Thursday, January 31, 2019

Elizabeth Wein's "A Thousand Sisters"

Elizabeth Wein is the holder of a private pilot’s license and the owner of about a thousand maps. She is best known for her historical fiction about young women flying in World War II, including the New York Times bestselling Code Name Verity and Rose under Fire. Wein is also the author of Cobalt Squadron, a middle grade novel set in the Star Wars universe and connected to the 2017 release The Last Jedi.

Wein applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II, and reported the following:
Is Ford Madox Ford's statement "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you," accurate for my book?

That would be a resounding “Yes.”

Page 99 of A Thousand Sisters:
Valentina insisted on becoming a fighter pilot, and made her application to a male commander.

He told her, “No! No women!”

“I will go nowhere, I will fly fighters,” Valentina said, and refused to get up from the chair where she was sitting.

“All right, you can sit here!” said the commander. Then he left.

Valentina spent the entire night sitting in his office. When he came back the next morning she was still sitting there.

Finally she wore him down, and Valentina was allowed to stay with the all-male fighter pilot training regiment. She was given her own little private plywood cabin in a corner of the dugout where the other pilots slept. But she wasn’t allowed to fly.

Valentina had over ten times more flying hours than the rest of the students, so there wasn’t any point in putting her through the paces in the training aircraft with the young men.

Instead, she was given kitchen duty—but the commander promised that when the fighter aircraft arrived she could be the second person, after the top male student, to try one out!

Valentina would finally get to join Marina Raskova’s 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment late in 1943.
Valentina Petrochenkova’s story, as quoted above, appears as a sidebar on page 99 in A Thousand Sisters. The book tells the story of the formation and performance of three women’s combat regiments formed by celebrity aviator Marina Raskova in the Soviet Union during World War II.

The kind of gender discrimination faced by Valentina Petrochenkova in the passage on page 99, her reaction to it, and her determination to override it, are typical of the individual journeys that all Marina Raskova’s pilots had to make in order to join her regiments and fight for their country.

What the passage doesn’t show is the wonderful solidarity that the Soviet female aviators shared once they joined forces with other women. That was the outstanding aspect of “Raskova’s Regiments” for me, and it really shone as I read their individual memoirs. These women worked and fought in unimaginably challenging conditions: flying in open-cockpit aircraft in -40 degree weather, getting two or three hours of sleep after ten combat missions in a single night, crash-landing burning aircraft to avoid being captured by the enemy. Through it all, their sisterhood is what sustained them, and it’s the central theme of A Thousand Sisters.

There’s one more thing about this passage that I ought to point out: its use of direct quotations. I was very lucky to have so many personal histories and interviews to draw upon in my research for this work of non-fiction. As a result, I was able to incorporate plenty of quoted dialogue into the text throughout A Thousand Sisters. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, I always think that a good conversation helps to make interesting reading!
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall's "The Misinformation Age"

Cailin O'Connor is associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine. James Owen Weatherall is professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the New York Times best-seller The Physics of Wall Street. Both are members of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Science.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, and reported the following:
On page 99 of The Misinformation Age we write about the work of Edward Bernays. He worked for the US Committee for Public Information (CPI) during WWI, attempting to sell the US public on the war effort via propaganda efforts including film, posters, and print. After the war, in the 1920s, he wrote several books synthesizing what he had learned into a general theory of political and commercial manipulation. As we point out:
Bernays himself took a rosy view of the role that propaganda, understood to include commercial and industrial information campaigns, could play in a democratic society. In his eyes it was a tool for beneficial social change: a way of promoting a more free, equal, and just society. He particularly focused on how propaganda could aid the causes of racial and gender equality and education reform.
Unsurprisingly, though, the propaganda tools developed by the CPI and others have not been employed for primarily beneficial uses. Despite Bernays's optimism, some of the passages from his 1928 Propaganda sounds straight out of 1984. As he writes about propaganda, "Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of" (9).

Our book focuses on propaganda directed towards the scientific community, and towards public understanding of science. People generally do not think of science as a target for propagandists. But industry interests have developed a playbook of surprisingly subtle, and often very effective tools for influencing both the progress of science, and public beliefs about it.

For instance, drawing on the work of historians Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, we explore the logic of what has been called 'The Tobacco Strategy'. This involved industry (starting with Big Tobacco) widely publicizing real, independent research that happened to show no connection between tobacco use and cancer. Without buying off scientists, or getting involved with the scientific process at all, they were able to use scientific findings as propaganda tools to confound public belief.

We also draw on the work of philosophers Justin Bruner and Bennett Holman to discuss 'industrial selection', whereby industry funds scientists who are already producing results they like. For instance, tobacco companies funded work on the dangers of asbestos, and Big Sugar on the dangers of fat. Big Coal seems to have funded a longitudinal study that happened to be finding no childhood mercury poisoning in one location, while ignoring another study that was detecting such a link. Again, scientists are not bought by industry in these cases. But, as we discuss, industry can nonetheless wield a great deal of control over what scientific fundings are ultimately produced via these efforts.
Visit Cailin O'Connor's website and James Owen Weatherall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

James Tackach's "Lincoln and the Natural Environment"

James Tackach is a professor of English at Roger Williams University and the president of the Lincoln Group of Boston. He is the author of Lincoln’s Moral Vision: The Second Inaugural Address and numerous articles on Abraham Lincoln.

Tackach applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Lincoln and the Natural Environment, and reported the following:
Lincoln and the Natural Environment presents an environmental biography of Abraham Lincoln. The book traces Lincoln’s relationship to and attitudes on the natural environment from his childhood and young adulthood on family farms through his tenure in the White House, a relationship that was complicated and still evolving at the time of his death. As a young man, Lincoln wished to distance himself from the hard work of living close to the environment; he considered his farming life as “stinted living.” Living so close to and dependent upon the environment also made farmers vulnerable to environmental events; a drought or an early or late frost could push a farm family toward starvation. Lincoln’s mother died when he was nine years old of an environmental disease, milk sickness, caused by drinking fresh milk from cows that had ingested the snakeroot plant, which grew randomly in the meadows of the Midwest. Lincoln escaped the farming life by studying the law and entering politics. As a politician, Lincoln embraced the Whig Party platform of “internal improvements,” the creation of roads, bridges, canals, railroads, which were human attempts to shape and control the natural environment.

As president, Lincoln and his administration waged the Civil War, perhaps the most catastrophic environmental event in United States history. Nonetheless, he opened himself to policies that would enhance the environment in time of war. He enhanced the Department of Agriculture, signed the Morrill Act, which established the land-grant colleges, and he established the National Academy of Sciences.

Page 99 of my book details Lincoln most far-reaching environmental action: his signing of the Yosemite Valley Grant Act. This law, introduced by John Conness, a U.S. senator from California, deeded thousands of acres of federal land in Yosemite Valley to the state of California for “public use, resort, and recreation.” This measure was the forerunner to the establishment of the nation’s National Parks. The measure also set a new precedent: The federal government would take measures to manage and protect the natural environment.
Learn more about Lincoln and the Natural Environment at the Southern Illinois University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 28, 2019

Julie C. Keller's "Milking in the Shadows"

Sociologist Julie C. Keller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Rhode Island. She began studying the increasing reliance on immigrant labor in the Wisconsin dairy industry as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Keller applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Milking in the Shadows: Migrants and Mobility in America’s Dairyland, which is based on research she conducted in Wisconsin and Veracruz, Mexico, and reported the following:
On page 99, I describe what happened when I visited the public library in the Wisconsin town of Fairview (pseudonym to protect the privacy of residents). This is the beginning of Chapter 7, Belonging in the Countryside: The Rural Idyll and the Legal Landscape.
Curious about the services at the library, I asked if there were any Spanish-language materials available to borrow. Shaking her head, the librarian told me that there is not a large enough population of Spanish speakers in the region to justify purchasing books and DVDs…What was striking about this characteristically midwestern encounter was that by that point, I had met roughly twenty migrant workers from Mexico living on farms within a few miles of Fairview. I would meet many more during the course of my fieldwork. This population was certainly “there” in Fairview, for I had seen and interacted with them. My experience at the library became even more striking when I reviewed the latest statistics on changes in Hispanic populations across the United States by county. Dennon County, where Fairview was located, had experienced a tremendous growth in their Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010 (Pew Research Center 2016).
The passage above sets the scene for investigating questions about the local communities that surround dairy farms and feelings of belonging among the undocumented immigrants working on these farms. This chapter argues that the rural idyll (an ideal construction of rural spaces) and the local legal landscape in Wisconsin work together to hamper migrants’ mobility in ways that both regulate and exclude them. In response, workers pushed against the structures that restrict their mobility, in some cases redefining the concept of citizenship as one based on ideals of community respect rather than documentation. To conclude, the scene I describe on page 99 wonderfully encapsulates my objective in writing this book: to illuminate the lives of workers who milk in the shadows and the structures that impede their mobility.
Learn more about Milking in the Shadows at the Rutgers University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Audra J. Wolfe's "Freedom's Laboratory"

Audra J. Wolfe is the author of Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science (2018) and Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America (2013). A Philadelphia-based writer and editor, her work has appeared in the Washington Post,, Slate, and the popular podcast American History Tellers, as well as more scholarly venues.

Wolfe applied the “Page 99 Test” to Freedom’s Laboratory and reported the following:
My first thought when I opened my book to page 99 was, “Oh dear.”

Most of my book doesn’t focus on “policy history.” It’s not—I swear to you—primarily a history of government appointees or the decisions that those appointees make. Instead, the most original sections of the book focus on how various groups of scientists enacted those decisions. Chapter 3, for instance, does discuss how and why the Central Intelligence Agency came to embrace covert cultural diplomacy for a tool in fighting the Cold War, but Chapter 4 explores how anti-Communist scientists took the CIA’s money (with or without knowing it was the CIA’s money) to promote the connection between science and freedom. Similarly, Chapter 6 looks at how U.S. scientists involved with the Pugwash movement understood their relationship to government, and Chapter 7 explores an unlikely movement to spread democracy around the globe through biology textbooks.

And yet, when I open Freedom’s Laboratory to p. 99, I’m greeted with a paragraph that lays out the various new science policy advisory mechanisms implemented by the Eisenhower administration after the launch of the Soviet Sputnik in the fall of 1957. It’s got everything a postwar scientific administrator could dream of: PSAC! The potential for a cabinet-level Department of Science! A Federal Council on Science and Technology!

Reader, I am sorry. In my zeal to minimize the presence of this sort of thing in the rest of the book, I fear I squeezed it all onto p. 99. The next paragraph discusses Wallace Brode’s appointment as science advisor to the State Department. At least it include a joke:
The appointment was greeted with fanfare, with Brode’s deep-set eyes and bushy brows gracing the cover of the Saturday Review and newspapers across the country. The most honest of the dozens of letters congratulating Brode came from Koepfli [the State Department’s first science advisor, appointed in 1950] himself: “I know you are going to have your work cut out for you,” he wrote. Brode should feel free to call him “any time.”
The reason that this qualifies as a joke, at least in the world of Freedom’s Laboratory, is that the State Department’s prior attempts to establish a science office, described earlier in the book, failed miserably. The office got caught up in webs of McCarthyist politics that bordered on farce. The launch of Sputnik finally changed all that, forcing U.S. administrators to take scientific prestige seriously as a front in the Cold War. The moment, and this page, is a turning point, when halting efforts coalesced into an all-out race for the soul of science.
Visit Audra J. Wolfe's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 25, 2019

Louise Kettle's "Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East"

Louise Kettle is an Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East, and reported the following:
This book aims to question whether the British government learns, or has learned in the past, from its vast experience in the Middle East. It does so by looking at the roles of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and intelligence agencies in five important interventions in the region; Suez 1956, Jordan 1958, Kuwait 1961, the Gulf 1990-1991 and Iraq 2003-2009.

On page 99 I am in the middle of examining the case study of Kuwait in the summer of 1961 – where the British were asked by the Ruler to intervene against the threat of annexation by its neighbouring Iraq.

At the beginning of the page I am summarising the tensions between the military Commanders – who required a minimum of four days to reach a state of readiness to launch an operation – and the intelligence community, who could not keep pace with the changing nature of events on the ground.

The second half of page 99 explains that, despite limited assets in Iraq, the intelligence community had been predicting Iraqi action against Kuwait for a number of years. A Joint Intelligence Committee assessment as early as January 1957 had described Iraq “as having for some time been casting covetous eyes on Kuwait”. This had allowed the military – in contrast to previous operations – to develop contingency plans for such a threat.

To keep these contingency plans current the military frequently requested re-evaluation of assessments. This forced the intelligence agencies to reflect upon their intelligence gathering and assessment capabilities more than they had in the past. Consequently, this page offers a small indication as to how learning from the past began to develop.
Learn more about Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Adam J. Silverstein's "Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story"

Adam J. Silverstein is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History at Bar Ilan University. He held a British Academy post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge, before taking up lectureships in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford, where he was also a Fellow of Queen's College. Subsequently, Silverstein was Reader in Abrahamic Religions at King's College London. His publications include The Oxford Handbook of the Abrahamic Religions (2015) and Islamic History: A Very Short Introduction (2010). He is also the series editor for The Oxford Studies in the Abrahamic Religions with Guy G. Stroumsa.

Silverstein applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story: The Reception of a Biblical Book in Islamic Lands, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story: The Reception of a Biblical Book in Islamic Lands discusses the literary relationship between the biblical book of Esther and the 1001 (Arabian) Nights. The idea that the two texts are connected was proposed by a Dutch Orientalist by the name of Martin de Goeje. De Goeje was a true giant in his field but his theory about Esther was rejected unceremoniously and with unmasked vitriol by some of his contemporaries; I sincerely hope that my book fares better, even though I try – amongst other things – to salvage de Goeje’s theory (and reputation).

The book of Esther relates the story of a genocidal plot against the Jews living in an ancient Middle Eastern Empire and the events that led to the Jews’ extrication from the threat. Esther, therefore, is both a ‘biblical’ story and a ‘Middle Eastern’ one. Although an inordinate amount of ancient, medieval and modern attention has been given to Esther by those interested in the Bible, few are those who have approached the text from the Middle Eastern angle: What, for instance, do Persian traditions have to say about the Persian heroine after whom the book is named?

