Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Nostalgia for the Future"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War by Charles Piot.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the end of the cold war, Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new political and religious phenomena, including an eviscerated privatized state, neoliberal NGOs, Pentecostalism, a resurgence in accusations of witchcraft, a culture of scamming and fraud, and, in some countries, a nearly universal wish to emigrate. Drawing on fieldwork in Togo, Charles Piot suggests that a new biopolitics after state sovereignty is remaking the face of one of the world’s poorest regions.

In a country where playing the U.S. Department of State’s green card lottery is a national pastime and the preponderance of cybercaf├ęs and Western Union branches signals a widespread desire to connect to the rest of the world, Nostalgia for the Future makes clear that the cultural and political terrain that underlies postcolonial theory has shifted. In order to map out this new terrain, Piot enters into critical dialogue with a host of important theorists, including Agamben, Hardt and Negri, Deleuze, and Mbembe. The result is a deft interweaving of rich observations of Togolese life with profound insights into the new, globalized world in which that life takes place.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"The Gentlemen and the Roughs"

New from NYU Press: The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Violence, Honor, and Manhood in the Union Army by Lorien Foote.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Civil War, the Union army—like the society from which it sprang—appeared cohesive enough to withstand four years of grueling war against the Confederates and to claim victory in 1865. But fractiousness bubbled below the surface of the North’s presumably united front. Internal fissures were rife within the Union army: class divisions, regional antagonisms, ideological differences, and conflicting personalities all distracted the army from quelling the Southern rebellion.

In this highly original contribution to Civil War and gender history, Lorien Foote reveals that these internal battles were fought against the backdrop of manhood. Clashing ideals of manliness produced myriad conflicts when educated, refined, and wealthy officers (“gentlemen”) found themselves commanding a hard-drinking group of fighters (”roughs”)—a dynamic that often resulted in violence and even death. Challenges, fights, and duels were common. Based on extensive research into heretofore ignored primary sources—courts-martial records and regimental order books—The Gentlemen and the Roughs uncovers holes in our understanding of the men who fought the Civil War and the society that produced them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture"

New from Yale University Press: American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture by Alice T. Friedman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The sleek lines and gleaming facades of the architecture of the late 1940s and 1950s reflect a culture fascinated by the promise of the Jet Age. Buildings like Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at JFK Airport and Philip Johnson’s Four Seasons Restaurant retain a thrilling allure, seeming to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. In this work, distinguished architectural historian Alice Friedman draws on a vast range of sources to argue that the aesthetics of mid-century modern architecture reflect an increasing fascination with “glamour,” a term widely used in those years to characterize objects, people, and experiences as luxurious, expressive, and even magical.

Featuring assessments of architectural examples ranging from Mies van der Rohe’s monolithic Seagram Building to Elvis Presley’s sprawling Graceland estate, as well as vintage photographs, advertisements, and posters, this book argues that new audiences and client groups with tastes rooted in popular entertainment made their presence felt in the cultural marketplace during the postwar period. The author suggests that American and European architecture and design increasingly reflected the values of a burgeoning consumer society, including a fundamental confidence in the power of material objects to transform the identity and status of those who owned them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Lying and Deception"

New from Oxford University Press: Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice by Thomas L. Carson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Thomas Carson offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date investigation of moral and conceptual questions about lying and deception. Part I addresses conceptual questions and offers definitions of lying, deception, and related concepts such as withholding information, "keeping someone in the dark," and "half truths." Part II deals with questions in ethical theory. Carson argues that standard debates about lying and deception between act-utilitarians and their critics are inconclusive because they rest on appeals to disputed moral intuitions. He defends a version of the golden rule and a theory of moral reasoning. His theory implies that there is a moral presumption against lying and deception that causes harm -- a presumption at least as strong as that endorsed by act-utilitarianism. He uses this theory to justify his claims about the issues he addresses in Part III: deception and withholding information in sales, deception in advertising, bluffing in negotiations, the duties of professionals to inform clients, lying and deception by leaders as a pretext for fighting wars (with special attention to the case of Bush and Cheney), and lying and deception about history (with special attention to the Holocaust), and cases of distorting the historical record by telling half-truths. The book concludes with a qualified defence of the view that honesty is a virtue.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"The Most Musical Nation"

New from Yale University Press: The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire by James Loeffler.

About the book, from the publisher:
Drawing on a mass of unpublished writings and archival sources from prerevolutionary Russian conservatories, this book offers an insightful account of the Jewish search for a modern identity in Russia through music, rather than politics or religion.
Read early reviews of The Most Musical Nation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Unsettled Account"

New from Princeton University Press: Unsettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800 by Richard S. Grossman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Commercial banks are among the oldest and most familiar financial institutions. When they work well, we hardly notice; when they do not, we rail against them. What are the historical forces that have shaped the modern banking system? In Unsettled Account, Richard Grossman takes the first truly comparative look at the development of commercial banking systems over the past two centuries in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Grossman focuses on four major elements that have contributed to banking evolution: crises, bailouts, mergers, and regulations. He explores where banking crises come from and why certain banking systems are more resistant to crises than others, how governments and financial systems respond to crises, why merger movements suddenly take off, and what motivates governments to regulate banks.

Grossman reveals that many of the same components underlying the history of banking evolution are at work today. The recent subprime mortgage crisis had its origins, like many earlier banking crises, in a boom-bust economic cycle. Grossman finds that important historical elements are also at play in modern bailouts, merger movements, and regulatory reforms.
Unsettled Account is a fascinating and informative must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the modern commercial banking system came to be, where it is headed, and how its development will affect global economic growth.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"What Can You Say?"

New from Stanford University Press: What Can You Say?: America's National Conversation on Race by John Hartigan Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
We are in a transitional moment in our national conversation on race. "Despite optimistic predictions that Barack Obama's election would signal the end of race as an issue in America, the race-related news stories just keep coming. Race remains a political and polarizing issue, and the sprawling, unwieldy, and often maddening means we have developed to discuss and evaluate what counts as "racial" can be frustrating. In What Can You Say?, John Hartigan Jr. examines a watershed year of news stories, taking these events as a way to understand American culture and challenge our existing notions of what is racial—or not.

The book follows race stories that have made news headlines—including Don Imus's remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, protests in Jena, Louisiana, and Barack Obama's presidential campaign—to trace the shifting contours of mainstream U.S. public discussions of race as they incorporate new voices, words, and images. Focused on the underlying dynamics of American culture that shape this conversation, this book aims to make us more fluent in assessing the stories we consume about race.

Advancing our conversation on race hinges on recognizing and challenging the cultural conventions governing the ways we speak about and recognize race. In drawing attention to this curious cultural artifact, our national conversation on race, Hartigan ultimately offers a way to to understand race in the totality of American culture, as a constantly evolving debate. As this book demonstrates, the conversation is far from over.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"The Politics of Medicaid"

New from Columbia University Press: The Politics of Medicaid by Laura Katz Olson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1965, the United States government enacted legislation to provide low-income individuals with quality health care and related services. Initially viewed as the friendless stepchild of Medicare, Medicaid has grown exponentially since its inception, becoming a formidable force of its own. Funded jointly by the national government and each of the fifty states, the program is now the fourth most expensive item in the federal budget and the second largest category of spending for almost every state. Now, under the new, historic health care reform legislation, Medicaid is scheduled to include sixteen million more people.

