Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Book Review Roundup

Looking for something to put on that Christmas list?  Here are some suggestions for your favorite lil' legal historian ...


In the NY Times, Jeffrey Frank reviews The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good by historian David Goldfield, who “points to the risks of government’s increasingly recessive role, and [makes] one worry how it will play out by the time the millennials become grandparents.” There’s a similar theme to the Times’ review of Robert Dallek’s Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, which admits that “Dallek’s is a workmanlike addition to the literature on Roosevelt,” but offers “little to distinguish it from the many excellent biographies that came before it and on which it draws.”

In The Nation, Kevin Kruse reviews Linda Gordon’s The Second Coming of the KKK, engaging with the historian’s quest for “an ever-elusive objectivity,” and coming out on the side of Gordon’s opinionated--if measured--take on the Klan’s Americanism. As I mentioned last week, Adam Hoschild reviewed the book in the NYRB as well.

In the Washington Post, but behind a paywall, Herb Boyd reviews The Dawn of Detroit by Tiya Miles, “a book that will make you rethink slavery and the North.”


The Guardian features a review of The House of Government by the “puzzlingly esoteric, thrillingly fervent” Yuri Slezkine, which “aims to capture the rise and fall of Bolshevism through a building and its residents,” and argues--fascinatingly but a bit untenably (and puzzlingly and thrillingly fervently)--that the “the problem with Bolshevism is that it was not totalitarian enough.” The same publication features Mark Mazower’s review of The Internationalists and Their Plan to Outlaw War, which “is a marvellously readable book that makes what could have been arcane matters of international jurisprudence comprehensible and lively,” despite ignoring the Bolshevik alternative in its triumphalist narrative.


In the LA Review of Books, Nicholas Tampio reviews Democracy's Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America by Johann N. Neem, which “defends the American public school system by recovering the ideals of its founders,” including Horace Mann, Reverend William Ellery Channing, Catharine Beecher, and other antebellum advocates of the United States’s common schools. Suzanne Fischer also reviews Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum, in which James Delbourgo offers a “detailed excavation of the ways Sloane’s collections required the knowledge, labor, and suffering of enslaved people.” In Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals, Jeremy McCarter serves up a “well-written and compelling introduction to the lives of five young radicals who embarked upon a similar journey of resistance one century ago.” According to reviewer Tom Gallagher, McCarter’s five were shaped by global conflict and the threat of war service.

The Federal Lawyer includes a book review of The Murder of William of Norwich: The Origins of the Blood Libel in Medieval Europe by E. M. Rose. The book tracks the “upsurge in blood libel accusations” after they arose in medieval England in 1140, and connects the accusations with various debt crises experienced by the upper royalty in Medieval Europe.

The New Books Network features more Legal History reviews than this blogger can listen to, especially with Eminem’s new album and all. Here are a few suggestions:

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