In many ways, the comparison between the 1001 Nights and Esther represents fairly what my book is about, as I try throughout it to contextualize the Esther story within the broader framework of Middle Eastern culture, particularly as it is reflected in works written, over the past millennium or so, in Islamic lands. In doing so, I try to show not only what Middle Easterners have thought about this Middle Eastern story (‘Veiling Esther’), but also that our understanding of this story as a biblical text is enriched by recourse to Islamic materials (‘Unveiling her story’).

If you are interested in Esther or in Islamic history I expect you will enjoy at least some of the book; and if you are interested in neither, but suffer from insomnia, then the book may prove useful in unintended ways.
Learn more about Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Gilbert E. Metcalf's "Paying for Pollution"

Gilbert E. Metcalf is the John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service and Professor of Economics at Tufts University. In addition, he is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a University Fellow at Resources for the Future. In 2011-2012, Metcalf served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Metcalf applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Paying for Pollution: Why a Carbon Tax is Good for America, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book is the first page of Chapter 7 titled “So You Want a Carbon Tax: How Do You Design It?” After having made the argument in the first six chapters that failing to act on climate change is costly and having argued that a carbon tax is the cheapest and most effective way to reduce our emissions, I need to explain how a legislator would go about drafting carbon tax legislation. I sketch out guiding principles for designing a carbon tax: the tax should be simple to administer, entail low compliance costs for whoever pays the tax, and ensure broad coverage of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the design should not get in the way of the tax providing the right price signal to reduce carbon pollution.

This page also invokes the Willie Sutton principle:
The first and most basic principle relates to what should be taxed. Here, the 1930s bank robber, Willie Sutton, had a relevant insight. Asked why he robbed banks, Sutton reportedly replied, "Because that's where the money is." With over three-quarters of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions coming from the burning of coal, natural gas, and petroleum for energy-related purposes, the obvious place to start is by taxing our use of those fuels – that's where the carbon is.
When asked who my ideal reader is, I tell people that I had in mind a Congressional staffer who knows little (if any) economics or science but needs to get up to speed on climate change and policy solutions because his or her elected boss needs to know what to do. With that reader in mind, I avoid all technical language, equations, math, and complicated diagrams; rather I explain things in plain English but back up all my assertions in the detailed endnotes accompanying (but not getting in the way of) the narrative. This is not a book for economists or policy geeks but rather a book for anyone concerned about our planet who wants to know what our policy options are and why I think a carbon tax is the way to go.
Learn more about Paying for Pollution at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Jay Rubenstein's "Nebuchadnezzar's Dream"

Jay Rubenstein is Riggsby Director of the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Nebuchadnezzar's Dream: The Crusades, Apocalyptic Prophecy, and the End of History, and reported the following:
I feel like Ford Madox Ford was trolling me. Page 99 of my book, in its entirety, reads, "Part III—Prophecy Revised (1144-1187)." This test may not be a complete failure, however, because the section title does point to the overall architecture of the book. Nebuchadnezzar's Dream is about ideas and about people. Part I was about the joyous reaction that greeted the First Crusade, and how it forced people to rethink the structures of history (revealed by God centuries earlier in the dream of a Babylonian King). Part II was mainly about people, specifically about how crusaders so badly upon their return home that everyone had to rethink what the original expedition had meant. Part III examines various people carried out the project of rethinking history and trying to make sense of the divine plan.

Most of the characters in Part III are not prophets in the technical sense — someone who seems to speak with the voice of God. One is a monk and a preacher, Bernard of Clairvaux, who successfully recruited new armies to march to the Holy Land. Bernard recognized that the prophet structure he'd inherited had gotten so wobbly that it was unlikely to inspire anyone. So he set aside appeals to history and relied instead on fake miracles to drum up excitement. Another character is a bishop named Otto who himself went on crusade. His experiences there convinced him that God would never send Christian armies to such an awful place. At about the same time, an actual prophet, Hildegard of Bingen, had a vision of monstrous head chewing its way out of a woman's loins and reached the same conclusion. There was enough trouble at home. Christians should stay put and get their houses in order.

So, while Ford Madox Ford could have picked a happier number, the signpost on page 99 points to what makes my book (hopefully) interesting: It shows where people got their weird ideas and why weird ideas matter.
Learn more about Nebuchadnezzar's Dream at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Victoria L. Harrison's "Fight Like a Tiger"

Victoria L. Harrison is an instructor in the department of historical studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She has published essays in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society and Ohio Valley History.

Harrison applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Fight Like a Tiger: Conway Barbour and the Challenges of the Black Middle Class in Nineteenth-Century America, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Fight Like a Tiger reflects the main argument of the book that the black middle class has its roots in the free black population of the mid-century and developed alongside the idea of a white middle class. Although slavery and racism meant that the definition of middle class was not identical for white people and free people of color, they shared similar desires for advancement. Barbour, a former slave, was a steamboat steward in Louisville, a race activist in Cleveland, businessman in Alton, Ill., and a legislator in Reconstruction Arkansas during the administration of Governor Powell Clayton. After he left the legislature, he was appointed tax assessor in Chicot County, Ark., where residents of the county seat, Lake Village, greeted with threats of violence.

The page begins with the last of a previous paragraph describing attacks made on Barbour by the Democratic Arkansas Gazette newspaper, a racist paper that ridiculed “airy darkeys.” The two full paragraphs on the page read:
Barbour did not respond to the attacks, but, instead, continued to expand his portfolio. He asked for and received credentials as an attorney from Associate Justice E.J. Searle of the Arkansas Supreme Court after supplying the Clayton ally with “satisfactory evidence of his good moral character and qualification.” Barbour was certified to practice in the supreme and all inferior courts in the state. He swore his oath on the last day of September 1871; the clerk of the state supreme court recorded his license the following February. Barbour’s rival for tax assessor had been a lawyer, and although Downs had relinquished his claim to the county job, Barbour, possibly anticipating more trouble, acquired the means to counter further legal challenges to his position and a new way to make money. With the stroke of Searle’s pen, Barbour became a lawyer, one of only three black attorneys in Lake Village during the period.

Less than two months after he swore his oath, Barbour bought four town lots in Lake Village from Charles H. Carlton, a former officer in the Confederate Army, for $955. The full amount was due by 1 March 1872; thereafter interest accumulated on the note at 2 percent per month. As security, Barbour sold Carlton all of his household good, including a piano, for $5, the sale being void when Barbour paid off the lots. The presence of a piano, the symbol of middle-class refinement, among his belongings suggests a financial stability he did not enjoy. His property in both Cleveland and Alton had been auctioned off only a few months before, and despite his county job and newly acquired legal credentials in Arkansas, Barbour paid the debt to Carlton a full eighteen months later than agreed. Even so, with his large Lake Village homestead, license to practice law, and county office, Barbour accumulated the trappings of an important resident of Chicot County.
The remainder of the page begins to examine the tumultuous politics in Chicot County.

The two full paragraphs demonstrate Barbour’s relentless pursuit of standing in the communities where he lived and his persistently precarious financial situation. His struggle was representative of many heretofore unknown African Americans striving for entry into the middle class in nineteenth century America. In each place that he lived, we find others like him seeking to better themselves vocationally and economically, seeking respectability and status. Barbour failed as often as succeeded, but he never stopped fighting.
Learn more about Fight Like a Tiger at the Southern Illinois University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Fight Like a Tiger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 18, 2019

Tony Platt's "Beyond These Walls"

Tony Platt is a Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law & Society, University of California, Berkeley. The author of numerous books dealing with issues of criminal justice, race, inequality, and social justice in American history, including Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States, he previously taught at the University of Chicago, Berkeley, and California state universities.

Platt applied the “Page 99 Test” to Beyond These Walls and reported the following:
When I get a request to riff on the revelatory vision (or not) of page 99 of my new book, I consult friends for advice – this is new to me – and they tell me, unanimously, that I need to mention its title, Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime & Punishment in the United States, in the first half of the first sentence and in the last sentence, and to mention my publisher St. Martin's in the second half of the first sentence. And it wouldn't hurt if you could include the name of your editor somewhere in the piece, but not in the first sentence, they add.

That was their total advice.

I had a touch of angst before opening to page 99. What if it’s blank? It would be hard to make a minimalist case for a 372-page tome.

Or what if it’s one of those dull passages that readers love to skip, inevitable in a history book, unless you’re a Howard Zinn? “This part is a bit too listy,” my editor Karen Wolny chided me as she cavalierly marked up an early draft. What if page 99 escaped Karen’s efforts to de-academicize my prose and root out such words as de-academicize?

Thankfully, page 99 does not strike me as dull.

Here you’ll find references to how Donald Trump became an America Firster; the United States’ use of waterboarding (known then as the water cure) against political prisoners in the Philippines in the 1900s; everyday torture of African Americans by police and sheriffs in the South after the defeat of Reconstruction; efforts by the government and rightwing patriotic groups during World War I to make the promotion of antiwar ideas treasonous; and President Trump’s relentless propaganda campaign to craft the bogeyman of Radical Islamic Terror.

How are these seemingly disparate events connected and how are they related to police racism, mass incarceration, and the sorrowful state of criminal justice institutions today? And what can we do about it?

Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime & Punishment in the United States tries to answer these big questions.
Learn more about Beyond These Walls at the St. Martin's Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Richard Drake's "Charles Austin Beard"

Richard Drake is the Lucile Speer Research Chair in Politics and History at the University of Montana.

Drake applied the “Page 99 Test” to his newest book, Charles Austin Beard: The Return of the Master Historian of American Imperialism, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls in Chapter 5, “Isolationism versus Internationalism,” where I discuss Beard’s relationship with the America First Committee (AFC). For its isolationist attempt to keep the United States out of the Second World War, this large nation-wide organization has gone down in history as one of the country’s most acute aberrations. Ever since Pearl Harbor, the term “isolationist” has been used as an epithet in foreign policy debates. Philip Roth’s 2004 novel, The Plot Against America, comes up for discussion on page 99. Portraying this group as a nest of anti-Semites, he reflects mainstream opinion about its radically misconceived notion of keeping the United States out of the “good war.” Roth imagines what would have happened in the country and the world if Charles A. Lindbergh, the AFC paladin, had run for the presidency and won in 1940. With a friend in the White House, the Nazis and Fascists might have triumphed.

The main problem with Roth’s book concerns its utterly fallacious portrait of Lindbergh and the other principal figures in the America First Committee. I discuss the findings of Wayne S. Cole whose America First: The Battle Against Intervention, 1940-1941 is a scholarly account of the events fictionalized by Roth. In a bibliographical note at the end of his novel, Roth cites Cole’s work. He appears, however, to have learned nothing at all from it. Cole convincingly argues that the AFC was remarkably free of anti-Semitism and actively sought to recruit Jews to its ranks, succeeding in many cases. He shows Lindbergh to have been critical of some American Jews for political positions that they took but not for anti-Semitic reasons based on race or ethnicity. In fact, he spoke out against the Nazis for their treatment of Jews.

Beard never joined the America First Committee. On domestic political issues, he differed sharply with some of the organization’s conservative positions. He had an important intellectual relationship with the AFC though. His historical works and foreign policy essays received prominent mention on AFC reading lists. They found inspiration in his revisionist interpretation of America’s intervention in the First World War as a tragic disaster motivated primarily by economic interests. Beard’s work sustained them in their struggle to resist intervening in yet another useless slaughter. By illustrating a prominent example of Beard’s intellectual influence among critics of the country’s interventionist foreign policy, the material on this page helps to substantiate the book’s thesis about Charles Austin Beard as the master historian of American imperialism.
Visit Richard Drake's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Matthew Carr's "The Savage Frontier"

Matt Carr is a writer, campaigner and journalist, living in Sheffield England. His non-fiction books include: My Father’s House; The Infernal Machine: a History of Terrorism; Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain; Sherman’s Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American War of War; and Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent.

His first novel The Devils of Cardona, was published in 2016 by Penguin Random House in the US.

Carr applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Savage Frontier: the Pyrenees in History and the Imagination, and reported the following:
The Savage Frontier is a history of the Pyrenees, which challenges the stereotypical image of the mountains as a remote border region, isolated from the main currents of European and world history. I also examined the cultural depictions of the Pyrenees and the different ways in which the Pyrenean landscape has become a 'landscape of the imagination.' It's a very personal history, which combines various genres. In writing it, I was determined to see as many places and landscapes as I could with my own eyes, and I tried to imagine them from the perspective of the people I wrote about.

The chapter in which page 99 appears is entitled 'The Zone of War'. As the title suggests, it looks at the military history of the Pyrenees as a battleground and strategic frontier, for invading armies and soldiers fighting in Spain's various civil wars. Beginning with Hannibal's Pyrenean crossing en route to his more famous traverse of the Alps, this chapter takes in various episodes, including Caesar's campaigns during the Roman civil wars; the wars between Spain and France; the Carlist Wars; Wellington's campaigns against Napoleon in 1813; guerrilla warfare, the International Brigades, culminating in the resistance to Francoism waged by Spanish anarchist guerrillas in France, which continued until the early 1960s.

This military history closes with a section entitled 'The Wars of Pau Casals.' It deals with the pacifists and anti-war activists who have also been part of the Pyrenean theatre of war. Foremost amongst them was the Catalan cellist Pau Casals, an opponent of Franco who continued to live close to the Spanish border in the Pyrenean market town of Prats-de-Mollo for twenty-three years. Casals refused to play in public as long as Franco remained in power. As a result, a group of international musicians established a music festival in 1949 in Prats-de-Mollo in his honour, which continues to this day.

Page 99 closes that chapter. It's only one paragraph, which forms part of a description of a concert at the monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa on the slopes of Mount Canigou which I attended, as part of the Pau Casals music festival in 2016. Casals loved that monastery and often played there. I visited the monastery during a summer in which France was in a state of emergency following a spate of terrorist attacks, and even the carpark to the monastery was filled with extra police.

Today war is a distant memory in the history of the Pyrenees, and after so much violence and mayhem, I wanted to close the chapter on a more uplifting and hopeful note. On page 99 I describe the music that I heard, and I imagine Casals during his precarious exile in Nazi-controlled France during World War 2, a ' little bald man in glasses...beginning his daily practice with his beloved Bach, as he did almost every day during his wartime years.'

At that time, Casals could not be certain if he would ever play again, and I compare 'the barbarism of our own era' to the barbarism that he patiently endured during his lonely vigil. As short as it is, page 99 captures the tone and style of the book, with its combination of travelogue, history and personal reflection, and a narrative which frequently flits back and forth between past and present.

All of which suggests that, in this case at least, Ford Madox Ford was absolutely right.
Visit Matthew Carr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devils of Cardona.

Writers Read: Matthew Carr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 14, 2019

Andrew R. Murphy's "William Penn: A Life"

Andrew R. Murphy is Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He is the author of Liberty, Conscience, and Toleration: The Political Thought of William Penn and Prodigal Nation: Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11.

Murphy applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, William Penn: A Life, and reported the following:
Page 99 of William Penn: A Life appears about halfway through Chapter 5, “The Great Opinionist.” The chapter’s title refers to a description of Penn offered by Silas Taylor, keeper of the naval stores in the port town of Harwich, on October 26, 1671: “On Tuesday, out of a packet-boat from Holland, arrived here Sir William Penn’s eldest son, the great opinionist; he went presently and associated himself with the Quakers of this town.” At this point in his life – about to turn 27 years old – William Penn had been a convinced Quaker for about four years. Returning from his first visit to the Continent as a Quaker, he was about to begin a rapid rise to leadership in the Society of Friends, as a loyal lieutenant to, and energetic defender of, George Fox, the sect’s founder.

Page 99 and the pages that follow it chronicle the many interlocutors with whom this “great opinionist” did battle in the contentious world of early modern religious and political debate: Anglicans, Socinians, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, to say nothing of fellow Quakers, many of whom chafed under the organizational structures that Fox (with Penn’s solid support) was then putting into place. These debates took place in person, in print, in Parliament, and even before the King himself (access Penn gained by virtue of his father’s friendship with the royals and service as Navy Commissioner).

More broadly, the 1670s were a time of enormous personal and professional growth in Penn’s life. The decade kicked off with his celebrated trial, in which a jury refused to convict him and fellow defendant William Mead despite being browbeaten by an enraged judge. An anonymously-published “transcript” of that trial (likely authored, at least partially, by Penn himself) portrayed Penn as a heroic figure standing up for English liberties: it was wildly popular, going through nine printings in late 1670 alone and making Penn a celebrated figure in the Dissenting community. Shortly after the trial, his father died, and Penn inherited lands in Ireland. In the spring of 1672, he married Gulielma Springett, whom he had been courting for four years. Although he did not receive his colonial charter for Pennsylvania until 1681, the public profile that proved so invaluable to that undertaking owed much to the emergence of this “great opinionist” during the early 1670s.
Learn more about Andrew R. Murphy's research and publications at his faculty webpage and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Prodigal Nation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Karin Vélez's "The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto"

Karin Vélez is associate professor of history at Macalester College.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto: Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World, and reported the following:
Hilariously and unexpectedly, the Page 99 Test works for my history monograph The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto because it showcases the essential points of my book (I'll refrain from commenting on the quality). Interestingly, the Holy House in my book’s title is not the focus of the book’s page 99. On page 99, the house is overshadowed by three comparatively unknown seventeenth-century individuals who were “touched” (and some who literally got to touch) that sacred relic. These three men of note on page 99 include: 1) an Italian pilgrim, Nicolà Albani, who detoured to visit the Holy House on his way to more prominent Christian pilgrimage sites in Rome; 2) a Huron refugee and convert to Catholicism, Ignace Tsaouenhohoui, whose escape from enemy hands led him to Québec City and the eastern Canadian mission town eventually named Lorette; and 3) the unwitting bridge between them, the French Jesuit Pierre-Joseph-Marie Chaumonot. Like Albani and Tsaouenhohoui, Chaumonot was an “accidental pilgrim” who stumbled upon the shrine of Loreto as a young runaway. The visit inspired him to later become a Jesuit and to vow to build a replica of Italy’s Holy House on the Canadian frontier, where he was assigned to work as a missionary. Page 99 of my book summarizes “the parallel patterns of spiritual growth” between this Jesuit, Huron convert, and common Italian pilgrim. These patterns include “approach[ing] holy sites desperately and without advance planning” and making “journeys to certify their membership in a mixed company that was neither exclusive nor polished.” Their stories of coincidence and re-routing are not those traditionally mustered to explain the spread of Catholicism. The usual narrative of how Christianity expanded out into the world stresses deliberate planning, organization, and often military might. But my page 99 foreshadows my alternative, Wikipedia-style model for understanding how Christianity took hold globally in the 1600s (see Chapter 8 of the book for a full discussion of how the early overseas portaging of Loreto resembles today’s Wikipedia). As the diverse players on page 99 suggest, the Holy House of Loreto and the particular form of Christianity that it embodied were carried to new moorings by self-appointed, mixed-rank, often peripheral amateurs. The “miraculous” here is the “accidental,” genuinely inadvertent randomness of movement so evident in the historical record...and so evident when one flips to page 99 of this publication.
Learn more about The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto at the Princeton University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Matthew S. Seligmann's "Rum, Sodomy, Prayers and the Lash Revisited"

Matthew S. Seligmann was born in London. He was educated at the universities of Edinburgh, Pennsylvania, and Sussex and has held posts at the University of Northampton and Brunel University London, where he is currently professor of naval history. An expert on the Anglo-German naval race and Anglo-German relations before and during the First World War, he has written numerous books and articles on this subject, as well as making radio and television appearances.

Seligmann applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited: Winston Churchill and Social Reform in the Royal Navy, 1900-1915, and reported the following:
First as President of the Board of Trade (1908-1910) and then as Home Secretary (1910-1911) Winston Churchill was a radical liberal reformer advancing a strongly progressive social agenda. However, according to most historians, when he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in October 1911 he abandoned his former reformist credentials in order to concentrate exclusively on the more martial task of preparing the Royal Navy for war. This book argues otherwise. Using as its springboard the apocryphal quotation, often attributed to Churchill, that naval tradition was nothing but ‘rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash’, it demonstrates that in the run up to the First World War and most especially in the period when Churchill was in charge, a major series of reforms were introduced designed to improve the life of British sailors. These included efforts to reduce over-drinking, regulate sexuality, introduce more and better access to spiritual services, and lessen the role of corporal punishment. In short, whether by accident or design, these were reforms focusing on ‘rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash’.

Page 99 of the book is part way into chapter four, the section of the book that addresses the question of ‘prayer’. This particular page focuses on one of the earliest attempts to improve the quality of religious provision in the Royal Navy by changing the terms of service of the Navy’s Anglican chaplains. In place of older chaplains who served for life, the object was to lure into the Navy younger more energetic and more vibrant clergy who would serve aboard ship for three to five years only. From there the chapter goes on to examine reforms designed to provide for the spiritual needs of the Navy’s non-conformist and catholic sailors, a task made difficult by the fact that at that time the law required all naval chaplains to be Anglican. Considerable efforts were made to widen the scope of spiritual provision within the confines of a constitutional system that privileged the state church.

Alcohol, sexuality, religion and punishment all shaped the life and experiences of British sailors at the start of the twentieth century. The British state was eager to improve their lives and better their conditions. As this book shows, none of its leaders was more committed to this than Churchill.
Learn more about Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 11, 2019

Lisa Greenwald's "Daughters of 1968"

Lisa Greenwald, PhD, spent almost a decade working in and researching the women’s movement in France, supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship and grants from the French government. She has worked as a consultant and in-house historian for a variety of nonprofits and foundations in France, Chicago, and New York. She currently teaches history at Stuyvesant High School in New York City.

Greenwald applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement, and reported the following:
Page 99 locates the origin of the political and radical wing of feminism:
Two small groups already functioning when the street fighting began in May 1968 would become very important to the evolution of second wave French feminism. The MDF (Mouvement démocratique féminin or the Democratic Women’s Movement) and its daughter group, FMA (Féminin-Masculin-Avenir—Feminine-Masculine-Future), produced a synthesis of revolutionary theory and dynamic activism. Perhaps most important, they opened the field of political action and political critique to include personal relations between the sexes, a position that would mark contemporary French feminism for the next two decades.
Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement, is the story of modern-day French feminism which was both impactful and full of intellectual and personal conflict. It is the book that has been clamoring to be written since American academics decades ago claimed second wave “French feminism” as a literary movement divorced from the politics that shaped it. A small collection of women psychoanalysts, novelists, and philosophers who have written about and for women since the 1970s have enjoyed significant academic interest beyond France and are often seen by foreign academics as epitomizing French feminism. This belief continues among American academics and much of the French public, thus this book intends to shift the understanding of French feminism in a more political direction. Between women’s suffrage in 1944 and the Socialist electoral win in 1981, using feminist arguments to attract voters, French feminism played a central political role in the history of France. The women who drove this feminist epoch and were at the forefront of action on women’s behalf were often social scientists, teachers, and workers—leftists committed to a materialist critique of society. They were part of a longer tradition, which flourished in the postwar period, and which produced widespread social change, revamping the workplace and laws governing everything from marriage to abortion.

The book emphasizes three points: First, that French feminism sought to rectify women’s secondary status but also to tear apart patriarchal society and reinvent it in feminist terms; second, that the way French feminism developed was indeed singular but not as it has been described by philosophers, having more to do with the influence of Marxism as well as Catholicism; and third that there were many contradictions and strands of French feminism, some of which invoked the principle of corporatism to deny feminist demands and others who cultivated a universalist vision of France to bolster them.
Learn more about Daughters of 1968 at the University of Nebraska Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 10, 2019

David A. Taylor's "Cork Wars"

Journalist David A. Taylor teaches science writing at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America and Ginseng, the Divine Root: The Curious History of the Plant That Captivated the World.

Taylor applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II, and reported the following:
The Page 99 test is uncanny in the case of Cork Wars. When I open to that page in the published version, it's the start of a key chapter illuminating the hidden world at the heart of the story: the industrial espionage during World War II that embroiled worked in the cork industry in the intelligence game, caught in neutral countries and reporting to U.S. spy agencies on what they found. The chapter, "Among the Spies in Lisbon," follows American businessman Melchor Marsa, whom we've already met. A naturalized American who settled in Brooklyn and raised a family, and returned to Europe in the 1930s to manage the plants in Spain and Portugal for the American company, Crown Cork and Seal.

Page 99 notes, as Marsa returns to Lisbon in the spring of 1943 with support of the OSS (predecessor to the CIA): "The city was awash with spies from both sides. Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, and the notorious Kim Philby were busy sleuthing for the British..." It goes on to describe how Marsa, while new to the ways of espionage, was at home in the world of Lisbon's convoluted business relationships, and how his family received news of him.

The book weaves together three family stories of the war as it affected working people: from the company owner to the manager to the people working on the factory floor. For Marsa's story, his daughter Gloria proved an invaluable guide, as she lived with her parents in Lisbon before the U.S. entered the war, and could describe the tumultuous atmosphere of the city as well as relate what she knew of her father's experience. She brought Melchor Marsa to life, the person behind the documents and declassified secret government files that I had found in my research.
Visit The Cork Wars website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Murad Idris's "War for Peace"

Murad Idris is an Assistant Professor of Politics, University of Virginia, and co-editor of forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Comparative Political Theory.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought, and reported the following:
On page 99 of War for Peace, I argue through a close reading of the philosopher al-Fārābī (c. 872–950/1) that the form of a collective bond is predicated on an enemy. The bond does not only enfold those who live together; it establishes those alongside whom they wage war and those against whom they wage war. The page distinguishes this interpretation of al-Fārābī from Carl Schmitt’s friend/enemy distinction; summarizes how al-Fārābī schematizes each bond and its corollary antagonism; and introduces al-Fārābī’s description of the view that people must seek conquest after conquest, or war for its own sake. The page ends with a contrast: “Recall Cleinias’s claim in book 1 of Plato’s Laws, that there” is an everlasting war against cities, between cities, or between neighborhoods, households, men, and inside each person.

Al-Farabi’s descriptions are symmetrical. My discussions of symmetry underscore how aesthetic features quietly arrange constructions of the world—the agents and spaces that a schema prioritizes, and the erasures and hierarchies it installs. He lists “bonds (and antagonisms) produced through procreation or intermarriage (against other kin-based groups); a shared first or original ruler (against outsiders); alliances (against other forces); similarity in a nation’s character, nature, and language (against other nations),” and so on. Thus, “clan is distinguished from clan, city from city, a set of allies from another set of allies, and nation from nation.” Al-Fārābī then describes the view of warlike groups and of a “peaceful” city. Other scholars have taken al-Farabi to suggest that the “peace-loving cities” are either insignificant or non-violent. I show that, based on al-Farabi’s own description, this group’s structure is actually strikingly similar to the “warlike cities” that al-Fārābī discusses in another text. The “peaceful city” wages war, insists on peace, and resembles those whom it designates as warlike.

This analysis is part of the chapter’s attempt to interrogate the economies of morals that configure “war for the sake of peace” and to recover their logics beyond the grammar of “just war” and “good intentions.” This grammar’s neutrality is too often taken for granted. The chapter pursues this argument through its juxtaposition of al-Fārābī and Thomas Aquinas.

Page 99 reflects the book’s challenge to critically situate thinkers, their concepts, and their schematizations across histories of political thought. It turns from al-Farabi back to Plato’s Cleinias; later chapters resituate both in light of the schematizations of war and peace by Erasmus, Ibn Khaldun, Hobbes, Pufendorf, Kant, and Sayyid Qutb, among others, to tease out how idealizations of peace re-entrench hierarchies within humanity, reflect the distinction between empire and native, and authorize various forms of policing in the name of peace. From this page alone, one could say that War for Peace gives the genealogies of the frames that structure theorizations of universal peace, war, and the globe.
Learn more about War for Peace at the Oxford University Pres website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Raymond Taras's "Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics"

Raymond Taras is Professor of Political Science at Tulane University. In 2019 he is Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Australian National University in Canberra.

Taras applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics: An Introduction, and reported the following:
This book considers six separate cases of migrants seeking to integrate into receiving societies in the northern and southern hemispheres: Russia, Britain, the US, India, South Africa, and Peru. I set up a migration politics test: how different these societies are with their prerequisites for achieving social cohesion – the glue that binds nativists with recent migrant arrivals. I even resort to comparing the national anthems of these six states to determine which is most exclusionary and which is least.

As luck would have it, however, page 99 falls on endnotes to the Russia case, a country that I have studied painstakingly since the 1970s. I am shamefaced to admit that the first endnote on page 99 is to my 1990s volume, edited with media illuminatus and puppet model Ian Bremmer, on Nations and Politics in the Soviet Successor States.

I spent inordinate time deconstructing Winston Churchill’s often-cited puzzle which he identified in a BBC radio broadcast on 1 October 1939. The devastating beginnings of World War II had struck Poland hardest. Britain was sidelined fighting a phony war while Russia was kept busy thanks to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact that kept the Red Army occupied swallowing up chunks of Poland and parts of eastern Europe. Churchill decided to keep his options open in October and proclaimed that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Churchill himself indulged therefore in cryptic signaling.

So much for Russia in my study of nationhood. The greater part of this cross-national research concerns migrants who are viewed as belonging or not belonging to receiving societies. Prejudices run deep in many countries, sometimes in favor of assisting certain migrant communities but in others rejecting them out of hand. Overall, the list of “unwelcome people” has grown since my book was published. For example, in Latin America alone there are groups of Brazilians, Colombians, and Mexicans in northern border towns rallying against the influx of refugees.

I define nationhood, predictably enough, on page 1: “It abandons ideas of monoculturalism and assimilationism that were previously demanded of society and which had insisted on blind loyalty by immigrants to the majority culture. Nationhood was being nudged from a primordial, ethnic understanding of the nation towards a civic one.” Following cues from a number of writers, I claim that nationhood and nation should no longer be viewed as synonyms, that nationhood should have a distinct meaning underscoring reciprocity and affinity between nativists and recently-arrived immigrants. The end goal is to form an organic whole, that is, a socially cohesive society.

Compulsively I have to return to Russia. In concluding his broadcast, in a rarely-referenced addendum Churchill cautioned how “It cannot be in accordance with the interest of the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea.” Put simply, “That would be contrary to the historic life-interests of Russia.” Is this not an example of Vladimir Putin’s Realpolitik over NATO enlargement, that is, if we assume that NATO comprises something more ominous than a bunch of wild and
crazy democracy-loving states? Recent books by realists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt make the case that it is the liberal hegemonists that are more warlike than realists.

What is the tie-in with migration? Vladimir Vladimirovich appears to be up to an old trick to boost his economy: encouraging in-migration to the country in order to create a reserve army of cheap labor. The country now trails only the US worldwide in terms of the numbers of migrant arrivals. But immigration alone, never mind diversity, does not add up to nationhood unless there is some form of social and labor market integration on migrants’ part. Can a popular, inescapably Russian backlash against occur, as has happened in so many countries in Europe and abroad, to Putin’s revised immigration policy? A nation no more is what may confront Russia in the near future should Putin be serious about this approach.
Learn more about Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 7, 2019

Robert Lyman's "Under a Darkening Sky"

Robert Lyman is the author of numerous books, including Among the Headhunters and The Real X-Men. Widely regarded as one of Britain's most talented historians, he is a former officer in the British Army and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He lives in Berkshire, England.

Lyman applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Under a Darkening Sky: The American Experience in Nazi Europe: 1939-1941, and reported the following:
The book sets out to record the views of expatriate Americans in Europe in the period leading up to Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States in December 1941. An amazing 30,000 Americans were known to be in Europe at this point, 5,000 in France, from a high point in the 1930s when there were 30,000 in France alone. It starts in fact with letters, diaries, newspaper articles and books published as early as 1933. I wrote the book as an exercise in discovery, not knowing what I would find in terms of American observer’s attitudes to the increasing power and influence of the Nazi party in Germany, or of the outworking of Nazi policies in Germany – and further afield – as the decade progressed. While it’s true that I focused on published views, which itself is somewhat self-selecting, I found that the overwhelming majority of voices loudly expressed their fears for the safety of Germany, and of the free world with a stridency and alarm not heard from within a Europe desperate to appease Hitler in a misguided attempt to prevent another war. Page 99 finds us in Berlin on the day that France and Great Britain declared war on Germany, in response to the illegal invasion of Poland three days before. William Russell, a consular clerk in the US embassy, attempted to understand how millions of Germans were willing to believe Nazi propaganda. He concluded that apathy had much to do with it. I write:
One Sunday he asked a German friend—no Nazi, a member of an old aristocratic family—for the reason behind the Nazi hold on the German people. The man thought carefully before he replied. “Four percent of the people are for Adolf Hitler,” he said quietly. “Six percent of the people are against him, and the other ninety percent don’t care one way or the other.” Germany was en route to destruction because of the 4 percent who had voted for repression and the 90 percent who had foolishly abdicated from playing any sort of role in the political process. The self-immolation of a nation that had begun on January 30, 1933, and which was to last for twelve and a half hellish years, was the result of the carelessness of an entire nation.
This pretty much sums up the entire book!
Visit Robert Lyman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Michael Messner's "Guys Like Me"

Michael A. Messner is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Guys Like Me is as a transition point between chapters that sets up the story of Vietnam War veteran Gregory Ross. Centered on the page is a powerful excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous anti-war speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” delivered in 1967 at Riverside Church in New York:
“This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
King’s statement encapsulates two of the themes that run through the following chapter, and throughout the book. The first concerns the awesome costs and lasting trauma of war—to soldiers and civilians who have been defined as enemies, and also to the young men we send off to fight in our name, who are killed, wounded, and often emotionally scarred for life. The second theme offers a humane vision for the future of the United States. A nation founded on “wisdom, justice and love” instead of militarism would convert swords to plowshares, shifting national priorities toward meeting human needs.

Guys like Me tells the story of five ordinary men, scarred by their service in five U.S. wars, who later became extraordinary advocates for peace. In telling these individual stories, the book illustrates the lasting costs of war to those who fought them, and also the ways that veterans for peace are forging a path to peace and justice.
Visit Michael Messner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 4, 2019

Mary Stockwell's "Interrupted Odyssey"

Mary Stockwell is the former chair of the history department at Lourdes University in Ohio and the author of Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America, The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians and other books.

Stockwell applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians, and reported the following:
No one could deny that Ely Samuel Parker, President Ulysses S. Grant’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs, was a remarkable man. Born in 1828 on the Seneca’s Tonawanda Reserve, he was named his tribe’s official spokesman when he was just eighteen. Five years later, he was chosen as the Seneca’s Grand Sachem. He studied law and helped argue a case in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of his people. He negotiated a treaty with the government that allowed the Seneca to stay in Tonawanda, making them one of the few eastern tribes that avoided removal across the Mississippi. He studied engineering, and found work first on the Erie Canal and later as the superintendent of lighthouses on the Upper Great Lakes. In 1860, Parker moved to Galena, Illinois to oversee the construction of a customhouse and naval hospital. There he befriended a quiet young man who worked as a clerk in his father’s leather goods store. He was Ulysses S. Grant who would soon win fame as a Union general in the Civil War. Shortly after Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, Parker became his military secretary. When Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Parker wrote down the surrender terms. In 1869, when Grant was sworn in as president, Parker became his commissioner of Indian affairs.

But for all his success, Commissioner Parker, on the morning of January 17, 1871, as described on Page 99 of Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians, refused to get out of bed. He was hiding there so he would not have to testify before a special committee of the House of Representatives that was investigating him for corruption. Parker had been accused of negotiating an unnecessary million dollar contract to supply the Sioux on the Upper Missouri in June 1870 and then pocketing most of the money for himself. The charges were baseless but that did not stop his political enemies, who hated him as the “savage” whom Grant had chosen to run the Indian service, from doing everything in their power to oust him from his post. By removing Parker, they hoped to overturn the Indian policy that Grant had carefully crafted with the help of his Seneca friend. The president had planned to move the Indians to reservations where the army would protect them from the onslaught of settlers. Working at their own pace, over a generation or two, the tribes would learn modern ways to support themselves and so enter the American mainstream as citizens of the United States.

Parker finally worked up the nerve to face the House panel. While he was exonerated, his reputation was ruined and he soon resigned his position. Without an ally like Parker at his side, Grant watched as his Indian policy came undone. A succession of Commissioners of Indian Affairs took over but none of them had the vision that Parker had provided. They de-emphasized the goal of American citizenship for the Indians and instead argued that Grant was maintaining the peace like no President before him. Their optimistic claims exploded when the Far West descended into worst Indian Wars in American history, including the Modoc War in 1873, the Red River War in 1874, and the Great Sioux War in 1876. While Grant never discussed his Indian policy after leaving office, Parker could never forget its failure. Until the day he died, he would always remember that terrible January morning when the policy that he had developed with Ulysses Grant, along with their friendship, began to unravel past all repair.
Visit Mary Stockwell's website.

My Book, The Movie: Interrupted Odyssey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Relli Shechter's "The Rise of the Egyptian Middle Class"

Relli Shechter is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He trained as an economic historian and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the author of Smoking, Culture and Economy in the Middle East: The Egyptian Tobacco Market, 1850–2000 (2006).

Shechter applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Rise of the Egyptian Middle Class: Socio-economic Mobility and Public Discontent from Nasser to Sadat, and reported the following:
The Rise of the Egyptian Middle Class examines a puzzle in recent Egyptian history. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Egypt experienced swift economic growth resulting from a regional oil boom. Oddly, this economic growth hardly registered in Egyptian public discourse, which continuously claimed that the country was experiencing multiple economic, social and cultural crises. In this book, I offer several explanations to this puzzle at the core of which was an expanding yet struggling middle class whose members strove for respectable lives with only partial success.

In the chapter "Crisis of Supply in Every Household" in which page 99 appears, I discuss a growing citizens' dissatisfaction with the Egyptian state. Such dissatisfaction emerged as the Egyptian public increasingly felt that the state was breaching an existing social contract—an implicit agreement between the society and the state. As this chapter demonstrates, the actual historical reality was more complex. Critics across the political and cultural spectrum denounced the rising food prices and the housing shortages. Nevertheless, the Egyptian state progressively spent more on distribution and subsidies than in the past. The subsidies were a debatable means for mitigating inflation, especially among the most needy in the cities and rural areas. However, the January 1977 “Food Uprising” demonstrated that withdrawing from such a state commitment with little public discussion and under international financial pressure was unacceptable to many Egyptians (p. 99). "Informal housing" was rampant and became normative, despite the public’s demands that the state intervene and regulate construction. In general, the local standard-of-living improved concurrently with the growing social frustration with state provisioning.

Egyptian citizens strongly protested against the curtailing of their economic rights or state distributive policies and did so in the form of violent street protests because their political right to demand state accountability hardly existed. Despite much official talk about democratization during the 1970s and since, little such process had actually taken place. There had been a direct line between the January 1977 Food Uprising the January 2011 protest in Egypt associated with the Arab Spring. In both cases, the middle class' protests had not been simply about hunger. Rather, they were about a demand from the state to deliver on economic citizenship, or to relinquish on state authoritarianism (change the existing social contract). Such a demand, while currently latent under President al-Sisi's regime is still very much with us today.
Learn more about The Rise of the Egyptian Middle Class at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Peter S. Carmichael's "The War for the Common Soldier"

Peter S. Carmichael is Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College. He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies, and reported the following:
Thankfully, page 99 intersects with some of the most important themes in my book. The page comes at the end of the chapter that explores how Civil War soldiers navigated the metaphysical confusion of war, when providential frameworks collapsed and men struggled to see divine will in a world immersed in violence. Soldiers quickly discovered that they could not rely on God absolutely and unconditionally if they hoped to survive in the ranks. Flexibility was essential. On both sides, men showed that they understood manhood, courage, emotions, and rules of conduct in highly malleable ways. They were not culturally hardwired by an unthinking code of militarized manliness as some historians have suggested.

Men on both sides turned pragmatic in their faith without surrendering to “modern doubt.” On page 99 I summarize the lives of four men who are showcased in the chapter, reminding the reader that “they all remained faithful and prayed fervently, and at the same time they also became more pragmatic in their reading of the world” as they transformed into veterans. Witnessing the suffering and sacrifices of fellow comrades imparted hard lessons about how to survive in the ranks.

At the end of page 99 I stress the importance of pragmatism to understanding how soldiers thought, and not just what they thought. Much of the existing scholarship gives ideology and identity an all-encompassing explanatory power to answer the important inquiry why men fought. I counter this ideological determinism by arguing that Civil War soldiers prized adaptability in thought and action. Ideas mattered, not so much for their intrinsic value, but for their effectiveness in getting the job done in the field. To survive and achieve military victory, Northern and Southern soldiers needed to shape themselves to the ground conditions of war. As I point out on page 99, the four soldiers in the chapter ---as well as throughout the book---“agreed that the war had upset the rules of life, and volunteers on both sides undoubtedly felt alienated from everything familiar at some point during their military careers.”

Northern and Southern soldiers came to put their trust in the practical knowledge gained in the field, given the difficulties in discerning God’s hand in the maelstrom of war. These four men endured many trials, both physical and philosophical, and still they persevered even as they were consumed by an ontological crisis. The concluding sentence concerning these four men page 99 perfectly captures a dominant theme in The War for the Common Soldier, when I write that “the erratic currents of idealism, even when drained dangerously low by a seemingly purposeless war, never left Northern or Southern soldiers standing on the barren ground of nihilism.”
Learn more about The War for the Common Soldier at Peter S. Carmichael's website.

--Marshal Zeringue