Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America by Mark A. Largent.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since 1990, the number of mandated vaccines has increased dramatically. Today, a fully vaccinated child will have received nearly three dozen vaccinations between birth and age six. Along with the increase in number has come a growing wave of concern among parents about the unintended side effects of vaccines. In Vaccine, Mark A. Largent explains the history of the debate and identifies issues that parents, pediatricians, politicians, and public health officials must address.

Nearly 40% of American parents report that they delay or refuse a recommended vaccine for their children. Despite assurances from every mainstream scientific and medical institution, parents continue to be haunted by the question of whether vaccines cause autism. In response, health officials herald vaccines as both safe and vital to the public's health and put programs and regulations in place to encourage parents to follow the recommended vaccine schedule.

For Largent, the vaccine-autism debate obscures a constellation of concerns held by many parents, including anxiety about the number of vaccines required (including some for diseases that children are unlikely ever to encounter), unhappiness about the rigorous schedule of vaccines during well-baby visits, and fear of potential side effects, some of them serious and even life-threatening. This book disentangles competing claims, opens the controversy for critical reflection, and provides recommendations for moving forward.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"When Is True Belief Knowledge?"

New from Princeton University Press: When Is True Belief Knowledge? by Richard Foley.

About the book, from the publisher:
A woman glances at a broken clock and comes to believe it is a quarter past seven. Yet, despite the broken clock, it really does happen to be a quarter past seven. Her belief is true, but it isn't knowledge. This is a classic illustration of a central problem in epistemology: determining what knowledge requires in addition to true belief.

In this provocative book, Richard Foley finds a new solution to the problem in the observation that whenever someone has a true belief but not knowledge, there is some significant aspect of the situation about which she lacks true beliefs--something important that she doesn't quite "get." This may seem a modest point but, as Foley shows, it has the potential to reorient the theory of knowledge. Whether a true belief counts as knowledge depends on the importance of the information one does or doesn't have. This means that questions of knowledge cannot be separated from questions about human concerns and values. It also means that, contrary to what is often thought, there is no privileged way of coming to know. Knowledge is a mutt. Proper pedigree is not required. What matters is that one doesn't lack important nearby information.

Challenging some of the central assumptions of contemporary epistemology, this is an original and important account of knowledge.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


New from Cambridge University Press: London: A Social and Cultural History, 1550-1750 by Robert O. Bucholz and Joseph P. Ward.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1550 and 1750 London became the greatest city in Europe and one of the most vibrant economic and cultural centers in the world. This book is a history of London during this crucial period of its rise to world-wide prominence, during which it dominated the economic, political, social and cultural life of the British Isles as never before nor since. London: A Social and Cultural History incorporates the best recent work in urban history, accounts by contemporary Londoners and tourists, and fictional works featuring the city in order to to trace London's rise and explore its role as a harbinger of modernity as well as how its citizens coped with those achievements. This book covers the full range of life in London, from the splendid galleries of Whitehall to the damp and sooty alleyways of the East End. Along the way, readers will brave the dangers of plague and fire, witness the spectacles of the Lord Mayor's Pageant and the hangings at Tyburn, and take refreshment in the city's pleasure gardens, coffeehouses, and taverns.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Never Forget National Humiliation"

New from Columbia University Press: Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations by Zheng Wang.

About the book, from the publisher:
How could the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) not only survive but even thrive, regaining the support of many Chinese citizens after the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989? Why has popular sentiment turned toward anti-Western nationalism despite the anti-dictatorship democratic movements of the 1980s? And why has China been more assertive toward the United States and Japan in foreign policy but relatively conciliatory toward smaller countries in conflict?

Offering an explanation for these unexpected trends, Zheng Wang follows the Communist government’s ideological reeducation of the public, which relentlessly portrays China as the victim of foreign imperialist bullying during “one hundred years of humiliation.” By concentrating on the telling and teaching of history in today’s China, Wang illuminates the thinking of the young patriots who will lead this rising power in the twenty-first century.

Wang visits China’s primary schools and memory sites and reads its history textbooks, arguing that China’s rise should not be viewed through a single lens, such as economics or military growth, but from a more comprehensive perspective that takes national identity and domestic discourse into account. Since it is the prime raw material for constructing China’s national identity, historical memory is the key to unlocking the inner mystery of the Chinese. From this vantage point, Wang tracks the CCP’s use of history education to glorify the party, reestablish its legitimacy, consolidate national identity, and justify one-party rule in the post-Tiananmen and post–Cold War era. The institutionalization of this manipulated historical consciousness now directs political discourse and foreign policy, and Wang demonstrates its important role in China’s rise.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Opera and the City"

New from Stanford University Press: Opera and the City: The Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770-1900 by Andrea Goldman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In late imperial China, opera was an integral part of life and culture, shared across the social hierarchy. Opera transmitted ideas about the self, family, society, and politics over time and space. The Qing capital of Beijing attracted a diverse array of opera genres and audiences and, by extension, served as a hub for the diffusion of cultural values via performance.

