Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Hidden Hunger"

New from Cornell University Press: Hidden Hunger: Gender and the Politics of Smarter Foods by Aya Hirata Kimura.

About the book, from the publisher:
For decades, NGOs targeting world hunger focused on ensuring that adequate quantities of food were being sent to those in need. In the 1990s, the international food policy community turned its focus to the "hidden hunger" of micronutrient deficiencies, a problem that resulted in two scientific solutions: fortification, the addition of nutrients to processed foods, and biofortification, the modification of crops to produce more nutritious yields. This hidden hunger was presented as a scientific problem to be solved by “experts” and scientifically engineered smart foods rather than through local knowledge, which was deemed unscientific and, hence, irrelevant.

In Hidden Hunger, Aya Hirata Kimura explores this recent emphasis on micronutrients and smart foods within the international development community and, in particular, how the voices of women were silenced despite their expertise in food purchasing and preparation. Kimura grounds her analysis in case studies of attempts to enrich and market three basic foods—rice, wheat flour, and baby food—in Indonesia. She shows the power of nutritionism and how its technical focus enhanced the power of corporations as a government partner while restricting public participation in the making of policy for public health and food. She also analyzes the role of advertising to promote fortified foodstuffs and traces the history of Golden Rice, a crop genetically engineered to alleviate vitamin A deficiencies. Situating the recent turn to smart food in Indonesia and elsewhere as part of a long history of technical attempts to solve the Third World food problem, Kimura deftly analyzes the intersection of scientific expertise, market forces, and gendered knowledge to illuminate how hidden hunger ultimately defined women as victims rather than as active agents.

"Challenging Multiculturalism"

New from Edinburgh University Press: Challenging Multiculturalism: Models of Diversity, edited by Ray Taras.

About the book, from the publisher:
In recent years, European political leaders from Angela Merkel to David Cameron have discarded the term multiculturalism and now express scepticism, critique and even hostility towards multicultural ways of organising their societies. Yet they are unprepared to reverse the diversity existing in their states. These contradictory choices have different political consequences in the 11 European countries examined in this book: Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Turkey. The future of European liberalism is being played out as multicultural notions of belonging, inclusion, tolerance and the national home are brought into question.
Ray Taras is professor of political science at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Entertaining Elephants"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus by Susan Nance.

About the book, from the publisher:
Consider the career of an enduring if controversial icon of American entertainment: the genial circus elephant. In Entertaining Elephants Susan Nance examines elephant behavior—drawing on the scientific literature of animal cognition, learning, and communications—to offer a study of elephants as actors (rather than objects) in American circus entertainment between 1800 and 1940. By developing a deeper understanding of animal behavior, Nance asserts, we can more fully explain the common history of all species.

Entertaining Elephants is the first account that uses research on animal welfare, health, and cognition to interpret the historical record, examining how both circus people and elephants struggled behind the scenes to meet the profit necessities of the entertainment business. The book does not claim that elephants understood, endorsed, or resisted the world of show business as a human cultural or business practice, but it does speak of elephants rejecting the conditions of their experience. They lived in a kind of parallel reality in the circus, one that was defined by their interactions with people, other elephants, horses, bull hooks, hay, and the weather.

Nance's study informs and complicates contemporary debates over human interactions with animals in entertainment and beyond, questioning the idea of human control over animals and people's claims to speak for them. As sentient beings, these elephants exercised agency, but they had no way of understanding the human cultures that created their captivity, and they obviously had no claim on (human) social and political power. They often lived lives of apparent desperation.
Visit Susan Nance's website.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Sensing the Past"

New from Oxford University Press: Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions by Jim Cullen.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do perceptions of the past--not just of particular events, but of the trajectory of history as a whole--shape our experience of the world? Sensing the Past tackles this question with an unlikely source of historical insight--the work of six major Hollywood stars: Clint Eastwood, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and Jodie Foster. By focusing on the career choices made by these iconic actors, Cullen uncovers a discrete set of historical narratives, revealing the surprising ways historical forces shape our understanding of the world.
Jim Cullen teaches history at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City.

He is the author of The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation, Born in the U.S.A.: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition, and other books. Cullen is also a book review editor at the History News Network.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Empire of Ideas"

New from Oxford University Press: Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U. S. Foreign Policy by Justin Hart.

About the book, from the publisher:
Covering the period from 1936 to 1953, Empire of Ideas reveals how and why image first became a component of foreign policy, prompting policymakers to embrace such techniques as propaganda, educational exchanges, cultural exhibits, overseas libraries, and domestic public relations.

