Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Gathering to Save a Nation"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union's War Governors by Stephen D. Engle.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this rich study of Union governors and their role in the Civil War, Stephen D. Engle examines how these politicians were pivotal in securing victory. In a time of limited federal authority, governors were an essential part of the machine that maintained the Union while it mobilized and sustained the war effort. Charged with the difficult task of raising soldiers from their home states, these governors had to also rally political, economic, and popular support for the conflict, at times against a backdrop of significant local opposition.

Engle argues that the relationship between these loyal-state leaders and Lincoln’s administration was far more collaborative than previously thought. While providing detailed and engaging portraits of these men, their state-level actions, and their collective cooperation, Engle brings into new focus the era’s complex political history and shows how the Civil War tested and transformed the relationship between state and federal governments.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Exiled in America"

New from Columbia University Press: Exiled in America: Life on the Margins in a Residential Motel by Christopher P. Dum.

About the book, from the publisher:
Residential motels have long been places of last resort for many vulnerable Americans—released prisoners, people with disabilities or mental illness, struggling addicts, the recently homeless, and the working poor. Cast aside by their families and mainstream society, they survive in squalid, unsafe, and demeaning circumstances that few of us can imagine.

For a year, the sociologist Christopher P. Dum lived in the Boardwalk Motel to better understand its residents and the varied paths that brought them there. He witnessed moments of violence and conflict, as well as those of care and compassion. As told through the voices and experiences of motel residents, Exiled in America paints a portrait of a vibrant community whose members forged identities in response to overwhelming stigma and created meaningful lives despite crushing economic instability.

In addition to chronicling daily life at the Boardwalk, Dum follows local neighborhood efforts to shut the establishment down, leading to a wider analysis of legislative attempts to sanitize shared social space. He also suggests meaningful policy changes to address the societal failures that lead to the need for motels such as the Boardwalk. The story of the Boardwalk, and the many motels like it, will concern anyone who cares about the lives of America's most vulnerable citizens.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Imagining a Greater Germany"

New from Cornell University Press: Imagining a Greater Germany: Republican Nationalism and the Idea of Anschluss by Erin R. Hochman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Imagining a Greater Germany, Erin R. Hochman offers a fresh approach to the questions of state- and nation-building in interwar Central Europe. Ever since Hitler annexed his native Austria to Germany in 1938, the term "Anschluss" has been linked to Nazi expansionism. The legacy of Nazism has cast a long shadow not only over the idea of the union of German-speaking lands but also over German nationalism in general. Due to the horrors unleashed by the Third Reich, German nationalism has seemed virulently exclusionary, and Anschluss inherently antidemocratic.

However, as Hochman makes clear, nationalism and the desire to redraw Germany's boundaries were not solely the prerogatives of the political right. Focusing on the supporters of the embattled Weimar and First Austrian Republics, she argues that support for an Anschluss and belief in the großdeutsch idea (the historical notion that Germany should include Austria) were central to republicans’ persistent attempts to legitimize democracy. With appeals to a großdeutsch tradition, republicans fiercely contested their opponents’ claims that democracy and Germany, socialism and nationalism, Jew and German, were mutually exclusive categories. They aimed at nothing less than creating their own form of nationalism, one that stood in direct opposition to the destructive visions of the political right. By challenging the oft-cited distinction between “good” civic and “bad” ethnic nationalisms and drawing attention to the energetic efforts of republicans to create a cross-border partnership to defend democracy, Hochman emphasizes that the triumph of Nazi ideas about nationalism and politics was far from inevitable.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Britain's Maritime Empire"

New from Cambridge University Press: Britain's Maritime Empire: Southern Africa, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, 1763-1820 by John McAleer.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating new study in which John McAleer explores the maritime gateway to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope and its critical role in the establishment, consolidation and maintenance of the British Empire in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Situated at the centre of a maritime chain that connected seas and continents, this gateway bridged the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which, with its commercial links and strategic requirements, formed a global web that reflected the development of the British Empire in the period. The book examines how contemporaries perceived, understood and represented this area; the ways in which it worked as an alternative hub of empire, enabling the movement of people, goods, and ideas, as well as facilitating information and intelligence exchanges; and the networks of administration, security and control that helped to cement British imperial power.
John McAleer is a Lecturer in History at the University of Southampton. His work focuses on the British encounter and engagement with the wider world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Before joining the university, he was Curator of Imperial and Maritime History at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. McAleer teaches courses and supervises research on a range of themes relating to the history of empire. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Bones around My Neck"

New from Cornell University Press: Bones around My Neck: The Life and Exile of a Prince Provocateur by Tamara Loos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Prince Prisdang Chumsai (1852–1935) served as Siam's first diplomat to Europe during the most dramatic moment of Siam’s political history, when its independence was threatened by European imperialism. Despite serving with patriotic zeal, he suffered irreparable social and political ruin based on rumors about fiscal corruption, sexual immorality, and political treason. In Bones around My Neck, Tamara Loos pursues the truth behind these rumors, which chased Prisdang out of Siam. Her book recounts the personal and political adventures of an unwitting provocateur who caused a commotion in every country he inhabited.

Prisdang spent his first five years in exile from Siam living in disguise as a commoner and employee of the British Empire in colonial Southeast Asia. He then resurfaced in the 1890s in British Ceylon, where he was ordained as a Buddhist monk and became a widely respected abbot. Foreigners from around the world were drawn to this prince who had discarded wealth and royal status to lead the life of an ascetic. His fluency in English, royal blood, acute intellect, and charisma earned him importance in international diplomatic and Buddhist circles. Prisdang’s life journey reminds us of the complexities of the colonial encounter and the recalibrations it caused in local political cultures. His drama offers more than a story about Siamese politics: it also casts in high relief the subjective experience of global imperialism. Telling this history from the vantage point of a remarkable individual grounds and animates the historical abstractions of imperialism, Buddhist universalism, and the transformation of Siam into a modern state.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Evolution Made to Order"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Evolution Made to Order: Plant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth-Century America by Helen Anne Curry.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the mid-twentieth century, American plant breeders, frustrated by their dependence on natural variation in creating new crops and flowers, eagerly sought technologies that could extend human control over nature. Their search led them to celebrate a series of strange tools: an x-ray beam directed at dormant seeds, a drop of chromosome-altering colchicine on a flower bud, and a piece of radioactive cobalt in a field of growing crops. According to scientific and popular reports of the time, these mutation-inducing methods would generate variation on demand, in turn allowing breeders to genetically engineer crops and flowers to order. Creating a new crop or flower would soon be as straightforward as innovating any other modern industrial product.

In Evolution Made to Order, Helen Anne Curry traces the history of America’s pursuit of tools that could speed up evolution. It is an immersive journey through the scientific and social worlds of midcentury genetics and plant breeding and a compelling exploration of American cultures of innovation. As Curry reveals, the creation of genetic technologies was deeply entangled with other areas of technological innovation—from electromechanical to chemical to nuclear. An important study of biological research and innovation in America, Evolution Made to Order provides vital historical context for current worldwide ethical and policy debates over genetic engineering.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"The Sweatshop Regime"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Sweatshop Regime: Labouring Bodies, Exploitation and Garments Made in India by Alessandra Mezzadri.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book explores the processes producing and reproducing the garment sweatshop in India. Drawing from Marxian and feminist insights, the book theorises the garment sweatshop in India as a complex 'regime' of exploitation and oppression, jointly crafted by global, regional and local actors, composed of factory and non-factory settings, and working across productive and reproductive realms. The analysis shows the tight correspondence between the physical and social materiality of garment production in India; illustrates the great social differentiation and complex patterns of labour unfreedom at work in the industry; and depicts the sweatshop as a composite 'joint enterprise' against the labouring body, which is inexorably depleted and consumed by garment work, even in the absence of major industrial disasters. By placing labour at the centre of the analysis of processes of development and globalisation, the book critically engages with key debates on industrial modernity, modern slavery, and ethical consumerism.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Before Dred Scott"

New from Cambridge University Press: Before Dred Scott: Slavery and Legal Culture in the American Confluence, 1787-1857 by Anne Twitty.

About the book, from the publisher:
Before Dred Scott draws on the freedom suits filed in the St Louis circuit court to construct a ground-breaking history of slavery and legal culture within the American Confluence, a vast region where the Ohio, Mississippi, and the Missouri rivers converge. Formally divided between slave and free territories and states, the American Confluence was nevertheless a site where the borders between slavery and freedom, like the borders within the region itself, were fluid. Such ambiguity produced a radical indeterminacy of status, which, in turn, gave rise to a distinctive legal culture made manifest by the prosecution of hundreds of freedom suits, including the case that ultimately culminated in the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs Sandford. Challenging dominant trends in legal history, Before Dred Scott argues that this distinctive legal culture, above all, was defined by ordinary people's remarkable understanding of and appreciation for formal law.
Anne Twitty is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Mississippi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Ethics in the Real World"

New from Princeton University Press: Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter by Peter Singer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Peter Singer is often described as the world’s most influential philosopher. He is also one of its most controversial. The author of important books such as Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, and The Life You Can Save, he helped launch the animal rights and effective altruism movements and contributed to the development of bioethics. Now, in Ethics in the Real World, Singer shows that he is also a master at dissecting important current events in a few hundred words.

In this book of brief essays, he applies his controversial ways of thinking to issues like climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness. Singer asks whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalized, and he reiterates his case against the idea that all human life is sacred, applying his arguments to some recent cases in the news. In addition, he explores, in an easily accessible form, some of the deepest philosophical questions, such as whether anything really matters and what is the value of the pale blue dot that is our planet. The collection also includes some more personal reflections, like Singer’s thoughts on one of his favorite activities, surfing, and an unusual suggestion for starting a family conversation over a holiday feast.

Provocative and original, these essays will challenge—and possibly change—your beliefs about a wide range of real-world ethical questions.
The Page 99 Test: The Life You Can Save.

The Page 99 Test: The Most Good You Can Do.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 14, 2016

"A Temperate Empire"

New from Oxford University Press: A Temperate Empire: Making Climate Change in Early America by Anya Zilberstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Controversy over the role of human activity in causing climate change is pervasive in contemporary society. But, as Anya Zilberstein shows in this work, debates about the politics and science of climate are nothing new. Indeed, they began as early as the settlement of English colonists in North America, well before the age of industrialization.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many early Americans believed that human activity and population growth were essential to moderating the harsh extremes of cold and heat in the New World. In the preindustrial British settler colonies in particular, it was believed that the right kinds of people were agents of climate warming and that this was a positive and deliberate goal of industrious activity, rather than an unintended and lamentable side effect of development. A Temperate Empire explores the ways that colonists studied and tried to remake local climates in New England and Nova Scotia according to their plans for settlement and economic growth. For colonial officials, landowners, naturalists, and other elites, the frigid, long winters and short, muggy summers were persistent sources of anxiety. These early Americans became intensely interested in reimagining and reducing their vulnerability to the climate. Linking climate to race, they assured would-be migrants that hardy Europeans were already habituated to the severe northern weather and Caribbean migrants' temperaments would be improved by it. Even more, they drew on a widespread understanding of a reciprocal relationship between a mild climate and the prosperity of empire, promoting the notion that land cultivation and the expansion of colonial farms would increasingly moderate the climate. One eighteenth-century naturalist observed that European settlement and industry had already brought about a "more temperate, uniform, and equal" climate worldwide-a forecast of a permanent, global warming that was wholeheartedly welcomed.

Illuminating scientific arguments that once celebrated the impact of economic activities on environmental change, A Temperate Empire showcases an imperial, colonial, and early American history of climate change.
--Marshal Zeringue