Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Wars of Plunder"

New from Oxford University Press: Wars of Plunder: Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources by Philippe Le Billon.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Angola and Liberia to Iraq and the Congo, wars have taken place in resource rich countries full of poor people. In Wars of Plunder Philippe Le Billon explores how resources have shaped recent conflicts, and what the international community has tried to do about it. Focusing on key resources-oil, diamonds, and timber-he argues that resources and wars are linked in three main ways. First, resource revenues finance belligerents, a trend that has become all the more conspicuous since the withdrawal of Cold War foreign sponsorship in the late 1980s. Although the 'War on Terror' has redefined military assistance and the internationalisation of war, many belligerents continue to rely on and profit from 'conflict resources'. Second, resource exploitation generates conflict. As global demand for raw materials has sharply increased, competition over critical resources such as oil has resulted in a flurry of 'resource conflicts', from local community struggles against mining multinationals to regional and international tensions. Third, economic shocks and poor governance sharply increase the risk of war (the 'resource curse'). While today's resource boom is a major economic opportunity for resource rich but poor countries, reliance on resource exports often implies sharp economic downturns. Not all resources are the same, however, and effective responses are at hand. Sanctions, military interventions and wealth sharing have helped bring an end to conflicts, yet only deeper domestic and international reforms in resource governance can stop the plunder.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Seeing Race in Modern America"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Seeing Race in Modern America by Matthew Pratt Guterl.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this fiercely urgent book, Matthew Pratt Guterl focuses on how and why we come to see race in very particular ways. What does it mean to see someone as a color? As racially mixed or ethnically ambiguous? What history makes such things possible? Drawing creatively from advertisements, YouTube videos, and everything in between, Guterl redirects our understanding of racial sight away from the dominant categories of color--away from brown and yellow and black and white--and instead insists that we confront the visual practices that make those same categories seem so irrefutably important.

Zooming out for the bigger picture, Guterl illuminates the long history of the practice of seeing--and believing in--race, and reveals that our troublesome faith in the details discerned by the discriminating glance is widespread and very popular. In so doing, he upends the possibility of a postracial society by revealing how deeply race is embedded in our culture, with implications that are often matters of life and death.
The Page 99 Test: Matthew Pratt Guterl's American Mediterranean.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"The Beau Monde"

New from Oxford University Press: The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London by Hannah Greig.

About the book, from the publisher:
Caricatured for extravagance, vanity, glamorous celebrity and, all too often, embroiled in scandal and gossip, 18th-century London's fashionable society had a well-deserved reputation for frivolity. But to be fashionable in 1700s London meant more than simply being well dressed. Fashion denoted membership of a new type of society - the beau monde, a world where status was no longer determined by coronets and countryseats alone but by the more nebulous qualification of metropolitan 'fashion'. Conspicuous consumption and display were crucial; the right address, the right dinner guests, the right possessions, the right jewels, the right seat at the opera.

The Beau Monde leads us on a tour of this exciting new world, from court and parliament to London's parks, pleasure grounds, and private homes. From brash displays of diamond jewelry to the subtle complexities of political intrigue, we see how membership of the new elite was won, maintained - and sometimes lost. On the way, we meet a rich and colorful cast of characters, from the newly ennobled peer learning the ropes and the imposter trying to gain entry by means of clever fakery, to the exile banned for sexual indiscretion.

Above all, as the story unfolds, we learn that being a Fashionable was about far more than simply being 'modish'. By the end of the century, it had become nothing less than the key to power and exclusivity in a changed world.
Visit Hannah Greig's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 28, 2013

"A Word from Our Sponsor"

New from Fordham University Press: A Word from Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio by Cynthia B. Meyers.

About the book, from the publisher:
The behind-the-scenes story of how admen and sponsors helped shape broadcasting into a popular commercial entertainment medium.

During the "golden age" of radio, from roughly the late 1920s until the late 1940s, advertising agencies were arguably the most important sources of radio entertainment. Most nationally broadcast programs on network radio were created, produced, written, and/or managed by advertising agencies: for example, J. Walter Thompson produced "Kraft Music Hall" for Kraft; Benton & Bowles oversaw "Show Boat" for Maxwell House Coffee; and Young & Rubicam managed "Town Hall Tonight" with comedian Fred Allen for Bristol-Myers. Yet this fact has disappeared from popular memory and receives little attention from media scholars and historians. By repositioning the advertising industry as a central agent in the development of broadcasting, author Cynthia B. Meyers challenges conventional views about the role of advertising in culture, the integration of media industries, and the role of commercialism in broadcasting history.

Based largely on archival materials, A Word from Our Sponsor mines agency records from the J. Walter Thompson papers at Duke University, which include staff meeting transcriptions, memos, and account histories; agency records of BBDO, Benton & Bowles, Young & Rubicam, and N. W. Ayer; contemporaneous trade publications; and the voluminous correspondence between NBC and agency executives in the NBC Records at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Mediating between audiences' desire for entertainment and advertisers' desire for sales, admen combined "showmanship" with "salesmanship" to produce a uniquely American form of commercial culture. In recounting the history of this form, Meyers enriches and corrects our understanding not only of broadcasting history but also of advertising history, business history, and American cultural history from the 1920s to the 1940s.
Visit the A Word from Our Sponsor website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Sex on Show"

New from the University of California Press: Sex on Show: Seeing the Erotic in Greece and Rome by Caroline Vout.

About the book, from the publisher:
The ancient Greeks and Romans were not shy about sex. Phallic imagery, sex scenes, and the lively activities of their promiscuous gods adorned many objects, buildings, and sculptures. Drinking cups, oil-lamps, and walls were decorated with scenes of seduction; statues of erect penises served as boundary-stones and signposts; and marble satyrs and nymphs grappled in gardens.

Caroline Vout examines the abundance of sexual imagery in Greek and Roman culture. Were these images intended to be shocking, humorous, or exciting? Are they about sex or love? How are we to know whether our responses to them are akin to those of the ancients? The answers to these questions provide fascinating insights into ancient attitudes toward religion, politics, sex, gender, and the body. They also reveal how the ancients saw themselves and their world, and how subsequent centuries have seen them. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this lively and thought-provoking book not only addresses theories of sexual practice and social history, it is also a visual history of what it meant and still means to stare sex in the face.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Leisurely Islam"

New from Princeton University Press: Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shiite South Beirut by Lara Deeb and Mona Harb.

About the book, from the publisher:
South Beirut has recently become a vibrant leisure destination with a plethora of cafés and restaurants that cater to the young, fashionable, and pious. What effects have these establishments had on the moral norms, spatial practices, and urban experiences of this Lebanese community? From the diverse voices of young Shi'i Muslims searching for places to hang out, to the Hezbollah officials who want this media-savvy generation to be more politically involved, to the religious leaders worried that Lebanese youth are losing their moral compasses, Leisurely Islam provides a sophisticated and original look at leisure in the Lebanese capital.

What makes a café morally appropriate? How do people negotiate morality in relation to different places? And under what circumstances might a pious Muslim go to a café that serves alcohol? Lara Deeb and Mona Harb highlight tensions and complexities exacerbated by the presence of multiple religious authorities, a fraught sectarian political context, class mobility, and a generation that takes religion for granted but wants to have fun. The authors elucidate the political, economic, religious, and social changes that have taken place since 2000, and examine leisure's influence on Lebanese sociopolitical and urban situations.

Asserting that morality and geography cannot be fully understood in isolation from one another, Leisurely Islam offers a colorful new understanding of the most powerful community in Lebanon today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Licensed to Practice"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Licensed to Practice: The Supreme Court Defines the American Medical Profession by James C. Mohr.

About the book, from the publisher:
Licensed to Practice begins with an 1891 shooting in Wheeling, West Virginia, that left one doctor dead and another on trial for his life. Formerly close friends, the doctors had fallen out over the issue of medical licensing. Historian James C. Mohr calls the murder "a sorry personal consequence of the far larger and historically significant battle among West Virginia's physicians over the future of their profession."

Through most of the nineteenth century, anyone could call themselves a doctor and could practice medicine on whatever basis they wished. But an 1889 U.S. Supreme Court case, Dent v. West Virginia, effectively transformed medical practice from an unregulated occupation to a legally recognized profession. The political and legal battles that led up to the decision were unusually bitter—especially among physicians themselves—and the outcome was far from a foregone conclusion.

So-called Regular physicians wanted to impose their own standards on the wide-open medical marketplace in which they and such non-Regulars as Thomsonians, Botanics, Hydropaths, Homeopaths, and Eclectics competed. The Regulars achieved their goal by persuading the state legislature to make it a crime for anyone to practice without a license from the Board of Health, which they controlled. When the high court approved that arrangement—despite constitutional challenges—the licensing precedents established in West Virginia became the bedrock on which the modern American medical structure was built. And those precedents would have profound implications. Thus does Dent, a little-known Supreme Court case, influence how Americans receive health care more than a hundred years after the fact.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Wrong: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn from Them"

New from Oxford University Press: Wrong: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn from Them by Richard S. Grossman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In recent years, the world has been rocked by major economic crises, most notably the devastating collapse of Lehman Brothers, the largest bankruptcy in American history, which triggered the breathtakingly destructive sub-prime disaster. What sparks these vast economic calamities? Why do our economic policy makers fail to protect us from such upheavals?

In Wrong, economist Richard Grossman addresses such questions, shining a light on the poor thinking behind nine of the worst economic policy mistakes of the past 200 years, missteps whose outcomes ranged from appalling to tragic. Grossman tells the story behind each misconceived economic move, explaining why the policy was adopted, how it was implemented, and its short- and long-term consequences. In each case, he shows that the main culprits were policy makers who were guided by ideology rather than economics. For instance, Wrong looks at how America's unfounded fear of a centralized monetary authority caused them to reject two central banks, condemning the nation to wave after wave of financial panics. He describes how Britain's blind commitment to free markets, rather than to assisting the starving in Ireland, led to one of the nineteenth century's worst humanitarian tragedies- the Irish famine. And he shows how Britain's reestablishment of the gold standard after World War I, fuelled largely by a desire to recapture its pre-war dominance, helped to turn what would otherwise have been a normal recession into the Great Depression. Grossman also explores the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, Japan's lost decade of the 1990s, the American subprime crisis, and the present European sovereign debt crisis.

Economic policy should be based on cold, hard economic analysis, Grossman concludes, not on an unquestioning commitment to a particular ideology. Wrong shows what happens when this sensible advice is ignored.
See: the Page 99 Test: Unsettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800 by Richard S. Grossman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Divine Fury"

New from Basic Books: Divine Fury: A History of Genius by Darrin M. McMahon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Genius. With hints of madness and mystery, moral license and visionary force, the word suggests an almost otherworldly power: the power to create, to divine the secrets of the universe, even to destroy. Yet the notion of genius has been diluted in recent times. Today, rock stars, football coaches, and entrepreneurs are labeled 'geniuses,' and the word is applied so widely that it has obscured the sense of special election and superhuman authority that long accompanied it.

As acclaimed historian Darrin M. McMahon explains, the concept of genius has roots in antiquity, when men of prodigious insight were thought to possess — or to be possessed by — demons and gods. Adapted in the centuries that followed and applied to a variety of religious figures, including prophets, apostles, sorcerers, and saints, abiding notions of transcendent human power were invoked at the time of the Renaissance to explain the miraculous creativity of men like Leonardo and Michelangelo.

Yet it was only in the eighteenth century that the genius was truly born, idolized as a new model of the highest human type. Assuming prominence in figures as varied as Newton and Napoleon, the modern genius emerged in tension with a growing belief in human equality. Contesting the notion that all are created equal, geniuses served to dramatize the exception of extraordinary individuals not governed by ordinary laws. The phenomenon of genius drew scientific scrutiny and extensive public commentary into the 20th century, but it also drew religious and political longings that could be abused. In the genius cult of the Nazis and the outpouring of reverence for the redemptive figure of Einstein, genius achieved both its apotheosis and its Armageddon.

The first comprehensive history of this elusive concept, Divine Fury follows the fortunes of genius and geniuses through the ages down to the present day, showing how — despite its many permutations and recent democratization — genius remains a potent force in our lives, reflecting modern needs, hopes, and fears.
Visit the Divine Fury website and Darrin McMahon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"God's Agents: Biblical Publicity in Contemporary England"

New from the University of California Press: God's Agents: Biblical Publicity in Contemporary England by Matthew Engelke.

About the book, from the publisher:
The British and Foreign Bible Society is one of the most illustrious Christian charities in the United Kingdom. Founded by evangelicals in the early nineteenth century and inspired by developments in printing technology, its goal has always been to make Bibles universally available. Over the past several decades, though, Bible Society has faced a radically different world, especially in its work in England. Where the Society once had a grateful and engaged reading public, it now faces apathy—even antipathy—for its cause. These days, it seems, no one in England wants a Bible, and no one wants other people telling them they should: religion is supposed to be a private matter. Undeterred, these Christians attempt to spark a renewed interest in the Word of God. They’ve turned away from publishing and toward publicity to “make the Bible heard.”

God’s Agents is a study of how religion goes public in today’s world. Based on over three years of anthropological research, Matthew Engelke traces how a small group of socially committed Christians tackle the challenge of publicity within what they understand to be a largely secular culture. In the process of telling their story, he offers an insightful new way to think about the relationships between secular and religious formations: our current understanding of religion needs to be complemented by greater attention to the process of generating publicity. Engelke argues that we are witnessing the dynamics of religious publicity, which allows us to see the ways in which conceptual divides such as public/private, religious/secular, and faith/knowledge are challenged and redefined by social actors on the ground.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Civil Disobedience"

New from Yale University Press: Civil Disobedience: An American Tradition by Lewis Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
The distinctive American tradition of civil disobedience stretches back to pre-Revolutionary War days and has served the purposes of determined protesters ever since. This stimulating book examines the causes that have inspired civil disobedience, the justifications used to defend it, disagreements among its practitioners, and the controversies it has aroused at every turn. Tracing the origins of the notion of civil disobedience to eighteenth-century evangelicalism and republicanism, Lewis Perry discusses how the tradition took shape in the actions of black and white abolitionists and antiwar protesters in the decades leading to the Civil War, then found new expression in post–Civil War campaigns for women’s equality, temperance, and labor reform. Gaining new strength and clarity from explorations of Thoreau’s essays and Gandhi’s teachings, the tradition persisted through World War II, grew stronger during the decades of civil rights protest and antiwar struggles, and has been adopted more recently by anti-abortion groups, advocates of same-sex marriage, opponents of nuclear power, and many others. Perry clarifies some of the central implications of civil disobedience that have become blurred in recent times—nonviolence, respect for law, commitment to democratic processes—and throughout the book highlights the dilemmas faced by those who choose to violate laws in the name of a higher morality.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Jim Crow Wisdom"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America since 1940 by Jonathan Scott Holloway.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do we balance the desire for tales of exceptional accomplishment with the need for painful doses of reality? How hard do we work to remember our past or to forget it? These are some of the questions that Jonathan Scott Holloway addresses in this exploration of race memory from the dawn of the modern civil rights era to the present. Relying on social science, documentary film, dance, popular literature, museums, memoir, and the tourism trade, Holloway explores the stories black Americans have told about their past and why these stories are vital to understanding a modern black identity. In the process, Holloway asks much larger questions about the value of history and facts when memories do violence to both.

Making discoveries about his own past while researching this book, Holloway weaves first-person and family memories into the traditional third-person historian’s perspective. The result is a highly readable, rich, and deeply personal narrative that will be familiar to some, shocking to others, and thought-provoking to everyone.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Earthly Mission"

New from Yale University Press: Earthly Mission: The Catholic Church and World Development by Robert Calderisi.

About the book, from the publisher:
With 1.2 billion members, the Catholic Church is the world’s largest organization and perhaps its most controversial. The Church’s obstinacy on matters like clerical celibacy, the role of women, birth control, and the child abuse scandal has alienated many Catholics, especially in the West. Yet in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Church is highly esteemed for its support of education, health, and social justice. In this deeply informed book, Robert Calderisi unravels the paradoxes of the Catholic Church’s role in the developing world over the past 60 years.

Has the Catholic Church on balance been a force for good? Calderisi weighs the Church’s various missteps and poor decisions against its positive contributions, looking back as far as the Spanish Conquest in Latin America and the arrival of missionaries in Africa and Asia. He also looks forward, highlighting difficult issues that threaten to disrupt the Church's future social role. The author’s answer to the question he poses will fascinate Catholic and non-Catholic readers alike, providing a wealth of insights into international affairs, development economics, humanitarian concerns, history, and theology.
Visit Robert Calderisi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 18, 2013

"A Massacre in Memphis"

New from Hill and Wang: A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash.

About the book, from the publisher:
An unprecedented account of one of the bloodiest and most significant racial clashes in American history

In May 1866, just a year after the Civil War ended, Memphis erupted in a three-day spasm of racial violence that saw whites rampage through the city’s black neighborhoods. By the time the fires consuming black churches and schools were put out, forty-six freed people had been murdered. Congress, furious at this and other evidence of white resistance in the conquered South, launched what is now called Radical Reconstruction, policies to ensure the freedom of the region’s four million blacks—and one of the most remarkable experiments in American history.

Stephen V. Ash’s A Massacre in Memphis is a portrait of a Southern city that opens an entirely new view onto the Civil War and its aftermath. A momentous national event, the riot is also remarkable for being “one of the best-documented episodes of the American nineteenth century.” Yet Ash is the first to mine the sources available to full effect. Bringing postwar Memphis to vivid life, he takes us among newly arrived Yankees, former Rebels, boisterous Irish immigrants, and striving freed people, and shows how Americans of the period worked, prayed, expressed their politics, and imagined the future. And how they died: Ash’s harrowing and profoundly moving present-tense narration of the riot has the immediacy of the best journalism.

Told with nuance, grace, and a quiet moral passion, A Massacre in Memphis is Civil War–era history like no other.
The Page 99 Test: Stephen V. Ash's Firebrand of Liberty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"The Lewd, the Rude and the Nasty"

New from Oxford University Press: The Lewd, the Rude and the Nasty: A Study of Thick Concepts in Ethics by Pekka Väyrynen.

