Friday, August 31, 2012

"Racing for Innocence"

New from Stanford University Press: Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash Against Affirmative Action by Jennifer L. Pierce.

About the book, from the publisher:
How is it that recipients of white privilege deny the role they play in reproducing racial inequality? Racing for Innocence addresses this question by examining the backlash against affirmative action in the late 1980s and early 1990s—just as courts, universities, and other institutions began to end affirmative action programs.

This book recounts the stories of elite legal professionals at a large corporation with a federally mandated affirmative action program, as well as the cultural narratives about race, gender, and power in the news media and Hollywood films. Though most white men denied accountability for any racism in the workplace, they recounted ways in which they resisted—whether wittingly or not— incorporating people of color or white women into their workplace lives. Drawing on three different approaches—ethnography, narrative analysis, and fiction—to conceptualize the complexities and ambiguities of race and gender in contemporary America, this book makes an innovative pedagogical tool.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Of Empires and Citizens"

New from Princeton University Press: Of Empires and Citizens: Pro-American Democracy or No Democracy at All? by Amaney A. Jamal.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the post-Cold War era, why has democratization been slow to arrive in the Arab world? This book argues that to understand support for the authoritarian status quo in parts of this region--and the willingness of its citizens to compromise on core democratic principles--one must factor in how a strong U.S. presence and popular anti-Americanism weakens democratic voices. Examining such countries as Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia, Amaney Jamal explores how Arab citizens decide whether to back existing regimes, regime transitions, and democratization projects, and how the global position of Arab states shapes people's attitudes toward their governments.

While the Cold War's end reduced superpower hegemony in much of the developing world, the Arab region witnessed an increased security and economic dependence on the United States. As a result, the preferences of the United States matter greatly to middle-class Arab citizens, not just the elite, and citizens will restrain their pursuit of democratization, rationalizing their backing for the status quo because of U.S. geostrategic priorities. Demonstrating how the preferences of an international patron serve as a constraint or an opportunity to push for democracy, Jamal questions bottom-up approaches to democratization, which assume that states are autonomous units in the world order. Jamal contends that even now, with the overthrow of some autocratic Arab regimes, the future course of Arab democratization will be influenced by the perception of American reactions. Concurrently, the United States must address the troubling sources of the region's rising anti-Americanism.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Planet Taco"

New from Oxford University Press: Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food by Jeffrey M. Pilcher.

About the book, from the publisher:
As late as the 1960s, tacos were virtually unknown outside Mexico and the American Southwest. Within fifty years the United States had shipped taco shells everywhere from Alaska to Australia, Morocco to Mongolia. But how did this tasty hand-held food--and Mexican food more broadly--become so ubiquitous?

In Planet Taco, Jeffrey Pilcher traces the historical origins and evolution of Mexico's national cuisine, explores its incarnation as a Mexican American fast-food, shows how surfers became global pioneers of Mexican food, and how Corona beer conquered the world. Pilcher is particularly enlightening on what the history of Mexican food reveals about the uneasy relationship between globalization and authenticity. The burritos and taco shells that many people think of as Mexican were actually created in the United States. But Pilcher argues that the contemporary struggle between globalization and national sovereignty to determine the authenticity of Mexican food goes back hundreds of years. During the nineteenth century, Mexicans searching for a national cuisine were torn between nostalgic "Creole" Hispanic dishes of the past and French haute cuisine, the global food of the day. Indigenous foods were scorned as unfit for civilized tables. Only when Mexican American dishes were appropriated by the fast food industry and carried around the world did Mexican elites rediscover the foods of the ancient Maya and Aztecs and embrace the indigenous roots of their national cuisine.

From a taco cart in Hermosillo, Mexico to the "Chili Queens" of San Antonio and tamale vendors in L.A., Jeffrey Pilcher follows this highly adaptable cuisine, paying special attention to the people too often overlooked in the battle to define authentic Mexican food: Indigenous Mexicans and Mexican Americans.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Freedom Burning"

New from Cornell University Press: Freedom Burning: Anti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain by Richard Huzzey.

About the book, from the publisher:
After Britain abolished slavery throughout most of its empire in 1834, Victorians adopted a creed of "anti-slavery" as a vital part of their national identity and sense of moral superiority to other civilizations. The British government used diplomacy, pressure, and violence to suppress the slave trade, while the Royal Navy enforced abolition worldwide and an anxious public debated the true responsibilities of an anti-slavery nation. This crusade was far from altruistic or compassionate, but Richard Huzzey argues that it forged national debates and political culture long after the famous abolitionist campaigns of William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson had faded into memory. These anti-slavery passions shaped racist and imperialist prejudices, new forms of coerced labor, and the expansion of colonial possessions.

