Thursday, March 22, 2018

Daniel Livesay's "Children of Uncertain Fortune"

Daniel Livesay is associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833, and reported the following:
Children of Uncertain Fortune tracks the lives of over three hundred mixed-race Jamaicans who left the Caribbean for Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were the offspring of white men who presided over colonial plantations, and free and enslaved women of color. At the time, Jamaica was a slave hothouse with hundreds of thousands of enslaved individuals of African descent farming sugar, coffee, and other commodities. Less than ten percent of the island’s population was composed of free white individuals, who both took enslaved mistresses, as well as sexually attacked women of color. Most of the mixed-race children born from these unions were kept in slavery, but a small number of them were manumitted and some went on to live with British relatives across the ocean. The book explores why these individuals left, what their experiences were like in Britain, and how their transatlantic migrations helped to shape conceptions of race, and also family belonging, in the English-speaking world.

The page 99 test works fairly well for the book. On this page I discuss one of the reasons why mixed-race Jamaicans were pushed out of colonial society: they had very few educational opportunities. Almost the entirety of Jamaican life was dedicated to making money, to the point of excluding vital components of civil society. Indeed, the island had almost no schools to educate young people. Moreover, racial divides were quite strong in Jamaica, and many tutors refused to train mixed-race people. Jamaica’s most prestigious secondary school was, and still is, Wolmer’s. For most of the eighteenth century, it did allow students of color through its doors, because many of them came funded by their fathers’ substantial sugar estates. As concerns about enslaved uprisings grew, mixed-race people came under stronger scrutiny and Wolmer’s prohibited their matriculation on scholarship in 1777. This left only the best-heeled students of color in the institution, showing how important class position was to one’s racial status in Jamaica. It also pushed other elites of color to travel to Britain when the option of attending Wolmer’s closed up. This page sets up a longer discussion about what a British education was like for individuals related by birth to both enslaved Africans, as well as some of the wealthiest Britons in the Empire.
Learn more about Children of Uncertain Fortune at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Harvey G. Cohen's "Who’s In The Money?"

Harvey G. Cohen is the author of Duke Ellington’s America, which the Washington Post called one of the best books of the year. He writes and teaches about US cultural and political history, especially the art, business and history of the music industry and film industry. He’s also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London.

Cohen applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Who's in the Money?: The Great Depression Musicals and Hollywood's New Deal, and reported the following:
Who’s In The Money? explores the "winner take all" economy of 1933 Hollywood from numerous vantage points. It connects the Warner brothers, their Busby Berkeley-led Great Depression Musicals (such as 42nd St) & FDR's New Deal programs. While the Warners were close friends and fundraisers for President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 election, and supported FDR’s New Deal in their film marketing during the first half of 1933, this book demonstrates how the Warners subtly undermined FDR’s dictates, doing all they could to ensure that the pain of the Great Depression was visited upon movie stars, chorus girls, technicians, screenwriters, etc and definitely not upon executives or owners of the studios.

Page 99 explores the most famous sequence in legendary choreographer Busby Berkeley’s career, and probably in the 1930s Great Depression Musicals as a whole: the “By A Waterfall” number from Footlight Parade, the key film in the book. Warner Bros. files revealed how big the water tanks were that the chorus girls jumped into, how much the sets cost, the sexual imagery employed in this surprisingly racy “pre-code” scene, the hundreds of men who worked on the sets daily, how notorious skinflint production chief Jack Warner tried (mostly in vain) to hold down costs, and more.

But Who’s In The Money? goes deeper into what was transpiring behind the scenes. Those gorgeous chorus girls created those effects with punishing efforts (you can see their tiredness and strain viewing the film closely), working 14 to 15 hours a day, six or seven days a week. They were being paid less money than they were on the previous two Great Depression musicals, 42nd St and Gold Diggers of 1933, even though those films were spectacularly successful, two of the top 5 grossing films of 1933. My book, as well as the first three Warner Bros Great Depression Musicals, focus on labor issues. Those films reflected what was happening in Hollywood at the time: punitive 50% temporary wage cuts for most employees (except owners and executives), fights and resistance over the studios’ exploitive contracts, the controversial birth of the first unions for Hollywood’s creatives (Screen Actors & Writers Guilds) and more. The book explores how Hollywood’s employees began rebelling against the way the oligarchical way the studio moguls preferred to do their business, and events got ugly on and offscreen, leading to the eventual breakdown of the all-encompassing power of the major studios after World War II.

Who’s In The Money? brings readers behind the scenes at Warner Bros. and the federal government during a period of profound tension. The national events surrounding the making of the Great Depression Musicals combine to depict a story of financial survival, political intrigue and backstabbing. Told through the lives and careers of movie stars and film executives whose names have echoed through decades of American culture, the narrative is one that resonates in today’s strange mix of politics and media.
Learn more about Who's in the Money? at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Duke Ellington's America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Alireza Doostdar's "The Iranian Metaphysicals"

Alireza Doostdar is assistant professor of Islamic Studies and the anthropology of religion at the University of Chicago.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Iranian Metaphysicals: Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny, and reported the following:
Is page 99 of The Iranian Metaphysicals a good representative of the whole? I think it is. But then so are most other pages!

By page 99, we are at the end of the tenth chapter, wherein I give an extended account of my encounter with Mersedeh, a self-professed sorcerer in Tehran who blended “prayer writing” with New Age therapy and self-help. When she was not working as a sorcerer-therapist, Mersedeh studied for a master’s degree in psychology and practiced her skills at making espresso drinks.

My book is about how Iranians think about and act on the metaphysical world in ways that they understand to be rational. In Part 1, I look at how it is that many Iranians take occult specialists known as “rammals” seriously, even though they admit that these figures are likely to be charlatans and that their customers are probably “superstitious” dupes. My answer is that when self-professed rational people meet with rammals and witness their incredible feats, it’s difficult for them to write them off as impostors. But because they can’t just shake off the very powerful idea that rammals are charlatans and belief in sorcery is superstitious, they adopt a variety of other attitudes toward them. One of these is to approach the occult with a lot of caution (I spend three chapters explaining what this means). Another is to inhabit a certain sense of hesitation about the occult that produces excitement and delight at the fantastic. Still another attitude is to sift the “scientific” aspects of the occult from its “superstitious” dimensions, something I go on to explore in Part 2.

Page 99 brings these various ideas together in a story about a young occult specialist. Mersedeh expresses doubts about her own metaphysical activities even as she makes a living off of them. She goes to great lengths to explain that what she does is scientific rather than superstitious. To top it off, she is an incredibly fascinating person who perplexes and entertains her customers and gets them to challenge their assumptions about reality.
Mersedeh’s answer to the disorienting picture of the rammal as a purveyor of superstition seemingly in possession of awesome powers was thus to offer an equally paradoxical counterimage: in contrast to the “ignorant” rammals, she claimed a firm scientific grasp of the metaphysics and psychology of sorcery while being prepared to dismiss the whole enterprise as a waste of time. She doubly distanced herself from the rammals even as she made a lucrative business out of rammali. If this seemed contradictory, she was ready to wave off the inconsistency with a mischievous laugh. The question was whether her customers were able to laugh along with her, or if they were disturbed by the rapid and seamless shifts she was capable of effecting in her positions. Perhaps it was both, and therein lay her uncanny power.
This last paragraph from page 99 is a good representative of the chapter, which in turn gives a good picture of the book as a whole.
Learn more about The Iranian Metaphysicals at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 19, 2018

William I. Hitchcock's "The Age of Eisenhower"

William I. Hitchcock is a professor of history at the University of Virginia and the Randolph Compton Professor at the Miller Center for Public Affairs. A graduate of Kenyon College and Yale University, he is the author most recently of The Bitter Road to Freedom: The Human Cost of Allied Victory in World War II Europe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s, and reported the following:
From page 99:
[Eisenhower] was emotionally and personally attached to the idea of peace. He spoke eloquently about the horrors of war and his desire to turn the productive capacities of mankind away from swords and toward ploughshares. But Eisenhower was not an impulsive man. As a general, he developed a reputation as a master planner, a man who husbanded power, amassed resources, and always fought from a position of overwhelming strength. As president, Eisenhower followed the same strategic principles, choosing to wage a long, patient struggle with Russia in which American power would eventually win out, rather than take any sudden or risky move that could leave the nation vulnerable. There would be many sincere words of peace during his presidency; but Ike was always preparing for war.
This passage appears on page 99 of The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s. It reveals a basic truth about the era: although often taken to be a time of “peace and prosperity,” the 1950s saw the evolution of the permanent peacetime warfare state. In the 1950s, the United States spent about 10% of its GDP on defense—and that, at a time of relative peace in the world following the Korean armistice. Ike wanted to calm international tensions but he also wanted to build American power so that it could impose order and deter any adventurous rivals. Was Eisenhower, then, a man of peace or of war? This riddle sits at the heart of his presidency, and the cold war itself.
Learn more about The Age of Eisenhower at the Simon & Schuster website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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