Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Italian Way"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Italian Way: Food and Social Life by Douglas Harper and Patrizia Faccioli.

About the book, from the publisher:
Outside of Italy, the country’s culture and its food appear to be essentially synonymous. And indeed, as The Italian Way makes clear, preparing, cooking, and eating food play a central role in the daily activities of Italians from all walks of life. In this beautifully illustrated book, Douglas Harper and Patrizia Faccioli present a fascinating and colorful look at the Italian table.

The Italian Way focuses on two dozen families in the city of Bologna, elegantly weaving together Harper’s outsider perspective with Faccioli’s intimate knowledge of the local customs. The authors interview and observe these families as they go shopping for ingredients, cook together, and argue over who has to wash the dishes. Throughout, the authors elucidate the guiding principle of the Italian table—a delicate balance between the structure of tradition and the joy of improvisation. With its bite-sized history of food in Italy, including the five-hundred-year-old story of the country’s cookbooks, and Harper’s mouth-watering photographs, The Italian Way is a rich repast—insightful, informative, and inviting.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Superstitious Regimes"

New from Harvard University Press: Superstitious Regimes: Religion and the Politics of Chinese Modernity by Rebecca Nedostup.

About the book, from the publisher:
We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence.

These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Adoption in the Roman World"

New from Cambridge University Press: Adoption in the Roman World by Hugh Lindsay.

About the book, from the publisher:
Adoption in other cultures and other times provides a background to understanding the operation of adoption in the Roman worlds. This book considers the relationship of adoption to kinship structures in the Greek and Roman world. It considers the procedures for adoption followed by a separate analysis of testamentary cases, and the impact of adoption on nomenclature. The impact of adoption on inheritance arrangements is considered, including an account of how the families of freedmen were affected. Its use as a mode of succession at Rome is detailed, and this helps to understand the anxiety of childless Romans to procure a son through adoption, rather than simply to nominate heirs in their wills. The strategy also had political uses, and importantly it was used to rearrange natural succession in the imperial family. The book concludes with political adoptions, looking at the detailed case studies of Clodius and Octavian.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Capital Ideas"

New from Princeton University Press: Capital Ideas: The IMF and the Rise of Financial Liberalization by Jeffrey M. Chwieroth.

About the book, from the publisher:
The right of governments to employ capital controls has always been the official orthodoxy of the International Monetary Fund, and the organization's formal rules providing this right have not changed significantly since the IMF was founded in 1945. But informally, among the staff inside the IMF, these controls became heresy in the 1980s and 1990s, prompting critics to accuse the IMF of indiscriminately encouraging the liberalization of controls and precipitating a wave of financial crises in emerging markets in the late 1990s. In Capital Ideas, Jeffrey Chwieroth explores the inner workings of the IMF to understand how its staff's thinking about capital controls changed so radically. In doing so, he also provides an important case study of how international organizations work and evolve.

Drawing on original survey and archival research, extensive interviews, and scholarship from economics, politics, and sociology, Chwieroth traces the evolution of the IMF's approach to capital controls from the 1940s through spring 2009 and the first stages of the subprime credit crisis. He shows that IMF staff vigorously debated the legitimacy of capital controls and that these internal debates eventually changed the organization's behavior--despite the lack of major rule changes. He also shows that the IMF exercised a significant amount of autonomy despite the influence of member states. Normative and behavioral changes in international organizations, Chwieroth concludes, are driven not just by new rules but also by the evolving makeup, beliefs, debates, and strategic agency of their staffs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


New from Stanford University Press: Hyperconflict: Globalization and Insecurity by James H. Mittelman.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book addresses two questions that are central to the maintenance of stability in the international system in the twenty-first century: does globalization promote security or fuel insecurity? And what are the implications for world order?

Coming to grips with these matters effectively requires building a bridge between the geoeconomics and geopolitics of globalization, one that extends to the geostrategic realm. Not surprisingly, few analysts have sought to span this gulf.

