Monday, October 2, 2023

"The Lies of the Land"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Lies of the Land: Seeing Rural America for What It Is―and Isn’t by Steven Conn.

About the book, from the publisher:
A new history that boldly challenges the idea of a rural American crisis.

It seems everyone has an opinion about rural America. Is it gripped in a tragic decline? Or is it on the cusp of a glorious revival? Is it the key to understanding America today? Steven Conn argues that we’re missing the real question: Is rural America even a thing? No, says Conn, who believes we see only what we want to see in the lands beyond the suburbs—fantasies about moral (or backward) communities, simpler (or repressive) living, and what it means to be authentically (or wrongheadedly) American. If we want to build a better future, Conn argues, we must accept that these visions don’t exist and never did.

In The Lies of the Land, Conn shows that rural America—so often characterized as in crisis or in danger of being left behind—has actually been at the center of modern American history, shaped by the same forces as everywhere else in the country: militarization, industrialization, corporatization, and suburbanization. Examining each of these forces in turn, Conn invites us to dispense with the lies and half-truths we’ve believed about rural America and to pursue better solutions to the very real challenges shared all across our nation.
The Page 99 Test: History's Shadow.

The Page 99 Test: Americans Against the City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 1, 2023

"Fate Unknown"

New from Oxford University Press: Fate Unknown: Tracing the Missing after World War II and the Holocaust by Dan Stone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dan Stone tells the story of the last great unknown archive of Nazism, the International Tracing Service. Set up by the Allies at the end of World War II, the ITS has worked until today to find missing persons and to aid survivors with restitution claims or to reunite them with loved ones. From retracing the steps of the 'death marches' with the aim of discovering the burial sites of those murdered across the towns and villages of Central Europe, to knocking on doors of German foster homes to find the children of forced labourers, Fate Unknown uncovers the history of this remarkable archive and its more than 30 million documents.

Under the leadership of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the tracing service became one of the most secretive of postwar institutions, unknown even to historians of the period. Delving deeply into the archival material, Stone examines the little-known sub-camps and, after the war, survivors' experience of displaced persons' camps, bringing to life remarkable stories of tracing. Fate Unknown combs the archives to reveal the real horror of the Holocaust by following survivors' horrific journeys through the Nazi camp system and its aftermath.

The postwar period was an age of shortage of resources, bitterness, and revenge. Yet the ITS tells a different story: of international collaboration, of commitment to justice, and of helping survivors and their relatives in the context of Cold War suspicion. These stories speak to a remarkable attempt by the ITS, before the Holocaust was a matter of worldwide interest, to carry out a programme of ethical repair and to counteract some of the worst effects of the Nazis' crimes.
The Page 99 Test: Goodbye to All That?.

The Page 99 Test: The Liberation of the Camps.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 30, 2023

"Caring for Mom and Dad"

New from Cambridge University Press: Caring for Mom and Dad: Parent Dependency and American Social Policy by Susan Stein-Roggenbuck.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout the twentieth-century, the United States implemented social policies targeting the needs of dependent parents – parents who were no longer able to work but lacked sufficient financial resources to support themselves. These parent dependency policies either encouraged or required family members, particularly adult children, to provide support as an alternative to government benefits. Debates over how best to support aging parents centered on conceptualizations of dependency and the moral obligations family owed their parents. Measures of dependency often inhibited aging Americans' access to benefits they needed, focusing instead on ensuring that they were, in fact, dependent and that other family resources were not available. Susan Stein-Roggenbuck highlights this understudied aspect of the modern US welfare state, highlighting the limited support provided to aging parents and the hardship they and their adult children endured in the efforts to minimize public expenditures.
Susan Stein-Roggenbuck is an Associate Professor of American social policy in James Madison College at Michigan State University. She is the author of Negotiating Relief: The Development of Social Welfare Programs in Depression-Era Michigan, 1930–1940 (2020).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 29, 2023

"Black Grief/White Grievance"

New from Princeton University Press: Black Grief/White Grievance: The Politics of Loss by Juliet Hooker.

About the book, from the publisher:
How race shapes expectations about whose losses matter

In democracies, citizens must accept loss; we can’t always be on the winning side. But in the United States, the fundamental civic capacity of being able to lose is not distributed equally. Propped up by white supremacy, whites (as a group) are accustomed to winning; they have generally been able to exercise political rule without having to accept sharing it. Black citizens, on the other hand, are expected to be political heroes whose civic suffering enables progress toward racial justice. In this book, Juliet Hooker, a leading thinker on democracy and race, argues that the two most important forces driving racial politics in the United States today are Black grief and white grievance. Black grief is exemplified by current protests against police violence―the latest in a tradition of violent death and subsequent public mourning spurring Black political mobilization. The potent politics of white grievance, meanwhile, which is also not new, imagines the United States as a white country under siege.

Drawing on African American political thought, Hooker examines key moments in US racial politics that illuminate the problem of loss in democracy. She connects today’s Black Lives Matter protests to the use of lynching photographs to arouse public outrage over post–Reconstruction era racial terror, and she discusses Emmett Till’s funeral as a catalyst for the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. She also traces the political weaponization of white victimhood during the Obama and Trump presidencies. Calling for an expansion of Black and white political imaginations, Hooker argues that both must learn to sit with loss, for different reasons and to different ends.
The Page 99 Test: Theorizing Race in the Americas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 28, 2023

"Religious Appeals in Power Politics"

New from Cornell University Press: Religious Appeals in Power Politics by Peter S. Henne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Religious Appeals in Power Politics examines how states use, or attempt to use, confessional appeals to religious belief and conscience to advance political strategies and objectives. Through case studies of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, Peter S. Henne demonstrates that religion, although not as high profile or well-funded a tool as economic sanctions or threats of military force, remains a potent weapon in international relations.

Public policy analysis often minimizes the role of religion, favoring military or economic matters as the "important" arenas of policy debate. As Henne shows, however, at transformative moments in political history, states turn to faith-based appeals to integrate or fragment international coalitions. Henne highlights Saudi Arabia's 1960s rivalry with Egypt, the United States's post-9/11 leadership in the global war on terrorism, and the Russian Federation's contemporary expansionism both to reveal the presence and power of calls for religious unity and to emphasize the uncertainty and anxiety such appeals can create. Religious Appeals in Power Politics offers a bold corrective to those who consider religion as tangential to military or economic might.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

"The Isolated Presidency"

New from Oxford University Press: The Isolated Presidency by Jordan T. Cash.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since before the ratification of the Constitution, students, scholars, and statesmen in American politics have grappled with an important question: how powerful is the President of the United States? For many scholars, it is a question that can be answered only by considering factors outside the office itself, such as the president's popularity, personal clout, political talents, or institutional relationships.

In The Isolated Presidency, Jordan T. Cash re-frames this question to instead ask what authority is available to all presidents. Drawing on the Constitution itself, Cash argues that the presidency possesses an internal logic derived from its structure, duties, and powers which not only grants the president a unique institutional perspective, but also provides the president with considerable agency and discretion in pursuing agendas.

To gain a clear view of how the Constitution creates a baseline of authority that is available to all presidents, Cash examines the "isolated presidents"--presidents who were unelected, faced divided government, and were opposed by major factions of their own political parties. Stripped of all external supports, these presidents were left with nothing but their constitutional authority to rely on. Yet despite their disadvantageous circumstances, these presidents were able to achieve major policy successes solely by use of their constitutional powers. Through three case studies of isolated presidents, Cash illustrates how the Constitution creates an empowering logic within the presidency which orients presidential behavior and grants every president significant power and agency. As American politics remains polarized and divided, The Isolated Presidency provides lessons and examples of what constitutionally derived actions a president can take when confronted with the recurring issues of divided government and political gridlock.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

"When Conscience Calls"

New from the University of Chicago Press: When Conscience Calls: Moral Courage in Times of Confusion and Despair by Kristen Renwick Monroe.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is moral courage? Why is it important and what drives it? An argument for why we should care about moral courage and how it shapes the world around us.

War, totalitarianism, pandemics, and political repression are among the many challenges and crises that force us to consider what humane people can do when the world falls apart. When tolerance disappears, truth becomes rare, and civilized discourse is a distant ideal, why do certain individuals find the courage to speak out when most do not?

When Conscience Calls offers powerful portraits of ordinary people performing extraordinary acts—be it confronting presidents and racist mobs or simply caring for and protecting the vulnerable. Uniting these portraits is the idea that moral courage stems not from choice but from one’s identity. Ultimately, Kristen Renwick Monroe argues bravery derives from who we are, our core values, and our capacity to believe we must change the world. When Conscience Calls is a rich examination of why some citizens embrace anger, bitterness, and fearmongering while others seek common ground, fight against dogma, and stand up to hate.
The Page 99 Test: Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 25, 2023

"The Darkened Light of Faith"

New from Princeton University Press: The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought by Melvin L. Rogers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Could the African American political tradition save American democracy? African Americans have had every reason to reject America’s democratic experiment. Yet African American activists, intellectuals, and artists who have sought to transform the United States into a racially just society have put forward some of the most original and powerful ideas about how to make America live up to its democratic ideals. In The Darkened Light of Faith, Melvin Rogers provides a bold new account of African American political thought through the works and lives of individuals who built this vital tradition—a tradition that is urgently needed today.

The book reexamines how figures as diverse as David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, and James Baldwin thought about the politics, people, character, and culture of a society that so often dominated them. Sharing a light of faith darkened but not extinguished by the tragic legacy of slavery, they resisted the conclusion that America would always be committed to white supremacy. They believed that democracy is always in the process of becoming and that they could use it to reimagine society. But they also saw that achieving racial justice wouldn’t absolve us of the darkest features of our shared past, and that democracy must be measured by how skillfully we confront a history that will forever remain with us.

An ambitious account of the profound ways African Americans have reimagined democracy, The Darkened Light of Faith offers invaluable lessons about how to grapple with racial injustice and make democracy work.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 24, 2023

"Creole New Orleans in the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1775–1877"

New from LSU Press: Creole New Orleans in the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1775–1877 by Caryn Cossé Bell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nowhere in the United States did the Age of Democratic Revolution exert as profound an influence as in New Orleans. In 1809–10, refugees of the Haitian Revolution doubled the size of the city. In 1811, hundreds of Saint-Dominguan, African, and Louisianan plantation workers marched downriver toward the city in the nation’s largest-ever slave revolt. Itinerant revolutionaries from throughout the Atlantic congregated in New Orleans in the cause of Latin American independence. Together with the refugee soldiers of the Haitian Revolution (both Black and white), their presence proved decisive in the Battle of New Orleans. After defeating the British, the soldiers rejoined the struggle against Spanish imperialism. In Creole New Orleans in the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1775–1877, Caryn Cossé Bell sets forth these momentous events and much more to document the revolutionary era’s impact on the city.

Bell’s study begins with the 1883 memoir of Hélène d’Aquin Allain, a French Creole and descendant of the refugee community, who grew up in antebellum New Orleans. Allain’s d’Aquin forebears fought alongside the Savarys, a politically influential free family of color, in the Haitian Revolution. Forced from Saint-Domingue/Haiti, the allied families retreated to New Orleans. Bell’s reconstruction of the d’Aquin family network, interracial alliances, and business partnerships provides a productive framework for exploring the city’s presence at the crossroads of the revolutionary Atlantic.

Residing in New Orleans in the heyday of French Romanticism, Allain experienced a cultural revolution that exerted an enormous influence on religious beliefs, literature, politics, and even, as Bell documents, the practice of medicine in the city. In France, the highly politicized nature of the movement culminated in the 1848 French Revolution with its abolition of slavery and enfranchisement of freed men and women. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Afro-Creole leaders of the diasporic community pointed to events in France and stood in the forefront of the struggle to revolutionize race relations in their own nation. As Bell demonstrates, their cultural and political legacy remains a formidable presence in twenty-first-century New Orleans.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2023

"Citizen Knowledge"

New from Oxford University Press: Citizen Knowledge: Markets, Experts, and the Infrastructure of Democracy by Lisa Herzog.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many democratic societies currently struggle with issues around knowledge: fake news, distrust of experts, a fear of technocratic tendencies. In Citizen Knowledge, Lisa Herzog discusses how knowledge, understood in a broad sense, should be dealt with in societies that combine a democratic political system with a capitalist economic system. How do citizens learn about politics? How do new scientific insights make their way into politics? What role can markets play in processing decentralized knowledge?

Herzog takes on the perspective of "democratic institutionalism," which focuses on the institutions that enable an inclusive and stable democratic life. She argues that the fraught relation between democracy and capitalism gets out of balance if too much knowledge is treated according to the logic of markets rather than democracy. Complex societies need different mechanisms for dealing with knowledge, among which markets, democratic deliberation, and expert communities are central. Citizen Knowledge emphasizes the responsibility of bearers of knowledge and the need to support institutions that promote active and informed citizenship. Through this lens, Herzog develops the vision of an egalitarian society that considers the use of knowledge in society not a matter of markets, but of shared democratic responsibility, supported by epistemic infrastructures. As such, Herzog's argument contributes to political epistemology, a new subdiscipline of philosophy, with a specific focus on the interrelation between economic and political processes.

Citizen Knowledge draws from both the history of ideas and systematic arguments about the nature of knowledge to propose reforms for a more unified and flourishing democratic system.
The Page 99 Test: Inventing the Market.

--Marshal Zeringue