Drawing upon exhaustive research in official government records and the private papers of top officials in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, including newly declassified material, Justin Hart takes the reader back to the dawn of what Time-Life publisher Henry Luce would famously call the "American century," when U.S. policymakers first began to think of the nation's image as a foreign policy issue. Beginning with the Buenos Aires Conference in 1936--which grew out of FDR's Good Neighbor Policy toward Latin America--Hart traces the dramatic growth of public diplomacy in the war years and beyond. The book describes how the State Department established the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Affairs in 1944, with Archibald MacLeish--the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Librarian of Congress--the first to fill the post. Hart shows that the ideas of MacLeish became central to the evolution of public diplomacy, and his influence would be felt long after his tenure in government service ended. The book examines a wide variety of propaganda programs, including the Voice of America, and concludes with the creation of the United States Information Agency in 1953, bringing an end to the first phase of U. S. public diplomacy.

Empire of Ideas remains highly relevant today, when U. S. officials have launched full-scale propaganda to combat negative perceptions in the Arab world and elsewhere. Hart's study illuminates the similar efforts of a previous generation of policymakers, explaining why our ability to shape our image is, in the end, quite limited.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Paint the White House Black"

New from Stanford University Press: Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America by Michael P. Jeffries.

About the book, from the publisher:
Barack Obama's election as the first black president in American history forced a reconsideration of racial reality and possibility. It also incited an outpouring of discussion and analysis of Obama's personal and political exploits. Paint the White House Black fills a significant void in Obama-themed debate, shifting the emphasis from the details of Obama's political career to an understanding of how race works in America. In this groundbreaking book, race, rather than Obama, is the central focus.

Michael P. Jeffries approaches Obama's election and administration as common cultural ground for thinking about race. He uncovers contemporary stereotypes and anxieties by examining historically rooted conceptions of race and nationhood, discourses of "biracialism" and Obama's mixed heritage, the purported emergence of a "post-racial society," and popular symbols of Michelle Obama as a modern black woman. In so doing, Jeffries casts new light on how we think about race and enables us to see how race, in turn, operates within our daily lives.

Race is a difficult concept to grasp, with outbursts and silences that disguise its relationships with a host of other phenomena. Using Barack Obama as its point of departure, Paint the White House Black boldly aims to understand race by tracing the web of interactions that bind it to other social and historical forces.
Michael P. Jeffries is assistant professor of American studies at Wellesley College. My first book is Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop.

The Page 99 Test: Thug Life.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


New from Cornell University Press: Stagestruck: The Business of Theater in Eighteenth-Century France and Its Colonies by Lauren R. Clay.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stagestruck traces the making of a vibrant French theater industry between the reign of Louis XIV and the French Revolution. During this era more than eighty provincial and colonial cities celebrated the inauguration of their first public playhouses. These theaters emerged as the most prominent urban cultural institutions in prerevolutionary France, becoming key sites for the articulation and contestation of social, political, and racial relationships. Combining rich description with nuanced analysis based on extensive archival evidence, Lauren R. Clay illuminates the wide-ranging consequences of theater's spectacular growth for performers, spectators, and authorities in cities throughout France as well as in the empire’s most important Atlantic colony, Saint-Domingue.

Clay argues that outside Paris the expansion of theater came about through local initiative, civic engagement, and entrepreneurial investment, rather than through actions or policies undertaken by the royal government and its agents. Reconstructing the business of theatrical production, she brings to light the efforts of a wide array of investors, entrepreneurs, directors, and actors—including women and people of color—who seized the opportunities offered by commercial theater to become important agents of cultural change.

Portraying a vital and increasingly consumer-oriented public sphere beyond the capital, Stagestruck overturns the long-held notion that cultural change flowed from Paris and the royal court to the provinces and colonies. This deeply researched book will appeal to historians of Europe and the Atlantic world, particularly those interested in the social and political impact of the consumer revolution and the forging of national and imperial cultural networks. In addition to theater and literary scholars, it will attract the attention of historians and sociologists who study business, labor history, and the emergence of the modern French state.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"Roving Mariners"

New from the State University of New York Press: Roving Mariners: Australian Aboriginal Whalers and Sealers in the Southern Oceans, 1790-1870 by Lynette Russell.

About the book, from the publisher:
A comprehensive history of Australian Aboriginal whaling and sealing.

For most Australian Aboriginal people, the impact of colonialism was blunt—dispossession, dislocation, disease, murder, and missionization. Yet there is another story of Australian history that has remained untold, a story of enterprise and entrepreneurship, of Aboriginal people seizing the opportunity to profit from life at sea as whalers and sealers. In some cases participation was voluntary; in others it was more invidious and involved kidnapping and trade in women. In many cases, the individuals maintained and exercised a degree of personal autonomy and agency within their new circumstances. This book explores some of their lives and adventures by analyzing archival records of maritime industry, captains’ logs, ships’ records, and the journals of the sailors themselves, among other artifacts. Much of what is known about this period comes from the writings of Herman Melville, and in this book Melville’s whaling novels act as a prism through which relations aboard ships are understood. Drawing on both history and literature, Roving Mariners provides a comprehensive history of Australian Aboriginal whaling and sealing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Smuggler Nation"

New from Oxford University Press: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America by Peter Andreas.