In a sweeping narrative that spans the globe, Freedom Burning explores the intersection of philanthropic, imperial, and economic interests that underlay Britain's anti-slavery zeal— from London to Liberia, the Sudan to South Africa, Canada to the Caribbean, and the British East India Company to the Confederate States of America. Through careful attention to popular culture, official records, and private papers, Huzzey rewrites the history of the British Empire and a century-long effort to end the global trade in human lives.
Visit Richard Huzzey's website.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Measuring Up"

New from Stanford University Press: Measuring Up: A History of Living Standards in Mexico, 1850–1950 by Moramay López-Alonso.

About the book, from the publisher:
Measuring Up traces the high levels of poverty and inequality that Mexico faced in the mid-twentieth century. Using newly developed multidisciplinary techniques, the book provides a perspective on living standards in Mexico prior to the first measurement of income distribution in 1957. By offering an account of material living conditions and their repercussions on biological standards of living between 1850 and 1950, it sheds new light on the life of the marginalized during this period.

Measuring Up shows that new methodologies allow us to examine the history of individuals who were not integrated into the formal economy. Using anthropometric history techniques, the book assesses how a large portion of the population was affected by piecemeal policies and flaws in the process of economic modernization and growth. It contributes to our understanding of the origins of poverty and inequality, and conveys a much-needed, long-term perspective on the living conditions of the Mexican working classes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford by Beth Tompkins Bates.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the 1920s, Henry Ford hired thousands of African American men for his open-shop system of auto manufacturing. This move was a rejection of the notion that better jobs were for white men only. In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, Beth Tompkins Bates explains how black Detroiters, newly arrived from the South, seized the economic opportunities offered by Ford in the hope of gaining greater economic security. As these workers came to realize that Fords anti-union "American Plan" did not allow them full access to the American Dream, their loyalty eroded, and they sought empowerment by pursuing a broad activist agenda. This, in turn, led them to play a pivotal role in the United Auto Workers' challenge to Ford's interests.

In order to fully understand this complex shift, Bates traces allegiances among Detroits African American community as reflected in its opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, challenges to unfair housing practices, and demands for increased and effective political participation. This groundbreaking history demonstrates how by World War II Henry Ford and his company had helped kindle the civil rights movement in Detroit without intending to do so.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa"

New from Cambridge University Press: Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa by Isak Niehaus.

About the book, from the publisher:
Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa reconstructs the biography of an ordinary South African, Jimmy Mohale. Born in 1964, Jimmy came of age in rural South Africa during apartheid, then studied at university and worked as a teacher during the anti-apartheid struggle. In 2005, Jimmy died from an undiagnosed sickness, probably related to AIDS. Jimmy gradually came to see the unanticipated misfortune he experienced as a result of his father's witchcraft and sought remedies from diviners rather than from biomedical doctors. This study casts new light on scholarly understandings of the connections between South African politics, witchcraft, and the AIDS pandemic.
Isak Niehaus is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Brunel University in London.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"River Republic"

New from Columbia University Press: River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers by Daniel McCool.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daniel McCool not only chronicles the history of water development agencies in America and the way in which special interests have abused rather than preserved the country’s rivers, he also narrates the second, brighter act in this ongoing story: the surging, grassroots movement to bring these rivers back to life and ensure they remain pristine for future generations.

The culmination of ten years of research and observation, McCool’s book confirms the surprising news that America’s rivers are indeed returning to a healthier, free-flowing condition. The politics of river restoration demonstrates how strong grassroots movements can challenge entrenched powers and win. Through passion and dedication, ordinary people are reclaiming the American landscape, forming a “river republic” of concerned citizens from all backgrounds and sectors of society. As McCool shows, the history, culture, and fate of America is tied to its rivers, and their restoration is a microcosm mirroring American beliefs, livelihoods, and an increasing awareness of what two hundred years of environmental degradation can do.

McCool profiles the individuals he calls “instigators,” who initiated the fight for these waterways and, despite enormous odds, have succeeded in the near-impossible task of challenging and changing the status quo. Part I of the volume recounts the history of America’s relationship to its rivers; part II describes how and why Americans “parted” them out, destroying their essence and diminishing their value; and part III shows how society can live in harmony with its waterways while restoring their well-being—and, by extension, the well-being of those who depend on them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Against Security"

New from Princeton University Press: Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger by Harvey Molotch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Remember when an unattended package was just that, an unattended package? Remember when the airport was a place that evoked magical possibilities, not the anxiety of a full-body scan? In the post-9/11 world, we have become focused on heightened security measures, but do you feel safer? Are you safer?

Against Security explains how our anxieties about public safety have translated into command-and-control procedures that annoy, intimidate, and are often counterproductive. Taking readers through varied ambiguously dangerous sites, the prominent urbanist and leading sociologist of the everyday, Harvey Molotch, argues that we can use our existing social relationships to make life safer and more humane. He begins by addressing the misguided strategy of eliminating public restrooms, which deprives us all of a basic resource and denies human dignity to those with no place else to go. Subway security instills fear through programs like "See Something, Say Something" and intrusive searches that have yielded nothing of value. At the airport, the security gate causes crowding and confusion, exhausting the valuable focus of TSA staff. Finally, Molotch shows how defensive sentiments have translated into the vacuous Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site and massive error in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Throughout, Molotch offers thoughtful ways of maintaining security that are not only strategic but improve the quality of life for everyone.

Against Security argues that with changed policies and attitudes, redesigned equipment, and an increased reliance on our human capacity to help one another, we can be safer and maintain the pleasure and dignity of our daily lives.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


New from Harvard University Press: Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America by Jennifer L. Anderson.

About the the book, from the publisher:
In the mid-eighteenth century, colonial Americans became enamored with the rich colors and silky surface of mahogany. This exotic wood, imported from the West Indies and Central America, quickly displaced local furniture woods as the height of fashion. Over the next century, consumer demand for mahogany set in motion elaborate schemes to secure the trees and transform their rough-hewn logs into exquisite objects. But beneath the polished gleam of this furniture lies a darker, hidden story of human and environmental exploitation.

Mahogany traces the path of this wood through many hands, from source to sale: from the enslaved African woodcutters, including skilled “huntsmen” who located the elusive trees amidst dense rainforest, to the ship captains, merchants, and timber dealers who scrambled after the best logs, to the skilled cabinetmakers who crafted the wood, and with it the tastes and aspirations of their diverse clientele. As the trees became scarce, however, the search for new sources led to expanded slave labor, vicious competition, and intense international conflicts over this diminishing natural resource. When nineteenth-century American furniture makers turned to other materials, surviving mahogany objects were revalued as antiques evocative of the nation’s past.

Jennifer Anderson offers a dynamic portrait of the many players, locales, and motivations that drove the voracious quest for mahogany to adorn American parlors and dining rooms. This complex story reveals the cultural, economic, and environmental costs of America’s growing self-confidence and prosperity, and how desire shaped not just people’s lives but the natural world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Addiction by Design"

New from Princeton University Press: Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll.

About the book, from the publisher:
Recent decades have seen a dramatic shift away from social forms of gambling played around roulette wheels and card tables to solitary gambling at electronic terminals. Addiction by Design takes readers into the intriguing world of machine gambling, an increasingly popular and absorbing form of play that blurs the line between human and machine, compulsion and control, risk and reward.

Drawing on fifteen years of field research in Las Vegas, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll shows how the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the "machine zone," in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible--even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion. In continuous machine play, gamblers seek to lose themselves while the gambling industry seeks profit. Schüll describes the strategic calculations behind game algorithms and machine ergonomics, casino architecture and "ambience management," player tracking and cash access systems--all designed to meet the market's desire for maximum "time on device." Her account moves from casino floors into gamblers' everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Addiction by Design is a compelling inquiry into the intensifying traffic between people and machines of chance, offering clues to some of the broader anxieties and predicaments of contemporary life.
Visit Natasha Dow Schüll's website.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Savage Anxieties"

New from Palgrave Macmillan: Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization by Robert A. Williams, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
From one of the world's leading experts on Native American law and indigenous peoples' human rights comes an original and striking intellectual history of the tribe and Western civilization that sheds new light on how we understand ourselves and our contemporary society. Throughout the centuries, conquest, war, and unspeakable acts of violence and dispossession have all been justified by citing civilization's opposition to these differences represented by the tribe. Robert Williams, award winning author, legal scholar, and member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe, proposes a wide-ranging reexamination of the history of the Western world, told from the perspective of civilization's war on tribalism as a way of life. Williams shows us how what we thought we knew about the rise of Western civilization over the tribe is in dire need of reappraisal.
Robert A. Williams, Jr. is a member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe as well as the professor of law and director of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona. He is the author of the classic work on Indian rights under US law, The American Indian in Western Legal Thought, which won the Gustavus Meyer human rights award recently. The recipient of awards from the MacArthur, Ford, and Soros foundations, Williams is also well known for his work defending tribal groups before the United Nations and the Supreme Court.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Democracy Prevention"

New from Cambridge University Press: Democracy Prevention: The Politics of the U.S.-Egyptian Alliance by Jason Brownlee.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a popular revolt forced long-ruling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign on February 11, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the victory of peaceful demonstrators in the heart of the Arab World. But Washington was late to endorse democracy – for decades the United States favored Egypt's rulers over its people. Since 1979, the United States had provided the Egyptian regime more than $60 billion in aid and immeasurable political support to secure its main interests in the region: Israeli security and strong relations with Persian Gulf oil producers. During the Egyptian uprising, the White House did not promote popular sovereignty but instead backed an "orderly transition" to one of Mubarak's cronies. Even after protesters derailed that plan, the anti-democratic U.S.-Egyptian alliance continued. Using untapped primary materials, this book helps explain why authoritarianism has persisted in Egypt with American support, even as policy makers claim to encourage democratic change.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Gordian Knot"

New from Oxford University Press: Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order by Ryan M. Irwin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Writing more than one hundred years ago, African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois speculated that the great dilemma of the twentieth century would be the problem of "the color line." Nowhere was the dilemma of racial discrimination more entrenched-and more complex-than South Africa.

Gordian Knot examines South Africa's freedom struggle in the years surrounding African decolonization, using the global apartheid debate to explore the way new nation-states changed the international community during the mid-twentieth century. At the highpoint of decolonization, South Africa's problems shaped a transnational conversation about nationhood. Arguments about racial justice, which crested as Europe relinquished imperial control of Africa and the Caribbean, elided a deeper contest over the meaning of sovereignty, territoriality, and development.

Based on research in African, American, and European archives, Gordian Knot advances a bold new interpretation about African decolonization's relationship to American power. In so doing, it promises to shed light on U.S. foreign relations with the Third World and recast understandings of the fate of liberal internationalism after World War II.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"How Ancient Europeans Saw the World"

New from Princeton University Press: How Ancient Europeans Saw the World: Vision, Patterns, and the Shaping of the Mind in Prehistoric Times by Peter S. Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:
The peoples who inhabited Europe during the two millennia before the Roman conquests had established urban centers, large-scale production of goods such as pottery and iron tools, a money economy, and elaborate rituals and ceremonies. Yet as Peter Wells argues here, the visual world of these late prehistoric communities was profoundly different from those of ancient Rome's literate civilization and today's industrialized societies. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Wells reconstructs how the peoples of pre-Roman Europe saw the world and their place in it. He sheds new light on how they communicated their thoughts, feelings, and visual perceptions through the everyday tools they shaped, the pottery and metal ornaments they decorated, and the arrangements of objects they made in their ritual places--and how these forms and patterns in turn shaped their experience.

How Ancient Europeans Saw the World offers a completely new approach to the study of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe, and represents a major challenge to existing views about prehistoric cultures. The book demonstrates why we cannot interpret the structures that Europe's pre-Roman inhabitants built in the landscape, the ways they arranged their settlements and burial sites, or the complex patterning of their art on the basis of what these things look like to us. Rather, we must view these objects and visual patterns as they were meant to be seen by the ancient peoples who fashioned them.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Embers of War"

New from Random House: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall.

About the book, from the publisher:
The struggle for Vietnam occupies a central place in the history of the twentieth century. Fought over a period of three decades, the conflict drew in all the world’s powers and saw two of them—first France, then the United States—attempt to subdue the revolutionary Vietnamese forces. For France, the defeat marked the effective end of her colonial empire, while for America the war left a gaping wound in the body politic that remains open to this day.

How did it happen? Tapping into newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations and making full use of the published literature, distinguished scholar Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to lose their way in Vietnam. Embers of War opens in 1919 at the Versailles Peace Conference, where a young Ho Chi Minh tries to deliver a petition for Vietnamese independence to President Woodrow Wilson. It concludes in 1959, with a Viet Cong ambush on an outpost outside Saigon and the deaths of two American officers whose names would be the first to be carved into the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In between come years of political, military, and diplomatic maneuvering and miscalculation, as leaders on all sides embark on a series of stumbles that makes an eminently avoidable struggle a bloody and interminable reality.

Logevall takes us inside the councils of war—and gives us a seat at the conference tables where peace talks founder. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France’s final years in Indochina—and shows how from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history: Harry Truman’s fateful decision to reverse Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policy and acknowledge France’s right to return to Indochina after World War II; Dwight Eisenhower’s strenuous efforts to keep Paris in the fight and his escalation of U.S. involvement in the aftermath of the humiliating French defeat at Dien Bien Phu; and the curious turnaround in Senator John F. Kennedy’s thinking that would lead him as president to expand that commitment, despite his publicly stated misgivings about Western intervention in Southeast Asia.

