Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

Continuing with works published this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, The Washington Post reviews Todd S. Purdum's An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Holt). An excerpt can also be found here on NPR. Of the book, the Post writes,
"Probably “An Idea Whose Time Has Come” will be of most use to readers who were too young to appreciate what happened in Washington in 1964 (as indeed was Purdum, who was born in 1959) or who came along well after it had receded into dim memory, which is what most American historical memory tends to do anyway." 
It's also been 50 years since Rachel Carson's death in 1964, and her life and writings are celebrated by both the New Statesman, which discusses her "sea trilogy" here, and HNN, which has a review of Robert K. Musil's Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America's Environment (Rutgers University Press).
"Despite the central role of women in the environmental movement, surprisingly little is known about them. Furthermore, what is known is usually limited to the work of Rachel Carson, whose powerful call to action, Silent Spring (1962), is widely credited with jump-starting the modern environmental movement. But, as shown by Robert Musil’s new book, Rachel Carson and Her Sisters, Carson is merely the most visible of numerous women who have had a powerful impact upon how Americans have viewed the natural environment and sought to preserve it."
Also in biography, the Washington Independent Review of Books reviews Mark Perry's The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur (Basic Books).  And Jill Lepore discusses Senator Elizabeth Warren's memoir, A Fighting Chance (Metropolitan Books) in The New Yorker.

Two books on gay rights are featured in reviews this week. History Today reviews David A.J. Richards's The Rise of Gay Rights and the Fall of the British Empire: Liberal Resistance and the Bloomsbury Group (Cambridge University Press). The second book is Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality (Penguin Press). The New Republic covers the book in a piece here, and The Washington Post reviews the book here.
"This book is not intended to be a tome on gay history, but Becker should brace for accusations of omission, particularly by longtime activists who will feel marginalized. “Forcing the Spring” is a riveting legal drama, a snapshot in time, when the gay rights movement altered course and public opinion shifted with the speed of a bullet train."
The Federal Lawyer has still more reviews online this month. Reviews of Andrew Kahrl's The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South (Harvard University Press)  and Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (Simon & Schuster) can be found here.

An excerpt of Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes (Oxford University Press) by Mark Robert Rank, Thomas Hirschl, and Kirk Foster can be found in Salon.

Slate reviews Nikil Saval's "detailed cultural history of how the office grew to become the definitive 20th century workplace," Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace (Doubleday).

H-Net adds several good reviews this week. There is a review of Emma Christopher's A Mericless Place: The Fate of Britain's Convicts after the American Revolution (Oxford University Press), a review of The Dunning School: Historians, Race and the Meaning of Reconstruction edited by John David Smith and J. Vincent Lowery (University Press of Kentucky), a review of Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman's American Umpire (Harvard University Press), and a review of Anne E. Marshall's Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State (University of North Carolina Press).

The Los Angeles Times reviews Alex Beam's American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church (Public Affairs).