Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"No Regrets: Remorse in Classical Antiquity"

New from Oxford University Press: No Regrets: Remorse in Classical Antiquity by Laurel Fulkerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
No Regrets: Remorse in Classical Antiquity is the first sustained study examining the circumstances under which the emotions of remorse and regret were manifested in Greek and Roman public life. Despite a still-common notion that remorse is a modern, monotheistic emotion, it argues that remorse did in fact exist in pre-Christian antiquity. By discussing the standard lexical denotations of remorse, Fulkerson shows how its parameters were rather different from its modern counterpart. Remorse in the ancient world was normally not expressed by high-status individuals, but by their inferiors, notably women, the young, and subjects of tyrants, nor was it redemptive, but often served to show defect of character. Through a series of examples, especially poetic, historical, and philosophical texts, this book demonstrates this was so because of the very high value placed on consistency of character in the ancient world. High-status men, in particular, faced constant challenges to their position, and maintaining at least the appearance of uniformity was essential to their successful functioning. The redemptive aspects of remorse, of learning from one's mistakes, were thus nearly absent in the ancient world.
Laurel Fulkerson is an Associate Professor at Florida State University. In addition to work on the emotions, she has published articles on gender, Latin, and Greek poetry. She has held visiting fellowships at the University of Cincinnati, Exeter College, and St. Anne's College, Oxford.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"The Trials of Laura Fair"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West by Carole Haber.

About the book, from the publisher:
On November 3, 1870, on a San Francisco ferry, Laura Fair shot a bullet into the heart of her married lover, A. P. Crittenden. Throughout her two murder trials, Fair's lawyers, supported by expert testimony from physicians, claimed that the shooting was the result of temporary insanity caused by a severely painful menstrual cycle. The first jury disregarded such testimony, choosing instead to focus on Fair's disreputable character. In the second trial, however, an effective defense built on contemporary medical beliefs and gendered stereotypes led to a verdict that shocked Americans across the country. In this rousing history, Carole Haber probes changing ideas about morality and immorality, masculinity and femininity, love and marriage, health and disease, and mental illness to show that all these concepts were reinvented in the Victorian West.

Haber's book examines the era's most controversial issues, including suffrage, the gendered courts, women's physiology, and free love. This notorious story enriches our understanding of Victorian society, opening the door to a discussion about the ways in which reputation, especially female reputation, is shaped.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Modern Food, Moral Food"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century by Helen Zoe Veit.

About the book, from the publisher:
American eating changed dramatically in the early twentieth century. As food production became more industrialized, nutritionists, home economists, and so-called racial scientists were all pointing Americans toward a newly scientific approach to diet. Food faddists were rewriting the most basic rules surrounding eating, while reformers were working to reshape the diets of immigrants and the poor. And by the time of World War I, the country's first international aid program was bringing moral advice about food conservation into kitchens around the country. In Modern Food, Moral Food, Helen Zoe Veit argues that the twentieth-century food revolution was fueled by a powerful conviction that Americans had a moral obligation to use self-discipline and reason, rather than taste and tradition, in choosing what to eat.

Veit weaves together cultural history and the history of science to bring readers into the strange and complex world of the American Progressive Era. The era's emphasis on science and self-control left a profound mark on American eating, one that remains today in everything from the ubiquity of science-based dietary advice to the tenacious idealization of thinness.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"The Fate of Freedom Elsewhere"

New from Cornell University Press: The Fate of Freedom Elsewhere: Human Rights and U.S. Cold War Policy toward Argentina by William Michael Schmidli.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the first quarter-century of the Cold War, upholding human rights was rarely a priority in U.S. policy toward Latin America. Seeking to protect U.S. national security, American policymakers quietly cultivated relations with politically ambitious Latin American militaries—a strategy clearly evident in the Ford administration’s tacit support of state-sanctioned terror in Argentina following the 1976 military coup d’état. By the mid-1970s, however, the blossoming human rights movement in the United States posed a serious threat to the maintenance of close U.S. ties to anticommunist, right-wing military regimes.

The competition between cold warriors and human rights advocates culminated in a fierce struggle to define U.S. policy during the Jimmy Carter presidency. In The Fate of Freedom Elsewhere, William Michael Schmidli argues that Argentina emerged as the defining test case of Carter’s promise to bring human rights to the center of his administration’s foreign policy. Entering the Oval Office at the height of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of tens of thousands of Argentines by the military government, Carter set out to dramatically shift U.S. policy from subtle support to public condemnation of human rights violation. But could the administration elicit human rights improvements in the face of a zealous military dictatorship, rising Cold War tension, and domestic political opposition? By grappling with the disparate actors engaged in the struggle over human rights, including civil rights activists, second-wave feminists, chicano/a activists, religious progressives, members of the New Right, conservative cold warriors, and business leaders, Schmidli utilizes unique interviews with U.S. and Argentine actors as well as newly declassified archives to offer a telling analysis of the rise, efficacy, and limits of human rights in shaping U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Prelude to Revolution"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Prelude to Revolution: The Salem Gunpowder Raid of 1775 by Peter Charles Hoffer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Before colonial Americans could declare independence, they had to undergo a change of heart. Beyond a desire to rebel against British mercantile and fiscal policies, they had to believe that they could stand up to the fully armed British soldier. Prelude to Revolution uncovers one story of how the Americans found that confidence.

On April 19, 1775, British raids on Lexington Green and Concord Bridge made history, but it was an episode nearly two months earlier in Salem, Massachusetts, that set the stage for the hostilities. Peter Charles Hoffer has discovered records and newspaper accounts of a British gunpowder raid on Salem. Seeking powder and cannon hidden in the town, a regiment of British Regulars were foiled by quick-witted patriots who carried off the ordnance and then openly taunted the Regulars. The prudence of British commanding officer Alexander Leslie and the persistence of the patriot leaders turned a standoff into a bloodless triumph for the colonists. What might have been a violent confrontation turned into a local victory, and the patriots gloated as news spread of "Leslie's Retreat."

When British troops marched on Lexington and Concord on that pivotal day in April, Hoffer explains, each side had drawn diametrically opposed lessons from the Salem raid. It emboldened the rebels to stand fast and infuriated the British, who vowed never again to back down. After relating these battles in vivid detail, Hoffer provides a teachable problem in historic memory by asking why we celebrate Lexington and Concord but not Salem and why New Englanders recalled the events at Salem but then forgot their significance.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Spark from the Deep"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Spark from the Deep: How Shocking Experiments with Strongly Electric Fish Powered Scientific Discovery by William J. Turkel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Spark from the Deep tells the story of how human beings came to understand and use electricity by studying the evolved mechanisms of strongly electric fish. These animals have the ability to shock potential prey or would-be predators with high-powered electrical discharges.

William J. Turkel asks completely fresh questions about the evolutionary, environmental, and historical aspects of people's interest in electric fish. Stimulated by painful encounters with electric catfish, torpedos, and electric eels, people learned to harness the power of electric shock for medical therapies and eventually developed technologies to store, transmit, and control electricity. Now we look to these fish as an inspiration for engineering new sensors, computer interfaces, autonomous undersea robots, and energy-efficient batteries.
William J. Turkel is an associate professor of history at the University of Western Ontario and is author of The Archive of Place: Unearthing the Pasts of the Chilcotin Plateau.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"The Terrorist's Dilemma"

New from Princeton University Press: The Terrorist's Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations by Jacob N. Shapiro.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do terrorist groups control their members? Do the tools groups use to monitor their operatives and enforce discipline create security vulnerabilities that governments can exploit? The Terrorist's Dilemma is the first book to systematically examine the great variation in how terrorist groups are structured. Employing a broad range of agency theory, historical case studies, and terrorists' own internal documents, Jacob Shapiro provocatively discusses the core managerial challenges that terrorists face and illustrates how their political goals interact with the operational environment to push them to organize in particular ways.

Shapiro provides a historically informed explanation for why some groups have little hierarchy, while others resemble miniature firms, complete with line charts and written disciplinary codes. Looking at groups in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, he highlights how consistent and widespread the terrorist's dilemma--balancing the desire to maintain control with the need for secrecy--has been since the 1880s. Through an analysis of more than a hundred terrorist autobiographies he shows how prevalent bureaucracy has been, and he utilizes a cache of internal documents from al-Qa'ida in Iraq to outline why this deadly group used so much paperwork to handle its people. Tracing the strategic interaction between terrorist leaders and their operatives, Shapiro closes with a series of comparative case studies, indicating that the differences in how groups in the same conflict approach their dilemmas are consistent with an agency theory perspective.

The Terrorist's Dilemma demonstrates the management constraints inherent to terrorist groups and sheds light on specific organizational details that can be exploited to more efficiently combat terrorist activity.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Emotions in the Moral Life"

New from Cambridge University Press: Emotions in the Moral Life by Robert C. Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:
Robert C. Roberts extends to the moral life the account of emotions presented in his Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology (2003), that they are “concern-based construals.” In this book the author explains how emotions can be a basis for moral judgments, how they account for the deeper moral identity of actions we perform, how they are constitutive of morally valenced personal relationships like friendship, enmity, collegiality and parenthood, and how both pleasant and unpleasant emotions interact with our personal wellbeing (eudaimonia). He argues that none of these dimensions of emotions' values is reducible to any of the others. He continues by sketching how all of these moral dimensions contribute to emotions' participation, in diverse ways, in our virtues and vices.
Robert C. Roberts is Distinguished Professor of Ethics at Baylor University.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic, 1750-1807"

New from Cambridge University Press: Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic, 1750-1807 by Justin Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the daily details of slave work routines and plantation agriculture in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic, focusing on case studies of large plantations in Barbados, Jamaica, and Virginia. Work was the most important factor in the slaves' experience of the institution. Slaves' day-to-day work routines were shaped by plantation management strategies that drew on broader pan-Atlantic intellectual and cultural principles. Although scholars often associate the late eighteenth-century Enlightenment with the rise of notions of liberty and human rights and the dismantling of slavery, this book explores the dark side of the Enlightenment for plantation slaves. Many planters increased their slaves' workloads and employed supervisory technologies to increase labor discipline in ways that were consistent with the process of industrialization in Europe. British planters offered alternative visions of progress by embracing restrictions on freedom and seeing increasing labor discipline as central to the project of moral and economic improvement.
Justin Roberts is an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he specializes in the study of slavery and the Atlantic World. He received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"The March on Washington"

New from W.W. Norton: The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights by William P. Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brilliant history that goes beyond the dazzling “I Have a Dream” speech to explore the real significance of the massive march and the movement it inspired.

It was the final speech of a long day, August 28, 1963, when hundreds of thousands gathered on the Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In a resounding cadence, Martin Luther King Jr. lifted the crowd when he told of his dream that all Americans would join together to realize the founding ideal of equality. The power of the speech created an enduring symbol of the march and the larger civil rights movement. King’s speech still inspires us fifty years later, but its very power has also narrowed our understanding of the march. In this insightful history, William P. Jones restores the march to its full significance.

The opening speech of the day was delivered by the leader of the march, the great trade unionist A. Philip Randolph, who first called for a march on Washington in 1941 to press for equal opportunity in employment and the armed forces. To the crowd that stretched more than a mile before him, Randolph called for an end to segregation and a living wage for every American. Equal access to accommodations and services would mean little to people, white and black, who could not afford them. Randolph’s egalitarian vision of economic and social citizenship is the strong thread running through the full history of the March on Washington Movement. It was a movement of sustained grassroots organizing, linked locally to women’s groups, unions, and churches across the country. Jones’s fresh, compelling history delivers a new understanding of this emblematic event and the broader civil rights movement it propelled.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Disasters and the American State"

New from Cambridge University Press: Disasters and the American State: How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Public Prepare for the Unexpected by Patrick S. Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:
Disasters and the American State offers a thesis about the trajectory of federal government involvement in preparing for disaster shaped by contingent events. Politicians and bureaucrats claim credit for the government's successes in preparing for and responding to disaster, and they are also blamed for failures outside of government's control. New interventions have created precedents and established organizations and administrative cultures that accumulated over time and produced a general trend in which citizens, politicians, and bureaucrats expect the government to provide more security from more kinds of disasters. The trend reached its peak when the Federal Emergency Management Agency adopted the idea of preparing for “all hazards” as its mantra. Despite the rhetoric, however, the federal government's increasingly bold claims and heightened public expectations are disproportionate to the ability of the federal government to prevent or reduce the damage caused by disaster.
Patrick S. Roberts is an Associate Professor at the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Chiefdoms, Collapse and Coalescence in the Early American South"

New from Cambridge University Press: Chiefdoms, Collapse and Coalescence in the Early American South by Robin Beck.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book provides a new conceptual framework for understanding how the Indian nations of the early American South emerged from the ruins of a precolonial, Mississippian world. A broad regional synthesis that ranges over much of the Eastern Woodlands, its focus is on the Indians of the Carolina Piedmont – the Catawbas and their neighbors – from 1400 to 1725. Using an “eventful” approach to social change, Robin Beck argues that the collapse of the Mississippian world was fundamentally a transformation of political economy, from one built on maize to one of guns, slaves, and hides. The story takes us from first encounters through the rise of the Indian slave trade and the scourge of disease to the wars that shook the American South in the early 1700s. Yet the book's focus remains on the Catawbas, drawing on their experiences in a violent, unstable landscape to develop a comparative perspective on structural continuity and change.
Robin Beck is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Assistant Curator of North American Archaeology, Museum of Anthropology, at the University of Michigan.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"The American State from the Civil War to the New Deal"

New from Cambridge University Press: The American State from the Civil War to the New Deal: The Twilight of Constitutionalism and the Triumph of Progressivism by Paul D. Moreno.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book tells the story of constitutional government in America during the period of the “social question.” After the Civil War and Reconstruction, and before the “second Reconstruction” and cultural revolution of the 1960s, Americans dealt with the challenges of the urban and industrial revolutions. In the crises of the American Revolution and the Civil War, the American founders – and then Lincoln and the Republicans – returned to a long tradition of Anglo-American constitutional principles. During the Industrial Revolution, American political thinkers and political actors gradually abandoned those principles for a set of modern ideas, initially called progressivism. The social crisis, culminating in the Great Depression, did not produce a Lincoln to return to the founders' principles, but rather a series of leaders – Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt – who repudiated them. Congress and the Supreme Court eventually followed their lead. Since the New Deal, Americans have lived in a constitutional twilight, not having completely abandoned the natural-rights constitutionalism of the founders, nor having completely embraced the entitlement-based welfare state of modern liberalism.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Tokyo Vernacular"

New from the University of California Press: Tokyo Vernacular: Common Spaces, Local Histories, Found Objects by Jordan Sand.

About the book, from the publisher:
Preserved buildings and historic districts, museums and reconstructions have become an important part of the landscape of cities around the world. Beginning in the 1970s, Tokyo participated in this trend. However, repeated destruction and rapid redevelopment left the city with little building stock of recognized historical value. Late twentieth-century Tokyo thus presents an illuminating case of the emergence of a new sense of history in the city’s physical environment, since it required both a shift in perceptions of value and a search for history in the margins and interstices of a rapidly modernizing cityscape. Scholarship to date has tended to view historicism in the postindustrial context as either a genuine response to loss, or as a cynical commodification of the past. The historical process of Tokyo’s historicization suggests other interpretations. Moving from the politics of the public square to the invention of neighborhood community, to oddities found and appropriated in the streets, to the consecration of everyday scenes and artifacts as heritage in museums, Tokyo Vernacular traces the rediscovery of the past—sometimes in unlikely forms—in a city with few traditional landmarks. Tokyo's rediscovered past was mobilized as part of a new politics of the everyday after the failure of mass politics in the 1960s. Rather than conceiving the city as national center and claiming public space as national citizens, the post-1960s generation came to value the local places and things that embodied the vernacular language of the city, and to seek what could be claimed as common property outside the spaces of corporate capitalism and the state.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Why the West Fears Islam"

New from Palgrave Macmillan: Why the West Fears Islam: An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies by Jocelyne Cesari.

About the book, from the publisher:
Are Muslims threatening the core values of the West?

Jocelyne Cesari examines this question through the lens of testimonies from Muslims in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her book is an unprecedented exploration of Muslim religious and political life based on several years of field work in Europe and in the United States. It provides original insights into the ways Muslims act as believers and citizens and into the specifics of western liberalism and secularism, particularly after 9/11, and how the specific constraints of Islam in secular spaces trigger a western politics of fear. Its unique interdisciplinary scope allows for an in depth analysis of data polls, surveys, political discourses, policy programs, interviews, and focus groups with Muslims.
Jocelyne Cesari is a political scientist with a French background, tenured at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris and specializing in contemporary Islamic societies, globalization and democratization. At Harvard University, she directs the International Research Program called 'Islam in the West."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Climbing Mount Laurel"

New from Princeton University Press: Climbing Mount Laurel: The Struggle for Affordable Housing and Social Mobility in an American Suburb by Douglas S. Massey, Len Albright, Rebecca Casciano, Elizabeth Derickson & David N. Kinsey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Under the New Jersey State Constitution as interpreted by the State Supreme Court in 1975 and 1983, municipalities are required to use their zoning authority to create realistic opportunities for a fair share of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. Mount Laurel was the town at the center of the court decisions. As a result, Mount Laurel has become synonymous with the debate over affordable housing policy designed to create economically integrated communities. What was the impact of the Mount Laurel decision on those most affected by it? What does the case tell us about economic inequality?

Climbing Mount Laurel undertakes a systematic evaluation of the Ethel Lawrence Homes--a housing development produced as a result of the Mount Laurel decision. Douglas Massey and his colleagues assess the consequences for the surrounding neighborhoods and their inhabitants, the township of Mount Laurel, and the residents of the Ethel Lawrence Homes. Their analysis reveals what social scientists call neighborhood effects--the notion that neighborhoods can shape the life trajectories of their inhabitants. Climbing Mount Laurel proves that the building of affordable housing projects is an efficacious, cost-effective approach to integration and improving the lives of the poor, with reasonable cost and no drawbacks for the community at large.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"The World in the Curl"

New from Crown: The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing by Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul.

About the book, from the publisher:
A definitive and highly readable history of surfing and the cultural, political, economic, and environmental consequences of its evolution from a sport of Hawaiian kings and queens to a billion-dollar worldwide industry

Despite its rebellious, outlaw reputation, or perhaps because of it, surfing occupies a central place in the American – and global – imagination, embodying the tension between romantic counterculture ideals and middle-class values, between an individualistic communion with nature and a growing commitment to commerce and technology. In examining the enduring widespread appeal of surfing in both myth and reality, The World in the Curl offers a fresh angle on the remarkable rise of the sport and its influence on modern life.

Drawing on Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul’s expertise as historians of science and technology, the environment, and the Cold War, as well as decades of experience as surfers themselves, The World in the Curl brings alive the colorful history of surfing by drawing readers into the forces that fueled the sport's expansion: colonialism, the military-industrial complex, globalization, capitalism, environmental engineering, and race and gender roles. In an engaging and provocative narrative history – from the spread of surfing to the United States, to the development of surf culture, to the reintroduction of women into the sport, to big wave frontiers – the authors draw an indelible portrait of surfing and surfers as actors on the global stage.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Marrow of Tragedy"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War by Margaret Humphreys.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease.

During the war soldiers suffered from measles, dysentery, and pneumonia and needed both preventive and curative food and medicine. Family members-especially women-and governments mounted organized support efforts, while army doctors learned to standardize medical thought and practice. Resources in the north helped return soldiers to battle, while Confederate soldiers suffered hunger and other privations and healed more slowly, when they healed at all.

In telling the stories of soldiers, families, physicians, nurses, and administrators, historian Margaret Humphreys concludes that medical science was not as limited at the beginning of the war as has been portrayed. Medicine and public health clearly advanced during the war-and continued to do so after military hostilities ceased.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Remembering Inflation"

New from Princeton University Press: Remembering Inflation by Brigitte Granville.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today's global economy, with most developed nations experiencing very low inflation, seems a world apart from the "Great Inflation" that spanned the late 1960s to early 1980s. Yet, in this book, Brigitte Granville makes the case that monetary economists and policymakers need to keep the lessons learned during that period very much in mind, lest we return to them by making the same mistakes we made in the past.

Granville details the advances in macroeconomic thinking that gave rise to the "Great Moderation"--a period of stable inflation and economic growth, which lasted from the mid-1980s through the most recent financial crisis. She makes the case that the central banks' management of monetary policy--hinging on expectations and credibility--brought about this period of stability, and traces the roots of this success back to the eighteenth-century foundations of modern monetary thought.

Tackling fundamental questions such as the causes of inflation and its relation to unemployment and growth, the natural rate of inflation hypothesis, the fiscal theory of the price level, and the proper goals of central banks, the book aims above all to demonstrate the dangers of forgetting the role of credibility in establishing sound monetary policy. With the lessons of the past firmly in mind, Granville presents stimulating ideas and proposals about inflation-targeting principles, which provide tools for present-day monetary authorities dealing with the forces of globalization, mercantilism, and reserve accumulation.

Friday, July 12, 2013

"The Dark Side of the Enlightenment"

New from W.W. Norton: The Dark Side of the Enlightenment: Wizards, Alchemists, and Spiritual Seekers in the Age of Reason by John V. Fleming.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why spiritual and supernatural yearnings, even investigations into the occult, flourished in the era of rationalist philosophy.

In The Dark Side of the Enlightenment, John V. Fleming shows how the impulses of the European Enlightenment—generally associated with great strides in the liberation of human thought from superstition and traditional religion—were challenged by tenacious religious ideas or channeled into the “darker” pursuits of the esoteric and the occult. His engaging topics include the stubborn survival of the miraculous, the Enlightenment roles of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, and the widespread pursuit of magic and alchemy.

Though we tend not to associate what was once called alchemy with what we now call chemistry, Fleming shows that the difference is merely one of linguistic modernization. Alchemy was once the chemistry, of Arabic derivation, and its practitioners were among the principal scientists and physicians of their ages. No point is more important for understanding the strange and fascinating figures in this book than the prestige of alchemy among the learned men of the age.

Fleming follows some of these complexities and contradictions of the “Age of Lights” into the biographies of two of its extraordinary offspring. The first is the controversial wizard known as Count Cagliostro, the “Egyptian” freemason, unconventional healer, and alchemist known most infamously for his ambiguous association with the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, which history has viewed as among the possible harbingers of the French Revolution and a major contributing factor in the growing unpopularity of Marie Antoinette. Fleming also reviews the career of Julie de Krüdener, the sentimental novelist, Pietist preacher, and political mystic who would later become notorious as a prophet.

Impressively researched and wonderfully erudite, this rich narrative history sheds light on some lesser-known mental extravagances and beliefs of the Enlightenment era and brings to life some of the most extraordinary characters ever encountered either in history or fiction.
Visit John V. Fleming's website and blog.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins"

New from Oxford University Press: The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender, and the Origins of the LA Riots by Brenda Stevenson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Helicopters thwopped low over the city, filming blocks of burning cars and buildings, mobs breaking into storefronts, and the vicious beating of truck driver Reginald Denny. For a week in April 1992, Los Angeles transformed into a cityscape of rage, purportedly due to the exoneration of four policemen who had beaten Rodney King. It should be no surprise that such intense anger erupted from something deeper than a single incident.

In The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins, Brenda Stevenson tells the dramatic story of an earlier trial, a turning point on the road to the 1992 riot. On March 16, 1991, fifteen-year-old Latasha Harlins, an African American who lived locally, entered the Empire Liquor Market at 9172 South Figueroa Street in South Central Los Angeles. Behind the counter was a Korean woman named Soon Ja Du. Latasha walked to the refrigerator cases in the back, took a bottle of orange juice, put it in her backpack, and approached the cash register with two dollar bills in her hand-the price of the juice. Moments later she was face-down on the floor with a bullet hole in the back of her head, shot dead by Du. Joyce Karlin, a Jewish Superior Court judge appointed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson, presided over the resulting manslaughter trial. A jury convicted Du, but Karlin sentenced her only to probation, community service, and a $500 fine. The author meticulously reconstructs these events and their aftermath, showing how they set the stage for the explosion in 1992.

An accomplished historian at UCLA, Stevenson explores the lives of each of these three women-Harlins, Du, and Karlin-and their very different worlds in rich detail. Through the three women, she not only reveals the human reality and social repercussions of this triangular collision, she also provides a deep history of immigration, ethnicity, and gender in modern America. Massively researched, deftly written, The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins will reshape our understanding of race, ethnicity, gender, and-above all-justice in modern America.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


New from the University of California Press: Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842-1943 by Emma Jinhua Teng.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the second half of the nineteenth century, global labor migration, trade, and overseas study brought China and the United States into close contact, leading to new cross-cultural encounters that brought mixed-race families into being. Yet the stories of these families remain largely unknown. How did interracial families negotiate their identities within these societies when mixed-race marriage was taboo and “Eurasian” often a derisive term?

In Eurasian, Emma Jinhua Teng compares Chinese-Western mixed-race families in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, examining both the range of ideas that shaped the formation of Eurasian identities in these diverse contexts and the claims set forth by individual Eurasians concerning their own identities. Teng argues that Eurasians were not universally marginalized during this era, as is often asserted. Rather, Eurasians often found themselves facing contradictions between exclusionary and inclusive ideologies of race and nationality, and between overt racism and more subtle forms of prejudice that were counterbalanced by partial acceptance and privilege.

By tracing the stories of mixed and transnational families during an earlier era of globalization, Eurasian also demonstrates to students, faculty, scholars, and researchers how changes in interracial ideology have allowed the descendants of some of these families to reclaim their dual heritage with pride.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"From Shame to Sin"

New from Harvard University Press: From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity by Kyle Harper.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Rome was at its height, an emperor’s male beloved, victim of an untimely death, would be worshipped around the empire as a god. In this same society, the routine sexual exploitation of poor and enslaved women was abetted by public institutions. Four centuries later, a Roman emperor commanded the mutilation of men caught in same-sex affairs, even as he affirmed the moral dignity of women without any civic claim to honor. The gradual transformation of the Roman world from polytheistic to Christian marks one of the most sweeping ideological changes of premodern history. At the center of it all was sex. Exploring sources in literature, philosophy, and art, Kyle Harper examines the rise of Christianity as a turning point in the history of sexuality and helps us see how the roots of modern sexuality are grounded in an ancient religious revolution.

While Roman sexual culture was frankly and freely erotic, it was not completely unmoored from constraint. Offending against sexual morality was cause for shame, experienced through social condemnation. The rise of Christianity fundamentally changed the ethics of sexual behavior. In matters of morality, divine judgment transcended that of mere mortals, and shame—a social concept—gave way to the theological notion of sin. This transformed understanding led to Christianity’s explicit prohibitions of homosexuality, extramarital love, and prostitution. Most profound, however, was the emergence of the idea of free will in Christian dogma, which made all human action, including sexual behavior, accountable to the spiritual, not the physical, world.
Follow Kyle Harper on Twitter.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Law and Piety in Medieval Islam"

New from Cambridge University Press: Law and Piety in Medieval Islam by Megan H. Reid.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Ayyubid and Mamluk periods were some of the most intellectually fecund in Islamic history. Megan Reid's book, which traverses three centuries from 1170 to 1500, recovers the stories of medieval men and women who were renowned not only for their intellectual prowess but also for their devotional piety. Through these stories, the book examines trends in voluntary religious practice that have been largely overlooked in modern scholarship. This type of piety was distinguished by the pursuit of God's favor through additional rituals, which emphasized the body as an instrument of worship and the rejection of the temptation of worldly pleasures and even society itself. Using an array of sources including manuals of law, fatwa collections, chronicles and obituaries, the book shows what it meant to be a good Muslim in the medieval period and how Islamic law defined holy behavior. In its concentration on personal piety, ritual and religious practice the book offers an intimate perspective on early Islamic society.
Megan Hibler Reid is Assistant Professor of Religion, Gender Studies, and Law at the University of Southern California.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Black Slaves, Indian Masters"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South by Barbara Krauthamer.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the late eighteenth century through the end of the Civil War, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians bought, sold, and owned Africans and African Americans as slaves, a fact that persisted after the tribes' removal from the Deep South to Indian Territory. The tribes formulated racial and gender ideologies that justified this practice and marginalized free black people in the Indian nations well after the Civil War and slavery had ended. Through the end of the nineteenth century, ongoing conflicts among Choctaw, Chickasaw, and U.S. lawmakers left untold numbers of former slaves and their descendants in the two Indian nations without citizenship in either the Indian nations or the United States. In this groundbreaking study, Barbara Krauthamer rewrites the history of southern slavery, emancipation, race, and citizenship to reveal the centrality of Native American slaveholders and the black people they enslaved.

Krauthamer's examination of slavery and emancipation highlights the ways Indian women's gender roles changed with the arrival of slavery and changed again after emancipation and reveals complex dynamics of race that shaped the lives of black people and Indians both before and after removal.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Italian Identity in the Kitchen, or Food and the Nation"

New from Columbia University Press: Italian Identity in the Kitchen, or Food and the Nation by Massimo Montanari.

About the book, from the publisher:
Massimo Montanari draws readers into the far-flung story of how local and global influences came to flavor Italian identity. The fusion of ancient Roman cuisine—which consisted of bread, wine, and olives—with the barbarian diet—rooted in bread, milk, and meat—first formed the basics of modern eating across Europe. From there, Montanari highlights the importance of the Italian city in the development of gastronomic taste in the Middle Ages, the role of Arab traders in positioning the country as the supreme producers of pasta, and the nation’s healthful contribution of vegetables to the fifteenth-century European diet.

Italy became a receiving country with the discovery of the New World, absorbing corn, potatoes, and tomatoes into its national cuisine. As disaster dispersed Italians in the nineteenth century, new immigrant stereotypes portraying Italians as “macaroni eaters” spread. However, two world wars and globalization renewed the perception of Italy and its culture as unique in the world, and the production of food constitutes an important part of that uniqueness.
Massimo Montanari is professor of medieval history and the history of food in the Department of History and Cultures at the University of Bologna. His books include Let the Meatballs Rest: And Other Stories About Food and Culture; Cheese, Pears, and History in a Proverb; Food Is Culture; Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History; Food: A Culinary History; and Famine and Plenty: The History of Food in Europe.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Ecstatic Nation"

New from Harper: Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple.

About the book, from the publisher:
For America, the mid-nineteenth century was an era of vast expectation and expansion: the country dreamed big, craved new lands, developed new technologies, and after too long a delay, finally confronted its greatest moral failure: slavery. Award-winning historian and literary critic Brenda Wineapple explores these feverish, ecstatic, conflicted years when Americans began to live within new and ever-widening borders, both spiritual and geographic; fought a devastating war over parallel ideals of freedom and justice; and transformed their country, at tragic cost, from a confederation into one nation, indivisible.

Populated by idiosyncratic, unforgettable characters such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, George Armstrong Custer, Horace Greeley, and Jefferson Davis, Ecstatic Nation moves from the vehement debates about slavery through the devastations of the Civil War and its aftermath. It explores the terrible complexities of Reconstruction and the fledgling hope that women would share equally in a new definition of American citizenship, and it traces the lust for land and the lure of its beauty from a frenzied rush to riches to the displacement of Indians. And it looks forward—toward the promise of a more perfect Union for all.

A masterful synthesis of political, cultural, and intellectual history, breathtaking in sweep and scope, Ecstatic Nation is a spellbinding tale of America—its glory and greed, its aspirations and humiliations—in this exhilarating and momentous period.
Visit Brenda Wineapple's website.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Slavery and Emancipation in Islamic East Africa"

New from Cambridge University Press: Slavery and Emancipation in Islamic East Africa: From Honor to Respectability by Elisabeth McMahon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examining the process of abolition on the island of Pemba off the East African coast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book demonstrates the links between emancipation and the redefinition of honor among all classes of people on the island. By examining the social vulnerability of ex-slaves and the former slave-owning elite caused by the Abolition order of 1897, this study argues that moments of resistance on Pemba reflected an effort to mitigate vulnerability rather than resist the hegemonic power of elites or the colonial state. As the meanings of the Swahili word heshima shifted from honor to respectability, individuals' reputations came under scrutiny and the Islamic kadhi and colonial courts became an integral location for interrogating reputations in the community. This study illustrates the ways in which former slaves used piety, reputation, gossip, education, kinship, and witchcraft to negotiate the gap between emancipation and local notions of belonging.
Elisabeth McMahon is an assistant professor of history at Tulane University. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Social History, the Journal of Women's History, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, the Women's History Review and Quaker History. She received her PhD from Indiana University.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"Losing the Center"

New from the University Press of Kentucky: Losing the Center: The Decline of American Liberalism, 1968--1992 by Jeffrey Bloodworth.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many Americans consider John F. Kennedy’s presidency to represent the apex of American liberalism. Kennedy’s “Vital Center” blueprint united middle-class and working-class Democrats and promoted freedom abroad while recognizing the limits of American power. Liberalism thrived in the early 1960s, but its heyday was short-lived.

