clinical trials industry as it brings together players separated by vast economic and cultural differences. Moving between corporate and scientific offices in the United States and research and public health sites in Poland and Brazil, When Experiments Travel documents the complex ways that commercial medical science, with all its benefits and risks, is being integrated into local health systems and emerging drug markets.

Providing a unique perspective on globalized clinical trials, When Experiments Travel raises central questions: Are such trials exploitative or are they social goods? How are experiments controlled and how is drug safety ensured? And do these experiments help or harm public health in the countries where they are conducted? Empirically rich and theoretically innovative, the book shows that neither the language of coercion nor that of rational choice fully captures the range of situations and value systems at work in medical experiments today. When Experiments Travel challenges conventional understandings of the ethics and politics of transnational science and changes the way we think about global medicine and the new infrastructures of our lives.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Global Compassion"

New from Oxford University Press: Global Compassion: Private Voluntary Organizations and U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1939 by Rachel M. McCleary.

About the book, from the publisher:
Aid organizations like Oxfam, CARE, World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services are known the world over. However, little is known about the relationship between these private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and the federal government, and how truly influential these organizations can be in the realm of foreign policy. Indeed since the end of the Second World War, humanitarian aid has become a key component of U.S. foreign policy and has grown steadily ever since. This history of interaction deflates the common claim that PVOs have been independent from the federal government, and that this independence has only recently been threatened.

Global Compassion is the first truly comprehensive study of PVOs and their complex, often-fraught interaction with the federal government. Rachel McCleary provides an ambitious analysis of the relationship between the two from 1939 to 2005. The book focuses on the work of PVOs from a foreign policy perspective, revealing how federal political pressures shape the field of international relief. McCleary draws on a new and one-of-a-kind data set on the revenue of private voluntary agencies, employing annual reports, State Department documents, and I.R.S. records, to assess the extent to which international relief and development work is becoming a commercial activity. She outlines the increasing financial dependence of these organizations on the federal government and the consequences of that dependency for various types of agencies, as well as the often competing goals of the federal government and religious PVOs. As a result, there is a continuing trend of decreasing federal funds to PVOs and of simultaneously increasing awards to commercial enterprises. Focusing on the interplay between public and private revenue, the discussion ends with the commercialization of foreign aid and the factors most likely to influence the future of PVOs in international relief and development.

In this thought-provoking and rigorously researched work, Rachel McCleary offers a unique, substantive look at an understudied area of U.S. foreign policy and international development, and provides a crucial analysis of what this relationship holds for the future.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"The African Diaspora"

New from Columbia University Press: The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture by Patrick Manning.

About the book, from the publisher:
Patrick Manning refuses to divide the African diaspora into the experiences of separate regions and nations. Instead, he follows the multiple routes that brought Africans and people of African descent into contact with one another and with Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In weaving these stories together, Manning shows how the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean fueled dynamic interactions among black communities and cultures and how these patterns resembled those of a number of connected diasporas concurrently taking shaping across the globe.

Manning begins in 1400 and traces five central themes: the connections that enabled Africans to mutually identify and hold together as a global community; discourses on race; changes in economic circumstance; the character of family life; and the evolution of popular culture. His approach reveals links among seemingly disparate worlds. In the mid-nineteenth century, for example, slavery came under attack in North America, South America, southern Africa, West Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and India, with former slaves rising to positions of political prominence. Yet at the beginning of the twentieth century, the near-elimination of slavery brought new forms of discrimination that removed almost all blacks from government for half a century.

Manning underscores the profound influence that the African diaspora had on world history, demonstrating the inextricable link between black migration and the rise of modernity, especially in regards to the processes of industrialization and urbanization. A remarkably inclusive and far-reaching work, The African Diaspora proves that the advent of modernity cannot be imaginatively or comprehensively engaged without taking the African peoples and the African continent as a whole into account.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Black Men Can't Shoot"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Black Men Can't Shoot by Scott N. Brooks.

