Friday, April 30, 2010

"Law's Imagined Republic"

New from Cambridge University Press: Law's Imagined Republic: Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America by Steven Wilf.

About the book, from the publisher:
Law’s Imagined Republic shows how the American Revolution was marked by the rapid proliferation of law talk across the colonies. This legal language was both elite and popular, spanned different forms of expression from words to rituals, and included simultaneously real and imagined law. Since it was employed to mobilize resistance against England, the proliferation of revolutionary legal language became intimately intertwined with politics. Drawing on a wealth of material from criminal cases, Steven Wilf reconstructs the intertextual ways Americans from the 1760s through the 1790s read law: reading one case against another and often self-consciously comparing transatlantic legal systems as they thought about how they might construct their own legal system in a new republic. What transformed extraordinary tales of crime into a political forum? How did different ways of reading or speaking about law shape our legal origins? And, ultimately, how might excavating innovative approaches to law in this formative period, which were constructed in the street as well as in the courtroom, alter our usual understanding of contemporary American legal institutions? Law’s Imagined Republic tells the story of the untidy beginnings of American law.
Read an excerpt from Law’s Imagined Republic.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"China in the 21st Century"

New from Oxford University Press: China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom.

About the book, from the publisher:
The need to understand this global giant has never been more pressing: China is constantly in the news, yet conflicting impressions abound. Within one generation, China has transformed from an impoverished, repressive state into an economic and political powerhouse. In China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, Jeffrey Wasserstrom provides cogent answers to the most urgent questions regarding the newest superpower and offers a framework for understanding its meteoric rise.

Focusing his answers through the historical legacies--Western and Japanese imperialism, the Mao era, and the massacre near Tiananmen Square--that largely define China's present-day trajectory, Wasserstrom introduces readers to the Chinese Communist Party, the building boom in Shanghai, and the environmental fall-out of rapid Chinese industrialization. He also explains unique aspects of Chinese culture such as the one-child policy, and provides insight into how Chinese view Americans.

Wasserstrom reveals that China today shares many traits with other industrialized nations during their periods of development, in particular the United States during its rapid industrialization in the 19th century. Finally, he provides guidance on the ways we can expect China to act in the future vis-a-vis the United States, Russia, India, and its East Asian neighbors.
Wasserstrom is the co-founder and consulting editor of The China Beat and teaches in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine.

The Page 69 Test: Jeffrey Wasserstrom's China's Brave New World.

The Page 99 Test: Jeffrey Wasserstrom's Global Shanghai, 1850–2010.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"America and the Pill"

New from Basic Books: America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation by Elaine Tyler May.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1960, the FDA approved the contraceptive commonly known as the pill. Advocates, developers, and manufacturers believed that the convenient new drug would put an end to unwanted pregnancy, ensure happy marriages, and even eradicate poverty. But as renowned historian Elaine Tyler May reveals in America and the Pill, it was women who embraced it and created change. They used the pill to challenge the authority of doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and lawmakers. They demonstrated that the pill was about much more than family planning — it offered women control over their bodies and their lives. From little-known accounts of the early years to personal testimonies from young women today, May illuminates what the pill did and did not achieve during its half century on the market.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Made in America"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character by Claude S. Fischer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Our nation began with the simple phrase, “We the People.” But who were and are “We”? Who were we in 1776, in 1865, or 1968, and is there any continuity in character between the we of those years and the nearly 300 million people living in the radically different America of today?

With Made in America, Claude S. Fischer draws on decades of historical, psychological, and social research to answer that question by tracking the evolution of American character and culture over three centuries. He explodes myths—such as that contemporary Americans are more mobile and less religious than their ancestors, or that they are more focused on money and consumption—and reveals instead how greater security and wealth have only reinforced the independence, egalitarianism, and commitment to community that characterized our people from the earliest years. Skillfully drawing on personal stories of representative Americans, Fischer shows that affluence and social progress have allowed more people to participate fully in cultural and political life, thus broadening the category of “American” —yet at the same time what it means to be an American has retained surprising continuity with much earlier notions of American character.

Firmly in the vein of such classics as The Lonely Crowd and Habits of the Heart—yet challenging many of their conclusions—Made in America takes readers beyond the simplicity of headlines and the actions of elites to show us the lives, aspirations, and emotions of ordinary Americans, from the settling of the colonies to the settling of the suburbs.
Read an excerpt from Made in America and visit the book's official website.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Betsy Ross and the Making of America"

New from Henry Holt and Co.: Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
A richly woven biography of the beloved patriot Betsy Ross, and an enthralling portrait of everyday life in Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia

Betsy Ross and the Making of America is the first comprehensively researched and elegantly written biography of one of America's most captivating figures of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on new sources and bringing a fresh, keen eye to the fabled creation of "the first flag," Marla R. Miller thoroughly reconstructs the life behind the legend. This authoritative work provides a close look at the famous seamstress while shedding new light on the lives of the artisan families who peopled the young nation and crafted its tools, ships, and homes.

Betsy Ross occupies a sacred place in the American consciousness, and Miller's winning narrative finally does her justice. This history of the ordinary craftspeople of the Revolutionary War and their most famous representative will be the definitive volume for years to come.
Visit Marla R. Miller's website.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Building a Housewife's Paradise"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Building a Housewife's Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century by Tracey Deutsch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Supermarkets are a mundane feature in the landscape, but as Tracey Deutsch reveals, they represent a major transformation in the ways that Americans feed themselves. In her examination of the history of food distribution in the United States, Deutsch demonstrates the important roles that gender, business, class, and the state played in the evolution of American grocery stores.

Deutsch's analysis reframes shopping as labor and embeds consumption in the structures of capitalism. The supermarket, that icon of postwar American life, emerged not from straightforward consumer demand for low prices, Deutsch argues, but through government regulations, women customers' demands, and retailers' concerns with financial success and control of the "shop floor." From small neighborhood stores to huge corporate chains of supermarkets, Deutsch traces the charged story of the origins of contemporary food distribution, treating topics as varied as everyday food purchases, the sales tax, postwar celebrations and critiques of mass consumption, and 1960s and 1970s urban insurrections. Demonstrating connections between women's work and the history of capitalism, Deutsch locates the origins of supermarkets in the politics of twentieth-century consumption.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Legal Imperialism"

New from Cambridge University Press: Legal Imperialism: Sovereignty and Extraterritoriality in Japan, the Ottoman Empire, and China by Turan Kayao─člu.

About the book, from the publisher:
Legal Imperialism examines the important role of nineteenth-century Western extraterritorial courts in non-Western states. These courts, created as a separate legal system for Western expatriates living in Asian and Islamic coutries, developed from the British imperial model, which was founded on ideals of legal positivism. Based on a cross-cultural comparison of the emergence, function, and abolition of these court systems in Japan, the Ottoman Empire, and China, Turan Kayaoglu elaborates a theory of extraterritoriality, comparing the nineteenth-century British example with the post–World War II American legal imperialism. He also provides an explanation for the end of imperial extraterritoriality, arguing that the Western decision to abolish their separate legal systems stemmed from changes in non-Western territories, including Meiji legal reforms, Republican Turkey’s legal transformation under Ataturk, and the Guomindang’s legal reorganization in China. Ultimately, his research provides an innovative basis for understanding the assertion of legal authority by Western powers on foreign soil and the influence of such assertion on ideas about sovereignty.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Digging Up the Dead"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials by Michael Kammen.

About the book, from the publisher:
A funeral closes a life story, and a grave in a cemetery marks its end forever. But what happens when those left behind don’t agree about the meaning of that story? Or when that disagreement extends all the way to arguments about the final resting place itself? In a surprising number of cases over the years, that’s when people have chosen to grab shovels and start digging.

With Digging Up the Dead, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Michael Kammen reveals a treasure trove of fascinating, surprising, and sometimes gruesome stories of exhumation and reburial from throughout American history. Taking us to the contested grave sites of such figures as Sitting Bull, John Paul Jones, Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Boone, Jefferson Davis, and even Abraham Lincoln, Kammen explores how complicated interactions of regional pride, shifting reputations, and evolving burial practices led to public, often emotional battles over the final resting places of famous figures. Grave-robbing, skull-fondling, cases of mistaken identity, and the financial lures of cemetery tourism all come into play as Kammen delves deeply into this little-known—yet surprisingly persistent—aspect of American history.

Simultaneously insightful and interesting, masterly and macabre, Digging Up the Dead reminds us that the stories of American history don’t always end when the key players pass on. Rather, the battle—over reputations, interpretations, and, last but far from least, possession of the remains themselves—is often just beginning.
Read an excerpt from Digging Up the Dead.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Pivotal Decade"

New from Yale University Press: Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies by Judith Stein.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this fascinating new history, Judith Stein argues that in order to understand our current economic crisis we need to look back to the 1970s and the end of the age of the factory—the era of postwar liberalism, created by the New Deal, whose practices, high wages, and regulated capital produced both robust economic growth and greater income equality. When high oil prices and economic competition from Japan and Germany battered the American economy, new policies—both international and domestic—became necessary. But war was waged against inflation, rather than against unemployment, and the government promoted a balanced budget instead of growth. This, says Stein, marked the beginning of the age of finance and subsequent deregulation, free trade, low taxation, and weak unions that has fostered inequality and now the worst recession in sixty years.

Drawing on extensive archival research and covering the economic, intellectual, political, and labor history of the decade, Stein provides a wealth of information on the 1970s. She also shows that to restore prosperity today, America needs a new model: more factories and fewer financial houses.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"The Idea of Galicia"

New from Stanford University Press: The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture by Larry Wolff.

About the book, from the publisher:
Galicia was created at the first partition of Poland in 1772 and disappeared in 1918. Yet, in slightly over a century, the idea of Galicia came to have meaning for both the peoples who lived there and the Habsburg government that ruled it. Indeed, its memory continues to exercise a powerful fascination for those who live in its former territories and for the descendants of those who emigrated out of Galicia.

The idea of Galicia was largely produced by the cultures of two cities, Lviv and Cracow. Making use of travelers' accounts, newspaper reports, and literary works, Wolff engages such figures as Emperor Joseph II, Metternich, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Ivan Franko, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Tadeusz "Boy" Zelenski, Isaac Babel, Martin Buber, and Bruno Schulz. He shows the exceptional importance of provincial space as a site for the evolution of cultural meanings and identities, and analyzes the province as the framework for non-national and multi-national understandings of empire in European history.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"A History of Islam in America"

New from Cambridge University Press: A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order by Kambiz GhaneaBassiri.

About the book, from the publisher:
Muslims began arriving in the New World long before the rise of the Atlantic slave trade. The first arrivals date to the turn of the sixteenth century when European explorers and colonists crossed the Atlantic in search of new horizons and trading routes. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri’s fascinating book traces the history of Muslims in the United States and their different waves of immigration and conversion across five centuries, through colonial and antebellum America, through world wars and civil rights struggles, to the contemporary era. The book tells the often deeply moving stories of individual Muslims and their lives as immigrants and citizens within the broad context of the American religious experience, showing how that experience has been integral to the evolution of American Muslim institutions and practices. This is a unique and intelligent portrayal of a diverse religious community and its relationship with America. It will serve as a strong antidote to the current politicized dichotomy between Islam and the West, which has come to dominate the study of Muslims in America and further afield.
Read an excerpt from A History of Islam in America.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Who Cares?"

New from Princeton University Press: Who Cares?: Public Ambivalence and Government Activism from the New Deal to the Second Gilded Age by Katherine S. Newman and Elisabeth S. Jacobs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans like to think that they look after their own, especially in times of hardship. Particularly for the Great Depression and the Great Society eras, the collective memory is one of solidarity and compassion for the less fortunate. Who Cares? challenges this story by examining opinion polls and letters to presidents from average citizens. This evidence, some of it little known, reveals a much darker, more impatient attitude toward the poor, the unemployed, and the dispossessed during the 1930s and 1960s. Katherine Newman and Elisabeth Jacobs show that some of the social policies that Americans take for granted today suffered from declining public support just a few years after their inception. Yet Americans have been equally unenthusiastic about efforts to dismantle social programs once they are well established. Again contrary to popular belief, conservative Republicans had little public support in the 1980s and 1990s for their efforts to unravel the progressive heritage of the New Deal and the Great Society. Whether creating or rolling back such programs, leaders like Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan often found themselves working against public opposition, and they left lasting legacies only by persevering despite it.

Timely and surprising, Who Cares? demonstrates not that Americans are callous but that they are frequently ambivalent about public support for the poor. It also suggests that presidential leadership requires bold action, regardless of opinion polls.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"The Nationalization of American Political Parties, 1880–1896"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Nationalization of American Political Parties, 1880–1896 by Daniel Klinghard.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book investigates the creation of the first truly nationalized party organizations in the United States in the late nineteenth century, an innovation that reversed the parties’ traditional privileging of state and local interests in nominating campaigns and the conduct of national campaigns. Between 1880 and 1896, party elites crafted a defense of these national organizations that charted the theoretical parameters of American party development into the twentieth century. With empowered national committees and a new understanding of the parties’ role in the political system, national party leaders dominated American politics in new ways, renewed the parties’ legitimacy in an increasingly pluralistic and nationalized political environment, and thus maintained their relevance throughout the twentieth century. The new organizations particularly served the interests of presidents and presidential candidates, and the little-studied presidencies of the late nineteenth century demonstrate the first stirrings of modern presidential party leadership.
Read an excerpt from The Nationalization of American Political Parties, 1880–1896.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Palestine Betrayed"

New from Yale University Press: Palestine Betrayed by Efraim Karsh.

