Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Myth of Persecution"

New from HarperOne: The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom by Candida Moss.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.

According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because they refused to renounce Christ. These saints, Christianity's inspirational heroes, are still venerated today.

Moss, however, exposes that the "Age of Martyrs" is a fiction—there was no sustained 300-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians. Instead, these stories were pious exaggerations; highly stylized rewritings of Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and even forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches.

The traditional story of persecution is still taught in Sunday school classes, celebrated in sermons, and employed by church leaders, politicians, and media pundits who insist that Christians were—and always will be—persecuted by a hostile, secular world. While violence against Christians does occur in select parts of the world today, the rhetoric of persecution is both misleading and rooted in an inaccurate history of the early church. Moss urges modern Christians to abandon the conspiratorial assumption that the world is out to get Christians and, rather, embrace the consolation, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance that these martyrdom stories provide.
Visit Candida Moss' website.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Emperor of the World"

New from Cornell University Press: Emperor of the World: Charlemagne and the Construction of Imperial Authority, 800-1229 by Anne A. Latowsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
Charlemagne never traveled farther east than Italy, but by the mid-tenth century a story had begun to circulate about the friendly alliances that the emperor had forged while visiting Jerusalem and Constantinople. This story gained wide currency throughout the Middle Ages, appearing frequently in chronicles, histories, imperial decrees, and hagiographies—even in stained-glass windows and vernacular verse and prose. In Emperor of the World, Anne A. Latowsky traces the curious history of this myth, revealing how the memory of the Frankish Emperor was manipulated to shape the institutions of kingship and empire in the High Middle Ages.

The legend incorporates apocalyptic themes such as the succession of world monarchies at the End of Days and the prophecy of the Last Roman Emperor. Charlemagne's apocryphal journey to the East increasingly resembled the eschatological final journey of the Last Emperor, who was expected to end his reign in Jerusalem after reuniting the Roman Empire prior to the Last Judgment. Instead of relinquishing his imperial dignity and handing the rule of a united Christendom over to God as predicted, this Charlemagne returns to the West to commence his reign. Latowsky finds that the writers who incorporated this legend did so to support, or in certain cases to criticize, the imperial pretentions of the regimes under which they wrote. New versions of the myth would resurface at times of transition and during periods marked by strong assertions of Roman-style imperial authority and conflict with the papacy, most notably during the reigns of Henry IV and Frederick Barbarossa. Latowsky removes Charlemagne’s encounters with the East from their long-presumed Crusading context and shows how a story that began as a rhetorical commonplace of imperial praise evolved over the centuries as an expression of Christian Roman universalism.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Shattered, Cracked, or Firmly Intact?"

New from Oxford University Press: Shattered, Cracked, or Firmly Intact?: Women and the Executive Glass Ceiling Worldwide by Farida Jalalzai.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do men's and women's paths to political office differ? Once in office, are women's powers more constrained that those of men?

The number of women in executive leadership positions has grown substantially over the past five decades, and women now govern in vastly different contexts around the world. But their climbs to such positions don't necessarily correspond with social status and the existence of gender equity.

In Shattered, Cracked, or Firmly Intact? Farida Jalalzai outlines important patterns related to women executive's paths, powers, and potential impacts. In doing so, she combines qualitative and quantitative analysis and explores both contexts in which women successfully gained executive power and those in which they did not.

The glass ceiling has truly shattered in Finland (where, to date, three different women have come to executive power), only cracked in the United Kingdom (with Margaret Thatcher as the only example of a female prime minister), and remains firmly intact in the United States. While women appear to have made substantial gains, they still face many obstacles in their pursuit of national executive office. Women, compared to their male counterparts, more often ascend to relatively weak posts and gain offices through appointment as opposed to popular election. When dominant women presidents do rise through popular vote, they still almost always hail from political families and from within unstable systems. Jalalzai asserts the importance of institutional features in contributing positive representational effects for women national leaders. Her analysis offers both a broad understanding of global dynamics of executive power as well as particulars about individual women leaders from every region of the globe over the past fifty years. Viewing gender as embedded within institutions and processes, this book provides an unprecedented and comprehensive view of the complex, contradictory, and multifaceted dimensions of women's national leadership.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Behind the Kitchen Door"

New from Cornell University Press: Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America? And how do poor working conditions—discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens—affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables? Saru Jayaraman, who launched the national restaurant workers’ organization Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, sets out to answer these questions by following the lives of restaurant workers in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Detroit, and New Orleans.

Blending personal narrative and investigative journalism, Jayaraman shows us that the quality of the food that arrives at our restaurant tables depends not only on the sourcing of the ingredients. Our meals benefit from the attention and skill of the people who chop, grill, sauté, and serve. Behind the Kitchen Door is a groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out. Jayaraman focuses on the stories of individuals, like Daniel, who grew up on a farm in Ecuador and sought to improve the conditions for employees at Del Posto; the treatment of workers behind the scenes belied the high-toned Slow Food ethic on display in the front of the house.

Increasingly, Americans are choosing to dine at restaurants that offer organic, fair-trade, and free-range ingredients for reasons of both health and ethics. Yet few of these diners are aware of the working conditions at the restaurants themselves. But whether you eat haute cuisine or fast food, the well-being of restaurant workers is a pressing concern, affecting our health and safety, local economies, and the life of our communities. Highlighting the roles of the 10 million people, many immigrants, many people of color, who bring their passion, tenacity, and vision to the American dining experience, Jayaraman sets out a bold agenda to raise the living standards of the nation’s second-largest private sector workforce—and ensure that dining out is a positive experience on both sides of the kitchen door.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Lightning in the Andes and Mesoamerica"

New from Oxford University Press: Lightning in the Andes and Mesoamerica: Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and Contemporary Perspectives by John E. Staller and Brian Stross.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lightning has evoked a numinous response as well as powerful timeless references and symbols among ancient religions throughout the world. Thunder and lightning have also taken on various symbolic manifestations, some representing primary deities, as in the case of Zeus and Jupiter in the Greco/Roman tradition, and Thor in Norse myth. Similarly, lightning veneration played an important role to the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica and Andean South America. Lightning veneration and the religious cults and their associated rituals represent to varying degrees a worship of nature and the forces that shape the natural world. The inter-relatedness of the cultural and natural environment is related to what may be called a widespread cultural perception of the natural world as sacred, a kind of mythic landscape. Comparative analysis of the Andes and Mesoamerica has been a recurring theme recently in part because two of the areas of "high civilization" in the Americas have much in common despite substantial ecological differences, and in part because there is some evidence, of varying quality, that some people had migrated from one area to the other.

Lightning in the Andes and Mesoamerica is the first ever study to explore the symbolic elements surrounding lightning in their associated Pre-Columbian religious ideologies. Moreover, it extends its examination to contemporary culture to reveal how cultural perceptions of the sacred, their symbolic representations and ritual practices, and architectural representations in the landscape were conjoined in the ancient past. Ethnographic accounts and ethnohistoric documents provide insights through first-hand accounts that broaden our understanding of levels of syncretism since the European contact. The interdisciplinary research presented herein also provides a basis for tracing back Pre-Columbian manifestations of lightning its associated religious beliefs and ritual practices, as well as its mythological, symbolic, iconographic, and architectural representations to earlier civilizations. This unique study will be of great interest to scholars of Pre-Columbian South and Mesoamerica, and will stimulate future comparative studies by archaeologists and anthropologists.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Unrivalled Influence"

New from Princeton University Press: Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium by Judith Herrin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unrivalled Influence explores the exceptional roles that women played in the vibrant cultural and political life of medieval Byzantium. Written by one of the world's foremost historians of the Byzantine millennium, this landmark book evokes the complex and exotic world of Byzantium's women, from empresses and saints to uneducated rural widows. Drawing on a diverse range of sources, Judith Herrin sheds light on the importance of marriage in imperial statecraft, the tense coexistence of empresses in the imperial court, and the critical relationships of mothers and daughters. She looks at women's interactions with eunuchs, the in-between gender in Byzantine society, and shows how women defended their rights to hold land. Herrin describes how they controlled their inheritances, participated in urban crowds demanding the dismissal of corrupt officials, followed the processions of holy icons and relics, and marked religious feasts with liturgical celebrations, market activity, and holiday pleasures. The vivid portraits that emerge here reveal how women exerted an unrivalled influence on the patriarchal society of Byzantium, and remained active participants in the many changes that occurred throughout the empire's millennial history.

Unrivalled Influence brings together Herrin's finest essays on women and gender written throughout the long span of her esteemed career. This volume includes three new essays published here for the very first time and a new general introduction by Herrin. She also provides a concise introduction to each essay that describes how it came to be written and how it fits into her broader views about women and Byzantium.

Friday, February 22, 2013

"Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics"

New from Cambridge University Press: Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics by Lisa Sowle Cahill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Global realities of human inequality, poverty, violence and ecological destruction call for a twenty-first-century Christian response which links cross-cultural and interreligious cooperation for change to the Gospel. This book demonstrates why just action is necessarily a criterion of authentic Christian theology, and gives grounds for Christian hope that change in violent structures is really possible. Lisa Sowle Cahill argues that theology and biblical interpretation are already embedded in and indebted to ethical-political practices and choices. Within this ecumenical study, she explores the use of the historical Jesus in constructive theology; the merits of Word and Spirit Christologies; the importance of liberation and feminist theologies as well as theologies from the global south; and also the possibility of qualified moral universalism. The book will be of great interest to all students of theology, religious ethics and politics, and biblical studies.
Read an excerpt from Global Justice, Christology and Christian Ethics.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"The Human Eros"

New from Fordham University Press: The Human Eros: Eco-ontology and the Aesthetics of Existence by Thomas M. Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Human Eros: Eco-ontology and the Aesthetics of Existence explores themes in classical American philosophy, primarily that of John Dewey, but also in the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Santayana, and Native American traditions. The primary claim is that human beings exist with a need for the experience of meaning and value, a "Human Eros." Our various cultures are symbolic environments or "spiritual ecologies" within which the Human Eros can thrive. This is how we inhabit the earth. Encircling and sustaining our cultural existence is nature. Western philosophy has not generally provided adequate conceptual models for thinking ecologically. Thus the idea of "eco-ontology" undertakes to explore ways in which this might be done beginning with the primacy of Nature over Being, but also including the recognition of possibility and potentiality as inherent aspects of existence. I argue for the centrality of Dewey for an effective ecological philosophy. Both "pragmatism" and "naturalism" need to be contextualized within an emergentist, relational, non-reductive view of nature and an aesthetic, imaginative, non-reductive view of intelligence.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Foreign Intervention in Africa"

New from Cambridge University Press: Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror by Elizabeth Schmidt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Foreign Intervention in Africa chronicles the foreign political and military interventions in Africa during the periods of decolonization (1956–1975) and the Cold War (1945–1991), as well as during the periods of state collapse (1991–2001) and the "global war on terror" (2001–2010). In the first two periods, the most significant intervention was extra-continental. The United States, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and the former colonial powers entangled themselves in countless African conflicts. During the period of state collapse, the most consequential interventions were intra-continental. African governments, sometimes assisted by powers outside the continent, supported warlords, dictators, and dissident movements in neighboring countries and fought for control of their neighbors' resources. The global war on terror, like the Cold War, increased the foreign military presence on the African continent and generated external support for repressive governments. In each of these cases, external interests altered the dynamics of Africa's internal struggles, escalating local conflicts into larger conflagrations, with devastating effects on African peoples.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"A Slap in the Face"

New from Oxford University Press: A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt--And Why They Shouldn't by William B. Irvine.

About the book, from the publisher:
Insults are part of the fabric of daily life. But why do we insult each other? Why do insults cause us such pain? Can we do anything to prevent or lessen this pain? Most importantly, how can we overcome our inclination to insult others?

In A Slap in the Face, William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging investigation of insults, their history, the role they play in social relationships, and the science behind them. He examines not just memorable zingers, such as Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The stupid person's idea of a clever person," but subtle insults as well, such as when someone insults us by reporting the insulting things others have said about us: "I never read bad reviews about myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my best friends invariably tell me about them." Irvine also considers the role insults play in our society: they can be used to cement relations, as when a woman playfully teases her husband, or to enforce a social hierarchy, as when a boss publicly berates an employee. He goes on to investigate the many ways society has tried to deal with insults-by adopting codes of politeness, for example, and outlawing hate speech-but concludes that the best way to deal with insults is to immunize ourselves against them: We need to transform ourselves in the manner recommended by Stoic philosophers. We should, more precisely, become insult pacifists, trying hard not to insult others and laughing off their attempts to insult us.

