Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Small States in World Politics"

New from Manchester University Press: Small States in World Politics: The story of Small state survival, 1648-2016 by Matthias Maass.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is the story behind the paradoxical survival of small and weak states in a world of great powers and crude power politics? And what explains the dramatic rise and fall in the number of states overtime, following no consistent trend and not showing an immediately obvious direction or pattern?

The answers lie at the system-level: Small states survival is shaped by the international states system. Small state survival and proliferation is determined first and foremost by features of and dynamics created at the states system. As the states system changes and evolves the chances for small states to survive or proliferate change as well. In fact, a quantitive investigation confirms this, showing that over the course of more than 3½ centuries, the number of small states did fluctuate widely and at times dramatically.

In sum, the small state security is shaped by exogenous, systemic factors, not by small states' own foreign policies.
Visit Matthias Maass's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"A Different Kind of Animal"

New from Princeton University Press: A Different Kind of Animal: How Culture Transformed Our Species by Robert Boyd.

About the book, from the publisher:
How our ability to learn from each other has been the essential ingredient to our remarkable success as a species

Human beings are a very different kind of animal. We have evolved to become the most dominant species on Earth. We have a larger geographical range and process more energy than any other creature alive. This astonishing transformation is usually explained in terms of cognitive ability—people are just smarter than all the rest. But in this compelling book, Robert Boyd argues that culture—our ability to learn from each other—has been the essential ingredient of our remarkable success.

A Different Kind of Animal demonstrates that while people are smart, we are not nearly smart enough to have solved the vast array of problems that confronted our species as it spread across the globe. Over the past two million years, culture has evolved to enable human populations to accumulate superb local adaptations that no individual could ever have invented on their own. It has also made possible the evolution of social norms that allow humans to make common cause with large groups of unrelated individuals, a kind of society not seen anywhere else in nature. This unique combination of cultural adaptation and large-scale cooperation has transformed our species and assured our survival—making us the different kind of animal we are today.

Based on the Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University, A Different Kind of Animal features challenging responses by biologist H. Allen Orr, philosopher Kim Sterelny, economist Paul Seabright, and evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace, as well as an introduction by Stephen Macedo.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 20, 2017

"The Forgotten Emancipator"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Forgotten Emancipator: James Mitchell Ashley and the Ideological Origins of Reconstruction by Rebecca E. Zietlow.

About the book, from the publisher:
Congressman James M. Ashley, a member of the House of Representatives from 1858 to 1868, and was the main sponsor of the Thirteenth Amendment to the American Constitution, which declared the institution of slavery unconstitutional. Rebecca E. Zietlow uses Ashley's life as a unique lens through which to explore the ideological origins of Reconstruction and the constitutional changes of this era. Zietlow recounts how Ashley and his antislavery allies shared an egalitarian free labor ideology that was influenced by the political antislavery movement and the nascent labor movement - a vision that conflicted directly with the institution of slavery. Ashley's story sheds important light on the meaning and power of popular constitutionalism: how the constitution is interpreted outside of the courts and the power that citizens and their elected officials can have in enacting legal change. The book shows how Reconstruction not only expanded racial equality but also transformed the rights of workers throughout America.
Rebecca E. Zietlow is Charles W. Fornoff Professor of Law and Values at the University of Toledo, College of Law.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"The Virtual Weapon and International Order"

New from Yale University Press: The Virtual Weapon and International Order by Lucas Kello.

About the book, from the publisher:
An urgently needed examination of the current cyber revolution that draws on case studies to develop conceptual frameworks for understanding its effects on international order

The cyber revolution is the revolution of our time. The rapid expansion of cyberspace in society brings both promise and peril. It promotes new modes of political cooperation, but it also disrupts interstate dealings and empowers subversive actors who may instigate diplomatic and military crises. Despite significant experience with cyber incidents, the conceptual apparatus to analyze, understand, and address their effects on international order remains primitive. Here, Lucas Kello adapts and applies international relations theory to create new ways of thinking about cyber strategy.

Kello draws on a broad range of case studies - including the Stuxnet operation against Iran, the cyberattacks against Sony Pictures, and the disruption of the 2016 U.S. presidential election - to make sense of the contemporary technological revolution.

Synthesizing data from government documents, forensic reports of major events, and interviews with senior decision-makers, this important work establishes new theoretical benchmarks to help security experts revise strategy and policy for the unprecedented challenges of our era.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Forgotten Disease"

New from Stanford University Press: Forgotten Disease: Illnesses Transformed in Chinese Medicine by Hilary A. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Around the turn of the twentieth century, disorders that Chinese physicians had been writing about for over a millennium acquired new identities in Western medicine—sudden turmoil became cholera; flowers of heaven became smallpox; and foot qi became beriberi. Historians have tended to present these new identities as revelations, overlooking evidence that challenges Western ideas about these conditions. In Forgotten Disease, Hilary A. Smith argues that, by privileging nineteenth century sources, we misrepresent what traditional Chinese doctors were seeing and doing, therefore unfairly viewing their medicine as inferior.

Drawing on a wide array of sources, ranging from early Chinese classics to modern scientific research, Smith traces the history of one representative case, foot qi, from the fourth century to the present day. She examines the shifting meanings of disease over time, showing that each transformation reflects the social, political, intellectual, and economic environment. The breathtaking scope of this story offers insights into the world of early Chinese doctors and how their ideas about health, illness, and the body were developing far before the advent of modern medicine. Smith highlights the fact that modern conceptions of these ancient diseases create the impression that the West saved the Chinese from age-old afflictions, when the reality is that many prominent diseases in China were actually brought over as a result of imperialism. She invites the reader to reimagine a history of Chinese medicine that celebrates its complexity and nuance, rather than uncritically disdaining this dynamic form of healing.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"John Locke: The Philosopher as Christian Virtuoso"

New from Oxford University Press: John Locke: The Philosopher as Christian Virtuoso by Victor Nuovo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Early modern Europe was the birthplace of the modern secular outlook. During the seventeenth century nature and human society came to be regarded in purely naturalistic, empirical ways, and religion was made an object of critical historical study. John Locke was a central figure in all these events. This study of his philosophical thought shows that these changes did not happen smoothly or without many conflicts of belief: Locke, in the role of Christian Virtuoso, endeavoured to resolve them. He was an experimental natural philosopher, a proponent of the so-called 'new philosophy', a variety of atomism that emerged in early modern Europe. But he was also a practising Christian, and he professed confidence that the two vocations were not only compatible, but mutually sustaining. He aspired, without compromising his empirical stance, to unite the two vocations in a single philosophical endeavour with the aim of producing a system of Christian philosophy.
Victor Nuovo is Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Middlebury College.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Broke and Patriotic"

New from Stanford University Press: Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country by Francesco Duina.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why are poor Americans so patriotic? They have significantly worse social benefits compared to other Western nations, and studies show that the American Dream of upward mobility is, for them, largely a myth. So why do these people love their country? Why have they not risen up to demand more from a system that is failing them?

In Broke and Patriotic, Francesco Duina contends that the best way to answer these questions is to speak directly to America's most impoverished. Spending time in bus stations, laundromats, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, public libraries, and fast food restaurants, Duina conducted over sixty revealing interviews in which his subjects explain how they view themselves and their country. He masterfully weaves their words into three narratives. First, America's poor still see their country as the "last hope" for themselves and the world: America offers its people a sense of dignity, closeness to God, and answers to most of humanity's problems. Second, America is still the "land of milk and honey:" a very rich and generous country where those who work hard can succeed. Third, America is the freest country on earth where self-determination is still possible.

This book offers a stirring portrait of the people left behind by their country and left out of the national conversation. By giving them a voice, Duina sheds new light on a sector of American society that we are only beginning to recognize as a powerful force in shaping the country's future.
The Page 99 Test: Winning.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 16, 2017

"A Cultural History of Chess-Players"

New from Manchester University Press: A cultural history of chess-players: Minds, machines, and monsters by John Sharples.

About the book, from the publisher:
This inquiry concerns the cultural history of the chess-player. It takes as its premise the idea that the chess-player has become a fragmented collection of images, underpinned by challenges to, and confirmations of, chess's status as an intellectually-superior and socially-useful game, particularly since the medieval period. Yet, the chess-player is an understudied figure. No previous work has shone a light on the chess-player itself. Increasingly, chess-histories have retreated into tidy consensus. This work aspires to a novel reading of the figure as both a flickering beacon of reason and a sign of monstrosity. To this end, this book, utilising a wide range of sources, including newspapers, periodicals, detective novels, science-fiction, and comic-books, is underpinned by the idea that the chess-player is a pluralistic subject used to articulate a number of anxieties pertaining to themes of mind, machine, and monster.
John Sharples is an independent historian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 15, 2017

"The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight"

New from Stanford University Press: The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight: How Place Still Matters for the Rich by Cristobal Young.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this age of globalization, many countries and U.S. states are worried about the tax flight of the rich. As income inequality grows and U.S. states consider raising taxes on their wealthiest residents, there is a palpable concern that these high rollers will board their private jets and fly away, taking their wealth with them. Many assume that the importance of location to a person's success is at an all-time low. Cristobal Young, however, makes the surprising argument that location is very important to the world's richest people. Frequently, he says, place has a great deal to do with how they make their millions.

In The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight, Young examines a trove of data on millionaires and billionaires—confidential tax returns, Forbes lists, and census records—and distills down surprising insights. While economic elites have the resources and capacity to flee high-tax places, their actual migration is surprisingly limited. For the rich, ongoing economic potential is tied to the place where they become successful—often where they are powerful insiders—and that success ultimately diminishes both the incentive and desire to migrate.

This important book debunks a powerful idea that has driven fiscal policy for years, and in doing so it clears the way for a new era. Millionaire taxes, Young argues, could give states the funds to pay for infrastructure, education, and other social programs to attract a group of people who are much more mobile—the younger generation.
Visit Cristobal Young's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"London Cage"

New from Yale University Press: London Cage: The Secret History of Britain's World War II Interrogation Centre by Helen Fry.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first complete account of the fiercely guarded secrets of London’s clandestine interrogation center, operated by the British Secret Service from 1940 to 1948

Behind the locked doors of three mansions in London’s exclusive Kensington Palace Gardens neighborhood, the British Secret Service established a highly secret prison in 1940: the London Cage. Here recalcitrant German prisoners of war were subjected to “special intelligence treatment.” The stakes were high: the war’s outcome could hinge on obtaining information German prisoners were determined to withhold. After the war, high-ranking Nazi war criminals were housed in the Cage, revamped as an important center for investigating German war crimes.

This riveting book reveals the full details of operations at the London Cage and subsequent efforts to hide them. Helen Fry’s extraordinary original research uncovers the grim picture of prisoners’ daily lives and of systemic Soviet-style mistreatment. The author also provides sensational evidence to counter official denials concerning the use of “truth drugs” and “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Bringing dark secrets to light, this groundbreaking book at last provides an objective and complete history of the London Cage.
Visit Helen Fry's website.

--Marshal Zeringue