Monday, May 31, 2010

"Not Even Past"

New from Princeton University Press: Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race by Thomas J. Sugrue.

About the book, from the publisher:
Barack Obama, in his acclaimed campaign speech discussing the troubling complexities of race in America today, quoted William Faulkner's famous remark "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." In Not Even Past, award-winning historian Thomas Sugrue examines the paradox of race in Obama's America and how President Obama intends to deal with it.

Obama's journey to the White House undoubtedly marks a watershed in the history of race in America. Yet even in what is being hailed as the post-civil rights era, racial divisions--particularly between blacks and whites--remain deeply entrenched in American life. Sugrue traces Obama's evolving understanding of race and racial inequality throughout his career, from his early days as a community organizer in Chicago, to his time as an attorney and scholar, to his spectacular rise to power as a charismatic and savvy politician, to his dramatic presidential campaign. Sugrue looks at Obama's place in the contested history of the civil rights struggle; his views about the root causes of black poverty in America; and the incredible challenges confronting his historic presidency.

Does Obama's presidency signal the end of race in American life? In Not Even Past, a leading historian of civil rights, race, and urban America offers a revealing and unflinchingly honest assessment of the culture and politics of race in the age of Obama, and of our prospects for a postracial America.
Writers Read: Thomas Sugrue.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Terrorism and the Ethics of War"

New from Cambridge University Press: Terrorism and the Ethics of War by Stephen Nathanson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most people strongly condemn terrorism; yet they often fail to say how terrorist acts differ from other acts of violence such as the killing of civilians in war. Stephen Nathanson argues that we cannot have morally credible views about terrorism if we focus on terrorism alone and neglect broader issues about the ethics of war. His book challenges influential views on the ethics of war, including the realist view that morality does not apply to war, and Michael Walzer’s defence of attacks on civilians in ‘supreme emergency’ circumstances. It provides a clear definition of terrorism, an analysis of what makes terrorism morally wrong, and a rule-utilitarian defence of noncombatant immunity, as well as discussions of the Allied bombings of cities in World War II, collateral damage, and the clash between rights theories and utilitarianism. It will interest a wide range of readers in philosophy, political theory, international relations, and law.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Anne Boleyn"

New from Yale University Press: Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions by G. W. Bernard.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this groundbreaking new biography, G. W. Bernard offers a fresh portrait of one of England’s most captivating queens. Through a wide-ranging forensic examination of sixteenth-century sources, Bernard reconsiders Boleyn’s girlhood, her experience at the French court, the nature of her relationship with Henry, and the authenticity of her evangelical sympathies. He depicts Anne Boleyn as a captivating, intelligent, and highly sexual woman whose attractions Henry resisted for years until marriage could ensure legitimacy for their offspring. He shows that it was Henry, not Anne, who developed the ideas that led to the break with Rome. And, most radically, he argues that the allegations of adultery that led to Anne’s execution in the Tower could be close to the truth.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Fireworks"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History by Simon Werrett.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fireworks are synonymous with celebration in the twenty-first century. But pyrotechnics—in the form of rockets, crackers, wheels, and bombs—have exploded in sparks and noise to delight audiences in Europe ever since the Renaissance. Here, Simon Werrett shows that, far from being only a means of entertainment, fireworks helped foster advances in natural philosophy, chemistry, mathematics, and many other branches of the sciences.

Fireworks brings to vibrant life the many artful practices of pyrotechnicians, as well as the elegant compositions of the architects, poets, painters, and musicians they inspired. At the same time, it uncovers the dynamic relationships that developed between the many artists and scientists who produced pyrotechnics. In so doing, the book demonstrates the critical role that pyrotechnics played in the development of physics, astronomy, chemistry and physiology, meteorology, and electrical science. Richly illustrated and drawing on a wide range of new sources, Fireworks takes readers back to a world where pyrotechnics were both divine and magical and reveals for the first time their vital contribution to the modernization of European ideas.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Supernatural Selection"

New from Oxford University Press: Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved by Matt Rossano.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 2006, scientist Richard Dawkins published a blockbuster bestseller, The God Delusion. This atheist manifesto sparked a furious reaction from believers, who have responded with numerous books of their own. By pitting science against religion, however, this debate overlooks what science can tell us about religion. According to evolutionary psychologist Matt J. Rossano, what science reveals is that religion made us human.

In Supernatural Selection, Rossano presents an evolutionary history of religion. Neither an apologist for religion nor a religion-basher, he draws together evidence from a wide range of disciplines to show the valuable--even essential--adaptive purpose served by systematic belief in the supernatural. The roots of religion stretch as far back as half a million years, when our ancestors developed the motor control to engage in social rituals--that is, to sing and dance together. Then, about 70,000 years ago, a global ecological crisis drove humanity to the edge of extinction. It forced the survivors to create new strategies for survival, and religious rituals were foremost among them. Fundamentally, Rossano writes, religion is a way for humans to relate to each other and the world around them--and, in the grim struggles of prehistory, it offered significant survival and reproductive advantages. It emerged as our ancestors' first health care system, and a critical part of that health care system was social support. Religious groups tended to be far more cohesive, which gave them a competitive advantage over non-religious groups, and enabled them to conquer the globe.

Rather than focusing on one aspect of religion, as many theorists do, Rossano offers an all-encompassing approach that is rich with surprises, insights, and provocative conclusions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Parenting Out of Control"

New from NYU Press: Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times by Margaret K. Nelson.

About the book, from the publisher:
They go by many names: helicopter parents, hovercrafts, PFHs (Parents from Hell). The news media is filled with stories of well-intentioned parents going to ridiculous extremes to remove all obstacles from their child’s path to greatness . . . or at least to an ivy league school. From cradle to college, they remain intimately enmeshed in their children’s lives, stifling their development and creating infantilized, spoiled, immature adults unprepared to make the decisions necessary for the real world. Or so the story goes.

Drawing on a wealth of eye-opening interviews with parents across the country, Margaret K. Nelson cuts through the stereotypes and hyperbole to examine the realities of what she terms “parenting out of control.” Situating this phenomenon within a broad sociological context, she finds several striking explanations for why today’s prosperous and well-educated parents are unable to set realistic boundaries when it comes to raising their children. Analyzing the goals and aspirations parents have for their children as well as the strategies they use to reach them, Nelson discovers fundamental differences among American parenting styles that expose class fault lines, both within the elite and between the elite and the middle and working classes.

Nelson goes on to explore the new ways technology shapes modern parenting. From baby monitors to cell phones (often referred to as the world’s longest umbilical cord), to social networking sites, and even GPS devices, parents have more tools at their disposal than ever before to communicate with, supervise, and even spy on their children. These play important and often surprising roles in the phenomenon of parenting out of control. Yet the technologies parents choose, and those they refuse to use, often seem counterintuitive. Nelson shows that these choices make sense when viewed in the light of class expectations.

Today’s parents are faced with unprecedented opportunities and dangers for their children, and are evolving novel strategies to adapt to these changes. Nelson’s lucid and insightful work provides an authoritative examination of what happens when these new strategies go too far.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Democratic Governance"

New from Princeton University Press: Democratic Governance by Mark Bevir.

About the book, from the publisher:
Democratic Governance examines the changing nature of the modern state and reveals the dangers these changes pose to democracy. Mark Bevir shows how new ideas about governance have gradually displaced old-style notions of government in Britain and around the world. Policymakers cling to outdated concepts of representative government while at the same time placing ever more faith in expertise, markets, and networks. Democracy exhibits blurred lines of accountability and declining legitimacy.

Bevir explores how new theories of governance undermined traditional government in the twentieth century. Politicians responded by erecting great bureaucracies, increasingly relying on policy expertise and abstract notions of citizenship and, more recently, on networks of quasi-governmental and private organizations to deliver services using market-oriented techniques. Today, the state is an unwieldy edifice of nineteenth-century government buttressed by a sprawling substructure devoted to the very different idea of governance--and democracy has suffered.

In Democratic Governance, Bevir takes a comprehensive look at governance and the history and thinking behind it. He provides in-depth case studies of constitutional reform, judicial reform, joined-up government, and police reform. He argues that the best hope for democratic renewal lies in more interpretive styles of expertise, dialogic forms of policymaking, and more diverse avenues for public participation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"American Insurgents"

New from Hill and Wang: American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People by T. H. Breen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Before there could be a revolution, there was a rebellion; before patriots, there were insurgents. Challenging and displacing decades of received wisdom, T. H. Breen’s strikingly original book explains how ordinary Americans—most of them members of farm families living in small communities—were drawn into a successful insurgency against imperial authority. This is the compelling story of our national political origins that most Americans do not know. It is a story of rumor, charity, vengeance, and restraint. American Insurgents, American Patriots reminds us that revolutions are violent events. They provoke passion and rage, a willingness to use violence to achieve political ends, a deep sense of betrayal, and a strong religious conviction that God expects an oppressed people to defend their rights. The American Revolution was no exception.

A few celebrated figures in the Continental Congress do not make for a revolution. It requires tens of thousands of ordinary men and women willing to sacrifice, kill, and be killed. Breen not only gives the history of these ordinary Americans but, drawing upon a wealth of rarely seen documents, restores their primacy to American independence. Mobilizing two years before the Declaration of Independence, American insurgents in all thirteen colonies concluded that resistance to British oppression required organized violence against the state. They channeled popular rage through elected committees of safety and observation, which before 1776 were the heart of American resistance. American Insurgents, American Patriots is the stunning account of their insurgency, without which there would have been no independent republic as we know it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The American Department Store Transformed"

New from Yale University Press: The American Department Store Transformed, 1920-1960 by Richard Longstreth.

About the book, from the publisher:
After attaining classic stature with palaces erected in the early 20th century, the American department store continued to evolve in ways that were influenced by changes in business practices, shopping patterns, design approaches, and urban structure. This masterful and innovative history of a celebrated building type focuses on many of the nation’s greatest retail companies—Marshall Fields, Lord and Taylor, Gimbel’s, Wanamaker’s, and Bullock’s, among others—and the role they played in defining America’s cities.

Author Richard Longstreth traces the development and evolution of department stores from local, urban institutions to suburban entities in the nation’s sixty largest cities, showing how the stores underwent changes to adapt to dramatic economic and urban developments, including the decentralization from metropolitan areas, increased popularity of the automobile, and challenges from retail competitors on a national level. Extensively illustrated, this fascinating book offers a fundamental understanding of the transformation of Main Streets nationwide.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"So Great a Proffit"

New from Harvard University Press: So Great a Proffit: How the East Indies Trade Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism by James R. Fichter.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a work of sweep and ambition, James Fichter explores how American trade proved pivotal to the evolution of capitalism in the United States and helped to shape the course of the British Empire.

Before the American Revolution, colonial merchants were part of a trading network that spanned the globe. After 1783, U.S. merchants began trading in the East Indies independently, creating a new class of investor-capitalists and the first generation of American millionaires. Such wealth was startling in a country where, a generation earlier, the most prosperous Americans had been Southern planters. This mercantile elite brought its experience and affluence to other sectors of the economy, helping to concentrate capital and create wealth, and paving the way for the modern business corporation.

Conducted on free trade principles, American trade in Asia was so extensive that it undermined the monopoly of the British East India Company and forced Britain to open its own free trade to Asia. The United States and the British Empire thus converged around shared, Anglo-American free-trade ideals and financial capitalism in Asia. American traders also provided a vital link to the Atlantic world for Dutch Java and French Mauritius, and were at the vanguard of Western contact with Polynesia and the Pacific Northwest.

Based on an impressive array of sources from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the United States, this pathbreaking book revolutionizes our understanding of the early American economy in a global context and the relationship between the young nation and its former colonial master.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Socratic Moral Psychology"

New from Cambridge University Press: Socratic Moral Psychology by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Socrates’ moral psychology is widely thought to be ‘intellectualist’ in the sense that, for Socrates, every ethical failure to do what is best is exclusively the result of some cognitive failure to apprehend what is best. Until fairly recently, the view that, for Socrates, emotions and desires have no role to play in causing such failure went unchallenged. This book argues against the orthodox view of Socratic intellectualism and offers in its place a comprehensive alternative account that explains why Socrates believed that emotions, desires and appetites can influence human motivation and lead to error. Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith defend the study of Socrates’ philosophy and offer a new interpretation of Socratic moral psychology. Their novel account of Socrates’ conception of virtue and how it is acquired shows that Socratic moral psychology is considerably more sophisticated than scholars have supposed.
Read an excerpt from Socratic Moral Psychology.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"The Global Grapevine"

New from Oxford University Press: The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter by Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Far from mere idle tales, rumors are a valuable window into our anxieties and fears. Rumors let us talk as a community about some very inflammatory issues--issues that may be embarrassing or disturbing to discuss-allowing us to act as if we are talking about real events, not personal beliefs. We can air our hidden fears and desires without claiming these attitudes as our own.

In The Global Grapevine, two leading authorities on rumor, folklore, and urban legend--Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis--shed light on what contemporary rumors can tell us about the fears and pressures of globalization. In particular, they examine four major themes that emerge over and over again: rumors about terrorism, about immigration, about international trade, and about tourism. The authors analyze how various rumors underscore American reactions to perceived global threats, show how we interpret our changing world, and highlight fears, fantasies, and cherished beliefs about our place in the world. Along the way the book examines a wide variety of rumors-that the Israelis were behind 9-11, the President knew of the attack in advance, tourists wake up in foreign countries with their kidneys stolen, foreign workers urinate in vats of beer destined to be shipped to America. These rumors, the authors argue, reflect our anxieties and fears about contact with foreign cultures-whether we believe foreign competition to be poisoning the domestic economy or that foreign immigration to be eroding American values.

Rumors are the visible tip of a vast iceberg of hidden anxieties. Illuminating the most widely circulated rumors in America in recent years, The Global Grapevine offers an invaluable portrait of what these tales reveal about contemporary society.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Nonsense on Stilts"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Nonsense on Stilts by Massimo Pigliucci.

About the book, from the publisher:
Recent polls suggest that fewer than 40 percent of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, despite it being one of science’s best-established findings. More and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, though this link can been consistently disproved. And about 40 percent of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite near consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real.

Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and—borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham—the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a “taxonomy of bunk” that explores the intersection of science and culture at large.

No one—not the public intellectuals in the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science nor the believers of pseudoscience themselves—is spared Pigliucci’s incisive analysis. In the end, Nonsense on Stilts is a timely reminder of the need to maintain a line between expertise and assumption. Broad in scope and implication, it is also ultimately a captivating guide for the intelligent citizen who wishes to make up her own mind while navigating the perilous debates that will affect the future of our planet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Empires in World History"

New from Princeton University Press: Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference by Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper.

About the book, from the publisher:
Empires--vast states of territories and peoples united by force and ambition--have dominated the political landscape for more than two millennia. Empires in World History departs from conventional European and nation-centered perspectives to take a remarkable look at how empires relied on diversity to shape the global order. Beginning with ancient Rome and China and continuing across Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa, Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper examine empires' conquests, rivalries, and strategies of domination--with an emphasis on how empires accommodated, created, and manipulated differences among populations.

Burbank and Cooper examine Rome and China from the third century BCE, empires that sustained state power for centuries. They delve into the militant monotheism of Byzantium, the Islamic Caliphates, and the short-lived Carolingians, as well as the pragmatically tolerant rule of the Mongols and Ottomans, who combined religious protection with the politics of loyalty. Burbank and Cooper discuss the influence of empire on capitalism and popular sovereignty, the limitations and instability of Europe's colonial projects, Russia's repertoire of exploitation and differentiation, as well as the "empire of liberty"--devised by American revolutionaries and later extended across a continent and beyond.

With its investigation into the relationship between diversity and imperial states, Empires in World History offers a fresh approach to understanding the impact of empires on the past and present.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"The Iraq Wars and America's Military Revolution"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Iraq Wars and America's Military Revolution by Keith L. Shimko.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many saw the United States’ decisive victory in Desert Storm (1991) as not only vindication of American defense policy since Vietnam but also confirmation of a revolution in military affairs (RMA). Just as information-age technologies were revolutionizing civilian life, the Gulf War appeared to reflect similarly profound changes in warfare. A debate has raged ever since about a contemporary RMA and its implications for American defense policy. Addressing these issues, The Iraq Wars and America’s Military Revolution is a comprehensive study of the Iraq Wars in the context of the RMA debate. Focusing on the creation of a reconnaissance-strike complex and conceptions of parallel or nonlinear warfare, Keith L. Shimko finds a persuasive case for a contemporary RMA while recognizing its limitations as well as promise.
Read an excerpt from The Iraq Wars and America's Military Revolution.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Forced to Care"

New from Harvard University Press: Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America by Evelyn Nakano Glenn.

About the book, from the publisher:
The United States faces a growing crisis in care. The number of people needing care is growing while the ranks of traditional caregivers have shrunk. The status of care workers is a critical concern.

Evelyn Nakano Glenn offers an innovative interpretation of care labor in the United States by tracing the roots of inequity along two interconnected strands: unpaid caring within the family; and slavery, indenture, and other forms of coerced labor. By bringing both into the same analytic framework, she provides a convincing explanation of the devaluation of care work and the exclusion of both unpaid and paid care workers from critical rights such as minimum wage, retirement benefits, and workers’ compensation. Glenn reveals how assumptions about gender, family, home, civilization, and citizenship have shaped the development of care labor and been incorporated into law and social policies. She exposes the underlying systems of control that have resulted in women—especially immigrants and women of color—performing a disproportionate share of caring labor. Finally, she examines strategies for improving the situation of unpaid family caregivers and paid home healthcare workers.