About the book, from the publisher:
In addition to thin concepts like the good, the bad and the ugly, our evaluative thought and talk appeals to thick concepts like the lewd and the rude, the selfish and the cruel, the courageous and the kind -- concepts that somehow combine evaluation and non-evaluative description. Thick concepts are almost universally assumed to be inherently evaluative in content, and many philosophers claimed them to have deep and distinctive significance in ethics and metaethics. In this first book-length treatment of thick concepts, Pekka Väyrynen argues that all this is mistaken. Through detailed attention to the language of thick concepts, he defends a novel theory on which the relationship between thick words and evaluation is best explained by general conversational and pragmatic norms. Drawing on general principles in philosophy of language, he argues that many prominent features of thick words and concepts can be explained by general factors that have nothing in particular to do with being evaluative. If evaluation is not essential to the sort of thinking we do with thick concepts, claims for the deep and distinctive significance of the thick are undermined. The Lewd, the Rude and the Nasty is a fresh and innovative treatment of an important topic in moral philosophy and sets a new agenda for future work. It will be essential reading to anyone interested in the analysis and the broader philosophical significance of evaluative and normative language.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Churchill's Bomb"

New from Basic Books: Churchill's Bomb: How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race by Graham Farmelo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Perhaps no scientific breakthrough has shaped the course of human history as much as the harnessing of the atom. Yet the twentieth century might have turned out entirely differently had this powerful technology stayed under the control of Great Britain, whose scientists spearheaded the Allies’ nuclear arms program at the outset of World War II. As award-winning science historian Graham Farmelo reveals in Churchill’s Bomb, Britain’s supposedly visionary leader remained unconvinced of the potentially earth-shattering implications of his physicists’ research. Churchill ultimately shared Britain’s nuclear secrets with—and ceded its initiative to—America, whose successful development and deployment of an atomic bomb placed the United States in a position of supreme power at the dawn of the Nuclear Age. A groundbreaking investigation of the twentieth century’s most important scientific discovery, Churchill’s Bomb reveals the secret history of the weapon that transformed modern geopolitics.
Visit Graham Farmelo's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


New from Yale University Press: Friendship by A. C. Grayling.

About the book, from the publisher:
A central bond, a cherished value, a unique relationship, a profound human need, a type of love. What is the nature of friendship, and what is its significance in our lives? How has friendship changed since the ancient Greeks began to analyze it, and how has modern technology altered its very definition? In this fascinating exploration of friendship through the ages, one of the most thought-provoking philosophers of our time tracks historical ideas of friendship, gathers a diversity of friendship stories from the annals of myth and literature, and provides unexpected insights into our friends, ourselves, and the role of friendships in an ethical life. A. C. Grayling roves the rich traditions of friendship in literature, culture, art, and philosophy, bringing into his discussion familiar pairs as well as unfamiliar—Achilles and Patroclus, David and Jonathan, Coleridge and Wordsworth, Huck Finn and Jim. Grayling lays out major philosophical interpretations of friendship, then offers his own take, drawing on personal experiences and an acute awareness of vast cultural shifts that have occurred. With penetrating insight he addresses internet-based friendship, contemporary mixed gender friendships, how friendships may supersede family relationships, one’s duty within friendship, the idea of friendship to humanity, and many other topics of universal interest.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Jews and the Military"

New from Princeton University Press: Jews and the Military: A History by Derek Penslar.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jews and the Military is the first comprehensive and comparative look at Jews' involvement in the military and their attitudes toward war from the 1600s until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Derek Penslar shows that although Jews have often been described as people who shun the army, in fact they have frequently been willing, even eager, to do military service, and only a minuscule minority have been pacifists. Penslar demonstrates that Israel's military ethos did not emerge from a vacuum and that long before the state's establishment, Jews had a vested interest in military affairs.

Spanning Europe, North America, and the Middle East, Penslar discusses the myths and realities of Jewish draft dodging, how Jews reacted to facing their coreligionists in battle, the careers of Jewish officers and their reception in the Jewish community, the effects of World War I on Jewish veterans, and Jewish participation in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Penslar culminates with a study of Israel's War of Independence as a Jewish world war, which drew on the military expertise and financial support of a mobilized, global Jewish community. He considers how military service was a central issue in debates about Jewish emancipation and a primary indicator of the position of Jews in any given society.

Deconstructing old stereotypes, Jews and the Military radically transforms our understanding of Jews' historic relationship to war and military power.
Visit Derek Penslar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us"

New from the University of California Press: Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us by S. Lochlann Jain.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer—an all-too ordinary aspect of daily life. Through a powerful combination of cultural analysis and memoir, this stunningly original book explores why cancer remains so confounding, despite the billions of dollars spent in the search for a cure. Amidst furious debates over its causes and treatments, scientists generate reams of data—information that ultimately obscures as much as it clarifies. Award-winning anthropologist S. Lochlann Jain deftly unscrambles the high stakes of the resulting confusion. Expertly reading across a range of material that includes history, oncology, law, economics, and literature, Jain explains how a national culture that simultaneously aims to deny, profit from, and cure cancer entraps us in a state of paradox—one that makes the world of cancer virtually impossible to navigate for doctors, patients, caretakers, and policy makers alike. This chronicle, burning with urgency and substance leavened with brio and wit, offers a lucid guide to understanding and navigating the quicksand of uncertainty at the heart of cancer. Malignant vitally shifts the terms of an epic battle we have been losing for decades: the war on cancer.
Visit the official Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening"

New from Ecco: Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening by David Hendy.

