Sunday, March 3, 2013

FDR's Bargain Over the New Deal, The Financial Crisis, Battle as Legal Procedure, and More: This Week in the Book Pages

In the Washington Post, Robert G. Kaiser reviews Ira Katznelson's Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time (Liveright).  According to Kaiser, it is "a sprawling, ambitious book that offers illuminating insights on nearly every page."  Katznelson "demonstrates that Congress's approval of Roosevelt's New Deal depended on the support of racist Southern Democrats, who were happy to support FDR's liberal and occasionally radical economic ideas, provided they did not disrupt the Jim Crow culture of the South."  Read on here.

Also in the Washington Post: a review of Ernest Freeberg's The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America (Penguin), and Kevin Boyle reviews The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (Beacon) by Jeanne Theoharis.  According to Boy, Theoharis adds a "depressing new dimension" to the story of Park's arrest and boycott: "While Park's stance made her a celebrity it also made her a target."

In the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Roberts reviews Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War (Knopf) by Robert Gellately, and John Cochrane reviews The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong With Banking and What to Do About It (Princeton) by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig.

And in the New York Times you'll find a review of Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran (Metropolitan) by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, and a review of Alan S. Blinder's After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the response and the Work Ahead (Penguin)

At The New Republic you'll find a review of James Q. Whitman's The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War (Harvard) by David Bell, Professor of History at Princeton.  Some of Bell's remarks will be familiar to those who attended the great author meets reader panel on The Verdict of Battle at the ASLH this past November.  Here's a sample:
Whitman's book does express a lament for the past, but he is a legal scholar, and it is a lawyer's lament, not a soldier's.  He argues that for a long period of time, roughly from the early eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, battles paradoxically gave Western civilization a surprisingly effective means of restraining war's overall destruction.  This was the case because the Western powers saw battle as an "accepted legal procedure," and agreed to abide by the result.
Read on here.