Sunday, December 4, 2016

"A Prison Without Walls?"

New from Oxford University Press: A Prison Without Walls?: Eastern Siberian Exile in the Last Years of Tsarism by Sarah Badcock.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Prison Without Walls? presents a snapshot of daily life for exiles and their dependents in eastern Siberia during the very last years of the Tsarist regime, from the 1905 revolution to the collapse of the Tsarist regime in 1917. This was an extraordinary period in Siberia's history as a place of punishment. There was an unprecedented rise of Siberia's penal use in this fifteen-year window, and a dramatic increase in the number of exiles punished for political offences. This work focuses on the region of Eastern Siberia, taking the regions of Irkutsk and Yakutsk in north-eastern Siberia as its focal points. Siberian exile was the antithesis of Foucault's modern prison. The State did not observe, monitor, and control its exiles closely; often not even knowing where the exiles were. Exiles were free to govern their daily lives; free of fences and free from close observation and supervision, but despite these freedoms, Siberian exile represented one of Russia's most feared punishments.

In this volume, Sarah Badcock seeks to humanise the individuals who made up the mass of exiles, and the men, women, and children who followed them voluntarily into exile. A Prison Without Walls? is structured in a broad narrative arc that moves from travel to exile, life and communities in exile, work and escape, and finally illness in exile. The book gives a personal, human, empathetic insight into what exilic experience entailed, and allows us to comprehend why eastern Siberia was regarded as a terrible punishment, despite its apparent freedoms.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"Anna and Tranquillo"

New from Yale University Press: Anna and Tranquillo: Catholic Anxiety and Jewish Protest in the Age of Revolutions by Kenneth Stow.

About the book, from the publisher:
A historical interpretation of the diary of an eighteenth-century Jewish woman who resisted the efforts of the papal authorities to force her religious conversion

After being seized by the papal police in Rome in May 1749, Anna del Monte, a Jew, kept a diary detailing her captors’ efforts over the next thirteen days to force her conversion to Catholicism. Anna’s powerful chronicle of her ordeal at the hands of authorities of the Roman Catholic Church, originally circulated by her brother Tranquillo in 1793, receives its first English-language translation along with an insightful interpretation by Kenneth Stow of the incident’s legal and historical significance. Stow’s analysis of Anna’s dramatic story of prejudice, injustice, resistance, and survival during her two-week imprisonment in the Roman House of Converts—and her brother’s later efforts to protest state-sanctioned, religion-based abuses—provides a detailed view of the separate forces on either side of the struggle between religious and civil law in the years just prior to the massive political and social upheavals in America and Europe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 2, 2016

"The Great War and the Middle East"

New from Oxford University Press: The Great War and the Middle East by Rob Johnson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The First World War in the Middle East swept away five hundred years of Ottoman domination. It ushered in new ideologies and radicalized old ones - from Arab nationalism and revolutionary socialism to impassioned forms of atavistic Islamism. It created heroic icons, like the enigmatic Lawrence of Arabia or the modernizing Ataturk, and destroyed others. And it completely re-drew the map of the region, forging a host of new nation states, including Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia - all of them (with the exception of Turkey) under the "protection" of the victor powers, Britain and France. For many, the self-serving intervention of these powers in the region between 1914 and 1919 is the major reason for the conflicts that have raged there on and off ever since.

Yet many of the most commonly accepted assertions about the First World War in the Middle East are more often stated than they are truly tested. Robert Johnson, military historian and former soldier, now seeks to put this right by examining in detail the strategic and operational course of the war in the Middle East. Johnson argues that, far from being a sideshow to the war in Europe, the Middle Eastern conflict was in fact the center of gravity in a war for imperial domination and prestige. Moreover, contrary to another persistent myth of the First World War in the Middle East, local leaders and their forces were not simply the puppets of the Great Powers in any straightforward sense. The way in which these local forces embraced, resisted, succumbed to, disrupted, or on occasion overturned the plans of the imperialist powers for their own interests in fact played an important role in shaping the immediate aftermath of the conflict - and in laying the foundations for the troubled Middle East that we know today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 1, 2016

"The Flood Year 1927"

New from Princeton University Press: The Flood Year 1927: A Cultural History by Susan Scott Parrish.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which covered nearly thirty thousand square miles across seven states, was the most destructive river flood in U.S. history. Due to the speed of new media and the slow progress of the flood, this was the first environmental disaster to be experienced on a mass scale. As it moved from north to south down an environmentally and technologically altered valley, inundating plantations and displacing more than half a million people, the flood provoked an intense and lasting cultural response. The Flood Year 1927 draws from newspapers, radio broadcasts, political cartoons, vaudeville, blues songs, poetry, and fiction to show how this event took on public meanings.

Americans at first seemed united in what Herbert Hoover called a “great relief machine,” but deep rifts soon arose. Southerners, pointing to faulty federal levee design, decried the attack of Yankee water. The condition of African American evacuees in “concentration camps” prompted pundits like W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells to warn of the return of slavery to Dixie. And environmentalists like Gifford Pinchot called the flood “the most colossal blunder in civilized history.” Susan Scott Parrish examines how these and other key figures—from entertainers Will Rogers, Miller & Lyles, and Bessie Smith to authors Sterling Brown, William Faulkner, and Richard Wright—shaped public awareness and collective memory of the event.

The crises of this period that usually dominate historical accounts are war and financial collapse, but The Flood Year 1927 enables us to assess how mediated environmental disasters became central to modern consciousness.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Stadium Century"

New from Manchester University Press: The Stadium Century: Sport, Spectatorship and Mass Society in Modern France by Robert W. Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
The stadium century traces the history of stadia and mass spectatorship in modern France from the vélodromes of the late nineteenth century to the construction of the Stade de France before the 1998 soccer World Cup. As the book demonstrates, the stadium was at the centre of debates over public health and urban development and proved to be a key space for mobilising the urban crowd for political rallies and spectator sporting events alike. After 1945, the transformed French stadium constituted part of the process of postwar modernisation but also was increasingly connected to global transformations to the spaces and practices of sport. Drawing from a wide range of sources, the stadium century links the histories of French urbanism, mass politics and sport through the stadium in an innovative work that will appeal to historians, students of French history and the history of sport, and general readers alike.
Robert W. Lewis is Assistant Professor of History at California State University Polytechnic, Pomona.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Endangered Economies"

New from Columbia University Press: Endangered Economies: How the Neglect of Nature Threatens Our Prosperity by Geoffrey Heal.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the decades since Geoffrey Heal began his field-defining work in environmental economics, one central question has animated his research: "Can we save our environment and grow our economy?" This issue has become only more urgent in recent years with the threat of climate change, the accelerating loss of ecosystems, and the rapid industrialization of the developing world. Reflecting on a lifetime of experience not only as a leading voice in the field, but as a green entrepreneur, activist, and advisor to governments and global organizations, Heal clearly and passionately demonstrates that the only way to achieve long-term economic growth is to protect our environment.

Writing both to those conversant in economics and to those encountering these ideas for the first time, Heal begins with familiar concepts, like the tragedy of the commons and unregulated pollution, to demonstrate the underlying tensions that have compromised our planet, damaging and in many cases devastating our natural world. Such destruction has dire consequences not only for us and the environment but also for businesses, which often vastly underestimate their reliance on unpriced natural benefits like pollination, the water cycle, marine and forest ecosystems, and more. After painting a stark and unsettling picture of our current quandary, Heal outlines simple solutions that have already proven effective in conserving nature and boosting economic growth. In order to ensure a prosperous future for humanity, we must understand how environment and economy interact and how they can work in harmony—lest we permanently harm both.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Audible States"

New from Oxford University Press: Audible States: Socialist Politics and Popular Music in Albania by Nicholas Tochka.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Cold War, state-sponsored musical performances were central to the diplomatic agendas of the United States and the Soviet Union. But states on the periphery of the conflict also used state-funded performances to articulate their positions in the polarized global network. In Albania in particular, the postwar government invested heavily in public performances at home, effectively creating a new genre of popular music: the wildly popular light music.

In Audible States: Socialist Politics and Popular Music in Albania, author Nicholas Tochka traces an aural history of Albania's government through a close examination of the development and reception of light music at Radio-Television Albania's Festival of Song. Drawing on a wide range of archival resources and over forty interviews with composers, lyricists, singers, and bureaucrats, Tochka describes how popular music became integral to governmental projects to improve society--and a major concern for both state-socialist and postsocialist regimes between 1945 and the present. Tochka's narrative begins in the immediate postwar period, arguing that state officials saw light music as a means to cultivate a modern population under socialism. As the Cold War ended, postsocialist officials turned again to light music, now hoping that these musicians could help shape Albania into a capitalist, "European" state. Interweaving archival research with ethnographic interviews, Audible States demonstrates that modern political orders do not simply render social life visible, but also audible.

Incorporating insights from ethnomusicology, governmentality studies, and post-socialist studies, Audible States presents an original perspective on music and government that reveals the fluid, pervasive, but ultimately limited nature of state power in the modern world. A remarkably researched and engagingly written study, Audible States is a foundational text in the growing literature on popular music and culture in post-socialist Europe and will be of great interest for readers interested in popular music, sound studies, and the politics of the Cold War.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"A Time of Scandal"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: A Time of Scandal: Charles R. Forbes, Warren G. Harding, and the Making of the Veterans Bureau by Rosemary Stevens.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early 1920s, with the nation still recovering from World War I, President Warren G. Harding founded a huge new organization to treat disabled veterans: the US Veterans Bureau, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs. He appointed his friend, decorated veteran Colonel Charles R. Forbes, as founding director. Forbes lasted in the position for only eighteen months before stepping down under a cloud of criticism and suspicion. In 1926—after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud the federal government by rigging government contracts—he was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary. Although he was known in his day as a drunken womanizer, and as a corrupt, betraying toady of a weak, blind-sided president, the question persists: was Forbes a criminal or a scapegoat?

Historian Rosemary Stevens tells Forbes’s story anew, drawing on previously untapped records to reveal his role in America’s initial and ongoing commitment to veterans. She explores how Forbes’s rise and fall in Washington illuminates President Harding’s efforts to bring business efficiency to government. She also examines the Veterans Bureau scandal in the context of class, professionalism, ethics, and etiquette in a rapidly changing world. Most significantly, Stevens proposes a fascinating revisionist view of both Forbes and Harding—and raises questions about not only the validity but the source of their respective reputations. They did not defraud the government of billions of dollars, Stevens convincingly documents, and do not deserve the reputation they have carried for a hundred years.

Packed with vibrant characters—conniving friends, FBI agents, and rival politicians split by sectional and ideological interests as well as gamblers, revelers, and wronged wives— A Time of Scandal will appeal to anyone interested in political gossip, presidential politics, the "Ohio Gang," and the 1920s.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Food Power"

New from Oxford University Press: Food Power: The Rise and Fall of the Postwar American Food System by Bryan L. McDonald.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is a widespread assumption that the American food system after World War II was transformed-toward an increasingly industrialized production of crops, more processed foods, and diets higher in fat, sugar, and calories-as part of a unified system. In this book, Bryan McDonald brings together the history of food, agriculture, and foreign policy to explore how food was deployed in the first decades of the Cold War to promote American national security and national interests, a concept referred to as food power.

In the postwar years, Americans struggled to understand how an unprecedented abundance of food could be used to best advance U.S. goals and values. Was food a weapon, a commodity to be valued and exchanged through markets, or a substance to be provided to those in need? McDonald traces different visions of food power and shows how food formed an essential part of America's postwar modernization strategy and its vision of what it meant to be a stable, secure, and technologically advanced nation. Policymakers and experts helped build a new food system based around American agricultural surpluses that stabilized prices and food availability. This system averted a global-scale food crisis for almost three decades. The end of this food system in the early 1970s ushered in a much more precarious period in global food relations. By the late twentieth century, food politics had become a battleground in which the interests of security and foreign policy experts, farmers, businesses, and politicians contended with a growing social movement whose adherents worried about the role of food in contributing to conflict and inequality.

Food Power argues that the ways postwar American policymakers and experts politically linked people and places around the world through food illuminates both America's role in the world during the mid-twentieth century and sheds light on contemporary food problems.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Desert Kingdoms to Global Powers"

New from Yale University Press: Desert Kingdoms to Global Powers: The Rise of the Arab Gulf by Rory Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
A lively analysis of the Arab Gulf states’ stunning rise to global power over the last half-century and of the daunting challenges they confront today

Once just sleepy desert sheikdoms, the Arab Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait now exert unprecedented influence on international affairs—the result of their almost unimaginable riches in oil and gas. In this book, Rory Miller, an expert in Gulf politics and international affairs, provides an accessible account of the achievements of these countries since the 1973 global oil crisis. He also investigates how the shrewd Arab Gulf rulers who have overcome crisis after crisis meet the external and internal challenges of the onrushing future.

The Arab Gulf region has become an East–West hub for travel, tourism, sport, culture, trade, and finance. But can the autocratic regimes maintain stability at home and influence abroad as they deal with the demands of social and democratic reform? Miller considers an array of factors—Islamism, terrorism, the Arab Spring, volatile oil prices, global power dynamics, and others—to assess the future possibilities.
--Marshal Zeringue