Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Book Review Roundup

“Sugar is bad,” we learn from the Guardian’s review of James Walvin’s Sugar. But don’t worry, legal historians, there’s a(n?) historical angle to what may sound like another volume
of this year's dieting dogma. According to the Guardian, “the book is an informative history of sugar’s rise from a luxury to a staple, and its ubiquity in modern diets.” The broadness of this anti-sugar screed might be its downfall, though: Walvin “becomes so distracted by bodies – toothless bodies, whipped bodies, fat bodies – that he cannot keep pace with the increasing complexity and deepening inequality of the world sugar helped to make.” 

The Guardian also features a review of Long Road from Jarrow: A Journey Through Britain Then and Now by Stuart Maconie, a history of 1936 Jarrow Crusade, which becomes a “social commentary reflecting on the parallels between the 1930s and today.” Finally, David Olusoga reviews the Fear and the Freedom:How the Second World War Changed Us, Keith Lowe’s “highly readable” history of WWII, which pushes against the “critical delusion” that “this war, more perhaps than any in history, was a “good war”, fought against an ultimate evil for entirely laudable aims.” Among other things, he eviscerates the viewpoint of Yvette Lévy, a Jewish inmate of a Nazi labour camp who “saw little to distinguish the conduct of her various liberators.”

In the London Review of Books, Andrew Bacevich covers The General v. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands, which, according to Bacevich, treats the conflict as “seemingly sui generis,” rather than a “challenge inherent in reconciling democratic practice with the exercise of militarised global leadership.” Which sitting president might evince the timelessness of this challenge? Legal historians, you will have to read the review yourself.

In the NY Times, Robert Reich reviews two books on inequality: The Fate of the West: The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea (by Bill Emmott), and One Another’s Equals: The Basis of Human Equality (by Jeremy Waldron). From both books, he derives that “the culprit is not economic inequality per se. It is the political inequality that economic inequality can spawn.” In the same publication, Elizabeth Hinton reviews three books about race and policing, including works by David O. Brown (Dallas Police Chief) with Michelle Burford, Paul Butler, and an edited volume by Angela J. Davis. Both the edited volume and Butler’s work highlight race jurisprudence of the last fifty years. Viewing these developments historically--and including an analysis of post-Reconstruction racial policies, convict leasing and Jim Crow--Butler underscores the hollowness of these reforms: “Civil Rights laws have helped stigmatize discrimination,” he writes, “but have barely blunted its effect.” Butler’s book is reviewed in the Washington Post, as well.

Even in the middle of summer, the New Books Network is hard at work churning out interviews with academic writers that may be of interest to legal historians. Looking to stock up on podcasts for a road trip or beach run. You may be especially interested in several volumes about the history of racial identity, immigration, and nation-building. Check these out: