Tuesday, August 31, 2021

M. David Litwa's "The Evil Creator"

M. David Litwa is a scholar of ancient Mediterranean religions with a focus on early Christianity. He has taught courses at the University of Virginia, the College of William & Mary, and Virginia Tech. His books include Desiring Divinity, How the Gospel Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myth, and Posthuman Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Thought: Becoming Angels and Demons. He is currently Research Fellow at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Litwa applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Evil Creator: Origins of an Early Christian Idea, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Evil Creator: Origins of an Early Christian Idea discusses the biblical basis for contrasting the creator with a higher deity. The particular passage treated is 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this world,” evidently the creator, blinds the minds of people from seeing the light of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:6, however, Paul refers to a God who shines the light of Christ into the hearts of human beings. Marcion of Pontus, who flourished in the mid-second century CE, and his later followers (“Marcionite” Christians) understood the verses to refer to two different beings: the creator who blinds people from seeing the light of Christ, and the true and superior deity who reveals the light of Christ in human hearts.

By opening up to page 99, the reader would receive a reasonably accurate idea of what the book as a whole is about. All of Part II of the work discusses Marcionite interpretations of various passages which reveal an evil creator in opposition to the true God. It begins with Marcionite interpretations of the creator’s character in the Christian “Old Testament,” analyzes 2 Corinthians 4:4, examines Christ’s so-called destruction of the Law (Eph 2:15) and the Lawgiver, and shows how Christ finally succumbs to the “curse of the Law” inflicted by the creator (Gal 3:13). In Part I, the focus is on the interpretations of Exodus and John. Firstly, ancient Egyptian assimilation of the Jewish god to the evil deity Seth-Typhon is studied to understand its reapplication by Phibionite and Sethian Christians to the Judeo-catholic creator. Secondly, the Christian reception of John 8:44 (understood to refer to the devil’s father) is shown to implicate the Judeo-catholic creator in murdering Christ. A concluding chapter shows how and why current readers of the Christian Bible have concluded that the creator manifests an evil character.
Visit M. David Litwa's website.

The Page 99 Test: How the Gospels Became History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Catherine J. Ross's "A Right to Lie?"

Catherine J. Ross is Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, where she specializes in constitutional law (with particular emphasis on the First Amendment) and family law, including legal and policy issues concerning children.

A Right to Lie? Presidents, Other Liars, and the First Amendment is Ross’s second book on the First Amendment. Her prizewinning Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students' First Amendment Rights (2015) was named the Best Book on the First Amendment of 2015 and received the Critics’ Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association.

Ross applied the “Page 99 Test” to A Right to Lie? and reported the following:
A reader browsing page 99 of A Right to Lie? would be introduced to two of the book’s themes: the difficulty of ascertaining what falsehoods count as lies under the law, and the harms lies cause. But other, more central, themes that run through the book would remain invisible.

The final paragraph on page 99 is like much of the book. It examines whether President Trump’s pandemic falsehoods met the legal definition of lies:
If Trump genuinely did not understand or believe in science, it could be argued that the stream of deception and obfuscation that flowed from repressing data would not qualify as “lies” because he would have lacked the requisite intent to deceive. But Trump’s private conversations prove he knew he was lying in public—he left the sort of evidence that lawyers call an “admission against interest” at trial.
Page 99 appears in the chapter “Viral Lies: Life and Death in the COVID-19 Era.” The page follows a discussion of Trump’s false assurances to the public that COVID-19 was not dangerous and would disappear, even as he promoted dangerous, ineffective remedies. The section that begins on this page focuses on how Trump suppressed the collection and sharing of scientifically reliable data.

Chapter 5 is atypical in several ways. Instead of using dramatic legal stories and controversies to analyze the relationship between free expression and lies, this chapter primarily relies on emerging medical and social science data. It has one simple purpose—to demonstrate the harm Trump’s lies about COVID-19 caused, measured in unnecessary death, long-term illness, economic devastation, and social divisions that made a cohesive societal response to the pandemic all but impossible.

* * * 

Measurable harms resulting from falsehoods have crucial legal significance.

In United States v. Alvarez, decided in 2012, the Supreme Court indicated that the Speech Clause protects even the most blatant lies unless the government can show something more: harm to others or benefit to the speaker. The court did not flesh out what it meant. Throughout the book, I test the parameters of harms caused by public falsehoods that might satisfy the court’s requirement in order to see what government regulations on lies might survive a First Amendment challenge.

I zero in on two sets of harms attributable to Trump’s persistent mendacity, either of which surely are severe enough to merit discipline: lies about COVID-19 and what has come to be known as the “Big Lie,” falsehoods that began months before the 2020 election and continue to this day aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the presidential election and of democracy itself. This story -- which opens and closes the book -- continues through the January 6 insurrection, Trump’s second impeachment and trial, and attacks on the 2020 election that continued through the last changes I could make (on May 17, 2021) and as I write this in August.

The first page of A Right to Lie? asks: “Is there any way to stop a president who lies constantly about matters large and small, who regularly displays his disconnection from facts or verifiable reality, and whose lies endanger the nation and threaten the very foundations of democracy?”

I consider that question through the lens of the First Amendment by way of false claimants to military honors, purveyors of birtherism, political candidates who falsely malign their opponents and pad their own resumes, and the uses and misuses of defamation claims involving Roger Corsi, Joe Scarborough, Dominion Voting Machines and more.

In the last two chapters of the book, I propose a constitutionally viable solution to the problem of mendacious presidents and other high officials who, I argue, have less First Amendment protection in the course of their duties than other people. While the current political environment makes speedy adoption of my proposal unlikely, I argue that a failure of political will to demand honesty of the president -- not freedom of speech -- leaves democracy vulnerable. Events since my book went to the printer have only added to the urgency of my argument.
Visit Catherine J. Ross's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 27, 2021

Vivienne Sanders's "Wales, the Welsh and the Making of America"

Born in Cardiff, Wales, Vivienne Sanders writes on American history and is living in Porthcawl, in South Wales.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Wales, the Welsh and the Making of America, and reported the following:
Page 99 is probably one of the most exciting pages in the book. It is part of a long, descriptive account of the difficulties faced by the Lewis and Clark expedition. There is plenty of action on the page. Meriwether Lewis gets shot in the backside by the boatman, then survives William Clark washing his wound in murky Missouri river water. The men are plagued by malarial mosquitoes and infected bites, by the long, sharp spikes of prickly pear piercing their moccasins, by eye gnats, by a flea-infested gift from the Chinook, and by boils, dysentery and sore eyes.

In some ways, page 99 is typical of the book in that it lets the actors speak for themselves whenever possible. Lewis can be heard cursing his boatman (“Damn you, you have shot me”) and bemoaning the mosquitoes (“my dog even howls with the torture”).

On the other hand, page 99 probably gives the browser a misleading impression of the whole work. There are not many pages like this one, with its extended dramatic narrative but lack of evaluation of how much anyone with Welsh ancestry contributed to the development of the United States.

Re-reading page 99 reminded me that the Lewis chapter worried me for several reasons. First, I was giving Lewis more extended coverage than anyone else before page 99, and I feared that this might be unbalancing the book. In the end, I chose to keep the section intact, partly because it is such a wonderful story, but mostly because it shows more than Lewis’s contribution to American expansion – it serves to illuminate the determination, courage and contribution of the ordinary Welsh pioneers on the moving frontier. Second, as I wrote about Lewis’s dealings with the Native Americans, I was conscious that while many Welsh emigrated to escape English domination and English landowners, they often went on to behave similarly toward the continent’s original inhabitants. I never really faced this issue in the book. I focused instead upon my chosen remit, which was what the Welsh and Welsh Americans contributed to the making of the United States, and left it open to the readers to decide whether or not they liked the America that resulted. Third, this anxiety about the balance between narrative and analysis and about whether my book was in the old triumphalist tradition of outline histories of the United States and therefore insufficiently “woke”, added to my fears that my Welsh patriotism might have ruined my reputation as a historian! Time will tell...
Follow Vivienne Sanders on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Mary Angela Bock's "Seeing Justice"

Mary Angela Bock is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches courses on visual culture, gender, visual journalism and qualitative methods.

Bock is a former journalist turned academic with an interest in the sociology of photographic practice, the rhetorical relationship between words and images, and digital media.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Seeing Justice: Witnessing, Crime and Punishment in Visual Media, and reported the following:
By amazing coincidence, page 99 of my book, Seeing Justice: Witnessing, Crime, and Punishment, presents a seminal moment that inspired the project. Page 99 is the opening page of Chapter Five, titled, "What picture would they use?" and it opens with this vignette:
Scene: “Please don’t use his mug shot.” That was a plea from the public defender who was handling the case of Scott Demarco Newman, one of several men accused in connection with a horrifying shotgun murder of a local attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. It was 1985, and the first major trial I covered as a TV reporter. (This was long before the hashtag “whatphotowilltheyuse.”) The attorney, now a law professor at Drake University, knew that potential jurors who saw Newman’s mug shot would presume him to be guilty. Robert Rigg gave me access to his client’s school portrait, which we incorporated into coverage.
Seeing Justice blends my twenty years' of experience as a TV journalist with my academic research to examine the way visual journalists cover the American criminal justice system. Using a series of case studies, visits to actual court cases and dozens of interviews, I'm able to describe in detail the complicated “dance” between state actors -- that is police, prosecutors, court officials and so on -- with visual journalists and the way these negotiations affect the resulting news narratives.

Because photo- and video-journalism is a physical activity that requires practitioners to be on location in real time, the work is subject to what I call embodied gatekeeping -- the regulation of visual journalists' physical positioning in real time. The narratives that result from these negotiations usually favor the state, but digital technologies in the hands of everyday people are chipping away at that power structure.

The opening vignette on page 99 also points to the book's discussion of visual ethics and human rights. The use of mug shots is under debate in 2021 as more news organizations come to grips with the way digital images live forever on the internet. A published mug shot cannot be forgotten with time, and people's lives have been forever changed by these images, which connote criminality and never face online. The chapter that starts on page 99 presents this ethical debate while also describing the way social media users have discussed and shared mug shots as a means of shaming individuals such as Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault.

All news is constructed by real people making myriad practical decisions. This book is for anyone interested in the unintended consequences that result from these decisions, and how in turn the resulting stories affect the public’s understanding of how the system works. At bottom, these practices usually result in narratives that advance the state’s interest in legitimizing the criminal justice system.
Visit Mary Angela Bock's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Carolyn N. Biltoft's "A Violent Peace"

Carolyn N. Biltoft is associate professor of international history at the Graduate Institute Geneva.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, A Violent Peace: Media, Truth, and Power at the League of Nations, and reported the following:
In re-opening my own book (never easy for an author, so recently entangled in the long wrestling and writing, and so ready to move on) I was pleased to discover that page 99 is in fact one of the most important turning points in the book—it centers on a discussion of the Jewish-Czech journalist and poet Štefan Lux’s protest suicide at the League of Nations in 1936. Lux took his life on the public stage of the League Assembly in protest of the violence of the Nazi regime. And yet, we discover that the League tried to bury rather than advertise Lux’s final message to the world. What is more, the League buried the Lux affair (ironically) in the same year that they held an international conference on the threat of “False News.” Page 99, unfurls a textual analysis of Lux’s suicide letter (that never saw the light of day). One significant quote: “In pointing to the criminality of National Socialism, Lux also claimed another right endowed by death, the right to call things by their 'proper names.' The right of naming remained connected through the inexorable bond between truth and life, as in Fiat Lux [let there be light].
Learn more about A Violent Peace at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Cynthia Estlund's "Automation Anxiety"

Cynthia Estlund is the Catherine A. Rein Professor at New York University's School of Law. She has written widely on the law and policy of work, including three prior books: Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy (2003), Regoverning the Workplace: From Self-Regulation to Co-Regulation (2010), and A New Deal for China's Workers? (2017).

Estlund applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Automation Anxiety: Why and How to Save Work, and reported the following:
Page 99 drops the reader into the middle of a very brief account of the rise and fall—here, the fall—of the venerable shorter hours movement in the US. It picks up during the Depression, after the near-enactment of a 30-hour work week in 1933 and the shift among New Dealers away from shorter hours and toward “full-time, full employment” as a goal:
Some New Dealers doubted that most people could, or would, or even should replace productive work with salutary “higher” pursuits. And they questioned whether the American economy was indeed close to meeting the people’s material needs. After all, parts of the country still lacked access to electricity. In the meantime, many workers themselves, having gained a modicum of leisure, aspired to higher incomes and the security and comforts they could buy; their unions followed course.
After describing the shorter hours movement’s culmination in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (which prescribed a national minimum wage and a 40-hour work week plus time-and-a half for overtime, and which excluded many middle class and poorer workers from coverage), I turn to the movement’s decline (and this passage sneaks onto the top of p. 100):
The movement for shorter hours soon began to fade. The war made full-time full employment a national imperative; after the war, pent-up consumer demand helped fuel a drive for material prosperity. Some labor leaders, especially the few women among them, sought to keep the shorter hours movement alive, and some unions successfully bargained for shorter hours. But most unions put their clout instead behind higher incomes—bolstered in part by more overtime—that would support a stay-at-home wife and a house in the suburbs for their overwhelmingly male members. In the meantime, the rise of anti-Communism lent an almost un-American ring to the goal of “higher progress” versus material abundance (not to mention the goal of peacefully overturning capitalism). In the Cold-War battle for hearts and minds across the world, America advertised capitalism as a path to prosperity; and at home, consumption took on a patriotic tinge, while increasingly sophisticated advertising campaigns fueled consumer appetites for comforts, luxuries, and status goods.
Page 99 hints obliquely at a core point of the book: there are reasons to welcome, and not just to fear, a more automated future of less work if we mount a constructive response. (Four pages later I turn to policy prescriptions.) Studying the history of the shorter hours movement, and especially its more idealistic strains, helped cement in my mind the potential upside of a future of less work. By the same token, the movement’s decline evoked a certain wistfulness about what might have been—captured here, I think—if the labor movement and progressives had kept their eyes on the goal of reducing working hours, and of “higher progress”—an evocative phrase from Walt Whitman—rather than shifting so wholeheartedly toward pursuit of material affluence in the post-WWII era.

My initial interest in, and anxiety about, automation took root in my own conviction (explored in Chapter 4 and elsewhere) that widespread engagement in shared work has vital social and political benefits apart from its economic outputs—goods and services, and income for workers—and apart from its individual psychosocial benefits. There’s both more actual interaction and more ethnic and political diversity at work than elsewhere in most adults’ lives. Through sustained cooperation and sometimes shared adversity, co-workers develop weak and strong ties of familiarity and solidarity with once-strangers, which help bridge the gap between family and intimates and the larger diverse society. Hence my anxiety about the prospect of a future with fewer jobs, especially for those who lack higher education and specialized skills.

At the same time, most people would clearly choose, if they could afford it, to spend less of their lives at work. We see that in both the historical movement for shorter hours and contemporary calls for better work-life balance. The key to a solution lies in spreading work from those with too much of it to those with too little. That is, we should aim for widespread work, though less of it, for nearly all rather than little or no decent work for many. We can start by catching up with the rest of the rich world in terms of guaranteed paid vacations, sick leaves, and parental leaves. That’s only the beginning, but—like nearly all of what I propose—those steps all make sense here and now, whether or not automation ends up reducing total demand for labor.
Learn more about Automation Anxiety at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 23, 2021

Kate Vigurs's "Mission France"

Kate Vigurs is a freelance historian, academic advisor, and researcher. Her postdoctoral research was used for the BBC World War One at Home series.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Mission France: The True History of the Women of SOE, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Her primary concern was her family, and she found saying goodbye to her widowed mother the most painful thing she had ever had to do. She told her mother a half-truth, saying she was going abroad, but to Africa; she had found maintaining the deception cruel. Vera asked Noor if there was anything she could do to help with family matters, and Noor replied that, if she went missing, SOE should as far as possible avoid worrying her mother.

Noor’s ‘dreamy’ nature and inability to lie had been raised, alongside other security issues, by nearly every member of staff who came into contact with her. Quite simply, Noor was not felt to be suitable agent material, but was the product in a chain of human supply and demand, evidenced by the fact that Buckmaster overrode the instructors. He had known from the moment he took her on that Noor had the wireless skills and knowledge of France that he required. From Buckmaster’s perspective, any wireless operator was better than no wireless operator.

After landing by Lysander in the Loire valley, Noor was to become known by her false identity of Jeane-Marie Regnier, her codename was ‘Nurse’ and her field name to her colleagues in the circuit was ‘Madeleine’ (and later ‘Rolande’). During her first few days, Noor met her organiser Émile Garry, but she did not move out to her original destination of Le Mans; Garry was spending part of his time in Paris with his fiancée, so Noor also stayed there. Noor’s first wireless transmission on behalf of PHONO was received in England on 22 June 1943, but just days later, Noor stood by as much of PROSPER, ‘parent’ circuit to PHONO, fell apart around her.

The disaster had started on 15 June. Yvonne Rudellat and Pierre Culioli of PROSPER received two Canadian F Section agents, John Macalister and Frank Pickersgill. The following night, Noor, Cicely and Diana arrived in the area, which was fraught with tension and enemy activity. The agents kept their heads down and tried to remain as safe as possible. However, it was not that easy for Yvonne and Culioli
This test works well for my book, the page is an extremely important part of the history Mission France is addressing and offers critical analysis of the decisions, thought processes and personality traits of two key players – Maurice Buckmaster and Noor Inayat Khan. It also begins to unravel one of the worst disasters to befall the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in France during World War Two – the fall of the PROSPER network. This test shows that page 99 holds important information at a pivotal point in the book's narrative as well as a key example of the author's critique and point of view.

The test reveals a key question that SOE historians address today, were any mistakes made in recruiting of agents and why was this specific agent (Noor) allowed to progress to the most dangerous of roles when so many believed her to be unsuitable. It addresses issues of agent selection and of human’ supply and demand’ - an ugly but essential part of SOE’s role during the war against fascism.

The people involved in the events on this page are both controversial and provoke widespread discussion and debate. The fact they both appear on this page and Buckmaster's influence over Noor’s very life is fascinating. The characters and these choices will appear time and again throughout the book, even to the point where Buckmaster will say he did nothing to endanger anyone’s life, and yet against others' judgement he decided to send Noor, a decision for which she paid a terrible price.
Visit Kate Vigurs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Celia E. Schultz's "Fulvia: Playing for Power at the End of the Roman Republic"

Celia E. Schultz is Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan and the author of Women's Religious Activity in the Roman Republic and A Commentary on Cicero, De Divinatione I.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Fulvia: Playing for Power at the End of the Roman Republic, and reported the following:
Page 99 cuts right to the quick since it describes the most exciting and scandalous evidence for Fulvia’s life, some lead sling bullets that bear her name. Fulvia’s great, shining moment came during the Perusine War – really a siege of what is now the modern Italian city of Perugia in the winter of 41-40 B.C.E. Inside the city was an army led by Fulvia’s brother-in-law, Lucius Antonius; outside were the forces of Octavian, who would become Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, and his ally Agrippa, the greatest general of his generation. Antonius, Fulvia’s husband, was away in the east, where he would eventually take up with Cleopatra; Lucius and Fulvia had been left in Italy to look after his interests there. Fulvia was not at the battle: she was more than 100 miles away, frantically trying to enlist more troops to help raise the siege and writing to Antonius’ allies in Gaul and Africa, asking them to come to Lucius’ aid. Even so, her name appears on some of the bullets hurled in the battle. Ancient sling bullets are just big enough to carry messages, often just the name of the commander or the army unit, but also sometimes insults literally aimed at the opposing commander. Some of the Perusine bullets “talk”, like one that claims, “I’m looking for Fulvia’s clitoris” and another one that says, “I’m looking for Octavian’s ass.” The bullets show how important Fulvia was for Octavian’s propaganda: it benefitted him if his men thought they were fighting troops led by a woman. What could be less threatening? The bullets echo the ancient portrayal of Fulvia as a sex-crazed militant, an image I interrogate in what follows page 99. It is safe to say that the page 99 test works well for this book, with the caveat that one must read further to know how to understand the evidence presented there.
Learn more about Fulvia: Playing for Power at the End of the Roman Republic at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 20, 2021

Daniel Brunstetter's "Just and Unjust Uses of Limited Force"

Daniel Brunstetter is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Tensions of Modernity: Las Casas and His Legacy in the French Enlightenment (2012), and co-editor of two edited volumes that cover a variety of themes related to the ethics of war: The Ethics of War and Peace Revisited: Moral Challenges in an Era of Contested and Fragmented Sovereignty (2018) and Just War Thinkers: From Cicero to the 21st Century (2017).

Brunstetter applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Just and Unjust Uses of Limited Force: A Moral Argument with Contemporary Illustrations, and reported the following:
From page 99:
"My people are afraid; these armed men move through the villages all the time trying to recruit our youth and turn us to their religion. Even yesterday people called me in alarm to say the jihadists had come because God had directed them to this or that village. My people feel under pressure from all sides—if they tell the army, they will be executed as informants; if they don’t, the army will think they are collaborators."

What is clear from this description is that the Malian government no longer has a monopoly on the use of force within its sovereign borders, and is incapable of enforcing the laws of the land.

The case of Mali serves to illustrate what contested order looks like. Corinne Dufka, the West Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, interviewed scores of Malian citizens to ascertain why some locals welcome the jihadists to rule:
an equal number of villagers told me they welcomed the presence of the Islamist groups in central Mali; they saw them as a benevolent alternative to a state they associate with predatory and abusive governance. Many seethed as they described Malian army abuses during counterterrorism operations, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and executions.
The above description paints a picture of contested order in which individuals are caught between vying ideas of order, each laced with a violence that undermines their ability to go about their daily lives. According to Dufka, establishing long-term peace involves regaining control of the area—that is, putting an end to the status of contested order and governing the region in a way that departs from the chain of abuses cited above. “The Malian government,” she reflected, “needs to re-establish its presence in the north so everyone has the basic security needed to go on with their lives.” This is a tall task, to be sure. Limited force—French Special Forces and armed drones—have been part of this re-establishment process insofar as they are used in conjunction with Malian forces to root out jihadist groups.

Dufka’s reflections yield important insights into the best intentions of using limited force. The goal of limited force can be to facilitate a shift from contested order to fractured order, or something better. Hence the re-establishment principle: the view that limited force should be used in conjunction with diplomatic actions that seek to re-establish a new, less violent, order. What should such order look like and who should be at the governing helm? The answer depends on how one defines legitimacy.]
The Page 99 Test works nicely for my book, highlighting three key features the reader will encounter across the seven substantive chapters.

First, it showcases the methodology employed, that of casuistry. The page begins with a quotation from a local mayor in northern Mali, followed soon by a quote from the West African Director at Human Rights Watch. Taken together, these quotes are suggestive of the legitimate purposes limited force might serve or the abuses that could ensue. With a clear nod to Michael Walzer’s emblematic work on just war, casuistry is the choice methodology because it engages what involved actors say and how they reason morally about limited force.

Mali, where drones and special force have been used, is one paradigmatic case that offers illuminating insights explored across the book. Other cases offer new angles from which to view many of the major conflicts of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Other voices–from Egypt, France, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, the UK, and the US–help tease the moral maxims that enlighten our understanding of limited force.

A second feature is that of theory-building. The book moves beyond critical appraisals of limited force to tease out a moral framework for adjudicating, as the title suggests, the just and unjust uses. Page 99 falls in the middle of chapter 3, which is the first part of the constructive, theory-building, phase of the book. While most work on just war follows the linear route–the justice of going to war, justice in war, and justice after war–my book begins, somewhat counterintuitively, with the ends.

What can a state hope to accomplish by using limited force? The upshot seems obvious enough: limited force is inherently circumscribed by the very nature of being, well, limited; you cannot seriously envision achieving decisive victory with a no-fly zone, drones, special forces, or limited strikes. This simple observation guides the unfolding of the moral augment in the chapters to come, unveiling restraint-oriented moral intuitions to better adjudicate when it might be just to employ limited force, how to go about doing so, and what to do if limited force fails.

A final feature emerges from the last line of page 99, which betrays skepticism about the justice of recent democracy-building wars. It is noteworthy, as chapter 2 illustrates, that escalation from limited force to war characterized all the major US-led wars–Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya–during 21st century thus far. While the book is not a call for pacifism, by arguing that limited force is strategically and morally distinct from war, it implies we need to be much more skeptical about what “just” war can accomplish.

Whatever the reader might think about the use of military force in its different guises, the examination of real-world cases across the book–and the emergent moral language these reveal–succeeds if it helps us to talk about the dilemmas, permissions, and restraints related to limited force with greater moral precision.
Learn more about Just and Unjust Uses of Limited Force at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Tom Standage's "A Brief History of Motion"

Tom Standage is deputy editor of The Economist. His books include An Edible History of Humanity, the New York Times bestseller A History of the World in Six Glasses, and The Victorian Internet.

Standage applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next, and reported the following:
Page 99 of A Brief History of Motion is all about jaywalking, and the way the car industry weaponised the term in order to deflect criticism around rising numbers of road deaths. At the time, such deaths were mostly blamed on reckless drivers, who were denounced as “joyriders” and “speed maniacs”. So the industry decided to promote the stereotype of the jaywalker, and the idea that accidents were primarily caused by careless pedestrians, who needed to have new (car-friendly) rules drummed into them to keep them safe. Originally, “jay” was a slang term for a country bumpkin who was unsure how to behave in the city, and a jaywalker was someone who got in the way, either on the sidewalk or on the road. Around 1915 police officers who oversaw busy intersections began to describe pedestrians who would not follow instructions as jaywalkers. The word then came to mean something more specific, namely someone who crossed the road in the middle of a block, rather than at a corner. In footage of American streets from the early twentieth century, horse-drawn vehicles, streetcars, bicycles, and automobiles can be seen moving at roughly walking pace, with pedestrians weaving in between them. By the 1920s, cars accounted for most of the vehicles on the roads, and motorists were becoming increasingly frustrated by the limits this free-for-all approach imposed on their speed. Carmakers, dealers, auto clubs, and other pro-car interests, collectively known as motordom, duly launched a campaign to talk up the dangers of jaywalking. Outwardly this approach seemed to champion the safety of pedestrians, but by arguing that people should only cross at junctions and at right angles to the traffic, it promoted and reinforced the industry’s position that the streets were now primarily for the use of motor vehicles.

I think this is very representative of my book as a whole, for three reasons. First, it’s the quirky story behind something familiar to do with urban transport, which is the formula for the entire book. Second, it’s a reminder that things have not always been the way they are now, and could be different. In some parts of the world they are: street space is being taken away from cars and given back to pedestrians and cyclists, turned into green space, used for outdoor dining, and so forth. And third, it’s an example of how the world we live in has been reshaped by cars, in ways we may no longer notice. Today it’s easy to assume that roads exist solely for cars and trucks, and anything else is getting in their way. This is exactly what carmakers wanted us to think! But go to India, and you will see streets where pedestrians, cyclists, rickshaws, cars, trucks, and even cows and elephants all have to rub along. Or go to Helsinki or Oslo, where drivers in the city centre are made to feel like sheepish interlopers. Even in car-loving America, private cars have been banned from Market St in San Francisco!

My book is about the many things we take for granted about the modern world that are the way they are because of the influence of cars: suburbanisation, commuting, supermarkets and malls, fast food. It explains how things got that way, and also examines things like why red means stop and green means go; why some countries drive on the left and some on the right; and how cars defined the model for modern manufacturing and marketing (our smartphones are built in ways invented by Ford, and marketed in ways invented by General Motors). It looks further back into history, from the invention of the wheel around 3,500BCE to the advent of bicycles and railroads in the 1800s; and it looks forward, to consider the impact of electric and self-driving cars, and what a less car-dependent world might look like. It’s sometimes said that fish have no idea what water is, because they are surrounded by it all the time, so they just think it’s normal. We’re sort of like that about cars. So ultimately I’m just pointing out the water to the fish.
Follow Tom Standage on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Margaret Meserve's "Papal Bull"

Margaret Meserve is the Glynn Family Honors Associate Professor of History and Arts and Letters Director of the Glynn Family Honors Program in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought and the editor and translator of the Commentaries of Pius II.

Meserve applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Papal Bull: Print, Politics, and Propaganda in Renaissance Rome, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Papal Bull drops the reader into the middle of the Pazzi War of 1478. At Easter that year, Pope Sixtus IV had signed off on a plot to assassinate the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici. When the conspiracy failed, the pope excommunicated Lorenzo, forbade the clergy of Florence from celebrating mass, and declared war on the city and its citizens. All in a day’s work for a Renaissance pope.

My book surveys the history of the Renaissance papacy with a particular eye on how the popes communicated with the public in moments like this, especially using the new technology of the printing press. Gutenberg invented printing with movable type in the 1450s. The technology would revolutionize European society and politics and pave the way for the Protestant Reformation. We know a lot about how reforming figures like Savonarola and Luther used the press, but few historians have asked how the ruling authorities of the Renaissance used this revolutionary new technology. My book explores how a quintessentially conservative and authoritarian institution – the papacy – used the printing press not to challenge the status quo, or advance knowledge, or empower the common man, but to suppress dissent, prosecute rivals, and protect its own interests.

The page 99 test works really well here, because the page includes two rare examples of contemporaries talking about what the papacy was doing with the press. Sixtus boasted that he not only excommunicated Lorenzo, but also published the order in print so the whole world would know about it. On cue, one of Lorenzo’s secretaries complained that dozens of copies of the bull of excommunication were circulating throughout Italy, posted up on church doors and set out for sale in the marketplace in Rome. The pope had taken a private quarrel public, making it harder for the Florentines to resolve things in their usual diplomatic way.

About half the chapters of Papal Bull explore a Renaissance conflict like the Pazzi War. Whether at war with other princes, or in dispute with clerical critics, the popes used the press to publish bulls of excommunication, letters to the Christian faithful, and decrees commanding or forbidding military action. Page 99 gives a good sense of how these clashes played out. Other chapters of the book treat what we might call religious publicity -- printed guides to the churches of Rome, devotional texts, catalogues of indulgences, and the like. The papacy printed texts like these to attract visitors to their city, promote the theology of works (which Luther would soon deplore), and raise cash to fund military operations abroad and lavish building projects at home.

Page 99 gives a good sense of the central theme of Papal Bull: the interplay of politics, theology, and public relations in the Italian Renaissance.
Learn more about Papal Bull at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Nadia Y. Kim's "Refusing Death"

Nadia Y. Kim is Professor of Sociology and of Asian and Asian American Studies at Loyola Marymount University. She is the author of the award-winning book Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA.

Kim applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA, and reported the following:
I was very pleasantly surprised to find that page 99 nearly encapsulated the main argument of my book. I found that the Asian and Latina immigrant activists who fight against environmental racism and classism in LA see the state’s weak regulation of pollution on them as not just physical neglect but emotional violence against them. We see that in my interview with Miguel, a youth environmental justice activist from West Long Beach, a mostly low-income Latinx immigrant community (with a large undocumented populace), who lives right next to diesel-spewing entities (Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach), freeways, railyards and to toxic oil refineries; not only does he note the deleterious physical consequences (“asthma,” “cancer”), but the emotional ones (“very scary”). I began our exchange inquiring about what he regularly tells the officials of the government agencies and oil corporations.
Miguel: … for the clean air,…I would tell them that every time we look up, there are refineries next to [us residents]. Then they are trying to do the railyard extension and that’s going to be worse: fuel-burning trucks are going to stop by here more often, and it’s going to pollute the air. There are a lot of people with asthma there and one of my cousins ended up being diagnosed with cancer …. It was a scary thing.
In this way, Miguel and the many activist women and mothers who are concerned with familial (and community) health teach us that we cannot think of environmental problems as just nature or global warming. Rather, we must think of how Latinx and Asian immigrants and other groups of color suffer physically just so we can buy all the goods that China and other manufacturing nations cart on diesel-plumed ships to our non-manufacturing society – that these millions of goods require refined oil to be made and to be delivered through our country’s ports, to then be delivered to the Sam’s Clubs/Costcos, Walmarts, Targets, Best Buys, grocery stores, car dealers, furniture stores, etc., across the USA. Goods movement thus causes not just asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, cancer, obesity, and premature death, but also depression, stress, anxiety, anger, and related emotional states of frustration, demoralization, and exhaustion. As such, governmental regulatory agencies and corporations not only wield power by making communities of color feel negative and life-shortening emotions but by normalizing their own institutional apathy as normal and proper; in the process, they often paint the mothers and activists in particular as “hysterical” when these immigrants tear up or yell in ways commensurate with their suffering:
[Scholars] Hochschild…and…Ahmed say…: Emotions…are always social structures that connect individuality to the collective and are [forms] of power embedded in social systems, institutions, and cultures, not mere ephemeral forms of visceral embodiment. The activists whom we have met thus far point us to why emotive structures matter in the political sphere at all.
Because of the gravity of institutions imposing unnecessary physical and emotional suffering, I further note on this page that the 2018 decision by the state not to expand the Interstate-710 freeway was ironic: that the immigrants celebrated this, whilst knowing that the situation was so bad that the state deciding not to expand freeways into their communities was something they had to deal with (and celebrate) at all.
Visit Nadia Y. Kim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 16, 2021

Andrew Porwancher's "The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton"

A native of Princeton, New Jersey, Andrew Porwancher earned degrees from Brown and Northwestern before completing his PhD in history at Cambridge. Currently, he serves as the Wick Cary Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma and the Ernest May Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center.

Porwancher applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton, and reported the following:
My book offers readers two parallel narratives--the story of Alexander Hamilton and the story of American Jews in the early years of the republic--and page 99 offers excellent insight into the latter while leaving the former untouched. Using an example from Georgia, page 99 describes the persistence of longstanding antisemitism but also newfound resistance to prejudice. This defiance made Jews in the United States distinct from those back in the Old World. As I write on 99: "That Jews in America would petition for their rights and shame their antagonists set them apart from European Jews." American Jews, after all, had "hazarded death to establish a republic whose founding document championed equality." The Jewish fight to secure rights against the backdrop of religious bigotry lies at the center of page 99 and indeed the entire book. And yet nowhere does the name "Alexander Hamilton" appear on the page. My research suggests that Hamilton, in all likelihood, was born and raised Jewish in the Caribbean. Although he did not identify as such in his American adulthood, still Hamilton formed an important relationship with the American Jewish community. Indeed, Hamilton did more than any other founding father to make the promise of equality real for America’s Jews. It is those points of intersection—between the story that 99 nods to and the story that 99 doesn’t—which my book seeks to bring to light for the first time.
Visit Andrew Porwancher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Raymond C. Kuo's "Following the Leader"

Raymond Kuo is an independent political scientist based in Minneapolis.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Following the Leader: International Order, Alliance Strategies, and Emulation, and reported the following:
Page 99 begins a case study on the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), one of four alliances examined in-depth in the book. The page lays out SEATO’s structure, which the case refers back to to demonstrate the book’s argument.

Does the test work?

Not really. I mean, I’d like to think that the writing is snappy and propulsive, or at least as much as it can be for an academic book. Readability is important to me, and I hope in that way, the page is illustrative of the book.

But page 99 is already five chapters in, having passed the puzzle, theory, the first set of statistical analysis, and an entire case study. It also happens to fall on a “set up” section for that chapter unfortunately.

The SEATO case was a fun one to research and write. I had largely built the theory from statistical analysis and examples that now only appear as vignettes in the book. This case was the first “test” – does it actually bear out the implications of my theory? Watching that alignment emerge as I dove deeper into the archives was simply an awesome feeling. I distinctly remember shouting out in happiness when I came across specific quotes that bore out the argument, much to my wife’s confusion (and possibly regret about marrying me).

The book’s cases showcase the mechanisms across time (1870-1892; 1949-1960; 1994-2006), position within the international system (core; secondary; peripheral), and geography (Europe, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa). As a result, one of the key things I really enjoyed about the SEATO case is how it integrates with and complements the other cases. The book explicitly assesses and explains transhistorical variation in alliance strategy. As a result, it can discuss how, say, transactional foreign policies (Biskmarckian realpolitik) compare to integrative ones (contemporary US grand strategy), grounded in specific cases selected to favor alternative theories and where historical conditions and outcomes actually vary.
Visit Raymond Kuo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 13, 2021

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall's "Slave Revolt on Screen"

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall is professor of history at California State University San Marcos, where she is a past winner of the university’s Brakebill Outstanding Professor Award. She is author of The Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism and of Haitian History: New Perspectives. Her work has been published in such journals and edited collections as Journal of Modern History, Journal of Haitian Studies, Journal of American Culture, and Raoul Peck: Power, Politics, and the Cinematic Imagination.

Sepinwall applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Slave Revolt on Screen: The Haitian Revolution in Film and Video Games, and reported the following:
Page 99 is part of the chapter entitled “No White Hero, No Funding? Unmade [Haitian] Revolution Epics.” The page begins by recounting the well-known story of Danny Glover being refused funding for his planned Haitian Revolution film (which would have been a biopic of the Revolution’s leader Toussaint Louverture), from producers who asked, “where are the white heroes?” Page 99 then describes some less-famous attempts to make films focused on Toussaint Louverture by the legendary French Martinican director Euzhan Palcy (Sugar Cane Alley & A Dry White Season) and by the French-Mauritanian director Med Hondo (West Indies).

This was an interesting test! Page 99 includes some material which lies at the heart of my argument, and thus is a perfect page to begin on. The issue of inequalities in film funding - who gets to approve films and who must instead plead for funding – is central to the book. I illustrate how unequal divisions of film capital (between whites and Blacks in Hollywood, between filmmakers in formerly colonizing and formerly colonized countries, and between filmmakers in Haiti and elsewhere) distort cinematic depictions of slavery. I note that, historically, Hollywood studios have greenlit films on slavery when they include a friendly white in whose shoes audiences – and the executives – can imagine themselves. Hollywood films in which enslaved Africans are liberated peacefully with the help of a white hero have thus predominated over those that show them rising up to obtain their freedom. Haiti’s Revolution has appeared rarely on screen in Hollywood precisely because it doesn’t fit into the kinds of Black History storylines that studios prefer.

In that sense page 99 is central to my book. On the other hand, it gives a false impression of Slave Revolt on Screen for two reasons. First, Glover’s unmade project is relatively well-known, while most of what the book presents has never been written about before. (In fact, I first wrote about Glover’s attempt 8 years ago, in my essay “Happy as a Slave: The Toussaint Louverture miniseries”).

Second, many people aren’t aware that there are films on the Haitian Revolution – or that Glover’s unsuccessful attempt was only one in a long line of such attempts by Black Hollywood legends, from Harry Belafonte to James Earl Jones. In that sense, page 99 distorts the book, which features seven chapters about films on the Haitian Revolution (mostly from outside Hollywood), two chapters on video games about slavery and/or the Haitian Revolution – and only one chapter about unmade attempts. Thus, if a reader only saw page 99, they might think the book describes the impossibility of making films on the Revolution – and not that it also describes a varied corpus of existing films and video games. Indeed, another feature of the book is that it is one of the very first about video games on any topic by a historian – something that is not clear at all from page 99!
Follow Alyssa Sepinwall on Twitter and learn more about Slave Revolt on Screen at the University Press of Mississippi Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Michael Graziano's "Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors"

Michael Graziano is an Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Northern Iowa. His research focuses on the relationship between religion, law, and government in the United States. In particular, he is interested in how the U.S. government decides what counts as “religious,” and how it chooses to engage religious people, ideas, and institutions.

Graziano's first book, Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors: Religion and the History of the CIA, explores how conflicts over America’s religious diversity were formative influences on the development of U.S. intelligence.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors and reported the following:
As it happens, page 99 is a great snapshot of my book’s themes. A reader turning to page 99 in Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors: Religion and the History of the CIA would be dropped into the tale of Tom Dooley, a Catholic US Navy doctor working in Vietnam who, through a combination of good luck, his Catholicism, and the intervention of several powerful United States government agencies, was catapulted to superstardom in 1950s America. Specifically, page 99 details the CIA’s involvement in Dooley’s best-selling books that introduced millions of Americans to Vietnam. More broadly, page 99 begins sketching how the CIA used American Catholicism⁠—and American Catholics, like Dooley⁠—to frame the conflict in Vietnam for American audiences. This meant not only representing foreign peoples in particular ways, but also encouraging non-Catholic Americans to think about American Catholics differently: as both truly American and truly Christian. This challenged longstanding anti-Catholic trends in US history, and it was these same trends that the CIA encountered as a roadblock to greater religious cooperation in the Cold War.

Page 99 is also smack dab in the middle of one of my favorite parts of the book, which explores how a popular American understanding of “religion” (as something universal, global, and inescapably everywhere) often reflected little more than provincially American ideas⁠—even as that was sometimes hard to see when those same ideas were delivered by America’s new global power. This lulled the CIA into a confidence that they knew which way the world was going and why. My book explores this confidence⁠—its sources, effects, and pitfalls—as the CIA engaged with religious people, ideas, and institutions. A reader could do worse than starting with page 99.
Visit Michael Graziano's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

John Shovlin's "Trading with the Enemy"

John Shovlin is associate professor of history at New York University and the author of The Bordeaux–Dublin Letters, 1757 and The Political Economy of Virtue.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Trading with the Enemy: Britain, France, and the 18th-Century Quest for a Peaceful World Order, and reported the following:
From page 99:
[In 1711, British Prime Minister Robert Harley] hoped that, with the intercession of Louis XIV, Philip V [of Spain] would grant the South Sea Company the right to trade with the viceroyalty of Peru from Pacific bases. What the minister’s journalistic proxy, Daniel Defoe, envisioned was ‘Quiet possession . . . of Four Ports . . . in the Kingdoms of Chili and Peru, with sufficient Extent of the Country round, and Freedom of Commerce to all the Spanish Dominions, South of the Equinox on the Western Coast of America.’ Together with ‘a Free Trade to and from Old Spain’, he prom­ised, this would guarantee the future flourishing of British commerce.

As first conceived, the South Sea Company was to carry on a balancing trade against French rivals, already well-established in the Pacific. The Tory ministry envisioned sharing commercial access with France – an idea the Tory MP and writer Matthew Prior floated when he travelled to Fontainebleau at the behest of Harley in 1711 to discuss British peace demands with Colbert de Torcy. When the French minister rejected initial British demands, claiming that if Britain alone received Pacific trading enclaves this would overturn the balance of commercial power and make them ‘masters of the whole trade of the world’, Prior insisted that such bases were rather intended to produce ‘a more equal distribution of traffic’. Britain would not object if Louis XIV sought equivalent enclaves to harbour French trade. Tory publicity surrounding the South Sea Company took for granted that the French would remain commercial competitors in the Pacific – and indeed this must have seemed a reasonable assumption in 1711. In this vision of a balancing trade, the Dutch were to be excluded; as we have seen, Tories regarded them as far more dangerous commercial rivals than the French.
Page 99 speaks to a key idea of the book: that officials turned to free trade in the eighteenth century as a way to create a more peaceful international order because, when designed to distribute the profits of trade, free trade tended also to preserve a balance of power. This was not the familiar liberal conception of free trade: there was no talk of self-regulating markets, comparative advantage, or trade naturally fostering peace. Rather, it was a question of preventing any one state from monopolizing a key commercial resource, like American silver, by making sure that multiple powers retained trade access. Conversely, free trade posed a threat to peace when it was granted to some at the expense of others. This page and the surrounding ones tell the story of efforts at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1713) to find a free trade model for Spain’s empire in America that the major commercial powers could accept—one that would prevent either France or Britain from enjoying a monopoly.

What the page doesn’t indicate is the full period the book covers—the 1690s to the 1780s—or its geographical scope, with chapters on India, the Caribbean, and North America as sites of Anglo-French conflict and peacemaking. Moreover, free trade was only one of several devices to which officials looked to ease international tensions over trade. The book also explores partition schemes, proposals to neutralize important trading zones outside Europe, and schemes for imperial collaboration.

The book addresses perennial questions about the stability of geopolitics in a capitalist order, suggesting that eighteenth-century commercial capitalism not only spurred conflict, as historians have long known, but fostered efforts to contain war and pacify world politics.
Visit John Shovlin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Michael Ledger-Lomas's "Queen Victoria: This Thorny Crown"

Michael Ledger-Lomas is a visiting research fellow at King’s College London.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Queen Victoria: This Thorny Crown, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book just consists of endnotes to a chapter, so I've turned to page 89 instead. On page 89, I describe how Protestant moral reformers in Victorian Britain came to regard Queen Victoria as the patron of their determined efforts to rid the land of such social evils as prostitution. I quote the famous purity campaigner W.T. Stead, who described Victoria as the 'incarnate Genius of Womanly Compassion'. I then note though that the very zeal with which such people identified their moralizing passions with Queen Victoria was in some ways a mixed blessing to the royal family. I note that her son Albert Edward the Prince of Wales was constantly being criticised for his defective morals, with such criticism powering the republican movement in the 1860s and 1870s. I finally note that Protestant puritans on occasions criticised the Queen herself for setting a bad moral example. I cite a Canadian temperance journal criticising her published journals for revealing the heavy whisky consumption of her court at her Scottish home, Balmoral Castle.

This page is an excellent illustration both of my book's sources and its argument. My book is a biographical account of Queen Victoria's religious interests and enthusiasms from the beginning of her reign in 1837 to her death in 1901, and it is based to a large extent on the evidence of her private diaries and correspondence. But because Victoria was a Queen who became part of the iconography of not just the British state but the British Empire, it's also a study of the outsized presence that she enjoyed in the lives and imaginations of religious people. Throughout the book, I use the preoccupation of religious people with the religiosity of Queen Victoria to make the broader point that many Victorians regarded reverence for God and reverence for the monarchy as interlocking sources of social power and stability. In my quest to chart religious representations of Victoria, I make much use of printed primary sources of the kind I employ on this page: articles from the religious press and sermons, of which a vast amount survive. These sources often work the same kind of trick that Stead's rhetoric does: they use religious emotion to recast Victoria not as a ruler with distinct powers and duties, but as an inspiration or a friend to her subjects.

I am careful throughout the book though to stress that Victorian religious feeling was never simple, unitary or uncritical. It was not a bottomless well on which the monarchy could draw at its convenience. It was often defined by polemic and controversy - over the right way to worship, on the proper relationship between a Protestant monarchy and other Christian confessions and religions and on how far religious people might go in imposing their principles on society. The result was that Victoria's authority was often invoked to support religious positions that she did not share, such as Sabbath observance. At other times, it was challenged by people, such as High Church Ritualists, who rightly regarded her as hostile to their opinions.

It is finally typical of my book that one of the voices quoted on this page comes from a Canadian journal. I seek throughout the book to show that a generally respectful interest in Victoria's morals and religiosity came to be an important form of imperial solidarity. I draw a lot on the growing body of scholarship which represents both Protestant and Catholic churches in the nineteenth century as transnational forces which were held together by common beliefs but also by common sentiments, which were thought to span the English speaking and British world (overlapping but not synonymous terms). Victoria was by the end of her reign a symbolic catheter for the expressions of such feelings. Many godly people from Victoria, British Columbia to Sydney in New South Wales felt about Victoria as Stead did, even if they might not have expressed themselves with quite such weird fervour.
Learn more about Queen Victoria: This Thorny Crown at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 9, 2021

Nick Braae's "Rock and Rhapsodies"

Nick Braae is a Principal Academic Staff Member in Music and Performing Arts at Waikato Institute of Technology in Hamilton, New Zealand. He has published widely on the music of Queen, New Zealand popular music, and conceptual understandings of style in popular music. He has taught music history, composition, performance, and musical theatre performance studies at Wintec since 2016. Outside of teaching, he works regularly as a session keyboardist, musical director, composer, and arranger.

Braae applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Trade and Nation: How Companies and Politics Reshaped Economic Thought, and reported the following:
This is mildly embarrassing: I open to page 99 and there are a couple of paragraphs and a diagram about Roger Taylor’s vocal techniques. You write a book about Queen – one of the greatest rock bands of all time and led by the indomitable and irreplaceable Freddie Mercury – and the snapshot is of the drummer and the handful of songs on which he sung lead. To my guitarist, pianist and singing friends, apologies. I can just hear the drummer in my band chortling and smirking away…they’re always the loudest in the room and, it seems, one just can’t keep them out of the spotlight.

I jest (a little). Page 99 of Rock and Rhapsodies: The Music of Queen is rich in detail about the distinctive tonal qualities of Roger Taylor’s voice – the airy yet piercing sound; the frequent distortion or ‘gravel’ add to the pitches – and also points to some highly noticeable features of his singing style, namely his wide vibrato. It means that we can aurally distinguish a song such as “More of That Jazz” from “I’m in Love With My Car” by virtue of Taylor singing lead and backing vocals on the former, with the remaining singers of the group (Mercury and guitarist Brian May) contributing to the BVs on the latter.

I like this page also because it is part of a wider discussion of how Taylor’s singing techniques neatly align him with various strands of authenticity in rock music discourse. With his wide vibrato and raw sound, he sits alongside the formative hard rock singers of the 1970s, such as Ian Gillian, Robert Plant, or even Jimi Hendrix; moreover, this sets up a fascinating point of comparison with May and his trappings of folk-rock authenticity, and with Mercury and his predilection for toying with any mode of authenticity, which dominates this and the subsequent chapters.

But what it reveals most of all is my willingness to take any and all parts of Queen’s music seriously. Previous writing and documentaries on Queen (my own work included) tend to hit the big targets – “Bohemian Rhapsody”, News of the World, Live Aid – yet in Rock and Rhapsodies, I have analysed their songs, style, and musical growth in a far more balanced and comprehensive manner. Roger Taylor may have only sung lead on a small percentage of Queen’s songs, but his was no less an important voice, metaphorically and literally, within the band. This deserves and receives scrutiny and investigation; as I note in my introduction, my aim to cover the entirety of Queen’s output does result in a few hits receiving lesser attention, but allows much needed light to shine on many other tracks that contribute to the famed Queen sound.

Anyway, it could have been worse. What if page 99 was about John Deacon, the bass player? Just kidding, he gets his moment on page 180.
Visit Nick Braae's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Emily Erikson's "Trade and Nation"

Emily Erikson is associate professor of sociology, professor in the School of Management by courtesy, and Joseph C. Fox Academic Director of the Fox International Fellowship at Yale University. She is the author of Between Monopoly and Free Trade: The English East India Company, 1600–1757.

Erikson applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Trade and Nation: How Companies and Politics Reshaped Economic Thought, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book provides detailed historical evidence about the intended audience of the new economic literature of the seventeenth century. It presents quotes from John Locke, Daniel Defoe, Nicholas Barbon, Josiah Child, and a few other less celebrated authors to illustrate the intentions that motivated authors to write about economic matters in this century, which was generally to sway the opinion of prominent political elites and policy-makers on specific matters of trade policy. It is definitely a key piece of evidence and a pivotal moment in the book. In fact, it is the second page of the third chapter, in which I introduce the main argument and key actors. I think, however, that without a little bit more context, it might be difficult for a reader to understand why this particular evidence matters, since there is no discussion of the larger story of increasing corporate influence. The reader might also be a little misled about the type of analysis included in the book. Page 99 is qualitative evidence from the contents of the books. That kind of evidence plays an important role in the larger argument but is supplemented by quantitative evidence about how many books were written on different topics, what kind of topics occurred with what frequency in different books, and how those topics were interrelated in a network of emergent frameworks for understanding trade and commerce. You also miss the network of links between the authors, company leaders, merchants, and politicians that plays an important role in the emergence of this new way of thinking about economics.
Learn more about Trade and Nation at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Between Monopoly and Free Trade.

Follow Emily Erikson on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 6, 2021

Silke Zoller's "To Deter and Punish"

Silke Zoller is an assistant professor of history at Kennesaw State University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, To Deter and Punish: Global Collaboration Against Terrorism in the 1970s, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The Arab, African, and other [United Nations] delegates claimed that extremist violence was an aspect of national liberation organizations’ state-building efforts and needed to be handled in that context. So did states’ counter-measures. These delegates acknowledged that brutal acts of violence against “innocent” civilians were inexcusable. They insisted that true terrorists were rare outliers, however, and that overall, national liberation movements should not be delegitimized through the terrorism label. (…)

The contrasting Global North position maintained that international terrorism was a brutal crime without any political legitimacy. Representatives of this position included the United States and Canada, most Western European states, the Baltic states, Japan, and Australia. (…) Bennett and his allies insisted that extremists’ violence against civilians invalidated any sort of political context or grievances. Such attacks were not an act of armed conflict. They were an urgent threat to global safety. The international community needed to create certainty that states would duly punish and not support non-state attackers. (…) The Global North delegates also vehemently denounced the idea that the convention should cover only “innocent” civilians because that terminology implied that state officials or military and law enforcement officers could be legitimate targets.
The page 99 test highlights the key historical controversy at the heart of To Deter and Punish and represents its main argument well. In the early 1970s, political extremists from the Global South committed attacks on Global North targets – on citizens, territory, and property (like airplanes) of the wealthiest and most developed states in the world. Individual states instituted domestic responses, such as better aviation security practices. However, Global North diplomats and security bureaucrats realized that attackers often struck abroad or in international spaces. To react to border-crossing violence, Global North officials started talking to one another. Their goal was to figure out how the entire international community should respond, and to literally “deter and punish” attackers.

Page 99 is in the second chapter of the book, which describes the debates surrounding international terrorism at the United Nations after the tragic attack by Palestinian extremists on the Israeli team at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. By this point, Global North officials had worked out an approach to internationally restrict extremist violence. They promoted new extradition agreements. These agreements required all states to pass criminal laws against extremist violence, to arrest offenders, and to either prosecute these offenders or to extradite them elsewhere. With this approach, Global North officials argued, the world could cut off safe havens and the maneuverability of international terrorists. Yet this approach was not so easily implemented. As page 99 shows, the debate around international terrorism soon took on much larger implications. Many recently independent states argued that such agreements would delegitimate not just violent extremists, but also national independence movements. They were unwilling to support what they saw as a blanket condemnation of political violence. These two positions, from the Global North and Global South, would continue to clash in anti-terrorism initiatives throughout the 1970s, as the rest of To Deter and Punish shows.
Visit Silke Zoller's webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Jeremy R. Levine's "Constructing Community"

Jeremy R. Levine is Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies and Sociology at the University of Michigan.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Constructing Community: Urban Governance, Development, and Inequality in Boston, and reported the following:
Constructing Community is an ethnography of urban governance and community development in some of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. The book has 3 key takeaways: First, nonprofits—including community-based organizations and foundations—matter a lot in cities; second, they matter specifically in terms of democratic representation (sometimes undermining) and inequality (sometimes exacerbating); and finally, even under the best of circumstances with the most community-driven nonprofits, no organization or participatory process can ever fully empower or represent the community. The reason? There is no such thing as "the" community. The title's play on words is a nod to the political construct of "community," a concept that carries undeniable moral authority but obscures considerable diversity on the ground.

Page 99 covers some, but not all, of the book’s central arguments. The page describes a coalition of nonprofits that wanted to develop a contiguous greenway along a 9-mile rail corridor. Greenways are very popular, and the nonprofit leaders hoped to gain access to new resources by planning one. The coalition ran into two big problems during their planning, however. First (and most important), a greenway was quite literally impossible. Yes, there was some vacant land adjacent to the rail line, but most of the land was residential or included cross-streets. In short, there was no “way” for the greenway. The second problem was political: Each nonprofit in the coalition wanted a neighborhood-specific project. A greenway stretching through multiple neighborhoods did not help each organization’s standing as a community representative that brings resources to “their” community.

The specific scene on page 99 documents how these nonprofit leaders understood and ultimately resolved the dilemma. Essentially, they re-constructed the community to fit their political objectives. Rather than think of the greenway as an actual contiguous park, they opted for an “innovative” design that included a contiguous bike path on city streets with “loops” into neighborhood-specific projects like small parks or community gardens—conveniently, one project for each neighborhood represented in the coalition. One nonprofit director called it “a greenway with grapes.” The greenway was reduced to little more than a squiggly line on a map, and the neighborhood-specific projects were connected only in theory. But the nonprofit leaders gained something very valuable in the process. By drawing shapes on a map and reframing disparate projects as part of a larger greenway—by, in effect, constructing new community boundaries—these leaders gained access to new planning and development resources.

So, if you were to land on page 99 of Constructing Community, you’d see an example of nonprofit leaders constructing community boundaries and determining what kinds of resources were available to poor urban residents. You’d miss the point about how all of this matters for inequality, which is described in other examples.
Follow Jeremy R. Levine on Twitter and visit his website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Martin Elvis's "Asteroids"

Martin Elvis is an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. Previously he was a postdoctoral fellow with the UK Science Research Council. He has researched X-ray astronomy, black holes, and quasars—and now asteroids. In 2007, he won the Pirelli INTERNETional Award for multimedia science communication. Asteroid 9283 Martinelvis is named after him. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

Elvis applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Asteroids: How Love, Fear, and Greed Will Determine Our Future in Space, and reported the following:
Diving into Asteroids at page 99 will give you an idea of how I explain the details involved in prospecting asteroids, either for the damage they might do (Fear), the economic potential they might hold (Greed), or the fundamental insights they might yield (Love). What page 99 won’t do for you is see the huge breadth of skills that will be needed to make an industry out of asteroids, that stretch from geologists and astronomers to entrepreneurs, lawyers and even hoteliers and artists. For that you’ll need to read more. The book lays out the Why, How, and When of asteroids, after explaining just What asteroids are, for all three motives – science, saving the planet, and selling supplies to the in-space economy that is just about to bloom. In other words, the motive, means and opportunity. Motive explains the Big Questions in science that asteroids are deeply entangled in, including the origin of life on Earth. It also explains just how worried we should be about being hit by an asteroid, and what it just might be worth mining from asteroids to sell in space. Means explains the tools that will be needed to find the most interesting/dangerous/valuable asteroids, and how to deflect the dangerous ones, and mine the valuable ones. That’s where page 99 comes in, explaining how to use radar to map asteroids that swing by near the Earth. Opportunity describes the rapid growth of commercial space – “NewSpace” – and how it will come to need supplies from space. The last chapter talks about the farther future of humans in space, and how the vast resources of the asteroids could lead to a new flourishing of human achievements, but also how it may not.
Visit Martin Elvis's webspage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Heather F. Roller's "Contact Strategies"

Heather Roller is an Associate Professor of History at Colgate University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Contact Strategies: Histories of Native Autonomy in Brazil, and reported the following:
Readers opening the book to page 99 would encounter one moment in the deep history of Indigenous diplomacy in eighteenth-century Brazil. The page begins with the year 1789, five years after the Mura people of the central Amazon initiated a process of making peace with the Portuguese, their former enemies. How did the Mura understand this process, and how did they shape it over time? This page contains a key part of the argument developed in the second chapter as a whole: Native peoples were able to extract significant concessions from their new allies, and they could “interpret the terms of the original peace agreements in ways that were highly selective in the eyes of their colonial partners.” For the Mura, this meant maintaining their access to traditional hunting and fishing grounds while also venturing into areas that had been closed to them before the peace—such as the beaches and lakes where the royal fisheries were located, near the main river highways of the Amazon. The page ends with a discussion of how such claims opened up new arenas of competition over resources like fish and turtles.

Page 99 works fairly well as an entry point into the larger themes of the book. It would be clear to a reader of this page that the late eighteenth-century peace agreements with autonomous Native groups were not top-down “pacifications” (though colonial officials preferred to frame them as such). Instead, the success of peacemaking initiatives hinged on Native motivations and customs, and the Portuguese often had to play by Native rules if they wanted peaceful relations to endure. Concessions and compromises were most frequently made in peace talks and gift exchanges; page 99, for example, covers the delicate negotiations around resettlement and access to aquatic resources that played out between the Mura and the Portuguese. Colonial authorities admitted that they had to respond carefully when the Mura began setting up camps around the royal fisheries; they couldn’t simply evict them, for fear of derailing the peace process. As the rest of the chapter makes clear, Indigenous groups like the Mura had a good deal of leverage in these moments, and they used that leverage to stake out positions as autonomous allies rather than colonial subjects.

In looking at how Indigenous peoples initiated and controlled contact with Brazilian society over about two centuries, the book covers a lot of ground both geographically and chronologically. It follows the trajectories of two powerful groups: the Mura of the central Amazon (as encountered on page 99) and the Guaikurú in the center-west region. These nations each challenged Brazilian expansion in their respective regions, while maintaining political autonomy and effective control over huge swathes of territory and strategic river routes. Both peoples also entered into regular interaction with colonial authors after forging peace agreements in the late eighteenth century, as page 99 makes clear. The Mura and the Guaikurú are among the few groups for which we have a long-term register of historical documents from the mid eighteenth century to the present day. But they were not the only groups to pursue these contact strategies, and readers of the rest of the book will find that it weaves together stories from across Native Brazil.
Visit Heather F. Roller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue