Monday, March 30, 2015

Abigail L. Swingen's "Competing Visions of Empire"

Abigail L. Swingen is an assistant professor of history at Texas Tech University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire, and reported the following:
From page 99:
According to the king, the Lords of Trade, and the African Company, to criticize the Navigation Acts or the company’s charter was an attack on the royal prerogative that would subvert the ideological framework upon which the entire empire depended. Although English people in the colonies had the right to petition the king, according to the Crown’s imperial ideal, they did not have the right to be critical of laws deemed essential for the functioning of the empire. As the Lords of Trade wrote to [Barbados Governor, Sir Jonathan] Atkins, “we do not so much wonder at these representations from the body of a people, who may by malicious or unadvised suggestions be perswaded into misapprenhensions of their own interest and welfare,” but a colonial governor should know better. Atkins continued to question the authority of the Crown over colonial affairs, however, and even went so far as to claim that the king lacked the power to make appointments to important offices in Barbados. To imperial authorities, this was absurd; the king had the absolute authority to make the appointments he wished anywhere in the realm. [Secretary of State Henry] Coventry warned the governor, “The advice that I should give you is this, if you are at any time aggrieved at any commands of his Majesty’s, seek the remedy by way of address and not by disputing his power especially where the law is on his side.” The position of the king and the Lords of Trade was clear: no colonial assembly or governor had the right to undermine or question the authority of the royal prerogative.

These disagreements were emblematic of the widespread problems with English colonial governance in the late seventeenth century. Stuart imperial policies, embodied in the African Company’s monopoly, frequently led to significant conflicts between the Lords of Trade and colonial administrators, planters, and merchants. These confrontations forced all sides to refine own concepts of how the empire should function and be governed, and made the business of governing colonies increasingly political and divisive.
In many ways page 99 captures the broader argument of the book. It illustrates the contested nature of the origins of the British empire in the early modern era and the centrality of slavery to these contestations. In the passage, Sir Jonathan Atkins, governor of Barbados from 1674-1680, was in the process of being reprimanded by the administrative body in charge of imperial affairs, the Lords of Trade and Plantations, for his repeated transgressions with imperial authority. Specifically, he was in trouble for allowing planters in the colony to petition the Lords of Trade regarding the Royal African Company, which held a royally-granted monopoly on the slave trade and enjoyed extensive influence over imperial affairs. The petition complained that the Company failed to supply the colony with enough African slaves, kept prices artificially high, and requested that the slave trade should be left free from monopoly control. Imperial authorities considered this request to be deeply offensive and threatening to the king’s prerogative because the Company’s authority over the slave trade emanated from monarchical privilege and represented the Crown’s vision of imperial rule. I argue that this confrontation represented not only competing ideas of how the slave trade should be managed, but also conflicting notions about the nature of the relationship between colony and metropole. While imperial authorities tended to stress the importance of subordination of the colonies to the metropolis, those with colonial interests tended to emphasize a concept of a mutually-dependent integrated empire, in which colonies were understood to be political as well as commercial extensions of England. The book focuses on numerous such moments of conflict and in doing so it argues that by the turn of the eighteenth century, slavery in England’s colonies as well as England’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade came to be understood by both colonists and metropolitan authorities as crucially important to the empire, the state, and the imperial economy. The overwhelming acceptance of slavery by the English did not emerge solely because of labor needs in the colonies, but was deeply implicated in the imperial, commercial, and military policies emanating from the metropolis.
Learn more about Competing Visions of Empire at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ann Twinam's "Purchasing Whiteness"

Ann Twinam is a Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Miners, Merchants and Farmers in Colonial Colombia and Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America.

Twinam applied the “Page 99 Test” to Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattos and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies, and reported the following:
The key quote on page 99 is:
Even though outlawed, slaves found ways, either supervised by masters or not, to carry weapons. It would not be until the next generation that their freeborn descendants would open the door wider, seeking the privilege to carry arms as whites, opening the door to militia service and eventual status as royal vassals.
This citation on page 99 falls in a chapter entitled “Interstices.” It explores how Africans and their mixed descendants (castas) searched for openings over the generations that permitted the movement from slavery to freedom and from freedom to status as vassals of the Spanish Empire. Once the castas achieved the rank of vassals, they enjoyed the traditional benefits of reciprocity: those who performed services had the right to request favors; the duty of the monarch was to reward them. This included the Council of the Indies that would---for that reason---seriously consider those casta petitions that arrived in the late eighteenth century requesting the privilege (gracias al sacar) of purchasing whiteness.

The quote on page 99 identifies an earlier and fundamental part of that process. It tracks how in the early colony it was not uncommon for imperial officials and elites to enhance their status by surrounding themselves with armed slave footmen. This practice accustomed the populace to seeing those in bondage with arms, even though this was a privilege legally reserved for whites. In succeeding generations the free mixed descendants of these slaves would also receive permission to carry weapons and to serve in pardo and mulatto militia units. As the castas participated in the defense of the empire against foreign invaders, they legitimated their status as loyal vassals, worthy of royal favors, including not only the acquisition of whiteness by a privileged few, but also official reconsideration of the discriminatory regime directed against them.
Learn more about Purchasing Whiteness at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 27, 2015

Paul Sullivan's "The Thin Green Line"

Paul Sullivan writes the Wealth Matters column for The New York Times.

From 2000 to 2006, he was a reporter, editor and columnist at the Financial Times. His first big story for the FT was a profile of the author Kurt Vonnegut based on a train ride they took from Springfield, Massachusetts to New York City. His last piece for the FT was Vonnegut’s obituary.

His first book was Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t.

Sullivan applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of The Super Wealthy, his second book, and reported the following:
I’m not sure if you get the quality of the whole book by reading page 99 of The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy. But you certainly get a good feel for what my closet looks like.

Page 99 is a few pages into the first chapter in the book’s Spend It section. I’m writing about some pants that do not fit me and are no longer in style. The waist is three inches too small, which makes the out-of-style pleats billow like a coffee filter. Yet these pants hang in my closet because I bought them at Burberry nearly 20 years ago. It was a time when their price, which I can no longer remember, was astonishingly high. I loved those trousers, but then my post-college waist gave way to the stomach of a man with a desk job, and I haven’t been able to force the button closed since my 30s. If you turn the page, you’ll get to the very expensive Ferragamo shoes that cut up my feet whenever I wear them, which I haven’t in years. These, too, I can’t part with. Same reason. The price.

Why does any of this matter in a book with a subtitle that promises money secrets revealed? Because understanding how we spend money on individual things is essential to determining whether we’ll be wealthy – and be able to make the decisions we want to make no matter how much money we earn – or rich or poor, when decisions get made for us. In my book, I use the image of the thin green line – think a 50-year chart of stock returns, rising and falling and rising some more – to delineate the difference, between those comfortably on top and those barely hanging on to the line.

Those pants in my 20s and those shoes in my 30s were choices. They remind me of decisions I made that I shouldn’t have made with the salary I had. Both were beyond my budget, way beyond. And that is why they take up space in my closet to this day. Now that I earn more I could afford a new pair of Burberry trousers and a more comfortable pair of fancy shoes. But they sit there to remind me of the importance of small decisions and overall behavior to being wealthy. And when I think about those pants and shoes, I chose not to stretch myself to buy something I want but don’t need.
Visit Paul Sullivan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

David S. & Jeanne T. Heidler's "Washington’s Circle"

David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler have collaborated on books about the early American republic, the Antebellum period, and the Civil War, including Encyclopedia of the War of 1812 and the award-winning Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Social, Political, and Military History, which received the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award. They are the authors of Henry Clay: The Essential American; Old Hickory’s War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire; The War of 1812; Manifest Destiny; Daily Life in the Early American Republic: Creating a New Nation, 1790-1820; and The Mexican War.

Jeanne Heidler is Professor of History at the United States Air Force Academy where she is the senior civilian member of her department.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Washington’s Circle, the occasion is George Washington’s first annual message, an event now called the State of the Union. As with everything under the new constitutional government, we see a precedent-setting situation: the act of delivering the annual message and the congressional reaction to it. Readers have a brief contextual explanation of the changing protocols for this occasion over a long span of different presidencies, but mainly they have the tangible example of how everyone was trying to balance the ideal of republican government with the necessity of creating viable executive authority. Here is how that is treated:
Washington did not relish having to deliver the speech, but he wanted to communicate his views to Congress in person. He did so every year of his presidency and his successor John Adams continued the practice. The third President, Thomas Jefferson, preferred to send his message in written form to Congress, but only partly because he loathed public speaking. By the time Jefferson was president, the annual message had fallen into disfavor for resembling the king’s address from the throne to Parliament, and every president after Jefferson followed his precedent until Woodrow Wilson revived the personal appearance. Wilson saw nothing untoward in addressing Parliament from the throne.

Washington did, but he was working from a different set of circumstances, one of which was the need to establish his office as a coequal branch of government. At 11:00 AM on January 8, with considerable ceremony, the President of the United States left his residence in his cream colored carriage. At its front rode two secretaries atop Washington's matching white stallions. Tobias Lear sat in the carriage with Washington, and the President's nephew Robert Lewis rode his horse behind it. Chief Justice Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox followed, each in a separate carriage. When Washington arrived at Federal Hall, the doorkeepers of the House and Senate escorted him into the Senate chamber. Members of the House and Senate stood when he entered and remained standing until he sat down in John Adams’s ornate chair. Washington's retinue filed in to stand at the rear of the chamber throughout the address. Washington stood to give his speech. Congressmen and Senators stood as well. In a departure from their behavior at the inaugural address, they remained standing throughout the address. The government was changing before their very eyes.
This description illustrates at least two main themes developed throughout the book, and we tried to do this by showing the situation rather than telling about it. Washington’s effort to enhance the prestige of the presidency with the appurtenances we describe becomes controversial as the narrative progresses. The peculiar change marked by the legislature standing during Washington’s address is noted as a break from the first inaugural when members had taken their seats after the president’s entrance. That had been done to drive home the point that the man coming before them was at most a chief among equals. The conflicts developing both within and between the branches of government are foreshadowed, and the depth of the disagreement is only thinly veiled as it emerges over matters of principle as well as policy in the pages that follow.
Learn more about the book and author at David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler's website.

My Book, The Movie: Washington’s Circle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mary Patrice Erdmans and Timothy Black's "On Becoming a Teen Mom"

Mary Patrice Erdmans is Associate Professor of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University. She is the author of Opposite Poles: Immigrants and Ethnics in Polish Chicago, 1976-1990 and The Grasinski Girls: The Choices They Had and the Choices They Made.

Timothy Black is Associate Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers on and off the Streets.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, On Becoming a Teen Mom: Life before Pregnancy, and reported the following:
“…requires breaking the silence.” These are the first four words on page 99 and while they refer specifically in this chapter to the silence surrounding child sexual abuse it is an appropriate metaphor for what we are trying to do in this book based on 108 life stories of teen mothers. By telling the backstory to their early pregnancies, we break the silence that dominates the narratives about teen mothers, narratives that shame teen mothers and blame them for such things as the breakdown of the traditional family, urban decay, bloated government spending, and increased incarceration rates.

Most studies looking at the consequences of early childbearing find that teen mothers are more likely to use state assistance, to not graduate from high school, and to be single parents. What these studies remain silent about is the reality that teen mothers are more likely to live in impoverished neighborhoods, to attend inadequate schools, and to suffer the indignities of gender violence long before they become pregnant. And yet – policy makers, media pundits, and even some social scientists blame teen mothers for larger social problems inflicted on them, not caused by them.

Page 99 [inset left, click to enlarge] is in the chapter “What They Tell You To Forget.” The relation between child sexual abuse and early childbearing was one of our sobering findings. Over one-quarter of the teen mothers in our study had been raped or molested when they were children, and most of them did not tell anyone about the abuse while it was happening. Despite 40 years of activism to reduce violence against women, sexual assault continues, not only in homes, but also on college campuses, in the military, and by prominent sports figures. While some adult women are speaking out, many teenagers and children are still hiding the abuse, and institutions are still trying to cover it up.

In this book we expose the violence – structural, symbolic, and interpersonal -- that is caused by economic inequality, gender disparity, and persistent racism. It is time to break the silence; we must not forget that teen mothers are not “the problem," social injustice is the problem.
Learn more about On Becoming a Teen Mom at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 23, 2015

James Garbarino's "Listening to Killers"

James Garbarino holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and was Founding Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. He was formerly Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, and he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has served as an adviser to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. He is the author of Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.

Garbarino applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Listening to Killers touches on several themes that pervade the book. First and foremost, it includes a “case,” the story of a particular individual (in this case a 19 year old named James). I have served as a psychological expert witness in more than 70 murder cases in the past 20 years. But what makes the book more than just a compilation of cases, is the fact that in the book I link the stories of individuals to research findings from psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology, and even history and political science. This is at the core of the book—inviting compassion by illuminating the humanity of individual killers through grounding their stories in an appreciation for the adversity and suffering of their lives that gives rise to their violent behavior. The facts of race loom large throughout the book, and page 99 is no exception (including the fact that some one in three Black men will be imprisoned at some point during their lifetimes). Page 99 also considers the important ways in which individual “choice” (the foundation of the criminal justice system) is always conditioned by the social realities in which these “choices” are made. This includes, for example, the very desperately bad choices that confront a young male inmate who is faced with the alternative of submitting to sexual assault or fighting back and being battered or even killed for his resistance. Often this terrible choice is wrapped up in a “code of honor,” in which experiencing “disrespect” and “humiliation” is experienced as the prospect of psychological annihilation. Whether it be in prison or in the outside world, many killers are driven to commit violent acts to avoid what they perceive to be the shame of being disrespected. Add guns into this equation and the result of often lethal. The book focuses upon the emotional and moral damage that shapes many killers, so much so that it offers the proposition that the best way to understand them is as “untreated traumatized children who control the scary men whose minds and bodies they inhabit.”
Learn more about Listening to Killers at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Michael Morse's "Mr. Wilson Makes it Home"

Michael Morse is a retired firefighter who received the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship from the Rhode Island Foundation this past year. He is the author of Rescuing Providence and Responding as well as numerous essays. He is a monthly columnist on the websites Fire Engineering and EMS World. He resides in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Morse applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Mr. Wilson Makes It Home: How One Little Dog Brought Us Hope, Happiness, and Closure, and reported the following:
From page 99:
…Fred’s mission is to create one-acre pens in which to introduce wolf-dogs and let them form their own packs, and establish their own order within the pack. These dogs all came from people who had no use for them and who had abandoned them. A wolf pack is a strong family unit, with an alpha male and alpha female in charge. The rest of the wolves are members of the pack. If they are not accepted by the pack for whatever reason, the rest of the wolves ostracize the one that doesn’t fit until he slinks off and becomes a lone wolf or finds a different pack to be a part of. It’s a tough world, but it works, and wolves have survived some of the world’s harshest environments for thousands of years.

