Saturday, July 31, 2010

"City of the Ram-Man"

New from Princeton University Press: City of the Ram-Man: The Story of Ancient Mendes by Donald B. Redford.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this richly illustrated book, renowned archaeologist Donald Redford draws on the latest discoveries--including many of his own--to tell the story of the ancient Egyptian city of Mendes, home of the mysterious cult of the "fornicating ram who mounts the beauties." Excavation by Redford and his colleagues over the past two decades has cast a flood of light on this strange center of worship and political power located in the Nile Delta. A sweeping chronological account filled with photographs, drawings, and informative sidebars, City of the Ram-Man is the first history of Mendes written for general readers.

Founded in the remote prehistoric past, inhabited continuously for 5,000 years, and abandoned only in the first-century BC, Mendes is a microcosm of ancient Egyptian history. City of the Ram-Man tells the city's full story--from its founding, through its development of a great society and its brief period as the capital of Egypt, up to its final decline. Central to the story is millennia of worship dedicated to the lascivious ram-god. The book describes the discoveries of the great temple of the ram and the "Mansion of the Rams," where the embalmed bodies of the avatars of the god were buried. It also discusses ancient Greek reports that these ram-gods occasionally ritually fornicated with women.

Vividly written and informed throughout by Redford's intimate knowledge of the remains of Mendes, City of the Ram-Man is a unique account of a long-lost monument of Egyptian history, religion, and culture.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"The Ironic Defense of Socrates"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Ironic Defense of Socrates: Plato's Apology by David M. Leibowitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a controversial new interpretation of Plato’s Apology of Socrates. By paying unusually close attention to what Socrates indicates about the meaning and extent of his irony, David Leibowitz arrives at unconventional conclusions about Socrates’ teaching on virtue, politics, and the gods; the significance of his famous turn from natural philosophy to political philosophy; and the purpose of his insolent “defense speech.” Leibowitz shows that Socrates is not just a colorful and quirky figure from the distant past but an unrivaled guide to the good life – the thoughtful life – who is as relevant today as in ancient Athens. On the basis of his unconventional understanding of the dialogue as a whole, and of the Delphic oracle story in particular, Leibowitz also attempts to show that the Apology is the key to the Platonic corpus, indicating how many of the disparate themes and apparently contradictory conclusions of the other dialogues fit together.
Read an excerpt from The Ironic Defense of Socrates.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"History Lessons"

New from Princeton University Press: History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage by Beth S. Wenger.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most American Jews today will probably tell you that Judaism is inherently democratic and that Jewish and American cultures share the same core beliefs and values. But in fact, Jewish tradition and American culture did not converge seamlessly. Rather, it was American Jews themselves who consciously created this idea of an American Jewish heritage and cemented it in the popular imagination during the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. History Lessons is the first book to examine how Jews in the United States collectively wove themselves into the narratives of the nation, and came to view the American Jewish experience as a unique chapter in Jewish history.

Beth Wenger shows how American Jews celebrated civic holidays like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July in synagogues and Jewish community organizations, and how they sought to commemorate Jewish cultural contributions and patriotism, often tracing their roots to the nation's founding. She looks at Jewish children's literature used to teach lessons about American Jewish heritage and values, which portrayed--and sometimes embellished--the accomplishments of heroic figures in American Jewish history. Wenger also traces how Jews often disagreed about how properly to represent these figures, focusing on the struggle over the legacy of the Jewish Revolutionary hero Haym Salomon.

History Lessons demonstrates how American Jews fashioned a collective heritage that fused their Jewish past with their American present and future.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Books As Weapons"

New from Cornell University Press: Books As Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War II by John B. Hench.

About the book, from the publisher:
Only weeks after the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, a surprising cargo—crates of books—joined the flood of troop reinforcements, weapons and ammunition, food, and medicine onto Normandy beaches. The books were destined for French bookshops, to be followed by millions more American books (in translation but also in English) ultimately distributed throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The British were doing similar work, which was uneasily coordinated with that of the Americans within the Psychological Warfare Division of General Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, under General Eisenhower's command.

Books As Weapons tells the little-known story of the vital partnership between American book publishers and the U.S. government to put carefully selected recent books highlighting American history and values into the hands of civilians liberated from Axis forces. The government desired to use books to help "disintoxicate" the minds of these people from the Nazi and Japanese propaganda and censorship machines and to win their friendship. This objective dovetailed perfectly with U.S. publishers' ambitions to find new profits in international markets, which had been dominated by Britain, France, and Germany before their book trades were devastated by the war. Key figures on both the trade and government sides of the program considered books "the most enduring propaganda of all" and thus effective "weapons in the war of ideas," both during the war and afterward, when the Soviet Union flexed its military might and demonstrated its propaganda savvy. Seldom have books been charged with greater responsibility or imbued with more significance.

John B. Hench leavens this fully international account of the programs with fascinating vignettes set in the war rooms of Washington and London, publishers' offices throughout the world, and the jeeps in which information officers drove over bomb-rutted roads to bring the books to people who were hungering for them. Books as Weapons provides context for continuing debates about the relationship between government and private enterprise and the image of the United States abroad.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


New from Henry Holt & Company: Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century by Ruth Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
The definitive history of the infamous scandal that shook a nation and stunned the world

In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was wrongfully convicted of being a spy for Germany and imprisoned on Devil's Island. Over the following years, attempts to correct this injustice tore France apart, inflicting wounds on the society which have never fully healed.

But how did a fairly obscure miscarriage of justice come to break up families in bitterness, set off anti-Semitic riots across the French empire, and nearly trigger a coup d'état? How did a violently reactionary, obscurantist attitude become so powerful in a country that saw itself as the home of enlightenment? Why did the battle over a junior army officer occupy the foremost writers and philosophers of the age, from Émile Zola to Marcel Proust, Émile Durkheim, and many others? What drove the anti-Dreyfusards to persist in their efforts even after it became clear that much of the prosecution's evidence was faked?

Drawing upon thousands of previously unread and unconsidered sources, prizewinning historian Ruth Harris goes beyond the conventional narrative of truth loving democrats uniting against proto-fascists. Instead, she offers the first in-depth history of both sides in the Affair, showing how complex interlocking influences—tensions within the military, the clashing demands of justice and nationalism, and a tangled web of friendships and family connections—shaped both the coalition working to free Dreyfus and the formidable alliances seeking to protect the reputation of the army that had convicted him. Sweeping and engaging, Dreyfus offers a new understanding of one of the most contested and significant moments in modern history.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Fur, Fortune, and Empire"

New from W.W. Norton: Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America by Eric Jay Dolin.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the best-selling author of Leviathan comes this sweeping narrative of one of America’s most historically rich industries.

As Henry Hudson sailed up the broad river that would one day bear his name, he grew concerned that his Dutch patrons would be disappointed in his failure to find the fabled route to the Orient. What became immediately apparent, however, from the Indians clad in deer skins and “good furs” was that Hudson had discovered something just as tantalizing.

The news of Hudson’s 1609 voyage to America ignited a fierce competition to lay claim to this uncharted continent, teeming with untapped natural resources. The result was the creation of an American fur trade, which fostered economic rivalries and fueled wars among the European powers, and later between the United States and Great Britain, as North America became a battleground for colonization and imperial aspirations.

In Fur, Fortune, and Empire, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin chronicles the rise and fall of the fur trade of old, when the rallying cry was “get the furs while they last.” Beavers, sea otters, and buffalos were slaughtered, used for their precious pelts that were tailored into extravagant hats, coats, and sleigh blankets. To read Fur, Fortune, and Empire then is to understand how North America was explored, exploited, and settled, while its native Indians were alternately enriched and exploited by the trade. As Dolin demonstrates, fur, both an economic elixir and an agent of destruction, became inextricably linked to many key events in American history, including the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812, as well as to the relentless pull of Manifest Destiny and the opening of the West.

This work provides an international cast beyond the scope of any Hollywood epic, including Thomas Morton, the rabble-rouser who infuriated the Pilgrims by trading guns with the Indians; British explorer Captain James Cook, whose discovery in the Pacific Northwest helped launch America’s China trade; Thomas Jefferson who dreamed of expanding the fur trade beyond the Mississippi; America’s first multimillionaire John Jacob Astor, who built a fortune on a foundation of fur; and intrepid mountain men such as Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith, who sliced their way through an awe inspiring and unforgiving landscape, leaving behind a mythic legacy still resonates today.

Concluding with the virtual extinction of the buffalo in the late 1800s, Fur, Fortune, and Empire is an epic history that brings to vivid life three hundred years of the American experience, conclusively demonstrating that the fur trade played a seminal role in creating the nation we are today.
Visit Eric Jay Dolin's website.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Memorial Mania"

New from The University of Chicago Press: Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America by Erika Doss.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the past few decades, thousands of new memorials to executed witches, victims of terrorism, and dead astronauts, along with those that pay tribute to civil rights, organ donors, and the end of Communism have dotted the American landscape. Equally ubiquitous, though until now less the subject of serious inquiry, are temporary memorials: spontaneous offerings of flowers and candles that materialize at sites of tragic and traumatic death. In Memorial Mania, Erika Doss argues that these memorials underscore our obsession with issues of memory and history, and the urgent desire to express—and claim—those issues in visibly public contexts.

Doss shows how this desire to memorialize the past disposes itself to individual anniversaries and personal grievances, to stories of tragedy and trauma, and to the social and political agendas of diverse numbers of Americans. By offering a framework for understanding these sites, Doss engages the larger issues behind our culture of commemoration. Driven by heated struggles over identity and the politics of representation, Memorial Mania is a testament to the fevered pitch of public feelings in America today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"The Korean War: A History"

New from Modern Library: The Korean War: A History by Bruce Cumings.

About the book, from the publisher:
A bracing account of a war that lingers in our collective memory as both ambiguous and unjustly ignored

For Americans, it was a discrete conflict lasting from 1950 to 1953 that has long been overshadowed by World War II, Vietnam, and the War on Terror. But as Bruce Cumings eloquently explains, for the Asian world the Korean War was a generations-long fight that still haunts contemporary events. And in a very real way, although its true roots and repercussions continue to be either misunderstood, forgotten, or willfully ignored, it is the war that helped form modern America’s relationship to the world.

With access to new evidence and secret materials from both here and abroad, including an archive of captured North Korean documents, Cumings reveals the war as it was actually fought. He describes its start as a civil war, preordained long before the first shots were fired in June 1950 by lingering fury over Japan’s occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. Cumings then shares the neglected history of America’s post–World War II occupation of Korea, the untold stories of bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and the powerful militaries organized and equipped by America and the Soviet Union in that divided land. He tells of the United States officially entering the action on the side of the South, and exposes as never before the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides and the “oceans of napalm” dropped on the North by U.S. forces in a remarkably violent war that killed as many as four million Koreans, two thirds of whom were civilians.

In sobering detail, The Korean War chronicles a U.S. home front agitated by Joseph McCarthy, where absolutist conformity discouraged open inquiry and citizen dissent. Cumings incisively ties our current foreign policy back to Korea: an America with hundreds of permanent military bases abroad, a large standing army, and a permanent national security state at home, the ultimate result of a judicious and limited policy of containment evolving into an ongoing and seemingly endless global crusade.

Elegantly written and blisteringly honest, The Korean War is, like the war it illuminates, brief, devastating, and essential.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"The Road to Evergreen"

New from Cornell University Press: The Road to Evergreen: Adoption, Attachment Therapy, and the Promise of Family by Rachael Stryker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a psychiatric condition affecting children that is characterized by inappropriate and sometimes disturbing ways of relating socially to others, including parents. Relatively rare, RAD is thought to arise from a failure to form close attachments to primary caregivers in early childhood due to abrupt or prolonged separation, neglect, or abuse. In the United States, the incidence of RAD increased in the 1990s as Americans began to adopt an unprecedented number of formerly institutionalized children from orphanages abroad and from within American child welfare systems. To help resolve the extreme behavioral problems exhibited by their children, many adoptive parents are now turning to a controversial but popular treatment: attachment therapy. In The Road to Evergreen, Rachael Stryker provides an in-depth exploration of the theory, implementation, and culture of attachment therapy as it is practiced in Evergreen, Colorado, the center of RAD treatment in the United States.

To understand RAD and the Evergreen model, Stryker conducted interviews with client families at an attachment clinic in Evergreen, other American adoptive families, participants in the Denver foster care system, and personnel at international adoption agencies and orphanages. At the center of Stryker's analysis is the disjuncture between the ideal of family life and the reality of caring for formerly institutionalized children. American parents who have pledged to offer unconditional love are at a loss when children offer indifference, hostility, destructiveness, or outright violence in return. Stryker demonstrates that the Evergreen model, with its goal of emotionally rehabilitating adoptees to prevent their eventual exile from families, is an important component of a cultural logic for preserving adoptive family in the United States. However, the therapy does not always deliver the promised happy ending. Stryker's clear and balanced account of attachment therapy will be useful in informing and reforming both adoption practice and pediatric psychology.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"The Enlightenment of Sympathy"

New from Oxford University Press: The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today by Michael L. Frazer.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Enlightenment is commonly referred to as 'The Age of Reason.' The term signifies the triumph of rationalism over emotionalism and sentiment in the late eighteenth century. Rationalists, the most famous of whom was Kant, posited a mind that was hierarchically arranged, with reason sitting atop of the passions. Yet as Michael Frazer argues, there were in fact two enlightenments--the sentimentalist enlightenment and the rationalist one--and The Enlightenment of Sympathy reclaims the importance of the former. As he explains, enlightened sentimentalism encompassed more than 'mere feeling' (as its critics claimed) and in fact harnessed the human mind in full to offer a positive account of the sentiments' centrality to moral and political reflection. Rather than treating the mind as a hierarchy, sentimentalists offered a more egalitarian theory of it. The mind, in their view, was integrated, and its various compartments were equals. Many of the most famous Enlightenment thinkers can rightly be called sentimentalists--Hume, Smith, and Herder, to name a few--yet the rationalist vision of politics has proven to be more influential. In fact, the most important political philosopher of liberalism of the past half century, John Rawls, relied on the rationalist enlightenment for his most important work. By reclaiming this equally important strand of enlightenment thought, Frazer not only offers a corrective to the dominant narrative of the Enlightenment political thought. His argument will also enrich contemporary political theory by integrating a more behaviorally-oriented and psychologically complex account of the mind into the corpus of liberal philosophy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Reforming the World"

New from Princeton University Press: Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire by Ian Tyrrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reforming the World offers a sophisticated account of how and why, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American missionaries and moral reformers undertook work abroad at an unprecedented rate and scale. Looking at various organizations such as the Young Men's Christian Association and the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Ian Tyrrell describes the influence that the export of American values had back home, and explores the methods and networks used by reformers to fashion a global and nonterritorial empire. He follows the transnational American response to internal pressures, the European colonies, and dynamic changes in global society.

Examining the cultural context of American expansionism from the 1870s to the 1920s, Tyrrell provides a new interpretation of Christian and evangelical missionary work, and he addresses America's use of "soft power." He describes evangelical reform's influence on American colonial and diplomatic policy, emphasizes the limits of that impact, and documents the often idiosyncratic personal histories, aspirations, and cultural heritage of moral reformers such as Margaret and Mary Leitch, Louis Klopsch, Clara Barton, and Ida Wells. The book illustrates that moral reform influenced the United States as much as it did the colonial and quasi-colonial peoples Americans came in contact with, and shaped the architecture of American dealings with the larger world of empires through to the era of Woodrow Wilson.

Investigating the wide-reaching and diverse influence of evangelical reform movements, Reforming the World establishes how transnational organizing played a vital role in America's political and economic expansion.
Visit Ian Tyrrell's website.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Transcendence: On Self-Determination and Cosmopolitanism"

New from Stanford University Press: Transcendence: On Self-Determination and Cosmopolitanism by Mitchell Aboulafia.

About the book, from the publisher:
Notions of self-determination are central to modern politics, yet the relationship between the self-determination of individuals and peoples has not been adequately addressed, nor adequately allied to cosmopolitanism. Transcendence seeks to rectify this by offering an original theory of self and society. It highlights overlooked affinities between existentialism and pragmatism and compares figures central to these traditions. The book's guiding thread is a unique model of the social development of the self that is indebted to the pragmatist George Herbert Mead. Drawing on the work of thinkers from both sides of the Atlantic—Hegel, William James, Dewey, Du Bois, Sartre, Marcuse, Bourdieu, Rorty, Neil Gross, and Jean-Baker Miller—and according supporting roles to Adam Smith, Habermas, Herder, Charles Taylor, and de Beauvoir, Aboulafia combines European and American traditions of self-determination and cosmopolitanism in a new and persuasive way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Security and the Environment"

New from Cambridge University Press: Security and the Environment: Securitisation Theory and US Environmental Security Policy by Rita Floyd.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1993 the first Clinton administration declared environmental security a national security issue, but by the end of the Bush administrations environmental security had vanished from the government's agenda. This book uses changing US environmental security policy to propose a revised securitisation theory, one that both allows insights into the intentions of key actors and enables moral evaluations in the environmental sector of security. Security and the Environment brings together the subject of environmental security and the Copenhagen School’s securitisation theory. Drawing on original interviews with former key players in United States environmental security, Rita Floyd makes a significant and original contribution to environmental security studies and security studies more generally. This book will be of interest to international relations scholars and political practitioners concerned with security, as well as students of international environmental politics and US policy-making.
Read an excerpt from Security and the Environment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Reforming Urban Labor"

New from Cornell University Press: Reforming Urban Labor: Routes to the City, Roots in the Country by Janet L. Polasky.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reforming Urban Labor is a history of the nineteenth-century social reforms designed by middle-class progressives to domesticate the labor force. Industrial production required a concentrated labor force, but the swelling masses of workers in the capitals of Britain and Belgium, the industrial powerhouses of Europe, threatened urban order. At night, after factories had closed, workers and their families sheltered in the shadowy alleyways of Brussels and London. Reformers worked to alleviate the danger, dispersing the laborers and their families throughout the suburbs and the countryside. National governments subsidized rural housing construction and regulated workmen's trains to transport laborers nightly away from their urban work sites and to bring them back again in the mornings; municipalities built housing in the suburbs. On both sides of the Channel, respectable working families were removed from the rookeries and isolated from the marginally employed, planted out beyond the cities where they could live like, but not with, the middle classes.

In Janet L. Polasky's urban history, comparisons of the two capitals are interwoven in the context of industrial Europe as a whole. Reforming Urban Labor sets urban planning against the backdrop of idealized rural images, links transportation and housing reform, investigates the relationship of middle-class reformers with industrial workers and their families, and explores the cooperation as well as the competition between government and the private sector in the struggle to control the built environment and its labor force.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Playing Our Game"

New from Oxford University Press: Playing Our Game: Why China's Rise Doesn't Threaten the West by Edward S. Steinfeld.

About the book, from the publisher:
Conventional wisdom holds that China's burgeoning economic power has reduced the United States to little more than a customer and borrower of Beijing. The rise of China, many feel, necessarily means the decline of the West--the United States in particular.

Not so, writes Edward Steinfeld. If anything, China's economic emergence is good for America. In this fascinating new book, Steinfeld asserts that China's growth is fortifying American commercial supremacy, because (as the title says) China is playing our game. By seeking to realize its dream of modernization by integrating itself into the Western economic order, China is playing by our rules, reinforcing the dominance of our companies and regulatory institutions. The impact of the outside world has been largely beneficial to China's development, but also enormously disruptive. China has in many ways handed over--outsourced--the remaking of its domestic economy and domestic institutions to foreign companies and foreign rule-making authorities. For Chinese companies now, participation in global production also means obedience to foreign rules. At the same time, even as these companies assemble products for export to the West, the most valuable components for those products come from the West. America's share of global manufacturing, by value, has actually increased since 1990. Within China, the R&D centers established by Western companies attract the country's best scientists and engineers, and harness that talent to global, rather than indigenous Chinese, innovation efforts. In many ways, both Chinese and American society are benefiting as a result. That said, the pressures on China are intense. China is modeling its economy on the United States, with vast consequences in a country with a small fraction of America's per-capita income and scarcely any social safety net. Walmartization is not something that Asian manufacturing power is doing to us; rather, it is how we are transforming China.

From outsourcing to energy, Steinfeld overturns the conventional wisdom in this incisive and richly researched account.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Heavenly Merchandize"

New from Princeton University Press: Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America by Mark Valeri.

About the book, from the publisher:
Heavenly Merchandize offers a critical reexamination of religion's role in the creation of a market economy in early America. Focusing on the economic culture of New England, it views commerce through the eyes of four generations of Boston merchants, drawing upon their personal letters, diaries, business records, and sermon notes to reveal how merchants built a modern form of exchange out of profound transitions in the puritan understanding of discipline, providence, and the meaning of New England.

Mark Valeri traces the careers of men like Robert Keayne, a London immigrant punished by his church for aggressive business practices; John Hull, a silversmith-turned-trader who helped to establish commercial networks in the West Indies; and Hugh Hall, one of New England's first slave traders. He explores how Boston ministers reconstituted their moral languages over the course of a century, from a scriptural discourse against many market practices to a providential worldview that justified England's commercial hegemony and legitimated the market as a divine construct. Valeri moves beyond simplistic readings that reduce commercial activity to secular mind-sets, and refutes the popular notion of an inherent affinity between puritanism and capitalism. He shows how changing ideas about what it meant to be pious and puritan informed the business practices of Boston's merchants, who filled their private notebooks with meditations on scripture and the natural order, founded and led churches, and inscribed spiritual reflections in their letters and diaries.

Unprecedented in scope and rich with insights, Heavenly Merchandize illuminates the history behind the continuing American dilemma over morality and the marketplace.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"In and Out of the Marital Bed"

New from Yale University Press: In and Out of the Marital Bed: Seeing Sex in Renaissance Europe by Diane Wolfthal.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book explores images whose sexual content has all too often been either ignored or denied. Each chapter is devoted to a place that artists associated with sexual activity or desire: the bed, the dressing area of the home, the window and doorway, the bath, and the street. By examining both canonical works, such as Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait and Petrus Christus’ Goldsmith’s Shop and long-neglected objects, such as combs, badges, and bathhouse murals, and by investigating a wide range of sexualities—same-sex desire, adultery, marriage, courtship, and prostitution—Wolfthal demonstrates how illicit forms of sexuality were linked to the “chaste sexuality” of marriage.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century"

New from Cambridge University Press: Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century by Stephen J. Rockwell.

About the book, from the publisher:

The framers of the Constitution and the generations that followed built a powerful and intrusive national administrative state in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The romantic myth of an individualized, pioneering expansion across an open West obscures nationally coordinated administrative and regulatory activity in Indian affairs, land policy, trade policy, infrastructure development, and a host of other issue areas related to expansion. Stephen J. Rockwell offers a careful look at the administration of Indian affairs and its relation to other national policies managing and shaping national expansion westward. Throughout the nineteenth century, Indian affairs were at the center of concerns about national politics, the national economy, and national social issues. Rockwell describes how a vibrant and complicated national administrative state operated from the earliest days of the republic, long before the Progressive era and the New Deal.
Read an excerpt from Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions"

New from NYU Press: Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions by David L. Weddle.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite the dominance of scientific explanation in the modern world, at the beginning of the twenty-first century faith in miracles remains strong, particularly in resurgent forms of traditional religion. In Miracles, David L. Weddle examines how five religious traditions—Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam—understand miracles, considering how they express popular enthusiasm for wondrous tales, how they provoke official regulation because of their potential to disrupt authority, and how they are denied by critics within each tradition who regard belief in miracles as an illusory distraction from moral responsibility.

In dynamic and accessible prose, Weddle shows us what miracles are, what they mean, and why, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, they are still significant today: belief in miracles sustains the hope that, if there is a reality that surpasses our ordinary lives, it is capable of exercising—from time to time—creative, liberating, enlightening, and healing power in our world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"The Breakup 2.0"

New from Cornell University Press: The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media by Ilana Gershon.

About the book, from the publisher:
A few generations ago, college students showed their romantic commitments by exchanging special objects: rings, pins, varsity letter jackets. Pins and rings were handy, telling everyone in local communities that you were spoken for, and when you broke up, the absence of a ring let everyone know you were available again. Is being Facebook official really more complicated, or are status updates just a new version of these old tokens?

Many people are now fascinated by how new media has affected the intricacies of relationships and their dissolution. People often talk about Facebook and Twitter as platforms that have led to a seismic shift in transparency and (over)sharing. What are the new rules for breaking up? These rules are argued over and mocked in venues from the New York Times to, but well-thought-out and informed considerations of the topic are rare.

Ilana Gershon was intrigued by the degree to which her students used new media to communicate important romantic information—such as “it’s over.” She decided to get to the bottom of the matter by interviewing seventy-two people about how they use Skype, texting, voice mail, instant messaging, Facebook, and cream stationery to end relationships. She opens up the world of romance as it is conducted in a digital milieu, offering insights into the ways in which different media influence behavior, beliefs, and social mores. Above all, this full-fledged ethnography of Facebook and other new tools is about technology and communication, but it also tells the reader a great deal about what college students expect from each other when breaking up—and from their friends who are the spectators or witnesses to the ebb and flow of their relationships. The Breakup 2.0 is accessible and riveting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"The Grand Design"

New from Oxford University Press: The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War by Donald Stoker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Of the tens of thousands of books exploring virtually every aspect of the Civil War, surprisingly little has been said about what was in fact the determining factor in the outcome of the conflict: differences in Union and Southern strategy.

In The Grand Design, Donald Stoker provides a comprehensive and often surprising account of strategy as it evolved between Fort Sumter and Appomattox. Reminding us that strategy is different from tactics (battlefield deployments) and operations (campaigns conducted in pursuit of a strategy), Stoker examines how Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis identified their political goals and worked with their generals to craft the military means to achieve them--or how they often failed to do so. Stoker shows that Davis, despite a West Point education and experience as Secretary of War, failed as a strategist by losing control of the political side of the war. His invasion of Kentucky was a turning point that shifted the loyalties and vast resources of the border states to the Union. Lincoln, in contrast, evolved a clear strategic vision, but he failed for years to make his generals implement it. At the level of generalship, Stoker notes that Robert E. Lee correctly determined the Union's center of gravity, but proved mistaken in his assessment of how to destroy it. Stoker also presents evidence that the Union could have won the war in 1862, had it followed the grand plan of the much-derided general, George B. McClellan.

Arguing that the North's advantages in population and industry did not ensure certain victory, Stoker reasserts the centrality of the overarching military ideas--the strategy--on each side, showing how strategy determined the war's outcome.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Taiwan's Buddhist Nuns"

New from SUNY Press: Taiwan's Buddhist Nuns by Elise Anne DeVido.

About the book, from the publisher:
Explores the milieu of Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, who have the greatest numbers in the Buddhist world and a prominent place in their own country.

Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns are as unique as they are noteworthy. Boasting the greatest number of Buddhist nuns of any country, Taiwan has a much larger number of nuns than monks. These women are well known and well regarded as dharma teachers and for the social service work that has made them a central part of Taiwan’s civil society. In this, the first English-language book exclusively devoted to the subject of Taiwanese women and Buddhism, Elise Anne DeVido introduces readers to Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, but also looks at the larger question of how Taiwan’s Buddhism shapes and is shaped by women—mainly nuns but also laywomen, who, like their clerical sisters, flourish in that country. Providing a historical overview of Buddhist women in China and Taiwan, DeVido discusses various reasons for the vibrancy of Taiwan’s nuns’ orders. She introduces us to the nuns of the Buddhist Compassion–Relief Foundation (Ciji), as well as those of the Luminary Buddhist Institute. Discussing “Buddhism for the Human Realm,” DeVido asks whether this popular philosophy has encouraged and supported the singular strength of Taiwan’s Buddhist women.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Reds, Whites, and Blues"

New from Princeton University Press: Reds, Whites, and Blues: Social Movements, Folk Music, and Race in the United States by William G. Roy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Music, and folk music in particular, is often embraced as a form of political expression, a vehicle for bridging or reinforcing social boundaries, and a valuable tool for movements reconfiguring the social landscape. Reds, Whites, and Blues examines the political force of folk music, not through the meaning of its lyrics, but through the concrete social activities that make up movements. Drawing from rich archival material, William Roy shows that the People's Songs movement of the 1930s and 40s, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s implemented folk music's social relationships--specifically between those who sang and those who listened--in different ways, achieving different outcomes.

Roy explores how the People's Songsters envisioned uniting people in song, but made little headway beyond leftist activists. In contrast, the Civil Rights Movement successfully integrated music into collective action, and used music on the picket lines, at sit-ins, on freedom rides, and in jails. Roy considers how the movement's Freedom Songs never gained commercial success, yet contributed to the wider achievements of the Civil Rights struggle. Roy also traces the history of folk music, revealing the complex debates surrounding who or what qualified as "folk" and how the music's status as racially inclusive was not always a given.

Examining folk music's galvanizing and unifying power, Reds, Whites, and Blues casts new light on the relationship between cultural forms and social activity.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri's Civil War"

New from Yale University Press: Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri's Civil War, 1861-1865 by Mark W. Geiger.

About the book, from the publisher:
This highly original work explores a previously unknown financial conspiracy at the start of the American Civil War. The book explains the reasons for the puzzling intensity of Missouri’s guerrilla conflict, and for the state’s anomalous experience in Reconstruction. In the broader history of the war, the book reveals for the first time the nature of military mobilization in the antebellum United States.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"War No More"

New from LSU Press: War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914 by Cynthia Wachtell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Until now, scholars have portrayed America’s antiwar literature as an outgrowth of World War I, manifested in the works of writers such as Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. But in War No More, Cynthia Wachtell corrects the record by tracing the steady and inexorable rise of antiwar writing in American literature from the Civil War to the eve of World War I.

Beginning with an examination of three very different renderings of the chaotic Battle of Chickamauga—a diary entry by a northern infantry officer, a poem romanticizing war authored by a young southerner a few months later, and a gruesome story penned by the veteran Ambrose Bierce, Wachtell traces the gradual shift in the late nineteenth century away from highly idealized depictions of the Civil War. Even as the war was under way, she shows, certain writers—including Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, John William De Forest, and Nathaniel Hawthorne—quietly questioned the meaning and morality of the conflict.

As Wachtell demonstrates, antiwar writing made steady gains in public acceptance and popularity in the final years of the nineteenth century and the opening years of the twentieth, especially during the Spanish-American War and the war in the Philippines. While much of the era’s war writing continued the long tradition of glorifying battle, works by Bierce, Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, William James, and others increasingly presented war as immoral and the modernization and mechanization of combat as something to be deeply feared. Wachtell also explores, through the works of Theodore Roosevelt and others, the resistance that the antiwar impulse met.

Drawing upon a wide range of published and unpublished sources, including letters, diaries, essays, poems, short stories, novels, memoirs, speeches, magazine and newspaper articles, and religious tracts, Wachtell makes strikingly clear that pacifism had never been more popular than in the years preceding World War I. War No More concludes by charting the development of antiwar literature from World War I to the present, thus offering the first comprehensive overview of one hundred and fifty years of American antiwar writing.
Visit the War No More website.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"New Powers"

New from Columbia University Press: New Powers: How to Become One and How to Manage Them by Amrita Narlikar.

About the book, from the publisher:
Being new is never easy, especially in the anarchic world of international politics. New powers such as Brazil, China, and India have navigated difficult terrain as they negotiate their way to the top, signaling a sufficient level of conformity to diffuse tensions and avoid preemptive reprisals. Yet habitually conciliatory diplomacy can cast an emerging state as a lightweight or a pushover. Effective bargaining is therefore the key to balancing these extremes.

Established powers also need straightforward solutions to pressing dilemmas. If the aims of a new power are limited, then engagement is a worthwhile enterprise. If its aims are radically revisionist or revolutionary, then established powers may have to contain it. Assessing the intentions of new powers and responding appropriately is crucial for the maintenance of international peace. In this enlightening study, Amrita Narlikar pinpoints successful negotiating strategies for rising powers. Focusing on three of the most important candidates now vying for international recognition—Brazil, China, and India—she underscores the commonalities in their diplomatic efforts and isolates the striking differences. Her study aids both emerging players and established countries struggling to reconcile evolving balances of power.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Screening Enlightenment"

New from Cornell University Press: Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan by Hiroshi Kitamura.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the six-and-a-half-year occupation of Japan (1945–1952), U.S. film studios—in close coordination with Douglas MacArthur's Supreme Command for the Allied Powers—launched an ambitious campaign to extend their power and influence in a historically rich but challenging film market. In this far-reaching "enlightenment campaign," Hollywood studios disseminated more than six hundred films to theaters, earned significant profits, and showcased the American way of life as a political, social, and cultural model for the war-shattered Japanese population. In Screening Enlightenment, Hiroshi Kitamura shows how this expansive attempt at cultural globalization helped transform Japan into one of Hollywood's key markets. He also demonstrates the prominent role American cinema played in the "reeducation" and "reorientation" of the Japanese on behalf of the U.S. government.

According to Kitamura, Hollywood achieved widespread results by turning to the support of U.S. government and military authorities, which offered privileged deals to American movies while rigorously controlling Japanese and other cinematic products. The presentation of American ideas and values as an emblem of culture, democracy, and sophistication also allowed the U.S. film industry to expand. However, the studios' efforts would not have been nearly as extensive without the Japanese intermediaries and consumers who interestingly served as the program's best publicists. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from studio memos and official documents of the occupation to publicity materials and Japanese fan magazines, Kitamura shows how many Japanese supported Hollywood and became active agents of Americanization. A truly interdisciplinary book that combines U.S. diplomatic and cultural history, film and media studies, and modern Japanese history, Screening Enlightenment offers new insights into the origins of this unique political and cultural transpacific relationship.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"Neoliberal Frontiers"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Neoliberal Frontiers: An Ethnography of Sovereignty in West Africa by Brenda Chalfin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Neoliberal Frontiers, Brenda Chalfin presents an ethnographic examination of the day-to-day practices of the officials of Ghana’s Customs Service, exploring the impact of neoliberal restructuring and integration into the global economy on Ghanaian sovereignty. From the revealing vantage point of the Customs office, Chalfin discovers a fascinating inversion of our assumptions about neoliberal transformation: bureaucrats and local functionaries, government offices, checkpoints, and registries are typically held to be the targets of reform, but Chalfin finds that these figures and sites of authority act as the engine for changes in state sovereignty. Ghana has served as a model of reform for the neoliberal establishment, making it an ideal site for Chalfin to explore why the restructuring of a state on the global periphery portends shifts that occur in all corners of the world. At once a foray into international political economy, politics, and political anthropology, Neoliberal Frontiers is an innovative interdisciplinary leap forward for ethnographic writing, as well as an eloquent addition to the literature on postcolonial Africa.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Pragmatic Neuroethics"

New from The MIT Press: Pragmatic Neuroethics: Improving Treatment and Understanding of the Mind-Brain by Eric Racine.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today the measurable health burden of neurological and mental health disorders matches or even surpasses any other cluster of health conditions. At the same time, the clinical applications of recent advances in neuroscience are hardly straightforward. In Pragmatic Neuroethics, Eric Racine argues that the emerging field of neuroethics offers a way to integrate such specialties as neurology, psychiatry, and neurosurgery with the humanities and social sciences, neuroscience research, and related healthcare professions, with the goal of tackling key ethical challenges and improving patient care. Racine provides a survey of the often diverging perspectives within neuroethics, offers a theoretical framework supported by empirical data, and discusses the neuroethical implications of such issues as media coverage of neuroscience innovation and the importance of public concerns and lay opinion; nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals for performance enhancement; and the discord between intuitive notions about consciousness and behavior and the scientific understanding of them.

Racine proposes a pragmatic neuroethics that combines pluralistic approaches, bottom-up research perspectives, and a focus on practical issues (in contrast to other more theoretical and single-discipline approaches to the field). He discusses ethical issues related to powerful neuroscienctific insights into the mechanisms underlying moral reasoning, cooperative behavior, and such emotional processes as empathy. In addition, he outlines a pragmatic framework for neuroethics, based on the philosophy of emergentism, which identifies conditions for the meaningful contribution of neuroscience to ethics, and sketches new directions and strategies for meeting future challenges for neuroscience and society.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"A New Science"

New from Harvard University Press: A New Science: The Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason by Guy G. Stroumsa.

About the book, from the publisher:
We see the word “religion” everywhere, yet do we understand what it means, and is there a consistent worldwide understanding? Who discovered religion and in what context? In A New Science, Guy Stroumsa offers an innovative and powerful argument that the comparative study of religion finds its origin in early modern Europe. The world in which this new category emerged was marked by three major historical and intellectual phenomena: the rise of European empires, that gave birth to ethnological curiosity; the Reformation, which permanently altered Christianity; and the invention of philology, a discipline that transformed Western intellectual thought. Against this complex historical backdrop, Stroumsa guides us through the lives and writings of the men who came to define the word “religion.” As Stroumsa boldly argues, the modern study of religion, a new science, was made possible through a dialectical process between Catholic and Protestant scholars. Ancient Israelite religion, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Manichaeanism, Zoroastrianism, the sacred beliefs of the New World, and those of Greece, Rome, India, and China, composed the complex ground upon which “religion,” a most modern category, was discovered.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"John Brown's War against Slavery"

New from Cambridge University Press: John Brown's War against Slavery by Robert E. McGlone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Drawing on both new and neglected evidence, this book reconstructs Old John Brown’s aborted “war” to free the 3.8 million slaves in the American South before the Civil War. It critiques misleading sources that either exalt Brown’s “heroism” and noble purpose or condemn his “monomania” and “lawlessness”. McGlone explains the sources of his obsession with slavery and his notorious crime at Pottawatomie Creek in “Bleeding Kansas” as well as how the Harpers Ferry raid figured into Brown’s larger vision and why he was captured in the federal armory there. John Brown’s War Against Slavery chronicles how this aged American apostle of violence in behalf of the “downtrodden,” this abolitionist “fanatic” and “terroriser,” ultimately rescued his cause by going to the gallows with resolution and outward calm. By embracing martyrdom, John Brown helped to spread panic in the South and persuaded northern sympathizers that failure can be noble and political violence “righteous.”