Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Glen Pettigrove's "Forgiveness and Love"

Glen Pettigrove is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. He is the author of a number of articles in moral and political philosophy, and his work has appeared in leading journals including the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and Religious Studies.

Pettigrove applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Forgiveness and Love, and reported the following:
At least since the time of Plato, philosophers have been investigating 1) how things that appear to be different are, in fact, similar and 2) how things that appear similar are importantly different. Page 99 of Forgiveness and Love finds me up to my elbows in the second task, as a sentence in the first full paragraph nicely illustrates: ‘Here again there are several distinct questions that one might be asking that need to be disambiguated.’ As such, the 99th page is fairly representative of the book as a whole.

Earlier chapters have been looking at what unites various things that go by the name of forgiveness. They examine what forgiveness is, what it is about, and who has the standing to do it. Chapters 4 and 5, while not abandoning this first task, shift the emphasis to the second. Chapter 4 takes its inspiration from the old adage, ‘To understand is to forgive,’ and examines several different things that go by the name of understanding, looking at how each of them might encourage forgiving (or not). Chapter 5, which is where the 99th page falls, explores the remarkable complexities of the relationship between forgiveness and love.

One reason for engaging in the philosopher’s tasks is to improve our understanding of ourselves and our world. And since we – and the people with whom we live – are regular offenders (falling short of any number of moral standards), the activities and emotions related to forgiveness are certainly worth trying to understand. But our interest is not limited to what we are like. It also extends to the question of how we ought to be. The 99th page falls at the point in the book where I begin to shift attention from descriptive issues to normative ones. In this respect, too, page 99 is representative of the whole. It draws on observations made in earlier chapters and points forward to the themes of later ones, where I look at when it is permissible or impermissible, commendable or objectionable to forgive. The hope is that by the time the reader reaches page 99 – and certainly by the time she reaches page 159 – she will have a better grasp of the extraordinarily complicated thing(s) we call forgiveness and a clearer sense of why it matters.
Learn more about Forgiveness and Love at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Paul Thomas Chamberlin's "The Global Offensive"

Paul Chamberlin received his PhD from The Ohio State University after studying at the American University of Cairo and the University of Damascus and has held fellowships at Yale University and Williams College. His dissertation won the 2010 Oxford University Press prize for the best dissertation in international history.

Chamberlin's first book, The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order, is an international history of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Global Offensive and reported the following:
Because my page 99 is an illustration, I took the liberty of flipping to page 100. This page begins with a discussion of the prickly matter of “terrorism” as viewed in the late 1960s. Palestinian guerillas had begun hijacking jetliners, creating headaches for U.S. and Israeli leaders who were now confronting a new kind of threat. As I explain, Palestinian fighters had found a new transnational space in which to wage their revolutionary warfare. While they lacked the firepower of nation-states like Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, Palestinian revolutionaries could exploit international aviation networks as a new staging ground for their liberation struggle.

As American and Israeli officials discovered, this new form of revolutionary war proved exceedingly difficult to control. If Israel was attacked by units from the Jordanian army, for example, the Israeli military could easily retaliate by attacking Jordanian military forces or other institutions of the Jordanian state. The problem with Palestinian hijackings – or “international terrorism” more broadly – was that there was no easy target to retaliate against. Palestinian fighters were based in Beirut and commanded from Amman; they received funds from the People’s Republic of China and training in Algeria, and they attacked aircraft in Switzerland. The government of Israel sought to solve this dilemma by striking at suspected Palestinian bases and at the states that “harbored” the guerillas, not unlike an early version of the post-9/11 Bush Doctrine.

This tactic rankled U.S. State Department officers however, who argued that military reprisals against Lebanon were far too blunt a weapon to address the delicate problem of Palestinian attacks. Indeed, the Lebanese government – perched precariously on the brink of the civil war that would break out in 1975 – was doing everything in its power to rein in the attacks short of touching off a conflict that might destroy their state. Israeli military reprisals that failed to distinguish between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah, and the Lebanese government only seemed to make matters worse, from the perspective of American foreign service officers. Of course, this conflation of Palestinian guerillas and Arab governments fit into long-standing tendencies by outsiders to homogenize the peoples of the Middle East that have survived to the present day. Ultimately, this failure to recognize the differences between various guerilla factions and between the guerillas and Palestinians in general would complicate attempts to find a political solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Learn more about The Global Offensive at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 29, 2012

Eric Jay Dolin's "When America First Met China"

Eric Jay Dolin is the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe, and also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for U. S. Maritime History; and Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. A graduate of Brown, Yale, and MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy, he lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail, and reported the following:
When America First Met China traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. Indeed, the furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer—a rare sea cucumber delicacy—might have catalyzed America's emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe of such epic proportions, the reverberations can still be felt today. Peopled with fascinating characters-from the "Financier of the Revolution" Robert Morris to the Chinese emperor Qianlong, who considered foreigners inferior beings—When America First Met China explores a time many years ago when the desire for trade and profit first brought America to China’s door.

By the time the reader reaches 99 of the book, the Empress of China, the first American ship to sail to China, had already blazed the trail, and in her wake, an increasing number of American merchants sent their own ships to China to purchase tea, silk, and porcelain. Indeed, between 1784 and the end of the War of 1812, in 1814, nearly three hundred American ships made a total of 618 voyages to Canton.

One thing that nearly all American ships engaged in the China trade had in common was their relatively small size. Whereas the vessels the Europeans sent to Canton, called East Indiamen, were quite large, with British ships averaging twelve hundred tons, their American counterparts, befitting their scrappy upstart origins, were almost all less than five hundred tons, and many were below two hundred, making them Lilliputians among giants.
On page 99, however, we are introduced to one of the few exceptions to the rule – the behemoth, Massachusetts.

From page 99:
One of the few American ships in these early years that approached the size of the European ships fared poorly, not because of its size but rather due to poor planning. Soon after returning to China in 1786, Shaw hatched a plan with Randall to build a magnificent ship for the China trade, and they sent orders back to the states to begin construction. The end result was the Massachusetts, which at 820 tons was the largest American merchant ship built up to that point. Launched in September 1789, and then moved from the shipyard in Braintree to Boston, the Massachusetts “excited a considerable sensation in the commercial part of the community,” recalled Amasa Delano, its second officer (a distant relative of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt). “Parties of people in every rank of society frequently came on board of her to gratify their curiosity and express their admiration.”

The ship’s departure was curiously delayed due to Moll Pitcher, a fortuneteller of considerable fame from Lynn, Massachusetts, who predicted that all the men who shipped out on the Massachusetts would be lost at sea. As a result panic-stricken crewmembers, always prone to believe in rumors and portents kept leaving, and it wasn’t until the third entire crew was signed on that the men stayed put. “It seems strange,” Delano observed, “that a class of men, who are continually exposed to storms hardships, and dangers, should be so powerfully affected by the traditions which are handed down from generation to generation concerning omens, charms, predictions, and the agency of invisible spirits.”
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fur, Fortune, and Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thomas K. McCraw's "The Founders and Finance"

Thomas K. McCraw is Straus Professor of Business History Emeritus at Harvard Business School. In addition to his new book, The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy, McCraw's publications include Prophets of Regulation, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History, and his biography Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, which won four other prizes and is available in six languages.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Founders and Finance and reported the following:
The page 99 test works extremely well for The Founders and Finance. U.S. debt and deficit problems are bad enough today, but they were much worse when the nation was founded in 1776, more than 230 years ago. At that time, the country was bankrupt and vulnerable to disintegration. This book is about how immigrant financial experts devised a series of ways to rescue the economy. The key to the story is Alexander Hamilton's solution to the debt problem, and page 99 comes in the middle of a four-page passage detailing the heart of that story.

The United States government started out with very little money and almost immediately went broke. Its War of Independence from Britain forced it to borrow from banks in Holland and to wheedle large sums from France, Britain's historic rival. The Continental Congress had no power to tax, so it continually asked the 13 new "Free and Independent States" -- as the Declaration of Independence calls them -- for financial support that they were either unable or unwilling to provide. Both the Continental Congress and the state governments sold reams of bonds to help finance the war and printed huge stacks of currency. The value of the bonds quickly depreciated and most of the currency lost its value and became "not worth a Continental." There seemed no way out. The Revolution might well have failed because of financial problems alone.

Nobody in America knew how to manage a national economy because there had been no nation. Nobody had any experience with large-scale finance because there had never been a bank in the 13 colonies and there were none in the new states. There was lots of expertise in managing land and slaves, reflected in the prominence of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison in the forming of the new government. All three were major Virginia tobacco planters, but none had much familiarity with the tools of finance: bonds, currency, banks, and public credit. Neither did other founders such as John Adams, who grew up on a farm in Massachusetts and distrusted banks.

Enter such immigrants as Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and Albert Gallatin. Morris came from Liverpool at the age of 13, Hamilton from the Danish West Indies at 15, and Gallatin from Geneva at 19. None fit the later image of immigrants as tired, huddled masses or wretched refuse. None had an agrarian frame of mind and each -- unlike the vast majority of native-born Americans -- had grown up in a city. All were extremely bright and energetic, with a special aptitude for numbers. Morris and Hamilton had spent their teens working in merchant houses dealing with international trade, and Gallatin had led his math classes at elite academies in Geneva. As the War of Independence wore on, Congress appointed Morris as Superintendent of Finance, and he did an outstanding job. But he was frustrated by the government's inability to tax, a problem solved only after the adoption of the Constitution in 1788.

The percentage of immigrants in the total population was only about half what it is today, and the odds against three "aliens" -- Morris, Hamilton, and Gallatin -- becoming the three leading financial executives of the early Republic were prohibitive. Yet that is what happened. It is a tribute to the wisdom of George Washington for appointing Hamilton Secretary of the Treasury twice, and to that of Jefferson and Madison for appointing Gallatin four times. Of the three immigrants, the most important was Hamilton, who conceived and executed a plan so audacious, and so difficult to get through Congress, that we must regard his achievement as the most dazzling economic performance of any public official in U.S. history.

Hamilton's three-pronged strategy was: (1) to "fund" (refinance) the existing debt at its face value, so as to restore the creditworthiness of the country; (2) to "assume" (transfer to the federal government) all state debts, in order to gain first call over tax receipts; and (3) to create a Bank of the United States, which would issue a vast amount of new currency and increase the nation's money supply. The Bank would have branches in all major cities.

Hamilton's plan was widely admired during the two centuries after he presented it. But, incredibly, only in the last few years have the true -- and shocking -- numbers he was dealing with been discovered, in the archives of a Dutch bank that lent money to the United States. (Professor Richard Sylla of NYU made this discovery.) During Hamilton's first full year in office, 1790, the nation's debt-to-income ratio was a crushing 46 to 1 (today, by comparison, it's 6.6 to one). Five years later, in 1794, after the prosperity resulting from Hamilton's program, the ratio had shrunk to 15 to 1. By 1800 it was only 8.6 to one, and the United States enjoyed one of the highest credit ratings of any country on earth. This is a big reason why Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin was able to finance the $15 million Louisiana Purchase, one of the epic events in the nation's history.

Hamilton and Gallatin were political enemies, but they shared many of the same views, like most of the other immigrants discussed in The Founders and Finance. They actively opposed slavery. They favored the Bank of the United States. They supported federal aid to "internal improvements" (roads and canals), and federal promotion of manufacturing. They always thought in a framework of the national interest, favoring no particular state or region. Here they differed from most native-born Americans, who were tied tightly to their home states by bonds of family, heritage, and the ownership of land. These powerful local loyalties persisted for many decades after the Revolution. Not until after the Civil War of the 1860s was the nation commonly spoken of in the singular: the United States is rather than the United States are.

Compared to most native-born Americans, the immigrants Morris, Hamilton, and Gallatin thought of the United States in the singular almost from the beginning. Tied only loosely to any particular state, they remained personally rootless. The saw financial capital as rootless, too, as it is in fact -- movable, portable, migratory in the same sense that they themselves were. For the first two generations of U.S. history, these immigrants and others like them influenced national financial policy much more strongly than citizens born in the thirteen colonies did. And over the next two hundred years, their ideas formed much of the framework for American development -- a story of sustained economic success that has no parallel in any other country. The Founders and Finance shows how those ideas evolved and were first put into practice.
Read more about The Founders and Finance at the Harvard University Press website.

The Page 69 Test: Thomas K. McCraw's Prophet of Innovation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 27, 2012

David J. Hess's "Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy"

David J. Hess is Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry: Activism, Innovation, and the Environment in an Era of Globalization (2007) and Localist Movements in a Global Economy: Sustainability, Justice, and Urban Development in the United States (2009), and many other books.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States, and reported the following:
From Page 99:
By 2000, the United States was facing severe economic pressures on its manufacturing industries from newly industrializing countries. China became both the symbol of the shifts in the world economic system and a target of claims that its gains were based on the manipulation of trade agreements to the benefit of its export industries and the detriment of American manufacturers… Although the rivalry with China went well beyond the issue of green manufacturing, one should also not underestimate the importance of energy transitions to global economic hegemony.
Many people have recognized two fundamental, historical changes that are occurring during the twenty-first century—the broad shift of the center of the world economy to Asia in general and especially to China, and the slow but general transition to a low-carbon economy—but how are these two changes related to each other? In this book I follow the fortunes of the convergence of industrial and environmental policy in the United States. At first largely a state-government phenomenon, the convergence became a central part of the initiatives of the first two years of the Obama administration. The president promised five million green jobs, and he linked the greening of the economy to the economic stimulus package.

However, instead of embracing a bipartisan, national initiative that brought together job creation and the greening of the economy, the Republican Party mounted a full assault on the green-energy transition. By the 2012 election cycle, Republican presidential candidates were openly voicing skepticism about climate change, and although some Democratic governors continued to push for the ongoing convergence of industrial and environmental policy, the president backed away from the green jobs rhetoric that had characterized the 2008 election.

As the U.S. failed to assume world leadership for the renewable energy transition, China’s position in this arena continued to improve. That country supported the development of its renewable energy sector with strong demand policies, and it also provided substantial loans and other support to its growing photovoltaic industry, even to the point of violating trade agreements.

These current events are linked to long-term tectonic shifts in the global economy. My book explores how the neoliberal ideology of market fundamentalism that is so prominent in anti-green politics in the U.S. is poorly adapted to the rising competition from newly industrializing countries. As the full effect of the changes in the global economy become more evident, the U.S. will need to borrow more from the industrial and trade policies of those countries. The change requires a vigorous industrial policy and a more defensive posture with respect to trade. The debate over China and its increasing dominance of the manufacturing for renewable energy is one site that explore for the shift toward a more developmentalist approach to economic policy in the U.S.
Learn more about Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy at the MIT Press website and David J. Hess' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ronald Hendel's "The Book of 'Genesis': A Biography"

Ronald Hendel is the Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the editor in chief of The Oxford Hebrew Bible and the author of Remembering Abraham and Reading Genesis.

Hendel applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Book of "Genesis": A Biography, and reported the following:
With some trepidation I turn to page 99, not knowing what I’ll find. The page begins with a quote within a quote: “‘I am God and no other god exists except me,’ since he is ignorant of the place from which his strength had come.” This strange quote is from the Secret Revelation of John, which is an ancient Gnostic retelling of the Genesis creation story. In this daring – and soon to be declared heretical – new revelation, the God who creates the world is an ignorant and evil god, who is unaware of the existence of other – and higher – gods. (His misguided statement is actually a paraphrase of the First Commandment.) Page 99 explains: “In other words, Yaldabaoth is the God of the Bible, but in the Gnostic revision he is a weak and deceived God, since he does not know the perfect God. The luminous and perfect God is in the world above, a Platonic world of pure understanding.” After the ignorant God creates an earthly Adam, the perfect God above creates an antidote to earthly ignorance: “Then the high God above has mercy on Adam, and sends him ‘luminous Thought,’ who is the ideal form of Eve.” This luminous Eve is the revealer of wisdom, who teaches the “knowledge of good and evil” to humans in order to liberate them from the material world.

Well, it seems that page 99 takes us directly into the drama of the life of Genesis, as the Gnostic seers reimagine Genesis through their understanding of the burdens of the world and the possibilities of transcendence. By the way, this Gnostic text is one of the famous “Gnostic Gospels” found in the Egyptian desert in 1945, so this chapter in the life of Genesis is a relatively recent discovery. I don’t think they teach you this stuff at Sunday school.

This page is a good sample of the book, which addresses the ways that the book of Genesis has lived and changed in the western religious imagination, starting with the writing of the biblical books and ending with modern times – with the uneasy relationship of Genesis and science, literary reinterpretations of Genesis (by Emily Dickinson, Franz Kafka, and others), and the turn to reading Genesis as literature. The book is in a series called “Lives of Great Religious Books.”
Learn more about The Book of "Genesis" at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ashraf H. A. Rushdy's "American Lynching"

Ashraf H. A. Rushdy is professor of African American studies at Wesleyan University. He is the author of The Empty Garden: The Subject of Late Milton; Neo-Slave Narratives: Studies in the Social Logic of a Literary Form; and Remembering Generations: Race and Family in Contemporary African American Fiction.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, American Lynching, and reported the following:
Page 99 of American Lynching consists of a long paragraph in a chapter devoted to disentangling what I call the “discourse of lynching” that rose to prominence after the 1880s. This “discourse” is the product of pro-lynching advocates who claimed that lynching was performed as a punishment for rape, and African American intellectuals and anti-lynching activists like Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells energetically contested it, exposed its logical flaws, and revealed to what startling extent it did not square with the known facts about lynching in turn of the century America. The paragraph on page 99 sums up the inchoate forms of that discourse prior to the 1880s, attending especially to the ways that “rape” assumed the status of the bloody shirt in that discourse.

It is a paragraph that assumes an important place in the logical argument I am making, which is to show how the discourse of the 1880s was formed from earlier rationales and excuses, and to delineate just what made it so forceful and appealing to those who defended lynchings. I would then turn to the devastating critique offered by Douglass and Wells and others. My larger point was to show how this discourse had assumed an inordinately influential place in our national imagination, how it had in fact continued to play a significant role in thinking about lynching and racial violence well into the 1970s and after. Because in the book as a whole I argue for the important continuities in lynching in America, I had to explain how certain ways of thinking and talking about lynching had played a role in delimiting the definition of what was and wasn’t a lynching. The chapter on the discourse of lynching argued that we had to examine how that discourse emerged, evolved, and assumed the form it did so that we could better appreciate the continuity between the late-nineteenth century ritual, spectacle lynchings and those acts of collective extralegal execution sanctioned and performed by Americans from before the Revolutionary War.

So, is the Page 99 test accurate for my book? Well, I guess the “quality of the whole” is revealed in it since the book as a whole is interpretive, and, like this paragraph, made up of connected arguments that reveal the intellectual and social evolutions and continuities in the historical phenomenon.

Page 99:
Here we see what would become the stark gendered dynamics of the lynching discourse, which represented lynching as a patently patriarchal practice, a defense by men of women, through violence. In later forms, primarily during and after the 1870s, the discourse of lynching will straightforwardly state that those who lynch are protectors of women and those who are lynched debauchers of them (and, of course, “women” in that discourse always could mean only “white”). It is notable that one of the earliest defenses of lynching also used the language of rape, and even more notable that the crime the lynchers punished was so obviously not rape. This apparent anomaly demonstrates the ways that the rhetoric of rape was used to register the most offensive type of crime, one for which there was no defense. Someone could murder in self-defense, could perhaps be driven to theft by hunger, but nothing could justify rape. Moreover, rape was seen to be worse than either murder or theft. While theft could be seen as an abstraction, to an extent, and not irreversible (property can be returned), rape was neither; in the terms of the debate over it, rape rendered the raped woman irredeemable and stole from her (and, in patriarchal values, her father or husband) something that was lost forever. It was common for lynching advocates to claim that rape was worse than murder because it assaulted the soul as well as the body of the victim, not a surprising rhetorical strategy in a patriarchal culture where a woman was valued for her capacity to deliver an honest heir, where centuries of religious scripture and secular writers celebrated chastity as a greater possession than life, for a woman. Finally, rape, according to the patriarchal dictates that governed the understanding of the crime, was perceived to be a crime against family, that haven in a heartless world, and one to which any man with a family was therefore susceptible. It was a crime without any means of defense, a crime that left the victim worse than dead, and one that struck close to the heart of any man with a mother or wife or daughter. In the midst of a culture holding such values, it was obvious how effective the rhetoric of rape could be, no matter what the crime. It was a metaphor for the nadir of human debasement. It was also a charge that was, in the words of British Lord Chief Justice Matthew Hale, “easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended.”
Learn more about American Lynching at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Simon Read's "Human Game"

Simon Read was an award-winning journalist before he became a nonfiction author.  His books include In the Dark and War of Words.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Human Game deals in part with atrocities committed against German civilians by the French. If keeping in mind the context of the times, one can understand the hatred harbored by the French, though it does nothing to excuse the actions described in the Human Game excerpt below. Resorting to the same brutal behavior as your enemy, makes you no better than the heinous regime you’ve been fighting against. The British, in their hunt for the Gestapo gunman who murdered fifty participants of “The Great Escape,” had to deal on a routine basis with the French. It was not an easy alliance, as French war crime investigators were not always willing to help and wanted to keep certain war criminals to themselves. It also emerged that some Nazis were released from French custody in exchange for not revealing the names of French officials who assisted Germany during the wartime occupation of France.
While the investigation made slow but steady progress in the British and American zones, efforts were under way to uncover leads in the French sector. Records at the French War Crimes and Political Prisoners Bureau in Paris were poorly organized—a result of the French frequently moving prisoners from one camp to another. The French were busy dismantling their smaller camps and transferring prisoners to larger facilities. Not until this process was complete and the smaller camps had been abolished was there any hope of the files being properly organized. In their sector, the French had assumed the role of conqueror and did little to hide their disdain for the vanquished population. As far as they were concerned, being a German—regardless of whether or not one was a Nazi—was crime enough. They had a grudge to settle. In the latter stages of the war, French forces—following behind the Americans—marched into Stuttgart and raped an estimated three thousand women and eight men. Likewise, in the small town of Freudenstadt, they raped women as old as eighty, burned homes and shot civilians. It was this sort of behavior one associated more with the Red Army, which, in the vast areas of Germany it overran, unleashed a frenzy of “looting, destruction and rape.” Noted on Danish journalist, “It was not that a sex-starved Russian soldier forced himself upon a girl who took his fancy. It was a destructive, hateful and wholesale act of vengeance. Age or looks were irrelevant. The grandmother was no safer than the granddaughter, the ugly and filthy no more than the fresh and attractive.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Simon Read's website.

My Book, The Movie: Human Game.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lucia McMahon's "Mere Equals"

Lucia McMahon is Associate Professor of History at William Paterson University. She is coeditor of To Read My Heart: The Journal of Rachel Van Dyke, 1810–1811.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Mere Equals: The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic, and reported the following:
Mere Equals uses the subject of women’s education to explore a paradox at the heart of the early American republic: How does a society committed to equality maintain what are perceived as necessary differences? Early national Americans expressed an enlightened faith in women’s intellectual equality, but they also continued to believe that men and women were fundamentally dissimilar beings. The book’s organizing concept --“mere equality”-- reflects the era’s imperfect, often contradictory, attempts to make sense of these competing notions of gender roles and identity.

Mere Equals is organized around a series of case studies that reveal educated women’s experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. Page 99 is part of chapter 4, which tells the story of Benjamin Ward and Linda Raymond’s courtship. Throughout their long engagement, Benjamin and Linda sought the “union of reason and love” – an egalitarian relationship rooted in both emotional and intellectual affinity. Inspired by the emerging “companionate ideal,” the couple eagerly—although at times, painstakingly—crafted a model of love and friendship rooted in expressions of mere equality.

From Page 99:
As Benjamin wrote in November 1818, “I anticipate in you, Linda, a friend on whom the most unbounded confidence may ever be placed without the least danger of infidelity!” Uncompromising in his emotional standards, Benjamin set high expectations for their relationship: “If you tell me, ‘that is too much to anticipate of any one’—Then with bleeding sorrow I shall exclaim, Leave me, to float among the stream of time a solitary visit convinced that the boasted name of Friendship is but a phantom, performing a life of ‘single blessedness’ to the false shew of Matrimony and Love.” Benjamin claimed that he would rather live a solitary existence than enter into a marriage lacking fidelity, confidence, and mutuality. His strong demands for fidelity may have seemed overwhelming, but Linda wholeheartedly shared Benjamin’s convictions, asserting that “unbounded confidence without infidelity etc.” was not “too much to expect” from one’s “partner for life.” Indeed, she continued, “it is not enough.” Linda agreed that she would rather “exclude myself entirely from society and its charms than bestow my heart on one whose every wish was not for the happiness of his friend, and for his fellow creatures.” Benjamin and Linda insisted that they were equally committed to the same ideals—and agreed that these ideals required mutual efforts. As Benjamin noted, couples who failed to uphold this mutuality of effort often faced disappointment in married life: “Look into the domiciles of many who are young and have families, and how much do they appear to have enhanced their enjoyments by matrimony? Do we find any who probably fancied a world of bliss before them on tying the nuptial knot, discover ... disappointment? What do their internal dwellings prove?—the very contrast of their probable expectations!”

The companionate marriage promised a “world of bliss,” but couples who entered into marriage with unrealistic expectations perhaps inevitability experienced disappointment. It may seem odd that Linda and Benjamin repeatedly wrote about betrayal and heartbreak in their love letters to each other. But by offering examples of other couples’ mistakes, Benjamin and Linda hoped to apply the lessons found in various cautionary tales to their own relationship. Against real-life examples of false friendship, the couple increasingly turned to literary sources to help craft a union of reason and love.
What happened to Benjamin and Linda? Find out at the Mere Equals page at the Cornell University Press website.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 22, 2012

Michael Neiberg's "The Blood of Free Men"

Michael Neiberg is professor of history in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College. He is the author of numerous books on warfare in the twentieth century, including Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Blood of Free Men: The Liberation of Paris, 1944, and reported the following:
Even while it was happening, the liberation of Paris became one of the few uplifting symbols of a murderous war. Since the end of the war the liberation has grown in its symbolism, although not always in ways consistent with history as it actually happened. The scenes of elation captured by reporters and photographers in those dramatic days of August, 1944 remain some of the most joyous ever recorded. Today the image most Americans have of the liberation is the parade of American soldiers down the Avenue des Champs Élysées. It commemorates America at its finest, using its might and power to free oppressed people in the most beautiful city in the world.

Page 99 might therefore surprise some people. It recounts discussions in mid-August between Maj. Gen. Philippe Leclerc, the courageous commander of the French Second Armored Division, and American generals George Patton, Omar Bradley, and Leonard Gerow. The Americans made it clear to Leclerc that the liberation of Paris was not a priority for them. Instead, they wanted to bypass Paris and press on to the Rhine in the hopes of cutting off German forces before they could cross the river.

Leclerc and Free French leader Charles de Gaulle were appalled by this American logic. They knew that Paris was suffering terribly under German occupation and that the Allied landings in Normandy had paradoxically made the situation in the capital much worse by cutting the city off from its main food supplies. They also knew that the French resistance inside Paris was commanded by members of the extreme left whom they (wrongly) suspected of preparing to fight a civil war rather than hand the city over to de Gaulle or the Americans.

For the next ten days Paris sat in a kind of strategic vacuum. The Americans, from Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower on down, tried to ignore Paris for as long as they could. Leclerc and de Gaulle, by contrast, began to hoard supplies and quietly move their units in case they decided that they had no choice but to charge into their beleaguered capital. And inside the city, the people of Paris were preparing to liberate themselves – with or without help from the outside world.
Learn more about The Blood of Free Men at the Basic Books website.

The Page 99 Test: Michael S. Neiberg's Dance of the Furies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sten Rynning's "NATO in Afghanistan"

Sten Rynning is Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern Denmark. He is the author of NATO Renewed: The Power and Purpose of Transatlantic Security Cooperation and Changing Military Doctrine: Presidents and Military Power in Fifth Republic France, 1958–2000.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, NATO in Afghanistan: The Liberal Disconnect, and reported the following:
Page 99 of NATO in Afghanistan addresses one of the darkest hours of the Alliance’s engagement in Afghanistan. There have been many dark hours, for sure, but here we encounter the Alliance at the moment when it has decided to expand its force (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF) beyond the Afghan capital of Kabul, which is a monumental decision, but remains split on the issue of what needs to be done in Afghanistan.

We find ourselves in early 2004. Three prominent allies support ISAF expansion for very different reasons. The United States is eager to get relief in Afghanistan so that its main force can focus on Iraq, while its rump force in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF) can chase bandits in the rugged terrain. Germany is pushing heavily for ISAF expansion because it wants an Alliance success following the debacle over the Iraq war in 2003 and because it sees in ISAF the kind of soft security assistance to which it has become wedded. France is going along with ISAF expansion and invests significantly in it militarily but does not follow Germany in terms of building up softer security capacities: In France’s view, NATO can do military operations but soft security is the business of the European Union.

Excerpt from page 99:
France committed troops and invested in a lead mission, but it remained inherently skeptical of ISAF’s civil-military mission and the PRT [provincial reconstruction team] concept. This was the cornerstone of the approach promoted by Germany and adopted by the Alliance. Germany knew that the OEF-ISAF divide was real but sought to provide substance to ISAF via the PRT. France, Germany’s privileged partner in European affairs, declined to follow Germany’s lead and did not support the PRTs. It was a clear but troubling position because it further eroded the foundation for the big ISAF that was coming into being.
The tragedy here is not so much that the build-up of ISAF occurred to compensate for Alliance disunity on Iraq – a dynamic regularly noted in the literature. It is rather that the allies built up ISAF while remaining fundamentally in disaccord on the mission. A stronger ISAF meant different things to decision-makers in different countries who each had well rehearsed national agendas regarding the global war on terror, NATO’s evolution, and the European Union’s future trajectory.

Moreover, the allies maintained the illusion of collective strategy and impact with reference to liberal ideas that justified faith in Afghan democracy and also the ability of the international community writ large to come together in its support. These ideas had become institutionalized in NATO because they conveniently suggest that if nation-building goes wrong, it is not simply the fault of NATO. What NATO leaders must do now is accept the responsibility that if they send soldiers into fights, they must also provide a realistic plan for the fight. This will require a re-introduction of strategic thinking in the Alliance.
Learn more about NATO in Afghanistan at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Douglas Smith's "Former People"

Douglas Smith is an award-winning historian and translator and the author of Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy as well as three previous books on Russia.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Former People and reported the following:
Page 99 of Former People describes the situation of the Counts Sheremetev family, one of the two aristocratic clans that are at the center of the book, in the summer of 1917. Most of the nobility greeted the collapse of the Romanov dynasty in early 1917 as the chance for a new beginning, but by the summer many had begun to realize that the fall of the Old Regime placed them in grave danger. The majority ended up fleeing the country, usually against their wills and only as a lost resort, and a few, like Count Alexander and Maria Sheremetev, never had any intention of abandoning the empire, only to find it had abandoned them.

This page says something about the chaos and strange twists of fate that befell the nobility following the revolution, and a few of the ways they reacted to it.
Among the aristocrats in Kislovodsk were several of Dmitry’s Sheremetev cousins: Georgy, Yelizaveta, Alexandra, and Dmitry.34 Their parents (Alexander and Maria Sheremetev) had chosen to stay in Petrograd, although as life in the capital became increasingly unsettled, they left for their estate in Russian Finland. Alexander invited his half brother Sergei to join them, but he refused to leave Russia. They were there when Finland declared its independence from Russia on December 6 (N.S.), 1917, and thus quite suddenly found themselves exiles. They lived well for a time, but then the money ran out. Alexander and Maria sold their Finnish lands and moved to Belgium and then to France; they lived in poverty in Paris before being taken in by a charity set up to help Russian émigrés in Ste.-Geneviève-des-Bois. Both Alexander and Maria died there and were buried in the Russian cemetery in the 1930s. Neither ever returned to Russia. All their property was nationalized, including their magnificent Petrograd home; its contents were dispersed among various museums, and its archive was pulped. In the 1930s, their home became the House of Writers, and decades later, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a luxury hotel.35

Alexander and Maria’s four children had all left Russia by the end of the civil war, settling in Western Europe. Georgy fought with the Whites and then fled southern Russia for Europe with his wife and their young children. He later worked as a secretary for Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, the last tsar’s uncle, and oversaw a farm in Normandy. A fellow Russian émigré by the name of Alexandrov met Georgy in the 1920s at Choigny, the home of the grand duke outside Paris. Alexandrov was amazed at Georgy’s attitude toward the revolution, which he saw as rare among the Russian aristocracy. He noted that Georgy bore no ill will for his fate and interpreted the revolution and his family’s terrible loss as “God’s proper punishment for all the sins, injustices, and lawlessness that his privileged class had committed against their ‘lesser brethren’ and that Christianity obliged him to devote the rest of his life atoning for these sins.”36 This obligation led Georgy to become a Russian Orthodox priest in London, where he lived out his last years.
Watch the trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Douglas Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 19, 2012

Timothy F. Murphy's "Ethics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about Children"

Timothy F. Murphy is Professor of Philosophy in the Biomedical Sciences at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. He is the author of Case Studies in Biomedical Research Ethics, Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research, and other books.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Ethics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about Children, and reported the following:
From Page 99: Communications professor Robert Brookey says: “When homosexuality is constituted as an object of biomedical knowledge, then diagnosis and treatment are reconstituted as manufactured tests and drugs.” As he sees things, “the genetic study of sexual orientation offers biomedical industries the opportunity to develop and market new products from which they and clinicians will profit. Armed with these products, he says, clinicians will gain back the income that they lost when they gave up the judgment that homosexuality is pathological.”

No interventions are available to parents and clinicians that are capable of influencing the sexual orientation of a child. Some commentators worry that advanced biogenetic study will reveal exactly how people come by their sexual orientation. Armed with that kind of knowledge, won’t parents take steps to avoid gay and lesbian children? Won’t they intervene to ensure that their children end up straight?

Despite the fact that there is no way to influence the sexual orientation of children through a genetic intervention, this question of ethics has been kicking around since the 1970s. If a clinical intervention came along, should parents be able to use it to get the sexual orientation they want in a child? Unlike some commentators, I don’t assume that parents will always want straight children, but I expect most of them would. And that foreseeable outcome has led some commentators to predict only ruin for gay men and lesbians if such a prenatal intervention for sexual orientation were to come along.

Commentators like Brookey cannot see any reason to study homosexuality except to deliver more control over that sexual orientation. Psychiatrists may no longer be able to treat homosexuality in good conscience, but practitioners of prenatal medicine will be able to supplement their income by ‘selling’ sexual orientation treatments as part of their services to pregnant women.

As a matter of ethics, the question of prenatal interventions is bigger than just matters of money. In Ethics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about Children, I report the debate about controlling children’s sexual orientation, and I offer a rolling commentary as it has unfolded over the past few decades. In some ways, this issue stands in for all the ways in which biomedicine is posed to offer control over children’s traits. How far should parents be able to influence their children through prenatal interventions? In other ways, this issue has dimensions all its own. Most important among them is the question of why some commentators would ban further research into sexual orientation or ban access to fetal information that predicted a child’s likely sexual orientation. That outcome will have its own damaging effects for gay men and lesbians: it will put them in families that do not want them.
Learn more about Ethics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about Children at Timothy F. Murphy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Adriana Páramo's "Looking for Esperanza"

Adriana Páramo is a Colombian writer, born in cold Bogotá but raised in Medellín. She is the producer of Tampa Bay's Reading Series: LOL, Life Out Loud.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her award-winning book, Looking for Esperanza: The Story of a Mother, a Child Lost, and Why They Matter to Us, and reported the following:
A few years ago, I embarked on a journey to track down a Mexican woman who crossed the border to the USA on foot with her four children in a desperate attempt to create a better life. When her youngest daughter died of dehydration halfway through the desert journey, Esperanza, whose name means “hope,” strapped the body of her child to her own and continued on.

Looking for Esperanza chronicles not only my fieldwork across Florida, in vegetable fields, citrus groves, ferneries and packing houses, but also the anonymous voices I encountered while looking for the mother in the story. It also yields the heartbreaking reality of life for these unvalued women who put food on our tables.

Page 99 relates an interview I had with Rosa, a Mexican farmworker, who after being in contact with pesticides while working in the strawberry fields when she was pregnant, gave birth to a sick baby boy. At four months of age, he had been diagnosed with a heart condition, pulmonary stenosis, malrotation of intestines and multiple spleens. He also had a history of seizures, and a stroke among many other ailments. On page 99, Rosa hands me her son’s most recent interdisciplinary assessment from the Children’s Hospital in the hope that I can help her understand her own boy’s health condition. It is written in English and she doesn’t understand a single word. Unfortunately I can’t help her either because the assessment is written in medical lingo, a hodge-podge of technical terms that include single ventricle with dextrocardia, proximal LPA branch, interrupted IVC, MCA infarct, attenuation of the parietal globe, and more.

Ford Madox Ford’s statement is true and applies to Looking for Esperanza. Rosa represents the underground subculture of deaf and mute undocumented women. Her boy has medical problems and is given treatments she doesn’t understand. She has surrendered the baby to the system and this, I believe, captures the complexities of the women’s immigration issue in very human terms.
Rosa looks puzzled. I see a sneer under the overgrown bangs that cover one side of her face. I must look like a sham to her. She jokes that I tricked her. That I’m not as smart as I look. “I know he had a hole in his heart and then a piece of blood went to his brain and that’s why his left side is weak. Don’t worry,” she says. “Leave those chinga big words for the doctors.”

“What do you think is going to happen with Camilo?” I ask Rosa. She squints as if I were the sun shining in her eyes.

“He’s going to wake up and I’m going to change his diapers.”

“I mean, what kind of life do you think he is going to have?”

“If I listen to the doctor, Camilo won’t make it past his fifteenth birthday. But I know he’s going to make it. He’s a little boy, why would God want to take him away so soon?”

Camilo wakes up and smiles, looking at the ceiling. As Rosa sits him back in the car seat, I notice that his left hand is curled into a permanent tight fist. I reach out and try to unfurl his tiny hand. It doesn’t respond.

“What’s wrong with Camilo’s hand?” I ask.

“The bad one?” Rosa asks and I wonder if she is trying to be funny.

“Yes, Rosa the bad one.”

“I don’t know,” she says with a deep shrug of her shoulders. “He wasn’t born like this,” she says forcing her finger into his fist. “That happens to all children that have surgery. That’s the problem,” she says.

“Who told you that?” I ask.

“The doctors,” she says. “Well, not the doctors, but the translator.”

An awkward silence follows. Camilo coos and giggles and every giggle tilts his body more and more to the left. I straightened him again.

“Are we done?” Rosa asks and her question takes me by surprise. I wonder the same thing. Am I done? Will I ever be?

“Do you know a woman by the name of Esperanza?” I ask.

“Who is she?” Rosa asks. “An actress?”

“She is a farmworker. She lost one baby crossing the desert. Have you heard a story like that?” I ask.

“You hear stuff like that but you turn the other way.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Because we all carry our own cross and the last thing you want is to wind up carrying someone else’s on top of yours,” Rosa says. “Too heavy,” she adds and does a wobbly walk of bent knees and uneven shoulders. She laughs hard, then asks me to leave. Rufino will be back in no time at all and he doesn’t like her sharing her cross with strangers.
Learn more about the book and author at Adriana Páramo's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nancy C. Unger's "Beyond Nature's Housekeepers"

Nancy C. Unger is Associate Professor of History at Santa Clara University. She is the author of the prize-winning biography Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer, and book review editor of The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History, and reported the following:
Most of page 99 is taken up by the cartoon “Sweeping Back the Flood” [below left, click to enlarge] that appeared in the San Francisco Call on December 13, 1909. I’m delighted it falls on page 99, because it illustrates perfectly that my book is less a presentation of “great women in environmental history,” and more of a study on how perceptions of gender have shaped environmental attitudes and actions from the pre-Columbian period through present day environmental justice movements.

On page 98 we learn that pioneering educator and psychologist G. Stanley Hall charged that “caring for nature was female sentiment, not sound science.” The cartoon ridicules preservationist John Muir’s efforts to prevent the flooding of California’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, sister valley to Yosemite. What better way to make Muir appear both impotent and feminine (that is, silly and sentimental) than to clothe him in a dress, apron, and flowered bonnet, fussily and fruitlessly trying to hold back the flood of progress?

Below the cartoon is the beginning of a paragraph describing several San Francisco officials who testified before the U.S. House Committee on Public Lands that use should take precedence over beauty. Marsden Manson, San Francisco’s city engineer, described those who wanted to preserve Hetch Hetchy Valley in thinly veiled homophobic terms as “short haired women and long haired men.”

Page 99 is also a good representation of the book’s many cartoons, drawings, and photographs. They help illustrate the explorations of the narrative, revealing the synergy between environment, sex, sexuality, and gender. Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History features Native Americans, colonists, enslaved field workers, pioneers, homemakers, municipal housekeepers, immigrants, hunters, nature writers, soil conservationists, scientists, migrant laborers, nuclear protesters, and environmental justice activists. Through their stories, the book reveals how women have played a unique role, for better and sometimes for worse, in the shaping of the American environment.
Learn more about Beyond Nature's Housekeepers at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Emily W. Kane's "The Gender Trap"

Emily W. Kane is Professor of Sociology, and a member of the Program in Women and Gender Studies, at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, The Gender Trap: Parents and the Pitfalls of Raising Boys and Girls, and reported the following:
As I flipped to page 99, I felt lucky to discover the test seemed to work. Based on interviews I conducted with parents raising preschool aged children, from a wide range of backgrounds and family types, my new book’s broader argument and style are captured well by this particular page. It includes an interview quote I used in the title of a journal article I published several years before the book came out: “No Way My Boys Are Going to Be Like That!” Though the article addressed just a small slice of the project, it emphasized two points that became central to the book: the complex ways parents feel constrained by how others may judge their children if they don’t live up to gender expectations and the “double standard” that makes that constraint particularly notable in relation to sons. The father quoted was expressing his strong preference that his two young sons play football, baseball or soccer, and not engage in activities like gymnastics or dance, which he considers socially appropriate only for girls.

In The Gender Trap, I explore how parents balance two kinds of explanations for the origins of gendered patterns in children’s lives, biological and social, and two kinds of actions, those that reproduce and those that resist traditionally gendered outcomes. Parents combined these beliefs and actions in five distinct configurations, and page 99 is in the chapter that presents a configuration I call “Cultivators.” These are parents who primarily view gendered childhoods as socially shaped, as reflected in the chapter’s title: “I Think a Lot of It Is Us, Parents and Society.” Not surprisingly, they report many actions that reproduce traditional gender patterns. They view gendering children as a routine aspect of their responsibility as parents. While some express fear or discomfort about non-traditional outcomes, as conveyed in the phrase “no way my boys are going to be like that,” they do so in the context of explaining their routine efforts to craft more traditional outcomes. In the rest of the book, these parents are joined by four other configurations that I call Naturalizers, Refiners, Innovators, and Resisters. I present each configuration by profiling several individual parents and addressing patterns across the group. Comparing and contrasting all five configurations, I make the broader argument that despite their best intentions and their desire to loosen at least some gendered constraints for their children, many parents fall into the gender trap, a trap baited by a variety of social factors I analyze throughout the book and with significant consequences for gender inequalities in the adult world.
Learn more about Emily W. Kane's The Gender Trap at the New York University Press website.

Writers Read: Emily W. Kane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 15, 2012

Avi Raz's "The Bride and the Dowry"

Avi Raz is associate member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, and research fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, specializing in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Formerly a journalist at a leading Israeli daily, where his assignments abroad included bureau chief in New York and Moscow, he now lives in Oxford, UK.

Raz applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Bride and the Dowry: Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians in the Aftermath of the June 1967 War, and reported the following:
The title of my book – The Bride and the Dowry – draws on a metaphor coined by Levi Eshkol, the prime minister of Israel in 1967, immediately after Israel’s stunning triumph in the Six Day War. In the metaphor, Israel’s territorial conquests were a “dowry” and the Arab population a “bride.” “The trouble is that the dowry is followed by a bride whom we don’t want,” the prime minister repeatedly lamented. Eshkol’s simile adequately encapsulated the Israeli ambition in the wake of its military victory over Egypt, Syria, and Jordan: relying on newly declassified official records from Israeli, American, British and United Nations archives, as well as privately-obtained papers, my book shows that Eshkol, reputedly a moderate, and his National Unity Government, effectively translated the metaphor into a policy whose aim was to appropriate the dowry and divorce the bride.

Page 99 – in the third chapter, “In Search of Docile Leadership,” which covers the first three months of the occupation – relates to both “the dowry” and “the bride.” The four hundred and twenty-one words on page 99 are devoted to the deportation of a Muslim leader who inspired peaceful civil disobedience against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian-inhabited West Bank; the annexation by Israel of Arab Jerusalem; and Israel’s ban on political organization in the West Bank despite, or because of, the West Bankers’ desire for a peaceful settlement with Israel.

These three measures – the annexation, the ban on political organization, and the deportation – heralded the postwar policy of Israel in the months and years to come. Its main features included faits accomplis in the occupied territories; refusal to consider the Palestinians as partners to peace negotiations; and iron-fisted treatment of independent-minded leaders desiring to rid themselves of the military occupation.

Indeed, the annexation of the Old City of Jerusalem together with an area twelve times the size of Jordanian Jerusalem was immediately followed by the establishment of illegal Jewish settlements in Syria’s Golan Heights, Jordan’s West Bank, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In the West Bank, some twenty villages and towns were destroyed, completely or partially, and West Bankers were “encouraged” to flee eastward, across the River Jordan. Later, tens of thousands of the war refugees were denied return to their homes. On the Golan, the Israeli army razed to the ground all but four Syrian villages in order to prevent repatriation of their inhabitants who had fled during the war. Sheikh ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Sa’ih, the president of the Islamic Court of Appeal in Arab Jerusalem, whose deportation is discussed on page 99, was just the first of a very long list of Palestinian leaders who suffered the same fate throughout the forty-five year-long occupation that still continues.

What most characterized Israeli policy in the aftermath of the June 1967 War was its duplicitous nature. In essence, both the West Bank leadership and King Hussein of Jordan communicated to Israel their wish to reach a peaceful settlement. The United States, Israel’s main supporter and Jordan’s ally, pressured Israel to negotiate a settlement with Hussein. But Israel, preferring land over peace, resorted to a double game whose aim was to mislead Washington into thinking that the government was weighing its peace options – the “Palestinian option” versus the “Jordanian option.” Page 99 of The Bride and the Dowry fits within the wider context of Israel’s foreign policy of deception.
Learn more about The Bride and the Dowry at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Malcolm Barber's "The Crusader States"

Malcolm Barber is emeritus professor of history, University of Reading. He is a foremost expert on the Crusades and the Knights Templar, and he is the author of several books, including landmark studies of the Cathars and the Templars.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Crusader States, and reported the following:
Following the Christian capture of Jerusalem in 1099, Latin soldiers and settlers established four states in Syria and Palestine. Antioch, Tripoli and Jerusalem lay along the coast, while Edessa, to the east of Antioch, stretched out on both sides of the Euphrates. Jerusalem was the most important, for the main objective of the crusaders had been to regain the city and the holy places which they fervently believed had been unjustly seized by infidels.

Page 99 does indeed encapsulate some essential elements. By this point in the book, the states had existed for a decade, but were still in the process of capturing the ports, vital for trade and western support; indeed, during 1110, King Baldwin of Jerusalem had gained Sidon and Beirut. The Franks were not invulnerable, but Muslim opposition was often fragmented. The schism between the Fatimids in Cairo and the Sunnite Turks in Baghdad remained fundamental, while local rulers often went their own way, a situation exacerbated by the Assassins, radical Shi’ites hated and feared in the Muslim world.

In 1110, however, a new coalition was assembled by the sultan which, in an attempt to repeat the great Turkish victory of 1104, sought to lure the Franks beyond the Euphrates towards Harran. In fact, most of the Franks managed to escape, but the significant Muslim aim had been, according to the contemporary Damascene chronicler, Ibn al-Qalanisi, ‘to set out with troops to the Holy War’. Although adherence to the jihad was not consistent thereafter, nevertheless, it was an early indication of deep changes within Islam, which culminated in the attacks of Nur al-Din and Saladin. In 1187, as is well known, Saladin overcame the Franks at the battle of Hattin and soon after took Jerusalem itself.

Nevertheless, page 99 tells only part of the story, for these states did not rest upon military prowess alone. Indeed, their whole raison d’être was the possession of the holy places, where they embellished the shrines, founded monastic communities, and coped with thousands of western pilgrims every year. All this was derived from an active economy, based on agriculture and trade, which, in turn, underpinned essential administrative and legal institutions. The exceptional achievements of these men and women were not only those of their soldiers, but of their monks and canons, their architects and artists, and their merchants and farmers.
Learn more about The Crusader States at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 12, 2012

Evelyn Alsultany's "Arabs and Muslims in the Media"

Evelyn Alsultany is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan. She is co-editor (with Rabab Abdulhadi and Nadine Naber) of Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging (Syracuse University Press, 2011). She is guest curator of the Arab American National Museum's online exhibit, Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes.

Alsultany applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11, and reported the following:
This book was inspired by watching television after 9/11, particularly by my surprise at seeing many sympathetic representations of Arabs and Muslims. It is a historical trend that during times of war, the “enemy” – for example, Japanese during WWII, Russians during the Cold War – are demonized to facilitate passing policies that will kill or harm them. My book examines the following question: Given the increase in hate crimes and government policies that targeted Arabs and Muslims after 9/11, and public support for such policies, how do we make sense of the proliferation of sympathetic images? I set about analyzing these sympathetic representations in TV dramas, news reports, and public service announcements in order to understand how they are operating during the War on Terror.

Many people have said to me that they believe that the ability to represent the so-called enemy in nuanced ways – to not demonize an entire people – is reflective of the dawn of a post-race era, an era where we are more aware and sensitive to stereotypes. This is partly true, but not the full story. I argue that a new standard in racial and cultural representations emerged out of the multicultural movement of the 1990s. This involves balancing a negative representation with a positive one. This has meant that if the storyline of a TV drama or film represents an Arab/Muslim as a terrorist, then the storyline also includes a “positive” representation of an Arab or Muslim American to offset the negative depiction of the Arab/Muslim as a terrorist.

I identify and examine a range of forms that these positive representations have taken, from patriotic Arab Americans to oppressed Muslim women. I argue that these positive representations should not be taken at face value to represent the dawn of a post-race era, but rather should be analyzed for their ideological work. What I found is that many of these positive portrayals of Arabs and Muslims do the “ideological work” of justifying discriminatory policies even while they are trying to avoid reproducing stereotypes.

Page 99 is the conclusion to chapter 3 and sums up one of the main themes of the book: the feelings we have, even the ones inspired by a desire for justice, can support government war initiatives:
Outrage is an emotion that carries vast political potential. If we are outraged at the treatment of the oppressed Muslim woman, we are far more likely to support U.S. interventions in Muslim countries in the name of saving the women. The U.S. media participates in encouraging a particular form of outrage – outrage at the oppressive nature of Islam – while other forms of outrage are intentionally left absent, namely that the United States has played a significant role in creating Islamic fundamentalism and current conflicts including 9/11 and the War on Terror. As Judith Butler has written:
Open grieving is bound up with outrage, and outrage in the face of injustice or indeed of unbearable loss has enormous political potential … Whether we are speaking about open grief or outrage, we are talking about affective responses that are highly regulated by regimes of power and sometimes subject to explicit censorship.
The U.S. government and commercial media’s selective framing of the War on Terror seeks to restrict outrage to narratives that absolve the United States from accountability and support its interventionist projects. This highly mediated evocation of outrage for the plight of the oppressed Muslim woman inspires support of U.S. interventions against Muslim men and barbaric Islam. War has been and continues to be made possible in part by the media’s eager cultivation of pity and outrage.
Read more about Arabs and Muslims in the Media at the New York University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jo Applin's "Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America"

Jo Applin is lecturer in modern and contemporary art at the University of York. Her research focuses on American art since 1950. She also works on British and European art of the 1960s and contemporary international art, with a particular interest in thinking about art and its histories in relation to questions of subjectivity, gender and materiality. Applin is the author of Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (Yale University Press, 2012) and Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field (Afterall and MIT Press, 2012).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Eccentric Objects and reported the following:
Page 99 of Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America contains not words but an image: a colour reproduction of a large wood and metal figurative sculpture by American artist H.C. Westermann. Titled ‘Angry Young Machine’ this work—part-whimsy, part-political critique, part-surrealist personage—is now housed in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Far from being representative of the book as a whole, what this eccentric object by Westermann neatly demonstrates, for me, is the radical heterogeneity of the works of art discussed in the book, which in turn tell us something about the ways in which historical accounts of ‘stylistic progression’ demand closer scrutiny.

Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America examines the work of Lee Bontecou, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, H.C. Westermann, and Bruce Nauman as key examples of what artist Mel Bochner dubbed the ‘lost contexts’ and overlooked histories of 1960s sculpture. Looking beyond the canonical artworks of the period, Eccentric Objects reclaims what Minimalist artist and critic Donald Judd, referring to the sheer variety of artistic styles and movements then emerging, described as the ‘messiness’ of the moment. This variety has since been reduced to a series of discrete and recognisable categories such as ‘Pop art’, ‘Assemblage’ and ‘Minimalism’.

Eccentric Objects does not iron out differences but celebrates and gives critical purchase to those works, artists and practices that have since slipped from view, in order to offer an alternative account of this rich decade of artistic production, and to complicate models of practice which have since come to epitomise sixties sculpture, such as Assemblage, Pop, Minimalism, Post-Minimalism or Process art. I, too, want to insist on the ‘messiness’ of art’s condition during the early sixties as I unpack the complexities of those years during which, in the wake of an exhausted Modernist aesthetic, as Judd put it ‘there were several unpredicted shows, and things began to be complicated again’.
Learn more about Eccentric Objects at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

George Cotkin's "Dive Deeper"

George Cotkin is a Professor of History at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. His books, in addition to his just published Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick, are William James, Public Philosopher, Reluctant Modernism: American Thought and Culture, 1880-1900, Existential America, and Morality’s Muddy Waters: Ethical Quandaries in Modern America.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Dive Deeper and reported the following:
How do you approach a classic work like Moby-Dick about which oceans of books and articles have been written? You have to take up Melville’s imperative to dive deeply and creatively. After rereading Moby-Dick a few years ago, I wanted to spend more time with it. So I began to think about the immense waves that the book has created in American culture (from classical music to rap, in various films, from pop-up books to comics, in fictional works, in scholarly approaches, in art). The meaning of the novel, in part, is a function of its resonance with readers over the last century and more. As I read each chapter in Moby-Dick, I caught a theme, phrase, symbol, or emotion, and I then wrote a chapter in response. In the end, that meant 135 brief chapters, along with extracts, etymology, and epilogue), starting with Camus and comedy (Ishmael contemplates suicide and offers some humorous remarks in the first chapter) and ending with Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream song (where he imagines Captain Arab discovering America).

With these preliminaries out of the way, what then do I find when I open to page 99 of Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick? That page deals with Chapter 51, “The Spirit Spout,” in the novel. Captain Ahab walks the decks of his ship, “The Pequod,” and, as Melville puts it, “every stroke of his dead limb sounded like a coffin-tap.” Tap, tap, tap led me to think about rap, rap, rap. In my research into the reception of the novel, I had come upon the existence of a highly educated rapper – or, to be more precise, a post-punk laptop rapper – named MC Lars. He has a tune called, “Ahab”. It goes like this:
Call me Ahab, what, monomaniac

Obsessed with success like Steve Wozniak

On the hunt for this mammal that once took my leg

With my warn down crew and my man Queequeg
Learn more about George Cotkin's Dive Deeper at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: George Cotkin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tanya Katerí Hernández's "Racial Subordination in Latin America"

Tanya Katerí Hernández is Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law, and the New Civil Rights Response, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls towards the end of the chapter entitled “The Social Exclusion of Afro-descendants Today” and as a result does provide a useful representation of the entire book. The book describes how there are approximately 150 million people of African descent in Latin America who have been consistently marginalized as undesirable elements of the society. Latin America has nevertheless long prided itself on its absence of U.S.-styled state-mandated Jim Crow racial segregation laws. The book seeks to disrupt the traditional narrative of Latin America's legally benign racial past by comprehensively examining the existence of customary laws of racial regulation and the historic complicity of Latin American states in erecting and sustaining racial hierarchies. What is unique about the book is its focus on the salience of the customary law of race regulation for the contemporary development of racial equality laws across the region. Therefore, the book has a particular relevance for the contemporary U.S. racial context in which Jim Crow laws have long been abolished and a "post-racial" rhetoric undermines the commitment to racial equality laws and policies amidst a backdrop of continued inequality.

Page 99 details the particular ways that racial discrimination has affected Afro-Brazilian women distinctly from Afro-Brazilian men. For instance, racial discrimination for Afro-Brazilian women often takes the form of being sexually objectified as prostitutes or directed to service entrances as presumed domestic servants despite their apparel and trappings of middle-class status. They also experience exclusion from job positions explicitly and implicitly requiring “boa aparência” (a good appearance) widely understood as a white appearance. While the entire book is not devoted to the intersectional (gender and race) experiences of Afro-Latinas, page 99’s discussion of their experience of discrimination does provide an accurate representation of the overarching concern of the book about the realities of racial subordination in Latin America.
Read an excerpt from Racial Subordination in Latin America, and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kevin Mattson's "Just Plain Dick"

Kevin Mattson is Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University and serves as a faculty associate of the Contemporary History Institute. His work explores the broad intersections between ideas and politics in 20th century America. He is author of numerous books, including "What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?": Jimmy Carter, America's "Malaise," and the Speech that Should Have Changed the Country.

Mattson applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952, and reported the following:
Ah yes, the 99 test. It’s a fine one, especially for Just Plain Dick. On page 99, Richard Nixon is making an appearance on Meet the Press. He’s getting queries from journalists about what he means by “liberating” people enslaved by Soviet totalitarianism. Perhaps he means going to war with the Soviet Union? Perhaps he means the aggressive type of suggestions that General Douglas MacArthur talked about? Richard Nixon starts stepping back some of his more heated rhetoric. He says, no, not open warfare. He wants “means other than force.” Things like “psychological warfare.” His response, intended to calm viewers, winds up sounding creepy, even a tad mysterious. And then, soon after fielding this sort of question, right there at the bottom of page 99 in the book, the lights are turned off on the set of Meet the Press, and Richard Nixon gets the question that prompts the crisis the book centers around. A columnist named Peter Edson asks Richard Nixon about a “’fund’ we hear about.” It sounds like mysterious donors are giving you money to up your salary. Nixon starts trying to explain to Edson some of the details, but now the crisis is out of the bag.
Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Mattson's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: 'What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?'.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beth Tompkins Bates's "The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford"

Beth Tompkins Bates is professor emerita at Wayne State University and author of Pullman Porters and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black America, 1925-1945.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, and reported the following:
From p. 99:
Although Henry Ford liked to point out that the man who is “living aright will work aright,” apparently he did not think he was responsible for Detroit’s housing problems. Samuel Marquis [an executive at Ford Motor Company] tried to persuade him otherwise as early as 1916, calling attention to the housing crisis unfolding around them. Ford did not heed his warning. Nor did he act to check the rise of the ghetto, even as he located his factories—first, the Highland Park plant where the Model T was born, and second, the River Rouge—outside Detroit’s city limits, creating distance from Detroit’s taxes and its urban blight. Operating as the largest taxpayer in suburban sites assured that Ford interests dominated politics, including “civic” policies designed to keep watch over unionization efforts. Marquis may have had the last word on Ford’s response to the housing crisis in Black Bottom: “In the end we reap what we sow.”
To a degree, Ford Madox Ford’s Page 99 Test applies to my book, The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford. While the nation celebrated Henry Ford as the most benevolent of employers, this paragraph reveals the limitations of his policies toward his African American employees. When Henry Ford launched his acclaimed Five-Dollar-a-Day in 1914, he emphasized the importance that good housing played in making sure his white ethnic workers were “living aright” so they might “work aright.” Six years later, Henry Ford—the man who had opened the door to economic opportunity for black Americans on a wider, more inclusive scale than any industrial employer had before—kept his distance from the rising color line that increasingly restricted his black workers to crowded, over-priced housing stock in an urban landscape shaped and bounded by race.

The response of black workers to Henry Ford for including them in jobs across the occupational spectrum—as crane operators, mechanics, electricians, bricklayers, and tool-and-die makers—is not captured. By rejecting the notion that better jobs were for white men only, Ford raised expectations and hope about what was possible in America, suggesting to recent migrants from the South that a corner had been turned in the ongoing black struggle for inclusion as full-blooded Americans. In this regard, Ford’s policies sparked a transformation in the lives of black workers and their families, helping lay a foundation for a labor-oriented, civil rights agenda, and, ultimately, providing a base for the formation of the urban black middle class. The book traces relations between Henry Ford, FMC, black workers, and Detroit’s black community as they were formed and transformed during the years between World Wars I and II. Henry Ford had a plan for where and how the black community and black workers would become ideal workers for his open-shop movement, his American Plan. At the same time, the black community had a plan of their own, one that would lead to inclusion in the American Dream. The tensions that rose as these two plans were implemented drive the narrative.
Learn more about The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford at the the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue