Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939"

New from Columbia University Press: Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939 by Thomas Doherty.

About the book, from the publisher:
The abundance of WWII-era documentaries and the huge cache of archival footage that has emerged since 1945 make it seem as if cinematic images of the Nazis were always as vivid and plentiful as they are today. Yet between 1933 and 1939, representations of the Nazis and the full meaning of Nazism came slowly to Hollywood, growing more distinct and ominous only as the decade wore on.

Recapturing what ordinary Americans saw on the screen during the emerging Nazi threat, Thomas Doherty reclaims forgotten films, such as Hitler’s Reign of Terror (1934), a pioneering anti-Nazi docu-drama by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr.; I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany (1936), a sensational true tale of “a Hollywood girl in Naziland!”; and Professor Mamlock (1938), an anti-Nazi film made by German refugees living in the Soviet Union. Doherty also recounts how the disproportionately Jewish backgrounds of the executives of the studios and the workers on the payroll shaded reactions to what was never simply a business decision. His history features a cast of charismatic personalities: Carl Laemmle, the German Jewish founder of Universal Pictures, whose production of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) enraged the nascent Nazi movement; Georg Gyssling, the Nazi counsel in Los Angeles, who read the Hollywood trade press as avidly as any studio mogul; Vittorio Mussolini, son of the fascist dictator and aspiring motion picture impresario; Leni Riefenstahl, the Valkyrie goddess of the Third Reich who came to America to peddle distribution rights for Olympia (1938); screenwriters Donald Ogden Stewart and Dorothy Parker, founders of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League; and Harry and Jack Warner of Warner Bros., who yoked anti-Nazism to patriotic Americanism and finally broke the embargo against anti-Nazi cinema with Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939). As Europe hurtled toward war, a proxy battle was waged in Hollywood over how to conduct business with the Nazis; over whether to address or ignore Nazism in Hollywood feature films; and over how to cover Hitler and his victims in the newsreels. Should Hollywood lie low, or stand tall and sound the alarm?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Democracy of Sound"

New from Oxford University Press: Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century by Alex Sayf Cummings.

About the book, from the publisher:
It was a time when music fans copied and traded recordings without permission. An outraged music industry pushed Congress to pass anti-piracy legislation. Yes, that time is now; it was also the era of Napster in the 1990s, of cassette tapes in the 1970s, of reel-to-reel tapes in the 1950s, even the phonograph epoch of the 1930s. Piracy, it turns out, is as old as recorded music itself.

In Democracy of Sound, Alex Sayf Cummings uncovers the little-known history of music piracy and its sweeping effects on the definition of copyright in the United States. When copyright emerged, only visual material such as books and maps were thought to deserve protection; even musical compositions were not included until 1831. Once a performance could be captured on a wax cylinder or vinyl disc, profound questions arose over the meaning of intellectual property. Is only a written composition defined as a piece of art? If a singer performs a different interpretation of a song, is it a new and distinct work? Such questions have only grown more pressing with the rise of sampling and other forms of musical pastiche. Indeed, music has become the prime battleground between piracy and copyright. It is compact, making it easy to copy. And it is highly social, shared or traded through social networks--often networks that arise around music itself. But such networks also pose a counter-argument: as channels for copying and sharing sounds, they were instrumental in nourishing hip-hop and other new forms of music central to American culture today. Piracy is not always a bad thing.

An insightful and often entertaining look at the history of music piracy, Democracy of Sound offers invaluable background to one of the hot-button issues involving creativity and the law.

Friday, March 29, 2013

"American Zion"

New from Yale University Press: American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War by Eran Shalev.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Bible has always been an integral part of American political culture. Yet in the years before the Civil War, it was the Old Testament, not the New Testament, that pervaded political rhetoric. From Revolutionary times through about 1830, numerous American politicians, commentators, ministers, and laymen depicted their young nation as a new, God-chosen Israel and relied on the Old Testament for political guidance.

In this original book, historian Eran Shalev closely examines how this powerful predilection for Old Testament narratives and rhetoric in early America shaped a wide range of debates and cultural discussions—from republican ideology, constitutional interpretation, southern slavery, and more generally the meaning of American nationalism to speculations on the origins of American Indians and to the emergence of Mormonism. Shalev argues that the effort to shape the United States as a biblical nation reflected conflicting attitudes within the culture—proudly boastful on the one hand but uncertain about its abilities and ultimate destiny on the other. With great nuance, American Zion explores for the first time the meaning and lasting effects of the idea of the United States as a new Israel and sheds new light on our understanding of the nation’s origins and culture during the founding and antebellum decades.
Visit Eran Shalev's website.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Capital as Will and Imagination"

New from Cornell University Press: Capital as Will and Imagination: Schumpeter's Guide to the Postwar Japanese Miracle by Mark Metzler.

About the book, from the publisher:
With this book, Mark Metzler continues his investigation into the economic history of twentieth-century Japan that he began in Lever of Empire. In Capital as Will and Imagination, he focuses on the successful stabilization of Japanese capitalism after the Second World War. How did a defeated and heavily damaged nation manage reconstruction so rapidly? What economic beliefs resulted in the "miracle" years of high-speed economic growth? Metzler argues that the inflationary creation of credit was key to Japan's postwar success—and its eventual demise due to its instability over the long term.

To prove his case, Metzler explores heterodox ideas about economic life, in particular Joseph Schumpeter's realization that inflation is intrinsic to capitalist development. Schumpeter's ideas, widely ignored within standard American neoclassical economic theory, were shaped by his experience of Austria’s reconstruction after 1918. They were highly influential in Japan, and Metzler traces their impact in the period from the Allied Occupation, starting in 1945, through the Income Doubling Plan of 1960. Japan after defeat, Metzler argues, illustrates the critical importance of inflationary credit creation for increased production.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Revolution Stalled"

New from Oxford University Press: Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere by Sarah Oates.