It is in this context that historian Andrea S. Goldman harnesses opera as a lens through which to examine urban cultural history. Her meticulous yet playful account takes up the multiplicity of opera types that proliferated at the time, exploring them as contested sites through which the Qing court and commercial playhouses negotiated influence and control over the social and moral order. Opera performance refracted ethnic tensions and discontent among literati, blurred lines between public and private life, and offered a stage—literally and figuratively—on which to act out gender and class transgressions.

By examining opera in Qing Beijing, this work illuminates how the state and various urban constituencies partook of opera and manipulated it to their own ends. Given Beijing's political influence, Goldman's analysis of opera and its tensions in the capital also sheds light on empire-wide transformations underway at the time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?"

New from Princeton University Press: When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?: How Democracies Can Protect Expression and Promote Equality by Corey Brettschneider.

About the book, from the publisher:
How should a liberal democracy respond to hate groups and others that oppose the ideal of free and equal citizenship? The democratic state faces the hard choice of either protecting the rights of hate groups and allowing their views to spread, or banning their views and violating citizens' rights to freedoms of expression, association, and religion. Avoiding the familiar yet problematic responses to these issues, political theorist Corey Brettschneider proposes a new approach called value democracy. The theory of value democracy argues that the state should protect the right to express illiberal beliefs, but the state should also engage in democratic persuasion when it speaks through its various expressive capacities: publicly criticizing, and giving reasons to reject, hate-based or other discriminatory viewpoints.

Distinguishing between two kinds of state action--expressive and coercive--Brettschneider contends that public criticism of viewpoints advocating discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation should be pursued through the state's expressive capacities as speaker, educator, and spender. When the state uses its expressive capacities to promote the values of free and equal citizenship, it engages in democratic persuasion. By using democratic persuasion, the state can both respect rights and counter hateful or discriminatory viewpoints. Brettschneider extends this analysis from freedom of expression to the freedoms of religion and association, and he shows that value democracy can uphold the protection of these freedoms while promoting equality for all citizens.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949 by S. C. M. Paine.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Wars for Asia, 1911–1949 shows that the Western treatment of World War II, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Chinese Civil War as separate events misrepresents their overlapping connections and causes. The long Chinese Civil War precipitated a long regional war between China and Japan that went global in 1941 when the Chinese found themselves fighting a civil war within a regional war within an overarching global war. The global war that consumed Western attentions resulted from Japan's peripheral strategy to cut foreign aid to China by attacking Pearl Harbor and Western interests throughout the Pacific on December 7–8, 1941. S. C. M. Paine emphasizes the fears and ambitions of Japan, China, and Russia, and the pivotal decisions that set them on a collision course in the 1920s and 1930s. The resulting wars – the Chinese Civil War (1911–1949), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931–1945), and World War II (1939–1945) – together yielded a viscerally anti-Japanese and unified Communist China, the still-angry rising power of the early twenty-first century. While these events are history in the West, they live on in Japan and especially China.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"The Little Republic"

New from Oxford University Press: The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-Century Britain by Karen Harvey.

About the book, from the publisher:
The relationship between men and the domestic in eighteenth-century Britain has been obscured by two well-established historiographical narratives. The first charts changes in domestic patriarchy, founded on political patriarchalism in the early modern period and transformed during the eighteenth century by new types of family relationship rooted in contract theory. The second describes the emergence of a new kind of domestic interior during the long eighteenth century, a 'home' infused with a new culture of 'domesticity' primarily associated with women and femininity. Domesticating Patriarchy shifts the terms of these debates, rescuing the engagement of men with the house from obscurity, and better equipping historians to understand masculinity, the domestic environment, and domestic patriarchy.

Karen Harvey explores how men represented and legitimized their domestic activities. She considers the relationship between discourses of masculinity and domesticity, and whether there was a particularly manly attitude to the domestic. In doing so, Harvey suggests that 'home' is too narrow a concept for an understanding of eighteenth-century domestic experience. Instead, focusing on the 'house' foregrounds a different domestic culture, one in which men and masculinity were central. Reconstructing men's experiences of the domestic as shaped by their own and others' beliefs, assumptions and expectations, Harvey argues for the continuation of a model of domestic patriarchy and also that effective domestic patriarchs remained important to late-eighteenth-century political theory. It was a discourse of 'oeconomy' - the practice of managing the economic and moral resources of the household for the maintenance of good order - that shaped men's attitudes towards and experiences in the house. Oeconomy combined day-to-day and global management of people and resources; it was a meaningful way of defining masculinity and established the house a key component of a manly identity that operated across the divide of 'inside' and 'outside' the house. Significantly for histories of the home which so often narrate a process of privatization and feminization, oeconomy brought together the home and the world, primarily through men's domestic management.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe"

New from Edinburgh University Press: Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe by Raymond Taras.

About the book, from the publisher:
European anti-Muslim attitudes: the voice of public protest against out-of-touch elites? Are anti-Muslim attitudes becoming the spectre that is haunting Europe? Is Islamophobia as widespread and virulent as is made out? Or do some EU societies appear more prejudiced than others? And is there an anti-elitest dimension to Europeans' protest about rapid demographic change occurring in their countries? This cross-national analysis of Islamophobia looks at these questions in an innovative, even-handed way, steering clear of politically-correct clichés and stereotypes. It cautions that Islamophobia is a serious threat to European values and norms, and must be tackled by future immigration and integration policy.
Raymond Taras was Willy Brandt Professor at Sweden's Malmö University for 2010–11. He was director of Tulane University's world literature program before Hurricane Katrina forced its closure. Taras is the author of numerous scholarly books on nationalism and identities in Europe.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"God and War"

New from Rutgers University Press: God and War: American Civil Religion since 1945 by Raymond Haberski, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans have long imagined that their nation is good and has a profound role to play in the world. Such expressions as "God Bless America," and "One Nation under God" reflect this popular view. In God and War, Raymond Haberski Jr. argues that unlike any previous period, the era since 1945 has seen the common moral assumptions guiding our nation—its civil religion—become increasingly defined by the nation's power and might.

Haberski traces the way three great postwar "trials"—the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror—created a popular understanding of American moral authority that grew dangerously beholden to calls for martial sacrifice. During the early Cold War, faith in God and faith in nation combined to rally Americans against communism. The Vietnam War, rather ironically, both tested this faith as many Americans questioned the great sacrifices made in a war that nearly broke the nation's moral compass and inspired many religious groups to push for a civil religious awakening to save the soul of the nation. With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 behind us and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, America now assesses whether there still exists a viable civil religion to unify its people and attract admirers abroad in the absence of military conflict.

Americans cannot assume that the nation stands for a foolproof transcendental concept. Haberski argues that politicians and preachers and theorists and theologians must revisit the idea of civil religion as a way to critique rather than affirm the nation's will to power and frequent resort to war.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"The Soviet Biological Weapons Program"

New from Harvard University Press: The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History by Milton Leitenberg and Raymond A. Zilinskas, with Jens H. Kuhn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Russian officials claim today that the USSR never possessed an offensive biological weapons program. In fact, the Soviet government spent billions of rubles and hard currency to fund a hugely expensive weapons program that added nothing to the country’s security. This history is the first attempt to understand the broad scope of the USSR’s offensive biological weapons research—its inception in the 1920s, its growth between 1970 and 1990, and its possible remnants in present-day Russia. We learn that the U.S. and U.K. governments never obtained clear evidence of the program’s closure from 1990 to the present day, raising the critical question whether the means for waging biological warfare could be resurrected in Russia in the future.

Based on interviews with important Soviet scientists and managers, papers from the Soviet Central Committee, and U.S. and U.K. declassified documents, this book peels back layers of lies, to reveal how and why Soviet leaders decided to develop biological weapons, the scientific resources they dedicated to this task, and the multitude of research institutes that applied themselves to its fulfillment. We learn that Biopreparat, an ostensibly civilian organization, was established to manage a top secret program, code-named Ferment, whose objective was to apply genetic engineering to develop strains of pathogenic agents that had never existed in nature. Leitenberg and Zilinskas consider the performance of the U.S. intelligence community in discovering and assessing these activities, and they examine in detail the crucial years 1985 to 1992, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts to put an end to the program were thwarted as they were under Yeltsin.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Who Wins?"

New from Oxford University Press: Who Wins?: Predicting Strategic Success and Failure in Armed Conflict by Patricia Sullivan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite their immense war-fighting capacity, the five most powerful states in the international system have failed to attain their primary political objective in almost 40% of their military operations against weak state and non-state targets since 1945. Why are states with tremendous military might so often unable to attain their objectives when they use force against weaker adversaries? More broadly, under what conditions can states use military force to attain their political objectives and what conditions limit the utility of military force as a policy instrument? Can we predict the outcome of a war before the fighting begins?

