Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

This week H-Net provides a couple of interesting reviews including one of Kari A. Frederickson's Cold War Dixie: Militarization and Modernization in the American South (University of Georgia Press). There are also reviews of Michael Scott Van Wagenen's Remembering the Forgotten War: The Enduring Legacies of the U.S.-Mexican War (University of Massachusetts Press) (here) and Steven J. Ramold's Across the Divide: Union Soldiers View the Northern Home Front (New York University Press) (here).

David G. Smith's On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870 (Fordham University Press) is also reviewed.
"In a provocative, well-researched study of race and freedom in south central Pennsylvania, David G. Smith reveals how African Americans in Adams, Cumberland, and Franklin counties truly lived “on the edge of freedom” during the half century from 1820 to 1870 (p. 1). Focusing on the fugitive slave issue, Smith unveils the contradictions that emerged along the Mason-Dixon Line as many white Pennsylvanians, especially businessmen and merchants in towns close to the border, sought to compromise with southern planters and supported the return of fugitive slaves, even as most African Americans and a large number of rural whites, notably, many Quakers, denounced slaveholding and rallied to help fleeing bondspersons. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, including letters, speeches, petitions, legislation, court records, and a range of nineteenth-century newspapers, particularly the Gettysburg Star, the Gettysburg Compiler, and the Adams Sentinel, he vividly describes a fascinating--and often very disturbing--antebellum borderland where free blacks, fugitive slaves, and their antislavery white allies encountered enormous challenges stemming from deep-rooted racism, economic ties to southern planters, and ordinary white workers’ fears of heightened job competition from emancipated blacks."
HNN has added a review of The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (Times Books) by Stephen Kinzer.

The Washington Post reviews Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (Crown) by Kevin Peraino.

The New York Times has a review of Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World (Scribner) by Nicholas Griffin.
"When the game of table tennis became the focus of diplomatic efforts to defuse Cold War tensions between the United States and China, no detail was too small to warrant careful scrutiny. As Nicholas Griffin demonstrates, in a book filled with well-chosen examples, the Chinese team visiting Colonial Williamsburg in 1972 was comfortable eating apple pie and singing “Home on the Range.” But “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” was dicier: the line “life is but a dream” was politically incompatible with the teachings of Chairman Mao. Thanks to some fancy footwork on the part of a translator, the line quickly turned into “life is full of steam.”"
This week, New Books in History interviewed Yuval Levin about his new book The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left (Basic).

And, although not usual Book Roundup fare, I found Professor Anthony Grafton's comments on the future of the history book to be very interesting. Check out the video on HNN here.