An epic story of wasted opportunities and tragic miscalculations, featuring an extraordinary cast of larger-than-life characters, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. This book will become the definitive chronicle of the struggle’s origins for years to come.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Terrorism and Counterintelligence"

New from Columbia University Press: Terrorism and Counterintelligence: How Terrorist Groups Elude Detection by Blake W. Mobley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Protecting information, identifying undercover agents, and operating clandestinely—efforts known as counterintelligence—are the primary objectives of terrorist groups evading detection by intelligence and law enforcement officials. Some strategies work well, some fail, and those tasked with tracking these groups are deeply invested in the difference.

Discussing the challenges terrorist groups face as they multiply and plot international attacks, while at the same time providing a framework for decoding the strengths and weaknesses of their counterintelligence, Blake W. Mobley provides an indispensable text for the intelligence, military, homeland security, and law enforcement fields. He outlines concrete steps for improving the monitoring, disruption, and elimination of terrorist cells, primarily by exploiting their mistakes in counterintelligence.

A key component of Mobley’s approach is to identify and keep close watch on areas that often exhibit weakness. While some counterintelligence pathologies occur more frequently among certain terrorist groups, destructive bureaucratic tendencies, such as mistrust and paranoia, pervade all organizations. Through detailed case studies, Mobley shows how to recognize and capitalize on these shortcomings within a group’s organizational structure, popular support, and controlled territory, and he describes the tradeoffs terrorist leaders make to maintain cohesion and power. He ultimately shows that no group can achieve perfect secrecy while functioning effectively and that every adaptation or new advantage supposedly attained by these groups also produces new vulnerabilities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Seeing Justice Done"

New from Oxford University Press: Seeing Justice Done: The Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France by Paul Friedland.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the early Middle Ages to the twentieth century, capital punishment in France, as in many other countries, was staged before large crowds of spectators. Paul Friedland traces the theory and practice of public executions over time, both from the perspective of those who staged these punishments as well as from the vantage point of the many thousands who came to "see justice done". While penal theorists often stressed that the fundamental purpose of public punishment was to strike fear in the hearts of spectators, the eagerness with which crowds flocked to executions and the extent to which spectators actually enjoyed the spectacle of suffering suggests that there was a wide gulf between theoretical intentions and actual experiences. Moreover, public executions of animals, effigies, and corpses point to an enduring ritual function that had little to do with exemplary deterrence. In the eighteenth century, when a revolution in sensibilities made it unseemly for individuals to take pleasure in or even witness the suffering of others, capital punishment became the target of reformers. From the invention of the guillotine, which reduced the moment of death to the blink of an eye, to the 1939 decree which moved executions behind prison walls, capital punishment in France was systematically stripped of its spectacular elements.

Partly a history of penal theory, partly an anthropologically-inspired study of the penal ritual, Seeing Justice Done traces the historical roots of modern capital punishment, and sheds light on the fundamental "disconnect" between the theory and practice of punishment which endures to this day, not only in France but in the Western penal tradition more generally.

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Rising Up from Indian Country"

New from University of Chicago Press: Rising Up from Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago by Ann Durkin Keating.

About the book, from the publisher:
In August 1812, under threat from the Potawatomi, Captain Nathan Heald began the evacuation of ninety-four people from the isolated outpost of Fort Dearborn to Fort Wayne, hundreds of miles away. The group included several dozen soldiers, as well as nine women and eighteen children. After traveling only a mile and a half, they were attacked by five hundred Potawatomi warriors. In under an hour, fifty-two members of Heald’s party were killed, and the rest were taken prisoner; the Potawatomi then burned Fort Dearborn before returning to their villages.

These events are now seen as a foundational moment in Chicago’s storied past. With Rising up from Indian Country, noted historian Ann Durkin Keating richly recounts the Battle of Fort Dearborn while situating it within the context of several wider histories that span the nearly four decades between the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, in which Native Americans gave up a square mile at the mouth of the Chicago River, and the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, in which the American government and the Potawatomi exchanged five million acres of land west of the Mississippi River for a tract of the same size in northeast Illinois and southeast Wisconsin.

In the first book devoted entirely to this crucial period, Keating tells a story not only of military conquest but of the lives of people on all sides of the conflict. She highlights such figures as Jean Baptiste Point de Sable and John Kinzie and demonstrates that early Chicago was a place of cross-cultural reliance among the French, the Americans, and the Native Americans. Published to commemorate the bicentennial of the Battle of Fort Dearborn, this gripping account of the birth of Chicago will become required reading for anyone seeking to understand the city and its complex origins.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Racial Indigestion"

New from New York University Press: Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century by Kyla Wazana Tompkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
The act of eating is both erotic and violent, as one wholly consumes the object being eaten. At the same time, eating performs a kind of vulnerability to the world, revealing a fundamental interdependence between the eater and that which exists outside her body. Racial Indigestion explores the links between food, visual and literary culture in the nineteenth-century United States to reveal how eating produces political subjects by justifying the social discourses that create bodily meaning.

