Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Philip Thai's "China's War on Smuggling"

Philip Thai is assistant professor of history at Northeastern University. His research explores the interplay between law, economy, and society in modern China, East Asia, and the world.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, China's War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State, 1842–1965, and reported the following:
China’s War on Smuggling is a legal and economic history of illicit trade on the Chinese coast from the late imperial period through the early People’s Republic. It traces how official efforts to regulate, tax, and police the flow of goods steadily widened definitions of criminality. Smuggling, the book argues, was a product of iterative encounters between states eager to assert their prerogative and control the economy on the one side, and individuals reluctant to adhere to official strictures on trade on the other.

I was amused by, but skeptical of, the Page 99 Test. Can the essence of any book be revealed by single page—and an arbitrarily selected one at that? Imagine my surprise, then, when I flipped to the page in question. Page 99 comes from chapter three, “State Interventions and Legal Transformations.” It begins with a discussion of efforts by the Nationalist government of China during the 1930s to enforce a newly-promulgated anti-smuggling law as well as widespread resistance state agents encountered on the ground. It recounts a particularly vivid episode of customs agents engaged in door-to-door search for contraband before a village mob attacked the search party “with poles and pelted [them] with tins of pineapple.” It continues with an elaboration of how anti-smuggling campaigns redefined “legal” and “illegal” modes of commerce and patterns of movement, provoking the ire of individuals and communities forced to bear more fetters on their freedom to truck, barter, and trade. Its final sentences highlight the ways militarized interdiction helped broadcast the power of the Nationalist government—especially at the expense of recalcitrant warlords who “feared that the war on smuggling was a Trojan horse that would strengthen and extend central authority into their own localities.” Good stuff all.

Ford Madox Ford’s dictum may not apply to every book, but it certainly applies to mine. In the case of China’s War on Smuggling, page 99 is situated after introductory overviews and right as the book is building momentum in making its argument. The varied descriptions of illicit operations, spectacular violence, and political intrigue—all choked with “you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up” human drama—are right here on a single page. Apparently, page 99 serves as a perfect showcase for the book’s main themes.
Learn more about China's War on Smuggling at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 18, 2018

Stephen W. Sawyer's "Demos Assembled"

Stephen W. Sawyer is professor and chair of history, cofounder of the History, Law, and Society Program, and director of the Center for Critical Democracy Studies at the American University of Paris. He is editor of the Tocqueville Review and associate editor of the Annales. History and Social Sciences.

Sawyer applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Demos Assembled: Democracy and the International Origins of the Modern State, 1840–1880, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Demos Assembled opens with a betrayal. Or so it seems.

The book claims to shed light on our contemporary democratic crisis. And yet, page 99 is the first page of chapter 4 entitled “Necessity,” which explores this concept through a figure rarely associated with anything even remotely democratic, Adolphe Thiers. Thiers, the “butcher” of the Paris Commune of 1871, has something to tell us about democracy? It is this paradox that page 99 and the book attempt to grasp.

For all the talk of democratic crisis, our knowledge of democracy’s actual history remains limited. If the notion emerged in its modern usage among western philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries, following the American and French Revolutions it was largely discredited: Robespierre and Napoleon’s quasi-dictatorship reduced the democratic ideal to dangerous mob rule, or a government fit only for ancient Athens. This suddenly changed in the 1820s and 30s when Andrew Jackson’s “Democratic Party,” radicals in France and Britain, and Tocqueville’s trip to the US all placed democracy front and center. Then, in 1848, democracy stepped out of the crowd and took center stage. Revolutions swept across Europe, all of them entertaining some relationship with the democratic. At the end of this revolutionary wave, Napoleon’s nephew was elected President of France by universal manhood suffrage but soon declared himself emperor. His regime, though dictatorial, was considered to be a “modern democracy” because he maintained universal manhood suffrage.

Demos Assembled shows that this moment marked the birth of a critical history of democracy. When modern democracy took hold, a panoply of thinkers and statesmen began critiquing democracies that existed in the name of democracies alternatively defined. Adolphe Thiers was among them. An opponent of Napoleon III, Thiers elaborated a potent, though ultimately very dangerous, notion of legal necessity as the foundation for popular rule in the modern age. He therefore captures the paradox of democracy’s past: while he used the notion of necessity to brutally crush the Commune, he also consolidated the first lasting democratic Republic in Europe.

A betrayal? Perhaps. But Thiers provides an important – if troubling – entry point to our modern condition. As little as we may ever know about an ideal democracy, our past offers an important lesson: modern democracy was born neither of consensus nor utopia, but of our constant struggle to self-govern and the inevitable challenges of doing so.
Learn more about Demos Assembled at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seth Perry's "Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States"

Seth Perry is assistant professor of religion at Princeton University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States lands in Chapter 4, which happens to be my favorite chapter (so, score one for the Page 99 Test!). The book argues that in early America the Bible was not a “source” of authority, as is often said, but rather a site of authority: a cultural space for editors, commentators, publishers, preachers, and readers to cultivate authoritative relationships. “The Bible” is best thought of not as a specific text, but as a set of relationships sustained by a universe of cultural practices and assumptions. Chapter Four – “‘Write These Things in a Book’: Scripturalization and Visionary Authority” -- shows that this extended to new scripturalized texts that participated both in the resonance of biblical content (they cited the Bible) and in the practices and assumptions of Bible reading as a cultural practice (they were treated like bibles). This part of the chapter is about The Vision of Isaac Childs, a Quaker visionary text originating in 1757 that circulated widely in both print and manuscript throughout the nineteenth century (it was last published in 1929). Childs’s vision was copied, recopied, edited, translated, annotated, and commented upon over the course of well over a century – I’ve seen eighteen manuscript versions and copies of nine printed editions. Page 99 is the beginning of a section pointing out that the significance of Childs’s vision changed through all of this activity even though the text itself mostly didn’t: the anonymous editor of an 1826 edition, for example, added footnotes explaining the vision and applying it to events in his or her own time, far distant from Childs’s own: “While the text remained more or less consistent with a manuscript tradition going back more than seventy years, the novel annotations demonstrated the flexible terms for making meaning in a scripturalized environment.” It’s this constellation of practices that constitutes scripturalization; this is what “bible culture” was all about in the early United States.
Learn more about Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States at the Princeton University Press website.

Writers Read: Seth Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 15, 2018

Margarette Lincoln's "Trading in War"

Margarette Lincoln is Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Trading in War: London’s Maritime World in the Age of Cook and Nelson, and reported the following:
On page 99, customs official, Joseph Pierson, is bludgeoned by a smuggling gang in Deptford, London. It’s 1775, and smuggling from East Indiamen anchored in the River Thames is practically a full-time job for some people. The revenue men are the hated enemy.

“Afterwards, Pierson was taken by boat to the London Hospital. His skull was exposed and beaten in, his chest mangled, and his right arm so badly broken that it had to be laid open to the shoulder.”

Although Pierson’s wife was allowed to nurse him in hospital, he died from his injuries a month later. Members of the gang were pursued and some were brought to justice. The famous Smugglerius, flayed by the surgeon William Hunter and arranged to imitate the position of The Dying Gaul, was thought to have been prepared from the body of one gang member, hanged at Tyburn. He had the muscle formation of a river worker, developed through hard, physical labour.

It was stories like this that got me interested in the riverside life of eighteenth-century London, a topic which has been so often overlooked. These maritime communities were essential to Britain’s war effort, and they also played a key part in preparing ships for voyages of exploration. While some people along the river were undoubtedly engaged in illicit activity, most were employed in roles that were vital for the maintenance of the Royal Navy and the British economy, then heavily dependent on foreign trade. What’s more, as the book shows, women also had vital roles to play in these turbulent times.
Learn more about Trading in War at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dominic Sachsenmaier's "Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Traveled"

Dominic Sachsenmaier is a professor of “Modern China with a Special Emphasis on Global Historical Perspectives” at Göttingen University/Germany. In the past, he held faculty positions at Duke University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sachsenmaier’s main current research interests include China’s transnational and global connections. Among other works, he authored Global Perspectives on Global History: Theories and Approaches in a Connected World (2011).

Sachsenmaier applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Traveled: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Christian and His Conflicted Worlds, and reported the following:
Page 99 actually raises some questions that are important for the entire monograph. My book deals with an untraveled seventeenth-century Chinese Catholic convert who throughout his lifetime remained a committed Confucian. His name was Zhu Zongyuan, and he was actually one of the most significant Chinese Christian authors of the mid-seventeenth-century. People like Zhu believed that both Confucianism and Christianity or as they called it, the “Learning of Heaven,” were ultimately one and the same teaching. But this was hardly acceptable to many people around them – neither to most Confucian scholars nor to many circles in the Catholic Church.

Page 99 shows that combining traditions like Confucianism and Christianity could lead to huge uncertainties:
Was this really a synthesis between equal parts?... Was the Lord of Heaven (i.e. the Christian God) truly a divine being towering far above the cultural differences of this world? Or was his message, as presented to seventeenth-century China, closely wedded to concepts and contents from Europe? … This was not a theoretical question but also pointed to many practical issues.
Partly writing against his critics in China, the hero of this book, Zhu Zongyuan, spent much ink on questions of this kind. He sought to come to terms with the foreign origins of his faith. This was a formidable challenge since – for a variety of reasons – the “Learning of Heaven” put emphasis on key concepts, liturgies and symbols which were not Chinese but obviously of European origin. I deal with these challenges in one part of my book.

In another part I show that ongoing battles also characterized aspects of Zhu Zongyuan’s life in Catholic communities. He played various roles as a Christian, many of which were entangled with his life as a Confucian scholar in his local society. Yet exactly because Christian life was not – and could not possibly be – strictly separated from Chinese communal and associational life, it was characterized by many inherent contradictions. Both sides of the Chinese-Catholic encounter had to make institutional compromises, and the final product did not always make the “Learning of Heaven’s” more acceptable to a Chinese audience.
Learn more about Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Traveled at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Alexandra Délano Alonso's "From Here and There"

Alexandra Délano Alonso is Associate Professor of Global Studies at The New School and the current holder of the Eugene M. Lang Professorship for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. Her work is driven by a concern with the inequalities underlying the causes of migration, the structures that lead to the marginalization of undocumented migrants in the public sphere, and the limited protection of their rights, from a transnational perspective. Her book Mexico and Its Diaspora in the United States: Policies of Emigration since 1848 was the co-winner of the William LeoGrande Prize for the best book on US-Latin America Relations.

Délano Alonso applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration, and Social Rights Beyond Borders, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The program is a place where participants find tools for education and work. But they also find a space for community and solidarity. The participants are learning and at the same time, they feel comfortable in the space. They establish relationships, share values and solidarity. We teach them to read but we also give them information about a job ad, we give them tools (coordinator, Plaza Comunitaria Chicago, 2009).

We are creating a space where people feel recognized, where they realize that as individuals they can do more than work. The Plaza creates a space for growth and opportunity to change their expectations in life. It gives them opportunities to live better, to have better jobs, to speak up, to feel safe, to have self-esteem, to have security. This preparation gives them tools to defend themselves, to avoid abuse, and to aspire to work in better places (coordinator, Plaza Comunitaria, Chicago, 2009).
Page 99 of the book discusses the Mexican government’s Plazas Comunitarias adult-education program, which operates through its 50 consulates in the United States, in collaboration with schools, hospitals, community organizations and prisons. This is one of various initiatives focused on education, health, financial literacy, labor rights and citizenship that Mexico –and to a lesser extent other Latin American countries— have developed in the US in the past two decades to promote access to social rights for migrants with precarious status.

The analysis of these programs is at the core of the book: I discuss the interests that underlie them; the innovative discourse of integration and shared responsibility that has developed around these initiatives--and its limitations; the collaborations between consulates, private and public institutions in the US, and migrant communities that make these programs possible; and the concrete results of these initiatives in terms of improving the material and social conditions of migrants’ lives regardless of their legal status.

Page 99 provides some examples of information from surveys, interviews and reports that demonstrate that even though the reach of the programs is limited (and quantitative analyses of their results are sparse), some of the most significant contributions that they make in supporting migrants is in offering spaces where there is a sense of trust where they are more likely to be receptive to information about and enroll in social programs given the linguistic and cultural familiarity, as well as the assurance that a person’s migratory status is not a factor in being able to participate. The Plazas Comunitarias were initially conceived as spaces where migrant populations could continue the education they could not complete in Mexico by offering literacy, elementary, middle and high school programs, textbooks in Spanish, and online testing tools through the Mexican Ministry of Education. My visits to the Plazas, interviews with participants and with educators revealed that in addition to these original goals, students in the Plazas are also learning English, and completing GEDs and skills certification programs, which have helped them access better opportunities for work, health and education in the US.

The two quotes above from page 99 capture key elements of the argument of the book, which is that these programs challenge traditional notions of integration. First, by including origin countries in a process of English language acquisition, education and understanding of the institutional context that is traditionally assumed as the sole responsibility of the country where they now live. And second, by demonstrating how these transnational spaces of community and solidarity that include a variety of government and non-government actors from the country of origin and destination contribute to integration in the sense of supporting equal access to rights and opportunities for migrant communities.
Learn more about From Here and There at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 11, 2018

Thomas F. Gieryn's "Truth-Spots"

Tom Gieryn is Rudy Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington, where he has stayed put for 40 years--except for travels to many truth-spots.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Truth-Spots: How Places Make People Believe, and reported the following:
I feel cheated. Page 99 comes at the tail end of Chapter 5 in Truth-Spots, and only about two-thirds of it is text--the rest is blank. But if I borrow lines from page 100, the start of Chapter 6, to fill in the white space on page 99, the cobbled-together result gives a hint of what this weird little book is all about. Chapter 5 follows pilgrims struggling along The Way of St. James toward Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, drawing on their reminiscences to figure out how the experience affirms (or challenges) their beliefs about life, God, nature and everything else that matters. Chapter 6 explores the architecture of the Thomas F. Eagleton US Courthouse in St. Louis, taking note of how the arrangement of passages and rooms segregates people who play distinctive roles in the pursuit of justice (as defendant, plaintiff, attorney, jury member or judge)--a carefully choreographed sequence of contacts and separations that lends legitimacy to discovering the whole truth and nothing but.