Filling the void, Mittelman identifies systemic drivers of global security and insecurity and demonstrates how the intense interaction between them heightens insecurity at a world level. The emergent condition he labels hyperconflict—a state characterized by a reorganization of political violence, a growing climate of fear, and increasing instability at a world level. Ultimately, his analysis of these drivers and their interaction provides the basis for projections for future world order, offering an "early warning" to enable prevention of a gathering storm of hyperconflict, and the establishment of enduring peace.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


New from Palgrave Macmillan: Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives by Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Carjacked is an in-depth look at our obsession with cars. While the automobile’s contribution to global warming and the effects of volatile gas prices is widely known, the problems we face every day because of our cars are much more widespread and yet much less known -- from the surprising $14,000 that the average family pays each year for the vehicles it owns, to the increase in rates of obesity and asthma to which cars contribute, to the 40,000 deaths and 2.5 million crash injuries each and every year.

Carjacked details the complex impact of the automobile on modern society and shows us how to develop a healthier, cheaper, and greener relationship with cars.
Visit the Carjacked website.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Cosmic Noise"

New from Cambridge University Press: Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy by Woodruff T. Sullivan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Providing a definitive history of the formative years of radio astronomy, this book is invaluable for historians of science, scientists and engineers. The whole of worldwide radio and radar astronomy is covered, beginning with the discoveries by Jansky and Reber of cosmic noise before World War II, through the wartime detections of solar noise, the discovery of radio stars, lunar and meteor radar experiments, the detection of the hydrogen spectral line, to the discoveries of Hey, Ryle, Lovell and Pawsey in the decade following the war, revealing an entirely different sky from that of visual astronomy. Using contemporary literature, correspondence and photographs, the book tells the story of the people who shaped the intellectual, technical, and social aspects of the field now known as radio astronomy. The book features quotes from over a hundred interviews with pioneering radio astronomers, giving fascinating insights into the development of radio astronomy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Framing Equal Opportunity"

New from Stanford University Press: Framing Equal Opportunity: Law and the Politics of School Finance Reform by Michael Paris.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the struggle to ensure that schools receive their fair share of financial and educational resources, reformers translate policy goals into legal claims in a number of different ways. This enlightening new work uncovers the options reformers have in framing legal challenges and how the choices they make affect politics and policy beyond the courtroom.

Focusing on two of the most controversial and far-reaching court decisions in the nation in school finance and education reform, Framing Equal Opportunity follows lawyers and activists in New Jersey and Kentucky as they negotiate the complicated political terrain of educational change in their respective states. Unlike other books on law and reform, this work emphasizes the importance of legal translation—the process through which reformers transform their visions and goals into plausible legal claims. As it reveals, the kinds of arguments lawyers choose to make matter not only to their success in the courtroom, but also to the nature of the political fights they face in the community at large.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Partisan Sort"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans by Matthew Levendusky.

About the book, from the publisher:
As Washington elites drifted toward ideological poles over the past few decades, did ordinary Americans follow their lead? In The Partisan Sort, Matthew Levendusky reveals that we have responded to this trend—but not, for the most part, by becoming more extreme ourselves. While polarization has filtered down to a small minority of voters, it also has had the more significant effect of reconfiguring the way we sort ourselves into political parties.

In a marked realignment since the 1970s—when partisan affiliation did not depend on ideology and both major parties had strong liberal and conservative factions—liberals today overwhelmingly identify with Democrats, as conservatives do with Republicans. This “sorting,” Levendusky contends, results directly from the increasingly polarized terms in which political leaders define their parties. Exploring its far-reaching implications for the American political landscape, he demonstrates that sorting makes voters more loyally partisan, allowing campaigns to focus more attention on mobilizing committed supporters. Ultimately, Levendusky concludes, this new link between party and ideology represents a sea change in American politics.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Augustine's Intellectual Conversion"

New from Cambridge University Press: Augustine's Intellectual Conversion: The Journey from Platonism to Christianity by Brian Dobell.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines Augustine's intellectual conversion from Platonism to Christianity, as described at Confessions 7.9.13-21.27. It is widely assumed that this occurred in the summer of 386, shortly before Augustine's volitional conversion in the garden at Milan. Brian Dobell argues, however, that Augustine’s intellectual conversion did not occur until the mid 390s, and develops this claim by comparing Confessions 7.9.13-21.27 with a number of important passages and themes from Augustine's early writings. He thus invites the reader to consider anew the problem of Augustine's conversion in 386: was it to Platonism or Christianity? His original and important study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in the history of philosophy and the history of theology.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"The Marne, 1914"