About the book, from the publisher:
The myth of the natural black athlete is widespread, though it’s usually only talked about when a sports commentator or celebrity embarrasses himself by bringing it up in public. Those gaffes are swiftly decried as racist, but apart from their link to the long history of ugly racial stereotypes about black people—especially men—they are also harmful because they obscure very real, hard-fought accomplishments. As Black Men Can’t Shoot demonstrates, such successes on the basketball court don’t just happen because of natural gifts—instead, they grow out of the long, tough, and unpredictable process of becoming a known player.

Scott N. Brooks spent four years coaching summer league basketball in Philadelphia. And what he saw, heard, and felt working with the young black men on his team tells us much about how some kids are able to make the extraordinary journey from the ghetto to the NCAA. To show how good players make the transition to greatness, Brooks tells the story of two young men, Jermaine and Ray, following them through their high school years and chronicling their breakthroughs and frustrations on the court as well as their troubles at home. We witness them negotiating the pitfalls of forging a career and a path out of poverty, we see their triumphs and setbacks, and we hear from the network of people—their families, the neighborhood elders, and Coach Brooks himself—invested in their fates.

Black Men Can’t Shoot has all the hallmarks of a classic sports book, with a climactic championship game and a suspenseful ending as we wait to find out if Jermaine and Ray will be recruited. Brooks’s moving coming-of-age story counters the belief that basketball only exploits kids and lures them into following empty dreams—and shows us that by playing ball, some of these young black men have already begun their education even before they get to college.
Read an excerpt from Black Men Can't Shoot.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


New from Yale University Press: Gallipoli: The End of the Myth by Robin Prior.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Gallipoli campaign of 1915–16 was an ill-fated Allied attempt to shorten the war by eliminating Turkey, creating a Balkan alliance against the Central Powers, and securing a sea route to Russia. A failure in all respects, the operation ended in disaster, and the Allied forces suffered some 390,000 casualties. This conclusive book assesses the many myths that have emerged about Gallipoli and provides definitive answers to questions that have lingered about the operation.

Robin Prior, a renowned military historian, proceeds step by step through the campaign, dealing with naval, military, and political matters and surveying the operations of all the armies involved: British, Anzac, French, Indian, and Turkish. Relying substantially on original documents, including neglected war diaries and technical military sources, Prior evaluates the strategy, the commanders, and the performance of soldiers on the ground. His conclusions are powerful and unsettling: the naval campaign was not “almost” won, and the land action was not bedeviled by “minor misfortunes.” Instead, the badly conceived Gallipoli campaign was doomed from the start. And even had it been successful, the operation would not have shortened the war by a single day. Despite their bravery, the Allied troops who fell at Gallipoli died in vain.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Citizen Bachelors"

New from Cornell University Press: Citizen Bachelors: Manhood and the Creation of the United States by John Gilbert McCurdy.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1755 Benjamin Franklin observed “a man without a wife is but half a man” and since then historians have taken Franklin at his word. In Citizen Bachelors, John Gilbert McCurdy demonstrates that Franklin's comment was only one side of a much larger conversation. Early Americans vigorously debated the status of unmarried men and this debate was instrumental in the creation of American citizenship.

In a sweeping examination of the bachelor in early America, McCurdy fleshes out a largely unexamined aspect of the history of gender. Single men were instrumental to the settlement of the United States and for most of the seventeenth century their presence was not particularly problematic. However, as the colonies matured, Americans began to worry about those who stood outside the family. Lawmakers began to limit the freedoms of single men with laws requiring bachelors to pay higher taxes and face harsher penalties for crimes than married men, while moralists began to decry the sexual immorality of unmarried men. But many resisted these new tactics, including single men who reveled in their hedonistic reputations by delighting in sexual horseplay without marital consequences. At the time of the Revolution, these conflicting views were confronted head-on. As the incipient American state needed men to stand at the forefront of the fight for independence, the bachelor came to be seen as possessing just the sort of political, social, and economic agency associated with citizenship in a democratic society. When the war was won, these men demanded an end to their unequal treatment, sometimes grudgingly, and the citizen bachelor was welcomed into American society.

Drawing on sources as varied as laws, diaries, political manifestos, and newspapers, McCurdy shows that in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the bachelor was a simultaneously suspicious and desirable figure: suspicious because he was not tethered to family and household obligations yet desirable because he was free to study, devote himself to political office, and fight and die in battle. He suggests that this dichotomy remains with us to this day and thus it is in early America that we find the origins of the modern-day identity of the bachelor as a symbol of masculine independence. McCurdy also observes that by extending citizenship to bachelors, the founders affirmed their commitment to individual freedom, a commitment that has subsequently come to define the very essence of American citizenship.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


New from Oxford University Press: Possibility by Michael Jubien.

About the book, from the publisher:
Possibility offers a new analysis of the metaphysical concepts of possibility and necessity, one that does not rely on any sort of "possible worlds." The analysis proceeds from an account of the notion of a physical object and from the positing of properties and relations. It is motivated by considerations about how we actually speak of and think of objects. Michael Jubien discusses several closely related topics, including different purported varieties of possible worlds, the doctrine of "essentialism," natural kind terms and alleged examples of necessity a posteriori. The book also offers a new theory of the functioning of proper names, both actual and fictional, and the discussion of natural kind terms and necessity a posteriori depends in part on this theory.
Learn more about Michael Jubien's scholarship at his faculty webpage.

Writers Read: Michael Jubien.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Hope and Despair in the American City"

New from Harvard University Press: Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh by Gerald Grant.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5–4 verdict in the case of Milliken v. Bradley, thereby blocking the state of Michigan from merging the Detroit public school system with those of the surrounding suburbs. This decision effectively walled off underprivileged students in many American cities, condemning them to a system of racial and class segregation and destroying their chances of obtaining a decent education.

In Hope and Despair, Gerald Grant compares two cities—his hometown of Syracuse, New York, and Raleigh, North Carolina—in order to examine the consequences of the nation’s ongoing educational inequities. The school system in Syracuse is a slough of despair, the one in Raleigh a beacon of hope. Grant argues that the chief reason for Raleigh’s educational success is the integration by social class that occurred when the city voluntarily merged with the surrounding suburbs in 1976 to create the Wake County Public School System. By contrast, the primary cause of Syracuse’s decline has been the growing class and racial segregation of its metropolitan schools, which has left the city mired in poverty.

Hope and Despair is a compelling study of urban social policy that combines field research and historical narrative in lucid and engaging prose. The result is an ambitious portrait—sometimes disturbing, often inspiring—of two cities that exemplify our nation’s greatest educational challenges, as well as a passionate exploration of the potential for school reform that exists for our urban schools today.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"Localist Movements in a Global Economy"

New from The MIT Press: Localist Movements in a Global Economy: Sustainability, Justice, and Urban Development in the United States by David J. Hess.

About the book, from the publisher:
The internationalization of economies and other changes that accompany globalization have brought about a paradoxical reemergence of the local. A significant but largely unstudied aspect of new local-global relationships is the growth of "localist movements"--efforts to reclaim economic and political sovereignty for metropolitan and other subnational regions. In Localist Movements in a Global Economy, David Hess offers an overview of localism in the United States and assesses its potential to address pressing global problems of social justice and environmental sustainability.

Since the 1990s, more than 100 local business organizations have formed in the United States, and there are growing efforts to build local ownership in the retail, food, energy, transportation, and media industries. In this first social science study of localism, Hess adopts an interdisciplinary approach that combines theoretical reflection, empirical research, and policy analysis. His perspective is not that of an uncritical localist advocate; he draws on his new empirical research to assess the extent to which localist policies can address sustainability and justice issues.

After a theoretical discussion of sustainability, the global corporate economy, and economic development, Hess looks at four specific forms of localism: "buy local" campaigns; urban agriculture; local ownership of electricity and transportation; and alternative and community media. He then examines "global localism"—transnational local-to-local supply chains—and other economic policies and financial instruments that would create an alternative economic structure. Localism is not a panacea for globalization, he concludes, but a crucial ingredient in projects to build more democratic, just, and sustainable politics.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair"

New from Yale University Press: The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial by Moshik Temkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
What began as the obscure local case of two Italian immigrant anarchists accused of robbery and murder flared into an unprecedented political and legal scandal as the perception grew that their conviction was a judicial travesty and their execution a political murder. This book is the first to reveal the full national and international scope of the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, uncovering how and why the two men became the center of a global cause célèbre that shook public opinion and transformed America’s relationship with the world.

Drawing on extensive research on two continents, and written with verve, this book connects the Sacco-Vanzetti affair to the most polarizing political and social concerns of its era. Moshik Temkin contends that the worldwide attention to the case was generated not only by the conviction that innocent men had been condemned for their radical politics and ethnic origins but also as part of a reaction to U.S. global supremacy and isolationism after World War I. The author further argues that the international protest, which helped make Sacco and Vanzetti famous men, ultimately provoked their executions. The book concludes by investigating the affair’s enduring repercussions and what they reveal about global political action, terrorism, jingoism, xenophobia, and the politics of our own time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Selling Sounds"

New from Harvard University Press: Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music by David Suisman.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Tin Pan Alley to grand opera, player-pianos to phonograph records, David Suisman’s Selling Sounds explores the rise of music as big business and the creation of a radically new musical culture. Around the turn of the twentieth century, music entrepreneurs laid the foundation for today’s vast industry, with new products, technologies, and commercial strategies to incorporate music into the daily rhythm of modern life. Popular songs filled the air with a new kind of musical pleasure, phonographs brought opera into the parlor, and celebrity performers like Enrico Caruso captivated the imagination of consumers from coast to coast.

Selling Sounds uncovers the origins of the culture industry in music and chronicles how music ignited an auditory explosion that penetrated all aspects of society. It maps the growth of the music business across the social landscape—in homes, theaters, department stores, schools—and analyzes the effect of this development on everything from copyright law to the sensory environment. While music came to resemble other consumer goods, its distinct properties as sound ensured that its commercial growth and social impact would remain unique.

Today, the music that surrounds us—from iPods to ring tones to Muzak—accompanies us everywhere from airports to grocery stores. The roots of this modern culture lie in the business of popular song, player-pianos, and phonographs of a century ago. Provocative, original, and lucidly written, Selling Sounds reveals the commercial architecture of America’s musical life.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Einstein's Generation"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Einstein's Generation: The Origins of the Relativity Revolution by Richard Staley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Much of the history of physics at the beginning of the twentieth century has been written with a sharp focus on a few key figures and a handful of notable events. Einstein’s Generation offers a distinctive new approach to the origins of modern physics by exploring both the material culture that stimulated relativity and the reaction of Einstein’s colleagues to his pioneering work.

Richard Staley weaves together the diverse strands of experimental and theoretical physics, commercial instrument making, and the sociology of physics around 1900 to present a complete view of the collective efforts of a group whose work helped set the stage for Einstein’s revolutionary theories and the transition from classical to modern physics that followed. Collecting papers, talks, catalogues, conferences, and correspondence, Staley juxtaposes scientists’ views of relativity at the time to modern understandings of its history. Ultimately, Einstein’s Generation tells the story of a group of individuals whose work engendered some of the most significant advances of the twentieth century—and challenges our celebration of Einstein’s era above all others.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Dillinger's Wild Ride"

New from Oxford University Press: Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One by Elliot J. Gorn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In an era that witnessed the rise of celebrity outlaws like Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger was the most famous and flamboyant of them all. Reports on the man and his misdeeds--spiced with accounts of his swashbuckling bravado and cool daring--provided an America worn down by the Great Depression with a salacious mix of sex and violence that proved irresistible.

In Dillinger's Wild Ride, Elliott J. Gorn provides a riveting account of the year between 1933 and 1934, when the Dillinger gang pulled over a dozen bank jobs, and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars. A dozen men--police, FBI agents, gangsters, and civilians--lost their lives in the rampage, and American newspapers breathlessly followed every shooting and jail-break. As Dillinger's wild year unfolded, the tale grew larger and larger in newspapers and newsreels, and even today, Dillinger is the subject of pulp literature, serious poetry and fiction, and films, including a new movie starring Johnny Depp. What is the power of his story? Why has it lingered so long? Who was John Dillinger? Gorn illuminates the significance of Dillinger's tremendous fame and the endurance of his legacy, arguing that he represented an American fascination with primitive freedom against social convention. Dillinger's story has much to tell us about our enduring fascination with outlaws, crime and violence, about the complexity of our transition from rural to urban life, and about the transformation of America during the Great Depression.

Dillinger's Wild Ride is a compulsively readable story with an unforgettable protagonist.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing"

New from Princeton University Press: Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement by James L. Nolan, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wide variety of problem-solving courts have been developed in the United States over the past two decades and are now being adopted in countries around the world. These innovative courts--including drug courts, community courts, domestic violence courts, and mental health courts--do not simply adjudicate offenders. Rather, they attempt to solve the problems underlying such criminal behaviors as petty theft, prostitution, and drug offenses. Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing is a study of the international problem-solving court movement and the first comparative analysis of the development of these courts in the United States and the other countries where the movement is most advanced: England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Looking at the various ways in which problem-solving courts have been taken up in these countries, James Nolan finds that while importers often see themselves as adapting the American courts to suit local conditions, they may actually be taking in more aspects of American law and culture than they realize or desire. In the countries that adopt them, problem-solving courts may in fact fundamentally challenge traditional ideas about justice. Based on ethnographic research in all six countries, the book examines these cases of legal borrowing for what they reveal about legal and cultural differences, the inextricable tie between law and culture, the processes of globalization, the unique but contested global role of the United States, and the changing face of law and justice around the world.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"The Empire's New Clothes"

New from Yale University Press: The Empire's New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700-1917 by Christine Ruane.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1701 Tsar Peter the Great decreed that all residents of Moscow must abandon their traditional dress and wear European fashion. Those who produced or sold Russian clothing would face “dreadful punishment.” Peter’s dress decree, part of his drive to make Russia more like Western Europe, had a profound impact on the history of Imperial Russia.

This engrossing book explores the impact of Westernization on Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries and presents a wealth of photographs of ordinary Russians in all their finery. Christine Ruane draws on memoirs, mail-order catalogues, fashion magazines, and other period sources to demonstrate that Russia’s adoption of Western fashion had symbolic, economic, and social ramifications and was inseparably linked to the development of capitalism, industrial production, and new forms of communication. This book shows how the fashion industry became a forum through which Russians debated and formulated a new national identity.

Friday, May 1, 2009

"The Motherless State"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Motherless State: Women's Political Leadership and American Democracy by Eileen McDonagh.

About the book, from the publisher:
American women attain more professional success than most of their counterparts around the world, but they lag surprisingly far behind in the national political arena. Women held only 15 percent of U.S. congressional seats in 2006, a proportion that ranks America behind eighty-two other countries in terms of females elected to legislative office. A compelling exploration of this deficiency, The Motherless State reveals why the United States differs from comparable democracies that routinely elect far more women to their national governing bodies and chief executive positions.

Explaining that equal rights alone do not ensure equal access to political office, Eileen McDonagh shows that electoral gender parity also requires public policies that represent maternal traits. Most other democracies, she demonstrates, view women as more suited to govern because their governments have taken on maternal roles through social welfare provisions, gender quotas, or the continuance of symbolic hereditary monarchies. The United States has not adopted such policies, and until it does, McDonagh insightfully warns, American women run for office with a troubling disadvantage.