Saturday, October 16, 2021

"Klimat: Russia in the Age of Climate Change"

New from Harvard University Press: Klimat: Russia in the Age of Climate Change by Thane Gustafson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A discerning analysis of the future effects of climate change on Russia, the major power most dependent on the fossil fuel economy.

Russia will be one of the countries most affected by climate change. No major power is more economically dependent on the export of hydrocarbons; at the same time, two-thirds of Russia’s territory lies in the arctic north, where melting permafrost is already imposing growing damage. Climate change also brings drought and floods to Russia’s south, threatening the country’s agricultural exports.

Thane Gustafson predicts that, over the next thirty years, climate change will leave a dramatic imprint on Russia. The decline of fossil fuel use is already underway, and restrictions on hydrocarbons will only tighten, cutting fuel prices and slashing Russia’s export revenues. Yet Russia has no substitutes for oil and gas revenues. The country is unprepared for the worldwide transition to renewable energy, as Russian leaders continue to invest the national wealth in oil and gas while dismissing the promise of post-carbon technologies. Nor has the state made efforts to offset the direct damage that climate change will do inside the country. Optimists point to new opportunities—higher temperatures could increase agricultural yields, the melting of arctic ice may open year-round shipping lanes in the far north, and Russia could become a global nuclear-energy supplier. But the eventual post-Putin generation of Russian leaders will nonetheless face enormous handicaps, as their country finds itself weaker than at any time in the preceding century.

Lucid and thought-provoking, Klimat shows how climate change is poised to alter the global order, potentially toppling even great powers from their perches.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 15, 2021

"The Neomercantilists"

New from Cornell University Press: The Neomercantilists: A Global Intellectual History by Eric Helleiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
At a time when critiques of free trade policies are gaining currency, The Neomercantilists helps make sense of the protectionist turn, providing the first intellectual history of the genealogy of neomercantilism. Eric Helleiner identifies many pioneers of this ideology between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries who backed strategic protectionism and other forms of government economic activism to promote state wealth and power. They included not just the famous Friedrich List, but also numerous lesser-known thinkers, many of whom came from outside of the West.

Helleiner's novel emphasis on neomercantilism's diverse origins challenges traditional Western-centric understandings of its history. It illuminates neglected local intellectual traditions and international flows of ideas that gave rise to distinctive varieties of the ideology around the globe, including in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. This rich history left enduring intellectual legacies, including in the two dominant powers of the contemporary world economy: China and the United States.

The result is an exceptional study of a set of profoundly influential economic ideas. While rooted in the past, it sheds light on the present moment. The Neomercantilists shows how we might construct more global approaches to the study of international political economy and intellectual history, devoting attention to thinkers from across the world, and to the cross-border circulation of thought.
The Page 99 Test: Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 14, 2021

"Career & Family"

New from Princeton University Press: Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity by Claudia Goldin.

About the book, from the publisher:
A century ago, it was a given that a woman with a college degree had to choose between having a career and a family. Today, there are more female college graduates than ever before, and more women want to have a career and family, yet challenges persist at work and at home. This book traces how generations of women have responded to the problem of balancing career and family as the twentieth century experienced a sea change in gender equality, revealing why true equity for dual career couples remains frustratingly out of reach.

Drawing on decades of her own groundbreaking research, Claudia Goldin provides a fresh, in-depth look at the diverse experiences of college-educated women from the 1900s to today, examining the aspirations they formed—and the barriers they faced—in terms of career, job, marriage, and children. She shows how many professions are “greedy,” paying disproportionately more for long hours and weekend work, and how this perpetuates disparities between women and men. Goldin demonstrates how the era of COVID-19 has severely hindered women’s advancement, yet how the growth of remote and flexible work may be the pandemic’s silver lining.

Antidiscrimination laws and unbiased managers, while valuable, are not enough. Career and Family explains why we must make fundamental changes to the way we work and how we value caregiving if we are ever to achieve gender equality and couple equity.
. --Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

"Empire of Destruction"

New from Yale University Press: Empire of Destruction: A History of Nazi Mass Killing by Alex J. Kay.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comparative, comprehensive history of Nazi mass killing – showing how genocidal policies were crucial to the regime’s strategy to win the war

Nazi Germany killed approximately 13 million civilians and other non-combatants in deliberate policies of mass murder, mostly during the war years. Almost half the victims were Jewish, systematically destroyed in the Holocaust, the core of the Nazis’ pan-European racial purification programme.

Alex Kay argues that the genocide of European Jewry can be examined in the wider context of Nazi mass killing. For the first time, Empire of Destruction considers Europe’s Jews alongside all the other major victim groups: captive Red Army soldiers, the Soviet urban population, unarmed civilian victims of preventive terror and reprisals, the mentally and physically disabled, the European Roma and the Polish intelligentsia. Kay shows how each of these groups was regarded by the Nazi regime as a potential threat to Germany’s ability to successfully wage a war for hegemony in Europe.

Combining the full quantitative scale of the killings with the individual horror, this is a vital and groundbreaking work.
The Page 99 Test: The Making of an SS Killer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

"Cogs and Monsters"

New from Princeton University Press: Cogs and Monsters: What Economics Is, and What It Should Be by Diane Coyle.

About the book, from the publisher:
Digital technology, big data, big tech, machine learning, and AI are revolutionizing both the tools of economics and the phenomena it seeks to measure, understand, and shape. In Cogs and Monsters, Diane Coyle explores the enormous problems—but also opportunities—facing economics today if it is to respond effectively to these dizzying changes and help policymakers solve the world’s crises, from pandemic recovery and inequality to slow growth and the climate emergency.

Mainstream economics, Coyle says, still assumes people are “cogs”—self-interested, calculating, independent agents interacting in defined contexts. But the digital economy is much more characterized by “monsters”—untethered, snowballing, and socially influenced unknowns. What is worse, by treating people as cogs, economics is creating its own monsters, leaving itself without the tools to understand the new problems it faces. In response, Coyle asks whether economic individualism is still valid in the digital economy, whether we need to measure growth and progress in new ways, and whether economics can ever be objective, since it influences what it analyzes. Just as important, the discipline needs to correct its striking lack of diversity and inclusion if it is to be able to offer new solutions to new problems.

Filled with original insights, Cogs and Monsters offers a road map for how economics can adapt to the rewiring of society, including by digital technologies, and realize its potential to play a hugely positive role in the twenty-first century.
Visit The Enlightened Economist blog.

The Page 69 Test: Diane Coyle's The Soulful Science.

The Page 99 Test: The Economics of Enough.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 11, 2021

"Public Confessions"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed American Politics by Rebecca L. Davis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Personal reinvention is a core part of the human condition. Yet in the mid-twentieth century, certain private religious choices became lightning rods for public outrage and debate.

Public Confessions reveals the controversial religious conversions that shaped modern America. Rebecca L. Davis explains why the new faiths of notable figures including Clare Boothe Luce, Whittaker Chambers, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Chuck Colson, and others riveted the American public. Unconventional religious choices charted new ways of declaring an “authentic” identity amid escalating Cold War fears of brainwashing and coercion. Facing pressure to celebrate a specific vision of Americanism, these converts variously attracted and repelled members of the American public. Whether the act of changing religions was viewed as selfish, reckless, or even unpatriotic, it provoked controversies that ultimately transformed American politics.

Public Confessions takes intimate history to its widest relevance, and in so doing, makes you see yourself in both the private and public stories it tells.
Visit Rebecca L. Davis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 10, 2021

"American Afterlives"

New from Princeton University Press: American Afterlives: Reinventing Death in the Twenty-First Century by Shannon Lee Dawdy.

About the book, from the publisher:
A mesmerizing trip across America to investigate the changing face of death in contemporary life

Death in the United States is undergoing a quiet revolution. You can have your body frozen, dissected, composted, dissolved, or tanned. Your family can incorporate your remains into jewelry, shotgun shells, paperweights, and artwork. Cremations have more than doubled, and DIY home funerals and green burials are on the rise. American Afterlives is Shannon Lee Dawdy’s lyrical and compassionate account of changing death practices in America as people face their own mortality and search for a different kind of afterlife.

As an anthropologist and archaeologist, Dawdy knows that how a society treats its dead yields powerful clues about its beliefs and values. As someone who has experienced loss herself, she knows there is no way to tell this story without also reexamining her own views about death and dying. In this meditative and gently humorous book, Dawdy embarks on a transformative journey across the United States, talking to funeral directors, death-care entrepreneurs, designers, cemetery owners, death doulas, and ordinary people from all walks of life. What she discovers is that, by reinventing death, Americans are reworking their ideas about personhood, ritual, and connection across generations. She also confronts the seeming contradiction that American death is becoming at the same time more materialistic and more spiritual.

Written in conjunction with a documentary film project, American Afterlives features images by cinematographer Daniel Zox that provide their own testament to our rapidly changing attitudes toward death and the afterlife.
Visit Shannon Lee Dawdy's website.

The Page 99 Test: Building the Devil's Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 9, 2021

"The Mismeasure of the Self"

New from Oxford University Press: The Mismeasure of the Self: A Study in Vice Epistemology by Alessandra Tanesini.

About the book , from the publisher:
The Mismeasure of the Self is dedicated to vices that blight many lives. They are the vices of superiority, characteristic of those who feel entitled, superior and who have an inflated opinion of themselves, and those of inferiority, typical of those who are riddled with self-doubt and feel inferior. Arrogance, narcissism, haughtiness, and vanity are among the first group. Self-abasement, fatalism, servility, and timidity exemplify the second. This book shows these traits to be to vices of self-evaluation and describes their pervasive harmful effects in some detail. Even though the influence of these traits extends to any aspect of life, the focus of this book is their damaging impact on the life of the intellect. Tanesini develops and defends a view of these vices that puts vicious motivations at their core. The analyses developed in this work build on empirical research in attitude psychology and on philosophical theories in virtue ethics and epistemology. The book concludes with a positive proposal for weakening vice and promoting virtue.
Visit Alessandra Tanesini's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 8, 2021

"Pushing Cool"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette by Keith Wailoo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Spanning a century, Pushing Cool reveals how the twin deceptions of health and Black affinity for menthol were crafted—and how the industry’s disturbingly powerful narrative has endured to this day.

Police put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold for selling cigarettes on a New York City street corner. George Floyd was killed by police outside a store in Minneapolis known as “the best place to buy menthols.” Black smokers overwhelmingly prefer menthol brands such as Kool, Salem, and Newport. All of this is no coincidence. The disproportionate Black deaths and cries of “I can’t breathe” that ring out in our era—because of police violence, COVID-19, or menthol smoking—are intimately connected to a post-1960s history of race and exploitation.

In Pushing Cool, Keith Wailoo tells the intricate and poignant story of menthol cigarettes for the first time. He pulls back the curtain to reveal the hidden persuaders who shaped menthol buying habits and racial markets across America: the world of tobacco marketers, consultants, psychologists, and social scientists, as well as Black lawmakers and civic groups including the NAACP. Today most Black smokers buy menthols, and calls to prohibit their circulation hinge on a history of the industry’s targeted racial marketing. In 2009, when Congress banned flavored cigarettes as criminal enticements to encourage youth smoking, menthol cigarettes were also slated to be banned. Through a detailed study of internal tobacco industry documents, Wailoo exposes why they weren’t and how they remain so popular with Black smokers.
Visit Keith Wailoo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

"Poverty, Solidarity, and Poor-led Social Movements"

New from Oxford University Press: Poverty, Solidarity, and Poor-Led Social Movements by Monique Deveaux.

About the book, from the publisher:
Poverty is not only about material deprivation, but also about the subordination and disempowerment of poor populations. So why isn't the emancipation and empowerment of the poor a core goal of ethical arguments for poverty reduction? Deveaux argues in this book that philosophers fail to prioritize these ends, and to recognize the moral and political agency of poor people, because they still conceive of poverty narrowly and apolitically as mere needs scarcity. By comparison, poor activists and critical poverty researchers who see deprivation as structural exclusion and powerlessness advocate a "poor-centered," poor-led, approach to reducing poverty. Stuck in an older paradigm of poverty thinking, philosophers have failed to recognize the power and moral authority of poor communities--and their movements for justice and social change.

If normative ethicists seek to contribute to proposals for just and durable poverty reduction, they will need to look to the insights and aims of "pro-poor," poor-led social movements. From rural landless workers in Brazil, to urban shack dwellers in South Africa, to unemployed workers impoverished by neoliberal economic policies in Argentina, poor-led organizations and movements advance a more political understanding of poverty--and of what is needed to eradicate it. Deveaux shows how these groups develop the political consciousness and collective capabilities of poor communities and help to create the basis for solidarity among poor populations. Defending the idea of a political responsibility for solidarity, she shows how nonpoor outsiders--individuals, institutions, and states--can help to advance a transformative anti-poverty agenda by supporting the efforts of these movements.
--Marshal Zeringue