Laura Katz Olson, an expert on health, aging, and long-term care policy, unravels the multifaceted and perplexing puzzle of Medicaid with respect to those who invest in and benefit from the program. Assessing the social, political, and economic dynamics that have shaped Medicaid for almost half a century, she helps readers of all backgrounds understand the entrenched and powerful interests woven into the system that have been instrumental in swelling costs and holding elected officials hostage. Addressing such fundamental questions as whether patients receive good care and whether Medicaid meets the needs of the low-income population it is supposed to serve, Olson evaluates the extent to which the program is an appropriate foundation for health care reform.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Credit Between Cultures"

New from Yale University Press: Credit Between Cultures: Farmers, Financiers, and Misunderstanding in Africa by Parker Shipton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Parker Shipton brings a variety of perspectives—cultural, economic, political, and religious-philosophical—and years of field experience to this fascinating study about people who borrow and lend in the interior of Africa. His conclusions challenge the conventional wisdom of the past half century (including perennial World Bank orthodoxy) about the need for credit among African farming people.
Read early reviews of Credit Between Cultures.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Gaming the World"

New from Princeton University Press: Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture by Andrei S. Markovits and Lars Rensmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Professional sports today have truly become a global force, a common language that anyone, regardless of their nationality, can understand. Yet sports also remain distinctly local, with regional teams and the fiercely loyal local fans that follow them. This book examines the twenty-first-century phenomenon of global sports, in which professional teams and their players have become agents of globalization while at the same time fostering deep-seated and antagonistic local allegiances and spawning new forms of cultural conflict and prejudice.

Andrei Markovits and Lars Rensmann take readers into the exciting global sports scene, showing how soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and hockey have given rise to a collective identity among millions of predominantly male fans in the United States, Europe, and around the rest of the world. They trace how these global--and globalizing--sports emerged from local pastimes in America, Britain, and Canada over the course of the twentieth century, and how regionalism continues to exert its divisive influence in new and potentially explosive ways. Markovits and Rensmann explore the complex interplay between the global and the local in sports today, demonstrating how sports have opened new avenues for dialogue and shared interest internationally even as they reinforce old antagonisms and create new ones.

Gaming the World reveals the pervasive influence of sports on our daily lives, making all of us citizens of an increasingly cosmopolitan world while affirming our local, regional, and national identities.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Brotherhood of Kings"

New from Oxford University Press: Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East by Amanda H. Podany.

About the book, from the publisher:
Amanda Podany here takes readers on a vivid tour through a thousand years of ancient Near Eastern history, from 2300 to 1300 BCE, paying particular attention to the lively interactions that took place between the great kings of the day.

Allowing them to speak in their own words, Podany reveals how these leaders and their ambassadors devised a remarkably sophisticated system of diplomacy and trade. What the kings forged, as they saw it, was a relationship of friends-brothers-across hundreds of miles. Over centuries they worked out ways for their ambassadors to travel safely to one another's capitals, they created formal rules of interaction and ways to work out disagreements, they agreed to treaties and abided by them, and their efforts had paid off with the exchange of luxury goods that each country wanted from the other. Tied to one another through peace treaties and powerful obligations, they were also often bound together as in-laws, as a result of marrying one another's daughters. These rulers had almost never met one another in person, but they felt a strong connection -- a real brotherhood -- which gradually made wars between them less common. Indeed, any one of the great powers of the time could have tried to take over the others through warfare, but diplomacy usually prevailed and provided a respite from bloodshed. Instead of fighting, the kings learned from one another, and cooperated in peace.

A remarkable account of a pivotal moment in world history -- the establishment of international diplomacy thousands of years before the United Nations -- Brotherhood of Kings offers a vibrantly written history of the region often known as the "cradle of civilization."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"The Managed Hand"

New from the University of California Press: The Managed Hand: Race, Gender, and the Body in Beauty Service Work by Miliann Kang.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two women, virtual strangers, sit hand-in-hand across a narrow table, both intent on the same thing-achieving the perfect manicure. Encounters like this occur thousands of times across the United States in nail salons increasingly owned and operated by Asian immigrants. This study looks closely for the first time at these intimate encounters, focusing on New York City, where such nail salons have become ubiquitous. Drawing from rich and compelling interviews, Miliann Kang takes us inside the nail industry, asking such questions as: Why have nail salons become so popular? Why do so many Asian women, and Korean women in particular, provide these services? Kang discovers multiple motivations for the manicure-from the pampering of white middle class women to the artistic self-expression of working class African American women to the mass consumption of body-related services. Contrary to notions of beauty service establishments as spaces for building community among women, The Managed Hand finds that while tentative and fragile solidarities can emerge across the manicure table, they generally give way to even more powerful divisions of race, class, and immigration.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"No Higher Law"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: No Higher Law: American Foreign Policy and the Western Hemisphere since 1776 by Brian Loveman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dismantling the myths of United States isolationism and exceptionalism, No Higher Law is a sweeping history and analysis of American policy toward the Western Hemisphere and Latin America from independence to the present. From the nations earliest days, argues Brian Loveman, U.S. leaders viewed and treated Latin America as a crucible in which to test foreign policy and from which to expand American global influence. Loveman demonstrates how the main doctrines and policies adopted for the Western Hemisphere were exported, with modifications, to other world regions as the United States pursued its self-defined global mission.

No Higher Law reveals the interplay of domestic politics and international circumstances that shaped key American foreign policies from U.S. independence to the first decade of the twenty-first century. This revisionist view considers the impact of slavery, racism, ethnic cleansing against Native Americans, debates on immigration, trade and tariffs, the historical growth of the military-industrial complex, and political corruption as critical dimensions of American politics and foreign policy.

Concluding with an epilogue on the Obama administration, Loveman weaves together the complex history of U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy to achieve a broader historical understanding of American expansionism, militarism, imperialism, and global ambitions as well as novel insights into the challenges facing American policymakers at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Visit Brian Loveman's website.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Continental Divide"

New from Harvard University Press: Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos by Peter E. Gordon.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the spring of 1929, Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer met for a public conversation in Davos, Switzerland. They were arguably the most important thinkers in Europe, and their exchange touched upon the most urgent questions in the history of philosophy: What is human finitude? What is objectivity? What is culture? What is truth?

Over the last eighty years the Davos encounter has acquired an allegorical significance, as if it marked an ultimate and irreparable rupture in twentieth-century Continental thought. Here, in a reconstruction at once historical and philosophical, Peter Gordon reexamines the conversation, its origins and its aftermath, resuscitating an event that has become entombed in its own mythology. Through a close and painstaking analysis, Gordon dissects the exchange itself to reveal that it was at core a philosophical disagreement over what it means to be human.

But Gordon also shows how the life and work of these two philosophers remained closely intertwined. Their disagreement can be understood only if we appreciate their common point of departure as thinkers of the German interwar crisis, an era of rebellion that touched all of the major philosophical movements of the day—life-philosophy, philosophical anthropology, neo-Kantianism, phenomenology, and existentialism. As Gordon explains, the Davos debate would continue to both inspire and provoke well after the two men had gone their separate ways. It remains, even today, a touchstone of philosophical memory.

This clear, riveting book will be of great interest not only to philosophers and to historians of philosophy but also to anyone interested in the great intellectual ferment of Europe’s interwar years.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"The Book in the Renaissance"

New from Yale University Press: The Book in the Renaissance by Andrew Pettegree.

About the book, from the publisher:
The dawn of print was a major turning point in the early modern world. It rescued ancient learning from obscurity, transformed knowledge of the natural and physical world, and brought the thrill of book ownership to the masses. But, as Andrew Pettegree reveals in this work of great historical merit, the story of the post-Gutenberg world was rather more complicated than we have often come to believe.

The Book in the Renaissance reconstructs the first 150 years of the world of print, exploring the complex web of religious, economic, and cultural concerns surrounding the printed word. From its very beginnings, the printed book had to straddle financial and religious imperatives, as well as the very different requirements and constraints of the many countries who embraced it, and, as Pettegree argues, the process was far from a runaway success. More than ideas, the success or failure of books depended upon patrons and markets, precarious strategies and the thwarting of piracy, and the ebb and flow of popular demand. Owing to his state-of-the-art and highly detailed research, Pettegree crafts an authoritative, lucid, and truly pioneering work of cultural history about a major development in the evolution of European society.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Filibustering"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Filibustering: A Political History of Obstruction in the House and Senate by Gregory Koger.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the modern Congress, one of the highest hurdles for major bills or nominations is gaining the sixty votes necessary to shut off a filibuster in the Senate. But this wasn’t always the case. Both citizens and scholars tend to think of the legislative process as a game played by the rules in which votes are the critical commodity—the side that has the most votes wins. In this comprehensive volume, Gregory Koger shows, on the contrary, that filibustering is a game with slippery rules in which legislators who think fast and try hard can triumph over superior numbers.

Filibustering explains how and why obstruction has been institutionalized in the U.S. Senate over the last fifty years, and how this transformation affects politics and policymaking. Koger also traces the lively history of filibustering in the U.S. House during the nineteenth century and measures the effects of filibustering—bills killed, compromises struck, and new issues raised by obstruction. Unparalleled in the depth of its theory and its combination of historical and political analysis, Filibustering will be the definitive study of its subject for years to come.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Right Star Rising"

New from W.W. Norton: Right Star Rising: A New Politics, 1974-1980 by Laura Kalman.

About the book, from the publisher:
An authoritative history of the right turn in American national politics during the Ford-Carter years.

On the face of it, the Ford-Carter years seem completely forgettable. They were years of weak presidential leadership and national drift. Yet, as Laura Kalman shows in this absorbing narrative history, the contours of our contemporary politics took shape during these years. This was the incubation period for a powerful movement on the right that was to triumph with Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. These years also marked the coming of age of the social movements of the 1960s, as their causes moved from the streets to the courts for mediation. Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and the scope of privacy rights had immense social and political impact. The nation experienced an energy crisis, a sharp economic downturn, and a collision with fundamentalism in Iran that set the terms for coming crises. Kalman’s navigation of this eventful political and social terrain is expert and riveting.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"The Look of Catholics"

New from the University Press of Kansas: The Look of Catholics: Portrayals in Popular Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War by Anthony Burke Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
When John Kennedy ran for president, some Americans thought a Catholic couldn’t—or shouldn’t—win the White House. Credit Bing Crosby, among others, that he did.

For much of American history, Catholics’ perceived allegiance to an international church centered in Rome excluded them from full membership in society. Now Anthony Burke Smith shows how the intersection of the mass media and the visually rich culture of Catholicism changed that Protestant perception and, in the process, changed American culture.

Smith examines depictions of and by Catholics in American popular culture during the critical period between the Great Depression and the height of the Cold War. He surveys the popular films, television, and photojournalism of the era that reimagined Catholicism as an important, even attractive, element of American life to reveal the deeply political and social meanings of the Catholic presence in popular culture.

Smith shows that Hollywood played a big part in this midcentury Catholicization of the American imagination. Leo McCarey’s Oscar-winning film Going My Way, starring the soothing (and Catholic) Bing Crosby, turned the Catholic parish into a vehicle for American dreams, while Pat O’Brien and Spencer Tracy portrayed heroic priests who championed the underclass in some of the era’s biggest hits. And even while a filmmaker like John Ford rarely focused on clerics and the Church, Smith reveals how his films gave a distinctly ethnic Catholic accent to his cinematic depictions of American community.

Smith also looks at the efforts of Henry Luce’s influential Life magazine to harness Catholicism to a postwar vision of middle-class prosperity and cultural consensus. And he considers the unexpected success of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s prime-time television show Life is Worth Living in the 1950s, which offered a Catholic message that spoke to the anxieties of Cold War audiences.

Revealing images of orthodox belief whose sharpest edges had been softened to suggest tolerance and goodwill, Smith shows how such representations overturned stereotypes of Catholics as un-American. Spanning a time when hot and cold wars challenged Americans’ traditional assumptions about national identity and purpose, his book conveys the visual style, moral confidence, and international character of Catholicism that gave it the cultural authority to represent America.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Europeanism"

New from Oxford University Press: Europeanism by John McCormick.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Europeanism the author attempts to identify and outline the political, economic, and social norms and values associated with Europe and Europeans. He argues that regardless of the doubts associated with the exercise of European integration and the work of the European Union, and regardless of residual identities with states and nations, Europeans have much in common.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Creek Paths and Federal Roads"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Creek Paths and Federal Roads: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves and the Making of the American South by Angela Pulley Hudson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Creek Paths and Federal Roads, Angela Pulley Hudson offers a new understanding of the development of the American South by examining travel within and between southeastern Indian nations and the southern states, from the founding of the United States until the forced removal of southeastern Indians in the 1830s.

During the early national period, Hudson explains, settlers and slaves made their way along Indian trading paths and federal post roads, deep into the heart of the Creek Indians' world. Hudson focuses particularly on the creation and mapping of boundaries between Creek Indian lands and the states that grew up around them; the development of roads, canals, and other internal improvements within these territories; and the ways that Indians, settlers, and slaves understood, contested, and collaborated on these boundaries and transit networks.

While she chronicles the experiences of these travelers--Native, newcomer, free, and enslaved--who encountered one another on the roads of Creek country, Hudson also places indigenous perspectives squarely at the center of southern history, shedding new light on the contingent emergence of the American South.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Pomodoro!: A History of the Tomato in Italy"

New from Columbia University Press: Pomodoro!: A History of the Tomato in Italy by David Gentilcore.

About the book, from the publisher:
More than just the beloved base ingredient of so many of our favorite dishes, the tomato has generated both profound riches and controversy in its farming, processing, exchange, and consumption. It is a crop infused with national pride and passion for those who grow it, and a symbol of Old World nostalgia for those who claim its history and legacy.

Over time, the tomato has embodied a range of values and meanings. From its domestication in Central America, it has traveled back and forth across the Atlantic, powering a story of aspiration and growth, agriculture and industry, class and identity, and global transition. In this entertaining and organic history, David Gentilcore recounts the surprising rise of the tomato from its New World origin to its Old World significance. From its inauspicious introduction into Renaissance Europe, the tomato came to dominate Italian cuisine and the food industry over the course of three centuries.

Gentilcore explores why elite and peasant cultures took so long to assimilate the tomato into Italian cooking and how it eventually triumphed. He traces the tomato's appearance in medical and agricultural treatises, travel narratives, family recipe books, kitchen accounts, and Italian art, literature, and film. He focuses on Italy's fascination with the tomato, painting a larger portrait of changing trends and habits that began with botanical practices in the sixteenth century and attitudes toward vegetables in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and concluded with the emergence of factory production in the nineteenth. Gentilcore continues with the transformation of the tomato into a national symbol during the years of Italian immigration and Fascism and examines the planetary success of the "Italian" tomato today, detailing its production, representation, and consumption.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Boundaries of Obligation in American Politics"

New from Cambridge University Press: Boundaries of Obligation in American Politics: Geographic, National, and Racial Communities by Cara J. Wong.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book shows how ordinary Americans imagine their communities and the extent to which their communities’ boundaries determine who they believe should benefit from the government’s resources via redistributive policies. By contributing extensive empirical analyses to a largely theoretical discussion, it highlights the subjective nature of communities while confronting the elusive task of pinning down ‘pictures in people’s heads’. A deeper understanding of people’s definitions of their communities and how they affect feelings of duties and obligations provides a new lens through which to look at diverse societies and the potential for both civic solidarity and humanitarian aid. This book analyzes three different types of communities and more than eight national surveys. Wong finds that the decision to help only those within certain borders and ignore the needs of those outside rests, to a certain extent, on whether and how people translate their sense of community into obligations.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The Flight of the Century"

New from Oxford University Press: The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation by Thomas Kessner.

About the book, from the publisher:
In late May 1927 an inexperienced and unassuming 25-year-old Air Mail pilot from rural Minnesota stunned the world by making the first non-stop transatlantic flight. A spectacular feat of individual daring and collective technological accomplishment, Charles Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris ushered in America's age of commercial aviation.

