Thursday, May 31, 2012

"America the Philosophical"

New from Knopf: America the Philosophical by Carlin Romano.

About the book, from the publisher:
A bold, insightful book that rejects the myth of America the Unphilosophical, arguing that America today towers as the most philosophical culture in the history of the world, an unprecedented marketplace of truth and argument that far surpasses ancient Greece or any other place one can name.

With verve and keen intelligence, Carlin Romano—Pulitzer Prize finalist, award-winning book critic, and professor of philosophy—takes on the widely held belief that ours is an anti–intellectual society. Instead, while providing a richly reported overview of American thought, Romano argues that ordinary Americans see through phony philosophical justifications faster than anyone else, and that the best of our thinkers abandon artificial academic debates for fresh intellectual enterprises, such as cyberphilosophy. Along the way, Romano seeks to topple philosophy’s most fiercely admired hero, Socrates, asserting that it is Isocrates, the nearly forgotten Greek philosopher who rejected certainty, whom Americans should honor as their intellectual ancestor.

America the Philosophical introduces readers to a nation whose existence most still doubt: a dynamic, deeply stimulating network of people and places drawn together by shared excitement about ideas. From the annual conference of the American Philosophical Association, where scholars tack wiseguy notes addressed to Spinoza on a public bulletin board, to the eruption of philosophy blogs where participants discuss everything from pedagogy to the philosophy of science to the nature of agency and free will, Romano reveals a world where public debate and intellectual engagement never stop. And readers meet the men and women whose ideas have helped shape American life over the previous few centuries, from well-known historical figures like William James and Ralph Waldo Emerson, to modern cultural critics who deserve to be seen as thinkers (Kenneth Burke, Edward Said), to the iconoclastic African American, women, Native American, and gay mavericks (Cornel West, Susan Sontag, Anne Waters, Richard Mohr) who have broadened the boundaries of American philosophy.

Smart and provocative, America the Philosophical is a rebellious tour de force that both celebrates our country’s unparalleled intellectual energy and promises to bury some of our most hidebound cultural clichés.
See Carlin Romano's five top idiosyncratic philosophy books.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Crossroads at Clarksdale"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta after World War II by Françoise N. Hamlin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Weaving national narratives from stories of the daily lives and familiar places of local residents, Françoise Hamlin chronicles the slow struggle for black freedom through the history of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hamlin paints a full picture of the town over fifty years, recognizing the accomplishments of its diverse African American community and strong NAACP branch, and examining the extreme brutality of entrenched power there. The Clarksdale story defies triumphant narratives of dramatic change, and presents instead a layered, contentious, untidy, and often disappointingly unresolved civil rights movement.

Following the black freedom struggle in Clarksdale from World War II through the first decade of the twenty-first century allows Hamlin to tell multiple, interwoven stories about the town's people, their choices, and the extent of political change. She shows how members of civil rights organizations--especially local leaders Vera Pigee and Aaron Henry--worked to challenge Jim Crow through fights against inequality, police brutality, segregation, and, later, economic injustice. With Clarksdale still at a crossroads today, Hamlin explores how to evaluate success when poverty and inequality persist.
Visit the Crossroads at Clarksdale Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Bonds of Alliance"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France by Brett Rushforth.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, French colonists and their Native allies participated in a slave trade that spanned half of North America, carrying thousands of Native Americans into bondage in the Great Lakes, Canada, and the Caribbean. In Bonds of Alliance, Brett Rushforth reveals the dynamics of this system from its origins to the end of French colonial rule. Balancing a vast geographic and chronological scope with careful attention to the lives of enslaved individuals, this book gives voice to those who lived through the ordeal of slavery and, along the way, shaped French and Native societies.

Rather than telling a simple story of colonial domination and Native victimization, Rushforth argues that Indian slavery in New France emerged at the nexus of two very different forms of slavery: one indigenous to North America and the other rooted in the Atlantic world. The alliances that bound French and Natives together forced a century-long negotiation over the nature of slavery and its place in early American society. Neither fully Indian nor entirely French, slavery in New France drew upon and transformed indigenous and Atlantic cultures in complex and surprising ways.

Based on thousands of French and Algonquian-language manuscripts archived in Canada, France, the United States and the Caribbean, Bonds of Alliance bridges the divide between continental and Atlantic approaches to early American history. By discovering unexpected connections between distant peoples and places, Rushforth sheds new light on a wide range of subjects, including intercultural diplomacy, colonial law, gender and sexuality, and the history of race.

Monday, May 28, 2012

"The Lost German East"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory, 1945-1970 by Andrew Demshuk.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fifth of West Germany's post-1945 population consisted of ethnic German refugees expelled from Eastern Europe, a quarter of whom came from Silesia. As the richest territory lost inside Germany's interwar borders, Silesia was a leading objective for territorial revisionists, many of whom were themselves expellees. The Lost German East examines how and why millions of Silesian expellees came to terms with the loss of their homeland. Applying theories of memory and nostalgia, as well as recent studies on ethnic cleansing, Andrew Demshuk shows how, over time, most expellees came to recognize that the idealized world they mourned no longer existed. Revising the traditional view that most of those expelled sought a restoration of prewar borders so they could return to the east, Demshuk offers a new answer to the question of why, after decades of violent upheaval, peace and stability took root in West Germany during the tense early years of the Cold War.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Just and Unjust Peace"

New from Oxford University Press: Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation by Daniel Philpott.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the wake of massive injustice, how can justice be achieved and peace restored? Is it possible to find a universal standard that will work for people of diverse and often conflicting religious, cultural, and philosophical backgrounds?

In Just and Unjust Peace, Daniel Philpott offers an innovative and hopeful response to these questions. He challenges the approach to peace-building that dominates the United Nations, western governments, and the human rights community. While he shares their commitments to human rights and democracy, Philpott argues that these values alone cannot redress the wounds caused by war, genocide, and dictatorship. Both justice and the effective restoration of political order call for a more holistic, restorative approach. Philpott answers that call by proposing a form of political reconciliation that is deeply rooted in three religious traditions--Christianity, Islam, and Judaism--as well as the restorative justice movement. These traditions offer the fullest expressions of the core concepts of justice, mercy, and peace. By adapting these ancient concepts to modern constitutional democracy and international norms, Philpott crafts an ethic that has widespread appeal and offers real hope for the restoration of justice in fractured communities. From the roots of these traditions, Philpott develops six practices--building just institutions and relations between states, acknowledgment, reparations, restorative punishment, apology and, most important, forgiveness--which he then applies to real cases, identifying how each practice redresses a unique set of wounds.

Focusing on places as varied as Bosnia, Iraq, South Africa, Germany, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Chile and many others--and drawing upon the actual experience of victims and perpetrators--Just and Unjust Peace offers a fresh approach to the age-old problem of restoring justice in the aftermath of widespread injustice.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"The Everlasting Empire"

New from Princeton University Press: The Everlasting Empire: The Political Culture of Ancient China and Its Imperial Legacy by Yuri Pines.

About the book, from the publisher:
Established in 221 BCE, the Chinese empire lasted for 2,132 years before being replaced by the Republic of China in 1912. During its two millennia, the empire endured internal wars, foreign incursions, alien occupations, and devastating rebellions--yet fundamental institutional, sociopolitical, and cultural features of the empire remained intact. The Everlasting Empire traces the roots of the Chinese empire's exceptional longevity and unparalleled political durability, and shows how lessons from the imperial past are relevant for China today.

Yuri Pines demonstrates that the empire survived and adjusted to a variety of domestic and external challenges through a peculiar combination of rigid ideological premises and their flexible implementation. The empire's major political actors and neighbors shared its fundamental ideological principles, such as unity under a single monarch--hence, even the empire's strongest domestic and foreign foes adopted the system of imperial rule. Yet details of this rule were constantly negotiated and adjusted. Pines shows how deep tensions between political actors including the emperor, the literati, local elites, and rebellious commoners actually enabled the empire's basic institutional framework to remain critically vital and adaptable to ever-changing sociopolitical circumstances. As contemporary China moves toward a new period of prosperity and power in the twenty-first century, Pines argues that the legacy of the empire may become an increasingly important force in shaping the nation's future trajectory.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Making Way for Genius"

New from Yale University Press: Making Way for Genius: The Aspiring Self in France from the Old Regime to the New by Kathleen Kete.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examining the lives and works of three iconic personalities —Germaine de Staël, Stendhal, and Georges Cuvier—Kathleen Kete creates a groundbreaking cultural history of ambition in post-Revolutionary France. While in the old regime the traditionalist view of ambition prevailed—that is, ambition as morally wrong unless subsumed into a corporate whole—the new regime was marked by a rising tide of competitive individualism. Greater opportunities for personal advancement, however, were shadowed by lingering doubts about the moral value of ambition.

Kete identifies three strategies used to overcome the ethical “burden” of ambition: romantic genius (Staël), secular vocation (Stendhal), and post-mythic destiny (Cuvier). In each case, success would seem to be driven by forces outside one’s control. She concludes by examining the still relevant (and still unresolved) conundrum of the relationship of individual desires to community needs, which she identifies as a defining characteristic of the modern world.
Kathleen Kete, Borden W. Painter, Jr., Associate Professor of European History at Trinity College, is the author of The Beast in the Boudoir: Petkeeping in Nineteenth-Century Paris.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"City Versus Countryside in Mao's China"

New from Cambridge University Press: City Versus Countryside in Mao's China: Negotiating the Divide by Jeremy Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
The gap between those living in the city and those in the countryside remains one of China's most intractable problems. As this powerful work of grassroots history argues, the origins of China's rural-urban divide can be traced back to the Mao Zedong era. While Mao pledged to remove the gap between the city worker and the peasant, his revolutionary policies misfired and ended up provoking still greater discrepancies between town and country, usually to the disadvantage of villagers. Through archival sources, personal diaries, untapped government dossiers, and interviews with people from cities and villages in northern China, the book recounts their personal experiences, showing how they retaliated against the daily restrictions imposed on their activities while traversing between the city and the countryside. Vivid and harrowing accounts of forced and illicit migration, the staggering inequity of the Great Leap Famine, and political exile and deportation during the Cultural Revolution reveal how Chinese people fought back against policies that pitted city dwellers against villagers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You"

New from the University of California Press: Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature by Agustín Fuentes.

About the book, from the publisher:
There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; men and women are truly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. In an engaging and wide-ranging narrative Agustín Fuentes counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Tackling misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution requiring us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.” Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes. A final chapter plus an appendix provide a set of take-home points on how readers can myth-bust on their own. Accessible, compelling, and original, this book is a rich and nuanced account of how nature, culture, experience, and choice interact to influence human behavior.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"The Universe Unraveling"

New from Cornell University Press: The Universe Unraveling: American Foreign Policy in Cold War Laos by Seth Jacobs.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, Laos was positioned to become a major front in the Cold War. Yet American policymakers ultimately chose to resist communism in neighboring South Vietnam instead. Two generations of historians have explained this decision by citing logistical considerations. Laos's landlocked, mountainous terrain, they hold, made the kingdom an unpropitious place to fight, while South Vietnam—possessing a long coastline, navigable rivers, and all-weather roads—better accommodated America’s military forces. The Universe Unraveling is a provocative reinterpretation of U.S.-Laos relations in the years leading up to the Vietnam War. Seth Jacobs argues that Laos boasted several advantages over South Vietnam as a battlefield, notably its thousand-mile border with Thailand, whose leader was willing to allow Washington to use his nation as a base from which to attack the communist Pathet Lao.

More significant in determining U.S. policy in Southeast Asia than strategic appraisals of the Laotian landscape were cultural perceptions of the Lao people. Jacobs contends that U.S. policy toward Laos under Eisenhower and Kennedy cannot be understood apart from the traits Americans ascribed to their Lao allies. Drawing on diplomatic correspondence and the work of iconic figures like "celebrity saint" Tom Dooley, Jacobs finds that the characteristics American statesmen and the American media attributed to the Lao—laziness, immaturity, and cowardice—differed from the traits assigned the South Vietnamese, making Lao chances of withstanding communist aggression appear dubious. The Universe Unraveling combines diplomatic, cultural, and military history to provide a new perspective on how prejudice can shape policy decisions and even the course of history.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"The New Geography of Jobs"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The New Geography of Jobs: Who Wins, Who Loses in the New Innovation Economy by Enrico Moretti.

About the book, from the publisher:
From a rising young economist, an examination of innovation and success, and where to find them in America.

An unprecedented redistribution of jobs, population, and wealth is under way in America, and it is likely to accelerate in the years to come. America’s new economic map shows growing differences, not just between people but especially between communities. In this important and persuasive book, U.C. Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti provides a fresh perspective on the tectonic shifts that are reshaping America’s labor market—from globalization and income inequality to immigration and technological progress—and how these shifts are affecting our communities. Drawing on a wealth of stimulating new studies, Moretti uncovers what smart policies may be appropriate to address the social challenges that are arising.

We’re used to thinking of the United States in dichotomous terms: red versus blue, black versus white, haves versus have-nots. But today there are three Americas. At one extreme are the brain hubs—cities like San Francisco, Boston, Austin, and Durham—with a well-educated labor force and a strong innovation sector. Their workers are among the most productive, creative, and best paid on the planet. At the other extreme are cities once dominated by traditional manufacturing, which are declining rapidly, losing jobs and residents. In the middle are a number of cities that could go either way. For the past thirty years, the three Americas have been growing apart at an accelerating rate. This divergence is one the most important recent developments in the United States and is causing growing geographic disparities is all other aspects of our lives, from health and longevity to family stability and political engagement.

But the winners and losers aren’t necessarily who you’d expect. Moretti’s groundbreaking research shows that you don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer to thrive in one of these brain hubs. Among the beneficiaries are the workers who support the "idea-creators"—the carpenters, hair stylists, personal trainers, lawyers, doctors, teachers and the like. In fact, Moretti has shown that for every new innovation job in a city, five additional non-innovation jobs are created, and those workers earn higher salaries than their counterparts in other cities.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. As the global economy shifted from manufacturing to innovation, geography was supposed to matter less. But the pundits were wrong. A new map is being drawn—the inevitable result of deep-seated but rarely discussed economic forces. These trends are reshaping the very fabric of our society. Dealing with this split—supporting growth in the hubs while arresting the decline elsewhere—will be the challenge of the century, and The New Geography of Jobs lights the way.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Defending Politics"

New from Oxford University Press: Defending Politics: Why Democracy Matters in the Twenty-First Century by Matthew Flinders.

About the book, from the publisher:
Citizens around the world have become distrustful of politicians, skeptical about democratic institutions, and disillusioned about the capacity of democratic politics to resolve pressing social concerns. Many feel as if something has gone seriously wrong with democracy.

Defending Politics meets this contemporary pessimism about the political process head on. In doing so, it aims to cultivate a shift from the negativity that appears to dominate public life towards a more buoyant and engaged "politics of optimism." Matthew Flinders makes an unfashionable but incredibly important argument of utmost simplicity: democratic politics delivers far more than most members of the public appear to acknowledge and understand. If more and more people are disappointed with what modern democratic politics delivers, is it possible that the fault lies with those who demand too much, fail to acknowledge the essence of democratic engagement, and ignore the complexities of governing in the twentieth century? Is it possible that the public in many advanced liberal democracies have become "democratically decadent," that they take what democratic politics delivers for granted? Would politics appear in a better light if we all spent less time emphasizing our individual rights and more time reflecting on our responsibilities to society and future generations?

Democratic politics remains "a great and civilizing human activity...something to be valued almost as a pearl beyond price," Bernard Crick stressed in his classic In Defense of Politics fifty years ago. By returning to and updating Crick's arguments, this book provides an honest account of why democratic politics matters and why we need to reject the arguments of those who would turn their backs on "mere politics" in favor of more authoritarian, populist or technocratic forms of governing.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Paris and the Spirit of 1919"

New from Cambridge University Press: Paris and the Spirit of 1919: Consumer Struggles, Transnationalism and Revolution by Tyler Stovall.

About the book, from the publisher:
This transnational history of Paris in 1919 explores the global implications of the revolutionary crisis of French society at the end of World War I. As the site of the Peace Conference, Paris was a victorious capital and a city at the centre of the world, and Tyler Stovall explores these intersections of globalisation and local revolution. The book takes as its central point the eruption of political activism in 1919, using the events of that year to illustrate broader tensions in working class, race and gender politics in Parisian, French and ultimately global society which fuelled debates about colonial subjects and the empire. Viewing consumerism and consumer politics as key both to the revolutionary crisis and to new ideas about working class identity, and arguing against the idea that consumerism depoliticised working people, this history of local labor movements is a study in the making of the modern world.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Housing the New Russia"

New from Cornell University Press: Housing the New Russia by Jane R. Zavisca.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Housing the New Russia, Jane R. Zavisca examines Russia's attempts to transition from a socialist vision of housing, in which the government promised a separate, state-owned apartment for every family, to a market-based and mortgage-dependent model of home ownership. In 1992, the post-Soviet Russian government signed an agreement with the United States to create the Russian housing market. The vision of an American-style market guided housing policy over the next two decades. Privatization gave socialist housing to existing occupants, creating a nation of homeowners overnight. New financial institutions, modeled on the American mortgage system, laid the foundation for a market. Next the state tried to stimulate mortgages—and reverse the declining birth rate, another major concern—by subsidizing loans for young families.

Imported housing institutions, however, failed to resonate with local conceptions of ownership, property, and rights. Most Russians reject mortgages, which they call "debt bondage," as an unjust “overpayment” for a good they consider to be a basic right. Instead of stimulating homeownership, privatization, combined with high prices and limited credit, created a system of “property without markets.” Frustrated aspirations and unjustified inequality led most Russians to call for a government-controlled housing market. Under the Soviet system, residents retained lifelong tenancy rights, perceiving the apartments they inhabited as their own. In the wake of privatization, young Russians can no longer count on the state to provide their house, nor can they afford to buy a home with wages, forcing many to live with extended family well into adulthood. Zavisca shows that the contradictions of housing policy are a significant factor in Russia’s falling birth rates and the apparent failure of its pronatalist policies. These consequences further stack the deck against the likelihood that an affordable housing market will take off in the near future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Pursuits of Wisdom"

New from Princeton University Press: Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus by John M. Cooper.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a major reinterpretation of ancient philosophy that recovers the long Greek and Roman tradition of philosophy as a complete way of life--and not simply an intellectual discipline. Distinguished philosopher John Cooper traces how, for many ancient thinkers, philosophy was not just to be studied or even used to solve particular practical problems. Rather, philosophy--not just ethics but even logic and physical theory--was literally to be lived. Yet there was great disagreement about how to live philosophically: philosophy was not one but many, mutually opposed, ways of life. Examining this tradition from its establishment by Socrates in the fifth century BCE through Plotinus in the third century CE and the eclipse of pagan philosophy by Christianity, Pursuits of Wisdom examines six central philosophies of living--Socratic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Epicurean, Skeptic, and the Platonist life of late antiquity.

The book describes the shared assumptions that allowed these thinkers to conceive of their philosophies as ways of life, as well as the distinctive ideas that led them to widely different conclusions about the best human life. Clearing up many common misperceptions and simplifications, Cooper explains in detail the Socratic devotion to philosophical discussion about human nature, human life, and human good; the Aristotelian focus on the true place of humans within the total system of the natural world; the Stoic commitment to dutifully accepting Zeus's plans; the Epicurean pursuit of pleasure through tranquil activities that exercise perception, thought, and feeling; the Skeptical eschewal of all critical reasoning in forming their beliefs; and, finally, the late Platonist emphasis on spiritual concerns and the eternal realm of Being.

Pursuits of Wisdom is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding what the great philosophers of antiquity thought was the true purpose of philosophy--and of life.

"The Politics of Poverty Reduction"

New from Oxford University Press: The Politics of Poverty Reduction by Paul Mosley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Globally, there is a commitment to eliminate poverty; and yet the politics that have caused anti-poverty policies to succeed in some countries and to fail in others have been little studied. The Politics of Poverty Reduction focuses on these political processes. Analysis is based partly on global comparisons and partly on case-studies of nine countries that span the developing world. Where governments are politically weak, they need to make alliances with other groups to stay in power, and where these have been with low-income groups, the result may be a lasting and effective pro-poor strategy. Often pro-poor policies have been brought in not with progressive intentions, but out of fear that the state will fall apart unless pro-poor elements are incorporated into government, and the most effective regimes in reducing poverty have seldom been the kindest and most benevolent. Ability to provide the poor with access to key markets, in particular labor and capital, is crucial, and this in turn requires fiscal strength. Two crucial elements in the story are the ability to frame labor-intensive policies (given that labor is often the only thing that poor people are able to sell) and the design of effective tax and expenditure policies. Aid donors can make a key contribution, partly through reinforcing recipients' fiscal capacity, but much more through providing technical support of the right kind.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"School, Society, and State"

New from the University of Chicago Press: School, Society, and State: A New Education to Govern Modern America, 1890-1940 by Tracy L. Steffes.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife,” wrote John Dewey in his classic work The School and Society. In School, Society, and State, Tracy Steffes places that idea at the center of her exploration of the connections between public school reform in the early twentieth century and American political development from 1890 to 1940.

American public schooling, Steffes shows, was not merely another reform project of the Progressive Era, but a central one. She addresses why Americans invested in public education and explains how an array of reformers subtly transformed schooling into a tool of social governance to address the consequences of industrialization and urbanization. By extending the reach of schools, broadening their mandate, and expanding their authority over the well-being of children, the state assumed a defining role in the education—and in the lives—of American families.

In School, Society, and State, Steffes returns the state to the study of the history of education and brings the schools back into our discussion of state power during a pivotal moment in American political development.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Parenting in England 1760-1830"

New from Oxford University Press: Parenting in England 1760-1830: Emotion, Identity, and Generation by Joanne Bailey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Parenting in England is the first study of the world of parenting in late Georgian England. The author, Joanne Bailey, traces ideas about parenthood in a Christian society that was responding to new cultural trends of sensibility, romanticism and domesticity, along with Enlightenment ideas about childhood and self. All these shaped how people, from the poor to the genteel, thought about themselves as parents, and remembered their own parents.

With meticulous attention to detail, Bailey illuminates the range of intense emotions provoked by parenthood by investigating a rich array of sources from memoirs and correspondence, to advice literature, fiction, and court records, to prints, engravings, and ballads. Parenting was also a profoundly embodied experience, and the book captures the effort, labour, and hard work it entailed. Such parental investment meant that the experience was fundamental to the forging of national, familial, and personal identities. It also needed more than two parents and this book uncovers the hitherto hidden world of shared parenting. At all levels of society, household and kinship ties were drawn upon to lighten the labours of parenting.

By revealing these emotional and material parental worlds, what emerges is the centrality of parenthood to mental and physical well-being, reputation, public and personal identities, and to transmitting prized values across generations. Yet being a parent was a contingent experience adapting from hour to hour, year to year, and child to child. It was at once precarious, as children and parents succumbed to fatal diseases and accidents, yet it was also enduring because parent-child relationships were not ended by death: lost children and parents lived on in memory.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"No Family Is an Island"

New from Cornell University Press: No Family Is an Island: Cultural Expertise among Samoans in Diaspora by Ilana Gershon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Government bureaucracies across the globe have become increasingly attuned in recent years to cultural diversity within their populations. Using culture as a category to process people and dispense services, however, can create its own problems and unintended consequences. In No Family Is an Island, a comparative ethnography of Samoan migrants living in the United States and New Zealand, Ilana Gershon investigates how and when the categories "cultural" and “acultural” become relevant for Samoans as they encounter cultural differences in churches, ritual exchanges, welfare offices, and community-based organizations.

In both New Zealand and the United States, Samoan migrants are minor minorities in an ethnic constellation dominated by other minority groups. As a result, they often find themselves in contexts where the challenge is not to establish the terms of the debate but to rewrite them. To navigate complicated and often unyielding bureaucracies, they must become skilled in what Gershon calls “reflexive engagement” with the multiple social orders they inhabit. Those who are successful are able to parlay their own cultural expertise (their “Samoanness”) into an ability to subtly alter the institutions with which they interact in their everyday lives. Just as the “cultural” is sometimes constrained by the forces exerted by acultural institutions, so too can migrant culture reshape the bureaucracies of their new countries. Theoretically sophisticated yet highly readable, No Family Is an Island contributes significantly to our understanding of the modern immigrant experience of making homes abroad.
See the Page 99 Test: The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media by Ilana Gershon.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"The Birth of Conservative Judaism"

New from Columbia University Press: The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement by Michael R. Cohen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Solomon Schechter (1847–1915), the charismatic leader of New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), came to America in 1902 intent on revitalizing traditional Judaism. While he advocated a return to traditional practices, Schechter articulated no clear position on divisive issues, instead preferring to focus on similarities that could unite American Jewry under a broad message. Michael R. Cohen demonstrates how Schechter, unable to implement his vision on his own, turned to his disciples, rabbinical students and alumni of JTS, to shape his movement. By midcentury, Conservative Judaism had become the largest American Jewish grouping in the United States, guided by Schechter’s disciples and their continuing efforts to embrace diversity while eschewing divisive debates.

Yet Conservative Judaism’s fluid boundaries also proved problematic for the movement, frustrating many rabbis who wanted a single platform to define their beliefs. Cohen demonstrates how a legacy of tension between diversity and boundaries now lies at the heart of Conservative Judaism’s modern struggle for relevance. His analysis explicates four key claims: that Conservative Judaism’s clergy, not its laity or Seminary, created and shaped the movement; that diversity was—and still is—a crucial component of the success and failure of new American religions; that the Conservative movement’s contemporary struggle for self-definition is tied to its origins; and that the porous boundaries between Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism reflect the complexity of the American Jewish landscape—a fact that Schechter and his disciples keenly understood. Rectifying misconceptions in previous accounts of Conservative Judaism’s emergence, Cohen’s study enables a fresh encounter with a unique religious phenomenon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Uniting the Tribes"

New from the University Press of Kansas: Uniting the Tribes: The Rise and Fall of Pan-Indian Community on the Crow Reservation by Frank Rzeczkowski.

About the book, from the publisher:
Native American reservations on the Northern Plains were designed like islands, intended to prevent contact or communication between various Native peoples. For this reason, they seem unlikely sources for a sense of pan-Indian community in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

But as Frank Rzeczkowski shows, the flexible nature of tribalism as it already existed on the Plains subverted these goals and enabled the emergence of a collective “Indian” identity even amidst the restrictiveness of reservation life. Rather than dividing people, tribalism on the Northern Plains actually served to bring Indians of diverse origins together.

Tracing the development of pan-Indian identity among once-warring peoples, Rzeczkowski seeks to shift scholars’ attention from cities and boarding schools to the reservations themselves. Mining letters, oral histories, and official documents—including the testimony of native leaders like Plenty Coups and Young Man Afraid of His Horses—he examines Indian communities on the Northern Plains from 1800 to 1925. Focusing on the Crow, he unravels the intricate connections that linked them to neighboring peoples and examines how they reshaped their understandings of themselves and each other in response to the steady encroachment of American colonialism.

Rzeczkowski examines Crow interactions with the Blackfeet and Lakota prior to the 1880s, then reveals the continued vitality of intertribal contact and the covert—and sometimes overt—political dimensions of “visiting” between Crows and others during the reservation era. He finds the community that existed on the Crow Reservation at the beginning of the twentieth century to be more deeply diverse and heterogeneous than those often described in tribal histories: a multiethnic community including not just Crows of mixed descent who preserved their ties with other tribes, but also other Indians who found at Crow a comfortable environment or a place of refuge. This inclusiveness prevailed until tribal leaders and OIA officials tightened the rules on who could live at—or be considered—Crow.

Reflecting the latest trends in scholarship on Native Americans, Rzeczkowski brings nuance to the concept of tribalism as long understood by scholars, showing that this fluidity among the tribes continued into the early years of the reservation system. Uniting the Tribes is a groundbreaking work that will change the way we understand tribal development, early reservation life, and pan-Indian identity.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Reimagining Indian Country"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Reimagining Indian Country: Native American Migration and Identity in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles by Nicolas G. Rosenthal.

About the book, from the publisher:
For decades, most American Indians have lived in cities, not on reservations or in rural areas. Still, scholars, policymakers, and popular culture often regard Indians first as reservation peoples, living apart from non-Native Americans. In this book, Nicolas Rosenthal reorients our understanding of the experience of American Indians by tracing their migration to cities, exploring the formation of urban Indian communities, and delving into the shifting relationships between reservations and urban areas from the early twentieth century to the present.

With a focus on Los Angeles, which by 1970 had more Native American inhabitants than any place outside the Navajo reservation, Reimagining Indian Country shows how cities have played a defining role in modern American Indian life and examines the evolution of Native American identity in recent decades. Rosenthal emphasizes the lived experiences of Native migrants in realms including education, labor, health, housing, and social and political activism to understand how they adapted to an urban environment, and to consider how they formed--and continue to form--new identities. Though still connected to the places where indigenous peoples have preserved their culture, Rosenthal argues that Indian identity must be understood as dynamic and fully enmeshed in modern global networks.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"The Truth Machine"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: The Truth Machine: A Social History of the Lie Detector by Geoffrey C. Bunn.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do you trap someone in a lie? For centuries, all manner of truth-seekers have used the lie detector. In this eye-opening book, Geoffrey C. Bunn unpacks the history of this device and explores the interesting and often surprising connection between technology and popular culture.

Lie detectors and other truth-telling machines are deeply embedded in everyday American life. Well-known brands such as Isuzu, Pepsi Cola, and Snapple have advertised their products with the help of the "truth machine," and the device has also appeared in countless movies and television shows. The Charles Lindbergh "crime of the century" in 1935 first brought lie detectors to the public's attention. Since then, they have factored into the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas sexual harassment controversy, the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings, and one of the most infamous criminal cases in modern memory: the O. J. Simpson murder trial. The use of the lie detector in these instances brings up many intriguing questions that Bunn addresses: How did the lie detector become so important? Who uses it? How reliable are its results? Bunn reveals just how difficult it is to answer this last question. A lie detector expert concluded that O. J. Simpson was "one hundred percent lying" in a video recording in which he proclaimed his innocence; a tabloid newspaper subjected the same recording to a second round of evaluation, which determined Simpson to be "absolutely truthful."

Bunn finds fascinating the lie detector's ability to straddle the realms of serious science and sheer fantasy. He examines how the machine emerged as a technology of truth, transporting readers back to the obscure origins of criminology itself, ultimately concluding that the lie detector owes as much to popular culture as it does to factual science.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Sick from Freedom"

New from Oxford University Press: Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction by Jim Downs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bondspeople who fled from slavery during and after the Civil War did not expect that their flight toward freedom would lead to sickness, disease, suffering, and death. But the war produced the largest biological crisis of the nineteenth century, and as historian Jim Downs reveals in this groundbreaking volume, it had deadly consequences for hundreds of thousands of freed people.

In Sick from Freedom, Downs recovers the untold story of one of the bitterest ironies in American history--that the emancipation of the slaves, seen as one of the great turning points in U.S. history, had devastating consequences for innumerable freedpeople. Drawing on massive new research into the records of the Medical Division of the Freedmen's Bureau-a nascent national health system that cared for more than one million freed slaves-he shows how the collapse of the plantation economy released a plague of lethal diseases. With emancipation, African Americans seized the chance to move, migrating as never before. But in their journey to freedom, they also encountered yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, dysentery, malnutrition, and exposure. To address this crisis, the Medical Division hired more than 120 physicians, establishing some forty underfinanced and understaffed hospitals scattered throughout the South, largely in response to medical emergencies. Downs shows that the goal of the Medical Division was to promote a healthy workforce, an aim which often excluded a wide range of freedpeople, including women, the elderly, the physically disabled, and children. Downs concludes by tracing how the Reconstruction policy was then implemented in the American West, where it was disastrously applied to Native Americans.

The widespread medical calamity sparked by emancipation is an overlooked episode of the Civil War and its aftermath, poignantly revealed in Sick from Freedom.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Climate and Culture Change in North America AD 900 to 1600"

New from the University of Texas Press: Climate and Culture Change in North America AD 900 to 1600 by William C. Foster.

About the book, from the publisher:
Climate change is today’s news, but it isn’t a new phenomenon. Centuries-long cycles of heating and cooling are well documented for Europe and the North Atlantic. These variations in climate, including the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), AD 900 to 1300, and the early centuries of the Little Ice Age (LIA), AD 1300 to 1600, had a substantial impact on the cultural history of Europe. In this pathfinding volume, William C. Foster marshals extensive evidence that the heating and cooling of the MWP and LIA also occurred in North America and significantly affected the cultural history of Native peoples of the American Southwest, Southern Plains, and Southeast.

Correlating climate change data with studies of archaeological sites across the Southwest, Southern Plains, and Southeast, Foster presents the first comprehensive overview of how Native American societies responded to climate variations over seven centuries. He describes how, as in Europe, the MWP ushered in a cultural renaissance, during which population levels surged and Native peoples substantially intensified agriculture, constructed monumental architecture, and produced sophisticated works of art. Foster follows the rise of three dominant cultural centers—Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, Cahokia on the middle Mississippi River, and Casas Grandes in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico—that reached population levels comparable to those of London and Paris. Then he shows how the LIA reversed the gains of the MWP as population levels and agricultural production sharply declined; Chaco Canyon, Cahokia, and Casas Grandes collapsed; and dozens of smaller villages also collapsed or became fortresses.

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Modernity and Bourgeois Life"

New from Cambridge University Press: Modernity and Bourgeois Life: Society, Politics, and Culture in England, France and Germany since 1750 by Jerrold Seigel.

About the book, from the publisher:
To be modern may mean many different things, but for nineteenth-century Europeans 'modernity' suggested a new form of life in which bourgeois activities, people, attitudes and values all played key roles. Jerrold Seigel's panoramic new history offers a magisterial and highly original account of the ties between modernity and bourgeois life, arguing that they can be best understood not in terms of the rise and fall of social classes, but as features of their common participation in expanding and thickening networks that linked together distant energies and resources across economic, political and cultural life. Exploring the different configurations of these networks in England, France and Germany, he shows how their patterns gave rise to distinctive forms of modernity in each country and shaped the rhythm and nature of change across spheres as diverse as politics, money and finance, gender relations, morality, and literary, artistic and musical life.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Active Bodies"

New from Oxford University Press: Active Bodies: A History of Women's Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America by Martha H. Verbrugge.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the twentieth century, opportunities for exercise and sports grew significantly for girls and women in the United States. Among the key figures who influenced this revolution were female physical educators. Drawing on extensive archival research, Active Bodies examines the ideas, experiences, and instructional programs of white and black female physical educators who taught in public schools and diverse colleges and universities, including coed and single-sex, public and private, and predominantly white and historically black institutions. Working primarily with female students, women physical educators had to consider what an active female could and should do in comparison to boys and men. Applying concepts of sex differences, they debated the implications of female anatomy, physiology, reproductive functions, and psychosocial traits for achieving gender parity in the gym. Teachers' interpretations were conditioned by the places where they worked, as well as developments in education, feminism, and the law, society's changing attitudes about gender, race, and sexuality, and scientific controversies over the nature and significance of sex differences. While deliberating fairness for their students, women physical educators also pursued equity for themselves, as their workplaces and nascent profession often marginalized female and minority personnel. Questions of difference and equity divided the field throughout the century; while some teachers favored moderate views and incremental change, others promoted justice for their students and themselves by exerting authority at their schools, critiquing traditional concepts of "difference," and devising innovative curricula.

Exploring physical education within and beyond the gym, Active Bodies sheds new light on the enduring complexities of difference and equity in American culture.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"The Economics of Collusion"

New from The MIT Press: The Economics of Collusion: Cartels and Bidding Rings by Robert C. Marshall and Leslie M. Marx.

About the book, from the publisher:
Explicit collusion is an agreement among competitors to suppress rivalry that relies on interfirm communication and/or transfers. Rivalry between competitors erodes profits; the suppression of rivalry through collusion is one avenue by which firms can enhance profits. Many cartels and bidding rings function for years in a stable and peaceful manner despite the illegality of their agreements and incentives for deviation by their members. In The Economics of Collusion, Robert Marshall and Leslie Marx offer an examination of collusive behavior: what it is, why it is profitable, how it is implemented, and how it might be detected.

Marshall and Marx, who have studied collusion extensively for two decades, begin with three narratives: the organization and implementation of a cartel, the organization and implementation of a bidding ring, and a parent company’s efforts to detect collusion by its divisions. These accounts--fictitious, but rooted in the inner workings and details from actual cases--offer a novel and engaging way for the reader to understand the basics of collusive behavior. The narratives are followed by detailed economic analyses of cartels, bidding rings, and detection.

The narratives offer an engaging entrée to the more rigorous economic discussion that follows. The book is accessible to any reader who understands basic economic reasoning. Mathematical material is flagged with asterisks.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Odd Couple"

New from Yale University Press: Odd Couple: International Trade and Labor Standards in History by Michael Huberman.

About the book, from the publisher:
It has become commonplace to think that globalization has produced a race to the bottom in terms of labor standards and quality of life: the cheaper the labor and the lower the benefits afforded workers, the more competitively a country can participate on the global stage. But in this book the distinguished economic historian Michael Huberman demonstrates that globalization has in fact been very good for workers’ quality of life, and that improved labor conditions have promoted globalization.
Among the early praise for Odd Couple: International Trade and Labor Standards in History:
"Michael Huberman's splendid book is bound to become a classic reference in the field, and is a superb example of how a skilled economic historian can use the past to illuminate both the present and future."
—Kevin O'Rourke, Professor of Economics, Trinity College, Dublin

"How have countries reconciled the need to protect workers against poverty with the pressures of international competition? Michael Huberman’s tour de force goes well beyond just showing that there was no “race to the bottom” in labor supports before World War I. He unravels the whole causal nexus linking globalization and trade balances to social entitlements, labor standards, hours legislation, labor protection laws, and the process of democratic compromise. For all the depth of underlying empirical support to be found in the back pages, the narrative itself is refreshingly easy to read."
—Peter Lindert, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis

Thursday, May 3, 2012


New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Beatlemania: Technology, Business, and Teen Culture in Cold War America by André Millard.

About the book, from the publisher:
The fame, talent, and success of the Beatles need no introduction. Nor does the world need another book exploring the band's skill and its influence on music and society in the United States, Britain, and the rest of the world. André Millard instead studies the Beatlemania phenomenon from an original perspective—the relationship among the music business, recording technologies, and teens and young adult culture of the era.

Millard argues that, despite the Beatles' indisputable skill, they would not have attained the global recognition and been as influential without the convergence of significant developments in the way music was produced, recorded, sold, and consumed. As the Second Industrial Revolution hit full swing and baby boomers came of age, the reel-to-reel recorder and other technological advances sped the evolution of the music business. Musicians, recording studios and record labels, and music fans used and interacted with music-making and -playing technology in new ways. Higher quality machines made listening to records and the radio an experience that one could easily share with others, even if they weren't in the same physical space. At the same time, an increase in cross-Atlantic commerce—especially of entertainment products—led to a freer exchange of ideas and styles of expression, notably among the middle and lower classes in the U.S. and the UK. At that point, Millard argues, the Beatles rode their remarkable musicianship and cultural savvy to an unprecedented bond with their fans—and spawned Beatlemania.

Refreshing and insightful, Beatlemania offers a deeper understanding the days of the Fab Four and the band's long-term effects on the business and culture of music.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"In the Shadow of the General"

New from Oxford University Press: In the Shadow of the General: Modern France and the Myth of De Gaulle by Sudhir Hazareesingh.

About the book, from the publisher:
Charles De Gaulle's leadership of the French while in exile during World War II cemented his place in history. In contemporary France, he is the stuff of legend, consistently acclaimed as the nation's pre-eminent historical figure. But paradoxes abound. For one thing, his personal popularity sits oddly with his social origins and professional background. Neither the Army nor the Catholic Church is particularly well-regarded in France today, as they are seen to represent antiquated traditions and values. So why, then, do the French nonetheless identify with, celebrate, and even revere this austere and devout Catholic, who remained closely wedded to military values throughout his life? The Shadow of the General resolves this mystery and explains how de Gaulle has come to occupy such a privileged position in the French imagination. Sudhir Hazareesingh's story of how an individual life was transformed into national myth also tells a great deal about the French collective self in the twenty-first century: its fractured memory, its aspirations to greatness, and its manifold anxieties. Indeed, alongside the tale of de Gaulle's legacy, the author unfolds a much broader narrative: the story of modern France.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"An Education in Politics"

New from Cornell University Press: An Education in Politics: The Origins and Evolution of No Child Left Behind by Jesse H. Rhodes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the early 1990s, the federal role in education—exemplified by the controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—has expanded dramatically. Yet states and localities have retained a central role in education policy, leading to a growing struggle for control over the direction of the nation's schools. In An Education in Politics, Jesse H. Rhodes explains the uneven development of federal involvement in education. While supporters of expanded federal involvement enjoyed some success in bringing new ideas to the federal policy agenda, Rhodes argues, they also encountered stiff resistance from proponents of local control. Built atop existing decentralized policies, new federal reforms raised difficult questions about which level of government bore ultimate responsibility for improving schools.

Rhodes’s argument focuses on the role played by civil rights activists, business leaders, and education experts in promoting the reforms that would be enacted with federal policies such as NCLB. It also underscores the constraints on federal involvement imposed by existing education policies, hostile interest groups, and, above all, the nation’s federal system. Indeed, the federal system, which left specific policy formation and implementation to the states and localities, repeatedly frustrated efforts to effect changes: national reforms lost their force as policies passed through iterations at the state, county, and municipal levels. Ironically, state and local resistance only encouraged civil rights activists, business leaders, and their political allies to advocate even more stringent reforms that imposed heavier burdens on state and local governments. Through it all, the nation’s education system made only incremental steps toward the goal of providing a quality education for every child.