Combing through a visually stunning and rare archive of children’s literature, architectural history, domestic manuals, dietetic tracts, novels and advertising, Racial Indigestion tells the story of the consolidation of nationalist mythologies of whiteness via the erotic politics of consumption. Less a history of commodities than a history of eating itself, the book seeks to understand how eating became a political act, linked to appetite, vice, virtue, race and class inequality and, finally, the queer pleasures and pitfalls of a burgeoning commodity culture. In so doing, Racial Indigestion sheds light on contemporary “foodie” culture’s vexed relationship to nativism, nationalism and race privilege.
Visit the Racial Indigestion website.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Excavating Modernity"

New from Cornell University Press: Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy by Joshua Arthurs.

About the book, from the publisher:
The cultural and material legacies of the Roman Republic and Empire in evidence throughout Rome have made it the "Eternal City." Too often, however, this patrimony has caused Rome to be seen as static and antique, insulated from the transformations of the modern world. In Excavating Modernity, Joshua Arthurs dramatically revises this perception, arguing that as both place and idea, Rome was strongly shaped by a radical vision of modernity imposed by Mussolini's regime between the two world wars.

Italian Fascism’s appropriation of the Roman past—the idea of Rome, or romanità— encapsulated the Fascist virtues of discipline, hierarchy, and order; the Fascist “new man” was modeled on the Roman legionary, the epitome of the virile citizen-soldier. This vision of modernity also transcended Italy’s borders, with the Roman Empire providing a foundation for Fascism’s own vision of Mediterranean domination and a European New Order. At the same time, romanità also served as a vocabulary of anxiety about modernity. Fears of population decline, racial degeneration and revolution were mapped onto the barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome. Offering a critical assessment of romanità and its effects, Arthurs explores the ways in which academics, officials, and ideologues approached Rome not as a site of distant glories but as a blueprint for contemporary life, a source of dynamic values to shape the present and future.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"The Silk Road"

New from Oxford University Press: The Silk Road: A New History by Valerie Hansen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Silk Road is as iconic in world history as the Colossus of Rhodes or the Suez Canal. But what was it, exactly? It conjures up a hazy image of a caravan of camels laden with silk on a dusty desert track, reaching from China to Rome. The reality was different--and far more interesting--as revealed in this new history.

In The Silk Road, Valerie Hansen describes the remarkable archeological finds that revolutionize our understanding of these trade routes. For centuries, key records remained hidden-sometimes deliberately buried by bureaucrats for safe keeping. But the sands of the Taklamakan Desert have revealed fascinating material, sometimes preserved by illiterate locals who recycled official documents to make insoles for shoes or garments for the dead. Hansen explores seven oases along the road, from Xi'an to Samarkand, where merchants, envoys, pilgrims, and travelers mixed in cosmopolitan communities, tolerant of religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism. There was no single, continuous road, but a chain of markets that traded between east and west. China and the Roman Empire had very little direct trade. China's main partners were the peoples of modern-day Iran, whose tombs in China reveal much about their Zoroastrian beliefs. Silk was not the most important good on the road; paper, invented in China before Julius Caesar was born, had a bigger impact in Europe, while metals, spices, and glass were just as important as silk. Perhaps most significant of all was the road's transmission of ideas, technologies, and artistic motifs.

The Silk Road is a fascinating story of archeological discovery, cultural transmission, and the intricate chains across Central Asia and China.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"The Great Powers and the International System"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Great Powers and the International System: Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective by Bear F. Braumoeller.

About the book, from the publisher:
Do great leaders make history? Or are they compelled to act by historical circumstance? This debate has remained unresolved since Thomas Carlyle and Karl Marx framed it in the mid-nineteenth century, yet implicit answers inform our policies and our views of history. In this book, Professor Bear F. Braumoeller argues persuasively that both perspectives are correct: leaders shape the main material and ideological forces of history that subsequently constrain and compel them. His studies of the Congress of Vienna, the interwar period, and the end of the Cold War illustrate this dynamic, and the data he marshals provide systematic evidence that leaders both shape and are constrained by the structure of the international system.
Bear F. Braumoeller is an associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"The Chosen Few"

New from Princeton University Press: The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 by Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 70 CE, the Jews were an agrarian and illiterate people living mostly in the Land of Israel and Mesopotamia. By 1492 the Jewish people had become a small group of literate urbanites specializing in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine in hundreds of places across the Old World, from Seville to Mangalore. What caused this radical change? The Chosen Few presents a new answer to this question by applying the lens of economic analysis to the key facts of fifteen formative centuries of Jewish history.

Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein show that, contrary to previous explanations, this transformation was driven not by anti-Jewish persecution and legal restrictions, but rather by changes within Judaism itself after 70 CE--most importantly, the rise of a new norm that required every Jewish male to read and study the Torah and to send his sons to school. Over the next six centuries, those Jews who found the norms of Judaism too costly to obey converted to other religions, making world Jewry shrink. Later, when urbanization and commercial expansion in the newly established Muslim Caliphates increased the demand for occupations in which literacy was an advantage, the Jews found themselves literate in a world of almost universal illiteracy. From then forward, almost all Jews entered crafts and trade, and many of them began moving in search of business opportunities, creating a worldwide Diaspora in the process.

The Chosen Few offers a powerful new explanation of one of the most significant transformations in Jewish history while also providing fresh insights to the growing debate about the social and economic impact of religion.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"A Shark Going Inland Is My Chief"

New from the University of California Press: A Shark Going Inland Is My Chief: The Island Civilization of Ancient Hawai'i by Patrick Vinton Kirch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Tracing the origins of the Hawaiians and other Polynesians back to the shores of the South China Sea, archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch follows their voyages of discovery across the Pacific in this fascinating history of Hawaiian culture from about one thousand years ago. Combining more than four decades of his own research with Native Hawaiian oral traditions and the evidence of archaeology, Kirch puts a human face on the gradual rise to power of the Hawaiian god-kings, who by the late eighteenth century were locked in a series of wars for ultimate control of the entire archipelago.

This lively, accessible chronicle works back from Captain James Cook’s encounter with the pristine kingdom in 1778, when the British explorers encountered an island civilization governed by rulers who could not be gazed upon by common people. Interweaving anecdotes from his own widespread travel and extensive archaeological investigations into the broader historical narrative, Kirch shows how the early Polynesian settlers of Hawai'i adapted to this new island landscape and created highly productive agricultural systems.
Patrick Vinton Kirch is Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology and Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of many books, including Feathered Gods and Fishhooks, On the Road of the Winds, and How Chiefs Became Kings: Divine Kingship and the Rise of Archaic States in Ancient Hawai'i.

The Page 99 Test: How Chiefs Became Kings.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"The Big Muddy"

New from Oxford University Press: The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples, from Hernando de Soto to Hurricane Katrina by Christopher Morris.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Big Muddy, the first long-term environmental history of the Mississippi, Christopher Morris offers a brilliant tour across five centuries as he illuminates the interaction between people and the landscape, from early hunter-gatherer bands to present-day industrial and post-industrial society.

Morris shows that when Hernando de Soto arrived at the lower Mississippi Valley, he found an incredibly vast wetland, forty thousand square miles of some of the richest, wettest land in North America, deposited there by the big muddy river that ran through it. But since then much has changed, for the river and for the surrounding valley. Indeed, by the 1890s, the valley was rapidly drying. Morris shows how centuries of increasingly intensified human meddling--including deforestation, swamp drainage, and levee construction--led to drought, disease, and severe flooding. He outlines the damage done by the introduction of foreign species, such as the Argentine nutria, which escaped into the wild and are now busy eating up Louisiana's wetlands. And he critiques the most monumental change in the lower Mississippi Valley--the reconstruction of the river itself, largely under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers. Valley residents have been paying the price for these human interventions, most visibly with the disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina. Morris also describes how valley residents have been struggling to reinvigorate the valley environment in recent years--such as with the burgeoning catfish and crawfish industries--so that they may once again live off its natural abundance.

Morris concludes that the problem with Katrina is the problem with the Amazon Rainforest, drought and famine in Africa, and fires and mudslides in California--it is the end result of the ill-considered bending of natural environments to human purposes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"American Empire: 1945-2000"

New from Viking: American Empire: 1945-2000: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home by Joshua Freeman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A compelling look at the movements and developments that propelled America to world dominance

In this landmark work, acclaimed historian Joshua Freeman has created an epic portrait of a nation both galvanized by change and driven by conflict. Beginning in 1945, the economic juggernaut awakened by World War II transformed a country once defined by its regional character into a uniform and cohesive power and set the stage for the United States’ rise to global dominance. Meanwhile, Freeman locates the profound tragedy that has shaped the path of American civic life, unfolding how the civil rights and labor movements worked for decades to enlarge the rights of millions of Americans, only to watch power ultimately slip from individual citizens to private corporations. Moving through McCarthyism and Vietnam, from the Great Society to Morning in America, Joshua Freeman’s sweeping story of a nation’s rise reveals forces at play that will continue to affect the future role of American influence and might in the greater world.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s by Daniel Gorman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Chronicling the emergence of an international society in the 1920s, Daniel Gorman describes how the shock of the First World War gave rise to a broad array of overlapping initiatives in international cooperation. Though national rivalries continued to plague world politics, ordinary citizens and state officials found common causes in politics, religion, culture, and sport with peers beyond their borders. The League of Nations, the turn to a less centralized British Empire, the beginning of an international ecumenical movement, international sporting events, and audacious plans for the abolition of war all signaled internationalism's growth. State actors played an important role in these developments and were aided by international voluntary organizations, church groups, and international networks of academics, athletes, women, pacifists, and humanitarian activists. These international networks became the forerunners of international NGOs and global governance.
Read an except from The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s.

"Atomic Assistance"

New from Cornell University Press: Atomic Assistance: How "Atoms for Peace" Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity by Matthew Fuhrmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nuclear technology is dual use in nature, meaning that it can be used to produce nuclear energy or to build nuclear weapons. Despite security concerns about proliferation, the United States and other nuclear nations have regularly shared with other countries nuclear technology, materials, and knowledge for peaceful purposes. In Atomic Assistance, Matthew Fuhrmann argues that governments use peaceful nuclear assistance as a tool of economic statecraft. Nuclear suppliers hope that they can reap the benefits of foreign aid—improving relationships with their allies, limiting the influence of their adversaries, enhancing their energy security by gaining favorable access to oil supplies—without undermining their security. By providing peaceful nuclear assistance, however, countries inadvertently help spread nuclear weapons.

Fuhrmann draws on several cases of "Atoms for Peace," including U.S. civilian nuclear assistance to Iran from 1957 to 1979; Soviet aid to Libya from 1975 to 1986; French, Italian, and Brazilian nuclear exports to Iraq from 1975 to 1981; and U.S. nuclear cooperation with India from 2001 to 2008. He also explores decision making in countries such as Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, and Syria to determine why states began (or did not begin) nuclear weapons programs and why some programs succeeded while others failed. Fuhrmann concludes that, on average, countries receiving higher levels of peaceful nuclear assistance are more likely to pursue and acquire the bomb—especially if they experience an international crisis after receiving aid.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Archives of Authority"

New from Princeton University Press: Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War by Andrew N. Rubin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Combining literary, cultural, and political history, and based on extensive archival research, including previously unseen FBI and CIA documents, Archives of Authority argues that cultural politics--specifically America's often covert patronage of the arts--played a highly important role in the transfer of imperial authority from Britain to the United States during a critical period after World War II. Andrew Rubin argues that this transfer reshaped the postwar literary space and he shows how, during this time, new and efficient modes of cultural transmission, replication, and travel--such as radio and rapidly and globally circulated journals--completely transformed the position occupied by the postwar writer and the role of world literature.

Rubin demonstrates that the nearly instantaneous translation of texts by George Orwell, Thomas Mann, W. H. Auden, Richard Wright, Mary McCarthy, and Albert Camus, among others, into interrelated journals that were sponsored by organizations such as the CIA's Congress for Cultural Freedom and circulated around the world effectively reshaped writers, critics, and intellectuals into easily recognizable, transnational figures. Their work formed a new canon of world literature that was celebrated in the United States and supposedly represented the best of contemporary thought, while less politically attractive authors were ignored or even demonized. This championing and demonizing of writers occurred in the name of anti-Communism--the new, transatlantic "civilizing mission" through which postwar cultural and literary authority emerged.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"The Government of Social Life in Colonial India"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Government of Social Life in Colonial India: Liberalism, Religious Law, and Women's Rights by Rachel Sturman.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the early days of colonial rule in India, the British established a two-tier system of legal administration. Matters deemed secular were subject to British legal norms, while suits relating to the family were adjudicated according to Hindu or Muslim law, known as personal law. This important new study analyzes the system of personal law in colonial India through a reexamination of women's rights. Focusing on Hindu law in western India, it challenges existing scholarship, showing how – far from being a system based on traditional values – Hindu law was developed around ideas of liberalism, and that this framework encouraged questions about equality, women's rights, the significance of bodily difference, and more broadly the relationship between state and society. Rich in archival sources, wide-ranging, and theoretically informed, the book illuminates how personal law came to function as an organizing principle of colonial governance and of nationalist political imaginations.