In The Flight of the Century, Thomas Kessner takes a fresh look at one of America's greatest moments, explaining how what was essentially a publicity stunt became a turning point in history. He vividly recreates the flight itself and the euphoric reaction to it on both sides of the Atlantic, and argues that Lindbergh's amazing feat occurred just when the world--still struggling with the disillusionment of WWI--desperately needed a hero to restore a sense of optimism and innocence. Kessner also shows how new forms of mass media made Lindbergh into the most famous international celebrity of his time, casting him in the role of a humble yet dashing American hero of rural origins and traditional values. Much has been made of Lindbergh's personal integrity and his refusal to cash in on his fame. But Kessner reveals that Lindbergh was closely allied with, and managed by, a group of powerful businessmen--Harry Guggenheim, Dwight Morrow, and Henry Breckenridge chief among them--who sought to exploit aviation for mass transport and massive profits. Their efforts paid off as commercial air traffic soared from 6,000 passengers in 1926 to 173,000 passengers in 1929. Kessner's book is the first to fully explore Lindbergh's central role in promoting the airline industry--the rise of which has influenced everything from where we live to how we wage war and do business.

The Flight of the Century sheds new light on one of America's fascinatingly enigmatic heroes and most transformative moments.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"The Kirov Murder and Soviet History"

New from Yale University Press: The Kirov Murder and Soviet History by Matthew E. Lenoe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Drawing on hundreds of newly available, top-secret KGB and party Central Committee documents, historian Matthew E. Lenoe reexamines the 1934 assassination of Leningrad party chief Sergei Kirov. Joseph Stalin used the killing as the pretext to unleash the Great Terror that decimated the Communist elite in 1937–1938; these previously unavailable documents raise new questions about whether Stalin himself ordered the murder, a subject of speculation since 1938.

The book includes translations of 125 documents from the various investigations of the Kirov murder, allowing readers to reach their own conclusions about Stalin’s involvement in the assassination.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Forgetting Children Born of War"

New from Columbia University Press: Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond by R. Charli Carpenter.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sexual violence and exploitation occur in many conflict zones, and the children born of such acts face discrimination, stigma, and infanticide. Yet the massive transnational network of organizations working to protect war-affected children has, for two decades, remained curiously silent on the needs of this vulnerable population.

Focusing specifically on the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, R. Charli Carpenter questions the framing of atrocity by human rights organizations and the limitations these narratives impose on their response. She finds that human rights groups set their agendas according to certain grievances-the claims of female rape victims or the complaints of aggrieved minorities, for example-and that these concerns can overshadow the needs of others. Incorporating her research into a host of other conflict zones, Carpenter shows that the social construction of rights claims is contingent upon the social construction of wrongs. According to Carpenter, this pathology prevents the full protection of children born of war.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Allies of the State"

New from Harvard University Press: Allies of the State: China's Private Entrepreneurs and Democratic Change by Jie Chen and Bruce J. Dickson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jie Chen and Bruce Dickson draw on extensive fieldwork as they explore the extent to which China’s private sector supports democracy, surveying more than 2,000 entrepreneurs in five coastal provinces with over 70 percent of China’s private enterprises.

The authors examine who the private entrepreneurs are, how the party-state shapes this group, and what their relationship to the state is. China’s entrepreneurs are closely tied to the state through political and financial relationships, and these ties shape their views toward democracy. While most entrepreneurs favor multi-candidate elections under the current one-party system, they do not support a system characterized by multi-party competition and political liberties, including the right to demonstrate. The key to regime support lies in the capitalists’ political beliefs and their assessment of the government’s policy performance. China’s capitalists tend to be conservative and status-quo oriented, not likely to serve as agents of democratization.

This is a valuable contribution not only to the debates over the prospects for democracy in China but also to understanding the process of democratization around the globe.

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Reputation and Power"

New from Princeton University Press: Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA by Daniel Carpenter.

About the book, from the publisher:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the most powerful regulatory agency in the world. How did the FDA become so influential? And how exactly does it wield its extraordinary power? Reputation and Power traces the history of FDA regulation of pharmaceuticals, revealing how the agency's organizational reputation has been the primary source of its power, yet also one of its ultimate constraints.

