Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Insurgent Democracy"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics by Michael J. Lansing.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1915, western farmers mounted one of the most significant challenges to party politics America has seen: the Nonpartisan League, which sought to empower citizens and restrain corporate influence. Before its collapse in the 1920s, the League counted over 250,000 paying members, spread to thirteen states and two Canadian provinces, controlled North Dakota’s state government, and birthed new farmer-labor alliances. Yet today it is all but forgotten, neglected even by scholars.

Michael J. Lansing aims to change that. Insurgent Democracy offers a new look at the Nonpartisan League and a new way to understand its rise and fall in the United States and Canada. Lansing argues that, rather than a spasm of populist rage that inevitably burned itself out, the story of the League is in fact an instructive example of how popular movements can create lasting change. Depicting the League as a transnational response to economic inequity, Lansing not only resurrects its story of citizen activism, but also allows us to see its potential to inform contemporary movements.
Michael J. Lansing is associate professor of history at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 30, 2015

"Home Rule"

New from Yale University Press: Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier by Honor Sachs.

About the book, from the publisher:
On America’s western frontier, myths of prosperity concealed the brutal conditions endured by women, slaves, orphans, and the poor. As poverty and unrest took root in eighteenth-century Kentucky, western lawmakers championed ideas about whiteness, manhood, and patriarchal authority to help stabilize a politically fractious frontier. Honor Sachs combines rigorous scholarship with an engaging narrative to examine how conditions in Kentucky facilitated the expansion of rights for white men in ways that would become a model for citizenship in the country as a whole. Endorsed by many prominent western historians, this groundbreaking work is a major contribution to frontier scholarship.
Honor Sachs is assistant professor of history at Western Carolina University. She lives in Asheville, NC.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Religious Difference in a Secular Age"

New from Princeton University Press: Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report by Saba Mahmood.

About the book, from the publisher:
The plight of religious minorities in the Middle East is often attributed to the failure of secularism to take root in the region. Religious Difference in a Secular Age challenges this assessment by examining four cornerstones of secularism—political and civil equality, minority rights, religious freedom, and the legal separation of private and public domains.

Drawing on her extensive fieldwork in Egypt with Coptic Orthodox Christians and Bahais—religious minorities in a predominantly Muslim country—Saba Mahmood shows how modern secular governance has exacerbated religious tensions and inequalities rather than reduced them. Tracing the historical career of secular legal concepts in the colonial and postcolonial Middle East, she explores how contradictions at the very heart of political secularism have aggravated and amplified existing forms of Islamic hierarchy, bringing minority relations in Egypt to a new historical impasse. Through a close examination of Egyptian court cases and constitutional debates about minority rights, conflicts around family law, and controversies over freedom of expression, Mahmood invites us to reflect on the entwined histories of secularism in the Middle East and Europe.

A provocative work of scholarship, Religious Difference in a Secular Age challenges us to rethink the promise and limits of the secular ideal of religious equality.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"The Depths of Russia"

New from Cornell University Press: The Depths of Russia: Oil, Power, and Culture after Socialism by Douglas Rogers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Russia is among the world's leading oil producers, sitting atop the planet's eighth largest reserves. Like other oil-producing nations, it has been profoundly transformed by the oil industry. In The Depths of Russia, Douglas Rogers offers a nuanced and multifaceted analysis of oil's place in Soviet and Russian life, based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in the Perm region of the Urals. Moving beyond models of oil calibrated to capitalist centers and postcolonial "petrostates," Rogers traces the distinctive contours of the socialist—and then postsocialist—oil complex, showing how oil has figured in the making and remaking of space and time, state and corporation, exchange and money, and past and present. He pays special attention to the material properties and transformations of oil (from depth in subsoil deposits to toxicity in refining) and to the ways oil has echoed through a range of cultural registers.

The Depths of Russia challenges the common focus on high politics and Kremlin intrigue by considering the role of oil in barter exchanges and surrogate currencies, industry-sponsored social and cultural development initiatives, and the city of Perm's campaign to become a European Capital of Culture. Rogers also situates Soviet and post-Soviet oil in global contexts, showing that many of the forms of state and corporate power that emerged in Russia after socialism are not outliers but very much part of a global family of state-corporate alliances gathered at the intersection of corporate social responsibility, cultural sponsorship, and the energy and extractive industries.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Liberalizing Lynching"

New from Oxford University Press: Liberalizing Lynching: Building a New Racialized State by Daniel Kato.

About the book, from the publisher:
In spite of America's identity as a liberal democracy, the vile act of lynching happened frequently in the Southern United States over the course of the nation's history. Indeed, lynchings were very public events, and were even advertised in newspapers, begging the question of how such a brazen disregard for the law could have occurred so freely and openly.

Liberalizing Lynching: Building a New Racialized State seeks to explain the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the American liberal regime and the illiberal act of lynching. Drawing on legal cases, congressional documents, presidential correspondence, and newspaper reports, Daniel Kato explores the federal government's pattern of non-intervention regarding lynchings of African Americans from the late nineteenth century through the 1960s. Although popular belief holds that the federal government was unable to address racial violence in the South, this book argues that the actions and decisions of the federal government from the 1870s through the 1960s reveal that federal inaction was not primarily a consequence of institutional or legal incapacities, but rather a decision that was supported and maintained by all three branches of the federal government. Inaction stemmed from the decision not to intervene, not the powerlessness of the federal government.

To cement his argument, Kato develops the theory of constitutional anarchy, which crystallizes the ways in which federal government had the capacity to intervene, yet relinquished its responsibility while nonetheless maintaining authority. A bold challenge to conventional knowledge about lynching, Liberalizing Lynching will serve as a useful tool for students and scholars of political science, legal history, and African American studies.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Liberty and Coercion"

New from Princeton University Press: Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present by Gary Gerstle.

About the book, from the publisher:
American governance is burdened by a paradox. On the one hand, Americans don’t want "big government" meddling in their lives; on the other hand, they have repeatedly enlisted governmental help to impose their views regarding marriage, abortion, religion, and schooling on their neighbors. These contradictory stances on the role of public power have paralyzed policymaking and generated rancorous disputes about government’s legitimate scope. How did we reach this political impasse? Historian Gary Gerstle, looking at two hundred years of U.S. history, argues that the roots of the current crisis lie in two contrasting theories of power that the Framers inscribed in the Constitution.

One theory shaped the federal government, setting limits on its power in order to protect personal liberty. Another theory molded the states, authorizing them to go to extraordinary lengths, even to the point of violating individual rights, to advance the "good and welfare of the commonwealth." The Framers believed these theories could coexist comfortably, but conflict between the two has largely defined American history. Gerstle shows how national political leaders improvised brilliantly to stretch the power of the federal government beyond where it was meant to go—but at the cost of giving private interests and state governments too much sway over public policy. The states could be innovative, too. More impressive was their staying power. Only in the 1960s did the federal government, impelled by the Cold War and civil rights movement, definitively assert its primacy. But as the power of the central state expanded, its constitutional authority did not keep pace. Conservatives rebelled, making the battle over government’s proper dominion the defining issue of our time.

From the Revolution to the Tea Party, and the Bill of Rights to the national security state, Liberty and Coercion is a revelatory account of the making and unmaking of government in America.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"The Material Atlantic"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Material Atlantic: Clothing, Commerce, and Colonization in the Atlantic World, 1650-1800 by Robert DuPlessis.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this wide-ranging account, Robert DuPlessis examines globally sourced textiles that by dramatically altering consumer behaviour, helped create new economies and societies in the early modern world. This deeply researched history of cloth and clothing offers new insights into trade patterns, consumer demand and sartorial cultures that emerged across the Atlantic world between the mid-seventeenth and late-eighteenth centuries. As a result of European settlement and the construction of commercial networks stretching across much of the planet, men and women across a wide spectrum of ethnicities, social standings and occupations fashioned their garments from materials old and new, familiar and strange, and novel meanings came to be attached to different fabrics and modes of dress. The Material Atlantic illuminates crucial developments that characterised early modernity, from colonialism and slavery to economic innovation and new forms of social identity.
Robert S. DuPlessis is Isaac H. Clothier Professor of History and International Relations Emeritus at the Department of History, Swarthmore College.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"The New Abolition"

New from Yale University Press: The New Abolition: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Black Social Gospel by Gary Dorrien.

About the book, from the publisher:
The black social gospel emerged from the trauma of Reconstruction to ask what a “new abolition” would require in American society. It became an important tradition of religious thought and resistance, helping to create an alternative public sphere of excluded voices and providing the intellectual underpinnings of the civil rights movement. This tradition has been seriously overlooked, despite its immense legacy.

In this groundbreaking work, Gary Dorrien describes the early history of the black social gospel from its nineteenth-century founding to its close association in the twentieth century with W. E. B. Du Bois. He offers a new perspective on modern Christianity and the civil rights era by delineating the tradition of social justice theology and activism that led to Martin Luther King Jr.
Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. His many books range across the fields of ethics, social theory, theology, philosophy, politics, and history. His most recent book, Kantian Reason and Hegelian Spirit: The Idealistic Logic of Modern Theology, won the PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers as the best book in Theology and Religious Studies of 2012.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Strangers on Familiar Soil"

New from Yale University Press: Strangers on Familiar Soil: Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection by Edward Dallam Melillo.

About the book, from the publisher:
This groundbreaking history explores the many unrecognized, enduring linkages between the state of California and the country of Chile. The book begins in 1786, when a French expedition brought the potato from Chile to California, and it concludes with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet’s diplomatic visit to the Golden State in 2008. During the intervening centuries, new crops, foods, fertilizers, mining technologies, laborers, and ideas from Chile radically altered California's development. In turn, Californian systems of servitude, exotic species, educational programs, and capitalist development strategies dramatically shaped Chilean history.

Edward Dallam Melillo develops a new set of historical perspectives—tracing eastward-moving trends in U.S. history, uncovering South American influences on North America’s development, and reframing the Western Hemisphere from a Pacific vantage point. His innovative approach yields transnational insights and recovers long-forgotten connections between the peoples and ecosystems of Chile and California.
Edward Dallam Melillo is associate professor of history and environmental studies, Amherst College.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Sovereignty for Survival"

New from Yale University Press: Sovereignty for Survival: American Energy Development and Indian Self-Determination by James Robert Allison III.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the years following World War II many multi-national energy firms, bolstered by outdated U.S. federal laws, turned their attention to the abundant resources buried beneath Native American reservations. By the 1970s, however, a coalition of Native Americans in the Northern Plains had successfully blocked the efforts of powerful energy corporations to develop coal reserves on sovereign Indian land. This challenge to corporate and federal authorities, initiated by the Crow and Northern Cheyenne nations, changed the laws of the land to expand Native American sovereignty while simultaneously reshaping Native identities and Indian Country itself.

James Allison makes an important contribution to ethnic, environmental, and energy studies with this unique exploration of the influence of America’s indigenous peoples on energy policy and development. Allison’s fascinating history documents how certain federally supported, often environmentally damaging, energy projects were perceived by American Indians as potentially disruptive to indigenous lifeways. These perceived threats sparked a pan-tribal resistance movement that ultimately increased Native American autonomy over reservation lands and enabled an unprecedented boom in tribal entrepreneurship. At the same time, the author demonstrates how this movement generated great controversy within Native American communities, inspiring intense debates over culturally authentic forms of indigenous governance and the proper management of tribal lands.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


New from Oxford University Press: Agincourt (Great Battles Series) by Anne Curry.

About the book, from the publisher:
Agincourt (1415) is an exceptionally famous battle, one that has generated a huge and enduring cultural legacy in the six hundred years since it was fought. Everybody thinks they know what the battle was about. Even John Lennon, aged 12, wrote a poem and drew a picture headed 'Agincourt'.

But why and how has Agincourt come to mean so much to so many? Why do so many people claim their ancestors served at the battle? Is the Agincourt of popular image the real Agincourt or is our idea of the battle simply taken from Shakespeare's famous depiction of it? Written by the world's leading expert on the battle, this book shows just why it has occupied such a key place in English identity and history in the six centuries since it was fought, exploring a cultural legacy that stretches from bowmen to Beatles, via Shakespeare, Dickens, and the First World War.

Anne Curry first sets the scene, illuminating how and why the battle was fought, as well as its significance in the wider history of the Hundred Years War. She then takes the Agincourt story through the centuries from 1415 to 2015, from the immediate, and sometimes surprising, responses to it on both sides of the Channel, through its reinvention by Shakespeare in King Henry V (1599), and the enduring influence of both the play and the film versions of it, especially the patriotic Laurence Olivier version of 1944, at the time of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

But the legacy of Agincourt does not begin and end with Shakespeare's play: from the eighteenth century onwards, on both sides of the Channel and in both the English and French speaking worlds the battle was used as an explanation of national identity, giving rise to jingoistic works in print and music. It was at this time that it became fashionable for the gentry to identify themselves with the victory, and in the Victorian period the Agincourt archer came to be emphasized as the epitome of 'English freedom'. Indeed, even today, historians continue to "refight" the battle - an academic contest that has intensified over recent years, in the run-up to this sixth hundredth anniversary year.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"The Trouble with Empire"

New from Oxford University Press: The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism by Antoinette Burton.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Trouble with Empire contends that dissent and disruption were constant features of imperial experience and that they should, therefore, drive narratives of the modern British imperial past. Moving across the one hundred years between the first Anglo-Afghan war and Gandhi's salt marches, the book tracks commonalities between different forms of resistance in order to understand how regimes of imperial security worked in practice. This emphasis on protest and struggle is intended not only to reveal indigenous agency but to illuminate the limits of imperial power, official and unofficial, as well.

"Pax Britannica"-the conviction that peace was the dominant feature of modern British imperialism-remains the working presumption of most empire histories in the twenty-first century. The Trouble with Empire, in contrast, originates from skepticism about the ability of hegemons to rule unchallenged and about the capacity of imperial rule to finally and fully subdue those who contested it. The book follows various forms of dissent and disruption, both large and small, in three domains: the theater of war, the arena of market relations, and the realm of political order.

Tracking how empire did and did not work via those who struggled against it recasts ways of measuring not simply imperial success or failure, but its very viability across the uneven terrain of daily power. The Trouble with Empire argues that empires are never finally or fully accomplished but are always in motion, subject to pressures from below as well as above. In an age of spectacular insurgency and counterinsurgency across many of the former possessions of Britain's global empire, such a genealogy of the forces that troubled imperial hegemony are needed now more than ever.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Arendt and America"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Arendt and America by Richard H. King.

About the book, from the publisher:
German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906–75) fled from the Nazis to New York in 1941, and during the next thirty years in America she wrote her best-known and most influential works, such as The Human Condition, The Origins of Totalitarianism, and On Revolution. Yet, despite the fact that a substantial portion of her oeuvre was written in America, not Europe, no one has directly considered the influence of America on her thought—until now. In Arendt and America, historian Richard H. King argues that while all of Arendt’s work was haunted by her experience of totalitarianism, it was only in her adopted homeland that she was able to formulate the idea of the modern republic as an alternative to totalitarian rule.

Situating Arendt within the context of U.S. intellectual, political, and social history, King reveals how Arendt developed a fascination with the political thought of the Founding Fathers. King also re-creates her intellectual exchanges with American friends and colleagues, such as Dwight Macdonald and Mary McCarthy, and shows how her lively correspondence with sociologist David Riesman helped her understand modern American culture and society. In the last section of Arendt and America, King sets out the context in which the Eichmann controversy took place and follows the debate about “the banality of evil” that has continued ever since. As King shows, Arendt’s work, regardless of focus, was shaped by postwar American thought, culture, and politics, including the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War.

For Arendt, the United States was much more than a refuge from Nazi Germany; it was a stimulus to rethink the political, ethical, and historical traditions of human culture. This authoritative combination of intellectual history and biography offers a unique approach for thinking about the influence of America on Arendt’s ideas and also the effect of her ideas on American thought.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Britannia's Embrace"

New from Oxford University Press: Britannia's Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief by Caroline Shaw.

About the book,from the publisher:
On the eve of the American Revolution, the refugee was, according to British tradition, a Protestant who sought shelter from continental persecution. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, British refuge would be celebrated internationally as being open to all persecuted foreigners. Britain had become a haven for fugitives as diverse as Karl Marx and Louis Napoleon, Simón Bolívar and Frederick Douglass. How and why did the refugee category expand? How, in a period when no law forbade foreigners entry to Britain, did the refugee emerge as a category for humanitarian and political action? Why did the plight of these particular foreigners become such a characteristically British concern?

Current understandings about the origins of refuge have focused on the period after 1914. Britannia's Embrace offers the first historical analysis of the origins of this modern humanitarian norm in the long nineteenth century. At a time when Britons were reshaping their own political culture, this charitable endeavor became constitutive of what it meant to be liberal on the global stage. Like British anti-slavery, its sister movement, campaigning on behalf of foreign refugees seemed to give purpose to the growing empire and the resources of empire gave it greater strength. By the dawn of the twentieth century, British efforts on behalf of persecuted foreigners declined precipitously, but its legacies in law and in modern humanitarian politics would be long-lasting.

In telling this story, Britannia's Embrace puts refugee relief front and center in histories of human rights and international law and of studies of Britain in the world. In so doing, it describes the dynamic relationship between law, resources, and moral storytelling that remains critical to humanitarianism today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Saving Faith"

New for Cornell University Press: Saving Faith: Making Religious Pluralism an American Value at the Dawn of the Secular Age by David Mislin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Saving Faith, David Mislin chronicles the transformative historical moment when Americans began to reimagine their nation as one strengthened by the diverse faiths of its peoples. Between 1875 and 1925, liberal Protestant leaders abandoned religious exclusivism and leveraged their considerable cultural influence to push others to do the same. This reorientation came about as an ever-growing group of Americans found their religious faith under attack on social, intellectual, and political fronts. A new generation of outspoken agnostics assailed the very foundation of belief, while noted intellectuals embraced novel spiritual practices and claimed that Protestant Christianity had outlived its usefulness.

Faced with these grave challenges, Protestant clergy and their allies realized that the successful defense of religion against secularism required a defense of all religious traditions. They affirmed the social value—and ultimately the religious truth—of Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. They also came to view doubt and uncertainty as expressions of faith. Ultimately, the reexamination of religious difference paved the way for Protestant elites to reconsider ethnic, racial, and cultural difference. Using the manuscript collections and correspondence of leading American Protestants, as well the institutional records of various churches and religious organizations, Mislin offers insight into the historical constructions of faith and doubt, the interconnected relationship of secularism and pluralism, and the enormous influence of liberal Protestant thought on the political, cultural, and spiritual values of the twentieth-century United States.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 17, 2015

"Muslim Fashion"

New from Duke University Press: Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures by Reina Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the shops of London's Oxford Street, girls wear patterned scarves over their hair as they cluster around makeup counters. Alongside them, hip twenty-somethings style their head-wraps in high black topknots to match their black boot-cut trousers. Participating in the world of popular mainstream fashion—often thought to be the domain of the West—these young Muslim women are part of an emergent cross-faith transnational youth subculture of modest fashion. In treating hijab and other forms of modest clothing as fashion, Reina Lewis counters the overuse of images of veiled women as "evidence" in the prevalent suggestion that Muslims and Islam are incompatible with Western modernity. Muslim Fashion contextualizes modest wardrobe styling within Islamic and global consumer cultures, interviewing key players including designers, bloggers, shoppers, store clerks, and shop owners. Focusing on Britain, North America, and Turkey, Lewis provides insights into the ways young Muslim women use multiple fashion systems to negotiate religion, identity, and ethnicity.
Reina Lewis is Professor of Cultural Studies at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, and the author of Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 16, 2015

"The Filth of Progress"

New from the University of California Press: The Filth of Progress: Immigrants, Americans, and the Building of Canals and Railroads in the West by Ryan Dearinger.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Filth of Progress explores the untold side of a well-known American story. For more than a century, accounts of progress in the West foregrounded thetechnological feats performed while canals and railroads were built and lionized the capitalists who financed the projects. This book salvages stories often omitted from the triumphant narrative of progress by focusing on the suffering and survival of the workers who were treated as outsiders. Ryan Dearinger examines the moving frontiers of canal and railroad construction workers in the tumultuous years of American expansion, from the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 to the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads in 1869. He tells the story of the immigrants and Americans—the Irish, Chinese, Mormons, and native-born citizens—whose labor created the West’s infrastructure and turned the nation’s dreams of a continental empire into a reality. Dearinger reveals that canals and railroads were not static monuments to progress but moving spaces of conflict and contestation.
Ryan Dearinger is Associate Professor of History at Eastern Oregon University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Prince of Darkness"

New from St. Martin's Press: Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street's First Black Millionaire by Shane White.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century Jeremiah G. Hamilton was a well-known figure on Wall Street. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America's first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. The day after Vanderbilt's death on January 4, 1877, an almost full-page obituary on the front of the National Republican acknowledged that, in the context of his Wall Street share transactions, "There was only one man who ever fought the Commodore to the end, and that was Jeremiah Hamilton."

What Vanderbilt's obituary failed to mention, perhaps as contemporaries already knew it well, was that Hamilton was African American. Hamilton, although his origins were lowly, possibly slave, was reportedly the richest colored man in the United States, possessing a fortune of $2 million, or in excess of two hundred and $50 million in today's currency.

In Prince of Darkness, a groundbreaking and vivid account, eminent historian Shane White reveals the larger than life story of a man who defied every convention of his time. He wheeled and dealed in the lily white business world, he married a white woman, he bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, he owned railroad stock on trains he was not legally allowed to ride, and generally set his white contemporaries teeth on edge when he wasn't just plain outsmarting them. An important contribution to American history, Hamilton's life offers a way into considering, from the unusual perspective of a black man, subjects that are usually seen as being quintessentially white, totally segregated from the African American past.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"The Real Planet of the Apes"

New from Princeton University Press: The Real Planet of the Apes: A New Story of Human Origins by David R. Begun.

About the book, from the publisher:
Was Darwin wrong when he traced our origins to Africa? The Real Planet of the Apes makes the explosive claim that it was in Europe, not Africa, where apes evolved the most important hallmarks of our human lineage—such as dexterous hands and larger brains. In this compelling and accessible book, David Begun, one of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists, transports readers to an epoch in the remote past when the Earth was home to many migratory populations of ape species.

Drawing on the latest astonishing discoveries in the fossil record as well as his own experiences conducting field expeditions across Europe and Asia, Begun provides a sweeping evolutionary history of great apes and humans. He tells the story of how one of the earliest members of our evolutionary group—a new kind of primate called Proconsul—evolved from lemur-like monkeys in the primeval forests of Africa. Begun vividly describes how, over the next 10 million years, these hominoids expanded into Europe and Asia and evolved climbing and hanging adaptations, longer maturation times, and larger brains, setting the stage for the emergence of humans. As the climate deteriorated in Europe around 10 million years ago, these apes either died out or migrated south, reinvading the African continent and giving rise to the lineages of the gorilla, chimpanzee, and, ultimately, the human.

Presenting startling new insights about our fossil ape ancestors, The Real Planet of the Apes is a book that fundamentally alters our understanding of human origins.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Hittin' the Prayer Bones"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Hittin' the Prayer Bones: Materiality of Spirit in the Pentecostal South by Anderson Blanton.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this work, Anderson Blanton illuminates how prayer, faith, and healing are intertwined with technologies of sound reproduction and material culture in the charismatic Christian worship of southern Appalachia. From the radios used to broadcast prayer to the curative faith cloths circulated through the postal system, material objects known as spirit-matter have become essential since the 1940s, Blanton argues, to the Pentecostal community's understanding and performances of faith.

Hittin' the Prayer Bones draws on Blanton's extensive site visits with church congregations, radio preachers and their listeners inside and outside the broadcasting studios, and more than thirty years of recorded charismatic worship made available to him by a small Christian radio station. In documenting the transformation and consecration of everyday objects through performances of communal worship, healing prayer, and chanted preaching, Blanton frames his ethnographic research in the historiography of faith healing and prayer, as well as theoretical models of materiality and transcendence. At the same time, his work affectingly conveys the feelings of horror, healing, and humor that are unleashed in practitioners as they experience, in their own words, the sacred, healing presence of the Holy Ghost.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 12, 2015

"The Ottoman Endgame"

New from Penguin: The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908 - 1923 by Sean McMeekin.

About the book, from the publisher:
An astonishing retelling of twentieth-century history from the Ottoman perspective, delivering profound new insights into World War I and the contemporary Middle East

Between 1911 and 1922, a series of wars would engulf the Ottoman Empire and its successor states, in which the central conflict, of course, is World War I—a story we think we know well. As Sean McMeekin shows us in this revelatory new history of what he calls the “wars of the Ottoman succession,” we know far less than we think. The Ottoman Endgame brings to light the entire strategic narrative that led to an unstable new order in postwar Middle East—much of which is still felt today.

The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Modern Middle East draws from McMeekin’s years of groundbreaking research in newly opened Ottoman and Russian archives. With great storytelling flair, McMeekin makes new the epic stories we know from the Ottoman front, from Gallipoli to the exploits of Lawrence in Arabia, and introduces a vast range of new stories to Western readers. His accounts of the lead-up to World War I and the Ottoman Empire’s central role in the war itself offers an entirely new and deeper vision of the conflict. Harnessing not only Ottoman and Russian but also British, German, French, American, and Austro-Hungarian sources, the result is a truly pioneering work of scholarship that gives full justice to a multitiered war involving many belligerents.

McMeekin also brilliantly reconceives our inherited Anglo-French understanding of the war’s outcome and the collapse of the empire that followed. The book chronicles the emergence of modern Turkey and the carve-up of the rest of the Ottoman Empire as it has never been told before, offering a new perspective on such issues as the ethno-religious bloodletting and forced population transfers which attended the breakup of empire, the Balfour Declaration, the toppling of the caliphate, and the partition of Iraq and Syria—bringing the contemporary consequences into clear focus.

Every so often, a work of history completely reshapes our understanding of a subject of enormous historical and contemporary importance. The Ottoman Endgame is such a book, an instantly definitive and thrilling example of narrative history as high art.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 11, 2015

"Nut Country"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Nut Country: Right-Wing Dallas and the Birth of the Southern Strategy by Edward H. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
On the morning of November 22, 1963, President Kennedy told Jackie as they started for Dallas, “We’re heading into nut country today.” That day’s events ultimately obscured and revealed just how right he was: Oswald was a lone gunman, but the city that surrounded him was full of people who hated Kennedy and everything he stood for, led by a powerful group of ultraconservatives who would eventually remake the Republican party in their own image.

In Nut Country, Edward H. Miller tells the story of that transformation, showing how a group of influential far-right businessmen, religious leaders, and political operatives developed a potent mix of hardline anticommunism, biblical literalism, and racism to generate a violent populism—and widespread power. Though those figures were seen as extreme in Texas and elsewhere, mainstream Republicans nonetheless found themselves forced to make alliances, or tack to the right on topics like segregation. As racial resentment came to fuel the national Republican party’s divisive but effective “Southern Strategy,” the power of the extreme conservatives rooted in Texas only grew.

Drawing direct lines from Dallas to DC, Miller's captivating history offers a fresh understanding of the rise of the new Republican Party and the apocalyptic language, conspiracy theories, and ideological rigidity that remain potent features of our politics today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 10, 2015

"Philosophy before the Greeks"

New from Princeton University Press: Philosophy before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia by Marc Van De Mieroop.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is a growing recognition that philosophy isn’t unique to the West, that it didn’t begin only with the classical Greeks, and that Greek philosophy was influenced by Near Eastern traditions. Yet even today there is a widespread assumption that what came before the Greeks was “before philosophy.” In Philosophy before the Greeks, Marc Van De Mieroop, an acclaimed historian of the ancient Near East, presents a groundbreaking argument that, for three millennia before the Greeks, one Near Eastern people had a rich and sophisticated tradition of philosophy fully worthy of the name.

In the first century BC, the Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily praised the Babylonians for their devotion to philosophy. Showing the justice of Diodorus’s comment, this is the first book to argue that there were Babylonian philosophers and that they studied knowledge systematically using a coherent system of logic rooted in the practices of cuneiform script. Van De Mieroop uncovers Babylonian approaches to knowledge in three areas: the study of language, which in its analysis of the written word formed the basis of all logic; the art of divination, which interpreted communications between gods and humans; and the rules of law, which confirmed that royal justice was founded on truth.

The result is an innovative intellectual history of the ancient Near Eastern world during the many centuries in which Babylonian philosophers inspired scholars throughout the region—until the first millennium BC, when the breakdown of this cosmopolitan system enabled others, including the Greeks, to develop alternative methods of philosophical reasoning.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 9, 2015

"Preaching Islamic Renewal"

New from the University of California Press: Preaching Islamic Renewal: Religious Authority and Media in Contemporary Egypt by Jacquelene Brinton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Preaching Islamic Renewal examines the life and work of Muhammad Mitwalli Sha‘rawi, one of Egypt's most beloved and successful Islamic preachers. His wildly popular TV program aired every Friday for years until his death in 1998. At the height of his career, it was estimated that up to 30 million people tuned in to his show each week. Yet despite his pervasive and continued influence in Egypt and the wider Muslim world, Sha‘rawi was for a long time neglected by academics. While much of the academic literature that focuses on Islam in modern Egypt repeats the claim that traditionally trained Muslim scholars suffered the loss of religious authority, Sha‘rawi is instead an example of a well-trained Sunni scholar who became a national media sensation. As an advisor to the rulers of Egypt as well as the first Arab television preacher, he was one of the most important and controversial religious figures in late-twentieth-century Egypt. Thanks to the repurposing of his videos on television and on the Internet, Sha‘rawi’s performances are still regularly viewed. Jacquelene Brinton uses Sha‘rawi and his work as a lens to explore how traditional Muslim authorities have used various media to put forth a unique vision of how Islam can be renewed and revived in the contemporary world. Through his weekly television appearances he popularized long held theological and ethical beliefs and became a scholar-celebrity who impacted social and political life in Egypt.
Jacquelene Brinton is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Kansas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem"

New from Princeton University Press: Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem: Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism by Robert C. Holub.

About the book, from the publisher:
For more than a century, Nietzsche’s views about Jews and Judaism have been subject to countless polemics. The Nazis infamously fashioned the philosopher as their anti-Semitic precursor, while in the past thirty years the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. The increasingly popular view today is that Nietzsche was not only completely free of racist tendencies but also was a principled adversary of anti-Jewish thought. Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem offers a definitive reappraisal of the controversy, taking the full historical, intellectual, and biographical context into account. As Robert Holub shows, a careful consideration of all the evidence from Nietzsche’s published and unpublished writings and letters reveals that he harbored anti-Jewish prejudices throughout his life.

Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem demonstrates how this is so despite the apparent paradox of the philosopher’s well-documented opposition to the crude political anti-Semitism of the Germany of his day. As Holub explains, Nietzsche’s “anti-anti-Semitism” was motivated more by distaste for vulgar nationalism than by any objection to anti-Jewish prejudice.

A richly detailed account of a controversy that goes to the heart of Nietzsche’s reputation and reception, Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem will fascinate anyone interested in philosophy, intellectual history, or the history of anti-Semitism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"The Land of Open Graves"

New from the University of California Press: The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail by Jason De León with photographs by Michael Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

Drawing on the four major fields of anthropology, De León uses an innovative combination of ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, and forensic science to produce a scathing critique of “Prevention through Deterrence,” the federal border enforcement policy that encourages migrants to cross in areas characterized by extreme environmental conditions and high risk of death. For two decades, this policy has failed to deter border crossers while successfully turning the rugged terrain of southern Arizona into a killing field.

In harrowing detail, De León chronicles the journeys of people who have made dozens of attempts to cross the border and uncovers the stories of the objects and bodies left behind in the desert.

The Land of Open Graves will spark debate and controversy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Building the Land of Dreams"

New from Princeton University Press: Building the Land of Dreams: New Orleans and the Transformation of Early America by Eberhard L. Faber.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1795, New Orleans was a sleepy outpost at the edge of Spain’s American empire. By the 1820s, it was teeming with life, its levees packed with cotton and sugar. New Orleans had become the unquestioned urban capital of the antebellum South. Looking at this remarkable period filled with ideological struggle, class politics, and powerful personalities, Building the Land of Dreams is the narrative biography of a fascinating city at the most crucial turning point in its history.

Eberhard Faber tells the vivid story of how American rule forced New Orleans through a vast transition: from the ordered colonial world of hierarchy and subordination to the fluid, unpredictable chaos of democratic capitalism. The change in authority, from imperial Spain to Jeffersonian America, transformed everything. As the city’s diverse people struggled over the terms of the transition, they built the foundations of a dynamic, contentious hybrid metropolis. Faber describes the vital individuals who played a role in New Orleans history: from the wealthy creole planters who dreaded the influx of revolutionary ideas, to the American arrivistes who combined idealistic visions of a new republican society with selfish dreams of quick plantation fortunes, to Thomas Jefferson himself, whose powerful democratic vision for Louisiana eventually conflicted with his equally strong sense of realpolitik and desire to strengthen the American union.

Revealing how New Orleans was formed by America’s greatest impulses and ambitions, Building the Land of Dreams is an inspired exploration of one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Visit Eberhard L. Faber's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Royal Fever"

New from the University of California Press: Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture by Cele C. Otnes and Pauline Maclaran.

About the book, from the publisher:
No monarchy has proved more captivating than that of the British Royal Family. Across the globe, an estimated 2.4 billion people watched the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on television. In contemporary global consumer culture, why is the British monarchy still so compelling? Rooted in fieldwork conducted from 2005 to 2014, this book explores how and why consumers around the world leverage a wide range of products, services, and experiences to satisfy their fascination with the British Royal Family brand. It demonstrates the monarchy’s power as a brand whose narrative has existed for more than a thousand years, one that shapes consumer behavior and that retains its economic and cultural significance in the twenty-first century.

The authors explore the myriad ways consumer culture and the Royal Family intersect across collectors, commemorative objects, fashion, historic sites, media products, Royal brands, and tourist experiences.Taking a case study approach, the book examines both producer and consumer perspectives. Specific chapters illustrate how those responsible for orchestrating experiences related to the British monarchy engage the public by creating compelling consumer experiences. Others reveal how and why people devote their time, effort, and money to Royal consumption—from a woman who boasts a collection of over 10,000 pieces of British Royal Family trinkets to a retired American stockbroker who spends three months each year in England hunting for rare and expensive memorabilia. Royal Fever highlights the important role the Royal Family continues to play in many people’s lives and its ongoing contribution as a pillar of iconic British culture.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Stealing Helen"

New from Princeton University Press: Stealing Helen: The Myth of the Abducted Wife in Comparative Perspective by Lowell Edmunds.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s a familiar story: a beautiful woman is abducted and her husband journeys to recover her. This story’s best-known incarnation is also a central Greek myth—the abduction of Helen that led to the Trojan War. Stealing Helen surveys a vast range of folktales and texts exhibiting the story pattern of the abducted beautiful wife and makes a detailed comparison with the Helen of Troy myth. Lowell Edmunds shows that certain Sanskrit, Welsh, and Old Irish texts suggest there was an Indo-European story of the abducted wife before the Helen myth of the Iliad became known.

Investigating Helen’s status in ancient Greek sources, Edmunds argues that if Helen was just one trope of the abducted wife, the quest for Helen’s origin in Spartan cult can be abandoned, as can the quest for an Indo-European goddess who grew into the Helen myth. He explains that Helen was not a divine essence but a narrative figure that could replicate itself as needed, at various times or places in ancient Greece. Edmunds recovers some of these narrative Helens, such as those of the Pythagoreans and of Simon Magus, which then inspired the Helens of the Faust legend and Goethe.

Stealing Helen offers a detailed critique of prevailing views behind the “real” Helen and presents an eye-opening exploration of the many sources for this international mythical and literary icon.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"A Taste of Power"

New from the University of California Press: A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities by Katharina Vester.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the founding of the United States, culinary texts and practices have played a crucial role in the making of cultural identities and social hierarchies. A Taste of Power examines culinary writing and practices as forces for the production of social order and, at the same time, points of cultural resistance. Culinary writing has helped shape dominant ideas of nationalism, gender, and sexuality, suggesting that eating right is a gateway to becoming an American, a good citizen, an ideal man, or a perfect wife and mother.

In this brilliant interdisciplinary work, Katharina Vester examines how cookbooks became a way for women to participate in nation-building before they had access to the vote or public office, for Americans to distinguish themselves from Europeans, for middle-class authors to assert their class privileges, for men to claim superiority over women in the kitchen, and for lesbian authors to insert themselves into the heteronormative economy of culinary culture. A Taste of Power engages in close reading of a wide variety of sources and genres to uncover the intersections of food, politics, and privilege in American culture.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Citizen Sailors"

New from Harvard University Press: Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution by Nathan Perl-Rosenthal.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the decades after the United States formally declared its independence in 1776, Americans struggled to gain recognition of their new republic and their rights as citizens. None had to fight harder than the nation’s seamen, whose labor took them far from home and deep into the Atlantic world. Citizen Sailors tells the story of how their efforts to become American at sea in the midst of war and revolution created the first national, racially inclusive model of United States citizenship.

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal immerses us in sailors’ pursuit of safe passage through the ocean world during the turbulent age of revolution. Challenged by British press-gangs and French privateersmen, who considered them Britons and rejected their citizenship claims, American seamen demanded that the U.S. government take action to protect them. In response, federal leaders created a system of national identification documents for sailors and issued them to tens of thousands of mariners of all races—nearly a century before such credentials came into wider use.

Citizenship for American sailors was strikingly ahead of its time: it marked the federal government’s most extensive foray into defining the boundaries of national belonging until the Civil War era, and the government’s most explicit recognition of black Americans’ equal membership as well. This remarkable system succeeded in safeguarding seafarers, but it fell victim to rising racism and nativism after 1815. Not until the twentieth century would the United States again embrace such an inclusive vision of American nationhood.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Hitler at Home"

New from Yale University Press: Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Adolf Hitler’s makeover from rabble-rouser to statesman coincided with a series of dramatic home renovations he undertook during the mid-1930s. This provocative book exposes the dictator’s preoccupation with his private persona, which was shaped by the aesthetic and ideological management of his domestic architecture. Hitler’s bachelor life stirred rumors, and the Nazi regime relied on the dictator’s three dwellings—the Old Chancellery in Berlin, his apartment in Munich, and the Berghof, his mountain home on the Obersalzberg—to foster the myth of the Führer as a morally upstanding and refined man. Author Despina Stratigakos also reveals the previously untold story of Hitler’s interior designer, Gerdy Troost, through newly discovered archival sources.

At the height of the Third Reich, media outlets around the world showcased Hitler’s homes to audiences eager for behind-the-scenes stories. After the war, fascination with Hitler’s domestic life continued as soldiers and journalists searched his dwellings for insights into his psychology. The book’s rich illustrations, many previously unpublished, offer readers a rare glimpse into the decisions involved in the making of Hitler’s homes and into the sheer power of the propaganda that influenced how the world saw him.
--Marshal Zeringue