Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

There is no shortage of book reviews this weekend. The new issue of Common Place is out with a review of Matthew Taylow Raffety's The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America (University of Chicago Press).
"In The Republic Afloat, Matthew Raffety uses violent encounters on merchant vessels in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War to suggest that it was on the water, not on land, that Americans settled key dimensions of federal governance and citizenship."
HNN has a review of Antiwar Dissent and Peace Action in World War I America (University Press of Nebraska) edited by Scott H. Bennett and Charles F. Howlett.

The Los Angeles Times reviews Edward E. Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Dede Hatch/Basic Books). (If you want to read The Economist's apology for its now withdrawn review of the book, look here, and read on about the controversy here.)
"Plantations ("slave labor camps," he calls them) were run with the ruthless efficiency of your average sweatshop. This ambitious new economic and social history of antebellum America suggests that the bondage of African Americans is just another chapter in the rise of the global economy."
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon, and Astrid Henry's new book Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements (Liveright) is published in an excerpt titled, "From riot grrrls to “Girls”: Tina Fey, Kathleen Hanna, Lena Dunham and the birth of an inspiring new feminism" in Salon.

H-Net's review of a new volume Law and the Utopian Imagination edited by Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas and Martha Merrill Umphrey (Stanford University Press) asks "Law v. Utopia: Are They Mutually Exclusive?"
"This book of six essays on law and the utopian imagination is written by scholars from a wide array of disciplines, including English literature, fine arts, art history and cultural studies, political science, and legal philosophy and jurisprudence. The result is wide ranging and highly stimulating. Although the topics seem almost at odds with one other, the authors each pursue a unique tangent and tap into their particular areas of expertise to tease out exceptionally interesting logical constructions and conclusions as to the meaning and relationship of imagined utopias and legal strictures."
The New York Times reviews Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century (The New Press), "a posthumously published collection of essays on “culture and society in the 20th century” by the British historian Eric Hobsbawm."

Karen Abbot's new work, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War (Harper) is reviewed in both the Washington Post (here), and in the Los Angeles Times (here). Jonathan Yardley for the Post writes,
"The role of women on both sides of the Civil War has generally received scant attention in conventional histories of the conflict, but a few women did considerably more than make bandages and tend the home fires. “War, like politics, was men’s work,” Karen Abbott writes, “and women were supposed to be among its victims, not its perpetrators. Women’s loyalty was assumed, regarded as a prime attribute of femininity itself, but now there was a question — one that would persist throughout the war — of what to do with what one Lincoln official called ‘fashionable women spies.’ Their gender provided them with both a psychological and a physical disguise; while hiding behind social mores about women’s proper roles, they could hide evidence of their treason on their very person, tucked beneath hoop skirts or tied up in their hair. Women, it seemed, were capable not only of significant acts of treason, but of executing them more deftly than men.”"
As classes start up again, some readers might be interested in the Washington Post's review of Elizabeth Green's Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone) (Norton). "Green describes with verve some of the key efforts to show that great teaching is a professional achievement rather than a natural ability." Green also spoke with Slate about her book this week. You can find that interview here.

Hillary Rodham Clinton reviews Henry Kissinger's latest book World Order (Penguin) for the Washington Post. (The Los Angeles Times also has a review of the book this week.)
"It is vintage Kissinger, with his singular combination of breadth and acuity along with his knack for connecting headlines to trend lines — very long trend lines in this case. He ranges from the Peace of Westphalia to the pace of microprocessing, from Sun Tzu to Talleyrand to Twitter. ... This long view can help us understand issues from Vladimir Putin’s aggression to Iran’s negotiating strategy, even as it raises the difficult question of “how divergent historic experiences and values can be shaped into a common order.”"
The latest issue of The New York Review of Books has a piece by David Cole reviewing Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United by Zephyr Teachout (Harvard University Press).

Robert Cassanello's To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville (University Press of Florida) is reviewed on H-Net. In the book, Cassanello "describes black life and labor in Jacksonville from the Civil War to the Great Migration, and he illustrates how racial tensions changed in New South Jacksonville as blacks made themselves more visible in public spaces."

New Books in American Studies has interviews with two authors this week. The first is with Staci Zavattaro, discussing her book Cities for Sale: Municipalities as Public Relations and Market Firms (SUNY Press). The second interview is with Matt Grossman, discussing his book Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change Since 1945 (Oxford University Press).