Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Robert Morris's Folly"

New from Yale University Press: Robert Morris's Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder by Ryan K. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1798 Robert Morris—“financier of the American Revolution,” confidant of George Washington, former U.S. senator—plunged from the peaks of wealth and prestige into debtors' prison and public contempt. How could one of the richest men in the United States, one of only two founders who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, suffer such a downfall?

This book examines for the first time the extravagant Philadelphia town house Robert Morris built and its role in bringing about his ruin. Part biography, part architectural history, the book recounts Morris’s wild successes as a merchant, his recklessness as a land speculator, and his unrestrained passion in building his palatial, doomed mansion, once hailed as the most expensive private building in the United States but later known as “Morris’s Folly.” Setting Morris’s tale in the context of the nation’s founding, this volume refocuses attention on an essential yet nearly forgotten American figure while also illuminating the origins of America’s ongoing, ambivalent attitudes toward the superwealthy and their sensational excesses.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Remembering the Modoc War"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence by Boyd Cothran.

About the book, from the publisher:
On October 3, 1873, the U.S. Army hanged four Modoc headmen at Oregon's Fort Klamath. The condemned had supposedly murdered the only U.S. Army general to die during the Indian wars of the nineteenth century. Their much-anticipated execution marked the end of the Modoc War of 1872–73. But as Boyd Cothran demonstrates, the conflict's close marked the beginning of a new struggle over the memory of the war. Examining representations of the Modoc War in the context of rapidly expanding cultural and commercial marketplaces, Cothran shows how settlers created and sold narratives of the conflict that blamed the Modocs. These stories portrayed Indigenous people as the instigators of violence and white Americans as innocent victims.

Cothran examines the production and circulation of these narratives, from sensationalized published histories and staged lectures featuring Modoc survivors of the war to commemorations and promotional efforts to sell newly opened Indian lands to settlers. As Cothran argues, these narratives of American innocence justified not only violence against Indians in the settlement of the West but also the broader process of U.S. territorial and imperial expansion.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"The Evolving Sphere of Food Security"

New from Oxford University Press: The Evolving Sphere of Food Security by Rosamond L. Naylor (editor).

About the book, from the publisher:
Hundreds of millions of people still suffer from chronic hunger and food insecurity despite sufficient levels of global food production. The poor's inability to afford adequate diets remains the biggest constraint to solving hunger, but the dynamics of global food insecurity are complex and demand analysis that extends beyond the traditional domains of economics and agriculture. How do the policies used to promote food security in one country affect nutrition, food access, natural resources, and national security in other countries? How do the priorities and challenges of achieving food security change over time as countries develop economically? The Evolving Sphere of Food Security seeks to answer these two important questions and others by exploring the interconnections of food security to security of many kinds: energy, water, health, climate, the environment, and national security.

Through personal stories of research in the field and policy advising at local and global scales, a multidisciplinary group of scholars provide readers with a real-world sense of the opportunities and challenges involved in alleviating food insecurity. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, management of HIV/AIDS, the establishment of an equitable system of land property rights, and investment in solar-powered irrigation play an important role in improving food security---particularly in the face of global climate change. Meanwhile, food price spikes associated with the United States' biofuels policy continue to have spillover effects on the world's rural poor with implications for stability and national security.

The Evolving Sphere of Food Security traces four key areas of the food security field: 1) the political economy of food and agriculture; 2) challenges for the poorest billion; 3) agriculture's dependence on resources and the environment; and 4) food in a national and international security context. This book connects these areas in a way that tells an integrated story about human lives, resource use, and the policy process.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"The Founders and the Idea of a National University"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Founders and the Idea of a National University: Constituting the American Mind by George Thomas.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the ideas of the founders with regard to establishing a national university and what those ideas say about their understanding of America. It offers the first study on the idea of a national university and how the founders understood it as an important feature in an educational system that would sustain the American experiment in democracy. Their ideas about education suggest that shaping the American mind is essential to the success of the Constitution and that this is something that future generations would need to continue to do.
George Thomas is Associate Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. He previously taught at Williams College. He is the author of The Madisonian Constitution, as well as numerous articles and essays on American constitutionalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Advice for the Sultan"

New from Oxford University Press: Advice for the Sultan: Prophetic Voices and Secular Politics in Medieval Islam by Neguin Yavari.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Advice for the Sultan Neguin Yavari excavates multiple, conflicting strands of Islamic political thought from the medieval past to the present, reassessing these ideas and their impact over the longue duree. Her aim is to revise our understanding of the relation- ship between modern history and the current master narratives of both Western and Islamic histories of political thought. She does this by re-examinating Islamic advice literature, bringing it to life in novel ways. Yavari argues that if read laterally and closely, it promotes secular values such as reason and moderation as the most effective safeguard against political instability and divine rebuke. Related questions raised in this book include, can Islamic political thought be folded into the discipline of intellectual history? How do we write the history of political thought when its end-product is not seen as the march of a manifest destiny, or progressive secularisation, or the promotion of liberal values, such as is the case with the Islamic world today? Is it possible to read texts for context if the values adumbrated in them do not take hold in society, or to study those that produce political communities that differ radically from those that emerged in eighteenth- and the nineteenth-century Europe?
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Angels and the Order of Heaven in Medieval and Renaissance Italy"

New from Cambridge University Press: Angels and the Order of Heaven in Medieval and Renaissance Italy by Meredith J. Gill.

About the book, from the publisher:
From earliest times, angels have been seen as instruments of salvation and retribution, agents of revelation, and harbingers of hope. In effect, angels are situated at the intersections of diverse belief structures and philosophical systems. In this book, Meredith J. Gill examines the role of angels in medieval and Renaissance conceptions of heaven. She considers the character of Renaissance angelology as distinct from the medieval theological traditions that informed it and from which it emerged. Tracing the iconography of angels in text and in visual form, she also uncovers the philosophical underpinnings of medieval and Renaissance definitions of angels and their nature. From Dante through Pico della Mirandola, from the images of angels depicted by Fra Angelico to those painted by Raphael and his followers, angels, Gill argues, are the touchstones and markers of the era's intellectual self-understanding, and its classical revival, theological doctrines, and artistic imagination.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Writing History in the Global Era"

New from W. W. Norton: Writing History in the Global Era by Lynn Hunt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Leading historian Lynn Hunt rethinks why history matters in today’s global world and how it should be written.

George Orwell wrote that “history is written by the winners.” Even if that seems a bit too cut-and-dried, we can say that history is always written from a viewpoint but that viewpoints change, sometimes radically.

The history of workers, women, and minorities challenged the once-unquestioned dominance of the tales of great leaders and military victories. Then, cultural studies—including feminism and queer studies—brought fresh perspectives, but those too have run their course.

With globalization emerging as a major economic, cultural, and political force, Lynn Hunt examines whether it can reinvigorate the telling of history. She hopes that scholars from East and West can collaborate in new ways and write wider-ranging works.

At the same time, Hunt argues that we could better understand the effects of globalization in the past if we knew more about how individuals felt about the changes they were experiencing. She proposes a sweeping reevaluation of individuals’ active role and their place in society as the keys to understanding the way people and ideas interact. She also reveals how surprising new perspectives on society and the self—from environmental history, the history of human-animal interactions, and even neuroscience—offer promising new ways of thinking about the meaning and purpose of history in our time.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Packaged Pleasures"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire by Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience. Food, drink, and many other consumer goods came to be mass-produced, bottled, canned, condensed, and distilled, unleashing new and intensified surges of pleasure, delight, thrill—and addiction.

In Packaged Pleasures, Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor delve into an uncharted chapter of American history, shedding new light on the origins of modern consumer culture and how technologies have transformed human sensory experience. In the space of only a few decades, junk foods, cigarettes, movies, recorded sound, and thrill rides brought about a revolution in what it means to taste, smell, see, hear, and touch. New techniques of boxing, labeling, and tubing gave consumers virtually unlimited access to pleasures they could simply unwrap and enjoy. Manufacturers generated a seemingly endless stream of sugar-filled, high-fat foods that were delicious but detrimental to health. Mechanically rolled cigarettes entered the market and quickly addicted millions. And many other packaged pleasures dulled or displaced natural and social delights. Yet many of these same new technologies also offered convenient and effective medicines, unprecedented opportunities to enjoy music and the visual arts, and more hygienic, varied, and nutritious food and drink. For better or for worse, sensation became mechanized, commercialized, and, to a large extent, democratized by being made cheap and accessible. Cross and Proctor have delivered an ingeniously constructed history of consumerism and consumer technology that will make us all rethink some of our favorite things.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Putin's Kleptocracy"

New from Simon & Schuster: Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? by Karen Dawisha.

About the book, from the publisher:
The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.

Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the rise of the Ozero cooperative, founded by Putin and others who are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes; the links between Putin, Petromed, and “Putin’s Palace” near Sochi; and the role of security officials from Putin’s KGB days in Leningrad and Dresden, many of whom have maintained their contacts with Russian organized crime.

Putin’s Kleptocracy is the result of years of research into the KGB and the various thriving Russian crime syndicates. Dawisha’s sources include Stasi archives; Russian insiders; investigative journalists in the US, Britain, Germany, Finland, France, and Italy; and Western officials who served in Moscow. Russian journalists wrote part of this story when the Russian media was still free. “Many of them died for this story, and their work has largely been scrubbed from the Internet, and even from Russian libraries,” Dawisha says. “But some of that work remains.”
Follow Karen Dawisha on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"The Victory with No Name"

New from Oxford University Press: The Victory with No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army by Colin G. Calloway.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1791, General Arthur St. Clair led the United States army in a campaign to destroy a complex of Indian villages at the Maumee River in northwestern Ohio. Almost within reach of their objective, St. Clair's 1,400 men were attacked by about one thousand Indians. The U.S. force was decimated, suffering nearly one thousand casualties in killed and wounded, while Indian casualties numbered only a few dozen. But despite the lopsided result, it wouldn't appear to carry much significance; it involved only a few thousand people, lasted less than three hours, and the outcome, which was never in doubt, was permanently reversed a mere three years later. Neither an epic struggle nor a clash that changed the course of history, the battle doesn't even have a name.

Yet, as renowned Native American historian Colin Calloway demonstrates here, St. Clair's Defeat--as it came to be known-- was hugely important for its time. It was both the biggest victory the Native Americans ever won, and, proportionately, the biggest military disaster the United States had suffered. With the British in Canada waiting in the wings for the American experiment in republicanism to fail, and some regions of the West gravitating toward alliance with Spain, the defeat threatened the very existence of the infant United States. Generating a deluge of reports, correspondence, opinions, and debates in the press, it produced the first congressional investigation in American history, while ultimately changing not only the manner in which Americans viewed, raised, organized, and paid for their armies, but the very ways in which they fought their wars.

Emphasizing the extent to which the battle has been overlooked in history, Calloway illustrates how this moment of great victory by American Indians became an aberration in the national story and a blank spot in the national memory. Calloway shows that St. Clair's army proved no match for the highly motivated and well-led Native American force that shattered not only the American army but the ill-founded assumption that Indians stood no chance against European methods and models of warfare. An engaging and enlightening read for American history enthusiasts and scholars alike, The Victory with No Name brings this significant moment in American history back to light.
The Page 99 Test: Pen and Ink Witchcraft.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Renegade Dreams"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago by Laurence Ralph.

About the book, from the publisher:
Every morning Chicagoans wake up to the same stark headlines that read like some macabre score: “13 shot, 4 dead overnight across the city,” and nearly every morning the same elision occurs: what of the nine other victims? As with war, much of our focus on inner-city violence is on the death toll, but the reality is that far more victims live to see another day and must cope with their injuries—both physical and psychological—for the rest of their lives. Renegade Dreams is their story. Walking the streets of one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods—where the local gang has been active for more than fifty years—Laurence Ralph talks with people whose lives are irrecoverably damaged, seeking to understand how they cope and how they can be better helped.

Going deep into a West Side neighborhood most Chicagoans only know from news reports—a place where children have been shot just for crossing the wrong street—Ralph unearths the fragile humanity that fights to stay alive there, to thrive, against all odds. He talks to mothers, grandmothers, and pastors, to activists and gang leaders, to the maimed and the hopeful, to aspiring rappers, athletes, or those who simply want safe passage to school or a steady job. Gangland Chicago, he shows, is as complicated as ever. It’s not just a warzone but a community, a place where people’s dreams are projected against the backdrop of unemployment, dilapidated housing, incarceration, addiction, and disease, the many hallmarks of urban poverty that harden like so many scars in their lives. Recounting their stories, he wrestles with what it means to be an outsider in a place like this, whether or not his attempt to understand, to help, might not in fact inflict its own damage. Ultimately he shows that the many injuries these people carry—like dreams—are a crucial form of resilience, and that we should all think about the ghetto differently, not as an abandoned island of unmitigated violence and its helpless victims but as a neighborhood, full of homes, as a part of the larger society in which we all live, together, among one another.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 19, 2014

"Rebels against the Confederacy"

New from Cambridge University Press: Rebels against the Confederacy: North Carolina's Unionists by Barton A. Myers.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this groundbreaking study, Barton A. Myers analyzes the secret world of hundreds of white and black Southern Unionists as they struggled for survival in a new Confederate world, resisted the imposition of Confederate military and civil authority, began a diffuse underground movement to destroy the Confederacy, joined the United States Army as soldiers, and waged a series of violent guerrilla battles at the local level against other Southerners. Myers also details the work of Confederates as they struggled to build a new nation at the local level and maintain control over manpower, labor, agricultural, and financial resources, which Southern Unionists possessed. The story is not solely one of triumph over adversity but also one of persecution and, ultimately, erasure of these dissidents by the postwar South's Lost Cause mythologizers.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"The Edible South"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region by Marcie Cohen Ferris.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Edible South, Marcie Cohen Ferris presents food as a new way to chronicle the American South’s larger history. Ferris tells a richly illustrated story of southern food and the struggles of whites, blacks, Native Americans, and other people of the region to control the nourishment of their bodies and minds, livelihoods, lands, and citizenship. The experience of food serves as an evocative lens onto colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, New South cities and Civil Rights-era lunch counters, chronic hunger and agricultural reform, counterculture communes and iconic restaurants as Ferris reveals how food--as cuisine and as commodity--has expressed and shaped southern identity to the present day.

The region in which European settlers were greeted with unimaginable natural abundance was simultaneously the place where enslaved Africans vigilantly preserved cultural memory in cuisine and Native Americans held tight to kinship and food traditions despite mass expulsions. Southern food, Ferris argues, is intimately connected to the politics of power. The contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, privilege and poverty, in southern history resonates in the region’s food traditions, both beloved and maligned.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Inside the Politics of Self-Determination"

New from Oxford University Press: Inside the Politics of Self-Determination by Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham.

About the book, from the publisher:
There are currently over 100 stateless nations pressing for greater self-determination around the globe. The vast majority of these groups will never achieve independence. Many groups will receive some accommodation over self-determination, many will engage in civil war over self-determination, and in many cases, internecine violence will plague these groups. This book examines the dynamic internal politics of states and self-determination groups. The internal structure and political dynamics of states and self-determination groups significantly affect information and credibility problems faced by these actors, as well as the incentives and opportunities for states to pursue partial accommodation of these groups.

Using new data on the internal structure of all self-determination groups and their states and on all accommodation in self-determination disputes, this book shows that states with some, but not too many, internal divisions are best able to accommodate self-determination groups and avoid civil war. When groups are more internally divided, they are both much more likely to be accommodated and to get into civil war with the state, and also more likely to have fighting within the group. Detailed comparison of three self-determination disputes in the conflict-torn region of northeast India reveals that internal divisions in states and groups affect when these groups get the accommodation they seek, which groups violently rebel, and whether actors target violence against their own co-ethnics.

The argument and evidence in this book reveal the dynamic effect that internal divisions within SD groups and states have on their ability to bargain over self-determination. Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham demonstrates that understanding the relations between states and SD groups requires looking at the politics inside these actors.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Abrazando el Espiritu"

New from the University of California Press: Abrazando el Espiritu: Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border by Ana Elizabeth Rosas.

About the book, from the publisher:
Structured to meet employers’ needs for low-wage farm workers, the well-known Bracero Program recruited thousands of Mexicans to perform physical labor in the United States between 1942 and 1964 in exchange for remittances sent back to Mexico. As partners and family members were dispersed across national borders, interpersonal relationships were transformed. The prolonged absences of Mexican workers, mostly men, forced women and children at home to inhabit new roles, create new identities, and cope with long-distance communication from fathers, brothers, and sons.

Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, Ana Elizabeth Rosas uncovers a previously hidden history of transnational family life. Intimate and personal experiences are revealed to show how Mexican immigrants and their families were not passive victims but instead found ways to embrace the spirit (abrazando el espĂ­ritu) of making and implementing difficult decisions concerning their family situations—creating new forms of affection, gender roles, and economic survival strategies with long-term consequences.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Let Me Be a Refugee"

New from Oxford University Press: Let Me Be a Refugee: Administrative Justice and the Politics of Asylum in the United States, Canada, and Australia by Rebecca Hamlin.

About the book, from the publisher:
International law provides states with a common definition of a "refugee,¨as well as guidelines outlining how asylum claims should be decided. Yet even across nations with many commonalities, the processes of determining refugee status look strikingly different. This book compares the refugee status determination (RSD) regimes of three popular asylum seeker destinations: the United States, Canada, and Australia. Though they exhibit similarly high levels of political resistance to accepting asylum seekers, refugees access three very different systems-none of which are totally restrictive or expansive-once across their borders. These differences are significant both in terms of asylum seekers' experience of the process and in terms of their likelihood of being designated as refugees. Based on a multi-method analysis of all three countries, including a year of fieldwork with in-depth interviews of policy-makers and asylum-seeker advocates, observations of refugee status determination hearings, and a large-scale case analysis, Rebecca Hamlin finds that cross-national differences have less to do with political debates over admission and border control policy than with how insulated administrative decision-making is from either political interference or judicial review. Administrative justice is conceptualized and organized differently in every state, and so states vary in how they draw the line between refugee and non-refugee.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Kids Gone Wild"

New from NYU Press: Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex by Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle.

About the book, from the publisher:
To hear mainstream media sources tell it, the sex lives of modern teenagers outpace even the smuttiest of cable television shows. Teen girls “sext” explicit photos to boys they like; they wear “sex bracelets” that signify what sexual activities they have done, or will do; they team up with other girls at “rainbow parties” to perform sex acts on groups of willing teen boys; they form “pregnancy pacts” with their best girlfriends to all become teen mothers at the same time. From The Today Show, to CNN, to the New York Times, stories of these events have been featured widely in the media. But are most teenage—or younger—children really going to sex parties and having multiple sexual encounters in an orgy-like fashion?

Researchers say no—teen sex is actually not rampant and teen pregnancy is at low levels. But why do stories like these find such media traffic, exploiting parents’ worst fears? How do these rumors get started, and how do they travel around the country and even across the globe?

In Kids Gone Wild, best-selling authors Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle use these stories about the fears of the growing sexualization of childhood to explore what we know about contemporary legends and how both traditional media and the internet perpetuate these rumors while, at times, debating their authenticity. Best and Bogle describe the process by which such stories spread, trace how and to where they have moved, and track how they can morph as they travel from one medium to another. Ultimately, they find that our society’s view of kids raging out of control has drastic and unforeseen consequences, fueling the debate on sex education and affecting policy decisions on everything from the availability of the morning after pill to who is included on sex offender registries.

A surprising look at the truth behind the sensationalism in our culture, Kids Gone Wild is a much-needed wake-up call for a society determined to believe the worst about its young people.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"The Social Life of Money"

New from Princeton University Press: The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd.

About the book, from the publisher:
Questions about the nature of money have gained a new urgency in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Even as many people have less of it, there are more forms and systems of money, from local currencies and social lending to mobile money and Bitcoin. Yet our understanding of what money is--and what it might be--hasn't kept pace. In The Social Life of Money, Nigel Dodd, one of today's leading sociologists of money, reformulates the theory of the subject for a postcrisis world in which new kinds of money are proliferating.

What counts as legitimate action by central banks that issue currency and set policy? What underpins the right of nongovernmental actors to create new currencies? And how might new forms of money surpass or subvert government-sanctioned currencies? To answer such questions, The Social Life of Money takes a fresh and wide-ranging look at modern theories of money.

One of the book's central concerns is how money can be wrested from the domination and mismanagement of banks and governments and restored to its fundamental position as the "claim upon society" described by Georg Simmel. But rather than advancing yet another critique of the state-based monetary system, The Social Life of Money draws out the utopian aspects of money and the ways in which its transformation could in turn transform society, politics, and economics. The book also identifies the contributions of thinkers who have not previously been thought of as monetary theorists--including Nietzsche, Benjamin, Bataille, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Hardt and Negri. The result provides new ways of thinking about money that seek not only to understand it but to change it.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Through the Heart of Dixie"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory by Anne Sarah Rubin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sherman's March, cutting a path through Georgia and the Carolinas, is among the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War. In Through the Heart of Dixie, Anne Sarah Rubin uncovers and unpacks stories and myths about the March from a wide variety of sources, including African Americans, women, Union soldiers, Confederates, and even Sherman himself. Drawing her evidence from an array of media, including travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers, Rubin uses the competing and contradictory stories as a lens for examining the ways American thinking about the Civil War have changed over time.

Compiling and analyzing the discordant stories around the March, and considering significant cultural artifacts such as George Barnard's 1866 Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, and E. L. Doctorow's The March, Rubin creates a cohesive narrative that unites seemingly incompatible myths and asserts the metaphorical importance of Sherman's March to Americans' memory of the Civil War. The book is enhanced by a digital history project, which can be found at shermansmarch.org.
Visit Anne Sarah Rubin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Cowardice: A Brief History"

New from Princeton University Press: Cowardice: A Brief History by Chris Walsh.

About the book, from the publisher:
Coward. It's a grave insult, likely to provoke anger, shame, even violence. But what exactly is cowardice? When terrorists are called cowards, does it mean the same as when the term is applied to soldiers? And what, if anything, does cowardice have to do with the rest of us? Bringing together sources from court-martial cases to literary and film classics such as Dante's Inferno, The Red Badge of Courage, and The Thin Red Line, Cowardice recounts the great harm that both cowards and the fear of seeming cowardly have done, and traces the idea of cowardice's power to its evolutionary roots. But Chris Walsh also shows that this power has faded, most dramatically on the battlefield. Misconduct that earlier might have been punished as cowardice has more recently often been treated medically, as an adverse reaction to trauma, and Walsh explores a parallel therapeutic shift that reaches beyond war, into the realms of politics, crime, philosophy, religion, and love.

Yet, as Walsh indicates, the therapeutic has not altogether triumphed--contempt for cowardice endures, and he argues that such contempt can be a good thing. Courage attracts much more of our attention, but rigorously understanding cowardice may be more morally useful, for it requires us to think critically about our duties and our fears, and it helps us to act ethically when fear and duty conflict.

Richly illustrated and filled with fascinating stories and insights, Cowardice is the first sustained analysis of a neglected but profound and pervasive feature of human experience.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Spiritual Rationality"

New from Oxford University Press: Spiritual Rationality: Papal Embargo as Cultural Practice by Stefan K. Stantchev.

About the book, from the publisher:
Spiritual Rationality: Papal Embargo as Cultural Practice offers the first book-length study of embargo in a pre-modern period and provides a unique exploration into the domestic implications of this tool of foreign policy. Based on a large and varied body of archival and printed, papal and secular sources, this inquiry covers Europe and the broader Mediterranean from c. 1150 to c. 1550. During this time of an increasing papal role within Christian society, the church employed restrictions on trade with Muslims, pagans, 'heretics', 'schismatics', disobedient Catholic communities and individual Jews in order to facilitate papally-endorsed warfare against external enemies and to discipline internal foes. Various trade bans were originally promulgated as individual responses to specific circumstances. These restrictions, however, were shaped by the premise that sin and the defense of the decorum of the faith and Christendom condoned, or even required, papal intervention into the lives of the laity and by the text-based approach of popes and canonists.

Papal embargo, consequently, was not only the sum total of individual trade bans but also a legal and moral discourse that classified exchanges into legitimate and illegitimate ones, compelled merchants to distinguish clearly between themselves as (Roman) Christians and a multitude of others as non-Christians, and helped order symbolically both the relationships between the two groups and those between church and laity. Papal embargo's chief relevance thus lay within Christian society itself, where it functioned as an intangible pastoral staff. While sixteenth-century developments undermined it as a policy tool and a moral discourse alike, papal embargo inscribed the notion of the immorality of trade with the enemy into European thought.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Inventing Baby Food"

New from the University of California Press: Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet by Amy Bentley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Food consumption is a significant and complex social activity—and what a society chooses to feed its children reveals much about its tastes and ideas regarding health. In this groundbreaking historical work, Amy Bentley explores how the invention of commercial baby food shaped American notions of infancy and influenced the evolution of parental and pediatric care.

Until the late nineteenth century, infants were almost exclusively fed breast milk. But over the course of a few short decades, Americans began feeding their babies formula and solid foods, frequently as early as a few weeks after birth.

By the 1950s, commercial baby food had become emblematic of all things modern in postwar America. Little jars of baby food were thought to resolve a multitude of problems in the domestic sphere: they reduced parental anxieties about nutrition and health; they made caretakers feel empowered; and they offered women entering the workforce an irresistible convenience. But these baby food products laden with sugar, salt, and starch also became a gateway to the industrialized diet that blossomed during this period.

Today, baby food continues to be shaped by medical, commercial, and parenting trends. Baby food producers now contend with health and nutrition problems as well as the rise of alternative food movements. All of this matters because, as the author suggests, it’s during infancy that American palates become acclimated to tastes and textures, including those of highly processed, minimally nutritious, and calorie-dense industrial food products.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Oberlin, Hotbed of Abolitionism"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Oberlin, Hotbed of Abolitionism: College, Community, and the Fight for Freedom and Equality in Antebellum America by J. Brent Morris.

About the book, from the publisher:
By exploring the role of Oberlin--the college and the community--in fighting against slavery and for social equality, J. Brent Morris establishes this "hotbed of abolitionism" as the core of the antislavery movement in the West and as one of the most influential reform groups in antebellum America. As the first college to admit men and women of all races, and with a faculty and community comprised of outspoken abolitionists, Oberlin supported a cadre of activist missionaries devoted to emancipation, even if that was through unconventional methods or via an abandonment of strict ideological consistency. Their philosophy was a color-blind composite of various schools of antislavery thought aimed at supporting the best hope of success. Though historians have embraced Oberlin as a potent symbol of egalitarianism, radicalism, and religious zeal, Morris is the first to portray the complete history behind this iconic antislavery symbol.

In this book, Morris shifts the focus of generations of antislavery scholarship from the East and demonstrates that the West’s influence was largely responsible for a continuous infusion of radicalism that helped the movement stay true to its most progressive principles.
Visit J. Brent Morris's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Twilight of the Saints"

New from Oxford University Press: Twilight of the Saints: Everyday Religion in Ottoman Syria and Palestine by James Grehan.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this study of everyday religious culture in early modern Syria and Palestine, James Grehan offers a social history that looks beyond conventional ways of thinking about religion in the Middle East. The most common narratives about the region introduce us to the separate traditions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, highlighting how each one has created its own distinctive traditions and communities. Twilight of the Saints offers a reinterpretation of religious and cultural history in a region which is today associated with division and violence. Exploring the religious habits of ordinary people, from the late seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire, Grehan shows that members of different religious groups participated in a common, overarching religious culture that was still visible at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Most evident in the countryside, though present everywhere, this religious mainstream thrived in a society in which few people had access to formal religious teachings. This older, folk religious culture was steeped in notions and rituals that the modern world, with its mainly theological conception of religion, has utterly repudiated. Indeed, the people of Syria and Palestine today would hardly recognize religion as it was experienced in the not-so-distant past. Only by uncovering this lost lived religion, argues Grehan, can we appreciate the largely unacknowledged revolution in religion that has taken place in the region over the last century.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture"

New from Cambridge University Press: Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture by Ran Zwigenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1962, a Hiroshima peace delegation and an Auschwitz survivor's organization exchanged relics and testimonies, including the bones and ashes of Auschwitz victims. This symbolic encounter, in which the dead were literally conscripted in the service of the politics of the living, serves as a cornerstone of this volume, capturing how memory was utilized to rebuild and redefine a shattered world. This is a powerful study of the contentious history of remembrance and the commemoration of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in the context of the global development of Holocaust and World War II memory. Emphasizing the importance of nuclear issues in the 1950s and 1960s, Zwigenberg traces the rise of global commemoration culture through the reconstruction of Hiroshima as a 'City of Bright Peace', memorials and museums, global tourism, developments in psychiatry, and the emergence of the figure of the survivor-witness and its consequences for global memory practices.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Echoes of Mutiny"

New from Oxford University Press: Echoes of Mutiny: Race, Surveillance, and Indian Anticolonialism in North America by Seema Sohi.

About the book, from the publisher:
How did thousands of Indians who migrated to the Pacific Coast of North America during the early twentieth century come to forge an anticolonial movement that British authorities claimed nearly toppled their rule in India during the First World War? Seema Sohi traces how Indian labor migrants, students, and intellectual activists who journeyed across the globe seeking to escape the exploitative and politically repressive policies of the British Raj, linked restrictive immigration policies and political repression in North America to colonial subjugation at home. In the process, they developed an international anticolonial consciousness that boldly confronted the British and American empires. Hoping to become an important symbol for those battling against racial oppression and colonial subjugation across the world, Indian anticolonialists also provoked a global inter-imperial collaboration between U.S. and British officials to repress anticolonial revolt. They symbolized the hope of the world's racialized subjects and the fears of those who worried about the global disorder they could portend. Echoes of Mutiny provides an in-depth and transnational look at the deeply intertwined relationship between anti-Asian racism, Indian anticolonialism, and state antiradicalism in early twentieth century U.S. and global history. Through extensive archival research, Sohi uncovers the dialectical relationship between the rise of Indian anticolonialism and state repression in North America and demonstrates how Indian anticolonialists served as catalysts for the implementation of restrictive U.S. immigration and antiradical laws as well as the expansion of state power in early twentieth century India and America. Indian migrants came to understand their struggles against racial exclusion and political repression in North America as part of a broader movement against white supremacy and colonialism and articulated radical visions of anticolonialism that called not only for the end of British rule in India but the forging of democracies across the world.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Propaganda 1776"

New from Oxford University Press: Propaganda 1776: Secrets, Leaks, and Revolutionary Communications in Early America by Russ Castronovo.

About the book, from the publisher:
776 symbolizes a moment, both historical and mythic, of democracy in action. That year witnessed the release of a document, which Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations and spin, would later label as a masterstroke of propaganda. Although the Declaration of Independence relies heavily on the empiricism of self-evident truths, Bernays, who had authored the influential manifesto Propaganda in 1928, suggested that what made this iconic document so effective was not its sober rationalism but its inspiring message that ensured its dissemination throughout the American colonies. Propaganda 1776 reframes the culture of the U.S. Revolution and early Republic, revealing it to be rooted in a vast network of propaganda.

Drawing on a wide-range of resources, Russ Castronovo considers how the dispersal and circulation-indeed, the propagation-of information and opinion across the various media of the eighteenth century helped speed the flow of revolution. This book challenges conventional wisdom about propaganda as manipulation or lies by examining how popular consent and public opinion in early America relied on the spirited dissemination of rumor, forgery, and invective. While declarations about self-evident truths were important to liberty, the path toward American independence required above all else the spread of unreliable intelligence that travelled at such a pace that it could be neither confirmed nor refuted. By tracking the movements of stolen documents and leaked confidential letters, this book argues that media dissemination created a vital but seldom acknowledged connection between propaganda and democracy.

The spread of revolutionary material in the form of newspapers, pamphlets, broadsides, letters, songs, and poems across British North America created multiple networks that spawned new and often radical ideas about political communication. Communication itself became revolutionary in ways that revealed circulation to be propaganda's most vital content. By examining the kinetic aspects of print culture, Propaganda 1776 shows how the mobility of letters, pamphlets, and other texts amounts to political activity par excellence. With original examinations of Ben Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, Tom Paine, and Philip Freneau among a crowd of other notorious propagandists, this book examines how colonial men and women popularized and spread the patriot cause across America.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Damned Nation"

New from Oxford University Press: Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction by Kathryn Gin Lum.

About the book, from the publisher:
Among the pressing concerns of Americans in the first century of nationhood were day-to-day survival, political harmony, exploration of the continent, foreign policy, and--fixed deeply in the collective consciousness--hell and eternal damnation. The fear of fire and brimstone and the worm that never dies exerted a profound and lasting influence on Americans' ideas about themselves, their neighbors, and the rest of the world.

Kathryn Gin Lum poses a number of vital questions: Why did the fear of hell survive Enlightenment critiques in America, after largely subsiding in Europe and elsewhere? What were the consequences for early and antebellum Americans of living with the fear of seeing themselves and many people they knew eternally damned? How did they live under the weighty obligation to save as many souls as possible? What about those who rejected this sense of obligation and fear? Gin Lum shows that beneath early Americans' vaunted millennial optimism lurked a pervasive anxiety: that rather than being favored by God, they and their nation might be the object of divine wrath. As time-honored social hierarchies crumbled before revival fire, economic unease, and political chaos, "saved" and "damned" became as crucial distinctions as race, class, and gender. The threat of damnation became an impetus for or deterrent from all kinds of behaviors, from reading novels to owning slaves.

Gin Lum tracks the idea of hell from the Revolution to Reconstruction. She considers the ideas of theological leaders like Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, as well as those of ordinary women and men. She discusses the views of Native Americans, Americans of European and African descent, residents of Northern insane asylums and Southern plantations, New England's clergy and missionaries overseas, and even proponents of Swedenborgianism and annihilationism. Damned Nation offers a captivating account of an idea that played a transformative role in America's intellectual and cultural history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"American Conspiracy Theories"

New from Oxford University Press: American Conspiracy Theories by Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent.

About the book, from the publisher:
We are living in an age of conspiracy theories, whether it's enduring, widely held beliefs such as government involvement in the Kennedy assassination or alien activity at Roswell, fears of a powerful infiltrating group such as the Illuminati, Jews, Catholics, or communists, or modern fringe movements of varying popularity such as birtherism and trutherism. What is it in American culture that makes conspiracy theories proliferate? Who is targeted, and why? Are we in the heyday of the conspiracy theory, or is it in decline?

Though there is significant scholarly literature on the topic in psychology, sociology, philosophy, and more, American Conspiracy Theories is the first to use broad, long-term empirical data to analyze this popular American tendency. Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent draw on three sources of original data: 120,000 letters to the editor of the New York Times and Chicago Tribune from between 1890 and 2010; a two-wave survey from before and after the 2012 presidential election; and discussions of conspiracy theories culled from online news sources, blogs, and other Web sites, also from before and after the election. Through these sources, they are able to address crucial questions, such as similarities and differences in the nature of conspiracy theories over time, the role of the Internet and communications technologies in spreading modern conspiracy theories, and whether politics, economics, media, war, or other factors are most important in popularizing conspiratorial beliefs. Ultimately, they conclude that power asymmetries, both foreign and domestic, are the main drivers behind conspiracy theories, and that those at the bottom of power hierarchies have a strategic interest in blaming those at the top-in other words, "conspiracy theories are for losers." But these "losers" can end up having tremendous influence on the course of history, and American Conspiracy Theories is an unprecedented examination of one of the defining features of American political life.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Gulag Town, Company Town"

New from Yale University Press: Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta by Alan Barenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
This insightful volume offers a radical reassessment of the infamous “Gulag Archipelago” by exploring the history of Vorkuta, an arctic coal-mining outpost originally established in the 1930s as a prison camp complex. Author Alan Barenberg’s eye-opening study reveals Vorkuta as an active urban center with a substantial nonprisoner population where the borders separating camp and city were contested and permeable, enabling prisoners to establish social connections that would eventually aid them in their transitions to civilian life. With this book, Barenberg makes an important historical contribution to our understanding of forced labor in the Soviet Union and its enduring legacy.
Preview Gulag Town, Company Town.

--Marshal Zeringue