Scholars and military leaders have argued that poor military strategy choices, domestic political constraints on democratic governments, or failure to commit sufficient resources to the war effort can explain why strong states lose small wars. In contrast, Who Wins? by Patricia L. Sullivan argues that the key to understanding strategic success in war lies in the nature of the political objectives states pursue through the use of military force. Sullvian does not deny the importance of war-fighting capacity, military strategies, or resolve as determinants of war outcomes. But she provides both a coherent argument and substantial empirical evidence that the effects of these factors are dependent on the nature of the belligerents' political objectives.

The theory's predictions about the conditions under which states are able to attain their political objectives through the use of military force are tested against the most widely accepted alternative explanations of war outcomes with an abundance of historical data on violent conflicts. The results support Sullivan's argument and challenge both existing theories and conventional wisdom about the impact of factors like military strength, resolve, regime type, and war-fighting strategies on war outcomes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Melancholia of Freedom"

New from Princeton University Press: Melancholia of Freedom: Social Life in an Indian Township in South Africa by Thomas Blom Hansen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The end of apartheid in 1994 signaled a moment of freedom and a promise of a nonracial future. With this promise came an injunction: define yourself as you truly are, as an individual, and as a community. Almost two decades later it is clear that it was less the prospect of that future than the habits and horizons of anxious life in racially defined enclaves that determined postapartheid freedom. In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen offers an in-depth analysis of the uncertainties, dreams, and anxieties that have accompanied postapartheid freedoms in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban. Exploring five decades of township life, Hansen tells the stories of ordinary Indians whose lives were racialized and framed by the township, and how these residents domesticated and inhabited this urban space and its institutions, during apartheid and after.

Hansen demonstrates the complex and ambivalent nature of ordinary township life. While the ideology of apartheid was widely rejected, its practical institutions, from urban planning to houses, schools, and religious spaces, were embraced in order to remake the community. Hansen describes how the racial segmentation of South African society still informs daily life, notions of race, personhood, morality, and religious ethics. He also demonstrates the force of global religious imaginings that promise a universal and inclusive community amid uncertain lives and futures in the postapartheid nation-state.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Taking It Big"

New from Columbia University Press: Taking It Big: C. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals by Stanley Aronowitz.

About the book,from the publisher:
C. Wright Mills (1916–1962) was a pathbreaking intellectual who transformed the independent American Left in the 1940s and 1950s. Often challenging the established ideologies and approaches of fellow leftist thinkers, Mills was central to creating and developing the idea of the “public intellectual” in postwar America and laid the political foundations for the rise of the New Left in the 1960s. Written by Stanley Aronowitz, a leading sociologist and critic of American culture and politics, Taking It Big reconstructs this icon’s formation and the new dimension of American political life that followed his work.

Aronowitz revisits Mills’s education and its role in shaping his outlook and intellectual restlessness. Mills defined himself as a maverick, and Aronowitz tests this claim (which has been challenged in recent years) against the work and thought of his contemporaries. Aronowitz describes Mills’s growing circle of contacts among the New York Intellectuals and his efforts to reenergize the Left by encouraging a fundamentally new theoretical orientation centered on more ambitious critiques of U.S. society. Blurring the rigid boundaries among philosophy, history, and social theory and between traditional orthodoxies and the radical imagination, Mills became one of the most admired and controversial thinkers of his time and was instrumental in inspiring the student and antiwar movements of the 1960s. In this book, Aronowitz not only reclaims this critical thinker’s reputation but also emphasizes his ongoing significance to debates on power in American democracy.
Visit Stanley Aronowitz's website.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Lowrider Space"

New from the University of Texas Press: Lowrider Space: Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars by Ben Chappell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Aren’t lowriders always gangbangers? And, don’t they always hold high status in their neighborhoods? Contrary to both stereotypes, the people who build and drive lowrider cars perform diverse roles while mobilizing a distinctive aesthetic that is sometimes an act of resistance and sometimes of belonging. A fresh application of critical ethnographic methods, Lowrider Space looks beyond media portrayals, high-profile show cars, and famous cruising scenes to bring readers a realistic tour of the “ordinary” lowriders who turn streetscapes into stages on which dynamic identities can be performed.

Drawing on firsthand participation in everyday practices of car clubs and cruising in Austin, Texas, Ben Chappell challenges histories of erasure, containment, and class immobility to emphasize the politics of presence evidenced in lowrider custom car style. Sketching out a partially personal map of the lowrider presence in Texas’s capital city, Chappell also explores the interior and exterior adornment of the cars (including the use of images of women’s bodies) and the intersecting production of personal and social space. As he moves through a second-hand economy to procure parts necessary for his own lowrider vehicle, on “service sector” wages, themes of materiality and physical labor intersect with questions of identity, ultimately demonstrating how spaces get made in the process of customizing one’s self.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Tragic Soul-Life"

New from Oxford University Press: Tragic Soul-Life: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Moral Crisis Facing American Democracy by Terrence L. Johnson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Contemporary debates on the role of religion in American public life ignore the overlap between religion and race in the formation of American democratic traditions and more often than not imagine democracy within the terrain of John Rawls's political liberalism. This kind of political liberalism, which focuses on political commitments at the expense of our religious beliefs, fosters the necessary conditions to open historically closed doors to black bodies, allows blacks to sit at the King's table and creates the necessary safeguards for black protest against discrimination within a constitutional democracy. By implication of its emphasis on rights and inclusion, political liberalism assumes that the presence of black bodies signifies the materialization of a robust American democracy. However, political liberalism discounts the historical role of religion in forming and fashioning the nation's construction of race. Tragic Soul-Life argues that the collision between religion and politics during U.S. slavery and segregation created the fragments from which emerged a firm but shifting moral disdain for blackness within the nation's collective moral imagination.

The very problem political liberals want to avoid, our comprehensive philosophy, is central to solving the political and economic problems facing blacks.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Wild Hope"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Wild Hope: On the Front Lines of Conservation Success by Andrew Balmford.

About the book, from the publisher:
Tropical deforestation. The collapse of fisheries. Unprecedented levels of species extinction. Faced with the plethora of gloom-and-doom headlines about the natural world, we might think that environmental disaster is inevitable. But is there any good news about the environment? Yes, there is, answers Andrew Balmford in Wild Hope, and he offers several powerful stories of successful conservation to prove it. This tragedy is still avoidable, and there are many reasons for hope if we find inspiration in stories of effective environmental recovery.

Wild Hope is organized geographically, with each chapter taking readers to extraordinary places to meet conservation’s heroes and foot soldiers—and to discover the new ideas they are generating about how to make conservation work on our hungry and crowded planet. The journey starts in the floodplains of Assam, where dedicated rangers and exceptionally tolerant villagers have together helped bring Indian rhinos back from the brink of extinction. In the pine forests of the Carolinas, we learn why plantation owners came to resent rare woodpeckers—and what persuaded them to change their minds. In South Africa, Balmford investigates how invading alien plants have been drinking the country dry, and how the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest conservation program is now simultaneously restoring the rivers, saving species, and creating tens of thousands of jobs. The conservation problems Balmford encounters are as diverse as the people and their actions, but together they offer common themes and specific lessons on how to win the battle of conservation—and the one essential ingredient, Balmford shows, is most definitely hope.

Wild Hope, though optimistic, is a clear-eyed view of the difficulties and challenges of conservation. Balmford is fully aware of failed conservation efforts and systematic flaws that make conservation difficult, but he offers here innovative solutions and powerful stories of citizens, governments, and corporations coming together to implement them. A global tour of people and programs working for the planet, Wild Hope is an emboldening green journey.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Modernism at the Barricades"

New from Columbia University Press: Modernism at the Barricades: Aesthetics, Politics, Utopia by Stephen Eric Bronner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stephen Eric Bronner revisits the modernist project’s groundbreaking innovations, its
experimental imagination, and its utopian politics. Reading the artistic and intellectual achievements of the movement’s leading figures against larger social, political, and cultural trends, he follows the rise of a flawed yet salient effort at liberation and its confrontation with modernity.

Modernism at the Barricades features chapters on expressionism, futurism, surrealism, and revolutionary art and includes fresh perspectives on the work of Arnold Schoenberg, Wassily Kandinsky, and Emil Nolde, among others. The volume illuminates an international avant garde intent on resisting bureaucracy, standardization, scientific rationality, and the increasing commodification of mass culture. Modernists sought new ways of feeling, new forms of expression, and new possibilities of experience while seeking to refashion society. Liberation was their aim, along with the invigoration of daily life—yet their process entangled political resistance with the cultural.

Exploring both the political responsibility of the artist and the manipulation of authorial intention, Bronner reconfigures the modernist movement for contemporary progressive purposes and offers insight into the problems still complicating cultural politics. He ultimately reasserts the political dimension of developments often understood in purely aesthetic terms and confronts the self-indulgence and political irresponsibility of certain so-called modernists today. The result is a long overdue reinterpretation and rehabilitation of the modernist legacy for a new age.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944-2010"

