Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Book Roundup

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) is reviewed on The Daily Beast.
"Berman relates the story of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) from its making in 1965 to its mauling in 2013. In chapters bearing titles such as “The Second Emancipation,” “The Second Reconstruction,” “The Southern Strategy,” and “The Counterrevolution,” he recalls the 1965 marches that propelled the history-making passage of the VRA in Congress; the extraordinary transformations wrought by the federal government’s implementation of the Act in the former states of the Confederacy; the concurrent campaigns and diverse machinations through the course of five decades by reactionaries, conservatives, and neoconservatives to block, undermine, or do in the Act piece by piece; and finally, the Roberts Court’s devastating decision in Shelby."
H-Net has a double review of Charles E. Cobb Jr.'s This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible (Basic Books) and Akinyele Omowale Umoja's We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement (New York University Press).

There's also a review of Laura Edward's A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction: A Nation of Rights (Cambridge University Press).
"Edwards has provided a relatively brief but incisive synthesis of the recent historical literature on the Civil War and Reconstruction that focuses on the legal consequences of emancipation. In doing so, she also puts forward her own original—and ultimately persuasive—argument. Oddly, the subtitle probably gives a better indication of the book’s subject matter and contents than does the title (and one wonders if perhaps the title and subtitle ought to have been reversed). Moreover, the book’s chronological framework, the title notwithstanding, transcends the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, extending into the early years of the twentieth century. Edwards has written a volume that will benefit scholars of the Civil War era, broadly construed, the Gilded Age and late nineteenth century, and legal and constitutional history."
New Books in History interviews Brian Murphy about his new book, Building the Empire State: Political Economy in the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press).

And from Slate there is a review of The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Good Sex, Bad Laws, and Changing Identities by Eric Berkowitz (Counterpoint).

Contraband: Smuggling and the Birth of the American Century by Andrew Wender Cohen (WW Norton) is reviewed in The Washington Post.

Bernard Bailyn reviews Revolutions Without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World by Janet Polasky (Yale University Press) in The New York Review of Books.