Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Book Roundup

Hope you enjoy this round-up of some book reviews of interest for legal historians.  It's my first time writing this, so please leave a comment or drop a line with something I've missed.

In The Nation (but outside of the paywall), Kim Phillips Fein reviews Kathryn S. Olmsted’s Right Out of California, which "argu[es] that the origins of today’s conservative movement can be found in the agricultural plantations of California and the fierce labor conflicts that broke out in the state during the 1930s."  LHB Readers might also enjoy Beverly Gage's review of Lisa McGirr's The War on Alcohol, which takes up some interesting questions ("Why, at the height of the Great Depression, did so many Americans care so much about beer?") and places McGirr's work in the context of new studies of American state-building.

The New York Review of Books carries Adam Hochschild's Our Awful Prisons: How They Can Be Changed, which reviews several legal histories of mass incarceration (including Elizabeth Hinton's recent work). There you'll also find Linda Greenhouse's take on Gillian Thomas's Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work, which focuses on the afterlife of the Smith amendment--and its "because of sex" language--to the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII.

In the New Republic, Eric Herschthal reviews Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation, Nicholas Guyatt's intellectual history of segregationism in the Early Republic.

In the May 2016 issue of the Law and Politics Book Review, Anna O. Law reviews Kunal Parker's Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America, 1600-2000 ("Making Foreigners manages to contribute to the scholarship in the areas of: U.S. immigration law and policy, Latino Studies, Native American Studies, African American studies, women’s studies, Asian Americans, and studies of the poor. What the groups represented in all these literatures have in common is that at one time or another, the American state... has purposely treated them as if they were immigrant foreigners, also known in the U.S. immigration and nationality code as “aliens.”).  In the same issue, Steven Lichtman reviews Elizabeth Beaumont's The Civic Constitution: Civic Visions and Struggles in the Path towards Constitutional Democracy (Beaumont "stresses constitutional development is not a relentlessly top-down process driven largely by institutions and institutional actors. ... The seminal strength of this impeccably researched book is Beaumont’s account of the constitutional contributions of social movements in the 19th and 20th centuries.").

In Commonplace, Nancy Isenberg reviews Brian Phillips Murphy's Building the Empire State: Political Economy in the Early Republic. Tanya Sheehan's review of Jasmine Nicole Cobb's Picture Freedom: Remaking Black Visuality in the Early Nineteenth Century provides useful context for legal histories of slavery:
Cobb’s understanding of early photography as an especially potent visual technology for the expression of black agency motivates her analysis of racial caricatures, lithographs, abolitionist newspaper writings, runaway notices, sentimental literatures, joke books, and scenic wallpaper. According to Cobb, these popular visual media, which circulated across the Atlantic world “between the years of gradual emancipation laws emerging in 1780 and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850," together “create a more robust depiction of Black freedom in the transatlantic imaginary."
The Federal Lawyer's May 2016 issue includes reviews of Madison's Hand by Mary Sarah Bilder, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story by Tom Gjelten, The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience by Alan E. Johnson and Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman (significant spoiler alert here).

And behind the Wall St. Journal's paywall (one thing the Journal shares with the Nation) are two relevant reviews, one of Meg Jacobs' Panic at the Pump and one of Marc Wortman's arc's new history of the period prior to the US entry into World War II, 1941: Fighting the Shadow War : A Divided America in a World at War.

Tired of reading? Want to give your eyes a break? The New Books Network's podcast includes a few reviews of interest to legal historians: A review of Matthew Sommer's Polyandry and Wife-Selling in Qing Dynasty China: Survival Strategies and Judicial Interventions ("an absolute must-read for anyone interested in the history of China and/or the history of gender") and one of Peter Enns's Incarceration Nation: How the United States Became the Most Punitive Democracy in the World (which "combines close analysis of Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon’s presidential campaigns with 60 years of data analysis.")

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