Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Book Roundup

The Nation reviews Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing and the Public Domain (Oxford Univ. Press) by Robert Spoo.
"Sometimes, in the absence of copyright, publishers have paid authors and have abstained from reprinting the books of authors they haven’t paid. Ulysses, by James Joyce, considered by some the greatest novel of the twentieth century, lost its copyright protection in America on a technicality soon after it was published. But from the 1930s to the ’90s, Joyce and his estate were paid royalties from its publication in America anyway, thanks to exactly this kind of happy anarchy. In his new scholarly book Without Copyrights, the legal and literary historian Robert Spoo tells the remarkable tale, which Spoo doesn’t necessarily deem a pretty one. Spoo rather sympathizes, in fact, with the character many observers would consider the villain."
Salon publishes an excerpt of Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders (Knopf) by Denise A Spellberg, and NPR reviews Jill Lepore's book about a Founding Father's sister, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf).

H-Net adds several works this week, including one of Wolfgang Knobl and Hans Joas's War in Social Thought: Hobbes to the Present (Princeton University Press), another of Robert Cassanello's To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville (University Press of Florida) (audio interview in last week's post), a third of Nancy Kollmann's Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge), and a fourth of Judy Tzu-Chun Wu's Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era (Cornell University Press).
"As its title suggests, Radicals on the Road uses the transpacific journeys of anti-Vietnam War activists as a window into radical American and Vietnamese politics and culture in the 1960s. Its principal claim is as multipronged as its intended audience and intervention: in the 1960s American and Vietnamese antiwar activists created a transnational political community, beyond the confines of any nation-state or locality, based on a sustained critique of U.S. policy in Asia."

There is also a review of Robert B. Townsend's History's Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 (University of Chicago Press). Reviewer
"Robert B. Townsend, a longtime deputy director of the American Historical Association (AHA), has written a perceptive study examining the growth and fragmentation of America's historical profession. He begins by reminding readers that professional historians once saw their enterprise "as a vast panorama of activity" encompassing "popular history making, school teaching, and the work of historical societies" (p. 1). For such scholars, the history profession was not just an academic discipline--doing history was about disseminating ideas widely. This is a fitting opening to an analysis that aims to correct teleological understandings of the profession by "recenter[ing] the narrative about history in America on a broader set of professional practices that extend well beyond academia" (p. 5). Townsend's extensive research and clear prose enable him to demonstrate that from the Gilded Age and Progressive Era through the interwar years, the historical enterprise splintered into separate professions representing research, pedagogy, and archival practice."
Still another review posted to H-Net is of Nancy Black Sagafi-nejad's Friends at the Bar: A Quaker View of Law, Conflict Resolution, and Legal Reform (State University of New York Press).

Subscribers to the Wall Street Journal can find three books of interest reviewed this week: Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade (Encounter Books) by Clarke Forsythe here,  In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court (W. W. Norton & Company) by Mark Tushnet here, and The Letters of C. Vann Woodward (Yale University Press) edited by Michael O'Brien here.

New Books in History interviewed two legal historians this week; there's an interview with Simon Newman about his book, A New World of Labor: The Development of Plantation Slavery in the British Atlantic (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press) and a second with Robert Gellately about his book Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War (Knopf).