The connection between a tenth century 482-mile pilgrimage route and a federal justice center housed in a 29-story skyscraper built in 2000 is not immediately obvious. It only gets worse when the other chapters are thrown into this promiscuous soup. The book opens at the oracle of Delphi and ends at the ultra-clean laboratory at Cal Tech that persuaded Congress to ban lead from gasoline--in between, I visit Walden Pond; Linnaeus’ botanic garden in Uppsala; Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village outdoor museum; and commemorated birthplaces of identity-based movements at Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall. This sounds like a completely undisciplined and eclectic list of random places--and it is, until you’ve got the concept of “truth-spot” to tie them all together. Each of these places makes people believe: each lends credibility and legitimacy to claims and understandings that have their provenance specifically at that geographic location, ensconced there in natural and built materialities and embedded in narratives about such places that give them meaning and value. All of this comes in a slim 177-page book with a trim size of 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches, just the right size for a long plane ride somewhere.
Learn more about Truth-Spots at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Nicole C. Nelson's "Model Behavior"

Nicole C. Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research examines scientists’ assumptions about the natural world and how these assumptions shape scientific practice. She also does research on new technologies in oncology research and clinical care.

Nelson applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Model Behavior: Animal Experiments, Complexity, and the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders, and reported the following:
Model Behavior is an ethnographic study of what laboratory work looks like under assumptions of complexity. Laboratories are spaces where scientists attempt to refine and control nature to get answers to questions that would be impossible to ask in messy, real-world settings, but some phenomena remain maddeningly difficult to study even in these carefully controlled places—a poorly timed fire alarm or the smell of a pet dog might be all it takes to make a mouse hide out in the dark corners of a maze rather than go exploring. Moreover, the more controlled the setting, the further away scientists found themselves from the real-world problems they cared about, such as helping people who suffer from anxiety.

Under these conditions, the scientists that I followed learned to be very cautious about the conclusions they drew from the research they conducted. Page 99 of the book finds me seated next to a scientist who was analyzing data from a mouse experiment on anxiety, eating my lunch as I watched recordings of the experiment with him:
At one point in watching the video I commented, “That guy really likes the open arms” when the mouse that we were watching at the time seemed to be spending more time there than the others. There was silence, and then Dr. Lam said, “Don’t say ‘like.’”…He said that you should never say things such as “the mouse likes the open arms” or “the mouse is less anxious,” you should say things like “the mouse spends a higher percentage of time in the open arms” or “the mouse shows less anxiety-like behavior.”
The exchange recorded on page 99 is a good example of what the ethnographic method is all about—placing yourself in situations where your ignorance will provide opportunities for others to teach you about their culture. My initial lack of understanding of why behavioral scientists used cumbersome phrases such as “anxiety-like behavior” to talk about their mice helped me better understand how they saw their work. For these scientists, the data from animal models was only a tentative first step towards understanding a complex problem, and the language they used served as a reminder that their mouse experiments were only a proxy for human anxiety. By studying with the scientists, I learned to see the nuances they saw in their own data, and to see laboratory work as something other than an activity that produces definitive answers to narrowly-defined questions.
Visit Nicole C. Nelson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Lori G. Beaman's "Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity"

Lori G. Beaman is the Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change, Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, and the Principal Investigator of the Religion and Diversity Project, a thirty-seven-member international research team whose focus is religion and diversity. She is the co-editor of Constructions of Self and Other in Yoga, Travel, and Tourism: A Journey to Elsewhere (with Sonia Sikka), Atheist Identities: Spaces and Social Contexts (with Steven Tomlins), and Varieties of Religious Establishment (with Winnifred Fallers Sullivan).

Beaman applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity, and reported the following:
English writer Ford Madox Ford once said if you “Open the book to page ninety-nine, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” Taking this invitation and directive to heart, I (rather serendipitously) discover that the very first word on page 99 of Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity happens to be Respect, with a capital ‘R.’ There is perhaps no word (both as a noun and a verb), more foundational to my emergent work on deep equality than the notion of respect.

Deep Equality is my rather lengthy reaction to two things: law’s dominance of the notion of equality and the pervasiveness of ‘tolerance’ and ‘reasonable accommodation’ as responses to diversity. Drawing from a range of sources including interviews, novels and films, I argue that the key to living well together is deep equality, and the elements of this are to be found in everyday interactions between people which are characterized by a number of elements, including respect. I approach this from an interdisciplinary standpoint: I am trained in philosophy, law and sociology and I draw from numerous other fields of study, including sociobiology and game theory, to construct my arguments.

Page 99 is in large measure representative of the strategy of the book: using short vignettes I trace the elements of deep equality that are evidenced by those stories. Fortuitously, page 99 includes both a vignette and mentions caring, humour, forgiveness, and generosity as additional elements of deep equality. In the process of sorting out how to live well together the focus becomes similarity—not sameness (i.e. everyone is really the same) and universality, and not difference (insisting on the peculiarity of everyone). This is a tricky balance particularly when religion is thrown into the mix. Consider this quote from page 99: “Some people told stories of protectiveness and caring that were manifested not in a paternalistic way, but as extensions of the agonistic process that creates a shared place of relationship in the everyday”. When religious difference is at the center of a particular conflict or debate, the agonistic process requires a relinquishment ‘rightness’ in order to achieve harmony. Given that the root word agon (‘struggle’ or ‘contest’ from the classical Greek) implies an inherent respect for all actors in a negotiation, agonistic respect becomes the ground upon which difference (religious or otherwise) can be a fertile space for human interaction and flourishing.
Learn more about Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's "Sex and the City and Us"

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, where she spent most of her time putting on shows in her parents’ garage, studying TV Guide, devouring Sweet Valley High books, and memorizing every note of every George Michael song. This finally came in handy when she got a job at Entertainment Weekly, where she worked for a decade. She’s now the TV columnist for BBC Culture and also writes for several other publications, including The New York Times Book Review, Fast Company, Vulture, and Billboard. She’s the author of the New York Times bestseller Seinfeldia: The Secret World of the Show About Nothing that Changed Everything and a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. She now lives in Manhattan.

Armstrong applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love, and reported the following:
My page 99 is largely dedicated to male critics expressing disdain for Sex and the City’s objectification of men and its “hollow and predictable … portrait of the desperation of the over-30 single woman.” This checks out: It’s a theme throughout my book because it’s a theme that ran throughout the show’s six-year run, not to mention its afterlife. Sex and the City has always struggled for the respect it deserves, and it’s often been reduced to a caricature, but it was more than just a silly show about sex, shoes, and cosmopolitans. I couldn’t have written an entire book about it otherwise.

The early reviews of the show were hilariously melodramatic about their fear of this series celebrating sexually independent single women—and their concern over how straight men would feel, as the women, for instance, discussed a man’s unimpressive penis size. They were also very, very mean at times. (The Washington Post’s Tom Shales, in particular, loved to go after the actresses’ physical appearances, and another male critic called the character of Samantha a “slut.”) This demonstrates the power the show had. It wouldn’t be so scary if it weren’t pushing a seismic shift in perceptions of single women over 30.

Even its glitzier aspects played to this power. The shoes, the nights out, the clothes, and the other indulgences made these women’s lives look enviable. They turned single women from cat ladies into the women everyone wanted to be. They made women want to ask each other, “Are you a Carrie, a Charlotte, a Miranda, or a Samantha?”

In the end, that’s what Sex and the City and Us is about: It’s about the Sex and the City characters and stories that made fans want to live in that world, and it’s about what that meant to all of us. Many young women and men have moved to New York City looking for their own Sex and the City. The show taught us about sex, relationships, friendship, and how to express ourselves through outrageous fashion. In short, it changed lives. I should know. The first line of my introduction is, “I left my fiancé for Sex and the City.”

That’s hardly hollow, predictable, or desperate.
Visit Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Seinfeldia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Yiğit Akın's "When the War Came Home"

Yiğit Akın is Assistant Professor of History at Tulane University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, When the War Came Home: The Ottomans' Great War and the Devastation of an Empire, and reported the following:
When the War Came Home examines the catastrophic experience of World War I for Ottoman society. It does so by shifting the focus from the battlefront to the home front and taking the reader from governmental halls to railway stations, private homes, fields, and stables, to shed new light on Ottomans’ wartime experiences.

One of the recurrent themes of the book is the continuous interaction between soldiers and their families on the home front. The war, in many respects, expanded the horizons of the ordinary Ottoman soldier, took him, perhaps for the first time, out of his village or hometown, introduced him to new lands, people, and lifestyles, familiarizing him with new cultures, ideas, and concepts. Nevertheless, his attachment to his particular home region, his village, and his family continued to define who he was. He did everything in his capacity to maintain his ties with his family and community through channels including furloughs, letters, unauthorized visits, and friends.

In the words of a British prisoner who spent the last two years of war in captivity in Anatolia, Ottoman soldiers “were so drawn by ties of family and anxiety for the fate of their relations that they preferred the life of an outlaw near their homes to the uncertainty of awaiting news in distant Mesopotamia or Palestine.” Indeed, soldiers’ concern for their families’ well-being and security was among the most important reasons for desertion.

Page 99 is about this fundamental link between the front and home. More specifically, it discusses violence against soldiers’ families on the home front. Along with extreme privations, hard work, and loss of family members, these families also suffered from frequent assaults and encroachment on their properties. Soldiers whose families were attacked either requested leave or deserted their units in order to go back to their villages, furnish protection against assailants, or take revenge. For these soldiers, military service was at odds with the duty of protecting the family.

War, in this sense, led to the violation of the right of husbands to exclusive sexual access to their wives, hurt the honor of the family, and undermined masculine dominance. While fulfilling the duty of protecting the empire against the enemy, soldiers found themselves unable simultaneously to protect their hearths and homes.
Learn more about When the War Came Home at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Mary Stockwell's "Unlikely General"

Mary Stockwell is the former chair of the history department at Lourdes University in Ohio and the author of The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians and other books.

Stockwell applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Unlikely General: “Mad” Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America, a woman appears. While we cannot be certain of her name, later generations would know her as “Molly Pitcher,” a brave woman who carried water to her husband as he fought with Wayne on the brutally hot day of June 28, 1778 at the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse. When her husband collapsed, she took over his cannon and even survived a British cannon ball that ripped through her petticoats.

It is fitting for a real woman, most probably Mary Hayes, the wife of William Hayes, a soldier in Wayne’s artillery brigade, to appear on page 99 of Unlikely General during one of the most critical battles of his career because women played a crucial role in his life. He grew up surrounded by women, including his mother Elizabeth, his two sisters Hannah and Anne, and his cousin Mary. When he was twenty-one, he married Polly Penrose, with whom he had a daughter and a son. Once he joined the Continental Army, even more women came into his life, including Mary Vining, the niece of Delaware Congressman Caesar Rodney, and Catharine Littlefield, the wife of his friend General Nathanael Greene.

But it is also fitting that Wayne, on page 99 of Unlikely General, fights in the company of an imaginary woman because two such women haunted his life. The first was Madame Fortune, his name for fate, which brought him both glory and despair. The second was America whom he described as a beautiful but faithless woman. On his way to his final fight at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, when his daughter Margaretta complained that he had abandoned his family, he answered that he had been called away once again to rescue his greatest love, America.
Visit Mary Stockwell's website.

My Book, The Movie: Unlikely General.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 1, 2018

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite's "Class, Politics, and the Decline of Deference in England, 1968-2000"

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite did her undergraduate degree in history at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and her MPhil and PhD at St Catharine's Collage, Cambridge, supervised by Jon Lawrence. She was subsequently a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge before moving to University College London where she lectures in Twentieth-Century British History. She is also an interviewer for the History of Parliament Trust's oral history project, and co-editor of Renewal: a journal of social democracy.

Sutcliffe-Braithwaite applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Class, Politics, and the Decline of Deference in England, 1968-2000, and reported the following:
Page 99 turned out to be pretty representative of the overall arguments and themes of the book. It falls in the conclusion to the fourth chapter, which looks at a collection of oral history interviews gathered in the mid-1980s with several generations of people from across Britain. Many of the things these interviewees talked about exemplified broader patterns of ‘class talk’ in the late twentieth century. Ambivalence was a marked feature of their answers: what people said about class varied with context and could seem contradictory. And ‘another reason for uncertainty about “class” was the widespread perception that there had been major changes in the “class” structure across the twentieth century’ – with, especially, suburbanisation and changes in the occupational structure. These changes seemed to many interviewees to have created ‘a large “ordinary” group in society which had to work for a living but which was, nevertheless, in the “middle”: not workless but also not privileged’. Many people, both white-collar and blue-collar, were keen to stress their ordinariness and authenticity, and to reject the idea that class snobberies played an important role in their lives.

What’s missing from this page is the point that I excavate elsewhere: that though many people wanted to sign up to this less snobbish, more democratic outlook on society, in fact, there were pervasive class judgements going on in late twentieth-century Britain: they had often just gone ‘underground’. And the other thing that’s missing from this page is a link to politics: another key argument of the book relates to how vernacular discourses of class linked – or didn’t link – to political languages. When it comes to the 1980s, what I suggest is that while Thatcherite languages of class were in some ways similar to the sorts of things the interviewees in this chapter were saying, that wasn’t because Thatcher profoundly influenced what people thought. There were other roots and sources for changing popular perceptions of class, often linked to individual and family experiences of social mobility and social change.
Learn more about Class, Politics, and the Decline of Deference in England, 1968-2000 at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bill Niven's "Hitler and Film"

Bill Niven is professor of contemporary German history at Nottingham Trent University and the author of many works on twentieth-century German history, including Facing the Nazi Past and The Buchenwald Child.

Niven applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Hitler and Film: The Führer's Hidden Passion, and reported the following:
I approached page 99 of my book on Hitler and the Nazi film industry with uncertainty: would I find here a statement that encapsulates the book? The answer was positive.

My book sets out to argue that Hitler’s appreciation for film, and his influence on film during the Third Reich, were far greater than commonly assumed. He watched films night after night at his mountain residence in Bavaria – even films with Jewish actors and directors, which didn’t seem to spoil his enjoyment. From surviving archive material, I was able to work out what Hitler watched, and when.

Hitler intervened regularly in the film industry, banning films, and meddling with their production. Well known is his commissioning of films of the Nazi Party Rallies: Leni Riefenstahl obliged as his chosen director. My book explores less well-known Hitler commissions, for instance of a film about sterilising the disabled (Victims of the Past, 1937), or about the Spanish Civil War (In Battle against the World Enemy, 1938). Hitler was also involved in the gestation of the notorious anti-Semitic Nazi “documentary” The Eternal Jew (1940), and the anti-Semitic feature film Jud Süβ evolved in line with his policies.

During the war, Hitler had less time for film, but still took a keen interest in documentary film – particularly where it depicted the achievements of the German army. And, at least until 1944, he personally watched and vetted every newsreel. But as it became clear the war was likely to be lost, and as his failing health became harder and harder to conceal, he withdrew from the newsreels, much to the dismay of German cinemagoers, who complained about his absence. They had become used to their weekly visual “fix” in the form of images of the Führer, whose features they would scrutinise for indications of the way the war was going.

On page 99, I talk about another facet of Hitler’s interest in film: his attendance of film premieres:
Despite the relative failure of Nazism to produce persuasive feature films about its political struggles during the Weimar Republic, Hitler’s attendance of the premieres of Storm Trooper Brand and Hitler Youth Quex surely achieved its aim. Self-sacrifice for the cause was a quality Hitler wished to encourage through his presence; he wanted a nation, after all, that would go to the utmost for his political goals, and not question their value in the process.
This does indeed sum up the basic message of the book: Hitler’s interest in the Nazi film industry was motivated by his sense that film had a propagandistic persuasive power that would help to bring German audiences into line. He was just as aware of this as Goebbels. Goebbels may have been the “film minister”, but he was Hitler’s film minister.
Learn more about Hitler and Film at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thomas Doherty's "Show Trial"

Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University. His books include Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930–1934; Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture; Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration; and Hollywood and Hitler, 1933–1939.

Doherty applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist, and reported the following:
Serendipitously enough, page 99 of Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist is not a random dip into the water but the source of a major current: the kick off to the long middle section of the book’s three act structure, the first page of the sixth chapter-- entitled “Showtime”—which chronicles the first day of the nine days of hearings staged by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in October 1947 to investigate alleged Communist subversion in the motion picture industry. The page tries to conjure the atmospherics in the hearing room and the media frenzy anent the hottest ticket in Washington, D.C., an attempt to evoke the sounds, swirls, and buzz in the white marble caucus room on the third floor of Old House Office building on Capitol Hill.

To help with the paint job, I thought it might be useful to walk around the room where it happened. I got in touch with my local congressman, Seth Moulton, Democrat from the 6th district of Massachusetts, and set up an appointment with a couple of impossibly young and perky interns (really, they looked like eighth graders) to escort me to the caucus room which, near as I could tell, was pretty much the same as it was in 1947, when what was variously called “a three ring circus,” “a honkey tonk show,” and a “Grade A production in glorious Technicolor” was staged before the newsreel cameras and radio microphones. I walked up and down the whole room, mentally positioning the placement of the congressmen on the dais, the tables for investigators, witnesses, and press, and the 300 or so seats for the public, including a contingent of Hollywood artists known as the Committee for the First Amendment, who had flown to Washington to protests HUAC’s tactics. Towards the back of the room, far left as I entered, stars like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Garfield, and Marsha Hunt had listened, rapt and disturbed, attracting more attention from the looky-loos than the actual witnesses. I didn’t feel déjà vu, because I knew I had been there before after a fashion, having looked so intently at the newsreel footage and photographs.

Page 99 might seem to be pretty long slog before getting to the main attraction—the hearings themselves—but the more I looked into the events of October 1947, the more I realized it was all about backstory: the 1930s, when the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League had rallied artists to the cause of anti-Nazism and pro-union activism; and World War II, when Hollywood and Washington engaged in the greatest alliance of government aims and media artistry in American history. The enduring legacy of the agitations of the 1930s and the martialing of Hollywood to military purposes during WWII was that movies—heretofore configured as pure escapism—were now seen as powerful transmission belts for cultural values and political ideology. In 1947, everyone--including the congressmen on the House Committee on Un-American Activities—knew that movies mattered.
Learn more about Show Trial at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Peter J. Woodford's "The Moral Meaning of Nature"

Peter J. Woodford is a research associate at the University of Cambridge, where he is collaborating with scientists and philosophers to study the evolution of cooperation and its potential for understanding the roots of human ethical and religious dispositions. He received his Ph.D. in Modern Western Philosophy, Religious Thought, and Ethics from Stanford University.

Woodford applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Moral Meaning of Nature: Nietzsche’s Darwinian Religion and Its Critics, and reported the following:
I do believe my book passes the page 99 test!

In The Moral Meaning of Nature, I narrate how a collection of thinkers understood the relationship between natural processes and human values, especially those values reflected in the aims of science and in the Christian religion. Page 99 occurs towards the end of chapter three, in which I discuss how Georg Simmel—a highly neglected German philosopher and founding figure of modern sociology at the turn of the 20th century—understood this relationship. My chapter on Simmel argues that he took over a core philosophical project from Friedrich Nietzsche, and this was to show that human commitments to the value of life, and even human orientations toward values that transcended life, nonetheless arose out of life. Here, “life” is understood as a natural process or phenomenon that circumscribes all of what we would call the “biological” world—namely, the world of plants and animals, insects and cells, and organisms of all kinds.

On page 99, I am in the middle of trying to explain how Simmel could conceive of religions as products of biological processes more generally. I describe Simmel’s view that religious ways of understanding and responding to reality were products of affective life that comprised emotions, drives, and instincts that preceded and indeed constituted values that emerged in rational reflection. So, page 99 describes Simmel’s view that humans emotions and drives—such as respect, love, fear, longing, admiration, and even hunger—came to “color” the world and to invest it with diverse values. However, for Simmel, these emotions and drives were not “merely subjective” in the way that we might think of them as wishes or feelings “projected” onto a neutral or indifferent world. Rather, these drives reflected something that genuinely did transcend humans and of which humans were a part, something that even pervaded the non-human world, namely, the reality of “life.” For Simmel, life itself was essentially a kind of appetite, striving, and desire, and only by recognizing this could one understand how religious aspirations toward a fulfillment or consummation of human life in response to transcendent realities could emerge from—and not in opposition to—the wider natural world in which they found themselves.

The snapshot of Simmel’s thoughts on these matters on page 99 reflects the larger project of the book, which was to interrogate how thinkers originally applied “Darwinian” notions of evolution, of life, and of human origins to a fundamental, ancient philosophical question: what place does the normative order of human values have in the wider natural world? The book focuses on what the Lebensphilosophen (“Life-philosophers”) saw as the crucial lesson of Darwinism, namely, that human values were not the products of rationality alone, but rather had a deeper past and source in natural history. However, this was not necessarily an easy idea to live with, since recognizing this appeared to challenge the authority that some of these values were thought to have, and this is why the debate about the natural origins of moral and religious values took on existential urgency. Page 99 describes some of Simmel’s views on conceiving human religious values in terms of a “life-process.” It also sets things up for the next chapter, in which I explain the reasons why a prominent Neo-Kantian philosopher, Heinrich Rickert, trenchantly rejected this picture of Darwinism and its implications for understanding guiding values of both science and the Christian religion.
Learn more about The Moral Meaning of Nature at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 25, 2018

Serhii Plokhy's "Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe"

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University. A three-time recipient of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies prize, he is the author of Yalta: The Price of Peace, The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union, and The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine.

Plokhy applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe, and reported the following:
Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe is the first comprehensive history of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster from the explosion of the reactor no. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant on the morning of April 26, 1986 to the construction of the new shelter over the damaged reactor in 2018. The book tells the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon and succeeded in doing the seemingly impossible: extinguishing the nuclear inferno and putting the reactor to sleep. Below is an excerpt from the story told on page 99 of the book: two firefighters meet each other on the fateful night of April 26 near the damaged reactor. One of them is Hryhorii Khmel, the driver of a firetruck, another--his son, a young lieutenant Petro Khmel.
Hryhorii Khmel spent most of the night near the walls of the turbine hall.... He had no doubt that Petro would be called as well. Around 7:00 a.m., when Hryhorii and his fellow firefighters were ordered to leave their positions and potassium iodide was administered to them, he began asking people whether they had seen Petro. The answer was no. Then someone said: “Petro Khmel was taken there as a substitute.” Hryhorii’s heart sank. “There” meant the damaged reactor. “I thought it was all over, finished,” he recalled later.

Hryhorii was told to surrender all his clothing and take a shower. Only after that did he see his son. “I went out onto the street, looked around—it was light, and everything was visible—and saw my Petro coming in uniform, with a coat on, a fire belt, a cap, and leather boots.” “Are you here, Father?” Petro asked his dad before being taken away for decontamination. Hryhorii must have felt like Nikolai Gogol’s Taras Bulba at the execution of his son Ostap, who shouted into the crowd, “Father, where are you? Do you hear me?” before he was put to death. Hryhorii refused to leave the premises and waited until his son had taken a shower. Petro was obviously sick. As he recalled later, “I started to feel bad in the shower. I came out; my father was waiting for me. ‘How do you feel, sonny?’ Hearing almost nothing by then, I heard only ‘Hold on.’”
The Page 99 Test reveals the essence of the book better than any test I can imagine.
Learn more about Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe at the Basic Books website.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Empire.

The Page 99 Test: The Gates of Europe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Susan Thomson's "Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace"

Susan Thomson is associate professor of peace and conflict studies at Colgate University. In 1994, she was program officer for the United Nations Development Programme and present in Rwanda during the crisis.

Thomson applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace finds the reader almost a third of the way into the story. We meet Placide, Esther, and Gisele, middle-aged Tutsi siblings, all of whom returned to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. The trio was born in eastern Rwanda to a Hutu mother and a Tutsi father. The family scattered in 1959 when political violence targeting Tutsi intensified. Ephram, their father, made life-changing calculations to find safety for his family. Placide traveled by car south to Burundi his father while his sisters fled east to Tanzania by foot with their mother, Anysie. They were reunited almost 40 years later, in 1996, having been raised in vastly differing circumstances, some of which are explained on page 99.

Their experience of returning to Rwanda and trying to settle into postgenocide society are but one of many such stories that frame my book. I situate the experience of Rwandans within the country’s centralized bureaucracy, mindful of different forms of stratification beyond ethnicity. Whether it’s age, gender and experience of exile like Placide and his sisters, or education, generation or occupation, the book pay close attention to Rwandan voices.

The goal is to explain the political, social and cultural reasons why the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has adopted the policies it has from the perspective of the ordinary men and women subject to them. To do so, each chapter presents the stories of Rwandans like Placide, Esther and Gisele to analyze Rwanda’s prospects for lasting peace.

I find that government promise of peace and prosperity are reserved for political and military elites. This generally means RPF party officials and their kin networks. For most Rwandans, RPF policies have resulted in increased economic hardship and social shaming. Poverty, particularly for Rwanda’s rural majority, remains a pressing issue that the RPF is barely addressing. Instead, Kigali, the capital city, gleams as an ode to RPF policy while the majority of Rwandans continue to struggle, economically, politically, socially and emotionally.
Learn more about Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

James Hudnut-Beumler's "Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table"

James Hudnut-Beumler is the Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and the author of several books, including In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar. He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table: Contemporary Christianities in the American South, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Of course, the black population of North Carolina had never been convinced that the state had rejected its Jim Crow past and turned into a smart and genteel version of the Research Triangle, Charlotte, and the Triad, writ large. This is where the Reverend Barber came in, for he was prepared with a deep analysis, a set of progressive allies, and something else rarely seen in public—a willingness to use the ordinary stuff of biblical exegesis, moral argumentation, and old-fashioned preaching in public to make a Christian case for why what the governor and legislature were doing was wrong.
Opening my book to page 99 one finds oneself in the middle of a faith and politics conflict in the state of North Carolina with Reverend William J. Barber II and Moral Monday facing off against Republican state leaders. This proves to be great place to jump right into Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table because the entire book is a testament to the vital range of Christianities underneath those red election night congressional maps that signal the dominance of the conservative white Southern evangelicals in the American South in the early 21st century. While no other non-Christian body can count more than .6% of any southern state's population, the arguments between Christians over whether and how to welcome LGBT members in their churches and schools, how to address racism, whether even to honor the voting rights secured by the civil rights movement are anything but settled.

The South is a region where many people, liberal and conservative, black and white, call themselves Matthew 25 Christians, and visit people in prison because Jesus suggested its importance. Nevertheless, the southern states persist in having the highest incarceration rates in the nation with the highest percentage of its population in prison. Ironies abound. In North Carolina after Republicans took over both houses of state government and the governorship for the first time since Reconstruction in 2012, efforts were made to turn back the clock on voting rights, and health, education and welfare policies. On page 99 we meet a coalition of faith and social justice groups organized under the banner of faith determined to resist the government. One of the members of the movement, Courtney Ritter, mother of three from Pittsboro wears pearls and a cardigan for her arrest, so as to look as conservative and respectable as possible. She reports: "I felt a moral obligation to all of those people in the civil rights movement who had put their lives and jobs on the line. I wanted them to know that what they did mattered." Courtney is white and reported that she and her husband had moved to North Carolina from Alabama thinking it was familiarly southern but more progressive. In her disappointment Courtney thought, "Wow, I could have stayed in Alabama."
Learn more about Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Michael Zakim's "Accounting for Capitalism"

Michael Zakim teaches history at Tel Aviv University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made, and reported the following:
The ninety-ninth page of Accounting for Capitalism is devoted to a pictorial parable that appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in 1854, depicting the “two paths in life” (earnestness versus dissipation) faced by everyone who assumes exclusive sovereignty over their fate. The Harper’s caricature is part of my book’s third chapter, which contends that the “self-made man,” a distinctly modern cultural hero born of the industrial century, constituted one of the great production projects of the new capitalist economy, namely, the production of oneself. Such “individualism” (a neologism of the times) marked a radical departure from republican tradition in America, which had rested on the moral economy of patriarchal households.

The individual’s transformation into an “ism” was closely related to another etymological event of equal revolutionary significance: capital’s transformation into “capitalism,” which was revealing of the growing relevance of truck and barter to the whole of social experience. The rise of capital to such moral and material status begat a class of “merchant clerks” assigned with administering the industrial century’s second great production project, production of the market. Indeed, the clerk personified both of these developments. Moving from farm to metropolis, from homestead to boarding house, and from growing things to selling them, he not only kept the accounts, delivered bills, distributed samples, paid import duties, figured interest charges, and copied out a constant stream of correspondence, but conceived of his own life as the subject of the same gestalt of utility, enterprise, and calculation. This turned him into an unlikely icon of the age, as well as the anti-hero of Herman Melville’s famous story of the Wall-Street scrivener, “Bartleby,” published a year before the Harper’s pictorial. Negotiable, impermanent, unhinged from the soil, and carried along by commerce’s tides of boom and bust, the clerk did not just produce the market, in other words. He was himself one of its products, the pioneer of what we so casually call today “human capital.”
Learn more about Accounting for Capitalism at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2018

Stephanie J. Rickard's "Spending to Win"

Stephanie J. Rickard is Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Spending to Win: Political Institutions, Economic Geography, and Government Subsidies, and reported the following:
By chance, page 99 begins with a nice summary of the argument I make in Spending to Win. Discussing two subsidies funded by governments in France and Austria in violation of European Union rules that regulate state aid, I conclude that leaders implemented these subsidies because the benefits of doing so outweighed the costs.
The domestic benefits of these subsidies were large precisely because of the constellation of economic geography and electoral institutions. Together, electoral institutions and economic geography robustly predict the likelihood that a government will violate EU state aid rules – illustrating that domestic politics shape not only national economic policy but also international economic relations.
This paragraph from page 99 nicely illustrates the main argument in Spending to Win. I argue that politicians’ willingness to selectively target economic benefits, like subsidies to businesses, depends on the way politicians are elected and the geographic distribution of economic activities. Based on interviews with government ministers and bureaucrats, as well as new quantitative data, I demonstrate that government policy-making can be explained by the combination of electoral institutions and economic geography. Political institutions interact with economic geography to influence countries’ economic policies and international economic relations. As a result, identical political institutions can have wide-ranging policy effects depending on the context in which they operate.

In the chapter that includes page 99, I explore the politics behind two subsidy programs in France and Austria. I use parliamentary records, industry publications, and local media coverage to elucidate the politics behind these two subsidy programs. Why focus on these two particular programs? As I write on page 99,
Myriad subsidy programs exist. Given the ubiquity of government subsidies, it would be far too easy to cherry pick cases that best fit my theory. To guard against this, I use a methodical, multistep selection criterion.
I go on to describe my selection criterion. I aim to convince readers that I did not cherry pick these two cases but instead investigate the universe of cases that meet the detailed selection criterion. Both subsidies provide evidence in support of my argument and illustrate the importance of electoral incentives and economic geography for economic policy-making. The two cases involve government subsidies to wine makers. Perhaps this is a chapter best enjoyed with a cold glass of Austrian Grüner Veltliner!
Learn more about Spending to Win at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lucas A. Powe Jr.'s "America’s Lone Star Constitution"

Lucas A. Powe, Jr. is Anne Green Regents Chair in the School of Law and Professor of Government at the University of Texas.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, America's Lone Star Constitution: How Supreme Court Cases from Texas Shape the Nation, and reported the following:
Page 99 of America’s Lone Star Constitution consists of two paragraphs about the case challenging school financing via local property taxes because of wealth disparities. The first discusses choosing a Hispanic as plaintiff. The second, in detail, illustrates wealth discrepancies between two school districts within San Antonio. The latter paragraph is typical of the book in providing the necessary detail to comprehend both the litigation strategies and the decision of the Supreme Court. The former mentions the lawyer and his substitution of a Hispanic for an Anglo to highlight that the case, while about wealth discrepancies, has a minority component to it.

In discussing the plaintiff, Demetrio Rodriguez, an armed services veteran, was verbally harassed by Anglos. That represents my effort to bring as much local culture into the case discussion as well as illustrating the conservatism of the state.

What page 99 does not have is a single word about a Supreme Court justice even though every justice of the last six decades is evaluated at some point in the book where, unsurprisingly one can learn that William O. Douglas and Thurgood Marshall were the most liberal justices and William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia rank as the most conservative. It also lacks mention of any Texas politician.

Nor does page 99 discuss the outcome of the San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973), the majority and the dissent’s reasoning, or the national importance of the case. A few pages later Justice Lewis Powell, who wrote the majority opinion, in his private note asserts the plaintiff’s claim is both communistic and “the type of thing that emerged from the French Revolution.” Had the dissent of Thurgood Marshall, who was the last century’s most important lawyer, prevailed, federal courts would have been commandeered to supervise how fairly states and localities were funding their schools, a task far better suited to state courts and legislatures. Rodriguez was a conservative victory, but cases banning organized prayer at high school football games and protecting the burning of the American flag were liberal victories, and Texas cases have split evenly between the poles.
Learn more about America's Lone Star Constitution at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

David Charles Sloane's "Is the Cemetery Dead?"

David Charles Sloane is professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He grew up in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York, and is the author of The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History.

Sloane applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Is the Cemetery Dead?, and reported the following:
My book is a discussion of the challenges confronting the cemetery in the 21st century. The modern cemetery was established during the antebellum period, and has throughout the remainder of American history served as the primary place for the interment of our dead.

Yet, circumstances are changing. Over the first one hundred years after the invention of the indoor mechanical crematory, the vast majority of Americans rejected the practice, even though it was cheaper. Over the last few decades the percentage of deaths that are cremated has risen to the point where in the last year or so more Americans were cremated than buried or entombed.

How does this relate to page 99? On page 99, I discuss the meaning of a visitation to the cemetery. I remind readers that even though fewer people seemed to be going, the “cemetery remains a place apart, the last stop of grief for millions of people.”

I note that the visit to the grave is a performance of grief and remembrance. “We tend the grave, replace the old flowers, and dust the top of the monument. We might leave a small memento – a photograph, stone, figurine, or stuffed animal.” These mementos don’t last long in the large cemeteries since they violate the needs for maintenance and standardized appearance, but people keep leaving them.

