Monday, May 22, 2017

"Private Government"

New from Princeton University Press: Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It) by Elizabeth Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why our workplaces are authoritarian private governments—and why we can't see it

One in four American workers says their workplace is a "dictatorship." Yet that number probably would be even higher if we recognized most employers for what they are—private governments with sweeping authoritarian power over our lives, on duty and off. We normally think of government as something only the state does, yet many of us are governed far more—and far more obtrusively—by the private government of the workplace. In this provocative and compelling book, Elizabeth Anderson argues that the failure to see this stems from long-standing confusions. These confusions explain why, despite all evidence to the contrary, we still talk as if free markets make workers free—and why so many employers advocate less government even while they act as dictators in their businesses.

In many workplaces, employers minutely regulate workers' speech, clothing, and manners, leaving them with little privacy and few other rights. And employers often extend their authority to workers' off-duty lives. Workers can be fired for their political speech, recreational activities, diet, and almost anything else employers care to govern. Yet we continue to talk as if early advocates of market society—from John Locke and Adam Smith to Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln—were right when they argued that it would free workers from oppressive authorities. That dream was shattered by the Industrial Revolution, but the myth endures.

Private Government offers a better way to talk about the workplace, opening up space for discovering how workers can enjoy real freedom.

Based on the prestigious Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, Private Government is edited and introduced by Stephen Macedo and includes commentary by cultural critic David Bromwich, economist Tyler Cowen, historian Ann Hughes, and philosopher Niko Kolodny.
Writers Read: Elizabeth Anderson (October 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

"Curtain of Lies"

New from Oxford University Press: Curtain of Lies: The Battle over Truth in Stalinist Eastern Europe by Melissa Feinberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
While the Cold War governments of Eastern Europe operated within the confines of the Soviet worldview, their peoples confronted the narratives of both East and West. From the Soviet Union and its satellites, they heard of a West dominated by imperialist warmongers and of the glorious future only Communism could bring. A competing discourse emanated from the West, claiming that Eastern Europe was a totalitarian land of captive slaves, powerless in the face of Soviet aggression.

In Curtain of Lies, Melissa Feinberg conducts a timely examination into the nature of truth, using the political culture of Eastern Europe during the Cold War as her foundation. Focusing on the period between 1948 and 1956, she looks at how the "truth" of Eastern Europe was delineated by actors on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Feinberg offers a fresh interpretation of the Cold War as a shared political environment, exploring the ways in which ordinary East Europeans interacted with these competing understandings of their homeland. She approaches this by looking at the relationship between the American-sponsored radio stations broadcast across the Iron Curtain and the East European émigrés they interviewed as sources on life under Communism. Feinberg's careful analysis reveals that these parties developed mutually reinforced assumptions about the meaning of Communism, helping to create the evidentiary foundation for totalitarian interpretations of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. In bridging the geopolitical and the individual, Curtain of Lies provides a perspective that is both innovative in its methodology and indispensable to its field.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection by Evelleen Richards.

About the book, from the publisher:
Darwin’s concept of natural selection has been exhaustively studied, but his secondary evolutionary principle of sexual selection remains largely unexplored and misunderstood. Yet sexual selection was of great strategic importance to Darwin because it explained things that natural selection could not and offered a naturalistic, as opposed to divine, account of beauty and its perception.

Only now, with Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection, do we have a comprehensive and meticulously researched account of Darwin’s path to its formulation—one that shows the man, rather than the myth, and examines both the social and intellectual roots of Darwin’s theory. Drawing on the minutiae of his unpublished notes, annotations in his personal library, and his extensive correspondence, Evelleen Richards offers a richly detailed, multilayered history. Her fine-grained analysis comprehends the extraordinarily wide range of Darwin’s sources and disentangles the complexity of theory, practice, and analogy that went into the making of sexual selection. Richards deftly explores the narrative strands of this history and vividly brings to life the chief characters involved. A true milestone in the history of science, Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection illuminates the social and cultural contingencies of the shaping of an important—if controversial—biological concept that is back in play in current evolutionary theory.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Dancing in the English Style"

New from Manchester University Press: Dancing in the English style: Consumption, Americanisation, and national identity in Britain, 1918-50 by Allison Abra.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dancing in the English style explores the development, experience, and cultural representation of popular dance in Britain from the end of the First World War to the early 1950s. It describes the rise of modern ballroom dancing as Britain's predominant popular style, as well as the opening of hundreds of affordable dancing schools and purpose-built dance halls. It focuses in particular on the relationship between the dance profession and dance hall industry and the consumers who formed the dancing public. Together these groups negotiated the creation of a 'national' dancing style, which constructed, circulated, and commodified ideas about national identity. At the same time, the book emphasizes the global, exploring the impact of international cultural products on national identity construction, the complexities of Americanisation, and Britain's place in a transnational system of production and consumption that forged the dances of the Jazz Age.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"Selling Hope and College"

New from Cornell University Press: Selling Hope and College: Merit, Markets, and Recruitment in an Unranked School by Alex Posecznick.

About the book, from the publisher:
It has long been assumed that college admission should be a simple matter of sorting students according to merit, with the best heading off to the Ivy League and highly ranked liberal arts colleges and the rest falling naturally into their rightful places. Admission to selective institutions, where extremely fine distinctions are made, is characterized by heated public debates about whether standardized exams, high school transcripts, essays, recommendation letters, or interviews best indicate which prospective students are "worthy."

And then there is college for everyone else. But what goes into less-selective college admissions in an era when everyone feels compelled to go, regardless of preparation or life goals? “Ravenwood College,” where Alex Posecznick spent a year doing ethnographic research, was a small, private, nonprofit institution dedicated to social justice and serving traditionally underprepared students from underrepresented minority groups. To survive in the higher education marketplace, the college had to operate like a business and negotiate complex categories of merit while painting a hopeful picture of the future for its applicants. Selling Hope and College is a snapshot of a particular type of institution as it goes about the business of producing itself and justifying its place in the market. Admissions staff members were burdened by low enrollments and worked tirelessly to fill empty seats, even as they held on to the institution's special spirit. Posecznick documents what it takes to keep a “mediocre” institution open and running, and the struggles, tensions, and battles that members of the community tangle with daily as they carefully walk the line between empowering marginalized students and exploiting them.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Limits of Westernization"

New from Columbia University Press: The Limits of Westernization: A Cultural History of America in Turkey by Perin E. Gürel.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a 2001 poll, Turks ranked the United States highest when asked: "Which country is Turkey's best friend in international relations?" When the pollsters reversed the question—"Which country is Turkey's number one enemy in international relations?"—the United States came in second. How did Turkey's citizens come to hold such opposing views simultaneously? In The Limits of Westernization, Perin E. Gürel explains this unique split and its echoes in contemporary U.S.-Turkey relations.

