Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Who Are Your People?": This Week in the Book Pages

Help Me To Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery (University of North Carolina Press), by Heather Andrea Williams, is the subject of great praise in this week's New York Times Sunday Book Review. According to reviewer Imani Perry, Williams not only "examines the historical fact of family separation" among black Southerners in the aftermath of the Civil War, but she also "renders its emotional truth. She is the rare scholar who writes history with such tenderness that her words can bring a reader to tears." More here.

Also reviewed in the NYT: Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West, 1830-1890 (W. W. Norton & Company), by Peter Pagnamenta (a "lovingly excavated" history of a "crew of intrepid — if arguably somewhat inconsequential — gentlemen ­adventurers") (here), and White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf (Beacon Press), by Aaron Bobrow-Strain (a "clogged and academic" "cautionary tale" about "how the industrial loaf was repeatedly adapted as a hasty nostrum for the philosophic or bodily ailment of the day") (here).

The Wall Street Journal also covers Prairie Fever this week (here), along with a new biography of historian Herbert Eugene Bolton (here).

The headliner at the New Republic: The Book is Homesickness: An American History (Oxford University Press), by Susan J. Matt. "In her methodical march across the nation’s history," writes reviewer Peter Duffy, "Matt shows that we are reluctant immigrants, hesitant pioneers, unenthusiastic warriors, and ambivalent modernizers who really would have rather skipped all the unpleasantness and stayed home." Duffy would place the book "on the shelf of important works of American revisionism for, if nothing else, its brilliant selection of supporting quotations." More here.

Also in TNR: Richard J. Evans reviews (here) Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War (Yale University Press), by R.M. Douglas.

As for the Nation, the good stuff is behind a paywall this week. Any subscribers out there? Please tell us what "secret history of property" Hendrik Hartog has reviewed!
Also behind a paywall: A Chronicle of Higher Ed review of Constance Classen's The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch (University of Illinois Press). It is part of the Press's Studies in Sensory History series.

Over at the Washington Post, Mary Dudziak's Wartime shares the spotlight with Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, by Rachel Maddow. Pundit and professor "grapple with the same critical questions about contemporary military affairs and have arrived at comparable conclusions," writes reviewer Gordon Goldstein. Read on here.

Relatedly, the latest issue of the National Interest takes up (here) prolific author and foreign-policy establishment "fixture" Robert Kagan, along with his new book The World America Made (Knopf).

Collaborative research has a dark side: the Guardian reviews (here) Experiment Eleven: Deceit and Betrayal in the Discovery of the Cure for Tuberculosis (Bloomsbury), by Peter Pringle.