About the book, from the publisher:
What if history had a sound track? What would it tell us about ourselves? Based on a thirty-part BBC Radio series and podcast, Noise explores the human dramas that have revolved around sound at various points in the last 100,000 years, allowing us to think in fresh ways about the meaning of our collective past.

Though we might see ourselves inhabiting a visual world, our lives have always been hugely influenced by our need to hear and be heard. To tell the story of sound—music and speech, but also echoes, chanting, drumbeats, bells, thunder, gunfire, the noise of crowds, the rumbles of the human body, laughter, silence, conversations, mechanical sounds, noisy neighbors, musical recordings, and radio—is to explain how we learned to overcome our fears about the natural world, perhaps even to control it; how we learned to communicate with, understand, and live alongside our fellow beings; how we've fought with one another for dominance; how we've sought to find privacy in an increasingly noisy world; and how we've struggled with our emotions and our sanity.

Oratory in ancient Rome was important not just for the words spoken but for the sounds made—the tone, the cadence, the pitch of the voice—how that voice might have been transformed by the environment in which it was heard and how the audience might have responded to it. For the Native American tribes first encountering the European colonists, to lose one's voice was to lose oneself. In order to dominate the Native Americans, European colonists went to great effort to silence them, to replace their "demonic" "roars" with the more familiar "bugles, speaking trumpets, and gongs."

Breaking up the history of sound into prehistoric noise, the age of oratory, the sounds of religion, the sounds of power and revolt, the rise of machines, and what he calls our "amplified age," Hendy teases out continuities and breaches in our long relationship with sound in order to bring new meaning to the human story.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Lost Enlightenment"

New from Princeton University Press: Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane by S. Frederick Starr.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this sweeping and richly illustrated history, S. Frederick Starr tells the fascinating but largely unknown story of Central Asia's medieval enlightenment through the eventful lives and astonishing accomplishments of its greatest minds--remarkable figures who built a bridge to the modern world. Because nearly all of these figures wrote in Arabic, they were long assumed to have been Arabs. In fact, they were from Central Asia--drawn from the Persianate and Turkic peoples of a region that today extends from Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan, and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China.

Lost Enlightenment recounts how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asia led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and, above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields. Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology, among other subjects. They gave algebra its name, calculated the earth's diameter with unprecedented precision, wrote the books that later defined European medicine, and penned some of the world's greatest poetry. One scholar, working in Afghanistan, even predicted the existence of North and South America--five centuries before Columbus. Rarely in history has a more impressive group of polymaths appeared at one place and time. No wonder that their writings influenced European culture from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas down to the scientific revolution, and had a similarly deep impact in India and much of Asia.

Lost Enlightenment chronicles this forgotten age of achievement, seeks to explain its rise, and explores the competing theories about the cause of its eventual demise. Informed by the latest scholarship yet written in a lively and accessible style, this is a book that will surprise general readers and specialists alike.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Justice and Foreign Policy"

New from Oxford University Press: Justice and Foreign Policy by Michael Blake.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book is an argument about the moral foundations of foreign policy. It argues that a liberal state can insist upon the universal reach of liberal ideas, while still distinguishing between what is owed to citizens and what is owed to foreign citizens. This liberalism includes a concern for liberal toleration, which is intended to defend the proposition that a liberal state can work for democratization and liberalism abroad, without being intolerant or illiberal in doing so. What constraints there are on foreign policy emerge not from the need to tolerate undemocratic regimes, but from the prudential reason that there are few effective and proportional means by which such regimes might be liberalized. It also argues that international inequality is wrong only when and to the extent this inequality can be shown to undermine the democratic self-rule of a society. Global poverty and underdevelopment is wrong for reasons quite unlike the reasons given to condemn domestic inequality. These facts are combined to give an attractive and coherent picture of how the foreign policy of a liberal state might be morally evaluated.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Before L.A."

New from Yale University Press: Before L.A.: Race, Space, and Municipal Power in Los Angeles, 1781-1894 by David Samuel Torres-Rouff.

About the book, from the publisher:
David Torres-Rouff significantly expands borderlands history by examining the past and original urban infrastructure of one of America’s most prominent cities; its social, spatial, and racial divides and boundaries; and how it came to be the Los Angeles we know today. It is a fascinating study of how an innovative intercultural community developed along racial lines, and how immigrants from the United States engineered a profound shift in civic ideals and the physical environment, creating a social and spatial rupture that endures to this day.

“A major contribution to the urban history of the American West, along with environmental and Mexican American history. Before L.A. deepens our understanding of Mexican California and builds on the recent works that are invigorating the field of borderland history.”—Maria Raquel Casas, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
David Samuel Torres-Rouff is an assistant professor of history at the University of California, Merced.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"The Vegetarian Crusade"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement, 1817-1921 by Adam D. Shprintzen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Vegetarianism has been practiced in the United States since the country's founding, yet the early years of the movement have been woefully misunderstood and understudied. Through the Civil War, the vegetarian movement focused on social and political reform, but by the late nineteenth century, the movement became a path for personal strength and success in a newly individualistic, consumption-driven economy. This development led to greater expansion and acceptance of vegetarianism in mainstream society. So argues Adam D. Shprintzen in his lively history of early American vegetarianism and social reform. From Bible Christians to Grahamites, the American Vegetarian Society to the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Shprintzen explores the diverse proponents of reform-motivated vegetarianism and explains how each of these groups used diet as a response to changing social and political conditions.

By examining the advocates of vegetarianism, including institutions, organizations, activists, and publications, Shprintzen explores how an idea grew into a nationwide community united not only by diet but also by broader goals of social reform.
Visit Adam D. Shprintzen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Information at Sea"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Information at Sea: Shipboard Command and Control in the U.S. Navy, from Mobile Bay to Okinawa by Timothy S. Wolters.

About the book, from the publisher:
The brain of a modern warship is its combat information center (CIC). Data about friendly and enemy forces pour into this nerve center, contributing to command decisions about firing, maneuvering, and coordinating. Timothy S. Wolters has written the first book to investigate the history of the CIC and the many other command and control systems adopted by the U.S. Navy from the Civil War to World War II. What institutional ethos spurred such innovation? Information at Sea tells the fascinating stories of the naval and civilian personnel who developed an array of technologies for managing information at sea, from signal flares and radio to encryption machines and radar.

Wolters uses previously untapped archival sources to explore how one of America's most technologically oriented institutions addressed information management before the advent of the digital computer. He argues that the human-machine systems used to coordinate forces were as critical to naval successes in World War II as the ships and commanders more familiar to historians.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Secrets and Leaks"

New from Princeton University Press: Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy by Rahul Sagar.

About the book, from the publisher:
Secrets and Leaks examines the complex relationships among executive power, national security, and secrecy. State secrecy is vital for national security, but it can also be used to conceal wrongdoing. How then can we ensure that this power is used responsibly? Typically, the onus is put on lawmakers and judges, who are expected to oversee the executive. Yet because these actors lack access to the relevant information and the ability to determine the harm likely to be caused by its disclosure, they often defer to the executive's claims about the need for secrecy. As a result, potential abuses are more often exposed by unauthorized disclosures published in the press.

But should such disclosures, which violate the law, be condoned? Drawing on several cases, Rahul Sagar argues that though whistleblowing can be morally justified, the fear of retaliation usually prompts officials to act anonymously--that is, to "leak" information. As a result, it becomes difficult for the public to discern when an unauthorized disclosure is intended to further partisan interests. Because such disclosures are the only credible means of checking the executive, Sagar writes, they must be tolerated. However, the public should treat such disclosures skeptically and subject irresponsible journalism to concerted criticism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Talent Wants to Be Free"

New from Yale University Press: Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding by Orly Lobel.

About the book, from the publisher:
This timely book challenges conventional business wisdom about competition, secrecy, motivation, and creativity. Orly Lobel, an internationally acclaimed expert in the law and economics of human capital, warns that a set of counterproductive mentalities are stifling innovation in many regions and companies. Lobel asks how innovators, entrepreneurs, research teams, and every one of us who experiences the occasional spark of creativity can triumph in today’s innovation ecosystems.

In every industry and every market, battles to recruit, retain, train, energize, and motivate the best people are fierce. From Facebook to Google, Coca-Cola to Intel, JetBlue to Mattel, Lobel uncovers specific factors that produce winners or losers in the talent wars. Combining original behavioral experiments with sharp observations of contemporary battles over ideas, secrets, and skill, Lobel identifies motivation, relationships, and mobility as the most important ingredients for successful innovation. Yet many companies embrace a control mentality—relying more on patents, copyright, branding, espionage, and aggressive restrictions of their own talent and secrets than on creative energies that are waiting to be unleashed. Lobel presents a set of positive changes in corporate strategies, industry norms, regional policies, and national laws that will incentivize talent flow, creativity, and growth. This vital and exciting reading reveals why everyone wins when talent is set free.
Visit Orly Lobel's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 4, 2013

"In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court"

New from W.W. Norton: In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court by Mark Tushnet.

About the book, from the publisher:
An examination of the initial years of the Roberts Court and the intellectual battle between Roberts and Kagan for leadership.

When John Roberts was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court, he said he would act as an umpire. Instead, his Court is reshaping legal precedent through decisions unmistakably—though not always predictably—determined by politics as much as by law, on a Court almost perfectly politically divided.

Harvard Law School professor and constitutional law expert Mark Tushnet clarifies the lines of conflict and what is at stake on the Supreme Court as it hangs “in the balance” between its conservatives and its liberals.

Clear and deeply knowledgeable on both points of law and the Court’s key players, Tushnet offers a nuanced and surprising examination of the initial years of the Roberts Court. Covering the legal philosophies that have informed decisions on major cases such as the Affordable Care Act, the political structures behind Court appointments, and the face-off between John Roberts and Elena Kagan for intellectual dominance of the Court, In the Balance is a must-read for anyone looking for fresh insight into the Court’s impact on the everyday lives of Americans.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Remapping India"

New from Oxford University Press: Remapping India: New States and Their Political Origins by Louise Tillin.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is a widespread consensus today that the constitutional flexibility to alter boundaries has bolstered the stability of India's democracy, and reduced the potential for conflicts around language. Debates continue about the potential to create more states in response to the demands of marginalised ethnic communities, disgruntled farmers, opportunistic politicians, regional industrialists and others who seek--in different ways--to reshape political and economic arenas. Remapping India looks at the most recent episode of state creation in 2000, when the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand came into being in some of the poorest, yet resource-rich, regions of Hindi-speaking north and central India. Their creation represented a new turn in the history of territorial organisation in India. This book explains the politics that lay behind this episode of post-linguistic state reorganisation, and what it means for the future design of India's federal system.
Louise Tillin is a lecturer in politics at the King's India Institute, King's College London. She was previously the Joyce Lambert research fellow in politics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. Before joining academia, she worked for BBC News.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Would You Kill the Fat Man?"

New from Princeton University Press: Would You Kill the Fat Man?: The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds.

About the book, from the publisher:
A runaway train is racing toward five men who are tied to the track. Unless the train is stopped, it will inevitably kill all five men. You are standing on a footbridge looking down on the unfolding disaster. However, a fat man, a stranger, is standing next to you: if you push him off the bridge, he will topple onto the line and, although he will die, his chunky body will stop the train, saving five lives. Would you kill the fat man?

The question may seem bizarre. But it's one variation of a puzzle that has baffled moral philosophers for almost half a century and that more recently has come to preoccupy neuroscientists, psychologists, and other thinkers as well. In this book, David Edmonds, coauthor of the best-selling Wittgenstein's Poker, tells the riveting story of why and how philosophers have struggled with this ethical dilemma, sometimes called the trolley problem. In the process, he provides an entertaining and informative tour through the history of moral philosophy. Most people feel it's wrong to kill the fat man. But why? After all, in taking one life you could save five. As Edmonds shows, answering the question is far more complex--and important--than it first appears. In fact, how we answer it tells us a great deal about right and wrong.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Out of the Mountains"

New from Oxford University Press: Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla by David Kilcullen.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Out of the Mountains, David Kilcullen, one of the world's leading experts on modern warfare, offers a groundbreaking look ahead at what may happen after the war in Afghanistan ends. It is a book about future conflicts and future cities, about the challenges and opportunities that four powerful megatrends are creating across the planet. And it is about what national governments, cities, communities and businesses can do to prepare for a future in which all aspects of human society-including, but not limited to, conflict, crime and violence-are rapidly changing.

Kilcullen analyzes four megatrends--population growth, urbanization, coastal life, and connectedness-and concludes that future conflict is increasingly likely to occur in sprawling coastal cities, in underdeveloped regions of the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia, and in highly networked, connected settings. He ranges across the globe, from Kingston to Mogadishu to Honduras to Benghazi to Mumbai. Mumbai exemplifies the trend: a coastal megacity, terrorists based in nearby Karachi exploited new forms of connectivity to direct a horrific terrorist attack. Kilcullen also offers a unified theory of "competitive control" that shows how non-state armed groups, drug cartels, street gangs, warlords--draw their strength from local populations, providing useful ideas for dealing with these groups and with diffuse social conflicts in general. But for many of the struggles we will face, he notes, there will be no military solution. We will need to involve local people deeply to address problems which neither outsiders nor locals alone can solve. These collaborations will interweave the insight only locals can bring, with outsider knowledge from fields such as urban planning, systems engineering, alternative energy technology, conflict resolution and mediation, and other disciplines.

Deeply researched and compellingly argued, Out of the Mountains provides an invaluable roadmap to a future that will increasingly be crowded, urban, coastal, connected-and dangerous.
David Kilcullen is the Chief Executive Officer of Caerus Associates. Before founding Caerus, Kilcullen served 24 years as a soldier, diplomat and policy advisor for the Australian and United States governments.

--Marshal Zeringue