Friday, September 30, 2011

"Faith and Money"

New from Cambridge University Press: Faith and Money: How Religion Contributes to Wealth and Poverty by Lisa A. Keister.

About the book, from the publisher:
For those who own it, wealth can have extraordinary advantages. High levels of wealth can enhance educational attainment, create occupational opportunities, generate social influence, and provide a buffer against financial emergencies. Even a small amount of savings can improve security, mitigate the effects of job loss and other financial setbacks, and improve well-being dramatically. Although the benefits of wealth are significant, they are not enjoyed uniformly throughout the United States. In the United States, because religion is an important part of cultural orientation, religious beliefs should affect material well-being. This book explores the way religious orientations and beliefs affect Americans' incomes, savings, and net worth.
Visit Lisa A. Keister's Duke University webpage.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"The Thousand-Year Flood"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937 by David Welky.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early days of 1937, the Ohio River, swollen by heavy winter rains, began rising. And rising. And rising. By the time the waters crested, the Ohio and Mississippi had climbed to record heights. Nearly four hundred people had died, while a million more had run from their homes. The deluge caused more than half a billion dollars of damage at a time when the Great Depression still battered the nation.

Timed to coincide with the flood's seventy-fifth anniversary, The Thousand-Year Flood is the first comprehensive history of one of the most destructive disasters in American history. David Welky first shows how decades of settlement put Ohio valley farms and towns at risk and how politicians and planners repeatedly ignored the dangers. Then he tells the gripping story of the river's inexorable rise: residents fled to refugee camps and higher ground, towns imposed martial law, prisoners rioted, Red Cross nurses endured terrifying conditions, and FDR dispatched thousands of relief workers. In a landscape fraught with dangers—from unmoored gas tanks that became floating bombs to powerful currents of filthy floodwaters that swept away whole towns—people hastily raised sandbag barricades, piled into overloaded rowboats, and marveled at water that stretched as far as the eye could see. In the flood's aftermath, Welky explains, New Deal reformers, utopian dreamers, and hard-pressed locals restructured not only the flood-stricken valleys, but also the nation's relationship with its waterways, changes that continue to affect life along the rivers to this day.

A striking narrative of danger and adventure—and the mix of heroism and generosity, greed and pettiness that always accompany disaster—The Thousand-Year Flood breathes new life into a fascinating yet little-remembered American story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"A Book Forged in Hell"

New from Princeton University Press: A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler.

About the book, from the publisher:
When it appeared in 1670, Baruch Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise was denounced as the most dangerous book ever published--"godless," "full of abominations," "a book forged in hell . . . by the devil himself." Religious and secular authorities saw it as a threat to faith, social and political harmony, and everyday morality, and its author was almost universally regarded as a religious subversive and political radical who sought to spread atheism throughout Europe. Yet Spinoza's book has contributed as much as the Declaration of Independence or Thomas Paine's Common Sense to modern liberal, secular, and democratic thinking. In A Book Forged in Hell, Steven Nadler tells the fascinating story of this extraordinary book: its radical claims and their background in the philosophical, religious, and political tensions of the Dutch Golden Age, as well as the vitriolic reaction these ideas inspired.

It is not hard to see why Spinoza's Treatise was so important or so controversial, or why the uproar it caused is one of the most significant events in European intellectual history. In the book, Spinoza became the first to argue that the Bible is not literally the word of God but rather a work of human literature; that true religion has nothing to do with theology, liturgical ceremonies, or sectarian dogma; and that religious authorities should have no role in governing a modern state. He also denied the reality of miracles and divine providence, reinterpreted the nature of prophecy, and made an eloquent plea for toleration and democracy.

A vivid story of incendiary ideas and vicious backlash, A Book Forged in Hell will interest anyone who is curious about the origin of some of our most cherished modern beliefs.
The Page 99 Test: Steven Nadler's The Best of All Possible Worlds.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Western Intervention in the Balkans"

New from Cambridge University Press: Western Intervention in the Balkans: The Strategic Use of Emotion in Conflict by Roger D. Petersen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Conflicts involve powerful experiences. The residue of these experiences is captured by the concept and language of emotion. Indiscriminate killing creates fear; targeted violence produces anger and a desire for vengeance; political status reversals spawn resentment; cultural prejudices sustain ethnic contempt. These emotions can become resources for political entrepreneurs. A broad range of Western interventions are based on a view of human nature as narrowly rational. Correspondingly, intervention policy generally aims to alter material incentives ("sticks and carrots") to influence behavior. In response, poorer and weaker actors who wish to block or change this Western implemented "game" use emotions as resources. This book examines the strategic use of emotion in the conflicts and interventions occurring in the Western Balkans over a twenty-year period. The book concentrates on the conflicts among Albanian and Slavic populations (Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, South Serbia), along with some comparisons to Bosnia.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"American Oracle"

New from Harvard University Press: American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era by David W. Blight.

About the book, from the publisher:
Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, a century after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King, Jr., declared, “One hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.” He delivered this speech just three years after the Virginia Civil War Commission published a guide proclaiming that “the Centennial is no time for finding fault or placing blame or fighting the issues all over again.”

David Blight takes his readers back to the centennial celebration to determine how Americans then made sense of the suffering, loss, and liberation that had wracked the United States a century earlier. Amid cold war politics and civil rights protest, four of America’s most incisive writers explored the gulf between remembrance and reality. Robert Penn Warren, the southern-reared poet-novelist who recanted his support of segregation; Bruce Catton, the journalist and U.S. Navy officer who became a popular Civil War historian; Edmund Wilson, the century’s preeminent literary critic; and James Baldwin, the searing African-American essayist and activist—each exposed America’s triumphalist memory of the war. And each, in his own way, demanded a reckoning with the tragic consequences it spawned.

Blight illuminates not only mid-twentieth-century America’s sense of itself but also the dynamic, ever-changing nature of Civil War memory. On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the war, we have an invaluable perspective on how this conflict continues to shape the country’s political debates, national identity, and sense of purpose.
Visit David W. Blight's website.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"The Roots of Modern Conservatism"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party by Michael Bowen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1944 and 1953, a power struggle emerged between New York governor Thomas Dewey and U.S. senator Robert Taft of Ohio that threatened to split the Republican Party. In The Roots of Modern Conservatism, Michael Bowen reveals how this two-man battle for control of the GOP--and the Republican presidential nomination--escalated into a divide of ideology that ultimately determined the party's political identity.

Initially, Bowen argues, the separate Dewey and Taft factions endorsed fairly traditional Republican policies. However, as their conflict deepened, the normally mundane issues of political factions, such as patronage and fund-raising, were overshadowed by the question of what "true" Republicanism meant. Taft emerged as the more conservative of the two leaders, while Dewey viewed Taft's policies as outdated. Eventually, conservatives within the GOP organized against Dewey's leadership and, emboldened by the election of Dwight Eisenhower, transformed the party into a vehicle for the Right. Bowen reveals how this decade-long battle led to an outpouring of conservative sentiment that had been building since World War II, setting the stage for the ascendancy of Barry Goldwater and the modern conservative movement in the 1960s.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Petersburg Fin de Siècle"

New from Yale University Press: Petersburg Fin de Siècle by Mark D. Steinberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The final decade of the old order in imperial Russia was a time of both crisis and possibility, an uncertain time that inspired an often desperate search for meaning. This book explores how journalists and other writers in St. Petersburg described and interpreted the troubled years between the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917.

Mark Steinberg, distinguished historian of Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, examines the work of writers of all kinds, from anonymous journalists to well-known public intellectuals, from secular liberals to religious conservatives. Though diverse in their perspectives, these urban writers were remarkably consistent in the worries they expressed. They grappled with the impact of technological and material progress on the one hand, and with an ever-deepening anxiety and pessimism on the other. Steinberg reveals a new, darker perspective on the history of St. Petersburg on the eve of revolution and presents a fresh view of Russia's experience of modernity.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"American Crisis"

New from Walker and Company: American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783 by William Fowler Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of the dramatic two years (October 1781 to November 1783) after Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, when the nascent United States was on the brink of immediate collapse.

Most people believe the American Revolution ended in October 1781, after the Battle of Yorktown; in fact, the war continued for two more traumatic years. During that time, the Revolution came as close to being lost as at any time since it began.

As 1781 ended, the British still held New York, Charleston, and Savannah; the Royal Navy controlled the seas; the states—despite having signed the Articles of Confederation earlier in the year—retained their individual sovereignty and, largely bankrupt themselves, refused to send any money in the new nation's interest; members of Congress were in constant disagreement; negotiations in Paris for peace with England were interminable; and, most dangerous of all, the Continental army remained unpaid and on the verge of mutiny.

In American Crisis, distinguished historian William M. Fowler Jr. vividly chronicles this critical, rarely documented period through the eyes of those who lived and influenced it. He skillfully reveals the internal and personal tensions that paralyzed both the British government and Congress, antagonized loyalists and patriots still reeling from the years of conflict, and roiled the army from its leadership through the ranks. In doing so, Fowler brings original insight to the events and forces through which our independence was preserved.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Integrating Women into the Astronaut Corps"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Integrating Women into the Astronaut Corps: Politics and Logistics at NASA, 1972-2004 by Amy E. Foster.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why, Amy E. Foster asks, did it take two decades after the Soviet Union launched its first female cosmonaut for the United States to send its first female astronaut into space? In answering this question, Foster recounts the complicated history of integrating women into NASA's astronaut corps.

NASA selected its first six female astronauts in 1978. Foster examines the political, technological, and cultural challenges that the agency had to overcome to usher in this new era in spaceflight. She shows how NASA had long developed progressive hiring policies but was limited in executing them by a national agenda to beat the Soviets to the moon, budget constraints, and cultural ideas about women's roles in America.

Lively writing and compelling stories, including personal interviews with America's first women astronauts, propel Foster's account. Through extensive archival research, Foster also examines NASA's directives about sexual discrimination, the technological issues in integrating women into the corps, and the popular media's discussion of women in space. Foster puts together a truly original study of the experiences not only of early women astronauts but also of the managers and engineers who helped launch them into space.

In documenting these events, Foster offers a broader understanding of the difficulties in sexually integrating any workplace, even when the organization approaches the situation with as positive an outlook and as strong a motivation as did NASA.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"American Madness"

New from Harvard University Press: American Madness: The Rise and Fall of Dementia Praecox by Richard Noll.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1895 there was not a single case of dementia praecox reported in the United States. By 1912 there were tens of thousands of people with this diagnosis locked up in asylums, hospitals, and jails. By 1927 it was fading away . How could such a terrible disease be discovered, affect so many lives, and then turn out to be something else?

In vivid detail, Richard Noll describes how the discovery of this mysterious disorder gave hope to the overworked asylum doctors that they could at last explain—though they could not cure—the miserable patients surrounding them. The story of dementia praecox, and its eventual replacement by the new concept of schizophrenia, also reveals how asylum physicians fought for their own respectability. If what they were observing was a disease, then this biological reality was amenable to scientific research. In the early twentieth century, dementia praecox was psychiatry’s key into an increasingly science-focused medical profession.

But for the moment, nothing could be done to help the sufferers. When the concept of schizophrenia offered a fresh understanding of this disorder, and hope for a cure, psychiatry abandoned the old disease for the new. In this dramatic story of a vanished diagnosis, Noll shows the co-dependency between a disease and the scientific status of the profession that treats it. The ghost of dementia praecox haunts today’s debates about the latest generation of psychiatric disorders.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"The Terror of History"

New from Princeton University Press: The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization by Teofilo F. Ruiz.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book reflects on Western humanity's efforts to escape from history and its terrors--from the existential condition and natural disasters to the endless succession of wars and other man-made catastrophes. Drawing on historical episodes ranging from antiquity to the recent past, and combining them with literary examples and personal reflections, Teofilo Ruiz explores the embrace of religious experiences, the pursuit of worldly success and pleasures, and the quest for beauty and knowledge as three primary responses to the individual and collective nightmares of history. The result is a profound meditation on how men and women in Western society sought (and still seek) to make meaning of the world and its disturbing history.

In chapters that range widely across Western history and culture, The Terror of History takes up religion, the material world, and the world of art and knowledge. "Religion and the World to Come" examines orthodox and heterodox forms of spirituality, apocalyptic movements, mysticism, supernatural beliefs, and many forms of esotericism, including magic, alchemy, astrology, and witchcraft. "The World of Matter and the Senses" considers material riches, festivals and carnivals, sports, sex, and utopian communities. Finally, "The Lure of Beauty and Knowledge" looks at cultural productions of all sorts, from art to scholarship.

Combining astonishing historical breadth with a personal and accessible narrative style, The Terror of History is a moving testimony to the incredibly diverse ways humans have sought to cope with their frightening history.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"The Great Sea"

New from Oxford University Press: The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia.

About the book, from the publisher:
Situated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another. David Abulafia offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the sea itself: its practical importance for transport and sustenance; its dynamic role in the rise and fall of empires; and the remarkable cast of characters--sailors, merchants, migrants, pirates, pilgrims--who have crossed and recrossed it.

Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all the history of human interaction across a region that has brought together many of the great civilizations of antiquity as well as the rival empires of medieval and modern times. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the ebb and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial competition in the Mediterranean created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia, "living together," exemplified in medieval Spain, where Christian theologians studied Arabic texts with the help of Jewish and Muslim scholars, and traceable throughout the history of the region.

Brilliantly written and sweeping in its scope, The Great Sea is itself as varied and inclusive as the region it describes, covering everything from the Trojan War, the history of piracy, and the great naval battles between Carthage and Rome to the Jewish Diaspora into Hellenistic worlds, the rise of Islam, the Grand Tours of the 19th century, and mass tourism of the 20th. It is, in short, a magnum opus, the definitive account of perhaps the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"The Peacekeeping Economy"

New from Yale University Press: The Peacekeeping Economy: Using Economic Relationships to Build a More Peaceful, Prosperous, and Secure World by Lloyd J. Dumas.

About the book, from the publisher:
The idea that military strength is virtually synonymous with security is deeply entrenched and widely held. But while the threat or use of military force may sometimes be necessary, it cannot keep us as safe as we would be by building relationships that replace hostility with a sense of mutual purpose and mutual gain. Economic relationships, says Lloyd J. Dumas, can offer a far more effective, and far less costly, means of maintaining security. After defining the right kind of economic relationship—one that is balanced and nonexploitative, emphasizes development, and minimizes environmental damage—Dumas then addresses some practical concerns in establishing and maintaining these relationships. He also considers the practical problems of the transition from military-based security arrangements to "economic peacekeeping," and the effects of demilitarized security on economic development and prosperity.
Read early reviews of The Peacekeeping Economy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Invasion of the Body: Revolutions in Surgery"

New from Harvard University Press: Invasion of the Body: Revolutions in Surgery by Nicholas L. Tilney.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1913, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston admitted its first patient, Mary Agnes Turner, who suffered from varicose veins in her legs. The surgical treatment she received, under ether anesthesia, was the most advanced available at the time. At the same hospital fifty years later, Nicholas Tilney—then a second-year resident—assisted in the repair of a large aortic aneurysm. The cutting-edge diagnostic tools he used to evaluate the patient’s condition would soon be eclipsed by yet more sophisticated apparatus, including minimally invasive approaches and state-of-the-art imaging technology, which Tilney would draw on in pioneering organ transplant surgery and becoming one of its most distinguished practitioners.

In Invasion of the Body, Tilney tells the story of modern surgery and the revolutions that have transformed the field: anesthesia, prevention of infection, professional standards of competency, pharmaceutical advances, and the present turmoil in medical education and health care reform. Tilney uses as his stage the famous Boston teaching hospital where he completed his residency and went on to practice (now called Brigham and Women's). His cast of characters includes clinicians, support staff, trainees, patients, families, and various applied scientists who push the revolutions forward.

While lauding the innovations that have brought surgeons' capabilities to heights undreamed of even a few decades ago, Tilney also previews a challenging future, as new capacities to prolong life and restore health run headlong into unsustainable costs. The authoritative voice he brings to the ancient tradition of surgical invasion will be welcomed by patients, practitioners, and policymakers alike.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Sex Cells"

New from the University of California Press: Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm by Rene Almeling.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unimaginable until the twentieth century, the clinical practice of transferring eggs and sperm from body to body is now the basis of a bustling market. In Sex Cells, Rene Almeling provides an inside look at how egg agencies and sperm banks do business. Although both men and women are usually drawn to donation for financial reasons, Almeling finds that clinics encourage sperm donors to think of the payments as remuneration for an easy "job." Women receive more money but are urged to regard egg donation in feminine terms, as the ultimate "gift" from one woman to another. Sex Cells shows how the gendered framing of paid donation, as either a job or a gift, not only influences the structure of the market, but also profoundly affects the individuals whose genetic material is being purchased.
Among the early praise for Sex Cells:
“What happens when sex cells sell? Do human bodies become degraded objects of commerce? Challenging simplistic accounts of commodification, Almeling offers a compelling analysis of contemporary markets for eggs and sperm. A superb contribution to 21st century economic sociology.”
--Viviana A. Zelizer, author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

“Almeling offers a wonderfully thoughtful analysis and an innovative cultural lens for viewing the gendered lives of sex cells and their commodification in the contemporary USA.” --Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Impact of Amniocentesis in America

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Humanity's Law"

New from Oxford University Press: Humanity's Law by Ruti G. Teitel.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Humanity's Law, renowned legal scholar Ruti Teitel offers a powerful account of one of the central transformations of the post-Cold War era: the profound normative shift in the international legal order from prioritizing state security to protecting human security. As she demonstrates, courts, tribunals, and other international bodies now rely on a humanity-based framework to assess the rights and wrongs of conflict; to determine whether and how to intervene; and to impose accountability and responsibility. Cumulatively, the norms represent a new law of humanity that spans the law of war, international human rights, and international criminal justice. Teitel explains how this framework is reshaping the discourse of international politics with a new approach to the management of violent conflict.

Teitel maintains that this framework is most evidently at work in the jurisprudence of the tribunals-international, regional, and domestic-that are charged with deciding disputes that often span issues of internal and international conflict and security. The book demonstrates how the humanity law framework connects the mandates and rulings of diverse tribunals and institutions, addressing the fragmentation of global legal order.

Comprehensive in approach, Humanity's Law considers legal and political developments related to violent conflict in Europe, North America, South America, and Africa. This interdisciplinary work is essential reading for anyone attempting to grasp the momentous changes occurring in global affairs as the management of conflict is increasingly driven by the claims and interests of persons and peoples, and state sovereignty itself is transformed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy"

New from Columbia University Press: Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform by Paul R. Pillar.

About the book, from the publisher:
A career of nearly three decades with the CIA and the National Intelligence Council showed Paul R. Pillar that intelligence reforms, especially measures enacted since 9/11, can be deeply misguided. They often miss the sources that underwrite failed policy and misperceive our ability to read outside influences. They also misconceive the intelligence-policy relationship and promote changes that weaken intelligence-gathering operations.

In this book, Pillar confronts the intelligence myths Americans have come to rely on to explain national tragedies, including the belief that intelligence drives major national security decisions and can be fixed to avoid future failures. Pillar believes these assumptions waste critical resources and create harmful policies, diverting attention away from smarter reform, and they keep Americans from recognizing the limits of obtainable knowledge.

Pillar revisits U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War and highlights the small role intelligence played in those decisions, and he demonstrates the negligible effect that America's most notorious intelligence failures had on U.S. policy and interests. He then reviews in detail the events of 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, condemning the 9/11 commission and the George W. Bush administration for their portrayals of the role of intelligence. Pillar offers an original approach to better informing U.S. policy, which involves insulating intelligence management from politicization and reducing the politically appointed layer in the executive branch to combat slanted perceptions of foreign threats. Pillar concludes with principles for adapting foreign policy to inevitable uncertainties.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"The Darwin Economy"

New from Princeton University Press: The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good by Robert H. Frank.

About the book, from the publisher:
Who was the greater economist--Adam Smith or Charles Darwin? The question seems absurd. Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist. But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best-selling author of The Economic Naturalist, predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. The reason, Frank argues, is that Darwin's understanding of competition describes economic reality far more accurately than Smith's. And the consequences of this fact are profound. Indeed, the failure to recognize that we live in Darwin's world rather than Smith's is putting us all at risk by preventing us from seeing that competition alone will not solve our problems.

Smith's theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self-interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition--and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself. But what if Smith's idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition? That's what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin's insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply. Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to "arms races," encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting.

The good news is that we have the ability to tame the Darwin economy. The best solution is not to prohibit harmful behaviors but to tax them. By doing so, we could make the economic pie larger, eliminate government debt, and provide better public services, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. That's a bold claim, Frank concedes, but it follows directly from logic and evidence that most people already accept.
Writers Read: Robert H. Frank.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Lost Decades"

New from W.W. Norton: Lost Decades: The Making of America's Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery by Menzie D. Chinn and Jeffry A. Frieden.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two acclaimed political economists explore the origins and long-term effects of the financial crisis in historical and comparative perspective.

Welcome to Argentina: by 2008 the United States had become the biggest international borrower in world history, with almost half of its 6.4 trillion dollar federal debt in foreign hands. The proportion of foreign loans to the size of the economy put the United States in league with Mexico, Pakistan, and other third-world debtor nations. The massive inflow of foreign funds financed the booms in housing prices and consumer spending that fueled the economy until the collapse of late 2008.

The authors explore the political and economic roots of this crisis as well as its long-term effects. They explain the political strategies behind the Bush administration's policy of funding massive deficits with the foreign borrowing that fed the crisis. They see the continuing impact of our huge debt in a slow recovery ahead. Their clear, insightful, and comprehensive account will long be regarded as the standard on the crisis.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Trade of the Tricks"

New from the University of California Press: Trade of the Tricks: Inside the Magician's Craft by Graham M. Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
From risqué cabaret performances to engrossing after-hours shop talk, Trade of the Tricks offers an unprecedented look inside the secretive subculture of modern magicians. Entering the flourishing Paris magic scene as an apprentice, Graham M. Jones gives a firsthand account of how magicians learn to perform their astonishing deceptions. He follows the day-to-day lives of some of France’s most renowned performers, revealing not only how secrets are created and shared, but also how they are stolen and destroyed. In a book brimming with humor and surprise, Jones shows how today’s magicians marshal creativity and passion in striving to elevate their amazing skill into high art. The book’s lively cast of characters includes female and queer performers whose work is changing the face of a historically masculine genre.
Read early reviews of Trade of the Tricks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Imagining the Middle East"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Imagining the Middle East: The Building of an American Foreign Policy, 1918-1967 by Matthew F. Jacobs.

About the book, from the publisher:
As its interests have become deeply tied to the Middle East, the United States has long sought to develop a usable understanding of the people, politics, and cultures of the region. In Imagining the Middle East, Matthew Jacobs illuminates how Americans' ideas and perspectives about the region have shaped, justified, and sustained U.S. cultural, economic, military, and political involvement there.

Jacobs examines the ways in which an informal network of academic, business, government, and media specialists interpreted and shared their perceptions of the Middle East from the end of World War I through the late 1960s. During that period, Jacobs argues, members of this network imagined the Middle East as a region defined by certain common characteristics--religion, mass politics, underdevelopment, and an escalating Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict--and as a place that might be transformed through U.S. involvement. Thus, the ways in which specialists and policymakers imagined the Middle East of the past or present came to justify policies designed to create an imagined Middle East of the future. Jacobs demonstrates that an analysis of the intellectual roots of current politics and foreign policy is critical to comprehending the styles of U.S. engagement with the Middle East in a post-9/11 world.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Until the Fires Stopped Burning"

New from Columbia University Press: Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses by Charles Strozier.

About the book, from the publisher:
Charles B. Strozier's college lost sixty-eight alumni in the tragedy of 9/11, and the many courses he has taught on terrorism and related topics since have attracted dozens of survivors and family members. A practicing psychoanalyst in Manhattan, Strozier has also accepted many seared by the disaster into his care. In some ways, the grief he has encountered has felt familiar; in other ways, unprecedented. Compelled to investigate its unique character further, he launched a fascinating study into the conscious and unconscious meaning of the event, both for those who were physically close to the attack and for those who witnessed it beyond the immediate space of Ground Zero.

Based on the testimony of survivors, bystanders, spectators, and victim's friends and families, Until the Fires Stopped Burning brings much-needed clarity to the conscious and unconscious meaning of 9/11 and its relationship to historical disaster, apocalyptic experience, unnatural death, and the psychological endurance of trauma. Strozier interprets and contextualizes the memories of witnesses and compares their encounter with 9/11 to the devastation of Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Katrina, and other events Kai Erikson has called a "new species of trouble" in the world. Organizing his study around "zones of sadness" in New York, Strozier powerfully evokes the multiple places in which his respondents confronted 9/11 while remaining sensitive to the personal, social, and cultural differences of these experiences. Most important, he distinguishes between 9/11 as an apocalyptic event (which he affirms it is not—rather, it is a monumental event), and 9/11 as an apocalyptic experience, which is crucial to understanding the act's affect on American life and a still-evolving culture of fear in the world.
Until the Fires Stopped Burning is on Salon's list of five standout new 9/11 books.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"The Ethical Project"

New from Harvard University Press: The Ethical Project by Philip Kitcher.

About the book, from the publisher:
Principles of right and wrong guide the lives of almost all human beings, but we often see them as external to ourselves, outside our own control. In a revolutionary approach to the problems of moral philosophy, Philip Kitcher makes a provocative proposal: Instead of conceiving ethical commands as divine revelations or as the discoveries of brilliant thinkers, we should see our ethical practices as evolving over tens of thousands of years, as members of our species have worked out how to live together and prosper. Elaborating this radical new vision, Kitcher shows how the limited altruistic tendencies of our ancestors enabled a fragile social life, how our forebears learned to regulate their interactions with one another, and how human societies eventually grew into forms of previously unimaginable complexity. The most successful of the many millennia-old experiments in how to live, he contends, survive in our values today.

Drawing on natural science, social science, and philosophy to develop an approach he calls “pragmatic naturalism,” Kitcher reveals the power of an evolving ethics built around a few core principles—including justice and cooperation—but leaving room for a diversity of communities and modes of self-expression. Ethics emerges as a beautifully human phenomenon—permanently unfinished, collectively refined and distorted generation by generation. Our human values, Kitcher shows, can be understood not as a final system but as a project—the ethical project—in which our species has engaged for most of its history, and which has been central to who we are.
The Page 69 Test: Philip Kitcher's Living With Darwin.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Criminology Goes to the Movies"

New from NYU Press: Criminology Goes to the Movies: Crime Theory and Popular Culture by Nicole Rafter and Michelle Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
From a look at classics like Psycho and Double Indemnity to recent films like Traffic and Thelma & Louise, Nicole Rafter and Michelle Brown show that criminological theory is produced not only in the academy, through scholarly research, but also in popular culture, through film. Criminology Goes to the Movies connects with ways in which students are already thinking criminologically through engagements with popular culture, encouraging them to use the everyday world as a vehicle for theorizing and understanding both crime and perceptions of criminality. The first work to bring a systematic and sophisticated criminological perspective to bear on crime films, Rafter and Brown’s book provides a fresh way of looking at cinema, using the concepts and analytical tools of criminology to uncover previously unnoticed meanings in film, ultimately making the study of criminological theory more engaging and effective for students while simultaneously demonstrating how theories of crime circulate in our mass-mediated worlds. The result is an illuminating new way of seeing movies and a delightful way of learning about criminology.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Pricing Beauty"

New from the University of California Press: Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model by Ashley Mears.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sociologist Ashley Mears takes us behind the brightly lit runways and glossy advertisements of the fashion industry in this insider’s study of the world of modeling. Mears, who worked as a model in New York and London, draws on observations as well as extensive interviews with male and female models, agents, clients, photographers, stylists, and others, to explore the economics and politics—and the arbitrariness— behind the business of glamour. Exploring a largely hidden arena of cultural production, she shows how the right “look” is discovered, developed, and packaged to become a prized commodity. She examines how models sell themselves, how agents promote them, and how clients decide to hire them. An original contribution to the sociology of work in the new cultural economy, Pricing Beauty offers rich, accessible analysis of the invisible ways in which gender, race, and class shape worth in the marketplace.
Read early reviews of Pricing Beauty.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"The Art of Coercion"

New from Columbia University Press: The Art of Coercion: The Primitive Accumulation and Management of Coercive Power by Antonio Giustozzi.

About the book, from the publisher:
An expert on the Taliban’s modern habits and practices, Antonio Giustozzi asserts a controversial point about the role of violence and coercion in state building, which also happens to be relevant to liberal interventionism. Liberal interventionism’s dominant discourse dangerously neglects the role of coercion and the monopoly of violence in the countries it purports to aid. Many scholars assume that a functional liberal state can emerge from a settlement between warring parties, especially if the agreement is characterized by political inclusiveness and a social contract. Yet similar post–Cold War deals have exposed the fallacy of such logic.

Giustozzi contends that a key flaw lies in the confusion over the specifics of state formation and state building. In his view, completely different "rules of the game" apply in each scenario. Naked coercion is a key component of state formation, and very few states have been formed without recourse to it. In contrast, the history of state consolidation after initial formation reflects a taming of violence and a sophisticated method of managing it.

The Art of Coercion introduces a new framework for analyzing the role of security in its broadest sense, particularly its place in state formation and state building. While focusing largely on nineteenth- and twentieth-century examples, Giustozzi discusses instances of coercive power throughout history, ranging from its use in the Carolingian empire to South Africa’s Boer War, and from China’s Warring States period to Emiliano Zapata’s Mexican Revolution. He scrutinizes the role of armies, guerilla bands, mercenaries, police forces, and intelligence services, exploring why some coups fail while others succeed and how the monopoly of violence decays over time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


New from Yale University Press: Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict in Our Lives and Relationships by Donna Hicks.

About the book, from the publisher:
The desire for dignity is universal and powerful. It is a motivating force behind all human interaction—in families, in communities, in the business world, and in relationships at the international level. When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, even violence, hatred, and vengeance. On the other hand, when people treat one another with dignity, they become more connected and are able to create more meaningful relationships. Surprisingly, most people have little understanding of dignity, observes Donna Hicks in this important book. She examines the reasons for this gap and offers a new set of strategies for becoming aware of dignity's vital role in our lives and learning to put dignity into practice in everyday life.

Drawing on her extensive experience in international conflict resolution and on insights from evolutionary biology, psychology, and neuroscience, the author explains what the elements of dignity are, how to recognize dignity violations, how to respond when we are not treated with dignity, how dignity can restore a broken relationship, why leaders must understand the concept of dignity, and more. Hicks shows that by choosing dignity as a way of life, we open the way to greater peace within ourselves and to a safer and more humane world for all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"The Makings of Indonesian Islam"

New from Princeton University Press: The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past by Michael Laffan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Indonesian Islam is often portrayed as being intrinsically moderate by virtue of the role that mystical Sufism played in shaping its traditions. According to Western observers--from Dutch colonial administrators and orientalist scholars to modern anthropologists such as the late Clifford Geertz--Indonesia's peaceful interpretation of Islam has been perpetually under threat from outside by more violent, intolerant Islamic traditions that were originally imposed by conquering Arab armies.

The Makings of Indonesian Islam challenges this widely accepted narrative, offering a more balanced assessment of the intellectual and cultural history of the most populous Muslim nation on Earth. Michael Laffan traces how the popular image of Indonesian Islam was shaped by encounters between colonial Dutch scholars and reformist Islamic thinkers. He shows how Dutch religious preoccupations sometimes echoed Muslim concerns about the relationship between faith and the state, and how Dutch-Islamic discourse throughout the long centuries of European colonialism helped give rise to Indonesia's distinctive national and religious culture.

The Makings of Indonesian Islam presents Islamic and colonial history as an integrated whole, revealing the ways our understanding of Indonesian Islam, both past and present, came to be.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"The Reactionary Mind"

New from Oxford University Press: The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin by Corey Robin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Late in life, William F. Buckley made a confession to Corey Robin. Capitalism is "boring," said the founding father of the American right. "Devoting your life to it," as conservatives do, "is horrifying if only because it's so repetitious. It's like sex." With this unlikely conversation began Robin's decade-long foray into the conservative mind. What is conservatism, and what's truly at stake for its proponents? If capitalism bores them, what excites them?

Tracing conservatism back to its roots in the reaction against the French Revolution, Robin argues that the right is fundamentally inspired by a hostility to emancipating the lower orders. Some conservatives endorse the free market, others oppose it. Some criticize the state, others celebrate it. Underlying these differences is the impulse to defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality.

Despite their opposition to these movements, conservatives favor a dynamic conception of politics and society--one that involves self-transformation, violence, and war. They are also highly adaptive to new challenges and circumstances. This partiality to violence and capacity for reinvention has been critical to their success.

Written by a keen, highly regarded observer of the contemporary political scene, The Reactionary Mind ranges widely, from Edmund Burke to Antonin Scalia, from John C. Calhoun to Ayn Rand. It advances the notion that all rightwing ideologies, from the eighteenth century through today, are historical improvisations on a theme: the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles"

New from NYU Press: Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles: Understanding Sex Crime Policy in America by Chrysanthi S. Leon.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Megan’s Law to Jessica’s Law, almost every state in the nation has passed some law to punish sex offenders. This popular tough-on-crime legislation is often written after highly-publicized cases have made the gruesome rounds through the media, and usually features harsh sentences, lifetime GPS monitoring, a dramatic expansion of the civil commitment procedures, and severe restrictions on where released sex offenders may live. In Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles, Chrysanthi Leon argues that, while the singular notion of the sexual boogeyman has been used to justify these harsh policies, not all sex offenders are the same and such ‘one size fits all’ policies can unfairly punish other offenders of lesser crimes, needlessly targeting, sometimes ostracizing, citizens from their own communities.

While many recognize that prison is not the right tool for every crime problem, Leon compellingly argues that the U.S. maintains a one-size-fits-all approach to sexual offending which is undermining public safety. Leon explains how we’ve reached this point—with a large incarcerated sex offender population, many of whom will be released in the coming years with multiple barriers to their success in the community, and without much expertise to guide them or to guide those who are charged to help them. Leon argues that we cannot blame the public, nor even the politicians, except indirectly. Instead, we might blame the institutions we charge with making placement decisions and with the experts—both those who have chosen to work in the field and those who have caused its marginalization. Ultimately, Leon shows that when policies intended for the worst offenders take over, all of us suffer.