Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Book Roundup

This week, book reviewers are reflecting on Jonah Lehrer’s new book, “second chances” in the book world, and the extent to which the publishers (who, per The Guardian, “love books that tell clear, simple stories sprinkled with cutting-edge science” can be held to blame for his misdeeds). While this could be as an interesting set of issues for legal historians and writers in general, there are more pertinent reviews afoot as well.

The LA Times carries a review of Geoffrey Cowan’s account of the country’s first primary season in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt challenged his former protégé William Howard Taft with a “gambit” that involved selecting delegates from each state. The review draws more from today’s primary contest (“if Roosevelt was Trump, then Taft was Jeb”) that historians of Roosevelt and turn of the century politics, and should be of interest to a wide group of readers.
In the NYRB, Jerry Brown discusses William J. Perry, the US Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997, whose My Journey at the Nuclear Brink argues that nuclear danger is “growing greater every year” and that even a single nuclear detonation “could destroy our way of life.” In the same publication, Paul Krugman reviews a new book by Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England. While the book is “devoted to ‘economic ideas.’” It is also “rich in wide-ranging historical detail.”

In Dissent, editor Timothy Shenk interviews Caitlin Fitz about Our Sister Republics, which “exhumes a forgotten moment in the history of the Americas, a time when residents of the newly formed United States came to see Latin Americans as partners in a shared revolutionary experiment.”

This week’s reviews may be of particular interest to legal historians concerned with nationalism, migration and global contact. In an essay in The Nation, John Connolly reviews Tara Zahra’s The Great Departure: Mass Migration From Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World, which follows the almost 58 million people left Europe for North and South America between 1846 and 1940 as well as the ethno-nationalist politics prompted by their departure. The book was reviewed heavily earlier this year, including in the Chicago Tribune and Foreign Affairs. Readers of Zahra’s book may also be interested in Vanessa Ogle’s The Global Transformation of Time: 1870-1950, which is featured on the New Books Network podcast.

The Wall Street Journal contains a series of interesting reviews (including one of June Teufel Dreyer’s “Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun” and one of “Love Canal: A Toxic History From Colonial Times to the Present” by Richard S. Newman), but these are behind a paywall.

And finally, in PopMatters Jedd Beaudoin reviews Deborah L. Rhode’s Adultery: Infidelity and the Law.