Friday, March 24, 2017

"Political Islam in Tunisia"

New from Oxford University Press: Political Islam in Tunisia: The History of Ennahda by Anne Wolf.

About the book, from the publisher:
Political Islam in Tunisia uncovers the secret history of Tunisia's main Islamist movement, Ennahda, from its origins in the 1960s to the present. Banned until the popular uprisings of 2010-11 and the overthrow of Ben Ali's dictatorship, Ennahda has until now been impossible to investigate. This is the first in-depth account of the movement, one of Tunisia's most influential political actors.

Based on more than four years of field research, over 400 interviews, and access to private archives, Anne Wolf masterfully unveils the evolution of Ennahda's ideological and strategic orientations within changing political contexts and, at times, conflicting ambitions amongst its leading cadres. She also explores the challenges to Ennahda's quest for power from both secularists and Salafis. As the first full history of Ennahda, this book is a major contribution to the literature on Tunisia, Islamist movements, and political Islam in the Arab world. It will be indispensable reading for anyone seeking to understand the forces driving a key player in the country most hopeful of pursuing a democratic trajectory in the wake of the Arab Spring.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"Disruptive Fixation"

New from Princeton University Press: Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism by Christo Sims.

About the book, from the publisher:
In New York City in 2009, a new kind of public school opened its doors to its inaugural class of middle schoolers. Conceived by a team of game designers and progressive educational reformers and backed by prominent philanthropic foundations, it promised to reinvent the classroom for the digital age. Ethnographer Christo Sims documented the life of the school from its planning stages to the graduation of its first eighth-grade class. Disruptive Fixation is his account of how this "school for digital kids," heralded as a model of tech-driven educational reform, reverted to a more conventional type of schooling with rote learning, an emphasis on discipline, and traditional hierarchies of authority. Troubling gender and racialized class divisions also emerged.

Sims shows how the philanthropic possibilities of new media technologies are repeatedly idealized even though actual interventions routinely fall short of the desired outcomes—often dramatically so. He traces the complex processes by which idealistic tech-reform perennially takes root, unsettles the worlds into which it intervenes, and eventually stabilizes in ways that remake and extend many of the social predicaments reformers hope to fix. Sims offers a nuanced look at the roles that powerful elites, experts, the media, and the intended beneficiaries of reform—in this case, the students and their parents—play in perpetuating the cycle.

Disruptive Fixation offers a timely examination of techno-philanthropism and the yearnings and dilemmas it seeks to address, revealing what failed interventions do manage to accomplish—and for whom.
--Marshal Zeringue

"World War I and the American Constitution"

New from Cambridge University Press: World War I and the American Constitution by William G. Ross.

About the book, from the publisher:
The First World War profoundly affected the American political system by transforming constitutional law and providing the predicate for the modern administrative state. In this groundbreaking study, William G. Ross examines the social, political, economic and legal forces that generated this rapid change. Ross explains how the war increased federal and state economic regulatory powers, transferred power from Congress to the President, and altered federalism by enhancing the powers of the federal government. He demonstrates how social changes generated by the war provided a catalyst for the expansion of personal liberties, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the rights of women, racial minorities, and industrial workers. Through a study of constitutional law, gender, race, economics, labor, the prohibition movement, international relations, civil liberties, and society, this book provides a major contribution to our understanding of the development of the American Constitution.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"The Emergence of Globalism"

New from Princeton University Press: The Emergence of Globalism: Visions of World Order in Britain and the United States, 1939-1950 by Or Rosenboim.

About the book, from the publisher:
During and after the Second World War, public intellectuals in Britain and the United States grappled with concerns about the future of democracy, the prospects of liberty, and the decline of the imperial system. Without using the term "globalization," they identified a shift toward technological, economic, cultural, and political interconnectedness and developed a "globalist" ideology to reflect this new postwar reality. The Emergence of Globalism examines the competing visions of world order that shaped these debates and led to the development of globalism as a modern political concept.

Shedding critical light on this neglected chapter in the history of political thought, Or Rosenboim describes how a transnational network of globalist thinkers emerged from the traumas of war and expatriation in the 1940s and how their ideas drew widely from political philosophy, geopolitics, economics, imperial thought, constitutional law, theology, and philosophy of science. She presents compelling portraits of Raymond Aron, Owen Lattimore, Lionel Robbins, Barbara Wootton, Friedrich Hayek, Lionel Curtis, Richard McKeon, Michael Polanyi, Lewis Mumford, Jacques Maritain, Reinhold Niebuhr, H. G. Wells, and others. Rosenboim shows how the globalist debate they embarked on sought to balance the tensions between a growing recognition of pluralism on the one hand and an appreciation of the unity of humankind on the other.

An engaging look at the ideas that have shaped today's world, The Emergence of Globalism is a major work of intellectual history that is certain to fundamentally transform our understanding of the globalist ideal and its origins.
Visit Or Rosenboim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Peace of the Gods"

New from Princeton University Press: The Peace of the Gods: Elite Religious Practices in the Middle Roman Republic by Craige B. Champion.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Peace of the Gods takes a new approach to the study of Roman elites' religious practices and beliefs, using current theories in psychology, sociology, and anthropology, as well as cultural and literary studies. Craige Champion focuses on what the elites of the Middle Republic (ca. 250–ca. 100 BCE) actually did in the religious sphere, rather than what they merely said or wrote about it, in order to provide a more nuanced and satisfying historical reconstruction of what their religion may have meant to those who commanded the Roman world and its imperial subjects.

The book examines the nature and structure of the major priesthoods in Rome itself, Roman military commanders' religious behaviors in dangerous field conditions, and the state religion's acceptance or rejection of new cults and rituals in response to external events that benefited or threatened the Republic. According to a once-dominant but now-outmoded interpretation of Roman religion that goes back to the ancient Greek historian Polybius, the elites didn't believe in their gods but merely used religion to control the masses. Using that interpretation as a counterfactual lens, Champion argues instead that Roman elites sincerely tried to maintain Rome's good fortune through a pax deorum or "peace of the gods." The result offers rich new insights into the role of religion in elite Roman life.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Reinventing the Propeller"

New from Cambridge University Press: Reinventing the Propeller: Aeronautical Specialty and the Triumph of the Modern Airplane by Jeremy R. Kinney.

About the book, from the publisher:
An international community of specialists reinvented the propeller during the Aeronautical Revolution, a vibrant period of innovation in North America and Europe from World War I to the end of World War II. They experienced both success and failure as they created competing designs that enabled increasingly sophisticated and 'modern' commercial and military aircraft to climb quicker and cruise faster using less power. Reinventing the Propeller nimbly moves from the minds of these inventors to their drawing boards, workshops, research and development facilities, and factories, and then shows us how their work performed in the air, both commercially and militarily. Reinventing the Propeller documents this story of a forgotten technology to reveal new perspectives on engineering, research and development, design, and the multi-layered social, cultural, financial, commercial, industrial, and military infrastructure of aviation.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Other People's Money"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: Other People's Money: How Banking Worked in the Early American Republic by Sharon Ann Murphy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Pieces of paper that claimed to be good for two dollars upon redemption at a distant bank. Foreign coins that fluctuated in value from town to town. Stock certificates issued by turnpike or canal companies—worth something... or perhaps nothing. IOUs from farmers or tradesmen, passed around by people who could not know the person who first issued them. Money and banking in antebellum America offered a glaring example of free-market capitalism run amok—unregulated, exuberant, and heading pell-mell toward the next "panic" of burst bubbles and hard times.

In Other People’s Money, Sharon Ann Murphy explains how banking and money worked before the federal government, spurred by the chaos of the Civil War, created the national system of US paper currency. Murphy traces the evolution of banking in America from the founding of the nation, when politicians debated the constitutionality of chartering a national bank, to Andrew Jackson’s role in the Bank War of the early 1830s, to the problems of financing a large-scale war. She reveals how, ultimately, the monetary and banking structures that emerged from the Civil War also provided the basis for our modern financial system, from its formation under the Federal Reserve in 1913 to the present.

Touching on the significant role that numerous historical figures played in shaping American banking—including Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Louis Brandeis— Other People’s Money is an engaging guide to the heated political fights that surrounded banking in early America as well as to the economic causes and consequences of the financial system that emerged from the turmoil. By helping readers understand the financial history of this period and the way banking shaped the society in which ordinary Americans lived and worked, this book broadens and deepens our knowledge of the Early American Republic.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 20, 2017

"The Politics of Scale"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Politics of Scale: A History of Rangeland Science by Nathan F. Sayre.

About the book, from the publisher:
Rangelands are vast, making up one quarter of the United States and forty percent of the Earth’s ice-free land. And while contemporary science has revealed a great deal about the environmental impacts associated with intensive livestock production—from greenhouse gas emissions to land and water degradation—far less is known about the historic role science has played in rangeland management and politics. Steeped in US soil, this first history of rangeland science looks to the origins of rangeland ecology in the late nineteenth-century American West, exploring the larger political and economic forces that—together with scientific study—produced legacies focused on immediate economic success rather than long-term ecological well being.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s, a variety of forces—from the Homestead Act of 1862 to the extermination of bison, foreign investment, and lack of government regulation—promoted free-for-all access to and development of the western range, with disastrous environmental consequences. To address the crisis, government agencies turned to scientists, but as Nathan F. Sayre shows, range science grew in a politically fraught landscape. Neither the scientists nor the public agencies could escape the influences of bureaucrats and ranchers who demanded results, and the ideas that became scientific orthodoxy—from fire suppression and predator control to fencing and carrying capacities—contained flaws and blind spots that plague public debates about rangelands to this day. Looking at the global history of rangeland science through the Cold War and beyond, The Politics of Scale identifies the sources of past conflicts and mistakes and helps us to see a more promising path forward, one in which rangeland science is guided less by capital and the state and more by communities working in collaboration with scientists.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Happiness for All?"

New from Princeton University Press: Happiness for All?: Unequal Hopes and Lives in Pursuit of the American Dream by Carol Graham.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Declaration of Independence states that all people are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and that among these is the pursuit of happiness. But is happiness available equally to everyone in America today? How about elsewhere in the world? Carol Graham draws on cutting-edge research linking income inequality with well-being to show how the widening prosperity gap has led to rising inequality in people's beliefs, hopes, and aspirations.

For the United States and other developed countries, the high costs of being poor are most evident not in material deprivation but rather in stress, insecurity, and lack of hope. The result is an optimism gap between rich and poor that, if left unchecked, could lead to an increasingly divided society. Graham reveals how people who do not believe in their own futures are unlikely to invest in them, and how the consequences can range from job instability and poor education to greater mortality rates, failed marriages, and higher rates of incarceration. She describes how the optimism gap is reflected in the very words people use—the wealthy use words that reflect knowledge acquisition and healthy behaviors, while the words of the poor reflect desperation, short-term outlooks, and patchwork solutions. She also explains why the least optimistic people in America are poor whites, not poor blacks or Hispanics.

Happiness for All? highlights the importance of well-being measures in identifying and monitoring trends in life satisfaction and optimism—and misery and despair—and demonstrates how hope and happiness can lead to improved economic outcomes.
The Page 99 Test: Happiness Around the World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Curse on This Country"

New from Cornell University Press: Curse on This Country: The Rebellious Army of Imperial Japan by Danny Orbach.

About the book, from the publisher:
Imperial Japanese soldiers were notorious for blindly following orders, and their enemies in the Pacific War derided them as "cattle to the slaughter." But, in fact, the Japanese Army had a long history as one of the most disobedient armies in the world. Officers repeatedly staged coups d'états, violent insurrections, and political assassinations; their associates defied orders given by both the government and the general staff, launched independent military operations against other countries, and in two notorious cases conspired to assassinate foreign leaders despite direct orders to the contrary.

In Curse on This Country, Danny Orbach explains the culture of rebellion in the Japanese armed forces. It was a culture created by a series of seemingly innocent decisions, each reasonable in its own right, which led to a gradual weakening of Japanese government control over its army and navy. The consequences were dire, as the armed forces dragged the government into more and more of China across the 1930s—a culture of rebellion that made the Pacific War possible. Orbach argues that brazen defiance, rather than blind obedience, was the motive force of modern Japanese history.

Curse on This Country follows a series of dramatic events: assassinations in the dark corners of Tokyo, the famous rebellion of Saigō Takamori, the “accidental” invasion of Taiwan, the Japanese ambassador’s plot to murder the queen of Korea, and the military-political crisis in which the Japanese prime minister “changed colors.” Finally, through the sinister plots of the clandestine Cherry Blossom Society, we follow the deterioration of Japan into chaos, fascism, and world war.
--Marshal Zeringue