Friday, February 28, 2014

"Imagining Black America"

New from Yale University Press: Imagining Black America by Michael Wayne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Scientific research has now established that race should be understood as a social construct, not a true biological division of humanity. In Imagining Black America, Michael Wayne explores the construction and reconstruction of black America from the arrival of the first Africans in Jamestown in 1619 to Barack Obama’s reelection. Races have to be imagined into existence and constantly reimagined as circumstances change, Wayne argues, and as a consequence the boundaries of black America have historically been contested terrain. He discusses the emergence in the nineteenth century—and the erosion, during the past two decades—of the notorious “one-drop rule.” He shows how significant periods of social transformation—emancipation, the Great Migration, the rise of the urban ghetto, and the Civil Rights Movement—raised major questions for black Americans about the defining characteristics of their racial community. And he explores how factors such as class, age, and gender have influenced perceptions of what it means to be black.

Wayne also considers how slavery and its legacy have defined freedom in the United States. Black Americans, he argues, because of their deep commitment to the promise of freedom and the ideals articulated by the Founding Fathers, became and remain quintessential Americans—the “incarnation of America,” in the words of the civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Dixie Highway"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930 by Tammy Ingram.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the turn of the twentieth century, good highways eluded most Americans and nearly all southerners. In their place, a jumble of dirt roads covered the region like a bed of briars. Introduced in 1915, the Dixie Highway changed all that by merging hundreds of short roads into dual interstate routes that looped from Michigan to Miami and back. In connecting the North and the South, the Dixie Highway helped end regional isolation and served as a model for future interstates. In this book, Tammy Ingram offers the first comprehensive study of the nation's earliest attempt to build a highway network, revealing how the modern U.S. transportation system evolved out of the hard-fought political, economic, and cultural contests that surrounded the Dixie's creation.

The most visible success of the Progressive Era Good Roads Movement, the Dixie Highway also became its biggest casualty. It sparked a national dialogue about the power of federal and state agencies, the role of local government, and the influence of ordinary citizens. In the South, it caused a backlash against highway bureaucracy that stymied road building for decades. Yet Ingram shows that after the Dixie Highway, the region was never the same.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Rebellion: Britain's First Stuart Kings, 1567-1642"

New from Oxford University Press: Rebellion: Britain's First Stuart Kings, 1567-1642 by Tim Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
A gripping new account of one of the most important and exciting periods of British and Irish history: the reign of the first two Stuart kings, from 1567 to the outbreak of civil war in 1642 - and why ultimately all three of their kingdoms were to rise in rebellion against Stuart rule.

Both James VI and I and his son Charles I were reforming monarchs, who endeavoured to bolster the authority of the crown and bring the churches in their separate kingdoms into closer harmony with one another. Many of James's initiatives proved controversial - his promotion of the plantation of Ulster, his reintroduction of bishops and ceremonies into the Scottish kirk, and his stormy relationship with his English parliaments over religion and finance - but he just about got by. Charles, despite continuing many of his father's policies in church and state, soon ran into difficulties and provoked all three of his kingdoms to rise in rebellion: first Scotland in 1638, then Ireland in 1641, and finally England in 1642.

Was Charles's failure, then, a personal one; was he simply not up to the job? Or was the multiple-kingdom inheritance fundamentally unmanageable, so that it was only a matter of time before things fell apart? Did perhaps the way that James sought to address his problems have the effect of making things more difficult for his son? Tim Harris addresses all these questions and more in this wide-ranging and deeply researched new account, dealing with high politics and low, constitutional and religious conflict, propaganda and public opinion across the three kingdoms - while also paying due attention to the broader European and Atlantic contexts.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Machine Made"

New from Liveright: Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics by Terry Golway.

About the book, from the publisher:
A major, surprising new history of New York’s most famous political machine—Tammany Hall—revealing, beyond the vice and corruption, a birthplace of progressive urban politics.

For decades, history has considered Tammany Hall, New York's famous political machine, shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft, crime, and patronage personified by notoriously corrupt characters. Infamous crooks like William "Boss" Tweed dominate traditional histories of Tammany, distorting our understanding of a critical chapter of American political history. In Machine Made, historian and New York City journalist Terry Golway convincingly dismantles these stereotypes; Tammany's corruption was real, but so was its heretofore forgotten role in protecting marginalized and maligned immigrants in desperate need of a political voice.