About the book, form the publisher:
The 1947 UN resolution to partition Palestine irrevocably changed the political landscape of the Middle East, giving rise to six full-fledged wars between Arabs and Jews, countless armed clashes, blockades, and terrorism, as well as a profound shattering of Palestinian Arab society. Its origins, and that of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, are deeply rooted in Jewish-Arab confrontation and appropriation in Palestine. But the isolated occasions of violence during the British Mandate era (1920–48) suggest that the majority of Palestinian Arabs yearned to live and thrive under peaceful coexistence with the evolving Jewish national enterprise. So what was the real cause of the breakdown in relations between the two communities?

In this brave and groundbreaking book, Efraim Karsh tells the story from both the Arab and Jewish perspectives. He argues that from the early 1920s onward, a corrupt and extremist leadership worked toward eliminating the Jewish national revival and protecting its own interests. Karsh has mined many of the Western, Soviet, UN, and Israeli documents declassified over the past decade, as well as unfamiliar Arab sources, to reveal what happened behind the scenes on both Palestinian and Jewish sides. It is an arresting story of delicate political and diplomatic maneuvering by leading figures—Ben Gurion, Hajj Amin Husseini, Abdel Rahman Azzam, King Abdullah, Bevin, and Truman —over the years leading up to partition, through the slide to war and its enduring consequences. Palestine Betrayed is vital reading for understanding the origin of disputes that remain crucial today.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Sprawl, Justice, and Citizenship"

New from Oxford University Press: Sprawl, Justice, and Citizenship: The Civic Costs of the American Way of Life by Thad Williamson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Must the strip mall and the eight-lane highway define 21st century American life? That is a central question posed by critics of suburban and exurban living in America. Yet despite the ubiquity of the critique, it never sticks--Americans by the scores of millions have willingly moved into sprawling developments over the past few decades. Americans find many of the more substantial criticisms of sprawl easy to ignore because they often come across as snobbish in tone. Yet as Thad Williamson explains, sprawl does create real, measurable social problems. Williamson's work is unique in two important ways. First, while he highlights the deleterious effects of sprawl on civic life in America, he is also evenhanded. He does not dismiss the pastoral, homeowning ideal that is at the root of sprawl, and is sympathetic to the vast numbers of Americans who very clearly prefer it. Secondly, his critique is neither aesthetic nor moralistic in tone, but based on social science. Utilizing a landmark 30,000-person survey, he shows that sprawl fosters civic disengagement, accentuates inequality, and negatively impacts the environment. Sprawl, Justice, and Citizenship will not only be the most comprehensive work in print on the subject, it will be the first to offer a empirically rigorous critique of the most popular form of living in America today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Hoboes"

New from Hill & Wang: Hoboes: Bindlestiffs, Fruit Tramps, and the Harvesting of the West by Mark Wyman.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the railroad stretched its steel rails across the American West in the 1870s, it opened up a vast expanse of territory with very few people but enormous agricultural potential: a second Western frontier, the garden West. Agriculture quickly followed the railroads, making way for Kansas wheat and Colorado sugar beets and Washington apples. With this new agriculture came an unavoidable need for harvest workers—for hands to pick the apples, cotton, oranges, and hops; to pull and top the sugar beets; to fill the trays with raisin grapes and apricots; to stack the wheat bundles in shocks to be pitched into the maw of the threshing machine. These were not the year-round hired hands but transients who would show up to harvest the crop and then leave when the work was finished.

Variously called bindlestiffs, fruit tramps, hoboes, and bums, these men—and women and children—were vital to the creation of the West and its economy. Amazingly, it is an aspect of Western history that has never been told. In Hoboes: Bindlestiffs, Fruit Tramps, and the Harvesting of the West, the award-winning historian Mark Wyman beautifully captures the lives of these workers. Exhaustively researched and highly original, this narrative history is a detailed, deeply sympathetic portrait of the lives of these hoboes, as well as a fresh look at the settling and development of the American West.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"1927 and the Rise of Modern America"

New from the University Press of Kansas Press: 1927 and the Rise of Modern America by Charles J. Shindo.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Charles Lindbergh landed at LeBourget Airfield on May 21, 1927, his transatlantic flight symbolized the new era—not only in aviation but also in American culture. The 1920s proved to be a transitional decade for the United States, shifting the nation from a production-driven economy to a consumption-based one, with adventurous citizens breaking new ground even as many others continued clinging to an outmoded status quo.