This important and timely book illuminates the source of contradictions between American beliefs about the value and importance of caring in a good society and the exploitation and devalued status of those who actually do the caring.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Duke Ellington's America"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Duke Ellington's America by Harvey G. Cohen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, pathbreaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America’s role in the world.

With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business—as well as issues of race, equality and religion. Ellington’s own voice, meanwhile, animates the book throughout, giving Duke Ellington’s America an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account.

By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, Duke Ellington’s America highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.
Read an excerpt from Duke Ellington's America.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"The World of Thomas Jeremiah"

New from Oxford University Press: The World of Thomas Jeremiah: Charles Town on the Eve of the American Revolution by William R. Ryan.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book profiles the port of Charles Town, South Carolina, during the two-year period leading up to the Declaration of Independence. It focuses on the dramatic hanging and burning of Thomas Jeremiah, a free black harbor pilot and firefighter accused by the patriot party of plotting a slave insurrection during the tumultous spring and summer of 1775. To examine the world of this wealthy, slave-holding African American through his trial and execution, William R. Ryan uses a wide array of letters, naval records, personal and official correspondence, memoirs, and newspapers. He shows that the black majority of the South Carolina Low Country managed to assist the British in their invasion efforts, despite patriot attempts to frighten Afro-Carolinians into passivity and submission. Although Whigs attempted, through brutality and violence, to keep their slaves from participating in the conflict, Afro-Carolinians became actively involved in the struggle between colonists and the Crown as spies, messengers, navigators and marauders. The book demonstrates that an understanding of what was going on in this vital seaport during the mid-1770s has broader implications for the study of the Atlantic world, African American history, naval history, urban race relations, labor history, and the turbulent politics of America's move toward independence.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Prudes, Perverts, and Tyrants"

New from Princeton University Press: Prudes, Perverts, and Tyrants: Plato's Gorgias and the Politics of Shame by Christina H. Tarnopolsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
In recent years, most political theorists have agreed that shame shouldn't play any role in democratic politics because it threatens the mutual respect necessary for participation and deliberation. But Christina Tarnopolsky argues that not every kind of shame hurts democracy. In fact, she makes a powerful case that there is a form of shame essential to any critical, moderate, and self-reflexive democratic practice.

Through a careful study of Plato's Gorgias, Tarnopolsky shows that contemporary conceptions of shame are far too narrow. For Plato, three kinds of shame and shaming practices were possible in democracies, and only one of these is similar to the form condemned by contemporary thinkers. Following Plato, Tarnopolsky develops an account of a different kind of shame, which she calls "respectful shame." This practice involves the painful but beneficial shaming of one's fellow citizens as part of the ongoing process of collective deliberation. And, as Tarnopolsky argues, this type of shame is just as important to contemporary democracy as it was to its ancient form.

Tarnopolsky also challenges the view that the Gorgias inaugurates the problematic oppositions between emotion and reason, and rhetoric and philosophy. Instead, she shows that, for Plato, rationality and emotion belong together, and she argues that political science and democratic theory are impoverished when they relegate the study of emotions such as shame to other disciplines.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"The Feminist Promise"

New from Modern Library: The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present by Christine Stansell.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this sweeping, definitive volume, Christine Stansell, one of the leading historians of her generation, tells the story of one of the great democratic movements of our times.

For more than two centuries, the ranks of feminists have included dreamy idealists and conscientious reformers, erotic rebels and angry housewives, dazzling writers, shrewd political strategists, and thwarted workingwomen. Well-known leaders are sketched from new angles by Stansell, with her bracing eye for character: Mary Wollstonecraft, the passionate English writer who in 1792 published the first full-scale argument for the rights of women; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, brilliant and fearless; the imperious, quarrelsome Betty Friedan. But figures from other contexts, too, appear in an unforgettable new light, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in the 1970s led a revolution in the constitutional interpretations of women’s rights, and Toni Morrison, whose bittersweet prose gave voice to the modern black female experience.

Stansell accounts for the failures of feminism as well as the successes. She notes significant moments in the struggle for gender equality, such as the emergence in the early 1900s of the dashing “New Woman”; the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote; the post–World War II collapse of suburban neo-Victorianism; and the radical feminism of the 1960s—all of which led to vast changes in American culture and society. The Feminist Promise dramatically updates our understanding of feminism, taking the story through the age of Reagan and into the era of international feminist movements that have swept the globe. Stansell provocatively insists that the fight for women’s rights in developing countries “cannot be separated from democracy’s survival.”

A soaring work unprecedented in scope, historical depth, and literary appeal, The Feminist Promise is bound to become an authoritative source on this essential subject for decades to come on. At once a work of scholarship, political observation, and personal reflection, it is a book that speaks to the demands and challenges—individual, national, and international—of the twenty-first century.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Youth in the Fatherless Land"

New from Harvard University Press: Youth in the Fatherless Land: War Pedagogy, Nationalism, and Authority in Germany, 1914–1918 by Andrew Donson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive history of German youth in the First World War, this book investigates the dawn of the great era of mobilizing teenagers and schoolchildren for experiments in state building and extreme political movements like fascism and communism. It investigates how German teachers could be legendary for their sarcasm and harsh methods but support the world’s most vigorous school reform movement and most extensive network of youth clubs. As a result of the war mobilization, teachers, club leaders, and authors of youth literature instilled militarism and nationalism more deeply into young people than before 1914 but in a way that paradoxically relaxed discipline. The book details how Germany had far more military youth companies than other nations as well as the world’s largest Socialist youth organization, which illegally agitated for peace and a proletarian revolution. Mass conscription also empowered female youth, particularly in Germany’s middle-class youth movement, the only one anywhere that fundamentally pitted itself against adults. The book addresses discourses as well as practices and covers a breadth of topics, including crime, work, sexuality, gender, family, politics, recreation, novels and magazines, social class, and everyday life.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"This Violent Empire"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: This Violent Empire: The Birth of an American National Identity by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
This Violent Empire traces the origins of American violence, racism, and paranoia to the founding moments of the new nation and the initial instability of Americans' national sense of self.

Fusing cultural and political analyses to create a new form of political history, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg explores the ways the founding generation, lacking a common history, governmental infrastructures, and shared culture, solidified their national sense of self by imagining a series of "Others" (African Americans, Native Americans, women, the propertyless) whose differences from European American male founders overshadowed the differences that divided those founders. These "Others," dangerous and polluting, had to be excluded from the European American body politic. Feared, but also desired, they refused to be marginalized, incurring increasingly enraged enactments of their political and social exclusion that shaped our long history of racism, xenophobia, and sexism. Close readings of political rhetoric during the Constitutional debates reveal the genesis of this long history.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Limits of Legality"

New from Oxford University Press: Limits of Legality: The Ethics of Lawless Judging by Jeffrey Brand-Ballard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Judges sometimes hear cases in which the law, as they honestly understand it, requires results that they consider morally objectionable. Most people assume that, nevertheless, judges have an ethical obligation to apply the law correctly, at least in reasonably just legal systems. This is the view of most lawyers, legal scholars, and private citizens, but the arguments for it have received surprisingly little attention from philosophers.

Combing ethical theory with discussions of caselaw, Jeffrey Brand-Ballard challenges arguments for the traditional view, including arguments from the fact that judges swear oaths to uphold the law, and arguments from our duty to obey the law, among others. He then develops an alternative argument based on ways in which the rule of law promotes the good. Patterns of excessive judicial lawlessness, even when morally motivated, can damage the rule of law. Brand-Ballard explores the conditions under which individual judges are morally responsible for participating in destructive patterns of lawless judging. These arguments build upon recent theories of collective intentionality and presuppose an agent-neutral framework, rather than the agent-relative framework favored by many moral philosophers. Defying the conventional wisdom, Brand-Ballard argues that judges are not always morally obligated to apply the law correctly. Although they have an obligation not to participate in patterns of excessive judicial lawlessness, an individual departure from the law so as to avoid an unjust result is rarely a moral mistake if the rule of law is otherwise healthy.

Limits of Legality will interest philosophers, legal scholars, lawyers, and anyone concerned with the ethics of judging.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Revolutionaries"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America by Jack Rakove.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early 1770s, the men who invented America were living quiet, provincial lives in the rustic backwaters of the New World, devoted primarily to family, craft, and the private pursuit of wealth and happiness. None set out to become "revolutionary" by ambition, but when events in Boston escalated, they found themselves thrust into a crisis that moved, in a matter of months, from protest to war.

In this remarkable book, the historian Jack Rakove shows how the private lives of these men were suddenly transformed into public careers--how Washington became a strategist, Franklin a pioneering cultural diplomat, Madison a sophisticated constitutional thinker, and Hamilton a brilliant policymaker. Rakove shakes off accepted notions of these men as godlike visionaries, focusing instead on the evolution of their ideas and the crystallizing of their purpose. In Revolutionaries, we see the founders before they were fully formed leaders, as individuals whose lives were radically altered by the explosive events of the mid-1770s. They were ordinary men who became extraordinary--a transformation that finally has the literary treatment it deserves.

Spanning the two crucial decades of the country's birth, from 1773 to 1792, Revolutionaries uses little-known stories of these famous (and not so famous) men to capture--in a way no single biography ever could--the intensely creative period of the republic's founding. From the Boston Tea Party to the First Continental Congress, from Trenton to Valley Forge, from the ratification of the Constitution to the disputes that led to our two-party system, Rakove explores the competing views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society that shaped our nation.

Thoughtful, clear-minded, and persuasive, Revolutionaries is a majestic blend of narrative and intellectual history, one of those rare books that makes us think afresh about how the country came to be, and why the idea of America endures.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Hollywood Westerns and American Myth"

New from Yale University Press: Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of Howard Hawks and John Ford for Political Philosophy by Robert B. Pippin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this pathbreaking book one of America’s most distinguished philosophers brilliantly explores the status and authority of law and the nature of political allegiance through close readings of three classic Hollywood Westerns: Howard Hawks’ Red River and John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Searchers.

Robert Pippin treats these films as sophisticated mythic accounts of a key moment in American history: its “second founding,” or the western expansion. His central question concerns how these films explore classical problems in political psychology, especially how the virtues of a commercial republic gained some hold on individuals at a time when the heroic and martial virtues were so important. Westerns, Pippin shows, raise central questions about the difference between private violence and revenge and the state’s claim to a legitimate monopoly on violence, and they show how these claims come to be experienced and accepted or rejected.

Pippin’s account of the best Hollywood Westerns brings this genre into the center of the tradition of political thought, and his readings raise questions about political psychology and the political passions that have been neglected in contemporary political thought in favor of a limited concern with the question of legitimacy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"The Zodiac of Paris"

New from Princeton University Press: The Zodiac of Paris: How an Improbable Controversy over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate between Religion and Science by Jed Z. Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Dendera zodiac--an ancient bas-relief temple ceiling adorned with mysterious symbols of the stars and planets--was first discovered by the French during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, and quickly provoked a controversy between scientists and theologians. Brought to Paris in 1821 and ultimately installed in the Louvre, where it can still be seen today, the zodiac appeared to depict the nighttime sky from a time predating the Biblical creation, and therefore cast doubt on religious truth. The Zodiac of Paris tells the story of this incredible archeological find and its unlikely role in the fierce disputes over science and faith in Napoleonic and Restoration France.

The book unfolds against the turbulence of the French Revolution, Napoleon's breathtaking rise and fall, and the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne. Drawing on newspapers, journals, diaries, pamphlets, and other documentary evidence, Jed Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz show how scientists and intellectuals seized upon the zodiac to discredit Christianity, and how this drew furious responses from conservatives and sparked debates about the merits of scientific calculation as a source of knowledge about the past. The ideological battles would rage until the thoroughly antireligious Jean-Fran├žois Champollion unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs--and of the zodiac itself. Champollion would prove the religious reactionaries right, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Zodiac of Paris brings Napoleonic and Restoration France vividly to life, revealing the lengths to which scientists, intellectuals, theologians, and conservatives went to use the ancient past for modern purposes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Quest for Equality"

New from Harvard University Press: Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity by Neil Foley.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the United States championed principles of freedom and equality during World War II, it denied fundamental rights to many non-white citizens. In the wake of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor” policy with Latin America, African American and Mexican American civil rights leaders sought ways to make that policy of respect and mutual obligations apply at home as well as abroad. They argued that a whites-only democracy not only denied constitutional protection to every citizen but also threatened the war effort and FDR’s aims.

Neil Foley examines the complex interplay among regional, national, and international politics that plagued the efforts of Mexican Americans and African Americans to find common ground in ending employment discrimination in the defense industries and school segregation in the war years and beyond. Underlying differences in organizational strength, political affiliation, class position, and level of assimilation complicated efforts by Mexican and black Americans to forge strategic alliances in their fight for economic and educational equality. The prospect of interracial cooperation foundered as Mexican American civil rights leaders saw little to gain and much to lose in joining hands with African Americans.

Over a half century later, African American and Latino civil rights organizations continue to seek solutions to relevant issues, including the persistence of de facto segregation in our public schools and the widening gap in wealth and income in America. Yet they continue to grapple with the difficulty of forging solidarity across lines of cultural, class, and racial-ethnic difference, a struggle that remains central to contemporary American life.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"The Plundered Planet"

New from Oxford University Press: The Plundered Planet: Why We Must--and How We Can--Manage Nature for Global Prosperity by Paul Collier.

About the book, from the publisher:
Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion was greeted as groundbreaking when it appeared in 2007, winning the Estoril Distinguished Book Prize, the Arthur Ross Book Award, and the Lionel Gelber Prize. The Economist wrote that it was "set to become a classic," the Financial Times praised it as "rich in both analysis and recommendations," while Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times called it the "best nonfiction book so far this year."

Now, in The Plundered Planet, Collier builds upon his renowned work on developing countries and the poorest populations to confront the global mismanagement of nature. Proper stewardship of natural assets and liabilities is a matter of planetary urgency: natural resources have the potential either to transform the poorest countries or to tear them apart, while the carbon emissions and agricultural follies of the rich world could further impoverish them. The Plundered Planet charts a course between unchecked profiteering on the one hand and environmental romanticism on the other to offer realistic and sustainable solutions to dauntingly complex issues.

Grounded in a belief in the power of informed citizens, Collier proposes a series of international standards that would help poor countries rich in natural assets better manage those resources, policy changes that would raise world food supply, and a clear-headed approach to climate change that acknowledges the benefits of industrialization while addressing the need for alternatives to carbon trading. Revealing how these are all interconnected, The Plundered Planet charts a way forward to avoid the mismanagement of the natural world that threatens our future.
Visit Paul Collier's website.

Read J. Tyler Dickovick's interview with Collier about his award-winning book, The Bottom Billion.

The Page 99 Test: The Bottom Billion.

Writers Read: Paul Collier.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History"

New from Yale University Press: Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History by Ahmad Dallal.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this wide-ranging and masterful work, Ahmad Dallal examines the significance of scientific knowledge and situates the culture of science in relation to other cultural forces in Muslim societies. He traces the ways in which the realms of scientific knowledge and religious authority were delineated historically. The realization of a discrepancy between tradition and science often led to demolition and rebuilding and, most important, to questioning whether scientific knowledge should take precedence over religious authority in a matter where their realms clearly overlap.

Dallal frames his inquiry around three concerns: What cultural forces provided the conditions for debate over the primacy of religion or science? How did these debates emerge? And how were they sustained? His primary objectives are to study science in Muslim societies within its larger cultural context and to trace the epistemological distinctions between science and philosophy, on the one hand, and science and religion, on the other. He looks at religious and scientific texts and situates them in the contexts of religion, philosophy, and science. Finally, Dallal describes the relationship negotiated in the classical (medieval) period between the religious, scientific, and philosophical systems of knowledge that is central to the Islamic scientific tradition and shows how this relationship has changed radically in modern times.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Right to Ride"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson by Blair L. M. Kelley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Through a reexamination of the earliest struggles against Jim Crow, Blair Kelley exposes the fullness of African American efforts to resist the passage of segregation laws dividing trains and streetcars by race in the early Jim Crow era. Right to Ride chronicles the litigation and local organizing against segregated rails that led to the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 and the streetcar boycott movement waged in twenty-five southern cities from 1900 to 1907. Kelley tells the stories of the brave but little-known men and women who faced down the violence of lynching and urban race riots to contest segregation.

Focusing on three key cities--New Orleans, Richmond, and Savannah--Kelley explores the community organizations that bound protestors together and the divisions of class, gender, and ambition that sometimes drove them apart. The book forces a reassessment of the timelines of the black freedom struggle, revealing that a period once dismissed as the age of accommodation should in fact be characterized as part of a history of protest and resistance.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Your Britain"

New from Harvard University Press: Your Britain: Media and the Making of the Labour Party by Laura Beers.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early twentieth century, new mass media–popular newspapers, radio, film–exploded at the same time that millions of Britons received the vote in the franchise expansions of 1918 and 1928. The growing centrality of the commercial media to democratic life quickly became evident as organizations of all stripes saw its potential to reach new voters. The new media presented both an exciting opportunity and a significant challenge to the new Labour Party.

Laura Beers traces Labour’s rise as a movement for working-class men to its transformation into a national party that won a landslide victory in 1945. Key to its success was a skillful media strategy designed to win over a broad, diverse coalition of supporters. Though some in the movement harbored reservations about a socialist party making use of the “capitalist” commercial media, others advocated using the media to hammer home the message that Labour represented not only its traditional base but also women, office workers, and professionals. Labour’s national leadership played a pivotal role in the effective use of popular journalism, the BBC, and film to communicate its message to the public. In the process Labour transformed not only its own national profile but also the political process in general.

New Labour’s electoral success of the late twentieth century was due in no small part to its grasp of media communication. This insightful book reminds us that the importance of the mass media to Labour’s political fortunes is by no means a modern phenomenon.