Friday, May 31, 2013

"Me Medicine vs. We Medicine"

New from Columbia University Press: Me Medicine vs. We Medicine: Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good by Donna Dickenson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Personalized healthcare—or what the award-winning author Donna Dickenson calls “Me Medicine”—is radically transforming our longstanding “one-size-fits-all” model. Technologies such as direct-to-consumer genetic testing, pharmacogenetically developed therapies in cancer care, private umbilical cord blood banking, and neurocognitive enhancement claim to cater to an individual’s specific biological character, and, in some cases, these technologies have shown powerful potential. Yet in others they have produced negligible or even negative results. Whatever is behind the rise of Me Medicine, it isn’t just science. So why is Me Medicine rapidly edging out We Medicine, and how has our commitment to our collective health suffered as a result?

In her cogent, provocative analysis, Dickenson examines the economic and political factors fueling the Me Medicine phenomenon and explores how, over time, this paradigm shift in how we approach our health might damage our individual and collective well-being. Historically, the measures of “We Medicine,” such as vaccination and investment in public-health infrastructure, have radically extended our life spans, and Dickenson argues we’ve lost sight of that truth in our enthusiasm for “Me Medicine.”

Dickenson explores how personalized medicine illustrates capitalism’s protean capacity for creating new products and markets where none existed before—and how this, rather than scientific plausibility, goes a long way toward explaining private umbilical cord blood banks and retail genetics. Drawing on the latest findings from leading scientists, social scientists, and political analysts, she critically examines four possible hypotheses driving our Me Medicine moment: a growing sense of threat; a wave of patient narcissism; corporate interests driving new niche markets; and the dominance of personal choice as a cultural value. She concludes with insights from political theory that emphasize a conception of the commons and the steps we can take to restore its value to modern biotechnology.
Visit Donna Dickenson's website.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


New from Columbia University Press: Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice by Gyorgy Scrinis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Popularized by Michael Pollan in his best-selling In Defense of Food, Gyorgy Scrinis’ concept of nutritionism refers to the reductive understanding of nutrients as the key indicators of healthy food—an approach to food that now dominates nutrition science, dietary advice, and food marketing. Scrinis argues that this ideology of nutritionism has narrowed and in some cases distorted our appreciation of food quality, such that even highly processed foods may be perceived as healthful depending on their content of “good” or “bad” nutrients. Through an engaging investigation into such issues as the butter versus margarine debate, the battle between low-fat, low-carb, and other weight-loss diets, and the food industry’s strategic promotion of nutritionally enhanced foods, Scrinis builds a revealing history of the scientific, social, and economic factors driving our modern fascination with nutrition.

Scrinis identifies the historical phases that gave rise to nutritionism: the era of quantification, in which the idea of protective nutrients, caloric reductionism, and vitamins’ curative effects took shape; the era of good and bad nutritionism, which set nutricentric dietary guidelines and defined the parameters of unhealthy nutrients; and the era of functional nutritionism, in which the focus has shifted to targeted nutrients, superfoods, and optimal diets. His research underscores the critical role of nutrition science and dietary advice in shaping our relationship to food and our own bodies and in heightening our nutritional anxieties. He ultimately shows how nutritionism has come to align the demands and perceived needs of consumers with the commercial interests of food manufacturers and corporations. His study concludes with an alternative paradigm for assessing the healthfulness of foods—the food quality paradigm—that privileges food production and processing quality, cultural-traditional knowledge, and sensual-practical experience, and promotes less reductive forms of nutrition research and dietary advice.
Visit Gyorgy Scrinis's website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Northern Ireland: The Reluctant Peace"

New from Yale University Press: Northern Ireland: The Reluctant Peace by Feargal Cochrane.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this thoughtful and engaging book, Feargal Cochrane looks at Northern Ireland’s “Troubles” from the late 1960s to the present day. He explains why, a decade and a half after the peace process ended in political agreement in 1998, sectarian attitudes and violence continue to plague Northern Ireland today. Former members of the IRA now sit alongside their unionist adversaries in the Northern Ireland Assembly, but the region’s attitudes have been slow to change and recent years have even seen an upsurge in violence on both sides. In this book, Cochrane, who grew up a Catholic in Belfast in the ’70s and ’80s, explores how divisions between Catholics and Protestants became so entrenched, and reviews the thirty years of political violence in Northern Ireland—which killed over 3,500 people—leading up to the peace agreement. The book asks whether the peace process has actually delivered for the citizens of Northern Ireland, and what more needs to be done to enhance the current reluctant peace.
Preview Northern Ireland: The Reluctant Peace.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"A Disability of the Soul"

New from Cornell University Press: A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan by Karen Nakamura.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bethel House, located in a small fishing village in northern Japan, was founded in 1984 as an intentional community for people with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. Using a unique, community approach to psychosocial recovery, Bethel House focuses as much on social integration as on therapeutic work. As a centerpiece of this approach, Bethel House started its own businesses in order to create employment and socialization opportunities for its residents and to change public attitudes toward the mentally ill, but also quite unintentionally provided a significant boost to the distressed local economy. Through its work programs, communal living, and close relationship between hospital and town, Bethel has been remarkably successful in carefully reintegrating its members into Japanese society. It has become known as a model alternative to long-term institutionalization.

In A Disability of the Soul, Karen Nakamura explores how the members of this unique community struggle with their lives, their illnesses, and the meaning of community. Told through engaging historical narrative, insightful ethnographic vignettes, and compelling life stories, her account of Bethel House depicts its achievements and setbacks, its promises and limitations. The book is accompanied by a DVD containing two fascinating documentaries about Bethel made by the author—Bethel: Community and Schizophrenia in Northern Japan and A Japanese Funeral (winner of the Society for Visual Anthropology Short Film Award and the Society for East Asian Anthropology David Plath Media Award). A Disability of the Soul is a sensitive and multidimensional portrait of what it means to live with mental illness in contemporary Japan.

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Pure and Modern Milk"

New from Oxford University Press: Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History since 1900 by Kendra Smith-Howard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans have never been more concerned about their food's purity. The organic trade association claims that three-quarters of all consumers buy organic foods each year, spending billions of dollars

"Dairy farm families, health officials, and food manufacturers have simultaneously stoked human desires for an all-natural product and intervened to ensure milk's safety and profitability," writes Kendra Smith-Howard. In Pure and Modern Milk, she tells the history of a nearly universal consumer product, and sheds light on America's food industry. Today, she notes, milk reaches supermarkets in an entirely different state than it had at its creation. Cows march into milking parlors, where tubes are attached to their teats, and the product of their lactation is mechanically pumped into tanks. Enormous, expensive machines pasteurize it, fortify it with vitamins, remove fat, and store it at government-regulated temperatures. It reaches consumers in a host of forms: as fluid milk, butter, ice cream, and in apparently non-dairy foods such as whey solids or milk proteins. Smith-Howard examines the cultural, political, and social context, discussing the attempts to reform the production and distribution of this once-perilous product in the Progressive Era, the history of butter between the world wars, dairy waste at mid-century, and the postwar landscape of mass production. She asks how milk could be conceptualized as a "natural" product, even as it has been incorporated into Cheez Whiz and wood glue. And she shows how consumer's changing expectations have had repercussions back down the chain, affecting farmers, cows, and rural landscapes.

A groundbreaking, interdisciplinary history, this book reveals the complexity and challenges of humanity's dependence on other species.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies"

New from Cornell University Press: Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies: The Boundaries of Superstition in Late Medieval Europe by Michael D. Bailey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Superstitions are commonplace in the modern world. Mostly, however, they evoke innocuous images of people reading their horoscopes or avoiding black cats. Certain religious practices might also come to mind—praying to St. Christopher or lighting candles for the dead. Benign as they might seem today, such practices were not always perceived that way. In medieval Europe superstitions were considered serious offenses, violations of essential precepts of Christian doctrine or immutable natural laws. But how and why did this come to be? In Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies, Michael D. Bailey explores the thorny concept of superstition as it was understood and debated in the Middle Ages.

Bailey begins by tracing Christian thinking about superstition from the patristic period through the early and high Middle Ages. He then turns to the later Middle Ages, a period that witnessed an outpouring of writings devoted to superstition—tracts and treatises with titles such as De superstitionibus and Contra vitia superstitionum. Most were written by theologians and other academics based in Europe's universities and courts, men who were increasingly anxious about the proliferation of suspect beliefs and practices, from elite ritual magic to common healing charms, from astrological divination to the observance of signs and omens. As Bailey shows, however, authorities were far more sophisticated in their reasoning than one might suspect, using accusations of superstition in a calculated way to control the boundaries of legitimate religion and acceptable science. This in turn would lay the conceptual groundwork for future discussions of religion, science, and magic in the early modern world. Indeed, by revealing the extent to which early modern thinkers took up old questions about the operation of natural properties and forces using the vocabulary of science rather than of belief, Bailey exposes the powerful but in many ways false dichotomy between the "superstitious" Middle Ages and “rational” European modernity.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Black Ethnics"

New from Oxford University Press: Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream by Christina M. Greer.

About the book, from the publisher:
The steady immigration of black populations from Africa and the Caribbean over the past few decades has fundamentally changed the racial, ethnic, and political landscape in the United States. But how will these "new blacks" behave politically in America? Using an original survey of New York City workers and multiple national data sources, Christina M. Greer explores the political significance of ethnicity for new immigrant and native-born blacks. In an age where racial and ethnic identities intersect, intertwine, and interact in increasingly complex ways, Black Ethnics offers a powerful and rigorous analysis of black politics and coalitions in the post-Civil Rights era.
Read more about Black Ethnics at the Oxford University Press website.

Christina M Greer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. She makes frequent appearances on television and in print media, discussing issues of race and ethnicity, immigration, campaigns and elections, and local and national politics.

The Page 99 Test: Black Ethnics.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"What Changed When Everything Changed"

New from Yale University Press: What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity by Joseph Margulies.

About the book, from the publisher:
Beautifully written and carefully reasoned, this bold and provocative work upends the conventional wisdom about the American reaction to crisis. Margulies demonstrates that for key elements of the post-9/11 landscape—especially support for counterterror policies like torture and hostility to Islam—American identity is not only darker than it was before September 11, 2001, but substantially more repressive than it was immediately after the attacks. These repressive attitudes, Margulies shows us, have taken hold even as the terrorist threat has diminished significantly.

Contrary to what is widely imagined, at the moment of greatest perceived threat, when the fear of another attack “hung over the country like a shroud,” favorable attitudes toward Muslims and Islam were at record highs, and the suggestion that America should torture was denounced in the public square. Only much later did it become socially acceptable to favor “enhanced interrogation” and exhibit clear anti-Muslim prejudice. Margulies accounts for this unexpected turn and explains what it means to the nation’s identity as it moves beyond 9/11. We express our values in the same language, but that language can hide profound differences and radical changes in what we actually believe. “National identity,” he writes, “is not fixed, it is made.”
Joseph Margulies: Writers Read (June 2007).

Thursday, May 23, 2013


New from Princeton University Press: Partiality by Simon Keller.

About the book, from the publisher:
We are partial to people with whom we share special relationships--if someone is your child, parent, or friend, you wouldn't treat them as you would a stranger. But is partiality justified, and if so, why? Partiality presents a theory of the reasons supporting special treatment within special relationships and explores the vexing problem of how we might reconcile the moral value of these relationships with competing claims of impartial morality.

Simon Keller explains that in order to understand why we give special treatment to our family and friends, we need to understand how people come to matter in their own rights. Keller first presents two main accounts of partiality: the projects view, on which reasons of partiality arise from the place that people take within our lives and our commitments, and the relationships view, on which relationships themselves contain fundamental value or reason-giving force. Keller then argues that neither view is satisfactory because neither captures the experience of acting well within special relationships. Instead, Keller defends the individuals view, on which reasons of partiality arise from the value of the individuals with whom our relationships are shared. He defends this view by saying that we must accept that two people, whether friend or stranger, can have the same value, even as their value makes different demands upon people with whom they share different relationships. Keller explores the implications of this claim within a wider understanding of morality and our relationships with groups, institutions, and countries.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era"

New from Princeton University Press: Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America's rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices. Joseph Nye, who was ranked as one of Foreign Policy magazine's 100 Top Global Thinkers, reveals how some presidents tried with varying success to forge a new international order while others sought to manage America's existing position. Taking readers from Theodore Roosevelt's bid to insert America into the global balance of power to George H. W. Bush's Gulf War in the early 1990s, Nye compares how Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson responded to America's growing power and failed in their attempts to create a new order. He looks at Franklin D. Roosevelt's efforts to escape isolationism before World War II, and at Harry Truman's successful transformation of Roosevelt's grand strategy into a permanent overseas presence of American troops at the dawn of the Cold War. He describes Dwight Eisenhower's crucial role in consolidating containment, and compares the roles of Ronald Reagan and Bush in ending the Cold War and establishing the unipolar world in which American power reached its zenith.

The book shows how transformational presidents like Wilson and Reagan changed how America sees the world, but argues that transactional presidents like Eisenhower and the elder Bush were sometimes more effective and ethical. It also draws important lessons for today's uncertain world, in which presidential decision making is more critical than ever.
Also see: Joseph Nye's top 5 books on global power.

Writers Read: Joseph S. Nye (August 2007.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"The Body of Faith"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Body of Faith: A Biological History of Religion in America by Robert C. Fuller.

About the book, from the publisher:
The postmodern view that human experience is constructed by language and culture has informed historical narratives for decades. Yet newly emerging information about the biological body now makes it possible to supplement traditional scholarly models with insights about the bodily sources of human thought and experience.

The Body of Faith is the first account of American religious history to highlight the biological body. Robert C. Fuller brings a crucial new perspective to the study of American religion, showing that knowledge about the biological body deeply enriches how we explain dramatic episodes in American religious life. Fuller shows that the body’s genetically evolved systems—pain responses, sexual passion, and emotions like shame and fear—have persistently shaped the ways that Americans forge relationships with nature, to society, and to God.

The first new work to appear in the Chicago History of American Religion series in decades, The Body of Faith offers a truly interdisciplinary framework for explaining the richness, diversity, and endless creativity of American religious life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"War Powers"

New from Princeton University Press: War Powers: The Politics of Constitutional Authority by Mariah Zeisberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Armed interventions in Libya, Haiti, Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea challenged the US president and Congress with a core question of constitutional interpretation: does the president, or Congress, have constitutional authority to take the country to war? War Powers argues that the Constitution doesn't offer a single legal answer to that question. But its structure and values indicate a vision of a well-functioning constitutional politics, one that enables the branches of government themselves to generate good answers to this question for the circumstances of their own times.

Mariah Zeisberg shows that what matters is not that the branches enact the same constitutional settlement for all conditions, but instead how well they bring their distinctive governing capacities to bear on their interpretive work in context. Because the branches legitimately approach constitutional questions in different ways, interpretive conflicts between them can sometimes indicate a successful rather than deficient interpretive politics. Zeisberg argues for a set of distinctive constitutional standards for evaluating the branches and their relationship to one another, and she demonstrates how observers and officials can use those standards to evaluate the branches' constitutional politics. With cases ranging from the Mexican War and World War II to the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Iran-Contra scandal, War Powers reinterprets central controversies of war powers scholarship and advances a new way of evaluating the constitutional behavior of officials outside of the judiciary.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Global Crisis"

New from Yale University Press: Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Revolutions, droughts, famines, invasions, wars, regicides – the calamities of the mid-seventeenth century were not only unprecedented, they were agonisingly widespread. A global crisis extended from England to Japan, and from the Russian Empire to sub-Saharan Africa. North and South America, too, suffered turbulence. The distinguished historian Geoffrey Parker examines first-hand accounts of men and women throughout the world describing what they saw and suffered during a sequence of political, economic and social crises that stretched from 1618 to the 1680s. Parker also deploys scientific evidence concerning climate conditions of the period, and his use of ‘natural’ as well as ‘human’ archives transforms our understanding of the World Crisis. Changes in the prevailing weather patterns during the 1640s and 1650s – longer and harsher winters, and cooler and wetter summers – disrupted growing seasons, causing dearth, malnutrition, and disease, along with more deaths and fewer births. Some contemporaries estimated that one-third of the world died, and much of the surviving historical evidence supports their pessimism.

Parker’s demonstration of the link between climate change and worldwide catastrophe 350 years ago stands as an extraordinary historical achievement. And the contemporary implications of his study are equally important: are we at all prepared today for the catastrophes that climate change could bring tomorrow?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"City of Ambition"

New from W.W. Norton: City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York by Mason B. Williams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two political titans forge a modern city and a vibrant public sector in this history of strong leadership at a time of national crisis.

City of Ambition is a brilliant history of the New Deal and its role in the making of modern New York City. The story of a remarkable collaboration between Franklin Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia, this is a case study in creative political leadership in the midst of a devastating depression. Roosevelt and La Guardia were an odd couple: patrician president and immigrant mayor, fireside chat and tabloid cartoon, pragmatic Democrat and reform Republican. But together, as leaders of America’s two largest governments in the depths of the Great Depression, they fashioned a route to recovery for the nation and the master plan for a great city.

Roosevelt and his “Brain Trust”—shrewd, energetic advisors such as Harold Ickes and Harry Hopkins—sought to fight the Depression by channeling federal resources through America’s cities and counties. La Guardia had replaced Tammany Hall cronies with policy experts, such as the imperious Robert Moses, who were committed to a strong public sector. The two leaders worked closely together. La Guardia had a direct line of communication with FDR and his staff, often visiting Washington carrying piles of blueprints. Roosevelt relied on the mayor as his link to the nation’s cities and their needs. The combination was potent. La Guardia’s Gotham became a laboratory for New Deal reform. Roosevelt’s New Deal transformed city initiatives into major programs such as the Works Progress Administration, which changed the physical face of the United States. Together they built parks, bridges, and schools; put the unemployed to work; and strengthened the Progressive vision of government as serving the public purpose.

Today everyone knows the FDR Drive as a main route to La Guardia Airport. The intersection of steel and concrete speaks to a pair of dynamic leaders whose collaboration lifted a city and a nation. Here is their story.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"What Soldiers Do"

New from the University of Chicago Press: What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France by Mary Louise Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do you convince men to charge across heavily mined beaches into deadly machine-gun fire? Do you appeal to their bonds with their fellow soldiers, their patriotism, their desire to end tyranny and mass murder? Certainly—but if you’re the US Army in 1944, you also try another tack: you dangle the lure of beautiful French women, waiting just on the other side of the wire, ready to reward their liberators in oh so many ways.

That’s not the picture of the Greatest Generation that we’ve been given, but it’s the one Mary Louise Roberts paints to devastating effect in What Soldiers Do. Drawing on an incredible range of sources, including news reports, propaganda and training materials, official planning documents, wartime diaries, and memoirs, Roberts tells the fascinating and troubling story of how the US military command systematically spread—and then exploited—the myth of French women as sexually experienced and available. The resulting chaos—ranging from flagrant public sex with prostitutes to outright rape and rampant venereal disease—horrified the war-weary and demoralized French population. The sexual predation, and the blithe response of the American military leadership, also caused serious friction between the two nations just as they were attempting to settle questions of long-term control over the liberated territories and the restoration of French sovereignty. While never denying the achievement of D-Day, or the bravery of the soldiers who took part, What Soldiers Do reminds us that history is always more useful—and more interesting—when it is most honest, and when it goes beyond the burnished beauty of nostalgia to grapple with the real lives and real mistakes of the people who lived it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Small-Town America"

New from Princeton University Press: Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future by Robert Wuthnow.

About the book, from the publisher:
More than thirty million Americans live in small, out-of-the-way places. Many of them could have chosen to join the vast majority of Americans who live in cities and suburbs. They could live closer to better paying jobs, more convenient shopping, a wider range of educational opportunities, and more robust health care. But they have opted to live differently.

In Small-Town America, we meet factory workers, shop owners, retirees, teachers, clergy, and mayors--residents who show neighborliness in small ways, but who also worry about everything from school closings and their children's futures to the ups and downs of the local economy. Drawing on more than seven hundred in-depth interviews in hundreds of towns across America and three decades of census data, Robert Wuthnow shows the fragility of community in small towns. He covers a host of topics, including the symbols and rituals of small-town life, the roles of formal and informal leaders, the social role of religious congregations, the perception of moral and economic decline, and the myriad ways residents in small towns make sense of their own lives. Wuthnow also tackles difficult issues such as class and race, abortion, homosexuality, and substance abuse.

Small-Town America paints a rich panorama of the lives and livelihoods of people who reside in small communities, finding that, for many people, living in a small town is an important part of self-identity.
Robert Wuthnow teaches sociology and directs the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. He is the author of many books about American religion and culture, including Remaking the Heartland: Middle America since the 1950s and Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland.

The Page 99 Test: Red State Religion.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"The Scramble for the Amazon and the 'Lost Paradise' of Euclides da Cunha"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Scramble for the Amazon and the "Lost Paradise" of Euclides da Cunha by Susanna B. Hecht.

About the book, from the publisher:
The fortunes of the late nineteenth century’s imperial and industrial powers depended on a single raw material—rubber—with only one source: the Amazon basin. And so began the scramble for the Amazon—a decades-long conflict that found Britain, France, Belgium, and the United States fighting with and against the new nations of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil for the forest’s riches. In the midst of this struggle, Euclides da Cunha, engineer, journalist, geographer, political theorist, and one of Brazil’s most celebrated writers, led a survey expedition to the farthest reaches of the river, among the world’s most valuable, dangerous, and little-known landscapes.

The Scramble for the Amazon tells the story of da Cunha’s terrifying journey, the unfinished novel born from it, and the global strife that formed the backdrop for both. Haunted by his broken marriage, da Cunha trekked through a beautiful region thrown into chaos by guerrilla warfare, starving migrants, and native slavery. All the while, he worked on his masterpiece, a nationalist synthesis of geography, philosophy, biology, and journalism he named the Lost Paradise. Da Cunha intended his epic to unveil the Amazon’s explorers, spies, natives, and brutal geopolitics, but, as Susanna B. Hecht recounts, he never completed it—his wife’s lover shot him dead upon his return.

At once the biography of an extraordinary writer, a masterly chronicle of the social, political, and environmental history of the Amazon, and a superb translation of the remaining pieces of da Cunha’s project, The Scramble for the Amazon is a work of thrilling intellectual ambition.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Change They Can't Believe In"

New from Princeton University Press: Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America by Christopher S. Parker & Matt A. Barreto.

About the book, from the publisher:
Are Tea Party supporters merely a group of conservative citizens concerned about government spending? Or are they racists who refuse to accept Barack Obama as their president because he's not white? Change They Can't Believe In offers an alternative argument--that the Tea Party is driven by the reemergence of a reactionary movement in American politics which is fueled by a fear that America has changed for the worse. Providing a range of original evidence and rich portraits of party sympathizers as well as activists, Christopher Parker and Matt Barreto show that what actually pushes Tea Party supporters is not simple ideology or racism, but fear that the country is being stolen from "real Americans"--a belief triggered by Obama's election. From civil liberties and policy issues, to participation in the political process, the perception that America is in danger directly informs how Tea Party supporters think and act.

The authors argue that this isn't the first time a segment of American society has perceived the American way of life as under siege. In fact, movements of this kind often appear when some individuals believe that "American" values are under threat by rapid social changes. Drawing connections between the Tea Party and right-wing reactionary movements of the past, including the Know-Nothing Party, the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, and the John Birch Society, Parker and Barreto develop a framework that transcends the Tea Party to shed light on its current and future consequences.

Linking past and present reactionary movements, Change They Can't Believe In rigorously examines the motivations and political implications associated with today's Tea Party.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Return from the Natives"

New from Yale University Press: Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War by Peter Mandler.

About the book, from the publisher:
Celebrated anthropologist Margaret Mead, who studied sex in Samoa and child-rearing in New Guinea in the 1920s and '30s, was determined to show that anthropology could tackle the psychology of the most complex, modern societies in ways useful for waging the Second World War. This fascinating book follows Mead and her closest collaborators—her lover and mentor Ruth Benedict, her third husband Gregory Bateson, and her prospective fourth husband Geoffrey Gorer—through their triumphant climax, when Mead became the cultural ambassador from America to Britain in 1943, to their downfall in the Cold War.

Part intellectual biography, part cultural history, and part history of the human sciences, Peter Mandler's book is a reminder that the Second World War and the Cold War were a clash of cultures, not just ideologies, and asks how far intellectuals should involve themselves in politics, at a time when Mead's example is cited for and against experts' involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also see: The Page 69 Test: Peter Mandler's The English National Character.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Us and Them?"

New from Oxford University Press: Us and Them?: The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls by Bridget Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Us and Them? explores the distinction between migrant and citizen through using the concept of 'the community of value'. The community of value is comprised of Good Citizens and is defined from outside by the Non-Citizen and from the inside by the Failed Citizen, that is figures like the benefit scrounger, the criminal, the teenage mother etc. While Failed Citizens and Non-Citizens are often strongly differentiated, the book argues that it is analytically and politically productive to consider them together. Judgments about who counts as skilled, what is a good marriage, who is suitable for citizenship, and what sort of enforcement is acceptable against 'illegals', affect citizens as well as migrants. Rather than simple competitors for the privileges of membership, citizens and migrants define each other through sets of relations that shift and are not straightforward binaries. The first two chapters on vagrancy and on Empire historicise migration management by linking it to attempts to control the mobility of the poor. The following three chapters map and interrogate the concept of the 'national labour market' and UK immigration and citizenship policies examining how they work within public debate to produce 'us and them'. Chapters 6 and 7 go on to discuss the challenges posed by enforcement and deportation, and the attempt to make this compatible with liberalism through anti-trafficking policies. It ends with a case study of domestic labour as exemplifying the ways in which all the issues outlined above come together in the lives of migrants and their employers.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Buying into Fair Trade"

New from New York University Press: Buying into Fair Trade: Culture, Morality, and Consumption by Keith R. Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stamped on products from coffee to handicrafts, the term “fair trade” has quickly become one of today’s most seductive consumer buzzwords. Purportedly created through fair labor practices, or in ways that are environmentally sustainable, fair-trade products give buyers peace of mind in knowing that, in theory, how they shop can help make the world a better place. Buying into Fair Trade turns the spotlight onto this growing trend, exploring how fair-trade shoppers think about their own altruism within an increasingly global economy.

Using over 100 interviews with fair-trade consumers, national leaders of the movement, coffee farmers, and artisans, author Keith Brown describes both the strategies that consumers use to confront the moral contradictions involved in trying to shop ethically and the ways shopkeepers and suppliers reconcile their need to do good with the ever-present need to turn a profit. In addition to his in-depth analysis of the fair-trade market, Brown also provides a how-to chapter that outlines strategies readers can use to appear altruistic.This chapter highlights the ways that socially responsible markets have been detached from issues of morality. A fascinating account of how consumers first learn about, understand, and sometimes ignore the ethical implications of shopping, Buying into Fair Trade sheds new light on the potential for the fair trade market to reshape the world into a more socially-just place.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"For Adam's Sake"

New from Liveright: For Adam's Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England by Allegra di Bonaventura.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the tradition of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s classic, A Midwife’s Tale, comes this groundbreaking narrative by one of America’s most promising colonial historians. Joshua Hempstead was a well-respected farmer and tradesman in New London, Connecticut. As his remarkable diary—kept from 1711 until 1758—reveals, he was also a slave owner who owned Adam Jackson for over thirty years. In this engrossing narrative of family life and the slave experience in the colonial North, Allegra di Bonaventura describes the complexity of this master/slave relationship and traces the intertwining stories of two families until the eve of the Revolution. Slavery is often left out of our collective memory of New England’s history, but it was hugely impactful on the central unit of colonial life: the family. In every corner, the lines between slavery and freedom were blurred as families across the social spectrum fought to survive. In this enlightening study, a new portrait of an era emerges.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Living with Oil"

New from the University of Texas Press: Living with Oil: Promises, Peaks, and Declines on Mexico’s Gulf Coast by Lisa Breglia.

About the book, from the publisher:
For decades, Mexico has been one of the world’s top non-OPEC oil exporters, but since the 2004 peak and subsequent decline of the massive offshore oilfield—Cantarell—the prospects for the country have worsened. Living with Oil takes a unique look at the cultural and economic dilemmas in this locale, focusing on residents in the fishing community of Isla Aguada, Campeche, who experienced the long-term repercussions of a 1979 oil spill that at its height poured out 30,000 barrels a day, a blowout eerily similar to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Tracing the interplay of the global energy market and the struggle it creates between citizens, the state, and multinational corporations, this study also provides lessons in the tug-of-war between environmentalism and the lure of profits. In Mexico, oil has held status as a symbol of nationalist pride as well as a key economic asset that supports the state’s everyday operations. Capturing these dilemmas in a country now facing a national security crisis at the hands of violent drug traffickers, cultural anthropologist Lisa Breglia covers issues of sovereignty, security, and stability in Mexico’s post-peak future.

The first in-depth account of the local effects of peak oil in Mexico, emphasizing the everyday lives and livelihoods of coastal Campeche residents, Living with Oil demonstrates important aspects of the political economy of energy while showing vivid links between the global energy marketplace and the individual lives it affects.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Spectacular Few"

New from New York University Press: The Spectacular Few: Prisoner Radicalization and the Evolving Terrorist Threat by Mark S. Hamm.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Madrid train bombers, shoe-bomber Richard Reid, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the 9/11 attacks—all were led by men radicalized behind bars. By their very nature, prisons are intended to induce transformative experiences among inmates, but today’s prisons are hotbeds for personal transformation toward terrorist beliefs and actions due to the increasingly chaotic nature of prison life caused by mass incarceration. In The Spectacular Few, Mark Hamm demonstrates how prisoners use criminal cunning, collective resistance and nihilism to incite terrorism against Western targets. A former prison guard himself, Hamm knows the realities of day-to-day prison life and understands how prisoners socialize, especially the inner-workings and power of prison gangs—be they the Aryan Brotherhood or radical Islam. He shows that while Islam is mainly a positive influence in prison, certain forces within the prison Muslim movement are aligned with the efforts of al-Qaeda and its associates to inspire convicts in the United States and Europe to conduct terrorist attacks on their own.

Drawing from a wide range of sources—including historical case studies of prisoner radicalization reaching from Gandhi and Hitler to Malcolm X, Bobby Sands and the detainees of Guantanamo; a database of cases linking prisoner radicalization with evolving terrorist threats ranging from police shootouts to suicide bombings; interviews with intelligence officers, prisoners affiliated with terrorist groups and those disciplined for conducting radicalizing campaigns in prison— The Spectacular Few imagines the texture of prisoners’ lives: their criminal thinking styles, the social networks that influenced them, and personal “turning points” that set them on the pathway to violent extremism. Hamm provides a broad understanding of how prisoners can be radicalized, arguing that in order to understand the contemporary landscape of terrorism, we must come to terms with how prisoners are treated behind bars.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Everybody Ought to Be Rich"

New from Oxford University Press: Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist by David Farber.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today, consumer credit, employee stock options, and citizen investment in the stock market are taken for granted--fundamental facts of American economic life. But few people realize that they were first widely promoted by John Jakob Raskob (1879-1950), the innovative financier and self-made businessman who built the Empire State building, made millions for DuPont and General Motors, and helped shape the contours of modern capitalism.

David Farber's Everybody Ought to Be Rich is the first biography of Raskob, a man who shunned the limelight (he was the anti-Trump of his time) but whose impact on free market enterprise can hardly be overstated. A colorful figure, Raskob's life evokes the roaring twenties, the Catholic elite, the boardrooms of America's biggest corporations, and the rags-to-riches tale that is central to the American dream. Farber follows Raskob's remarkable trajectory from a teenage candy seller on the railway between Lockport and Buffalo to the pinnacles of wealth and power. With no formal education but possessed of a boundless energy and an unshakeable faith in individual initiative (his motto was "Go ahead and do something!"), Raskob partnered with great industrialists and financiers, buying up companies, leveraging investments, reorganizing corporations, funneling money into the political system, and creating new pools of credit for rich investors and middle class consumers alike--practices commonplace today but revolutionary at the time. His most famous innovation was mass consumer credit, which he offered to individual car buyers, enabling working and middle-class Americans to purchase GM's more expensive cars. Raskob desperately wanted to bridge class divides and to share the wealth American corporations were fast creating--so that everyone could be rich.

Chronicling Raskob's short-comings as well as his successes, Everybody Ought to Be Rich illuminates a crucial but little-known figure in American capitalism whose influence can still be felt today.

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Gettysburg: The Last Invasion"

New from Knopf: Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen C. Guelzo.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the acclaimed Civil War historian, a brilliant new history—the most intimate and richly readable account we have had—of the climactic three-day battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), which draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced the greatest battle of the Civil War, and one of the greatest in human history.

Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.

What emerges is an untold story, from the trapped and terrified civilians in Gettysburg’s cellars to the insolent attitude of artillerymen, from the taste of gunpowder cartridges torn with the teeth to the sounds of marching columns, their tin cups clanking like an anvil chorus. Guelzo depicts the battle with unprecedented clarity, evoking a world where disoriented soldiers and officers wheel nearly blindly through woods and fields toward their clash, even as poetry and hymns spring to their minds with ease in the midst of carnage. Rebel soldiers look to march on Philadelphia and even New York, while the Union struggles to repel what will be the final invasion of the North. One hundred and fifty years later, the cornerstone battle of the Civil War comes vividly to life as a national epic, inspiring both horror and admiration.
The Page 99 Test: Allen C. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Capital of the World"

New from New York University Press: Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations by Charlene Mires.

About the book, from the publisher:
From 1944 to 1946, as the world pivoted from the Second World War to an unsteady peace, Americans in more than two hundred cities and towns mobilized to chase an implausible dream. The newly-created United Nations needed a meeting place, a central place for global diplomacy—a Capital of the World. But what would it look like, and where would it be? Without invitation, civic boosters in every region of the United States leapt at the prospect of transforming their hometowns into the Capital of the World. The idea stirred in big cities—Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Denver, and more. It fired imaginations in the Black Hills of South Dakota and in small towns from coast to coast.

Meanwhile, within the United Nations the search for a headquarters site became a debacle that threatened to undermine the organization in its earliest days. At times it seemed the world’s diplomats could agree on only one thing: under no circumstances did they want the United Nations to be based in New York. And for its part, New York worked mightily just to stay in the race it would eventually win.

With a sweeping view of the United States’ place in the world at the end of World War II, Capital of the World tells the dramatic, surprising, and at times comic story of hometown promoters in pursuit of an extraordinary prize and the diplomats who struggled with the balance of power at a pivotal moment in history.
Visit the official Capital of the World website.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Forgotten Dead"

New from Oxford University Press: Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848-1928 by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mob violence in the United States is usually associated with the southern lynch mobs who terrorized African Americans during the Jim Crow era. In Forgotten Dead, William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb uncover a comparatively neglected chapter in the story of American racial violence, the lynching of persons of Mexican origin or descent. Over eight decades lynch mobs murdered hundreds of Mexicans, mostly in the American Southwest. Racial prejudice, a lack of respect for local courts, and economic competition all fueled the actions of the mob. Sometimes ordinary citizens committed these acts because of the alleged failure of the criminal justice system; other times the culprits were law enforcement officers themselves. Violence also occurred against the backdrop of continuing tensions along the border between the United States and Mexico aggravated by criminal raids, military escalation, and political revolution.

Based on Spanish and English archival documents from both sides of the border, Forgotten Dead explores through detailed case studies the characteristics and causes of mob violence against Mexicans across time and place. It also relates the numerous acts of resistance by Mexicans, including armed self-defense, crusading journalism, and lobbying by diplomats who pressured the United States to honor its rhetorical commitment to democracy. Finally, it contains the first-ever inventory of Mexican victims of mob violence in the United States.

Carrigan and Webb assess how Mexican lynching victims came in the minds of many Americans to be the "forgotten dead" and provide a timely account of Latinos' historical struggle for recognition of civil and human rights.

Friday, May 3, 2013

"Household Politics"

New from Yale University Press: Household Politics: Conflict in Early Modern England by Don Herzog.

About the book, from the publisher:
Early modern English canonical sources and sermons often urge the subordination of women. In Household Politics, Don Herzog argues that these sources were blather—not that they were irrelevant, but that plenty of people rolled their eyes at them. Indeed many held that a man had to be an idiot or a buffoon to try to act on their hoary “wisdom.” Households didn’t bask serenely in naturalized or essentialized patriarchy. Instead, husbands, wives, and servants struggled endlessly over authority. Nor did some insidiously gendered public/private distinction make the political subordination of women invisible. Conflict, Herzog argues, doesn't corrode social order: it's what social order usually consists in. He uses the argument to impeach conservatives and their radical critics for sharing confused alternatives. The social world Herzog brings vibrantly alive is much richer—and much pricklier—than many imagine.
Don Herzog is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. He is the author of four previously published books.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Strange Rebels"

New from Basic Books: Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century by Christian Caryl.

About the book, from the publisher:
Few moments in history have seen as many seismic transformations as 1979. That single year marked the emergence of revolutionary Islam as a political force on the world stage, the beginning of market revolutions in China and Britain that would fuel globalization and radically alter the international economy, and the first stirrings of the resistance movements in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than any other year in the latter half of the twentieth century, 1979 heralded the economic, political, and religious realities that define the twenty-first. In Strange Rebels, veteran journalist Christian Caryl shows how the world we live in today—and the problems that plague it—began to take shape in this pivotal year. 1979, he explains, saw a series of counterrevolutions against the progressive consensus that had dominated the postwar era. The year’s epic upheavals embodied a startling conservative challenge to communist and socialist systems around the globe, fundamentally transforming politics and economics worldwide. In China, 1979 marked the start of sweeping market-oriented reforms that have made the country the economic powerhouse it is today. 1979 was also the year that Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland, confronting communism in Eastern Europe by reigniting its people’s suppressed Catholic faith. In Iran, meanwhile, an Islamic Revolution transformed the nation into a theocracy almost overnight, overthrowing the Shah’s modernizing monarchy. Further west, Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain, returning it to a purer form of free-market capitalism and opening the way for Ronald Reagan to do the same in the US. And in Afghanistan, a Soviet invasion fueled an Islamic holy war with global consequences; the Afghan mujahedin presaged the rise of al-Qaeda and served as a key factor—along with John Paul’s journey to Poland—in the fall of communism. Weaving the story of each of these counterrevolutions into a brisk, gripping narrative, Strange Rebels is a groundbreaking account of how these far-flung events and disparate actors and movements gave birth to our modern age.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"The Power Surge"

New from Oxford University Press: The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future by Michael Levi.

About the book, from the publisher:
The United States is in the throes of two unfolding energy revolutions, and partisans-convinced that only their side holds the key to American prosperity, security, and safety-are battling over which one should prevail. In The Power Surge, Michael Levi takes readers inside these revolutions to find out what's really happening-and which side is right. From the back roads of Ohio where old friends are warring over fracking, to the wilds of Colorado where speculators are chasing the holy grail of oil, he shows how oil and gas production, after decades in decline, are being propelled upward by new technologies and high prices, prompting enthusiasts to predict an economic renaissance and impending energy independence. On the other side of the fight, he visits California eco-startups developing game-changing technologies and Midwest manufacturers betting on a new energy future, revealing how more efficient cars and trucks are increasingly dominating the road and costs for renewable energy have plummeted, leading many to herald a starkly different future that moves beyond fossil fuels and saves the planet.

Armed with on-the-ground lessons, and drawing on insights from economics, politics, international relations, and climate science, The Power Surge takes on the big claims made by both sides in the fight over American energy, showing what the changes underway mean for the United States and the world and explaining why the purists are often wrong. Both unfolding revolutions in American energy offer big opportunities for the country to strengthen its economy, bolster its security, and protect the environment. Levi shows how to seize those with a new strategy that blends the best of old and new energy while avoiding the real dangers that each poses.

Sweeping in scope, provocative yet thoughtful, The Power Surge is necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand the changes roiling American energy, and what they mean for our future.
Michael A. Levi is David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Page 99 Test: On Nuclear Terrorism.