In his new book, Charles Shindo reveals how one year in particular encapsulated the complexity of this transformation in American culture. Shindo’s absorbing look at 1927 shatters the stereotypes of the Roaring ’20s as a time of frivolity and excess, revealing instead a society torn between holding on to its glorious past while trying to navigate a brave new world. His book is a compelling and entertaining dissection of the year that has come to represent the apex of 1920s culture, combining references from popular films, music, literature, sports, and politics in a captivating look back at change in the making.

As Shindo notes, while Lindbergh’s flight was a defining event, there were others: The Jazz Singer, for example, brought sound to the movies, and the 15 millionth Model T rolled off of Ford’s assembly line. Meanwhile, the era’s supposed live-for-today frivolity was clouded by Prohibition, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, and the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Such events, Shindo explains, reflected a fundamental disquiet running beneath the surface of a nation seeking to accommodate and understand a broad array of changes—from new technology to natural disasters, from women’s forays into the electorate to African-Americans’ migration to the urban north.

Shindo, however, also notes that this was an era of celebrity. He not only examines why Lindbergh and Ford were celebrated but also considers the rise and growing popularity of the infamous, like convicted murderers Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray, and he illuminates the explosive growth of professional sports and stars like baseball’s Babe Ruth. In addition, he takes a close look at cinematic heroines like Mary Pickford and the “It” girl Clara Bow to demonstrate the conflicting images of women in popular culture.

Distinctive and insightful, Shindo’s richly detailed analysis of 1927’s key events and personalities reveals the multifaceted ways in which people actually came to grips with change and learned to embrace an increasingly modern America.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Globalizing Justice"

New from Oxford University Press: Globalizing Justice: The Ethics of Poverty and Power by Richard W. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
Combining deep moral argument with extensive factual inquiry, Richard Miller constructs a new account of international justice. Though a critic of demanding principles of kindness toward the global poor and an advocate of special concern for compatriots, he argues for standards of responsible conduct in transnational relations that create vast unmet obligations. Governments, firms and people in developed countries, above all, the United States, by failing to live up to these responsibilities, take advantage of people in developing countries.

Miller's proposed standards of responsible conduct offer answers to such questions as: What must be done to avoid exploitation in transnational manufacturing? What framework for world trade and investment would be fair? What duties do we have to limit global warming? What responsibilities to help meet basic needs arise when foreign powers steer the course of development? What obligations are created by uses of violence to sustain American global power?

Globalizing Justice provides new philosophical foundations for political responsibility, a unified agenda of policies for responding to major global problems, a distinctive appraisal of 'the American empire', and realistic strategies for a global social movement that helps to move humanity toward genuine global cooperation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Mystery Cults of the Ancient World"

New from Princeton University Press: Mystery Cults of the Ancient World by Hugh Bowden.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is the first book to describe and explain all of the ancient world's major mystery cults--one of the most intriguing but least understood aspects of Greek and Roman religion. In the nocturnal Mysteries at Eleusis, participants dramatically re-enacted the story of Demeter's loss and recovery of her daughter Persephone; in the Bacchic cult, bands of women ran wild in the Greek countryside to honor Dionysus; and in the mysteries of Mithras, men came to understand the nature of the universe and their place within it through frightening initiation ceremonies and astrological teachings. These cults were an important part of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, but their actual practices were shrouded in secrecy, and many of their features have remained unclear until now.

By richly illustrating the evidence from ancient art and archaeology, and drawing on enlightening new work in the anthropology and cognitive science of religion, Mystery Cults of the Ancient World allows readers to imagine as never before what it was like to take part in these ecstatic and life-changing religious rituals--and what they meant to those who participated in them. Stunning images of Greek painted pottery, Roman frescoes, inscribed gold tablets from Greek and South Italian tombs, and excavated remains of religious sanctuaries help show what participants in these initiatory cults actually did and experienced.

A fresh and accessible introduction to a fascinating subject, this is a book that will interest general readers, as well as students and scholars of classics and religion.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Wellspring of Liberty"

New from Oxford University Press: Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty by John Ragosta.

About the book, from the publisher:
Before the American Revolution, no colony more assiduously protected its established church or more severely persecuted religious dissenters than Virginia. Both its politics and religion were dominated by an Anglican establishment, and dissenters from the established Church of England were subject to numerous legal infirmities and serious persecution. By 1786, no state more fully protected religious freedom.

This profound transformation, as John A. Ragosta shows in this book, arose not from a new-found cultural tolerance. Rather, as the Revolution approached, Virginia's political establishment needed the support of the religious dissenters, primarily Presbyterians and Baptists, for the mobilization effort. Dissenters seized this opportunity to insist on freedom of religion in return for their mobilization. Their demands led to a complex and extended negotiation in which the religious establishment slowly and grudgingly offered just enough reforms to maintain the crucial support of the dissenters.

After the war, when dissenters' support was no longer needed, the establishment leaders sought to recapture control, but found they had seriously miscalculated: wartime negotiations had politicized the dissenters. As a result dissenters' demands for the separation of church and state triumphed over the establishment's efforts and Jefferson's Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom was adopted.

Historians and the Supreme Court have repeatedly noted that the foundation of the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty lies in Virginia's struggle, turning primarily to Jefferson and Madison to understand this. In Wellspring of Liberty, John A. Ragosta argues that Virginia's religious dissenters played a seminal, and previously underappreciated, role in the development of the First Amendment and in the meaning of religious freedom as we understand it today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Confederate Reckoning"

New from Harvard University Press: Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South by Stephanie McCurry.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners' national ambitions met the harsh realities of wartime crises, unintended consequences ensued. Although Southern statesmen and generals had built the most powerful slave regime in the Western world, they had excluded the majority of their own people—white women and slaves—and thereby sowed the seeds of their demise.

Wartime scarcity of food, labor, and soldiers tested the Confederate vision at every point and created domestic crises to match those found on the battlefields. Women and slaves became critical political actors as they contested government enlistment and tax and welfare policies, and struggled for their freedom. The attempt to repress a majority of its own population backfired on the Confederate States of America as the disenfranchised demanded to be counted and considered in the great struggle over slavery, emancipation, democracy, and nationhood. That Confederate struggle played out in a highly charged international arena.

The political project of the Confederacy was tried by its own people and failed. The government was forced to become accountable to women and slaves, provoking an astounding transformation of the slaveholders' state. Confederate Reckoning is the startling story of this epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"The Long Shadow of the Civil War"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies by Victoria E. Bynum.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Long Shadow of the Civil War, Victoria Bynum relates uncommon narratives about common Southern folks who fought not with the Confederacy, but against it. Focusing on regions in three Southern states--North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas--Bynum introduces Unionist supporters, guerrilla soldiers, defiant women, socialists, populists, free blacks, and large interracial kin groups that belie stereotypes of the South and of Southerners as uniformly supportive of the Confederate cause.

Examining regions within the South where the inner civil wars of deadly physical conflict and intense political debate continued well into the era of Reconstruction and beyond, Bynum explores three central questions. How prevalent was support for the Union among ordinary Southerners during the Civil War? How did Southern Unionists and freedpeople experience both the Union's victory and the emancipation of slaves during and after Reconstruction? And what were the legacies of the Civil War--and Reconstruction--for relations among classes and races and between the sexes, both then and now?

Centered on the concepts of place, family, and community, Bynum's insightful and carefully documented work effectively counters the idea of a unified South caught in the grip of the Lost Cause.
Visit Victoria Bynum's website and blog.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Colour of Paradise"

New from Yale University Press: Colour of Paradise: The Emerald in the Age of Gunpowder Empires by Kris Lane.

About the book, from the publisher:
Among the magnificent gems and jewels left behind by the great Islamic empires, emeralds stand out for their size and prominence. For the Mughals, Ottomans, and Safavids green was—as it remains for all Muslims—the color of Paradise, reserved for the Prophet Muhammad and his descendants. Tapping a wide range of sources, Kris Lane traces the complex web of global trading networks that funneled emeralds from backland South America to populous Asian capitals between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Lane reveals the bloody conquest wars and forced labor regimes that accompanied their production. It is a story of trade, but also of transformations—how members of profoundly different societies at opposite ends of the globe assigned value to a few thousand pounds of imperfectly shiny green rocks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Capital Punishment on Trial"

New from the University Press of Kansas: Capital Punishment on Trial: Furman v. Georgia and the Death Penalty in Modern America by David M. Oshinsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his first book since the Pulitzer Prize–winning Polio: An American Story, renowned historian David Oshinsky takes a new and closer look at the Supreme Court’s controversial and much-debated stances on capital punishment—in the landmark case of Furman v. Georgia.

Career criminal William Furman shot and killed a homeowner during a 1967 burglary in Savannah, Georgia. Because it was a “black-on-white” crime in the racially troubled South, it also was an open-and-shut case. The trial took less than a day, and the nearly all-white jury rendered a death sentence. Aided by the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Furman’s African-American attorney, Bobby Mayfield, doggedly appealed the verdict all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1972 overturned Furman’s sentence by a narrow 5–4 vote, ruling that Georgia’s capital punishment statute, and by implication all other state death-penalty laws, was so arbitrary and capricious as to violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Furman effectively, if temporarily, halted capital punishment in the United States. Every death row inmate across the nation was resentenced to life in prison. The decision, however, did not rule the death penalty per se to be unconstitutional; rather, it struck down the laws that currently governed its application, leaving the states free to devise new ones that the Court might find acceptable. And this is exactly what happened. In the coming years, the Supreme Court would uphold an avalanche of state legislation endorsing the death penalty. Capital punishment would return stronger than ever, with many more defendants sentenced to death and eventually executed.

Oshinsky demonstrates the troubling roles played by race and class and region in capital punishment. And he concludes by considering the most recent Supreme Court death-penalty cases involving minors and the mentally ill, as well as the impact of international opinion. Compact and engaging, Oshinsky’s masterful study reflects a gift for empathy, an eye for the telling anecdote and portrait, and a talent for clarifying the complex and often confusing legal issues surrounding capital punishment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Tocqueville's Discovery of America"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Tocqueville's Discovery of America by Leo Damrosch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Alexis de Tocqueville is more quoted than read; commentators across the political spectrum invoke him as an oracle who defined America and its democracy for all times. But in fact his masterpiece,Democracy in America, was the product of a young man’s open-minded experience of America at a time of rapid change. In Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, the prizewinning biographer Leo Damrosch retraces Tocqueville’s nine-month journey through the young nation in 1831–1832, illuminating how his enduring ideas were born of imaginative interchange with America and Americans, and painting a vivid picture of Jacksonian America.

Damrosch shows that Tocqueville found much to admire in the dynamism of American society and in its egalitarian ideals. But he was offended by the ethos of grasping materialism and was convinced that the institution of slavery was bound to give rise to a tragic civil war.

Drawing on documents and letters that have never before appeared in English, as well as on a wide range of scholarship, Tocqueville’s Discovery of America brings the man, his ideas, and his world to startling life.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Recognizing States"

New from Oxford University Press: Recognizing States: International Society and the Establishment of New States Since 1776 by Mikulas Fabry.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines recognition of new states, the practice historically employed to regulate membership in international society. The last twenty years have witnessed new or lingering demands for statehood in different areas of the world. The claims of some, like those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Croatia, Georgia and East Timor, have achieved general recognition; those of others, like Kosovo, Tamil Eelam, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Somaliland, have not. However, even as most of these claims gave rise to major conflicts and international controversies, the criteria for acknowledgment of new states have elicited little systematic scholarship.

Drawing upon writings of English School theorists, this study charts the practice from the late eighteenth century until the present. Its central argument is that for the past two hundred years state recognition has been tied to the idea of self-determination of peoples. Two versions of the idea have underpinned the practice throughout most of this period--self-determination as a negative and a positive right. The negative idea, dominant from 1815 to 1950, took state recognition to be acknowledgment of an achievement of de facto statehood by a people desiring independence. Self-determination was expressed through, and externally gauged by, self-attainment. The positive idea, prevalent since the 1950s, took state recognition to be acknowledgment of an entitlement to independence in international law. The development of self-determination as a positive international right, however, has not led to a disappearance of claims of statehood that stand outside of its confines. Groups that are deeply dissatisfied with the countries in which they presently find themselves continue to make demands for independence even though they may have no positive entitlement to it. The book concludes by expressing doubt that contemporary international society can find a sustainable basis for recognizing new states other than the original standard of de facto statehood.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"All the Tsar's Men"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: All the Tsar's Men: Russia's General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914 by John W. Steinberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
All the Tsar's Men examines how institutional reforms designed to prepare the Imperial Russian Army for the modern battlefield failed to prevent devastating defeats in both the 1905 Russo—Japanese War and World War I. John W. Steinberg argues that the General Staff officers who devised new educational and doctrinal reforms had the experience, dedication, and leadership skills to defend the empire in the new age of warfare but were continually impeded by institutionalized inefficiency and rigid control from their superiors. These officers, he explains, were operating within a command structure unwilling to grant them the autonomy necessary to effect significant reform, which proved disastrous for the army and -- ultimately -- the empire.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Slavery in Indian Country"

New from Harvard University Press: Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America by Christina Snyder.

