Thursday, August 30, 2018

Laura Tunbridge's "Singing in the Age of Anxiety"

Laura Tunbridge is Professor of Music and Henfrey Fellow and Tutor in Music at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. She is the author of Schumann’s Late Style and The Song Cycle.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Singing in the Age of Anxiety: Lieder Performances in New York and London between the World Wars, and reported the following:
“Who was excluded, inevitably, was as significant as who was included.” (p. 99) The archives of New York music clubs in the interwar period provided some crucial evidence for the argument of Singing in the Age of Anxiety. It is always difficult to find out who made up the bulk of concert audiences, but examining membership lists provided a more nuanced idea of who attended and where they came from. It became apparent although the First World War reduced the influence of “Old New York” and of the German community over musical life in New York City, it had certainly not disappeared. There may well have been new audiences for classical song in the 1920s and 30s, but there were also still prized by exclusive societies, membership of which was determined by ethnicity, race, religion, wealth and social connections rather than artistic interests (though that’s not to say the art was of no consequence). In other words, while societies such as the Bohemians or clubs such as the Knickerbocker were devoted to nurturing communities, those groups were selective. The city was partisan and divided as well as a “melting-pot.”

Singing in the Age of Anxiety compares interwar musical life in New York to London, discussing transatlantic connections and changing attitudes towards the performance of lieder or German art song. It is a complex story, starting from the prohibition of Schubert during the First World War and ending with British and American support of musicians fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. This was also an era of profound technological changes in musical life: gramophone recordings, radio broadcasts and sound film all transformed the ways in which music was performed, sold and heard. These new media opened up possibilities for a greater democratization of musical appreciation but it is important to remember that they did not supplant live music-making but rather complemented and influenced it – and vice versa. The clubs and societies explored on page 99 were replicated, with slightly different constituencies, around gramophone societies, for example. Determining what represented nineteenth-century practices and what belonged to the twentieth century, then, becomes much more difficult to ascertain.
Learn more about Singing in the Age of Anxiety at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Alexandra Gheciu's "Security Entrepreneurs"

Alexandra Gheciu is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and Associate Director of the Centre for International Policy Studies, University of Ottawa. Her research interests are in the fields of international security, international institutions, Euro-Atlantic relations, global governance, state (re)building, and International Relations theory. Her publications include The Return of the Public in Global Governance (co-edited with Jacqueline Best,  2014), Securing Civilization? (2008), and NATO in the New Europe (2005).

Gheciu applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest monograph, Security Entrepreneurs: Performing Protection in Post-Cold War Europe, and reported the following:
Can a single page really reveal the quality of an entire book? When I was invited to apply the “page 99 test” to Security Entrepreneurs, I was a little skeptical. Still, I could see no good reason not to play this game. So I promptly opened the book and was surprised to see that page 99 does reveal at least one important aspect of the core argument. The book focuses on the commercialization of security provision in post-Cold War Eastern Europe. It seeks to challenge conventional thinking about the field of security by showing how functions traditionally attributed to the state are now performed by hybrid networks of actors that transcend traditional boundaries between domestic/international, public/private, legitimate and illicit arenas. Participants in those networks behave, in many ways, as entrepreneurs; they also resort to a multitude of “staging” techniques in an effort to secure broad support for their actions.

Page 99 gives the reader some sense of one of the key facets of security commercialization: how private security companies (PSCs), as key actors in the contemporary security field, both cooperate and compete with public agencies as they seek to play increasingly powerful roles both in national settings and at the international level. Thus, we learn on page 99 that:
we can conceptualize PSCs’ strategies deployed in struggles over positions as [...]being designed to demonstrate partial compliance with the basic rules of the game, while at the same time challenging the field setting and seeking to partly redefine the roles of the private security industry. What is being fought over in this context is the definition of the roles of PSCs as producers of public security. The aim pursued by private security actors is to broaden the mandate of PSCs as key producers of public security, with the ability to perform a more prominent position in the governance and provision of security than is currently allowed. To this end, PSCs enact performances of security in which they deploy strategies aimed at accumulating capital to support their positions in the security “game,” and to effectively compete and struggle over definitions over who has what rights and responsibilities in the governance and provision of security.
Of course, this is part of a much larger story—and many aspects of that story are not revealed on page 99. Hopefully, though, this page will inspire the reader to read the entire book, and in so doing to learn about other aspects of security commercialization, such as: 1. the ways in which a potent commercial logic has come to permeate public security institutions, altering in problematic ways the relationship between the state and its citizens; 2. the links between changes in former communist countries and the redefinition of “rules of the game” of security provision at the European level; and 3. the dark side of security commercialization, including the powerful roles played by illicit businesses and criminal groups in contemporary (in)security provision.
Learn more about Security Entrepreneurs at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 27, 2018

Magda Konieczna's "Journalism Without Profit"

Magda Konieczna is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. She first became interested in the sustainability of journalism when she was the city hall reporter at the Guelph Mercury, a newspaper outside of Toronto. Her research on the business of journalism has appeared in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the International Journal of Communication, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, and Digital Journalism.

Konieczna applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Journalism Without Profit: Making News When the Market Fails, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Journalism Without Profit focuses on the details of foundation funding for nonprofit news. Which foundations have offered the most support, and why? Nonprofit news organizations have been proliferating in the United States for the last ten years in response to the failing business model for journalism. They include large, wealthy organizations that you’ve probably heard of like ProPublica, and tiny, on-a-shoestring projects that you probably haven’t. For all of them, foundation funding has been essential, at least at the start. Some nonprofit newsrooms have managed to earn a sometimes significant portion of their revenue from other sources. NPR sells programming to its member stations, and Mother Jones sells a magazine.

Still, the groups I’m really interested in, the digital-native organizations that have sprung up in almost every state in the US to try to continue to produce quality journalism as the business model falters, remain heavily foundation funded. Understanding the magnitude and nature of that is key to understanding the structure of the field.

That’s why I see page 99 as a necessary but ultimately dry part of the book. I use these details of the field – how many news nonprofits are there? How long have they been around? What do they do? – to sketch out its dimensions. Page 99 does the support work necessary for the rest of my argument – the explanation of how the market never did support the journalism our democracy needs in the first place, and why it makes conceptual sense for public service journalism to be structured in a nonprofit field.

In all, the book attempts to make sense of a burgeoning field of nonprofit news organizations. While nonprofit news has been around at least since the Associated Press was founded in the 1840s, the idea of a field that connects these entities is new. Many of them are pioneering new, more collaborative ways of interacting with other journalists, other news outlets, and their audiences, and while it wasn’t clear what would happen to the field when I started this book – in the form of my dissertation – in 2009, it’s evident now that, in one way or another, it’s here to stay.

Still, I hope that when you start to learn about it, you start at the beginning, not at page 99.
Learn more about Journalism Without Profit at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Lisandro Pérez's "Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution"

Lisandro Pérez is Professor of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is the author, with Guillermo Grenier, of The Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States.

Pérez applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The public attention did not end with the ceremony. Immediately the finger pointing started on how a wedding had been turned into such a public spectacle, something that violated social convention of the time. The New York press was chastised by a Philadelphia newspaper for sensationalizing the event, something, argued the newspaper, which would not have happened in genteel Philadelphia.
Page 99 is the last page of my description (which starts on page 95) of the extravagant wedding of Frances Amelia Bartlett and Don Esteban Santa Cruz de Oviedo in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The year was 1859 and New York had not yet entered the Gilded Age. The wedding’s crass public demonstration of unlimited wealth both shocked and enthralled New Yorkers. Every detail was widely reported in the press: the $5,000 bridal gown, the four $3,000 alternate gowns, a trousseau of some seventy-five dresses, and the jewelry ensemble worn by the bride, manufactured under special order by Tiffany and Company. Two-thousand invitations were sent, far more than the capacity of the church, and traffic had to be rerouted to accommodate the flow of carriages. Oviedo, the press reported, was a very rich Cuban sugar planter, the owner of “some of the most valuable estates in Cuba,” and slaves “without number.”

The public’s interest in the wedding was stoked not just by its ostentatiousness, but by the descriptions of the conjugants. The bride was eighteen, tall, elegant, fair, and blonde, the daughter of a distinguished ex-officer of the U.S. Navy. The groom was fifty-five, shorter than the bride and “darkishly disposed in the matter of complexion,” according to the Daily Tribune. The Cuban could not only afford a lavish wedding, but he was also buying a young and fair American bride.

My detailed description of the Bartlett-Oviedo wedding is important to the book’s narrative, for it illustrates two themes of Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution. One is my insistence in telling the social, cultural, and economic story of Cuban New York, beyond its political activism, the topic that has dominated the literature on Cuban émigrés. Indeed, one contribution of the book is to understand the better-known revolutionary activities within the broader context of the community’s life. The other theme is that the early Cuban presence in New York was shaped by the island’s elites, especially the planter class, which sold its sugar to the city’s many refineries. Wealthy Cubans spearheaded the early flow of sojourners and migrants to the city. This created a certain perception of Cubans among New Yorkers of the era. It is on that point that I end in page 99 the passage on the wedding:
One consequence of the wedding was to reaffirm the image of Cubans as the prototype of the wealthy foreigner of the day. [Simón] Camacho, the Venezuelan writer who lived in New York, devoted an entire chronicle to the wedding. He concluded it by reporting a conversation near Gramercy Park with a lady who, upon learning that Camacho was Latin American and clarifying that her sister was single, asked him: “Do you know a Cuban like Mr. Oviedo?”
Learn more about Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution at the NYU Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Alanna O'Malley's "The Diplomacy of Decolonisation"

Alanna O'Malley is Lecturer in History at Leiden University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Diplomacy of Decolonisation: America, Britain and the United Nations during the Congo Crisis 1960-64, and reported the following:
From page 99:
…on 27 November Lumumba decided to make a break for the northern city of Stanleyville in the Orientale province, his home base where the majority of his supporters were gathered. The reasons for his decision to leave the protection of the UN at this precise moment are unclear.
Page 99 of my book outlines the escape of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from the protective custody of the United Nations in November 1960, a high point in the political crisis into which the Congo was plunged following its independence from Belgium on 30 June. Lumumba’s escape, an attempt to relocate to the northern city of Stanleyville (now Kisangani) in order to rally his supporters and reassert his political authority, having been removed as Prime Minister by his rival President Joseph Kasavubu, was an ill-fated effort. In a matter of days, he was captured by the Belgian secret police working with the Congolese army, and transported to prison, where he was later assassinated by his political rivals, at the urging of Belgium, Britain and the United States.

The Congo crisis from 1960-1964 was a period of high-drama in international affairs, combining internal Congolese politics with the overarching process of decolonisation against the backdrop of the Cold War which drew the super-powers into Africa. The assassination of Lumumba was one of the most important turning points of the conflict as it led to widespread outrage among his supporters, not just in the Congo but among oppressed peoples around the world, for whom he quickly became a martyr for freedom. The role of Belgium, Britain and the United States in his assassination, widely believed by many to be a plot to ‘recolonise’ the Congo in order to control its vast supplies of natural resources, was publicly criticised from Cairo to Moscow. At the United Nations, an angry mob broke into the headquarters in New York, threatening the Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold for not protecting Lumumba.

My book argues that the Congo crisis was not just a Cold War conflict but was the key turning point in the process of decolonisation. Through the example of the fractious and violent early years of independence in the Congo, many other newly-independent states in Africa and Asia began to assert their authority. Believing their hard-fought freedoms may be transient and holding up the Congo as the worst-case scenario for decolonisation, they utilised their solidarity to shape UN Congo policy and position the crisis as a lightning rod in the broader interaction of decolonisation with the Cold War, exploding North-South tensions. Attempts to direct the UN mission led to the creation of permanent mechanisms through which the Afro-Asian bloc used the Congo as a paradigm to determine the course and the pace of decolonisation. For the first time, the crisis should be considered as a moment which consolidated the impact of decolonisation as not just a process that transformed the world of empires into nation-states, but one which elucidated a wider Third World critique of imperial internationalism. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources from Accra, Brussels, Delhi, London, New York and Washington D.C., the book argues that the Congo crisis was not just another episode of the Cold War but a conflict of multiple dimensions which, as it evolved, demonstrated the potential and the limitations of UN agency and Afro-Asian solidarity.
Learn more about The Diplomacy of Decolonisation at the Manchester University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Philip Murphy's "The Empire’s New Clothes"

Philip Murphy is Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Professor of British and Commonwealth History at the University of London. He has published extensively on the history of British decolonization and, recently, on the Commonwealth-wide role of the British monarchy.

Murphy applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Empire's New Clothes: The Myth of the Commonwealth, and reported the following:
I must confess to having only just heard of Ford Madox Ford’s ‘page ninety-nine’ rule. But in relation to my new book, The Empire’s New Clothes: The Myth of the Commonwealth, it performs a particular sort of magic. Page ninety-nine, and the chapter to which it belongs, deal with the role of Queen Elizabeth II. No surprise there, you might think. After all, in so far as international media pays any attention to the Commonwealth anymore, it is as a peg on which to hang stories about the British royal family. The Queen is its ‘Head’ as well as being the sovereign of 16 of its 53 member states, nearly all of which were formerly part of the British Empire. It is an entirely voluntary association of states, the post-imperial foundations of which were firmly laid in 1949 when the continued membership of recently-independent and soon-to-be republican India was confirmed. The latest meeting of its national leaders, which took place in London in April (just as my book was published in the UK) served only to reinforce the royal connection. Keen to cement the country’s extra-European relationships in anticipation of leaving the European Union (EU), the British government put a large amount of effort into preparations for the Summit. It anticipated, correctly, that a gathering based at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, with almost a full complement of the junior royals floating about like caddies at an international golf tournament, would be an irresistible draw for Commonwealth leaders. And (in the Summit’s sole, really tangible outcome) it managed to secure confirmation that Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, would be the organisation’s next Head.

So how important has the Queen been to the story of the modern Commonwealth? Well very, in the sense that someone who has been sovereign for 66 years can exert a subtle but profound influence over the basic terms of political debate within a country. Page ninety-nine of my book says this about the Queen:
In her public utterances, she frequently speaks of the importance of her Christian faith and of the value of the Commonwealth. Perhaps the greatest mark of her achievement in negotiating all the pitfalls of constitutional monarchy, is that over decades in which adherence to Christianity has been in steady decline in the UK, and the Commonwealth has come under fire from senior politicians and the press, she has succeeded in presenting both as being somehow ‘above’ any sort of controversy. An extremely long reigning monarch can shape the political landscape like an iceberg: by slowly maintaining the same course they can exert a powerful influence on our collective values.
But the prominence given to the Queen in recent years is also a result of the fact that the Commonwealth hasn’t really achieved anything very newsworthy. And in the seven out of its eight chapters which deal with matters other than her role, my book seeks to explain why. Essentially, the Commonwealth is a Potemkin village among international organisations: behind a façade of bright promises to be tackling an impossibly wide range of global ills lies almost precisely nothing. But while the reality of the organisation clearly poses no real threat to anyone, the the book argues that the myth of the Commonwealth – that very idea of getting something for nothing – remains a real danger to UK foreign policy, as the reckless suggestions that the Commonwealth might in some sense provide an alternative to British membership of the EU have recently demonstrated.
Learn more about The Empire's New Clothes at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Vince Beiser's "The World in a Grain"

Vince Beiser is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Wired, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he lives in Los Angeles.

Beiser applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization, and reported the following:
Page 99 reads in its entirety as follows:
Part II: How Sand is Building the Twenty-First Century’s Globalized, Digital World

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” Matthew 7:26
That’s a pretty good summary of the book’s message. It's story of the most important overlooked commodity in the world--sand--and the crucial role it plays in our lives.

After water and air, sand is the natural resource that we consume more than any other--more than oil, more than wheat. Every concrete building and paved road on Earth, every window, computer screen and silicon chip, is made from sand. From Egypt's pyramids to the Hubble telescope, from the world's tallest skyscraper to the sidewalk below it, from Chartres' stained-glass windows to your iPhone, sand shelters us, empowers us, engages us, and inspires us. It's the ingredient that makes possible our cities, our science, our lives--and our future.

And incredibly, we're running out of it.

The World in a Grain is, I hope, the compelling true story of this hugely important and diminishing natural resource that grows more important every day, and of the people who extract it, use it, sell it—and sometimes, even kill for it. It's also a provocative examination of the serious human and environmental costs incurred by our dependence on sand.
Visit Vince Beiser's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dawn Raffel's "The Strange Case of Dr. Couney"

Dawn Raffel is a journalist, memoirist, and short story writer whose work has been widely anthologized. A longtime magazine editor, she helped launch O, The Oprah Magazine. She has also taught creative writing in the MFA program at Columbia University; at Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia; Montreal; and Vilnius, Lithuania; and at the Center for Fiction in New York. She now works as an independent editor and book reviewer.

Raffel applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies, and reported the following:
Applying the page 99 test to The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, we find an anomaly—which might be fitting since the book is itself about an outlier. From 1898-1943, Dr. Martin Couney ran sideshows where visitors could pay a quarter to gawk at premature infants in incubators—right next door to the sword swallowers and strippers.

The incubator shows were blockbuster attractions on Coney Island and in Atlantic City because people had no idea that tiny preemies could survive. And outside of the shows, they rarely could. Hospitals didn’t have the technology.

Although Dr. Couney’s European credential were fabricated, he was decades ahead of the American medical establishment, and his results were so good that most of the major New York hospitals were sending him their patients!

Dr. Couney liked to say he was making propaganda for preemies—proving again and again that they could and should be saved. One way he did that was by staging shows at world’s fairs, including those in Omaha and Buffalo. But he lost his bid for the St. Louis World’s fair of 1904. The officials awarded an incubator concession to a rival showman with insider connections. This man had no idea how to save preemies, so he hired a physician—who also had no idea how to save preemies.

Page 99 is a full-page photograph of the outside of the opulent-looking exhibition that the Humane Society [which attended to humans, not animals] would call a “charnal house.” Amid filthy conditions and overheating machines, almost all of the babies died. The gruesome spectacle gave doctors one more reason to dismiss the idea of using incubators in hospitals.

Martin Couney never gave up. He continued his lifesaving shows at the San Francisco, Chicago, and New York world’s fairs, as well as the boardwalks. He didn’t retire until 1943, when Cornell New York Hospital opened the city’s first comprehensive incubator station. But while his shows were swell looking places, none was ever quite as grand-looking as the “charnal house.”
Visit Dawn Raffel's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Ann Travers's "The Trans Generation"

Ann Travers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Simon Fraser University. They live in Vancouver with their partner, three kids and a dog named Thunder.

Travers applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) are Creating a Gender Revolution, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Trans Generation is right in the middle of my chapter on the disabling impact of sex-segregated bathrooms and sex segregated and sex-differentiated sport and physical leisure programs and facilities on trans and gender nonconforming kids. Spaces and activities that many people take for granted place trans kids in crisis. Some trans kids are willing and able to resolve this crisis via binary transition (including accessing affirming healthcare) but for many, this is undesirable (in the case of non-binary trans kids or binary kids who don’t want blockers or ‘cross-sex’ hormones) or inaccessible (for trans kids who lack access to affirming healthcare). I also locate sex-segregated and sex-differentiated sporting spaces and activities in the damaging structures of hetero-patriarchy that take for granted fundamental differences between only two sexes and assumed across-the-board advantages to men over women. This is rather fitting because the first research and writing I engaged in with regard to trans issues concerned sport participation (transgender inclusion in lesbian softball leagues).
Seeing the so-called sex differences in gymnastics produced through social practice and repetition gave Sean’s father, Hal, a more critical perspective. Hal observed how sex-differentiated activities in gymnastics actually created gendered bodies. When Sean first enrolled in gymnastics, she was deeply disappointed to learn that she would not be able to work on the rings because they are designated as an apparatus for men and boys. According to Hal, “Sean had her heart set on doing the rings, but the rings are not allowed to her. But she started gymnastics with a Brazilian coach, who came and asked the girls, ‘Can anybody do a chin-up?’ But nobody could. And then Sean came and just ripped off nine chin-ups, and he was so excited he took her to all the other coaches. But she came back to me and said, ‘I dunno what to do because I can’t do the rings.’” Hal observed how this rule reinforced assumptions about sex differences: “The thing, too, that strikes me is that the boys that are struggling. They’re not as strong as her, but they’re doing it every day. And in a few years hence, they will become proficient, strong at this. And if Sean does not end up doing those exact muscle-building things, she will not. So then it will become this self-perpetuating dynamic that’s going on.” This is an example of the way that the “gender continuum” of overlapping sport performance is rendered invisible via social practices, with the result that the natural basis of sex segregation, sex differentiation, and male “unfair advantage” goes unquestioned.

Even in integrated community-center dance classes, it is often impossible to register kids without sharing information about their sex. Such information is assumed to be essential and is used to organize children’s participation in gender-appropriate ways. Many feminist parents who actively resist sex stereotyping are deeply troubled by the way sex markers are deployed to socialize children in distinctly gendered ways.
The page 99 test works a little well in the case of my book because I started doing work on trans issues with regard to sport. But it's not the most compelling.
Learn more about The Trans Generation at the NYU Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 16, 2018

John A. Fliter's "Child Labor in America"

John A. Fliter is associate professor of political science at Kansas State University. He is the coauthor of Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, the Contract Clause, and the Great Depression.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Child Labor in America: The Epic Legal Struggle to Protect Children, and reported the following:
From page 99:
On August 21, 1918, representatives from the American Federation of Labor, National Child Labor Committee, Women’s Trade Union League, National Consumers’ League, and various government officials who were responsible for enforcing the Keating-Owen Act met to draft a new child labor bill. The committee had decided early on not to seek a constitutional amendment but to find some path under the enumerated powers of Congress and Supreme Court precedents. The Kenyon postal bill was promptly rejected because there were too many questions over using the postal service as a federal police power and implementation would be difficult. Several of the pending tax bills were also found unsatisfactory. After numerous meetings and discussions, the group coalesced around a plan to levy an excise tax upon the products of any mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufacturing establishment in which children under the age of fourteen were employed, or children between fourteen and sixteen years had worked more than eight hours in any day, or more than six days a week. President Wilson approved the proposed legislation, and it was submitted to Senator Pomerene with the recommendation that it be attached to a pending revenue bill.
On page 99 of my book, I discuss how Progressive Era reformers sought a new strategy to curb child labor exploitation after the Supreme Court struck down the first federal law, the Keating-Owen Act, in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918). In a closely divided opinion, the Court held that Congress could not regulate child labor under its constitutional authority over interstate commerce because local labor conditions were the responsibility of the states.

Some states had restricted child labor since the 1840s but many of the laws were weak and lacked enforcement mechanisms. By the early 1900s, reformers lobbied for tougher, uniform regulations using federal power. Unfortunately, page 99 doesn’t include any compelling quotes or anecdotes, but it represents an important stage in the decades-long struggle to end oppressive child labor through national legislation.

When the tax measure was submitted to Congress, Senators Atlee Pomerene, Irvine Lenroot, and William Kenyon jointly revised the bill. First, instead of taxing products made with child labor, they imposed an excise tax on the profits of companies that used child workers. Second, responsibility for enforcement was given to the commissioner of internal revenue rather than the Labor Department. The senators believed that their strategy strengthened the bill against any constitutional challenges.

The Child Labor Tax, as the provision was called, passed by huge majorities in both chambers of Congress as part of a massive revenue bill. Most reformers, politicians, and even business owners anticipated that the Supreme Court would uphold the law. During the nearly three years it was enforced, many employers stopped using child workers. The Supreme Court, however, struck down the tax law in Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Company (1922).

The rest of my book chronicles the subsequent legal battles over oppressive child labor in America. With the adverse decisions in Hammer and Bailey, reformers turned to amending the Constitution to give Congress the explicit enumerated power to regulate child labor. An amendment was passed in 1924 but the measure failed ratification in the states. A third attempt to restrict child labor under the National Industrial Recovery Act as part of FDR’s New Deal was also struck down by the Supreme Court.

The final victory over child labor was not achieved until the Supreme Court upheld the Fair Labor Standards Act in U.S. v. Darby Lumber (1941). By that time, however, the worst forms of child labor exploitation had ended. It’s fair to conclude that the Supreme Court was not a catalyst for social change on the issue of child labor.
Learn more about Child Labor in America at the University Press of Kansas website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

David R. Coon's "Turning the Page"

David R. Coon is an associate professor of media studies at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is the author of Look Closer: Suburban Narratives and American Values in Film and Television.

Coon applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Turning the Page: Storytelling as Activism in Queer Film and Media, and reported the following:
From page 99:
While many spy stories feature a heteronormative relationship to provide romantic tension and ultimate closure, D.E.B.S. foregrounds a lesbian relationship, placing lesbians at the center of a genre where they have traditionally been excluded. Meanwhile, heterosexual men, usually the drivers of this genre, are relegated to the roles of expendable henchmen, emphasizing the film’s effort to rewrite the frequently exclusionary espionage narrative so as to open up possibilities for a more inclusive genre.
Turning the Page examines the work of LGBTQ storytellers in film and television over the past couple decades, paying particular attention to how these acts of storytelling advance the social justice efforts of various LGBTQ communities. Early sections of the book talk about the harmful narratives that have oppressed queer people for generations and how counter-storytelling is an important step toward combating the damage done by the myths and lies that have long portrayed queer people as sick, deviant criminals. Page 99 is about midway through chapter 3, which focuses on POWER UP, a nonprofit educational organization and media production company dedicated to training women and queer filmmakers while producing high quality LGBTQ-oriented content. Using POWER UP as an example, the chapter considers the importance of various kinds of education, including training people in a field that has traditionally excluded them and challenging what audiences think they know by offering new narratives that reimagine possibilities for queer people.

Page 99 is part of a discussion of two short films produced by POWER UP – D.E.B.S. and Little Black Boot. These films provide new takes on familiar genres by incorporating queer characters and relationships into a comedic spy thriller and a modern spin on the fairy tale Cinderella. The page includes a still image from D.E.B.S., featuring a young woman named Max, played by out lesbian actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, with a gun in each hand, shooting at her enemies while working to rescue a fellow spy who has been kidnapped.

The image and discussion on this page feed into the book’s larger arguments by providing examples of films that reimagine possibilities for queer people by rewriting familiar narratives in more inclusive ways. Like many of the films and organizations discussed throughout the book, those covered on page 99 engage in counter-storytelling as a way of challenging the restrictive narratives that have long supported the oppression of LGBTQ people.
Learn more about Turning the Page at the Rutgers University Press website.

Writers Read: David R. Coon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lynn Hunt's "History: Why It Matters"

Lynn Hunt is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA and the author of numerous popular and scholarly history books.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, History: Why it Matters, and reported the following:
Since History: Why It Matters is very short (115 pages of text), page 99 comes near the end, in a chapter titled “History’s Future.” The page makes two key points and makes them efficiently, which is, I hope, one of the best characteristics of this book. At this moment in the final chapter, I am discussing the question of time and history. History is obviously about time, right? Not as much as you might think. Writers of history tend to take time for granted, which means that they take the secularization of time for granted. History is about people acting in the profane world. Yet the sacred has not disappeared. It has migrated, for example, from the idea found in many cultures that rulers are rulers by divine right (they are chosen by a god or gods) to the idea that the nation itself is sacred. This is why history textbooks and historical monuments have aroused such controversy; tearing them down, whether literally or figuratively, seems to some people like sacrilege, a violation of the sacred, whether it’s the nation or a cause. My second point, also about time, concerns the recent effort among historians to push history writing much further back in time. When history emerged as a university discipline in the 19th century, scholars assumed that history began with the advent of writing, about 3500-3000 BCE. This conveniently matched the traditional Biblical chronology which held that the world was created sometime around 4000 BCE. After the findings of geology in the 1800s extended the timeline much further back (now billions of years back), historians did not follow. By linking history to writing, they kept the old chronology. Historians are not going to turn into archaeologists or anthropologists but more attention to this longer timeline gives us a different perspective on the past. I argued, consequently, that history needs all kinds of timelines, from the longest to the shortest, in order to make sense of the past. It all depends on the question posed. These are just two of the ways in which history matters and in which our notion of history is changing.
Learn more about Lynn Hunt and Why History Matters.

The Page 99 Test: Writing History in the Global Era.

Writers Read: Lynn Hunt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Victoria M. Grieve's "Little Cold Warriors"

Victoria M. Grieve is Associate Professor of History at Utah State University and the author of The Federal Art Project and The Creation of Middlebrow Culture. Her research spans childhood studies, visual culture, and cultural politics from the New Deal to the Cold War.

Grieve applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Little Cold Warriors: American Childhood in the 1950s, and reported the following:
From page 99:
…Their exchange reveals another persistent struggle at the heart of the Franklin enterprise, as well as Cold War cultural propaganda more generally. The USIA aimed to change hearts and minds through direct propaganda to a mainstream audience, but USIA-sponsored intellectuals tended to have a longer view and a subtler approach. Franklin operated on the principle that an educated population that enjoyed positive relationships with US-supported institutions and that did not appear to have ulterior motives would be stronger allies in the long term. Smith’s memos and reports repeatedly tout “the political benefits of a non-political book program” to justify Franklin’s title selections, target audiences, and juvenile book projects to the USIA.
Page 99 is about halfway through Little Cold Warriors, in the middle of Chapter Three, and happens to emphasize perhaps the key assertion of the book. At this point, I’m discussing a book program launched by private concerns in the United States but funded by the U.S. State Department. There are, of course, some different priorities at work which soon become points of contention. Should the bookmen emphasize America’s best literature, or should they translate books that paint the U.S. in a favorable light? State Department bureaucrats argue that the use of taxpayer money and Cold War politics demand the latter approach.

But Datus Smith, the head of Franklin Books, argues that “the political benefits of a nonpolitical book program” will in the long run do more to bolster the image of the United States in sensitive regions of the world. By translating juvenile books into Arabic, for example, Franklin Books cultivated a positive image with the next generation of leaders and built mutual relationships of trust and goodwill.

Of course, even Franklin’s “nonpolitical” books were political. I point out on page 99 that one of Franklin’s first and most popular translations from its Cairo, Egypt office was Edward R. Murrow’s This I Believe (1953). Franklin’s adaptation featured the biographies of 25 notable Americans and 25 prominent Arabs, the selection of which required the identification of particular national traits.

Page 99 offers one example of the larger argument of the book – the assumption that children of the 1950s were “nonpolitical” allowed children and children’s culture, such as juvenile books, to be used in explicitly political ways to fight the Cold War. Children’s toys, art exchange programs, advertising, and school civil defense projects all relied on the same assumption.
Learn more about Little Cold Warriors at the Oxford University Press.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Rory Cormac's "Disrupt and Deny"

Rory Cormac is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a leading expert among a new generation of intelligence historians, he specialises in British covert operations and the secret pursuit of foreign policy. He has published widely on intelligence and security issues and regularly appears on radio and television. He is the co-author of The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers and featured on Channel 4's Spying on the Royals.

Cormac applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy, and reported the following:
It’s early 1953 and Operation Boot, the covert action to overthrow the Iranian Prime Minister, is dead.

Britain had been waging subversion and political action to undermine Prime Minister Mossadeq and lay the foundations for a coup as early as the autumn of 1951. The Foreign Office simply could not tolerate his nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a vital source of income for a British government still suffering the disastrous economic legacy of the Second World War.

Page 99 of Disrupt and Deny details how, after 18 months of planning, bribing and planting propaganda in the press, British officials entered one of their periodic episodes of cold feet and called the whole thing off.

Taking the page in isolation is both characteristic of the wider book and misleading. The wavering outlined on this page is temporary, albeit reflective of broader Foreign Office caution about using covert action. Time and again, military and intelligence officers expressed deep frustration at what they saw as Foreign Office wetness. Yet, the page is misleading in so far as the chapter from which it is taken actually reveals the integral British role in the eventual overthrow. It tells the story of how Britain made the running on the operation, lobbied the United States to join them, and, despite some division in London, provided support for the chaotic coup. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was thrilled.

Operation Boot is a central episode in the broader history of Britain’s unacknowledged interference in the affairs of others, known as covert action.

First, the perceived success inspired a wave of planning for similar operations across the Middle East.

Second, the episode reveals the stark differences between covert action in this region and that undertaken against the Soviets in Europe (the topic of earlier chapters). Here, MI6 used small scale – if devious – disruptive operations, designed to chip away and gradually undermine Soviet authority. By stark contrast, operations targeting nationalism in the Middle East were free to be far more ambitious and dangerous.

From 1945, successive prime ministers turned to spies and special forces to mask decline and influence the fate of nations in a deniable manner. It is still happening today. The 1953 coup in Iran was just one example.
Learn more about Disrupt and Deny at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 9, 2018

James Loeffler's "Rooted Cosmopolitans"

James Loeffler is Jay Berkowitz Professor of Jewish History at the University of Virginia and former Robert A. Savitt Fellow at the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century, and reported the following:
The recent news that the United States has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council alarmed many and pleased others. But it surprised no one. For several decades now, successive American administrations have shared an ambivalent relationship with the UN’s international human rights system. The stated reason is frustration with the explicit politicization of human rights. A UN system intended to be a neutral, apolitical body has morphed in the hands of dictators and autocrats into a propaganda weapon directed against the U.S. and its allies, particularly Israel. Even those who think Israel’s human rights record warrants UN scrutiny generally recognize that the Human Rights Council is highly vulnerable to political bias.

Could it have turned out differently? That is the question I discuss on Page 99 of my book, Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. The founding father of international human rights law, Hersch Zvi Lauterpacht, thought long and hard in the 1940s about how to build a better system of international law that would transcend the dangers of geopolitics. As a Polish-born Jew who helped build the Zionist movement in interwar England and Palestine, he understood that politics and justice were intimately related. He watched in despair as the elaborate League of Nations legal system designed to protect Jews failed to stop the Holocaust.

Still, Lauterpacht hoped that after World War II further atrocities and other harms could be prevented if the world embraced a truly independent, universal human rights system. To succeed, that UN program would require two things: more power and more impartiality. Its officials would need real legal enforcement authority. Along with that, human rights at the UN must be fully insulated from geopolitics.

On Page 99, I describe Lauterpacht’s impassioned efforts to win the British and the American governments over to this vision. In a way, that theme runs throughout the entire book. Lauterpacht formed part of an activist network of Jewish pragmatic idealists who struggled both to make human rights effective and to shield them from the inevitable geopolitical intrigues and glaring hypocrisies that constitute a permanent feature of international diplomacy. Already in the 1940s they learned to their dismay that this was easier said than done. 70 years later, we still grapple with the same dilemma: How can we reset the balance between law and politics for human rights?
Learn more about Rooted Cosmopolitans at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tanya Katerí Hernández's "Multiracials and Civil Rights"

Tanya Katerí Hernández is the Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, where she co-directs the Center on Race, Law & Justice as its Head of Global and Comparative Law Programs and Initiatives.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, and reported the following:
The Page 99 Test is like some numerical sorcery from a Jorge Luis Borges story, mythical and unfathomable yet accurate all at the same time. On page 99 of Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, I describe how the U.S. government refused to add a “multiracial” category to its list of racial categories on the decennial census form in 1997, and instead started permitting respondents to select as many racial categories apply to their racial identity. The page then notes that the most zealous of multiracial category proponents were not satisfied by this government method of enumerating the population of racially mixed residents “because multiple box checking does not directly promote a distinct multiracial identity.” Page 99’s insight into the entire book though is revealed in the assessment that the significance of the census racial category debate:
extends beyond the actual decision of how mixed-race persons should be counted. What is most salient is how the struggles over the census racial categories have fostered a discourse of exalting personal racial identity and characterizing any incursions on expressions of personal identity as a civil rights issue in of itself absent any mixed-race specific material inequality.
The entire book is about interrogating the premise that mixed-race people have racial equality concerns that are not readily addressed by civil rights laws crafted with white versus black discrimination solely in mind. However, after examining the narratives of multiracial-identified persons bringing claims of racial discrimination across the contexts of employment, education, housing, public accommodations, and criminal justice, I found that at the core of each claim was the all too familiar binary of white versus non-white bias.

It turns out that apart from the distinction of articulating a multiracial personal identity, the stories of racial discrimination themselves are not unique and certainly not a cause for questioning the architecture of civil rights laws already under attack by those who are convinced that racial discrimination is no longer a concern that the government should be bothered with. Anti-discrimination law compels judges to concentrate on how claimants are treated rather than how they personally identify. The take away is that the public activism for cultural recognition of a multiracial identity is a misplaced import into the legal context because it obstructs the ability to understand the needs of multiracial victims of discrimination, whose disadvantage clearly flows from white versus non-white group-based racial hierarchies.
Learn more about Multiracials and Civil Rights at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Racial Subordination in Latin America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 6, 2018

Anna Tuckett's "Rules, Paper, Status"

Anna Tuckett is Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Tuckett applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Rules, Paper, Status: Migrants and Precarious Bureaucracy in Contemporary Italy, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Rules, Paper, Status: Migrants and Precarious Bureaucracy in Contemporary Italy falls at the beginning of the chapter titled “Becoming an Immigration Adviser”. This chapter focuses on the emergence of self-styled immigration experts – or “community brokers” – who help migrants navigate Italian immigration bureaucracy. These brokers have various motives for their assistance work, but one shared outcome is that their brokerage activities enable these individuals to fashion themselves in particular ways. These include fulfilling desires to be professional, gaining standing in their community, satisfying charitable impulses, and fighting for social justice. Crucially, the role of the community broker offers possibilities for gaining social status that are generally not otherwise available to migrants in Italy. For example, by translating documents, interpreting at offices, and filling out basic applications, Mehdi, a Moroccan community broker, was able to eke out a basic living for himself and avoid employment as a fruit picker or other similarly poorly paid wage labor.

The emergence of community brokers goes to the heart of my book’s focus on the productive nature of migrants’ legal and bureaucratic encounters and the unintended consequences these produce. In Italy, migrants generally have very low social and economic status and are restricted to the lowest status and most poorly remunerated jobs. Italian immigration law, which ties legal status to employment, effectively traps migrants in these positions, and is therefore a key factor in their marginalization in Italian society. As I argue in this chapter, however, although immigration bureaucracies function as a mechanism that reproduces migrants’ continued precarity, these brokers are able to turn this mechanism on its head, using immigration bureaucracy as a tool to overcome such marginalization and create alternative career opportunities for themselves. In doing so, they broaden their life horizons in spite of a legal and institutional matrix that is stacked against them.
Learn more about Rules, Paper, Status at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Gabriela González's "Redeeming La Raza"

Gabriela González is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Redeeming La Raza: Transborder Modernity, Race, Respectability, and Rights, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Leonor Villegas de Magnón had two powerful reasons for getting involved in this conflict. First, she knew that the American soldiers would turn the men over to the Federales in Nuevo Laredo once they had recuperated, after which they would be either imprisoned or executed in Mexico. Second, she was committed to the Carrancista cause. She knew that the rebel army needed survivors to fight other battles.
Page 99 focuses on transborder activist Leonor Villegas de Magnón’s heroic efforts to save the lives of injured Mexican rebel soldiers during the Mexican Revolution. The soldiers, followers of revolutionary general Venustiano Carranza, had been struck down during the 1914 Battle of Nuevo Laredo. Villegas de Magnon’s humanitarian work involved receiving the fallen Carrancista soldiers ferried across the Rio Grande river to the safety of the south Texas community of Laredo; housing them in makeshift hospitals; and with a group of nurses and doctors, nursing these battle survivors back to health.

Federalist officials connected to the regime of Mexican dictator Victoriano Huerta demanded that the United States release these men to their custody, ensuring that they would either be imprisoned or executed upon returning to Mexico. The rest of the page highlights the ingenious ways in which Villegas de Magnón addressed the transnational realities of trying to protect the human rights of the injured men in the face of an international neutrality law that compelled American officials to acquiesce to the demands of the Huerta regime.

This one story, like many others in Redeeming la Raza, encapsulates the main argument that during the first half of the twentieth century, Mexican American and Mexican immigrant activists in Texas and northern Mexico created a transborder political culture that challenged the more exploitative aspects of modernity and sought to build movements for human and civil rights. On the American side, la raza (ethnic Mexicans--both U.S. born and immigrants) needed to be redeemed or saved from white supremacy and all the exploitative systems informed by racialist thinking. In Mexico, modernity had been ushered in by Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz and the American and European investors he made deals with over the course of his thirty years in power. Mexico’s economic development came at a high social cost, leading to revolution.

The work of revolution in Mexico, like the work of civil and human rights activism in Texas fell not just on the shoulders of men, but also many women, including the women of the White Cross, a medical brigade founded by Leonor Villegas de Magnón. For Villegas de Magnón, helping the injured rebel soldiers was both a humanitarian act and a political one, for she supported the revolution’s attempt to redeem la raza in Mexico by ridding the country of anti-democratic, dictatorial forces.
Learn more about Redeeming La Raza at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Andrew S. Reynolds's "The Third Lens"

Andrew S. Reynolds is professor of philosophy at Cape Breton University. He has published in various history and philosophy of science journals and is the author of Peirce’s Scientific Metaphysics: The Philosophy of Chance, Law, and Evolution.

Reynolds applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Third Lens: Metaphor and the Creation of Modern Cell Biology, and reported the following:
I tried the page 99 test with my book and the results came back indisputably negative. Page 99 of my book on the role of metaphors in cell biology consists of a figure representing gene expression patterns in various types of cells during skeletal development that takes up 75% of the page. This would not give a very accurate idea of what the book is about and would probably turn off all but developmental or cell biologists, when in fact it’s about how scientists use metaphors as a kind of conceptual tool to understand and to physically manipulate cells (and their molecular components) –and how these metaphors can in turn manipulate the scientists if they’re not careful. Finally the book asks the question (and offers an answer), What does the fact that science relies so significantly on language that is literally untrue (metaphor) mean for our philosophical understanding of how science helps us to know about the world and ourselves?
Learn more about The Third Lens at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Montgomery McFate's "Military Anthropology"

Montgomery ‘Mitzy’ McFate is a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues. Currently, she is a professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

McFate applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Military Anthropology: Soldiers, Scholars and Subjects at the Margins of Empire, and reported the following:
Military Anthropology highlights the experience and thoughts of nine anthropologists who worked directly for the military, beginning with the British colonial era and ending with the Vietnam War.

Page 99 of my book is from the chapter about Ursula Graham Bower and military leadership. Ursula Graham Bower was a British debutante who became an anthropologist and lived among the Naga tribe on the India/Burma border. Although the Naga were patriarchal (with women having limited rights, playing no part in public life, and having taboos associated with them), Ursula Graham Bower recruited, armed, trained, and led them against the Japanese in combat. She was the only woman to have a de facto combat command in the British Army during WWII. How did she do that?
Both the purpose and the context of military leadership in extremis distinguish this form of leadership from other types. While the characteristics of military leaders in combat leave room for disagreement, it seems clear that military leadership, especially in times of crisis, tends to be of the transformative rather than transactional variety. The purpose of both the Naga and the British military effort was almost identical – defense against the Japanese threat. The overall context was quite similar – leadership in extremis. What was remarkably different was the culture of Naga warriors and British soldiers – cultural context. If we accept the proposition that “leadership itself is embedded in its context” and that “one cannot separate the leader(s) from the context any more than one can separate a flavor from a food,” then how do we explain Ursula Graham Bower’s effectiveness as a leader in two vastly different cultural contexts?
Page 99 sets up the argument that leadership is culturally dependent. Although the Naga leadership system was collective, hereditary and male, Ursula Graham Bower was able to become a member of the social collective, establish individual bonds of trust (rather than positional authority) and use the clan system to organize her military units. As this case shows, the cultural context of leadership sometimes trumps the preferred attributes of leadership.

Page 99 is not particularly representative of the book as a whole, since each chapter stands alone and focuses on a different anthropologist.

Some overarching themes do emerge from the book as a whole: The first challenge is that the increasing complexity of war -- combined with the increased flow of information about the complexity of war as it is being fought -- results in a strong need to simplify reality in order to manage time and tasks. This is the complexity problem. The simplification of reality through heuristics such as models, taxonomies, categories and frames enables the military to execute its kinetic missions but also limits understanding of human beings. This is the epistemology problem. Even when military personnel seek to understand their adversaries and the host nation population, they often discover that the culture of their own organizations creates barriers to understanding. This is the way of war problem. In attempting to use social science downrange, the military encounters another barrier; namely, the models, theories and concepts of how a society actually works do not exist in the required form. This is the social theory problem. Now the real trouble begins – actually implementing US foreign policy at the point of a gun. This is the thorniest problem of all: the military implementation of foreign policy.
Visit Montgomery McFate's website.

--Marshal Zeringue