Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Book Roundup

Jim Grimsley's How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood (Algonquin) is reviewed in the Washington Post.

History Today has a review of Presidential Faith and Foreign Policy: Jimmy Carter the Disciple and Ronald Reagan the Alchemist by William Steding (Palsgrave Macmillan).
"Steding is surely right to emphasise the importance of understanding the mindset a president brings to the momentous foreign policy decisions that are unavoidable for the occupant of the White House. Traces of the book's origins in a doctoral thesis are evident, such as calling these mindsets 'cognetic narratives' or 'cognetics'. Such jargon aside, the author succeeds in illuminating the way the presidents looked at the world. He makes the valid point that even historians who are interested in the values and beliefs of leaders tend to pass lightly over their religious convictions – clearly a mistake with Jimmy Carter and, perhaps less obviously, with Ronald Reagan."
Over on H-Net is a review of Leslie Rosenthal's The River Pollution Dilemma in Victorian England: Nuisance Law versus Economic Efficiency (Ashgate).
"In this well-researched book, Leslie Rosenthal examines ten legal conflicts over river pollution, and shows how judges balanced the formal upholding of the law with the management of the nuisance. While the polluters were held liable for causing the nuisance, in none of the case studies was a town’s sewer outlets physically stopped by the courts. Instead, the court took on a supervisory role on the process of abating the nuisance by ordering injunctions, but not actually enforcing them until a certain date, thus allowing the towns the time to adjust their sewers’ outflows. An important theme of the book is that the existing nuisance law was ill-equipped as a protector of the environment, as complainants could be paid compensation or sewage could be diverted, which solved the legal case but did not actually address the pollution itself. In addition, the technological options for treating the sewage were limited at the time. As a result, Rosenthal argues, the cases in which the court induced a town to reduce the nuisance of its pollution should be considered a success “worthy of celebration” (p. 231)."
Also on H-Net is a review of Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press) by James Clifford.

And from New Books in American Studies is an interview with author Michael G. Miller about his book, Subsidizing Democracy: How Public Funding Changes Elections and How it Can Work in the Future (Cornell University Press).