Friday, January 30, 2015

Toby Matthiesen's "The Other Saudis"

Toby Matthiesen is a Research Fellow in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. He was previously a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Matthiesen applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism, and reported the following:
Excerpt from page 99:
Discussion sessions held in private raised the importance of intellectual change in the Islamic umma and criticised the traditional Shia trends. The taped sermons and pamphlets of Muhammad al-Shirazi were widely circulated. Young clerics such as Hasan al-Saffar increasingly preached to larger audiences in hussainiyyat and at Shia religious festivities. Recruitment focussed on high school and university students but some teachers and graduates were also brought into the Saudi movement soon after its inception. The presence of young preachers was a novelty and resonated well with the youth. One later member of the movement from Awwamiyya recalls that his father, who was an Akhbari, would not take him to the hussainiyya and if he went himself he would be sent home because of his age. In contrast, the teenagers felt taken more seriously by the young preachers such as the al-Sayf brothers and al-Saffar.

While virtually all the clerical OIRAP leadership passed through the hawza in Kuwait, some of the later lay cadres, who were called the effendiyya within the movement, stayed in Saudi Arabia. Hamza al-Hasan, who became a key figure in the movement later on, was recruited in 1976/77. Until the intifada, however, he did not join the hawza in Kuwait and just met and discussed movement literature with his supervisor from his hometown, Safwa. Until 1979 al-Hasan did not know how many members the movement had and only during the intifada did he become aware of the full extent of mobilisation.

Young unmarried women between fifteen and twenty were also recruited. One female activist recalls how her relative returned from Kuwait around 1977 and told her about the Islamic awakening. He said that time was ripe for change and gave her books and articles to distribute to her cousins and friends and she started to gather with them.
Copyright © 2015 Toby Matthiesen. Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press.
On page 99 of The Other Saudis, I outline how in the mid-1970s a new social movement altered the political landscape of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The province is the centre of the oil industry, and in the 1950s and 1960s, political protest had taken the form of labour mobilisations and Arab nationalist activism. Shia Muslims, who are a discriminated minority in Saudi Arabia but make up roughly half of the inhabitants of the Eastern Province, had until the 1970s either joined leftist and Arab nationalist movements, or had tried to secure more rights through petitioning the Al Saud ruling family (and The Other Saudis devotes one chapter each to the petitions by the notable families as well as the leftist movements). But in the 1970s, a grass-roots Islamist social movement, called the Shirazi movement after its founder Muhammad Mahdi al-Shirazi, spread from Iraq down the Gulf coast to Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

I have made dozens of interviews with Shirazi activists and cadres, and they explained to me how in the 1970s they started to preach amongst young Shia men and women, mainly amongst teenagers, and encouraged them to revolt against their own political elite, the Shia urban notable families, as well as against the state dominated by the ruling family. The networks of the movement concentrated on a religious school in Kuwait, a hawza, where young Saudis went for indoctrination courses in the holidays and some stayed on to become full-time religious students and members of the movement.

This mobilisation eventually culminated in the 1979 uprising in the Eastern Province, during which young Shia militants took over the city of Qatif and surrounding villages, and fought off the National Guard for days. But the uprising was eventually crushed, dozens were killed, and hundreds of Shirazi activists went into exile to Iran and Syria, initiating a decade of confrontation between the Saudi Shia and the Saudi state that was to last until the Gulf War of 1990/91. Facing a fresh challenge by Sunni Islamists, who saw the deployment of American troops on Saudi soil to prepare the "liberation" of Kuwait as sacrilege, the ruling family started to see the Shia as temporary allies and negotiated an amnesty agreement with the Shia opposition, leading to their return in 1993.
Visit Toby Matthiesen's website.

Writers Read: Toby Matthiesen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tom Chaffin's "Giant's Causeway"

Tom Chaffin is the author, most recently, of Giant's Causeway: Frederick Douglass's Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary. His other books include Pathfinder: John Charles Frémont and the Course of American Empire and Met His Every Goal: James K. Polk and the Legends of Manifest Destiny. His writings also have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Time, Harper's, the Oxford American, and other publications. He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times' acclaimed "Disunion" series on the American Civil War. He lives in Atlanta.

Chaffin applied the “Page 99 Test” to Giant's Causeway and reported the following:
Drawing on primary source documents, many heretofore unpublished, Giant's Causeway chronicles Frederick Douglass's 1845-47 lecture tour of the British Isles, his first venture into foreign climes. For Douglass, the trip, particularly its four months in Ireland, marked, in myriad ways, a new beginning. The tour accelerated his transformation from more than a teller of his own life-story into a commentator on contemporary issues. Challenges in Ireland, Scotland and England also encouraged and prepared him for his transition from a salaried lecturer—financially and ideologically bound to his early mentor William Lloyd Garrison — to independent writer and editor, eventually with his own newspaper and vision of America's future. The book also examines the lasting impact of the tour on Douglass's career, as well as his subsequent interactions with Ireland and Irish America.

Page 99 of Giant's Causeway recounts a brief visit by Douglass to Birmingham, England, to attend a temperance meeting. He had been long scheduled to lecture at the meeting, but to fulfill the commitment had to interrupt an extended stay in Belfast, Ireland, where he was giving multiple lectures on abolition, and travel, successively by ship and rail, to Birmingham.

The Birmingham interlude typified, in many ways, the trials faced by Douglass during the tour as he sought to juggle philosophical commitments—in this case abolitionism and temperance. His ties to Garrison—by then, even among abolitionists, a controversial figure—were also becoming burdensome: Depending upon the individual, as Douglass was increasingly discovering, the Boston abolitionist's name could prompt either good-will or suspicions.

Page 99 finds Douglass and his Birmingham host, Garrison ally William Boultbee, on the eve of the temperance meeting, as they call on some of its prominent organizers—beginning with John Angell James, a local Congregationalist minister and social reformer.
"I found him not only cold toward me—-but absolutely suspicious of me." But mere coldness plummeted into iciness after James inquired, "if I came recommended, and if I belonged to the Garrison party in America [and] Whither I was a member of any Church-—and if any to what Church."

"I told him," Douglass answered, "I was not a member of any Church—and that I belonged to the Garrison party—and that I had credentials."

James, according to Douglass, answered, "I understand," then alluded vaguely to "the different antislavery parties in the United States."

Afterward, Douglass and Boultbee visited Joseph Sturge, then in his early fifties, the Quaker founder of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. During their meeting, Sturge-—likely out of a sense of obligation to Richard Webb-—invited the visiting American to dine with him the following day. Even so, Douglass felt an aloofness from Sturge "amounting to coldness."

Finally, before the day's end, Douglass and Boultbee called on John Cadbury, forty-five years old, a prominent Quaker abolitionist and prosperous chocolate manufacturer. Unlike Sturge, Cadbury greeted Douglass warmly. But Cadbury also soon admitted that, as an organizer of the temperance meeting, fearing that Douglass would not attend, "he had left my name off the bill."

The temperance meeting convened that evening in Birmingham's town hall. "It is a splendid building-—said to hold 7,000 people," Douglass soon wrote. The room, however, was "not full"; moreover Douglass sensed an unwelcoming indifference from the society's officers seated at the front of the hall. "They acted for a long time as though I were not there-—and as though they had not invited me."

Hours passed. "Six or seven speeches had been made—-The interest of the meeting was on the decline. We had been together nearly three hours—-a strong current set toward the door. At this moment the committee-—as if waked by-—a clap from the sky-—turned to me, and asked me to second a resolution." Moments later, as Douglass walked toward the platform at the hall's front, audience members who had been heading for the door, returned to their seats. To cheers and applause, he spoke for twenty-five minutes. When he sat down, to his delight, cries of "go, on" filled the hall.

The following day, Douglass dined with Joseph Sturge, who, following Douglass's oratorical triumph the previous evening, was now engaged and friendly. Before leaving Birmingham, he also bid farewell to his host: "Father Boutlbee—-is a fine old man, he cried like a child when I left. God bless him in his declining years."

Returning to Belfast on December 19, Douglass resumed his lecturing. Even as he relentlessly criticized Protestants churches, his orations-—dashing earlier fears among some of his sponsors—were proving wildly popular.
Learn more about Giant's Causeway at Tom Chaffin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Julie-Marie Strange's "Fatherhood and the British Working Class, 1865-1914"

Julie-Marie Strange is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, UK and author of Death, Grief and Poverty, 1870-1914.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Fatherhood and the British Working Class, 1865-1914, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls in the introduction to Chapter 2, ‘Love and Want: Unemployment, Failure and the Fragile Father’ and draws attention to the way in which scholars in the western world have tended to focus on male unemployment as the motor to family breakdown, domestic violence and women and children’s shame. Using men and children’s testimonies of paternal unemployment in the late-Victorian and Edwardian period, the chapter considers how men and children gave meaning to fatherhood when fathers could not ‘provide’ and explores how men sought to compensate for ‘failure’ as breadwinners by making myriad other sacrifices, such as deskilling, going ‘on the tramp’, and performing domestic work and childcare tasks. In particular, the chapter focuses on unemployed men’s refusal of food in favor of redistributing nutritional resources to wives and children as symptomatic of the extent of the unemployed father’s self recrimination and guilt.

The chapter considers the degree to which men and children incorporated failure into unemployed fathers’ identities. The chapter also contends that in an interpersonal context, fatherhood as a category could possess sufficient elasticity to absorb the unemployed man. This complicated unemployed men’s status as ‘failures’ to posit a gentler conception of unemployed fathers as ‘fragile’.

The chapter reflects the concern of the book: to shift historical conceptions of working-class fatherhood in the western world away from a ‘deficit’ model of fatherhood that focuses on men primarily as (unreliable) providers, paternal absence and the abuse of male power towards an understanding of how men and children invest meaning in fatherhood as a changing relationship and process over the life cycle.
Learn more about Fatherhood and the British Working Class, 1865-1914 at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Don H. Doyle's "The Cause of All Nations"

Don H. Doyle is the McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. The author of several books, including Faulkner's County and Nations Divided, he lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Cause of All Nations lands readers on a major point I wanted my book to make. America’s Civil War really mattered to the rest of the world. Political leaders, journalists, intellectuals, workers, students, and reformers watched from abroad as the “once United States” descended into fratricidal war, some in horror, some with delight.

This page gives voice to those in the European aristocracy who were saying “I told you so.” People can’t govern themselves without eventually falling into anarchy or despotism. That was the lesson of the French Revolution, and now the lesson of America’s “experiment” in democracy. I quote Madrid’s El Pensamiento Español, a Catholic journal, whose indictment was especially vitriolic:
“In the model republic of what were the United States, we see more and more clearly of how little account is a society constituted without God, merely for the sake of men.... Look at their wild ways of annihilating each other, confiscating each other’s goods, mutually destroying each other’s cities, and cordially wishing each other extinct!”
What page 99 omits are the other voices of despair, outrage, and hope among those who saw the Great Republic as living proof that democracy actually worked, that people could live together in peace and prosperity on principles of equality and liberty.

One of my favorite people in the book was a history professor in Paris with the magnificent name of Édouard-René Lefèbvre de Laboulaye. “So long as there shall be across the Atlantic a society of thirty millions of men, living happily and peacefully under a government of their choice, with laws made by themselves,” he wrote in 1864, “liberty will cast her rays over Europe like an illuminating pharos.... But should liberty become eclipsed in the new world, it would become night in Europe”

It was Laboulaye who at the end of America’s war devised an idea for a monument to “Liberty enlightening the world.” A photograph at the end of my book shows the Statue of Liberty, still under construction, towering above the streets of Paris. Today, in a time of terror and fear, that image seems to me an especially poignant reminder that Laboulaye and other foreigners saw America’s struggle as their own, the cause of all nations.
Visit The Cause of All Nations Facebook page, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kathryn Gin Lum's "Damned Nation"

Kathryn Gin Lum is Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford. She is affiliated with American Studies, Asian American Studies, and History (by courtesy).

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her 2014 book, Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction, and reported the following:
Damned Nation tries to understand how belief in hell shaped the personal and political lives of Americans in the first century of nationhood. What did it mean to really believe in hell—to believe that you yourself, your loved ones, or even the vast majority of humans might end up in the fiery pit forever? How would that fear shape the way you lived in the day-to-day, interacted with others, and thought about your place in the world?

The book argues that although Americans liked to think of themselves as a “redeemer nation,” the fear that they might be damned instead—individually and collectively—animated them to worried action on behalf of themselves and others. The argument unfolds in three parts: the first looks at the survival of the doctrine in the late eighteenth century and at how it was preached in pulpits and in print; the second considers lay responses to the terrifying prospect of eternal torment; and the third looks at the deployment of the threat of hell in the slavery controversy and the Civil War.

Page 99 falls in the middle of Part Two. Prior to this point, we’ve seen how ministers used fire-and-brimstone sermons to urge American audiences to repent immediately in order to be saved. But lay believers recognized that life took many turns beyond the immediate moment of conversion, and that staying out of hell necessitated constant monitoring of even the most mundane of daily activities. Advice guides taught ordinary people how to live in order to be saved. Crucial to the soul-saving enterprise was the “right apportionment of time”: individuals had to make sure they didn’t waste time reading “bad books,” or frittering away the evening dancing or playing cards. They always had to be on guard lest death strike suddenly.

Women were held especially responsible for safeguarding the eternal welfare of their loved ones. They were supposed to efficiently manage their household’s schedule to ensure that their husbands and children did not neglect quiet time reading the Bible and analyzing the state of their souls. As in the rest of the book, page 99 joins public and private writings and the personal with the political. It begins with Catharine Beecher’s advice in her popular Treatise on Domestic Economy and ends with Martha Laurens Ramsay’s anxieties as recorded in her diary.

From Page 99:
…Just as women would be held accountable for the ‘right apportionment of time’ at an individual level, [Beecher] wrote, so they must also “use [their] influence and example to promote the discharge of the same duty by others…. If, by late breakfasts, irregular hours for meals, and other hinderances of this kind, she interferes with, or refrains from promoting regular industry in others, she is accountable to God for all the waste of time consequent on her negligence.” Even the most mundane affairs took on eternal import when viewed through the lens of accountability. Families, communities, and even the nation were to be formed along the same industrious lines as the saved individual. Antebellum Protestants did not emphasize discipline for the sole purpose of molding good workers, even if that was not an unwelcome side effect. Discipline freed the time needed to devote to their own and others’ salvation in the midst of their busy lives….

Women were often at the forefront of lay efforts at saving souls. Even as Martha Ramsay daily struggled to find personal peace, she also worried that the cares of everyday life imperiled her loved ones’ eternal welfare. In September 1795, she asked God for “the thorough conversion of a very near and dear friend” and “that my dear husband may be preserved from worldly entanglements, and enabled so to manage his earthly affairs, that they may never interfere with his heavenly business.”…
Learn more about Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction at the Oxford University Press website.

Cover story: Damned Nation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stuart B. Schwartz's "Sea of Storms"

Stuart B. Schwartz is the George Burton Adams Professor of History and chair of the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University. His many books include All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Sea of Storms: A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Sea of Storms catches a major turning point in the history of governmental response to natural disasters. The year 1780 created an extraordinary challenge for all the nations and colonies of the Caribbean. In that year, eight hurricanes made landfall in the region, among them the "Great" hurricane, the deadliest storm in the history of the Caribbean. Until the late 18th century, most countries and European empires had left disaster relief to the Church or to private charities, but this storm had roared up the chain of the Lesser Antilles during the American Revolution for independence when the Caribbean was awash with Spanish, English, and French ships and troops. The storm killed over 30,000 people, destroyed whole fleets, disrupted commerce, and along with the other storms, devastated the slave-based plantation economies of Martinique, Jamaica, Barbados and other islands. For the first time England's Parliament, realizing that the plantation economies had to be restored, sent significant funds for disaster relief to its colonies, fearing that not to do so might lead the discontented island colonies to join the continental rebels. As page 99 shows, the French governor of Martinique took a similar position, writing to Paris: "In this dreadful circumstance, it was absolutely necessary to distribute relief to the victims."

The great hurricane of 1780 and the other storms of that year proved to be a point of departure. Decisions in that year about governmental responsibility in the face of calamity had been shaped by politics as well as moral and charitable concerns, and that would become a recurrent aspect of the ways in which governments would respond to communal catastrophes thereafter. The questions generated by such intervention: are disasters a private or public matter? is disaster relief a basic human right? who should benefit from relief? and how can it be best provided without creating dependency or moral hazard? have remained at the heart of a debate that still rages today.
Learn more about Sea of Storms at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 23, 2015

Udi Greenberg's "The Weimar Century"

Udi Greenberg is assistant professor of history at Dartmouth College.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Weimar Century: German Emigres and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War, and reported the following:
As it happens, Page 99 provides a snapshot of The Weimar Century’s broader story: how ideas and political traditions from Germany’s Weimar Republic (1918-1933) became integral to American thought, institutions, and diplomacy in the early Cold War. The book charts the remarkable influence that German émigrés, who fled the Nazis to the United States and then became members of the American intellectual and diplomatic establishment, exerted on the construction of American global hegemony after World War II.

The page is part of a section that tells the surprising story of Ernst Fraenkel, a renowned Socialist émigré who (almost by accident) became a top official in the U.S. occupation of Southern Korea after World War II. In interwar Germany, Fraenkel had been a rising star in the Socialist Party who sought to bolster democratic institutions and welfare policies. Drawing on this experience as he surveyed Korea after the war, Fraenkel was profoundly convinced that a stable democracy could only flourish if it developed through broad government programs for social and economic development. He therefore utilized his influence in the U.S. embassy in Seoul to promote massive American investments in Korean agriculture, industry, labor organization, and education. Ironically, at the very time that growing American panic over perceived “subversive” Communism led to purge of liberals and Socialists at home, figures such as Fraenkel were able to promote Socialist agendas abroad.

Equally important, Fraenkel’s story shows how political traditions from Weimar also had dark and tragic consequences in the early Cold War. Like almost all Weimar Socialists, Fraenkel was fiercely anti-Communist, and he believed the Soviet Union to be the source of overwhelming evil. In the Korean peninsula, this long-standing anti-Communist phobia translated into energetic advocacy to terminate U.S.-Soviet cooperation, ultimately resulting in the formation of two hostile states and the division of the Korean peninsula. Indeed, Fraenkel’s belief in the impossibility of coexistence between democracy and global Communism was so intense that he never pondered the high price of Korea’s division—the breaking of families, the enshrinement of tension, and the permanent destruction of Korean unity. Page 99 thus encapsulates how German ideas helped both expand and harshly limit the postwar political imagination.
Learn more about The Weimar Century at Udi Greenberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Judy Wajcman’s "Pressed for Time"

Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of several books on technology and culture, such as The Social Shaping of Technology, Feminism Confronts Technology and TechnoFeminism.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism, and reported the following:
Page 99 does contain one of the major themes of my book, but only narrowly. It introduces a study I conducted on how multimodal digital connectivity affects knowledge workers. That is, how having 24/7 communication via mobile phones and the Internet affects how work is organised and performed. On page 99 there is a Table showing that the average duration of work episodes during the day is just under three minutes. But it is only in subsequent pages that I build an argument about the relationship between technology and how we interpret and use it.

You learn later in the chapter that while most communication is now mediated by technologies, it is not the technology itself that dictates the pace of work. For example, I argue that email and information overload have become symbolic of work stress. The fact that we feel the need to respond to email quickly is not due to the speed of data transmission, but because of collective norms that have built up about appropriate response times.

So page 99 does give the reader a sense of the broader themes of the book: our perception that the pace of life is faster than it used to be and that digital gadgets are to blame. That we live in an acceleration society, constantly feeling rushed and pressed for time. But the book critiques the idea that digital technologies are inexorable driving acceleration of everyday life.

If we feel pressed for time today, it is not because of technology per se, but because of the priorities and parameters we ourselves set. The contemporary imperative of speed is as much a cultural artifact as it is a technological one. Digital time is no different – ultimately it needs to be understood as a product of the ways in which humans use, interact with, and indeed build technology. If we want to take more control of our time, and feel less pressed for time, we must contest the imperative of speed.
Learn more about Pressed for Time at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Raphael Brewster Folsom's "The Yaquis and the Empire"

Raphael Brewster Folsom is assistant professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Yaquis and the Empire: Violence, Spanish Imperial Power, and Native Resilience in Colonial Mexico, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The devil was everywhere in Jesuit writings about this period, a testament to the deep antagonism between the Jesuits and most of the Yaquis, and also to the vigorous persistence of non-Christian practices on the Yaqui mission. In one revealing passage, Pérez de Ribas described a Yaqui woman telling a Jesuit, “Father, look at the other side of the river; do you see how many hills, mountains, cliffs and peaks there are? In all of them, we had our superstitions; we revered all of them, and celebrated there.” The Yaquis invested the landscape with supernatural meanings, and the Jesuits were too few and too vulnerable to do much about it. The earliest accounts of the Yaqui mission told of sorcerers practicing black magic among the Yaqui people and conspiring to kill Jesuit missionaries. Satan appeared regularly among the Yaquis, sometimes in the form of an old man, sometimes as a young one. One Yaqui confessed that Satan had come to him in the form of a crow and had told him to kill all the Spaniards. Pérez de Ribas was so concerned about the devil’s grip on the Yaquis that he ordered a six-volume treatise on demonic magic by the Jesuit Martín del Río. After perusing it, he concluded that all the evil enchantments described in del Río’s book could be observed on the Yaqui mission. Indeed, Satan was so well established, and his cult had reached such heights of sophistication among the Yaquis, that it seemed that the devil had established an “endowed professorship” (cátedra) of the dark arts on the shores of the Yaqui River.
I couldn’t be happier with the results of this test. Page 99 begins with the heading, “The Devil and Yaqui Resistance.” Since the book is all about the relationships that came into existence between the Yaqui people of northern Mexico and the European representatives of the Spanish empire, this section is a good representative of the book as a whole. Jesuit missionaries first arrived among the Yaquis in 1617 under peculiar circumstances. The Yaquis had recently thrashed Spanish-led forces on the battlefield, not once or twice, but three times. Then, to the bafflement of the Spanish, the Yaquis sued for peace, offering fourteen Yaqui children to the Spanish as hostages, which was a common practice in northwest Mexico among native people who wanted to strike an alliance. The Spanish, in turn, offered Jesuits. There were still many Yaquis who did not want the Spanish as allies, and wanted Jesuits among them even less. So when the Jesuits arrived, they were horrified at the abundance of what they thought were Satanic practices. Andrés Pérez de Ribas, the lead missionary, claimed that Satan was so well established among the Yaquis that he had created an “endowed professorship” (cátedra) of the dark arts on the Yaqui River. The Jesuits were too few and too scared to destroy Yaqui religious practices. Over time, the Jesuits had a profound influence on spiritual life among the Yaquis. But “the Devil”—the Jesuit term for Yaqui adherence to ancient ritual practices—was never far off. Page 99 of The Yaquis & The Empire is a small but representative slice of a larger story about people of unimaginably disparate cultures learning to live together under circumstances of extreme violence and political turbulence. Fans of Brian Moore’s novel, Black Robe, and the wonderful movie of the same name, will find much of interest here. (In my humble opinion).
Learn more about The Yaquis and the Empire at the Yale University Press website.

Cover story: The Yaquis and the Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Srimati Basu's "The Trouble with Marriage"

Srimati Basu is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of She Comes to Take Her Rights: Indian Women, Property, and Propriety, the editor of Dowry and Inheritance (Issues in Contemporary Indian Feminism series), and the coeditor of Conjugality Unbound: Sexual Economy and the Marital Form in India.

Basu applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India, and reported the following:
I was hoping that page 99 would contain one of the legal cases animating The Trouble with Marriage, which demonstrate the quotidian ways in which marriage, parenting, labor or care are shaped and contested. But page 99 has few words on it. It depicts life in the courtroom statistically and visually, dominated by an image of a confinement cell [inset, below left; click to enlarge ] and an analysis of court data. One may read these to reveal critical themes nonetheless.

Page 99 is part of Chapter 4, “Justice Without Lawyers?: Living the Family Court Experiment,” literally the core of this project. I read about the establishment of new Family Courts in India which would generally exclude lawyers, with the goal of enhancing people’s direct engagement with legal matters and providing a less alienating, more gender equality friendly space. My book began as a legal ethnography of the Kolkata courts, spanning a decade of fieldwork. It grew to encompass the governance of family law alongside that of domestic violence and rape, in courts and police stations and mediation organizations. But life in the Family Courts is the ethnographic center of the book, and page 99 appropriately brings us there, with considerations of whether the court has improved the speed of clearing cases. The broader contention of the chapter -- that set-aside courts for special issues can move cases along, but the new format still works through familiar forms of legal discipline and process – can be gleaned from the two brief paragraphs of text.

The confinement cell reminds us, similarly, that the idea of a new-style courtroom may be different from its materialization: the jail-like enclosure seems at odds with the notion of a comfortable, friendly space. The image is a reminder of my argument that these courts may have enhanced the unilateral power of judges in curbing that of lawyers, rather than empowering litigants. The cell typically houses poor men who might be jailed for failing to pay (or being unable to pay) maintenance: while husbands routinely default on maintenance, poorer men become symbols of the State’s serious intent. Women’s economic woes in marital trouble range across classes. The image also graphically conveys a point made in several chapters, that using the protective provisions of criminal law gives women some leverage against the disadvantages generated by gender-neutral civil marriage law; however, criminal law works through profoundly patriarchal notions of harm and reparation.
Learn more about The Trouble with Marriage at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sonia A. Hirt's "Zoned in the USA"

Sonia A. Hirt is Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. She publishes on the history and theory of cities. She is the author of Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space in the Post-socialist City and coeditor most recently of The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs.

Hirt applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The third important legal development [in the history of building regulations] was the application of the nuisance doctrine in 12th-century England (Fifoot 1970 [1949]). Initially, the concept was employed only by the Crown against perceived encroachments upon royal lands and public roadways. But in the subsequent centuries, the doctrine became widely used by private individuals who could sue other private individuals to recover damages. Simultaneously, the number of activities covered under the doctrine expanded greatly and included issues related to public health and safety. In one old case with exclusionary modern-day undertones, offenders were accused of having subdivided their houses to the point where they had become “overpestered” with the poor (Abrams and Washington 1989).

The Renaissance (1400-1600) and Baroque (1600-1750) marked the dawn of Western modernity and brought about a new attitude toward city-building that centered on formal, pre-calculated notions of order and of standardization of space. These principles followed from the widely held belief of Renaissance and Baroque artists and scientists in universal verities that underlie both good social organization and good city form (Benevolo 1981). They were manifested in the design of the grandest and best-known public spaces and structures constructed during the period (e.g., London’s St. Paul and Rome’s St. Peter), and in the substantial reshaping of the street network and city-block structure that took place in many of Europe’s major cities. They were also reflected in an increased level of urban regulation. The latter was grounded as much in cultural change as it was in practical matters. Many European cities grew immensely during the 15th and 16th centuries, which led to health and congestion problems of proportions unseen before. The population of London, for instance, grew multifold; construction spilled well beyond the city walls, and living conditions radically worsened. Elizabeth I responded by passing a decree that made it an offense to construct any new buildings within the cities of London and Westminster or within three miles of their gates. Another decree mandated that new buildings be constructed using existing foundations. The subdivision and subletting of existing houses was banned.

Later decrees regulated building methods and materials in much greater detail. London’s great fire of 1666 led to the Building Act of 1667 took urban regulations to a whole new level, technically in the name of fire safety but ultimately transforming the overall city structure. Narrow alleys were prohibited and new streets had to conform to new standards. Notably, buildings were divided into four categories based on the type of streets they faced, but also based on class. Each type was subject to different rules for building materials, wall thickness and heights.
Page 99 of Zoned in the USA recounts some of the threshold moments in the history of Western urban building regulations. Specifically, it refers to the emergence of nuisance doctrine in medieval England. Nuisance doctrine is a concept that dates back to Roman times and forms the basis of many building, environmental and land-use laws that are in force today. Its basic idea is that property owners should not use their land and property in ways harmful to the ways their neighbors may use and enjoy theirs (Sic utere tuo, ut alienum non laedas or Use what is yours in a way that you don't harm what is another's). Page 99 gives examples of some surprising early applications of the nuisance doctrine; i.e., to control the social class of renters in London. Later, p. 99 deals with the development of street and building regulations from the Renaissance and the Baroque—regulations that have influenced our contemporary laws as well.

The broader point of p. 99 and the history chapters of Zoned in the USA is to highlight continuity and rupture in the way people control the built environment around them. Even though many contemporary building laws can be traced to laws from the past, the sheer extent to which we regulate the built environment today is unprecedented. American land-use and building laws, specifically, are shockingly detailed to the point of being oppressive (a strange phenomenon, I think, in a country where there is so much talk about freedom and property rights). Spontaneity is either outright outlawed or can operate only under severe restrictions. If you do not believe me, try to open a small business or rent a part of your home to a friend, if your home is located in a district labeled exclusively for single-family homes in any American city, town, or suburb. I predict you will encounter various legal problems. Our contemporary zoning laws are much more apt at controlling private activity as well as social class than those of medieval England.
Learn more about Zoned in the USA at the Cornell University Press website.

Writers Read: Sonia A. Hirt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lesley J. Gordon's "A Broken Regiment"

Lesley J. Gordon is professor of history at the University of Akron, author of General George E. Pickett in Life and Legend, and coeditor of Inside the Confederate Nation: Essays in Honor of Emory M. Thomas.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War, and reported the following:
In my book, I wanted to examine some of the complexities and ironies that emerged in the experiences of a ragtag Civil War regiment that simply struggled to survive war. The more I researched them, the more it became clear that this unit was not an exemplar of high military honor or heroism. They faltered in battle, bristled against commanders and bickered amongst themselves. After their final ignominy of capture and imprisonment, they then recounted to the postwar public a selective story that idealized their experiences. Still, they were a remarkable group who stood loyal to one another and persevered through challenges great and small.

Page 99 comes early in a chapter focused on Portsmouth, Virginia and titled “A Perfect Village.” During the summer and fall of 1863, while the major armies participated in famed campaigns like Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chickamauga, the nomadic 16th Connecticut settled into another new garrison, largely on the margins of the war. Here, the regiment created a camp that was so comfortable and pleasant--with a church, a theater, cabins, plentiful food and family visits --that it hardly seemed like soldiering at all. On this particular page, I describe their mixed reaction to women visiting. Some like Pvt. John Cuzner, who discouraged his mother and sweetheart from coming, believed military camp was “no place for women . . . too much vulgar talk.” However, others welcomed them, maintaining that their presence improved morale and decorum. This page also describes the soldiers’ generally upbeat reception toward Sarah Burnham, the mother of Lt. Col. John Burnham. She would spend several months with the men, caring for the sick and nursing many back to health. Corporal Woodford called Mrs. Burnham a “perfect angel compared to her son.”

Yet such calmness and good will did not last: when ordered to move further south in January 1864, members spitefully burned the camp to the ground rather than hand it over to another regiment. Within a year nearly the entire regiment would be captured and sent to Andersonville prison where scores would suffer and die from malnutrition and disease. The contrast to Portsmouth could not be starker. Unlike many of the regiment’s more turbulent experiences, Page 99 offers a behind the scenes glimpse into a rare moment of domestic calm during the every-changing reality of soldier life during wartime.
Learn more about A Broken Regiment at the Louisiana State University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 16, 2015

W. Joseph Campbell's "1995: The Year the Future Began"

W. Joseph Campbell is a professor of communication at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of six non-fiction books, including Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism (2010) and Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies (2001).

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his recently published book, 1995: The Year the Future Began, and reported the following:
I am intrigued by the Page 99 Test, about which I learned only recently. I described the concept to a class of honors students in Fall semester 2014, but they were mostly skeptical. I am undeterred, though, and intend to incorporate the benchmark test in semesters ahead.

Page 99 of my latest book, 1995: The Year the Future Began, offers a revealing glimpse at one of the most important lasting consequences of 1995 and the so-called “Trial of the Century” — the proceedings where O.J. Simpson answered charges of slashing to death his former wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, outside her Los Angeles townhouse in June 1994.

The Simpson trial spread like a stain across much of 1995, running from late January to early October. The trial was broadcast live from the Los Angeles courtroom of Judge Lance Ito and was a media circus from the start. It was both riveting and appalling, and invited extravagant characterizations: The case was likened to “a modern day Greek tragedy,” to “the Othello of the Twentieth Century,” to a “Bayeux tapestry of contemporary American culture.”

But with the critical distance offered by the passing of nearly 20 years, those characterizations seem hyperbolic, and even a bit absurd, especially as the Simpson case exerted almost no lasting influence on American jurisprudence and legal doctrine. Nor did the case offer long-term lessons about race relations in America. (Simpson, who serving a prison sentence in Nevada on criminal convictions unrelated to the 1994 murders, is a black former professional football star. His former wife and Goldman were white.) Simpson’s acquittal in the “Trial of the Century” shocked many white Americans and elated many African Americans. Those disparate reactions were striking and widely discussed in October 1995, but they had little lasting effect. Polling data show that the Simpson verdicts did not leave enduring strains in white-black relations in America.

The most important lasting contributions of the Simpson trial came in introducing to mainstream American culture the promise and potential of forensic DNA testing. Although the prolonged presentation of genetic evidence was the trial’s most tedious stretch, the Simpson case allowed the American public to gain familiarity with DNA testing, a familiarity that has deepened since 1995. Simpson’s acquittal — due in measure to the sloppy collection and analysis of genetic evidence — also encouraged a push for improved procedures in gathering, storing, processing, and analyzing DNA evidence samples.

Moreover, as I write on page 99:
The trial’s focus on DNA anticipated and perhaps stimulated broad popular interest in DNA and its seemingly wondrous capabilities. Prime-time television series such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spinoffs draw on techniques of DNA collection and testing and have elevated the work to a dramatic and decisive level. Such portrayals of criminalists and detectives have been criticized for simplifying and minimizing the intricacies of forensic analysis, but the shows are undeniably popular. …

The challenges Simpson’s lawyers posed to forensic evidence collection in the 1995 case clearly inspired a CSI episode that aired in October 2002, on the seventh anniversary of Simpson’s acquittal. The show, titled “The Accused Is Entitled,” was about a shaggy-haired young movie star named Tom Haviland, played by actor Chad Michael Murray, who was accused of fatally stabbing two fans in a sexual encounter in his hotel suite. Haviland hired a high-profile lawyer and a veteran criminalist who turned up flaws and deficiencies in the CSI team’s evidence-gathering procedures and in effect put the team on trial.
Learn more about 1995: The Year the Future Began at the University of California Press website and at Campbell’s 1995 Blog. FAQs about the book and the year are accessible at Campbell’s personal website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 15, 2015

William J. Maxwell's "F.B. Eyes"

William J. Maxwell is associate professor of English and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches modern American and African American literature. He is the author of New Negro, Old Left: African American Writing and Communism between the Wars and the editor of Claude McKay's Complete Poems.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, and reported the following:
If the “Page 99 Test” bets that the arbitrary can reveal the typical, then it pays off in the case of F.B. Eyes. Here, page 99 reveals one of the book’s consistent themes: the angry and disproportionate reaction of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to any printed criticism, a failing that also shows the Bureau’s admirable respect for the power of literature. In the Cold War year of 1950, the lawyer and investigative journalist Max Lowenthal published a thick anti-FBI expose simply titled The Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Hoover Bureau’s appetite for “rumors, suspicion, and gossip,” Lowenthal concluded, gave the lie to its reputation as “the infallible watchdog of American security and liberty.” As page 99 of my book notes, “Lowenthal, a former Supreme Court clerk, onetime congressional aide, and friend of President Truman, derived little comfort from the quiet approval of his indictment at the White House: word alone of his book’s appearance attracted a prodigious Bureau counterattack. Wilting under fire, sales of The Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to break seventy-five hundred, disappointing distinguished independent publisher William Sloane.” Despite this quantifiable success, Hoover remained furious that his agents had failed to pick up scent of Lowenthal’s book prior to an advanced notice in Publishers Weekly. “‘Mr. Hoover, if I had known this book was going to be published,’ swore Louis Nichols, head of the FBI Crime Records Division, ‘I’d have thrown my body between the presses and stopped it.’”

Nichols and other Bureau critic-spies failed to block the publication of most of their literary targets: as F.B. Eyes demonstrates, evidence of book-killing, stop-the-presses censorship is sparse in the long history of Bureau literary criticism. What is far more plentiful is proof of the FBI’s special interference in African American literature—my book’s central subject. Drawing on over 14,000 pages of newly released FBI files, many of which can be found at the book’s companion website, F.B. Eyes exposes the Bureau’s intimate scrutiny of five decades of African American poems, plays, essays, and novels. Starting in 1919, year one of Harlem’s renaissance and of Hoover’s career at the Bureau, secretive FBI “ghostreaders” monitored the latest developments in African American letters. By the time of Hoover’s death in 1972, these ghostreaders knew enough to simulate a sinister black literature of their own. The official aim behind the Bureau’s close reading was to anticipate political unrest. Yet FBI surveillance grew to influence the creation and public reception of African American literature in the heart of the twentieth century.

Taking its title from Richard Wright’s poem “The FB Eye Blues,” F.B. Eyes details how the FBI threatened the international travels of African American writers and prepared to jail dozens of them in times of national emergency. All the same, it shows that the Bureau’s paranoid style could prompt insightful criticism from Hoover's ghostreaders and creative replies from their literary targets. For authors such as Claude McKay, James Baldwin, and Sonia Sanchez, the suspicion that government spy-critics tracked their every word inspired rewarding stylistic experiments as well as disabling self-censorship. In the end, then, F.B. Eyes illuminates both the serious harms of state surveillance—emphasized on page 99—and some of the ways in which imaginative writing can withstand and exploit it.
Visit the F.B. Eyes companion website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

J. Holstein, R.S. Jones and G. Koonce's "Is There Life After Football?"

James A. Holstein is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University. He is the author, with Jaber F. Gubrium, of The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in the Postmodern World.

Richard S. Jones is Professor of Sociology and Faculty Athletics Representative at Marquette University. He is the author of Doing Time: Prison Experience and Identity with Thomas J. Schmid.

George E. Koonce, Jr. played professional football for a decade, the majority of those years with the Green Bay Packers, with whom he won the Super Bowl XXXI title. After the NFL he held positions as Senior Associate Athletic Director and Director of Development at Marquette University, Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Director of Player Development for the Packers, and Special Assistant to the Athletic Director at East Carolina University. Koonce is currently Vice President of Advancement at Marian University.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Is There Life After Football? Surviving the NFL, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Is There Life After Football? reveals facets of post-NFL life that will surprise most NFL fans. We already know about the sensational successes and failures some players experience when they retire: the millionaire media superstars on one hand, the tragic tales of Junior Seau, who committed suicide, or Warren Sapp who went spectacularly broke, on the other. But life after football is full of much more routine—yet daunting—challenges, such as those faced by Brandon Gold on page 99. The book isn’t an apology for spoiled players, but it does offer a window into their sometimes troubled worlds.

Gold had it all. As he tells us, he was a good looking white guy who signed one really lucrative NFL contract, won a Super Bowl, and made a Pro Bowl roster. So what could possibly be Gold’s problem? By his own account, his career ended with a whimper, not a bang. Injury cost him his blazing speed and no team signed him when his contract expired. He didn’t exactly retire, and he wasn’t exactly fired. He was just cut off from a dream he’d lived since the second grade when he’d decided all he wanted in life was to play in the NFL.

When Gold’s dream disappeared, he had no clue about what came next. He’s lived a decent life since then, making various “career moves” that haven’t exactly panned out. He doesn’t really have a job, nor is he passionate about much of anything. He’s depressed, aimless, lost. He shares this fate with hundreds of other former players. They experience a sort of culture shock that cuts them off from the camaraderie of the locker room, denies them the decadence of “livin’ large” with their fellow players, eliminates the comfort and security of having lives completely structured for them, and puts an end to the adulation of millions who exalt their “gloried selves.” On top of this, most former players feel the pain of the gridiron every day of their post-football lives. Gold is one of the lucky ones. He’s still relatively fit and active. But when he recently underwent a physical exam, his doctors looked at his full-body MRI and asked him, “What kind of car accident were you in?” Gold hadn’t been in a car crash; he’d been in the NFL.
Learn more about Is There Life After Football? at the NYU Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Frederick Rowe Davis's "Banned"

Frederick Rowe Davis is associate professor of history at Florida State University. A lifelong birder and naturalist, he is author of The Man Who Saved Sea Turtles. He lives with his son in Tallahassee, Florida.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology, and reported the following:
Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology traces the parallel development of chemical insecticides and the science of toxicology across the twentieth century. Page 99 falls in the middle of a Chapter 4: “The Toxicity of Organophosphate Chemicals.” The page reveals how officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed novel synthetic insecticides in the years following World War II. As Chief of the Division of Pharmacology at FDA, Arnold J. Lehman presented an important review in 1948: “The Toxicology of the Newer Agricultural Chemicals.” Lehman compared the toxicities of two dozen insecticides including chlorinated hydrocarbons like DDT, organophosphates like TEPP and Parathion, and pesticides derived from plants like nicotine. By 1948, DDT was becoming the most popular insecticide in America.

Lehman used DDT as a reference standard. He constructed a hierarchy of insecticides based on their acute oral toxicities as well as the toxicity compared to DDT. Earlier in the book, I examine the development of the median lethal dose (LD50) as the standard measurement of acute toxicity at the University of Chicago Toxicity Laboratory under the direction of E.M.K. Geiling. Thus, Lehman could state that DDT had an LD50 of 250 mg/kg. In contrast, TEPP’s LD50 was 2 mg/kg (125 times more toxic than DDT) and Parathion’s was 3.5 mg/kg (35 times more toxic than DDT). By comparing the toxicity of DDT with organophosphate insecticides, Lehman demonstrated the relatively low acute toxicity of DDT (and the much higher toxicity of the organophosphates).

Thus, page 99 of Banned stands right at an important crossroads in this history of pesticides and the science of toxicology. Even as farmers began to use massive quantities of DDT, other chlorinated hydrocarbons, and even organophosphates, scientists at the FDA and the Chicago Tox Lab were revealing the toxicity of such agricultural chemicals. Subsequent chapters detail how Congress grappled with the toxicity of these chemicals, but it was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring that revealed to the public the dangers of DDT and the organophosphates to wildlife, ecosystems, and humans. Banned reveals a tragic irony in use of pesticides following the DDT ban in 1972.
Learn more about Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology at the Yale University Press website.

Cover story: Banned.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Valerie Sperling's "Sex, Politics, and Putin"

Valerie Sperling is Professor of Political Science at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia, and reported the following:
On page 99, we find ourselves at the heart of the book’s argument, surrounded by evidence of female sexuality being used in the service of male political authority in Putin’s Russia. The book on the whole looks at how politicians and political activists across the Russian political spectrum use gender stereotypes about femininity and masculinity, as well as homophobia, to bolster their legitimacy and to undermine their opponents. Page 99 sports several examples of pro-Putin activists using female sexuality to show that Putin is desirable both as a man and as a state leader.

Putin’s masculinity was a political trademark of his regime starting almost immediately after his ascension to power as Russian president in 2000. This intensified over the course of his first three terms in office (the first two as president, and the third as prime minister). Images of Putin flying fighter jets, subduing a Siberian tiger, driving a Formula One racing car, or going fishing and horseback riding without his shirt, were staples in the Russian media. But masculinity is not only about what men do. A male politician’s “manly” image is also enhanced by attractive young women’s support for him. Putin’s image-makers embraced this tactic.

In October 2010, as a gift for Putin’s 58th birthday, twelve female students and alumni of Moscow State University’s prestigious journalism department published a calendar featuring photos of themselves in lingerie, each woman suggesting herself as a potential lover for Mr. Putin. In a similar vein, in July 2011 an all-female group called “Putin’s Army” announced an “I’ll Rip [it] for Putin” contest via an internet video clip that ended with a cleavage-boasting young woman ripping open her tank top to demonstrate her dedication to Putin. That same month, a bikini carwash took place in Moscow in Putin’s honor, where scantily-clad young women from the “I really do like Putin” group volunteered to wash Russian-made cars – endorsed by Putin -- for free. Putin’s “birthday gifts” over the next few years also highlighted his desirability and manly strength.

On page 99, we learn that Putin’s Army and the “I really do like Putin” group were not spontaneous manifestations of support for Putin, but rather, were projects of the Kremlin-sponsored youth organization, Nashi (“Ours”).

While shedding light on the use of these tactics in Putin’s Russia, Sex, Politics, and Putin also reveals the extent to which political discourse in any country depends on gender stereotypes.
Learn more about Sex, Politics, and Putin at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Peter Hancock's "Hoax Springs Eternal"

Peter Hancock is Provost Distinguished Research Professor, Pegasus Professor, and Trustee Chair in the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Hoax Springs Eternal: The Psychology of Cognitive Deception, and reported the following:
I have been asked to consider the page ninety-nine test. This enquires whether Ford Madox Ford's statement "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you," is accurate for my book? Well Ford may have been a ‘good soldier’ but his page ninety-nine test is full of sheep-dip. If you want to know about the quality of a book read it from first page to last and then provide your assessment. Quality, content, and importance by no means always co-vary and great insights may be obscure while the most meaningless drivel can be intoned in the most mellifluous of voices. However, the answer to this and all other human conundrums can be found on page ninety-nine of my new book Hoax Springs Eternal. Please buy it and enjoy it and I hope to earn enough in royalties this time to be able to afford a vente latte.
Learn more about Hoax Springs Eternal at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Andrew Shanken's "Into the Void Pacific"

Andrew Shanken is Associate Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley. His first book 194X, is a cultural history of American architecture, planning, and consumer culture in this formative and strained moment for the architectural profession. He also publishes widely on architecture and memory.

Shanken applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Into the Void Pacific: Building the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Into the Void Pacific has three photographs, which in fact do tell much about the central idea of the book and the fair. Arthur Brown's Tower of the Sun and Louis Hobart's triumphal arch were "Latin interlopers" in a fantasy of Pacific unity that morphed Asian, Latin American, and modern architecture. They represent the architectural conflict of the fair between an entrenched Paris-trained old guard desperate to reprise the grand manner of early 20th-century fairs and younger progressive architects who hoped to establish a free manner that reflected California and modern realities. Both, however, were working through related concepts of regionalism.

The Tower of Sun is a telling building because it comes from the hand of one of the most important--and now neglected--architects of the early 20th century. The tallest building, it was to be both the vertical axis and the icon of the fair, intended to be comparable to the Trylon and Perisphere of the New York World's Fair. Brown had designed most of the major Bay Area towers, including Coit Tower, and this was to be part of what he considered his skyline and legacy. But as he designed the tower, Brown experienced a crisis of confidence. He tried every imaginable "style" from Gothic to Art Deco and nothing seemed to work. His crisis is, in microcosm, the crisis of the architectural profession as the waning tradition of the Beaux-Arts gave way to modernism.
Learn more about Into the Void Pacific at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jack Glaser's "Suspect Race"

Jack Glaser is a social psychologist and professor and Associate Dean at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling, and reported the following:
I’m a social psychologist and a public policy professor, and I’m also a science geek and a stats teacher, so I don’t believe in fate. Still, I can enjoy a happy coincidence. So when the Campaign for the American Reader asked me to talk about page 99 of my new book, Suspect Race, and I opened it to find it is where I described how I got started down the path of studying racial profiling, I felt lucky.

From page 99:

In 1999, Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy published a cogent indictment of racial profiling, arguing in The New Republic that profiling violates basic American constitutional tenets and contributes to Black disenfranchisement and resentment. Notably, like others, Kennedy stipulated that racial profiling made sense on efficiency grounds. It was Kennedy’s excellent essay that sparked my interest in the subject. His legal and moral arguments, like those of many of his colleagues (e.g., Alschuler, 2002; Banks, 2001, 2003), were compelling. But his readiness to concede that profiling is efficient caught my attention.

My initial insight was that if police are already profiling, it would be difficult, if at all possible, to determine its effectiveness because they would have systematically altered the criminal justice landscape. Specifically, profiling would, regardless of any actual differences in offending rates, cause minorities to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system (including prison); if minorities are stopped more because they are minorities (and Whites are therefore stopped less because they are White), more minority (and fewer White) criminals will be caught.

This distortion will have two effects that may result in a self-perpetuating cycle: Stereotypes of minorities as criminals will be reinforced by their overrepresentation in the criminal justice statistics; and those stereotypes will be used to further rationalize continued racial profiling. At the time of this insight, without yet having given the subject much thought, it was only vaguely donning on me that another effect was that, as more minority criminals and fewer White criminals were caught and incarcerated, their proportions in the unincarcerated populations would change&there would be fewer minority and more White criminals at large. Consequently, profiling would lead to a double distortion of…
Page 99 tells the story of how, in 1999 (there’s 99 again!), I read an article by a prominent legal scholar who was arguing against racial profiling on Constitutional grounds, but conceding that profiling is rational and effective. As a stereotyping researcher, my first reaction was, “how can we know?” If police are profiling, then they will be skewing the criminal justice statistics that promote the belief that Blacks and Latinos commit more crime. I set about trying to explore this possibility empirically but quickly ran into “the benchmark problem,” which is that it’s nearly impossible to tell where profiling is happening because we do not have a proper benchmark that tells us what the appropriate stop/search rates would be.

To get around this problem, I ran mathematical simulations of what would happen if police stopped different groups at varying rates, also varying the rate at which the groups were committing crimes. The simulations showed how merely profiling will cause disparities in incarceration rates. What I hadn’t expected was that most of the scenarios showed that profiling was not good at increasing criminal capture rates. Even when the profiled group had a higher offending rate, profiling yielded modest gains. When the profiling was out of proportion with the offending, it was generally counterproductive.

Now I am working the Center for Policing Equity and some of the country’s biggest city police departments to improve the state of data on policing in America so that we can better determine the rate of profiling and the extent of its impact using real statistics, not just simulations.
Learn more about Suspect Race at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 5, 2015

Nicholas Wapshott's "The Sphinx"

Nicholas Wapshott's books include Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage. A former senior editor at the London Times and the New York Sun, he is now international editor at Newsweek.

Wapshott applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Sphinx: Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II, and reported the following:
By happy chance page 99 records the reaction of the isolationists to Kristellnacht, the first assault upon the Jews by Hitler’s thugs. Rabbis were forced on their hands and knees to scrub paving stones and Jewish women made to climb trees as their homes and businesses were trashed and synagogues set on fire. Nothing could more clearly define the difference between those like FDR who condemned the event as an offense against humanity and isolationists like US ambassador to London Joe Kennedy, ever the businessman, who on page 99 complained that “if you see anything good in dictatorships, you alienate the democracies.” FDR’s close friend and colleague Felix Frankfurter retorted that “It is the traditional function of American functionaries abroad not to see anything good in dictatorships.”

Also on page 99, Charles Lindbergh, the celebrity flier who leveraged his knack dickering with engines into an international celebrity franchise, taking an unusual line when France after the Kristellnacht horrors asked him to arrange the purchase of planes assembled in Canada from American parts (to circumnavigate the Neutrality Acts). “Those who take part in the establishment of factories in Canada for the production of warplanes for France will be considered successful only in case a war is fought,” he wrote in his diary. “Therefore, success would depend upon the destruction of European civilization.” He refused to help the French and France entered the war in September 1939 profoundly ill equipped to counter the German rapid blitzkrieg force which reached Paris in a matter of days. France fell not long after, to be torn in two between the occupied north and the Petain’s puppet regime in Vichy which has left a scar across French society to this day.

And on page 99 is Franklin Roosevelt’s dignified response to Kristellnacht, broadcasting to the American people that the notion of isolationism and keeping aloof from the impending world war was hopeless. “There can be no peace if the reign of law is to be replaced by a recurrent sanctification of sheer force. There can be no peace if national policy adopts as a deliberate instrument the threat of war.” Kennedy was appalled by the broadcast, calling it “a stab in the back.”
Learn more about The Sphinx at the publisher's website and follow Nicholas Wapshott on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Sphinx.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 4, 2015

David F. Krugler's "1919, The Year of Racial Violence"

David F. Krugler is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville.
He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back, and reported the following:
Page 99 [below left; click to enlarge] takes us to Chicago on February 17, 1919, and puts us right on Michigan Avenue, which was a sea of spectators that day as proud black Chicagoans gathered to cheer the men and officers of the 370th Regiment, Ninety-third Division, which had just returned from service on the Western Front during World War I. The 370th was an all-black unit—the U.S. Army was racially segregated at this time—and the regiment’s combat ferocity had earned its men the nickname of the “Black Devils” from the Germans. As the troops disembark from the La Salle Street station, they greet “the city with a whoop—the kind that caused the blood to curdle in the Germans’ veins.”

It just so happens that p. 99 is the first page of chapter 4 of my book, 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back, which is a study of how African Americans mounted a three-front campaign—in the streets, in the courts, and in the press—to defend themselves against mob attacks, unjust police practices, and biased court proceedings in 1919, one of the worst years of racial conflict in U.S. history. The page vividly captures some of the central topics of my book. We sense these veterans’ pride in their military service and their determination to make America safe for democracy. When Chicago’s mayor, “Big Bill” Thompson, tells the troops and their families and friends that “justice and equality” will soon come, the crowd roars its approval. But in 1919, many white Americans were determined to prevent African Americans from obtaining their constitutional rights and equality of opportunity. An epigraph on p. 99 has a entry from the personal diary of Major General Leonard Wood, who was stationed in Chicago when a race riot broke out that summer: “There has been considerable negro hunting today, and considerable excitement in some sections of the city. Some sniping.” As the chapter that begins on p. 99 explains, the intense violence directed toward African Americans during the riot brought blood to Chicago’s streets, but it also brought sustained armed resistance by blacks, some of whom were the very veterans who had marched down Michigan Avenue in February. (A bonus: because p. 99 starts a chapter, it’s short!)
Learn more about 1919, The Year of Racial Violence at the Cambridge University Press website.

Writers Read: David F. Krugler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 2, 2015

Emma Barrett and Paul Martin's "Extreme"

Emma Barrett is a Chartered Psychologist based in the United Kingdom. She is Honorary Researcher in Psychology at Lancaster University and is co-author, with Paul Martin, of Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits.

Barrett applied the “Page 99 Test” to Extreme and reported the following:
Extreme is about how people cope in hostile environments – places like the ocean depths, mountain tops, polar regions, and space. As well as surviving life-threatening physical dangers such as extremes of temperature or lack of breathable gases, they also deal with psychological hazards like fear, sleep deprivation, and monotony.

Some of the most significant psychological pressures are related to the social side of extreme activities. Being cooped up for long periods with other people can be enormously stressful and result in destructive interpersonal conflict. But being alone exposes people to the damaging effects of loneliness and to potential mental breakdown. The social psychological issues are so important that we devote three chapters to them, covering solitude, other people, and teamwork, and page 99 falls in the middle of them.

When an extreme mission is months or years long, it helps to have people around you that you care about and who care about you. Page 99 is part of a section about how couples and families endure extreme environments, including the tale of a unique study of two couples and a family stranded – deliberately – in the Arctic:
In a few cases, whole families have ventured into extreme environments. One example is the Sverdrup 2000 expedition, which consisted of three couples and a two-year-old child. The expedition, which was studied directly by psychologists, provides a rare opportunity to compare a team’s contemporaneous weblog account with a detailed psychological assessment.

The 1999-2000 expedition was intended to mark the centenary of Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup’s journey from Norway to Canada. It was the brainchild of adventurers Graeme and Lynda Magor, who believed that Sverdrup’s achievements should be brought to a wider audience. (Conspiracy theorists believed there was another reason for the trip: the team was made up of couples who were supposedly destined to keep the human race going in case the Millennium marked the end of civilization.) The plan was to retrace Sverdrup’s footsteps. They would overwinter, locked in ice in Hourglass Bay off the coast of Ellesmere Island, and then, once the weather improved, travel north by sledge to Bukken Fjord in Inuit territory.
The Magors and their two year old daughter Kezia were joined by two other couples. The entire team was studied by psychologists who, at NASA’s behest, were gathering data on how couples cope on long-duration missions, in light of a possible manned mission to Mars.

Through questionnaires and interviews, the psychologists built up a picture of how they coped. Potential polar bear attack and the near-crushing of their boat in the ice caused anxiety and fear. But the greatest source of stress turned out to be lack of privacy between (though not within) the couples. The presence of the toddler also caused tension. One man complained of being forced to endure Kezia’s tantrums (even in the Arctic, it seems, you can’t escape the ‘terrible twos’), and others thought the girl distracted her parents from team tasks.

Despite the stress, the team was happier much more often than it was miserable, and overall they all – including little Kezia - coped extremely well. And this is one of the key messages of the book: that no matter how stressful and challenging extreme environments are, people do tend to cope well and often emerge much stronger and more resilient as a result of their tough experiences.
Learn more about the book and authors at the official Extreme website.

--Marshal Zeringue