In Losing the Center, Jeffrey Bloodworth demonstrates how and why the once-dominant ideology began its steep decline, exploring its failures through the biographies of some of the Democratic Party’s most important leaders, including Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Bella Abzug, Harold Ford Sr., and Jimmy Carter. By illuminating historical events through the stories of the people at the center of the action, Bloodworth sheds new light on topics such as feminism, the environment, the liberal abandonment of the working class, and civil rights legislation.

This meticulously researched study authoritatively argues that liberalism’s demise was prompted not by a “Republican revolution” or the mistakes of a few prominent politicians, but instead by decades of ideological incoherence and political ineptitude among liberals. Bloodworth demonstrates that Democrats caused their own party’s decline by failing to realize that their policies contradicted the priorities of mainstream voters, who were more concerned about social issues than economic ones. With its unique biographical approach and masterful use of archival materials, this detailed and accessible book promises to stand as one of the definitive texts on the state of American liberalism in the second half of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Rendezvous with Destiny"

New from The Penguin Press:  Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America Into the War and Into the World by Michael Fullilove.

About the book, from the publisher:
The remarkable untold story of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the five extraordinary men he used to pull America into World War II

In the dark days between Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 and Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt sent five remarkable men on dramatic and dangerous missions to Europe. The missions were highly unorthodox and they confounded and infuriated diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic. Their importance is little understood to this day. In fact, they were crucial to the course of the Second World War.

The envoys were magnificent, unforgettable characters. First off the mark was Sumner Welles, the chilly, patrician under secretary of state, later ruined by his sexual misdemeanors, who was dispatched by FDR on a tour of European capitals in the spring of 1940. In summer of that year, after the fall of France, William “Wild Bill” Donovan—war hero and future spymaster—visited a lonely United Kingdom at the president’s behest to determine whether she could hold out against the Nazis. Donovan’s report helped convince FDR that Britain was worth backing.

After he won an unprecedented third term in November 1940, Roosevelt threw a lifeline to the United Kingdom in the form of Lend-Lease and dispatched three men to help secure it. Harry Hopkins, the frail social worker and presidential confidant, was sent to explain Lend-Lease to Winston Churchill. Averell Harriman, a handsome, ambitious railroad heir, served as FDR’s man in London, expediting Lend-Lease aid and romancing Churchill’s daughter-in-law. Roosevelt even put to work his rumpled, charismatic opponent in the 1940 presidential election, Wendell Willkie, whose visit lifted British morale and won wary Americans over to the cause. Finally, in the aftermath of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Hopkins returned to London to confer with Churchill and traveled to Moscow to meet with Joseph Stalin. This final mission gave Roosevelt the confidence to bet on the Soviet Union.

The envoys’ missions took them into the middle of the war and exposed them to the leading figures of the age. Taken together, they plot the arc of America’s trans¬formation from a divided and hesitant middle power into the global leader. At the center of everything, of course, was FDR himself, who moved his envoys around the globe with skill and élan.

We often think of Harry S. Truman, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and George F. Kennan as the authors of America’s global primacy in the second half of the twentieth century. But all their achievements were enabled by the earlier work of Roosevelt and his representatives, who took the United States into the war and, by defeating domestic isolationists and foreign enemies, into the world. In these two years, America turned. FDR and his envoys were responsible for the turn. Drawing on vast archival research, Rendezvous with Destiny is narrative history at its most delightful, stirring, and important.
Writers Read: Michael Fullilove (May 2007).

Visit Michael Fullilove's website.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Disciplining Terror"

New from Cambridge University Press: Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented 'Terrorism' by Lisa Stampnitzky.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since 9/11 we have been told that terrorists are pathological evildoers, beyond our comprehension. Before the 1970s, however, hijackings, assassinations, and other acts we now call 'terrorism' were considered the work of rational strategic actors. 'Disciplining Terror' examines how political violence became 'terrorism,' and how this transformation ultimately led to the current 'war on terror.' Drawing upon archival research and interviews with terrorism experts, Lisa Stampnitzky traces the political and academic struggles through which experts made terrorism, and terrorism made experts. She argues that the expert discourse on terrorism operates at the boundary - itself increasingly contested - between science and politics, and between academic expertise and the state. Despite terrorism now being central to contemporary political discourse, there have been few empirical studies of terrorism experts. This book investigates how the concept of terrorism has been developed and used over recent decades.
Lisa Stampnitzky is Lecturer in Social Studies at Harvard University. She earned her PhD in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has also held fellowships at Harvard, the University of Oxford, Ohio State University and the European University Institute.