About the book, from the publisher:
Slavery existed in North America long before the first Africans arrived at Jamestown in 1619. For centuries, from the pre-Columbian era through the 1840s, Native Americans took prisoners of war and killed, adopted, or enslaved them. Christina Snyder’s pathbreaking book takes a familiar setting for bondage, the American South, and places Native Americans at the center of her engrossing story.

Indian warriors captured a wide range of enemies, including Africans, Europeans, and other Indians. Yet until the late eighteenth century, age and gender more than race affected the fate of captives. As economic and political crises mounted, however, Indians began to racialize slavery and target African Americans. Native people struggling to secure a separate space for themselves in America developed a shared language of race with white settlers. Although the Indians’ captivity practices remained fluid long after their neighbors hardened racial lines, the Second Seminole War ultimately tore apart the inclusive communities that Native people had created through centuries of captivity.

Snyder’s rich and sweeping history of Indian slavery connects figures like Andrew Jackson and Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe with little-known captives like Antonia Bonnelli, a white teenager from Spanish Florida, and David George, a black runaway from Virginia. Placing the experiences of these individuals within a complex system of captivity and Indians’ relations with other peoples, Snyder demonstrates the profound role of Native American history in the American past.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"America’s School for War"

New from the University Press of Kansas: America’s School for War: Fort Leavenworth, Officer Education, and Victory in World War II by Peter J. Schifferle.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the United States entered World War II, it took more than industrial might to transform its tiny army—smaller than even Portugal’s—into an overseas fighting force of more than eight and a half million. Peter Schifferle contends that the determination of American army officers to be prepared for the next big war was an essential component in America’s ultimate triumph over its adversaries. Crucial to that preparation were the army schools at Fort Leavenworth.

Interwar Army officers, haunted by the bloodshed of World War I’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive, fully expected to return to Europe to conclude the “unfinished business” of that conflict, and they prepared well. Schifferle examines for the first time precisely how they accomplished this through a close and illuminating look at the students, faculty, curriculum, and essential methods of instruction at Fort Leavenworth. He describes how the interwar officer corps there translated the experiences of World War I into effective doctrine, engaged in intellectual debate on professional issues, conducted experiments to determine the viability of new concepts, and used military professional education courses to substitute for the experience of commanding properly organized and resourced units.

Schifferle highlights essential elements of war preparation that only the Fort Leavenworth education could provide, including intensive instruction in general staff procedures, hands-on experience with the principles and techniques of combined arms, and the handling of large division-sized formations in combat. This readied army officers for an emerging new era of global warfare and enabled them to develop the leadership decision making they would need to be successful on the battlefield. But Schifferle offers more than a recitation of curriculum development through the skillful interweaving of personal stories about both school experiences and combat operations, collectively recounting the human and professional development of the officer corps from 1918 to 1945.

Well crafted and insightful, Schifferle’s meticulously researched study shows how and why the Fort Leavenworth experience was instrumental in producing that impressive contingent of military officers who led the U.S. Army to final victory in World War II. By the end of the book, the attentive reader will also fully comprehend why the military professionals at Fort Leavenworth have come to think of it as the “Intellectual Center of the Army.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Toxic Loopholes"

New from Cambridge University Press: Toxic Loopholes: Failures and Future Prospects for Environmental Law by Craig Collins.

About the book, from the publisher:
The EPA was established to enforce the environmental laws Congress enacted during the 1970s. Yet today lethal toxins still permeate our environment, causing widespread illness and even death. Toxic Loopholes investigates these laws, and the agency charged with their enforcement, to explain why they have failed to arrest the nation’s rising environmental crime wave and clean up the country’s land, air, and water. This book illustrates how weak laws, legal loopholes, and regulatory negligence harm everyday people struggling to clean up their communities. It demonstrates that our current system of environmental protection pacifies the public with a false sense of security, dampens environmental activism, and erects legal barricades and bureaucratic barriers to shield powerful polluters from the wrath of their victims. After examining the corrosive economic and political forces undermining environmental law making and enforcement, the final chapters assess the potential for real improvement and the possibility of building cooperative international agreements to confront the rising tide of ecological perils threatening the entire planet.
Read an excerpt from Toxic Loopholes.