Sunday, September 2, 2012

Textualism, The Laws of War, and More: This Week in the Book Pages

This week, The Wall Street Journal has a review of Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner's, Reading Law:The Interpretation of Legal Texts (Thomson/West).   Here is a sample:
In "Reading Law," they argue forcefully for a textualist approach—for interpreting legal documents, especially the Constitution, by focusing on written words in their original meaning. Along the way, the authors debunk the claims of the non-textualists, who, they say, seek to deconstruct the language, imposing on it a content that was never expressed. Such an effort, they note, defeats the whole purpose of communication and substitutes the reader's ideas for those of the writer.
You can read the full review here.  You can also find a review of the book at Slate, here.

And, in case you missed Karen’s post earlier this week, Slate also has Eric Posner on John Fabian Witt’s Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Simon & Schuster), which will be out on Tuesday.

On politics this week, TNR: The Book has a review of If Not Us, Who? William Rusher, National Review,and the Conservative Movement (ISI Books) by David B. Frisk, and a review of Sean Trende's The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs- And Who Will Take It (Palgrave Macmillan).

In the LA Times Michael Woo reviews Scott Zesch's The Chinatown War: Chinese Los Angeles and the Massacre of 1871 (Oxford University Press).  Woo writes: 
"The Chinatown War," Scott Zesch's portrait of Los Angeles in the early 1870s, foreshadows the economic paradox of many later American cities, combining the lure of a vibrant economy with the threat of competition divided along class and racial lines.Zesch, who previously has written about racial conflict in the Old West, looks for evidence of white attitudes towards Chinese by surveying the earliest local newspaper articles about Chinese residents in L.A. After finding a mostly neutral or even positive tone in the earliest newspaper coverage, Zesch detects an abrupt change, perhaps reflecting the increasingly virulent anti-Chinese sentiment in San Francisco.
Read on here.

In The Nation, Jackson Lears reviews Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of the Global Age (Harvard University Press) by Christopher McKnight Nichols.  According to Lears, "Nichols has accomplished a major feat, demonstrating that isolationism was a far richer and more complex intellectual tradition than its critics have ever imagined—one that still speaks to our own time, freshening the stale formulas of the Washington consensus and allowing us to reimagine the role of the United States in the world."

Other reviews this week: Christopher Hitchens's Mortality (Twelve) is reviewed in the New York Times (here) and the LA Times (here).  Also in the New York Times, Alexander Rose reviews Ben Macintyre's Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Crown). TNR: The Book also has a review of Nathan Harden's Sex and God at Yale (Thomas Dunne Books).  For more reviews on Harden's book, see last week's roundup.