The restrictions are why some people are moving their mourning away from the memorial landscape of these “special sacred spaces.” As I discuss in the remainder of the book, we mourn online and in public, we place everyday memorials along the roadside, on the back car window, even on our bodies through a memorial tattoo. Many feel a diminished attachment to the place where, others still believe, mourners “can recreate a ‘home’ for the deceased.” Maybe, but many people seem to be learning less from the cemetery, and mourning in other places.
Learn more about Is the Cemetery Dead? at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Emily Ogden's "Credulity"

Emily Ogden is assistant professor of English at the University of Virginia.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism, and reported the following:
Credulity tells how mesmerism, an early form of hypnosis, started out as a mind control technique and then became, improbably, a means of free expression. Page 99 is right where this shift occurs. Before, the book is mostly about control; after, freedom takes over.

Mesmerists claimed they had the ability to entrance people, transforming them from ordinary citizens into obedient robots with clairvoyant powers. The practice first emerged in France, then took an extraordinary journey across three continents to get to the US in 1836. From strictly run French hospitals, it migrated to Caribbean plantations and then to American factory towns. A slaveholder, Charles Poyen, brought it to America. Here's how I summarize the travels of this brainwashing method on page 99:
In Paris, the powers that magnetism had borrowed from the world's false religions made some patients compliant and helped diagnose others. In Guadeloupe, mesmerism warded off rebellion. And in the United States, it made a more tractable weaver [factory worker] out of the first American somnambulist. ("Somnambulist" is a name for the mesmeric subject.)
On page 99, things look dark. But this program of domination is about to unravel. In the chapters to come, mesmeric clairvoyants turn mind control into entertainment. They fly through the air, they do impressions of other people's personalities, and eventually they develop something similar to the stage hypnosis you can still see today, where people quack like ducks and do other outlandish things at the mesmerist’s bidding. By the end of the book (and of mesmerism’s history), brainwashing is no longer a dark art; it’s an improv technique.
Learn more about Credulity at the University of Chicago Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Credulity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Gregory Barton's "The Global History of Organic Farming"

Gregory Barton is Professor of History at Western Sydney University and the University of Johannesburg, and the author of Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism, Lord Palmerston and the Empire of Trade, and Informal Empire and the Rise of One World Culture. For eight years he was the Editor-in-Chief of the noted historical journal, Britain and the World.

Barton applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Global History of Organic Farming and reported the following:
While Ford Madox Ford spent much of 1931 writing his autobiography, Return to Yesterday, another writer in that same year launched the organic farming movement with a book that also harkened back to the romantic world of the past.

Alas, the book was titled, unappealingly, The Waste Products of Agriculture. But despite the off-putting title, Albert Howard along with his first wife Gabrielle, and then his second wife Louise, would soon take his place as the founder of the organic farming movement and change forever how millions of consumers thought about modern industrial farming.

Page 99 of my book, The Global History of Organic Farming, captures the essence of this story that marries ancient wisdom with scientific discovery. Page 99 also captures the tragic death of his first wife and fellow scientist, Gabrielle, who worked side by side with Albert in the blinding heat and grinding poverty of India. Here they devised a new method of composting that allowed Indian peasants to fertilize their crops without artificial fertilizers and pesticides.

After Gabrielle’s tragic death Howard retired to England broken hearted and exhausted from overwork. With the help of Louise, Gabrielle’s sister, Albert began writing for a popular audience of farmers and gardeners that launched a new movement that would throw down the gauntlet and challenge the values of chemical farming and mass consumerism. This book—based on newly discovered archives— tells the untold story of how the organic farming movement attracted the support of millions of followers from Gandhi to Prince Charles, and from both the left and the right of the political spectrum.

The story also highlights the forgotten role of women in the broader environmental movement. After Albert Howard’s death, Louise Howard almost single handedly carried the message of the organic farming to the world. Throughout the 1950s to the 1960s she maintained a network of amateur activists fighting against the damage of DDT on the environment and against the ill effects of industrial pollution on human health. Little could she foresee at the time, that her lonely battle for organic farming would gain widespread acceptance after 1980 and change the way hundreds of millions of consumers think about how the food they eat affected human health and the health of the entire world of nature.
Learn more about The Global History of Organic Farming at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 11, 2018

Tim Bartley's "Rules without Rights"

Tim Bartley is Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, and studies globalization, regulation, and social movements. He applied thePage 99 Test” to his new book, Rules without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy, and reported the following:
On page 99, you’ll read about the troubled and controversial attempts to make the Indonesian timber industry more sustainable. There has been an explosion of interest in corporate sustainability and social responsibility, and yet we know very little about what this means on the ground. Rules without Rights tries to change that by comparing land and labor standards as they are put into practice in newly democratic Indonesia and authoritarian China.

On one hand, page 99 captures only one slice of the book, which also looks at sustainability standards in China and corporate responsibility for labor conditions (especially in clothing and footwear manufacturing) in Indonesia and China.

On the other hand, page 99 captures some central themes of the book as a whole—including the risk of greenwashing/fairwashing and corporate sustainability/responsibility programs’ inability to deal with contentious land and labor rights (such as the rights of indigenous people to control rural land or the rights of workers to form independent labor unions).

The page begins with the story of how giant pulp and paper companies—Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL)—sought to use the logo of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading multi-stakeholder sustainable forestry initiative, to greenwash their image. The vast majority of their operations could not meet the FSC’s standards, but they engaged in several projects that they hoped would allow them to use the “FSC-Mixed” label on some paper products. This was an important and controversial moment for the FSC, which clamped down on some of these sorts of projects while still working to expand the market for certified paper.
In sum, the big pulp and paper companies were not prepared to abandon their harvesting practices, but they did navigate the margins of FSC certification in search of sustainability assurances. The FSC and its constituents, in turn, further policed these margins to retain their credibility, especially when prompted by external scrutiny. As theorized in the previous chapter, the rigor of transnational private regulation depends in part on scrutiny from external and internal watchdogs.
Page 99 then transitions into a focus on land rights, which turn out to be incredibly contentious in Indonesia:
FSC standards [and many other sustainability initiatives] call for stable, clear, and legitimate land use rights, but in several ways the rights to use forest land in Indonesia are unstable, overlapping, and contentious. First, because there were sizable incentives to convert forested land into oil palm plantations, forests were in a real sense fleeting—and whatever premiums might be gained by getting certified were far too low to reverse this trend. The Indonesian government began supporting fast-growing oil palm plantations in the 1980s by helping foreign investors secure land in “frontier” areas, often suppressing or displacing local smallholders.
In addition to palm oil development, forest land in Indonesia was often subject to competing claims—from different government agencies, different permit holders, and by both companies and indigenous communities who claimed customary rights to land. These customary rights were symbolically endorsed by the Indonesian constitution but practically nullified by the Forestry Law. This created a difficult situation for sustainability certification and a problem that this tool has largely failed to resolve. Here you can see one meaning of the title, Rules without Rights.
Learn more about Rules without Rights at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue