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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Spectacle of Deformity"

New from the University of California Press: Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture by Nadja Durbach.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1847, during the great age of the freak show, the British periodical Punch bemoaned the public's "prevailing taste for deformity." This vividly detailed work argues that far from being purely exploitative, displays of anomalous bodies served a deeper social purpose as they generated popular and scientific debates over the meanings attached to bodily difference. Nadja Durbach examines freaks both well-known and obscure including the Elephant Man; "Lalloo, the Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy," a set of conjoined twins advertised as half male, half female; Krao, a seven-year-old hairy Laotian girl who was marketed as Darwin's "missing link"; the "Last of the Mysterious Aztecs" and African "Cannibal Kings," who were often merely Irishmen in blackface. Upending our tendency to read late twentieth-century conceptions of disability onto the bodies of freak show performers, Durbach shows that these spectacles helped to articulate the cultural meanings invested in otherness--and thus clarified what it meant to be British—at a key moment in the making of modern and imperial ideologies and identities.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"The Bourgeois Frontier"

New from Yale University Press: The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion by Jay Gitlin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Histories tend to emphasize conquest by Anglo-Americans as the driving force behind the development of the American West. In this fresh interpretation, Jay Gitlin argues that the activities of the French are crucial to understanding the phenomenon of westward expansion.

The Seven Years War brought an end to the French colonial enterprise in North America, but the French in towns such as New Orleans, St. Louis, and Detroit survived the transition to American rule. French traders from Mid-America such as the Chouteaus and Robidouxs of St. Louis then became agents of change in the West, perfecting a strategy of “middle grounding” by pursuing alliances within Indian and Mexican communities in advance of American settlement and re-investing fur trade profits in land, town sites, banks, and transportation. The Bourgeois Frontier provides the missing French connection between the urban Midwest and western expansion.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Everything But the Coffee"

New from the University of California Press: Everything But the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks by Bryant Simon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Everything but the Coffee casts a fresh eye on the world's most famous coffee company, looking beyond baristas, movie cameos, and Paul McCartney CDs to understand what Starbucks can tell us about America. Bryant Simon visited hundreds of Starbucks around the world to ask, Why did Starbucks take hold so quickly with consumers? What did it seem to provide over and above a decent cup of coffee? Why at the moment of Starbucks' profit-generating peak did the company lose its way, leaving observers baffled about how it might regain its customers and its cultural significance? Everything but the Coffee probes the company's psychological, emotional, political, and sociological power to discover how Starbucks' explosive success and rapid deflation exemplify American culture at this historical moment. Most importantly, it shows that Starbucks speaks to a deeply felt American need for predictability and class standing, community and authenticity, revealing that Starbucks' appeal lies not in the product it sells but in the easily consumed identity it offers.
Writers Read: Bryant Simon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924"

New from the University of Utah Press: Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924 by Reid L. Neilson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1901 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent its first missionaries to Japan. Just over 20 years later, the Church temporarily retreated from evangelizing in Asia. In Early Mormon Activities in Japan, 1901-1924, author Reid L. Neilson sheds light on why those first representatives were sent to Japan, how they functioned as “strangers in a strange land,” and what led to the church’s brief withdrawal from Japan and the rest of East Asia. He argues that the same nineteenth-century LDS theology, practices, and traditions that gave rise to the early LDS Japan Mission in 1901 were paradoxically also responsible for the eventual demise of the mission in 1924.

Utilizing a case study of the equally ill-fated 1854 LDS mission to China, Neilson works to provide an understanding of why the standard LDS missionary approach of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was so poorly suited for evangelizing non-Christian, non-Western peoples. The unvaried sense of evangelic propriety and practices hindered Mormon missionaries from adapting their message to the new and incredibly different cultures encountered in East Asia. This floundering on the part of church leaders and laity to adapt to the linguistic and cultural differences of Japan resulted in fewer conversions than in other contemporary LDS mission fields, and caused the LDS Japan Mission to struggle in comparison with other Protestant missionary efforts among the Japanese.

Those interested in comparative mission history, the rise of Mormonism and the international LDS church, or early modern East Asian history will find that Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924 offers an extensive account of a not oft-mentioned point in Mormon history.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Envisioning America"

New from Stanford University Press: Envisioning America: New Chinese Americans and the Politics of Belonging by Tritia Toyota.

About the book, from the publisher:
Envisioning America is a groundbreaking and richly detailed study of how naturalized Chinese living in Southern California become highly involved civic and political actors. Like other immigrants to the United States, their individual life stories are of survival, becoming, and belonging. But unlike any other Asian immigrant group before them, they have the resources—Western-based educations, entrepreneurial strengths, and widely based social networks in Asia—to become fully accepted in their new homes.

Nevertheless, Chinese Americans are finding that their social credentials can be a double-edged sword. Their complete incorporation as citizens is bounded both by mainstream discourse in the United States, which paints them racially as perpetual foreigners, and by an existing Asian-Pacific American community not always accepting of their economic achievements and transnational ties. Their attempts at inclusion are at the heart of a vigorous struggle for recognition and political empowerment.

This book challenges the notion that Asian Americans are apathetic or apolitical about civic engagement, reminding us that political involvement would often have been a life-threatening act in their homeland. The voices of Chinese Americans who tell their stories in these pages uncover the ways in which these new citizens actively embrace their American citizenship and offer a unique perspective on how global identities transplanted across borders become rooted in the local.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Enemy of All"

New from Zone Books: The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations by Daniel Heller-Roazen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The pirate is the original enemy of humankind. As Cicero famously remarked, there are certain enemies with whom one may negotiate and with whom, circumstances permitting, one may establish a truce. But there is also an enemy with whom treaties are in vain and war remains incessant. This is the pirate, considered by ancient jurists to be "the enemy of all."

In this book, Daniel Heller-Roazen reconstructs the shifting place of the pirate in legal and political thought from the ancient to the medieval, modern, and contemporary periods, presenting the philosophical genealogy of a remarkable antagonist. Today, Heller-Roazen argues, the pirate furnishes the key to the contemporary paradigm of the universal foe. This is a legal and political person of exception, neither criminal nor enemy, who inhabits an extra-territorial region. Against such a foe, states may wage extraordinary battles, policing politics and justifying military measures in the name of welfare and security.

Heller-Roazen defines piracy by the conjunction of four conditions: a region beyond territorial jurisdiction; agents who may not be identified with an established state; the collapse of the distinction between criminal and political categories; and the transformation of the concept of war. The paradigm of piracy remains in force today. Whenever we hear of regions outside the rule of law in which acts of "indiscriminate aggression" have been committed "against humanity," we must begin to recognize that these are acts of piracy. Often considered part of the distant past, the enemy of all is closer to us today than we may think. Indeed, he may never have been closer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Machiavelli's Ethics"

New from Princeton University Press: Machiavelli's Ethics by Erica Benner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Machiavelli's Ethics challenges the most entrenched understandings of Machiavelli, arguing that he was a moral and political philosopher who consistently favored the rule of law over that of men, that he had a coherent theory of justice, and that he did not defend the "Machiavellian" maxim that the ends justify the means. By carefully reconstructing the principled foundations of his political theory, Erica Benner gives the most complete account yet of Machiavelli's thought. She argues that his difficult and puzzling style of writing owes far more to ancient Greek sources than is usually recognized, as does his chief aim: to teach readers not how to produce deceptive political appearances and rhetoric, but how to see through them. Drawing on a close reading of Greek authors--including Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, and Plutarch--Benner identifies a powerful and neglected key to understanding Machiavelli.

This important new interpretation is based on the most comprehensive study of Machiavelli's writings to date, including a detailed examination of all of his major works: The Prince, The Discourses, The Art of War, and Florentine Histories. It helps explain why readers such as Bacon and Rousseau could see Machiavelli as a fellow moral philosopher, and how they could view The Prince as an ethical and republican text. By identifying a rigorous structure of principles behind Machiavelli's historical examples, the book should also open up fresh debates about his relationship to later philosophers, including Rousseau, Hobbes, and Kant.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism"

New from Oxford University Press: Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism: Religious Identity and National Socialism by Derek Hastings.

About the book, from the publisher:
Derek Hastings here illuminates an important and largely overlooked aspect of early Nazi history, going back to the years after World War I--when National Socialism first emerged--to reveal its close early ties with Catholicism. Although an antagonistic relationship between the Catholic Church and Hitler's regime developed later during the Third Reich, the early Nazi movement was born in Munich, a city whose population was overwhelmingly Catholic. Focusing on Munich and the surrounding area, Hastings shows how Catholics played a central and hitherto overlooked role in the Nazi movement before the 1923 Beerhall Putsch. He examines the activism of individual Catholic writers, university students, and priests and the striking Catholic-oriented appeals and imagery formulated by the movement. He then discusses why the Nazis embarked on a different path following the party's reconstitution in early 1925, ultimately taking on an increasingly anti-Catholic and anti-Christian identity.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Dominion from Sea to Sea"

New from Yale University Press: Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power by Bruce Cumings.

About the book, from the publisher:
America is the first world power to inhabit an immense land mass open at both ends to the world’s two largest oceans—the Atlantic and the Pacific. This gives America a great competitive advantage often overlooked by Atlanticists, whose focus remains overwhelmingly fixed on America’s relationship with Europe. Bruce Cumings challenges the Atlanticist perspective in this innovative new history, arguing that relations with Asia influenced our history greatly.

Cumings chronicles how the movement westward, from the Middle West to the Pacific, has shaped America’s industrial, technological, military, and global rise to power. He unites domestic and international history, international relations, and political economy to demonstrate how technological change and sharp economic growth have created a truly bicoastal national economy that has led the world for more than a century. Cumings emphasizes the importance of American encounters with Mexico, the Philippines, and the nations of East Asia. The result is a wonderfully integrative history that advances a strong argument for a dual approach to American history incorporating both Atlanticist and Pacificist perspectives.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Examining Tuskegee"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy by Susan M. Reverby.

About the book, from the publisher:
The forty-year "Tuskegee" Syphilis Study has become the American metaphor for medical racism, government malfeasance, and physician arrogance. The subject of histories, films, rumors, and political slogans, it received an official federal apology from President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony.

Susan M. Reverby offers a comprehensive analysis of the notorious study of untreated syphilis, which took place in and around Tuskegee, Alabama, from the 1930s through the 1970s. The study involved hundreds of African American men, most of whom were told by doctors from the U.S. Public Health Service that they were being treated, not just watched, for their late-stage syphilis. Reverby examines the study and its aftermath from multiple perspectives to explain what happened and why the study has such power in our collective memory. She follows the study's repercussions in facts and fictions.

Reverby highlights the many uncertainties that dogged the study during its four decades and explores the newly available medical records. She uncovers the different ways it was understood by the men, their families, and health care professionals, ultimately revising conventional wisdom on the study.

Writing with rigor and clarity, Reverby illuminates the events and aftermath of the study and sheds light on the complex knot of trust, betrayal, and belief that keeps this study alive in our cultural and political lives.
Read the introduction to Examining Tuskegee.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Nature's Ghosts"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Nature's Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology by Mark V. Barrow, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
The rapid growth of the American environmental movement in recent decades obscures the fact that long before the first Earth Day and the passage of the Endangered Species Act, naturalists and concerned citizens recognized—and worried about—the problem of human-caused extinction.

As Mark V. Barrow reveals in Nature’s Ghosts, the threat of species loss has haunted Americans since the early days of the republic. From Thomas Jefferson’s day—when the fossil remains of such fantastic lost animals as the mastodon and the woolly mammoth were first reconstructed—through the pioneering conservation efforts of early naturalists like John James Audubon and John Muir, Barrow shows how Americans came to understand that it was not only possible for entire species to die out, but that humans themselves could be responsible for their extinction. With the destruction of the passenger pigeon and the precipitous decline of the bison, professional scientists and wildlife enthusiasts alike began to understand that even very common species were not safe from the juggernaut of modern, industrial society. That realization spawned public education and legislative campaigns that laid the foundation for the modern environmental movement and the preservation of such iconic creatures as the bald eagle, the California condor, and the whooping crane.

A sweeping, beautifully illustrated historical narrative that unites the fascinating stories of endangered animals and the dedicated individuals who have studied and struggled to protect them, Nature’s Ghosts offers an unprecedented view of what we’ve lost—and a stark reminder of the hard work of preservation still ahead.
Read an excerpt from Nature's Ghosts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Brokers of Public Trust"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: Brokers of Public Trust: Notaries in Early Modern Rome by Laurie Nussdorfer.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fast—growing legal system and economy in medieval and early modern Rome saw a rapid increase in the need for written documents. Brokers of Public Trust examines the emergence of the modern notarial profession -- free market scribes responsible for producing original legal documents and their copies.

Notarial acts often go unnoticed, but they are essential to understanding the history of writing practices and attitudes toward official documentation. Based on new archival research, Brokers of Public Trust focuses on the government officials, notaries, and consumers who regulated, wrote, and purchased notarial documents in Rome between the 14th and 18th centuries. Historian Laurie Nussdorfer chronicles the training of professional notaries and the construction of public archives, explaining why notarial documents exist, who made them, and how they came to be regarded as authoritative evidence. In doing so, Nussdorfer describes a profession of crucial importance to the people and government of the time, as well as to scholars who turn to notarial documents as invaluable and irreplaceable historical sources.

This magisterial new work brings fresh insight into the essential functions of early modern Roman society and the development of the modern state.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"On Civic Friendship"

New from Columbia University Press: On Civic Friendship: Including Women in the State by Sibyl A. Schwarzenbach.

About the book, from the publisher:
Women have performed the vast majority of often unpaid friendship labor for centuries. Embodying the freedom, equality, and ideals of the Constitution, civic friendship emerges as a necessary condition for genuine justice. Through a critical examination of social and political relationships from ancient times to today, Sibyl Schwarzenbach develops a truly innovative, feminist theory of the democratic state.

Beginning with an analysis of Aristotle's notion of political friendship, Schwarzenbach brings the philosopher's insights to bear on the social and political requirements of the modern state. She elaborates a conception of civic friendship that, with its ethical reproductive praxis, functions differently from male-centered notions of fraternity and, with its female participants, remains fundamentally separate from generalized, male-inflected claims of Marxist solidarity. Schwarzenbach also distinguishes civic friendship from feminist calls for public care, arguing that friendship, unlike care, not only is reciprocal but also seeks to establish and maintain equality.

Schwarzenbach concludes with various public institutions-economic, legal, and social-that can promote civic friendship without sacrificing crucial liberties. In fact, women's entrance into the public sphere en masse makes such ideals realistic within a competitive, individualistic society.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide"

New from Princeton University Press: Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide: The Role of Politics in Judging by Brian Z. Tamanaha.

About the book, from the publisher:
According to conventional wisdom in American legal culture, the 1870s to 1920s was the age of legal formalism, when judges believed that the law was autonomous and logically ordered, and that they mechanically deduced right answers in cases. In the 1920s and 1930s, the story continues, the legal realists discredited this view by demonstrating that the law is marked by gaps and contradictions, arguing that judges construct legal justifications to support desired outcomes. This often-repeated historical account is virtually taken for granted today, and continues to shape understandings about judging. In this groundbreaking book, esteemed legal theorist Brian Tamanaha thoroughly debunks the formalist-realist divide.

Drawing from extensive research into the writings of judges and scholars, Tamanaha shows how, over the past century and a half, jurists have regularly expressed a balanced view of judging that acknowledges the limitations of law and of judges, yet recognizes that judges can and do render rule-bound decisions. He reveals how the story about the formalist age was an invention of politically motivated critics of the courts, and how it has led to significant misunderstandings about legal realism.

Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide traces how this false tale has distorted studies of judging by political scientists and debates among legal theorists. Recovering a balanced realism about judging, this book fundamentally rewrites legal history and offers a fresh perspective for theorists, judges, and practitioners of law.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Science and the Social Good"

New from Oxford University Press: Science and the Social Good: Nature, Culture, and Community, 1865-1965 by John P. Herron.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the beginnings of industrial capitalism to contemporary disputes over evolution, nature has long been part of the public debate over the social good. As such, many natural scientists throughout American history have understood their work as a cultural activity contributing to social stability and their field as a powerful tool for enhancing the quality of American life. In the late Victorian era, interwar period, and post-war decades, massive social change, economic collapse and recovery, and the aftermath of war prompted natural scientists to offer up a civic-minded natural science concerned with the political well-being of American society. In Science and the Social Good, John P. Herron explores the evolving internal and external forces influencing the design and purpose of American natural science, by focusing on three representative scientists-geologist Clarence King, forester Robert Marshall, and biologist Rachel Carson-who purposefully considered the social outcomes of their work.

As comfortable in the royal courts of Europe as the remote field camps of the American West, Clarence King was the founding director of the U.S. Geological Survey, and used his standing to integrate science into late nineteenth century political debates about foreign policy, immigration, and social reform. In the mid-1930s, Robert Marshall founded the environmental advocacy group, The Wilderness Society, which transformed the face of natural preservation in America. Committed to social justice, Marshall blended forest ecology and pragmatic philosophy to craft a natural science ethic that extended the reach of science into political discussions about the restructuring of society prompted by urbanization and economic crisis. Rachel Carson deservedly gets credit for launching the modern environmental movement with her 1962 classic Silent Spring. She made a generation of Americans aware of the social costs inherent in the human manipulation of the natural world and used natural science to critique established institutions and offer an alternative vision of a healthy and diverse society. As King, Marshall, and Carson became increasingly wary of the social costs of industrialization, they used their scientific work to address problems of ecological and social imbalance. Even as science became professionalized and compartmentalized. these scientists worked to keep science relevant to broader intellectual debates.

John Herron offers a new take on King, Marshall, and especially Carson and their significance that emphasizes the importance of their work to environmental, political, and cultural affairs, while illuminating the broader impact of natural science on American culture.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Animal Lessons"

New from Columbia University Press: Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to Be Human by Kelly Oliver.

About the book, from the publisher:
Philosophy reads humanity against animality, arguing that "man" is man because he is separate from beast. Deftly challenging this position, Kelly Oliver proves that, in fact, it is the animal that teaches us to be human. Through their sex, their habits, and our perception of their purpose, animals show us how not to be them.

This kinship plays out in a number of ways. We sacrifice animals to establish human kinship, but without the animal, the bonds of "brotherhood" fall apart. Either kinship with animals is possible or kinship with humans is impossible. Philosophy holds that humans and animals are distinct, but in defending this position, the discipline depends on a discourse that relies on the animal for its very definition of the human. Through these and other examples, Oliver does more than just establish an animal ethics. She transforms ethics by showing how its very origin is dependent upon the animal. Examining for the first time the treatment of the animal in the work of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Agamben, Freud, Lacan, and Kristeva, among others, Animal Lessons argues that the animal bites back, thereby reopening the question of the animal for philosophy.
See the Page 99 Test: Kelly Oliver's Women as Weapons of War: Iraq, Sex, and the Media.