New from Random House: The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World by Holger H. Herwig.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is one of the essential events of military history, a cataclysmic encounter that prevented a quick German victory in World War I and changed the course of two wars and the world. Now, for the first time in a generation, here is a bold new account of the Battle of the Marne. A landmark work by a distinguished scholar, The Marne, 1914 gives, for the first time, all sides of the story. In remarkable detail, and with exclusive information based on newly unearthed documents, Holger H. Herwig superbly re-creates the dramatic battle, revealing how the German force was foiled and years of brutal trench warfare were made inevitable.

Herwig brilliantly reinterprets Germany’s aggressive “Schlieffen Plan”–commonly considered militarism run amok–as a carefully crafted, years-in-the-making design to avoid a protracted war against superior coalitions. He also paints a new portrait of the run-up to the Marne: the Battle of the Frontiers, long thought a coherent assault but really a series of haphazard engagements that left “heaps of corpses,” France demoralized, Belgium in ruins, and Germany emboldened to take Paris.

Finally, Herwig puts in dazzling relief the Battle of the Marne itself: the French resolve to win, which included the exodus of 100,000 people from Paris (where even pigeons were placed under state control in case radio communications broke down), the crucial lack of coordination between Germany’s First and Second Armies, and the fateful “day of rest” taken by the Third Army. He provides revelatory new facts about the all-important order of retreat by Germany’s Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hentsch, previously an event hardly documented and here freshly reconstructed from diary excerpts.

Herwig also provides stunning cameos of all the important players: Germany’s Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke, progressively despairing and self-pitying as his plans go awry; his rival, France’s Joseph Joffre, seemingly weak but secretly unflappable and steely; and Commander of the British Expeditionary Force John French, arrogant, combative, and mercurial.

The Marne, 1914 puts into context the battle’s rich historical significance: how it turned the war into a four-year-long fiasco that taught Europe to accept a new form of barbarism and stoked the furnace for the fires of World War II. Revelatory and riveting, this will be the new source on this seminal event.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Moving Politics"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP's Fight against AIDS by Deborah B. Gould.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the late 1980s, after a decade spent engaged in more routine interest-group politics, thousands of lesbians and gay men responded to the AIDS crisis by defiantly and dramatically taking to the streets. But by the early 1990s, the organization they founded, ACT UP, was no more—even as the AIDS epidemic raged on. Weaving together interviews with activists, extensive research, and reflections on the author’s time as a member of the organization, Moving Politics is the first book to chronicle the rise and fall of ACT UP, highlighting a key factor in its trajectory: emotion.

Surprisingly overlooked by many scholars of social movements, emotion, Gould argues, plays a fundamental role in political activism. From anger to hope, pride to shame, and solidarity to despair, feelings played a significant part in ACT UP’s provocative style of protest, which included raucous demonstrations, die-ins, and other kinds of street theater. Detailing the movement’s public triumphs and private setbacks, Moving Politics is the definitive account of ACT UP’s origin, development, and decline as well as a searching look at the role of emotion in contentious politics.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"The Italian Inquisition"

New from Yale University Press: The Italian Inquisition by Christopher F. Black.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Italian Inquisition, or Holy Office, was established in 1542, stimulated partly by the earlier Spanish operation. Certainly Spain’s “black legend” affected opinions of the Inquisition in Italy, but as this pioneering book shows, there were significant differences between their operations, targets, and casualties.

In this pioneering history of the Italian Inquisition, Christopher F. Black charts how it developed and changed over time. He maps its cumbersome means of command, supervision, and action, as well as its role as a surprisingly approachable regulatory body working within communities. Ranging right across the Italian panorama, and rooting his enquiry in striking individual cases, Black uncovers Inquisitional procedure from denunciation to punishment. This scrupulous and richly rewarding book shows how the Inquisition shaped Italy’s religious and social worlds.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"The Good Communist"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Good Communist: Elite Training and State Building in Today's China by Frank N. Pieke.

About the book, from the publisher:
Has China become just another capitalist country in a socialist cloak? Will the Chinese Communist Party’s rule survive the next ten years of modernization and globalization? Frank Pieke investigates these conundrums in this fascinating account of how government officials are trained for placement in the Chinese Communist Party. Through in-depth interviews with staff members and aspiring trainees, he shows that while the Chinese Communist Party has undergone a radical transformation since the revolutionary years under Mao, it is still incumbent upon cadres, who are selected through a highly rigorous process, to be ideologically and politically committed to the party. It is the lessons learnt through their teachers that shape the political and economic decisions they will make in power. The book offers unique insights into the structure and the ideological culture of the Chinese government, and how it has reinvented itself over the last three decades as a neo-socialist state.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Serving Their Country"

New from Harvard University Press: Serving Their Country: American Indian Politics and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century by Paul C. Rosier.

About the book, from the publisher:
Over the twentieth century, American Indians fought for their right to be both American and Indian. In an illuminating book, Paul C. Rosier traces how Indians defined democracy, citizenship, and patriotism in both domestic and international contexts.

Battles over the place of Indians in the fabric of American life took place on reservations, in wartime service, in cold war rhetoric, and in the courtroom. The Society of American Indians, founded in 1911, asserted that America needed Indian cultural and spiritual values. In World War II, Indians fought for their ancestral homelands and for the United States. The domestic struggle of Indian nations to defend their cultures intersected with the international cold war stand against termination—the attempt by the federal government to end the reservation system. Native Americans seized on the ideals of freedom and self-determination to convince the government to preserve reservations as places of cultural strength. Red Power activists in the 1960s and 1970s drew on Third World independence movements to assert an ethnic nationalism that erupted in a series of protests—in Iroquois country, in the Pacific Northwest, during the occupation of Alcatraz Island, and at Wounded Knee.

Believing in an empire of liberty for all, Native Americans pressed the United States to honor its obligations at home and abroad. Like African Americans, twentieth-century Native Americans served as a visible symbol of an America searching for rights and justice. American history is incomplete without their story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Buddhist Warfare"

New from Oxford University Press: Buddhist Warfare by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.

Buddhist soldiers in sixth century China were given the illustrious status of Bodhisattva after killing their adversaries. In seventeenth century Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama endorsed a Mongol ruler's killing of his rivals. And in modern-day Thailand, Buddhist soldiers carry out their duties undercover, as fully ordained monks armed with guns.

Buddhist Warfare demonstrates that the discourse on religion and violence, usually applied to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, can no longer exclude Buddhist traditions. The book examines Buddhist military action in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and shows that even the most unlikely and allegedly pacifist religious traditions are susceptible to the violent tendencies of man.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Aphrodite's Island"

New from the University of California Press: Aphrodite's Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti by Anne Salmond.

About the book, from the publisher:
Aphrodite's Island is a bold new account of the European discovery of Tahiti, the Pacific island of mythic status that has figured so powerfully in European imaginings about sexuality, the exotic, and the nobility or bestiality of "savages." In this groundbreaking book, Anne Salmond takes readers to the center of the shared history to furnish rich insights into Tahitian perceptions of the visitors while illuminating the full extent of European fascination with Tahiti. As she discerns the impact and meaning of the European effect on the islands, she demonstrates how, during the early contact period, the mythologies of Europe and Tahiti intersected and became entwined. Drawing on Tahitian oral histories, European manuscripts and artworks, collections of Tahitian artifacts, and illustrated with contemporary sketches, paintings, and engravings from the voyages, Aphrodite's Island provides a vivid account of the Europeans' Tahitian adventures. At the same time, the book's compelling insights into Tahitian life significantly change the way we view the history of this small island during a period when it became a crossroads for Europe.
Read an excerpt from Aphrodite's Island.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Us Against Them"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion by Donald R. Kinder and Cindy D. Kam.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ethnocentrism—our tendency to partition the human world into in-groups and out-groups—pervades societies around the world. Surprisingly, though, few scholars have explored its role in political life. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam fill this gap with Us Against Them, their definitive explanation of how ethnocentrism shapes American public opinion.

Arguing that humans are broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam explore its impact on our attitudes toward an array of issues, including the war on terror, humanitarian assistance, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, and the reform of social programs. The authors ground their study in previous theories from a wide range of disciplines, establishing a new framework for understanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politically consequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence to identify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes public opinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States, the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends on circumstance. Exploring the implications of these findings for political knowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies outside the United States, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding of how democracy functions.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism"

New from Stanford University Press: Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism by Arianne Chernock.

About the book, from the publisher:
Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism calls fresh attention to the forgotten but foundational contributions of men to the creation of modern British feminism. Focusing on the revolutionary 1790s, the book introduces several dozen male reformers who insisted that women's emancipation would be key to the establishment of a truly just and rational society. These men proposed educational reforms, assisted women writers into print, and used their training in religion, medicine, history, and the law to challenge common assumptions about women's legal and political entitlements.

This book uses men's engagement with women's rights as a platform to reconsider understandings of gender in eighteenth-century Britain, the meaning and legacy of feminism, and feminism's relationship more generally to traditions of radical reform and enlightenment.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"The Life of the Longhouse"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Life of the Longhouse: An Archaeology of Ethnicity by Peter Metcalf.

About the book, from the publisher:
For two centuries, travellers were amazed at the massive buildings found along the rivers that flow from the mountainous interior of Borneo. They concentrated hundreds of people under one roof, in the middle of empty rainforests. There was no practical necessity for this arrangement, and it remains a mystery. Peter Metcalf provides an answer by showing the historical context, using both oral histories and colonial records. The key factor was a pre-modern trading system that funneled rare and exotic jungle products to China via the ancient coastal city of Brunei. Meanwhile the elite manufactured goods traded upriver shaped the political and religious institutions of longhouse society. However, the apparent permanence of longhouses was an illusion. In historical terms, longhouse communities were both mobile and labile, and the patterns of ethnicity they created more closely resemble the contemporary world than any stereotype of “tribal” societies.
Read an excerpt from The Life of the Longhouse.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"A Sudden Terror"

New from Harvard University Press: A Sudden Terror: The Plot to Murder the Pope in Renaissance Rome by Anthony F. D'Elia.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1468, on the final night of Carnival in Rome, Pope Paul II sat enthroned above the boisterous crowd, when a scuffle caught his eye. His guards had intercepted a mysterious stranger trying urgently to convey a warning—conspirators were lying in wait to slay the pontiff. Twenty humanist intellectuals were quickly arrested, tortured on the rack, and imprisoned in separate cells in the damp dungeon of Castel Sant’Angelo.

Anthony D’Elia offers a compelling, surprising story that reveals a Renaissance world that witnessed the rebirth of interest in the classics, a thriving homoerotic culture, the clash of Christian and pagan values, the contest between republicanism and a papal monarchy, and tensions separating Christian Europeans and Muslim Turks. Using newly discovered sources, he shows why the pope targeted the humanists, who were seen as dangerously pagan in their Epicurean morals and their Platonic beliefs about the soul and insurrectionist in their support of a more democratic Church. Their fascination with Sultan Mehmed II connected them to the Ottoman Turks, enemies of Christendom, and the love of the classical world tied them to recent rebellious attempts to replace papal rule with a republic harking back to the glorious days of Roman antiquity.

From the cosmetic-wearing, parrot-loving pontiff to the Turkish sultan, savage in war but obsessed with Italian culture, D’Elia brings to life a Renaissance world full of pageantry, mayhem, and conspiracy and offers a fresh interpretation of humanism as a dynamic communal movement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"The Political Centrist"

New from Vanderbilt University Press: The Political Centrist by John Lawrence Hill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today almost half of all Americans decline to define themselves as either "liberal" or "conservative." In fact, modern liberalism and conservatism seem hopelessly fragmented ideologies. Liberals claim to believe in individual freedom yet advocate a more collectivistic approach to government and an increasingly paternalistic role for the state. Conservatives are hopelessly divided between two incompatible ideals--the highly individualistic, limited-state philosophy of classical liberalism and an older, more collectivistic tradition of cultural conservatism that holds government responsible for shaping social morality. As a result, modern liberals are economic collectivists and moral individualists, while conservatives are economic individualists and moral collectivists.