New from Stanford University Press: The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944-2010 by Robert Gordon.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944–2010 is the first major study of how postwar Italy confronted, or failed to confront, the Holocaust. Fascist Italy was the model for Nazi Germany, and Mussolini was Hitler's prime ally in the Second World War. But Italy also became a theater of war and a victim of Nazi persecution after 1943, as resistance, collaboration, and civil war raged. Many thousands of Italians—Jews and others—were deported to concentration camps throughout Europe. After the war, Italian culture produced a vast array of stories, images, and debate through which it came to terms with the Holocaust's difficult legacy. Gordon probes a rich range of cultural material as he paints a picture of this shared encounter with the darkest moment of twentieth-century history. His book explores aspects of Italian national identity and memory, offering a new model for analyzing the interactions between national and international images of the Holocaust.
Read an excerpt from The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944-2010.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"In Our Name"

New from Princeton University Press: In Our Name: The Ethics of Democracy by Eric Beerbohm.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a government in a democracy acts in our name, are we, as citizens, responsible for those acts? What if the government commits a moral crime? The protestor's slogan--"Not in our name!"--testifies to the need to separate ourselves from the wrongs of our leaders. Yet the idea that individual citizens might bear a special responsibility for political wrongdoing is deeply puzzling for ordinary morality and leading theories of democracy. In Our Name explains how citizens may be morally exposed to the failures of their representatives and state institutions, and how complicity is the professional hazard of democratic citizenship. Confronting the ethical challenges that citizens are faced with in a self-governing democracy, Eric Beerbohm proposes institutional remedies for dealing with them.

Beerbohm questions prevailing theories of democracy for failing to account for our dual position as both citizens and subjects. Showing that the obligation to participate in the democratic process is even greater when we risk serving as accomplices to wrongdoing, Beerbohm argues for a distinctive division of labor between citizens and their representatives that charges lawmakers with the responsibility of incorporating their constituents' moral principles into their reasoning about policy. Grappling with the practical issues of democratic decision making, In Our Name engages with political science, law, and psychology to envision mechanisms for citizens seeking to avoid democratic complicity.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


New from Cambridge University Press: Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture by Robin R. Wang.

About the book, from the publisher:
The concept of yinyang lies at the heart of Chinese thought and culture. The relationship between these two opposing, yet mutually dependent, forces is symbolized in the familiar black and white symbol that has become an icon in popular culture across the world. The real significance of yinyang is, however, more complex and subtle. This brilliant and comprehensive analysis by one of the leading authorities in the field captures the richness and multiplicity of the meanings and applications of yinyang, including its visual presentations. Through a vast range of historical and textual sources, the book examines the scope and role of yinyang, the philosophical significance of its various layers of meanings, and its relation to numerous schools and traditions within Chinese (and Western) philosophy. By putting yinyang on a secure and clear philosophical footing, the book roots the concept in the original Chinese idiom, distancing it from Western assumptions, frameworks, and terms, yet also seeking to connect its analysis to shared cross-cultural philosophical concerns. In this way, the book illuminates not only a particular way of thinking, but also shows how yinyang thought has manifested itself concretely in a wide range of cultural practices, ranging from divination to medicine, and from the art of war to the art of sex.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Rebels and Runaways"

New from the University of Illinois Press: Rebels and Runaways: Slave Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Florida by Larry Eugene Rivers.

About the book, from the publisher:
This gripping study examines slave resistance and protest in antebellum Florida and its local and national impact from 1821 to 1865. Using a variety of sources such as slaveholders' wills and probate records, ledgers, account books, court records, oral histories, and numerous newspaper accounts, Larry Eugene Rivers discusses the historical significance of Florida as a runaway slave haven dating back to the seventeenth century and explains Florida's unique history of slave resistance and protest. In moving detail, Rivers illustrates what life was like for enslaved blacks whose families were pulled asunder as they relocated from the Upper South to the Lower South to an untamed place such as Florida, and how they fought back any way they could to control small parts of their own lives.

Against a smoldering backdrop of violence, this study analyzes the various degrees of slave resistance--from the perspectives of both slave and master--and how they differed in various regions of antebellum Florida. In particular, Rivers demonstrates how the Atlantic world view of some enslaved blacks successfully aided their escape to freedom, a path that did not always lead North but sometimes farther South to the Bahama Islands and Caribbean. Identifying more commonly known slave rebellions such as the Stono, Louisiana, Denmark (Telemaque) Vesey, Gabriel, and the Nat Turner insurrections, Rivers argues persuasively that the size, scope, and intensity of black resistance in the Second Seminole War makes it the largest sustained slave insurrection ever to occur in American history.

Meticulously researched, Rebels and Runaways offers a detailed account of resistance, protest, and violence as enslaved blacks fought for freedom.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"A City Consumed"

New from Stanford University Press: A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt by Nancy Reynolds.

