Sunday, March 18, 2018

Anna Zeide's "Canned"

Anna Zeide is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Oklahoma State University, where her research, teaching, and community activism focus on food and food systems.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry, and reported the following:
One of the realities that characterizes the modern American food industry--and indeed the business world in general--is that it tends to reject government regulation. Which is why it's so interesting to find that the early canning industry actually welcomed government regulation with open arms. Page 99 of my new book, Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry, finds California canners in 1921 pleading: "We urgently request [the state] to assist us in policing the industry." So, what's going on here? Why did the canners want to be "policed" by the state, and what can this tell us about the development of our modern food system?

In 1919 and 1920, there were nationwide outbreaks of botulism, a deadly form of food poisoning, which had resulted from canned olives packed in California. The canning industry, and especially California canners, quickly sprang to action. They wanted to identify the root of the problem that had caused this outbreak, and to change their processes in whatever ways they could to make sure it wouldn't happen again. The canners funded the California Botulism Commission, consisting of scientific experts from the U.S. Public Health Service, the University of California, Stanford University, and the California State Department of Health. The findings of this commission produced valuable research about the times and temperatures required to safely process different kinds of canned foods. Based on these findings, California created a Division of Cannery Inspection in 1923. As I write on page 99, "A crucial point here is that these inspection programs were funded entirely by canners--testifying to the rising importance canners placed on government regulation around 1920." Canners in other states followed suit in bringing in government inspectors to maintain oversight over their own industry.

In the book as a whole, I argue that the American canning industry, before the 1930s, was uniquely vulnerable, selling a product that was unfamiliar and often undesirable to American consumers. In this space of vulnerability, the canners sought to partner with any external experts who carried public trust, to convey a stamp of approval upon their still new products. This is why the canners of the 1920s invited government regulation. They needed this external affirmation to rebuild trust in canned food in the eyes of the consumers after the botulism outbreak. As canners grew more confident in the years to come--in part as a result of the scientific work of the botulism commission--they would become less willing to open themselves up to government regulations, and would begin to reject this receptivity to external scientific advice, bringing us to the current state of tension between the federal government and the food industry.

How do we make the industry responsive once more? Show them their vulnerability.
Visit Anna Zeide's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Amy Wallen's "When We Were Ghouls"

Amy E. Wallen is associate director at the New York State Writers Institute and teaches creative writing at the University of California, San Diego Extension. Her first novel, Moon Pies and Movie Stars, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

Wallen applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, When We Were Ghouls: A Memoir of Ghost Stories, and reported the following:
Page 99 of When We Were Ghouls contains one of five of the photos that are included the book, this one is titled Christmas in Nigeria. Me, my brother, my dad and my sister, all of my family but my mother are present in the photo, our tacky 1970s silver tinsel tree in the background.

The page contains only a short paragraph since this is the last page of the chapter.
…a chameleon. I had even pretended to be Mrs. Astor. If I couldn’t be someone else, slip into another skin, I needed to be able to slide out of danger. I needed to be able to go someplace safer. If no one else was around, and that had become highly likely, I needed to know how to disappear.

But not yet—Suzanne and Marty were coming home for Christmas.
Is the quality of the whole revealed? The theme of my memoir is the search for whether or not my family were “hideous people.” The paragraph reveals my secret wish at an early age to be someone else, anyone else, or to disappear. The mother is missing in the photo (she’s probably taking the picture), and she’s the person who is slipping through my fingers the most throughout the memoir. In addition, the photo is also old and faded and the rest of my family is blurred and fading into a phantom pale. No one is looking at the camera, as we are all busy with our Christmas presents. I am sitting right next to my brother who is my protector throughout the book.

My book’s subtitle is A Memoir in Ghost Stories—a play on the theme of disappearance, how my family members continue to come and go in my life like ghosts, until I am left entirely on my own in Nigeria at the age of seven. The full paragraph talks of slipping away, the last line of the chapter mentions the next appearance. Or apparition. This is what I explore in the story—who was this family of flighty ghosts? My own desire to disappear, my missing mother, the phantom figures in the photo, no eye contact—yep, I see truth to Ford Madox Ford's page 99 test.
Visit Amy Wallen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 16, 2018

Alexandra Cox's "Trapped in a Vice"

Alexandra Cox is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex in Colchester, England.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Trapped in a Vice: The Consequences of Confinement for Young People, and reported the following:
The 1990s were an important moment in the punishment and welfare landscape in the United States: crime rates were high, punishment harsh, and cuts to welfare provision were severe. This has had long lasting effects on the lives of impoverished individuals born and coming of age in that era. In my research on youth incarceration, I interviewed the teenagers who born during the 1990s and the prison guards who came of age during that time. And I learned that the punitive philosophies of the 1990s have been transformed into an approach to punishment today that is ostensibly more therapeutic on its face, but repressive under the surface.

The 99th page of my book highlights the philosophies of the juvenile prisons of the 1990s, and introduces the story of David Brooks (a pseudonym), who began working in a juvenile facility in the 1990s. As a Black man from an impoverished urban city in New York, he had successfully obtained a college sports scholarship, and his job at the juvenile facility after college became a road to the middle class. The approach to juvenile imprisonment then was harsh: the system’s commissioner added concertina wire to the facility perimeters, introduced boot camp-style facilities, and a behavioral change regime rooted in personal accountability. Brooks was trained into this ethos, and ultimately developed his own approach to punishment, built on the principle of tough love.

Twenty years later, Brooks found himself working in a facility that was trying to undo the approach of the 1990s. Yet he had been trained to emphasize individual responsibility in punishment, and to use instrumental methods of control. Staff like Brooks carve out strong relationships with young people; yet, even though these relationships are sometimes positive, the approach to punishment that emerges in this context of reforms is often confused and contradictory. My book reveals the contradictions that emerge when systems engage in ‘non-reformist reforms,’ or reforms which make changes within the framework of a given system, rather than imagining what is possible outside of it. I argue that the framework of individual responsibility, which assumes that criminalized teenagers change because they have been induced to change, is deeply limited and stultifying for them. Yet ideas and philosophies also become sedimented in systems and through the people that operate within them, and facilities also become stultifying for staff members, in ways that make systems of punishment stick.
Learn more about Trapped in a Vice at the Rutgers University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Amanda L. Izzo's "Liberal Christianity and Women's Global Activism"

Amanda L. Izzo is an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Saint Louis University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Liberal Christianity and Women's Global Activism: The YWCA of the USA and the Maryknoll Sisters, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Liberal Christianity and Women’s Global Activism finds the Young Women’s Christian Association of the USA (YWCA) working a subtle, but significant, transformation in the international social work profession. The YWCA was one of the largest and most influential twentieth century U.S. women’s voluntary organizations. And this example of the association’s on-the-ground efforts provides a window into one of the larger aims of this book: examining the evolving conception of Christian service that guided the interdenominational Protestant YWCA’s journey from a proselytization-minded, middle-class charitable group to a professional social service provider and advocacy organization. Parallel to this story, the book narrates another similar metamorphosis in the outreach of the Maryknoll Sisters, a Roman Catholic religious order.

The YWCA’s social work innovations, I note, offered a “collective-oriented alternative to the casework model of community intervention,” a form of theory in action that invested the small-scale interpersonal encounters of voluntary clubs with the potential for creating cooperative community on a global scale. The example on page 99 features the organization’s involvement in establishing a School of Social Work in Delhi, India in the 1940s. Illustrating the organization’s international pursuit of fellowship, Dorothy Height, a long-time YWCA employee and African American civil rights pioneer, participated in this transnational endeavor, which drew the support of future prime minister Indira Gandhi.

The Delhi project is one indicator of the YWCA’s larger mission of deploying faith commitments rooted in the New Testament in order to catalyze broader social transformations based in ideals of caring human fellowship. Increasingly aimed at bridging the divides of creed, race, and nation, the group’s agenda, I show, grew more politicized as the membership and leaders explored liberal ideals of social democracy and world fellowship.

On page 99, then, we get small but concrete demonstration of how religion could offer both an inspiration and an institutional infrastructure for women to unite in service of a more egalitarian society. In this respect, I hope, the page hints at some of the goals of the work in its entirety: namely, to highlight a neglected history of women’s centrality to activist religion.
Learn more about Liberal Christianity and Women's Global Activism at the Rutgers University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Patricia Fara's "A Lab of One’s Own"

Patricia Fara lectures in the history of science at Cambridge University, where she is a Fellow of Clare College. She is the President of the British Society for the History of Science (2016-18) and her prize-winning book, Science: A Four Thousand Year History, has been translated into nine languages. In addition to many academic publications, her popular works include Newton: The Making of Genius, An Entertainment for Angels, Sex, Botany and Empire, and more. An experienced public lecturer, Patricia Fara appears regularly in TV documentaries and radio programs such as In Our Time. She also contributes articles and reviews to many journals, including History Today, BBC History, New Scientist, Nature and the Times Literary Supplement.

Fara applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War, and reported the following:
Dorothy Parker allegedly once remarked that the Bloomsbury set lived in squares, painted in circles, and loved in triangles. Page 99 of A Lab of One’s Own captures some of that feverish volatility. As well as Duncan Grant and Bertrand Russell, it features Ray Strachey (née Costelloe) who was related by marriage to both Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey. One of Britain’s leading suffrage campaigners, she has been surprisingly neglected by the Bloomsbury industry.

Like many other suffrage scientists discussed in A Lab of One’s Own, Strachey rebelled against her mother’s advice to behave like a refined young lady. My page 99 describes how this Cambridge maths graduate cut her hair short, wore a dirty blouse to a fashionable party, met the future husband to whom she proposed, and enrolled (along with 20 disdainful young men) in an electrical engineering class at Oxford. As soon as the War started, she set up an employment bureau and a welding school in central London, so that women could be trained to take over men’s jobs while they were away fighting. A resolute committee member, Strachey negotiated with government ministers and played a key role in securing suffrage for British women over 30 in 1918.

Getting the vote represented a major achievement, but professional women still struggled for equal pay and equal opportunities. After the War, Strachey dedicated her life to obtaining economic parity. As the men returned, they reclaimed their previous positions, and women were squeezed out of factories, universities and laboratories. Although sometimes it seemed that the country had just reverted to its pre-War state, in reality nothing could ever be the same again: now everybody knew that women were perfectly capable of running the country.

Equality is now enshrined in legislation, yet there are still fewer women than men at the upper levels of science. As a society, we need to examine why that is and what can be done. A Lab of One’s Own celebrates the female scientists who fought so hard to improve the future. Their example demonstrates that change is possible.
Learn more about A Lab of One's Own at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Erasmus Darwin.

Writers Read: Patricia Fara.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

D. Bruce Hindmarsh's "The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism"

D. Bruce Hindmarsh holds the James M. Houston Chair of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver. A past president of the American Society of Church History, he has published and spoken widely to international audiences on the history of early British evangelicalism. His books include John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition and The Evangelical Conversion Narrative.

Hindmarsh applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World, and reported the following:
From page 99:
[Jonathan] Edwards introduced his 343 pages quarto on the Religious Affections (1746) by declaring that there was no question whatsoever of greater importance to all humankind that this: “What is the Nature of true Religion?” In the middle of the century Sarah Osborn wrote The Nature, Certainty, and Evidence of True Christianity (1755); at the close of the century William Wilberforce published his Practical View of ... Real Christianity (1797). “Genuine piety,” “true Christianity,” “true religion,” “real Christianity”—all of these terms signal what was the central preoccupation of the leaders of the evangelical movement, namely, that men and women who had a merely formal relationship with the church come to a real experience of Christian faith.
This quotation appears in the midst of a discussion of the sources for the rise of evangelicalism in the eighteenth century. The principle by which the leaders selected their reading from the past was simply whether a book might foster the experience of “true religion.” Here, I simply drew from a range of evangelical books to illustrate how widely they emphasized this theme.

The page 99 test works well in my book (“the whole will be revealed to you”), since “true religion” really is the central concern of my whole exposition. The essence or “spirit” of early evangelicalism was the quest for a personally meaningful faith in the modern world where materialist science and modern social conditions made it increasingly possible to live as if God did not exist.

Evangelical devotion emerged as a potent force in the middle third of the eighteenth century amidst consequential changes in the wider culture. In retrospect we can identify these cultural changes as both modernizing and naturalizing.

It was in this period that the notion of modernity itself arose in the “Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns,” and this provides a framework in the first part of the book for assessing the relative novelty of the evangelical religion that seemed to appear at first as a “surprising work” and a socially disruptive force. Some of the social dynamics of the movement were genuinely new, but others reprised older themes in the history of Christianity. True religion was, however, as the early evangelicals often said, “the one thing needful.”

It was also in this period that there was a new understanding of nature and regard for its authority, first in natural philosophy, and then in moral philosophy and the arts. And so, in the second part of the book I show the significance of “true religion” for a number of evangelical writers as they responded to developments in science, law, and art with a vivid sense of the immediate presence of God.

Modernity, the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution—these were the conditions for the rise of evangelicalism as a quest for “true religion” in a changing world.
Learn more about The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 12, 2018

Alison McQueen's "Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times"

Alison McQueen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. Her research focuses on early modern political theory and the history of International Relations thought.

McQueen applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The best political forms are temporary, “for no remedy can be applied there to prevent [them] from slipping into [their contraries] because of the likeness that the virtue and the vice have in this case.” Here, Machiavelli demonstrates a disposition toward the flux and variability of the political world that is distinctly tragic…Tragedy encourages an epistemological approach that does not abandon the project of understanding and negotiating this sort of inevitable variability. However, a tragic vision acknowledges how resistant the world is to human control.
When we get to page 99 in Political Realism and Apocalyptic Times, we encounter Niccolò Machiavelli, the tragedian. Machiavelli isn’t generally read as a tragic thinker. I argue, however, that his later works have a tragic sensibility. He recognizes that settled solutions to our political disagreements are rare and fragile. The sooner we recognize the limits of political action and the dangers we create by trying to exceed them, the better off we’ll be.

In the context of the book as a whole, this turn to tragedy is one way of responding to apocalyptic rhetoric in politics. Apocalyptic rhetoric invokes, to quote the REM song, “the end of the world as we know it.” This end could be “good,” as it is in biblical accounts of the end times, in which a corrupted world is replaced with “New Jerusalem.” Or, the end could be “bad,” as it would be in the case of a nuclear or climate change apocalypse.

Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times traces the responses of three canonical political realists, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, and Hans J. Morgenthau to apocalyptic politics. All of these thinkers wrote during times in which powerful political actors were announcing the end of the world. In Machiavelli’s Florence, the formidable friar Girolamo Savonarola was warning of scourge and tribulation: “God’s dagger will strike,” Savonarola prophesied, “and soon.” During England’s bloody civil war, many Royalists and Parliamentarians saw themselves as waging the battles of the end times. And at the dawn of the nuclear age, a great many of Morgenthau’s contemporaries feared the new “push-button apocalypse.”

All three thinkers see the appeal of apocalyptic rhetoric and the temptation to prophesy the end of days. But they also worry about the dangers of this kind of doomsaying. They adopt one of two strategies in responding to these dangers. The first strategy is the one discussed on page 99—to reject the apocalyptic worldview and adopt a tragic perspective. The second strategy is to redirect apocalyptic thinking in a more productive direction. If we want to avoid nuclear catastrophe or global climate change, for example, perhaps we need to get people to imagine the apocalypse in order to prevent it.

Which strategy is better? There aren’t any easy answers. The realists teach us that the work of politics is always unfinished. We must return to it again and again without any reasonable hope of success.
Learn more about Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Matthew Restall's "When Montezuma Met Cortés"

Matthew Restall is Sparks Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies at Penn State. He is the author of Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest.

Restall applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, When Montezuma Met Cortes: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History, and reported the following:
By way of a terse (and flattering) summary of my book, I can do no better than the February 26 edition of The New Yorker:
In 1519, the emperor Montezuma received the conquistador Hernán Cortés and some of his men as guests in the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán. Within two years, Montezuma was dead, the Aztecs routed, and the city destroyed. This revisionist history contests received views of Cortés as either swashbuckling hero or bloviating villain, of the Aztecs as cannibals, and of Montezuma as a meek, mystical king who voluntarily capitulated. Restall skillfully describes a subtler story of relationships both loving and coercive. He offers a particularly bold interpretation of Montezuma’s devotion to his palace zoo, arguing that he saw Cortés and his men as exotic creatures and hoped to learn by studying them.
Of the book’s four “Parts,” Part II focuses on the Aztecs and Montezuma, describing how they have been depicted for the last five centuries, and persuading the reader (hopefully) to see them differently. Page 99 lands deep in Part II’s chapter on the Aztecs, just as I conclude my discussion of one Aztec deity (with the hard-to-say name of Huitzilopochtli) and begin that of another (Quetzalcoatl, not much easier). In order to be persuasive throughout the book—that is, to convince readers to rethink a narrative taken as true for so long—I delve in detail into multiple related topics. This is one of those moments. Thus the larger story of the Spanish war against the Aztecs is not directly mentioned. But it is indirectly referenced in my concluding point on Huitzilopochtli, that the way the Aztecs saw him “was a far cry from the pagan devil-monster of post-invasion renderings.” Similarly, my larger argument that the Spanish-Aztec story has been grossly distorted is reflected in my take-away introductory point about Quetzalcoatl: “so much was invented by Europeans, mostly for specific political, religious, and cultural purposes, that the surviving aspects and meanings of the original Aztec deity are diluted, eclipsed, difficult to discern.”
Learn more about When Montezuma Met Cortés at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Wilson, Cribb, Trefalt, and Aszkielowicz's "Japanese War Criminals"

Sandra Wilson is professor of history in the School of Arts and a fellow of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University. She is the author of The Manchurian Crisis and Japanese Society, 1931-33 (2002).

Robert Cribb is professor of Asian history at the Australian National University. He is author (with Li Narangoa) of the Historical Atlas of Northeast Asia: Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, Eastern Siberia (Columbia, 2014).

Beatrice Trefalt is senior lecturer in Japanese studies at Monash University. She is the author of Japanese Army Stragglers and Memories of the War in Japan, 1950-1975 (2003), and coeditor, with Chris Dixon and Sean Brawley, of Competing Voices from the Pacific War (2009).

Dean Aszkielowicz teaches at Murdoch University and is the author of The Australian Pursuit of Japanese War Criminals, 1943-1958: From Foe to Friend.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their 2017 book, Japanese War Criminals: The Politics of Justice After the Second World War, and reported the following:
Our book is about the pursuit of Japanese war crimes suspects by eleven Allied governments after the Second World War, in one international tribunal (the Tokyo Trial) and many more nationally-based military tribunals. About 5,700 suspects were prosecuted in total. Our main focus is on the complex interconnections between considerations of justice and of politics, broadly defined, in the war crimes trial project. Page 99 comes nearly at the end of our chapter on what happened in the courtrooms.

The courtroom story is only one part of the whole account. In fact one of our major points is that it’s not enough to look only at courts and sentences. Politics and justice were intertwined at all stages of the pursuit of the war criminals, from the initial investigations through selection of defendants, prosecutions, sentencing, and imprisonment or execution, to eventual release. But even though page 99 only deals with one part of the process, it illuminates several of the main themes in the book as a whole.

At the top of the page we mention Korean camp guards, which draws attention to the fact that, as colonial subjects, Koreans served in the Japanese military and could be arrested as “Japanese” war crimes suspects. Most of the page is about alterations to sentences that had been passed in the courtrooms. Sentences were altered in a variety of ways, sometimes immediately and sometimes long afterwards. Recognising that alterations happened highlights the danger of looking only at initial sentences: they do not necessarily represent what happened to the defendant in the end. Some sentences were altered because a confirming officer was unhappy with the proceedings or because the sentence was out of step with sentences passed on other defendants in similar cases. Some sentences were changed for political reasons. Here we give an example in which Chinese authorities intervened to have a general found not guilty so that they could use him to recruit Japanese soldiers to help fight on the Nationalist side against Communist forces in the Chinese civil war. We have much more to say about more formal clemency processes later in the book.
Learn more about Japanese War Criminals at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 9, 2018

John Willinsky's "The Intellectual Properties of Learning"

John Willinsky is the Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford University and the director of the Public Knowledge Project.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Intellectual Properties of Learning: A Prehistory from Saint Jerome to John Locke, and reported the following:
By page 99 of this book’s millennium-plus history of learning, I am dealing with Hildegard of Bingen at the beginning of the twelfth century, the last great age of learning within the monasteries. Hildegard is an abbess in the Rhineland, whose outstanding work in medicine remains a source of research and medication today, while her rich musical compositions are still part of the choral tradition. Hildegard is a heroic figure among monastics, even as she exemplifies learning’s loss, as the universities that began to emerge during that century excluded women.

The book focuses on how Hildegard and others laboring over manuscripts reflected a growing sense of intellectual rights and properties associated with such work. Within communal orders of monasteries, cathedral schools, and universities, the learned pursued their rights to access book chests and libraries, use this work in their writing, and attract the sponsorship needed to sustain their learning and ensure the autonomy it required. These works’ authorship was credited as a means of interpreting them.

In her own day and in her own way, Hildegard extended the intellectual property rights associated with learning by overcoming the monastic enclosure that had a particularly tight grip on nuns. She expanded access rights to learning by recording and sharing her medicinal remedies; by seeking permission to publish her migraine-inflected, visionary cosmology through magnificent illustrations; and by undertaking preaching tours to spread what she had learned to communities along the Rhine.

It would not be until the early eighteenth century – and the book’s final chapter – that the intellectual property rights associated with learned works and authors would first become encoded in the law. It took the passage, in Britain, of “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning,” otherwise known as the Statute of Anne 1710, which stands as the first modern intellectual property law. A point of consideration for page 99 in this book, as well as those pages before and after it, is how much of learning’s original contribution to the concept of intellectual property has been lost our own times.
Learn more about The Intellectual Properties of Learning at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 8, 2018

James Garbarino's "Miller's Children"

James Garbarino holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and is Senior Faculty Fellow with the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. 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 Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases and Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.

Garbarino applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Miller's Children: Why Giving Teenage Killers a Second Chance Matters for All of Us, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Miller’s Children I explore the role played by “therapy” in the eventual rehabilitation and transformation of juvenile murderers. Because most of them have traveled the path of experiencing “developmental trauma” as children and teenagers, they usually need more than just maturation to get better, to become good men. This is where therapy comes into the picture. For most it’s a haphazard process of taking advantage of whatever therapeutic resources are available to them. However, access itself is often a problem for them because as “lifers” they are often either excluded from programs as a matter of prison policy, or placed so far down the priority list that they rarely get to the top and thus earn the right to participate. In places where this is not the case it seems clear that access to therapy aids and supports whatever else these “Miller’s Children” are doing—studying, meditating, reading, receiving mentorship, reflection, taking programs of any kind (e.g. substance abuse prevention and anger management), and just using their now mature brains after they reach age 26 to make sense of themselves and the larger world. Every “lifer” has to choose between living as a savage barbarian (the life of violence, defiance, misbehavior, and rage) or as a monk (the life of contemplation, service, study, and peacefulness). Formal therapy can contribute to both making the “right” choice and learning how to live productively within the confines of that choice. That so many do so is a testament to the human spirit! Seeing in up close and personal in many of the men I have interviewed has been an uplifting and inspirational experience, one that I will always cherish.
Learn more about Miller's Children at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Listening to Killers.

My Book, The Movie: Miller's Children.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jerry Gershenhorn's "Louis Austin and the Carolina Times"

Jerry Gershenhorn is Julius L. Chambers Professor of History at North Carolina Central University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle, and reported the following:
Based in Durham, North Carolina, Louis Austin, the courageous editor and publisher of the black news weekly, The Carolina Times, fought against the oppression and segregation of African Americans from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. In my book, I argue that the civil rights struggle predated the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which in many narratives is considered the start of the movement. I also emphasize the critical role played by the black press in this long struggle. In North Carolina, Louis Austin published the most important black newspaper in the state from 1927 to 1971, using that paper to fight for racial justice. In doing so, he regularly attacked anyone who blocked African Americans’ path toward racial justice.

On page 99 of my book, I discuss Austin’s agitation for integration of higher education in North Carolina during the early 1950s. The background for this section was a successful 1951 NAACP lawsuit that compelled the desegregation of the law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), based on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although white educational officials complied with the court decision and admitted several black students to the university’s law school, these same officials sought to restrict the number of black students entering UNC. One tactic employed by white officials was to create a doctoral program in education at a nearby public black college, North Carolina College at Durham (NCC), so that black students who sought a graduate degree in education, which was in great demand, would not apply to UNC. On page 99, I explain how black educators and black activists, including Austin, opposed the new doctoral program because its purpose was to perpetuate racial segregation: “Austin published a front-page editorial opposing the PhD program.... Moreover, Austin pointed out that NCC’s budget was too small to finance a PhD program, noting that NCC’s existing undergraduate programs were woefully underfunded.”

Despite black opposition, UNC officials used their power to force the black college to accept the new program. At that time black state colleges in North Carolina had majority-white trustee boards. I write, “At the July 1951 emergency meeting of the UNC Board of Trustees, NCC officials were told to ask its board of trustees to support a two-year request for $100,000 per year to enhance graduate study and to establish a PhD program in education.... The majority-white NCC board approved the PhD program by a vote of seven to two, with only the two black board members present at the meeting opposing the program.” The Carolina Times called the program a “fire-sale priced, segregated PhD program,” and added, “UNC and state education officials chuckled in their beards at their latest success in halting the movement of integrated education.” Nonetheless, Austin and other black activists continued to fight for the integration of public education, and, in 1955, following the Brown v. Board of Education decision, NAACP and local Durham lawyers succeeded in forcing UNC to desegregate its undergraduate programs.
Learn more about Louis Austin and the Carolina Times at The University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Andrew J. Huebner's "Love and Death in the Great War"

Andrew J. Huebner is associate professor of history at the University of Alabama. He is the author of The Warrior Image: Soldiers in American Culture from the Second World War to the Vietnam Era.

Huebner applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Love and Death in the Great War, and reported the following:
Love and Death in the Great War weaves together two overlapping stories: one reinterprets American public and official culture during the First World War, the other tracks the experiences of a small number of individual American participants and their families. I argue that the state and its allies sold the war as a defense of home, the white family, and traditional gender roles, a justification that shared space with (or actually served as an articulation of) the loftier political and ideological ambitions usually associated with Woodrow Wilson’s intervention. I then trace the purchase of such ideas among regular people, looking at how their experiences did or didn’t harmonize with the widespread story of a war fought for family. In neither of those realms, private experience nor public culture, I argue, did that story survive the war without disruption.

On page 99, I’m just getting into one of those disruptions. Borrowing from the historian Nancy Bristow and others, I write about the Commission on Training Camp Activities (CTCA), one of the agencies central to the First World War moral program. Just as the authors of prescriptive or patriotic literature were reassuring the public that doughboys would be paragons of masculine character, military officials were dealing with the reality that some of them weren’t. This was a key promise of wartime redemptive thinking—that military service stabilized rather than undermined male virtue, which for many arbiters of respectability meant sexual restraint. As soldiers had long done, American trainees sought out sex and alcohol, and home front families knew it and worried about it. So beginning with the CTCA, and from the training camps all the way to France, American leaders including Gen. John Pershing labored to safeguard the morality of the doughboy through wholesome diversion, prophylactic treatment, and the threat of punishment. Of course the brass wanted a robust force “fit to fight,” but the leadership also knew it would have a public relations disaster on its hands if the war story of moral doughboys broke down.
Learn more about Love and Death in the Great War at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 5, 2018

Shoba Narayan's "The Milk Lady of Bangalore"

Shoba Narayan is an award-winning author and columnist. Her books include Return to India: an immigrant memoir, Monsoon Diary: a memoir with recipes, and the newly released The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure.

Narayan graduated from the Columbia Journalism School which awarded her a Pulitzer Fellowship; and is an alumnus of Mount Holyoke College and Women’s Christian College.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Milk Lady of Bangalore and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book is where I rant about the benefits of A2 milk. It is sort of symbolic because currently, I am trying to source and buy milk from “desi” or native Indian cows. These are humped cattle-- the Bos indicus species-- and their milk is supposed to be “non-diabetogenic” and good for milk allergies. This is also true of most native breeds such as the English Jersey cows.

There is a poignant statement in my book about how Indians should market indigenous cow milk like the French market cheese. We have at least 108 native Indian cow breeds. Farmers don’t like them because they produce less milk than the Holstein-Freisan breeds. But the native cows are hardier, and give healthier milk.

That said, the tone of the writing in page 99 is much more activist than the humorous tone of the rest of the work.

One thing that comes through loud and clear on this page is how I have fallen in love with cows: their limpid eyes, their gentle demeanor, their implicit generosity, their ambling gait-- what’s not to love?

Page 99 touches on the politics of milk. The cow in India has now become so political. The hardest part of the book was to chase the various political stories that are now epitomized by the cow, and finally decide to delete all of them and make the book apolitical and therefore, hopefully, timeless.

I grew up with cows roaming the streets in India. That said, a particular set of circumstances had to come together, almost as if the universe was conspiring to bring them to me, in order for this book to happen.
Visit Shoba Narayan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Milk Lady of Bangalore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Andrew Urban's "Brokering Servitude"

Andy Urban is an Assistant Professor in the American Studies and History departments at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Brokering Servitude: Migration and the Politics of Domestic Labor during the Long Nineteenth Century, and reported the following:
In Brokering Servitude, page 99 marks the start of chapter three, “Chinese Servants and the American Colonial Imagination: Domesticity and Opposition to Restriction, 1865–1882.” This chapter explores how Americans debated incorporating Chinese immigrants into the national economy as domestic workers, and how Chinese servants and cooks navigated the discriminatory and racialized labor markets they encountered.

White Americans accused male Chinese servants of transgressing the gendered boundaries that delineated men’s work from women’s work. Among both pro- and anti-Chinese factions, the ability to perform labor that was coded as feminine was seized upon as a racial feature that made Chinese immigrants distinct. As I argue, observers conveniently ignored how legal and extralegal controls on Chinese immigrants’ freedom of contract relegated them to stigmatized service jobs where labor shortages were regular. White moderates sought a compromise solution with anti-Chinese activists in which Chinese immigrants would be allowed into the country to work as servants – through newly imagined guestworker visas – and removed when no longer needed.

In relationship to my book as a whole, chapter three is anchored by a question that is present throughout the manuscript: how did migration policies get debated, forged, and implemented with a mind to expanding or limiting the domestic labor supply, and what attitudes about race, citizenship, and gender informed these actions?

In terms of specifics, page 99 includes a close reading of a political cartoon, “The Servant Question” (available online here), which appeared in the San Francisco-based humor magazine The Wasp after the 1882 Chinese Restriction Act was passed. I write:
“The Servant Question” assigned a familiar Irish cast to the problem of obstreperous white servants, and implied that with Chinese immigration restricted, the difficulties that these laborers posed would only grow. The broad faces and pug noses borne by the job applicants mark them as Irish in contrast to the aquiline facial features of the woman evaluating them for hire. The text in the lower left-hand corner of the cartoon, which is presented in a solecistic written version of the Irish dialect, is titled “The Shorter Catechism,” an allusion to Irish immigrants’ Catholicism. Rather than respectfully submitting their qualifications, the applicants initiate a ruthless interrogation designed to vet the household’s personal, political, and economic standing. Nothing is off-limits.
The Irish servants’ “catechism” provides a glimpse at the fault lines separating household laborers from employers. One inquiry posed to the prospective employer by the fictional gang of Irish servants who have gathered in her kitchen is whether she would “mind givin me sisther’s pig a run in the gairden of a Sunday afternoon?” Middle-class publications frequently reported the outlandish requests that Irish servants allegedly made, and jokes of this nature became a staple feature of late-nineteenth-century American humor.

In the “Servant Question,” cartoonist Frederick Keller shows a racially-caricatured Chinese servant hovering in the background, with the text, “No questions asked.” Unlike the Irish servants to whom he is compared, there is no incessant interrogation of the employer. As is the case today, the demands of household consumers could temper anti-immigrant rhetoric – albeit not always for noble reasons.
Visit Andy Urban's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Amy Bass's "One Goal"

A professor of history in New York, Amy Bass lived in Lewiston, Maine for four years as a student at Bates College. Her writing has appeared in Slate, Salon, and CNN Opinion, and her work for NBC’s Olympics coverage earned her an Emmy in 2012 for Outstanding Live Event Turnaround.

Bass applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together, and reported the following:
Page 99 in One Goal is toward the end of Chapter 6, Grind Mode, which focuses on how the Lewiston Blue Devils soccer team transitioned from being defeated in heartbreaking fashion in 2014 to a mindset that was ready to get ready to win in 2015. At a team meeting before summer and pre-season games get started, Coach McGraw tells his players that among all of the elements they need to take care of, (and there are plenty) academic eligibility is key. On page 99, we meet Jason Fuller, the Athletic Director of Lewiston High School, the man whose job it is to make sure student-athletes are exactly that: students and athletes.
As athletic directors go, Fuller looks like he stepped right out of central casting, sitting in a windowless office just off the gymnasium, cases of trophies lining the wall opposite his door. A burly guy with biceps that appear as though they might pop out of his polo shirt, he speaks in a booming, rapid-fire voice, rarely able to keep still, his close-cropped hair giving him an almost military appearance. He is, he admits, a tense guy and a straight shooter; someone who not only plays by the book but also wants to make sure the book is written correctly.

Ohgodyeah,” he booms, all one word, when he agrees with something. He is doggedly loyal to the school and its students or, as he, too, calls them, “my kids.” There aren’t enough hours in the day for Fuller to do everything he wants to do for Blue Devils teams.
Fuller is a pivotal character in the book, someone who constantly looms in the background to make sure everything is going exactly as it should. When he became AD, he worked hard with the school’s new principal, Gus Le Blanc, to create a better eligibility policy for athletes, one that dramatically improved graduation rates and strengthened teams.

A football guy, embracing soccer was something that took him a while, something he had to learn. But the one thing that took him no time at all to figure out? How to accommodate the newcomers to Lewiston’s sports teams, especially soccer. In this largely Catholic city with its long history of French-Canadian immigrants, Fuller never blinked at the soccer team’s roster, which was composed almost entirely of African refugees who practiced Islam. “These are our athletes,” he says much later in the book. “Accommodate them.”

It is no surprise that he was named Maine’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2017.
Visit Amy Bass's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 2, 2018

Jennifer Frost's "Producer of Controversy"

Jennifer Frost is an Associate Professor in history at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her books include Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism.

Frost applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Producer of Controversy: Stanley Kramer, Hollywood Liberalism, and the Cold War, and reported the following:
My book examines the career, politics, and films of independent Hollywood filmmaker Stanley Kramer in the context of the Cold War. As a producer-director, Kramer became best known for making social problem films—films that took as their subject a problem or conflict in society—and for his liberal politics. He made films about contemporary topics such as American race relations, as with The Defiant Ones (1958) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967). His films’ liberal themes of racial and ethnic tolerance, freedom of thought and expression meant they were categorized as “message movies.” Throughout his career, the political messages of his films provoked much controversy but also made them relevant to the most significant issues and debates of his day.

This fact is nowhere more true than with the Kramer movie discussed on page 99: On the Beach (1959). This film addressed the catastrophic global consequences of nuclear war. An adaptation of Nevil Shute’s novel, the movie stars Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck. It tells the story of a group of Australians, an American nuclear submarine commander, and his crew awaiting certain death from radioactive fallout following the outbreak of nuclear war in the northern hemisphere. “This is by far the most important story that I have ever found,” Kramer declared, after purchasing the rights to Shute’s novel. “It is an enormous challenge,” he added, because “it was a story that must reach everybody, so that its message could penetrate every corner of the earth.”

Page 99 picks up the story of how Kramer and his team took On the Beach from page to screen and began to work with United Artists to promote the film. Their promotional campaign confronted a paradoxical challenge: how to transform a grim and depressing story into popular entertainment that would attract a global audience? They set about
…designing a promotion campaign with an “emphasis on the world-shaking theme over all other box office factors,” where “the bigness and eminence of the story” took precedence over “a stellar cast.” United Artists ballyhooed their campaign as unprecedented in Hollywood history given its worldwide reach. They also could not resist a bomb-related metaphor. “United Artists officially opens the missile age in motion picture publicity…dispersing a message of unmistakably inter-continental significance.” Every element of the campaign, every “paratext,” was international in orientation: the newspaper display ads, posters, trailers, special screenings, and, especially, the premiere.

Held on December 17, 1959, the global premiere of On the Beach “addressed all mankind.” “Never Before in the History of the Industry Has the World Been Linked Together by One Motion Picture” blared the publicity. Host cities included Berlin, Caracas, Chicago, Johannesburg, Lima, London, Melbourne, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Zurich, and even the U.S. naval station in Antarctica premiered the film to ensure coverage of all seven continents. Prominent political figures and dignitaries attended premieres, including mayors in Berlin and Johannesburg and members of royal families in Stockholm and Tokyo.
On the Beach’s international premiere prompted a discussion by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Cabinet, where officials raised concerns about the film’s “strong emotional appeal for banning nuclear weapons.” The message Stanley Kramer sent still remains relevant.
Learn more about Producer of Controversy at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: Producer of Controversy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cynthia Miller-Idriss's "The Extreme Gone Mainstream"

Cynthia Miller-Idriss is associate professor of education and sociology and director of the International Training and Education Program at American University. Her books include Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book is representative of important claims I make about why extremism appeals to youth. It falls near the end of a chapter in which I discuss the role of fantastical and mythical narratives in the recruitment and radicalization of far right youth. Earlier in the chapter I trace the ways in which what I call ‘myths of sacred origin’ work—through a combination of a designated golden age with consecrated, hallowed territory, a restoration narrative in which individuals are revered and redeemed through mortal sacrifice for the good of the collective, a reliance on ethnic purity and blood-based origins, and some sort of magical thinking involving gods, heroes, and legends. In Germany, I show, the far right’s sacred origin narrative blended two sets of mythical sagas—the myth of Aryan racial ‘stock’ and the myth of Nordic descent—which together has held powerful sway for the extreme right since well before the Nazi era. I then analyze the way in which these Nordic origin myths and fantasies show up in commercialized clothing marketed to the far right, and what young people had to say about the iconography and messages in that clothing. Page 99 marks the part of the chapter where I begin an elaboration of why sacred origin narratives might appeal to disenfranchised youth during a period of postmodern uncertainty.

Nordic myths and fantasies, as I explain in this chapter, do several things for far right youth. For example, they evoke whiteness and Aryan-ness without using illegal or taboo symbols, and identify aspirational traits like heroism, strength, loyalty, integrity, devotion, and purity. But what page 99 introduces is the notion that sacred origin myths appeal to far right youth because of the ways in which they position Germans as poised to restore a golden era in which Germanic tribes were the apex of civilizations. In this sense, they enable utopian anticipation of an alternative future world. This kind of fantasy or magical thinking may be particularly appealing to individuals who are unable to cope in the uncertainty of the postmodern era, when increasing mobility, transformation in family structures, and a loss of predictable careers can make life seem far more isolated, uprooted and anxious. In the remainder of the book, I examine similar themes through an analysis of death symbols, global iconography, and expressions of masculinity in the clothing and brands.
Visit Cynthia Miller-Idriss's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Suzanne Schneider's "Mandatory Separation"

Suzanne Schneider is the Director of Operations and a Core Faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book addresses the formative role of the heder (Jewish communal school) in the imaginations of 19th century European Jewish writers who were active in what is called the Haskalah, or Enlightenment. For them, the heder was an old-fashioned institution that represented everything that was wrong with Jewish life and that seemingly prevented the complete absorption of Jews within European culture. As I write:
Within this literature, the abuses of the teacher are mirrored by the filthy conditions of the school, which is almost without exception portrayed as dark, dirty, and lacking space--both physical and psychological--for children to develop freely and flourish. If the Enlightenment marked a high point in the concern for the individual as an autonomous, self-fashioning agent, the heder represented the narrowness of the corporate Jewish community in which collective welfare was continually privileged over individual growth.
In many respects, this section of Mandatory Separation touches on some of the book's central arguments, though it only does so with regard to the Jewish side of things. The book as a whole offers a comparative study of both Jewish and Islamic education during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and tracks the ways in which modes of religious learning were mobilized in Palestine in order to further Zionist and Arab nationalist goals. Page 99 also alludes to how such a transformation could take place, that is to say, how religious texts and institutions might become thoroughly instrumentalized for the sake of modern political ends. The page continues:
...for Zionist writers, it [the heder] could serve as a vehicle for the preservation and further development of the Hebrew language and culture but only on the condition that it be drastically transformed. The clearest articulation of this latent potential appears in Hayyim Nahman Bialik's short story 'Safiah' (Aftergrowth), in which the protagonist attends two different hederim. The first is characterized by the usual darkness, yiddishkeit, and physical filth, while the second offers a manifestation of what the heder could be: still seeped in the classical Jewish texts, but now conducted in Hebrew, often outdoors, and absorbed in tales of biblical heroism rather than with the ritual laws stemming from Leviticus. This impulse to reconstitute an institution--or an entire tradition--by returning to core texts, languages, and ideas was not unique to Zionists but emblematic of a larger modernist phenomenon that stressed the primacy of one's roots.
Now, we often think about modernity as a secular project in which religion fades away and our lives become ordered by strictly rational forces. Yet, as I argue throughout this book, that narrative is deeply flawed. The old does not give way to the new, but is reanimated by it. Indeed, much of “secular” culture remains deeply indebted to religious symbols, narratives, ways of knowing, views of the self and others, and so on. And though Mandatory Separation is focused on Judaism and Islam, this is equally true of Christianity as well. For example, it’s impossible for me to think of Immanuel Kant’s notion of the rational, autonomous individual—so central to the Enlightenment and the entire cult of individualism in the West—without tracing its genealogy to Martin Luther’s concept of the accountable soul.

Finally, as the above passage indicates, these modernizing movements were oriented in many respects around a quest for roots. This is consequential, as a lot of thinking still revolves around the notion that the origin point is the most authentic expression of something (I’m looking at you, Constitutional originalists). Yet what remains so fascinating to me about religions is that they are constantly evolving, especially when they claim otherwise! While there are obviously some who deny the innovative aspects of their own faith and practice, there are mechanisms within many traditions for viewing this evolution in a positive light rather than as an aberration from a perfect past. Given all the reactionary nostalgia in our current political landscape, this is a lesson that we could all benefit from learning.
Learn more about Mandatory Separation at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Oana Panaïté's "The Colonial Fortune in Contemporary Fiction in French"

Oana Panaïté is Associate Professor of French at Indiana University-Bloomington and the author of Des littératures-mondes en français: Écritures singulières, poétiques transfrontalières dans la prose contemporaine / On World-Literatures: Singular Writing and Transfrontier Poetics in Contemporary Literature in French (2012).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, The Colonial Fortune in Contemporary Fiction in French, and reported the following:
From page 99:
I would argue that a similar belated and unexamined colonial sensibility resurfaces in the novels of Laurent Gaudé, winner of the Goncourt prize in 2004 for the Mediterranean-inspired family saga Le Soleil des Scorta, which vacillate between melancholy and “presentism” (Hartog 2003) as their narratives attempt to establish a delicate balance between the empathic re-enactment of the past, in its material and affective manifestations, and the critical scrutiny of its social and political underpinnings. On his blog, Gaudé details his sources of inspiration: the journey “to faraway lands” or “remote past eras,” the shout (“le cri”) “or those who passed on without being able to voice it,” Antiquity and the Mediterranean. Combining empathy and sympathy, these categories relate to the concept of Einfühlung, or “feeling into,” described as an embodied (emotional and physical) response to an image, a space, an object or a built environment (Keen 209).

The writer’s mention of the shout (“le cri”) is strikingly reminiscent of the central idea of the Négritude movement, yet this reference remains unacknowledged by Gaudé. What might appear to be an ambiguous, if not unethical, use of an important intellectual contribution by African and Antillean French-language writers could by the same token be construed, in the light of the paradigmatic shift away from what Simon Gikandi calls “theories of difference” (Gikandi 2001, 5) to what Stuart Hall calls “the politics of articulation” (Hall 1986), as a new manner of integrating Senghor, Césaire and Damas’s thinking into the mainstream cultural vocabulary without indexing their difference and intellectual contribution. To test this hypothesis, we can turn our attention to three of Gaudé’s novels: Cris (Shouts), Eldorado and La Mort du roi Tsongor (The Death of King Tsongor). Each of them relies on the fictionalization of Africa, in an explicit or allusive manner, whether as a central theme or a secondary narrative feature, such as a character or a backdrop.
This excerpt from page 99 reflects the book’s main thesis that contemporary writing in French (fiction, autobiography or essay) by metropolitan and non-metropolitan authors who are not necessarily involved or engaged with the legacy of French colonialism is nevertheless characterized by the subtle yet persistent presence of colonial history. This latent memory is captured in idea of the “colonial fortune” which brings together issues of imperial nostalgia, neo-orientalism, fate, economics, legacy, and debt and allows us to gain a greater understanding of the current French artistic and political landscape.
Learn more about The Colonial Fortune in Contemporary Fiction in French at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 26, 2018

Brian E. Crim's "Our Germans"

Brian E. Crim is the John Mills Turner Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and an associate professor of history at Lynchburg College. He is the author of Antisemitism in the German Military Community and the Jewish Response, 1914–1938 and the editor of Class of ’31: A German-Jewish Émigré’s Journey across Defeated Germany.

Crim applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Our Germans: Project Paperclip and the National Security State, and reported the following:
Our Germans: Project Paperclip and the National Security State is the story of how hundreds of Nazi Germany’s leading scientists and engineers became integral members of America’s burgeoning military-industrial complex during the Cold War. Shortly after the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching Sputnik in October 1957, comedian Bob Hope urged the country to take the apparent defeat in stride. “It just proves one thing,” Hope quipped. “Their German rocket scientists were better than our German rocket scientists.” My book first investigates the diverse backgrounds of many prominent “Paperclippers” and those whose names we may not know and determines that before members of Wernher von Braun’s rocket team became “our Germans” they were, according to US Army intelligence screening reports, “unrepentant Nazis.”

The first sentence on page 99 addresses the section of the book devoted to the bureaucratic and public opposition to Project Paperclip: “Those in the State Department opposed to an unrestricted Paperclip were motivated in part by a healthy suspicion of the German scientists, but most acted primarily to shield the department from assuming the risks inherent in Paperclip while receiving none of the benefits.” I believe the most original contribution in Our Germans is delineating the motivations and fates of those who opposed this controversial intelligence program. Many officials who devoted their lives to fighting Nazism were now asked to facilitate their immigration with minimal, and often nonexistent vetting while hundreds of thousands of displaced persons languished in camps (many of them former concentration camps) in central Europe. Yet, despite their personal objections, State Department officials relented under the weight of military pressure. Still, men like Samuel Klaus, a State Department lawyer who is featured prominently in this chapter, was dragged through the mud during the McCarthy era simply because he questioned the logic of granting unvetted Nazis American citizenship. While most Americans prefer to remember Project Paperclip as a brilliant intelligence coup, Our Germans lays bare the internecine battles pitting conflicting views of national security and morality at the dawn of the Cold War.
Learn more about Our Germans at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Our Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Martin Shuster's "New Television"

Martin Shuster is assistant professor and chair of Judaic Studies in the Center for Geographies of Justice at Goucher College.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre, and reported the following:
From page 99:
D’Angelo is not squeezed between two institutions, as if the bonds of each are equally compelling (as in Hegel’s famous reading of Antigone), but rather D’Angelo dies because he disavows allegiance to any institution.
Page 99 doesn’t quite capture the whole of New Television, but it does offer an important entryway into my reading of The Wire. The Wire, however, forms only one aspect of the book, indeed, really, only serves as the entryway into the theme of new television, which is an aesthetic and political category. With respect to the former, new television signifies that, roughly with Twin Peaks in the early 1990s, there emerge truly new aesthetic objects on the small screen. With respect to the latter, these objects locate their significance around a particular political conception—of screening a world entirely devoid of normative authority in all of its institutions, except one: the family. The Wire participates in this thematic mode, but we might say only unintentionally or unreflectively, and thereby does not reach the sort of political signification that later shows achieve … a point that New Television attempts to map.
Learn more about New Television at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 23, 2018

Benjamin F. Alexander's "The New Deal's Forest Army"

Benjamin F. Alexander teaches American history at the New York City College of Technology. He is the author of Coxey’s Army: Popular Protest in the Gilded Age.

Alexander applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The New Deal's Forest Army: How the Civilian Conservation Corps Worked, and reported the following:
At the very top of page 99 of my new book on the Civilian Conservation Corps, this little ditty appears:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
While CCCs around me creep;
May no other CCC take
My shoes and shirt before I wake.
It's part of the chapter on social life in the CCC, it's an example of how both camp newspapers and the systemwide paper Happy Days often printed enrollees' creative outputs. More specifically, it comes in the section of that chapter about the pranks that enrollees pulled on each other and especially on newcomers. Under that verse, I write:
An initiate might be woken up late at night and told it was his turn for flagpole duty, a totally fictional assignment, or given a flashlight and a bag and told to go out into the woods to catch a snipe, an equally fictional creature. During the day, he might be sent to the supply room to ask for a nonexistent item such as a skyhook, a clipboard stretcher, a can of striped paint, some elbow grease, or a left-handed monkey wrench.
Soon after, I mention that some snakes got put in beds, both fake and real, and that any enrollee who didn't bathe adequately could get a rough and painful scrubbing with an industrial brush, or "GI Bath."

The motto of the CCC was “We can take it,” and indeed, CCC enrollees did a great deal of hard work. Enrollees planted trees, set up forest fire preventions systems, fought forest fires sometimes losing their lives, built dams and other flood control structures, landscaped public parks, and cut many of the hiking trails that outdoorspeople enjoy the use of today. They did all this under civilian supervision while living in camps of 200 that the Army ran. They were mostly young men whose families were on relief rolls, in a decade marked by the worst depression in the country's history, and indeed most of their pay went not to them but to their families, in most cases their parents.

Not all of the pranks were harmless, and not all of the men who joined the corps could “take it.” Like everything else in the Roosevelt New Deal, the CCC had its good and its bad side. On the balance sheet, what stands out the most is that many (though not all) unemployed Americans got desperately needed jobs, and permanent improvements to America's physical landscape got made. But when you put 200 male teenagers and young adults in barracks for six months, some beds are going to get short-sheeted, rigged to collapse, and outfitted with real or phony snakes for their occupants' displeasure.
Learn more about The New Deal's Forest Army at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Sam Rosenfeld's "The Polarizers"

Sam Rosenfeld is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Colgate University. He has a PhD in History from Harvard University and studies parties and American political development. His research interests include the history of political parties, the intersection of social movements and formal politics, and the politics of social and economic policymaking.

Rosenfeld applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Polarizers comes toward the end of the introductory section on my chapter on the 1960s. As a result, it’s more big-picture and analytically explicit than the typical pages of detailed historical narrative found throughout the book. And the big-picture argument I’m making in the chapter is this: political developments in the 1960s, for all of their extraordinary social and cultural tumult, marked less a turning point than an acceleration of preexisting dynamics in party politics. They reflected debates over parties’ proper role in American politics that were not new.

The preceding 98 pages have told the story of the postwar emergence of a critique, offered by thinkers and activists on both the right and the left, of the highly unpolarized American party system at midcentury. Both parties contained conservative and liberal factions, policy was made via bipartisan coalitions, and party allegiances often still stemmed from loyalties based on either tradition or non-programmatic material incentives like patronage. A new postwar breed of activists motivated by national policy issues and ideology, buttressed by leading political science scholarship, decried the fuzzy distinctions between the two parties that such arrangements produced. In the name of democracy, they championed restructuring and sorting the parties around coherent and distinct ideological agendas.

1960s activists, though a generation younger than the postwar actors tracked in previous chapters and often motivated by more radical systemic critiques, mounted a challenge to existing party practices that sustained and amplified their predecessors’ “demands for greater moral commitment and attention to issues in party politics.” In accounts of the early work of Students for a Democratic Society, the 1964 convention challenge of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and the antiwar nomination challenges of 1968 and their translation into a party reform project, I show how the major social movements of the era “contributed signally to the long-term project of breaking down the transactional elements of political parties and remaking them as more issue-defined and ideological institutions.”

It would take the ensuing, truly pivotal decade of the 1970s for such actors to finally achieve transformative breakthroughs in both parties that served to forge the political world we still inhabit today.
Visit Sam Rosenfeld's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dawn Chatty's "Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State"

Dawn Chatty is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration and former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Oxford University and the author of Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East and From Camel to Truck.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Three Armenian delegations from the new republic attended the January 1919 Paris Peace Conference (Hovannisian, 1987). Their public relations success can be found in one of the first acts of the conference, which declared that ‘because of the historical misgovernment of the Turks of subject peoples and the terrible massacres of Armenians and others in recent years, the Allied and Associated Powers are agreed that Armenia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Arabia must be completely severed from the Turkish Empire’ and provisionally recognized as independent nations subject to the ‘administrative assistance’ of a Mandatory power.
What happened next is the story which this book tries to tell, the making and unmaking of the Syrian state as a place of refuge for Circassians, Kosovars, and Albanians, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Palestinians, and later Lebanese and Iraqis.

I have written this book in an accessible manner to appeal to most interested readers. Each chapter who found sanctuary in Syria. The final chapter looks at the waves of people who have recently fled Syria and sought asylum in neighbouring countries. For many Syrians, there is disappointment that having provided refuge for displaced people for nearly a century, they are now faced with closed doors beyond their Mediterranean neighbours.
Learn more about Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mark Newman's "Black Nationalism in American History"

Mark Newman is a Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of the award-winning Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995 (2001) and Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi (2004).

Newman applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Black Nationalism in American History: From the Nineteenth Century to the Million Man March, and reported the following:
Black Nationalism in American History provides an overview of its development, expression and organization from early manifestations through the Million Man March in Washington D.C. in 1995, when black nationalism’s popularity was greater than it had been in the 1960s. The book avoids either advocacy or condemnation found in many studies and assesses leading scholars’ interpretations against historical evidence. Scholars disagree about defining black nationalism, when it began, what forms it has taken, how popular it has been, and how much it has been independent of or shaped by developments in white society. Outlining black nationalism across two centuries, the book addresses these issues and the often neglected contributions of women. Black Nationalism argues for a broad definition that incorporates demands for self-determination focused on controlling institutions within black communities, and it contends that black nationalism’s shape, appeal, and meaning have reflected the particular circumstances of its time.

Page 99 occurs in the second half of chapter three about the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, and just over halfway through the book, reflecting the fact that the Nation and Malcolm X, its most famous convert and leading minister, were important contributors to, but not originators, of black nationalism. Page 99 concludes a discussion about why Malcolm X left the Nation in 1964 and disputes biographer Manning Marable’s claim that his departure resulted from ‘politics; not personalities.’ Elijah Muhammad, the Nation’s leader, and most of his family had become jealous of Malcolm X’s growing popularity and feared his knowledge of Muhammad’s adulterous affairs and illegitimate children. Suspended ostensibly for welcoming President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Malcolm X tried repeatedly to be reinstated and left only after concluding that Muhammad would never lift a suspension intended to contain and silence him. Page 99 is reflective of the book’s style but not of its overarching themes.
Learn more about Black Nationalism in American History at the Edinburgh University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue