Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday book roundup

Too hot to go to that conference?  Or pick up the draft of that essay?  Or, let alone, go for that run!?   Legal historians looking to beat the heat will enjoy these book reviews.

In The Guardian, Colin Kidd reviews Continental Drift by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, a diplomat in the US State Department and former academic. In this history of Britain’s uneasy relationship with European unity projects since WWII, Grob-Fitzgibbon “emphasises the ways in which the empire and Commonwealth influenced Britain’s relationship with the European project.” 

In the same publication, Julia Lovell examines The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History 1962-1976, which is final volume in Frank Dikotter’s history of communism in China reveals the brutality and caprice of Mao's final years. Dikotter makes “more intensive use of evidence drawn from China’s local archives,” which many historians have ignored. He explores the capitalist aspects of the Cultural Revolution, and tracks growth of a private economy during the 1970s, “China’s reddest decade.” (Dikotter describes ’70s China--albeit more briefly--in this month’s issue of History Today).

In the Times Literary Supplement, Mark Roseman reviews Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949, by the late historian David Cesarani. Cesarani not only “incorporates a wide swathe of recent work into an accessible narrative” but illustrates the “shifting, often unanticipated, and improvised character of anti-Jewish policies,” making it a text of interest for legal historians of mid-century Europe and the Holocaust.

John Strausbaugh’s “City of Sedition” is reviewed by Harold Holzer in the Wall St. Journal,. The book chronicles New York City’s city’s “violent” opposition to Lincoln, Unionism and emancipation. Strausbaugh, says Holzer, “finds the roots of its disloyalty sowed in a zeal for pre-war, conscience-free commerce with the South, which spawned a convenient moral indifference to slavery, which was nourished by blatant racism.” The book is also reviewed in the New York Times, Vice and Newsweek, which carries an excerpt. Legal historians of a naval persuasion might enjoy the Journal’s review of George C. Daughan’s Revolution on the Hudson and Eric Lee’s Operation Basalt: The British Raid on Sark and Hitler's Commando Order.

Also in the New York Times, one can read about Carlos M. N. Eire’s Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 and Jeffrey Toobin’s book about Patty Hearst. Want another take on Toobin, Hearst and the “the madness of the ’70s”? Kate Tuttle reviews the book in the LA Times, and in The New Republic, Malcolm Harris wonders why Toobin “refuses to take her radical beliefs seriously.”
Legal historians may also enjoy the New Books Network’s coverage of two new books on voting and voting rights in America (Zachary Roth’s The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy and Ciara Torres-Spelliscy’s Corporate Citizen? An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State) might be of interest to some legal historians.

H-Net has reviews of Elie Podeh’s Chances for Peace: Missed Opportunities in the Arab-Israeli Conflict; Stephen M. Saideman, R. William Ayres. For Kin or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism, and War, and Security: Dialogue across Disciplines, edited by Philippe Bourbeau.

Finally, The Huffington Post’s Suggested Reading List for Donald Trump includes submissions from legal historian Robert W. Gordon (who says “I’m thinking of Edmund Morris’ three-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt … and of James MacGregor Burns’ biography of Franklin Roosevelt”). The impending election also looms large in Max Bloom’s review of Harold H. Bruff’s Untrodden Ground: How Presidents Interpret the Constitution.