Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

This week The Daily Beast marks the 40th anniversary of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Vintage) by Robert Caro by discussing the book, its history, and its author. In case you're wondering...
"In his Manhattan office on 57th Street, Caro’s desk is largely uncluttered—a lamp, some legal pads, his Smith Corona 210 electric typewriter. “This is a 210, but the 220 is basically the same,” Caro said, “so I use the Smith Corona 210 or 220. They stopped making these like 25 years ago, so if a part breaks you have to cannibalize.” There is no computer in his office; he barely ever uses one and doesn’t have an email address."
New Books in American Studies interviews Richard Starr about his new book, Equal as Citizens: The Tumultuous and Troubled History of a Great Canadian Idea (Formac).

In Salon there is a review of Donald B. Kraybill's Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers (John Hopkins University Press).
"The beard-cutting attacks on the Amish elders were later portrayed by the defendants and their counsel as along the same line: “compassionate” interventions meant to force the victims to repent their sins — sins that largely consisted of not agreeing with Mullet. Neither the jury nor the judge bought that argument. The trial, which involved 16 defendants, nine victims, five separate attacks and a total of 90 different charges, presented many puzzles. Does forcibly cutting someone’s beard, however much it might mean to them spiritually, constitute “disfigurement”? It would have to if the attacks were going to qualify under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009."
H-Net posted a review of another book at the intersection of religion and law, Christine Talbot's A Foreign Kingdom: Mormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890 (University of Illinois Press).

Books & Ideas has a new review (written in English) of Antoine Coppolani's biography (written in French) of Richard Nixon (Fayard).

The LA Review of Books takes a look at the value of the humanities in a multi-book review including Hillary Jewett and Peter Brooks's The Humanities in Public Life (Fordham University Press).

In The Washington Post, Robert Darnton's Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature (Norton) is reviewed.
"In this provocative study of censorship as it was practiced in three different places at three different times, the distinguished scholar Robert Darnton argues that it can be a considerably subtler and more nuanced undertaking than it is generally assumed to be. He has not written a defense of censorship — far from it — but he emphasizes that when the state sets itself up as arbiter of what goes into books and what does not, the results are not always predictable, but are sometimes surprising and even — occasionally — beneficial to authors and their publishers."
Erwin Chermerinsky's latest book, The Case Against the Supreme Court (Viking), is reviewed in the LA Times this week.
"Beyond the proposed reforms, Chemerinsky says he yearns for more honest and candid talk about the court. He smacks Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor for telling the Senate they would simply follow the law, or "call the balls and strikes," as Roberts put it.
"It is time to get past the façade of the marble columns and the mystique of justices who appear in robes from beyond heavy curtains," he writes. The justices do not "find" the law hidden deep in the text, he says. Rather, they decide the law and do so based on their own values and understandings. "If we see the Court in this way, we can begin to hold it accountable for its own decisions," he concludes."
Last, but not least, The Federal Lawyer's latest issue is out with several new reviews--all available here. Books reviewed include Patrick Weil's The Sovereign Citizen: Denaturalization and the Origins of the American Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press) and In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America (University of North Carolina Press) by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian.

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