Monday, February 29, 2016

Jennifer Scanlon's "Until There Is Justice"

Jennifer Scanlon is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities in Gender and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College. She is the author of Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown.

Scanlon applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Until There Is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman, and reported the following:
My book provides the first biography of civil rights stalwart Anna Arnold Hedgeman, an understudied but enormously important activist, policy maker, and politician across the “long civil rights movement” of the 20th century. From her work in the YWCA in the 1920s, through her civil service work during the Great Depression, and from her work on behalf of fair employment in World War II, through her work on behalf of racial and gender justice in the 1960s and 1970s, Hedgeman was not only present in but vital to so many social movements that have shaped the nation.

Page 99 happens to open up chapter seven, “Fighting for Fair Employment, Fighting for Truman”, which outlines Hedgeman’s years in the nation’s capital, during which, she remembered later, she was “green enough” to think she and her colleagues could secure justice in the workplace for African Americans.
Still employed at the Office of Civilian Defense, Anna Arnold Hedgeman was sitting at her desk in the Empire State Building one snowy day in 1944 when A. Philip Randolph telephoned and asked to stop in to see her. He had come up a with a strategy for making the Fair Employment Practice Commission permanent, he told her, and he wanted her to lead the effort. Randolph envisioned a national push for equal opportunity in employment, equal wages for the same work, and a right to promotion without regard to race, creed, color, or origin. There would be an educational campaign and a drive for legislation granting far greater powers of enforcement to the FEPC than it had during wartime. The plan was in place, but he needed someone to implement it, and he hoped it would be Hedgeman. Believing in the cause, and in Randolph, she did not hesitate to sign on. The black press took note, referring to Hedgeman as the “young feminist” taking the helm.
Hedgeman’s years in Washington, D.C. were, in many ways, emblematic of her professional life more generally. With few resources, she gathered together a faithful staff and made inroads on fair employment. She drew on her various constituencies, including African Americans, women, and American Protestants. She also tangled with A. Philip Randolph and other men who refused to give her adequate respect or adequate means to fully wage the struggle. In the end, it was not possible to pass fair employment on a federal level at that time, but Hedgeman laid the groundwork for later civil rights successes.

While in Washington, she also fought for integration (as a black woman she could not eat with her white staff at any restaurants outside Union Station), and she organized the first attempt to have African Americans play a significant role in a presidential election (they helped Harry S. Truman win, in 1948).
It was a close race overall, and historians differ over whether it was labor, farmers, or African Americans who cinched the race for Truman. There is no doubt, though, that black Americans contributed to Truman’s margins in the key states of Ohio and Illinois, and they may have played the main role in securing his victory…. Anna Arnold Hedgeman took great pride, both publicly and in her writing, in having helped return to office the president she thought most likely to support fair employment and full and complete desegregation of the military, among other civil rights agendas.
In this, and in so many other of her efforts, Hedgeman worked in the center but on the margins, one of a powerful but largely unseen network of black women who played key roles in the African American freedom struggle.
Learn more about Until There Is Justice at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Andrew Cornell's "Unruly Equality"

Andrew Cornell is an educator and organizer who has taught at Williams College, Haverford College, and Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3. He is the author of Oppose and Propose! Lessons from Movement for a New Society.

Cornell applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century, and reported the following:
Turning to page 99 of Unruly Equality, we find a mild-mannered, mustachioed anarchist named Harry Kelly recounting the birth of the Mohegan Colony – a leafy planned community along the Hudson River, one hour north of New York City, developed by anti-capitalist radicals in 1923.
“Our purpose,” Kelly explained, “was to establish another children’s school, to be conducted along libertarian lines, to build a community wherein a larger measure of individual and social life could be realized.”
Although the page is devoted to describing a particular initiative, it does hint at the themes and questions animating the book as a whole. Many people assume anarchism – a political movement opposed to all forms of social and political domination – died out in the United States after the notorious Emma Goldman was deported during the First World War. In fact, Unruly Equality traces an unbroken line of anarchist activism and thought up through present-day phenomena such as Occupy Wall Street. It is true, however, that the face and focus of anarchism changed remarkably over the 20th century.

Prior to WWI, most U.S. anarchists were immigrant wage-laborers hailing from eastern and southern Europe. Some worked to organize radical unions while others practiced “propaganda of the deed,” such as the assassination of business-owners and politicians. Following a wave of wartime repression, however, many anarchists turned their energies to raising “free,” ethically-minded children and other gradualist methods wherein they attempted to “prefigure,” or model, an ideal world in their own lives. Anarchist “colonies,” such as Mohegan, were meant to contribute to this strategy, but their achievements proved disappointing. On page 99, I argue:
The colonists’ initial desire to create social change through libertarian education, was, by 1923, compounded by a plan to collectivize the process of social mobility. Anarchist colonies offered their residents more pleasant surroundings and greater freedom of expression in daily life, but also distanced them from opportunities to organize fellow workers and from the direct conflicts with authorities that characterized the lives of prewar urban anarchists.
This change of scenery signaled broader shifts in the anarchist movement towards middle-class constituencies and concerns. In the 1940s, anarchists allied with radical pacifists and avant-garde poets, laying the foundation for the Beat Generation and 1960s counter-culture. In the process, however, they ceded their connections to working-class life and the influence they once had within organized labor.
Learn more about Unruly Equality at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Clif Stratton's "Education for Empire"

Clif Stratton is Clinical Assistant Professor of History and Assistant Director of the Roots of Contemporary Issues program at Washington State University. He is the 2014 recipient of the American Historical Association's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award.

Stratton applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Education for Empire: American Schools, Race, and the Paths of Good Citizenship, and reported the following:
From page 99:
In the century’s second decade, the legacies of Richard and Samuel Chapman Armstrong loomed large as the board of education hoped that domestic and agricultural training would increase the “value” of non-white students “as a community asset for good citizenship.” The vocational committee assured board members that it remained proactive, “rather than commit the unpardonable sin of doing nothing.” More importantly, if Hawaiian parents and children objected to industrial agricultural training at Lahainaluna, the DPI [Department of Public Instruction] already had other means at their disposal through which to institutionalize manual work for at least a portion of the territory’s youth. Yet this program too, which relied on the criminalization of nonwhite children and adolescents and the parsimony to spend as little public money as possible on basic health and sanitary needs, met forceful resistance from those most affected by the structures of reform school and the subordinate paths to citizenship allotted them.
The page continues with a new section titled “Work and Criminality at Waiale‘e Boys’ Industrial School.” In April 1912, seven boys escaped the school grounds, taking cover in the sugar cane fields of the surrounding Kahuku plantation. Three of the boys made their way to nearby Waialua plantation camp before capture. The reform school’s superintendent Hugh Tucker could not fathom why the inmates (as he often referred to them in official correspondence), “…want to run off when their time is so near out…” (quoted from page 100). Waiale‘e embodied what public schooling in Hawai‘i had largely become by the early twentieth century – a project by which to normalize the territory’s youth to lives of manual labor, poverty, and disenfranchisement. But the escapes of Joseph Huli, Mike Hapai, Peter Pacheco, George Telles, Martin Telles, Palea Poe in the spring of 1912 signaled a groundswell of resistance to such subordination.

Page 99 encapsulates nicely Education for Empire’s central premise: that in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, American public schools became central to the nation’s imperial projects both at home and abroad. The chapter in which page 99 appears addresses the role of territorial school governance in Hawai‘i – a colonial crossroads in which America’s imperial ambitions for Asian markets and Pacific military dominance collided with Big Sugar’s demands for cheap Hawaiian, Chinese, and Japanese labor and haole visions of a white settlers’ paradise. But rather than the successful establishment of a white majority suited – in the minds of most haole – for republic government, the territory became a de facto oligarchy dominated by sugar. And the Department of Public Instruction increasingly focused on preparing natives and immigrants alike for cane work. Industrial training became the clarion call for uplifting the islands’ darker races, and by the turn of the century, its practitioners had successfully imported the manual training model to the mainland, where white school boards targeted Native Americans, blacks, Mexicans, and some European immigrants for industrial education and futures in menial drudgery. This, many white school administrators, teachers, and textbook authors argued, offered the best “path of good citizenship” for non-whites, foreign-born, and colonial subjects. But those affected fought back, demanding adequate facilities, their fair share of municipal and state educational funding, and a rigorous academic curriculum that would prepare them to participate in the American political economy as equals.
Learn more about Education for Empire at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Joshua O. Reno's "Waste Away"

Joshua O. Reno is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill, and reported the following:
My book is about how the lives of North Americans have been shaped by waste disposal, especially landfilling, without our being aware of it. Strangely, page 99 not only reflects that overall focus of my book, but also encapsulates my scholarly career!

Here is an excerpt from Page 99:
So much focus has gone into what consumers do or do not wantonly throw away that it is easy to forget that being a mass consumer—one who buys things in shops that are made somewhere else by someone else—is itself a decision. The understanding of choice in consumer societies is often limited to what we buy, not whether we do so; it therefore involves implicit assumptions about how people are related to things and to each other. The question that goes unasked (except by scavengers) is why anyone would choose to be a consumer at all, with so much perfectly good waste lying around. That is, why would anyone spend money on new goods when they could shop for free by touring the neighborhood landfill or diving into the Dumpsters behind the supermarket?
In this passage, which comes from the introduction to the third chapter, I argue that people do not scrounge for things in the garbage purely out of necessity, as if they had no other choice (after a zombie apocalypse, for example). Rather, scavenging itself is a choice; it can be regarded as liberating and exciting by those who do it, and not at all as an act of desperation. In fact, this was one of the central arguments of my very first publication (“Your Trash is Someone’s Treasure,” which appeared in the Journal of Material Culture in 2009). Then, I argued that people who scavenge waste from landfills are much like consumers: they are looking to improve themselves and build relationships by acquiring valuable things.

Some of the evidence from that initial publication appears again in this chapter. Over subsequent years, however, I realized that much more could be said about the relationship between scavenging from waste and buying things from a store. One reason that there is so much recoverable waste to be found in landfills is that consumers throw away perfectly good stuff. But there is another connection between mass consumption and waste disposal infrastructure, one that we are not meant to see. Producers and retailers routinely dispose of commodities that “spoil” or simply do not meet their own quality control standards, which not only provides salvageable goods (sometimes in large quantities), but also makes mass consumption a repetitive and worry-free ritual. The scavenger and the consumer are not only similar (in that they both want stuff), but their different choices are a product of mass waste disposal. This subtracts unwanted materials from the official sphere of exchange so that the commodities we wish to buy appear new and untroubled. And being exposed to so many perfectly reproduced and reliable commodities can make mass consumption appear like the only possible choice.

That is the focus of the book as a whole, not only what happens to our waste, but how its subtraction unknowingly constrains our experiences and imaginations.
Learn more about Waste Away at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Nancy Tomes's "Remaking the American Patient"

Nancy Tomes is SUNY Distinguished Professor of History at Stony Brook University and author of The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers, and reported the following:
My book is about when and why we started expecting patients to act like consumers. Why in order to get good medical care do Americans have to shop for it with such determination and skill? Contrary to popular assumption, the transformation of patients into consumers did not start with the coming of the Internet, or even the rebellious baby boomers of the 1970s. In fact, the use of the term “consumer” to mean “patient” dates from the 1920s, when the many ways that modern consumer culture, advertising, and medicine influenced each other became glaringly apparent, both in the doctor’s office and the drug store.

Page 99 appears in a chapter titled “the New Corner Store,” about the transformation of the old style pharmacy into the new style drug store of the 1920s and 1930s, the ancestors of today’s CVS and Walgreens. It follows a chapter titled “The High Cost of Keeping Alive” about why Americans were starting to complain about the size of their doctor’s bill. Interwar drug stores tried to position themselves as a convenient alternative to a costly doctor’s visit. On page 99, I am discussing consumer concerns about prescription drugs. Some patients were starting to demand that prescriptions not be written in Latin, so they could understand them better. But surprisingly, the price of prescription drugs was not a big source of concern. People used far fewer of prescription medicines than today, and their prices were still low in comparison to over the counter products. The big uptick in drug prices only started in the 1940s, as powerful new drugs under patent protection came on the American market.
But perhaps because the cost of prescription drugs remained comparatively small—on average only a few dollars--- the economic sleights-of-hand going on in the prescription department attracted less hostile commentary than did the changes in doctors’ billing practices. Since so many drugs were more or less equivalent, no single seller could raise prices very high without losing trade, and the cost differential between prescription and over-the-counter drugs remained relatively small. Moreover, prices for prescription medications did not vary as dramatically as did physicians’ fees. Pharmacists relied on standardized systems for calculating drug costs, such as the Evans Rule, used by the National Association of Retail Druggists and named in honor of its pharmacist inventor. In essence, these systems doubled the cost of the ingredients to cover containers and overhead and added a set rate for the labor of compounding the prescription, with an ultimate goal of achieving a profit of between 10 and 20 percent.
On page 99, I also discuss how pharmacists developed ciphers to ensure consistency in their pricing.
At a time when patients could repeatedly get the same prescription filled, so long as it was for non-habit-forming drugs, pharmacists also had to be careful not to vary prices, lest the refill cost be higher than the original. Instead of putting the price right on the label, pharmacists substituted ciphers: in the early 1900s, the phrase “COME AND BUY” stood for the numbers one through ten, so a dollar would be written “C.Y.Y.” In the late 1930s, the National Association of Retail Druggists had replaced the overt commercialism of the earlier code with a more neutral cipher, “PHARMOCIST,” in which a dollar would be written “P.T.T.” In another indication of price sensitivity, physicians and pharmacists developed codes to recognize very poor patients for whom the customary pricing should be waived. Explained Remington’s, “It frequently happens that physicians desire to indicate that a patient is poor and is a proper subject for charity”; in such cases, doctors would write the letter P in the lower corner of the prescription, “or if very poor PP.” Continued the text, “It is customary and humane to regard these marks if assured of their genuineness.”
How quaint this language of “customary and humane” sounds today. Drug companies and pharmacists once operated in a business culture where keeping prices low mattered even for prescription drugs. What happened to that world? In the rest of the book, I show how and why the pharmaceutical industry changed so that the “high price of keeping alive” came to apply to prescription drugs as well as physicians’ services. How did we get to a world in which Martin Shkreli can mark up the price of a drug by 5000 percent? Read Remaking the American Patient and find out why.
Learn more about Remaking the American Patient at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 19, 2016

Benjamin M. Jensen's "Forging the Sword"

Benjamin M. Jensen holds a dual appointment as a Donald L. Bren Chair of Creative Problem Solving at Marine Corps University and as a Scholar-in-Residence at the American University, School of International Service.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Forging the Sword: Doctrinal Change in the U.S. Army, and reported the following:
A strategic dilemma marks page 99 of Forging the Sword: Doctrinal Change in the U.S. Army. The section charts how the Clinton administration sought to reduce defense expenditures and transition to a Post-Cold War security environment. In the previous Bush administration, the national security team developed a two major theater war strategy to define national security priorities. This strategy, based in a large part on the Gulf War, called for maintaining enough military strength to fight two conflicts the size of Desert Storm/Desert Shield simultaneously.

These larger debates about national security strategy and defense posture provide the context in which the military profession develops new ways of thinking about warfare. These ideas form doctrine, organizing principles that shape how soldiers think about warfare. Central periods of military change often parallel fundamental changes to military doctrine. No change to armored and combined arms doctrine in the interwar period in Germany, no blitzkrieg.

My book explores how the military profession develops new doctrine through looking at the major ideas that shaped the U.S. Army from 1973 to 2008. What makes my work unique is that I focus on the military as a profession. Most treatments of doctrinal change tend to preface the constraints of military bureaucracy, searching instead for external shocks – from defeat in war to threats to budgets - that cause otherwise reluctant officers to change.

My work shows how officers solving new problems, from the dilemmas of combined arms in the Fulda Gap to modern counterinsurgency, changed the way they thought about warfare and initiated changes to their fighting organizations. The book is a good news story. It shows how even the largest, hierarchical organizations are capable of innovation. As such, it will be of interest to readers interested in modern military history, organizational change and innovation.
Learn more about Forging the Sword at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Elanah Uretsky's "Occupational Hazards"

Elanah Uretsky is Assistant Professor of Global Health, Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Occupational Hazards: Sex, Business, and HIV in Post-Mao China, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Occupational Hazards offers thoughts on state regulation of sexuality:
“The state,” argue Elizabeth Bernstein and Laurie Shaffner, “has a sexual agenda” (Bernstein and Shaffner 2005:xiii). In the West states rely on a moral vision to regulate sexual conduct. The Chinese state does not regulate sexual conduct. Instead, it has historically relegated sex in a way that allows individuals to express themselves sexually in spaces that protect the state from the threat of personal expression. Confucian order relegated erotic desire outside the home as a means of preserving both family and its associated state order. Prohibitions against sex, still for the purpose of state preservation, did not come until the late Qing dynasty when the Yongzheng Emperor declared that gender and not status should be used to structure China’s system of sexual values. He made this decision in an effort to avoid the potential disruption in marriage markets and a rise in concubinage that often preceded dynastic decline (Sommer 2000). Consequently, sex, which had been celebrated as a vital force of both health and enjoyment for the individual in premodern China, was suddenly transformed into a burden truly reserved to serve the state (Van Gulik 1974).
Discussions of sexuality in China often focus on an ongoing sexual revolution and awakening. But China has a long and rich sexual history that was traditionally celebrated as an essential part of life. But it was not only a private affair. As we see from the quote on page 99, sex was also integral to maintaining state order.

Confucian political order relied on a continuum between the individual, family, and state where the family was a microcosm of the government. An individual who had his personal and family affairs in order was capable of maintaining a harmonious state. While Confucius recognized the primordial function of sex he also recognized that erotic sex could introduce chaos into the family and hence the state. Erotic sex, he cautioned government officials, should thus be reserved for outside the home.

This continuum between state and individual still exists in China today. The communist party expects individuals to be loyal, first and foremost, to the state. This protects the state and supports its legitimacy. The post-Mao state has receded from many of its duties but it still monitors private life as a means of maintaining harmony and protecting party legitimacy. Representatives of the government and the Party are first and foremost expected to serve as moral role models. Any transgression on their part is a reflection on the Party. Many men in China still adhere to Confucian principles when it comes to their sexual lives. Stories of government officials and businessmen who keep multiple wives and/or lovers are not rare but these days their behavior is associated with inciting chaos in the government through corruption rather than protecting state order. Market reforms under a Leninist government have given rise to a series of activities needed to build the type of trust traditionally needed to redistribute resources within a Leninist economy, including the exchange of commercial sex between the businessmen and government officials who have fueled the rise of China’s economy. These practices are socially sanctioned but politically proscribed, leaving these men in a virtual vacuum where they strive to fulfill their Confucian ideals and serve their party obligations.

This argument is vital to the book, which demonstrates how these types of competing discourses incited and shaped China’s HIV epidemic.
Learn more about Occupational Hazards at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Carson Holloway's "Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration"

Carson Holloway is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and is the author of several works of political philosophy.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration: Completing the Founding or Betraying the Founding?, and reported the following:
Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration passes the “page 99 test.” The book is a detailed account of the political disputes between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson while both served in George Washington’s cabinet—Hamilton as the nation’s first secretary of the treasury and Jefferson as its first secretary of state. The book focuses especially on these two great men’s disagreements about the meaning of the Constitution and the scope of the power it bestows on the federal government, questions that are still very much with us today.

As it happens, page 99 is part of a discussion of Hamilton’s understanding of the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution. Such a discussion is an excellent window on the book as a whole because this is the most famous debate between Hamilton and Jefferson.

The public policy measure that provoked this argument was Hamilton’s plan for a national bank. Jefferson argued that the bank was unconstitutional. Since the Constitution does not mention any express power to create such an institution, the bank could only be authorized by the Necessary and Proper Clause, which empowers Congress to make any law “necessary and proper” to the execution of its expressly granted powers. Jefferson, however, insisted that “necessary” here meant “absolutely necessary.” A bank might make it easier for the government to exercise its taxing, spending, and borrowing powers, but it could not be said to be absolutely necessary to them. Therefore, according to Jefferson, it was unconstitutional.

In reply, Hamilton suggested that Jefferson was inventing a new interpretation of the Constitution in order to block a public policy—the bank—that he just did not like. Thus page 99 of my book begins as follows:
The unsoundness of Jefferson’s restrictive interpretation was further indicated, Hamilton argued, by its novelty. Such a conception had “never before” been “entertained” and was in fact inconsistent with the previously established practice of the government. As an example he pointed to the “act concerning light houses, beacons, buoys and public piers.” That act could only be “referred” to Congress’s enumerated power of “regulating trade,” according to Hamilton, and was in fact “fairly relative to it.” It was therefore constitutional according to Hamilton’s standards. Yet the act was certainly not “strictly necessary,” as Jefferson’s interpretation demanded. No one could contend that the Commerce power would be “nugatory” without the Congressional provision of such facilities. Hamilton suggested by this example that Jefferson’s was not the theory on which the government had in fact operated up to the time the bank became controversial and its opponents sought a constitutional argument against it.
Hamilton won this round. President Washington, persuaded by Hamilton’s arguments, signed the bank bill into law. But there were many more clashes to come—clashes that became more bitter and angry as Hamilton and Jefferson began to suspect each other of trying to undermine the Constitution and destroy the new republic.
Learn more about Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Amy E. Eckert's "Outsourcing War"

Amy E. Eckert is Associate Professor of Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is coeditor of The Future of Just War and Rethinking the 21st Century: "New" Problems, “Old” Solutions.

Eckert applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Outsourcing War: The Just War Tradition in the Age of Military Privatization, and reported the following:
The involvement of private military companies (PMCs) in war often becomes apparent only through dramatic, typically violent, incidents like the killing and mutilation of Blackwater contractors by militants in Fallujah or the shooting of civilians by contractors in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. These incidents are undeniably attention-grabbing, and suggest that the principal problem PMCs pose for just war norms is that of how PMCs relate to civilians during conflict. This is an important and pressing problem, but page 99 of Outsourcing War is at the end of the chapter that looks at how PMCs also pose problems for the norms that apply to our decision to go to war. In other words, we have PMC problems to deal with before the first shot is even fired or the first contractor sets foot near the battlespace. These jus ad bellum norms have become centered around the assumption that war occurs only between state militaries.

Page 99 states in part:
Reliance on PMCs has become so pervasive that the state’s conduct in war cannot be adequately understood without taking into account the contributions of these private actors to the war effort…their participation alters the empirical context to which the just war principles apply.
This section goes on to argue that jus ad bellum principles are intended to act as a restraint on states’ more aggressive tendencies and to give us a basis for moral critique. In keeping with the spirit of this set of principles, I suggest that the capabilities of, actions by, and losses incurred among PMCs be attributed to the state that employs them so that when we try to assess the question of whether a war is just, we do so with an accurate picture of the war.

This is a central claim of the book and is, in this sense, representative of the book’s project of calling attention to the significance of PMCs, the places where the incorporation of private actors is at odds with assumptions of the just war tradition, and formulating just war arguments about assessing the ethics of privatized war. In this respect, I would agree with Ford Madox Ford’s claim that we can treat page 99 as representative of the whole book.
Learn more about Outsourcing War at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lynda Mugglestone's "Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words"

Lynda Mugglestone is Professor of the History of English and Fellow and Tutor in English at Pembroke College. She is the editor of Lexicography and the OED (2002), The Oxford History of English (2006, 2012) and, with Freya Johnston, of Samuel Johnson: The Arc of the Pendulum (2012). Her books include Talking Proper: The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol (1995, 2003), Lost for Words: The Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary (2004) and Dictionaries: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2011).

Mugglestone applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Johnson’s caution is marked. His subsequent comments offer a careful critique of spelling reform and those who, in various ways, ‘take pleasure in departing from custom’ in their attempts to impose individual preferences on the language as a whole.

In terms of information on spelling within the Dictionary, the primary focus is, of course, Johnson’s specification of the headword. Set apart from the body of the entry, this is rendered visibly distinct through capitalization, hence DA’CTYLE, DA’LLIANCE (Johnson’s inserted apostrophe indicates the expected position of stress). As such, it provides a reference model by which Chesterfield’s ‘uncertainty’ might indeed be resolved; while other variants might therefore exist in ‘general custom’, the choice of headword will, of necessity, prioritize and select. It sets out, in effect, a preferred spelling, authorized by the lexicographer and made part of the dictionary’s intended role as reference book.

As eighteenth-century lexicography confirms, different dictionary-makers can, of course, draw on different patterns of ‘preference’ in this respect. If Johnson’s headwords institute forms such as publick, classick, logick, and musick as part of the reference model he provides, Benjamin Martin’s Linguæ Britannicæ Reformata, published in 1749, conversely discards what he termed the ‘redundant final k’. This reflected the ‘old Way’ of spelling, Martin argued, rather than that used by ‘later Writers’. ‘Preference’ in his Dictionary is given to headwords such as music and logic. ‘K is a very useless and superfluous letter . . . and should not be wrote at the end of words exceeding one syllable’, Buchanan’s Linguæ Britannicæ vera Pronunciatio (1757) likewise averred. Typical of the first half of the eighteenth century, Johnson’s preferred –ick would, at least in public printed texts, largely have disappeared by its end. His cautions on ‘reason’, ‘custom’, and ‘obedience’ prove, in this instance, well justified.
[endnotes not included]
Whether Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words passes or fails the page 99 test is a moot point. The page itself focusses on spelling, setting the stage for a wider exploration of Johnson’s engagement with written language in his Dictionary of the English Language of 1755. Johnson had been expected – as his patron Lord Chesterfield had declared – to institute a reform of language, settling, stabilising, and regulating the variations which English all too often revealed. ‘One great end of this undertaking is to fix the English language’, Johnson agreed in the Plan of a Dictionary deferentially addressed to Chesterfield in 1747. Spelling was a vexed topic for contemporary writers; ‘auricular spelling’ (spelling by what a word sounded like) was, Chesterfield stressed, a particular fault of women, which rendered their missives illegible and incomprehensible. If dictionaries must, of necessity, provide a reference model of spelling, Johnson was expected to prescribe a newly corrected norm of use. That Johnson fixed English spelling still remains a prime element in popular conviction about what Johnson achieved.

And yet … Page 99 opens by considering Johnson’s evident scepticism about spelling reform. Writers in this tradition, he observes, evidently ‘take pleasure in departing from custom’ or the patterns of language in actual use. Spelling reformers, as Johnson adds with conspicuous irony, presumably ‘dread the fascination of lavish praise’. Comments of this kind do not suggest that Johnson was keen to meet the same fate. The rather different realities of what Johnson as dictionary-maker does in terms of spelling – especially in terms of his nuanced engagement with variation and change, are documented, however, on subsequent pages. Page 99 sets up the theme, of norms and dissent, but we need to read on – just as we do in order to explore the other dynamics which intervene in the fixed state of language to which Johnson was initially bound.

Chesterfield’s vision of English as a dictatorship of words, with Johnson in control, is rejected. Instead, images of suffrage, and democracy, can, as here, come to the fore. ‘I have left, in the examples, to every authour his own practice unmolested, that the reader may balance suffrages, and judge between us’, Johnson writes of the practice, and principles, which inform the Dictionary in this context. Johnson’s journey into words, as in the overarching theme of the book, does not always lead him – or us -- where we might expect.
Learn more about Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sarah A. Tobin's "Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan"

Sarah A. Tobin is the Associate Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan is a wonderful window into the larger book. The page starts out describing the Islamic veiling practices of an employee at an Islamic bank named Eman. As a practicing Muslim who did not wear the head covering outside of her place of employment but was required to do so at work (and did so in with an unusual fashion style), Eman was subject of much ridicule and derisive comments by other employees at the bank.

The case of Eman found on page 99 demonstrates two aspects of the larger book. First, it reveals much about the ethnical underpinnings of one of the book’s ethnographic cases – the Islamic head covering, or hijab, in Jordan. The guiding, normative principle at play is that women experience much pressure to don the hijab, which is made even more pronounced by employment at an Islamic bank. The way that many women opt to get around this and avoid this expectation is by indicating that they respect the hijab so much and take it so seriously that they are not “ready yet” to put it on. This calculated practice is tested in Eman’s case and reveals the limitations of it.

Secondly, this case demonstrates the larger argument of the book, which is that while Muslims in Jordan are Islamizing their economic activity – such as through the Islamic banking and finance industry and Islamized consumption – they are also economizing their religious life. This means that such actions in one’s religious life – donning the hijab, fasting for Ramadan, praying and comporting oneself as an “authentic” Muslim – are subject to a whole host of economic calculations of maximizing rewards, limiting risk, and cost-benefit analysis. This neoliberalization of pious life, I argue, is the everyday piety for middle class Muslims in Jordan and beyond.
Learn more about Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Richard L. Hasen's "Plutocrats United"

Richard L. Hasen is Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. In 2013 he was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections, and reported the following:
The Page 99 test works well for my book, because this page tells the story of one of our new Plutocrats, created by the United States Supreme Court. He's Shaun McCutcheon, a businessman who sued for a right to give $1,776 to every single of the hundreds of Republican candidates running for Congress. The Supreme Court eventually agreed with him, in a case known as McCutcheon v. FEC, holding that the government violates the First Amendment by limiting the overall amount contributions a person can give to federal candidates in a single election. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion for the Court's five conservatives, and celebrated elected officials being responsive to the interests of donors, an argument I find quite troubling.

In Plutocrats United, I argue instead for the constitutionality and desirability of caps on campaign spending. I also want to give every voter $100 in campaign finance vouchers to contribute in elections.

Here is the excerpt from page 99:
"Though rich," Collins and Skover tell us, "McCutcheon cannot be counted among the super-rich." They quote McCutcheon as saying, "I do not come from a rich family."

Not "super-rich"? Anyone who can spend $384,000 in campaign contri­butions and have enough left over to finance a lawsuit is plenty rich, even if not at Sheldon Adelson's or George Soros's levels. In 2011 the amount Mc­Cutcheon spent on federal elections was more than seven times the annual median U.S. household income. It was just shy of the amount of annual income it took to fall in the top one percent of wage earners. But $384,000 was not McCutcheon's income; it was the amount he could spare that year for political activities (and only those that were related to federal elections and were reported).

Shaun McCutcheon asserts a right to maximize his influence over elec­tions and policy by spending as much as he can afford on political activities. Millions of other Americans feel just as passionately about politics and pol­icy but lack McCutcheon's means. As Professor John Shockley wrote of the Buckley decision, "In thus striking down limits on expenditures the Court freed the wealthy to engage in significant use of the most effective modes of communication. But what are the Justices saying about the great majority of the American people who cannot spend more than $1,000 on candidates they support? By the Court's own words, a majority of the American people are excluded from effective communication."
Spending limits stop wealthy people such as McCutcheon from spend­ing unlimited sums in political campaigns, but their purpose is to promote political equality and deter corruption. A $25,000 contribution limit per election per candidate (actually $50,000 each for a primary and a general elec­tion) is quite generous for a system also committed to political equality. The same can be said of an upper limit of $500,000 on all federal elections in a two-year period, aimed at stopping the richest of the rich from having totally outsized influence over federal elections, but generous to be sure.

Many readers may find these limits too generous.

If you too are troubled by Shaun McCutcheon's argument, you might find the rest of the book of interest.
Learn more about Plutocrats United at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2016

Caroline Shaw's "Britannia's Embrace"

Caroline Shaw is Assistant Professor of History at Bates College.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Britannia's Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief, and reported the following:
From page 99:
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British were well versed in refugee affairs. A coherent narrative instructed the public how to recognize and respond to persecuted foreigners. Yet, there was a practical problem at the core of their template for refuge. British responses to refugee crises were built on sensation. As Italian exile Count Pecchio wryly noted, once a particular crisis was old news, refugees were in danger of being forgotten entirely.

Few relief societies, formed in the moment of crisis, were prepared for the longue durée of exile. What would happen to the refugees when the crowds dispersed? When the powerful narrative that obscured differences of class, race, and religion found new heroes to lionize? When refugees began to look more like paupers than independent freedom fighters? Or when they found work at the alleged expense of native-born Britons? There were few cases where refugees could be repatriated before relief offers were depleted. Impoverishment could follow quickly for those who were not poor already. Writing in 1853, Chartist George Julian Harney deplored this dark reality. Harney noted that foreign refugees were free to come to Britain; once there, they were “free to starve.”

The prospect of integrating large and diverse groups of foreigners into British society on a more permanent basis was daunting from the start. As time passed, popular commentaries on refugee affairs became suffused with the very politics of class, race, and religion that was set aside in the excitement of the initial turn to refuge. Given these difficulties, why did philanthropists and public commentators remain optimistic about the prospects of British refuge? Why…
The Page 99 Test works well for Britannia’s Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief. Page 99 is the first page of chapter four, “Taking Refuge in Empire,” a chapter that draws out and explores a critical development to the argument of the first half of the book.

The book as a whole argues that the British refuge emerged as a powerful humanitarian norm by the early nineteenth century as a means of defining what it meant to be liberal on the global stage. In contrast to continental conservatives, Britons committed themselves to parliamentary rule; in contrast to slave-based economies, the British increasingly prided themselves on abolitionism. Where intervention in the affairs of other nations was not possible or not desirable, care for their refugees provided a way for the British to assert their liberal values, as the book’s first three chapters examine.

Chapter four begins with Italian Count Pecchio’s wry observation (in an epigraph that appears on page 98) that refugees, quick to be made into celebrities, were equally quick to disappear in London’s “omnivorous maw” as the public sensation over new refugees faded. His observation illustrates the “practical problem” that lies at the “core of their [activists’] template for refuge” (from page 99). The longue durée of refuge brought with it the challenge of enabling the refugees – carefully distinguished in British cultural politics from ordinary immigrants – to become successful, even ideal, immigrants. Setting up this central conundrum, the chapter argues that activists stressed refugees’ willingness and ability to work hard in their exile. In cases where the refugees’ presence seemed likely to strain the social fabric, activists and officials turned overseas as they often did for the British poor as well. The outposts of empire provided a critical, if sometimes problematic, site for long-term refugee resettlement. Distanced from these places of refuge, metropolitan activists could celebrate the success of their endeavors on refugees’ behalf.

The remainder of the book examines the dynamic relationship in the moral politics of refuge between resources, imperial and local politics, law, and a powerful normative claim to intercede on refugees’ behalf. Moving through the nineteenth century and peering into the twentieth, Britannia’s Embrace highlights the origins of the politics of refuge with which we are all too familiar today: refuge, always a second-best to the ending of persecution overseas, depends perilously on the short-term sensation of rescue as well as on the willingness of the hosts to engage in the longue durée of asylum.
Learn more about Britannia's Embrace at the Oxford University Press website.

Cover story: Britannia's Embrace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Tonio Andrade's "The Gunpowder Age"

Tonio Andrade is a historian living in Decatur, Georgia, where he teaches at Emory University. His books include Lost Colony and How Taiwan Became Chinese.

Andrade applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Gunpowder Age is about walls. Medieval walls. Ancient walls. Chinese walls. European walls.

The fundamental question of The Gunpowder Age is why China, which had once been the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world, fell behind the West, making it vulnerable to British, French, German, American, and Russian imperialism in the nineteenth century. Many authors blame China’s traditional Confucian culture, believing it to have been hostile to military development and to foreign innovations. China experts have increasingly noted that this is not likely to be true, and my research supports this new view: Confucianism was on the whole not inimical to military pursuits, and the book introduces many Confucian scholars and officials who were fascinated by military matters, who became great generals and innovators, who adopted new technologies, tactics, and techniques, and who wrote about their discoveries and experiments in detail. China’s vibrant military traditions have generally been neglected in historical work, and it is important to call attention to them. But this doesn’t solve the question. If Confucianism doesn’t explain the military divergence between China and Europe, what does?

Walls, it turns out, may be part of the answer. Historians have argued that although Europeans learned about guns from China, they quickly became far better at making and using guns than the Chinese. What I found, however, is that the Chinese maintained a superiority in gun use far longer than historians have presumed, but only insofar as handheld guns were concerned. Whereas Europeans did not generally use guns in field battles during the 1300s and 1400s, Chinese did. There were around 120,000 gun-bearing units in Ming armies circa 1400, and they were present in far higher proportions (relative to traditionally-armed units) in China than in the West.

But if Westerners lagged behind China in the use of guns on the battlefield, they became good at using guns in other ways: specifically the use of artillery to blast down walls. Whereas Chinese guns stayed small, Western guns became very large indeed, and very powerful.

Why? Not because the Chinese were poor metallurgists or lacked access to iron or brass. The answer, I believe, has to do with walls. Page 99 of The Gunpowder Age compares medieval European to Chinese walls. The Chinese walls were an order of magnitude thicker and were constructed much more resiliently than were European walls. This tradition of thick wall building was present in China long before the invention of guns – it is an ancient heritage – but Chinese walls were so thick that even the most powerful siege guns of Europe would have had little effect on them. In fact, in the course of the late 1400s and early 1500s, Europeans began building artillery-resistant walls, and those walls ended up being quite similar to those of traditional China: thick, sloped, and filled with earth.

So we don’t need to resort to Confucian culture to explain this big-gun / small-gun divergence. And so it is with the many other military divergences in this book.
Visit Tonio Andrade's website.

The Page 99 Test: Lost Colony.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Greggor Mattson’s “The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform”

Greggor Mattson is associate professor of sociology at Oberlin College.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform: Governing Loose Women, and reported the following:
“Smash a brothel cartel” begins page 99 of my book, a comparative account of prostitution regulations in northern European countries that, from an American perspective, seem quite similar: secular, multiparty democracies with strong welfare states and human rights protections. I conducted interviews with policymakers and administrators in four countries of the European Union: the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Finland. Page 99 is about Germany’s prostitution law, what I call the “German compromise on sex work.” Popular and scholarly attention to prostitution policy overwhelmingly focuses on the Netherlands and Sweden as the extreme cases in an international “sex war” about whether prostitution should be legalized and regulated, as in the Netherlands, or whether buying sex should be criminalized, as in Sweden:
If prostitution in the Nordic countries was defined as gender inequality, and in the Netherlands as work, the German ruling was a compromise between important cultural principles of workers’ rights and protections for the vulnerable encoded in its welfare state.
I put these disputes in the context of national welfare legislation, which I argue are important cultural indicators for how societies protect vulnerable women. This German chapter shows how prostitution legalization is not monolithic, but operates according to local imperatives and national cultural logics. For example, German legalization was prompted by two state court rulings:
The first move toward national prostitution reforms in Germany came not from national legislation, as in Sweden or the Netherlands, or municipal reforms, as in Finland, but from two court cases. The first one occurred in 2000 when the State Court of Hesse ruled that brothel prostitutes were employees for the purposes of a compensation case. The decision clarified prostitution as an occupation requiring work permission for Frankfurt’s migration authority. In Germany, immigration is controlled at the municipal level. Concern had been building throughout the 1990s over the apparent rise in illegal migrants in Frankfurt’s brothels and a spate of spectacular crimes perpetrated by organized crime networks from other countries. The second ruling, in Berlin, ruled that prostitution was not immoral (sittenwidrigkeit) in 2001, removing the Christian jurisprudential basis by which prostitution had been prohibited. The ruling allowed Café Pssst, a hotel and bar established for prostitutes and their clients to meet, to retain its restaurant and liquor licenses. If prostitution in the Nordic countries was defined as gender inequality, and in the Netherlands as work, the German ruling was a compromise between important cultural principles of workers’ rights and protections for the vulnerable encoded in its welfare state.
This section gives a sense of the internal cultural logic of German prostitution regulation and its contrast with the Netherlands, a comparison I pursue further by noting the ostensible similarities in both countries and exposing the German words that animate their differences:
The proposal to legalize prostitution [gave] sex workers access to the health benefits, pension schemes, and unemployment benefits accorded to self-employed workers. In line with the law’s strengthened prohibitions against sexual exploitation, however, the prohibition on employment contracts between businesses and sex workers was maintained. The new law created a seeming paradox under German employment legislation by defining prostitution as a trade (Gewerbe) but not a business (Betrieb). In other words, sex work was legalized only in the context of self-employment, and sex workers could not sign contracts with an employer. This compromise marked a stark distinction with the Dutch legislation with which it is often lumped, and institutionalized a state classification that was neither purely rational, nor one with precedent in German law.
To give a sense of the logic of the German compromise, I explore its similarity to German abortion law, which is quite foreign when compared to United States discussions.
The German compromise on sex work does resemble its solution to abortion, however, in the way that the state reconciles important individual and social concerns. The German Constitutional Court ruled that fetal life is protected from conception onward, but ruled permissible a law that permits abortion through the first trimester if accompanied by counseling to persuade the woman to bear the child and a government guarantee of day care for all children three to four years of age.
Page 99 reflects the whole of the book well, by demonstrating the logic of comparing phenomena within a country case study (sex work to abortion) and the variety of ways that otherwise-similar societies attempt to organize sexuality. The rest of the book pursues these internal and external comparisons in these four countries, discusses the impact of European Union integration, and the blame heaped on globalization for preventing a coherent European response to human trafficking. While the book not yet in softcover, ask your library to obtain one today!
Learn more about Greggor Mattson at his website or follow him on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Steve Kemper's "A Splendid Savage"

Steve Kemper has been a freelance journalist for more than 30 years. His books include Code Name Ginger: the Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World and A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa.

Kemper applied the “Page 99 Test” to his most recent book, A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham, and reported the following:
Page 99 is the first page of a chapter called “A Mine, a Wedding, a Change of Plans.” It begins with young Frederick Russell Burnham resolving to sever his connections to deadly range feuds and Mexican smuggling and to start a new life on the right side of the law. He has been pushed in this respectable direction by his recent work as a scout against rampaging Apaches in the wild Territory of Arizona. At the top of page 99 he hires out his amazing skills at scouting and woodcraft to help several Arizona sheriffs track down outlaws. By the bottom of the page, his horse gets stolen by two Mexican thieves, which will turn out badly for the bandits.

Since page 99 contains the chapter’s title, I figure it’s legal to use it to offer a glimpse ahead. The title’s first words refer to Burnham’s decision, a few pages later, to go prospecting, something he will do off and on for the rest of his life in hopes of a big strike. But at this point he just wants to find enough gold to convince his sweetheart’s father that this young drifter really is serious about marriage. He succeeds—hence, “a Wedding.”

“A Change of Plans” refers to Burnham’s impetuous decision to abandon the West for a brand-new frontier in southern Africa. He will make many such decisions in a restless life that will take him all over Africa, to the Klondike, and into the wilds of Mexico. In southern Africa, his adventures and daring exploits will make him world-famous as “the American scout,” and will bring him the Distinguished Service Order from King Edward VII as well as friendships with, among others, Cecil John Rhodes, H. Rider Haggard, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.

So the moment captured on page 99, when he decides to go legit, sets in motion many remarkable consequences.
Learn more about the book and author at Steve Kemper's website.

The Page 99 Test: A Labyrinth of Kingdoms.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Patrick H. Breen's "The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood"

Patrick H. Breen is Associate Professor of History at Providence College.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt, and reported the following:
Could Ford Madox Ford be wrong about Page 99? The thought crossed my mind as I read my discussion of number of blacks who were killed without trials as the revolt was suppressed.
How many of the 178 uncounted [by 1832 tax collectors] slaves were among the dead after the revolt? Nat Turner and twenty-nine others were found guilty by the white courts for their involvement in the revolt. They were all sentenced to die. Although some had their sentences reduced to transportation, all thirty convicted slaves were absent from the 1832 tax survey. As a result, it is likely that fewer than 148 Southampton slaves lost their lives during the period of panic and uncertainty that followed the revolt.

Primary sources, including The Confessions of Nat Turner, newspaper articles, letters from Southampton, trial notes, and petitions to the Virginia General Assembly mention between thirty-seven and thirty-nine slaves who were involved in the revolt. Of these, at least twenty-one survived long enough to be tried. Among the rebels never tried, nine men had their deaths documented: their owners and executors for their owners’ estates sought compensation for the property they lost when their slaves were killed without trial. (Since slave owners in Virginia were compensated for slaves who were executed or transported by the state, these owners argued that the owners of slaves who had been killed as the revolt was being suppressed also should have received compensation from the state.) Two other rebels were mentioned as prisoners, but their serious injuries—one newspaper described Tom as “desperately wounded and about to die”—meant that they did not survive long enough to stand trial. Add to the list three prominent rebels—Henry, Will “the executioner,” and Austin (who killed Hartwell Peebles)—whose disappearance from the record following the revolt is most readily explained by their deaths, and one can identify fourteen rebels who almost certainly died as the revolt was put down. Two more slaves—the unnamed slave who died at Samuel Blunt’s plantation and Nathaniel Francis’s Charlotte—were also killed after the revolt, bringing the minimum number of slaves who died without trial to sixteen.
The range discussed here is less important than the conclusion on the next page where I show it most likely that the number of blacks killed without trials was between thirty and forty. This is lower than most historians have thought and leads to an important question: how did it happen that whites did not kill more blacks after the revolt? My answer to this question—that the slaveholders intentionally prevented a massacre—is at a key to the second half of the book.

But the problem with Ford’s test is not that he chose page 99 instead of 100. Instead, the problem is that I am making a formal argument about the number of people killed in the aftermath of the revolt. But numbers—as important as they are—are not people, and my book is about the people and the terrible position that they found themselves in during the revolt. On page 99, names are mentioned, but I do not tell the stories of these people. Just to take one example, the unnamed slave who died at Samuel Blunt’s had been seen with a gun just as the alarm had sounded. It seems that the white man who killed him did not realize that the man had been armed to defend Blunt’s plantation. Irony is, of course, a stock technique of so many careful historians, but the irony is just one level of the story of the unnamed man’s death. This story raises the uncomfortable issue of slave loyalty: why did the unnamed man fight for the slaveholders? Was he trying to suppress the revolt? Or was he worried about what would happen if Blunt’s plantation, where his family lived, were captured by the rebels? It also raises the question of white confidence. Did the slaveholders really believe that their slaves would remain faithful to them? If so, it was a bit odd that they only distributed the guns at the moment when they heard that a rebel attack was imminent and then collected the guns from their slaves as soon as the alarm passed. These are the stories at the heart of The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood, but you can’t find them on page 99.
Learn more about The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2016

Nina Milton's "In the Moors"

Nina Milton is most well known for her crime fiction series The Shaman Mysteries Series, published by Midnight Ink Books.

In the Moors was published in 2013 and followed by Unraveled Visions (2014). Beneath the Tor, set in the magical English town of Glastonbury was published at the end of 2015. Milton is a prize-winning short story writer and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She works in the UK for the Open College of the Arts and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Milton applied the “Page 99 Test” to In the Moors and reported the following:
I think all writers are curious about what happens when someone walks into a bookshop and opens their book at a random page. Will it stand up to incidental scrutiny? This is what I found on Page 99:
“Sabbie,” Cliff began. “Last time…you said something about…my soul?”

“Yes. I think you still feel bad because while you were in the cottage, the essence we think of as ‘soul’ broke into pieces. A massive ordeal can shatter a soul and bits of it get lost, or hidden in different places.”

“You’re saying I left my soul in that place?”

“No – it’s inside you somewhere. Just fractured, floating all apart in your spirit world. It needs healing, that’s all.”

“Something needs healing, that’s for sure.” Cliff took a shuddering breath. “When I get out of here, I want it all back. Can we do that?”

“It will take a long time. But if you feel that you could see it through…”

“I want to try.”

We were speaking quietly now, leaning towards each other, so I hardly registered that someone had come in, but Cliff’s face suddenly became the colour of my uncooked bread dough. I spun round. Rey and his sidekick Abbott were standing with their arms folded. A quip sprang to my lips – that he made a habit of bursting into rooms without knocking – but it died prematurely. Like Cliff, I took in their sombre expressions.

“We’re here to interview the prisoner,” said Rey to the policewoman at the door.
Six years ago, a new character walked into my head. Like a few of my shamanic friends, she had set up a small business. Modern day shamans usually offer therapy to people who can find help no where else. Doctors, herbalists, psychotherapists, have tried and failed to help with these people’s problems and now they are desperate. People who visit a shaman for help are often on the edge; on the edge of society, on the edge of a breakdown, or even on the edge of something darker.

The first book in the Shaman Mystery series, In the Moors opens when a child’s body is found buried in the eerie depths of the Somerset Moors. Sabbie Dare’s client, Cliff Houghton, is arrested for wandering at night over the shallow grave, now empty. Sabbie starts to work with him, and uncovers repressed memories from his childhood, but, as another small boy disappears, and fresh, damming evidence turns up at his flat, Cliff is charged with both murder and kidnap.

In the excerpt from page 99, Cliff has been brought up from police cells and Sabbie has been able to visit him alongside his solicitor, Linnet Smith. They are not discussing Cliff’s innocence – Sabbie already believes that implicitly – but the state of Cliff’s soul. Shaman understand souls; they work with them all the time. They believe that the soul is the first port of call when severe trauma hits a person. This theory does explain why childhood traumas affect us for so long – the rest of our lives, in some cases – and why we feel so badly shaken after horrid events, even if we were not touched physically. Often, the clients Sabbie sees have had their souls splintered or lost from past trauma, and it’s her job to retrieve those soul parts and help that person rebuild their life.

But the first thing Sabbie wants to do is to prove Cliff’s innocence and – if she possibly can – find the missing child. Ancient shamans were reputed to be able to find lost things…can Sabbie locate little Aidan Rodderick? Her attempts place her into deeper and deeper danger, but also throw her together with Detective Reynard Buckley, a fizzing relationship which will continue throughout the trilogy.
Visit Nina Milton's website.

Writers Read: Nina Milton.

--Marshal Zeringue