Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Notable Books in Law and History, "A Pivotal Year," and a "Restless Empire": This Week in the Book Pages

The New York Times released its list of the 100 Notable Books of 2012.  Among them, John Fabian Witt's Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History (Free Press).  You can find Gary Bass's NY Times review of Lincoln's Code here (" “Every generation,” Witt writes, “has its law-of-war crisis.” This monumental book, resting on colossal archival research and packed with memorable stories and arguments, is a major contribution to making sense of ours.").  Dale Carpenter's Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans (Norton), also made the list.

At TNR: The Book, Jack Rakove reviews 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Viking) by Kevin Phillips.  Rakove writes, "Phillips deals with political loyalties more fundamental than the mere matter of party allegiance.  His broader purpose is to write a sketch of American nationalism at the revolutionary moment when that concept first cohered."  But, Rakove argues, "[h]is insistence on the primacy of 1775 as "the pivotal year" creates more problems than it solves."  Read on here.

Also at TNR: The Book, a review of Speaking of Race and Class: The Student Experience at an Elite College (Temple) by Elizabeth Aries and Richard Berman.

In the Washington Post this week, Michael Dirda reviews J.H. Elliott's History in the Making (Yale).  "[T]his distinguished scholar," Dirda writes "looks back on his career as a Hispanist and reflects on the developments in historiography over the past 60 years."  John Pomfret reviews Odd Arne Westad's Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750 (Basic Books): "'Restless Empire' tells the story of the foreigners who helped China become what it is today, from China's first interactions with the West to the current era.  In doing so, Westad upends, but ever so politely, a slew of misconceptions about China that have been concocted by his academic predecessors both in the West and in Asia."

In the LA Times this week, you'll find recommended nonfiction in the Holiday Gift Guide including Jill Lepore's The Story of America: Essays on Origins (Princeton), Jeffrey Toobin's The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court (Doubleday), and Timothy Egan's Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis (Houghton Mifflin).  See the complete list here.

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