About the book, from the publisher:
America is a smuggler nation. Our long history of illicit imports has ranged from West Indies molasses and Dutch gunpowder in the 18th century, to British industrial technologies and African slaves in the 19th century, to French condoms and Canadian booze in the early 20th century, to Mexican workers and Colombian cocaine in the modern era. Contraband capitalism, it turns out, has been an integral part of American capitalism.

Providing a sweeping narrative history from colonial times to the present, Smuggler Nation is the first book to retell the story of America--and of its engagement with its neighbors and the rest of the world--as a series of highly contentious battles over clandestine commerce. As Peter Andreas demonstrates in this provocative and fascinating account, smuggling has played a pivotal and too often overlooked role in America's birth, westward expansion, and economic development, while anti-smuggling campaigns have dramatically enhanced the federal government's policing powers. The great irony, Andreas tells us, is that a country that was born and grew up through smuggling is today the world's leading anti-smuggling crusader.

In tracing America's long and often tortuous relationship with the murky underworld of smuggling, Andreas provides a much-needed antidote to today's hyperbolic depictions of out-of-control borders and growing global crime threats. Urgent calls by politicians and pundits to regain control of the nation's borders suffer from a severe case of historical amnesia, nostalgically implying that they were ever actually under control. This is pure mythology, says Andreas. For better and for worse, America's borders have always been highly porous.

Far from being a new and unprecedented danger to America, the illicit underside of globalization is actually an old American tradition. As Andreas shows, it goes back not just decades but centuries. And its impact has been decidedly double-edged, not only subverting U.S. laws but also helping to fuel America's evolution from a remote British colony to the world's pre-eminent superpower.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"The Long, Lingering Shadow"

New from University of Georgia Press: The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere by Robert J. Cottrol.

About the book, from the publisher:
Students of American history know of the law’s critical role in systematizing a racial hierarchy in the United States. Showing that this history is best appreciated in a comparative perspective, The Long, Lingering Shadow looks at the parallel legal histories of race relations in the United States, Brazil, and Spanish America. Robert J. Cottrol takes the reader on a journey from the origins of New World slavery in colonial Latin America to current debates and litigation over affirmative action in Brazil and the United States, as well as contemporary struggles against racial discrimination and Afro-Latin invisibility in the Spanish-speaking nations of the hemisphere.

Ranging across such topics as slavery, emancipation, scientific racism, immigration policies, racial classifications, and legal processes, Cottrol unravels a complex odyssey. By the eve of the Civil War, the U.S. slave system was rooted in a legal and cultural foundation of racial exclusion unmatched in the Western Hemisphere. That system’s legacy was later echoed in Jim Crow, the practice of legally mandated segregation. Jim Crow in turn caused leading Latin Americans to regard their nations as models of racial equality because their laws did not mandate racial discrimination—a belief that masked very real patterns of racism throughout the Americas. And yet, Cottrol says, if the United States has had a history of more-rigid racial exclusion, since the Second World War it has also had a more thorough civil rights revolution, with significant legal victories over racial discrimination. Cottrol explores this remarkable transformation and shows how it is now inspiring civil rights activists throughout the Americas.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Battleground Africa"

New from Stanford University Press: Battleground Africa: Cold War in the Congo, 1960-1965 by Lise Namikas.

About the book, from the publisher:
Battleground Africa traces the Congo Crisis from post-World War II decolonization efforts through Mobutu's second coup in 1965 from a radically new vantage point. Drawing on materials from recently opened archives in Russia and the United States, and to a lesser extent Germany and Belgium, Namikas addresses the crisis from the perspectives of the two superpowers and explains with superb clarity the complex web of allies, clients, and neutral states influencing U.S.-Soviet competition.

Unlike any other work, Battleground Africa looks at events leading up to independence, then considers the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the series of U.N.-supported constitutional negotiations, and the crises of 1964 and 1965. Finding that the U.S. and the USSR each wanted to avoid a major confrontation, but also misunderstood its opponent's goals and wanted to avoid looking weak or losing its political standing in Africa, Namikas argues that a series of exaggerations and misjudgements helped to militarize the crisis, and ultimately, helped militarize the Cold War on the continent.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Bounded Thinking"

New from Oxford University Press: Bounded Thinking: Intellectual Virtues for Limited Agents by Adam Morton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bounded Thinking offers a new account of the virtues of limitation management: intellectual virtues of adapting to the fact that we cannot solve many problems that we can easily describe. Adam Morton argues that we do give one another guidance on managing our limitations, but that this has to be in terms of virtues and not of rules, and in terms of success--knowledge and accomplishment--rather than rationality. He establishes a taxonomy of intellectual virtues, which includes 'paradoxical virtues' that sound like vices, such as the virtue of ignoring evidence and the virtue of not thinking too hard. There are also virtues of not planning ahead, in that some forms of such planning require present knowledge of one's future knowledge that is arguably impossible. A person's best response to many problems depends not on the most rationally promising solution to solving them but on the most likely route to success given the profile of intellectual virtues that the person has and lacks. Morton illustrates his argument with discussions of several paradoxes and conundra. He closes the book with a discussion of intelligence and rationality, and argues that both have very limited usefulness in the evaluation of who will make progress on which problems.
Visit Adam Morton's website.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Up Against a Wall"

New from New York University Press: Up Against a Wall: Rape Reform and the Failure of Success by Rose Corrigan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Rape law reform has long been hailed as one of the most successful projects of second-wave feminism. Yet forty years after the anti-rape movement emerged, legal and medical institutions continue to resist implementing reforms intended to provide more just and compassionate legal and medical responses to victims of sexual violence. In Up Against a Wall, Rose Corrigan draws on interviews with over 150 local rape care advocates in communities across the United States to explore how and why mainstream systems continue to resist feminist reforms.

In a series of richly detailed case studies, the book weaves together scholarship on law and social movements, feminist theory, policy formation and implementation, and criminal justice to show how the innovative legal strategies employed by anti-rape advocates actually undermined some of their central claims. But even as its more radical elements were thwarted, pieces of the rape law reform project were seized upon by conservative policy-makers and used to justify new initiatives that often prioritize the interests and rights of criminal justice actors or medical providers over the needs of victims.
Visit Rose Corrigan's Sexual Assault & Public Policy Project website.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"The Frontier Club"

New from Oxford University Press: The Frontier Club: Popular Westerns and Cultural Power, 1880-1924 by Christine Bold.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Hollywood films to novels by Louis L'Amour and television series like Gunsmoke and Deadwood, the Wild West has exerted a powerful hold on the cultural imagination of the United States. Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt's founding of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, Christine Bold traces the origins and evolution of the western genre, revealing how a group of prominent eastern aristocrats-a cadre she terms "the frontier club" -created and propagated the myth of the Wild West to advance their own self-interest as well as larger systems of privilege and exclusion.

Mining institutional archives, personal papers, novels, and films, The Frontier Club excavates the hidden social, political, and financial interests behind the making of the modern western. It re-reads frontier-club fiction, most notably Owen Wister's bestseller The Virginian, in relation to federal policies and cultural spaces (from exclusive gentlemen's clubs to national parks to zoos); it casts new light on key clubmen, both the famous and the forgotten-figures such as Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Silas Weir Mitchell, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Frederic Remington-while recovering the women on whom these men depended and without whom this version of the popular West would not exist; and it considers the costs of the frontier-club formula, in terms of its impact on Indigenous peoples and its marginalization of other popular voices, including western writings by African Americans, women, and working-class white men.

An engaging cultural history that covers print culture, big-game hunting, politics, immigration, Jim Crow segregation, and environmental conservation at the turn of the twentieth century, The Frontier Club provides a welcome new perspective on the enduring American myth of the Wild West.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Bankers, Bureaucrats, and Central Bank Politics"

New from Cambridge University Press: Bankers, Bureaucrats, and Central Bank Politics: The Myth of Neutrality by Christopher Adolph.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most studies of the political economy of money focus on the laws protecting central banks from government interference; this book turns to the overlooked people who actually make monetary policy decisions. Using formal theory and statistical evidence from dozens of central banks across the developed and developing worlds, this book shows that monetary policy agents are not all the same. Molded by specific professional and sectoral backgrounds and driven by career concerns, central bankers with different career trajectories choose predictably different monetary policies. These differences undermine the widespread belief that central bank independence is a neutral solution for macroeconomic management. Instead, through careful selection and retention of central bankers, partisan governments can and do influence monetary policy – preserving a political trade-off between inflation and real economic performance even in an age of legally independent central banks.
Christopher Adolph is an assistant professor of political science, an adjunct assistant professor of statistics, and a core faculty member of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"The Artful Species"

New from Oxford University Press: The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art, and Evolution by Stephen Davies.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Artful Species explores the idea that our aesthetic responses and art behaviors are connected to our evolved human nature. Our humanoid forerunners displayed aesthetic sensibilities hundreds of thousands of years ago and the art standing of prehistoric cave paintings is virtually uncontested.

In Part One, Stephen Davies analyses the key concepts of the aesthetic, art, and evolution, and explores how they might be related. He considers a range of issues, including whether animals have aesthetic tastes and whether art is not only universal but cross-culturally comprehensible.

Part Two examines the many aesthetic interests humans take in animals and how these reflect our biological interests, and the idea that our environmental and landscape preferences are rooted in the experiences of our distant ancestors. In considering the controversial subject of human beauty, evolutionary psychologists have traditionally focused on female physical attractiveness in the context of mate selection, but Davies presents a broader view which decouples human beauty from mate choice and explains why it goes more with social performance and self-presentation.

Part Three asks if the arts, together or singly, are biological adaptations, incidental byproducts of nonart adaptations, or so removed from biology that they rate as purely cultural technologies. Davies does not conclusively support any one of the many positions considered here, but argues that there are grounds, nevertheless, for seeing art as part of human nature. Art serves as a powerful and complex signal of human fitness, and so cannot be incidental to biology. Indeed, aesthetic responses and art behaviors are the touchstones of our humanity.
Visit The Artful Species blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"The Great Rebalancing"

New from Princeton University Press: The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy by Michael Pettis.

About the book, from the publisher:
China's economic growth is sputtering, the Euro is under threat, and the United States is combating serious trade disadvantages. Another Great Depression? Not quite. Noted economist and China expert Michael Pettis argues instead that we are undergoing a critical rebalancing of the world economies. Debunking popular misconceptions, Pettis shows that severe trade imbalances spurred on the recent financial crisis and were the result of unfortunate policies that distorted the savings and consumption patterns of certain nations. Pettis examines the reasons behind these destabilizing policies, and he predicts severe economic dislocations--a lost decade for China, the breaking of the Euro, and a receding of the U.S. dollar--that will have long-lasting effects.

Pettis explains how China has maintained massive--but unsustainable--investment growth by artificially lowering the cost of capital. He discusses how Germany is endangering the Euro by favoring its own development at the expense of its neighbors. And he looks at how the U.S. dollar's role as the world's reserve currency burdens America's economy. Although various imbalances may seem unrelated, Pettis shows that all of them--including the U.S. consumption binge, surging debt in Europe, China's investment orgy, Japan's long stagnation, and the commodity boom in Latin America--are closely tied together, and that it will be impossible to resolve any issue without forcing a resolution for all.

Demonstrating how economic policies can carry negative repercussions the world over, The Great Rebalancing sheds urgent light on our globally linked economic future.
Visit Michael Pettis's blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Land of the Cosmic Race"

New from Oxford University Press: Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico by Christina A. Sue.

About the book, from the publisher:
Land of the Cosmic Race is a richly-detailed ethnographic account of the powerful role that race and color play in organizing the lives and thoughts of ordinary Mexicans. It presents a previously untold story of how individuals in contemporary urban Mexico construct their identities, attitudes, and practices in the context of a dominant national belief system. The book centers around Mexicans' engagement with three racialized pillars of Mexican national ideology - the promotion of race mixture, the assertion of an absence of racism in the country, and the marginalization of blackness in Mexico.

The subjects of this book are mestizos - the mixed-race people of Mexico who are of Indigenous, African, and European ancestry and the intended consumers of this national ideology. Land of the Cosmic Race illustrates how Mexican mestizos navigate the sea of contradictions that arise when their everyday lived experiences conflict with the national stance and how they manage these paradoxes in a way that upholds, protects, and reproduces the national ideology. Drawing on a year of participant observation, over 110 interviews, and focus-groups from Veracruz, Mexico, Christina A. Sue offers rich insight into the relationship between race-based national ideology and the attitudes and behaviors of mixed-race Mexicans. Most importantly, she theorizes as to why elite-based ideology not only survives but actually thrives within the popular understandings and discourse of those over whom it is designed to govern.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World"

New from Cambridge University Press: Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History by Gregory T. Cushman.

About the book, from the publisher:
For centuries, bird guano has played a pivotal role in the agricultural and economic development of Latin America, East Asia, and Oceania. As their populations ballooned during the Industrial Revolution, North American and European powers came to depend on this unique resource as well, helping them meet their ever-increasing farming needs. This book explores how the production and commodification of guano has shaped the modern Pacific Basin and the world's relationship to the region. Marrying traditional methods of historical analysis with a broad interdisciplinary approach, Gregory T. Cushman casts this once little-known commodity as an engine of Western industrialization, offering new insight into uniquely modern developments such as environmental consciousness and conservation movements; the ascendance of science, technology, and expertise; international relations; and world war.
Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of History, University of Kansas.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"The Slaves' Gamble"

New from Palgrave Macmillan: The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 by Gene Allen Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Images of American slavery conjure up cotton plantations and African American slaves locked in bondage until the Civil War. Yet early on in the nineteenth century the state of slavery was very different, and the political vicissitudes of the young nation offered diverse possibilities to slaves. In the century’s first two decades, the nation waged war against Britain, Spain, and various Indian tribes. Slaves played a role in the military operations, and the different sides viewed them as a potential source of manpower. While surprising numbers did assist the Americans, the wars created opportunities for slaves to find freedom among the Redcoats, the Spaniards, or the Indians. Author Gene Smith draws on a decade of original research and his curatorial work at the Fort Worth Museum in this fascinating and original narrative history. The way the young nation responded sealed the fate of slaves for the next half century until the Civil War. This drama sheds light on an extraordinary yet little known chapter in the dark saga of American history.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Labor and Love in Guatemala"

