Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Edward Dolnick's "The Rush"

Edward Dolnick is the author of The Clockwork Universe, The Forger's Spell, Down the Great Unknown and the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist. A former chief science writer at the Boston Globe, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications.

Dolnick applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853, and reported the following:
The key to the Gold Rush story, the single most important fact of the whole saga, is that Americans in 1849 had never experienced such a thing. Everyone knew that the world could fall apart overnight. What no one imagined was that good news could arrive just as suddenly.

And then it did! When the president himself declared that all the rumors were true – California’s gold was real! – tens of thousands of young men quit their jobs, abandoned their families, and set off for the gold fields.

They had not the least notion of what they were in for. Once across the Missouri River, one historian wrote, “civilization ended and the Middle Ages began.” And, because the trip was expensive, lots of emigrants were clerks or lawyers or doctors, greenhorns rather than outdoorsmen. They shot one another by accident. Their mules ran off. They tried to cross a river and drowned. They tried to take a shortcut and starved.

My goal in The Rush was to capture their voices and make vivid what it was like to live in a world that had, without warning, turned upside down. Page 99 finds us poised on the brink. A handful of restless young men lament their cramped fates.

From page 99:
In Wisconsin, teenaged Lucius Fairchild could hardly bear to think that he was stuck behind the counter of his father’s store, “showing rags to the ladies of Madison.” Rural life was no better. In Mark Twain’s Hannibal and in countless towns like it, “the day was a dead and empty thing,” despite all the era’s talk of progress. The sun beat down, a fly buzzed against a window, the town drunk rolled over, life drowsed on.
Then came the astonishing news and the stampede to the gold fields. The lure was money, beyond a doubt, but freedom played nearly as large a role. You didn’t have to follow behind a horse for the rest of your life or copy legal forms in an office or live under your father-in-law’s thumb. You could leap out of the rut that fate had assigned to you. If you had nerve and luck and ambition, you could get rich.

This was new in American history, and astonishing. The Declaration of Independence had given every American the right to pursue happiness. The gold rush promised the chance to catch it.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Dolnick's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Forger's Spell.

The Page 99 Test: The Clockwork Universe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 25, 2014

David Thunder's "Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life"

David Thunder has been a research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Spain, since September 2012. Prior to moving to Spain, Thunder served as a visiting assistant professor at Bucknell University and at Villanova University, in addition to completing two years of postdoctoral research – one year at the Witherspoon Institute and the other in Princeton University's James Madison Program. His work has appeared in publications such as the American Journal of Political Science, Political Theory, and the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

Thunder applied the “Page 99 Test” to his recent book, Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life, and reported the following:
The central goal of the book, as stated in its preface, is "to rehabilitate an ethically grounded ideal of citizenship and public service, one that refuses to separate political endeavors from the quest for human excellence" (xi). Classical authors, such as Plato and Aristotle, viewed all domains of human action as expressive - at least, ideally - of the agent's commitment to live a decent or worthy human life. Modern thinkers, such as Luther, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke, have tended to insulate political action from citizens' ethical and/or religious ideals, in the name of liberty, public order, toleration, or public reason. Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life challenges this modern effort to "quarantine" political reasoning from fundamental ethical commitments - associated in recent times with thinkers such as Rawls, Niebuhr, and Walzer - and attempts instead to develop an "integrationist" vision of citizenship that permits citizens to give full play to their deepest ethical commitments in their role as citizens and public officials. The motivation for this project is my convictions that the insulation of public life from citizens' ethical commitments puts in jeopardy not only our integrity as persons but also the legitimacy and moral resilience of our political communities.

One version of the modern separationist approach, John Rawls's, comes in for criticism for its attempt to rule out "conceptions of the good" as legitimate grounds for political action. I critique several of Rawls's arguments for this position, but on page 99 specifically, I address Rawls's argument that conceptions of the good are illicitly biased toward the subject's interests. My reply is that
[g]iven Rawls's rather permissive understanding of conceptions of the good, it is far from obvious that they can be treated indiscriminately as sources of illicit bias in the selection of principles of justice, analogous to social status, wealth, or race. While some conceptions of the good, such as that of the single-minded hedonist or careerist, are patently self-serving, others, such as that of the educator or human rights campaigner, may be sincerely oriented toward a worthy human life, which might involve, among other things, the creation of a better and more just social order for all. While we might preemptively rule out narrowly self-serving conceptions of the good as irrelevant to the principles of justice, it is much less obvious why we should rule out more other-oriented, caring conceptions of the good as valuable and relevant sources of insight.
Learn more about Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life and its author at David Thunder's website and the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Edward H. Carpenter's "Steven Pressfield's 'The Warrior Ethos'"

Edward H. Carpenter is a Marine officer who has served around the world, from Afghanistan to Indonesia. With a Master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, he has taught International Relations as an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland University College, speaks French and Indonesian, has written for the Marine Corps Gazette and published several works of fiction.

He recently applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Steven Pressfield’s “The Warrior Ethos”: One Marine Officer’s Critique and Counterpoint, and reported the following:
The Page 99 Test works well to showcase the counterpoint that makes up the second half of the book, but to set the stage, it’s important to touch upon the critique that forms the first part of my work.

Steven Pressfield is best known for his historical fiction such as Gates of Fire, but in 2011 he wrote a short book titled The Warrior Ethos that was selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps as a “must-read” book for all Marines. That’s unfortunate, because the basis for Pressfield’s proposed ethos are ancient Greek cultures (specifically the Spartans and Alexander the Great’s Macedonians) and modern tribal societies such as the Afghan Pashtuns.

From these exemplars, he makes a case that a Warrior Ethos is a necessary part of military culture, and that it should consist of courage, selflessness, love of comrades, and willingness to endure adversity. So far, so good, but his prescription for instilling these virtues is to use shame and an Americanized version of primitive “honor codes” which encourage belligerence, an “eye-for-an-eye” mentality, and exhort our young troops to “play hurt” and believe in “Death before Dishonor.”

It might be tempting to dismiss that as so much hot air, but he’s a convincing writer, and his words have had three years to work on thousands of young and impressionable minds; thus I spend the first part of the book debunking his fallacious lines of reasoning and holding up historical fact (from Plutarch, Herodotus, Thucydides, and others) against the often fictitious accounts that Pressfield cites to support his case.

I then posit a better answer to the questions of what a modern Warrior Ethos should consist of, and how best to develop it, which brings us to Page 99:
Finally, all warriors will benefit from fighting an enemy who knows that combat is a last resort; that on our side it will be hard-fought, but always within the laws of war, and that we will never inflict civilian casualties as a means of limiting our own.

Our enemy must know that if taken prisoner, they will be accorded their rights under international law and that if any member of our forces commits an atrocity, they will be prosecuted with fairness and transparency.

And our Nation must know that it can entrust its sons and daughters to our ranks; not to be broken down with shame, not to pumped up to “avenge every insult”, and not to suffer from high rates of sexual assault and suicide, but to be tested and tempered in the forges of our basic training curriculums with firmness, fairness and dignity, and to be led always by officers and NCOs who use the tools of empathy, education, and empowerment to set an example worthy of our enlightened age, so that whether a modern warrior serves four years or 30, that they return to civil life having grown as a person and having developed their abilities to lead, to follow, and to work as a member of a team.
This page neatly summarizes the desired outcome which can be obtained if we adopt an ethos based on something other than shame and misogynistic Bronze Age honor codes. Although it only captures the essence of the second half of the book, I believe it succeeds in revealing "the quality of the whole." All in all, I would consider this to be another success for the Page 99 Test!
Learn more about the book and author at Edward H. Carpenter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 22, 2014

James Pattison's "The Morality of Private War"

James Pattison is a Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Morality of Private War: The Challenge of Private Military and Security Companies, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book is concerned with a specific issue – whether we should oppose the use of private military and security contractors, such as Blackwater contractors in Iraq, because they cannot be morally required to make the ultimate sacrifice. It is sometimes suggested that, unlike soldiers in the regular armed forces who explicitly consent to sacrifice themselves, private contractors do not take the vow of self-sacrifice. This is problematic, the argument runs, because it can undermine military effectiveness.

The book in general provides a critique of the privatisation of military force. I argue that there are numerous ethical problems with relying on private military and security companies (PMSCs). These problems, I suggest, are not simply ones that can be addressed by improving the currently weak regulation of the private military and security industry. One of the key aims of the book is to argue that there are deeper problems with the use of these firms, such as their undermining of democratic control, the weakening of military effectiveness, and the problematic motives of private contractors. These problems mean that we should oppose generally the use of private military and security companies. If we are to fight wars, it is better that we use the regular military to do so.

However, on page 99 I do not actually agree with the objection to private contractors under question. In the section in which this page is located, I argue that private contractors may sometimes be morally permissibly forced to take on the risks of war. This is because they may consent to do so, like regular soldiers. But I go further than this. Perhaps controversially, I suggest that
even if private contractors do not consent to risky operations, it might still sometimes be permissible to coerce them to act, if this is feasible. Most generally, it can be permissible to force individuals to save the lives of others, even without their consent.
Why can we force people to take on great risks, even without their consent? Could I point a gun to your head and force you to enter into a burning building to save 20 small children who would otherwise die, against your wishes, with a high risk of death for you? In the case of 20 children, I’m not sure. But suppose that now you could save 500 children. Could I force you to save them? I argue that you could. What this means is that, even if private contractors do not consent to being subject to risks, they might still justifiably be forced to fight and to take on great risks, if doing so will save many lives. For instance, if commanders in Iraq were in a situation where they could have forced private security contractors to save the lives of many innocent Iraqi civilians, they should have done so, even if the contractors did not agree to this.

Even though I suggest that there is not a major difference between private contractors and regular soldiers in terms of whether they can be sacrificed, more generally this section argues that there is a related problem in terms of private contractors that means that we should favour regular soldiers. The problem is that it is very hard to ensure that, even if private contractors do consent to take on risk operations, they will in fact do so. They may refuse to take on justifiable military operations to which they sign up, and this can undermine military effectiveness. The state employing the services of the firm has far fewer means to ensure contractors will act than when it relies on the regular military. This, I suggest, is one of several problems with the use of private military and security companies.
Visit James Pattison's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Andrew Stephen Sartori's "Liberalism in Empire"

Andrew Stephen Sartori is Associate Professor of History at NYU, author of Bengal in Global Concept History: Culturalism in the Age of Capital (2008), and coeditor (with Samuel Moyn) of Global Intellectual History (2013).

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Liberalism in Empire: An Alternative History, and reported the following:
My book is a vernacular history of colonial liberalism that moves beyond the more familiar terrain of self-conscious political thought to explore the movement of liberal ideas about freedom and property not only in terms of their compatibility with the interests of capital, but also in terms of their capacity to ground a critique of capital and empire. Page 99 of Liberalism in Empire brings us into the early stages of a debate in 1850s Bengal about the legal standing of peasants contracting to cultivate indigo on their holdings for European planters. Those sympathetic to the peasants argued that the cultivators were not employees because both parties to the contract were independent capitals engaged in commercial exchange. Intensified by the deepening of the peasant discontent that had occasioned it, this debate provided the immediate occasion for a wider set of claims about the social status of the Bengali cultivator: namely, that peasants were independent producers with a customary claim to an interest in the soil. Its most radical champions understood the authority of custom to be grounded not merely in prescriptive authority, but in the rational foundation of a history of labor. At stake here was a very radical claim: that the customary order of agrarian society in Bengal was in fact primordially a civil society based on the property-constituting powers of labor – and correlatively, that colonial law was answerable to the rational normative underpinnings of that society. Unsurprisingly given the circumstances of its emergence, this liberal discourse of custom resonated with the demands of indigo-cultivating peasants to be released from obligations to continue cultivating the plant so as to be able to participate more extensively, more equitably and more profitably in practices of commodity exchange. The cultivator demand to be recognized as an independent producer of commodities provided a framework for the incorporation of the Lockean premises of the liberal discourse of custom into the increasingly articulate peasant politics of the early twentieth century. The insistence on the property-constituting power of labor, and on its normative significance for political life, would come to be deeply ingrained in both explicitly secular movements for the rights of cultivators and tenants, and explicitly religious movements for the rights of Bengali Muslims – and in this way it would play a significant role in shaping the popularity of the Pakistan demand in the Bengal countryside in the 1940s.
Learn more about Liberalism in Empire at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

David P. Baker's "The Schooled Society"

David P. Baker is Professor of Education and Sociology, and a research scientist at the Center for the Study of Higher Education and the Population Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University. He is coauthor of National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling with Gerald LeTendre, and a frequent contributor to scholarly journals on education.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Schooled Society: The Educational Transformation of Global Culture, and reported the following:
“Ice Cream, Women’s Studies, and the MBA.” If you look at Page 99 of The Schooled Society you’ll find the first page of Chapter 5, which is titled “Constructing Reality: Ice Cream, Women’s Studies, and the MBA.” Just below this trio, you’ll find a quote that prefaces the body of the chapter and captures the essence of the book.
From the fuel economy of cars to getting pregnant, from stealth technology in war to teenage rebellion [all are] to be understood in a day-to-day basis around basic natural-scientific understandings. The process at work here is the reverse of that which gave rise to the applied sciences over the century. In [that] case, society penetrated university sciences ... now [university] sciences penetrate society.
--David Frank and Jay Gabler, Reconstructing the University (2006)
Rather than thinking of education as the systematic discovery or rote memorization of knowledge, I argue that we should think of education as an institution that penetrates and changes broader society. While universities responded to outside forces, they also independently invent new fields of study that shape culture and our shared sense of meaning that in turn reshape other institutions of society. For example, the popular fields in Women’s Studies and Business Administration in the latter half of the 20th century were more a creation of an academic process in conjunction with social trends, than the university just responding to outside social change. In doing so, universities legitimated these fields and changed society. As a field, Women’s Studies helped foster new knowledge and changed conceptions of equity and changed the way we talk and think about gender—leading to the founding of new academic departments around the world.

Similarly, universities created the Master’s in Business Administration degree. The MBA has, in turn, become part of the formalization of knowledge in the fields of business and economics, in a sense making the language of theoretical behavioral and social science its basic paradigm for management of large organizations of all kinds. The effects of business education even reach to the way we think about how we should run non-profits, public services, and governments (the credibility of business leaders such as Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg as qualified stewards of our governments comes to mind).

These are just two examples of the effects of education on our society. Throughout the book I explore how over the last century, education has become an institution that affects health, economics, religion, and politics around the world. We often forget that only 100 years ago, most of the world’s population was illiterate. As education has become universal, the positive effects of education have spread across the globe—and the world is a better place because of it.
Learn more about The Schooled Society at the Stanford University Press website and David Baker's research website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jason McGraw's "The Work of Recognition"

Jason McGraw is associate professor of history at Indiana University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship, and reported the following:
Page 99 represents something of a pause in the main action of my book, as well as a turning point in the story I tell about the consequences of slave emancipation in Colombia.

The skinny on my book is that emancipation in 1851-1852 led people to fundamentally reconsider the meanings and practices of citizenship. For the majority of the population, already free when the remaining slaves were liberated, the event heralded expansive new rights, civil equality, and a rethinking of hierarchies and prejudices. Many social relations seemed up for renegotiation, including those in marriage, the market economy, the Catholic church, and partisan politics. By putting emancipation to other (universalizing) uses, however, the freedom struggles of former slaves and their allies went unacknowledged. Moreover, by the 1880s, conservatives as well as many liberals and former abolitionists had cast their lot with order-and-morality to counter both legal equality and the continuing agitations of plebeian citizens.

Page 99 is the first page of chapter four, “The Lettered Republic.” The chapters that precede and follow it focus on labor, religious, and political struggles on the country’s Caribbean coast, whereas here the perspective is a “national” one of rarified literature and law that emanated from Bogotá, the country’s capital. It also brings the story to Candelario Obeso (1849-1884), a poet, civil servant, and one of only two men of African descent with a national reputation in nineteenth-century Colombia. (Roughly one-quarter of the country’s population was, and is, of African descent.) It was Obeso, through published critiques of the lettered republic’s exclusion of black men, who inspired me to write about citizenship as the problem of emancipation.

Page 99 begins with epigraphs that exemplify the larger story of race in the book. The first epigraph from Obeso presages what W.E.B. DuBois would call the double-consciousness of black people’s perception of themselves through white contempt. The second epigraph, also from Obeso, mocks the belief in racial whitening in the context of Latin American mestizaje (race mixing), which requires the demonization of blackness:
Because you see me the skin
The color of ink
Perhaps you believe that
My soul is also black?…
—Candelario Obeso, Cantos Populares de Mi Tierra [Popular Songs of My Land], 1877

All the others are sickly and of an ambiguous race. Their endeavor is to be white and pretty. For me, it is an honor to be black and my ugliness delights me. Human regeneration is in my race. Science has already said this.
—Candelario Obeso, Lecturas Para Ti [Readings for You], 1878
Page 99’s final epigraph is from a contemporary of Obeso who misinterprets the deceased poet’s critiques by accusing him of a life-long obsession with white women (for which there is no historical evidence):
Obeso was an Othello without a Desdemona who would love him.
—José María Rivas Groot, La Lira Nueva [The New Lyre], 1886
This final quote illuminates the turning point in the book, where the ruling class disavowal of Obeso’s demands for recognition stands as a metonym for the wider rejection of the democratic challenges it faced after emancipation.
Learn more about The Work of Recognition at The University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kate Elswit's "Watching Weimar Dance"

Kate Elswit is an academic, curator, and dancer who has published widely on dance and theatre history, performance theory, practice-as-research, and cultural studies. She teaches in the Department of Theatre at the University of Bristol, and her recent performance projects include Future Memory (as dramaturg with choreographer Rani Nair). Among her awards are the Gertrude Lippincott Award from the Society of Dance History Scholars, the Sally Banes Publication Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research, a Marshall Scholarship, and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Watching Weimar Dance, and reported the following:
Watching Weimar Dance is about the strange things people claimed to see on stage during the Weimar Republic. I posit that spectator accounts archive not only the physicality of past performance, but also the ways audiences used the temporary world of the theatre to negotiate pressing social issues. Page 99 is early in chapter 4, “The Politics of Watching: Staging Sacrifice Across the Atlantic,” which looks at how viewing itself functioned as a form of political activity at a turning point for Germany. The page introduces one of the two performances on which the chapter focuses: the ambitious 1930 multimedia spectacle Totenmal that was a collaboration between choreographer Mary Wigman and Swiss poet Albert Talhoff, among others.

Totenmal’s invocation of the World War I dead was meant to be “apolitical” even though it has retrospectively been read in light of the rise of German fascism. Soon after, Wigman toured her dance cycle Opfer around the United States, including a solo from Totenmal. Chapter 4 compares divergent audience responses on both sides of the Atlantic to these two late Weimar-era performances that addressed themes of sacrifice and human fate. In it, I ask not what the performances categorically “were,” but what audiences allowed them to be. By focusing on the ideologies of reception, including the multiple models of community in play and the power of underreading, I locate the politics of dance in how spectators worked out meaning in relation to the world around them.

What I find compelling about Totenmal are the terms on which it went so wrong for so many commentators. For example, the main National Socialist paper was highly suspicious, because the piece’s utopian tendencies were suggestive of the old, rather than the new, right. Likewise, no fewer than twelve reviews charged Talhoff with being a “dilettante,” which signified something very specific. To bring a reader along with me into the particularities of such responses, I need to first set up the vision for the event and how it materialized on stage. Page 99 begins to describe the features of Totenmal’s total work of art—a “dramatic-choric vision for word dance light” as it was advertised—including the light altars and the various dance and recitation roles of the sixty performers. To underscore the scale of the project, it also includes a sketch for the purpose-built space in Munich that seated 1600 spectators per night.
Visit Kate Elswit's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hassan Abbas's "The Taliban Revival"

Hassan Abbas is Professor and Chair of the Department of Regional and Analytical Studies at National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs in Washington, D.C. He is also a Senior Advisor at the Asia Society.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism on the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier, and reported the following:
The selected passage from my book (page 99 to be specific) indeed reflects some of the most important themes of the work. The idea of Taliban, both among Afghans and Pakistanis, derived nourishment from a variety of sources ranging from extremist religious thinking and criminal networks to authoritarianism and dubious role played by state agencies. The text below provides an insight into how Pervez Musharraf, a Pakistani military dictator, created space for Taliban through his mistaken policies. He was no doubt progressive and pro-Western in his worldview but his authoritarian way of governance and sidelining of democratic institutions (as defective as they were) helped Taliban revival. Secondly, the rise of religious political parties in Pakistan in the post 9/11 setting – which Musharraf had coopted to create political space for his personal ambitions – also empowered religious radicals. The idea of Taliban in itself is weak and flawed and is partly nurtured by the distortion of Islamic teachings, but support from within the government circles supplement Taliban power.

