Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Book Roundup

Salon interviews Mary Frances Berry about her new book Five Dollars and Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy (Beacon Press). Here's part of her response to how she got interested in the topic:
"An old lady had told him, and he related it to me, that the way they do it is they take you somewhere to vote, and they give you some numbers, and tell you to vote for those people, and the clerk tells them that you did it, and then they haul you down to the daiquiri shop — which is drive-in daiquiri shops here in Louisiana — where you get a drink and get five dollars and a pork chop sandwich, and then you go home. And I said, “Well, I’ll be doggone! I never heard of such a thing in my entire life!”"
New Books talks with Shana Kushner Gadarian and Bethany Albertson, authors of Anxious Politics: Democratic Citizenship in a Threatening World (Cambridge University Press).

Herbert Hovenkamp reviews Thomas C. Leonard's Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton University Press) for The New Rambler.
"This brief, well-written book surveys the economic and social science of Progressive reformers, focusing mainly on the early twentieth century. This area of United States history has been heavily written about and Professor Leonard does not purport to be breaking much new ground in coverage. He does, however, offer an extended argument that a principal characteristic of the period was a decline in individual liberties. An interesting deviation from other histories of the Progressive movement, which may please some readers but not others, is greatly reduced attention to the activities of the Supreme Court in either resisting or facilitating the rise of the regulatory state."

From The New York Times comes a review of the young adult book The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller (Schwartz & Wade Books).
"Miller’s chronicle of newspapers’ disregard for the truth also provides a jolt, and may hit even closer to home, calling to mind the excesses of social media today. It’s not hard to imagine the trial unfolding on Twitter — ­#AxeMeAgainLizzie, ­#BloodyBloodyBorden — and it would take just hours instead of months for the public to judge and convict her. This may be the best lesson young readers can take from Miller’s unexpectedly topical book. In an age when amassing “likes” often takes precedence over reflecting on what is true and what is not, we need to keep in mind how others’ lives are affected by the tales we tell."