A rousing follow-up to A Guide to the Good Life, A Slap in the Face will interest anyone who's ever delivered an insult or felt the sting of one--in other words, everyone.
Learn more about the author and his work at William B. Irvine's website.

The Page 99 Test: William B. Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"The Age of Edison"

New from The Penguin Press: The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America by Ernest Freeberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The late nineteenth century was a period of explosive technological creativity, but arguably the most important invention of all was Thomas Edison’s incandescent lightbulb. Unveiled in his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory in 1879, the lightbulb overwhelmed the American public with the sense of the birth of a new age. More than any other invention, the electric light marked the arrival of modernity.

The lightbulb became a catalyst for the nation’s transformation from a rural to an urban-dominated culture. City streetlights defined zones between rich and poor, and the electrical grid sharpened the line between town and country. “Bright lights” meant “big city.” Like moths to a flame, millions of Americans migrated to urban centers in these decades, leaving behind the shadow of candle and kerosene lamp in favor of the exciting brilliance of the urban streetscape.

The Age of Edison places the story of Edison’s invention in the context of a technological revolution that transformed America and Europe in these decades. Edison and his fellow inventors emerged from a culture shaped by broad public education, a lively popular press that took an interest in science and technology, and an American patent system that encouraged innovation and democratized the benefits of invention. And in the end, as Freeberg shows, Edison’s greatest invention was not any single technology, but rather his reinvention of the process itself. At Menlo Park he gathered the combination of capital, scientific training, and engineering skill that would evolve into the modern research and development laboratory. His revolutionary electrical grid not only broke the stronghold of gas companies, but also ushered in an era when strong, clear light could become accessible to everyone.

In The Age of Edison, Freeberg weaves a narrative that reaches from Coney Island and Broadway to the tiniest towns of rural America, tracing the progress of electric light through the reactions of everyone who saw it. It is a quintessentially American story of ingenuity, ambition, and possibility, in which the greater forces of progress and change are made visible by one of our most humble and ubiquitous objects.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Why Philanthropy Matters"

New from Princeton University Press: Why Philanthropy Matters: How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being by Zoltan J. Acs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Philanthropy has long been a distinctive feature of American culture, but its crucial role in the economic well-being of the nation--and the world--has remained largely unexplored. Why Philanthropy Matters takes an in-depth look at philanthropy as an underappreciated force in capitalism, measures its critical influence on the free-market system, and demonstrates how American philanthropy could serve as a model for the productive reinvestment of wealth in other countries. Factoring in philanthropic cycles that help balance the economy, Zoltan Acs offers a richer picture of capitalism, and a more accurate backdrop for considering policies that would promote the capitalist system for the good of all.

Examining the dynamics of American-style capitalism since the eighteenth century, Acs argues that philanthropy achieves three critical outcomes. It deals with the question of what to do with wealth--keep it, tax it, or give it away. It complements government in creating public goods. And, by focusing on education, science, and medicine, philanthropy has a positive effect on economic growth and productivity. Acs describes how individuals such as Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey have used their wealth to establish institutions and promote knowledge, and Acs shows how philanthropy has given an edge to capitalism by promoting vital forces--like university research--necessary for technological innovation, economic equality, and economic security. Philanthropy also serves as a guide for countries with less flexible capitalist institutions, and Acs makes the case for a larger, global philanthropic culture.

Providing a new perspective on the development of capitalism, Why Philanthropy Matters highlights philanthropy's critical links to the economic progress, health, and future of the United States--and beyond.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Dangerous Convictions"

New from Oxford University Press: Dangerous Convictions: What's Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress by Tom Allen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaign exposed the deeply rooted sources of political polarization in American. One side celebrated individualism and divided the public into "makers and takers;" the other preached "better together" as the path forward. Both focused their efforts on the "base" not the middle.

In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen argues that what's really wrong with Congress is the widening, hardening conflict in worldviews that leaves the two parties unable to understand how the other thinks about what people should do on their own and what we should do together. Members of Congress don't just disagree, they think the other side makes no sense. Why are conservatives preoccupied with cutting taxes, uninterested in expanding health care coverage and in denial about climate change? What will it take for Congress to recover a capacity for pragmatic compromise on these issues?

Allen writes that we should treat self-reliance (the quintessential American virtue) and community (our characteristic instinct to cooperate) as essential balancing components of American culture and politics, instead of setting them at war with each other. Combining his personal insights from 12 years In Congress with recent studies of how human beings form their political and religious views, Allen explains why we must escape the grip of our competing worldviews to enable Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"The Pathological Family"

New from Cornell University Press: The Pathological Family: Postwar America and the Rise of Family Therapy by Deborah Weinstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
While iconic popular images celebrated family life during the 1950s and 1960s, American families were simultaneously regarded as potentially menacing sources of social disruption. The history of family therapy makes the complicated power of the family at midcentury vividly apparent. Clinicians developed a new approach to psychotherapy that claimed to locate the cause and treatment of mental illness in observable patterns of family interaction and communication rather than in individual psyches. Drawing on cybernetics, systems theory, and the social and behavioral sciences, they ambitiously aimed to cure schizophrenia and stop juvenile delinquency. With particular sensitivity to the importance of scientific observation and visual technologies such as one-way mirrors and training films in shaping the young field, The Pathological Family examines how family therapy developed against the intellectual and cultural landscape of postwar America.

As Deborah Weinstein shows, the midcentury expansion of America's therapeutic culture and the postwar fixation on family life profoundly affected one another. Family therapists and other postwar commentators alike framed the promotion of democracy in the language of personality formation and psychological health forged in the crucible of the family. As therapists in this era shifted their clinical gaze to whole families, they nevertheless grappled in particular with the role played by mothers in the onset of their children’s aberrant behavior. Although attitudes toward family therapy have shifted during intervening generations, the relations between family and therapeutic culture remain salient today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Iraq in Wartime"

New from Cambridge University Press: Iraq in Wartime: Soldiering, Martyrdom, and Remembrance by Dina Rizk Khoury.

About the book, from the publisher:
When U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003, they occupied a country that had been at war for twenty-three years. Yet in their attempts to understand Iraqi society and history, few policy makers, analysts, and journalists took into account the profound impact that Iraq's long engagement with war had on the Iraqis' everyday engagement with politics, with the business of managing their daily lives, and on their cultural imagination. Starting with the Iran-Iraq War, through the First Gulf War and sanctions, Dina Rizk Khoury traces the political, social, and cultural processes of the normalization of war in Iraq during the last twenty-three years of Ba'thist rule. Drawing on government documents and interviews, Khoury argues that war was a form of everyday bureaucratic governance and examines the Iraqi government's policies of creating consent, managing resistance and religious diversity, and shaping public culture. Khoury focuses on the men and families of those who fought and died during the Iran-Iraq and First Gulf wars. Coming on the tenth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, this book tells a multilayered story of a society in which war has become the norm.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Communism on Tomorrow Street"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Communism on Tomorrow Street: Mass Housing and Everyday Life after Stalin by Steven E. Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
This fascinating and deeply researched book examines how, beginning under Khrushchev in 1953, a generation of Soviet citizens moved from the overcrowded communal dwellings of the Stalin era to modern single-family apartments, later dubbed khrushchevka. Arguing that moving to a separate apartment allowed ordinary urban dwellers to experience Khrushchev's thaw, Steven E. Harris fundamentally shifts interpretation of the thaw, conventionally understood as an elite phenomenon.

Harris focuses on the many participants eager to benefit from and influence the new way of life embodied by the khrushchevka, its furniture, and its associated consumer goods. He examines activities of national and local politicians, planners, enterprise managers, workers, furniture designers and architects, elite organizations (centrally involved in creating cooperative housing), and ordinary urban dwellers. Communism on Tomorrow Street also demonstrates the relationship of Soviet mass housing and urban planning to international efforts at resolving the "housing question" that had been studied since the nineteenth century and led to housing developments in Western Europe, the United States, and Latin America as well as the USSR.
Visit Steven E. Harris's website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"On the Muslim Question"

New at Princeton University Press: On the Muslim Question by Anne Norton.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the post-9/11 West, there is no shortage of strident voices telling us that Islam is a threat to the security, values, way of life, and even existence of the United States and Europe. For better or worse, "the Muslim question" has become the great question of our time. It is a question bound up with others--about freedom of speech, terror, violence, human rights, women's dress, and sexuality. Above all, it is tied to the possibility of democracy. In this fearless, original, and surprising book, Anne Norton demolishes the notion that there is a "clash of civilizations" between the West and Islam. What is really in question, she argues, is the West's commitment to its own ideals: to democracy and the Enlightenment trinity of liberty, equality, and fraternity. In the most fundamental sense, the Muslim question is about the values not of Islamic, but of Western, civilization.

Moving between the United States and Europe, Norton provides a fresh perspective on iconic controversies, from the Danish cartoon of Muhammad to the murder of Theo van Gogh. She examines the arguments of a wide range of thinkers--from John Rawls to Slavoj Žižek. And she describes vivid everyday examples of ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims who have accepted each other and built a common life together. Ultimately, Norton provides a new vision of a richer and more diverse democratic life in the West, one that makes room for Muslims rather than scapegoating them for the West's own anxieties.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Making War at Fort Hood"

New from Princeton University Press: Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community by Kenneth T. MacLeish.

About the book, from the publisher:
Making War at Fort Hood offers an illuminating look at war through the daily lives of the people whose job it is to produce it. Kenneth MacLeish conducted a year of intensive fieldwork among soldiers and their families at and around the US Army's Fort Hood in central Texas. He shows how war's reach extends far beyond the battlefield into military communities where violence is as routine, boring, and normal as it is shocking and traumatic.

Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world, and many of the 55,000 personnel based there have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MacLeish provides intimate portraits of Fort Hood's soldiers and those closest to them, drawing on numerous in-depth interviews and diverse ethnographic material. He explores the exceptional position that soldiers occupy in relation to violence--not only trained to fight and kill, but placed deliberately in harm's way and offered up to die. The death and destruction of war happen to soldiers on purpose. MacLeish interweaves gripping narrative with critical theory and anthropological analysis to vividly describe this unique condition of vulnerability. Along the way, he sheds new light on the dynamics of military family life, stereotypes of veterans, what it means for civilians to say "thank you" to soldiers, and other questions about the sometimes ordinary, sometimes agonizing labor of making war.

Making War at Fort Hood is the first ethnography to examine the everyday lives of the soldiers, families, and communities who personally bear the burden of America's most recent wars.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"The Politics of Exile"

New from Routledge: The Politics of Exile by Elizabeth Dauphinee.

About the book, from the publisher:
Written in both autoethnographical and narrative form, The Politics of Exile offers unique insight into the complex encounter of researcher with research subject in the context of the Bosnian War and its aftermath. Exploring themes of personal and civilizational guilt, of displaced and fractured identity, of secrets and subterfuge, of love and alienation, of moral choice and the impossibility of ethics, this work challenges us to recognise pure narrative as an accepted form of writing in international relations.

The author brings theory to life and gives corporeal reality to a wide range of concepts in international relations, including an exploration of the ways in which young academics are initiated into a culture where the volume of research production is more valuable than its content, and where success is marked not by intellectual innovation, but by conformity to theoretical expectations in research and teaching.

This engaging work will be essential reading for all students and scholars of international relations and global politics.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Power to the Poor"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974 by Gordon K. Mantler.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Poor People's Campaign of 1968 has long been overshadowed by the assassination of its architect, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the political turmoil of that year. In a major reinterpretation of civil rights and Chicano movement history, Gordon K. Mantler demonstrates how King's unfinished crusade became the era's most high-profile attempt at multiracial collaboration and sheds light on the interdependent relationship between racial identity and political coalition among African Americans and Mexican Americans. Mantler argues that while the fight against poverty held great potential for black-brown cooperation, such efforts also exposed the complex dynamics between the nation's two largest minority groups.

Drawing on oral histories, archives, periodicals, and FBI surveillance files, Mantler paints a rich portrait of the campaign and the larger antipoverty work from which it emerged, including the labor activism of Cesar Chavez, opposition of Black and Chicano Power to state violence in Chicago and Denver, and advocacy for Mexican American land-grant rights in New Mexico. Ultimately, Mantler challenges readers to rethink the multiracial history of the long civil rights movement and the difficulty of sustaining political coalitions.
Visit Gordon K. Mantler's website.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Free Trade and Sailors' Rights in the War of 1812"

New from Cambridge University Press: Free Trade and Sailors' Rights in the War of 1812 by Paul A. Gilje.

About the book, from the publisher:
On July 2, 1812, Captain David Porter raised a banner on the USS Essex proclaiming "A free trade and sailors rights," thus creating a political slogan that explained the War of 1812. Free trade demanded the protection of American commerce, while sailors' rights insisted that the British end the impressment of seamen from American ships. Repeated for decades in Congress and in taverns, the slogan reminds us today that our second war with Great Britain was not a mistake. It was a contest for the ideals of the American Revolution bringing together both the high culture of the Enlightenment to establish a new political economy and the low culture of the common folk to assert the equality of humankind. Understanding the War of 1812 and the motto that came to explain it – free trade and sailors' rights – allows us to better comprehend the origins of the American nation.
Read an excerpt from Free Trade and Sailors' Rights in the War of 1812.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Cauldron of Resistance"

New from Cornell University Press: Cauldron of Resistance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and 1950s Southern Vietnam by Jessica M. Chapman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem organized an election to depose chief-of-state Bao Dai, after which he proclaimed himself the first president of the newly created Republic of Vietnam. The United States sanctioned the results of this election, which was widely condemned as fraudulent, and provided substantial economic aid and advice to the RVN. Because of this, Diem is often viewed as a mere puppet of the United States, in service of its Cold War geopolitical strategy. That narrative, Jessica M. Chapman contends in Cauldron of Resistance, grossly oversimplifies the complexity of South Vietnam's domestic politics and, indeed, Diem’s own political savvy.

Based on extensive work in Vietnamese, French, and American archives, Chapman offers a detailed account of three crucial years, 1953–1956, during which a new Vietnamese political order was established in the south. It is, in large part, a history of Diem’s political ascent as he managed to subdue the former Emperor Bao Dai, the armed Hoa Hao and Cao Dai religious organizations, and the Binh Xuyen crime organization. It is also an unparalleled account of these same outcast political powers, forces that would reemerge as destabilizing political and military actors in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Chapman shows Diem to be an engaged leader whose personalist ideology influenced his vision for the new South Vietnamese state, but also shaped the policies that would spell his demise. Washington’s support for Diem because of his staunch anticommunism encouraged him to employ oppressive measures to suppress dissent, thereby contributing to the alienation of his constituency, and helped inspire the organized opposition to his government that would emerge by the late 1950s and eventually lead to the Vietnam War.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"A History of Prejudice"

New from Cambridge University Press: A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste, and Difference in India and the United States by Gyanendra Pandey.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a book about prejudice and democracy, and the prejudice of democracy. In comparing the historical struggles of two geographically disparate populations – Indian Dalits (once known as Untouchables) and African Americans – Gyanendra Pandey, the leading subaltern historian, examines the multiple dimensions of prejudice in two of the world's leading democracies. The juxtaposition of two very different locations and histories and, within each of these, of varying public and private narratives of struggle, allows for an uncommon analysis of the limits of citizenship in modern societies and states. Pandey, with his characteristic delicacy, probes the histories of his protagonists to uncover a shadowy world where intolerance and discrimination are part of both public and private lives. This unusual and sobering book is revelatory in its exploration of the contradictory history of promise and denial that is common to the official narratives of nations such as India and the United States and the ideologies of many opposition movements.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"The Watchful Clothier"

New from Yale University Press: The Watchful Clothier: The Life of an Eighteenth-Century Protestant Capitalist by Matthew Kadane.

About the book, from the publisher:
A clothier and a deeply religious man, Joseph Ryder faithfully kept a diary from 1733 until his death, two and a half million words later, in 1768. Recently rediscovered and brilliantly interpreted by historian Matthew Kadane, Ryder’s diary provides an illuminating, real-life perspective on the relationship between capitalism and Protestantism at a time when Britain was rapidly changing from a traditional to a modern society. It also provides fascinating insights on the early modern family, the birth of industrialization, the history of Puritanism, the origins of Unitarianism, melancholy, and the making of the British middle class.

