Monday, May 31, 2021

"Ink under the Fingernails"

New from the University of California Press: Ink under the Fingernails: Printing Politics in Nineteenth-Century Mexico by Corinna Zeltsman.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the independence era in Mexico, individuals and factions of all stripes embraced the printing press as a key weapon in the broad struggle for political power. Taking readers into the printing shops, government offices, courtrooms, and streets of Mexico City, historian Corinna Zeltsman reconstructs the practical negotiations and discursive contests that surrounded print over a century of political transformation, from the late colonial era to the Mexican Revolution. Centering the diverse communities that worked behind the scenes at urban presses and examining their social practices and aspirations, Zeltsman explores how printer interactions with state and religious authorities shaped broader debates about press freedom and authorship. Beautifully crafted and ambitious in scope, Ink under the Fingernails sheds new light on Mexico's histories of state formation and political culture, identifying printing shops as unexplored spaces of democratic practice, where the boundaries between manual and intellectual labor blurred.
Visit Corinna Zeltsman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 30, 2021

"Insurance Era"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Insurance Era: Risk, Governance, and the Privatization of Security in Postwar America by Caley Horan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Actuarial thinking is everywhere in contemporary America, an often unnoticed byproduct of the postwar insurance industry’s political and economic influence. Calculations of risk permeate our institutions, influencing how we understand and manage crime, education, medicine, finance, and other social issues. Caley Horan’s remarkable book charts the social and economic power of private insurers since 1945, arguing that these institutions’ actuarial practices played a crucial and unexplored role in insinuating the social, political, and economic frameworks of neoliberalism into everyday life.

Analyzing insurance marketing, consumption, investment, and regulation, Horan asserts that postwar America’s obsession with safety and security fueled the exponential expansion of the insurance industry and the growing importance of risk management in other fields. Horan shows that the rise and dissemination of neoliberal values did not happen on its own: they were the result of a project to unsocialize risk, shrinking the state’s commitment to providing support, and heaping burdens upon the people often least capable of bearing them. Insurance Era is a sharply researched and fiercely written account of how and why private insurance and its actuarial market logic came to be so deeply lodged in American visions of social welfare
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 29, 2021

"Language, Nation, Race"

New from the University of California Press: Language, Nation, Race: Linguistic Reform in Meiji Japan (1868-1912) by Atsuko Ueda.

About the book, from the publisher:
Language, Nation, Race explores the various language reforms at the onset of Japanese modernity, a time when a “national language” (kokugo) was produced to standardize Japanese. Faced with the threat of Western colonialism, Meiji intellectuals proposed various reforms to standardize the Japanese language in order to quickly educate the illiterate masses. This book liberates these language reforms from the predetermined category of the “nation,” for such a notion had yet to exist as a clear telos to which the reforms aspired. Atsuko Ueda draws on, while critically intervening in, the vast scholarship of language reform that engaged with numerous works of postcolonial and cultural studies. She examines the first two decades of the Meiji period, with specific focus on the issue of race, contending that no analysis of imperialism or nationalism is possible without it.
Atsuko Ueda is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Literature at Princeton University. She is the author of Concealment of Politics, Politics of Concealment and a coeditor of Politics and Literature Debate: Postwar Japanese Literary Criticism 1945-1952.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 28, 2021

"The Biomedical Empire"

New from Stanford University Press: The Biomedical Empire: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic by Barbara Katz Rothman.

About the book, from the publisher:
We are all citizens of the Biomedical Empire, though few of us know it, and even fewer understand the extent of its power. In this book, Barbara Katz Rothman clarifies that critiques of biopower and the "medical industrial complex" have not gone far enough, and asserts that the medical industry is nothing short of an imperial power. Factors as fundamental as one's citizenship and sex identity—drivers of our access to basic goods and services—rely on approval and legitimation by biomedicine. Moreover, a vast and powerful global market has risen up around the empire, making it one of the largest economic forces in the world. Katz Rothman shows that biomedicine has the key elements of an imperial power: economic leverage, the faith of its citizens, and governmental rule. She investigates the Western colonial underpinnings of the empire and its rapid intrusion into everyday life, focusing on the realms of birth and death. This provides her with a powerful vantage point from which to critically examine the current moment, when the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the power structures of the empire in unprecedented ways while sparking the most visible resistance it has ever seen.
Visit Barbara Katz Rothman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 27, 2021

"A Violent Peace"

New from the University of Chicago Press: A Violent Peace: Media, Truth, and Power at the League of Nations by Carolyn N. Biltoft.

About the book, from the publisher:
The newly born League of Nations confronted the post-WWI world—from growing stateless populations to the resurgence of right-wing movements—by aiming to create a transnational, cosmopolitan dialogue on justice. As part of these efforts, a veritable army of League personnel set out to shape “global public opinion,” in favor of the postwar liberal international order. Combining the tools of global intellectual history and cultural history, A Violent Peace reopens the archives of the League to reveal surprising links between the political use of modern information systems and the rise of mass violence in the interwar world. Historian Carolyn N. Biltoft shows how conflicts over truth and power that played out at the League of Nations offer broad insights into the nature of totalitarian regimes and their use of media flows to demonize a whole range of “others.”

An exploration of instability in information systems, the allure of fascism, and the contradictions at the heart of a global modernity, A Violent Peace paints a rich portrait of the emergence of the age of information—and all its attendant problems.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

"Pastels and Pedophiles"

New from Stanford University Press: Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon by Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two experts of extremist radicalization take us down the QAnon rabbit hole, exposing how the conspiracy theory ensnared countless Americans, and show us a way back to sanity.

In January 2021, thousands descended on the U.S. Capitol to aid President Donald Trump in combating a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. Two women were among those who died that day. They, like millions of Americans, believed that a mysterious insider known as "Q" is exposing a vast deep-state conspiracy. The QAnon conspiracy theory has ensnared many women, who identify as members of "pastel QAnon," answering the call to "save the children."

With Pastels and Pedophiles, Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko explain why the rise of QAnon should not surprise us: believers have been manipulated to follow the baseless conspiracy. The authors track QAnon's unexpected leap from the darkest corners of the Internet to the filtered glow of yogi-mama Instagram, a frenzy fed by the COVID-19 pandemic that supercharged conspiracy theories and spurred a fresh wave of Q-inspired violence.

Pastels and Pedophiles connects the dots for readers, showing how a conspiracy theory with its roots in centuries-old anti-Semitic hate has adapted to encompass local grievances and has metastasized around the globe—appealing to a wide range of alienated people who feel that something is not quite right in the world around them. While QAnon claims to hate Hollywood, the book demonstrates how much of Q's mythology is ripped from movie and television plot lines.

Finally, Pastels and Pedophiles lays out what can be done about QAnon's corrosive effect on society, to bring Q followers out of the rabbit hole and back into the light.
The Page 99 Test: Bombshell: Women and Terrorism by Mia Bloom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

"Minerva's French Sisters"

New from Yale University Press: Minerva's French Sisters: Women of Science in Enlightenment France by Nina Rattner Gelbart.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating collective biography of six female scientists in eighteenth-century France, whose stories were largely written out of history

This book presents the stories of six intrepid Frenchwomen of science in the Enlightenment whose accomplishments—though celebrated in their lifetimes--have been generally omitted from subsequent studies of their period: mathematician and philosopher Elisabeth Ferrand, astronomer Nicole Reine Lepaute, field naturalist Jeanne Barret, garden botanist and illustrator Madeleine Françoise Basseporte, anatomist and inventor Marie-Marguerite Biheron, and chemist Geneviève d’Arconville. By adjusting our lens, we can find them.

In a society where science was not yet an established profession for men, much less women, these six audacious and inspiring figures made their mark on their respective fields of science and on Enlightenment society, as they defied gender expectations and conventional norms. Their boldness and contributions to science were appreciated by such luminaries as Franklin, the philosophes, and many European monarchs. The book is written in an unorthodox style to match the women’s breaking of boundaries.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 24, 2021

"Vice Patrol"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Vice Patrol: Cops, Courts, and the Struggle over Urban Gay Life before Stonewall by Anna Lvovsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the mid-twentieth century, gay life flourished in American cities even as the state repression of queer communities reached its peak. Liquor investigators infiltrated and shut down gay-friendly bars. Plainclothes decoys enticed men in parks and clubs. Vice officers surveilled public bathrooms through peepholes and two-way mirrors.

In Vice Patrol, Anna Lvovsky chronicles this painful story, tracing the tactics used to criminalize, profile, and suppress gay life from the 1930s through the 1960s, and the surprising controversies those tactics often inspired in court. Lvovsky shows that the vice squads’ campaigns stood at the center of live debates about not only the law’s treatment of queer people, but also the limits of ethical policing, the authority of experts, and the nature of sexual difference itself—debates that had often unexpected effects on the gay community’s rights and freedoms. Examining those battles, Vice Patrol enriches understandings of the regulation of queer life in the twentieth century and disputes about police power that continue today.
Visit Anna Lvovsky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 23, 2021

"The Fall of Robespierre"

Coming September 1 from Oxford University Press: The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris by Colin Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
The day of 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794) is universally acknowledged as a major turning-point in the history of the French Revolution. At 12.00 midnight, Maximilien Robespierre, the most prominent member of the Committee of Public Safety which had for more than a year directed the Reign of Terror, was planning to destroy one of the most dangerous plots that the Revolution had faced.

By 12.00 midnight at the close of the day, following a day of uncertainty, surprises, upsets and reverses, his world had been turned upside down. He was an outlaw, on the run, and himself wanted for conspiracy against the Republic. He felt that his whole life and his Revolutionary career were drawing to an end. As indeed they were. He shot himself shortly afterwards. Half-dead, the guillotine finished him off in grisly fashion the next day.

The Fall of Robespierre provides an hour-by-hour analysis of these 24 hours.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 22, 2021

"The Accidental History of the U.S. Immigration Courts"

New from the University of California Press: The Accidental History of the U.S. Immigration Courts: War, Fear, and the Roots of Dysfunction by Alison Peck.

About the book, from the publisher:
How the immigration courts became part of the nation’s law enforcement agency—and how to reshape them.

During the Trump administration, the immigration courts were decried as more politicized enforcement weapon than impartial tribunal. Yet few people are aware of a fundamental flaw in the system that has long pre-dated that administration: The immigration courts are not really “courts” at all but an office of the Department of Justice—the nation’s law enforcement agency.

This original and surprising diagnosis shows how paranoia sparked by World War II and the War on Terror drove the structure of the immigration courts. Focusing on previously unstudied decisions in the Roosevelt and Bush administrations, the narrative laid out in this book divulges both the human tragedy of our current immigration court system and the human crises that led to its creation. Moving the reader from understanding to action, Alison Peck offers a lens through which to evaluate contemporary bills and proposals to reform our immigration court system. Peck provides an accessible legal analysis of recent events to make the case for independent immigration courts, proposing that the courts be moved into an independent, Article I court system. As long as the immigration courts remain under the authority of the attorney general, the administration of immigration justice will remain a game of political football—with people’s very lives on the line.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 21, 2021

"Follow Your Conscience"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Follow Your Conscience: The Catholic Church and the Spirit of the Sixties by Peter Cajka.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is your conscience? Is it, as Peter Cajka asks in this provocative book, “A small, still voice? A cricket perched on your shoulder? An angel and devil who compete for your attention?” Going back at least to the thirteenth century, Catholics viewed their personal conscience as a powerful and meaningful guide to align their conduct with worldly laws. But, as Cajka shows in Follow Your Conscience, during the national cultural tumult of the 1960s, the divide between the demands of conscience and the demands of the law, society, and even the church itself grew increasingly perilous. As growing numbers of Catholics started to consider formerly stout institutions to be morally hollow—especially in light of the Vietnam War and the church’s refusal to sanction birth control—they increasingly turned to their own consciences as guides for action and belief. This abandonment of higher authority had radical effects on American society, influencing not only the broader world of Christianity, but also such disparate arenas as government, law, health care, and the very vocabulary of American culture. As this book astutely reveals, today’s debates over political power, religious freedom, gay rights, and more are all deeply infused by the language and concepts outlined by these pioneers of personal conscience.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 20, 2021

"Revealing Schemes"

New from Oxford University Press: Revealing Schemes: The Politics of Conspiracy in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region by Scott Radnitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Conspiracy theories are not just outlandish ideas. They can also be political weapons.

Conspiracy theories have come to play an increasingly prominent role in political systems around the world. In Revealing Schemes, Scott Radnitz moves beyond psychological explanations for why people believe conspiracy theories to explore the politics surrounding them, placing two questions at the center of his account: What leads regimes to promote conspiracy claims? And what effects do those claims have on politics and society? Focusing on the former Soviet Union—a region of the world where such theories have long thrived—he shows that incumbent politicians tend to make conspiracy claims to demonstrate their knowledge and authority at moments of uncertainty and threat. They emerge more often where there is serious political competition rather than unbridled autocracy and in response to events that challenge a regime's ability to rule. Yet conspiracy theories can also be habit-forming and persist as part of an official narrative even where immediate threats have subsided—a strategy intended to strengthen regimes, but that may inadvertently undermine them. Revealing Schemes explores the causes, consequences, and contradictions of conspiracism in politics with an original collection of over 1,500 conspiracy claims from across the post-Soviet region, two national surveys, and 12 focus groups. At a time of heightened distrust in democratic institutions and rising illiberal populism around the world, understanding how conspiracy theories operate in a region where democracy came late—or never arrived—can be instructive for concerned citizens everywhere.
Scott Radnitz is Associate Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

The Page 99 Test: Weapons of the Wealthy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

"The First Irish Cities"

New from Yale University Press: The First Irish Cities: An Eighteenth-Century Transformation by David Dickson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The untold story of a group of Irish cities and their remarkable development before the age of industrialization

A backward corner of Europe in 1600, Ireland was transformed during the following centuries. This was most evident in the rise of its cities, notably Dublin and Cork. David Dickson explores ten urban centers and their patterns of physical, social, and cultural evolution, relating this to the legacies of a violent past, and he reflects on their subsequent partial eclipse. Beautifully illustrated, this account reveals how the country’s cities were distinctive and—through the Irish diaspora—influential beyond Ireland’s shores.
David Dickson is professor emeritus of Modern History in Trinity College Dublin. His previous books include Dublin: The Making of a Capital City, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630–1830, and New Foundations: Ireland 1660–1800, Revised Edition.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

"Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood: African American Children in the Antebellum North by Crystal Lynn Webster.

About the book, from the publisher:
For all that is known about the depth and breadth of African American history, we still understand surprisingly little about the lives of African American children, particularly those affected by northern emancipation. But hidden in institutional records, school primers and penmanship books, biographical sketches, and unpublished documents is a rich archive that reveals the social and affective worlds of northern Black children. Drawing evidence from the urban centers of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, Crystal Webster's innovative research yields a powerful new history of African American childhood before the Civil War. Webster argues that young African Americans were frequently left outside the nineteenth century's emerging constructions of both race and childhood. They were marginalized in the development of schooling, ignored in debates over child labor, and presumed to lack the inherent innocence ascribed to white children. But Webster shows that Black children nevertheless carved out physical and social space for play, for learning, and for their own aspirations.

Reading her sources against the grain, Webster reveals a complex reality for antebellum Black children. Lacking societal status, they nevertheless found meaningful agency as historical actors, making the most of the limited freedoms and possibilities they enjoyed.
Visit Crystal Lynn Webster's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 17, 2021

"The Saints and the State"

New from Ohio University Press: The Saints and the State: The Mormon Troubles in Illinois by James Simeone.

About the book, from the publisher:
A compelling history of the 1846 Mormon expulsion from Illinois that exemplifies the limits of American democracy and religious tolerance.

When members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as Mormons) settled in Illinois in 1839, they had been persecuted for their beliefs from Ohio to Missouri. Illinoisans viewed themselves as religiously tolerant egalitarians and initially welcomed the Mormons to their state. However, non-Mormon locals who valued competitive individualism perceived the saints‘ western Illinois settlement, Nauvoo, as a theocracy with too much political power. Amid escalating tensions in 1844, anti-Mormon vigilantes assassinated church founder Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Two years later, the state expelled the saints. Illinois rejected the Mormons not for their religion, but rather for their effort to create a self-governing state in Nauvoo.

Mormons put the essential aspirations of American liberal democracy to the test in Illinois. The saints’ inward group focus and their decision to live together in Nauvoo highlight the challenges strong group consciousness and attachment pose to democratic governance. The Saints and the State narrates this tragic story as an epic failure of governance and shows how the conflicting demands of fairness to the Mormons and accountability to Illinois’s majority became incompatible.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Violence and Risk in Medieval Iceland"

New from Oxford University Press: Violence and Risk in Medieval Iceland: This Spattered Isle by Oren Falk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historians spend a lot of time thinking about violence: bloodshed and feats of heroism punctuate practically every narration of the past. Yet historians have been slow to subject 'violence' itself to conceptual analysis. What aspects of the past do we designate violent? To what methodological assumptions do we commit ourselves when we employ this term? How may we approach the category 'violence' in a specifically historical way, and what is it that we explain when we write its history? Astonishingly, such questions are seldom even voiced, much less debated, in the historical literature. Violence and Risk in Medieval Iceland: This Spattered Isle lays out a cultural history model for understanding violence. Using interdisciplinary tools, it argues that violence is a positively constructed asset, deployed along three principal axes - power, signification, and risk. Analysing violence in instrumental terms, as an attempt to coerce others, focuses on power. Analysing it in symbolic terms, as an attempt to communicate meanings, focuses on signification. Finally, analysing it in cognitive terms, as an attempt to exercise agency despite imperfect control over circumstances, focuses on risk. Violence and Risk in Medieval Iceland explores a place and time notorious for its rampant violence. Iceland's famous sagas hold treasure troves of circumstantial data, ideally suited for past-tense ethnography, yet demand that the reader come up with subtle and innovative methodologies for recovering histories from their stories. The sagas throw into sharp relief the kinds of analytic insights we obtain through cultural interpretation, offering lessons that apply to other epochs too.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 15, 2021

"Gossip Men"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Gossip Men: J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Politics of Insinuation by Christopher M. Elias.

About the book, from the publisher:

J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Roy Cohn were titanic figures in midcentury America, wielding national power in government and the legal system through intimidation and insinuation. Hoover’s FBI thrived on secrecy, threats, and illegal surveillance, while McCarthy and Cohn will forever be associated with the infamous anticommunist smear campaign of the early 1950s, which culminated in McCarthy’s public disgrace during televised Senate hearings. In Gossip Men, Christopher M. Elias takes a probing look at these tarnished figures to reveal a host of startling new connections among gender, sexuality, and national security in twentieth-century American politics. Elias illustrates how these three men solidified their power through the skillful use of deliberately misleading techniques like implication, hyperbole, and photographic manipulation. Just as provocatively, he shows that the American people of the 1950s were particularly primed to accept these coded threats because they were already familiar with such tactics from widely popular gossip magazines.

By using gossip as a lens to examine profound issues of state security and institutional power, Elias thoroughly transforms our understanding of the development of modern American political culture.
Visit Christopher M. Elias's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 14, 2021

"Creating God"

New from Manchester University Press: Creating God: The birth and growth of major religions by Robin Derricourt.

About the book, from the publisher:
What do we really know about how and where religions began, and how they spread?

In this bold new book, award-winning author Robin Derricourt takes us on a journey through the birth and growth of several major religions, using history and archaeology to recreate the times, places and societies that witnessed the rise of significant monotheistic faiths. Beginning with Mormonism and working backwards through Islam, Christianity and Judaism to Zoroastrianism, Creating God opens up the conditions that allowed religious movements to emerge, attract their first followers and grow.

Throughout history there have been many prophets: individuals who believed they were in direct contact with the divine, with instructions to spread a religious message. While many disappeared without trace, some gained millions of followers and established a lasting religion. In Creating God, Robin Derricourt has produced a brilliant, panoramic book that offers new insights on the origins of major religions and raises essential questions about why some succeeded where others failed.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 13, 2021

"Good Lives"

New from Oxford University Press: Good Lives: Autobiography, Self-Knowledge, Narrative, and Self-Realization by Samuel Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reasoning with autobiography is a way to self-knowledge. We can learn about ourselves, as human beings and as individuals, by reading, thinking through, and arguing about this distinctive kind of text. Reasoning with Edmund Gosse's Father and Son is a way of learning about the nature of the good life and the roles that pleasure and self-expression can play in it. Reasoning with Siegfried Sassoon's Memoirs is a way of learning about transformative experience, self-alienation, and therefore the nature of the self. Good Lives: Autobiography, Self-Knowledge, Narrative, and Self-Realization develops this claim by answering a series of questions: What is an autobiography? How can we learn about ourselves from reading one? On what subjects does autobiography teach? What should we learn about them? In particular, given that autobiographies are narratives, should we learn something about the importance of narrative in human life? Could our storytelling about our own lives make sense of them as wholes, unify them over time, or make them good for us? Could storytelling make the self?

Samuel Clark provides an authoritative critique of narrative and a defence of a self-realization account of the self and its good. He investigates the wide range of extant accounts of the self and of the good life, and defends pluralist realism about self-knowledge by reading and reasoning with autobiographies of self-discovery, martial life, and solitude. The volume concludes by showing that autobiography can be reasoning in pursuit of self-knowledge; each of us is an unchosen, initially opaque, seedlike self; our good is the development and expression of our latent capacities, which is our individual self-realization; and self-narration plays much less role in our lives than some thinkers have supposed, and the development and expression of potential much more.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

"Refusing Death"

New from Stanford University Press: Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA by Nadia Y. Kim.

About the book, from the publisher:
The industrial-port belt of Los Angeles is home to eleven of the top twenty oil refineries in California, the largest ports in the country, and those "racist monuments" we call freeways. In this uncelebrated corner of "La La Land" through which most of America's goods transit, pollution is literally killing the residents. In response, a grassroots movement for environmental justice has grown, predominated by Asian and undocumented Latin@ immigrant women who are transforming our political landscape—yet we know very little about these change makers. In Refusing Death, Nadia Y. Kim tells their stories, finding that the women are influential because of their ability to remap politics, community, and citizenship in the face of the country's nativist racism and system of class injustice, defined not just by disproportionate environmental pollution but also by neglected schools, surveillance and deportation, and political marginalization. The women are highly conscious of how these harms are an assault on their bodies and emotions, and of their resulting reliance on a state they prefer to avoid and ignore. In spite of such challenges and contradictions, however, they have developed creative, unconventional, and loving ways to support and protect one another. They challenge the state's betrayal, demand respect, and, ultimately, refuse death.
Visit Nadia Y. Kim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

"Playing with History"

New from Rutgers University Press: Playing with History: American Identities and Children’s Consumer Culture by Molly Rosner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the advent of the American toy industry, children’s cultural products have attempted to teach and sell ideas of American identity. By examining cultural products geared towards teaching children American history, Playing With History highlights the changes and constancies in depictions of the American story and ideals of citizenship over the last one hundred years. This book examines political and ideological messages sold to children throughout the twentieth century, tracing the messages conveyed by racist toy banks, early governmental interventions meant to protect the toy industry, influences and pressures surrounding Cold War stories of the western frontier, the fractures visible in the American story at a mid-century history themed amusement park. The study culminates in a look at the successes and limitations of the American Girl Company empire.
Follow Molly Rosner on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 10, 2021

"We the Gamers"

New from Oxford University Press: We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics by Karen Schrier.

About the book, from the publisher:
Distrust. Division. Disparity. Is our world in disrepair?

Ethics and civics have always mattered, but perhaps they matter now more than ever before. Recently, with the rise of online teaching and movements like #PlayApartTogether, games have become increasingly acknowledged as platforms for civic deliberation and value sharing. We the Gamers explores these possibilities by examining how we connect, communicate, analyze, and discover when we play games. Combining research-based perspectives and current examples, this volume shows how games can be used in ethics, civics, and social studies education to inspire learning, critical thinking, and civic change.

We the Gamers introduces and explores various educational frameworks through a range of games and interactive experiences including board and card games, online games, virtual reality and augmented reality games, and digital games like Minecraft, Executive Command, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Fortnite, When Rivers Were Trails, Politicraft, Quandary, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The book systematically evaluates the types of skills, concepts, and knowledge needed for civic and ethical engagement, and details how games can foster these skills in classrooms, remote learning environments, and other educational settings. We the Gamers also explores the obstacles to learning with games and how to overcome those obstacles by encouraging equity and inclusion, care and compassion, and fairness and justice.

Featuring helpful tips and case studies, We the Gamers shows teachers the strengths and limitations of games in helping students connect with civics and ethics, and imagines how we might repair and remake our world through gaming, together.
Visit Karen Schrier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 9, 2021

"Imagining Persecution"

New from Rutgers University Press: Imagining Persecution: Why American Christians Believe There Is a Global War against Their Faith by Jason Bruner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many American Christians have come to understand their relationship to other Christian denominations and traditions through the lens of religious persecution. This book provides a historical account of these developments, showing the global, theological, and political changes that made it possible for contemporary Christians to claim that there is a global war on Christians. Bruner does not advocate on behalf of particular repressed Christian communities, nor does it argue for the genuineness of certain Christians’ claims of persecution. Instead, this book is the first to examine the idea that there is a “global war on Christians” and its analytical implications. It does so by giving a concise history of categories such as "martyr" and theologies that have come together to produce a global Christian imagination premised upon the notion of shared suffering for one’s faith. This history does not deny certain instances of suffering or death; rather, it sets out to reflect upon and make meaning of the consequences for thinking about religious violence and Christianity worldwide using terms such as a “global war on Christians.”
Jason Bruner is an associate professor of global Christianity in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe. He is author of Living Salvation in the East African Revival in Uganda.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 8, 2021

"Feeling Like It"

New from Oxford University Press: Feeling Like It: A Theory of Inclination and Will by Tamar Schapiro.

About the book, from the publisher:
You may have an inclination to do it, but there is still a moment when you can decide to do it or not. This "moment of drama" is more puzzling than it first appears. When you are inclined to do something, are you related to your inclination as rider to horse? As ruler to subject? As thinker to thoughts? Schapiro shows that these familiar pictures fail to confront the central puzzle. Inclinations are motives with respect to which we are distinctively passive. But to be motivated is to be active—to be self-moved. How can you be passive in relation to your own activity? Schapiro puts forward an "inner animal" view, inspired by Kant, which holds that when you are merely inclined to act, the instinctive part of yourself is already active, while the rest of you is not. At this moment, your will is at a crossroads. You can humanize your inclination, or you can dehumanize yourself. Feeling Like It provides a concise and accessible investigation of a new problem at the intersection of ethics, philosophy of action, and philosophy of mind.
Tamar Schapiro holds a BA from Yale and a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard. She taught in the department of philosophy at Stanford for many years before joining MIT, where she is currently Associate Professor of Philosophy. She has published articles on Kantian ethics, the theory of action, and motivational psychology.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 7, 2021

"American Health Crisis"

New from the University of California Press: American Health Crisis: One Hundred Years of Panic, Planning, and Politics by Martin Halliwell.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of U.S. public health emergencies and how we can turn the tide.

Despite enormous advances in medical science and public health education over the last century, access to health care remains a dominant issue in American life. U.S. health care is often hailed as the best in the world, yet the public health emergencies of today often echo the public health emergencies of yesterday: consider the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 and COVID-19, the displacement of the Dust Bowl and the havoc of Hurricane Maria, the Reagan administration’s antipathy toward the AIDS epidemic and the lack of accountability during the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Spanning the period from the presidency of Woodrow Wilson to that of Donald Trump, American Health Crisis illuminates how—despite the elevation of health care as a human right throughout the world—vulnerable communities in the United States continue to be victimized by structural inequalities across disparate geographies, income levels, and ethnic groups. Martin Halliwell views contemporary public health crises through the lens of historical and cultural revisionings, suturing individual events together into a narrative of calamity that has brought us to our current crisis in health politics. American Health Crisis considers the future of public health in the United States and, presenting a reinvigorated concept of health citizenship, argues that now is the moment to act for lasting change.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 6, 2021

"Running Out"

New from Princeton University Press: Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains by Lucas Bessire.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Ogallala aquifer has nourished life on the American Great Plains for millennia. But less than a century of unsustainable irrigation farming has taxed much of the aquifer beyond repair. The imminent depletion of the Ogallala and other aquifers around the world is a defining planetary crisis of our times. Running Out offers a uniquely personal account of aquifer depletion and the deeper layers through which it gains meaning and force.

Anthropologist Lucas Bessire journeyed back to western Kansas, where five generations of his family lived as irrigation farmers and ranchers, to try to make sense of this vital resource and its loss. His search for water across the drying High Plains brings the reader face to face with the stark realities of industrial agriculture, eroding democratic norms, and surreal interpretations of a looming disaster. Yet the destination is far from predictable, as the book seeks to move beyond the words and genres through which destruction is often known. Instead, this journey into the morass of eradication offers a series of unexpected discoveries about what it means to inherit the troubled legacies of the past and how we can take responsibility for a more inclusive, sustainable future.

An urgent and unsettling meditation on environmental change, Running Out is a revelatory account of family, complicity, loss, and what it means to find your way back home.
Visit Lucas Bessire's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

"The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation"

New from Oxford University Press: The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation: Male Homosexual Politics in 1970s West Germany by Craig Griffiths.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation explores ways of thinking, feeling, and talking about being gay in the 1970s, an influential decade sandwiched between the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1969, and the arrival of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. Moving beyond divided Cold War Berlin, it also focuses on lesser-known cities, such as Aachen, Cologne, Frankfurt, Münster, and Stuttgart, to name just a few of the 53 localities that were home to a gay group by the end of the 1970s. These groups were important, and this book tells their story.

In 1970s West Germany gay liberation did not take place only in activist meetings, universities, and on street demonstrations, but also on television, in magazine editorial offices, ordinary homes, bedrooms, and beyond. In considering all these spaces and individuals, this book provides a more complex account than previous histories, which have tended to focus only on a social movement and only on the idea of 'gay pride'. By drawing attention to ambivalence, this book shows that gay liberation was never only about pride, but also about shame; characterized not only by hope, but also by fear; and driven forward not just by the pushes of confrontation, but also by the pulls of conformism. Ranging from the painstaking emergence of the gay press to the first representation of homosexuality on television, from debates over the sexual legacy of 1968 and the student movement to the memory of Nazi persecution, The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation is the first English-language book to tell the story of male homosexual politics in 1970s West Germany. In doing so, this book changes the way we think about modern queer history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

"By Executive Order"

New from Princeton University Press: By Executive Order: Bureaucratic Management and the Limits of Presidential Power by Andrew Rudalevige.

About the book, from the publisher:
How the executive branch—not the president alone—formulates executive orders, and how this process constrains the chief executive's ability to act unilaterally

The president of the United States is commonly thought to wield extraordinary personal power through the issuance of executive orders. In fact, the vast majority of such orders are proposed by federal agencies and shaped by negotiations that span the executive branch. By Executive Order provides the first comprehensive look at how presidential directives are written—and by whom.

In this eye-opening book, Andrew Rudalevige examines more than five hundred executive orders from the 1930s to today—as well as more than two hundred others negotiated but never issued—shedding vital new light on the multilateral process of drafting supposedly unilateral directives. He draws on a wealth of archival evidence from the Office of Management and Budget and presidential libraries as well as original interviews to show how the crafting of orders requires widespread consultation and compromise with a formidable bureaucracy. Rudalevige explains the key role of management in the presidential skill set, detailing how bureaucratic resistance can stall and even prevent actions the chief executive desires, and how presidents must bargain with the bureaucracy even when they seek to act unilaterally.

Challenging popular conceptions about the scope of presidential power, By Executive Order reveals how the executive branch holds the power to both enact and constrain the president’s will.
Follow Andrew Rudalevige on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 3, 2021

"The Cold War from the Margins"

New from Cornell University Press: The Cold War from the Margins: A Small Socialist State on the Global Cultural Scene by Theodora K. Dragostinova.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Cold War from the Margins, Theodora K. Dragostinova reappraises the global 1970s from the perspective of a small socialist state—Bulgaria—and its cultural engagements with the Balkans, the West, and the Third World. During this anxious decade, Bulgaria's communist leadership invested heavily in cultural diplomacy to bolster its legitimacy at home and promote its agendas abroad. Bulgarians traveled the world to open museum exhibitions, show films, perform music, and showcase the cultural heritage and future aspirations of their "ancient yet modern" country.

As Dragostinova shows, these encounters transcended the Cold War's bloc mentality: Bulgaria's relations with Greece and Austria warmed, émigrés once considered enemies were embraced, and new cultural ties were forged with India, Mexico, and Nigeria. Pursuing contact with the West and solidarity with the Global South boosted Bulgaria's authoritarian regime by securing new allies and unifying its population. Complicating familiar narratives of both the 1970s and late socialism, The Cold War from the Margins places the history of socialism in an international context and recovers alternative models of global interconnectivity along East-South lines.
Follow Theodora Dragostinova on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 2, 2021

"Card-Carrying Christians"

New from the University of California Press: Card-Carrying Christians: Debt and the Making of Free Market Spirituality in Colombia by Rebecca C. Bartel.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the waning years of Latin America's longest and bloodiest civil war, the rise of an unlikely duo is transforming Colombia: Christianity and access to credit. In her exciting new book, Rebecca C. Bartel details how surging evangelical conversions and widespread access to credit cards, microfinance programs, and mortgages are changing how millions of Colombians envision a more prosperous future. Yet programs of financialization propel new modes of violence. As prosperity becomes conflated with peace, and debt with devotion, survival only becomes possible through credit and its accompanying forms of indebtedness. A new future is on the horizon, but it will come at a price.
Rebecca C. Bartel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Associate Director for the Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 1, 2021

"Life after Gravity"

New from Oxford University Press: Life after Gravity: Isaac Newton's London Career by Patricia Fara.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of Isaac Newton's decades in London - as ambitious cosmopolitan gentleman, President of London's Royal Society, Master of the Mint, and investor in the slave trade.

Isaac Newton is celebrated throughout the world as a great scientific genius who conceived the theory of gravity. But in his early fifties, he abandoned his life as a reclusive university scholar to spend three decades in London, a long period of metropolitan activity that is often overlooked. Enmeshed in Enlightenment politics and social affairs, Newton participated in the linked spheres of early science and imperialist capitalism. Instead of the quiet cloisters and dark libraries of Cambridge's all-male world, he now moved in fashionable London society, which was characterized by patronage relationships, sexual intrigues and ruthless ambition.

Knighted by Queen Anne, and a close ally of influential Whig politicians, Newton occupied a powerful position as President of London's Royal Society. He also became Master of the Mint, responsible for the nation's money at a time of financial crisis, and himself making and losing small fortunes on the stock market. A major investor in the East India Company, Newton benefited from the global trading networks that relied on selling African captives to wealthy plantation owners in the Americas, and was responsible for monitoring the import of African gold to be melted down for English guineas.

Patricia Fara reveals Newton's life as a cosmopolitan gentleman by focussing on a Hogarth painting of an elite Hanoverian drawing room. Gazing down from the mantelpiece, a bust of Newton looms over an aristocratic audience watching their children perform a play about European colonialism and the search for gold. Packed with Newtonian imagery, this conversation piece depicts the privileged, exploitative life in which this eminent Enlightenment figure engaged, an uncomfortable side of Newton's life with which we are much less familiar.
The Page 99 Test: Erasmus Darwin.

The Page 99 Test: A Lab of One's Own.

--Marshal Zeringue