Friday, January 31, 2014

"A Plague of Informers"

New from Yale University Press: A Plague of Informers: Conspiracy and Political Trust in William III's England by Rachel Weil.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stories of plots, sham plots, and the citizen-informers who discovered them are at the center of Rachel Weil's compelling study of the turbulent decade following the Revolution of 1688. Most studies of the Glorious Revolution focus on its causes or long-term effects, but Weil instead zeroes in on the early years when the survival of the new regime was in doubt. By encouraging informers, imposing loyalty oaths, suspending habeas corpus, and delaying the long-promised reform of treason trial procedure, the Williamite regime protected itself from enemies and cemented its bonds with supporters, but also put its own credibility at risk.
Rachel Weil is professor of history at Cornell University. She lives in Seneca Falls, NY.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Vodka Politics"

New from Oxford University Press: Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State by Mark Lawrence Schrad.

About the book, from the publisher:
Russia is famous for its vodka, and its culture of extreme intoxication. But just as vodka is central to the lives of many Russians, it is also central to understanding Russian history and politics.

In Vodka Politics, Mark Lawrence Schrad argues that debilitating societal alcoholism is not hard-wired into Russians' genetic code, but rather their autocratic political system, which has long wielded vodka as a tool of statecraft. Through a series of historical investigations stretching from Ivan the Terrible through Vladimir Putin, Vodka Politics presents the secret history of the Russian state itself-a history that is drenched in liquor. Scrutinizing (rather than dismissing) the role of alcohol in Russian politics yields a more nuanced understanding of Russian history itself: from palace intrigues under the tsars to the drunken antics of Soviet and post-Soviet leadership, vodka is there in abundance.

Beyond vivid anecdotes, Schrad scours original documents and archival evidence to answer provocative historical questions. How have Russia's rulers used alcohol to solidify their autocratic rule? What role did alcohol play in tsarist coups? Was Nicholas II's ill-fated prohibition a catalyst for the Bolshevik Revolution? Could the Soviet Union have become a world power without liquor? How did vodka politics contribute to the collapse of both communism and public health in the 1990s? How can the Kremlin overcome vodka's hurdles to produce greater social well-being, prosperity, and democracy into the future?

Viewing Russian history through the bottom of the vodka bottle helps us to understand why the "liquor question" remains important to Russian high politics even today-almost a century after the issue had been put to bed in most every other modern state. Indeed, recognizing and confronting vodka's devastating political legacies may be the greatest political challenge for this generation of Russia's leadership, as well as the next.
Visit the Vodka Politics website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity"

New from Oxford University Press: The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity by Todd Hartch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Predominantly Catholic for centuries, Latin America is still largely Catholic today, but the religious continuity in the region masks enormous changes that have taken place in the past five decades. In fact, it would be fair to say that Latin American Christianity has been transformed definitively in the years since the Second Vatican Council. Religious change has not been obvious because its transformation has not been, as in Africa and Asia, the sudden and massive growth of a new religion. It has been rather a simultaneous revitalization and fragmentation that threatened, awakened, and ultimately brought to a greater maturity a dormant and parochial Christianity. The rapid growth of Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism, forced Catholics to adopt a more active and dynamic approach to their religion. Although many Catholics left their church to become Pentecostals, many others responded to the Protestant challenge by joining new Catholic movements. Today, Latin American Christianity is so energized that the region is sending missionaries to Africa, Europe, and the United States. In The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity, Todd Hartch examines the changes that have swept across Latin America in the last fifty years and situates them in the context of the growth of Christianity in the global South.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Medicine and Religion"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Medicine and Religion: A Historical Introduction by Gary B. Ferngren.

About the book, from the publisher:
Medicine and Religion is the first book to comprehensively examine the relationship between medicine and religion in the Western tradition from ancient times to the modern era. Beginning with the earliest attempts to heal the body and account for the meaning of illness in the ancient Near East, historian Gary B. Ferngren describes how the polytheistic religions of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome and the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have complemented medicine in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods.

Ferngren paints a broad and detailed portrait of how humans throughout the ages have drawn on specific values of diverse religious traditions in caring for the body. Religious perspectives have informed both the treatment of disease and the provision of health care. And, while tensions have sometimes existed, relations between medicine and religion have often been cooperative and mutually beneficial.