Using Turkish and English sources, Gürel maps the reaction of Turks to the rise of the United States as a world-ordering power in the twentieth century. As Turkey transitioned from an empire to a nation-state, the country's ruling elite projected "westernization" as a necessary and desirable force but also feared its cultural damage. Turkish stock figures and figures of speech represented America both as a good model for selective westernization and as a dangerous source of degeneration. At the same time, U.S. policy makers imagined Turkey from within their own civilization templates, first as the main figure of Oriental barbarism (i.e., "the terrible Turk"), then, during the Cold War, as good pupils of modernization theory. As the Cold War transitioned to the War on Terror, Turks rebelled against the new U.S.-made trope of the "moderate Muslim." Local artifacts of westernization—folk culture crossed with American cultural exports—and alternate projections of modernity became tinder for both Turkish anti-Americanism and resistance to state-led modernization projects.

The Limits of Westernization analyzes the complex local uses of "the West" to explain how the United States could become both the best and the worst in the Turkish political imagination. Gürel traces how ideas about westernization and America have influenced national history writing and policy making, as well as everyday affects and identities. Foregrounding shifting tropes about and from Turkey—a regional power that continues to dominate American visions for the "modernization" of the Middle East—Gürel also illuminates the transnational development of powerful political tropes, from "the Terrible Turk" to "the Islamic Terrorist."
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Backpack Ambassadors"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Backpack Ambassadors: How Youth Travel Integrated Europe by Richard Ivan Jobs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Even today, in an era of cheap travel and constant connection, the image of young people backpacking across Europe remains seductively romantic. In Backpack Ambassadors, Richard Ivan Jobs tells the story of backpacking in Europe in its heyday, the decades after World War II, revealing that these footloose young people were doing more than just exploring for themselves. Rather, with each step, each border crossing, each friendship, they were quietly helping knit the continent together.

From the Berlin Wall to the beaches of Spain, the Spanish Steps in Rome to the Pudding Shop in Istanbul, Jobs tells the stories of backpackers whose personal desire for freedom of movement brought the people and places of Europe into ever-closer contact. As greater and greater numbers of young people trekked around the continent, and a truly international youth culture began to emerge, the result was a Europe that, even in the midst of Cold War tensions, found its people more and more connected, their lives more and more integrated. Drawing on archival work in eight countries and five languages, and featuring trenchant commentary on the relevance of this period for contemporary concerns about borders and migration, Backpack Ambassadors brilliantly recreates a movement that was far more influential and important than its footsore travelers could ever have realized.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"The Sum of Small Things"

New from Princeton University Press: The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett.

About the book, from the publisher:
How the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite, and how their consumer habits affect us all

In today’s world, the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite. Highly educated and defined by cultural capital rather than income bracket, these individuals earnestly buy organic, carry NPR tote bags, and breast-feed their babies. They care about discreet, inconspicuous consumption—like eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes, wearing organic cotton shirts and TOMS shoes, and listening to the Serial podcast. They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children’s growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates. In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett dubs this segment of society “the aspirational class” and discusses how, through deft decisions about education, health, parenting, and retirement, the aspirational class reproduces wealth and upward mobility, deepening the ever-wider class divide.

Exploring the rise of the aspirational class, Currid-Halkett considers how much has changed since the 1899 publication of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. In that inflammatory classic, which coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption,” Veblen described upper-class frivolities: men who used walking sticks for show, and women who bought silver flatware despite the effectiveness of cheaper aluminum utensils. Now, Currid-Halkett argues, the power of material goods as symbols of social position has diminished due to their accessibility. As a result, the aspirational class has altered its consumer habits away from overt materialism to more subtle expenditures that reveal status and knowledge. And these transformations influence how we all make choices.

With a rich narrative and extensive interviews and research, The Sum of Small Things illustrates how cultural capital leads to lifestyle shifts and what this forecasts, not just for the aspirational class but for everyone.
The Page 99 Test: The Warhol Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"The Myth of Disenchantment"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences by Jason A. Josephson-Storm.

About the book, from the publisher:
A great many theorists have argued that the defining feature of modernity is that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic. Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm argues that as broad cultural history goes, this narrative is wrong, as attempts to suppress magic have failed more often than they have succeeded. Even the human sciences have been more enchanted than is commonly supposed. But that raises the question: How did a magical, spiritualist, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted?

Josephson-Storm traces the history of the myth of disenchantment in the births of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. Ironically, the myth of mythless modernity formed at the very time that Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Indeed, Josephson-Storm argues, these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in, the occult milieu; and it was specifically in response to this burgeoning culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world.

By providing a novel history of the human sciences and their connection to esotericism, The Myth of Disenchantment dispatches with most widely held accounts of modernity and its break from the premodern past.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Biomedical Odysseys"

New from Princeton University Press: Biomedical Odysseys: Fetal Cell Experiments from Cyberspace to China by Priscilla Song.

About the book, about the book, from the publisher:
Thousands of people from more than eighty countries have traveled to China since 2001 to undergo fetal cell transplantation. Galvanized by the potential of stem and fetal cells to regenerate damaged neurons and restore lost bodily functions, people grappling with paralysis and neurodegenerative disorders have ignored the warnings of doctors and scientists back home in order to stake their futures on a Chinese experiment. Biomedical Odysseys looks at why and how these individuals have entrusted their lives to Chinese neurosurgeons operating on the forefront of experimental medicine, in a world where technologies and risks move faster than laws can keep pace. Priscilla Song shows how cutting-edge medicine is not just about the latest advances in biomedical science but also encompasses transformations in online patient activism, surgical intervention, and borderline experiments in health care bureaucracy.

Bringing together a decade of ethnographic research in hospital wards, laboratories, and online patient discussion forums, Song opens up important theoretical and methodological horizons in the anthropology of science, technology, and medicine. She illuminates how poignant journeys in search of fetal cell cures become tangled in complex webs of digital mediation, the entrepreneurial logics of postsocialist medicine, and fraught debates about the ethics of clinical experimentation.

Using innovative methods to track the border-crossing quests of Chinese clinicians and their patients from around the world, Biomedical Odysseys is the first book to map the transnational life of fetal cell therapies.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Nexus of Global Jihad"

New from Columbia University Press: Nexus of Global Jihad: Understanding Cooperation Among Terrorist Actors by Assaf Moghadam.

About the book, from the publisher:
Leading jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State dominate through cooperation in the form of knowledge sharing, resource sharing, joint training exercises, and operational collaboration. They build alliances and lesser partnerships with other formal and informal terrorist actors to recruit foreign fighters and spread their message worldwide, raising the aggregate threat level for their declared enemies. Whether they consist of friends or foes, whether they are connected locally or online, these networks create a wellspring of support for jihadist organizations that may fluctuate in strength or change in character but never runs dry. Nexus of Global Jihad identifies types of terrorist actors, the nature of their partnerships, and the environments in which they prosper to explain global jihadist terrorism's ongoing success and resilience.

Nexus of Global Jihad brings to light an emerging style of "networked cooperation" that works alongside interorganizational terrorist cooperation to establish bonds of varying depth and endurance. Case studies use recently declassified materials to illuminate al-Qaeda's dealings from Iran to the Arabian Peninsula and the informal actors that power the Sharia4 movement. The book proposes policies that increase intelligence gathering on informal terrorist actors, constrain enabling environments, and disrupt terrorist networks according to different types of cooperation. It is a vital text for strategists and scholars struggling to understand a growing spectrum of terrorist groups working together more effectively than ever before.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Matching with Transfers"

New from Princeton University Press: Matching with Transfers: The Economics of Love and Marriage by Pierre-André Chiappori.

About the book, from the publisher:
Over the past few decades, matching models, which use mathematical frameworks to analyze allocation mechanisms for heterogeneous products and individuals, have attracted renewed attention in both theoretical and applied economics. These models have been used in many contexts, from labor markets to organ donations, but recent work has tended to focus on "nontransferable" cases rather than matching models with transfers. In this important book, Pierre-André Chiappori fills a gap in the literature by presenting a clear and elegant overview of matching with transfers and provides a set of tools that enable the analysis of matching patterns in equilibrium, as well as a series of extensions. He then applies these tools to the field of family economics and shows how analysis of matching patterns and of the incentives thus generated can contribute to our understanding of long-term economic trends, including inequality and the demand for higher education.
Pierre-André Chiappori is the E. Rowan and Barbara Steinschneider Professor of Economics at Columbia University and a Distinguished Fellow at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought by Chad Alan Goldberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominent social thinkers in France, Germany, and the United States sought to understand the modern world taking shape around them. Although they worked in different national traditions and emphasized different features of modern society, they repeatedly invoked Jews as a touchstone for defining modernity and national identity in a context of rapid social change.

In Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought, Chad Alan Goldberg brings us a major new study of Western social thought through the lens of Jews and Judaism. In France, where antisemites decried the French Revolution as the “Jewish Revolution,” Émile Durkheim challenged depictions of Jews as agents of revolutionary subversion or counterrevolutionary reaction. When German thinkers such as Karl Marx, Georg Simmel, Werner Sombart, and Max Weber debated the relationship of the Jews to modern industrial capitalism, they reproduced, in secularized form, cultural assumptions derived from Christian theology. In the United States, William Thomas, Robert Park, and their students conceived the modern city and its new modes of social organization in part by reference to the Jewish immigrants concentrating there. In all three countries, social thinkers invoked real or purported differences between Jews and gentiles to elucidate key dualisms of modern social thought. The Jews thus became an intermediary through which social thinkers discerned in a roundabout fashion the nature, problems, and trajectory of their own wider societies. Goldberg rounds out his fascinating study by proposing a novel explanation for why Jews were such an important cultural reference point. He suggests a rethinking of previous scholarship on Orientalism, Occidentalism, and European perceptions of America, arguing that history extends into the present, with the Jews—and now the Jewish state—continuing to serve as an intermediary for self-reflection in the twenty-first century.
Visit Chad Alan Goldberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Mongols and the Islamic World"

New from Yale University Press: The Mongols and the Islamic World: From Conquest to Conversion by Peter Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:
An epic historical consideration of the Mongol conquest of Western Asia and the spread of Islam during the years of non-Muslim rule

The Mongol conquest of the Islamic world began in the early thirteenth century when Genghis Khan and his warriors overran Central Asia and devastated much of Iran. Distinguished historian Peter Jackson offers a fresh and fascinating consideration of the years of infidel Mongol rule in Western Asia, drawing from an impressive array of primary sources as well as modern studies to demonstrate how Islam not only survived the savagery of the conquest, but spread throughout the empire.

This unmatched study goes beyond the well-documented Mongol campaigns of massacre and devastation to explore different aspects of an immense imperial event that encompassed what is now Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan, as well as Central Asia and parts of eastern Europe. It examines in depth the cultural consequences for the incorporated Islamic lands, the Muslim experience of Mongol sovereignty, and the conquerors’ eventual conversion to Islam.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Making Minorities History"

New from Oxford University Press: Making Minorities History: Population Transfer in Twentieth-Century Europe by Matthew Frank.

About the book, from the publisher:
Making Minorities History examines the various attempts made by European states over the course of the first half of the twentieth century, under the umbrella of international law and in the name of international peace and reconciliation, to rid the Continent of its ethnographic misfits and problem populations. It is principally a study of the concept of 'population transfer' - the idea that, in order to construct stable and homogeneous nation-states and a peaceful international order out of them, national minorities could be relocated en masse in an orderly way with minimal economic and political disruption as long as there was sufficient planning, bureaucratic oversight, and international support in place.

Tracing the rise and fall of the concept from its emergence in the late 1890s through its 1940s zenith, and its geopolitical and historiographical afterlife during the Cold War, Making Minorities History explores the historical context and intellectual milieu in which population transfer developed from being initially regarded as a marginal idea propagated by a handful of political fantasists and extreme nationalists into an acceptable and a 'progressive' instrument of state policy, as amenable to bourgeois democracies and Nobel Peace Prize winners as it was to authoritarian regimes and fascist dictators. In addition to examining the planning and implementation of population transfers, and in particular the diplomatic negotiations surrounding them, Making Minorities History looks at a selection of different proposals for the resettlement of minorities that came from individuals, organizations, and states during this era of population transfer.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Labor Under Fire"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Labor Under Fire: A History of the AFL-CIO since 1979 by Timothy J. Minchin.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the Reagan years to the present, the labor movement has faced a profoundly hostile climate. As America’s largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO was forced to reckon with severe political and economic headwinds. Yet the AFL-CIO survived, consistently fighting for programs that benefited millions of Americans, including social security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, and universal health care. With a membership of more than 13 million, it was also able to launch the largest labor march in American history--1981’s Solidarity Day--and to play an important role in politics.

In a history that spans from 1979 to the present, Timothy J. Minchin tells a sweeping, national story of how the AFL-CIO sustained itself and remained a significant voice in spite of its powerful enemies and internal constraints. Full of details, characters, and never-before-told stories drawn from unexamined, restricted, and untapped archives, as well as interviews with crucial figures involved with the organization, this book tells the definitive history of the modern AFL-CIO.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Pre-Occupied Spaces"

New from Fordham University Press: Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy's Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies by Teresa Fiore.

About the book, from the publisher:
By linking Italy's long history of emigration to all continents in the world, contemporary transnational migrations directed toward it, as well as the country's colonial legacies, Fiore's book poses Italy as a unique laboratory to rethink national belonging at large in our era of massive demographic mobility. Through an interdisciplinary cultural approach, the book finds traces of globalization in a past that may hold interesting lessons about inclusiveness for the present.

Fiore rethinks Italy's formation and development on a transnational map through cultural analysis of travel, living, and work spaces as depicted in literary, filmic, and musical texts. By demonstrating how immigration in Italy today is preoccupied by its past emigration and colonialism, the book stresses commonalities and dispels preoccupations.
Teresa Fiore is Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"Latino City"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Latino City: Immigration and Urban Crisis in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1945–2000 by Llana Barber.

About the book, from the publisher:
Latino City explores the transformation of Lawrence, Massachusetts, into New England’s first Latino-majority city. Like many industrial cities, Lawrence entered a downward economic spiral in the decades after World War II due to deindustrialization and suburbanization. The arrival of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the late twentieth century brought new life to the struggling city, but settling in Lawrence was fraught with challenges. Facing hostility from their neighbors, exclusion from local governance, inadequate city services, and limited job prospects, Latinos fought and organized for the right to make a home in the city.

In this book, Llana Barber interweaves the histories of urban crisis in U.S. cities and imperial migration from Latin America. Pushed to migrate by political and economic circumstances shaped by the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America, poor and working-class Latinos then had to reckon with the segregation, joblessness, disinvestment, and profound stigma that plagued U.S. cities during the crisis era, particularly in the Rust Belt. For many Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, there was no “American Dream” awaiting them in Lawrence; instead, Latinos struggled to build lives for themselves in the ruins of industrial America.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Arguing about Empire"

New from Oxford University Press: Arguing about Empire: Imperial Rhetoric in Britain and France, 1882-1956 by Martin Thomas and Richard Toye.

About the book, from the publisher:
Arguing about Empire analyses the most divisive arguments about empire between Europe's two leading colonial powers from the age of high imperialism to the post-war era of decolonization. Focusing on the domestic contexts underlying imperial rhetoric, Arguing about Empire adopts a case-study approach, treating key imperial debates as historical episodes to be investigated in depth. The episodes in question have been selected both for their chronological range, their variety, and, above all, their vitriol. Some were straightforward disputes; others involved cooperation in tense circumstances. These include the Tunisian and Egyptian crises of 1881-2, which saw France and Britain establish new North African protectorates, ostensibly in co-operation, but actually in competition; the Fashoda Crisis of 1898, when Britain and France came to the brink of war in the aftermath of the British re-conquest of Sudan; the Moroccan crises of 1905 and 1911, early tests of the Entente Cordiale, when Britain lent support to France in the face of German threats; the 1922 Chanak crisis, when that imperial Entente broke down in the face of a threatened attack on Franco-British forces by Kemalist Turkey; World War Two, which can be seen in part as an undeclared colonial war between the former allies, complicated by the division of the French Empire between De Gaulle's Free French forces and those who remained loyal to the Vichy Regime; and finally the 1956 Suez intervention, when, far from defusing another imperial crisis, Britain colluded with France and Israel to invade Egypt - the culmination of the imperial interference that began some eighty years earlier.
The Page 99 Test: Churchill's Empire.

Writers Read: Richard Toye (November 2013).

My Book, The Movie: Churchill's Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Black for a Day"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy by Alisha Gaines.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1948, journalist Ray Sprigle traded his whiteness to live as a black man for four weeks. A little over a decade later, John Howard Griffin famously “became” black as well, traveling the American South in search of a certain kind of racial understanding. Contemporary history is littered with the surprisingly complex stories of white people passing as black, and here Alisha Gaines constructs a unique genealogy of “empathetic racial impersonation”--white liberals walking in the fantasy of black skin under the alibi of cross-racial empathy. At the end of their experiments in “blackness,” Gaines argues, these debatably well-meaning white impersonators arrived at little more than false consciousness.

Complicating the histories of black-to-white passing and blackface minstrelsy, Gaines uses an interdisciplinary approach rooted in literary studies, race theory, and cultural studies to reveal these sometimes maddening, and often absurd, experiments of racial impersonation. By examining this history of modern racial impersonation, Gaines shows that there was, and still is, a faulty cultural logic that places enormous faith in the idea that empathy is all that white Americans need to make a significant difference in how to racially navigate our society.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Pompey, Cato, and the Governance of the Roman Empire"

New from Oxford University Press: Pompey, Cato, and the Governance of the Roman Empire by Kit Morrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Provincial governance under the Roman republic has long been notorious for its corrupt officials and greedy tax-farmers, though this is far from being the whole story. This book challenges the traditional picture, contending that leading late republican citizens were more concerned about the problems of their empire than is generally recognized, and took effective steps to address them.

Attempts to improve provincial governance over the period 70-50 BC are examined in depth, with a particular focus on the contributions of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey) and the younger Marcus Porcius Cato. These efforts ranged well beyond the sanctions of the extortion law, encompassing show trials and model governors, and drawing on principles of moral philosophy. In 52-50 BC they culminated in a coordinated reform programme which combined far-sighted administrative change with a concerted attempt to transform the ethos of provincial governance: the union of what Cicero called 'Cato's policy' of ethical governance with Pompey's lex de provinciis, a law which transformed the very nature of provincial command.

Though more familiar as political opponents, Pompey and Cato were united in their interest in good governance and were capable of working alongside each other to effect positive change. This book demonstrates that it was their eventual collaboration, in the late 50s BC, that produced the republic's most significant programme of provincial reform. In the process, it offers a new perspective on these two key figures as well as an enriched understanding of provincial governance in the late Roman republic.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Struggle on Their Minds"

New from Columbia University Press: Struggle on Their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance by Alex Zamalin.

About the book, from the publisher:
American political thought has been shaped by those who fought back against social inequality, economic exclusion, the denial of political representation, and slavery, the country's original sin. Yet too often the voices of African American resistance have been neglected, silenced, or forgotten. In this timely book, Alex Zamalin considers key moments of resistance to demonstrate its current and future necessity, focusing on five activists across two centuries who fought to foreground slavery and racial injustice in American political discourse. Struggle on Their Minds shows how the core values of the American political tradition have been continually challenged—and strengthened—by antiracist resistance, creating a rich legacy of African American political thought that is an invaluable component of contemporary struggles for racial justice.

Zamalin looks at the language and concepts put forward by the abolitionists David Walker and Frederick Douglass, the antilynching activist Ida B. Wells, the Black Panther Party organizer Huey Newton, and the prison abolitionist Angela Davis. Each helped revise and transform ideas about power, justice, community, action, and the role of emotion in political action. Their thought encouraged abolitionists to call for the eradication of slavery, black journalists to chastise American institutions for their indifference to lynching, and black radicals to police the police and to condemn racial injustice in the American prison system. Taken together, these movements pushed political theory forward, offering new language and concepts to sustain democracy in tense times. Struggle on Their Minds is a critical text for our contemporary moment, showing how the political thought that comes out of resistance can energize the practice of democratic citizenship and ultimately help address the prevailing problem of racial injustice.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery"

New from Oxford University Press: The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery: Technology, Labor, Race, and Capitalism in the Greater Caribbean by Daniel B. Rood.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery shows how, at a moment of crisis after the Age of Revolutions, ambitious planters in the Upper US South, Cuba, and Brazil forged a new set of relationships with one another to sidestep the financial dominance of Great Britain and the northeastern United States. They hired a transnational group of chemists, engineers, and other "plantation experts" to assist them in adapting the technologies of the Industrial Revolution to suit "tropical" needs and maintain profitability. These experts depended on the know-how of slaves alongside whom they worked. Bondspeople with industrial craft skills played key roles in the development of new production technologies like sugar mills. While the very existence of skilled enslaved workers contradicted the racial ideologies underpinning slavery and allowed black people to wield new kinds of authority within the plantation world, their contributions reinforced the economic dynamism of the slave economies of Cuba, Brazil, and the Upper South. When separate wars broke out in all three locations in the 1860s, the transnational bloc of masters and experts took up arms to perpetuate the Greater Caribbean they had built throughout the 1840s and 1850s. Slaves played key wartime roles on the opposing side, helping put an end to chattel slavery. However, the worldwide racial division of labor that emerged from the reinvented plantation complex has proved more durable.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 7, 2017

"A Man and His Presidents"

New from Yale University Press: A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. by Alvin S. Felzenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
A new understanding of the man who changed the face of American politics

William F. Buckley Jr. is widely regarded as the most influential American conservative writer, activist, and organizer in the postwar era. In this nuanced biography, Alvin Felzenberg sheds light on little-known aspects of Buckley’s career, including his role as back-channel adviser to policy makers, his intimate friendship with both Ronald and Nancy Reagan, his changing views on civil rights, and his break with George W. Bush over the Iraq War.

Felzenberg demonstrates how Buckley conveyed his message across multiple platforms and drew upon his vast network of contacts, his personal charm, his extraordinary wit, and his celebrity status to move the center of political gravity in the United States closer to his point of view. Including many rarely seen photographs, this account of one of the most compelling personalities of American politics will appeal to conservatives, liberals, and even the apolitical.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Many Deaths of Jew Süss"

New from Princeton University Press: The Many Deaths of Jew Süss: The Notorious Trial and Execution of an Eighteenth-Century Court Jew by Yair Mintzker.

About the book, from the publisher:
A groundbreaking historical reexamination of one of the most infamous episodes in the history of anti-Semitism

Joseph Süss Oppenheimer—"Jew Süss"—is one of the most iconic figures in the history of anti-Semitism. In 1733, Oppenheimer became the "court Jew" of Carl Alexander, the duke of the small German state of Württemberg. When Carl Alexander died unexpectedly, the Württemberg authorities arrested Oppenheimer, put him on trial, and condemned him to death for unspecified "misdeeds." On February 4, 1738, Oppenheimer was hanged in front of a large crowd just outside Stuttgart. He is most often remembered today through several works of fiction, chief among them a vicious Nazi propaganda movie made in 1940 at the behest of Joseph Goebbels.

The Many Deaths of Jew Süss is a compelling new account of Oppenheimer's notorious trial. Drawing on a wealth of rare archival evidence, Yair Mintzker investigates conflicting versions of Oppenheimer's life and death as told by four contemporaries: the leading inquisitor in the criminal investigation, the most important eyewitness to Oppenheimer's final days, a fellow court Jew who was permitted to visit Oppenheimer on the eve of his execution, and one of Oppenheimer's earliest biographers. What emerges is a lurid tale of greed, sex, violence, and disgrace—but are these narrators to be trusted? Meticulously reconstructing the social world in which they lived, and taking nothing they say at face value, Mintzker conjures an unforgettable picture of "Jew Süss" in his final days that is at once moving, disturbing, and profound.

The Many Deaths of Jew Süss is a masterfully innovative work of history, and an illuminating parable about Jewish life in the fraught transition to modernity.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Aurangzeb"

New from Stanford University Press: Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King by Audrey Truschke.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir is one of the most hated men in Indian history. Widely reviled as a religious fanatic who sought to violently oppress Hindus, he is even blamed by some for setting into motion conflicts that would result in the creation of a separate Muslim state in South Asia. In her lively overview of his life and influence, Audrey Truschke offers a clear-eyed perspective on the public debate over Aurangzeb and makes the case for why his often-maligned legacy deserves to be reassessed.

Aurangzeb was arguably the most powerful and wealthiest ruler of his day. His nearly 50-year reign (1658–1707) had a profound influence on the political landscape of early modern India, and his legacy—real and imagined—continues to loom large in India and Pakistan today. Truschke evaluates Aurangzeb not by modern standards but according to the traditions and values of his own time, painting a picture of Aurangzeb as a complex figure whose relationship to Islam was dynamic, strategic, and sometimes contradictory. This book invites students of South Asian history and religion into the world of the Mughal Empire, framing the contemporary debate on Aurangzeb's impact and legacy in accessible and engaging terms.
Visit Audrey Truschke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Women in the World of Frederick Douglass"

New from Oxford University Press: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass by Leigh Fought.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his extensive writings, Frederick Douglass revealed little about his private life. His famous autobiographies present him overcoming unimaginable trials to gain his freedom and establish his identity-all in service to his public role as an abolitionist. But in both the public and domestic spheres, Douglass relied on a complicated array of relationships with women: white and black, slave-mistresses and family, political collaborators and intellectual companions, wives and daughters. And the great man needed them throughout a turbulent life that was never so linear and self-made as he often wished to portray it.

In Women in the World of Frederick Douglass, Leigh Fought illuminates the life of the famed abolitionist off the public stage. She begins with the women he knew during his life as a slave: his mother, from whom he was separated; his grandmother, who raised him; his slave mistresses, including the one who taught him how to read; and his first wife, Anna Murray, a free woman who helped him escape to freedom and managed the household that allowed him to build his career. Fought examines Douglass's varied relationships with white women-including Maria Weston Chapman, Julia Griffiths, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ottilie Assing--who were crucial to the success of his newspapers, were active in the antislavery and women's movements, and promoted his work nationally and internationally. She also considers Douglass's relationship with his daughter Rosetta, who symbolized her parents' middle class prominence but was caught navigating between their public and private worlds. Late in life, Douglass remarried to a white woman, Helen Pitts, who preserved his papers, home, and legacy for history.

By examining the circle of women around Frederick Douglass, this work brings these figures into sharper focus and reveals a fuller and more complex image of the self-proclaimed "woman's rights man."
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Chosen Nation"

New from Princeton University Press: Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era by Benjamin W. Goossen.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the global Mennonite church developed an uneasy relationship with Germany. Despite the religion's origins in the Swiss and Dutch Reformation, as well as its longstanding pacifism, tens of thousands of members embraced militarist German nationalism. Chosen Nation is a sweeping history of this encounter and the debates it sparked among parliaments, dictatorships, and congregations across Eurasia and the Americas.

Offering a multifaceted perspective on nationalism's emergence in Europe and around the world, Benjamin Goossen demonstrates how Mennonites' nationalization reflected and reshaped their faith convictions. While some church leaders modified German identity along Mennonite lines, others appropriated nationalism wholesale, advocating a specifically Mennonite version of nationhood. Examining sources from Poland to Paraguay, Goossen shows how patriotic loyalties rose and fell with religious affiliation. Individuals might claim to be German at one moment but Mennonite the next. Some external parties encouraged separatism, as when the Weimar Republic helped establish an autonomous "Mennonite State" in Latin America. Still others treated Mennonites as quintessentially German; under Hitler's Third Reich, entire colonies benefited from racial warfare and genocide in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. Whether choosing Germany as a national homeland or identifying as a chosen people, called and elected by God, Mennonites committed to collective action in ways that were intricate, fluid, and always surprising.

The first book to place Christianity and diaspora at the heart of nationality studies, Chosen Nation illuminates the rising religious nationalism of our own age.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Atrocity Speech Law"

New from Oxford University Press: Atrocity Speech Law: Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition by Gregory S. Gordon.

About the book, from the publisher:
The law governing the relationship between speech and core international crimes a key component in atrocity prevention is broken. Incitement to genocide has not been adequately defined. The law on hate speech as persecution is split between the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Instigation is confused with incitement and ordering's scope is too circumscribed. At the same time, each of these modalities does not function properly in relation to the others, yielding a misshapen body of law riddled with gaps. Existing scholarship has suggested discrete fixes to individual parts, but no work has stepped back and considered holistic solutions.

This book does. To understand how the law became so fragmented, it returns to its roots to explain how it was formulated. From there, it proposes a set of nostrums to deal with the individual deficiencies. Its analysis then culminates in a more comprehensive proposal: a "Unified Liability Theory," which would systematically link the core crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes with the four illicit speech modalities. The latter would be placed in one statutory provision criminalizing the following types of speech: (1) incitement (speech seeking but not resulting in atrocity); (2) speech abetting (non-catalytic speech synchronous with atrocity commission); (3) instigation (speech seeking and resulting in atrocity); and (4) ordering (instigation/incitement within a superior-subordinate relationship). Apart from its fragmentation, this body of law lacks a proper name as "Incitement Law" or "International Hate Speech Law," labels often used, fail to capture its breadth or relationship to mass violence. So this book proposes a new and fitting appellation: "atrocity speech law."
--Marshal Zeringue

"Scars of Independence"

New from Crown: Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth by Holger Hoock.

About the book, from the publisher:
A magisterial new work that rewrites the story of America's founding

The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war—one that shaped the nation, and the British Empire, in ways we have only begun to understand.

In Scars of Independence, Hoock writes the violence back into the story of the Revolution. American Patriots persecuted and tortured Loyalists. British troops massacred enemy soldiers and raped colonial women. Prisoners were starved on disease-ridden ships and in subterranean cells. African-Americans fighting for or against independence suffered disproportionately, and Washington’s army waged a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois. In vivid, authoritative prose, Hoock’s new reckoning also examines the moral dilemmas posed by this all-pervasive violence, as the British found themselves torn between unlimited war and restraint toward fellow subjects, while the Patriots documented war crimes in an ingenious effort to unify the fledgling nation.

For two centuries we have whitewashed this history of the Revolution. Scars of Independence forces a more honest appraisal, revealing the inherent tensions between moral purpose and violent tendencies in America’s past. In so doing, it offers a new origins story that is both relevant and necessary—an important reminder that forging a nation is rarely bloodless.
Visit Holger Hoock's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"Burn Out: The Endgame for Fossil Fuels"

New from Yale University Press: Burn Out: The Endgame for Fossil Fuels by Dieter Helm.

About the book, from the publisher:
An energy revolution is under way with far-reaching consequences for nations, companies, and the way we address climate change

Low oil prices are sending shockwaves through the global economy, and longtime industry observer Dieter Helm explains how this and other shifts are the harbingers of a coming energy revolution and how the fossil fuel age will come to an end. Surveying recent surges in technological innovations, Helm’s provocative new book documents how the global move toward the internet-of-things will inexorably reduce the demand for oil, gas, and renewables—and prove more effective than current efforts to avert climate change.

Oil companies and energy utilities must begin to adapt their existing business models or face future irrelevancy. Oil-exporting nations, particularly in the Middle East, will be negatively impacted, whereas the United States and European countries that are investing in new technologies may find themselves leaders in the geopolitical game. Timely and controversial, this book concludes by offering advice on what governments and businesses can and should do now to prepare for a radically different energy future.
Visit Dieter Helm's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"The Long Reach of the Sixties"

New from Oxford University Press: The Long Reach of the Sixties: LBJ, Nixon, and the Making of the Contemporary Supreme Court by Laura Kalman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Warren Court of the 1950s and 1960s was the most liberal in American history. Yet within a few short years, new appointments redirected the Court in a more conservative direction, a trend that continued for decades. However, even after Warren retired and the makeup of the court changed, his Court cast a shadow that extends to our own era.

In The Long Reach of the Sixties, Laura Kalman focuses on the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Presidents Johnson and Nixon attempted to dominate the Court and alter its course. Using newly released--and consistently entertaining--recordings of Lyndon Johnson's and Richard Nixon's telephone conversations, she roots their efforts to mold the Court in their desire to protect their Presidencies. The fierce ideological battles--between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches--that ensued transformed the meaning of the Warren Court in American memory. Despite the fact that the Court's decisions generally reflected public opinion, the surrounding debate calcified the image of the Warren Court as activist and liberal. Abe Fortas's embarrassing fall and Nixon's campaign against liberal justices helped make the term "activist Warren Court" totemic for liberals and conservatives alike.

The fear of a liberal court has changed the appointment process forever, Kalman argues. Drawing from sources in the Ford, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton presidential libraries, as well as the justices' papers, she shows how the desire to avoid another Warren Court has politicized appointments by an order of magnitude. Among other things, presidents now almost never nominate politicians as Supreme Court justices (another response to Warren, who had been the governor of California). Sophisticated, lively, and attuned to the ironies of history, The Long Reach of the Sixties is essential reading for all students of the modern Court and U.S. political history.
--Marshal Zeringue

"See It/Shoot It"

New from Yale University Press: See It/Shoot It: The Secret History of the CIA’s Lethal Drone Program by Christopher J. Fuller.

About the book, from the publisher:
An illuminating study tracing the evolution of drone technology and counterterrorism policy from the Reagan to the Obama administrations

This eye-opening study uncovers the history of the most important instrument of U.S. counterterrorism today: the armed drone. It reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the CIA’s covert drone program is not a product of 9/11. Rather, it is the result of U.S. counterterrorism practices extending back to an influential group of policy makers in the Reagan administration.

Tracing the evolution of counterterrorism policy and drone technology from the fallout of Iran-Contra and the CIA’s “Eagle Program” prototype in the mid-1980s to the emergence of al-Qaeda, Fuller shows how George W. Bush and Obama built upon or discarded strategies from the Reagan and Clinton eras as they responded to changes in the partisan environment, the perceived level of threat, and technological advances. Examining a range of counterterrorism strategies, he reveals why the CIA’s drones became the United States’ preferred tool for pursuing the decades-old goal of preemptively targeting anti-American terrorists around the world.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 1, 2017

"The Sultan's Renegades"

New from Oxford University Press: The Sultan's Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575-1610 by Tobias P. Graf.

About the book, from the publisher:
The figure of the renegade - a European Christian or Jew who had converted to Islam and was now serving the Ottoman sultan - is omnipresent in all genres produced by those early modern Christian Europeans who wrote about the Ottoman Empire. As few contemporaries failed to remark, converts were disproportionately represented among those who governed, administered, and fought for the sultan. Unsurprisingly, therefore, renegades have attracted considerable attention from historians of Europe as well as students of European literature. Until very recently, however, Ottomanists have been surprisingly silent on the presence of Christian-European converts in the Ottoman military-administrative elite.

The Sultan's Renegades inserts these 'foreign' converts into the context of Ottoman elite life to reorient the discussion of these individuals away from the present focus on their exceptionality, towards a qualified appreciation of their place in the Ottoman imperial enterprise and the Empire's relations with its neighbours in Christian Europe. Drawing heavily on Central European sources, this study highlights the deep political, religious, and cultural entanglements between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe beyond the Mediterranean Basin as the 'shared world' par excellence. The existence of such trans-imperial subjects is not only symptomatic of the Empire's ability to attract and integrate people of a great diversity of backgrounds, it also illustrates the extent to which the Ottomans participated in processes of religious polarization usually considered typical of Christian Europe in this period. Nevertheless, Christian Europeans remained ambivalent about those they dismissed as apostates and traitors, frequently relying on them for support in the pursuit of familial and political interests.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Communism's Shadow"

New from Princeton University Press: Communism's Shadow: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes by Grigore Pop-Eleches & Joshua A. Tucker.

About the book, from the publisher:
It has long been assumed that the historical legacy of Soviet Communism would have an important effect on post-communist states. However, prior research has focused primarily on the institutional legacy of communism. Communism's Shadow instead turns the focus to the individuals who inhabit post-communist countries, presenting a rigorous assessment of the legacy of communism on political attitudes.

Post-communist citizens hold political, economic, and social opinions that consistently differ from individuals in other countries. Grigore Pop-Eleches and Joshua Tucker introduce two distinct frameworks to explain these differences, the first of which focuses on the effects of living in a post-communist country, and the second on living through communism. Drawing on large-scale research encompassing post-communist states and other countries around the globe, the authors demonstrate that living through communism has a clear, consistent influence on why citizens in post-communist countries are, on average, less supportive of democracy and markets and more supportive of state-provided social welfare. The longer citizens have lived through communism, especially as adults, the greater their support for beliefs associated with communist ideology—the one exception being opinions regarding gender equality.

A thorough and nuanced examination of communist legacies' lasting influence on public opinion, Communism's Shadow highlights the ways in which political beliefs can outlast institutional regimes.
Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Set in Stone"

New from Oxford University Press: Set in Stone: America's Embrace of the Ten Commandments by Jenna Weissman Joselit.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Cecil B. DeMille's epic, The Ten Commandments, came out in 1956, lines of people crowded into theaters across America to admire the movie's spectacular special effects. Thanks to DeMille, the commandments now had fans as well as adherents. But the country's fascination with the Ten Commandments goes well beyond the colossal scenes of this Hollywood classic.

In this vividly rendered narrative, Jenna Weissman Joselit situates the Ten Commandments within the fabric of American history. Her subjects range from the 1860 tale of the amateur who claimed to have discovered ancient holy stones inside a burial mound in Ohio to the San Francisco congregation of Sherith Israel, which commissioned a luminous piece of stained glass depicting Moses in Yosemite for its sanctuary; from the Kansas politician Charles Walter, who in the late nineteenth century proposed codifying each commandment into state law, to the radio commentator Laura Schlessinger, who popularized the Ten Commandments as a psychotherapeutic tool in the 1990s.

At once text and object, celestial and earthbound, Judaic and Christian, the Ten Commandments were not just a theological imperative in the New World; they also provoked heated discussions around key issues such as national identity, inclusion, and pluralism. In a country as diverse and heterogeneous as the United States, the Ten Commandments offered common ground and held out the promise of order and stability, becoming the lodestar of American identity. While archaeologists, theologians, and devotees across the world still wonder what became of the tablets that Moses received on Mount Sinai, Weissman Joselit offers a surprising answer: they landed in the United States.
Visit Jenna Weissman Joselit's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 28, 2017

"Visions of Empire"

New from Princeton University Press: Visions of Empire: How Five Imperial Regimes Shaped the World by Krishan Kumar.

About the book, from the publisher:
What the rulers of empire can teach us about navigating today's increasingly interconnected world

The empires of the past were far-flung experiments in multinationalism and multiculturalism, and have much to teach us about navigating our own increasingly globalized and interconnected world. Until now, most recent scholarship on empires has focused on their subject peoples. Visions of Empire looks at their rulers, shedding critical new light on who they were, how they justified their empires, how they viewed themselves, and the styles of rule they adopted toward their subjects.

Krishan Kumar provides panoramic and multifaceted portraits of five major European empires—Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian/Soviet, British, and French—showing how each, like ancient Rome, saw itself as the carrier of universal civilization to the rest of the world. Sometimes these aims were couched in religious terms, as with Islam for the Ottomans or Catholicism for the Habsburgs. Later, the imperial missions took more secular forms, as with British political traditions or the world communism of the Soviets.

Visions of Empire offers new insights into the interactions between rulers and ruled, revealing how empire was as much a shared enterprise as a clash of oppositional interests. It explores how these empires differed from nation-states, particularly in how the ruling peoples of empires were forced to downplay or suppress their own national or ethnic identities in the interests of the long-term preservation of their rule. This compelling and in-depth book demonstrates how the rulers of empire, in their quest for a universal world order, left behind a legacy of multiculturalism and diversity that is uniquely relevant for us today.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Ring of Truth"

New from Oxford University Press: The Ring of Truth: And Other Myths of Sex and Jewelry by Wendy Doniger.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why are sex and jewelry, particularly rings, so often connected? Why do rings continually appear in stories about marriage and adultery, love and betrayal, loss and recovery, identity and masquerade? What is the mythology that makes finger rings symbols of true (or, as the case may be, untrue) love?

The cross-cultural distribution of the mythology of sexual rings is impressive--from ancient India and Greece through the Arab world to Shakespeare, Marie Antoinette, Wagner, nineteenth-century novels, Hollywood, and the De Beers advertising campaign that gave us the expression, "Diamonds Are Forever." Each chapter of The Ring of Truth, like a charm on a charm bracelet, considers a different constellation of stories: stories about rings lost and found in fish; forgetful husbands and clever wives; treacherous royal necklaces; fake jewelry and real women; modern women's revolt against the hegemony of jewelry; and the clash between common sense and conventional narratives about rings. Herein lie signet rings, betrothal rings, and magic rings of invisibility or memory. The stories are linked by a common set of meanings, such as love symbolized by the circular and unbroken shape of the ring: infinite, constant, eternal--a meaning that the stories often prove tragically false.

While most of the rings in the stories originally belonged to men, or were given to women by men, Wendy Doniger shows that it is the women who are important in these stories, as they are the ones who put the jewelry to work in the plots.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Arab Patriotism"

New from Princeton University Press: Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt by Adam Mestyan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Arab Patriotism presents the essential backstory to the formation of the modern nation-state and mass nationalism in the Middle East. While standard histories claim that the roots of Arab nationalism emerged in opposition to the Ottoman milieu, Adam Mestyan points to the patriotic sentiment that grew in the Egyptian province of the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century, arguing that it served as a pivotal way station on the path to the birth of Arab nationhood.

Through extensive archival research, Mestyan examines the collusion of various Ottoman elites in creating this nascent sense of national belonging and finds that learned culture played a central role in this development. Mestyan investigates the experience of community during this period, engendered through participation in public rituals and being part of a theater audience. He describes the embodied and textual ways these experiences were produced through urban spaces, poetry, performances, and journals. From the Khedivial Opera House's staging of Verdi's Aida and the first Arabic magazine to the ‘Urabi revolution and the restoration of the authority of Ottoman viceroys under British occupation, Mestyan illuminates the cultural dynamics of a regime that served as the precondition for nation-building in the Middle East.

A wholly original exploration of Egypt in the context of the Ottoman Empire, Arab Patriotism sheds fresh light on the evolving sense of political belonging in the Arab world.
Visit Adam Mestyan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Religion of Chiropractic"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Religion of Chiropractic: Populist Healing from the American Heartland by Holly Folk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Chiropractic is by far the most common form of alternative medicine in the United States today, but its fascinating origins stretch back to the battles between science and religion in the nineteenth century. At the center of the story are chiropractic's colorful founders, D. D. Palmer and his son, B. J. Palmer, of Davenport, Iowa, where in 1897 they established the Palmer College of Chiropractic. Holly Folk shows how the Palmers' system depicted chiropractic as a conduit for both material and spiritualized versions of a “vital principle,” reflecting popular contemporary therapies and nineteenth-century metaphysical beliefs, including the idea that the spine was home to occult forces.

The creation of chiropractic, and other Progressive-era versions of alternative medicine, happened at a time when the relationship between science and religion took on an urgent, increasingly competitive tinge. Many remarkable people, including the Palmers, undertook highly personal reinterpretations of their physical and spiritual worlds. In this context, Folk reframes alternative medicine and spirituality as a type of populist intellectual culture in which ideologies about the body comprise a highly appealing form of cultural resistance.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Heartthrobs"

New from Oxford University Press: Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire by Carol Dyhouse.

About the book, from the publisher:
What can a cultural history of the heartthrob teach us about women, desire, and social change? From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons.

When girls were supposed to be shrinking violets, passionate females risked being seen as "unbridled," or dangerously out of control. Change came slowly, and young women remained trapped in double-binds. You may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Sexual desire could be dangerous: a rash guide to making choices. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged "fast" and undesirable.

Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of cultural horizons. Young women in the early twentieth century showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino's screen performances, as tango-dancer, Arab tribesman, or desert lover. Contemporary critics were sniffy about "shop-girl" taste in literature and in men, but as consumers, girls had new clout.

In Heartthrobs, social and cultural historian Carole Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing position of women has shaped their dreams about men, from Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century to boy-bands in the early twenty-first. Reflecting on the history of women as consumers and on the nature of fantasy, escapism, and "fandom," she takes us deep into the world of gender and the imagination. A great deal of feminist literature has shown women as objects of the "male gaze": this book looks at men through the eyes of women.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Dangerous Grounds"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Dangerous Grounds: Antiwar Coffeehouses and Military Dissent in the Vietnam Era by David L. Parsons.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the Vietnam War divided the nation, a network of antiwar coffeehouses appeared in the towns and cities outside American military bases. Owned and operated by civilian activists, GI coffeehouses served as off-base refuges for the growing number of active-duty soldiers resisting the war. In the first history of this network, David L. Parsons shows how antiwar GIs and civilians united to battle local authorities, vigilante groups, and the military establishment itself by building a dynamic peace movement within the armed forces.

Peopled with lively characters and set in the tense environs of base towns around the country, this book complicates the often misunderstood relationship between the civilian antiwar movement, U.S. soldiers, and military officials during the Vietnam era. Using a broad set of primary and secondary sources, Parsons shows us a critical moment in the history of the Vietnam-era antiwar movement, when a chain of counterculture coffeehouses brought the war's turbulent politics directly to the American military's doorstep.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Reviewing the South"

New from Cambridge University Press: Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Southern Renaissance, 1920-1941 by Sarah Gardner.

About the book, from the publisher:
The American South received increased attention from national commentators during the interwar era. Beginning in the 1920s, the proliferation of daily book columns and Sunday book supplements in newspapers reflected a growing audience of educated readers and its demand for books and book reviews. This period of intensified scrutiny coincided with a boom in the publishing industry, which, in turn, encouraged newspapers to pay greater attention to the world of books. Reviewing the South shows how northern critics were as much involved in the Southern Literary Renaissance as Southern authors and critics. Southern writing, Gardner argues, served as a litmus to gauge Southern exceptionalism. For critics and their readers, nothing less than the region's ability to contribute to the vibrancy and growth of the nation was at stake.
--Marshal Zeringue