Friday, December 31, 2010

"The Victimization of Women"

New from Oxford University Press: The Victimization of Women: Law, Policies, and Politics by Michelle L. Meloy and Susan L. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Victimization of Women, Michelle L. Meloy and Susan L. Miller present a balanced and comprehensive summary of the most significant research on the victimizations, violence, and victim politics that disproportionately affect women. They examine the history of violence against women, the surrounding debates, the legal reforms, the related media and social-service responses, and the current science on intimate-partner violence, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. They augment these victimization findings with original research on women convicted of domestic battery and men convicted of sexual abuse and other sex-related offenses. In these new data, the authors explore the unanticipated consequences associated with changes to the laws governing domestic violence and the newer forms of sex-offender legislation. Based on qualitative data involving in-depth, offender-based interviews, and analyzing the circumstances surrounding arrests, victimizations, and experiences with the criminal justice system, The Victimization of Women makes great strides forward in understanding and ultimately combating violence against women.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Innovation, Transformation, and War"

New from Stanford University Press: Innovation, Transformation, and War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005-2007 by James A. Russell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Within a year of President George W. Bush announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq in May 2003, dozens of attacks by insurgents had claimed hundreds of civilian and military lives. Through 2004 and 2005, accounts from returning veterans presaged an unfolding strategic debacle—potentially made worse by U.S. tactics being focused on extending conventionally oriented military operations rather than on adapting to the insurgency.

By 2007, however, a sea change had taken place, and some U.S. units were integrating counterinsurgency tactics and full-spectrum operations to great effect. In the main, the government and the media cited three factors for having turned the tide on the battlefield: the promulgation of a new joint counterinsurgency doctrine, the "surge" in troop numbers, and the appointment of General David Petraeus as senior military commander.

James Russell, however, contends that local security had already improved greatly in Anbar and Ninewah between 2005 and 2007 thanks to the innovative actions of brigade and company commanders—evidenced most notably in the turning of tribal leaders against Al Qaeda. In Innovation, Transformation, and War, he goes behind the headlines to reveal—through extensive field research and face-to-face interviews with military and civilian personnel of all ranks—how a group of Army and Marine Corps units successfully innovated in an unprecedented way: from the bottom up as well as from the top down. In the process they transformed themselves from organizations structured and trained for conventional military operations into ones with a unique array of capabilities for a full spectrum of combat operations. As well as telling an inspiring story, this book will be an invaluable reference for anyone tasked with driving innovation in any kind of complex organization.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The Banana Tree at the Gate"

New from Yale University Press: The Banana Tree at the Gate: A History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo by Michael R. Dove.

About the book, from the publisher:
The “Hikayat Banjar,” a native court chronicle from Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as “the banana tree at the gate.” Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo’s native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful and that processes of globalization began millennia ago. Dove’s analysis replaces the image of the isolated tropical forest community that needs to be helped into the global system with the reality of communities that have been so successful and competitive that they have had to fight political elites to keep from being forced out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Trade and Poverty"

New from The MIT Press: Trade and Poverty: When the Third World Fell Behind by Jeffrey G. Williamson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today’s wide economic gap between the postindustrial countries of the West and the poorer countries of the third world is not new. Fifty years ago, the world economic order--two hundred years in the making--was already characterized by a vast difference in per capita income between rich and poor countries and by the fact that poor countries exported commodities (agricultural or mineral products) while rich countries exported manufactured products. In Trade and Poverty, leading economic historian Jeffrey G. Williamson traces the great divergence between the third world and the West to this nexus of trade, commodity specialization, and poverty.

The world rapidly became global between the early nineteenth century and World War I, and the global trade boom occurred simultaneously with rising economic divergence between industrial and nonindustrial countries. Analyzing the role of specialization, de-industrialization, and commodity price volatility with econometrics and case studies of India, Ottoman Turkey, and Mexico, Williamson demonstrates why the close correlation between trade and poverty emerged. Globalization and the great divergence were causally related, and thus the rise of globalization over the past two centuries helps account for the income gap between rich and poor countries today.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Knowing Full Well"

New from Princeton University Press: Knowing Full Well by Ernest Sosa.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this book, Ernest Sosa explains the nature of knowledge through an approach originated by him years ago, known as virtue epistemology. Here he provides the first comprehensive account of his views on epistemic normativity as a form of performance normativity on two levels. On a first level is found the normativity of the apt performance, whose success manifests the performer's competence. On a higher level is found the normativity of the meta-apt performance, which manifests not necessarily first-order skill or competence but rather the reflective good judgment required for proper risk assessment. Sosa develops this bi-level account in multiple ways, by applying it to issues much disputed in recent epistemology: epistemic agency, how knowledge is normatively related to action, the knowledge norm of assertion, and the Meno problem as to how knowledge exceeds merely true belief. A full chapter is devoted to how experience should be understood if it is to figure in the epistemic competence that must be manifest in the truth of any belief apt enough to constitute knowledge. Another takes up the epistemology of testimony from the performance-theoretic perspective. Two other chapters are dedicated to comparisons with ostensibly rival views, such as classical internalist foundationalism, a knowledge-first view, and attributor contextualism. The book concludes with a defense of the epistemic circularity inherent in meta-aptness and thereby in the full aptness of knowing full well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Coalitions of Convenience"

New from Oxford University Press: Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War by Sarah E. Kreps.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the Clinton Administration sent the United States military into Haiti in 1994, it first sought United Nations authorization and assembled a large coalition of allies. With a defense budget 20 times the entire GDP of Haiti, why did the US seek multilateral support when its military could quickly and easily have overpowered the 7,600-soldier Haitian army? The US has enjoyed unrivaled military power after the Cold War and yet in eight out of ten post-Cold War military interventions, it has chosen to use force multilaterally rather than going alone. Why does the US seek allies when, as the case of Haiti so starkly illustrates, it does not appear to need their help? Why in other instances such as the 2003 Iraq War does it largely sidestep international institutions and allies and intervene unilaterally?

In Coalitions of Convenience, Sarah E. Kreps answers these questions through a study of US interventions after the post-Cold War. She shows that even powerful states have incentives to intervene multilaterally. Coalitions and international organization blessing confer legitimacy and provide ways to share what are often costly burdens of war. But those benefits come at some cost, since multilateralism is less expedient than unilateralism. With long time horizons--in which threats are distant--states will welcome the material assistance and legitimacy benefits of multilateralism. Short time horizons, however, will make immediate payoffs of unilateralism more attractive, even if it means foregoing the longer-term benefits of multilateralism.

Coalitions of Convenience ultimately shows that power may create more opportunities for states such as the US to act alone, but that the incentives are stacked against doing so. The implications of the argument go beyond questions of how the US uses force. They speak to questions about how the world works when power is concentrated in the hands of one state, how international institutions function, and what the rise of China and resurgence of Russia may mean for international cooperation and conflict.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Crime and Punishment in Istanbul"

New from the University of California Press: Crime and Punishment in Istanbul, 1700-1800 by Fariba Zarinebaf.

About the book, from the publisher:
This vividly detailed revisionist history exposes the underworld of the largest metropolis of the early modern Mediterranean and through it the entire fabric of a complex, multicultural society. Fariba Zarinebaf maps the history of crime and punishment in Istanbul over more than one hundred years, considering transgressions such as riots, prostitution, theft, and murder and at the same time tracing how the state controlled and punished its unruly population. Taking us through the city's streets, workshops, and houses, she gives voice to ordinary people—the man accused of stealing, the woman accused of prostitution, and the vagabond expelled from the city. She finds that Istanbul in this period remains mischaracterized—in part by the sensational and exotic accounts of European travelers who portrayed it as the embodiment of Ottoman decline, rife with decadence, sin, and disease. Linking the history of crime and punishment to the dramatic political, economic, and social transformations that occurred in the eighteenth century, Zarinebaf finds in fact that Istanbul had much more in common with other emerging modern cities in Europe, and even in America.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Advertising Empire"

New from Harvard University Press: Advertising Empire: Race and Visual Culture in Imperial Germany by David Ciarlo.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the end of the nineteenth century, Germany turned toward colonialism, establishing protectorates in Africa, and toward a mass consumer society, mapping the meaning of commodities through advertising. These developments, distinct in the world of political economy, were intertwined in the world of visual culture.

David Ciarlo offers an innovative visual history of each of these transformations. Tracing commercial imagery across different products and media, Ciarlo shows how and why the “African native” had emerged by 1900 to become a familiar figure in the German landscape, selling everything from soap to shirts to coffee. The racialization of black figures, first associated with the American minstrel shows that toured Germany, found ever greater purchase in German advertising up to and after 1905, when Germany waged war against the Herero in Southwest Africa. The new reach of advertising not only expanded the domestic audience for German colonialism, but transformed colonialism’s political and cultural meaning as well, by infusing it with a simplified racial cast.

The visual realm shaped the worldview of the colonial rulers, illuminated the importance of commodities, and in the process, drew a path to German modernity. The powerful vision of racial difference at the core of this modernity would have profound consequences for the future.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"History and the Testimony of Language"

New from the University of California Press: History and the Testimony of Language by Christopher Ehret.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book is about history and the practical power of language to reveal historical change. Christopher Ehret offers a methodological guide to applying language evidence in historical studies. He demonstrates how these methods allow us not only to recover the histories of time periods and places poorly served by written documentation, but also to enrich our understanding of well-documented regions and eras. A leading historian as well as historical linguist of Africa, Ehret provides in-depth examples from the language phyla of Africa, arguing that his comprehensive treatment can be applied by linguistically trained historians and historical linguists working with any language and in any area of the world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"After the Rubicon"

New from The University of Chicago Press: After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents, and the Politics of Waging War by Douglas L. Kriner.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the United States goes to war, the nation’s attention focuses on the president. As commander in chief, a president reaches the zenith of power, while Congress is supposedly shunted to the sidelines once troops have been deployed abroad. Because of Congress’s repeated failure to exercise its legislative powers to rein in presidents, many have proclaimed its irrelevance in military matters.

After the Rubicon challenges this conventional wisdom by illuminating the diverse ways in which legislators influence the conduct of military affairs. Douglas L. Kriner reveals that even in politically sensitive wartime environments, individual members of Congress frequently propose legislation, hold investigative hearings, and engage in national policy debates in the public sphere. These actions influence the president’s strategic decisions as he weighs the political costs of pursuing his preferred military course.

Marshalling a wealth of quantitative and historical evidence, Kriner expertly demonstrates the full extent to which Congress materially shapes the initiation, scope, and duration of major military actions and sheds new light on the timely issue of interbranch relations.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Rethinking the Other in Antiquity"

New from Princeton University Press: Rethinking the Other in Antiquity by Erich S. Gruen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Prevalent among classicists today is the notion that Greeks, Romans, and Jews enhanced their own self-perception by contrasting themselves with the so-called Other--Egyptians, Phoenicians, Ethiopians, Gauls, and other foreigners--frequently through hostile stereotypes, distortions, and caricature. In this provocative book, Erich Gruen demonstrates how the ancients found connections rather than contrasts, how they expressed admiration for the achievements and principles of other societies, and how they discerned--and even invented--kinship relations and shared roots with diverse peoples.

Gruen shows how the ancients incorporated the traditions of foreign nations, and imagined blood ties and associations with distant cultures through myth, legend, and fictive histories. He looks at a host of creative tales, including those describing the founding of Thebes by the Phoenician Cadmus, Rome's embrace of Trojan and Arcadian origins, and Abraham as ancestor to the Spartans. Gruen gives in-depth readings of major texts by Aeschylus, Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and others, in addition to portions of the Hebrew Bible, revealing how they offer richly nuanced portraits of the alien that go well beyond stereotypes and caricature.

Providing extraordinary insight into the ancient world, this controversial book explores how ancient attitudes toward the Other often expressed mutuality and connection, and not simply contrast and alienation.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"An Elusive Unity"

New from Cornell University Press: An Elusive Unity: Urban Democracy and Machine Politics in Industrializing America by James J. Connolly.

About the book, from the publisher:
Although many observers have assumed that pluralism prevailed in American political life from the start, inherited ideals of civic virtue and moral unity proved stubbornly persistent and influential. The tension between these conceptions of public life was especially evident in the young nation's burgeoning cities. Exploiting a wide range of sources, including novels, cartoons, memoirs, and journalistic accounts, James J. Connolly traces efforts to reconcile democracy and diversity in the industrializing cities of the United States from the antebellum period through the Progressive Era.

The necessity of redesigning civic institutions and practices to suit city life triggered enduring disagreements centered on what came to be called machine politics. Featuring plebian leadership, a sharp masculinity, party discipline, and frank acknowledgment of social differences, this new political formula first arose in eastern cities during the mid-nineteenth century and became a subject of national discussion after the Civil War. During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, business leaders, workers, and women proposed alternative understandings of how urban democracy might work. Some tried to create venues for deliberation that built common ground among citizens of all classes, faiths, ethnicities, and political persuasions. But accommodating such differences proved difficult, and a vision of politics as the businesslike management of a contentious modern society took precedence. As Connolly makes clear, machine politics offered at best a quasi-democratic way to organize urban public life. Where unity proved elusive, machine politics provided a viable, if imperfect, alternative.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism"

New from Bloomsbury USA: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang.

About the book, from the publisher:
A concise blast of iconoclastic, eye-opening economic truth-telling; essential reading to understand where free market thinking falls short.

Thing 1: There is no such thing as free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan.

Chang, the author of the international bestseller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world's most respected economists, a voice of sanity-and wit-in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz. 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism equips readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works-and doesn't. In his final chapter, "How to Rebuild the World," Chang offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.
Ha-Joon Chang is Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. Learn more about his research and publications at his Cambridge webpage.

The Page 99 Test: Bad Samaritans.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"The Strategy Bridge"

New from Oxford University Press: The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice by Colin S. Gray.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Strategy Bridge presents the general theory of strategy and explains the utility of this general theory for the particular strategies that strategists need to develop in order to meet their historically unique challenges. The book argues that strategy's general theory provides essential education for practicing strategists at all times and in all circumstances. As general theory, The Strategy Bridge is as relevant to understanding strategic behavior in the Peloponnesian War as it is for the conflicts of the twenty-first century.

The book proceeds from exposition of general strategic theory, to address three basic issue areas that are not at all well explained, let alone understood with a view to advancing better practice, in the extant literature. Specifically, The Strategy Bridge tackles the problems that harass and imperil strategic performance; probes deeply into the hugely underexamined subject of just what it is that the strategist produces-strategic effect; and 'joins up the dots' from theory through practice to consequences by means of a close examination of command performance.

The author takes a holistic view of strategy, and is rigorously attentive to the significance of the contexts within which and for which strategies are developed and applied. The Strategy Bridge regards the strategist as a hero, charged with the feasible, but awesomely difficult, task of converting the threat and use of force (for military strategy) into desired political consequences. The strategist seeks some control over the rival or enemy via strategic effect, the instrumental produce of his instrumental labors. In order to maximize his prospects for success, the practicing strategist requires all the educational assistance that strategic theory can provide.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Getting Ahead"

New from the NYU Press: Getting Ahead: Social Mobility, Public Housing, and Immigrant Networks by Silvia Dominguez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Getting Ahead tells the compelling stories of Latin-American immigrant women living in public housing in two Boston-area neighborhoods. Silvia Domínguez argues that these immigrant women parlay social ties that provide support and leverage to develop networks and achieve social positioning to get ahead. Through a rich ethnographic account and in-depth interviews, the strong voices of these women demonstrate how they successfully negotiate the world and achieve social mobility through their own individual agency, skillfully navigating both constraints and opportunities.

Domínguez makes it clear that many immigrant women are able to develop the social support needed for a rich social life, and leverage ties that open options for them to develop their social and human capital. However, she also shows that factors such as neighborhood and domestic violence and the unavailability of social services leave many women without the ability to strategize towards social mobility. Ultimately, Domínguez makes important local and international policy recommendations on issue ranging from public housing to world labor visas, demonstrating how policy can help to improve the lives of these and other low-income people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Representing Justice"

New from Yale University Press: Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms by Judith Resnik and Dennis E. Curtis.

About the book, from the publisher:
By mapping the remarkable run of the icon of Justice, a woman with scales and sword, and by tracing the development of public spaces dedicated to justice—courthouses—the authors explore the evolution of adjudication into its modern form as well as the intimate relationship between the courts and democracy. The authors analyze how Renaissance “rites” of judgment turned into democratic “rights,” requiring governments to respect judicial independence, provide open and public hearings, and accord access and dignity to “every person.” With over 220 images, readers can see both the longevity of aspirations for justice and the transformation of courts, as well as understand that, while venerable, courts are also vulnerable institutions that should not be taken for granted.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"The Hungry World"

New from Harvard University Press: The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia by Nick Cullather.

About the book, from the publisher:
Food was a critical front in the Cold War battle for Asia. “Where Communism goes, hunger follows” was the slogan of American nation builders who fanned out into the countryside to divert rivers, remodel villages, and introduce tractors, chemicals, and genes to multiply the crops consumed by millions. This “green revolution” has been credited with averting Malthusian famines, saving billions of lives, and jump-starting Asia’s economic revival. Bono and Bill Gates hail it as a model for revitalizing Africa’s economy. But this tale of science triumphant conceals a half century of political struggle from the Afghan highlands to the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta, a campaign to transform rural societies by changing the way people eat and grow food.

The ambition to lead Asia into an age of plenty grew alongside development theories that targeted hunger as a root cause of war. Scientific agriculture was an instrument for molding peasants into citizens with modern attitudes, loyalties, and reproductive habits. But food policies were as contested then as they are today. While Kennedy and Johnson envisioned Kansas-style agribusiness guarded by strategic hamlets, Indira Gandhi, Marcos, and Suharto inscribed their own visions of progress onto the land.

Out of this campaign, the costliest and most sustained effort for development ever undertaken, emerged the struggles for resources and identity that define the region today. As Obama revives the lost arts of Keynesianism and counter-insurgency, the history of these colossal projects reveals bitter and important lessons for today’s missions to feed a hungry world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Biography of an Empire"

New from the University of California Press: Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution by Christine M. Philliou.

About the book, from the publisher:
This vividly detailed revisionist history opens a new vista on the great Ottoman Empire in the early nineteenth century, a key period often seen as the eve of Tanzimat westernizing reforms and the beginning of three distinct histories—ethnic nationalism in the Balkans, imperial modernization from Istanbul, and European colonialism in the Middle East. Christine Philliou brilliantly shines a new light on imperial crisis and change in the 1820s and 1830s by unearthing the life of one man. Stephanos Vogorides (1780–1859) was part of a network of Christian elites known phanariots, institutionally excluded from power yet intimately bound up with Ottoman governance. By tracing the contours of the wide-ranging networks—crossing ethnic, religious, and institutional boundaries—in which the phanariots moved, Philliou provides a unique view of Ottoman power and, ultimately, of the Ottoman legacies in the Middle East and Balkans today. What emerges is a wide-angled analysis of governance as a lived experience at a moment in which there was no clear blueprint for power.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"From Bible Belt to Sunbelt"

New from W. W. Norton: From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism by Darren Dochuk.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping, five-decade history of the evangelical movement in southern California that explains an epochal realignment of American politics.

From Bible Belt to Sun Belt
tells the dramatic and largely unknown story of “plain-folk” religious migrants: hardworking men and women from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas who fled the Depression and came to California for military jobs during World War II. Investigating this fiercely pious community at a grassroots level, Darren Dochuk uses the stories of religious leaders, including Billy Graham, as well as many colorful, lesser-known figures to explain how evangelicals organized a powerful political machine. This machine made its mark with Barry Goldwater, inspired Richard Nixon’s “Southern Solution,” and achieved its greatest triumph with the victories of Ronald Reagan. Based on entirely new research, the manuscript has already won the prestigious Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians. The judges wrote, “Dochuk offers a rich and multidimensional perspective on the origins of one of the most far-ranging developments of the second half of the twentieth century: the rise of the New Right and modern conservatism.”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Unwarranted Influence"

New from Yale University Press: Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex by James Ledbetter.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Dwight D. Eisenhower’s last speech as president, on January 17, 1961, he warned America about the “military-industrial complex,” a mutual dependency between the nation’s industrial base and its military structure that had developed during World War II. After the conflict ended, the nation did not abandon its wartime economy but rather the opposite. Military spending has steadily increased, giving rise to one of the key ideas that continues to shape our country’s political landscape.

In this book, published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Eisenhower’s farewell address, journalist James Ledbetter shows how the government, military contractors, and the nation’s overall economy have become inseparable. Some of the effects are beneficial, such as cell phones, GPS systems, the Internet, and the Hubble Space Telescope, all of which emerged from technologies first developed for the military. But the military-industrial complex has also provoked agonizing questions. Does our massive military establishment—bigger than those of the next ten largest combined—really make us safer? How much of our perception of security threats is driven by the profit-making motives of military contractors? To what extent is our foreign policy influenced by contractors’ financial interests?

Ledbetter uncovers the surprising origins and the even more surprising afterlife of the military-industrial complex, an idea that arose as early as the 1930s, and shows how it gained traction during World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam era and continues even today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Heart of Buddha, Heart of China"

New from Oxford University Press: Heart of Buddha, Heart of China: The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth Century Monk by James Carter.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Buddhist monk Tanxu surmounted extraordinary obstacles--poverty, wars, famine, and foreign occupation--to become one of the most prominent monks in China, founding numerous temples and schools, and attracting crowds of students and disciples wherever he went. Now, in Heart of Buddha, Heart of China, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man.

This revealing biography shows a Chinese man, neither an intellectual nor a peasant, trying to reconcile his desire for a bold and activist Chinese nationalism with his own belief in China's cultural and social traditions, especially Buddhism. As it follows Tanxu's extraordinary life, the book also illuminates the pivotal events in China's modern history, showing how one individual experienced the fall of China's last empire, its descent into occupation and civil war, and its eventual birth as modern nation. Indeed, Tanxu lived in a time of almost constant warfare--from the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, to the Boxer Uprising, the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese occupation, and World War II. He and his followers were robbed by river pirates, and waylaid by bandits on the road. Caught in the struggle between nationalist and communist forces, Tanxu finally sought refuge in the British colony of Hong Kong. At the time of his death, at the age of 89, he was revered as "Master Tanxu," one of Hong Kong's leading religious figures.

Capturing all this in a magnificent portrait, Carter gives first-person immediacy to one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history.
Read an excerpt from Heart of Buddha, Heart of China at The China Beat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Perversion for Profit"

New from Columbia University Press: Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right by Whitney Strub.

About the book, from the publisher:
While America is not alone in its ambivalence toward sex and its depictions, the preferences of the nation swing sharply between toleration and censure. This pattern has grown even more pronounced since the 1960s, with the emergence of the New Right and its attack on the "floodtide of filth" that was supposedly sweeping the nation. Antipornography campaigns became the New Right's political capital in the 1960s, laying the groundwork for the "family values" agenda that shifted the country to the right.

Perversion for Profit
traces the anatomy of this trend and the crucial function of pornography in constructing the New Right agenda, which has emphasized social issues over racial and economic inequality. Conducting his own extensive research, Whitney Strub vividly recreates the debates over obscenity that consumed members of the ACLU in the 1950s and revisits the deployment of obscenity charges against purveyors of gay erotica during the cold war, revealing the differing standards applied to heterosexual and homosexual pornography. He follows the rise of the influential Citizens for Decent Literature during the 1960s and the pivotal events that followed: the sexual revolution, feminist activism, the rise of the gay rights movement, the "porno chic" moment of the early 1970s, and resurgent Christian conservatism, which now shapes public policy far beyond the issue of sexual decency.

Strub also examines the ways in which the left failed to mount a serious or sustained counterattack to the New Right's use of pornography as a political tool. As he demonstrates, this failure put the Democratic Party at the mercy of Republican rhetoric. In placing debates about pornography at the forefront of American postwar history, Strub revolutionizes our understanding of sex and American politics.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"The Blame Game"

New from Princeton University Press: The Blame Game: Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government by Christopher Hood.

About the book, from the publisher:
The blame game, with its finger-pointing and mutual buck-passing, is a familiar feature of politics and organizational life, and blame avoidance pervades government and public organizations at every level. Political and bureaucratic blame games and blame avoidance are more often condemned than analyzed. In The Blame Game, Christopher Hood takes a different approach by showing how blame avoidance shapes the workings of government and public services. Arguing that the blaming phenomenon is not all bad, Hood demonstrates that it can actually help to pin down responsibility, and he examines different kinds of blame avoidance, both positive and negative.

Hood traces how the main forms of blame avoidance manifest themselves in presentational and "spin" activity, the architecture of organizations, and the shaping of standard operating routines. He analyzes the scope and limits of blame avoidance, and he considers how it plays out in old and new areas, such as those offered by the digital age of websites and e-mail. Hood assesses the effects of this behavior, from high-level problems of democratic accountability trails going cold to the frustrations of dealing with organizations whose procedures seem to ensure that no one is responsible for anything.

Delving into the inner workings of complex institutions, The Blame Game proves how a better understanding of blame avoidance can improve the quality of modern governance, management, and organizational design.
Visit Christopher Hood's website.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"From Chicaza to Chickasaw"

New from the University of Carolina Press: From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715 by Robbie Ethridge.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this sweeping regional history, anthropologist Robbie Ethridge traces the metamorphosis of the Native South from first contact in 1540 by Hernando De Soto to the dawn of the eighteenth century, when indigenous people no longer lived in a purely Indian world but rather on the edge of an expanding European empire and in a new social landscape that included a large population of Europeans and Africans. Despite the fact that thousands of Indians died or were enslaved and virtually all Native polities were radically altered in these years, the collapse of this complex Mississippian world did not extinguish the Native peoples of the South but rather transformed them.

Using a new interpretive framework that Ethridge calls the "Mississippian shatter zone" to explicate these tumultuous times, From Chicaza to Chickasaw examines the European invasion and the collapse of the precontact Mississippian world and the restructuring of discrete chiefdoms into coalescent Native societies in a colonial world. Within this larger regional context, she closely follows the story of one group--the Chickasaws--throughout this period. With skillfully synthesized archaeological and documentary evidence, Ethridge illuminates the Native South in its earliest colonial context and sheds new light on the profound upheaval and cultural transformation experienced by the region's first peoples.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Ourselves Unborn"

New from Oxford University Press: Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America by Sara Dubow.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the past several decades, the fetus has been diversely represented in political debates, medical textbooks and journals, personal memoirs and autobiographies, museum exhibits and mass media, and civil and criminal law. Ourselves Unborn argues that the meanings people attribute to the fetus are not based simply on biological fact or theological truth, but are in fact strongly influenced by competing definitions of personhood and identity, beliefs about knowledge and authority, and assumptions about gender roles and sexuality. In addition, these meanings can be shaped by dramatic historical change: over the course of the twentieth century, medical and technological changes made fetal development more comprehensible, while political and social changes made the fetus a subject of public controversy. Moreover, since the late nineteenth century, questions about how fetal life develops and should be valued have frequently intersected with debates about the authority of science and religion, and the relationship between the individual and society. In examining the contested history of fetal meanings, Sara Dubow brings a fresh perspective to these vital debates.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Ottoman Brothers"

New from Stanford University Press: Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine by Michelle U. Campos.

About the book, from the publisher:
In its last decade, the Ottoman Empire underwent a period of dynamic reform, and the 1908 revolution transformed the empire's 20 million subjects into citizens overnight. Questions quickly emerged about what it meant to be Ottoman, what bound the empire together, what role religion and ethnicity would play in politics, and what liberty, reform, and enfranchisement would look like.

Ottoman Brothers explores the development of Ottoman collective identity, tracing how Muslims, Christians, and Jews became imperial citizens together. In Palestine, even against the backdrop of the emergence of the Zionist movement and Arab nationalism, Jews and Arabs cooperated in local development and local institutions as they embraced imperial citizenship. As Michelle Campos reveals, the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine was not immanent, but rather it erupted in tension with the promises and shortcomings of "civic Ottomanism."
Read an excerpt from Ottoman Brothers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Globalized Arts"

New from Columbia University Press: Globalized Arts: The Entertainment Economy and Cultural Identity by J. P. Singh.

About the book, from the publisher:
Our interactive world can take a creative product, such as a Hollywood film, Bollywood song, or Latin American telenovela, and transform it into a source of cultural anxiety. What does this artwork say about the artist or the world she works in? How will these artworks evolve in the global market? Film, music, television, and the performing arts enter the same networks of exchange as other industries, and the anxiety they produce informs a fascinating area of study for art, culture, and global politics.

Focusing on the confrontation between global politics and symbolic creative expression, J. P. Singh shows how, by integrating themselves into international markets, entertainment industries give rise to far-reaching cultural anxieties and politics. With examples from Hollywood, Bollywood, French grand opera, Latin American television, West African music, postcolonial literature, and even the Thai sex trade, Singh cites not only the attempt to address cultural discomfort but also the effort to deny entertainment acts as cultural. He connects creative expression to clashes between national identities, and he details the effect of cultural policies, such as institutional patronage and economic incentives, on the making and incorporation of art into the global market. Ultimately, Singh shows how these issues affect the debates on cultural trade being waged by the World Trade Organization, UNESCO, and the developing world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology"

New from Princeton University Press: Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology by Philippe Steiner, translated by Keith Tribe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Émile Durkheim's work has traditionally been viewed as a part of sociology removed from economics. Rectifying this perception, Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology is the first book to provide an in-depth look at the contributions made to economic sociology by Durkheim and his followers. Philippe Steiner demonstrates the relevance of economic factors to sociology and shows how the Durkheimians inform today's economic systems.

Steiner argues that there are two stages in Durkheim's approach to the economy--a sociological critique of political economy and a sociology of economic knowledge. In his early works, Durkheim critiques economists and their categories, and tries to analyze the division of labor from a social rather than economic perspective. From the mid-1890s onward, Durkheim's preoccupations shifted to questions of religion and the sociology of knowledge. Durkheim's disciples, such as Maurice Halbwachs and François Simiand, synthesized and elaborated on Durkheim's first-stage arguments, while his ideas on religion and the economy were taken up by Marcel Mauss. Steiner indicates that the ways in which the Durkheimians rooted the sociology of economic knowledge in the educational system allows for an invaluable perspective on the role of economics in modern society, similar to the perspective offered by Max Weber's work.

Recognizing the power of the Durkheimian approach, Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology assesses the effect of this important thinker and his successors on one of the most active fields in contemporary sociology.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Sailor Diplomat"

New from Harvard University Press: Sailor Diplomat: Nomura Kichisaburo and the Japanese-American War by Peter Mauch.

About the book, from the publisher:
As Japan’s pre–Pearl Harbor ambassador to the United States, Admiral Nomura Kichisaburo (1877–1964) played a significant role in a tense and turbulent period in Japanese-U.S. relations. Scholars tend to view his actions and missteps as ambassador as representing the failure of diplomacy to avert the outbreak of hostilities between the two paramount Pacific powers.

This extensively researched biography casts new light on the life and career of this important figure. Connecting his experiences as a naval officer to his service as foreign minister and ambassador, and later as “father” of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Forces and proponent of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, this study reassesses Nomura’s contributions as a hard-nosed realist whose grasp of the underlying realities of Japanese-U.S. relations went largely unappreciated by the Japanese political and military establishment.

In highlighting the complexities and conundrums of Nomura’s position, as well as the role of the Imperial Navy in the formulation of Japan’s foreign policy, Peter Mauch draws upon rarely accessed materials from naval and diplomatic archives in Japan as well as various collections of personal papers, including Nomura’s, which Mauch discovered in 2005 and which are now housed in the National Diet Library.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat by Michael Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
The gripping history of the ferocious turning point of World War Two, when Hitler’s armies were halted on the Eastern Front

At the moment of crisis in late 1941 on the Eastern Front, with the forces of Hitler massing on the outskirts of Moscow, the miraculous occurred: Moscow was saved. Yet this feat of endurance was a prelude to a long and arduous retreat in which Soviet troops, inspired by deep beliefs in the sacred Motherland, pushed back German forces steeled by the vision of the Ubermensch—the iron-willed fighter. Supported by tanks and ski battalions, Soviet troops engaged in this desperate struggle in the harshest Russian weather.

Michael Jones draws upon a wealth of new eyewitness testimonies from both sides of the conflict to vividly chronicle this pivotal chapter in the Second World War as he takes us from the German invasion of the Soviet Union on the morning of June 22 through the counteroffensive that carried into the spring of 1942. From the German soldier finding his comrades frozen into blocks of ice to the Russian lieutenant crying with rage at the senseless destruction of his unit, the author shows us the faces of war when the Wehrmacht was repelled and the titanic and cruel struggle of two world powers forged the fate of Europe.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Creating a Confederate Kentucky"

New from the University of Carolina Press: Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State by Anne E. Marshall.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historian E. Merton Coulter famously said that Kentucky "waited until after the war was over to secede from the Union." In this fresh study, Anne E. Marshall traces the development of a Confederate identity in Kentucky between 1865 and 1925 that belied the fact that Kentucky never left the Union and that more Kentuckians fought for the North than for the South. Following the Civil War, the people of Kentucky appeared to forget their Union loyalties, embracing the Democratic politics, racial violence, and Jim Crow laws associated with formerly Confederate states. Although, on the surface, white Confederate memory appeared to dominate the historical landscape of postwar Kentucky, Marshall's closer look reveals an active political and cultural dialogue that included white Unionists, Confederate Kentuckians, and the state's African Americans, who, from the last days of the war, drew on Union victory and their part in winning it to lay claim to the fruits of freedom and citizenship.

Rather than focusing exclusively on postwar political and economic factors, Creating a Confederate Kentucky looks over the longer term at Kentuckians' activities--public memorial ceremonies, dedications of monuments, and veterans organizations' events--by which they commemorated the Civil War and fixed the state's remembrance of it for sixty years following the conflict.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Hoods"

New from Princeton University Press: The Hoods: Crime and Punishment in Belfast by Heather Hamill.

About the book, from the publisher:
A distinctive feature of the conflict in Northern Ireland over the past forty years has been the way Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries have policed their own communities. This has mainly involved the violent punishment of petty criminals involved in joyriding and other types of antisocial behavior. Between 1973 and 2007, more than 5,000 nonmilitary shootings and assaults were attributed to paramilitaries punishing their own people. But despite the risk of severe punishment, young petty offenders--known locally as "hoods"--continue to offend, creating a puzzle for the rational theory of criminal deterrence. Why do hoods behave in ways that invite violent punishment?

In The Hoods, Heather Hamill explains why this informal system of policing and punishment developed and endured and why such harsh punishments as beatings, "kneecappings," and exile have not stopped hoods from offending. Drawing on a variety of sources, including interviews with perpetrators and victims of this violence, the book argues that the hoods' risky offending may amount to a game in which hoods gain prestige by displaying hard-to-fake signals of toughness to each other. Violent physical punishment feeds into this signaling game, increasing the hoods' status by proving that they have committed serious offenses and can "manfully" take punishment yet remained undeterred. A rare combination of frontline research and pioneering ideas, The Hoods has important implications for our fundamental understanding of crime and punishment.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"The Long Divergence"

New from Princeton University Press: The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East by Timur Kuran.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the year 1000, the economy of the Middle East was at least as advanced as that of Europe. But by 1800, the region had fallen dramatically behind--in living standards, technology, and economic institutions. In short, the Middle East had failed to modernize economically as the West surged ahead. What caused this long divergence? And why does the Middle East remain drastically underdeveloped compared to the West? In The Long Divergence, one of the world's leading experts on Islamic economic institutions and the economy of the Middle East provides a new answer to these long-debated questions.

Timur Kuran argues that what slowed the economic development of the Middle East was not colonialism or geography, still less Muslim attitudes or some incompatibility between Islam and capitalism. Rather, starting around the tenth century, Islamic legal institutions, which had benefitted the Middle Eastern economy in the early centuries of Islam, began to act as a drag on development by slowing or blocking the emergence of central features of modern economic life--including private capital accumulation, corporations, large-scale production, and impersonal exchange. By the nineteenth century, modern economic institutions began to be transplanted to the Middle East, but its economy has not caught up. And there is no quick fix today. Low trust, rampant corruption, and weak civil societies--all characteristic of the region's economies today and all legacies of its economic history--will take generations to overcome.

The Long Divergence
opens up a frank and honest debate on a crucial issue that even some of the most ardent secularists in the Muslim world have hesitated to discuss.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"The End of Byzantium"

New from Yale University Press: The End of Byzantium by Jonathan Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
By 1400, the once-mighty Byzantine Empire stood on the verge of destruction. Most of its territories had been lost to the Ottoman Turks, and Constantinople was under close blockade. Against all odds, Byzantium lingered on for another fifty years until 1453, when the Ottomans dramatically toppled the capital’s walls. During this bleak and uncertain time, ordinary Byzantines faced difficult decisions to protect their livelihoods and families against the death throes of their homeland. In this evocative and moving book, Jonathan Harris explores individual stories of diplomatic maneuverings, covert defiance, and sheer luck against a backdrop of major historical currents and offers a new perspective on the real reasons behind the fall of this extraordinarily fascinating empire.
Read reviews of The End of Byzantium.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation"

New from Cambridge University Press: A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation by Colleen Murphy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Following extended periods of conflict or repression, political reconciliation is indispensable to the establishment or restoration of democratic relationships and critical to the pursuit of peacemaking globally. In this important new book, Colleen Murphy offers an innovative analysis of the moral problems plaguing political relationships under the strain of civil conflict and repression. Focusing on the unique moral damage that attends the deterioration of political relationships, Murphy identifies the precise kinds of repair and transformation that processes of political reconciliation ought to promote. Building on this analysis, she proposes a normative model of political relationships. A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation delivers an original account of the failure and restoration of political relationships, which will be of interest to philosophers, social scientists, legal scholars, policy analysts, and all those who are interested in transitional justice, global politics, and democracy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Age of Fracture"

New from Harvard University Press: Age of Fracture by Daniel T. Rodgers.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the last quarter of the twentieth century, the ideas that most Americans lived by started to fragment. Mid-century concepts of national consensus, managed markets, gender and racial identities, citizen obligation, and historical memory became more fluid. Flexible markets pushed aside Keynesian macroeconomic structures. Racial and gender solidarity divided into multiple identities; community responsibility shrank to smaller circles. In this wide-ranging narrative, Daniel Rodgers shows how the collective purposes and meanings that had framed social debate became unhinged and uncertain.

Age of Fracture offers a powerful reinterpretation of the ways in which the decades surrounding the 1980s changed America. Through a contagion of visions and metaphors, on both the intellectual right and the intellectual left, earlier notions of history and society that stressed solidity, collective institutions, and social circumstances gave way to a more individualized human nature that emphasized choice, agency, performance, and desire. On a broad canvas that includes Michel Foucault, Ronald Reagan, Judith Butler, Charles Murray, Jeffrey Sachs, and many more, Rodgers explains how structures of power came to seem less important than market choice and fluid selves.

Cutting across the social and political arenas of late-twentieth-century life and thought, from economic theory and the culture wars to disputes over poverty, color-blindness, and sisterhood, Rodgers reveals how our categories of social reality have been fractured and destabilized. As we survey the intellectual wreckage of this war of ideas, we better understand the emergence of our present age of uncertainty.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Too Much to Know"

New from Yale University Press: Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age by Ann M. Blair.

About the book, from the publisher:
The flood of information brought to us by advancing technology is often accompanied by a distressing sense of “information overload,” yet this experience is not unique to modern times. In fact, says Ann M. Blair in this intriguing book, the invention of the printing press and the ensuing abundance of books provoked sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European scholars to register complaints very similar to our own. Blair examines methods of information management in ancient and medieval Europe as well as the Islamic world and China, then focuses particular attention on the organization, composition, and reception of Latin reference books in print in early modern Europe. She explores in detail the sophisticated and sometimes idiosyncratic techniques that scholars and readers developed in an era of new technology and exploding information.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Bourgeois Dignity"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey.

About the book, from the publisher:
The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie they had denied for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe.

Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in Bourgeois Dignity, a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn’t grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.

An utterly fascinating sequel to her critically acclaimed book The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians—a work that will forever change our understanding of how the power of persuasion shapes our economic lives.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Arab France"

New from the University of California Press: Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 by Ian Coller.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many think of Muslims in Europe as a twentieth century phenomenon, but this book brings to life a lost community of Arabs who lived through war, revolution, and empire in early nineteenth century France. Ian Coller uncovers the surprising story of the several hundred men, women, and children—Egyptians, Syrians, Greeks, and others—who followed the French army back home after Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt. Based on research in neglected archives, on the rediscovery of forgotten Franco-Arab authors, and on a diverse collection of visual materials, the book builds a rich picture of the first Arab France—its birth, rise, and sudden decline in the age of colonial expansion. As he excavates a community that was nearly erased from the historical record, Coller offers a new account of France itself in this pivotal period, one that transcends the binary framework through which we too often view history by revealing the deep roots of exchange between Europe and the Muslim world, and showing how Arab France was in fact integral to the dawn of modernity.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"God's Almost Chosen Peoples"

New from the University of Carolina Press: God's Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War by George C. Rable.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout the Civil War, soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict saw the hand of God in the terrible events of the day, but the standard narratives of the period pay scant attention to religion. Now, in God's Almost Chosen Peoples, Lincoln Prize-winning historian George C. Rable offers a groundbreaking account of how Americans of all political and religious persuasions used faith to interpret the course of the war.

Examining a wide range of published and unpublished documents--including sermons, official statements from various churches, denominational papers and periodicals, and letters, diaries, and newspaper articles--Rable illuminates the broad role of religion during the Civil War, giving attention to often-neglected groups such as Mormons, Catholics, blacks, and people from the Trans-Mississippi region. The book underscores religion's presence in the everyday lives of Americans north and south struggling to understand the meaning of the conflict, from the tragedy of individual death to victory and defeat in battle and even the ultimate outcome of the war. Rable shows that themes of providence, sin, and judgment pervaded both public and private writings about the conflict. Perhaps most important, this volume--the only comprehensive religious history of the war--highlights the resilience of religious faith in the face of political and military storms the likes of which Americans had never before endured.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The Great Wall"

New from Harvard University Press: The Great Wall: A Cultural History by Carlos Rojas.

About the book, from the publisher:
Carlos Rojas presents a sweeping survey of the historical and political significance of one of the world’s most recognizable monuments. Although the splendor of the Great Wall has become virtually synonymous with its vast size, the structure’s conceptual coherence is actually grounded on the tenuous and ephemeral stories we tell about it. These stories give life to the Wall and help secure its hold on our collective imagination, while at the same time permitting it to constantly reinvent itself in accordance with the needs of each new era.

Through an examination of allusions to the Wall in an eclectic array of texts—ranging from official dynastic histories, elite poetry, and popular folktales, to contemporary tourist testimonials, children’s songs, and avant-garde performance art—this study maps out a provocative new framework for understanding the structure’s function and significance.

This volume approaches the Wall through the stories we tell and contends that it is precisely in this cultural history that we may find the Wall’s true meaning, together with the secret of its greatness.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"The Best Things in Life"

New from Oxford University Press: The Best Things in Life: A Guide to What Really Matters by Thomas Hurka.

About the book, from the publisher:
For centuries, philosophers, theologians, moralists, and ordinary people have asked: How should we live? What makes for a good life?

In The Best Things in Life, distinguished philosopher Thomas Hurka takes a fresh look at these perennial questions as they arise for us now in the 21st century. Should we value family over career? How do we balance self-interest and serving others? What activities bring us the most joy? While religion, literature, popular psychology, and everyday wisdom all grapple with these questions, philosophy more than anything else uses the tools of reason to make important distinctions, cut away irrelevancies, and distill these issues down to their essentials. Hurka argues that if we are to live a good life, one thing we need to know is which activities and experiences will most likely lead us to happiness and which will keep us from it, while also reminding us that happiness isn't the only thing that makes life good. Hurka explores many topics: four types of good feeling (and the limits of good feeling); how we can improve our baseline level of happiness (making more money, it turns out, isn't the answer); which kinds of knowledge are most worth having; the importance of achieving worthwhile goals; the value of love and friendship; and much more. Unlike many philosophers, he stresses that there isn't just one good in life but many: pleasure, as Epicurus argued, is indeed one, but knowledge, as Socrates contended, is another, as is achievement. And while the great philosophers can help us understand what matters most in life, Hurka shows that we must ultimately decide for ourselves.

This delightfully accessible book offers timely guidance on answering the most important question any of us will ever ask: How do we live a good life?

Friday, November 19, 2010

"The Big Ditch"

New from Princeton University Press: The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal by Noel Maurer & Carlos Yu.

About the book, from the publisher:
On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal officially opened for business, forever changing the face of global trade and military power, as well as the role of the United States on the world stage. The Canal's creation is often seen as an example of U.S. triumphalism, but Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu reveal a more complex story. Examining the Canal's influence on Panama, the United States, and the world, The Big Ditch deftly chronicles the economic and political history of the Canal, from Spain's earliest proposals in 1529 through the final handover of the Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999, to the present day.

The authors show that the Canal produced great economic dividends for the first quarter-century following its opening, despite massive cost overruns and delays. Relying on geographical advantage and military might, the United States captured most of these benefits. By the 1970s, however, when the Carter administration negotiated the eventual turnover of the Canal back to Panama, the strategic and economic value of the Canal had disappeared. And yet, contrary to skeptics who believed it was impossible for a fledgling nation plagued by corruption to manage the Canal, when the Panamanians finally had control, they switched the Canal from a public utility to a for-profit corporation, ultimately running it better than their northern patrons.

A remarkable tale, The Big Ditch offers vital lessons about the impact of large-scale infrastructure projects, American overseas interventions on institutional development, and the ability of governments to run companies effectively.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"The Assemblies of God"

New from the NYU Press: The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism by Margaret M. Poloma and John C. Green.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Assemblies of God (AG) is the ninth largest American and the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, with over 50 million followers worldwide. The AG embraces a worldview of miracles and mystery that makes“supernatural” experiences, such as speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy, normal for Christian believers. Ever since it first organized in 1916, however, the “charismata” or “gifts of the Holy Spirit” have felt tension from institutional forces. Over the decades, vital charismatic experiences have been increasingly tamed by rituals, doctrine, and denominational structure. Yet the path towards institutionalization has not been clear-cut. New revivals and direct personal experience of God—the hallmarks of Pentecostalism—continue as an important part of the AG tradition, particularly in the growing number of ethnic congregations in the United States.

The Assemblies of God draws on fresh, up-to-date research including quantitative surveys and interviews from twenty-two diverse Assemblies of God congregations to offer a new sociological portrait of the AG for the new millennium. The authors suggest that there is indeed a potential revitalization of the movement in the works within the context of the larger global Pentecostal upswing, and that this revitalization may be spurred by what the authors call “godly love:” the dynamic interaction between divine and human love that enlivens and expands benevolence.

The volume provides a wealth of data about how the second-largest American Pentecostal denomination sees itself today, and suggests trends to illuminate where it is headed in the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Bridges of Reform"

New from Oxford University Press: Bridges of Reform: Interracial Civil Rights Activism in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles by Shana Bernstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
In her first book, Shana Bernstein reinterprets U.S. civil rights activism by looking at its roots in the interracial efforts of Mexican, African, Jewish, and Japanese Americans in mid-century Los Angeles. Expanding the frame of historical analysis beyond black/white and North/South, Bernstein reveals that meaningful domestic activism for racial equality persisted from the 1930s through the 1950s. She stresses how this coalition-building was facilitated by the cold war climate, as activists sought protection and legitimacy in this conservative era.

Emphasizing the significant connections between ethno-racial communities and between the United States and world opinion, Bridges of Reform demonstrates the long-term role western cities like Los Angeles played in shaping American race relations.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Stormy Weather"

New from the University of Carolina Press: Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages between the Two World Wars by Anastasia C. Curwood.

About the book, from the publisher:
The so-called New Negroes of the period between World Wars I and II embodied a new sense of racial pride and upward mobility for the race. Many of them thought that relationships between spouses could be a crucial factor in realizing this dream. But there was little agreement about how spousal relationships should actually function in an ideal New Negro marriage. Shedding light on an often-overlooked aspect of African American social history, Anastasia Curwood explores the public and private negotiations over gender relationships inside marriage that consumed upwardly mobile black Americans between 1918 and 1942.

Curwood uses private correspondence between spouses, including her own grandparents, and public writings from leading figures of the era to investigate African Americans' deepest hopes within their private lives. She follows changes and conflicts in African American marital ideals--and demonstrates how those ideals sometimes clashed with reality. In the process, Curwood shows how New Negro marriages are an especially rich site for assessing the interactions of racial, class, and gender identities.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Castles Made of Sand"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: Castles Made of Sand: A Century of Anglo-American Espionage and Intervention in the Middle East by Andre Gerolymatos.

About the book, from the publisher:
With roots in imperialism and the nineteenth-century mindset of the “Great Game,” Western nations have waged an intricate spy game this past century to establish control over the Middle East, secure access to key resources and regions of commerce, and prevent the spread of Soviet communism into the region. From the Suez Canal to the former Ottoman Empire, British and American intelligence communities have conspired to topple regimes and initiate Muslim leaders as pawns in a geopolitical chess game fought against Marxist expansion.

Yet while the Iron Curtain was doomed to fall near the end of the twentieth century, this pattern of tunnel vision has created a different monster. The resulting resurgence of Muslim radicalism, and the induction of Arabs and other Muslims into the dark arts of espionage and sabotage, have only served to fan the flames in an already incendiary region and deepen the tensions between the Middle East and the West today.

An authority on international studies and the history of guerilla warfare, André Gerolymatos offers the contemporary reader insight into the intelligence game that is still waged internationally with lethal intent, and into the Middle Eastern terrorist networks that had evolved over the decades. In this definitive account of covert operations in the Middle East, the author brings to life the extraordinary men and women whose successes and failures have shaped relations, and he reveals how the explosive nature of the region today has direct roots in the history of American and Western intervention.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Imperial Sceptics"

New from Cambridge University Press: Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850–1920 by Gregory Claeys.

About the book, from the publisher:
Imperial Sceptics provides a highly original analysis of the emergence of opposition to the British Empire from 1850–1920. Departing from existing accounts, which have focused upon the Boer War and the writings of John Hobson, Gregory Claeys proposes a new chronology for the contours of resistance to imperial expansion. Claeys locates the impetus for such opposition in the late 1850s with the British followers of Auguste Comte. Tracing critical strands of anti-imperial thought through to the First World War, Claeys then scrutinises the full spectrum of socialist writings from the early 1880s onwards, revealing a fundamental division over whether a new conception of 'socialist imperialism' could appeal to the electorate and satisfy economic demands. Based upon extensive archival research, and utilising rare printed sources, Imperial Sceptics will prove a major contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century political thought, shedding new light on theories of nationalism, patriotism, the state and religion.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


New from W.W. Norton: Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun by Liza Bakewell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why is the word madre, "mother," so complicated in Spanish—especially in Mexico?

Leaping off the page with energy, insight, and attitude, Liza Bakewell's exploration of language is anything but "just semantics." Why does me vale madre mean worthless, while ¡qué padre! means fabulous, she asks? And why do one hundred madres disappear when one padre enters the room, converting the group from madres to padres? Thus begins a journey through Mexican culture in all its color: weddings, dinner parties, an artist's studio, heart-stopping taxi rides, angry journalists, corrupt politicians, Blessed Virgins, and mothers both sacred and profane.

Along the way, a reader discovers not only an invaluable lexicon of Mexican slang (to be used with caution or not at all) but also thought-provoking reflections on the evolution of language; its winding path through culture, religion, and politics; and, not least, what it means—and what it threatens—to be a creative female, a madre.
Visit Liza Bakewell's website.