Zimba was the alpha male in our house, or at least he thought he was. I thought I was too, but it was really Cheryl. It made for a difficult hierarchy. When we arrived at the Wolf Refuge it was clear that it was neither Zimba, me, nor even Cheryl was the alpha anything. Fred was the head honcho, and that was that. We city folk, as he liked to call us, had brought poor Zimba to the hairdressers before his journey-Cheryl and Danielle’s idea, not mine-and he sure did look pretty when we arrived. No wolves were in sight, and nobody howled, but I could sense wildness in the air. Fred and his partner, Amy lived in a mobile home on the outskirts of his land and had all the necessities and a little more. It was comfortable.

We tied Zimba to a tree outside and went in, all six of us, and told Fred our story. He didn’t say much, listened well and made his decision quickly. He agreed to take Zimba and thought he knew the perfect pack to introduce him to. We went outside, and Fred approached Zimba, who rolled onto his back in the submissive pose, just like the books said he would, though this was something he never even considered doing at home. Fred looked at his teeth, felt the top of his head, and shook his own head when he smelled the lovely perfumed soap the groomer had used, but ultimately gave Zimba permission to stand, not by saying so, but…
I had no idea what I would find on Page 99. When I first read it I was disappointed, certain that it would fail the Page 99 test. Then I thought about the words, and the meaning behind them, and how in their own way they convey the sense of family, and order, love and trust that is the heart of the book. Page 99 details the inner workings of a wolf pack. It hints at the close resemblance to the pack that a house full of humans has taken on. Our home was no different than a pack of wolves, each of us finding our place in the unit, contributing our strengths and letting those with different strengths find their place.

Everybody can’t be in charge. It is okay to not be. But even in the most well-run packs, or homes, problems develop, and somebody has to go. Or come. Mr. Wilson came just at the right time, and his presence in our “pack” was just the ingredient that was missing.

Zimba was a wolf-dog. He was a great wolf, but a pretty bad dog. Our time at the Loki Clan Wolf Refuge taught us that even the most different kinds of people can find their place, and when proper pack order is in place, harmony at home need not be a distant dream, but a reality. Mr. Wilson is a dog. He is a great dog. All dogs are potentially great, the same as all humans. It is up to us humans to see just how great, and nurture that innate ability in all living beings to heal, teach, love and enhance each other’s lives.
Visit the Mr. Wilson Makes it Home blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Michael Morse & Mr. Wilson.

My Book, The Movie: Mr. Wilson Makes It Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 20, 2015

James J. O'Donnell's "Pagans"

James J. O'Donnell is a classicist who served for ten years as Provost of Georgetown University and is now University Librarian at Arizona State University. He is the author of several books including Augustine, The Ruin of the Roman Empire, and Avatars of the Word. He is the former president of the American Philological Association, a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and the chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies.

O'Donnell applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity, and reported the following:
Pagans is about traditional ancient religion and what became of it. By page 99, we’ve seen the ruler of the world butchering cows by moonlight and are into a time when upstarts had to be dealt with. A serene philosopher named Celsus writes: “If you shut your eyes to the world of sense and look up with the mind, if you turn away from the flesh and raise the eyes of the soul, only so will you see god. And if you look for some one to lead you along this path, you must flee from the deceivers and sorcerers who court phantoms.” The shammers and scammers he has in mind at that moment are the people who worshipped – we’re in the second century, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius – the petty and shabby new deity called Christ. His dismissal of Christ and his followers is well-informed, intelligent, and sounds an awful lot like the things Christians soon would be saying at great length about their opponents.

If you land in Pagans by helicopter, as it were, that’s a good place to catch your breath and look around. For I mean to make that old world Celsus lived in look and feel normal to the reader – because of course it was utterly normal to all who lived in it. I hope I can wrench readers’ expectations around to the point where they can see Christianity, when it looms up, with fresh eyes, untouched by any sense of inevitability, half-formed, hard to understand, full of inconsistencies. My ultimate question is “how normal was Christianity in that world?” – and then where was it abnormal and how did it get that way? In short, I want to mess with readers’ heads long enough to help them look at things we think are familiar and see them with real curiosity and surprise. I’ll tell a lot of curious and surprising stories along the way.
Learn more about Pagans at the publisher's website.

Writers Read: James J. O'Donnell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Matthew Parker's "Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born"

Matthew Parker's non-fiction books include Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II; the Los Angeles Times bestseller Panama Fever, which was one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of the Year; and The Sugar Barons, which was an Economist Book of the Year.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming in Jamaica, and reported the following:
Well, this is a little awkward. Page 99 happens to be a discussion of Ian Fleming’s attitude to the United States. It’s not that complimentary.

My new book is about the huge influence, in many different ways, that Jamaica had on the creation of James Bond. It also traces Fleming’s life on the island, where he spent two months every year from 1946 to his death in 1964 (and wrote all the Bond stories). Page 99 finds us in 1950, and Ian has just had a huge row with his lover (and later, disastrously, wife) Ann Rothermere: he was supposed to accompany her to New York, but at the last minute decided he wanted to stay in his beloved Jamaica a little longer instead, rather than travel to what he called the ‘land of Eldollarado’.

Part of the attraction of Jamaica for Fleming was that it seemed to be in a different time, a throw-back to the glory days of the British Empire. It offered the perfect combination of old-fashioned imperial values, alongside the dangerous and sensual: the same curious combination that made his novels so appealing and successful. Fleming was appalled and bewildered by the British Empire’s spectacular collapse after the end of World War Two. Bond, the imperial hero who still projects British power across the world is in many ways a reaction to this.

Fleming resented Britain’s humiliating new financial and military dependence on the United States, and also the pressure exerted by Washington on Britain to divest itself of empire as quickly as possible. At the same time, he knew deep down that the United States represented the future, and Britain the past.

From page 99:
Certainly Fleming loved the country’s speed, its scale, its service and its food. He had huge admiration for its technical know-how and muscle. In From Russia, with Love, for instance, we learn that the Americans, in ‘such matters as radio and weapons and equipment, are the best’. Even the Russians use American knives of ‘excellent’ manufacture and American Zippo lighters. But at the same time, Fleming despaired of what he called, in a letter to Ann in 1947, ‘their total unpreparedness to rule the world that is now theirs’.

Scottish novelist Candia McWilliam identifies as part of the appeal of the Bond books their ‘continual homeopathic doses of Anti-Americanism’. It is striking how, with the exception of Felix Leiter, almost all the Americans Bond meets are surly, uncooperative and jealous of his success and panache. In From Russia, with Love, praise of American technical skill is countered by the criticism that ‘they have no understanding of the [espionage] work … they try to do everything with money’. And quickly acquired wealth has poisoned the country. In Diamonds are Forever, the Chief of Staff briefs an incredulous Bond on America’s appalling murder rate and ‘ten million’ drug addicts, and how gambling, controlled by the Mafia, is the biggest business, ‘bigger than steel. Bigger than motor cars.’ In his travelogue Thrilling Cities, having beaten the ‘syndicates’ of Las Vegas, Fleming goes to bed ‘after washing the filth of the United States currency off my hands’.

Elsewhere, we learn that Las Vegas is ‘ghastly’, New York is obsessed with ‘the hysterical pursuit of money’, and Chicago has ‘one of the grimmest suburbs in the world’. In all, the country is crime-ridden and in crisis, thanks to consumerism and the breakdown of the traditional family in a ‘society that fails to establish a clear moral definition of right and wrong’.

Fleming’s attitudes to the United States were shaped not only by his own experiences there, but also by the situation in Jamaica. One of the reasons Bond loves the country on his earlier trips is that it is British space, where, for once, he is not dependent on American resources or approval.
Visit Matthew Parker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Martha Hodes's "Mourning Lincoln"

Martha Hodes is Professor of History at New York University and the author of The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century and White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South.

Hodes applied the “Page 99 Test” to her recent book, Mourning Lincoln, and reported the following:
Page 99 begins with the word “grief.” It’s the last word of the last sentence on page 98, and a perfect lead-in to the story told in Mourning Lincoln--but only part of that story. Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., five days after Union victory, and the sorrow was profound among African Americans. Page 99 captures those feelings:
Everywhere, children cried audibly and grown-ups wept bitterly. Some cried all night, others just felt numb. One woman described herself as “nearly deranged” with grief. Black soldiers were utterly bereft. Edgar Dinsmore of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts felt “a loss irreparable.” One man compared the circumstances to a horrific scene he had witnessed as a slave: a mother whipped forty lashes for weeping when white people took away her children. The violence had traumatized him, “but not half so much as the death of President Lincoln,” he confessed. Some white officers in black regiments felt the sense of loss magnified. “Oh how Sad, How Melancholy,” James Moore wrote to his wife. Such intense sorrow overcame him that it seemed “an impossibility to rally from it.”
But Mourning Lincoln tells a more complicated story, too. We often think of the assassination as a moment of universal and collective grief. Yet by moving beyond headlines, sermons, and public condolences, by encompassing North and South, Union and Confederate, black and white, men and women, soldiers and civilians, the book reveals a much wider array of responses. The nation’s first presidential assassination, coming as it did at the end of a four-year civil war, also prompted fear, fury, and glee. While mourners wept, the vanquished Confederates expressed satisfaction at Lincoln’s death, as did the president’s northern antagonists.

On page 99, as in other parts of the book, the experiences of Lincoln’s black mourners are centered.
African Americans claimed for themselves a special place in the outpouring of sorrow, and the prayers and sermons of Easter Sunday magnified Lincoln’s role as the Great Emancipator. A New Orleans minister asserted that his people felt “deeper sorrow for the friend of the colored man,” and black clergymen in the North allowed that their people felt the loss “more keenly” and “more than all others.” Journalists singled out the “dusky-skinned men of our own race” as the “chief—the truest mourners,” and black soldiers maintained that “as a people none could deplore his loss more than we.” Frederick Douglass, speaking extemporaneously in Rochester on Saturday, told the overflowing crowd that he felt the loss “as a personal as well as national calamity” because of “the race to which I belong.”
In fact, African Americans skillfully invoked Lincoln to further their post-war quest for equality, fashioning the martyred president into a radical who, had he lived, would have enacted voting rights for black men.

Page 99 comes in the chapter called “God,” focusing on how the bereaved struggled with the mysteries of divine will, asking why God would take Lincoln away just at the moment of victory. The last full sentence paints a portrait of a weeping world.
From the moment the news arrived, Lincoln’s mourners cried as they recorded their emotions, smudging the ink in their journals and letters.
To Lincoln’s mourners, their sorrow felt universal, even though they knew it was not--and Lincoln’s black mourners understood this most acutely. Mourning Lincoln ultimately demonstrates how clashing visions of the nation’s future reverberated through Reconstruction and far beyond--indeed, into the present day.
Learn more about the book and author at Martha Hodes's author website.

Cover story: Mourning Lincoln.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pat Shipman's "The Invaders"

Pat Shipman is retired Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. Her books include The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction, and reported the following:
Page 99 holds up pretty well to the test. There are two main themes in this book, both attempting to explain why Neanderthals went extinct. The first theme is that modern humans are an invasive species and, in fact, an invasive predatory species. In order to understand what this means, I often use the results of studies arising from the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995-6. That is the major topic of page 99, which discusses the effects of the return of wolves to Yellowstone, where they had been absent since about 1920, thanks to the killing propensities of humans. Thus, the “normal” ecosystem that had reigned in Yellowstone for many decades was in fact depauperate. When wolves came back, their closest competitor – coyotes – suffered. Wolves targeted coyotes for hunting and, as coyotes tried to scavenge from wolf kills, wolves killed them. Coyote populations dropped by 50 percent overall and those remaining started avoiding wolf-rich areas.

The analogy to modern humans invading Eurasia and meeting Neanderthals suggests that Neanderthals, as the indigenous predator closest to modern humans, would suffer the most precipitate drop in population and the most severe competition from the human invasion.

Where page 99 fails to capture the main point of the book is in terms of the second theme, how modern humans outcompeted Neanderthals. Later in the book I argue that there is good evidence for the existence of a unique group of large canids which I call wolf-dogs. It has been suggested that these animals were a first attempt at domesticating wolves into dogs. The second theme of the book explores evidence for these wolf-dogs – morphological, genetic, and dietary – and what having even partly domesticated wolf-dogs might have meant to hunting success among modern humans. I shape and present a novel – and controversial – hypothesis that these animals were wolf-dogs and worked with humans to explain their unprecedented success in hunting.

Only time and more evidence will reveal whether this domesticated dog hypothesis is correct, but the ideas in the book are new and thought-provoking.
Learn more about The Invaders at the Harvard University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Animal Connection.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thomas Fleming's "The Great Divide"

Thomas Fleming is a distinguished historian and the author of more than fifty books. A frequent guest on PBS, C-SPAN, and the History Channel, Fleming has contributed articles to American Heritage, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, and many other magazines. He lives in New York City.

He  applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation, and reported the following:
My page 99 could not be better, from the viewpoint of summing up the book’s basic purpose – dramatizing the many-sided clash between Washington and Jefferson, with James Madison trapped between them. The book opens with Jefferson in Paris as ambassador and Madison as Washington’s collaborator (or vice versa) in creating the Constitution. Those who have read the preceding 98 pages know that Jefferson’s arrival as Secretary of State is forcing Madison to play a two-faced role, which must have caused him considerable anguish.

At the top of the page we have Congress ensconced in luxurious armchairs in their Philadelphia headquarters, having completed the transfer of the capital from New York, in accordance with a deal that Jefferson struck with Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton. In return for Jefferson’s agreement to support Hamilton’s plan to pay both state and federal debts, he got Hamilton’s agreement to move the national capital to the District of Columbia, after a ten year hiatus in Philadelphia while the “federal city” (which would remain a village for 100 years) was being built.

Meanwhile, on this same page, Congressman Madison is still Washington’s right hand man, composing both the president’s message to Congress and his reply to the lawmakers, and Washington’s reply to that response. Nothing could be cozier. But in the next paragraph we see the conflict looming. Jefferson is presenting Madison with a series of reports to submit to Congress. They are an assault on America’s relationship with Britain. The Secretary of State blamed London for everything that was wrong with America’s overseas commerce, from Muslims in North Africa preying on our ships to the collapse of the Newfoundland fishing industry.

Jefferson’s answer to these insults and irritants was a congressional tonnage law, which would favor French ships over British ones by raising import duties on the latter vessels. It was a classic example of Jeffersonian unrealism. The tariffs that the British were paying were the main income of the federal government. There was no hope of France replacing this river of cash. The page ends with a shock. None of these reports produced even a glimmer of a response from Congress. “Jefferson and his covert partner Congressman Madison….”
Visit Thomas Fleming's website.

Writers Read: Thomas Fleming.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Denis Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes's "Cowed"

Denis Hayes is a globally recognized environmentalist, the national coordinator of the first Earth Day, and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. Gail Boyer Hayes is a writer, editor, and former environmental lawyer who has authored books on solar energy and health issues.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America's Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The odorless climate-warming gases methane and carbon dioxide can asphyxiate a person if encountered in very high concentrations. Methane, the principal ingredient in natural gas, can also explode. At summer camp, young Denis and his pals set their farts on fire, proving that (1) boys and girls have different concepts of “fun,” and that (2) some farts contain methane. (Almost half of humans, however, produce flatus containing no methane, because they lack a single-cell gut organism called archaea. Wondering whether you’re a producer? Now you know how to find out.)

Methane is lighter than air, and carbon dioxide is heavier than air, so when air doesn’t circulate, methane settles near a ceiling and carbon dioxide pools in a hollow or near the floor. Be wary about entering any enclosed space—or even a pit—where biogases that you can neither see nor smell can accumulate.

Ozone, a corrosive form of oxygen, also forms in lagoons. Up in the stratosphere, ozone protects us from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which can cause skin cancers, cataracts, and weakened immune systems. But when ozone is generated closer to the ground it causes trouble. (Low-down ozone has no connection to the “ozone hole” that appears in the stratosphere.) Ozone is the main component of smog. Breathing it can inflame lungs, impair lung functioning, trigger asthma attacks, and cause coughing, sore throats, and shortness of breath. Young adults seem most vulnerable to ozone’s effects, and young adults compose much of the work force at factory farms. Recall how California cows can contribute as much ammonium nitrate to smog as cars do? In some regions, such as the San Joaquin Valley of California (home to both Interstate 5 and the Harris Ranch), cows and their silage also produce more ozone than cars and trucks.
Cowed is the story of how cows, largely invisible to most Americans, are actually omnipresent in our daily lives. They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink—and parts of cows are hidden in every room of our homes. In fact, without cows, European settlers couldn’t have held the lands they occupied, so there wouldn’t be a United States.

In Cowed, we strip the veils away to reveal the overwhelming impact of bovines on our lives. The mass of cow outweighs the mass of people in our country by a factor of two and a half, and maintaining so many of these marvelous beasts is draining our natural resources. We need to shrink the national herd and move away from factory farms.

But Cowed isn’t anti-cow. Far from it. These remarkable beasts contribute much that’s good to our lives and we hope they will continue to do so. The United States has vast stretches of land, for example, that aren’t good for cultivation, but are great for well-managed grazing.

The tone of Cowed is upbeat because we offer solutions that require little effort on the part of consumers and require no action whatever by a paralyzed Congress. Page 99 is typical in that it exposes, with some humor, how cows have penetrated our lives in unexpected ways. This subsection of Cowed focuses on how the “lagoons” where cow waste is stored at large dairies and feedlots contribute to air pollution in unexpected ways:
Learn more about the book and authors at the Cowed website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Carl Olson's "Indian Asceticism"

Carl Olson is a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Allegheny College. Besides numerous essays in journals, books, and encyclopedias, he has published seventeen books on subjects such as Hinduism, Buddhism, comparative philosophy, and method and theory in the study of religion. His most recent books include Celibacy in Religious Traditions and The Allure of Decadent Thinking: Religious Studies and the Challenge of Postmodernism.

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Indian Asceticism: Power, Violence, and Play, and reported the following:
By applying the page 99 test to this book, a reader finds oneself in the middle of chapter 5 and a discussion of narratives about demons practicing asceticism and gaining various types of powers usually associated with human ascetics. These narratives suggest a relationship between the demonic, power and violence, which are interrelated themes of the book along with various forms of play. Ascetic powers considered include the ability to fly, walk on water or through dense objects, read minds, know former lives, see into the future, and others forms of power gained by practicing a vigorous ascetic regimen.

In addition to a discussion and analysis of ascetic powers, the author discusses the erotic, the demonic, the comic, and miraculous forms of play and their connections to power and violence. Besides focusing on Hinduism, literary material from Buddhism and Jainism are included in order to suggest the widespread nature of power, violence, and play in the lives of Indian ascetics. The book includes a brief examination of findings from cognitive science and what it might suggest about understanding the nature of these powers. The book also includes attempts to redefine the nature of the demonic and power.
Learn more about Indian Asceticism at the Oxford University Press.

 --Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Teresa Kuan's "Love’s Uncertainty"

Teresa Kuan is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Love's Uncertainty: The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China, and reported the following:
From page 99:
combines neoliberal logic with many other logics in a hybrid formation. Governmentality refers to a productive modality of power that depends not on constraint but on the capacity of individuals to act and to choose. It operates by acting on the actions of others and may be found in any relationship involving the guidance of conduct—for example, by experts, teachers, parents, life coaches, career counselors, or doctors—according to any number of techniques for subject formation, including advice, modeling, exercises, life goals, mantras, and so on (Rose 1999).

In China, techniques of enablement have become especially salient in the context of economic liberalization. The modernization strategy of the post- Mao Party-state is staked on unleashing the hidden potential of the market and of labor. Because the hidden potential of labor is seen to rest inside the human person, all adults involved in the education of children have a special responsibility for ensuring the liberation of that potential. In this context, the inner life of parents—or mothers more specifically—also becomes a critical terrain. Contemporary emphasis on the psychological interiority of the child, the putative origin of curiosity and creativity, obliges parents to conduct emotion work so that they will not obstruct the development of nation- transforming human qualities.

According to Sun Yunxiao, the time management issue that frustrates both Wang Yan and Wen Hui is one that must be approached with care and caution. In fact, it may be precisely because parents are so intent on instrumentalizing every moment of time that the child becomes slow. For this reason, Sun says, “Don’t ‘press’ a child without understanding causes, nor should parents make rules about when a child ought to finish a task according to their own imagination. This will only place a psychological burden on the child” ([2005] 2006: 64). Sun goes on to say that a child’s speed will naturally increase when parents “trust” and “understand” their child, both of which require “patience.”

With the specter of undesirable or opposite results always looming, many mothers practice emotion work. This private, self-directed labor begins with the recognition of “feeling rules,” which are found in “the pinch between ‘what I do feel’ and ‘what I should feel’” (Hochschild 1983: 57). We see them at work when Wang Yan states, “I’m the kind of person who knows what I’m supposed to be doing at that moment,” contrasting herself to parents who do not have any regrets over losing their patience. Wen Hui recalls the pinch she felt between the “do” and the “should” after hearing a Zhou Hong lecture. She wondered if it was right for her to lose her temper and sometimes spank
I chuckled to myself when I pulled page 99 from Love’s Uncertainty. This page is reminiscent of your typical Hollywood movie beginning, how it brings its audience into a story with the slow movement of a camera-eye that descends from the sky into a happy suburban street, buzzing with gleeful children on bicycles. Only the scene here is not so cheerful. Page 99 provides a discussion of three ethnographic cases presented earlier in the chapter, “ethnographic” referring to the method anthropologists use to conduct and present research, “cases” referring to my descriptions of the experiences of a small sample of urban middle-class mothers in the People’s Republic of China, particularly, their experience of conducting “emotion work” in a broader effort to become a “good parent.” The key point of the chapter is that urban mothers at the start of the 21st century found themselves having to reconcile incommensurable goods: understand and respect a child’s psychological needs on the one hand, and produce a test-taking machine that can survive intense competition on the other.

Both set of values stem from state projects to “improve population quality” through the reform of educational practices and educational expansion, demonstrating how the lives of ordinary citizens continue to be yoked to the ambitions of the Party-state. Page 99 descends down into the experiences of particular individuals, through the advice of a well-known parenting expert, from a discussion of governmental techniques aimed at fostering the kind of human subject that will help China integrate into a knowledge and information-based global economy.

On its own, page 99 both encapsulates and misleads. The ultimate purpose of the book is not to tell a story about how the Chinese government continues to engineer society. Although this is certainly a part of the story, I became, in the process of writing this book, much more interested in how ordinary people manage the contradictions of contemporary life. Having spent a lot of time chatting and hanging out with families, I came to realize that my interlocutors had cultivated a kind of wisdom that few social theories equip us to see. In other parts of the book, I use the phrase “artful disposition” to refer to their life management strategies. Artful disposition has something to do with discerning the boundary between what one can and cannot control. Cultivating this skill is both humbling and empowering. Empowering because it is humbling.
Learn more about Love's Uncertainty at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bruce Hoffman's "Anonymous Soldiers"

Bruce Hoffman is the director of the Center for Security Studies and director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Center. His books include Inside Terrorism (1998), and The Failure of British Military Strategy within Palestine, 1939--1947 (1983).

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Anonymous Soldiers is a good encapsulation of the epic struggle that unfolded between Arabs, Jews, and Britons over Palestine’s political future in the decades preceding Israel’s creation.

It is September 1939. Germany has just invaded Poland and Britain in response has declared war. Confronted with the existential threat posed by a potentially victorious Nazi Germany, Palestine’s Jewish community throws its support behind the British war effort. But, the choice is not entirely obvious for a militant Zionist organization calling itself the Irgun Zvai Le’umi (Hebrew: National Military Organization). Only three months earlier, the Irgun had risen in revolt against Britain.

Indeed, one faction, led by a charismatic poet and visionary, named Abraham Stern, cites the Irish precedent from World War I—arguing that, with Britain now preoccupied with another European war, the time is ripe to continue the revolt and wrest freedom and statehood for the Jews.

The majority of Irgun members, however, side with their commander, David Raziel, and decide to conform to the decision of the mainstream Zionist political organizations to fight alongside Britain against Germany. Stern and a small group of followers leave the Irgun and form their own terrorist group. Meanwhile, Raziel and the remaining Irgun fighters begin to work closely with their former enemies in British intelligence and find themselves participating in clandestine commando raids behind German lines.

Implicit in the cooperation and support provided to Britain by both the Jewish community and the Irgun is the hope that their loyalty and assistance will be rewarded at the war’s end with independence and statehood. The chapter ends a page later with a quote from a senior British official. Reflecting the prevailing view of these expressions of Jewish fealty, this official bluntly observes, “They all seem to think that the defeat of Germany will necessarily entail the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine, which is unfortunate.”

Anonymous Soldiers goes on to tell the dramatic story of how the “anonymous soldiers” (the title is from a poem written by Stern) of the Irgun and its more extreme splinter, known to Jews by its Hebrew acronym Lehi (Hebrew: Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) and to the British as the “Stern Gang,” successfully challenged Britain’s rule over Palestine and thus played a critical, though hitherto poorly understood, role in the rise of Israel.
Learn more about Anonymous Soldiers at the Knopf website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kristen Ghodsee's "The Left Side of History"

Kristen Ghodsee is Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College and a former Guggenheim Fellow. She is the author of several books and over two dozen articles, including The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea and Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria, which won the 2010 Barbara Heldt Book Prize, the 2011 John D. Bell Book Prize, the 2011 Harvard Davis Center Book Prize, and the 2011 William Douglass Prize for Best Book in Europeanist Anthropology.

Ghodsee applied “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe, and reported the following:
The 99th Page of The Left Side of History is a perfectly black page that marks the exact middle point of the book. The only words on the page appear in white. They read: “Part II: The Remains of the Regime.” I think this page captures one of the most unique themes of the book: how the history of World War II still affects our political culture today, especially in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc.

The first part of the book tells the stories of a British Special Operations Executive Officer and the Bulgarian partisans he was sent to help as part of the Allied War effort in the Balkans. Part I also examines the ideals and motivations of a Bulgarian family of guerrillas, three brothers and their younger sister, the latter who became the youngest female partisan fighting in her country. They all wanted to crush the Nazis, but they also dreamed of building a more socially just and peaceful world.

Part II of the book starts on page 99 and examines how these people and their ideals are remembered today, more than two decades after the collapse of East European communism. George Orwell once wrote: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” The politics of memory are hotly contested in Eastern Europe today. Those who fought against the Nazis and their allies, but also happened to believe in the ideals of communism, are either forgotten or demonized as Stalinists. I argue for a more nuanced and subtle understanding of the ideology that inspired honor and self-sacrifice in both an educated British gentleman and a poor Bulgarian schoolgirl. I also ask how memory is produced, by whom, and for what purposes.

I love that page 99 is an all-black page in the book, because one of my main themes is how contemporary elites are “blackwashing” the communist past to foreclose more egalitarian political alternatives for the future.
Learn more about The Left Side of History at the Duke University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Left Side of History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Clancy Martin's "Love and Lies"

Clancy Martin is Professor of Philosophy in the University of Missouri-Kansas City's College of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Business Ethics at the Bloch School of Management. His books include the Pushcart Prize winning novel How to Sell, and the newly released book of philosophy, Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love.

Martin applied “Page 99 Test” to Love and Lies and reported the following:
On page 99:
One day, crossing the bridge, I saw Lisa on the other side. She was with her boyfriend, the handsome, longhaired Native Canadian who would four years later murder her with a baseball bat. I was overjoyed to see her. I hadn’t seen her in over a year. I disciplined myself not to run to her. There were other kids standing around, ninth-graders. I could see the way they feared and admired Lisa and her boyfriend. She was wearing his leather jacket, it was too big for her and had fringes on the arms. He was wearing a cowboy hat with a blue feather in the hatband.

She looked at me coldly. “You told mom I shouldn’t smoke pot,” she said. “I ought to beat you up.”

She had the story both right and wrong. She’d heard it from my other stepsister. We’d been sitting at the breakfast table—me, my little brother, and our stepsister—when my mom told us that Lisa smoked pot, and asked us if we thought that was a good idea. Of course we all immediately agreed that Lisa shouldn’t smoke pot. It was one of Rousseau’s lies, the lie an authority coerces you into telling.

I was too shocked by the fact that she’d threatened me to try to tell her the truth. Anyway, it was one of those things you couldn’t explain without sounding guilty.

“Hey, give the kid a break, Lisa,” her murderer said. “You’re scaring him. He’s shaking.”
It’s been a little while since I’ve looked at my new book—publishing is a slow business—and it startled me to turn to page 99 and read this very intimate anecdote and remember that day on the bridge. Lisa, who died when I was eighteen and she was twenty-five: I still miss her, almost thirty years later. I wonder how my life might have been different, if she’d never been murdered. I wonder who she might have become, and if we’d be friends now, or email occasionally, or look at each other's Facebook posts. When I was a kid, during those prepubescent and adolescent years, no one on the world mattered as much to me as my stepsister Lisa and my older brother Darren. they were both the same age. Today she’d be 54, like him, and he is, along with my wife, my very closest friend.

So much of the larger story I am trying to tell in LOVE AND LIES is captured here, in this little true story from my teenage years: how truth, love and lie work together; how difficult it can be to tell the truth; how subjective or perspectival the truth tends to be; how easily and naturally we lie to the ones we love, or fail to tell the truth; how lies are coerced from us; how our earliest loves—Lisa was one of my “first loves” (I argue in the book that most of us have more than one “first love”)—inform our later attempts at loving. This was the last time I saw my stepsister Lisa alive, and in fact the last time I spoke to her.

She had the story wrong, but I was too upset to tell her the truth. I was outraged by the fact that Lisa—Lisa, whom I loved so desperately!—could misunderstand me so profoundly. Didn’t she understand me better than that? Didn’t she know that I could never think anything negative about her?

“The deeper the love, the deeper the loneliness,” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche writes: love is so vulnerable, so prone to misunderstanding, so desperate for a kind of perfect understanding that can never be achieved. I’m a lot older now, and when my children or my wife misunderstand me, or accuse me of something falsely, I usually pause to try to think it through from their perspective: how did I contribute to or help to create the misunderstanding? What might I have done to communicate more effectively? Did I really say what I meant to say? Or did I actually mislead them without meaning to do so? I am trying to learn how to speak carefully and skillfully to the people I love, which above all means first learning to listen to them. It’s so rare that we really listen to what someone is saying—including what we ourselves are saying! I think so much unhappiness and confusion comes into our lives for that simple reason, that we don’t stop to listen.

Then there’s fear: the main reason most of us lie, when we do. It’s very hard to try to be brave. It’s a lifetime’s project for me, and probably for many of us. I am, we are, especially afraid of losing love. So we have to learn to be braver—even, as in this case with Lisa, to be brave enough to forgive a person who has truly hurt us. The reason I never spoke to Lisa after this event was that I refused to. I never forgave her for it, not until after she died. She called me and I refused to speak to her. I think I learned a lesson from that. Forgive the people you love now—you don’t know if you’ll get the chance to forgive them later.
Learn more about Love and Lies at the Farrar, Straus and Giroux website.

The Page 69 Test: Clancy Martin's How to Sell.

Writers Read: Clancy Martin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kelly M. McMann's "Corruption as a Last Resort"

Kelly M. McMann is Associate Professor of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University and author of Economic Autonomy and Democracy: Hybrid Regimes in Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to the Market in Central Asia, and reported the following:
We have a good idea as to why government officials engage in corruption. But, why do ordinary people? Corruption as a Last Resort examines the motivations of average Central Asians to help us understand why they engage in corruption. Page 99 asks whether people in other regions of the world have the same motivations.
The accounts from Central Asia, specifically from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, show that ordinary people use bribes, connections, and promises of political support to try to obtain employment and credit from government officials. People use “corruption”—their term—to meet these everyday needs only when markets, societal groups, family, and formal government programs cannot.

Why are these institutions and groups unable to provide what people need? Market reform—meaning policies to reduce the state’s role in the economy—is, in large part, to blame. In these countries market reform decreased the state’s role, but it did not create the necessary institutions to help the market and society fill the void. For example, private banks have difficulty lending in rural areas because credit registries, which record people’s creditworthiness, are limited. In turn, when people lack the credit to create profitable businesses, they donate little to mosques and secular charities, making it difficult for these organizations to help the needy.

The global analysis on page 99 shows that also in other regions of the world corruption is more common where market institutions, such as credit registries, are limited. The policy implication is that discouraging government officials from engaging in corruption is not enough to combat the problem. Rather, we must boost market institutions and societal assistance so that ordinary people do not have to resort to corruption to meet their everyday needs.
Learn more about Corruption as a Last Resort at the Cornell University Press.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Benjamin N. Lawrance's "Amistad’s Orphans"

Benjamin N. Lawrance is the Hon. Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Amistad's Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling, and reported the following:
The page 99 test works quite well for Amistad’s Orphans.

Page 99, from Chapter Three, describes the extent of slavery in the Galinhas region of Sierra Leone, and then explores one of the two primary forms of child enslavement in the period, namely kidnapping and violent seizure.

The significance of this page, and this chapter, for the book, is compelling. Amistad’s orphans experienced a wide spectrum of acts of enslavement spanning a decade, beginning with the first instance in the Galinhas region and its hinterland and continuing with their sale to European slave traders, their embarkation across the Atlantic, and concluding in mid nineteenth-century Cuba, their ostensible destination and intended final slavery context. The book seeks to demonstrate that a child’s experience of enslavement is qualitatively different from that of an adult for a number of reasons, not least of which is that even when ostensibly free, as children they remained dependents and wards of others. The stories in the book, and in particular at p.99, show that the paths into enslavement for children were often narrower than for adults, particularly during the period of the illegal slave trade between Galinhas and Cuba.

The central argument of this chapter is that a myth of “free-born” status originating with the adults clouds our understanding of the children’s experience. A focus on child slavery muddies scholarly debates about African slavery, which draws heavily on adult experiences. The context in which the slave status of Amistad’s orphans was embedded was far more complex than American historiography has recognized. Although freedom was a powerful cry in the republics of the Western Hemisphere, from the perspective of an enslaved African child in a Galinhas barracoon in 1839, an assertion of free-born ancestry would likely have generated little interest on the part of the slaveholder or his associates.

Before their temporary incarceration in a Lomboko barracoon, all the survivors of La Amistad had been enslaved, via one mechanism or another, consistent with African practices in the Galinhas region, ranging from warfare and debt seizure to kidnapping or punishment for a crime. The vast majority of slaves transported across the Atlantic, before and during the nineteenth century, was enslaved as a result of what Lovejoy described as the massive “intensification of political violence,” which in turn gave rise to a “spectacular surge” in the capacity to enslave people.

Page 99 provides an opening into a central theme, namely the heightening vulnerability of children. Children in Galinhas and its hinterland in the early to mid-nineteenth century were extremely vulnerable to enslavement and transportation across the Atlantic to Cuba. First, consistent with the widespread socioeconomic system in operation, as very junior members of lineages, children were highly susceptible to the operationalization of rights-in-persons, wherein claims on their labor, their future labor capacity, or other valuations made them expendable. Second, in addition to the illicit transatlantic trade, there were highly buoyant shorter- and longer-distance trade routes throughout the region, wherein children were increasingly desirable mechanisms facilitating exchange, credit accumulation, or debt obligation. Third, as smaller, lighter, weaker individuals, children were more susceptible to violent seizure, kidnapping, and capture in conflict, and later transportation to the coast. And fourth, the environment and geography of Galinhas provided an ideal site for the relocation and continuation of transatlantic trade in the face of attempts to end it by the Royal Navy, enabling traders to tailor their barracoons to shifting demands in Cuba.

I view the title of my book, Amistad’s Orphans, as is provocation to rethink the relationships, strategies, and experiences of slave children whose identities are too often determined primarily by their status as slaves. In order to uncover the lived experience of children more broadly, six lives are united into one imagined slave ship family. The six children shared many experiences, first and foremost the process of being bereft of family by their enslavement as children. As an analytical term—a dynamic definition, if you like—“orphan” emerges from actively and intentionally bringing into conversation the experiential insights bequeathed by six remarkable historical survivors: Mar’gru, Kag’ne, Te’me, Ka’le, Covey, and Antonio.

My book is an experiment in what Rebecca Scott and Jean H├ębrard have described as “micro-history in motion,” insofar as a carefully chosen event, or set of personalities viewed at the ground level, reveals broader regional dimensions. At its most expansive, Amistad’s Orphans demonstrates that when our attention is directed away from adults and toward the qualitatively different experiences of African slave children, a prevailing wisdom about the nineteenth century begins to lose its luster. The details of the children’s lives, contextualized with a wide spectrum of diverse evidence from the epoch, support two general, mutually situated, observations. Not only did slave traders actively seek children in increasing numbers during this period, but also child enslavement provided both slave producers and consumers with specific capacities not afforded by adult slaves to avoid detection and continue their illicit economies. Dispensing with the misidentification of the epoch as an age of abolition reveals the early nineteenth century as the beginning of an age of child enslavement. Viewed in this light, p.99 is right at the core of the book.
Learn more about Amistad's Orphans at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 2, 2015

Greg Weiner's "American Burke"

Greg Weiner is assistant professor of political science at Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts. He is the author of Madison’s Metronome: The Constitution, Majority Rule and the Tempo of American Politics.

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his new book, American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and reported the following:
Daniel Patrick Moynihan thought words mattered. They were the currency of democratic exchange. They were also alternatives to weapons, and they could have the same effect: changing circumstances on the ground.

His ambassadorship to the United Nations is often misapprehended as the tenure of a neoconservative. Page 99 of my book American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan shows why that moniker is mistaken. Moynihan was appointed to the post after urging the United States to assume a more assertive posture at the world body by defending liberalism and calling tyranny by its right name.

Page 99 illustrates the prudence that underlay this position. Moynihan had criticized Henry Kissinger for failing to condemn Soviet infiltration of the Lebanese government. But it was censure Moynihan sought, not threats.
Moynihan acknowledged that his desire for a more muscular reaction could be read as hawkish, “as if, were the choice mine, I would have been sending carriers into the eastern Mediterranean. I would not have.” He had, he recalled, opposed Vietnam, and he was in no mood for a repeat. “But I wanted us to show our colors even so, to argue back. This is a form of resistance, even of offensive. It is not the least dangerous weapon a nation can wield.
Moynihan, a lifelong advocate of the binding nature of international law—a commitment stretching from his doctoral dissertation on the International Labor Organization to his four terms in the United States Senate—never sought to evangelize American ideals by force. Rather, he recognized that the United States was inevitably engaged in rhetorical combat and that it ought to fight effectively.
The point—and it distinguishes Moynihan especially from contemporary neoconservatism—is that he wanted to wage ideological warfare in ideological forums. He was confident ideas of themselves would be felt, would make an imprint on the world. . . . [M]oynihan was willing to use military strength to defend freedom, but he counseled prudence in efforts to expand it.
Moynihan’s own ideas, too, made their imprint. The book calls them “Burkean liberalism,” a strain of liberal thought that simultaneously advocates a robust ameliorative role for government and recognizes, with the British statesman Edmund Burke, the limits of politics and the complexity of society. There is no clearer instance of it than the delicate balance between assertiveness and prudence portrayed on page 99.
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--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thomas Ahnert's "The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690-1805"

Thomas Ahnert is a Reader in history at the University of Edinburgh. He lives in Edinburgh.

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690–1805, and reported the following:
On page 99 of The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690 - 1805 I discuss the importance of so-called 'natural religion' for Enlightenment moral philosophy. This is one of the central themes of the book. As I show, the role of natural religion within Scottish Enlightenment culture was very different from what it is often thought to be.

In the eighteenth century, the term 'natural' (or 'reasonable') religion was used to refer to those religious beliefs that could be known from human reason and experience, without the assistance of the Bible. Such beliefs included the existence of a single, omnipotent deity; divine providence; and an afterlife with rewards and punishments that reinforce good conduct in this life.

This natural religion is often associated with moderate enlightened thinkers in the eighteenth century, who were not atheists, but did not adhere to conservative, orthodox religious beliefs either. In the Scottish Enlightenment, as elsewhere in Europe, many of these enlightened thinkers were clergymen. In addition to pursuing careers within the Calvinist Church of Scotland, they made some of the most influential contributions to the secular world of letters in the eighteenth century, publishing on subjects such as history (William Robertson), morality (Adam Ferguson, Thomas Reid), and literary criticism (Hugh Blair).

It seems plausible to argue that these enlightened and intellectually sophisticated clergymen must have been sympathetic to natural religion, because it represented a more rational, philosophical form of religious belief, and that their orthodox, conservative opponents would have been opposed to it, because they were concerned to defend the authority of Biblical revelation.

But in fact, as I show in the book, the positions of 'enlightened' and 'orthodox' thinkers on natural religion within the Scottish Enlightenment were the reverse of what they are usually believed to be. Enlightened clerics such as William Robertson or Hugh Blair were very skeptical about the possibility of a natural religion, while the strongest proponents of natural religion were to be found among the conservative, orthodox critics of these enlightened clergymen. The skepticism of enlightened clerics about natural religion was less extreme than that of their famous contemporary, the philosopher David Hume. Yet, it was not wholly dissimilar to his.
Learn more about The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690–1805 at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue