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Call Number: Received Not Yet Cataloged-Grant Book
Publication Date: Washington, D.C.: Lawfare Pr., 2020. xi, 422 p.
Reviewed: NYT 10 Sept. 2021 p. A13 (referenced) Description: In this book, Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith provide a comprehensive roadmap for reform of the presidency in the post-Trump era. In fourteen chapters they offer more than fifty concrete proposals concerning presidential conflicts of interest, foreign influence on elections, pardon power abuse, assaults on the press, law enforcement independence, Special Counsel procedures, FBI investigations of presidents and presidential campaigns, the role of the White House Counsel, war powers, control of nuclear weapons, executive branch vacancies, domestic emergency powers, how one administration should examine possible crimes by the president of a prior administration, and more. (publ.) Author Note: Bob Bauer served from 2010-2011 as White House Counsel to President Barack Obama, who in 2013 named Bauer to be Co-Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. He is a Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law, as well as the co-director of its Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic. Jack Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003. He is the Learned Hand Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury, 2021. xiv, 368 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 1 Feb. 2021 p. 60. Description: Democracy was broken. Or that was what many Americans believed in the decades after the Civil War. Shaken by economic and technological disruption, they sought safety in aggressive, tribal partisanship. The results were the loudest, closest, most violent elections in U.S. history, driven by vibrant campaigns that drew our highest-ever voter turnouts. At the century’s end, reformers finally restrained this wild system, trading away participation for civility in the process. The result was a calmer, cleaner democracy, but also a more distant one. Americans’ voting rates crashed and never recovered. This is the origin story of the “normal” politics of the 20th century. Only by exploring where that civility and restraint came from can we understand what is happening to our democracy today. The Age of Acrimony charts the rise and fall of 19th-century America’s unruly politics through the lives of a remarkable father-daughter dynasty. The radical congressman William “Pig Iron” Kelley and his fiery, Progressive daughter Florence Kelley led lives packed with drama, intimately tied to their nation’s politics. Through their friendships and feuds, campaigns and crusades, Will and Florie trace the narrative of a democracy in crisis. In telling the tale of what it cost to cool our republic, historian Jon Grinspan reveals our divisive political system’s enduring capacity to heal itself.
Publication Date: New York: Little, Brown, 2021. 320 p.
Reviewed: PW 22 Mar. 2021 p.77. Description: Throughout history society has determined specific rules of engagement between adversaries in armed conflict. With advances in technology, from armor to in the Middle Ages to nerve gas in World War I to weapons of mass destruction in our own time, the rules have constantly evolved. Today, when killing the enemy can seem palpably risk-free and tantamount to playing a violent video game, what constitutes warfare? What is the effect of remote combat on individual soldiers? And what are the unforeseen repercussions that could affect us all? Lt. Col. Wayne Phelps, former commander of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft unit, addresses these questions and many others as he tells the story of the men and women of today’s “chair force.” Exploring the ethics of remote military engagement, the misconceptions about PTSD among RPA operators, and the specter of military weaponry controlled by robots, his book is an urgent and compelling reminder that it should always be difficult to kill another human being lest we risk losing what makes us human.
Publication Date: Boston: Mariner Books/HarperCollins, 2021. viii, 422 p.
Reviewed: FA Jan/Feb 2022 p. 194. Description: Foreign policy expert and key impeachment witness Fiona Hill reveals how declining opportunity has set America on the grim path of modern Russia–and shows how we can return hope to our forgotten places. In this deeply personal account, she shares what she has learned, and explains that only by expanding opportunity can we save our democracy. Fiona Hill grew up in a world of terminal decay. The last of the local mines had closed, businesses were shuttering, and despair was etched in the faces around her. Her father urged her to get out of their blighted corner of Northern England: “There is nothing for you here, pet,” he said. The coal-miner’s daughter managed to go further than he ever could have dreamed. She studied in Moscow and at Harvard, became an American citizen, and served three US presidents. But in the heartlands of both Russia and the United States, she saw troubling reflections of her hometown and similar populist impulses. By the time she offered her brave testimony in the first impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Hill knew that the desperation of forgotten people was driving American politics over the brink–and that we were running out of time to save ourselves from Russia’s fate. In this powerful, deeply personal account, she shares what she has learned and shows why expanding opportunity is the only long-term hope for our democracy. Author Note: From 2017 to 2019, Fiona Hill served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. From 2006 to 2009, she served as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council.
In They Don't Represent Us, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig charts the way in which the fundamental institutions of our democracy, including our media, respond to narrow interests rather than to the needs and wishes of the nation's citizenry. But the blame does not only lie with "them"--Washington's politicians and power brokers, Lessig argues. The problem is also "us." "We the people" are increasingly uninformed about the issues, while ubiquitous political polling exacerbates the problem, reflecting and normalizing our ignorance and feeding it back into the system as representative of our will. What we need, Lessig contends, is a series of reforms, from governmental institutions to the public itself, including: A move immediately to public campaign funding, leading to more representative candidates A reformed Electoral College, that gives the President a reason to represent America as a whole A federal standard to end partisan gerrymandering in the states; A radically reformed Senate A federal penalty on states that don't secure to their people an equal freedom to vote Institutions that empower the people to speak in an informed and deliberative way.
Call Number: Received Not Yet Cataloged-Grant Book
Publication Date: Brooklyn, N.Y.: Verso Books, 2020. 328 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 15 Jan. 2021 p. 22. Description: In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman prize, the world’s leading environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded dam on a river sacred to her indigenous Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead. Lakhani tracked Cáceres’s remarkable career in the face of years of threats as friends and colleagues in Honduras were killed defending basic rights; the journalist endured threats and harassment herself as a result of investigating the murder. She was the only foreign journalist to attend the 2018 trial of Cáceres’s killers, where state security officials, employees of the dam company and hired hitmen were found guilty of her murder. Many questions about who ordered and paid for the killing remain unanswered. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews, confidential legal filings, and company documents during years of reporting in Honduras, Lakhani paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman in a state beholden to corporate powers, organized crime, and the United States. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2020. 531 p.
Reviewed: LRB 21 May 2021 p. 3. Description: Every four years, millions of Americans wonder why they choose their presidents through the Electoral College, an arcane institution that permits the loser of the popular vote to become president and narrows campaigns to swing states. Most Americans would prefer a national popular vote, and Congress has attempted on many occasions to alter or scuttle the Electoral College. Several of these efforts-one as recently as 1970-came very close to winning approval. Yet this controversial system remains. Alexander Keyssar explains its persistence. After tracing the Electoral College’s tangled origins at the Constitutional Convention, he explores the efforts from 1800 to 2019 to abolish or significantly reform it, showing why each has thus far failed. Reasons include the tendency of political parties to elevate partisan advantage above democratic values, the difficulty of passing constitutional amendments, and, especially, the impulse to preserve white supremacy in the South, which led to the region’s prolonged backing of the Electoral College. The most common explanation–that small states have blocked reform for fear of losing influence–has only occasionally been true. Keyssar examines why reform of the Electoral College has received so little attention from Congress for the last forty years, as well as alternatives to congressional action such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and state efforts to eliminate winner-take-all.
Publication Date: New York: Harper, 2020. viii, 545 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 20 Dec. 2020 p. 13. Description: A groundbreaking reassessment of America’s place in the world, drawing from McMaster’s long engagement with these issues, including 34 years of service in the U.S. Army with multiple tours of duty in battlegrounds overseas and his 13 months as National Security Advisor in the Trump White House. It is also a powerful call for Americans and citizens of the free world to transcend the vitriol of partisan political discourse, better educate themselves about the most significant challenges to national and international security and work together to secure peace and prosperity for future generations. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Pr. of Harvard UP, 2020. 416 p.
Description: The US Constitution never established a presidential cabinet–the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government? On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries–Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph–for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the US Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own. Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges–and finding congressional help lacking–Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions. Lindsay M. Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch. (publ.)
In 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer delivered a heart-wrenching testimony before the Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee. In this speech, Hamer represented both the concerns of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the limits of American democracy when she proclaimed: "I question America. Is this the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily? Because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?" This is the speech that sent President Lyndon B. Johnson into a state of outright panic, as he diverted the media's attention away from Hamer's stinging indictment of the nation he led. This is the speech that left most Credentials Committee members in tears. Once Hamer's life path intersected with the mid-century Civil Rights Movement, she spent fifteen years (1962-1977) traveling from the South to the North--and even to the West Coast of Africa--advocating civil rights, economic justice, and interracial cooperation. Hamer shared the platform with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, who introduced her to an audience in Harlem as "the country's number one freedom fighting woman." This accessible biography will enrich public memory about Hamer by telling not only the significant story of her riveting testimony, but also by recounting a life filled with triumphs, tragedies, and accompanying lessons for contemporary audiences.
From its origins in the 1750s, the white-led American abolitionist movement adhered to principles of "moral suasion" and nonviolent resistance as both religious tenet and political strategy. But by the 1850s, the population of enslaved Americans had increased exponentially, and such legislative efforts as the Fugitive Slave Act and the Supreme Court's 1857 ruling in the Dred Scott case effectively voided any rights black Americans held as enslaved or free people. As conditions deteriorated for African Americans, black abolitionist leaders embraced violence as the only means of shocking Northerners out of their apathy and instigating an antislavery war. In Force and Freedom, Kellie Carter Jackson provides the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists. Force and Freedom takes readers beyond the honorable politics of moral suasion and the romanticism of the Underground Railroad and into an exploration of the agonizing decisions, strategies, and actions of the black abolitionists who, though lacking an official political voice, were nevertheless responsible for instigating monumental social and political change.
Publication Date: Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Pr., 2018. 205 p.
Reviewed: CHE 14 Jan. 2021 (reference) Description: This work shows that changing scientific ideas about racial difference were central to the academic study of politics as it emerged in the United States. From the late nineteenth century through the 1930s, scholars of politics defined and continually reoriented their field in response to the political imperatives of the racial order at home and abroad as well to as the vagaries of race science. The Gilded Age scholars who founded the first university departments and journals located sovereignty and legitimacy in a “Teutonic Germ” of liberty planted in the new world by Anglo-Saxon settlers and almost extinguished in the conflict over slavery. Within a generation, “Teutonism” would come to seem like philosophical speculation, but well into the twentieth century, major political scientists understood racial difference to be a fundamental shaper of political life. … By tracing this history, Jessica Blatt effects a bold reinterpretation of the origins of U.S. political science, one that embeds that history in larger processes of the coproduction of racial ideas, racial oppression, and political knowledge. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020. 456 p.
Reviewed: NYT 6 Dec. 2020 p. SR 10 (author op/ed). Description: Deep and accelerating inequality; unprecedented political polarization; vitriolic public discourse; a fraying social fabric; public and private narcissism–Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: This is the worst of times ... but we’ve been here before. During the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarized, and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. As the twentieth century opened, America became more egalitarian, more cooperative, more generous; a society on the upswing, more focused on our responsibilities to one another and less focused on our narrower self-interest. Sometime during the 1960s these trends reversed, leaving us in today's disarray. Putnam analyzes the confluence of trends that brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again. (publ.)
Publication Date: Brooklyn, N.Y.: Verso Books, 2020. 328 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 15 Jan. 2021 p. 22. Description: In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman prize, the world’s leading environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded dam on a river sacred to her indigenous Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead. Lakhani tracked Cáceres’s remarkable career in the face of years of threats as friends and colleagues in Honduras were killed defending basic rights; the journalist endured threats and harassment herself as a result of investigating the murder. She was the only foreign journalist to attend the 2018 trial of Cáceres’s killers, where state security officials, employees of the dam company and hired hitmen were found guilty of her murder. Many questions about who ordered and paid for the killing remain unanswered. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews, confidential legal filings, and company documents during years of reporting in Honduras, Lakhani paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman in a state beholden to corporate powers, organised crime, and the United States. (publ.)
Why They Marched is a tribute to the many women who worked tirelessly in communities across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and insisting on their right to full citizenship. Ware tells her story through the lives of nineteen activists, most of whom have long been overlooked. We also see the many places where the suffrage movement unfolded in church parlors, meeting rooms, and the halls of Congress, but also on college campuses and even at the top of Mount Rainier. Few corners of the United States were untouched by suffrage activism. Ware's deeply moving stories provide a fresh account of one of the most significant moments of political mobilization in American history. The dramatic, often joyous experiences of these women resonate powerfully today, as a new generation of young women demands to be heard.
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 175 p.
Note: Library Standing Order. Description: Ever since Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, Islamist group Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have created conflicts with Israel. In 2007, Israel instituted a blockade of the Gaza Strip, restricting border crossings and access to necessities such as food, water, and power. Israel maintains that the intent of the blockade is to eliminate Hamas’s ability to launch rockets into Israel. The Palestinians charge that the blockade effectively weakens Hamas and constitutes suffering and human rights violations among Gaza’s citizens. In this informative and provocative resource, essay authors share their unique perspectives on this contentious issue. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Publishing, 2020. 128 p.
Note: Library standing order. Description: From campaigning for politicians, to speaking out on political issues, to running for public office, celebrities around the world have long played an active role in politics. Their presence in the public sphere often helps them make this leap, but is the fact that we recognize their names and faces enough to make them trustworthy political figures? The diverse viewpoints in this volume explore what role celebrities should play in politics, discuss the phenomenon of making the transition from celebrity to politician, and investigate the place of contemporary media culture in this pattern. (publ.)
Note: Library standing order. Description: This volume takes a closer look at America’s evolving ideas about the nature and value of the democratic system. A select collection of primary and secondary sources provide viewpoints and arguments on the issue of democracy’s past, present, and future, and will cover issues like the rise and fall of American socialism, the evolution of patriotism, and views on how America’s political system embodies and fails to embody democratic ideals. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2019. x, 270 p.
Description: What do we owe those in our communities? What do we owe strangers? In a sense, those who vie for political office locally and nationally do so, at least in part, from duty and obligation to their fellow citizens, to many they do not know and may never meet. In a democratic society, those who wish to participate in politics have the unbridled freedom to do exactly that. But by the same logic, we also have the freedom not to participate: the freedom not to care to be heard at all. Not so, says Julia Maskivker: such logic collapses when applied to the act of voting. Not only should we vote if we can–we must vote. Even when confronted with two unappealing candidates, or with ballot propositions whose effects we will barely feel, or with the fact that our single vote might never tip an election, we must vote. We have a duty of conscience to vote with care when doing so comes at so small a cost. Maskivker, a political theorist and philosopher, argues that those fortunate to live in democratic societies with freely elected leaders all share, simply, a moral obligation to vote. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019. 352 p.
Reviewed: PW 10 Dec. 2018 p. 94. Description: Americans once had a coherent and clear understanding of political tyranny, one crafted by Thomas Jefferson and updated for the industrial age by Louis Brandeis. A concentration of power, whether in the hands of a military dictator or a JP Morgan, was understood as autocratic and dangerous to individual liberty and democracy. This idea stretched back to the country’s founding. In the 1930s, people observed that the Great Depression was caused by financial concentration in the hands of a few whose misuse of their power induced a financial collapse. They drew on this tradition to craft the New Deal. Matt Stoller explains how authoritarianism and populism have returned to American politics for the first time in eighty years, as the outcome of the 2016 election shook our faith in democratic institutions. The true effects of populism, a shrinking middle class, and concentrated financial wealth are only just beginning to manifest themselves under the current administrations. The lessons of Stoller’s study will only grow more relevant as time passes. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury, 2019. xvi, 274 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 28 Oct. 2019 p. 95 Description: Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Ceausescu, Mengistu of Ethiopia and Duvalier of Haiti. No dictator can rule through fear and violence alone. Naked power can be grabbed and held temporarily, but it never suffices in the long term. A tyrant who can compel his own people to acclaim him will last longer. The paradox of the modern dictator is that he must create the illusion of popular support. Throughout the twentieth century, hundreds of millions of people were condemned to enthusiasm, obliged to hail their leaders even as they were herded down the road to serfdom. Frank Dikötter returns to eight of the most chillingly effective personality cults of the twentieth century. From carefully choreographed parades to the deliberate cultivation of a shroud of mystery through iron censorship, these dictators ceaselessly worked on their own image and encouraged the population at large to glorify them. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 200 p.
Description: People around the world move from their homes for different reasons. Some seek opportunity. Others are fleeing dangerous conditions or have been displaced by environmental disasters. How welcoming should countries be toward immigrants and refugees, and what value do such migrants add to their new surroundings? The diverse viewpoints in this re-source explore the benefits and shortcomings of strict immigration policies and open borders, how immigrants can sustain countries and how they can create larger problems, and what the international community is or is not obligated to do to help. (publ.) Note: Library standing order.
Publication Date: New York: All Points Books, 2020. 304 p.
Reviewed: PW 23 Dec. 2020 p. 94; NYT 15 Mar. 2020 p. SR2 (author op/ed). Description: A radical spirit of change has overtaken American politics, making once-unthinkable reforms-like abolishing the Electoral College seem possible. Two of the last five elections were won by candidates who lost the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire electoral system into question. Political passions are already high, and they will reach a boiling point as we enter the 2020 race. The message from the American people is clear: we need major reform, and we need it now. New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman makes a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College, and choosing presidents based on a national popular vote. He uncovers the Electoral College’s controversial origins, profiles the many attempts to reform it over the years, and ex-plains why it is now essential for us to remove this obsolete system and finally make every citizen’s vote matter. Wegman addresses objections from both sides of the aisle and presents an argument that moving toward a national popular vote would reduce voter apathy and political polarization, increase voter turnout, and restore belief in our democratic system. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 128 p.
Description: One of the tenets of democracy is that everyone has a voice in decision making and that the decisions made are what the majority wants. Many argue that wisdom of the crowd prevails in democracies, but are political decisions actually reached by a clear consensus, or does angry factionalism prevent this? Does irrational mob rule cause people to gang together and lash out against the opposition? Are the majority of citizens satisfied with the political situation? This volume explores whether political organization is possible without the force of mob rule, as well as how contemporary political events fit into this debate. (publ.) Note: Library standing order.
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2019. 352 p.
Description: You can hardly pass through customs at an airport today without having your picture taken and your fingertips scanned, that information then stored in an archive you’ll never see. Nor can you use your home’s smart technology without wondering what, exactly, that technology might do with all you’ve shared with it: shopping habits, security decisions, media choices. Every day, Americans surrender their private information to entities that claim to have their best interests in mind, in exchange for a promise of safety or convenience. This trade-off has long been taken for granted, but the extent of its nefariousness has recently become much clearer. The problem is not so much that data will be used in ways we don’t want, but rather how willing we have been to have our information used, abused, and sold right back to us. …Cappello shows that this state of affairs was not the inevitable by-product of technological progress. … Americans have had numerous opportunities to protect the public good while simultaneously safeguarding our information, and have squandered them every time. The wide range of the debates and incidents presented here shows that, despite America’s endless rhetoric of individual freedom, they actually have some of the weakest privacy protections in the developed world. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: First Second, 2019. 248 p.
Note: Graphic Novel. Reviewed: Economist 14 Dec. 2019 p. 76. Description: American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more restrictive laws argue the need to protect native citizens. But economist Bryan Caplan adds a new, compelling perspective to the immigration debate: He argues that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy–greatly benefiting humanity. With a clear and conversational tone, exhaustive research, and vibrant illustrations by Zach Weinersmith, Caplan makes the case for unrestricted immigration easy to follow and hard to deny. (publ.)
Publication Date: Boston: Beacon Pr., 2019. xi, 281 p.
Description: Honigsberg conducted 158 interviews across 20 countries so that the people who lived and worked there could tell their heartbreaking and inspirational stories. In each one, we face the reality that the healing process cannot begin until we start the conversation about what was done in the name of protecting our country. These are a few of them. Many alleged operatives in Guantánamo were purchased by the United States for ransom from Afghan and Pakistani soldiers. Brandon Neely, a prison guard who processed the first group of suspected operatives to arrive in Cuba, flew to London to embrace the detainees he guarded after leaving the military. Navy whistleblower Matt Diaz covertly released the names of 500 detainees by sending them in a greeting card to a lawyer in New York. Journalist Carol Rosenberg committed the past 17 years of her career to documenting life at Guantánamo. And Damien Corsetti, an interrogator who came to be known as the “King of Torture,” received ribbons and awards for the same cruel actions for which he was later prosecuted. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Opinions Throughout History] Amenia, N.Y.: Greyhouse, 2020. 400 p.
Description: This volume looks at how American presidents have used the power of the presidency not only to shape America’s domestic and foreign policy, but also for personal gain. Through the lens of presidential personality, chapters show individual approaches to the office, how the exercise of power is affected by partisan competition, economic and civil unrest, and the evolving perception of constitutional principles. Primary documents from periodicals, court cases, executive orders, and the personal correspondence of presidents, presidential advisors, friends, and critics, provide a window in-to how each president viewed his role and used his power. The work demonstrates how public perception of the office has changed and how this perception has enhanced or curtailed presidential power. The reader starts with a detailed introduction that highlights the unique characteristics of the U.S. presidency as defined by the Framers of the Constitution and briefly outlining the development and expansion of the executive office. A comprehensive historical timeline follows, highlighting significant events related to presidential authority from the election of George Washington in 1789 to the impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 2019. 275 p. ISBN 9781250159052 (hc)
Reviewed: TLS 9 Aug. 2019 p. 3. Description: A riveting tour through the landscape and meaning of modern conspiracy theories, exploring the causes and tenacity of this American malady, from Birthers to Pizzagate and beyond. American society has always been fertile ground for conspiracy theories, but with the election of Donald Trump, previously outlandish ideas suddenly attained legitimacy. Trump himself is a conspiracy enthusiast: from his claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax to the accusations of “fake news,” he has fanned the flames of suspicion. But it was not by the power of one man alone that these ideas gained new power. … Without lending the theories validity, Anna Merlan gives a nuanced, sympathetic account of the people behind them, across the political spectrum, and the circumstances that helped them take hold. The lack of a social safety net, inadequate education, bitter culture wars, and years of economic insecurity have created large groups of people who feel forgot-ten by their government and even besieged by it. Our contemporary conditions are a perfect petri dish for conspiracy movements: a durable, per-manent, elastic climate of alienation and resentment. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Culture and Politics in the Cold War and Beyond Ser.] Am-herst: U. Mass. Pr., 2019. viii, 209 p.
Description: The Iraqi city of Fallujah has become an epicenter of geopolitical conflict, where foreign powers and non-state actors have repeatedly waged war in residential neighborhoods with staggering humanitarian consequences. This is the first comprehensive study of the three recent sieges of this city, including those by the United States in 2004 and the Iraqi-led operation to defeat ISIS in 2016. Unlike dominant military accounts that focus on American soldiers and U.S. leaders and perpetuate the myth that the United States “liberated” the city, this book argues that Fallujah was destroyed by coalition forces, leaving public health crises, political destabilization, and mass civilian casualties in their wake. This meticulously re-searched account cuts through the propaganda to uncover the lived experiences of Fallujans under siege and occupation, and contextualizes these events within a broader history of U.S. policy in the Middle East. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 176 p.
Note: Library Standing Order. Description: When considering the damage caused by the hard power of military intervention, soft power comes across as an appealing alternative. Soft power depends on diplomatically appealing to others to gain favor and influence rather than using coercive force, offering a more peaceful means of engaging in international relations. However, whether soft power is as effective as hard power and how it can be achieved is a source of debate. Through the diverse perspectives in this volume, readers will gain an understanding of the differing perspectives on soft power's efficacy as a political strategy and the ways it can be implemented. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare] New York: Columbia UP, 2019. viii, 274 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 16 Jan. 2020 p. 40. Description: When President Barack Obama announced the assassination of Osama bin Laden, many Americans hoped the killing of al-Qaida’s leader would sound the death knell for the organization. Since 9/11, killing and capturing terrorist leaders has been a central element in U.S. counterterrorism strategy. This practice, known as leadership decapitation, is based on the logic that removing key figures will disrupt the organization and contribute to its ultimate failure. Yet many scholars have argued that targeted killings are ineffective or counterproductive, questioning whether taking out a terror network’s leaders causes more problems than it solves. Bryan C. Price offers a rich, data-driven examination of leadership decapitation tactics, providing theoretical and empirical explanations of the conditions under which they can be successful. Analyzing hundreds of cases of leadership turnover from over two hundred terrorist groups, Price demonstrates that although the tactic may result in short-term negative side effects, the loss of top leaders significantly reduces terror groups’ life spans. He explains vital questions such as: What factors make some terrorist groups more vulnerable than others? Is it better to kill or capture terrorist leaders? How does leadership decapitation compare to other counterterrorism options? (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 200 p.
Note: Library Standing Order. Description: With the introduction of significant tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018 and the resultant talk of a trade war between the United States and China, the questions of whether tariffs are an effective means of political influence, what effect they will have on the domestic and global economy, and how they will ultimately impact the future of trade have become sources of contention. This volume explores opposing perspectives on tariffs and trade wars, offering context on historical tariffs and global trade and projections of the potential impacts of tariffs and trade wars going for-ward. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. vii, 249 p.
Reviewed: LR June 2019 p. 12. Description: Not since the early twentieth century has liberalism, and liberals, been under such relentless attack, from both right and left. The crisis of democracy in our era has produced a crisis of faith in liberal institutions and, even worse, in liberal thought. This book is a manifesto rooted in the lives of people who invented and extended the liberal tradition. Taking us from Montaigne to Mill, and from Middlemarch to the civil rights movement, Adam Gopnik argues that liberalism is not a form of centrism, nor simply another word for free markets, nor merely a term denoting a set of rights. It is something far more ambitious: the search for radical change by humane measures. Gopnik shows us why liberalism is one of the great moral adventures in human history-and why, in an age of autocracy, our lives may depend on its continuation. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 200 p.
Note: Library Standing Order. Description: Highly publicized cases involving whistleblowers including Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and WikiLeaks have brought whistle-blowing to the public’s attention in recent years. It has gained further attention in the “Me Too” era, as whistleblowers have exposed numerous cases of misconduct among powerful men in the entertainment industry and beyond. Whether whistleblowing is an inherently positive practice and how whistleblowers should be protected and compensated for their deeds are widely debated. Through diverse perspectives from authoritative voices, readers will gain an understanding of the practice of whistleblowing, the laws related to it, and its place in democratic society. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2019. 290 p.
Reviewed: NYT 7 Oct. 2019 p. A27 (author op/ed.) Description: Misconduct by those in high places is always dangerous to reveal. Whistle-blowers thus face conflicting impulses: by challenging and exposing transgressions by the powerful, they perform a vital public service–yet they always suffer for it. This episodic history brings to light how whistleblowing, an important but unrecognized cousin of civil disobedience, has held powerful elites accountable in America. Analyzing a range of whistleblowing episodes, from the corrupt Revolutionary War commodore Esek Hopkins (whose dismissal led in 1778 to the first whistleblower protection law) to Edward Snowden, to the dishonesty of Donald Trump, Allison Stanger reveals the centrality of whistleblowing to the health of American democracy. She also shows that with changing technology and increasing militarization, the exposure of misconduct has grown more difficult to do and more personally costly for those who do it–yet American freedom, especially today, depends on it. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. vii, 313 p.
Reviewed: LJ June 2019 p. 136; NYRB 26 Sept. 2019 p. 38. Description: Why is it so much easier for the Democratic Party to win the national popular vote than to build and maintain a majority in Congress? Why can Democrats sweep statewide offices in places like Pennsylvania and Michigan yet fail to take control of the same states’ legislatures? Many place exclusive blame on partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression. But as political scientist Jonathan A. Rodden demonstrates, the left’s electoral challenges have deeper roots in economic and political geography. In the late nineteenth century, support for the left began to cluster in cities among the industrial working class. Today, left-wing parties have become coalitions of diverse urban interest groups, from racial minorities to the creative class. These parties win big in urban districts but struggle to capture the suburban and rural seats necessary for legislative majorities. A bold new interpretation of today’s urban-rural political conflict, this book also points to electoral reforms that could address the left’s under-representation while reducing urban-rural polarization. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Post Hill Pr., 2019. 272 p.
Reviewed: PW 25 Feb. 2019 p. 21. Description: “After my sister Meadow was murdered on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the media obsessed for months about the style of rifle that the killer used. All clickbait and politics. No answers or justice. That wasn’t good enough for me or my dad. My dad is a real tough guy, but Meadow had him wrapped around her little finger. He’d do anything she wanted, and she’d want him to find every answer so that this never happens again. So, my dad teamed up with one of America’s leading education experts to launch his own investigation. We’ve found the answers to the questions no one cared to ask, but you need to know them be-cause they matter for your children. If one single adult in the Broward County School District made one responsible decision about the Parkland shooter, then my sister would be alive. But every bad decision they made makes total sense once you understand the awful policies, which started here in Broward and have spread to your school.” (author fwd.)
Publication Date: Lincoln, Neb.: Patomac Books, 2018. xx, 258 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 11 Nov. 2018 p. 13. Description: In modern warfare no deployment meets the expectations laid down by stories of Appomattox, Ypres, Iwo Jima, or Tet. Stuck behind a desk or the wheel of a truck, many of today’s veterans feel they haven’t even been to war though they may have listened to mortars in the night or dodged improvised explosive devices during the day. When a drone is needed to verify a target’s death or bullets are sprayed like grass seed, military offensives can lack the immediacy that comes with direct contact. After Combat bridges the gap between sensationalized media and reality by telling war’s unvarnished stories. Participating soldiers, sailors, marines, and air force personnel (retired, on leave, or at the beginning of military careers) describe combat in the ways they believe it should be understood. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. 266 p.
Reviewed: TLS 17 Aug. 2018 p. 13. Description: The globe has always been a world of walls, from the Great Wall of China to Hadrian’s Wall to the Berlin Wall. But a new age of isolationism and economic nationalism is upon us, visible not just in Trump’s obsession with building a wall on the Mexico border or in Britain’s Brexit vote but in many other places as well. China has the great Firewall, holding back Western culture. Europe’s countries are walling themselves against immigrants, terrorism, and currency issues. South Africa has heavily gated communities, and massive walls or fences separate people in the Middle East, Korea, Sudan, India, and other places around the world. In fact, at least sixty-five countries, more than a third of the world’s nation-states, have barriers along their borders. There are many reasons why walls go up, because we are divided in many ways: wealth, race, religion, and politics, to name a few. Understanding what is behind these divisions is essential to under-standing much of what’s going on in the world today. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2019. xi, 248 p.
Description: This book explains the ideas, tactics, history, and prominent figures of the so-called Alt-Right, a white nationalist movement that first gained national and international prominence during the 2016 presidential election. It describes this movement’s place in contemporary American life, and how the Alt-Right relates to Donald Trump’s much larger right-wing populist movement. In clear and dispassionate terms, the book explains the degree to which the Alt-Right and other elements of the modern white supremacist movement threaten American democracy. In recent years, the so-called Alt-Right, a white nationalist movement, has grown at an alarming rate. Taking advantage of high levels of racial polarization, the Alt-Right seeks to normalize explicit white identity politics. Growing from a marginalized and disorganized group of Internet trolls and propagandists, the Alt-Right became one of the major news stories of the 2016 presidential election, and exploded into public consciousness after its march through Charlottesville in summer 2017. Discussions of the Alt-Right are now a regular part of political discourse in the United States and beyond. (publ.)
Publication Date: [The Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Lectures Ser.] Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2018. xii, 251 p.
Reviewed: LJ 15 Sept. 2018 p. 67. Description: Of all the grievances driving voters to antiestablishment candidates, the loss of faith in institutions may be the most widely shared–and most justifiable. In fact, “there is not a single American awake to the world who is comfortable with the way things are.” So begins Lawrence Lessig’s sweeping indictment of contemporary American institutions and the corruption that burdens them. We can all see it–from the selling of Congress to special interests to the corporate capture of the academy. There is something wrong that goes deeper than populism and demagoguery. And it’s our fault. What Lessig shows, brilliantly and persuasively, is that we can’t blame the problems of contemporary American life on bad people, as the pundits all too often tend to do. Rather, he explains, “We have allowed core institutions of America's economic, social, and political life to become corrupted. Not by evil souls, but by good souls. Not through crime, but through compromise.” Every one of us, every day, making the modest compromises that seem necessary to keep moving along, is contributing to the rot at the core of American civic life. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2018. 270 p.
Reviewed: LJ 15 Oct. 2018 p. 69. Description: Contrary to popular belief, the poor and huddled masses were never welcome in America. Though the engraving on the base of the Statue of Liberty makes that claim, history reveals a far less-welcoming message. This comprehensive survey of cultural and racial exclusion in the United States examines the legacy of hostility toward immigrants over two centuries. The authors document abuses against Catholics in the early 19th century in response to the influx of German and Irish immigrants; hostility against Mexicans throughout the Southwest, where signs in bars and restaurants read, “No Dogs, No Negros, No Mexicans”; “yellow peril” fears leading to a ban on Chinese immigration for ten years; punitive measures against Native Americans traditions, which became punishable by fines and hard labor; the persecution of German Americans during World War I and Japanese Americans during World War II; the refusal to admit Jewish refugees of the Holocaust; and the ongoing legacy of mistreating African Americans from slavery to the injustices of the present day. Though the authors note that the United States has accepted tens of millions of immigrants during its relatively short existence, its troubling history of persecution is often overlooked. President Donald Trump’s targeting of Muslim and Mexican immigrants is just the most recent chapter in a long, sad history of social panics about “evil” foreigners who are made scapegoats due to their ethnicity or religious beliefs. (publ.)
Publication Date: San Francisco, Calif.: Last Gasp, 2017. 136 p.
Description: Documents some of the key events of US and western intervention in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Through the medium of the graphic novel, this often esoteric history is made more accessible to a wider number of people. Using words and pictures, the author exposes the misuse and abuse of power. This book is a challenge to American foreign policy and those who promote its expansionist history and agenda. Toufic El Rassi was born in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war and immigrated to the United States as a child. He has taught Middle East history and now teaches Humanities at Oakton Community College and painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Note: Graphic novel.
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2018. 368 p.
Reviewed: LR May 2018 p. 37; NYRB 25 Oct. 2018 p. 46; Choice (Feb. 2019 vol. 56 no. 6) Recommended for community college libraries. Description: Sarah Churchwell offers a surprising account of twentieth-century Americans’ fierce battle for the nation’s soul. It follows the stories of two phrases–the “American dream” and “America First”–that once embodied opposing visions for America. Starting as a Republican motto before becoming a hugely influential isolationist slogan during World War I, America First was always closely linked with authoritarianism and white supremacy. The American dream, meanwhile, initially represented a broad vision of democratic and economic equality. Churchwell traces these notions through the 1920s boom, the Depression, and the rise of fascism at home and abroad, laying bare the persistent appeal of demagoguery in America and showing us how it was resisted. (publ.)
Publication Date: Oxford, England: The New Internationalist, 2018. 288 p.
Reviewed: TLS 19 Oct. 2018 p. 40. Description: The headlines about Europe’s migration crisis have now subsided, though they continue to influence the political agenda all over the continent. Though there are moments when the human reality cuts through, as with the shocking picture of Alan Kurdi’s body on the beach, for the most part the individual stories are lost amid the hysteria over cutting migrant numbers and shutting the doors of Fortress Europe. Award-winning journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai specializes in communicating poignant human stories that many people find it convenient to keep out of sight and out of mind. She travels to meet migrants and asylum-seekers who have just been washed up on the shores of Lampedusa or Sicily and have been absorbed into dismal reception camps. While journalists ordinarily pitch up in such places and file their colour pieces before moving on to the next hot topic, Hsiao-Hung follows through, staying in touch with some of those she encounters–many of them children–throughout their journeys: into mainland Italy, to Germany where they face harassment from far-right groups, and to the ap-palling conditions in the camps on the coast of northwest France. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2019. 198 p.
Description: Even before the controversy of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it was clear that the nation’s political campaign system is deeply flawed. With political action committees, special interest groups, and ultra-wealthy donors buying and selling candidates, Americans end up with representatives who may be more beholden to top donors than to the American people. Would campaign finance reform level the playing field and give Americans the best candidates for the job, or is it a losing proposition that we must accept? The opposing perspectives in this volume will encourage readers to make up their own minds on this polarizing issue. (publ.) Note: Library Standing Order.
Publication Date: New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018. 320 p.
Reviewed: LJ 15 Apr. 2018 p. 45; NYT/BR 16 Sept. 2018 p. 30; NYRB 17 Jan. 2019 p. 24. Description: Today, democracy is the worlds only broadly accepted political system, and yet it has become synonymous with disappointment and crisis. How did it come to this? In this book, James Miller, the author of the classic history of 1960s protest Democracy Is in the Streets, offers a lively, surprising, and urgent history of the democratic idea from its first stirrings to the present. As he shows, democracy has always been rife with inner tensions. The ancient Greeks preferred to choose leaders by lottery and regarded elections as inherently corrupt and undemocratic. The French revolutionaries sought to incarnate the popular will, but many of them came to see the people as the enemy. And in the United States, the franchise would be extended to some even as it was taken from others. Amid the wars and revolutions of the twentieth century, communists, liberals, and nationalists all sought to claim the ideals of democracy for themselves even as they manifestly failed to realize them. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2018. xvi, 321 p.
Reviewed: PW 9 July 2018 p. 82. Description: Why are Americans governed by the rich? Millionaires make up only three percent of the public but control all three branches of the federal government. How did this happen? What stops lower-income and working-class Americans from becoming politicians? Using extensive data on candidates, politicians, party leaders, and voters, Nicholas Carnes debunks popular misconceptions (like the idea that workers are unelectable or unqualified to govern), identifies the factors that keep lower-class Americans off the ballot and out of political institutions, and evaluates a variety of reform proposals. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2018. xxii, 296 p.
Reviewed: Lancet v. 391(10135) 26 May 2018 p. 2092. Description: Around the world, people who are angry at stagnant wages and growing inequality have rebelled against established governments and turned to political extremes. Liberal democracy, history's greatest engine of growth, now struggles to overcome unprecedented economic headwinds-from aging populations to scarce resources to unsustainable debt burdens. Hobbled by short-term thinking and ideological dogma, democracies risk falling prey to nationalism and protectionism that will deliver declining living standards. … Moyo shows why economic growth is essential to global stability, and why liberal democracies are failing to produce it today. Rather than turning away from democracy, she argues, we must fundamentally reform it. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2018. 221 p.
Reviewed: TLS 16 Nov. 2018 p. 12. Description: "The election happened,” remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. “And then there was radio silence.” Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them. Michael Lewis takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. At Agriculture, the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do. Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gain without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing the cost. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. But if there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes–unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system: those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Yale Agrarian Studies Ser.] New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2018. xv, 306 p.
Reviewed: PW 7 May 2018 p. 59 Description: A fascinating sociological assessment of the damaging effects of the for-profit partnership between government and corporation on rural Americans. Why is government distrust rampant, especially in the rural United States? This book offers a simple explanation: corporations and the government together dispossess rural people of their prosperity, and even their property. Based on four years of fieldwork, this eye-opening assessment by sociologist Loka Ashwood plays out in a mixed-race Georgia community that hosted the first nuclear power reactors sanctioned by the government in three decades. This work serves as an explanatory mirror of prominent trends in current American politics. Churches become havens for redemption, poaching a means of retribution, guns a tool of self-defense, and nuclear power a faltering solution to global warming as governance strays from democratic principles. In the absence of hope or trust in rulers, rural racial tensions fester and divide. The book tells of the rebellion that unfolds as the rights of corporations supersede the rights of humans. (publ.)
Reviewed: PW 25 Feb. 2019 p. 21. Description: A father's account of the story that captivated America, the murder of his daughter, reporter Alison Parker, on live television, and his inspiring fight for commonsense gun laws in the aftermath. On August 26, 2015, Emmy Award-winning twenty-four-year-old reporter Alison Parker was murdered on live television, along with her colleague, photojournalist Adam Ward. Their interviewee was also shot, but survived. People watching at home heard the gunshots, and the gunman’s video of the murder, which he up-loaded to Facebook, would spread over the internet like wildfire. In the wake of his daughter’s murder, Andy Parker became a national advocate for commonsense gun safety legislation. The night of the murder, with his emotions still raw, he went on Fox News and vowed to do “whatever it takes” to end gun violence in America. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2019. xi, 399 p.
Description: Ever since the collapse of the Third Reich, anxieties have persisted about Nazism’s revival in the form of a Fourth Reich. Gavriel D. Rosenfeld reveals, for the first time, these postwar nightmares of a future that never happened and explains what they tell us about Western political, intellectual, and cultural life. He shows how postwar German history might have been very different without the fear of the Fourth Reich as a mobilizing idea to combat the right-wing forces that genuinely threatened the country’s democratic order. He then explores the universalization of the Fourth Reich by left-wing radicals in the 1960s, its transformation into a source of pop culture entertainment in the 1970s, and its embrace by authoritarian populists and neo-Nazis seeking to attack the European Union since the year 2000. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Nation Books, 2017. viii, 358 p.
Reviewed: FA 97(5) Sept./Oct. 2018 p. 224. Description: Discusses the new political climate in Europe and the United States where xenophobia and racism have voted Britain out of the EU and catapulted Donald Trump to the presidency. Opportunistic politicians have exploited the economic crisis, terrorist attacks, and an unprecedented influx of refugees to bring hateful and reactionary views from the margins of political discourse into the mainstream. Openly xenophobic ideas are becoming state policy. How did we get here? Polakow-Suransky chronicles how the backlash against refugees and immigrants has reshaped our political landscape. He argues that the greatest threat comes not from outside, but from within, and established democracies are at risk of betraying their core values and falling apart. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Little Brown & Co., 2019. xii, 324 p.
Review: LJ Winter 2018 p. 89. Description: Presents essays by first- and second-generation immigrant writers on the realities of immigration, multiculturalism, and marginalization in an increasingly divided America. From Trump’s proposed border wall and travel ban to the marching of White Supremacists in Charlottesville, America is consumed by tensions over immigration and the question of which bodies are welcome. In this much-anticipated follow-up to the bestselling UK edition, hailed by Zadie Smith as “lively and vital,” editors Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman hand the microphone to an incredible range of writers whose humanity and right to be here is under attack. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Russell Sage, 2018. xviii, 241 p.
Description: Americans’ relationship to the federal government is paradoxical. Polls show that public opinion regarding the government has plummeted to all-time lows, with only one in five saying they trust the government or believe that it operates in their interest. Yet, at the same time, more Americans than ever benefit from some form of government social provision–96 per-cent of adults have received benefit from at least one of them, and the average person has utilized five. The fact that people have benefited from these policies bears little positive effect on their attitudes toward government. Political scientist Suzanne Mettler calls this growing gulf between people’s perceptions of government and the actual role it plays in their lives as the “government-citizen disconnect.” Mettler finds that shared identities and views about welfare are more powerful and consistent influences. (publ.)
Publication Date: Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 2019. x, 315 p.
Review: NYT/BR 7 Apr. 2019 p. 18. Description: Over the last forty years, there is a distressing history of foreign insurgent groups being able to manipulate U.S. policymakers and opinion leaders in-to supporting their cause. Frequently, that support goes far beyond rhetorical endorsements to include financial and even military assistance to highly questionable individuals, organizations, and movements. Some-times those efforts have even entangled the U.S. military in bloody, unnecessary, and morally dubious wars, as in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. These crusades have caused a stain on America’s honor and frequently produced tragedies in the countries where Washington interfered. This book examines the most prominent cases in which well-meaning Americans have supported such misguided policies. This book underscores the need for future U.S. leaders to adopt a policy of skepticism and restraint toward foreign movements that purport to embrace democracy. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2018. 249 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 6 June 2019 p. 52. Description: Nothing lasts forever. At some point democracy was always going to pass into the annals of history. But few people around today thought it would happen in their lifetimes. And until very recently almost no one thought it might happen right before our eyes. Now many are asking: Is this how democracy ends? In this surprising and counterintuitive book, the eminent political philosopher David Runciman argues that we are trapped in outdated modes of thinking. Our expectations are shaped by past stories of democracies collapsing–Europe in the 1930s, Latin America in the 1970s–but we are wrong if we think that history will repeat itself. Western societies are too affluent, too elderly, and too networked to fall apart as they did in the past. We need to stop looking for tanks in the streets and start looking for the twenty-first-century symptoms. The real danger to democracy lies in our increasingly decayed institutions. We are more at risk from conmen than from extremists. We are more likely to see our democracy hollowed out by technology than taken over by tyrants. All political systems come to an end. Runciman helps us think about the previously unthinkable: what will democratic failure look like in the twenty-first century? And what will come after? (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Random House, 2018. 256 p.
Reviewed: LJ 15 Apr. 2018 p. 45; NYT/BR 16 Sept. 2018 p. 12; PW 16 July 2018 p. 56; TLS 1 Nov. 2019 p. 14. Description: Fascist politics seeks to divide a population along ethnic, racial, or religious lines. Jason Stanley understood this as a scholar of philosophy and propaganda and as the child of refugees of WWII Europe, but even he was surprised by its prevalence in the United States. First with the rise of the birther movement and later the ascent of Donald Trump, he observed that not only is the rise of fascist politics possible in America, but its roots have been here for more than a century. Drawing on history, philosophy, sociology, critical race theory, and examples from around the world from 19th-century America to 20th-century Germany–where Hitler was inspired by the Confederacy and Jim Crow South) to 21st-century India–Stanley identifies the ten pillars of fascist politics that leaders use to hold onto power by dividing populations into an us and a them: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dismantling of public welfare and unity. … By recognizing them, he argues, readers might begin to resist their most harmful effects. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2018. v, 310 p.
Reviewed: LR June 2018 p. 9; TLS 4 Jan. 2018 p. 28. Description: The authors reveal six essential strategies that dictators use to undermine the electoral process in order to guarantee victory for themselves. Based on their firsthand experiences as election watchers and their hundreds of interviews with presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, election officials, and conspirators, Cheeseman and Klaas document instances of election rigging from Argentina to Zimbabwe, including notable examples from Brazil, India, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States–touching on the 2016 election. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. xiii, 249 p.
Description: This book defines the scope of impeachable offenses, and how the Constitution provides alternative procedures and sanctions for addressing misconduct in office. It explains why the only two presidential impeachments, those of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, failed to lead to conviction, and how the impeachments of federal judges illuminate the law and politics of the process. As a legal expert and the only joint witness in the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, author Michael J. Gerhardt also explores a question frequently asked-will Donald Trump be impeached? This book does not take a side in the debate over the possible impeachment of the president; instead, it is a primer for anyone eager to learn about impeachment’s origins, practices, limitations, and alternatives. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Modern Library, 2018. xxiv, 270 p.
Reviewed: LJ 1 Nov. 2018 p. 78. Description: Four experts on the American presidency review the only three impeachment cases from history–against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton–and explore its power and meaning for today. Impeachment is rare, and for good reason. Designed to check tyrants or defend the nation from a commander-in-chief who refuses to do so, the process of impeachment outlined in the Constitution is what Thomas Jefferson called “the most formidable weapon for the purpose of a dominant faction that was ever contrived.” It nullifies the will of voters, the basic foundation of legitimacy for all representative democracies. Only three times has a president’s conduct led to such political disarray as to warrant his potential removal from office, transforming a political crisis into a constitutional one. These three cases highlight factors beyond the president’s behavior that impact the likelihood and outcome of an impeachment: the president’s relationship with Congress, the power and resilience of the office itself, and the polarization of the moment. This is a realist, rather than hypothetical, view of impeachment that looks to history for clues about its future–with one obvious candidate in mind. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven, 2019. 176 p.
Description: Allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election have brought the issue of election interference to the fore, but is it actually a significant issue in the United States? This volume explores the history of election interference in the United States and beyond, as well as the various methods of interference. It also discusses whether interference can be effectively combated and what attempts are being made to do so. Election interference has been declared a threat to the electoral process and democracy as a whole, and it is more important than ever to under-stand the various factors at play. (publ.) Note: Library Standing Order.
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2019. xviii, 265 p.
Description: No conflict in the world has lasted as long, generated as many news headlines, or incited as much controversy as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, despite, or perhaps because of, the degree of international attention it receives, the conflict is still widely misunderstood. While Israelis and Palestinians and their respective supporters trade accusations, many outside observers remain confused by the conflict’s complexity and perplexed by the passion it arouses. This work offers an even-handed and judicious guide to the world’s most intractable dispute. Writing in an engaging, jargon-free Q&A format, Dov Waxman provides clear and concise answers to common questions, from the most basic to the most contentious. Covering the conflict from its nineteenth-century origins to the latest developments of the twenty-first century, this book explains the key events, examines the core issues, and presents the competing claims and narratives of both sides. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 179 p
Reviewed: Economist 22 Sept. 2018 p. 77. Description: Recent years have brought deeply disturbing developments around the globe. American sentiment seems to be leaning increasingly toward withdrawal in the face of such disarray. In this powerful, urgent essay, Robert Kagan elucidates the reasons why American withdrawal would be the worst possible response, based as it is on a fundamental and dangerous misreading of the world. Like a jungle that keeps growing back after being cut down, the world has always been full of dangerous actors who, left unchecked, possess the desire and ability to make things worse. Kagan makes clear how the “realist” impulse to recognize our limitations and focus on our failures misunderstands the essential role America has played for decades in keeping the world’s worst instability in check. A true real-ism, he argues, is based on the understanding that the historical norm has always been toward chaos–that the jungle will grow back, if we let it. (publ.) “He explains how the second world war convinced Americans that ‘their way of life could not be safe in a world where Europe and Asia were dominated by hostile autocratic powers.’” (Economist)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2018. 569 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 27 Sept. 2018 p. 32. Description: How did privacy come to loom so large in American life? Sarah Igo tracks this elusive social value across the twentieth century, as individuals questioned how they would, and should, be known by their own society. Privacy was not always a matter of public import. But beginning in the late nineteenth century, as corporate industry, social institutions, and the federal government swelled, increasing numbers of citizens believed their privacy to be endangered. Popular journalism and communication technologies, welfare bureaucracies and police tactics, market research and work-place testing, scientific inquiry and computer data banks, tell-all memoirs and social media all propelled privacy to the foreground of U.S. culture. Jurists and philosophers but also ordinary people weighed the perils, the possibilities, and the promise of being known. In the process, they redrew the borders of contemporary selfhood and citizenship. This book reveals how privacy became the indispensable language for monitoring the ever-shifting line between our personal and social selves. Igo’s sweeping history, from the era of “instantaneous photography” to the age of big data, uncovers the surprising ways that debates over what should be kept out of the public eye have shaped U.S. politics and society. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: St. Martin’s Pr., 2019. 336 p.
Reviewed: PW 18 Feb. 2019 p. 81. Description: The true story of the fierce band of women who battled Washington–and Hanoi–to bring their husbands home from the jungles of Vietnam. On February 12, 1973, one hundred and fifteen men who, just six years earlier, had been high flying Navy and Air Force pilots, shuffled, limped, or were carried off a huge military transport plane at Clark Air Base in the Philip-pines. These American servicemen had endured years of brutal torture, kept shackled and starving in solitary confinement, in rat-infested, mosquito-laden prisons, the worst of which was The Hanoi Hilton. Months later, the first Vietnam POWs to return home would learn that their rescuers were their wives, a group of women that included Jane Denton, Sybil Stockdale, Louise Mulligan, Andrea Rander, Phyllis Galanti, and Helene Knapp. These women, who formed The National League of Families, would never have called themselves “feminists,” but they had become the POW and MIAs most fervent advocates, going to extraordinary lengths to facilitate their husbands’ freedom–and to account for missing military men–by relentlessly lobbying government leaders, conducting a savvy media campaign, conducting covert meetings with antiwar activists, most astonishingly, helping to code secret letters to their imprisoned husbands. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2019. ix, 211 p.
Reviewed: TLS 9 Aug. 2019 p. 3. Description: Conspiracy theories are as old as politics. But conspiracists today have introduced something new–conspiracy without theory. And the new conspiracism has moved from the fringes to the heart of government with the election of Donald Trump. Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum show how the new conspiracism differs from classic conspiracy theory, why so few officials speak truth to conspiracy, and what needs to be done to resist it. Classic conspiracy theory insists that things are not what they seem and gathers evidence–especially facts ominously withheld by official sources–to tease out secret machinations. The new conspiracism is different. There is no demand for evidence, no dots revealed to form a pattern, no close examination of shadowy plotters. Dispensing with the burden of explanation, the new conspiracism imposes its own reality through repetition (exemplified by the Trump catchphrase “a lot of people are saying”) and bare assertion (“rigged!”). The new conspiracism targets democratic foundations–political parties and knowledge-producing institutions. It makes it more difficult to argue, persuade, negotiate, compromise, and even to disagree. Ultimately, it delegitimates democracy. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2018. xxxiii, 332 p.
Reviewed: LJ 1 Sept. 2018 p. 76. Description: This book is a resource for understanding the reasons for and consequences of mass shootings in America. It includes essays about key issues surrounding the phenomenon of mass shootings and a collection of opinion pieces that provide insights into debates surrounding gun laws and other issues related to mass shootings. The book also features an encyclopedia section containing entries on every mass shooting in the United States from 1966 to 2016 and a collection of primary documents pertaining to mass shooting events and the broader problem of violence in American society. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Columbia Global Reports, 2018. 157 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 23 Dec. 2018 p. 21. Description: Why has nationalism come roaring back? Trump in America, Brexit in the U.K., anti-EU parties in Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, and Hungary, and nativist or authoritarian leaders in Turkey, Russia, India, and China–why has nationalism suddenly returned with a vengeance? Is the world headed back to the fractious conflicts between nations that led to world wars and depression in the early 20th Century? Why are nationalists so angry about free trade and immigration? Why has globalization become a dirty word? Based on travels in America, Europe, and Asia, veteran political analyst John B. Judis found that almost all people share nationalist sentiments that can be the basis of vibrant democracies as well as repressive dictatorships. Today’s outbreak of toxic “us vs. them” nationalism is an extreme reaction to utopian cosmopolitanism, which advocates open borders, free trade, rampant outsourcing, and has branded nationalist sentiments as bigotry. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2019. 256 p.
Reviewed: LR Sept. 2018 p. 30 Description: A political economist explains how feelings have undermined facts, destabilized governments, and placed us all on high alert. In this age of intense political conflict, we sense objective fact is growing less important. Experts are attacked as partisan, statistics and scientific findings are decried as propaganda, and public debate devolves into personal assaults. How did things reach this point, and what can we do about it? Drawing on a 400-year history of political and scientific ideas, William Davies explores how physical and emotional feelings came to reshape our world. He traces the social roles of expertise from the Enlightenment to the present, and shows how bodily sensations we once treated with suspicion (especially fear, resentment, and pain) have come to seem more “real” than testable truth. Yet Davies suggests that the rise of emotion may open new possibilities for confronting humanity’s greatest challenges. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2018. xxvi, 289 p.
Reviewed: PW 18 June 2018 p. 97. Description: Constitutional law scholar and political science professor Corey Brettschneider guides us through the Constitution and explains the powers–and limits–that it places on the presidency. From the document itself and from American history’s most famous court cases, we learn why certain powers were granted to the presidency, how the Bill of Rights limits those powers, and what “the people” can do to influence the nation’s highest public office–including, if need be, removing the person in it. (publ.)
Publication Date: Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Pr., 2018. x. 229 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Choice (Jun. 2019 vol. 56 no. 10) Top 75 books recommended for community college libraries. Description: This book describes how Predators, Reapers, Scan Eagles, and dozens of other pilotless aircraft have been used to fight the Global War on Terrorism. Technology developed in the latter decades of the 20th century enabled crews stationed thousands of miles away to attack targets on remote battlefields. Such long-range and remote-controlled weapons have been extensively used but are controversial from both legal and ethical standpoints. Chapters written by international law specialists and drone pilots with advanced education in ethics address these issues from both sides of the argument. The book also details how robotic systems are being used on land, in and below the seas, and in civilian applications such as driverless cars. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury, 2018. xi, 271 p.
Reviewed: NYT 13 Sept. 2018 p. C4. Description: Chronicles the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby ruling, which allowed districts to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice. Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening details she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2018. 288 p.
Reviewed: LJ Dec. 2017 p. 63; PW 28 May 2018 p. 89. Description: When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. Through a series of disastrous decisions, the state government had switched the city’s water to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. Complaints about the foul-smelling water were dismissed: the residents of Flint—a largely poor African American city of about 100,000 people—were not seen as credible, even in matters of their own lives. It took 18 months of activism and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. But this was only after 12 people died and Flint’s children suffered irreparable harm. The long battle for accountability and a humane response to this man-made disaster have only just begun. The first full-length account of this epic failure, recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2019. 125 p.
Description: When politicians use their political power to privately benefit in an illegitimate manner, it is considered a fundamental threat to democracy. However, political corruption takes many forms, including bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and facilitating criminal enterprises. Additionally, there are certain cases that come across as ethically ambiguous: should campaign donations be considered a form of bribery? How can we prevent them from operating as a bribe? This volume looks at political corruption in the United States and beyond, exploring the factors that con-tribute to a culture of corruption and the possible means of combating it. (publ.) Note: Library Standing Order.
Publication Date: New York: Columbia UP, 2019. 310 p.
Review: PW 26 Nov. 2018 p. 52. Description: The Ku Klux Klan has peaked three times in American history: after the Civil War, around the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and in the 1920s, when the Klan spread farthest and fastest. Recruiting millions of members even in non-Southern states, the Klan’s nationalist insurgency burst into main-stream politics. Almost one hundred years later, once again the pent-up anger of white Americans left behind by a changing economy has directed itself at immigrants and cultural outsiders and roiled a presidential election. In this book, Rory McVeigh and Kevin Estep trace the parallels between the 1920s Klan and today’s right-wing backlash, identifying the conditions that allow white nationalism to emerge from the shadows. White middle-class Protestant Americans in the 1920s found themselves stranded by an economy that was increasingly industrialized and fueled by immigrant labor. Mirroring the Klan’s earlier tactics, Donald Trump delivered a message that mingled economic populism with deep cultural resentments. McVeigh and Estep present a sociological analysis of the Klan’s outbreaks that goes beyond Trump the individual to show how his rise to power was made possible by a convergence of circumstances. The experience of declining privilege and perceptions of lost power can trigger a political backlash that overtly asserts white-nationalist goals. McVeigh & Estep offer a rigorous and readable explanation for a recurrent phenomenon in American history, with important lessons about the origins of our alarming political climate. (publ.)
Publication Date: Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2018. ix, 353 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Mar. 2019 vol. 56 no. 7) Top 75 books highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: Ever since Lyndon Johnson launched his “War on Poverty,” each presidential administration has engaged in a unique effort to help impoverished Americans. Though every president inherited the remnants of his predecessors’ policies, each sought to make his own mark and secure his own place in history. The combatants changed, the terrain shifted, the losses mounted, and the victories faded. Johnson (inspired by Kennedy) may have devised the initial strategy to conduct the campaign, but subsequent presidents amplified, altered, and even overturned it. This is an account of honorable intentions, innovative ideas, colossal sums of money, and a vast expansion of government. In the end, however, it is a tale of how nine presidents did not do too much, but too little, to help those on the lowest rungs of American society. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. 280 p.
Description: Darwinian evolutionary theory is one of the brightest jewels in the crown of science, yet it has been highly controversial since its first appearance in the On the Origin of Species in 1859. Well known is the opposition of so many Christians, an opposition that shows little sign of abating today. In this book, philosopher Michael Ruse argues that the roots of the unease lie not simply (as many think) in a straight clash between science and religion, but more deeply in the fact that, while professional biologists are producing first-class science, Darwinism has always had a somewhat darker side where it functions as a secular religion, a form of humanism, directly challenging Christianity. Testing and confirming this claim, this book is an in-depth study of Christians and of Darwinians on the theme of war. … Ruse shows that the dynamic between Darwinians and Christians has not been a straightforward opposition, and complicates as it moves through the 20th century, as some Christian thinkers start to favor the inevitability of war and Darwinians acknowledge the idea of moral progress. Ruse shows how in some cases, some were even able to integrate Darwinian and Christian perspectives on war.(publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 2018. viii, 228 p.
Reviewed: PW 30 Apr. 2018 p. 56. Description: What does a middle-class democracy look like when it comes apart? When, after forty years of economic triumph, America’s winners persuade them-selves that they owe nothing to the rest of the country? In this collection of interlocking essays, Thomas Frank takes us on a wide-ranging tour through present-day America, showing us a society in the late stages of dis-integration and describing the worlds of both the winners and the losers. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2019. xi, 216 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Sept. 2019 vol. 57 no. 1) Essential for community college libraries Description: Nearly 800 proposals have been made to amend or abolish the Electoral College, and its divisiveness raises many questions. Does the body ensure representation across the country? Does the institution benefit some states at the expense of others? How does the process relate to an incoming president's legitimacy? Are presidential electors free to use their own judgement? Should the Electoral College exist at all? Much confusion surrounds this institution, in large part because of how the original Electoral College differs from its contemporary counterpart, the evolved Electoral College. This book helps readers to understand the distinction and how got where we are today. Focusing on the controversial 2016 election, in which Trump received nearly three million fewer popular votes than Clinton, Representation and the Electoral College shows how the Electoral College works to determine election outcomes. In exploring the origin, development, and practice of the Electoral College, this study also presents the most extensive analysis of presidential electors to date. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2019. 128 p.
Description: One of the fundamental rights granted in the United States is religious freedom, but does this mean that religion should be entirely re-moved from politics or that all religious voices should be considered equally? The separation of church and state was established in the Constitution, but the fact that as of 2015, 84 percent of Americans hold some sort of religious belief means that this is easier said than done. Religious morality frequently colors debates surrounding various policy issues, ranging from reproductive rights to education. This volume exposes readers to the ways in which religion inflects policymaking and the varying perspectives about religion's role in politics. Note: Library Standing Order.
Publication Date: Boston: Beacon Pr., 2017. xiii, 225 p.
Reviewed: TLS 13 July 2018 p. 11. Description: Despite inevitable questions about gun control, there is a sharp increase in firearm sales in the wake of every mass shooting. Yet, this kind of DIY security activism predates the contemporary gun rights movement–and even the stand-your-ground self-defense laws adopted in thirty-three states, or the thirteen million civilians currently licensed to carry concealed firearms. As scholar Caroline Light proves, support for “good guys with guns” relies on the entrenched belief that certain “bad guys with guns” threaten us all. This book explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. Light traces white America’s attachment to radicalized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories–from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country's most powerful lobbying forces. (publ.)
Publication Date: . New York: Basic Books, 2018. xxii, 281 p.
Reviewed: LJ 15 June 2018 p. 83. Description: Addresses one of today’s most urgent questions: when and whether to impeach a president. Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz provide an authoritative guide to impeachment’s past and a bold argument about its proper role today. In an era of expansive presidential power and intense partisanship, we must rethink impeachment for the twenty-first century. Of impeachments, one Constitutional Convention delegate declared, “A good magistrate will not fear them. A bad one will be kept in fear of them.” This book is an essential book for all Americans seeking to understand how this crucial but fearsome power should be exercised. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2019. 189 p.
Note: Standing Order. Description: To many, bipartisanship is a fundamental aspect of American democracy: it is designed to allow voters of differing political beliefs to find a political party that most closely conforms to their values. However, in a 2015 poll, 43 percent of Americans identified with neither party, preferring to be politically independent. Is the two-party system essential to American politics? What part does it play in our electoral and political systems? Growing concerns about political polarization and bipartisanship’s role in it have also come to light. This volume explores the various perspectives about the future of American democracy. (publ.)
Publication Date: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. 103 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 6 Dec. 2018 p. 14. Description: Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria in Exodus-like proportions. The surprising flood of victims overwhelms neighboring countries, and chaos follows. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims. The refugees are the unwanted. Don Brown depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, this book is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read. (publ.) Note: Graphic novel.
Publication Date: New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2018. viii, 198 p.
Reviewed: FA 97(5) Sept./Oct. 2018 p. 232; TLS 4 Jan. 2018 p. 29; Lancet 392(10152) 22 Sept. 2018 p. 996. Description: Those who championed globalization once promised a world of winners, one in which free trade would lift all the world’s boats, and extremes of left and right would give way to universally embraced liberal values. The past few years have shattered this fantasy, as those who’ve paid the price for globalism’s gains have turned to populist and nationalist politicians to express fury at the political, media, and corporate elites they blame for their losses. The United States elected an anti-immigration, protectionist president who promised to “put America first” and turned a cold eye on alliances and treaties. Across Europe, anti-establishment political parties made gains not seen in decades. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. And as Ian Bremmer shows in this book, populism is still spreading. Globalism creates plenty of both winners and losers, and those who’ve missed out want to set things right. They've seen their futures made obsolete. They hear new voices and see new faces all about them. They feel their cultures shift. They don’'t trust what they read. They’ve begun to understand the world as a battle for the future that pits “us” vs. “them.” (publ.)
Publication Date: Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2019. 288 p.
Description: In contrast to the anxiety surrounding our voting system, with stories about voter suppression and manipulation, there are actually quite a few positive initiatives toward voting rights reform. Professor Joshua A. Douglas (University of Kentucky College of Law), an expert on our electoral system, examines these encouraging developments in this inspiring book about how regular Americans are working to take back their democracy, one community at a time. Told through the narratives of those working on positive voting rights reforms, Douglas includes chapters on expanding voter eligibility, easing voter registration rules, making voting more convenient, enhancing accessibility at the polls, providing voters with more choices, finding ways to comply with voter ID rules, giving redistricting back to the voters, pushing back on big money through local and state efforts, using journalism to make the system more accountable, and improving civics education. At the end, the book includes an appendix that lists organizations all over the country working on these efforts. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. x, 315 p.
Reviewed: CHE 30 June 2017 (new books); Choice Nov 2017 vol. 55 no. 3 (Essential recommendation) Description: Examines how uncertainty regarding the national context influences people’s decisions whether to vote or not. During times of national crisis, when uncertainty is high, voting increases; during times of stability people stay home. The authors show how uncertainty in the national campaign context reduces nonvoting in presidential and midterm elections from 1920 to 2012. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. vi, 117 p.
Reviewed: Choice Oct. 2017 vol. 55 no. 2 (Highly Recommended; Top 75 Titles Recommended for community college libraries) Description: The critics argue that welfare states are illegitimate, that things are best left to the market, and that welfare has bad effects on the people who receive it. …With examples from around the world, the book explains why social welfare services should be provided and explores how the principles are applied. Most importantly, it argues for the welfare state’s continued value to society. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2018. 496 p.
Reviewed: PW 26 June 2017 p. 108; LJ Jan. 2018 p. 112. Description: This illuminating study traces the transformation of the right to arms from its inception in English and colonial American law to today’s impassioned gun-control debate. As historian and legal scholar Patrick J. Charles shows, what the right to arms means to Americans, as well as what it legally protects, has changed drastically since its first appearance in the 1689. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2018. ix, 438 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NPR (“All Things Considered” 4/23/2018) Description: What happens when a Predator drone has as much autonomy as a Google car? Although it sounds like science fiction, the technology to create weapons that could hunt and destroy targets on their own already exists. Paul Scharre, a leading expert in emerging weapons technologies, draws on incisive research and firsthand experience to explore how increasingly autonomous weapons are changing warfare. This far-ranging investigation examines the emergence of fully autonomous weapons, the movement to ban them, and the legal and ethical issues surrounding their use. (publ.)
Publication Date: Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 2017. 120 p.
Description: Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning are key figures in the struggles playing out in our democracies over internet use, state secrets, and mass surveillance in the age of terror. When not decried as traitors, they are seen as whistle-blowers whose crucial revelations are meant to denounce a problem or correct an injustice. Yet, for Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, they are much more than that. Snowden, Assange, and Manning are exemplars who have reinvented an art of revolt. Consciously or not, they have inaugurated a new form of political action and a new identity for the political subject. (publ.) Note: Originally published in French as: L’Art de la Révolte (Paris: Fay-ard, 2015).
Publication Date: Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 2017. x, 264 p.
Reviewed: CHE 29 Sept. 2017 (new books). Description: Shows how the divergent trajectories of legislation, administration, and judicial interpretation in voting rights policymaking derive largely from efforts by conservative politicians to narrow the scope of federal enforcement while at the same time preserving their public reputations as supporters of racial equality and minority voting rights. Jesse H. Rhodes is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Pr., 2017. xvi, 343 p.
Reviewed: CHE 30 June 2017 (new books) Description: The loss of manufacturing jobs combined with the recession of the early 1980s and Reagan administration cutbacks in federal programs led to an explosion in the growth of food charity. This was meant to be a stopgap measure, but the jobs never came back, and the emergency food system became an industry. …From one perspective, anti-hunger leaders have been extraordinarily effective. Food charity is embedded in American civil society, and federal food programs have remained intact while other anti-poverty programs have been eliminated or slashed. But anti-hunger advocates are missing an essential element of the problem: economic inequality driven by low wages. Reliant on corporate donations of food and money, anti-hunger organizations have failed to hold business accountable for offshoring jobs, cutting benefits, exploiting workers and rural communities, and resisting wage increases. They have become part of a hunger industrial complex that seems as self-perpetuating as the more famous military-industrial complex. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Oneworld, 2017. xxx, 273 p.
Reviewed: Choice May 2018 vol. 55 no. 9 (Recommended for community college libraries) Description: Publishing on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War that culminated in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Pappe offers a comprehensive exploration of one of the world’s most prolonged and tragic conflicts. Using recently declassified archival material, Pappe analyses the motivations and strategies of the generals and politicians–and the decision-making process itself–that laid the foundation of the occupation. From a survey of the legal and bureaucratic infrastructures that were put in place to control the population of over one million Palestinians, to the security mechanisms that vigorously enforced that control, Pappe paints a picture of what is to all intents and purposes the world’s largest “open prison.” (publ.)
Publication Date: Columbia: U. Missouri Pr., 2017. xii, 403 p.
Reviewed: CHE 4 Aug. 2017 (new books) Description: The rise of the administrative state is the most significant political development in American politics over the past century. While our Constitution separates powers into three branches, and requires that the laws are made by elected representatives in the Congress, today most policies are made by unelected officials in agencies where legislative, executive, and judicial powers are combined. This threatens constitutionalism and the rule of law. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2014. xiv, 277 p.
Description: Offers an account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations control over financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury, 2017. 420 p.
Reviewed: NYT/M 2/11/2018 p. 54 (author interview); FA 97(2) March/Apr. 2018 p. 172. Description: Reveals his first-hand account of America’s nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization–and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration–threatens our very survival. No other insider with high level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Framed as a memoir–a chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating–this expose … offers feasible steps we can take to dismantle the existing “doomsday machine” and avoid nuclear catastrophe, returning Ellsberg to his role as whistleblower. (publ.)
Description: Ethicist Kenneth R. Himes provides not only an overview of the role of drones in national security but also an exploration of the ethical implications of drone warfare from the impact on terrorist organizations and civilians to how piloting drones shapes soldiers. Targeted killings have played a role in politics from ancient times through today, so the ethical challenges around how to protect against threats are not new. Himes leads readers through the ethics of targeted killings in history from ancient times to the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then looks specifically at the new issues raised through the use of drones. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: HarperCollins, 2018. 304 p.
Reviewed: PW 5 Mar. 2018 p. 61; Economist 14 Apr. 2018 p. 75; NPR ("Fresh Air" 4/3/2018); NYT/BR 20 May 2018 p. 10. Description: Based on her personal experience growing up in Hungary under Hitler and the Communist regime that followed World War II, as well as knowledge gleaned from her distinguished diplomatic career and insights from colleagues around the globe, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paints a clear picture of how fascism flourishes and explains why it is once again taking hold worldwide, identifying the factors contributing to its rise. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2017. 256 p.
Reviewed: LJ 1 Nov. 2017 p. 90; Choice (Oct. 2018 vol. 56 no. 2) Recommended for community college libraries. Description: For the last sixty years, fear has seeped into every area of American life: Americans own more guns than citizens of any other country, sequester themselves in gated communities, and retreat from public spaces. And yet, crime rates have plummeted, making life in America safer than ever. Why, then, are Americans so afraid--and where does this fear lead to? … Elaine Tyler May demonstrates how our obsession with security has made citizens fear each other and distrust the government, making America less safe and less democratic. (publ.)
Reviewed: PW 12 Mar. 2018 p. 51 Description: Carpenter breaks down Trump’s formula, showing why it’s practically fool-proof, playing his victims, the media, the Democrats, and the Republican fence-sitters perfectly. She traces how this tactic started with Nixon, gained traction with Bill Clinton, and exploded under Trump. The author is a CNN contributor and former Ted Cruz staffer. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2017. x, 290 p.
Reviewed: CHE 30 June 2017 (new books) Description: Globalization, long considered the best route to economic prosperity, is not inevitable. An approach built on the principles of free trade and, since the 1980s, open capital markets, is beginning to fracture. With disappointing growth rates across the Western world, nations are no longer willing to sacrifice national interests for global growth; nor are their leaders able--or willing--to sell the idea of pursuing a global agenda of prosperity to their citizens. (publ.)
Publication Date: Malden, Mass.: Polity Pr., 2017. xvi, 197 p.
Contents: Preface – 1. Democracy Fatigue / Arjun Appadurai. – 2. Symptoms in Search of an Object and a Name / Zygmunt Bauman. – 3. Progressive and Regressive Politics in Late Neoliberalism / Donatella della Porta. – 4. Progressive Neoliberalism versus Reactionary Populism: A Hobson’s Choice / Nancy Fraser. – 5. Populism or the Crisis of Liberal Elites: The Case of Israel/ Eva Illouz. – 6. Majoritarian Futures / Ivan Krastev. – 7. Eu-rope as refuge / Bruno Latour. – 8. Overcoming the Fear of Freedom / Paul Mason. – 9. Politics in the Age of Resentment. The Dark Legacy of the Enlightenment / Pankaj Mishra. – 10. The Courage to be Audacious / Robert Misik. – 11. Decivilisation. On regressive tendencies in Western democracies / Oliver Nachtwey. – 12. From Global Regression to Post-Capitalist Counter-Movements / César Rendueles. – 13. The Return of the Repressed as the Beginning of the End of Neoliberal Capitalism / Wolfgang Streeck. – 14. Dear President Juncker / David Van Reybrouck. – 15. The Populist Temptation / Slavoj Žižek.
Reviewed: The Economist 27 Jan. 2018 p. 75; VA 97(2) March/Apr. 2018 p. 168; NYT/BR 15 Apr. 2018 p. 26; TLS 6 April 2018 p. 27;LRB 13 Sept. 2018 p. 27. Description: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang–in a revolution or military coup–but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die–and how ours can be saved. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: St. Martin’s Pr., 2017. 288 p.
Reviewed: NYT 18 June 2017 p. SR5 (author op/ed) Description: Conservative radio host and author Charles Sykes presents an impassioned, regretful, and deeply thoughtful account of how the American conservative movement came to lose its values. How did a movement that was defined by its belief in limited government, individual liberty, free markets, traditional values, and civility find itself embracing bigotry, political intransigence, demagoguery, and outright falsehood? How the Right Lost its Mind addresses: Why are so many voters so credulous and immune to factual information reported by responsible media? Why did conservatives decide to overlook, even embrace, so many of Trump’s outrages, gaffes, conspiracy theories, falsehoods, and smears? Can conservatives govern? Or are they content merely to rage? How can the right recover its traditional values and persuade a new generation of their worth?
Publication Date: Lincoln: U. Nebraska Pr., 2017. xx, 250 p.
Description: By placing the reader at the heart of the American counterinsurgency effort, Grindle reveals little-known incidents, including the failure of expensive aid programs to target local needs, the slow throttling of local government as official funds failed to reach the districts, and the United States’ inexplicable failure to empower the Afghan local officials even after they succeeded in bringing the people onto their side. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. 280 p.
Reviewed: FA 96(5) Sept./Oct. 2017 p. 177 Description: In the years immediately following the 2006 “Surge” of American troops in Iraq, observers of America’s counterinsurgency war there regarded the defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in Anbar Province as one of the strategy's signature victories. With the assistance of American troops, the fractious tribal sheiks in that province united in an “Awakening” that ultimately led to the defeat of the legendarily brutal AQI. The success of the Awakening convinced many that smart, properly resourced counterinsurgency strategies could in fact work. …A decade later, the situation in Anbar Province is dramatically different. In 2014, much of Anbar fell to the AQI’s successor organization, the Islamic State, which swept through the region with shocking ease. In Illusions of Victory, Carter Malkasian looks at the wreckage to explain why the Awakening's initial promise proved misleading and why victory was unsustainable. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amenia, N.Y.: Grey House, 2018. 400 p.
Description: This volume tracks the changing national views on immigration. Historian Micah Issitt traces the path of public opinion and policy on immigration in American history, with each chapter providing commentary on a selected primary source. Drawing from the popular press, key court and legislative battles, speeches, social activism and opinion polls, Issitt offers readers mixed sources of information woven together to highlight the overall momentum of developing public opinion on this perennial policy issue. As the country grows and expands to accommodate new waves of immigrants, the book explores the tension between welcoming newcomers and seeing their value to the nascent nation and rejecting immigrants and the strains of anti-immigration thought in American society. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2017. 210 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 28 Sept. 2017 p. 16; PW 11 Sept. 2017 p. 56; NYT/BR 18 Mar. 2018 p.1. Description: Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University, provides a succinct citizens’ guide to an essential tool of self-government. He illuminates the constitutional design behind impeachment and emphasizes the people’s role in holding presidents ac-countable. … He describes how impeachment helps make sense of our constitutional order, particularly the framers’ controversial decision to install an empowered executive in a nation deeply fearful of kings. (publ.) "A far more cautious approach to the topic, one thoroughly grounded in constitutional history and best practice, may be found in Cass Sunstein's excellent ..." (NYRB).
Reviewed: Choice Nov. 2017 vol. 55 no. 3 (Highly Recommended; recommended for community college libraries) Description: An edited collection that examines the US Army’s role and place in progressive social change through the lens of the military experience of African Americans, women, and gays since World War II. By making this long overdue comparison, the editors argue this anthology demonstrates how the challenges launched against the racial, gender, and sexual status quo in the years after World War II transformed overarching ideas about power, citizenship, and America’s role in the world. … Sheds new light on a broad range of issues that affected civilian society, such as affirmative action, integration, marriage laws, and sexual harassment. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: William Heinemann, 2016. xi, 467 p.
Reviewed: LRB 1 June 2017 p. 31 Description: Jeremy Greenstock was the UK ambassador to the UN during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and then the special envoy for Iraq based in Baghdad during the occupation. (LRB)
Publication Date: New York: Columbia UP, 2017. x, 218 p.
Reviewed: CHE 15 Sept. 2017 (new books) Description: During the 2016 election, a new term entered the mainstream American political lexicon: “alt-right,” short for “alternative right.” Despite the innocuous name, the alt-right is a white-nationalist movement. Yet it differs from earlier racist groups: it is youthful and tech savvy, obsessed with provocation and trolling, amorphous, predominantly online, and mostly anonymous. And it was energized by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Hawley explains the movement’s origins, evolution, methods, and core belief in white-identity politics. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2016. xx, 354 p.
Reviewed: Bustan 8(2) 2017 p. 151 Description: Drawing on troves of recently declassified documents captured from the Islamic State and its predecessors, counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman tells the story of this organization's complex and largely hidden past–and what the master plan suggests about its future. (publ.) “Fishman’s Master Plan is now the standard by which every other analytical book about ISIS should be judged. It is a very good book that falls just short of excellence.” (Bustan)
Publication Date: New York: Penguin, 2018. xiv, 368 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 22 Apr. 2018 p. 12; LJ 1 Apr. 2018 p. 82. Description: Distilled from the Yale University seminar, “Studies in Grand Strategy,” a master class in strategic thinking surveys statecraft from the ancient Greeks through FDR and beyond as vital historical lessons for future world leaders. John Lewis Gaddis, the distinguished historian of the Cold War, has for almost two decades co-taught grand strategy at Yale University with his colleagues Charles Hill and Paul Kennedy. Now, in this book, Gaddis reflects on what he has learned. In chapters extending from the ancient world through World War II, Gaddis assesses grand strategic theory and practice in Herodotus, Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Octavi-an/Augustus, Saint Augustine, Machiavelli, Elizabeth I, Philip II, the American Founding Fathers, Clausewitz, Tolstoy, Lincoln, Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Isaiah Berlin. (publ.)
Publication Date: Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 2017. x. 259 p.
Reviewed: CHE 2 June 2017 (new books) Description: Gordon Lafer’s book is a comprehensive account of legislation promoted by the nation’s biggest corporate lobbies across all fifty state legislatures and encompassing a wide range of labor and economic policies in the aftermath of the 2010 Citizens United decision. Gordon Lafer is Associate Professor at the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon. He has served as Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Congress and has been called to testify as an expert witness before multiple state legislatures. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Simon & Schuster, 2017. 326 p.
Reviewed: TLS 20 Oct. 2017 p. 32 Description: Kim Hughes is the most highly decorated bomb disposal operator serving in the British Army. He was awarded the George Cross in 2009 following a grueling six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan during which he defused 119 improvised explosive devices. (publ.)
Publication Date: Montréal, Québec: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017. xiv, 333 p.
Reviewed: CHE 18 Aug. 2017 (new books) Description: After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US launched several initiatives that are either at the outermost limit of what international human rights law allows or over that limit. These involved systematic violations of non-derogable rights like the right not to be killed without due process, not to be subjected to indefinite arbitrary detention, and not to be tortured. The President of the United States now signs unreviewable death warrants authorizing drone strikes against the nation’s citizens; Congress and the courts have declined to review these decisions or curtail this practice, setting a precedent for executive immunity. Do these violations of constitutional law signify a qualitative transformation of the legal order of the United States? … The demise of the rule of law in the United States details the long-term consequences of the acceptance of these assertions of executive supremacy. (publ.)
Contents: The minimum requirements of the rule of law -- The historical development of the rule of law in the United States -- Overbroad authority given to and appropriated by the executive after the 9/11 attacks -- The re-sponse of the judiciary to executive overreaching, 2003-12 -- Judicial selec-tion and executive branch dominance -- Congress's failure to exercise over-sight.
Since the election of Scott Walker, Wisconsin has been seen as ground zero for debates about the appropriate role of government in the wake of the Great Recession. In a time of rising inequality, Walker not only survived a bitterly contested recall that brought thousands of protesters to Capitol Square, he was subsequently reelected. How could this happen? How is it that the very people who stand to benefit from strong government services not only vote against the candidates who support those services but are vehemently against the very idea of big government? With The Politics of Resentment, Katherine J. Cramer uncovers an oft-overlooked piece of the puzzle: rural political consciousness and the resentment of the "liberal elite." Rural voters are distrustful that politicians will respect the distinct values of their communities and allocate a fair share of resources. What can look like disagreements about basic political principles are therefore actually rooted in something even more fundamental: who we are as people and how closely a candidate's social identity matches our own. Using Scott Walker and Wisconsin's prominent and protracted debate about the appropriate role of government, Cramer illuminates the contours of rural consciousness, showing how place-based identities profoundly influence how people understand politics, regardless of whether urban politicians and their supporters really do shortchange or look down on those living in the country. The Politics of Resentment shows that rural resentment--no less than partisanship, race, or class--plays a major role in dividing America against itself.
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2007. xii, 208 p.
Description: In 2004, the French government instituted a ban on the wearing of "conspicuous signs" of religious affiliation in public schools. Though the ban applies to everyone, it is aimed at Muslim girls wearing head-scarves. Proponents of the law insist it upholds France's values of secular liberalism and regard the headscarf as symbolic of Islam's resistance to modernity. The Politics of the Veil is an explosive refutation of this view, one that bears important implications for us all. (publ.)
Reviewed: TLS 18/25 Aug. 2017 p. 3; LJ Jan 2018 p. 112 Description: 2016 marked the dawn of the post-truth era. The year saw two shock election results, each of which has the potential to reshape the world: the UK's decision to leave the EU, and the elevation of Donald Trump to the office of US President. The campaigns highlighted many of the same issues in their home countries: social division, anger at the elite, anti-immigration sentiment and more--but, more than anything, they heralded an unprecedented rise of bullshit. (publ.) Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Ball has worked in political, data and investigative journalism in the US and the UK for BuzzFeed, The Guardian and the Washington Post.
Reviewed: TLS 18/25 Aug. 2017 p. 3 Description: In this timely book, Post Truth is distinguished from a long tradition of political lies, exaggeration and spin. What is new is not the mendacity of politicians but the public’s response to it and the ability of new technologies and social media to manipulate, polarize and entrench opinion. Where trust has evaporated, conspiracy theories thrive, the authority of the media wilt and emotions matter more than facts . (publ.) Matthew d'Ancona is a British journalist and broadcaster.
Publication Date: London: Little, Brown, 2017. xx. 347 p.
Reviewed: TLS 18/25 Aug. 2017 p. 3 Description: Low-level dishonesty is rife everywhere, in the form of exaggeration, selective use of facts, economy with the truth, careful drafting–from Trump and the Brexit debate to companies that tell us “your call is important to us.” How did we get to a place where bullshit is not just rife but apparently so effective that it’s become the communications strategy of our times? (publ.) Award-winning broadcaster Evan Davis is a presenter of the BBC2 current affairs program, Newsnight, and formerly was the Economics Editor of the BBC, the most senior economics reporter in the corporation.
Publication Date: Lawrence: U. Kansas Pr., 2017. xiii, 258 p.
Reviewed: CHE 7 July 2017 (new books) Description: Rather than promote a corporate or industry agenda, authors Pira and Thomas suggest that lobbyists instead seek to prevent government from harming their clients. The goal therefore is to keep government from accomplishing things, rather than to encourage a specific policy outcome. It is insight into the political process that is exploited, not necessarily connections a former politician has to his or her previous agency of employment.
Publication Date: Iowa City: U. Iowa Pr., 2017. x, 162 p.
Reviewed: CHE 8 Sept. 2017 (new books) Description: On September 11, 2001, nineteen members of the Islamist extremist organization al-Qaeda launched four coordinated attacks on the United States, killing 2,977 people. These events and the government’s subsequent “War on Terror” refueled long-standing negative stereotypes about Muslims and Islam among many Americans. And yet thousands of practicing Muslims continued to serve or chose to enlist in the U.S. military during these years. In this book, fifteen such service members talk about what it means to be Muslim, American, and a uniformed member of the armed services in the twenty-first century. These honest accounts re-mind us of our shared humanity. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amenia, N.Y.: Grey House, 2018. vii, 174 p.
Note: Library Standing Order. Description: Deals with the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea where numerous countries lay claim to fishing waters and exclusive economic zones in Southeast Asia. At issue is China's historical claim to lucrative fisheries and supply routes. The contested area concerns six nations, one third of global maritime traffic, untapped oil and natural gas reserves, military buildup and 5 trillion dollars worth of trade. Also explores the economic, diplomatic, military and environmental impact of resolving this conflict. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2018. xi, 263 p.
Description: Hanchard identifies continuities of discriminatory citizenship from classical Athens to the present and looks at how democratic institutions have promoted undemocratic ideas and practices. The longest-standing modern democracies–France, Britain, and the United States–profited from slave labor, empire, and colonialism, much like their Athenian predecessor. Hanchard follows these patterns through the Enlightenment and to the states and political thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and he examines how early political scientists, including Woodrow Wilson and his contemporaries, devised what Hanchard has characterized as “racial regimes” to maintain the political and economic privileges of dominant groups at the expense of subordinated ones. Exploring how democracies reconcile political inequality and equality, Hanchard debates the thorny question of the conditions under which democracies have created and maintained barriers to political membership. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Vintage Books, 2018. xiv, 206 p.
Reviewed: FA 97(3) May/June 2018 p. 199. Description: Jorge Ramos, an Emmy award-winning journalist, Univision's longtime anchorman and widely considered the “voice of the voiceless” within the Latino community, was forcefully removed from an Iowa press conference in 2015 by then-candidate Donald Trump after trying to ask about his plans on immigration. In this personal manifesto, Ramos sets out to examine what it means to be a Latino immigrant, or just an immigrant, in present-day America. Using current research and statistics, with a journalist's nose for a story, and interweaving his own personal experience, Ramos shows us the changing face of America while also trying to find an explanation for why he, and millions of others, still feel like strangers in this country. (publ.) Note: Originally (simultaneously?) published as: Stranger: El Desafío de un Inmigrante Latino en la Era de Trump (New York: Vintage, 2018).
Publication Date: New York: The New Pr., 2016. xii, 351 p.
Reviewed: Economist 30 Sept. 2017 p. 75; NYRB 10 May 2018 p. 26 (referenced). Description: Sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country–a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets–among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident–people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children. Note: National Book Award Finalist (Nonfiction) for 2016.
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2018. 328 p.
Description: The Declaration of Independence proclaims equality as a foundational American value. However, the authors finds that political voice in America is not only unequal but also unrepresentative. Those who are well educated and affluent carry megaphones. The less privileged speak in a whisper. Relying on three decades of research and an enormous wealth of information about politically active individuals and organizations, Kay Schlozman, Henry Brady, and Sidney Verba offer a concise synthesis and update of their groundbreaking work on political participation. The authors consider the many ways that citizens in American democracy can influence public outcomes through political voice: by voting, getting involved in campaigns, communicating directly with public officials, participating online or offline, acting alone and in organizations, and investing their time and money. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2016. xiv, 343 p.
Reviewed: Choice Oct. 2017 vol. 55 no. 2 (Essential) Description: Knowledgeable people often deride the public for its ignorance. Some experts even think that less informed citizens should stay out of politics altogether. As Arthur Lupia shows, this is not constructive. At root, critics of public ignorance fundamentally misunderstand the problem. Many experts believe that simply providing people with more facts will make them more competent voters. … Citizens sometimes lack the knowledge that they need to make competent political choices, and it is undeniable that greater knowledge can improve decision making. But we need to understand that voters either don’t care about or pay attention to much of the information that experts think is important. Uninformed provides the keys to improving political knowledge and civic competence: understanding what information is important to and knowing how to best convey it. (publ.)
Publication Date: Washington, D.C.: Georgetown UP, 2017. xviii, 321 p.
Reviewed: FA 96(5) Sept./Oct. 2017 p. 177 Description: Discusses the political dimension of war, that “military leaders would rather be fighting enemies than addressing the security and welfare of foreign populations, which they see as a job for civilian agencies” (FA). Reviewing 15 historical and contemporary cases, Schadlow presents the clear lesson that the refusal by and often unpreparedness of military leaders to be the long-term governing agents in postconflict zones must inform the entire military campaign process.
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2018. xxxiii, 392 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 27 May 2018 p. 16. Description: United States foreign policy is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Institutions of diplomacy and development are reeling from deep budget cuts. The diplomats who make America’s deals and protect its citizens around the world are walking out in droves. Offices across the State Department sit empty, while abroad the military-industrial complex has assumed the work once undertaken by peacemakers. In a journey from the corridors of power in Washington, DC, to some of the most re-mote and dangerous places on earth–Afghanistan, Somalia, and North Korea among them–investigative journalist Ronan Farrow illuminates one of the most consequential and poorly understood changes in American history. … Drawing on newly unearthed documents, and richly informed by rare interviews with warlords, whistle-blowers, and policymakers–including every living secretary of state from Henry Kissinger to Hillary Clinton to Rex Tillerson–Farrow makes the case for an endangered profession. (publ.)
Reviewed: NYT 13 June 2017 p. A11 (author interview) Description: From the botched attempt to rescue the U.S. diplomats held hostage by Iran in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter and the missed intelligence on Al Qaeda before 9/11 under George W. Bush to, most recently, the computer meltdown that marked the arrival of health care reform under Barack Obama, the American presidency has often been a profile in failure. In [this book], Elaine Kamarck surveys presidential failures to understand why Americans have lost faith in their leaders--and how they can get it back. Kamarck, a White House insider and Harvard academic, argues that presidents today spend too much time talking and not enough time governing. They have not balanced three components of leadership that must be exercised to bring about good results: policy, communication, and implementation. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. xiv, 238 p.
Reviewed: Choice Apr. 2018 vol. 55 no. 8 (Top 75 titles recommended for community college libraries). Description: Considers the various ways the American servicewoman has been represented throughout the 20th century and how those representations impact her role. While women have a relatively short history in the American military, the last century shows an evolution of women’s direct participation in war. The primary focus is on the American case, but Emerald Archer also introduces a comparative element, showing how women’s integration in the military differs in other countries, including Great Britain and Israel. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the book draws on military history, theory and social psychology to offer a more complete and integrated history of women in the military and their representation in society. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. viii, 709 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 28 May 2017 p. 20 Description: Cathal J. Nolan … systematically and engrossingly examines the great battles, tracing what he calls “short-war thinking,” the hope that victory might be swift and wars brief. As he proves persuasively, however, such has almost never been the case. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Pr. of Harvard UP, 2017. viii, 773 p.
Reviewed: FA 96(3) May/June 2017 p. 121; TLS 5 May 2017 p. 25; Choice Aug 2017 vol. 54 no. 12 (Highly Recommended; Recommended for community college library collections) Description: “Americans …should not fear conflict but rather embrace it: handled properly, it permits the best ideas to win out, guards against the tyranny of the majority, and helps prevent special interest groups from gaining too much power. Moss makes this argument in his brilliant introductory and concluding chapters, while the core of the book consists of 19 cases from throughout U.S. history that exemplify the complexity of political conflict. Moss, a professor at Harvard Business School, brings the case-study teaching method to history.” (FA)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2016. xxvi, 383 p.
Reviewed: TLS 5 May 2017 p. 26 Description: Ancient Greece first coined the concept of “democracy,” yet almost every major ancient Greek thinker–from Plato and Aristotle on-wards–were ambivalent or even hostile to democracy in any form. The explanation is quite simple: the elite perceived majority power as tantamount to a dictatorship of the proletariat. … [The author] holds out three unique research aims: a proper understanding of the origins and variety of ancient Greek democracies; a detailed account of the fate of democracy–both the institution and the word–in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds from the fifth century BCE to the 6th century CE; and a nuanced exploration of the ways in which all ancient Greek democracies differed from all modern so-called “democracies.” (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Routledge, 2016. xii, 168 p.
Reviewed: Choice Nov 2016 vol. 54 no. 3 (Essential; Recommended for Community College Libraries) Contributor Note: James Aho is Professor Emeritus at Idaho State University where he has taught for over forty years. Recognized as a Distinguished Researcher and Teacher, he is author of many books, including Body Matters: A Phenomenology of Sickness, Disease and Illness (co-written with his son, Kevin) and Sociological Trespasses: Interrogating Sin and Flesh. Aho is also author of two award-winning studies of religiously-motivated political violence, The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism and This Thing of Darkness: A Sociology of the Enemy.
Publication Date: New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2016. viii, 195 p.
Description: Those who think that today's young adults are so mesmerized by social media that they cannot think broadly about the public good should think again. Here are a bevy of young radicals who offer powerful critiques of the state of our society today, and offer radical alternatives. They cover a wide range of issues, from education and policing to economic policy, but the common theme is thinking about how to make the United States a genuine democracy. At a time of frozen, unresponsive politics, these are voices that deserve a hearing. (publ./Eric Foner, author)
Publication Date: New York: HarperPerennial, 2017. xi, 434 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 28 May 2017 p. 14; TLS 12 Jan. 2018 p. 7. Note: 2017 is 50th anniversary of the Israel-Arab War (“The Six Day War”) & also the centenary of the British “Balfour Declaration” that first promised a Jewish national home in Palestine.
Publication Date: New York: Metropolitan Books, 2017. x, 323 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 28 May 2017 p. 14 Note: 2017 is 50th anniversary of the Israel-Arab War (“The Six Day War”) & also the also the centenary of the British “Balfour Declaration” that first promised a Jewish national home in Palestine. Description: The author advances the argument that it has been confrontation, not negotiation, that has brought the greatest movement toward compromise between Israel and Palestine. American and other peace negotiations, it’s argued, “have created the illusion that a solution is at hand, lessened Israel’s incentives to end its control over the West Bank and Gaza and undermined Palestinian unity.” (publ.)
This book provides a new and historically grounded perspective on the polarization of America, systematically documenting how and why it happened. Polarized presents commonsense benchmarks to measure polarization, draws data from a wide range of historical sources, and carefully assesses the quality of the evidence. No subject is more central to understanding American politics than political polarization, and no other book offers a more in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the subject than this one.
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2017. x, 258 p.
Reviewed: NPR Note: Author interview 20 Feb. 2017 on program, Fresh Air, with Host Terry Gross. “Uncovering Presidential Secrets, from Washington to Trump.” Description: The author tracks the rise in governmental secrecy that began with surveillance and loyalty programs during Woodrow Wilson’s administration, explores how it developed during the Cold War, and analyzes efforts to reform the secrecy apparatus and restore oversight in the 1970s. Chronicling the expansion of presidential secrecy in the Bush years, Graham explains what presidents and the American people can learn from earlier crises, why the attempts of Congress to rein in stealth activities don’t work, and why presidents cannot hide actions that affect citizens’ rights and values. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Monica, Calif.: Lions Gate Home Entertainment, 2006, c2004. 1 DVD (87 min.).
Participants: Ossie Davis, Denise Nicholas, Albert Jones, Erik Laray Harvey, Darnell Williams, Jeffrey Nash, Sharif Rasheed, & Stephen Rea. Description: The USS Mason entered WWII on a presumably doomed mission. The all African-American crew overcame the harsh realities of war abroad and segregation at home, and was finally honored for its heroism in 1994. Note: Based on the book, Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason, by Mary Pat Kelly (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1995).
Publication Date: Minneapolis, Minn.: Coffee House Pr., 2017. 119 p.
Reviewed: NPR “Fresh Air” 6 Apr. 2017 (by John Powers); NYT/BR 30 Apr. 2017 p. 12; TLS 28 Apr. 2017 p. 26; LRB 15 Aug. 2019 p. 13. Note: Originally published as: Los Niños Perdidos: Un Ensayo en Cuarenta Preguntas (Coyoacán, Ciudad de México: Sexto Piso, 2011). Description: Structured around the forty questions Luiselli translates and asks undocumented Latin-American children facing deportation, her book humanizes these young migrants and highlights the contradiction of the idea of America as a fiction for immigrants with the reality of racism and fear—both here and back home.
Publication Date: New York: The Nation Books, 2017. xi, 125 p.
Reviewed:NPR.org (Etelka Lehoczky; 31 Mar. 2017). Description: On December 9, 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report that strongly condemned the CIA for its secret and brutal use of torture in the treatment of prisoners captured in the “war on terror” during the George W. Bush administration. This deeply researched and fully documented investigation caused monumental controversy, interest, and concern, and starkly highlighted both how ineffective the program was as well as the lengths to which the CIA had gone to conceal it. In The Torture Report, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón use their celebrated graphic-storytelling abilities to make the damning report accessible, finally allowing Americans to lift the veil and fully understand the crimes committed by the CIA.
Publication Date: London: C. Hurst, 2017. ix, 253 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 5 May 2017; FA 96(5) Sept./Oct. 2017 p. 197 Description: Eritreans fought for their freedom from Ethiopia for thirty years, only to have their revered leader turn on his own people. Independent since 1993, the country has no constitution and no parliament. No budget has ever been published. Elections have never been held and opponents languish in jail. International organizations find it next to impossible to work in the country. Nor is it just a domestic issue. By supporting armed insurrection in neighboring states it has destabilized the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is involved in the Yemeni civil war, while the regime backs rebel movements in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. Martin Plaut is the former BBC World Service Africa editor, and helped administer the referendum in which Eritreans voted for independence.