Sunday, September 24, 2017

"1668: The Year of the Animal in France"

New from Zone Books: 1668: The Year of the Animal in France by Peter Sahlins,

About the book, from the publisher:
Peter Sahlins’s brilliant new book reveals the remarkable and understudied “animal moment” in and around 1668 in which authors (including La Fontaine, whose Fables appeared in that year), anatomists, painters, sculptors, and especially the young Louis XIV turned their attention to nonhuman beings. At the center of the Year of the Animal was the Royal Menagerie in the gardens of Versailles, dominated by exotic and graceful birds. In the unfolding of his original and sophisticated argument, Sahlins shows how the animal bodies of the menagerie and others were critical to a dramatic rethinking of governance, nature, and the human.

The animals of 1668 helped to shift an entire worldview in France—what Sahlins calls Renaissance humanimalism toward more modern expressions of classical naturalism and mechanism. In the wake of 1668 came the debasement of animals and the strengthening of human animality, including in Descartes’s animal-machine, highly contested during the Year of the Animal. At the same time, Louis XIV and his intellectual servants used the animals of Versailles to develop and then to transform the symbolic language of French absolutism. Louis XIV came to adopt a model of sovereignty after 1668 in which his absolute authority is represented in manifold ways with the bodies of animals and justified by the bestial nature of his human subjects.

1668 explores and reproduces the king’s animal collections—in printed text, weaving, poetry, and engraving, all seen from a unique interdisciplinary perspective. Sahlins brings the animals of 1668 together and to life as he observes them critically in their native habitats—within the animal palace itself by Louis Le Vau, the paintings and tapestries of Charles Le Brun, the garden installations of André Le Nôtre, the literary work of Charles Perrault and the natural history of his brother Claude, the poetry of Madeleine de Scudéry, the philosophy of René Descartes, the engravings of Sébastien Leclerc, the transfusion experiments of Jean Denis, and others. The author joins the nonhuman and human agents of 1668—panthers and painters, swans and scientists, weasels and weavers—in a learned and sophisticated treatment that will engage scholars and students of early modern France and Europe and readers broadly interested in the subject of animals in human history.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Hidden Atrocities"

New from Columbia University Press: Hidden Atrocities: Japanese Germ Warfare and American Obstruction of Justice at the Tokyo Trial by Jeanne Guillemin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the aftermath of World War II, the Allied intent to bring Axis crimes to light led to both the Nuremberg trials and their counterpart in Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East. Yet the Tokyo Trial failed to prosecute imperial Japanese leaders for the worst of war crimes: inhumane medical experimentation, including vivisection and open-air pathogen and chemical tests, which rivaled Nazi atrocities, as well as mass attacks using plague, anthrax, and cholera that killed thousands of Chinese civilians. In Hidden Atrocities, Jeanne Guillemin goes behind the scenes at the trial to reveal the American obstruction that denied justice to Japan’s victims.

Responsibility for Japan’s secret germ-warfare program, organized as Unit 731 in Harbin, China, extended to top government leaders and many respected scientists, all of whom escaped indictment. Instead, motivated by early Cold War tensions, U.S. military intelligence in Tokyo insinuated itself into the Tokyo Trial by blocking prosecution access to key witnesses and then classifying incriminating documents. Washington decision makers, supported by the American occupation leader, General Douglas MacArthur, sought to acquire Japan’s biological-warfare expertise to gain an advantage over the Soviet Union, suspected of developing both biological and nuclear weapons. Ultimately, U.S. national-security goals left the victims of Unit 731 without vindication. Decades later, evidence of the Unit 731 atrocities still troubles relations between China and Japan. Guillemin’s vivid account of the cover-up at the Tokyo Trial shows how without guarantees of transparency, power politics can jeopardize international justice, with persistent consequences.
The Page 99 Test: American Anthrax.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Greater Gotham"

New from Oxford University Press: Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 by Mike Wallace.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this utterly immersive volume, Mike Wallace captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after the First World War. Here is New York on a whole new scale, moving from national to global prominence -- an urban dynamo driven by restless ambition, boundless energy, immigrant dreams, and Wall Street greed.

Within the first two decades of the twentieth century, a newly consolidated New York grew exponentially. The city exploded into the air, with skyscrapers jostling for prominence, and dove deep into the bedrock where massive underground networks of subways, water pipes, and electrical conduits sprawled beneath the city to serve a surging population of New Yorkers from all walks of life. New York was transformed in these two decades as the world's second-largest city and now its financial capital, thriving and sustained by the city's seemingly unlimited potential.

Wallace's new book matches its predecessor in pure page-turning appeal and takes America's greatest city to new heights.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Rival Power"

New from Yale University Press: Rival Power: Russia in Southeast Europe by Dimitar Bechev.

About the book, from the publisher:
A nuanced and comprehensive study of the political dynamics between Russia and key countries in Southeast Europe

Is Russia threatening to disrupt more than two decades’ of E.U. and U.S. efforts to promote stability in post-communist Southeast Europe? Politicians and commentators in the West say, “yes.” With rising global anxiety over Russia’s political policies and objectives, Dimitar Bechev provides the only in-depth look at this volatile region.

Deftly unpacking the nature and extent of Russian influence in the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey, Bechev argues that both sides are driven by pragmatism and opportunism rather than historical loyalties. Russia is seeking to assert its role in Europe’s security architecture, establish alternative routes for its gas exports—including the contested Southern Gas Corridor—and score points against the West. Yet, leaders in these areas are allowing Russia to reinsert itself to serve their own goals. This urgently needed guide analyzes the responses of regional NATO members, particularly regarding the annexation of Crimea and the Putin-Erdogan rift over Syria.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Children Born of War in the Twentieth Century"

New from Manchester University Press: Children Born of War in the Twentieth Century by Sabine Lee.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book explores the life courses of children born of war in different twentieth-century conflicts, including the Second World War, the Vietnam War, the Bosnian War, the Rwandan Genocide and the LRA conflict. It investigates both governmental and military policies vis-á-vis children born of war and their mothers, as well as family and local community attitudes, building a complex picture of the multi-layered challenges faced by many children born of war within their post-conflict receptor communities. Based on extensive archival research, the book also uses oral history and participatory research methods which allow the author to add the voices of the children born of war to historical analysis.
Sabine Lee is a Professor in Modern History at the University of Birmingham.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"Sexual Politics and Feminist Science"

New from Cornell University Press: Sexual Politics and Feminist Science: Women Sexologists in Germany, 1900–1933 by Kirsten Leng.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Sexual Politics and Feminist Science, Kirsten Leng restores the work of female sexologists to the forefront of the history of sexology. While male researchers who led the practice of early-twentieth-century sexology viewed women and their sexuality as objects to be studied, not as collaborators in scientific investigation, Leng pinpoints nine German and Austrian "women sexologists" and "female sexual theorists" to reveal how sex, gender, and sexuality influenced the field of sexology itself. Leng’s book makes it plain that women not only played active roles in the creation of sexual scientific knowledge but also made significant and influential interventions in the field. Sexual Politics and Feminist Science provides readers with an opportunity to rediscover and engage with the work of these pioneers.

Leng highlights sexology’s empowering potential for women, but also contends that in its intersection with eugenics, the narrative is not wholly celebratory. By detailing gendered efforts to understand and theorize sex through science, she reveals the cognitive biases and sociological prejudices that ultimately circumscribed the transformative potential of their ideas. Ultimately, Sexual Politics and Feminist Science helps readers to understand these women’s ideas in all their complexity in order to appreciate their unique place in the history of sexology.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Street Occupations"

New from the University Press of Texas: Street Occupations: Urban Vending in Rio de Janeiro, 1850 by Patricia Acerbi.

About the book, from the publisher:
Street vending has supplied the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro with basic goods for several centuries. Once the province of African slaves and free blacks, street commerce became a site of expanded (mostly European) immigrant participation and shifting state regulations during the transition from enslaved to free labor and into the early post-abolition period. Street Occupations investigates how street vendors and state authorities negotiated this transition, during which vendors sought greater freedom to engage in commerce and authorities imposed new regulations in the name of modernity and progress.

Examining ganhador (street worker) licenses, newspaper reports, and detention and court records, and considering the emergence of a protective association for vendors, Patricia Acerbi reveals that street sellers were not marginal urban dwellers in Rio but active participants in a debate over citizenship. In their struggles to sell freely throughout the Brazilian capital, vendors asserted their citizenship as urban participants with rights to the city and to the freedom of commerce. In tracing how vendors resisted efforts to police and repress their activities, Acerbi demonstrates the persistence of street commerce and vendors’ tireless activity in the city, which the law eventually accommodated through municipal street commerce regulation passed in 1924.

A focused history of a crucial era of transition in Brazil, Street Occupations offers important new perspectives on patron-client relations, slavery and abolition, policing, the use of public space, the practice of free labor, the meaning of citizenship, and the formality and informality of work.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2017

"The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars by Andrew R. Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics documents a recent, fundamental change in American politics with the waning of Christian America. Rather than conservatives emphasizing morality and liberals emphasizing rights, both sides now wield rights arguments as potent weapons to win political and legal battles and build grassroots support. Lewis documents this change on the right, focusing primarily on evangelical politics. Using extensive historical and survey data that compares evangelical advocacy and evangelical public opinion, Lewis explains how the prototypical culture war issue - abortion - motivated the conservative rights turn over the past half century, serving as a springboard for rights learning and increased conservative advocacy in other arenas. Challenging the way we think about the culture wars, Lewis documents how rights claims are used to thwart liberal rights claims, as well as to provide protection for evangelicals, whose cultural positions are increasingly in the minority; they have also allowed evangelical elites to justify controversial advocacy positions to their base and to engage more easily in broad rights claiming in new or expanded political arenas, from health care to capital punishment.
Visit Andrew R. Lewis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden"

New from Princeton University Press: The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden: Religion at the Roman Street Corner by Harriet I. Flower.

About the book, from the publisher:
The most pervasive gods in ancient Rome had no traditional mythology attached to them, nor was their worship organized by elites. Throughout the Roman world, neighborhood street corners, farm boundaries, and household hearths featured small shrines to the beloved lares, a pair of cheerful little dancing gods. These shrines were maintained primarily by ordinary Romans, and often by slaves and freedmen, for whom the lares cult provided a unique public leadership role. In this comprehensive and richly illustrated book, the first to focus on the lares, Harriet Flower offers a strikingly original account of these gods and a new way of understanding the lived experience of everyday Roman religion.

Weaving together a wide range of evidence, Flower sets forth a new interpretation of the much-disputed nature of the lares. She makes the case that they are not spirits of the dead, as many have argued, but rather benevolent protectors—gods of place, especially the household and the neighborhood, and of travel. She examines the rituals honoring the lares, their cult sites, and their iconography, as well as the meaning of the snakes often depicted alongside lares in paintings of gardens. She also looks at Compitalia, a popular midwinter neighborhood festival in honor of the lares, and describes how its politics played a key role in Rome’s increasing violence in the 60s and 50s BC, as well as in the efforts of Augustus to reach out to ordinary people living in the city’s local neighborhoods.

A reconsideration of seemingly humble gods that were central to the religious world of the Romans, this is also the first major account of the full range of lares worship in the homes, neighborhoods, and temples of ancient Rome.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Demolition on Karl Marx Square"

New from Oxford University Press: Demolition on Karl Marx Square: Cultural Barbarism and the People's State in 1968 by Andrew Demshuk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Communist East Germany's demolition of Leipzig's perfectly intact medieval University Church in May 1968 was an act decried as "cultural barbarism" across the two Germanies and beyond. Although overshadowed by the crackdown on Prague Spring mere weeks later, the willful destruction of this historic landmark on a central site symbolically renamed Karl Marx Square represents an essential turning point in the relationship between the Communist authorities and the people they claimed to serve. As the largest case of public protest in East German history between the 1953 Uprising and 1989 Revolution, this intimate local trauma exhibits the inner workings of a "dictatorial" system and exposes the often gray and overlapping lines between state and citizenry, which included both quiet and open resistance, passive and active collaboration. Through deep analysis of untapped periodicals and archives (including once-classified State documents, Stasi, and police records, and extensive private protest letters), it introduces a broad cast of characters who helped make the inconceivable possible, and restores the voices of not a few ordinary citizens of all stripes who dared in the name of culture, humanism, and civic pride to protest what they saw as an inconceivable tragedy. In this city that later started the 1989 October Revolution which ultimately triggered the fall of the Berlin Wall, residents from every social background desperately hoped to convince their leaders to step back from the brink. But as the dust cleared in 1968, they saw with all finality that their voices meant nothing, that the DDR was a sham democracy awash with utopian rhetoric that had no connection with their everyday lives. If Communism died in Prague in 1968, it had already died in Leipzig just weeks before, with repercussions that still haunt today's politics of memory.
The Page 99 Test: The Lost German East.

--Marshal Zeringue