New from Stanford University Press: Labor and Love in Guatemala: The Eve of Independence by Catherine Komisaruk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Labor and Love in Guatemala re-envisions the histories of labor and ethnic formation in Spanish America. Taking cues from gender studies and the "new" cultural history, the book transforms perspectives on the major social trends that emerged across Spain's American colonies: populations from three continents mingled; native people and Africans became increasingly hispanized; slavery and other forms of labor coercion receded. Komisaruk's analysis shows how these developments were rooted in gendered structures of work, migration, family, and reproduction. The engrossing narrative reconstructs Afro-Guatemalan family histories through slavery and freedom, and tells stories of native working women and men based on their own words. The book takes us into the heart of sweeping historical processes as it depicts the migrations that linked countryside to city, the sweat and filth of domestic labor, the rise of female-headed households, and love as it was actually practiced—amidst remarkable permissiveness by both individuals and the state.
Read the introduction to Labor and Love in Guatemala: The Eve of Independence.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"The Measure of Civilization"

New from Princeton University Press: The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations by Ian Morris.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the last thirty years, there have been fierce debates over how civilizations develop and why the West became so powerful. The Measure of Civilization presents a brand-new way of investigating these questions and provides new tools for assessing the long-term growth of societies. Using a groundbreaking numerical index of social development that compares societies in different times and places, award-winning author Ian Morris sets forth a sweeping examination of Eastern and Western development across 15,000 years since the end of the last ice age. He offers surprising conclusions about when and why the West came to dominate the world and fresh perspectives for thinking about the twenty-first century.

Adapting the United Nations' approach for measuring human development, Morris's index breaks social development into four traits--energy capture per capita, organization, information technology, and war-making capacity--and he uses archaeological, historical, and current government data to quantify patterns. Morris reveals that for 90 percent of the time since the last ice age, the world's most advanced region has been at the western end of Eurasia, but contrary to what many historians once believed, there were roughly 1,200 years--from about 550 to 1750 CE--when an East Asian region was more advanced. Only in the late eighteenth century CE, when northwest Europeans tapped into the energy trapped in fossil fuels, did the West leap ahead.

Resolving some of the biggest debates in global history, The Measure of Civilization puts forth innovative tools for determining past, present, and future economic and social trends.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Follow the Money"

New from Oxford University Press: Follow the Money: How Foundation Dollars Change Public School Politics by Sarah Reckhow.

About the book, from the publisher:
Some of the nation's wealthiest philanthropic organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Broad Foundation, have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in education reform. With vast wealth and a political agenda, these foundations have helped to reshape the reform landscape in urban education. In Follow the Money, Sarah Reckhow shows where and how foundation investment in education is occurring and provides a penetrating analysis of the effects of these investments in the two largest urban districts in the United States: New York City and Los Angeles.

In New York City, centralized political control and the use of private resources have enabled rapid implementation of reform proposals. Yet this potent combination of top-down authority and outside funding also poses serious questions about transparency, responsiveness, and democratic accountability in New York. Furthermore, the sustainability of reform policies is closely linked to the political fortunes of the current mayor and his chosen school leader. While the media has highlighted the efforts of forceful reformers and dominating leaders such as Joel Klein in New York City and Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., a slower, but possibly more transformative, set of reforms have been taking place in Los Angeles. These reforms were also funded and shaped by major foundations, but they work from the bottom up, through charter school operators managing networks of schools. This strategy has built grassroots political momentum and demand for reform in Los Angeles that is unmatched in New York City and other districts with mayoral control. Reckhow's study of Los Angeles's education system shows how democratically responsive urban school reform could occur-pairing foundation investment with broad grassroots involvement.

Bringing a sharp analytical eye and a wealth of evidence to one of the most politicized issues of our day, Follow the Money will reshape our thinking about educational reform in America.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"The Scramble for Citizens"

New from Stanford University Press: The Scramble for Citizens: Dual Nationality and State Competition for Immigrants by David Cook-Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is commonly assumed that there is an enduring link between individuals and their countries of citizenship. Plural citizenship is therefore viewed with skepticism, if not outright suspicion. But the effects of widespread global migration belie common assumptions, and the connection between individuals and the countries in which they live cannot always be so easily mapped.

In The Scramble for Citizens, David Cook-Martín analyzes immigration and nationality laws in Argentina, Italy, and Spain since the mid 19th century to reveal the contextual dynamics that have shaped the quality of legal and affective bonds between nation-states and citizens. He shows how the recent erosion of rights and privileges in Argentina has motivated individuals to seek nationality in ancestral homelands, thinking two nationalities would be more valuable than one. This book details the legal and administrative mechanisms at work, describes the patterns of law and practice, and explores the implications for how we understand the very meaning of citizenship.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"The Louisiana Scalawags"

New from the Louisiana State University Press: The Louisiana Scalawags: Politics, Race, and Terrorism during the Civil War and Reconstruction by Frank J. Wetta.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Civil War and Reconstruction, the pejorative term “scalawag” referred to white southerners loyal to the Republican Party. With the onset of the federal occupation of New Orleans in 1862, scalawags challenged the restoration of the antebellum political and social orders. Derided as opportunists, uneducated “poor white trash,” Union sympathizers, and race traitors, scalawags remain largely misunderstood even today. In The Louisiana Scalawags, Frank J. Wetta offers the first in-depth analysis of these men and their struggle over the future of Louisiana. A significant assessment of the interplay of politics, race, and terrorism during Reconstruction, this study answers an array of questions about the origin and demise of the scalawags, and debunks much of the negative mythology surrounding them.

Contrary to popular thought, the southern white Republicans counted among their ranks men of genuine accomplishment and talent. They worked in fields as varied as law, business, medicine, journalism, and planting, and many held government positions as city officials, judges, parish officeholders, and state legislators in the antebellum years. Wetta demonstrates that a strong sense of nationalism often motivated the men, no matter their origins.

Louisiana’s scalawags grew most active and influential during the early stages of Reconstruction, when they led in founding the state’s Republican Party. The vast majority of white Louisianans, however, rejected the scalawags’ appeal to form an alliance with the freedmen in a biracial political party. Eventually, the influence of the scalawags succumbed to persistent terrorism, corruption, and competition from the white carpetbaggers and their black Republican allies. By then, the state’s Republican Party consisted of white political leaders without any significant white constituency. According to Wetta, these weaknesses, as well as ineffective federal intervention in response to a Democratic Party insurgency, caused the Republican Party to collapse and Reconstruction to fail in Louisiana.

Monday, January 7, 2013

"The Original Compromise"

New from Oxford University Press: The Original Compromise: What the Constitution's Framers Were Really Thinking by David Robertson.

About the book, from the publisher:
What were the Founding Fathers really thinking when they gathered in the Pennsylvania State House to draft the United States Constitution? When answering this question, most have relied on The Federalist Papers, which was first published in book form after the close of the Convention, in 1788. To this day, the book's status is sacrosanct for most Americans. Yet as David Brian Robertson shows, the Papers represented one side of the debate and does not fully capture the political sensibilities that produced the U.S. Constitution. Robertson, drawing from the full range of contemporary sources and not just the Papers, provides a truly authoritative account of the founders' collective political reasoning during the Convention.

Organized thematically, each chapter covers a crucial Constitutional issue: the respective roles of the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature; the balance between the federal government and the states; slavery; and war and peace. In virtually every instance, the process was decidedly political, fractious, and piecemeal. As much as they wanted to design the government that would best serve their people, the Founders struggled to balance their broad ideals with self-interested policies and procedures. Robertson's boldly revisionist account of the political horse-trading that dominated the Convention not only greatly enriches our understanding of the nation's founding; it also elucidates why the government they created has proven so difficult to use.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Before Religion"

New from Yale University Press: Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept by Brent Nongbri.

About the book, from the publisher:
For much of the past two centuries, religion has been understood as a universal phenomenon, a part of the “natural” human experience that is essentially the same across cultures and throughout history. Individual religions may vary through time and geographically, but there is an element, religion, that is to be found in all cultures during all time periods. Taking apart this assumption, Brent Nongbri shows that the idea of religion as a sphere of life distinct from politics, economics, or science is a recent development in European history—a development that has been projected outward in space and backward in time with the result that religion now appears to be a natural and necessary part of our world.

Examining a wide array of ancient writings, Nongbri demonstrates that in antiquity, there was no conceptual arena that could be designated as “religious” as opposed to “secular.” Surveying representative episodes from a two-thousand-year period, while constantly attending to the concrete social, political, and colonial contexts that shaped relevant works of philosophers, legal theorists, missionaries, and others, Nongbri offers a concise and readable account of the emergence of the concept of religion.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

"Divided We Stand"

New from Oxford University Press: Divided We Stand: The Strategy and Psychology of Ireland's Dissident Terrorists by John Horgan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Terrorism has returned to the streets of Northern Ireland. In the years after the 1998 Real IRA bombing of Omagh, which killed 29 people, violent dissident Republican groups have re-emerged as a major security threat to a region that has been denied peace, stability, and prosperity for too long.

Those responsible have many names. They are breakaways, splinter factions, spoilers, and "residual" terrorists. The Real IRA, Continuity IRA, and Óglaigh na hÉireann are only some of the groups now responsible for a growing wave of bombings, shootings, threats, and intimidation across Northern Ireland. Commonly known as "the dissidents," these are the rejectionists for whom there seems to be no negotiated settlement, no peace deal, no consensus solution that will convince them to accept the will of the majority of the people on the island of Ireland.

Divided We Stand: The Strategy and Psychology of Ireland's Dissident Terrorists presents the results of meticulous research conducted by the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at the Pennsylvania State University. Since 2007, John Horgan, Director of the center, has led a research project to monitor the activities of Ireland's new terrorists. Drawing on one of the largest open-source militant databases ever assembled, Divided We Stand describes the activities, histories, motivations, psychology, and strategy of the small, dynamic, and rapidly evolving splinter groups that continue to erode peace, stability, and normalization in Northern Ireland.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"The Taste of Ashes"

New from Crown: The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe by Marci Shore.

About the book, from the publisher:
An inventive, wholly original look at the complex psyche of Eastern Europe in the wake of the revolutions of 1989 and the opening of the communist archives.

In the tradition of Timothy Garton Ash’s The File, Yale historian and prize-winning author Marci Shore draws upon intimate understanding to illuminate the afterlife of totalitarianism. The Taste of Ashes spans from Berlin to Moscow, moving from Vienna in Europe’s west through Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw and Bucharest to Vilnius and Kiev in the post-communist east. The result is a shimmering literary examination of the ghost of communism – no longer Marx’s “specter to come” but a haunting presence of the past.

Marci Shore builds her history around people she came to know over the course of the two decades since communism came to an end in Eastern Europe: her colleagues and friends, once-communists and once-dissidents, the accusers and the accused, the interrogators and the interrogated, Zionists, Bundists, Stalinists and their children and grandchildren. For them, the post-communist moment has not closed but rather has summoned up the past: revolution in 1968, Stalinism, the Second World War, the Holocaust. The end of communism had a dark side. As Shore pulls the reader into her journey of discovery, reading the archival records of people who are themselves confronting the traumas of former lives, she reveals the intertwining of the personal and the political, of love and cruelty, of intimacy and betrayal. The result is a lyrical, touching, and sometimes heartbreaking, portrayal of how history moves and what history means.
Visit Marci Shore's faculty webpage.

Writers Read: Marci Shore (February 2009).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Radical Moves"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age by Lara Putnam.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the generations after emancipation, hundreds of thousands of African-descended working-class men and women left their homes in the British Caribbean to seek opportunity abroad: in the goldfields of Venezuela and the cane fields of Cuba, the canal construction in Panama, and the bustling city streets of Brooklyn. But in the 1920s and 1930s, racist nativism and a brutal cascade of antiblack immigration laws swept the hemisphere. Facing borders and barriers as never before, Afro-Caribbean migrants rethought allegiances of race, class, and empire. In Radical Moves, Lara Putnam takes readers from tin-roof tropical dancehalls to the elegant black-owned ballrooms of Jazz Age Harlem to trace the roots of the black-internationalist and anticolonial movements that would remake the twentieth century.

From Trinidad to 136th Street, these were years of great dreams and righteous demands. Praying or "jazzing," writing letters to the editor or letters home, Caribbean men and women tried on new ideas about the collective. The popular culture of black internationalism they created--from Marcus Garvey's UNIA to "regge" dances, Rastafarianism, and Joe Louis's worldwide fandom--still echoes in the present.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Broken Hearts"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care by David S. Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
Still the leading cause of death worldwide, heart disease challenges researchers, clinicians, and patients alike. Each day, thousands of patients and their doctors make decisions about coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery. In Broken Hearts David S. Jones sheds light on the nature and quality of those decisions. He describes the debates over what causes heart attacks and the efforts to understand such unforeseen complications of cardiac surgery as depression, mental fog, and stroke.

Why do doctors and patients overestimate the effectiveness and underestimate the dangers of medical interventions, especially when doing so may lead to the overuse of medical therapies? To answer this question, Jones explores the history of cardiology and cardiac surgery in the United States and probes the ambiguities and inconsistencies in medical decision making. Based on extensive reviews of medical literature and archives, this historical perspective on medical decision making and risk highlights personal, professional, and community outcomes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Defining Culinary Authority"

New from the Louisiana State University Press: Defining Culinary Authority: The Transformation of Cooking in France, 1650-1830 by Jennifer J. Davis.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, French cooks began to claim central roles in defining and enforcing taste, as well as in educating their diners to changing standards. Tracing the transformation of culinary trades in France during the Revolutionary era, Jennifer J. Davis argues that the work of cultivating sensibility in food was not simply an elite matter; it was essential to the livelihood of thousands of men and women.

Combining rigorous archival research with social history and cultural studies, Davis analyzes the development of cooking aesthetics and practices by examining the propagation of taste, the training of cooks, and the policing of the culinary marketplace in the name of safety and good taste. French cooks formed their profession through a series of debates intimately connected to broader Enlightenment controversies over education, cuisine, law, science, and service. Though cooks assumed prominence within the culinary public sphere, the unique literary genre of gastronomy replaced the Old Regime guild police in the wake of the French Revolution as individual diners began to rethink cooks’ authority. This question of who wielded culinary influence—and thus shaped standards of taste—continued to reverberate throughout society into the early nineteenth century.

This remarkable study illustrates how culinary discourse affected French national identity within the country and around the globe, where elite cuisine bears the imprint of the country’s techniques and labor organization.