Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

The Times Literary Supplement, in a review titled "Disappointed democracy," reviews two books, David Runciman's The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War 1 to the Present  (Princeton University Press) and Steven Beller's Democracy: All that Matters (Hodder and Stoughton).

HNN reviews Selected Speeches and Writings of Theodore Roosevelt, edited by Gordon Hutner (Vintage).
"Hutner’s brief, germane introductions  to each chapter plus his deft selections of TR’s output, show him as an  inquisitive polymath, a prolific biographer (Thomas Hart Benton and Gouverneur Morris), historian (The Naval War of 1812) and his six-volume The Winning of the West, which took him five years to research and write and which Hutner rightly calls “magisterial.”"
George Kennan's personal writings--edited by Frank Costigliola in The Kennan Diaries (Norton)--are reviewed in the New Republic.

In case you haven't read the many reviews of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, translated by Arthus Goldhammer (Belknap Press), MIT professor emeritus Robert Solow has put "Everything you need to know" about the book in a New Republic piece titled "Thomas Piketty is Right."

Readers can put down their reading glasses and listen to an interview with Miriam Kingsberg about her new book Moral Nation: Modern Japan and Narcotics in Global History (University of California Press) over at New Books in History.

H-Net posts a couple of new reviews this week. There is a review of a collection of essays, Public Health in the British Empire: Intermediaries, Subordinates, and the Practice of Public Health, 1850-1960 edited by Ryan Johnson and Amna Khalid (Routledge), as well as a review of Miles Orvell's The Death and Life of Main Street: Small Towns in American Memory, Space and Community (University of North Carolina Press).

Eric Arnesen has a review of Clay Risen's The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act (Bloomsbury) in The Washington Post. Arnesen concludes,
"“The Bill of the Century” is an appropriately celebratory account that is indispensable reading for understanding what civil rights activists and politicians were up against in their campaign to topple Jim Crow. The act may have been the 20th century’s most important legislative achievement, but it was only one step, albeit an important one, in a much longer process that still continues."
Also in The Washington Post, Johnathan Yardley reviews Ed Offley's The Burning Shore: How Hitler's U-Boats Brought World War II to America (Basic).

There is also a nice review of Theodore Rosengarten's All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974), a oral history of a black Alabama sharecropper. Reviewer Dwight Garner writes,
"I wish I could say that, this early spring, I read “All God’s Dangers” in one sitting. It’s not that kind of book. It’s a meandering thing; its pleasures are intense but cumulative. This book rolls. But it is superb — both serious history and a serious pleasure, a story that reads as if Huddie Ledbetter spoke it while W. E. B. Du Bois took dictation. That it’s been largely forgotten is bad for it, but worse for us."

The New York Times adds a review of Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality (Penguin).