About the book, from the publisher:
Can the internet fundamentally challenge non-free regimes?

The role that social networking has played in promoting political change in the Middle East and beyond raises important questions about the ability of authoritarian leaders to control the information sphere and their subjects. Revolution Stalled goes beyond the idea of "virtual" politics to study five key components in the relationship between the online sphere and society: content, community, catalysts, control, and co-optation.

This analysis of the contemporary Russian internet, written by a scholar with in-depth knowledge of both the post-Soviet media and media theory, illuminates key components to how and when the internet can spark political action. With its analysis of current internet-linked protests in Russia, this book posits that there are critical pre-conditions that must exist for the internet to be used successfully to challenge non-free states. In particular, Russian leaders have made themselves vulnerable to online protest movements and online social entrepreneurs through their failure to control the internet as effectively as they have controlled traditional media. At the same time, Russia has experienced explosive growth in the online audience, tipping the balance of control away from state-run television and toward the more open online sphere.

Oates incorporates studies of small-scale protests involving health issues and children with disabilities to demonstrate that Russians have started to translate individual grievances into rising political awareness and efficacy via the online sphere. Her cases show that the Russian state has struggled to change its information and control strategy in the face of new types of information dissemination, networking, and protest. This new environment has transformed a state strategy of co-opted elections into a powerful catalyst for protests and demands for rights. While the revolution remains stalled, this book provides compelling evidence that a new and changing generation of internet users is beginning to alter the balance of power in the public sphere in Russia.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Plutopia"

New from Oxford University Press: Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters by Kate Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
While many transnational histories of the nuclear arms race have been written, Kate Brown provides the first definitive account of the great plutonium disasters of the United States and the Soviet Union.

In Plutopia, Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias--communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society, while nearby, migrants, prisoners, and soldiers were banned from plutopia--they lived in temporary "staging grounds" and often performed the most dangerous work at the plant. Brown shows that the plants' segregation of permanent and temporary workers and of nuclear and non-nuclear zones created a bubble of immunity, where dumps and accidents were glossed over and plant managers freely embezzled and polluted. In four decades, the Hanford plant near Richland and the Maiak plant near Ozersk each issued at least 200 million curies of radioactive isotopes into the surrounding environment--equaling four Chernobyls--laying waste to hundreds of square miles and contaminating rivers, fields, forests, and food supplies. Because of the decades of secrecy, downwind and downriver neighbors of the plutonium plants had difficulty proving what they suspected, that the rash of illnesses, cancers, and birth defects in their communities were caused by the plants' radioactive emissions. Plutopia was successful because in its zoned-off isolation it appeared to deliver the promises of the American dream and Soviet communism; in reality, it concealed disasters that remain highly unstable and threatening today.

An untold and profoundly important piece of Cold War history, Plutopia invites readers to consider the nuclear footprint left by the arms race and the enormous price of paying for it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Freedom to Harm"

New from Yale University Press: Freedom to Harm: The Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival by Thomas O. McGarity.

About the book, from the publisher:
How much economic freedom is a good thing?

This book tells the story of how the business community, and the trade associations and think tanks that it created, launched three powerful assaults during the last quarter of the twentieth century on the federal regulatory system and the state civil justice system to accomplish a revival of the laissez faire political economy that dominated Gilded Age America. Although the consequences of these assaults became painfully apparent in a confluence of crises during the early twenty-first century, the patch-and-repair fixes that Congress and the Obama administration put into place did little to change the underlying laissez faire ideology and practice that continues to dominate the American political economy. In anticipation of the next confluence of crises, Thomas McGarity offers suggestions for more comprehensive governmental protections for consumers, workers, and the environment.
The Page 99 Test: Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research by Thomas O. McGarity & Wendy E. Wagner.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"The Great Ocean"

New from Oxford University Press: The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush by David Igler.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Pacific of the early eighteenth century was not a single ocean but a vast and varied waterscape, a place of baffling complexity, with 25,000 islands and seemingly endless continental shorelines. But with the voyages of Captain James Cook, global attention turned to the Pacific, and European and American dreams of scientific exploration, trade, and empire grew dramatically. By the time of the California gold rush, the Pacific's many shores were fully integrated into world markets-and world consciousness.

The Great Ocean draws on hundreds of documented voyages--some painstakingly recorded by participants, some only known by archeological remains or indigenous memory--as a window into the commercial, cultural, and ecological upheavals following Cook's exploits, focusing in particular on the eastern Pacific in the decades between the 1770s and the 1840s. Beginning with the expansion of trade as seen via the travels of William Shaler, captain of the American Brig Lelia Byrd, historian David Igler uncovers a world where voyagers, traders, hunters, and native peoples met one another in episodes often marked by violence and tragedy. Igler describes how indigenous communities struggled against introduced diseases that cut through the heart of their communities; how the ordeal of Russian Timofei Tarakanov typified the common practice of taking hostages and prisoners; how Mary Brewster witnessed first-hand the bloody "great hunt" that decimated otters, seals, and whales; how Adelbert von Chamisso scoured the region, carefully compiling his notes on natural history; and how James Dwight Dana rivaled Charles Darwin in his pursuit of knowledge on a global scale.