Daniel Carpenter describes how the FDA cultivated a reputation for competence and vigilance throughout the last century, and how this organizational image has enabled the agency to regulate an industry as powerful as American pharmaceuticals while resisting efforts to curb its own authority. Carpenter explains how the FDA's reputation and power have played out among committees in Congress, and with drug companies, advocacy groups, the media, research hospitals and universities, and governments in Europe and India. He shows how FDA regulatory power has influenced the way that business, medicine, and science are conducted in the United States and worldwide. Along the way, Carpenter offers new insights into the therapeutic revolution of the 1940s and 1950s; the 1980s AIDS crisis; the advent of oral contraceptives and cancer chemotherapy; the rise of antiregulatory conservatism; and the FDA's waning influence in drug regulation today.

Reputation and Power demonstrates how reputation shapes the power and behavior of government agencies, and sheds new light on how that power is used and contested.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Soccer Empire"

New from the University of California Press: Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France by Laurent Dubois.

About the book, from the publisher:
When France both hosted and won the World Cup in 1998, the face of its star player, Zinedine Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, was projected onto the Arc de Triomphe. During the 2006 World Cup finals, Zidane stunned the country by ending his spectacular career with an assault on an Italian player. In Soccer Empire, Laurent Dubois illuminates the connections between empire and sport by tracing the story of World Cup soccer, from the Cup’s French origins in the 1930s to Africa and the Caribbean and back again. As he vividly recounts the lives of two of soccer’s most electrifying players, Zidane and his outspoken teammate, Lilian Thuram, Dubois deepens our understanding of the legacies of empire that persist in Europe and brilliantly captures the power of soccer to change the nation and the world.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Belonging in an Adopted World"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Belonging in an Adopted World: Race, Identity, and Transnational Adoption by Barbara Yngvesson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the early 1990s, transnational adoptions have increased at an astonishing rate, not only in the United States, but worldwide. In Belonging in an Adopted World, Barbara Yngvesson offers a penetrating exploration of the consequences and implications of this unprecedented movement of children, usually from poor nations to the affluent West. Yngvesson illuminates how the politics of adoption policy has profoundly affected the families, nations, and children involved in this new form of social and economic migration.

Starting from the transformation of the abandoned child into an adoptable resource for nations that give and receive children in adoption, this volume examines the ramifications of such gifts, especially for families created through adoption and later, the adopted adults themselves. Bolstered by an account of the author’s own experience as an adoptive parent, and fully attuned to the contradictions of race that shape our complex forms of family, Belonging in an Adopted World explores the fictions that sustain adoptive kinship, ultimately exposing the vulnerability and contingency behind all human identity.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale"

New from Oxford University Press: Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets by Debra Satz.

About the book, from the publisher:
What's wrong with markets in everything? Markets today are widely recognized as the most efficient way in general to organize production and distribution in a complex economy. And with the collapse of communism and rise of globalization, it's no surprise that markets and the political theories supporting them have seen a considerable resurgence. For many, markets are an all-purpose remedy for the deadening effects of bureaucracy and state control. But what about those markets we might label noxious-markets in addictive drugs, say, or in sex, weapons, child labor, or human organs? Such markets arouse widespread discomfort and often revulsion.

In Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale, philosopher Debra Satz takes a penetrating look at those commodity exchanges that strike most of us as problematic. What considerations, she asks, ought to guide the debates about such markets? What is it about a market involving prostitution or the sale of kidneys that makes it morally objectionable? How is a market in weapons or pollution different than a market in soybeans or automobiles? Are laws and social policies banning the more noxious markets necessarily the best responses to them? Satz contends that categories previously used by philosophers and economists are of limited utility in addressing such questions because they have assumed markets to be homogenous. Accordingly, she offers a broader and more nuanced view of markets-one that goes beyond the usual discussions of efficiency and distributional equality--to show how markets shape our culture, foster or thwart human development, and create and support structures of power.

An accessibly written work that will engage not only philosophers but also political scientists, economists, legal scholars, and public policy experts, this book is a significant contribution to ongoing discussions about the place of markets in a democratic society.