Centrists reject each of these fragmented and polarized approaches to politics. We believe that government has a role to play in structuring social and economic opportunities and in reinforcing basic moral norms, yet we are deeply troubled by ever-expanding government. We reject libertarianism, left-liberalism, and the various schools of conservatism as a model for government.

Part I of The Political Centrist briefly traces the trajectory of the liberal and conservative traditions. It argues that modern liberalism is an unprincipled fusion of classical liberal and socialist ideals while modern conservatism is an untenable hybrid of economic liberalism and social conservatism. Part II offers a centrist approach to many of the most contentious contemporary political and social issues. Those include:

-- abortion
-- affirmative action
-- the death penalty
-- gay marriage
-- illegal immigration
-- judicial activism
-- the relationship of religion and politics
-- the role of government in the economy
Read the introduction to The Political Centrist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"The Unfinished Revolution"

New from Oxford University Press: The Unfinished Revolution: How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work, and Gender in America by Kathleen Gerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The vast changes in family life--the rise of single, same-sex, and two-paycheck parents--have often been blamed for declining morality and unhappy children. Drawing upon pioneering research with the children of the gender revolution, Kathleen Gerson reveals that it is not a lack of "family values," but rigid social and economic forces that make it difficult to live out those values.

In the controversial public debate over modern American families, The Unfinished Revolution takes a measured approach, looking at the young adults who grew up in the tumultuous post-feminist period. Despite the entrance of women into the workforce and the blurring of once clearly defined gender boundaries, men and women live in a world where the demands of balancing parenting and work, autonomy and commitment, time and money are left largely unresolved. Gerson finds that while an overwhelming majority of young men and women see an egalitarian balance within committed relationships as the ideal, today's social and economic realities remain based on traditional--and now obsolete--distinctions between breadwinning and caretaking. In this equity vacuum, men and women develop conflicting strategies, with women stressing self-reliance and men seeking a new traditionalism.

With compassion for all perspectives, Gerson argues that whether one decides to give in to traditionally imbalanced relationships or to avoid marriage completely, these approaches are second-best responses, not personal preferences or inherent attributes, and they will shift if new options can be created to help people achieve their egalitarian aspirations. The Unfinished Revolution makes clear recommendations for the kinds of workplace and community changes that would best bring about a more egalitarian family life--a new flexibility at work and at home that benefits families, encourages a thriving economy, and helps women and men integrate love and work.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'"If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die"'

New from Princeton University Press: "If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die": How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor by Geoffrey Robinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a book about a terrible spate of mass violence. It is also about a rare success in bringing such violence to an end. "If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die" tells the story of East Timor, a half-island that suffered genocide after Indonesia invaded in 1975, and which was again laid to waste after the population voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999. Before international forces intervened, more than half the population had been displaced and 1,500 people killed. Geoffrey Robinson, an expert in Southeast Asian history, was in East Timor with the United Nations in 1999 and provides a gripping first-person account of the violence, as well as a rigorous assessment of the politics and history behind it.

Robinson debunks claims that the militias committing the violence in East Timor acted spontaneously, attributing their actions instead to the calculation of Indonesian leaders, and to a "culture of terror" within the Indonesian army. He argues that major powers--notably the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom--were complicit in the genocide of the late 1970s and the violence of 1999. At the same time, Robinson stresses that armed intervention supported by those powers in late 1999 was vital in averting a second genocide. Advocating accountability, the book chronicles the failure to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

A riveting narrative filled with personal observations, documentary evidence, and eyewitness accounts, "If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die" engages essential questions about political violence, international humanitarian intervention, genocide, and transitional justice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed"

New from Yale University Press: Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed by Mary Heimann.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book, the most thoroughly researched and accurate history of Czechoslovakia to appear in English, tells the story of the country from its founding in 1918 to partition in 1992—from fledgling democracy through Nazi occupation, Communist rule, and invasion by the Soviet Union to, at last, democracy again.

The common Western view of Czechoslovakia has been that of a small nation that was sacrificed at Munich in 1938 and betrayed to the Soviets in 1948, and which rebelled heroically against the repression of the Soviet Union during the Prague Spring of 1968. Mary Heimann dispels these myths and shows how intolerant nationalism and an unhelpful sense of victimhood led Czech and Slovak authorities to discriminate against minorities, compete with the Nazis to persecute Jews and Gypsies, and pave the way for the Communist police state. She also reveals Alexander Dubcek, held to be a national hero and standard-bearer for democracy, to be an unprincipled apparatchik. Well written, revisionist, and accessible, this groundbreaking book should become the standard history of Czechoslovakia for years to come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Hitler's Panzers"

New from Berkley: Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare by Dennis Showalter.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating account of Nazi Germany’s armored forces by the author of Patton and Rommel.

Determined to secure a quick, decisive victory on the World War II battlefields, Adolf Hitler adopted an attack plan that combined tools with technique— the formidable Panzer divisions. Self-contained armored units able to operate independently, the Panzers became the German army’s fighting core as well as its moral focus, establishing an entirely new military doctrine.

In Hitler’s Panzers renowned World War II scholar Dennis Showalter presents a comprehensive and unbiased study of Nazi Germany’s armored forces. By delving deeply into a detailed history of the theory, strategy, myths, and realities of Germany’s technologically innovative approach to warfare, Showalter provides a look at the military lessons of the past, and a speculation on how the Panzer ethos may be implemented in the future of international conflict.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"An Outsider in the White House"

New from Cornell University Press: An Outsider in the White House: Jimmy Carter, His Advisors, and the Making of American Foreign Policy by Betty Glad.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jimmy Carter entered the White House with a desire for a collegial staff that would aid his foreign-policy decision making. He wound up with a “team of rivals” who contended for influence and who fought over his every move regarding relations with the USSR, the Peoples' Republic of China, arms control, and other crucial foreign-policy issues. In two areas-the Camp David Accords and the return of the Canal to Panama-Carter's successes were attributable to his particular political skills and the assistance of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and other professional diplomats. The ultimate victor in the other battles was Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a motivated tactician. Carter, the outsider who had sought to change the political culture of the executive office, found himself dependent on the very insiders of the political and diplomatic establishment against whom he had campaigned.

Based on recently declassified documents in the Carter Library, materials not previously noted in the Vance papers, and a wide variety of interviews, Betty Glad's An Outsider in the White House is a rich and nuanced depiction of the relationship between policy and character. It is also a poignant history of damaged ideals. Carter's absolute commitment to human rights foundered on what were seen as national security interests. New data from the archives reveal how Carter's government sought the aid of Pope John Paul II to undercut the human-rights efforts of the El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. A moralistic approach toward the Soviet Union undermined Carter's early desire to reduce East-West conflicts and cut nuclear arms. As a result, by 1980 the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) was in limbo, and a nuclear counterforce doctrine had been adopted.

Near the end of Carter's single term in office Vance stepped down as secretary of state, in part because Brzezinski's “muscular diplomacy” had come to dominate Carter's foreign policy. When Vance's successor, Edmund Muskie, took over, the State Department was reduced to implementing policies made by Brzezinski and his allies. For Carter, the rivalry for influence in the White House was concluded and the results, as Glad shows, were a mixed record and an uncertain presidential legacy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Southern Horrors"

New from Harvard University Press: Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching by Crystal N. Feimster.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1880 and 1930, close to 200 women were murdered by lynch mobs in the American South. Many more were tarred and feathered, burned, whipped, or raped. In this brutal world of white supremacist politics and patriarchy, a world violently divided by race, gender, and class, black and white women defended themselves and challenged the male power brokers. Crystal Feimster breaks new ground in her story of the racial politics of the postbellum South by focusing on the volatile issue of sexual violence.

Pairing the lives of two Southern women—Ida B. Wells, who fearlessly branded lynching a white tool of political terror against southern blacks, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching black men accused of raping white women—Feimster makes visible the ways in which black and white women sought protection and political power in the New South. While Wells was black and Felton was white, both were journalists, temperance women, suffragists, and anti-rape activists. By placing their concerns at the center of southern politics, Feimster illuminates a critical and novel aspect of southern racial and sexual dynamics. Despite being on opposite sides of the lynching question, both Wells and Felton sought protection from sexual violence and political empowerment for women.

Southern Horrors provides a startling view into the Jim Crow South where the precarious and subordinate position of women linked black and white anti-rape activists together in fragile political alliances. It is a story that reveals how the complex drama of political power, race, and sex played out in the lives of Southern women.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


New from NYU Press: Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice by Alexandra Natapoff.

About the book, from the publisher:
Albert Burrell spent thirteen years on death row for a murder he did not commit. Atlanta police killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during a misguided raid on her home. After being released by Chicago prosecutors, Darryl Moore—drug dealer, hit man, and rapist—returned home to rape an eleven-year-old girl.

Such tragedies are consequences of snitching—police and prosecutors offering deals to criminal offenders in exchange for information. Although it is nearly invisible to the public, criminal snitching has invaded the American legal system in risky and sometimes shocking ways. Snitching is the first comprehensive analysis of this powerful and problematic practice, in which informant deals generate unreliable evidence, allow criminals to escape punishment, endanger the innocent, compromise the integrity of police work, and exacerbate tension between police and poor urban residents. Driven by dozens of real-life stories and debacles, the book exposes the social destruction that snitching can cause in high-crime African American neighborhoods, and how using criminal informants renders our entire penal process more secretive and less fair. Natapoff also uncovers the farreaching legal, political, and cultural significance of snitching: from the war on drugs to hip hop music, from the FBI’s mishandling of its murderous mafia informants to the new surge in white collar and terrorism informing. She explains how existing law functions and proposes new reforms. By delving into the secretive world of criminal informants, Snitching reveals deep and often disturbing truths about the way American justice really works.
Visit the Snitching blog.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Securing the Peace"

New from Princeton University Press: Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars by Monica Duffy Toft.

About the book, from the publisher:
Timely and pathbreaking, Securing the Peace is the first book to explore the complete spectrum of civil war terminations, including negotiated settlements, military victories by governments and rebels, and stalemates and ceasefires. Examining the outcomes of all civil war terminations since 1940, Monica Toft develops a general theory of postwar stability, showing how third-party guarantees may not be the best option. She demonstrates that thorough security-sector reform plays a critical role in establishing peace over the long term.

Much of the thinking in this area has centered on third parties presiding over the maintenance of negotiated settlements, but the problem with this focus is that fewer than a quarter of recent civil wars have ended this way. Furthermore, these settlements have been precarious, often resulting in a recurrence of war. Toft finds that military victory, especially victory by rebels, lends itself to a more durable peace. She argues for the importance of the security sector--the police and military--and explains that victories are more stable when governments can maintain order. Toft presents statistical evaluations and in-depth case studies that include El Salvador, Sudan, and Uganda to reveal that where the security sector remains robust, stability and democracy are likely to follow.

An original and thoughtful reassessment of civil war terminations, Securing the Peace will interest all those concerned about resolving our world's most pressing conflicts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Naked City"

New from Oxford University Press: Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin.

About the book, from the publisher:
As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, art galleries, small boutiques, upscale food markets, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic restaurants, and old, family-owned shops. These signify a place's authenticity, in contrast to the bland standardization of the suburbs and exurbs.

But as Sharon Zukin shows in Naked City, the rapid and pervasive demand for authenticity--evident in escalating real estate prices, expensive stores, and closely monitored urban streetscapes--has helped drive out the very people who first lent a neighborhood its authentic aura: immigrants, the working class, and artists. Zukin traces this economic and social evolution in six archetypal New York areas--Williamsburg, Harlem, the East Village, Union Square, Red Hook, and the city's community gardens--and travels to both the city's first IKEA store and the World Trade Center site. She shows that for followers of Jane Jacobs, this transformation is a perversion of what was supposed to happen. Indeed, Naked City is a sobering update of Jacobs' legendary 1962 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Like Jacobs, Zukin looks at what gives neighborhoods a sense of place, but argues that over time, the emphasis on neighborhood distinctiveness has become a tool of economic elites to drive up real estate values and effectively force out the neighborhood "characters" that Jacobs so evocatively idealized.

With a journalist's eye and the understanding of a longtime critic and observer, Zukin's panoramic survey of contemporary New York explains how our desire to consume authentic experience has become a central force in making cities more exclusive.