From page 99:
(Musharraf) made all the right noises when he met Western leaders, but his decisions on the ground shattered the country. But to give credit where credit is due – Musharraf did take some bold policy initiatives. The trouble is, those decisions were seldom implemented.

By 2002, Musharraf had assumed the title ‘president’ after a flawed referendum. National elections were also held in response to public demands for a return to democracy. Musharraf realized that Pakistan was not short of politicians who, given their feudal background and vested interests, would be ready to join hands with a military ruler in the ‘national interest’. And his assessment was spot on, though the political wing of Pakistan’s (intelligence agency) ISI also played its traditional role in inspiring the creation of a new political force – basically old wine in new bottles – to form a pro-Musharraf government in Islamabad and the four provinces. But what happened in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (then known as NWFP) was both mysterious and unprecedented.

The political rise of Muttihada Majlis-e-Amal (MMA – United Forum for Action) was meteoric. Formed in 2002, this coalition of five religious political parties won the provincial elections in NWFP (and even emerged as the leading opposition party in the National Assembly of Pakistan). This created a propitious environment for radicalization to flourish in the province.
 It was an amazing achievement for this assortment of religious parties, associated with various Muslim sects and with divergent political agendas, to come together in government. The alliance comprised the Deobandi-dominated Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), the Barelvi- oriented Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, the traditionally Islamist Jamaat-e- Islami (JI), the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan, and the Wahhabi-inspired Jamiat Ahle Hadith.
 The alliance made full use of prevailing political opinion, which was highly exercised by the foreign presence in Afghanistan and by Pakistan’s involvement in the ‘war on terror’, both of which were seen in the country as very controversial campaigns.
Learn more about The Taliban Revival at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Stephen Eric Bronner's "The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists"

Stephen Eric Bronner is a noted political theorist and Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Comparative Literature, and German Studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He is also Director of Global Relations for its Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights and on the Executive Committee of UNESCO Chair for Genocide Prevention. His books include Modernism at the Barricades: Aesthetics, Politics, Utopia.

Bronner applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists, and reported the following:
Despite the claims of Ford Madox Ford, Page 99 usually has as much to offer as any other page. Choosing to look at one page number rather than another is something akin to playing roulette. In this case, however, 99 is a winner. It opens the third part of The Bigot. The first part deals with the phenomenological character of the bigot and the second with his psychology and the categories on which his thinking rests. Before the final section’s engagement with the politics of prejudice, this third part – “Playing the Role” – shows how the bigot adapts to society and renders himself more respectable by identifying himself as a “true believer,” an “elitist,” or a “chauvinist.” Old symbols like the swastika, the white hoods, and gutter language have become unfashionable for the most part. But playing one or more of these roles enables the bigot to appear as something different than he is – and attack his enemies in a more establishmentarian and socially acceptable fashion. So it is that the true believer can insist upon the absolute truth revealed to him and how it justifies his Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or general intolerance of those who believe differently. The elitist can appear as either an aristocratic or a populist. Either way he has little use for scientists, experts, or intellectuals: he knows what “real life” is like, that egalitarian reforms will never work and that the disadvantaged have no sense of their “real” interests anyway. As for the chauvinist, the provincial, he longs for “the good old days” when women were in the kitchen, gays were in the closet, and people of color knew their place – and all of them “really” liked things that way. That they resisted or dissented was due only to the influence of aliens, foreigners, and outsiders. Whether as a true believer, an elitist, or a chauvinist the bigot can believe that white men of property are still entitled to the special privileges that they once enjoyed whether because God said so, because of their inherent superiority, or because their world was the best of all possible worlds. All three of them resist a future in which people can know more, learn more, experience more, enjoy the new and expand the options available to individuals. All three of them know their enemy- “it is the same enemy the bigot has always had, namely, the idea that things can be different.”
Learn more about The Bigot at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Modernism at the Barricades.

--Marshal Zeringue