Irish immigrants arriving in New York during the nineteenth century faced an unrelenting onslaught of hyperbolic, nativist propaganda. They were voiceless in a city that proved, time and again, that real power remained in the hands of the mercantile elite, not with a crush of ragged newcomers flooding its streets. Haunted by fresh memories of the horrific Irish potato famine in the old country, Irish immigrants had already learned an indelible lesson about the dire consequences of political helplessness. Tammany Hall emerged as a distinct force to support the city's Catholic newcomers, courting their votes while acting as a powerful intermediary between them and the Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class. In a city that had yet to develop the social services we now expect, Tammany often functioned as a rudimentary public welfare system and a champion of crucial social reforms benefiting its constituency, including workers' compensation, prohibitions against child labor, and public pensions for widows with children. Tammany figures also fought against attempts to limit immigration and to strip the poor of the only power they had—the vote.

While rescuing Tammany from its maligned legacy, Golway hardly ignores Tammany's ugly underbelly, from its constituents' participation in the bloody Draft Riots of 1863 to its rampant cronyism. However, even under occasionally notorious leadership, Tammany played a profound and long-ignored role in laying the groundwork for social reform, and nurtured the careers of two of New York's greatest political figures, Al Smith and Robert Wagner. Despite devastating electoral defeats and countless scandals, Tammany nonetheless created a formidable political coalition, one that eventually made its way into the echelons of FDR’s Democratic Party and progressive New Deal agenda.

Tracing the events of a tumultuous century, Golway shows how mainstream American government began to embrace both Tammany’s constituents and its ideals. Machine Made is a revelatory work of revisionist history, and a rich, multifaceted portrait of roiling New York City politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 24, 2014

"American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II"

New from Cambridge University Press: American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II by Andrew Buchanan.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a thorough reinterpretation of U.S. engagement with the Mediterranean during World War II. Andrew Buchanan argues that the United States was far from being a reluctant participant in a “peripheral” theater, and that Washington had a major grand-strategic interest in the region. By the end of the war the Mediterranean was essentially an American lake, and the United States had substantial political and economic interests extending from North Africa, via Italy and the Balkans, to the Middle East. This book examines the military, diplomatic, and economic processes by which this hegemonic position was assembled and consolidated. It discusses the changing character of the Anglo-American alliance, the establishment of post-war spheres of influence, the nature of presidential leadership, and the common interest of all the leaders of the “Grand Alliance” in blocking the development of potentially revolutionary movements emerging from the chaos of war, occupation, and economic breakdown.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Sex and the Founding Fathers"

New from Temple University Press: Sex and the Founding Fathers: The American Quest for a Relatable Past by Thomas A. Foster.

About the book, from the publisher:
Biographers, journalists, and satirists have long used the subject of sex to define the masculine character and political authority of America's Founding Fathers. Tracing these commentaries on the Revolutionary Era's major political figures in Sex and the Founding Fathers, Thomas Foster shows how continual attempts to reveal the true character of these men instead exposes much more about Americans and American culture than about the Founders themselves.

Sex and the Founding Fathers examines the remarkable and varied assessments of the intimate lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris from their own time to ours. Interpretations can change radically; consider how Jefferson has been variously idealized as a chaste widower, condemned as a child molester, and recently celebrated as a multicultural hero.

Foster considers the public and private images of these generally romanticized leaders to show how each generation uses them to reshape and reinforce American civic and national identity.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Thermonuclear Monarchy"

New from W.W. Norton: Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom by Elaine Scarry.

About the book, from the publisher:
From one of our leading social thinkers, a compelling case for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

During his impeachment proceedings, Richard Nixon boasted, "I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in twenty-five minutes seventy million people will be dead." Nixon was accurately describing not only his own power but also the power of every American president in the nuclear age.

Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon each contemplated using nuclear weapons—Eisenhower twice, Kennedy three times, Johnson once, Nixon four times. Whether later presidents, from Ford to Obama, considered using them we will learn only once their national security papers are released.

In this incisive, masterfully argued new book, award-winning social theorist Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon—a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War—deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

According to the Constitution, the decision to go to war requires rigorous testing by both Congress and the citizenry; when a leader can single-handedly decide to deploy a nuclear weapon, we live in a state of “thermonuclear monarchy,” not democracy.

The danger of nuclear weapons comes from potential accidents or acquisition by terrorists, hackers, or rogue countries. But the gravest danger comes from the mistaken idea that there exists some case compatible with legitimate governance. There can be no such case. Thermonuclear Monarchy shows the deformation of governance that occurs when a country gains nuclear weapons.

In bold and lucid prose, Thermonuclear Monarchy identifies the tools that will enable us to eliminate nuclear weapons and bring the decision for war back into the hands of Congress and the people. Only by doing so can we secure the safety of home populations, foreign populations, and the earth itself.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Traveling Back: Toward a Global Political Theory"

New from Oxford University Press: Traveling Back: Toward a Global Political Theory by Susan McWilliams.

About the book, from the publisher:
We live in a global age, an age of vast scale and speed, an age of great technological and economic and environmental change, in conditions our ancestors could hardly have imagined. What does this compression of geographical and temporal scale mean for our political thinking? Do we need new modes of political thought or a new kind of political imagination? How might we begin to develop a truly global political theory?

Against the common belief that we need a wholly new political theory for our global age, Susan McWilliams argues that the best foundation is already behind us and can be found by traveling back. In doing this -- revisiting the history of political thought with a mind to the questions accompanying globalization -- it becomes clear that the greatest tool for understanding our "new world" lies in one of the oldest themes in Western political theory: travel. Since the beginnings of Western political thought -- the ancient Greeks referred to travel as theoria -- political theorists have used images of travel to illuminate the central questions of globalization; where travel stories appear, we find serious reflection about how to live in cross-cultural and interconnected political conditions. Here we find attention to the contingency of political identity, to hybridity, and to the threats of colonialism and imperialism. We even find self-critical questioning about the dangers that face political theorists who want to think globally.

In Traveling Back, McWilliams uncovers the rich travel-story tradition of political theorizing that speaks directly to the problems of our age. She explores why this travel-story tradition has been so long neglected, especially in this time when we need its wisdom, and she calls for its rediscovery. In order to move forward toward a global political theory, as McWilliams eloquently demonstrates, we must first learn to travel back.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Shifting Sands"

New from Columbia University Press: Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East by Joel S. Migdal.

About the book, from the publisher:
Joel S. Migdal revisits the approach U.S. officials have adopted toward the Middle East since World War II, which paid scant attention to tectonic shifts in the region. After the war, the United States did not restrict its strategic model to the Middle East. Beginning with Harry S. Truman, American presidents applied a uniform strategy rooted in the country’s Cold War experience in Europe to regions across the globe, designed to project America into nearly every corner of the world while limiting costs and overreach.

The approach was simple: find a local power that could play Great Britain’s role in Europe after the war, sharing the burden of exercising power, and establish a security alliance along the lines of NATO. Yet regional changes following the creation of Israel, the Free Officers Coup in Egypt, the rise of Arab nationalism from 1948 to 1952, and, later, the Iranian Revolution and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979 complicated this project. Migdal shows how insufficient attention to these key transformations led to a series of missteps and misconceptions in the twentieth century. With the Arab uprisings of 2009 through 2011 prompting another major shift, Migdal sees an opportunity for the United States to deploy a new, more workable strategy, and he concludes with a plan for gaining a stable foothold in the region.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"The Cartographic State"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Cartographic State: Maps, Territory, and the Origins of Sovereignty by Jordan Branch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why is today's world map filled with uniform states separated by linear boundaries? The answer to this question is central to our understanding of international politics, but the question is at the same time much more complex – and more revealing – than we might first think. This book examines the important but overlooked role played by cartography itself in the development of modern states. Drawing upon evidence from the history of cartography, peace treaties and political practices, the book reveals that early modern mapping dramatically altered key ideas and practices among both rulers and subjects, leading to the implementation of linear boundaries between states and centralized territorial rule within them. In his analysis of early modern innovations in the creation, distribution and use of maps, Branch explains how the relationship between mapping and the development of modern territories shapes our understanding of international politics today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 17, 2014

"The Civic Constitution"

New from Oxford University Press: The Civic Constitution: Civic Visions and Struggles in the Path toward Constitutional Democracy by Elizabeth Beaumont.

About the book, from the publisher:
The role of the Constitution in American political history is contentious not simply because of battles over meaning. Equally important is precisely who participated in contests over meaning. Was it simply judges, or did legislatures have a strong say? And what about the public's role in effecting constitutional change? In The Civic Constitution, Elizabeth Beaumont focuses on the last category, and traces the efforts of citizens to reinvent constitutional democracy during four crucial eras: the revolutionaries of the 1770s and 1780s; the civic founders of state republics and the national Constitution in the early national period; abolitionists during the antebellum and Civil War eras; and, finally, suffragists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Throughout, she argues that these groups should be recognized as founders and co-founders of the U.S. Constitution. Though often slighted in modern constitutional debates, these women and men developed distinctive constitutional creeds and practices, challenged existing laws and social norms, expanded the boundaries of citizenship, and sought to translate promises of liberty, equality, and justice into more robust and concrete forms. Their civic ideals and struggles not only shaped the text, design, and public meaning of the U.S. Constitution, but reconstructed its membership and transformed the fundamental commitments of the American political community. An innovative expansion on the concept of popular constitutionalism, The Civic Constitution is a vital contribution to the growing body of literature on how ordinary people have shaped the parameters of America's fundamental laws.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Envy and Jealousy in Classical Athens"

New from Oxford University Press: Envy and Jealousy in Classical Athens: A Socio-Psychological Approach by Ed Sanders.

About the book, from the publisher:
Emotions vary extensively between cultures, especially in their eliciting conditions, social acceptability, forms of expression, and co-extent of terminology. Envy and Jealousy in Classical Athens examines the sensation, expression, and literary representation of these major emotions in Athens. Previous scholarship has primarily taken a lexical approach, focusing on usage of the Greek words phthonos and zêlos. This has value, but also limitations, for two reasons: the discreditable nature of phthonos renders its ascription or disclamation suspect, and there is no Classical Greek label for sexual jealousy. A complementary approach is therefore required, one which reads the expressed values and actions of entire situations.

Building on recent developments in reading emotion "scripts" in classical texts, this book applies to Athenian culture and literature insights on the contexts, conscious and subconscious motivations, subjective manifestations, and indicative behaviors of envy, jealousy, and related emotions. These critical insights are derived from modern philosophical, psychological, psychoanalytical, sociological, and anthropological scholarship, thus enabling an exploration of both the explicit theorization and evaluation of envy and jealousy, and also the more oblique ways in which they find expression across different genres-in particular philosophy, oratory, comedy, and tragedy. By employing this new methodology, Ed Sanders illuminates a significant and underexplored aspect of Classical Athenian culture and literature.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 14, 2014

"The Origins of Global Humanitarianism"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Origins of Global Humanitarianism: Religion, Empires, and Advocacy by Peter Stamatov.

About the book, from the publisher:
Whether lauded and encouraged or criticized and maligned, action in solidarity with culturally and geographically distant strangers has been an integral part of European modernity. Traversing the complex political landscape of early modern European empires, this book locates the historical origins of modern global humanitarianism in the recurrent conflict over the ethical treatment of non-Europeans that pitted religious reformers against secular imperial networks. Since the sixteenth-century beginnings of European expansion overseas and in marked opposition to the exploitative logic of predatory imperialism, these reformers - members of Catholic orders and, later, Quakers and other reformist Protestants - developed an ideology and a political practice in defense of the rights and interests of distant "others." They also increasingly made the question of imperial injustice relevant to growing "domestic" publics in Europe. A distinctive institutional model of long-distance advocacy crystallized out of these persistent struggles, becoming the standard weapon of transnational activists.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Nobility Lost"

New from Cornell University Press: Nobility Lost: French and Canadian Martial Cultures, Indians, and the End of New France by Christian Ayne Crouch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nobility Lost is a cultural history of the Seven Years' War in French-claimed North America, focused on the meanings of wartime violence and the profound impact of the encounter between Canadian, Indian, and French cultures of war and diplomacy. This narrative highlights the relationship between events in France and events in America and frames them dialogically, as the actors themselves experienced them at the time. Christian Ayne Crouch examines how codes of martial valor were enacted and challenged by metropolitan and colonial leaders to consider how those acts affected French-Indian relations, the culture of French military elites, ideas of male valor, and the trajectory of French colonial enterprises afterwards, in the second half of the eighteenth century. At Versailles, the conflict pertaining to the means used to prosecute war in New France would result in political and cultural crises over what constituted legitimate violence in defense of the empire. These arguments helped frame the basis for the formal French cession of its North American claims to the British in the Treaty of Paris of 1763.

While the French regular army, the troupes de terre (a late-arriving contingent to the conflict), framed warfare within highly ritualized contexts and performances of royal and personal honor that had evolved in Europe, the troupes de la marine (colonial forces with economic stakes in New France) fought to maintain colonial land and trade. A demographic disadvantage forced marines and Canadian colonial officials to accommodate Indian practices of gift giving and feasting in preparation for battle, adopt irregular methods of violence, and often work in cooperation with allied indigenous peoples, such as Abenakis, Hurons, and Nipissings.

Drawing on Native and European perspectives, Crouch shows the period of the Seven Years’ War to be one of decisive transformation for all American communities. Ultimately the augmented strife between metropolitan and colonial elites over the aims and means of warfare, Crouch argues, raised questions about the meaning and cost of empire not just in North America but in the French Atlantic and, later, resonated in France’s approach to empire-building around the globe. The French government examined the cause of the colonial debacle in New France at a corruption trial in Paris (known as l’affaire du Canada), and assigned blame. Only colonial officers were tried, and even those who were acquitted found themselves shut out of participation in new imperial projects in the Caribbean and in the Pacific. By tracing the subsequent global circumnavigation of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a decorated veteran of the French regulars, 1766–1769, Crouch shows how the lessons of New France were assimilated and new colonial enterprises were constructed based on a heightened jealousy of French honor and a corresponding fear of its loss in engagement with Native enemies and allies.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence by Brian Jeffrey Maxson.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a major contribution for understanding the spread and appeal of the humanist movement in Renaissance Florence. Investigating the connections between the individuals who were part of the humanist movement, Brian Jeffrey Maxson reconstructs the networks that bound them together. Overturning the problematic categorization of humanists as either professional or amateurs, a distinction based on economics and the production of original works in Latin, he offers a new way of understanding how the humanist movement could incorporate so many who were illiterate in Latin, but who nonetheless were responsible for an important intellectual and cultural paradigm shift. The book demonstrates the massive appeal of the humanist movement across socio-economic and political groups and argues that the movement became so successful and so widespread because by the 1420s¬-30s the demands of common rituals began requiring humanist speeches. Over time, deep humanist learning became more valuable in the marketplace of social capital, which raised the status of the most learned humanists and helped disseminate humanist ideas beyond Florence.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Lincoln's Boys"

New from Viking: Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image by Joshua Zeitz.

About the book, the from the publisher:
A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants

Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote about it after his death.

In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to establish Lincoln’s heroic legacy and to preserve a narrative that saw slavery—not states’ rights—as the sole cause of the Civil War. As Joshua Zeitz shows, the image of a humble man with uncommon intellect who rose from obscurity to become a storied wartime leader and emancipator is very much their creation.

Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln’s Boys is part political drama and part coming-of-age tale—a fascinating story of friendship, politics, war, and the contest over history and remembrance.
Visit Joshua Zeitz's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Demons: Our changing attitudes to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs"

New from Oxford University Press: Demons: Our changing attitudes to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs by Virginia Berridge.

About the book, from the publisher:
Binge drinking, particularly in young women, has become big news. Debates about the regulation and classification of cannabis are frequently voiced. Cigarette smoking is banned in public places, and emotive public health campaigns seek to reduce its use still further. Yet there are many sides to each of these arguments, and if we look back over the last 150 years, we see massive variety in the ways societies and states have related to drugs, drink, and tobacco.

Virginia Berridge offers a much-needed long view, which helps illuminate our current concerns, and shows how three separate stories overlap and inter-connect. She takes us to the socially-acceptable opium dens of Dickens's London; to the absinthe craze of fin-de-siecle Paris. She asks whether prohibition in America proved to be helpful or harmful. She looks at how tobacco was promoted as a medicinal benefit. She considers the medical use of cannabis, LSD, and other drugs. And through all this, she traces the changes in scientific and medical knowledge.

This is a complex story of whether, and how, the state should intervene. How do we balance the interests of personal freedom, public well-being, healthcare, and the economy? Is substance abuse a social issue, or a medical one? As governments, health services, and the World Health Organisation grapple with these issues, the wisdom and experience of history can help map the way forward.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Britain and the Bomb"

New from Stanford University Press: Britain and the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy, 1964-1970 by David James Gill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Drawing on primary sources from both sides of the Atlantic, Britain and the Bomb explores how economic, political, and strategic considerations have shaped British nuclear diplomacy. The book concentrates on Prime Minister Harold Wilson's first two terms of office, 1964-1970, which represent a critical period in international nuclear history. Wilson's commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and his support for continued investment in the British nuclear weapons program, despite serious economic and political challenges, established precedents that still influence policymakers today. The continued independence of Britain's nuclear force, and the enduring absence of a German or European deterrent, certainly owes a debt to Wilson's handling of nuclear diplomacy more than four decades ago. Beyond highlighting the importance of this period, the book explains how and why British nuclear diplomacy evolved during Wilson's leadership. Cabinet discussions, financial crises, and international tensions encouraged a degree of flexibility in the pursuit of strategic independence and the creation of a non-proliferation treaty. Gill shows us that British nuclear diplomacy was a series of compromises, an intricate blend of political, economic, and strategic considerations.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 7, 2014


New from Oxford University Press: Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War by Paul Jankowski.

About the book, from the publisher:
At seven o'clock in the morning on February 21, 1916, the ground in northern France began to shake. For the next ten hours, twelve hundred German guns showered shells on a salient in French lines. The massive weight of explosives collapsed dugouts, obliterated trenches, severed communication wires, and drove men mad. As the barrage lifted, German troops moved forward, darting from shell crater to shell crater. The battle of Verdun had begun.

In Verdun, historian Paul Jankowski provides the definitive account of the iconic battle of World War I. A leading expert on the French past, Jankowski combines the best of traditional military history-its emphasis on leaders, plans, technology, and the contingency of combat-with the newer social and cultural approach, stressing the soldier's experience, the institutional structures of the military, and the impact of war on national memory. Unusually, this book draws on deep research in French and German archives; this mastery of sources in both languages gives Verdun unprecedented authority and scope. In many ways, Jankowski writes, the battle represents a conundrum. It has an almost unique status among the battles of the Great War; and yet, he argues, it was not decisive, sparked no political changes, and was not even the bloodiest episode of the conflict. It is said that Verdun made France, he writes; but the question should be, What did France make of Verdun? Over time, it proved to be the last great victory of French arms, standing on their own. And, for France and Germany, the battle would symbolize the terror of industrialized warfare, "a technocratic Moloch devouring its children," where no advance or retreat was possible, yet national resources poured in ceaselessly, perpetuating slaughter indefinitely.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"What Good Is Grand Strategy?"

New from Cornell University Press: What Good Is Grand Strategy?: Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush by Hal Brands.

About the book, from the publisher:
Grand strategy is one of the most widely used and abused concepts in the foreign policy lexicon. In this important book, Hal Brands explains why grand strategy is a concept that is so alluring—and so elusive—to those who make American statecraft. He explores what grand strategy is, why it is so essential, and why it is so hard to get right amid the turbulence of global affairs and the chaos of domestic politics. At a time when “grand strategy” is very much in vogue, Brands critically appraises just how feasible that endeavor really is.

Brands takes a historical approach to this subject, examining how four presidential administrations, from that of Harry S. Truman to that of George W. Bush, sought to “do” grand strategy at key inflection points in the history of modern U.S. foreign policy. As examples ranging from the early Cold War to the Reagan years to the War on Terror demonstrate, grand strategy can be an immensely rewarding undertaking—but also one that is full of potential pitfalls on the long road between conception and implementation. Brands concludes by offering valuable suggestions for how American leaders might approach the challenges of grand strategy in the years to come.
Hal Brands is Assistant Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. He is the author of From Berlin to Baghdad: America’s Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World and Latin America's Cold War.

The Page 99 Test: Latin America's Cold War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Plantation Church"

New from Oxford University Press: Plantation Church: How African American Religion Was Born in Caribbean Slavery by Noel Leo Erskine.

About the book, from the publisher:
Noel Leo Erskine investigates the history of the Black Church as it developed both in the United States and the Caribbean after the arrival of enslaved Africans. Typically, when people talk about "the Black Church" they are referring to African-American churches in the U.S., but in fact, the majority of African slaves were brought to the Caribbean. It was there, Erskine argues, that the Black religious experience was born. The massive Afro-Caribbean population was able to establish a form of Christianity that preserved African Gods and practices, but fused them with Christian teachings, resulting in religions such as Cuba's Santería. The Black religious experience in the U.S. was markedly different because African Americans were a political and cultural minority. The Plantation Church became a place of solace and resistance that provided its members with a sense of kinship, not only to each other but also to their ancestral past.

Despite their common origins, the Caribbean and African American Church are almost never studied together. Plantation Church examines the parallel histories of these two strands of the Black Church, showing where their historical ties remain strong and where different circumstances have led them down unexpectedly divergent paths. The result will be a work that illuminates the histories, theologies, politics, and practices of both branches of the Black Church.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"The Twilight of the American Enlightenment"

New from Basic Books: The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief by George Marsden.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States stood at a precipice. The forces of modernity unleashed by the war had led to astonishing advances in daily life, but technology and mass culture also threatened to erode the country’s traditional moral character. As award-winning historian George M. Marsden explains in The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, postwar Americans looked to the country’s secular, liberal elites for guidance in this precarious time, but these intellectuals proved unable to articulate a coherent common cause by which America could chart its course. Their failure lost them the faith of their constituents, paving the way for a Christian revival that offered America a firm new moral vision—one rooted in the Protestant values of the founders.

A groundbreaking reappraisal of the country’s spiritual reawakening, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment shows how America found new purpose at the dawn of the Cold War.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 3, 2014

"It Takes More than a Network"

New from Stanford University Press: It Takes More than a Network: The Iraqi Insurgency and Organizational Adaptation by Chad C. Serena.

About the book, from the publisher:
It Takes More than a Network presents a structured investigation of the Iraqi insurgency's capacity for and conduct of organizational adaptation. In particular, it answers the question of why the Iraqi insurgency was seemingly so successful between 2003 and late 2006 and yet nearly totally collapsed by 2008. The book's main argument is that the Iraqi insurgency failed to achieve longer-term organizational goals because many of its organizational strengths were also its organizational weaknesses: these characteristics abetted and then corrupted the Iraqi insurgency's ability to adapt. The book further compares the organizational adaptation of the Iraqi insurgency with the organizational adaptation of the Afghan insurgency. This is done to refine the findings of the Iraq case and to present a more robust analysis of the adaptive cycles of two large and diverse covert networked insurgencies. The book finds that the Afghan insurgency, although still ongoing, has adapted more successfully than the Iraqi insurgency because it has been better able to leverage the strengths and counter the weaknesses of its chosen organizational form.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Wondrous Beauty"

New from Knopf: Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Carol Berkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the award-winning historian and author of Revolutionary Mothers (“Incisive, thoughtful, spiced with vivid anecdotes. Don’t miss it.”—Thomas Fleming) and Civil War Wives (“Utterly fresh . . . Sensitive, poignant, thoroughly fascinating.”—Jay Winik), here is the remarkable life of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, renowned as the most beautiful woman of nineteenth-century Baltimore, whose marriage in 1803 to Jérôme Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, became inextricably bound to the diplomatic and political histories of the United States, France, and England.

In Wondrous Beauty, Carol Berkin tells the story of this audacious, outsized life. We see how the news of the union infuriated Napoleon and resulted in his banning the then­ pregnant Betsy Bonaparte from disembarking in any European port, offering his brother the threat of remaining married to that “American girl” and forfeiting all wealth and power—or renouncing her, marrying a woman of Napoleon’s choice, and reaping the benefits.

Jérôme ended the marriage posthaste and was made king of Westphalia; Betsy fled to England, gave birth to her son and only child, Jérôme’s namesake, and was embraced by the English press, who boasted that their nation had opened its arms to the cruelly abandoned young wife.

Berkin writes that this naïve, headstrong American girl returned to Baltimore a wiser, independent woman, refusing to seek social redemption or a return to obscurity through a quiet marriage to a member of Baltimore’s merchant class. Instead she was courted by many, indifferent to all, and initiated a dangerous game of politics—a battle for a pension from
Napoleon—which she won: her pension from the French government arrived each month until Napoleon’s exile.

Using Betsy Bonaparte’s extensive letters, the author makes clear that the “belle of Baltimore” disdained America’s obsession with moneymaking, its growing ethos of democracy, and its rigid gender roles that confined women to the parlor and the nursery; that she sought instead a European society where women created salons devoted to intellectual life—where she was embraced by many who took into their confidence, such as Madame de Staël, Madame Récamier, the aging Marquise de Villette (goddaughter of Voltaire), among others—and where aristocracy, based on birth and breeding rather than commerce, dominated society.

Wondrous Beauty is a riveting portrait of a woman torn between two worlds, unable to find peace in either—one a provincial, convention-bound new America; the other a sophisticated, extravagant Old World Europe that embraced freedoms, a Europe ultimately swallowed up by decadence and idleness.

A stunning revelation of an extraordinary age.
--Marshal Zeringue