Sunday, April 7, 2013

FDR, Historians and Capitalism, and More: This Week in the Book Pages

The New York Times this week has two reviews of books about Roosevelt.  Kevin Boyle reviews Ira Katznelson's Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time (Liveright).  As Boyle explains, Katznelson argues that "Roosevelt's defense of democracy...rested in large part on his willingness to work with political forces that had no commitment to democratic ideals."  These forces included a "brief flirtation with quasi-fascist economic planning," and "to push their legislative programs through Congress, the New Dealers sold their souls to the segregated South."  Read the full review here.

David Oshinsky reviews FDR and the Jews (Belknap) by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman.  Oshinsky writes that FDR and the Jews is "the latest, and most thoughtful, entry into [the] scholarly minefield" of books addressing the "troubling moral question" of what Roosevelt did in his time in office to "protect the Jews of Europe from Nazi genocide."

Also in the New York Times this morning, "In History Departments, It's Up with Capitalism."  Here's a sample:
After decades of “history from below,” focusing on women, minorities and other marginalized people seizing their destiny, a new generation of scholars is increasingly turning to what, strangely, risked becoming the most marginalized group of all: the bosses, bankers and brokers who run the economy.
Other book reviews of interest this week:

Charlie Savage reviews Jess Bravin's The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay (Yale) in the New York Times.

The LA Times has a review of several books about baseball including Stuart Banner's The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption (Oxford).

1 comment:

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

Of course the LA Times book review of baseball books was from last week. Although it has nothing whatseover to do with legal history, I like David Ulin's conclusion to his essay:

[….] Then there’s The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream by Tom Clavin (Ecco), a group biography that views its subjects not only as athletes but as family members and even, in their way, as symbols — their father was a San Francisco fisherman — of American mobility and class.

This too is what Plimpton was getting at, that of all sports, baseball speaks most deeply to our identity because it is the most timeless and democratic of games. We live through the long season, the long careers of our heroes; in their victories, but more often in their travails, we see some reflection of ourselves.

Such a notion resides at the heart of Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game (Gotham), a book of quasi-spiritual reflections by New York University President John Sexton, developed from a course he’s taught for many years.

As it happens, I agree with Sexton about the spiritual side of baseball; its charm is in its contemplation, which is the case with literature, as well. “Baseball,” Sexton writes, “calls us to live slow and notice. This alone may be enough.”