Monday, February 4, 2013


New from Cambridge University Press: Classified: Secrecy and the State in Modern Britain by Christopher Moran.

About the book, from the publisher:
Classified is a fascinating account of the British state's long obsession with secrecy and the ways it sought to prevent information about its secret activities from entering the public domain. Drawing on recently declassified documents, unpublished correspondence and exclusive interviews with key officials and journalists, Christopher Moran pays particular attention to the ways that the press and memoirs have been managed by politicians and spies. He argues that, by the 1960s, governments had become so concerned with their inability to keep secrets that they increasingly sought to offset damaging leaks with their own micro-managed publications. The book reveals new insights into seminal episodes in British post-war history, including the Suez crisis, the D-Notice Affair and the treachery of the Cambridge spies, identifying a new era of offensive information management, and putting the contemporary battle between secret-keepers, electronic media and digital whistle-blowers into long-term perspective.
Read an excerpt from Classified.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"Changing Norms through Actions"

New from Oxford University Press: Changing Norms through Actions: The Evolution of Sovereignty by Jennifer M. Ramos.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do international norms evolve? In the modern era, the critically important norm of sovereignty has evolved from a norm once considered absolute to one deemed conditional-to the point where states now risk external intervention if they flout other core norms of national conduct. In Changing Norms through Actions, Jennifer Ramos argues that commitment to international norms depends on the result of actions taken on their behalf. Focusing on the norm of sovereignty, she argues that where intervention does occur, the implications for sovereignty depend on the outcome of the military action. Examining several cases of intervention in support of counterterrorism and human rights, Ramos finds that even when a major power acts primarily out of its own self-interest, the action can unintentionally modify the normative environment within which other states act. Even more surprising, Ramos shows that an arduous military involvement actually strengthens an intervener's commitment to the norm of limited and conditional sovereignty that justified the action. Changing Norms through Actions clearly and skillfully examines the profound international implications of our shifting understanding of sovereignty.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Protest, Reform and Repression in Khrushchev's Soviet Union"

New from Cambridge University Press: Protest, Reform and Repression in Khrushchev's Soviet Union by Robert Hornsby.

About the book, from the publisher:
Protest, Reform and Repression in Khrushchev's Soviet Union explores the nature of political protest in the USSR during the decade following the death of Stalin. Using sources drawn from the archives of the Soviet Procurator's office, the Communist Party, the Komsomol and elsewhere, Hornsby examines the emergence of underground groups, mass riots and public attacks on authority as well as the ways in which the Soviet regime under Khrushchev viewed and responded to these challenges, including deeper KGB penetration of society and the use of labour camps and psychiatric repression. He sheds important new light on the progress and implications of de-Stalinization, the relationship between citizens and authority and the emergence of an increasingly materialistic social order inside the USSR. This is a fascinating study which significantly revises our understanding of the nature of Soviet power following the abandonment of mass terror.
Read an excerpt from Protest, Reform and Repression in Khrushchev's Soviet Union.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"The Terror Courts"

New from Yale University Press: The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay by Jess Bravin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States captured hundreds of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and around the world. By the following January the first of these prisoners arrived at the U.S. military’s prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were subject to President George W. Bush’s executive order authorizing their trial by military commissions. Jess Bravin, the Wall Street Journal’s Supreme Court correspondent, was there within days of the prison’s opening, and has continued ever since to cover the U.S. effort to create a parallel justice system for enemy aliens. A maze of legal, political, and moral issues has stood in the way of justice—issues often raised by military prosecutors who found themselves torn between duty to the chain of command and their commitment to fundamental American values.

While much has been written about Guantanamo and brutal detention practices following 9/11, Bravin is the first to go inside the Pentagon’s prosecution team to expose the real-world legal consequences of those policies. Bravin describes cases undermined by inadmissible evidence obtained through torture, clashes between military lawyers and administration appointees, and political interference in criminal prosecutions that would be shocking within the traditional civilian and military justice systems. With the Obama administration planning to try the alleged 9/11 conspirators at Guantanamo—and vindicate the legal experiment the Bush administration could barely get off the ground—The Terror Courts could not be more timely.