About the book, from the publisher:
Though now remembered as an act of anti-colonial protest leading to the Egyptian military coup of 1952, the Cairo Fire that burned through downtown stores and businesses appeared to many at the time as an act of urban self-destruction and national suicide. The logic behind this latter view has now been largely lost. Offering a revised history, Nancy Reynolds looks to the decades leading up to the fire to show that the lines between foreign and native in city space and commercial merchandise were never so starkly drawn.

Consumer goods occupied an uneasy place on anti-colonial agendas for decades in Egypt before the great Cairo Fire. Nationalist leaders frequently railed against commerce as a form of colonial captivity, yet simultaneously expanded local production and consumption to anchor a newly independent economy. Close examination of struggles over dress and shopping reveals that nationhood coalesced informally from the conflicts and collaboration of consumers "from below" as well as more institutional and prescriptive mandates.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Climbing the Charts"

New from Princeton University Press: Climbing the Charts: What Radio Airplay Tells Us about the Diffusion of Innovation by Gabriel Rossman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite the growth of digital media, traditional FM radio airplay still remains the essential way for musicians to achieve commercial success. Climbing the Charts examines how songs rise, or fail to rise, up the radio airplay charts. Looking at the relationships between record labels, tastemakers, and the public, Gabriel Rossman develops a clear picture of the roles of key players and the gatekeeping mechanisms in the commercial music industry. Along the way, he explores its massive inequalities, debunks many popular misconceptions about radio stations' abilities to dictate hits, and shows how a song diffuses throughout the nation to become a massive success.

Contrary to the common belief that Clear Channel sees every sparrow that falls, Rossman demonstrates that corporate radio chains neither micromanage the routine decision of when to start playing a new single nor make top-down decisions to blacklist such politically inconvenient artists as the Dixie Chicks. Neither do stations imitate either ordinary peers or the so-called kingmaker radio stations who are wrongly believed to be able to make or break a single. Instead, Rossman shows that hits spread rapidly across radio because they clearly conform to an identifiable style or genre. Radio stations respond to these songs, and major labels put their money behind them through extensive marketing and promotion efforts, including the illegal yet time-honored practice of payoffs known within the industry as payola.

Climbing the Charts provides a fresh take on the music industry and a model for understanding the diffusion of innovation.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Bring Me Men"

New from Columbia University Press: Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire, 1898-2001 by Aaron Belkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The masculinity of those who serve in the American military would seem to be indisputable, yet it is full of contradictions. To become a warrior, one must renounce those things in life that are perceived to be unmasculine. Yet at the same time, the military has encouraged and even mandated warriors to do exactly the opposite.

Bring Me Men explores these contradictions in great detail and shows that their invisibility has been central to the concealment of American empire’s darkest secrets. By examining case studies that expose these contradictions—the phenomenon of male-on-male rape at the U.S. Naval Academy, for example, as well as historical and contemporary attitudes toward cleanliness and filth—Belkin utterly upends our understanding of the relationship between warrior masculinity, American empire and the fragile processes sustaining it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Ending Wars Well"

New from Yale University Press: Ending Wars Well: Order, Justice, and Conciliation in Contemporary Post-Conflict by Eric D. Patterson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Though scholars of political science and moral philosophy have long analyzed the justifications for and against waging war as well as the ethics of warfare itself, the problem of ending wars has received less attention. In the first book to apply just war theory to this phase of conflict, Eric Patterson presents a three-part view of justice in end-of-war settings involving order, justice, and reconciliation. Patterson’s case studies range from successful applications of jus post bellum, such as the U.S. Civil War or Kosovo, to challenges such as present-day Iraq.
Eric D. Patterson is associate director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and visiting assistant professor in the department of government at Georgetown University.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Affluence and Influence"

New from Princeton University Press: Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America by Martin Gilens.

About the book, from the publisher:
Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy--but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections.

With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans' preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. Gilens shows that representational inequality is spread widely across different policy domains and time periods. Yet Gilens also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter. In particular, impending elections--especially presidential elections--and an even partisan division in Congress mitigate representational inequality and boost responsiveness to the preferences of the broader public.

At a time when economic and political inequality in the United States only continues to rise, Affluence and Influence raises important questions about whether American democracy is truly responding to the needs of all its citizens.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"At Liberty to Die"

New from New York University Press: At Liberty to Die: The Battle for Death with Dignity in America by Howard Ball.

About the book, from the publisher:
Over the past hundred years, average life expectancy in America has nearly doubled, due largely to scientific and medical advances, but also as a consequence of safer working conditions, a heightened awareness of the importance of diet and health, and other factors. Yet while longevity is celebrated as an achievement in modern civilization, the longer people live, the more likely they are to succumb to chronic, terminal illnesses. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 47 years, with a majority of American deaths attributed to influenza, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or other diseases. In 2000, the average life expectancy was nearly 80 years, and for too many people, these long lifespans included cancer, heart failure, Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, or other fatal illnesses, and with them, came debilitating pain and the loss of a once-full and often independent lifestyle. In this compelling and provocative book, noted legal scholar Howard Ball poses the pressing question: is it appropriate, legally and ethically, for a competent individual to have the liberty to decide how and when to die when faced with a terminal illness?

At Liberty to Die charts how, the right of a competent, terminally ill person to die on his or her own terms with the help of a doctor has come deeply embroiled in debates about the relationship between religion, civil liberties, politics, and law in American life. Exploring both the legal rulings and the media frenzies that accompanied the Terry Schiavo case and others like it, Howard Ball contends that despite raging battles in all the states where right to die legislation has been proposed, the opposition to the right to die is intractable in its stance. Combining constitutional analysis, legal history, and current events, Ball surveys the constitutional arguments that have driven the right to die debate.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Rome: An Empire's Story"

New from Oxford University Press: Rome: An Empire's Story by Greg Woolf.

About the book, from the publisher:
The very idea of empire was created in ancient Rome and even today traces of its monuments, literature, and institutions can be found across Europe, the Near East, and North Africa--and sometimes even further afield.

In Rome, historian Greg Woolf expertly recounts how this mammoth empire was created, how it was sustained in crisis, and how it shaped the world of its rulers and subjects--a story spanning a millennium and a half of history. The personalities and events of Roman history have become part of the West's cultural lexicon, and Woolf provides brilliant retellings of each of these, from the war with Carthage to Octavian's victory over Cleopatra, from the height of territorial expansion under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian to the founding of Constantinople and the barbarian invasions which resulted in Rome's ultimate collapse. Throughout, Woolf carefully considers the conditions that made Rome's success possible and so durable, covering topics as diverse as ecology, slavery, and religion. Woolf also compares Rome to other ancient empires and to its many later imitators, bringing into vivid relief the Empire's most distinctive and enduring features.

As Woolf demonstrates, nobody ever planned to create a state that would last more than a millennium and a half, yet Rome was able, in the end, to survive barbarian migrations, economic collapse and even the conflicts between a series of world religions that had grown up within its borders, in the process generating an image and a myth of empire that is apparently indestructible. Based on new research and compellingly told, this sweeping account promises to eclipse all previously published histories of the empire.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Warlords: Strong-arm Brokers in Weak States"

New from Cornell University Press: Warlords: Strong-arm Brokers in Weak States by Kimberly Marten.

About the book, from the publisher:
Warlords are individuals who control small territories within weak states, using a combination of force and patronage. In this book, Kimberly Marten shows why and how warlords undermine state sovereignty. Unlike the feudal lords of a previous era, warlords today are not state-builders. Instead they collude with cost-conscious, corrupt, or frightened state officials to flout and undermine state capacity. They thrive on illegality, relying on private militias for support, and often provoke violent resentment from those who are cut out of their networks. Some act as middlemen for competing states, helping to hollow out their own states from within. Countries ranging from the United States to Russia have repeatedly chosen to ally with warlords, but Marten argues that to do so is a dangerous proposition.

Drawing on interviews, documents, local press reports, and in-depth historical analysis, Marten examines warlordism in the Pakistani tribal areas during the twentieth century, in post-Soviet Georgia and the Russian republic of Chechnya, and among Sunni militias in the U.S.-supported Anbar Awakening and Sons of Iraq programs. In each case state leaders (some domestic and others foreign) created, tolerated, actively supported, undermined, or overthrew warlords and their militias. Marten draws lessons from these experiences to generate new arguments about the relationship between states, sovereignty, "local power brokers," and stability and security in the modern world.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions"

New from NYU Press: Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions by Nicholas Campion.

About the book, from the publisher:
When you think of astrology, you may think of the horoscope section in your local paper, or of Nancy Reagan's consultations with an astrologer in the White House in the 1980s. Yet almost every religion uses some form of astrology: some way of thinking about the sun, moon, stars, and planets and how they hold significance for human lives on earth.

Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions offers an accessible overview of the astrologies of the world's religions, placing them into context within theories of how the wider universe came into being and operates. Campion traces beliefs about the heavens among peoples ranging from ancient Egypt and China, to Australia and Polynesia, and India and the Islamic world.

Addressing each religion in a separate chapter, Campion outlines how, by observing the celestial bodies, people have engaged with the divine, managed the future, and attempted to understand events here on earth. This fascinating text offers a unique way to delve into comparative religions and will also appeal to those intrigued by New Age topics.
Visit Nick Campion's website.