Religious beliefs provided a framework for explaining disease and suffering that was larger than medicine alone could offer. These beliefs furnished a theological basis for a compassionate care of the sick that led to the creation of the hospital and a long tradition of charitable medicine.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Sociability and Its Enemies"

New from Northwestern University Press: Sociability and Its Enemies: German Political Theory After 1945 by Jakob Norberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sociability and Its Enemies contributes both to contemporary studies of political theory and to discourse on postwar Germany by reconstructing the arguments concerning the nature and value of sociability as a form of interaction and interconnection particular to modern bourgeois society. Jakob Norberg argues that the writings of Hannah Arendt, Jürgen Habermas, Carl Schmitt, and the historian Reinhart Koselleck present conflicting responses to a hitherto neglected question or point of contention: whether bourgeois sociability should serve as a therapeutic practice and politically relevant ideal for postwar Germany. The book sheds light on previously neglected historical and conceptual connections among political theorists, and it enriches established narratives of postwar intellectual history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Down to the Crossroads"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear by Aram Goudsouzian.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1962, James Meredith became a civil rights hero when he enrolled as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, he would make the news again when he reentered Mississippi, on foot. His plan was to walk from Memphis to Jackson, leading a “March Against Fear” that would promote black voter registration and defy the entrenched racism of the region. But on the march’s second day, he was shot by a mysterious gunman, a moment captured in a harrowing and now iconic photograph.

What followed was one of the central dramas of the civil rights era. With Meredith in the hospital, the leading figures of the civil rights movement flew to Mississippi to carry on his effort. They quickly found themselves confronting southern law enforcement officials, local activists, and one another. In the span of only three weeks, Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a vicious mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and the charismatic young activist Stokely Carmichael first led the chant that would define a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.

Aram Goudsouzian’s Down to the Crossroads is the story of the last great march of the King era, and the first great showdown of the turbulent years that followed. Depicting rural demonstrators’ courage and the impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire even bolder protests against it. Full of drama and contemporary resonances, this book is civil rights history at its best.
Visit Aram Goudsouzian's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Hundred Days"

New from Basic Books: Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I by Nick Lloyd.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the late summer of 1918, after four long years of senseless, stagnant fighting, the Western Front erupted. The bitter four-month struggle that ensued—known as the Hundred Days Campaign—saw some of the bloodiest and most ferocious combat of the Great War, as the Allies grimly worked to break the stalemate in the west and end the conflict that had decimated Europe.

In Hundred Days, acclaimed military historian Nick Lloyd leads readers into the endgame of World War I, showing how the timely arrival of American men and materiel—as well as the bravery of French, British, and Commonwealth soldiers—helped to turn the tide on the Western Front. Many of these battle-hardened troops had endured years of terror in the trenches, clinging to their resolve through poison-gas attacks and fruitless assaults across no man’s land. Finally, in July 1918, they and their American allies did the impossible: they returned movement to the western theater. Using surprise attacks, innovative artillery tactics, and swarms of tanks and aircraft, they pushed the Germans out of their trenches and forced them back to their final bastion: the Hindenburg Line, a formidable network of dugouts, barbed wire, and pillboxes. After a massive assault, the Allies broke through, racing toward the Rhine and forcing Kaiser Wilhelm II to sue for peace.

An epic tale ranging from the ravaged fields of Flanders to the revolutionary streets of Berlin, Hundred Days recalls the bravery and sacrifice that finally silenced the guns of Europe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Philosophy of Biology"

New from Princeton University Press: Philosophy of Biology by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. Geared to philosophers, biologists, and students of both, the book provides sophisticated and innovative coverage of the central topics and many of the latest developments in the field. Emphasizing connections between biological theories and other areas of philosophy, and carefully explaining both philosophical and biological terms, Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin's mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature. The book closes with detailed, cutting-edge treatments of the evolution of cooperation, of information in biology, and of the role of communication in living systems at all scales.

Authoritative and up-to-date, this is an essential guide for anyone interested in the important philosophical issues raised by the biological sciences.
Visit Peter Godfrey-Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Female Alliances"

New from Yale University Press: Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain by Amanda E. Herbert.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, cultural, economic, and political changes, as well as increased geographic mobility, placed strains upon British society. But by cultivating friendships and alliances, women worked to socially cohere Britain and its colonies. In the first book-length historical study of female friendship and alliance for the early modern period, Amanda Herbert draws on a series of interlocking microhistorical studies to demonstrate the vitality and importance of bonds formed between British women in the long eighteenth century. She shows that while these alliances were central to women’s lives, they were also instrumental in building the British Atlantic world.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"The New Terrain of International Law"

New from Princeton University Press: The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights by Karen J. Alter.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1989, when the Cold War ended, there were six permanent international courts. Today there are more than two dozen that have collectively issued over thirty-seven thousand binding legal rulings. The New Terrain of International Law charts the developments and trends in the creation and role of international courts, and explains how the delegation of authority to international judicial institutions influences global and domestic politics.

The New Terrain of International Law presents an in-depth look at the scope and powers of international courts operating around the world. Focusing on dispute resolution, enforcement, administrative review, and constitutional review, Karen Alter argues that international courts alter politics by providing legal, symbolic, and leverage resources that shift the political balance in favor of domestic and international actors who prefer policies more consistent with international law objectives. International courts name violations of the law and perhaps specify remedies. Alter explains how this limited power--the power to speak the law--translates into political influence, and she considers eighteen case studies, showing how international courts change state behavior. The case studies, spanning issue areas and regions of the world, collectively elucidate the political factors that often intervene to limit whether or not international courts are invoked and whether international judges dare to demand significant changes in state practices.
Visit Karen J. Alter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 20, 2014

"The Morality of Peacekeeping"

New from Edinburgh University Press: The Morality of Peacekeeping by Daniel H. Levine.

About the book, from the publisher:
Peacekeeping, peace enforcement and "stability operations" ask soldiers to use violence to create peace, defeat armed threats while having no enemies and uphold human rights without taking sides. The justice of "humanitarian intervention" and "the responsibility to protect" fascinates analysts and practitioners alike when the world is watching crises unfold and wondering whether to step in. But once the cavalry has been sent in -- often funded by wealthy nations, but with individuals from the developing world on the ground -- less attention is paid to the moral challenges peacekeepers face. The traditional categories of just war theory provide insufficient guidance in this complicated moral landscape. Built on careful moral reflection and scores of interviews with peacekeepers, trainers and planners in the field, this book sheds light on the challenges of peacekeeping -- challenges likely to be characteristic of an increasing number of military engagements. The book is also about how peacekeepers can meet those moral challenges through building genuine partnerships with people in conflict.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"The Global War for Internet Governance"

New from Yale University Press: The Global War for Internet Governance by Laura DeNardis.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Internet has transformed the manner in which information is exchanged and business is conducted, arguably more than any other communication development in the past century. Despite its wide reach and powerful global influence, it is a medium uncontrolled by any one centralized system, organization, or governing body, a reality that has given rise to all manner of free-speech issues and cybersecurity concerns. The conflicts surrounding Internet governance are the new spaces where political and economic power is unfolding in the twenty-first century.

This all-important study by Laura DeNardis reveals the inner power structure already in place within the architectures and institutions of Internet governance. It provides a theoretical framework for Internet governance that takes into account the privatization of global power as well as the role of sovereign nations and international treaties. In addition, DeNardis explores what is at stake in open global controversies and stresses the responsibility of the public to actively engage in these debates, because Internet governance will ultimately determine Internet freedom.
Visit Laura DeNardis's website and follow her on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Counting the Many"

New from Cambridge University Press: Counting the Many: The Origins and Limits of Supermajority Rule by Melissa Schwartzberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Supermajority rules govern many features of our lives in common: from the selection of textbooks for our children's schools to residential covenants, from the policy choices of state and federal legislatures to constitutional amendments. It is usually assumed that these rules are not only normatively unproblematic but necessary to achieve the goals of institutional stability, consensus, and minority protections. In this book, Melissa Schwartzberg challenges the logic underlying the use of supermajority rule as an alternative to majority decision making. She traces the hidden history of supermajority decision making, which originally emerged as an alternative to unanimous rule, and highlights the tensions in the contemporary use of supermajority rules as an alternative to majority rule. Although supermajority rules ostensibly aim to reduce the purported risks associated with majority decision making, they do so at the cost of introducing new liabilities associated with the biased judgments they generate and secure.
Visit Melissa Schwartzberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 17, 2014


New from Stanford University Press: Connected: How Trains, Genes, Pineapples, Piano Keys, and a Few Disasters Transformed Americans at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Steven Cassedy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Americans underwent a dramatic transformation in self-conception: having formerly lived as individuals or members of small communities, they now found themselves living in networks, which arose out of scientific and technological innovations. There were transportation and communication networks. There was the network of the globalized marketplace, which brought into the American home exotic goods previously affordable to only a few. There was the network of standard time, which bound together all but the most rural Americans. There was the public health movement, which joined individuals to their fellow citizens by making everyone responsible for the health of everyone else. There were social networks that joined individuals to their fellows at the municipal, state, national, and global levels. Previous histories of this era focus on alienation and dislocation that new technologies caused. This book shows that American individuals in this era were more connected to their fellow citizens than ever—but by bonds that were distinctly modern.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"La Conquistadora"

New from Oxford University Press: La Conquistadora: The Virgin Mary at War and Peace in the Old and New Worlds by Amy G. Remensnyder.

About the book, from the publisher:
While most books about Mary emphasize her role as the compassionate mother of God, this book uncovers her significant role as an active and often belligerent patron of warfare, as seen from the mosques and castles of medieval Iberia to the cities and shrines of colonial Mexico and finally to present-day New Mexico. Amy Remensnyder explores Mary's prominence on and off the battlefield in the culturally and ethnically diverse world of medieval Iberia, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived side by side, and in colonial Mexico, where Spaniards and indigenous peoples mingled. As this array of peoples turned to her to articulate their identities, Mary was drawn into both hostile and peaceful cross-cultural encounters. Although Mary became an icon of the Christian conquest of Muslims, medieval Muslims and Christians shared her, sometimes even joining together in rituals of worship in her churches. In the New World, some indigenous peoples of the Americas appropriated from the Spanish the idea of Mary as Conquistadora, using it to reinforce the identity they fashioned for themselves as native conquistadors. Offering a ground-breaking look at the Virgin Mary, La Conquistadora connects medieval and early modern understandings of this iconic figure to reveal her enduring legacy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Aluminum Dreams"

New from the MIT Press: Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity by Mimi Sheller.

About the book, from the publisher:
Aluminum shaped the twentieth century. It enabled high-speed travel and gravity-defying flight. It was the material of a streamlined aesthetic that came to represent modernity. And it became an essential ingredient in industrial and domestic products that ranged from airplanes and cars to designer chairs and artificial Christmas trees. It entered modern homes as packaging, foil, pots and pans and even infiltrated our bodies through food, medicine, and cosmetics. In Aluminum Dreams, Mimi Sheller describes how the materiality and meaning of aluminum transformed modern life and continues to shape the world today.

Aluminum, Sheller tells us, changed mobility and mobilized modern life. It enabled air power, the space age and moon landings. Yet, as Sheller makes clear, aluminum was important not only in twentieth-century technology, innovation, architecture, and design but also in underpinning global military power, uneven development, and crucial environmental and health concerns. Sheller describes aluminum's shiny utopia but also its dark side. The unintended consequences of aluminum's widespread use include struggles for sovereignty and resource control inAfrica, India, and the Caribbean; the unleashing of multinational corporations; and the pollution of the earth through mining and smelting (and the battle to save it). Using a single material as an entry point to understanding a global history of modernization and its implications for the future, Aluminum Dreams forces us to ask: How do we assemble the material culture of modernity and what are its environmental consequences?

Aluminum Dreams includes a generous selection of striking images of iconic aluminum designs, many in color, drawn from advertisements by Alcoa, Bohn, Kaiser, and other major corporations, pamphlets,films, and exhibitions.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age"

New from Oxford University Press: Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age by Jennifer Stromer-Galley.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the plugged-in presidential campaign has arguably reached maturity, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age challenges popular claims about the democratizing effect of Digital Communication Technologies (DCTs). Analyzing campaign strategies, structures, and tactics from the past five presidential election cycles, Stromer-Galley reveals how, for all their vaunted inclusivity and tantalizing promise of increased two-way communication between candidates and the individuals who support them, DCTs have done little to change the fundamental dynamics of campaigns. The expansion of new technologies has presented candidates with greater opportunities to micro-target potential voters, cheaper and easier ways to raise money, and faster and more innovative ways to respond to opponents. The need for communication control and management, however, has made campaigns slow and loathe to experiment with truly interactive internet communication technologies.

Citizen involvement in the campaign historically has been and, as this book shows, continues to be a means to an end: winning the election for the candidate. For all the proliferation of apps to download, polls to click, videos to watch, and messages to forward, the decidedly undemocratic view of controlled interactivity is how most campaigns continue to operate.

Contributing to the field a much-needed historical understanding of the shifting communication practices of presidential campaigns, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age examines election cycles from 1996, when the World Wide Web was first used for presidential campaigning, through 2012, when practices were being tuned to perfection using data analytics for carefully targeting and mobilizing particular voter segments. As the book charts changes in internet communication technologies, it shows how, even as campaigns have moved responsively from a mass mediated to a networked paradigm, and from fundraising to organizing, the possibilities these shifts in interactivity seem to promise for citizen input and empowerment remain much farther than a click away.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Machiavelli's Prince"

New from Oxford University Press: Machiavelli's Prince: A New Reading by Erica Benner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why did Machiavelli write the Prince - and why did religious and political authorities find it so threatening? Five hundred years on, this book tries to answer these questions.

In the first detailed, chapter-by-chapter reading of the Prince in any language, Erica Benner shows that the book is a masterpiece of ironic writing. Machiavelli's style is deliberately ambiguous: he often seems to say one thing, but gives readers clues that point toward a very different message. Beyond its 'Machiavellian' surface, the Prince has a surprisingly moral purpose. It teaches readers how to recognize hidden dangers in political conduct that merely appears great or praiseworthy - and to mistrust promises of easy solutions to political problems.

This highly engaging new interpretation helps readers to see beyond the Prince's deceptive first appearances. Benner sets out Machiavelli's main ironic techniques at the outset, especially his coded use of words to signal praise or blame. Once readers become familiar with these codes, they will find it easier to grasp the Prince's surreptitiously pro-republican message - and its powerful critique of charismatic one-man rule and imperial politics.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Lost Freedom"

New from Oxford University Press: Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement by Mathew Thomson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lost Freedom addresses the widespread feeling that there has been a fundamental change in the social life of children in recent decades: the loss of childhood freedom, and in particular, the loss of freedom to roam beyond the safety of home. Mathew Thomson explores this phenomenon, concentrating on the period from the Second World War until the 1970s, and considering the roles of psychological theory, traffic, safety consciousness, anxiety about sexual danger, and television in the erosion of freedom.

Thomson argues that the Second World War has an important place in this story, with war-borne anxieties encouraging an emphasis on the central importance of a landscape of home. War also encouraged the development of specially designed spaces for the cultivation of the child, including the adventure playground, and the virtual landscape of children's television. However, before the 1970s, British children still had much more physical freedom than they do today. Lost Freedom explores why this situation has changed. The volume pays particular attention to the 1970s as a period of transition, and one which saw radical visions of child liberation, but with anxieties about child protection also escalating in response. This is strikingly demonstrated in the story of how the paedophile emerged as a figure of major public concern. Thomson argues that this crisis of concern over child freedom is indicative of some of the broader problems of the social settlements that had been forged out of the Second World War.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Westmoreland's War"

New from Oxford University Press: Westmoreland's War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam by Gregory Daddis.

About the book, from the publisher:
General William C. Westmoreland has long been derided for his failed strategy of "attrition" in the Vietnam War. Historians have argued that Westmoreland's strategy placed a premium on high "body counts" through a "big unit war" that relied almost solely on search and destroy missions. Many believe the U.S. Army failed in Vietnam because of Westmoreland's misguided and narrow strategy.

In a groundbreaking reassessment of American military strategy in Vietnam, Gregory Daddis overturns conventional wisdom and shows how Westmoreland did indeed develop a comprehensive campaign which included counterinsurgency, civic action, and the importance of gaining political support from the South Vietnamese population. Exploring the realities of a large, yet not wholly unconventional environment, Daddis reinterprets the complex political and military battlefields of Vietnam. Without searching for blame, he analyzes how American civil and military leaders developed strategy and how Westmoreland attempted to implement a sweeping strategic vision.

Westmoreland's War is a landmark reinterpretation of one of America's most divisive wars, outlining the multiple, interconnected aspects of American military strategy in Vietnam-combat operations, pacification, nation building, and the training of the South Vietnamese armed forces. Daddis offers a critical reassessment of one of the defining moments in American history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"The Undercover Economist Strikes Back"

New from Riverhead: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run-or Ruin-an Economy by Tim Harford.

About the book, from the publisher:
A provocative and lively exploration of the increasingly important world of macroeconomics, by the author of the bestselling The Undercover Economist.

Thanks to the worldwide financial upheaval, economics is no longer a topic we can ignore. From politicians to hedge-fund managers to middle-class IRA holders, everyone must pay attention to how and why the global economy works the way it does.

Enter Financial Times columnist and bestselling author Tim Harford. In this new book that demystifies macroeconomics, Harford strips away the spin, the hype, and the jargon to reveal the truth about how the world’s economy actually works. With the wit of a raconteur and the clear grasp of an expert, Harford explains what’s really happening beyond today’s headlines, why all of us should care, and what we can do about it to understand it better.
Visit Tim Harford's website.

Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics books.

The Page 69 Test: The Undercover Economist.

The Page 69 Test:The Logic of Life.

The Page 99 Test: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"The Call of Character"

New from Columbia University Press: The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti.

About the book, from the publisher:
Should we feel inadequate when we fail to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is it realistic or even desirable to strive for such an existential equilibrium? Condemning our current cultural obsession with cheerfulness and "positive thinking," Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies and argues that sometimes a tormented and anxiety-ridden life can also be rewarding.

Ruti critiques the search for personal meaning and pragmatic attempts to normalize human beings' unruly and idiosyncratic natures. Exposing the tragic banality of a happy life commonly lived, she instead emphasizes the advantages of a lopsided life rich in passion and fortitude. She also shows what matters is not our ability to evade existential uncertainty but our courage to meet adversity in such a way that we do not become irrevocably broken.

We are in danger of losing the capacity to cope with complexity, ambiguity, melancholia, disorientation, and disappointment, Ruti warns, leaving us feeling less "real" and less connected and unable to process a full range of emotions. Heeding the call of our character means acknowledging the marginalized, chaotic aspects of our being, and it is precisely these creative qualities that make us inimitable and irreplaceable.
Visit Mari Ruti's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Dog Whistle Politics"

New from Oxford University Press: Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class by Ian Haney Lopez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president.

In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.

Rejecting any simple story of malevolent and obvious racism, Haney López links as never before the two central themes that dominate American politics today: the decline of the middle class and the Republican Party's increasing reliance on white voters. Dog Whistle Politics will generate a lively and much-needed debate about how racial politics has destabilized the American middle class -- white and nonwhite members alike.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Gettysburg Religion"

New from Fordham University Press: Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North by Steve Longenecker.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the borderland between freedom and slavery, Gettysburg remains among the most legendary Civil War landmarks. A century and a half after the great battle, Cemetery Hill, the Seminary and its ridge, and the Peach Orchard remain powerful memories for their embodiment of the small-town North and their ability to touch themes vital to nineteenth-century religion. During this period, three patterns became particularly prominent: refinement, diversity, and war. In Gettysburg Religion, author Steve Longenecker explores the religious history of antebellum and Civil War–era Gettysburg, shedding light on the remarkable diversity of American religion and the intricate ways it interacted with the broader culture. Longenecker argues that Gettysburg religion revealed much about larger American society and about how trends in the Border North mirrored national developments. In many ways, Gettysburg and its surrounding Border North religion belonged to the future and signaled a coming pattern for modern America.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper: Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations by Arturo C. Sotomayor.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper reevaluates how United Nations peacekeeping missions reform (or fail to reform) their participating members. It investigates how such missions affect military organizations and civil-military relations as countries transition to a more democratic system.

Two-thirds of the UN’s peacekeepers come from developing nations, many of which are transitioning to democracy as well. The assumption is that these "blue helmet" peacekeepers learn not only to appreciate democratic principles through their mission work but also to develop an international outlook and new ideas about conflict prevention. Arturo C. Sotomayor debunks this myth, arguing that democratic practices don’t just "rub off" on UN peacekeepers. So what, if any, benefit accrues to these troops from emerging democracies?

In this richly detailed study of a decade’s worth of research (2001–2010) on Argentine, Brazilian, and Uruguayan peacekeeping participation, Sotomayor draws upon international socialization theory and civil-military relations to understand how peacekeeping efforts impact participating armed forces. He asks three questions: Does peacekeeping reform military organizations? Can peacekeeping socialize soldiers to become more liberalized and civilianized? Does peacekeeping improve defense and foreign policy integration?

His evaluation of the three countries’ involvement in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti reinforces his final analysis—that successful democratic transitions must include a military organization open to change and a civilian leadership that exercises its oversight responsibilities.

The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper contributes to international relations theory and to substantive issues in civil-military relations and comparative politics. It provides a novel argument about how peacekeeping works and further insight into how international factors affect domestic politics as well as how international institutions affect democratizing efforts.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Americans in the Treasure House"

New from the University of Texas Press: Americans in the Treasure House: Travel to Porfirian Mexico and the Cultural Politics of Empire by Jason Ruiz.

About the book, from the publisher:
When railroads connected the United States and Mexico in 1884 and overland travel between the two countries became easier and cheaper, Americans developed an intense curiosity about Mexico, its people, and its opportunities for business and pleasure. Indeed, so many Americans visited Mexico during the Porfiriato (the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911) that observers on both sides of the border called the hordes of tourists and business speculators a “foreign invasion,” an apt phrase for a historical moment when the United States was expanding its territory and influence.

Americans in the Treasure House examines travel to Mexico during the Porfiriato, concentrating on the role of travelers in shaping ideas of Mexico as a logical place for Americans to extend their economic and cultural influence in the hemisphere. Analyzing a wealth of evidence ranging from travelogues and literary representations to picture postcards and snapshots, Jason Ruiz demonstrates that American travelers constructed Mexico as a nation at the cusp of modernity, but one requiring foreign intervention to reach its full potential. He shows how they rationalized this supposed need for intervention in a variety of ways, including by representing Mexico as a nation that deviated too dramatically from American ideals of progress, whiteness, and sexual self-control to become a modern “sister republic” on its own. Most importantly, Ruiz relates the rapid rise in travel and travel discourse to complex questions about national identity, state power, and economic relations across the U.S.–Mexico border.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"The Empire of Necessity"

New from Henery Holt & Company: The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World by Greg Grandin.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the acclaimed author of Fordlandia, the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America’s struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren’t. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence.

Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event—an event that already inspired Herman Melville’s masterpiece Benito Cereno. Now historian Greg Grandin, with the gripping storytelling that was praised in Fordlandia, uses the dramatic happenings of that day to map a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas, capturing the clash of peoples, economies, and faiths that was the New World in the early 1800s.
Visit Greg Grandin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Cybersecurity and Cyberwar"

New from Oxford University Press: Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know by Peter W. Singer and Allan Friedman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A generation ago, "cyberspace" was just a term from science fiction, used to describe the nascent network of computers linking a few university labs. Today, our entire modern way of life, from communication to commerce to conflict, fundamentally depends on the Internet. And the cybersecurity issues that result challenge literally everyone: politicians wrestling with everything from cybercrime to online freedom; generals protecting the nation from new forms of attack, while planning new cyberwars; business executives defending firms from once unimaginable threats, and looking to make money off of them; lawyers and ethicists building new frameworks for right and wrong. Most of all, cybersecurity issues affect us as individuals. We face new questions in everything from our rights and responsibilities as citizens of both the online and real world to simply how to protect ourselves and our families from a new type of danger. And yet, there is perhaps no issue that has grown so important, so quickly, and that touches so many, that remains so poorly understood.

In Cybersecurity and CyberWar: What Everyone Needs to Know, New York Times best-selling author P. W. Singer and noted cyber expert Allan Friedman team up to provide the kind of easy-to-read, yet deeply informative resource book that has been missing on this crucial issue of 21st century life. Written in a lively, accessible style, filled with engaging stories and illustrative anecdotes, the book is structured around the key question areas of cyberspace and its security: how it all works, why it all matters, and what can we do? Along the way, they take readers on a tour of the important (and entertaining) issues and characters of cybersecurity, from the "Anonymous" hacker group and the Stuxnet computer virus to the new cyber units of the Chinese and U.S. militaries. Cybersecurity and CyberWar: What Everyone Needs to Know is the definitive account on the subject for us all, which comes not a moment too soon.
The Page 99 Test: P.W. Singer's Wired for War.

--Marshal Zeringue