These stories--and the historical themes that tie them together--offer a fresh perspective on the oceanic worlds of the eastern Pacific. Ambitious and broadly conceived, The Great Ocean is the first book to weave together American, oceanic, and world history in a path-breaking portrait of the Pacific world.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Priest, Politician, Collaborator"

New from Cornell University Press: Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia by James Mace Ward.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Priest, Politician, Collaborator, James Mace Ward offers the first comprehensive and scholarly English-language biography of the Catholic priest and Slovak nationalist Jozef Tiso (1887–1947). The first president of an independent Slovakia, established as a satellite of Nazi Germany, Tiso was ultimately hanged for treason and (in effect) crimes against humanity by a postwar reunified Czechoslovakia. Drawing on extensive archival research, Ward portrays Tiso as a devoutly religious man who came to privilege the maintenance of a Slovak state over all other concerns, helping thus to condemn Slovak Jewry to destruction. Ward, however, refuses to reduce Tiso to a mere opportunist, portraying him also as a man of principle and a victim of international circumstances. This potent mix, combined with an almost epic ability to deny the consequences of his own actions, ultimately led to Tiso's undoing.

Tiso began his career as a fervent priest seeking to defend the church and pursue social justice within the Kingdom of Hungary. With the breakup of Austria-Hungary in 1918 and the creation of a Czechoslovak Republic, these missions then fused with a parochial Slovak nationalist agenda, a complex process that is the core narrative of the book. Ward presents the strongest case yet for Tiso’s heavy responsibility in the Holocaust, crimes that he investigates as an outcome of the interplay between Tiso’s lifelong pattern of collaboration and the murderous international politics of Hitler’s Europe. To this day memories of Tiso divide opinion within Slovakia, burdening the country’s efforts to come to terms with its own history. As portrayed in this masterful biography, Tiso’s life not only illuminates the history of a small state but also supplies a missing piece of the larger puzzle that was interwar and wartime Europe.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century"

New from Princeton University Press: Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History by Derek Sayer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Setting out to recover the roots of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the "city of light," Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris "the capital of the nineteenth century." In this eagerly anticipated sequel to his acclaimed Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History, Derek Sayer argues that Prague could well be seen as the capital of the much darker twentieth century. Ranging across twentieth-century Prague's astonishingly vibrant and always surprising human landscape, this richly illustrated cultural history describes how the city has experienced (and suffered) more ways of being modern than perhaps any other metropolis.

Located at the crossroads of struggles between democratic, communist, and fascist visions of the modern world, twentieth-century Prague witnessed revolutions and invasions, national liberation and ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, show trials, and snuffed-out dreams of "socialism with a human face." Yet between the wars, when Prague was the capital of Europe's most easterly parliamentary democracy, it was also a hotbed of artistic and architectural modernism, and a center of surrealism second only to Paris.

Focusing on these years, Sayer explores Prague's spectacular modern buildings, monuments, paintings, books, films, operas, exhibitions, and much more. A place where the utopian fantasies of the century repeatedly unraveled, Prague was tailor-made for surrealist André Breton's "black humor," and Sayer discusses the way the city produced unrivaled connoisseurs of grim comedy, from Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Hasek to Milan Kundera and Václav Havel. A masterful and unforgettable account of a city where an idling flaneur could just as easily be a secret policeman, this book vividly shows why Prague can teach us so much about the twentieth century and what made us who we are.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"The Forgotten Presidents"

New from Oxford University Press: The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy by Michael J. Gerhardt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Their names linger in memory mainly as punch lines, synonyms for obscurity: Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge. They conjure up not the White House so much as a decaying middle school somewhere in New Jersey. But many forgotten presidents, writes Michael J. Gerhardt, were not weak or ineffective. They boldly fought battles over constitutional principles that resonate today.

Gerhardt, one of our leading legal experts, tells the story of The Forgotten Presidents. He surveys thirteen administrations in chronological order, from Martin Van Buren to Franklin Pierce to Jimmy Carter, distinguishing political failures from their constitutional impact. Again and again, he writes, they defied popular opinion to take strong stands. Martin Van Buren reacted to an economic depression by withdrawing federal funds from state banks in an attempt to establish the controversial independent treasury system. His objective was to shrink the federal role in the economy, but also to consolidate his power to act independently as president. Prosperity did not return, and he left office under the shadow of failure. Grover Cleveland radically changed his approach in his second (non-consecutive) term. Previously he had held back from interference with lawmakers; on his return to office, he aggressively used presidential power to bend Congress to his will. Now seen as an asterisk, Cleveland consolidated presidential authority over appointments, removals, vetoes, foreign affairs, legislation, and more. Jimmy Carter, too, proves surprisingly significant. In two debt-ceiling crises and battles over the Panama Canal treaty, affirmative action, and the First Amendment, he demonstrated how the presidency's inherent capacity for efficiency and energy gives it an advantage in battles with Congress, regardless of popularity.

Incisive, myth-shattering, and compellingly written, this book shows how even obscure presidents championed the White House's prerogatives and altered the way we interpret the Constitution.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"How Animals Grieve"

New from the University of Chicago Press: How Animals Grieve by Barbara J. King.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the time of our earliest childhood encounters with animals, we casually ascribe familiar emotions to them. But scientists have long cautioned against such anthropomorphizing, arguing that it limits our ability to truly comprehend the lives of other creatures. Recently, however, things have begun to shift in the other direction, and anthropologist Barbara J. King is at the forefront of that movement, arguing strenuously that we can—and should—attend to animal emotions. With How Animals Grieve, she draws our attention to the specific case of grief, and relates story after story—from fieldsites, farms, homes, and more—of animals mourning lost companions, mates, or friends.

King tells of elephants surrounding their matriarch as she weakens and dies, and, in the following days, attending to her corpse as if holding a vigil. A housecat loses her sister, from whom she's never before been parted, and spends weeks pacing the apartment, wailing plaintively. A baboon loses her daughter to a predator and sinks into grief. In each case, King uses her anthropological training to interpret and try to explain what we see—to help us understand this animal grief properly, as something neither the same as nor wholly different from the human experience of loss.

The resulting book is both daring and down-to-earth, strikingly ambitious even as it’s careful to acknowledge the limits of our understanding. Through the moving stories she chronicles and analyzes so beautifully, King brings us closer to the animals with whom we share a planet, and helps us see our own experiences, attachments, and emotions as part of a larger web of life, death, love, and loss.
Barbara J. King is Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary and author of Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion.

The Page 69 Test: Evolving God.

My Book, The Movie: Evolving God.

Writers Read: Barbara J. King (July 2007).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"FDR and the Jews"

New from Harvard University Press: FDR and the Jews by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nearly seventy-five years after World War II, a contentious debate lingers over whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned his back on the Jews of Hitler’s Europe. Defenders claim that FDR saved millions of potential victims by defeating Nazi Germany. Others revile him as morally indifferent and indict him for keeping America’s gates closed to Jewish refugees and failing to bomb Auschwitz’s gas chambers.

In an extensive examination of this impassioned debate, Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman find that the president was neither savior nor bystander. In FDR and the Jews, they draw upon many new primary sources to offer an intriguing portrait of a consummate politician—compassionate but also pragmatic—struggling with opposing priorities under perilous conditions. For most of his presidency Roosevelt indeed did little to aid the imperiled Jews of Europe. He put domestic policy priorities ahead of helping Jews and deferred to others’ fears of an anti-Semitic backlash. Yet he also acted decisively at times to rescue Jews, often withstanding contrary pressures from his advisers and the American public. Even Jewish citizens who petitioned the president could not agree on how best to aid their co-religionists abroad.

Though his actions may seem inadequate in retrospect, the authors bring to light a concerned leader whose efforts on behalf of Jews were far greater than those of any other world figure. His moral position was tempered by the political realities of depression and war, a conflict all too familiar to American politicians in the twenty-first century.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"The Sleepwalkers"

New from Harper: The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:
On the morning of June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Chotek, arrived at Sarajevo railway station, Europe was at peace. Thirty-seven days later, it was at war. The conflict that resulted would kill more than fifteen million people, destroy three empires, and permanently alter world history.

The Sleepwalkers reveals in gripping detail how the crisis leading to World War I unfolded. Drawing on fresh sources, it traces the paths to war in a minute-by-minute, action-packed narrative that cuts among the key decision centers in Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris, London, and Belgrade. Distinguished historian Christopher Clark examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks.

How did the Balkans—a peripheral region far from Europe's centers of power and wealth—come to be the center of a drama of such magnitude? How had European nations organized themselves into opposing alliances, and how did these nations manage to carry out foreign policy as a result? Clark reveals a Europe racked by chronic problems—a fractured world of instability and militancy that was, fatefully, saddled with a conspicuously ineffectual set of political leaders. These rulers, who prided themselves on their modernity and rationalism, stumbled through crisis after crisis and finally convinced themselves that war was the only answer.

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, The Sleepwalkers is a magisterial account of one of the most compelling dramas of modern times.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"The Faithful Executioner"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century by Joel F. Harrington.

About the book, from the publisher:
Based on the rare and until now overlooked journal of a Renaissance-era executioner, the noted historian Joel F. Harrington’s The Faithful Executioner takes us deep inside the alien world and thinking of Meister Frantz Schmidt of Nuremberg, who, during forty-five years as a professional executioner, personally put to death 394 individuals and tortured, flogged, or disfigured many hundreds more. But the picture that emerges of Schmidt from his personal papers is not that of a monster. Could a man who routinely practiced such cruelty also be insightful, compassionate—even progressive?

In The Faithful Executioner, Harrington vividly re-creates a life filled with stark contrasts, from the young apprentice’s rigorous training under his executioner father to the adult Meister Frantz’s juggling of familial duties with his work in the torture chamber and at the scaffold. With him we encounter brutal highwaymen, charming swindlers, and tragic unwed mothers accused of infanticide, as well as patrician senators, godly chaplains, and corrupt prison guards. Harrington teases out the hidden meanings and drama of Schmidt’s journal, uncovering a touching tale of inherited shame and attempted redemption for the social pariah and his children. The Faithful Executioner offers not just the compelling firsthand perspective of a professional torturer and killer, but testimony of one man’s lifelong struggle to reconcile his bloody craft with his deep religious faith.

The biography of an ordinary man struggling for his soul, this groundbreaking book also offers an unparalleled panoramic view of Europe on the cusp of modernity, a society riven by violent conflict at all levels and encumbered by paranoia, superstition, and abuses of power. Thanks to an extraordinary historical source and its gifted interpreter, we recognize far more of ourselves than we might have expected in this intimate portrait of a professional killer from a faraway world.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"New Deal Ruins"

New from Cornell University Press: New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice, and Public Housing Policy by Edward G. Goetz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Public housing was an integral part of the New Deal, as the federal government funded public works to generate economic activity and offer material support to families made destitute by the Great Depression, and it remained a major element of urban policy in subsequent decades. As chronicled in New Deal Ruins, however, housing policy since the 1990s has turned to the demolition of public housing in favor of subsidized units in mixed-income communities and the use of tenant-based vouchers rather than direct housing subsidies. While these policies, articulated in the HOPE VI program begun in 1992, aimed to improve the social and economic conditions of urban residents, the results have been quite different. As Edward G. Goetz shows, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and there has been a loss of more than 250,000 permanently affordable residential units. Goetz offers a critical analysis of the nationwide effort to dismantle public housing by focusing on the impact of policy changes in three cities: Atlanta, Chicago, and New Orleans.

Goetz shows how this transformation is related to pressures of gentrification and the enduring influence of race in American cities. African Americans have been disproportionately affected by this policy shift; it is the cities in which public housing is most closely identified with minorities that have been the most aggressive in removing units. Goetz convincingly refutes myths about the supposed failure of public housing. He offers an evidence-based argument for renewed investment in public housing to accompany housing choice initiatives as a model for innovative and equitable housing policy.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"When Soldiers Fall"

New from Oxford University Press: When Soldiers Fall: How Americans Have Confronted Combat Losses from World War I to Afghanistan by Steven Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Call it the Vietnam Syndrome or Black Hawk Down blowback. It's the standard assumption that Americans won't tolerate combat casualties, that a rising body count lowers support for war. But that's not true, argues historian Steven Casey; even worse, this assumption damages democracy. Fearing a backlash, the military has routinely distorted its casualty reports in order to hide the true cost of war.

When Soldiers Fall takes a new look at the way Americans have dealt with the toll of armed conflict. Drawing on a vast array of sources, from George Patton's command papers to previously untapped New York Times archives, Casey ranges from World War I (when the U.S. government first began to report casualties) to the War on Terror, examining official policy, the press, and the public reaction. Not surprisingly, leaders from Douglas MacArthur to Donald Rumsfeld have played down casualties. But the reverse has sometimes been true. At a crucial moment in World War II, the military actually exaggerated casualties to counter the public's complacency about ultimate victory. More often, though, official announcements have been unclear, out of date, or deliberately misleading--resulting in media challenges. In World War I, reporters had to rely on figures published by the enemy; in World War II, the armed forces went for an entire year without releasing casualty tallies. Casey discusses the impact of changing presidential administrations, the role of technology, the dispersal of correspondents to cover multiple conflicts, and the enormous improvements in our ability to identify bodies. Recreating the controversies that have surrounded key battles, from the Meusse-Argonne to the Tet Offensive to Fallujah, the author challenges the formula that higher losses lower support for war.

Integrating military, political, and media history, When Soldiers Fall provides the first in-depth account of the impact of battlefield losses in America.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"From Global to Grassroots"

New from Oxford University Press: From Global to Grassroots: The European Union, Transnational Advocacy, and Combating Violence against Women by Celeste Montoya.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Global to Grassroots looks at how transnational activism aimed at combating violence against women is used to instigate changes in local practice. Focusing on the case of the European Union, this book provides empirical and intersectional feminist analysis to demonstrate the transnational processes that connect global and grassroots advocacy efforts. It does this by taking an in-depth look at the roles played by regional organizations and networks in efforts to address violence against women.

Over the past decades, the complex and evolving system of EU multilevel governance has provided new venues for women's transnational activism. Despite a predominantly economic focus, the EU has undertaken various initiatives that utilize different tools of authority to combat violence against women. This book first traces the processes by which violence against women became a European Union issue, examining the role played by global movements and organizations as well as European advocates within and outside of EU institutions. Second, it explores and analyzes the different strategies that the EU has utilized to influence its member and candidate states to change their practices. Third, it evaluates the impact that these strategies have had at the local level by investigating the interaction of international and regional efforts with domestic characteristics.

The geographic and institutional variation found in the EU makes it a particularly rich case study for comparing the way that different strategies, power relationships, and domestic circumstances interact to provide a range of responses in member and candidate states. While other studies have emphasized formal policy change as evidence that domestic change has occurred, From Global to Grassroots looks beyond the rhetoric to examine the extent to which violence against women is addressed on the ground, paying special attention to the disparate impact strategies may have on particular groups of women.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life"

New from Liveright: Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life by Jonathan Sperber.

About the book, from the publisher:
Karl Marx is a magisterial and defining biography that vividly explores not only the man himself but also the revolutionary times in which he lived.

Between his birth in 1818 and his death sixty-five years later, Karl Marx became one of Western civilization’s most influential political philosophers. Two centuries on, he is still revered as a prophet of the modern world, yet he is also blamed for the darkest atrocities of modern times. But no matter in what light he is cast, the short, but broad-shouldered, bearded Marx remains—as a human being—distorted on a Procrustean bed of political “isms,” perceived through the partially distorting lens of his chief disciple, Friedrich Engels, or understood as a figure of twentieth-century totalitarian Marxist regimes.

Returning Marx to the Victorian confines of the nineteenth century, Jonathan Sperber, one of the United States’ leading European historians, challenges many of our misconceptions of this political firebrand turned London émigré journalist. In this deeply humanizing portrait, Marx no longer is the Olympian soothsayer, divining the dialectical imperatives of human history, but a scholar-activist whose revolutionary Weltanschauung was closer to Robespierre’s than to those of twentieth-century Marxists.

With unlimited access to the MEGA (the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe, the total edition of Marx’s and Engels’s writings), only recently available, Sperber juxtaposes the private man, the public agitator, and the philosopher-economist. We first see Marx as a young boy in the city of Trier, influenced by his father, Heinrich, for whom “the French Revolution and its aftermath offered an opportunity to escape the narrowly circumscribed social and political position of Jews in the society.” For Heinrich’s generation, this worldview meant no longer being a member of the so-called Jewish nation, but for his son, the reverberations were infinitely greater—namely a life inspired by the doctrines of the Enlightenment and an implacable belief in human equality.

Contextualizing Marx’s personal story—his rambunctious university years, his loving marriage to the devoted Jenny von Westphalen (despite an illegitimate child with the family maid), his children’s tragic deaths, the catastrophic financial problems—within a larger historical stage, Sperber examines Marx’s public actions and theoretical publications against the backdrop of a European continent roiling with political and social unrest. Guided by newly translated notes, drafts, and correspondence, he highlights Marx’s often overlooked work as a journalist; his political activities in Berlin, Paris, and London; and his crucial role in both creating and destroying the International Working Men’s Association. With Napoleon III, Bismarck, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin, among others, as supporting players, Karl Marx becomes not just a biography of a man but a vibrant portrait of an infinitely complex time.

Already hailed by Publishers Weekly as “a major work . . . likely to be the standard biography of Marx for many years,” Karl Marx promises to become the defining portrait of a towering historical figure.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Nature's Oracle"

New from Oxford University Press: Nature's Oracle: A Life of W. D. Hamilton by Ullica Segerstrale.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hailed by Richard Dawkins as "the most distinguished Darwinian since Darwin," W. D. Hamilton was one of the truly innovative scientists of the 20th century, responsible for a sea change in our thinking about evolution--and in our understanding of life itself.

In this illuminating and moving biography, Ullica Segerstrale captures Hamilton's extraordinary life and work, revealing a man of immense intellectual curiosity, an uncompromising truth-seeker, a naturalist and jungle explorer. Segerstrale's detailed research reveals the internal tensions and conflicts behind Hamilton's creative genius, and the narrative is peppered with personal anecdotes of this eccentric yet brilliant scientist. The book shows how Hamilton throughout his life was a man against the grain, whose iconoclastic views challenged the scientific and medical establishment--and even caused controversy at the Vatican. In fact, Hamilton was so against the grain that his early career was a classic case of misunderstood genius, whose work was invariably attacked upon publication and only later proclaimed a major breakthrough. Among his insights was that what matters in evolution is not the survival of the individual but of the survival of its genes, an idea that solved the longstanding problem of animal altruism that vexed even Darwin himself. He also proposed the well-known Red Queen theory of the evolution of sex and he helped open up many new fields (including sociobiology), shaping much of our current understanding of evolution.

Here then is an informed and engaging biography of one of the most influential scientists of our time, an unconventional thinker with a poet's soul and a deep concern for life on earth and mankind's future.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Making Human Rights a Reality"

New from Princeton University Press: Making Human Rights a Reality by Emilie M. Hafner-Burton.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the last six decades, one of the most striking developments in international law is the emergence of a massive body of legal norms and procedures aimed at protecting human rights. In many countries, though, there is little relationship between international law and the actual protection of human rights on the ground. Making Human Rights a Reality takes a fresh look at why it's been so hard for international law to have much impact in parts of the world where human rights are most at risk.

Emilie Hafner-Burton argues that more progress is possible if human rights promoters work strategically with the group of states that have dedicated resources to human rights protection. These human rights "stewards" can focus their resources on places where the tangible benefits to human rights are greatest. Success will require setting priorities as well as engaging local stakeholders such as nongovernmental organizations and national human rights institutions.

To date, promoters of international human rights law have relied too heavily on setting universal goals and procedures and not enough on assessing what actually works and setting priorities. Hafner-Burton illustrates how, with a different strategy, human rights stewards can make international law more effective and also safeguard human rights for more of the world population.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Black Citymakers"

New from Oxford University Press: Black Citymakers: How "The Philadelphia Negro" Changed Urban America by Marcus Anthony Hunter.

About the book, from the publisher:
W.E.B. DuBois immortalized Philadelphia's Black Seventh Ward neighborhood, one of America's oldest urban black communities, in his 1899 sociological study The Philadelphia Negro. In the century after DuBois's study, however, the district has been transformed into a largely white upper middle class neighborhood.

Black Citymakers revisits the Black Seventh Ward, documenting a century of banking and tenement collapses, housing activism, black-led anti-urban renewal mobilization, and post-Civil Rights political change from the perspective of the Black Seventh Warders. Drawing on historical, political, and sociological research, Marcus Hunter argues that black Philadelphians were by no means mere casualties of the large scale social and political changes that altered urban dynamics across the nation after World War II. Instead, Hunter shows that black Americans framed their own understandings of urban social change, forging dynamic inter- and intra-racial alliances that allowed them to shape their own migration from the old Black Seventh Ward to emergent black urban enclaves throughout Philadelphia. These Philadelphians were not victims forced from their homes - they were citymakers and agents of urban change.

Black Citymakers explores a century of socioeconomic, cultural, and political history in the Black Seventh Ward, creating a new understanding of the political agency of black residents, leaders and activists in twentieth century urban change.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Soldier, Sailor, Beggarman, Thief"

New from Oxford University Press: Soldier, Sailor, Beggarman, Thief: Crime and the British Armed Services since 1914 by Clive Emsley.

About the book, from the publisher:
The belief that crime declines at the beginning of major wars, as young men are drawn into the armed forces, and increases with the restoration of peace, as brutalised veterans are released on to a labour market reorganising for peace, has a long pedigree in Britain. But it has rarely been examined critically and scarcely at all for the period of the two world wars of the twentieth century. This is the first serious investigation of criminal offending by members of the British armed forces both during and immediately after these wars. Its particular focus is the two world wars but, recognising the concerns and the problems voiced in recent years about veterans of the Falklands, the Gulf wars, and the campaign in Afghanistan, Clive Emsley concludes his narrative in the present.
Clive Emsley was educated at the University of York and at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and has taught and held visiting fellowships in Australia, Canada, France, and New Zealand. He has published widely on the history of crime and policing, including Crime and Society in England 1750-1900 (now in its fourth edition), Crime and Society in Twentieth-Century England and The Great British Bobby: A History of British Policing from the 18th Century to the Present. He was president of the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice for ten years.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"America Bewitched"

New from Oxford University Press: America Bewitched: Witchcraft After Salem by Owen Davies.

About the book, from the publisher:
The infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 are etched into the consciousness of America. Nineteen people executed, one tortured to death, four others perished in jail--the tragic toll of Salem remains a powerful symbol of the dangers of intolerance and persecution. As time passed, the trials were seen as a milepost measuring the distance America had progressed from its benighted past. Yet the story of witchcraft did not end in Salem. As Owen Davies shows in America Bewitched, a new, long, and chilling chapter was about to begin.

Davies, an authority on witches and the supernatural, reveals how witchcraft in post-Salem America was not just a matter of scary fire-side tales, Halloween legends, and superstitions: it continued to be a matter of life and death. If anything, witchcraft disputes multiplied as hundreds of thousands of immigrants poured into North America, people for whom witchcraft was still a heinous crime. Davies tells the story of countless murders and many other personal tragedies that resulted from accusations of witchcraft among European Americans-as well as in Native American and African American communities. He describes, for instance, the impact of this belief on Native Americans, as colonists-from Anglo-American settlers to Spanish missionaries-saw Indian medicine men as the Devil's agents, potent workers of malign magic. But Davies also reveals that seventeenth-century Iroquois--faced with decimating, mysterious diseases--accused Jesuits of being plague-spreading witches. Indeed, the book shows how different American groups shaped each other's languages and beliefs, sharing not only our positive cultural traits, but our fears and weaknesses as well.

America Bewitched is the first book to open a window on this fascinating topic, conjuring up new insights into popular American beliefs, the immigrant experience, racial attitudes, and the development of modern society.
Also see Davies' five best list of books on magic in an earlier America and top ten list of grimoires.

The Page 99 Test: Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Darwin Deleted"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin by Peter J. Bowler.

About the book, from the publisher:
The ideas and terminology of Darwinism are so pervasive these days that it seems impossible to avoid them, let alone imagine a world without them. But in this remarkable rethinking of scientific history, Peter J. Bowler does just that. He asks: What if Charles Darwin had not returned from the voyage of the Beagle and thus did not write On the Origin of Species? Would someone else, such as Alfred Russel Wallace, have published the selection theory and initiated a similar transformation? Or would the absence of Darwin’s book have led to a different sequence of events, in which biology developed along a track that did not precipitate a great debate about the impact of evolutionism? Would there have been anything equivalent to social Darwinism, and if so would the alternatives have been less pernicious and misappropriated?

In Darwin Deleted, Bowler argues that no one else, not even Wallace, was in a position to duplicate Darwin’s complete theory of evolution by natural selection. Evolutionary biology would almost certainly have emerged, but through alternative theories, which were frequently promoted by scientists, religious thinkers, and moralists who feared the implications of natural selection. Because non-Darwinian elements of evolutionism flourished for a time in the real world, it is possible to plausibly imagine how they might have developed, particularly if the theory of natural selection had not emerged until decades after the acceptance of the basic idea of evolution. Bowler’s unique approach enables him to clearly explain the non-Darwinian tradition—and in doing so, he reveals how the reception of Darwinism was historically contingent. By taking Darwin out of the equation, Bowler is able to fully elucidate the ideas of other scientists, such as Richard Owen and Thomas Huxley, whose work has often been misunderstood because of their distinctive responses to Darwin.

Darwin Deleted boldly offers a new vision of scientific history. It is one where the sequence of discovery and development would have been very different and would have led to an alternative understanding of the relationship between evolution, heredity, and the environment—and, most significantly, a less contentious relationship between science and religion. Far from mere speculation, this fascinating and compelling book forces us to reexamine the preconceptions that underlie many of the current controversies about the impact of evolutionism. It shows how contingent circumstances surrounding the publication of On the Origin of Species polarized attitudes in ways that still shape the conversation today.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"One Nation Under Stress"

New from Oxford University Press: One Nation Under Stress: The Trouble with Stress as an Idea by Dana Becker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stress. Everyone is talking about it, suffering from it, trying desperately to manage it-now more than ever. From 1970 to 1980, 2,326 academic articles appeared with the word "stress" in the title. In the decade between 2000 and 2010 that number jumped to 21,750. Has life become ten times more stressful, or is it the stress concept itself that has grown exponentially over the past 40 years?

In One Nation Under Stress, Dana Becker argues that our national infatuation with the therapeutic culture has created a middle-class moral imperative to manage the tensions of daily life by turning inward, ignoring the social and political realities that underlie those tensions. Becker shows that although stress is often associated with conditions over which people have little control-workplace policies unfavorable to family life, increasing economic inequality, war in the age of terrorism-the stress concept focuses most of our attention on how individuals react to stress. A proliferation of self-help books and dire medical warnings about the negative effects of stress on our physical and emotional health all place the responsibility for alleviating stress-though yoga, deep breathing, better diet, etc.-squarely on the individual. The stress concept has come of age in a period of tectonic social and political shifts. Nevertheless, we persist in the all-American belief that we can meet these changes by re-engineering ourselves rather than tackling the root causes of stress.

Examining both research and popular representations of stress in cultural terms, Becker traces the evolution of the social uses of the stress concept as it has been transformed into an all-purpose vehicle for defining, expressing, and containing middle-class anxieties about upheavals in American society.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Picking Up"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City by Robin Nagle.

About the book, from the publisher:
America’s largest city generates garbage in torrents—11,000 tons from households each day on average. But New Yorkers don’t give it much attention. They leave their trash on the curb or drop it in a litter basket, and promptly forget about it. And why not? On a schedule so regular you could almost set your watch by it, someone always comes to take it away.

But who, exactly, is that someone? And why is he—or she—so unknown?

In Picking Up, the anthropologist Robin Nagle introduces us to the men and women of New York City’s Department of Sanitation and makes clear why this small army of uniformed workers is the most important labor force on the streets. Seeking to understand every aspect of the Department’s mission, Nagle accompanied crews on their routes, questioned supervisors and commissioners, and listened to story after story about blizzards, hazardous wastes, and the insults of everyday New Yorkers. But the more time she spent with the DSNY, the more Nagle realized that observing wasn’t quite enough—so she joined the force herself. Driving the hulking trucks, she obtained an insider’s perspective on the complex kinships, arcane rules, and obscure lingo unique to the realm of sanitation workers.

Nagle chronicles New York City’s four-hundred-year struggle with trash, and traces the city’s waste-management efforts from a time when filth overwhelmed the streets to the far more rigorous practices of today, when the Big Apple is as clean as it’s ever been.

Throughout, Nagle reveals the many unexpected ways in which sanitation workers stand between our seemingly well-ordered lives and the sea of refuse that would otherwise overwhelm us. In the process, she changes the way we understand cities—and ourselves within them.

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Family Secrets"

New from Oxford University Press: Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain by Deborah Cohen.

About the book, from the publisher:
We live today in a culture of full disclosure, where tell-all memoirs top the best-seller lists, transparency is lauded, and privacy seems imperiled. But how did we get here?

Exploring scores of previously sealed records, Family Secrets offers a sweeping account of how shame--and the relationship between secrecy and openness--has changed over the last two centuries in Britain. Deborah Cohen uses detailed sketches of individual families as the basis for comparing different sorts of social stigma. She takes readers inside an Edinburgh town house, where a genteel maiden frets with her brother over their niece's downy upper lip, a darkening shadow that might betray the girl's Eurasian heritage; to a Liverpool railway platform, where a heartbroken mother hands over her eight-year old illegitimate son for adoption; to a town in the Cotswolds, where a queer vicar brings to his bank vault a diary--sewed up in calico, wrapped in parchment--that chronicles his sexual longings. Cohen explores what families in the past chose to keep secret and why. She excavates the tangled history of privacy and secrecy to explain why privacy is now viewed as a hallowed right while secrets are condemned as destructive.

In delving into the dynamics of shame and guilt, Family Secrets explores the part that families, so often regarded as the agents of repression, have played in the transformation of social mores from the Victorian era to the present day. Written with compassion and keen insight, this is a bold new argument about the sea-changes that took place behind closed doors.
Visit Deborah Cohen's website.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Stalin's Curse"

New from Knopf: Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War by Robert Gellately.

About the book, from the publisher:
A chilling, riveting account based on newly released Russian documentation that reveals Joseph Stalin’s true motives—and the extent of his enduring commitment to expanding the Soviet empire—during the years in which he seemingly collaborated with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the capitalist West.

At the Big Three conferences of World War II, Stalin persuasively played the role of a great world leader. Even astute observers like George F. Kennan concluded that the United States and Great Britain should view Stalin as a modern-day tsarist-like figure whose primary concerns lay in international strategy and power politics, not in ideology. Now Robert Gellately uses recently uncovered documents to make clear that, in fact, the dictator was an unwavering revolutionary merely biding his time, determined as ever to establish Communist regimes across Europe and beyond, and that his actions during these years (and the poorly calculated Western responses) set in motion what would eventually become the Cold War. Gellately takes us behind the scenes. We see the dictator disguising his political ambitions and prioritizing the future of Communism, even as he pursued the war against Hitler. Along the way, the ascetic dictator’s Machiavellian moves and bouts of irrationality kept the Western leaders on their toes, in a world that became more dangerous and divided year by year.

Exciting, deeply engaging, and shrewdly perceptive, Stalin’s Curse is an unprecedented revelation of the sinister machinations of the Soviet dictator.
Writers Read: Robert Gellately (July 2008).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Democracy in Retreat"

New from Yale University Press: Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government by Joshua Kurlantzick.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the end of the Cold War, the assumption among most political theorists has been that as nations develop economically, they will also become more democratic—especially if a vibrant middle class takes root. This assumption underlies the expansion of the European Union and much of American foreign policy, bolstered by such examples as South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and even to some extent Russia. Where democratization has failed or retreated, aberrant conditions take the blame: Islamism, authoritarian Chinese influence, or perhaps the rise of local autocrats. But what if the failures of democracy are not exceptions? In this thought-provoking study of democratization, Joshua Kurlantzick proposes that the spate of retreating democracies, one after another over the past two decades, is not just a series of exceptions. Instead, it reflects a new and disturbing trend: democracy in worldwide decline. The author investigates the state of democracy in a variety of countries, why the middle class has turned against democracy in some cases, and whether the decline in global democratization is reversible.
The Page 69 Test: Joshua Kurlantzick's Charm Offensive.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"American Umpire"

New from Harvard University Press: American Umpire: The New Rules of World Order, 1776 to the Present by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Commentators frequently call the United States an empire: occasionally a benign empire, sometimes an empire in denial, and often a destructive empire. Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman asserts instead that, because of its unusual federal structure, America has performed the role of umpire since 1776, compelling adherence to rules that gradually earned collective approval.

This provocative reinterpretation traces America’s role in the world from the days of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt to the present. Cobbs Hoffman argues that the United States has been the pivot of a transformation that began outside its borders and before its founding, in which nation-states replaced the empires that had dominated history. The “Western” values that America is often accused of imposing were, in fact, the result of this global shift. American Umpire explores the rise of three values—access to opportunity, arbitration of disputes, and transparency in government and business—and finds that the United States is distinctive not in its embrace of these practices but in its willingness to persuade and even coerce others to comply. But America’s leadership is problematic as well as potent. The nation has both upheld and violated the rules. Taking sides in explosive disputes imposes significant financial and psychic costs. By definition, umpires cannot win.

American Umpire offers a powerful new framework for reassessing the country’s role over the past 250 years. Amid urgent questions about future choices, this book asks who, if not the United States, might enforce these new rules of world order?
View the trailer for American Umpire.