Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis"

New from Oxford University Press: Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis by Paul W. Glimcher.

About the book, from the publisher:
A new academic field, neuroeconomics, has emerged at the border of the social and natural sciences. In Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis, Paul Glimcher argues that a meaningful interdisciplinary synthesis of the study of human and animal choice is not only desirable, but also well underway, and so it is time to formally develop a foundational approach for the field. He does so by laying the philosophical and empirical groundwork and integrating the theory of choice and valuation with the relevant physical constraints and mechanisms.

While there has been an intense debate about the value and prospects of neuroeconomics, Glimcher argues that existing data from neuroeconomics' three parent fields, neuroscience, psychology and economics, already specify the basic features of the primate choice mechanism at all three levels of analysis. His central argument is that combining these three disciplines gives us enough insight to define many of the fundamental features of decision making that have previously eluded scholars working within each individual field.

With this in mind, Glimcher provides a comprehensive overview of the neuroscience, psychology, and economics of choice behavior, which will help readers from many disciplines to grasp the rich interconnections between these fields and see how their data and theory can interact to produce new insights, constraints, and questions. The book is divided into four main sections that address key barriers to interdisciplinary cohesion. The first section defines the central philosophical issues that neuroeconomics must engage. The theory of knowledge already tells us much about how different disciplines interact, and in this section, Glimcher reviews those constraints and lays a philosophical foundation for future neuroeconomic discourse. This section concludes with both a defense of neoclassical economics and a spirited attack on Milton Friedman's insistence that economics must not be constrained by the study of mechanism. Glimcher argues instead for the development of "hard-economic theories", which postulate that choosers behave the way they do because of the underlying representations that occur in their brains.

The second section describes what is known about the primate choice mechanism-the physical structures in our brains that actively select among the options available to the chooser. By reviewing and integrating economic theory of choice, neurobiological studies of the frontal and parietal cortices, and psychological models of selection, Glimcher creates an interdisciplinary structure for understanding how we choose. This interdisciplinary synthesis leads to several novel insights into the causes of human irrational behavior and recasts many of these so-called irrationalities as neurobiological optimizations in the face of physical constraints.

The third section describes the neural circuits for valuation-the physical mechanisms by which we learn, store, and represent the values of the many options from which we choose. In this section, Glimcher combines studies from computer science and neuroscience with representational frameworks from economics to provide novel assessments of both the strengths and weaknesses of modern economic theory. The section ends with a discussion of behavioral neuroeconomics and the ultimate limits of the neoclassical economic program.

The book concludes with a description of a new model for human choice behavior that harvests constraints from each of neuroeconomics' parent disciplines and encapsulates the key insights from current research, as well as a review of the major accomplishments and opportunities that await the new field of neuroeconomics.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"The Wars of the Roses"

New from Yale University Press: The Wars of the Roses by Michael Hicks.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Wars of the Roses (1455–85) were a major turning point in English history. But the underlying causes for the successive upheavals have been hotly contested by historians ever since. In this original and stimulating new synthesis, distinguished historian Michael Hicks examines the difficult economic, military, and financial crises and explains, for the first time, the real reasons why the Wars of the Roses began, why they kept recurring, and why, eventually, they ceased. Alongside fresh assessments of key personalities, Hicks sheds new light on the significance of the involvement of the people in politics, the intervention of foreign powers in English affairs, and a fifteenth-century credit crunch. Combining a meticulous dissection of competing dynamics with a clear account of the course of events, this is a definitive and indispensable history of a compelling, complex period.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Desert Kingdom"

New from Harvard University Press: Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia by Toby Craig Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
Oil and water, and the science and technology used to harness them, have long been at the heart of political authority in Saudi Arabia. Oil’s abundance, and the fantastic wealth it generated, has been a keystone in the political primacy of the kingdom’s ruling family. The other bedrock element was water, whose importance was measured by its dearth. Over much of the twentieth century, it was through efforts to control and manage oil and water that the modern state of Saudi Arabia emerged.

The central government’s power over water, space, and people expanded steadily over time, enabled by increasing oil revenues. The operations of the Arabian American Oil Company proved critical to expansion and to achieving power over the environment. Political authority in Saudi Arabia took shape through global networks of oil, science, and expertise. And, where oil and water were central to the forging of Saudi authoritarianism, they were also instrumental in shaping politics on the ground. Nowhere was the impact more profound than in the oil-rich Eastern Province, where the politics of oil and water led to a yearning for national belonging and to calls for revolution.

Saudi Arabia is traditionally viewed through the lenses of Islam, tribe, and the economics of oil. Desert Kingdom now provides an alternative history of environmental power and the making of the modern Saudi state. It demonstrates how vital the exploitation of nature and the roles of science and global experts were to the consolidation of political authority in the desert.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"The Curse of Berlin"

New from Columbia University Press: The Curse of Berlin: Africa After the Cold War by Adekeye Adebajo.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the 1884-1885 Conference of Berlin, a collection of states, mostly European, established the rules for the partition of Africa. The consequences of their decision had immense historical and structural implications apparent in the domestic and international behavior of the continent today. The "Curse," as the conference came to be called, is the grounding theme of Adekeye Adebajo's trenchant study, though his guiding focus is the development of Africa after the Cold War.

Adebajo opens with Africa's quest for security, featuring essays on the continent's political institutions, such as the African Union and subregional bodies. He follows with chapters on the United Nations and its operations in Africa, particularly its political, peacekeeping, and socioeconomic missions. Adebajo includes two rare profiles of the secretary generals who worked with the UN from 1992 to 2006: Egypt's Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Ghana's Kofi Annan. Africa's pursuit of representative leadership informs the next section, with essays examining the hegemonic influence of South Africa, Nigeria, China, France, and the United States. Concluding chapters discuss Africa's search for unity, exploring the direct and indirect impact of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Kwame Nkrumah, Cecil Rhodes, Barack Obama, and Mahatma Gandhi. Adebajo also conducts a comparative assessment of the African and European Unions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"First Family"

New from Knopf: First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Pulitzer Prize–winning, best-selling author of Founding Brothers and His Excellency brings America’s preeminent first couple to life in a moving and illuminating narrative that sweeps through the American Revolution and the republic’s tenuous early years.

John and Abigail Adams left an indelible and remarkably preserved portrait of their lives together in their personal correspondence: both Adamses were prolific letter writers (although John conceded that Abigail was clearly the more gifted of the two), and over the years they exchanged more than twelve hundred letters. Joseph J. Ellis distills this unprecedented and unsurpassed record to give us an account both intimate and panoramic; part biography, part political history, and part love story.

Ellis describes the first meeting between the two as inauspicious—John was twenty-four, Abigail just fifteen, and each was entirely unimpressed with the other. But they soon began a passionate correspondence that resulted in their marriage five years later.

Over the next decades, the couple were separated nearly as much as they were together. John’s political career took him first to Philadelphia, where he became the boldest advocate for the measures that would lead to the Declaration of Independence. Yet in order to attend the Second Continental Congress, he left his wife and children in the middle of the war zone that had by then engulfed Massachusetts. Later he was sent to Paris, where he served as a minister to the court of France alongside Benjamin Franklin. These years apart stressed the Adamses’ union almost beyond what it could bear: Abigail grew lonely, while the Adams children suffered from their father’s absence.

John was elected the nation’s first vice president, but by the time of his reelection, Abigail’s health prevented her from joining him in Philadelphia, the interim capital. She no doubt had further reservations about moving to the swamp on the Potomac when John became president, although this time he persuaded her. President Adams inherited a weak and bitterly divided country from George Washington. The political situation was perilous at best, and he needed his closest advisor by his side: “I can do nothing,” John told Abigail after his election, “without you.”

In Ellis’s rich and striking new history, John and Abigail’s relationship unfolds in the context of America’s birth as a nation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"The Sixth Crisis"

New from Oxford University Press: The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America, and the Rumors of War by Dana Allin and Steven Simon.

About the book, from the publisher:
There have been five central crises in America's post World War II encounter with the Middle East, and the Obama administration now faces a sixth. Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapons capability, and the prospect of Israel launching air strikes to stop it, are ingredients for a conflict that could ruin any residual hopes for fostering peace in the region.

The Sixth Crisis explores the fraught linkages between the Iranian nuclear challenge, the increasing likelihood of an Israeli preventive strike, the continuing Israel-Palestine tragedy, and President Barack Obama's efforts to recast America's relations with the world's Muslims. It is the first full account of the situation since Obama took office. The authors, a former senior official on President Clinton's National Security Council Staff and a leading authority on international politics, lay out in clear and accessible detail the technical and political dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, and the ongoing diplomacy to stop it. They show how Israel's panic about Iran's nuclear threat--combined with its policy toward the Palestinians--is undermining Jerusalem's alliance with America. Tehran, meanwhile, is exploiting tensions between Arab regimes fearful of a nuclear Iran and an Arab public that is both angry about the plight of the Palestinians and resentful of Israel's nuclear monopoly in the region. The Sixth Crisis brilliantly illuminates this fateful juncture. The status quo is on an incline to disaster, and the hopes that President Obama has inspired are threatened by the toxic mixture of Israeli-Palestinian stalemate and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The time bomb of Iran's defiance and Israel's panic has the potential to spark a firestorm that would imperil US interests in the Middle East and engulf Obama's presidency. With the outcome of this unfolding crisis far from certain, The Sixth Crisis is required reading not only for policymakers, but also for anyone interested in world politics.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Heroes of Empire"

New from the University of California Press: Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa by Edward Berenson.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the decades of empire (1870–1914), legendary heroes and their astonishing deeds of conquest gave imperialism a recognizable human face. Henry Morton Stanley, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, Charles Gordon, Jean-Baptiste Marchand, and Hubert Lyautey all braved almost unimaginable dangers among “savage” people for their nation’s greater good. This vastly readable book, the first comparative history of colonial heroes in Britain and France, shows via unforgettable portraits the shift from public veneration of the peaceful conqueror to unbridled passion for the vanquishing hero. Edward Berenson argues that these five men transformed the imperial steeplechase of those years into a powerful “heroic moment.” He breaks new ground by linking the era’s “new imperialism” to its “new journalism”—the penny press—which furnished the public with larger-than-life figures who then embodied each nation’s imperial hopes and anxieties.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Defiance of the Patriots"

New from Yale University Press: Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America by Benjamin L. Carp.

About the book, from the publisher:
On the evening of December 16, 1773, a group of disguised Bostonians boarded three merchant ships and dumped more than forty-six tons of tea into Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party, as it later came to be known, was an audacious and revolutionary act. It set the stage for war and cemented certain values in the American psyche that many still cherish today. But why did the Tea Party happen? Whom did it involve? What did it mean? The answers to these questions are far from straightforward.

In this thrilling new book, Benjamin L. Carp tells the full story of the Tea Party—exploding myths, exploring the unique city life of Boston, and setting this extraordinary event in a global context for the first time. Bringing vividly to life the diverse array of people and places that the Tea Party brought together—from Chinese tea-pickers to English businessmen, Native American tribes, sugar plantation slaves, and Boston’s ladies of leisure—Carp illuminates how a determined group shook the foundations of a mighty empire, and what this has meant for Americans since. As he reveals many little-known historical facts and considers the Tea Party’s uncertain legacy, he presents a compelling and expansive history of an iconic event in America’s tempestuous past.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"The Women Jefferson Loved"

New from Harper: The Women Jefferson Loved by Virginia Scharff.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout his life, Thomas Jefferson constructed a seemingly impenetrable wall between his public legacy and his private life, a division maintained by his family and the several traditional biographies written about this founding father. Now Virginia Scharff breaks down the barrier between Jefferson's public and private histories to offer an intriguing new portrait of this complicated and influential figure, as seen through the lives of a remarkable group of women.

Scharff brings together for the first time in one volume the stories of these diverse women, separated by race but related by blood, including Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph; his wife, Martha; her half sister, Sally Hemings, his slave mistress; his daughters; and his granddaughters. "Their lives, their Revolutions, their vulnerabilities, shaped the choices Jefferson made, from the selection of words and ideas in his Declaration, to the endless building of his mountaintop mansion, to the vision of a great agrarian nation that powered his Louisiana Purchase," Scharff writes. Based on a wealth of sources, including family letters, and written with empathy and great insight, The Women Jefferson Loved is a welcome new look at this legendary American and one that offers a fresh twist on American history itself.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Cry Liberty"

New Oxford University Press: "Cry Liberty": The Great Stono River Slave Rebellion of 1739 by Peter Charles Hoffer.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of slavery in the colonial New World is, in part, one of rebellion. In Jamaica, Hispaniola, Dutch Surinam and elsewhere, massive uprisings threatened European rule. But not in British North America. Between the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and the start of the American Revolution in 1775, the colonies experienced only one notable revolt, on South Carolina's Stono River in 1739, and it lasted a single day. Yet, writes Peter Charles Hoffer, as brief as this event was, historians have misunderstood it--and have thus overlooked its deeper significance.

In Cry Liberty, Hoffer provides a deeply researched and finely nuanced narrative of the Stono River conflict, offering uncomfortable insights into American slavery. In particular, he draws on new sources to reexamine this one dramatic day. According to conventional wisdom, recently imported African slaves-warriors in spirit and training-learned of an impending war between England and Spain. Seeking freedom from Spanish authorities, the argument runs, they launched a well-planned uprising in order to escape to Florida. But Hoffer has mined legislative and legal records, land surveys, and first-hand accounts to identify precisely where the fighting began, trace the paths taken by rebels and militia, and offer a new explanation of its causes. Far from a noble, well-crafted revolt, he reveals, the slaves were simply breaking into a store to take what they thought was their due, and chance events put them on a path no participant had originally intended. The truth is a far less heroic, but far more of a human tragedy.

Richly researched, crisply told, and unflinchingly honest, this book uncovers the grim truth about the violent wages of slavery and sheds light on why North America had so few slave rebellions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Who Are the Criminals?"

New from Princeton University Press: Who Are the Criminals?: The Politics of Crime Policy from the Age of Roosevelt to the Age of Reagan by John Hagan.

About the book, from the publisher:
How did the United States go from being a country that tries to rehabilitate street criminals and prevent white-collar crime to one that harshly punishes common lawbreakers while at the same time encouraging corporate crime through a massive deregulation of business? Why do street criminals get stiff prison sentences, a practice that has led to the disaster of mass incarceration, while white-collar criminals, who arguably harm more people, get slaps on the wrist--if they are prosecuted at all? In Who Are the Criminals?, one of America's leading criminologists provides new answers to these vitally important questions by telling how the politicization of crime in the twentieth century transformed and distorted crime policymaking and led Americans to fear street crime too much and corporate crime too little.

John Hagan argues that the recent history of American criminal justice can be divided into two eras--the age of Roosevelt (roughly 1933 to 1973) and the age of Reagan (1974 to 2008). A focus on rehabilitation, corporate regulation, and the social roots of crime in the earlier period was dramatically reversed in the later era. In the age of Reagan, the focus shifted to the harsh treatment of street crimes, especially drug offenses, which disproportionately affected minorities and the poor and resulted in wholesale imprisonment. At the same time, a massive deregulation of business provided new opportunities, incentives, and even rationalizations for white-collar crime--and helped cause the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession.

The time for moving beyond Reagan-era crime policies is long overdue, Hagan argues. The understanding of crime must be reshaped and we must reconsider the relative harms and punishments of street and corporate crimes.
Visit John Hagan's website.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Hell on the Range"

New from Yale University Press: Hell on the Range: A Story of Honor, Conscience, and the American West by Daniel Justin Herman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this lively account of Arizona’s Rim Country War of the 1880s—what others have called "The Pleasant Valley War"—historian Daniel Justin Herman explores a web of conflict involving Mormons, Texas cowboys, New Mexican sheepherders, Jewish merchants, and mixed-blood ranchers. Their story, contends Herman, offers a fresh perspective on Western violence, Western identity, and American cultural history.

At the heart of Arizona’s range war, argues Herman, was a conflict between cowboys’ code of honor and Mormons’ code of conscience. He investigates the sources of these attitudes, tracks them into the early twentieth century, and offers rich insights into the roots of American violence and peace.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Human Rights and Human Well-Being"

New from Oxford University Press: Human Rights and Human Well-Being by William Talbott.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the last half of the twentieth century, legalized segregation ended in the southern United States, apartheid ended in South Africa, women in many parts of the world came to be recognized as having equal rights with men, persons with disabilities came to be recognized as having rights to develop and exercise their human capabilities, colonial peoples' rights of self-determination were recognized, and rights of gays and lesbians have begun to be recognized. It is hard not to see these developments as examples of real moral progress. But what is moral progress?

In this book, William Talbott offers a surprising answer to that question. He proposes a consequentialist meta-theoretical principle of moral and legal progress, the "main principle", to explain why these changes are examples of moral and legal progress. On Talbott's account, improvements to our moral or legal practices are changes that, when evaluated as a practice, contribute to equitably promoting well-being. Talbott uses the main principle to explain why almost all the substantive moral norms and principles used in moral or legal reasoning have exceptions and why it is almost inevitable that, no matter how much we improve them, there will always be more exceptions. This explanation enables Talbott to propose a new, non-skeptical understanding of what has been called the "naturalistic fallacy".

Talbott uses the main principle to complete the project begun in his 2005 book of identifying the human rights that should be universal-that is, legally guaranteed in all human societies. Talbott identifies a list of fourteen robust, inalienable human rights.

Talbott contrasts his consequentialist (though not utilitarian) account with many of the most influential nonconsequentialist accounts of morality and justice in the philosophical literature, including those of Ronald Dworkin, Jurgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Phillip Pettit, John Rawls, T.M. Scanlon, Amartya Sen, and Judith Thomson.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The Lost Peace"

New from Harper: The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953 by Robert Dallek.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a striking reinterpretation of the postwar years, Robert Dallek examines what drove the leaders of the most powerful and populous nations around the globe—Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Mao, de Gaulle, and Truman—to rely on traditional power politics despite the catastrophic violence their nations had endured. The decisions of these men, for better and often for worse, had profound consequences for decades to come, influencing relations and conflicts with China, Korea, in the Middle East, and around the globe.

The Lost Peace is a penetrating look at the misjudgments that caused enormous strife and suffering during this critical period, from the closing months of World War II through the early years of the Cold War. From Hitler's killing program to Stalin's paranoia to Truman's decision to build hydrogen bombs, the men who led the world at this time executed astonishingly unwise actions that propelled the nuclear arms race and extended the Cold War. Dallek has written a cautionary tale that considers what might have been done differently to avoid the difficulties that strong and weak nations around the globe encountered in the mid-twentieth century.

Provocative, illuminating, and based on a lifetime of research, The Lost Peace also offers extraordinary lessons for today's leaders who may learn from the mistakes that were made between 1945 and 1953 and help them achieve an era of greater international cooperation.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


New from Cambridge University Press: Nabobs: Empire and Identity in Eighteenth-Century Britain by Tillman W. Nechtman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Tillman Nechtman explores the relationship between Britain and its empire in the late eighteenth century through the controversy that surrounded employees of the East India Company. Labelled as 'nabobs' by their critics, Company employees returned from India, bringing the subcontinent's culture with them – souvenirs like clothing, foods, jewels, artwork, and animals. To the nabobs, imperial keepsakes were a way of narrating their imperial biographies, lives that braided Britain and India together. However, their domestic critics preferred to see Britain as distinct from empire and so saw the nabobs as a dangerous community of people who sought to reverse the currents of imperialism and to bring the empire home. Drawing on cultural, material, and visual history, this book captures a far wider picture of the fascinating controversy and sheds considerable new light on the tensions and contradictions inherent in British national identity in the late eighteenth century.
Read an excerpt from Nabobs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Fugitive Justice"

New from Harvard University Press: Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial by Steven Lubet.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the tumultuous decade before the Civil War, no issue was more divisive than the pursuit and return of fugitive slaves—a practice enforced under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. When free Blacks and their abolitionist allies intervened, prosecutions and trials inevitably followed. These cases involved high legal, political, and—most of all—human drama, with runaways desperate for freedom, their defenders seeking recourse to a “higher law” and normally fair-minded judges (even some opposed to slavery) considering the disposition of human beings as property.

Fugitive Justice tells the stories of three of the most dramatic fugitive slave trials of the 1850s, bringing to vivid life the determination of the fugitives, the radical tactics of their rescuers, the brutal doggedness of the slavehunters, and the tortuous response of the federal courts. These cases underscore the crucial role that runaway slaves played in building the tensions that led to the Civil War, and they show us how “civil disobedience” developed as a legal defense. As they unfold we can also see how such trials—whether of rescuers or of the slaves themselves—helped build the northern anti-slavery movement, even as they pushed southern firebrands closer to secession.

How could something so evil be treated so routinely by just men? The answer says much about how deeply the institution of slavery had penetrated American life even in free states. Fugitive Justice powerfully illuminates this painful episode in American history, and its role in the nation’s inexorable march to war.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Performance of Politics"

New from Oxford University Press: The Performance of Politics: Obama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power by Jeffrey C. Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
Contemporary observers of politics in America often reduce democracy to demography. Whatever portion of the vote not explained by the class, gender, race, and religious differences of voters is attributed to the candidates' positions on the issues of the day. But are these the only--or even the main--factors that determine the vote?

The Performance of Politics develops a new way of looking at democratic struggles for power, explaining what happened, and why, during the 2008 presidential campaign in the United States. Drawing on vivid examples taken from a range of media coverage, participant observation at a Camp Obama, and interviews with leading political journalists, Jeffrey Alexander argues that images, emotion, and performance are the central features of the battle for power. While these features have been largely overlooked by pundits, they are, in fact, the primary foci of politicians and their staff. Obama and McCain painstakingly constructed heroic self-images for their campaigns and the successful projections of those images suffused not only each candidate's actual rallies, and not only their media messages, but also the ground game. Money and organization facilitate the ground game, but they do not determine it. Emotion, images, and performance do. Though an untested senator and the underdog in his own party, Obama succeeded in casting himself as the hero--and McCain the anti-hero--and the only candidate fit to lead in challenging times.

Illuminating the drama of Obama's celebrity, the effect of Sarah Palin on the race, and the impact of the emerging financial crisis, Alexander's engaging narrative marries the immediacy and excitement of the final months of this historic presidential campaign with a new understanding of how politics work.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"How Chiefs Became Kings"

New from the University of California Press: How Chiefs Became Kings: Divine Kingship and the Rise of Archaic States in Ancient Hawai'i by Patrick Vinton Kirch.

About the book, from the publisher:
In How Chiefs Became Kings, Patrick Vinton Kirch addresses a central problem in anthropological archaeology: the emergence of “archaic states” whose distinctive feature was divine kingship. Kirch takes as his focus the Hawaiian archipelago, commonly regarded as the archetype of a complex chiefdom. Integrating anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, traditional history, and theory, and drawing on significant contributions from his own four decades of research, Kirch argues that Hawaiian polities had become states before the time of Captain Cook’s voyage (1778-1779). The status of most archaic states is inferred from the archaeological record. But Kirch shows that because Hawai`i’s kingdoms were established relatively recently, they could be observed and recorded by Cook and other European voyagers. Substantive and provocative, this book makes a major contribution to the literature of precontact Hawai`i and illuminates Hawai`i’s importance in the global theory and literature about divine kingship, archaic states, and sociopolitical evolution.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Talking to the Enemy"

New from Ecco: Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists by Scott Atran.

About the book, from the publisher:
Terrorists don't kill and die just for a cause.

They kill and die for each other.

In this rigorous and challenging work that combines the penetrating insight of The Looming Tower and the historical sweep and scope of Guns, Germs, and Steel, renowned social scientist Scott Atran traces terrorism's root causes in human evolution and history, touching on the nature of faith, the origins of society, the limits of reason, and the power of moral values.

Atran interviews and investigates Al Qaeda associates and acolytes, including Jemaah Islamiyah, Lashkar-e-Tayibah, and the Madrid train bombers, as well as other non-Qaeda groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, and their sponsoring communities, from the jungles of Southeast Asia and the political wastelands of the Middle East to New York, London, and Madrid. His conclusions are startling, important, and sure to be controversial.

Terrorists, he reminds us, are social beings, influenced by social connections and values familiar to us all, as members of school clubs, sports teams, or community organizations. When notions of the homeland, a family of friends, and a band of brothers are combined with the zeal of belief, amazing things—both good and bad—are possible: the passage of civil rights legislation, the U.S. Olympic hockey team's victory in 1980, the destruction of 9/11 and the attacks on the London Underground in July 2005.

Atran corrects misconceptions about suicide bombers and radical Islam, explaining how our tolerance for faith enables extremists to flourish, and shows why atheism and science education have little effect. Going beyond analysis, he offers practical solutions that can help us identify terrorists today, prevent the creation of future terrorists, and ultimately make the world a safer place for everyone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Belonging and Genocide"

New from Yale University Press: Belonging and Genocide: Hitler's Community, 1918-1945 by Thomas Kühne.

About the book, from the publisher:
No one has ever posed a satisfactory explanation for the extreme inhumanity of the Holocaust. What enabled millions of Germans to perpetrate or condone the murder of the Jews? In this illuminating book, Thomas Kühne offers a provocative answer. In addition to the hatred of Jews or coercion that created a genocidal society, he contends, the desire for a united “people’s community” made Germans conform and join together in mass crime.

Exploring private letters, diaries, memoirs, secret reports, trial records, and other documents, the author shows how the Nazis used such common human needs as community, belonging, and solidarity to forge a nation conducting the worst crime in history.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Bosnia Remade"

New Oxford University Press: Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal by Gerard Toal and Carl T. Dahlman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bosnia Remade is an authoritative account of ethnic cleansing and its partial undoing in the Bosnian wars from 1990 to the present. The two authors, both political geographers, combine a bird's-eye view of the entire war from onset to aftermath with a micro-level account of three towns that underwent ethnic cleansing and--later--the return of refugees. Through the lens of critical geopolitics, which highlights the power of both geopolitical discourse and spatial strategies, Toal and Dahlman focus on the two attempts to remake the ethnic structure of Bosnia since 1991. The first attempt was by ascendant ethnonationalist forces that tried to eradicate the mixed ethnic structures of Bosnia's towns, villages and communities. While these forces destroyed tens of thousands of homes and lives, they failed to destroy Bosnia-Herzegovina as a polity. The second attempt followed the war. The international community, in league with Bosnian officials, tried to undo the demographic consequences of ethnic cleansing. This latter effort has moved in fits and starts, but as the authors show, it has re-made Bosnia, producing a country that has moved beyond the stark segregationist geography created by ethnic cleansing. By showing how ethnic cleansing can be reversed, Toal and Dahlman offer more than just a comprehensive narrative of Europe's worst political crisis in the past two decades. They also offer lessons for addressing an enduring global problem.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Freedom Bound"

New from Cambridge University Press: Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580–1865 by Christopher Tomlins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Freedom Bound is about the origins of modern America – a history of colonizing, work, and civic identity from the beginnings of English presence on the mainland until the Civil War. It is a history of migrants and migrations, of colonizers and colonized, of households and servitude and slavery, and of the freedom all craved and some found. Above all it is a history of the law that framed the entire process. Freedom Bound tells how colonies were planted in occupied territories, how they were populated with migrants – free and unfree – to do the work of colonizing, and how the newcomers secured possession. It tells of the new civic lives that seemed possible in new commonwealths, and of the constraints that kept many from enjoying them. It follows the story long past the end of the eighteenth century until the American Civil War, when – just for a moment – it seemed that freedom might finally be unbound.
Read an excerpt from Freedom Bound.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"God-Fearing and Free"

New from Harvard University Press: God-Fearing and Free: A Spiritual History of America's Cold War by Jason W. Stevens.

About the book, from the publisher:
Religion has been on the rise in America for decades—which strikes many as a shocking new development. To the contrary, Jason Stevens asserts, the rumors of the death of God were premature. Americans have always conducted their cultural life through religious symbols, never more so than during the Cold War. In God-Fearing and Free, Stevens discloses how the nation, on top of the world and torn between grandiose self-congratulation and doubt about the future, opened the way for a new master narrative. The book shows how the American public, powered by a national religious revival, was purposefully disillusioned regarding the country’s mythical innocence and fortified for an epochal struggle with totalitarianism.

Stevens reveals how the Augustinian doctrine of original sin was refurbished and then mobilized in a variety of cultural discourses that aimed to shore up democratic society against threats preying on the nation’s internal weaknesses. Suddenly, innocence no longer meant a clear conscience. Instead it became synonymous with totalitarian ideologies of the fascist right or the communist left, whose notions of perfectability were dangerously close to millenarian ideals at the heart of American Protestant tradition. As America became riddled with self-doubt, ruminations on the meaning of power and the future of the globe during the “American Century” renewed the impetus to religion.

Covering a wide selection of narrative and cultural forms, Stevens shows how writers, artists, and intellectuals, the devout as well as the nonreligious, disseminated the terms of this cultural dialogue, disputing, refining, and challenging it—effectively making the conservative case against modernity as liberals floundered.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Heaven's Purge"

New from Oxford University Press: Heaven's Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity by Isabel Moreira.

About the book, from the publisher:
The doctrine of purgatory - the state after death in which Christians undergo punishment by God for unforgiven sins - raises many questions. What is purgatory like? Who experiences it? Does purgatory purify souls, or punish them, or both? How painful is it? Heaven's Purge explores the first posing of these questions in Christianity's early history, from the first century to the eighth: an era in which the notion that sinful Christians might improve their lot after death was contentious, or even heretical.

Isabel Moreira discusses a wide range of influences at play in purgatory's early formation, including ideas about punishment and correction in the Roman world, slavery, the value of medical purges at the shrines of saints, and the authority of visions of the afterlife for informing Christians of the hereafter. She also challenges the deeply ingrained supposition that belief in purgatory was a symptom of barbarized Christianity, and assesses the extent to which Irish and Germanic views of society, and the sources associated with them - penitentials and legal tariffs - played a role in purgatory's formation. Special attention is given to the writings of the last patristic author of antiquity, the Northumbrian monk Bede.

Heaven's Purge is the first study to focus on purgatory's history in late antiquity, challenging the conclusions of recent scholarship through an examination of the texts, communities and cultural ideas that informed purgatory's early history.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Jack Tar's Story"

New from Cambridge University Press: Jack Tar's Story: The Autobiographies and Memoirs of Sailors in Antebellum America by Myra C. Glenn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jack Tar’s Story examines the autobiographies and memoirs of antebellum American sailors to explore contested meanings of manhood and nationalism in the early republic. It is the first study to use various kinds of institutional sources, including crew lists, ships’ logs, impressment records, to document the stories sailors told. It focuses on how mariner authors remembered/interpreted various events and experiences, including the War of 1812, the Haitian Revolution, South America’s wars of independence, British impressment, flogging on the high seas, roistering, and religious conversion. This book straddles different fields of scholarship and suggests how their concerns intersect or resonate with each other: the history of print culture, the study of autobiographical writing, and the historiography of seafaring life and of masculinity in antebellum America.
Read an excerpt from Jack Tar’s Story.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


New from Princeton University Press: Winning : Reflections on an American Obsession by Francesco Duina.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most of us are taught from a young age to be winners and avoid being losers. But what does it mean to win or lose? And why do we care so much? Does winning make us happy? Winning undertakes an unprecedented investigation of winning and losing in American society, what we are really after as we struggle to win, our collective beliefs about winners and losers, and much more.

Francesco Duina argues that victory and loss are not endpoints or final destinations but gateways to something of immense importance to us: the affirmation of our place in the world. But Duina also shows that competition is unlikely to provide us with the answers we need. Winning and losing are artificial and logically flawed concepts that put us at odds with the world around us and, ultimately, ourselves. Duina explores the social and psychological effects of the language of competition in American culture.

Primarily concerned with our shared obsessions about winning and losing, Winning proposes a new mind-set for how we can pursue our dreams, and, in a more satisfying way, find our proper place in the world.
Read an excerpt from Winning.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Zombie Economics"

New from Princeton University Press: Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us by John Quiggin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the graveyard of economic ideology, dead ideas still stalk the land.

The recent financial crisis laid bare many of the assumptions behind market liberalism--the theory that market-based solutions are always best, regardless of the problem. For decades, their advocates dominated mainstream economics, and their influence created a system where an unthinking faith in markets led many to view speculative investments as fundamentally safe. The crisis seemed to have killed off these ideas, but they still live on in the minds of many--members of the public, commentators, politicians, economists, and even those charged with cleaning up the mess. In Zombie Economics, John Quiggin explains how these dead ideas still walk among us--and why we must find a way to kill them once and for all if we are to avoid an even bigger financial crisis in the future.

Zombie Economics takes the reader through the origins, consequences, and implosion of a system of ideas whose time has come and gone. These beliefs--that deregulation had conquered the financial cycle, that markets were always the best judge of value, that policies designed to benefit the rich made everyone better off--brought us to the brink of disaster once before, and their persistent hold on many threatens to do so again. Because these ideas will never die unless there is an alternative, Zombie Economics also looks ahead at what could replace market liberalism, arguing that a simple return to traditional Keynesian economics and the politics of the welfare state will not be enough--either to kill dead ideas, or prevent future crises.
Visit John Quiggin's website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The Domestic Abroad"

New from Oxford University Press: The Domestic Abroad: Diasporas in International Relations by Latha Varadarajan.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the past few decades, and across disparate geographical contexts, states have adopted policies and initiatives aimed at institutionalizing relationships with "their" diasporas. These practices, which range from creating new ministries to granting dual citizenship, are aimed at integrating diasporas as part of a larger "global" nation that is connected to, and has claims on the institutional structures of the home state. Although links, both formal and informal, between diasporas and their presumptive homelands have existed in the past, the recent developments constitute a far more widespread and qualitatively different phenomenon.

In this book, Latha Varadarajan theorizes this novel and largely overlooked trend by introducing the concept of the "domestic abroad." Varadarajan demonstrates that the remapping of the imagined boundaries of the nation, the visible surface of the phenomenon, is intrinsically connected to the political-economic transformation of the state that is typically characterized as "neoliberalism." The domestic abroad must therefore be understood as the product of two simultaneous, on-going processes: the diasporic re-imagining of the nation and the neoliberal restructuring of the state.

The argument unfolds through a historically nuanced study of the production of the domestic abroad in India. The book traces the complex history and explains the political logic of the remarkable transition from the Indian state's guarded indifference toward its diaspora in the period after independence, to its current celebrations of the "global Indian nation." In doing so, The Domestic Abroad reveals the manner in which the boundaries of the nation and the extent of the authority of the state, in India and elsewhere, are dynamically shaped by the development of capitalist social relations on both global and national scales.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Religious Politics and Secular States"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Religious Politics and Secular States: Egypt, India, and the United States by Scott W. Hibbard.

About the book, from the publisher:
This comparative analysis probes why conservative renderings of religious tradition in the United States, India, and Egypt remain so influential in the politics of these three ostensibly secular societies.

The United States, Egypt, and India were quintessential models of secular modernity in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1980s and 1990s, conservative Islamists challenged the Egyptian government, India witnessed a surge in Hindu nationalism, and the Christian right in the United States rose to dominate the Republican Party and large swaths of the public discourse. Using a nuanced theoretical framework that emphasizes the interaction of religion and politics, Scott W. Hibbard argues that three interrelated issues led to this state of affairs.

First, as an essential part of the construction of collective identities, religion serves as a basis for social solidarity and political mobilization. Second, in providing a moral framework, religion's traditional elements make it relevant to modern political life. Third, and most significant, in manipulating religion for political gain, political elites undermined the secular consensus of the modern state that had been in place since the end of World War II. Together, these factors sparked a new era of right—wing religious populism in the three nations.

Although much has been written about the resurgence of religious politics, scholars have paid less attention to the role of state actors in promoting new visions of religion and society. Religious Politics and Secular States fills this gap by situating this trend within long—standing debates over the proper role of religion in public life.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Christmas in Germany"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Christmas in Germany: A Cultural History by Joe Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
For poets, priests, and politicians--and especially ordinary Germans--in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the image of the loving nuclear family gathered around the Christmas tree symbolized the unity of the nation at large. German Christmas was supposedly organic, a product of the winter solstice rituals of pagan "Teutonic" tribes, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and the age-old customs that defined German character. Yet, as Joe Perry argues, Germans also used these annual celebrations to contest the deepest values that held the German community together: faith, family, and love, certainly, but also civic responsibility, material prosperity, and national belonging.

This richly illustrated volume explores the invention, evolution, and politicization of Germany's favorite national holiday. According to Perry, Christmas played a crucial role in public politics, as revealed in the militarization of "War Christmas" during World War I and World War II, the Nazification of Christmas by the Third Reich, and the political manipulation of Christmas during the Cold War. Perry offers a close analysis of the impact of consumer culture on popular celebration and the conflicts created as religious, commercial, and political authorities sought to control the holiday's meaning. By unpacking the intimate links between domestic celebration, popular piety, consumer desires, and political ideology, Perry concludes that family festivity was central in the making and remaking of public national identities.

Friday, October 1, 2010


New from Yale University Press: Turbulence: Boeing and the State of American Workers and Managers by Edward S. Greenberg, Leon Grunberg, Sarah Moore, and Patricia B. Sikora.

About the book, from the publisher:
This timely book investigates the experiences of employees at all levels of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) during a ten-year period of dramatic organizational change. As Boeing transformed itself, workers and managers contended with repeated downsizing, shifting corporate culture, new roles for women, outsourcing, mergers, lean production, and rampant technological change. Drawing on a unique blend of quantitative and qualitative research, the authors consider how management strategies affected the well-being of Boeing employees, as well as their attitudes toward their jobs and their company. Boeing employees’ experience holds vital lessons for other employees, the leaders of other firms determined to thrive in today’s era of inescapable and growing global competition, as well as public officials concerned about the well-being of American workers and companies.