Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Lonán Ó Briain's "Voices of Vietnam"

Lonán Ó Briain is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham. He is the author or editor of several books, including Musical Minorities: The Sounds of Hmong Ethnicity in Northern Vietnam.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Voices of Vietnam: A Century of Radio, Red Music, and Revolution, and reported the following:
This book investigates the historical impact of broadcast sound on geopolitics. The shifting borders and polities of mainland Southeast Asia over the past century provide ample material for examination, especially during and after the major wars of the twentieth century but also following economic reforms and the emergence of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. My attention is particularly focused on Hanoi, which served for a time as the capital of French Indochina, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV; North Vietnam) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The first half of page 99 provides an excellent summary of the key arguments in Voices of Vietnam by describing the activities of a central figure associated with radio music during the Second Indochina War, Dân Huyền, and then summarizing the legacy of wartime musicians, broadcasts and audio technologies in contemporary Vietnam:
…seminal recordings are regularly broadcast to accompany interviews with survivors, and iconic songs are re-recorded by up-and-coming popular artists. Much of the technical and administrative infrastructures described here also remain in place. These mechanisms served as a platform for the invention and propagation of a national communist cultural heritage in the early postcolonial period, and today they buttress the power of the current political establishment.
The page 99 test is less successful on the second half of the page, which shifts to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; South Vietnam):
With loudspeakers positioned along the seventeenth parallel, wireless radio broadcasts beaming into the South, and pamphlets advertizing the VOV’s schedule, potential listeners in the RVN were inundated with red music and other propaganda from the DRV during the war. But southern listeners had many alternatives...
Only a few pages are devoted to broadcasts from this region. Here, I provide a snapshot of cultural life and music broadcasting in the South, largely based on secondary sources—other scholars are developing important research on the RVN which I briefly highlight. The primary sources for Voices of Vietnam are original interviews with musicians in northern Vietnam, fieldwork in the offices, rehearsal halls, and recording studios of state radio in Hanoi, and archival documents on broadcasting mostly in northern Vietnam/Tonkin. So, this test is only successful if you read the first half of the page!
Learn more about Voices of Vietnam at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 29, 2021

Hannah Farber's "Underwriters of the United States"

Hannah Farber is assistant professor of history at Columbia University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding, and reported the following:
If we flip to page 99 of Underwriters of the United States, we find ourselves in Philadelphia, shortly after the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. A local insurance group has successfully persuaded the legislature of the state of Pennsylvania to grant it an incorporation, in spite of noisy complaints from its opponents. The Page 99 test works fairly well, because what follows is a transformation that is central to the book: the noisy opponents, placated with an incorporation of their own, immediately discover that collaboration is more profitable than competition. Suddenly, they become a lot quieter. The two new insurance companies amicably exchange insurance rates, collaborate on matters of policy, and begin to build relationships with other insurance companies and private insurance brokerages up and down the eastern seaboard of the new republic.

Over the following two decades, a major shift takes place: the overwhelming majority of American merchants begin buying their insurance at home instead of overseas. As a result, American insurers are able to reconstitute their staggeringly complex, wealthy, and exclusive international business inside the United States. But how "inside" the United States is this business, really? When insurers talk about their business in public, they try to have things both ways. On the one hand, they portray the insurance business as a private project of expert, cosmopolitan merchants, with which the state has no right to interfere. On the other hand, they also try to portray insurance as a civic-minded business that benefits (secures!) all Americans, and that therefore deserves public acclamation and state support.
Learn more about Underwriters of the United States at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Michael Krepon's "Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace"

Michael Krepon co-founded the Stimson Center in 1989 and worked previously in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill. He has taught as a professor of practice at the University of Virginia and received the Carnegie Endowment’s award for lifetime achievement in non-governmental work to reduce nuclear dangers in 2015. Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: The Rise, Demise, and Revival of Arms Control is Krepon's twenty-third book. Most of his previous books were collaborative efforts resulting from Stimson programming.

Krepon applied the “Page 99 Test” to Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace and reported the following:
My new book is a history of nuclear arms control. Page 99 will give readers a flavor of how I write, but you’ll need to read the whole work to get the complete story. Page 99 finds us at the Glassboro summit during the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration. LBJ and his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara are trying to convince Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin to begin strategic arms limitation talks:
The luncheon discussion was rushed and not worthy of the topic. Kosygin, part of a collective leadership, wasn’t empowered to make a decision, in any event. Llewellyn Thompson was dispatched once more to Moscow to deliver the message that the United States was willing to send a high-level delegation to Moscow to begin preliminary discussions. He was to lead the U.S. delegation, but was left cooling his heels. Thompson conveyed three subsequent messages from Washington, but there was still no reply.

The decision to begin strategic arms control talks tied the Kremlin into knots. Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin raised one important concern with Secretary of State Dean Rusk: What, exactly, did the United States want to achieve? Superiority? Or would Washington accept parity? Rusk was evasive.
History never repeats itself exactly, but it always brings us to the present. This vignette, now over five decades old, is again about to unfold vis-à-vis China. Like the Soviet Union in 1967, China is expanding rapidly its nuclear forces, partly in anticipation of the onset of strategic arms control talks with the United States. China’s build up will force the Biden administration to confront difficult choices in defining U.S. negotiating objectives. Whatever Biden decides to do, he can expect a domestic backlash. I discuss this in my concluding chapter.
Learn more about Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 26, 2021

Ray E. Boomhower's "Richard Tregaskis"

Ray E. Boomhower is a senior editor at the Indiana Historical Society Press. He is also the author of more than a dozen books, including Dispatches from the Pacific: The World War II Reporting of Robert L. Sherrod; John Bartlow Martin: A Voice for the Underdog; and Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary.

Boomhower applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Richard Tregaskis: Reporting under Fire from Guadalcanal to Vietnam, and reported the following:
From page 99:
The American Legion’s deck was black with slime and grit because, as he later discovered, the ship had no modern equipment for pumping water. “The marines cramming the deck were just as dirty,” he noted. Tregaskis met with the Fifth Marine Regiment’s commanding officer, Col. Leroy P. Hunt, a World War I veteran, in the officer’s cabin, which at least had a clean floor. Hunt said his men might be unkempt and looked like gypsies because there was no water available to clean up, but he believed they would fight when called upon to do so. “They got it here,” Hunt told Tregaskis, tapping his chest in the region of his heart. Returning to his cabin, which he shared with Capt. William Hawkins, a former schoolteacher in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Tregaskis went to the bathroom he shared with the adjoining stateroom and tried to wash off the sweat and grime he had collected during the day. When he pressed the tap, no water came out. A neighbor informed him, “The water’s only on for about ten minutes at a time, about three times a day. And the times it’s on are a mystery that only the Navy and God know about.”

As the American Legion sailed south on the big sweep that would take it into Guadalcanal, Tregaskis got to know more about the marines and their commander. Hunt and his officers tried to be realistic about their chances, believing from intelligence reports that there were anywhere from five to ten thousand enemy troops on the island, most of them labor troops, numbers that proved to be greatly inflated. The Japanese would probably be able to bring some large guns to bear upon the American landing craft on their way into the landing beaches five miles east of Lunga Point, as well as machine-gun fire and mortar rounds. Zealous map interpreters, Tregaskis recalled, straining their eyes over aerial photo-mosaic maps, believed they had identified evidence of intense enemy defensive preparations on the beach chosen for the landing. “The interpreters said they saw worn truck tracks, indicating movement in the vicinity of the beach,” he recalled, “and conjured machine gun positions out of minute combinations of shadows in the beach area.” One of Hunt’s aides confided to Tregaskis that he and the other officers expected about a third of the assault boats to be destroyed and a quarter of the combat troops would be casualties during the landing. The officers were also sure that Japanese reconnaissance planes would spot the U.S. armada long before it reached its destination and would send planes to bomb and strafe the ships, and the Japanese fleet would not be far behind. “This estimate did not improve the pleasantness of the prospect of accompanying the assault troops in their attack,” the correspondent noted.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the page 99 test proved to represent well what I attempted to capture in writing about Richard Tregaskis’s war correspondent career. Tregaskis made his name through his experiences with the U.S. Marines who stormed the beaches on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, sharing the dangers with them for the first seven weeks of the campaign to capture and hold the island from the Japanese. Here, on page 99, a reader can gain a good sense of Tregaskis’s reporting method. Instead of describing the grand strategy of the war in the Pacific, he concentrates on the day-to-day struggles of the men facing combat. Tregaskis serves as a surrogate eyewitness for those on the American home front, offering, through his dispatches to newspapers via the International News Service, intriguing details about service overseas (in this example, the grime and dirt encountered by the marines while sailing on an old transport).

Tregaskis’s interaction with the marines on the dirty ship typified his time as one of the approximately 1,800 men and women who worked as combat reporters (a job Tregaskis once described as “an outsider with special privileges”) during World War II. As Robert Considine, one of his INS colleagues noted: “He never in his career as a correspondent sent home a rewrite of a head- quarters communiqué. He didn’t believe in communiqués. He had to see for himself.”

Tregaskis often pondered why he and others risked their lives to report on the war. Good correspondents, like other people of action, were generally unwilling to make themselves heroes, he said, but most “will admit that they take chances in war zones for the same reason the mountain climber gave when asked why he wanted to scale [Mount] Everest: ‘Because it is there.’” Although Associated Press reporter Hal Boyle joked that all one needed to be a war correspondent was “a strong stomach, a weak mind, and plenty of endurance,” he and his colleagues were aware of the dangers they faced.
Follow Ray E. Boomhower on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Eric Helleiner's "The Neomercantilists"

Eric Helleiner is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo. His books include The Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods and The Status Quo Crisis.

Helleiner applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Neomercantilists: A Global Intellectual History, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book comes in the middle of a chapter describing how the neomercantilist ideas of the famous nineteenth century German thinker Friedrich List were embraced around the world and modified in interesting ways in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That specific page details how some Argentine thinkers supported List’s general protectionist advice while ignoring his more specific idea that Latin American countries should not implement these kinds of policies.

The page 99 test works partially to convey the central idea of my work. The goal of The Neomercantilists is to provide the first detailed global intellectual history of neomercantlist ideology in the pre-1945 years. Neomercantilists are supporters of strategic trade protectionism and other forms of government economic activism to promote state wealth and power. Their ideology is similar to the mercantilist thinkers that Adam Smith famously criticized in his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations. But they formulated new defenses of these policies and goals in the wake of Smith’s critique. The most famous of these thinkers is List whose 1841 book The National System of Political Economy was a strong attack on the Smithian school of free traders during his era. Although List’s work is well known, the key goal of my book is to also feature many other neomercantilist thinkers in the pre-1945 era who have received much less attention than List. Some of these other neomercantilists were people who found List’s work inspiring but modified his ideas in innovative ways. The Argentine thinkers are in that category.

The page 99 test only works partially because many of the thinkers I feature in the book were figures with little interest or even knowledge of List’s ideas. The majority of the book (which comes after page 99) examines these kinds of people, highlighting how neomercantilist thought emerged in a much more decentralized fashion in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than List-centric accounts suggest. Particularly interesting were many East Asian thinkers who pioneered neomercantilist ideas by drawing on local intellectual traditions. Their ideas receive little attention in histories of economic thought, despite their historical significance and the important legacies of some of their ideas. I argue that the intellectual histories of political economy need to devote more space to these (and other) non-Western thinkers, particularly in the contemporary age when Western dominance of the world economy is waning. And more generally, I argue that it is important to understand much better the roots and content of neomercantilist thought in an era when this ideology’s popularity is growing in popularity. My book is designed to provide the first history of this kind.
Learn more about The Neomercantilists at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Fay A. Yarbrough's "Choctaw Confederates"

Fay A. Yarbrough is professor of history at Rice University and the author of Race and the Cherokee Nation.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Choctaw Confederates: The American Civil War in Indian Country, and reported the following:
If you opened Choctaw Confederates: The American Civil War in Indian Country to page 99, you would find yourself in the middle of chapter 3 titled “The Choctaws and Chickasaws Are Entirely Southern and Are Determined to Adhere to the Fortunes of the South: Choosing Sides in the Conflict.” Here I outline a remarkable, in my view, concession that the Confederate States of America made to gain the support of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations: a delegate in the Confederate House of Representatives. This delegate would not have the voting rights of other representatives, but the provision was still a departure from the lukewarm language suggesting only the possibility for representation offered by the federal government in a previous treaty with the Choctaws. The delegate had to be a member “by birth or blood, on either the father’s or mother’s side, of one of the said nations,” and a Confederate agent would manage the logistics of the election of the delegate. These last two details reveal American pressure to impose a recognition of patrilineal descent among Native peoples who had traditionally recognized matrilineal descent to determine membership in the group and a usurpation of Native sovereignty. After all, the Choctaws and Chickasaws regularly conducted their own elections; why should the Confederate agent be in charge of this election?

Page 99 highlights several important themes in my work. First, the Choctaw Nation allied with the Confederacy during the American Civil War and one enticement is revealed here. Second, some cultural practices among Native groups changed or adapted to pressure from Euro-Americans and interactions with foreign governments. And, third, state, federal, and Confederate governments constantly tested and attempted to chip away at the bounds of Native sovereignty. What is missing from page 99, however, is discussion of the central roles the Choctaw desire to protect Native sovereignty and their own cultural identity and their commitment to practicing the enslavement of people of African descent had in the Choctaw decision to enter the war. Nor does page 99 give you a sense of the Civil War experience for Choctaw soldiers or the consequences of Reconstruction for freedpeople in the Choctaw Nation. For those parts of the story, read the book!
Learn more about Choctaw Confederates at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 22, 2021

Anima Adjepong's "Afropolitan Projects"

Anima Adjepong holds a faculty position as Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexualities Studies at the University of Cincinnati. They research, write, and teach about identity, culture, and social change and are particularly interested in how cultural struggles can bring about social transformation.

Adjepong applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Afropolitan Projects: Redefining Blackness, Sexualities, and Culture from Houston to Accra, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Afropolitan Projects is in Chapter 4, titled “Afropolitan Politics in Accra.” The page discusses the cultural politics embedded in language choice, examining how class and gender shape the Ghanaian languages used in Afropolitan spaces. The page dives into how Pidgin, the language choice proposed as inclusive can potentially be exclusive in gendered and classed ways. Sociolinguists interested in language use in Ghana have shown that Pidgin is a language used by men across social class. In other words, the language acts to bond men. By contrast, while working class women may have access to Pidgin as a vernacular, in the privileged class spaces that Afropolitans create, working class women might not prefer to use this language as it could betray their class status and marginalize them. For class-privileged women, pidgin is not typically a language to which they have access. As I write, “Given these realities, I found the suggestion that Pidgin was an inclusive language for progressive organizing to be both surprising and potentially troublesome.” Taking the argument further, I note that the “least self-consciously inclusive linguistic space” was one that was already exclusive by class. Within this space, English, Ewe, Pidgin, Ga, and Akan were used without hesitation or concern about being inclusive. As such, I conclude that perhaps the issue is not about how language includes or excludes, but rather about working through class tensions as a part of a politics that claims a desire to be inclusive.

Afropolitan Projects examines how a privileged class of Ghanaians who claim a politics of inclusion and a desire to articulate Africa as a part of a transnational community navigate the contradictions of this position via their cultural work. Focusing on my interlocutors’ articulations and experiences of class, gender, sexuality, and race, the book explores how these identity categories shape cultural politics. Based on years long ethnography, in-depth interviews, and analyses of various cultural materials including visual art, music videos and songs, memes, and Twitter trends, I found that what I call Afropolitan projects – the cultural politics of class-privileged Ghanaians (and potentially other Africans who occupy similar positionality) are characterized and hampered by neoliberalism, heteronormativity, and Christian nationalism. Although this finding seems paradoxical given the claim to progress and inclusivity, the larger cultural context in which this politics occurs offers some explanations as to why and the book explores this context in depth.

In my view, page 99 is surprisingly helpful as an introduction to some of the paradoxes and tensions about which I write. This page offers insight into key themes of the book, which included how patriarchy (in this instance normalizing men’s experiences to the exclusion of woman) and class inequality impose themselves on Afropolitan efforts to be inclusive. Although a definition of Afropolitan is not provided on this page, a reader might conclude that Afropolitan is a privileged class identity. By reading page 99, readers can begin to familiarize themselves with the tensions that are opened up throughout the book.
Visit Anima Adjepong's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Deborah Gordon's "No Standard Oil"

Deborah Gordon is a senior principal in the Climate Intelligence Program at RMI where she leads the Oil and Gas Solutions Initiative. Gordon also serves as a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University and the principal investigator for the Oil Climate Project. Her research has spearheaded the development of the Oil Climate Index Plus Gas (OCI+), a first-of-its-kind analytic tool that compares the lifecycle climate impacts of global oil and gas resources.

Gordon applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, No Standard Oil: Managing Abundant Petroleum in a Warming World, and reported the following:
On page 99, I argue that the first place to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector is in the industry’s own operations. This page captures the main message in my book. Consumers cannot simply demand less to solve the world’s energy and climate problems. We’ve tried this single-handed approach for decades yet oil and gas use and emissions continue to rise.

Supply-side oil and gas operations—production, processing, refining, and shipping—have not been aggressively pursued even though reducing these emissions sources are low-hanging fruit for immediate climate action. A lot of energy (mostly fossil fuels) is consumed pumping, separating, heating, cooling, and converting oil and gas even before various petroleum products make their way into cars, planes, roadways, and plastics. I come to the same conclusion as the International Energy Agency: “minimizing emissions from core oil and gas operations should be a first-order priority for all, whatever the [clean energy] transition pathway.”

No Standard Oil stresses that oil and gas are abundant and are not going away anytime soon. Moreover, there are large differences in different assets’ climate intensities (measured by their emissions in an equivalent barrel). And, in a rapidly warming world, these emissions differences are large enough to matter. The Oil Climate Index Plus Gas (OCI+), a first-of-its-kind tool that assembles a series of models to estimate the lifecycle GHGs from the oil and gas sector fills this knowledge gap. Climate intelligence generated by the OCI+ informs industry, policymakers, and civil society about where in the supply chain the greatest emissions are, how best to cut them, how to factor emissions into financial decision making, how to design government regulations, and which assets deserve activists' attention. Targeting supply-side actions offers the best chance of reducing oil and gas emissions in line with international targets to stop the Earth from runaway warming in the decade ahead.
Learn more about No Standard Oil at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Two Billion Cars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 19, 2021

Mathias Clasen's "A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies"

Mathias Clasen is Associate Professor of Literature and Media Studies at Aarhus University. He is interested in the paradox of horror and researches the psychological underpinnings of horror from an evolutionary perspective. He has also conducted empirical studies on the psychology and physiology of haunted house visitors. Clasen is the author of Why Horror Seduces (2017) and associate editor of the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump, and reported the following:
My book is addressed to a person who is nervous yet curious about horror movies, and page 99 is the last page in a chapter called “I’m Nervous that Watching Horror Makes Me Look Stupid.” The chapter is about the bias and prejudice that surround the horror genre, which is often perceived as a stupid or even dangerous kind of fiction, and so somebody might legitimately be worried about condescending looks if they admit to being a huge slasher fan, or a torture porn buff, or a connoisseur of zombie apocalypse movies. Toward the end of the chapter I briefly talk about literally looking stupid, like when you’re watching a horror movie and a powerful jump scare makes you jump out of the seat with a piercing scream. To illustrate that idea, there’s an image [inset left. click to enlarge] on page 99 showing a young woman in a Danish haunted house, Dystopia Haunted House, who is so powerfully startled by an actor that she falls off a couch to her companions’ great amusement. The image is from a surveillance camera that was mounted in that room as part of a research project conducted by myself and my colleagues in the Recreational Fear Lab at Aarhus University. So, yes, somebody opening the book to page 99 would get a fairly accurate idea of the tone and subject matter of the book—a light-hearted yet serious attempt to explain in accessible terms what science tells us about horror movies and their effects, and what a nervous person can do to mitigate those effects. (The bad news is that there’s little you can do to shield yourself from a well-executed jump scare, but that’s the topic of a separate chapter in the book.)
Learn more about A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies at the Oxford University Press website and follow Mathias Clasen on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Mary E. Stuckey's "Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump"

Mary E. Stuckey Mary E. Stuckey is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Communication at Penn State University. Her many books include Voting Deliberatively: FDR and the 1936 Presidential Campaign.

Stuckey applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump is delightfully revealing of the book itself. It’s the first page of a chapter on the 1924 election and describes the chaos of the 1924 Democratic convention in Madison Square Garden, as the delegates fought for sixteen days and cast 103 ballots before they could decide on their presidential nominee. The convention was so nasty that people thought it was evidence that democracy had ceased to function.

And that’s what’s true of the rest of the book—all of these deplorable campaigns were examples of democracy at its worst. I use the examples of three early elections (1800, 1840, and 1852) to set the stage for a discussion of how and why presidential elections can go bad (by which I mean that they can be too personal, too trivial, and too likely to ignore important matters) and why. In the book as a whole, I show that we tend to get deplorable elections when the political system is weak, when the economy is bad, when candidates exploit fear of immigrants and rely on racism. This rhetoric is iterative—it shows up more at some times than others—and cumulative—if one candidate relies on exclusionary language, it often goes away for a time, but if a series of candidates do so, it builds force and power. And this, I think, explains where we are today. So it’s a book about our current political moment that relies on history to make the case about why our politics are so ugly and what, if anything, we can do about it.
Learn more about Deplorable at the Penn State University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Grant T. Harward's "Romania’s Holy War"

Grant T. Harward is a US Army Medical Department Historian, a former Fulbright Scholar, and a former Research Fellow at the Mandel Center of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Romania's Holy War: Soldiers, Motivation, and the Holocaust, and reported the following:
Opening to page 99 in Romania’s Holy War drops the browser into the unfolding Iaşi Pogrom late Saturday night on 28 June 1941, less than a week after the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
Romanian and German patrols reported being fired upon. The patrols shot back and searched homes but never found any snipers. German patrols reported casualties; it took days for the Romanian authorities to confirm that this was false. At 11 p.m. General [Ion] Antonescu [the dictator of Romania] phoned [Colonel Constantin] Lupu [the Iaşi garrison commander], ordering him to restore order and deport all Jewish men in the city at once. Soon afterward, two Romanian columns passing through Iaşi on the way to the front reported being fired at by snipers. By 3 a.m. soldiers across the city were grabbing Jews from buildings they thought were the sources of fire and summarily executing them. A report recorded three hundred dead and fifty wounded during the night. As the sun rose, civilians joined soldiers, turning reprisals into a pogrom. “That Sunday,” as locals subsequently referred to 29 June, soldiers, gendarmes, civilians, and some Germans killed thousands of Jews, mostly men, but women and children too…. City authorities believed Jewish communists and “very weak Romanian communist elements” had attacked to hinder troop movements by purposefully triggering a pogrom to spread disorder, so commanders made feeble attempts to restore order…. People from all walks of life, laborers to tax collectors, guided troops to Jewish neighbors and encouraged their execution. Romanians who shielded Jews were accused of being “sold to the kikes” and sometimes murdered, like an engineer shot by an officer shouting, “Die you dog, with the Jews you’re protecting.”
After days of Soviet air raids and dark rumors of Jews signaling enemy pilots, order collapsed as the pogrom spiraled out of control in the city just ten miles from the front where Axis and Soviet forces were locked in combat.

The Page 99 Test works as advertised in this case. The Iaşi Pogrom remains the most controversial event of the Holocaust in Romania, even though the Odessa Massacre four months later resulted in even more victims, because Iaşi is still within Romania’s borders (unlike most of the rest of the killing fields where Romanian soldiers and gendarmes committed mass murder of Jews that became part of Moldova and Ukraine) and Romanian civilians of all types perpetrated violence against Jewish neighbors after Romanian soldiers, and some German troops, initiated mass reprisals against supposed Jewish communist fifth columnists. Consequently, it would have been difficult to choose a better page to open to for the browser to obtain a good idea about the whole book.

Page 99 in Romania’s Holy War illustrates many of my main arguments. It shows how interrelated military operations and genocidal actions were on the eastern front, requiring the integration of military history and Holocaust history to get a full picture of the Romanian Army. Additionally, the Romanian Army’s central role in triggering popular antisemitic violence is made manifest. Finally, it demonstrates that the atrocities committed by Romanian soldiers against Jews were as much the result of bottom-up initiatives by soldiers as from the top-down orders from leaders. The myth of Judeo-Bolshevism that pervaded Romanian society, and thus also the ranks of the army, so they believed the enemy was not only the Red Army without but the Jewish community within Romania. Far from being reluctant, unideological allies of Nazi Germany, Romanian soldiers were highly motivated by nationalism, religion, antisemitism, and anticommunism to fight the Red Army and commit atrocities against Jews.

The views and information presented are those of Dr. Harward and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.
Follow Grant T. Harward on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

D. G. Hart's "Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant"

D. G. Hart is Distinguished Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College. His publications include American Catholic: The Politics of Faith During the Cold War (2020), Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken (2016), and Calvinism: A History (2013).

Hart applied the “Page 99 Test” to his newest book, Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant is about marriage. It contains one paragraph in which Franklin, who had a preference for younger women throughout his life, recommends older women over younger ones. “Debauching a virgin” could ruin a woman “for life.” But sex with older women avoided “the hazard of children.”

This page is actually more about the book than readily meets the eye. Although people remember Franklin best for his achievements as a successful publisher and editor, adept colonial political figure, and world-renowned scientist and inventor, he was also, as the book attempts to show, a dissenter from social conventions even as he lived within those norms. It is also important to add that this compliance was good-natured. The subtitle, “cultural Protestant,” points to the many ways in which Franklin participated in a culture that Protestantism was partly responsible for cultivating in the English-speaking world. The importance of hard work, the value of literacy, the rise of cities as locales of middle-class life, attention to the mechanics of the natural world apart from supernatural considerations – these were some of the features of colonial American society that English Protestants had fostered. Franklin fit in well in this society and even spurred improvements, even though he was only nominally a Protestant himself. This same dynamic applies to Franklin’s relations with women. The father of an illegitimate child who secured a marriage in part to make his life respectable, Franklin’s relationship to Deborah was a bit of a mismatch (especially as Ben achieved greater status). Yet, he saw the benefits of domestic life (including children – a son who died as a child and a daughter upon whom he doted) and recommended it even as he mocked in a good natured way the conventions that surrounded relations between men and women.

That playful and witty side of Franklin applied to almost everything he encountered and pursued. At the root of this quality was an unquenchable curiosity about the world – about print, weather, politics, women. Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant strives to do justice to that remarkable side of the man even as he worked within the religious and intellectual constraints of the society he inhabited.
Learn more about Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 15, 2021

Robert Lyman's "A War of Empires"

Robert Lyman is regarded as one of Britain’s most talented military historians, with 15 best-selling works of history published and numerous television appearances including on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? and on two episodes of the Great Escapes documentary series, on Tobruk (1941) and Kohima (1944). He spent 20 years in the British Army and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. A frequent traveller to the US, Asia and Australasia, he lives in England.

Lyman applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, A War of Empires: Japan, India, Burma & Britain: 1941-45, and reported the following:
Flipping the book to page 99 (from a total of 560) finds the reader examining the options the British had for keeping the Japanese at bay in Burma in 1942. As such it’s a good representation of the rest of the book. At its heart, this is a military history of the campaign, but which asks more questions about the participants than might be normal in such a history.

On page 99 Rangoon had fallen, hundreds of thousands of refugees clogged the roads heading north. The Allied defences were a cobbled-together assortment of British, Indian, Chinese and Burmese units. An entire Indian Division had been destroyed at the Sittang Bridge when the divisional commander had prematurely blown the critical bridge over the river, leaving most of his men on the other side. The Japanese offensive seemed set for success. It was. By May 1942 (the first land attacks had begun in late January) the Japanese had unexpectedly found themselves in possession of the whole of Burma, the weak British, Indian and Burmese forces withdrawing into India, tails between their legs.

One might have thought that that would be the end of the story. Of course we know that it isn’t, but I was intrigued to find out how, after such devastating failure in 1942, the Allies were able to turn the tables on the Japanese in 1944 and 1945, and retake Burma with what I knew to be devastating ease. The reason was not just one of Japanese military failure. It was that, of course, but it was more. It was partly the determined effort by the United States to continue supplying war materiel to China come what may, despite the loss of the Burma Road now that the Japanese held Rangoon. From this determination came the remarkable effort of the Hump airlift from India to China, one of the most remarkable logistical achievements in human history.

It was also partly because of the inspired leadership of men like General Bill Slim, who commanded the 14th Army, established in 1943 to take the war to the Japanese.

But it was also significantly – perhaps even overwhelmingly – because of the reconstruction of the Indian Army, and its transformation from a 200,000 strong para military force in 1939 into a 2 million-strong modern professional all-volunteer army by 1945. Indeed, it was the largest volunteer army ever raised. It also entailed the incredible building up of India as a base for operations, involving huge numbers of new railways, airfields and factories. In 1945, of the 1.3m men in Lord Mountbatten’s South East Asia Command, 300,000 were American, 100,000 British, 90,000 African and the remainder, Indian. The story of the war in the Far East is a remarkable one of Indian success, a story it and the rest of the world has largely forgotten.

I think it’s time, now, for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – and us in a Euro-centric West, to remember it too.
Visit Robert Lyman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Under a Darkening Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Jon Stewart's "Hegel's Century"

Jon Stewart is a fellow of the Institute of Philosophy at the Slovak Academy of Sciences. His many books include Kierkegaard's Relations to Hegel Reconsidered (2003), Hegel's Interpretations of the Religions of the World (2018), and The Emergence of Subjectivity in the Ancient and Medieval World (2020), and he is editor of The Palgrave Handbook of German Idealism and Existentialism (2020).

Stewart applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Hegel's Century: Alienation and Recognition in a Time of Revolution, and reported the following:
In my book page 99 falls in the middle of the fourth chapter, which is dedicated to an analysis of one of G.W.F. Hegel’s most famous students, Ludwig Feuerbach. More specifically, it contains the beginning of an analysis of Feuerbach’s claim that the conception of God is simply a human projection. This is the thesis of Feuerbach’s most famous book, The Essence of Christianity from 1841. On page 99 a few key passages from the beginning of this work are cited and analyzed. Feuerbach notes how human beings tend to see themselves in nature and to conceive objects of nature to be self-conscious entities like themselves. In this way humans objectify or project themselves onto something external. Feuerbach argues that this is how the concept of God arises. People come to believe that there is a deity in the world that is self-conscious but free from all the limitations that humans are subject to. The final paragraph on page 99 claims Feuerbach is taking up Hegel’s criticism of Enlightenment Deism in his own time. Hegel argues the God is Deism is an empty conception since it consists only in an abstraction with no content. Feuerbach agrees with this critique and wants to show that in fact the usual conception of God is not empty but rather contains a number of human characteristics, which are the result of the process of projection that he describes.

The page 99 test works surprisingly well for my book since it provides an illustrative example of what is done in much of the rest of the work. Hegel’s Century traces the history of philosophy in the 19th century through the thought of Hegel and his students. These include first-hand students who were actually in Hegel’s lecture hall, such as Heinrich Heine, Feuerbach and Bruno Bauer, and second-hand students who came to Berlin after Hegel’s death and studied with some of Hegel’s associates. These second-hand students include Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, Mikhail Bakunin and Friedrich Engels. The book begins with an account of certain key issues in Hegel that serve to set the stage, and then the subsequent chapters, which are dedicated to the thinkers mentioned here, illustrate the way in which they took up specific ideas from Hegel and developed them in their own original ways. What appears on page 99 is a representative example of the kinds of analyses that are given in the rest of the book. At first the theory of the figure in question, in this case Feuerbach, is discussed, and then an attempt is made to connect this with specific ideas from Hegel. In the end a continuous narrative is developed that shows Hegel’s influence through the entire 19th century. This is a controversial view since Hegel’s importance is usually considered to have died out in the 1830s and 1840s, and the long shadow that he cast on the second half of the century has generally not been recognized.

The two main concepts that are traced from Hegel to his followers are alienation and recognition (hence the subtitle of the book). These are key ideas from Hegel that are best known from his analysis of the master and the slave from the Phenomenology of Spirit. These words (in their noun forms) do not appear on page 99 explicitly, but they are quite relevant for the discussion, as is indicated later in the chapter. Feuerbach claims that humans recognize themselves in God since God is nothing but a projection of themselves. However, the object of recognition is something external which brings about a sense of alienation. Feuerbach argues that this sense of alienation can be overcome when people take back all of the energy and focus that is placed on the divine as something external and return it to the human sphere where it belongs.

This work was produced at the Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. It was supported by the Agency APVV under the project “Philosophical Anthropology in the Context of Current Crises of Symbolic Structures,” APVV-20-0137
Learn more about Hegel's Century at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 12, 2021

Jonathan Tran's "Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism"

Jonathan Tran is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Baylor University where he holds the George W. Baines Chair of Religion.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism offers the following:
The Delta Chinese Christians present us with a scenario where an alternative political economy had availed itself, but because of how things turned out, it could do little work. The terms of their arrival in America (driven by a Reconstruction-era labor scheme that pitted Chinese migrants against African American freedmen) required that they remain wedded to racial capitalism, even when the conditions of that arrival might have given them pause. Moreover, the Delta Chinese only made room for Christianity when the financial benefits (the success of their business model and the education of their children) of doing so became apparent. Rather than resisting racial capitalism, Christianity helped them further into it. The very terms by which they received Christianity would set the terms for what it could do for them. The Baptist Christianity which situated their lives in the American South permitted them a religious piety that enabled upright business practices and honorable dealings with their black customers but disabled any ability to recognize the political economy in which those practices and dealings occurred. Because the opportunity that the Chinese migrants initially stumbled upon allowed them to accumulate wealth while ignorant of the historical conditions that created it, they would need additional resources to see the scenario for the aftermarket reality that it was. Yet because Christianity had become for them, as it had for so many, synonymous with the racial capitalism that first created the aftermarket opportunity, then rather than playing this illuminating role, the Christianity only further blinded them to what they were doing. That they could continue in this blindness no matter the direct racism they personally experienced or the systemic effects they regularly witnessed demonstrates the inveterate nature of the political economy that dominated their daily lives, as well as the anemic Christianity adorning it. All the while, right under their noses sat, just beyond reach apparently, the θεία οικονομία (divine economy). That the tragic scenario of missed opportunities resembles the pattern of so much American Christianity, where the regnant political economy determines so much about religious life, means that the Delta Chinese Christians were at least not alone in compromising Christianity. Even though Delta Chinese Christianity did little to present an alternative to racial capitalism, instead providing a moving picture of its inner workings, it went a long way in demonstrating the moral cost of failing to do so.
Page 99 tries to make good on two of the book’s three primary goals: 1. Broaden conversations about race/racism so that what is currently an overly narrow focus on racial identity opens up to questions of political economy, especially the racial capitalism that uses racial identities for the sake of justifying domination and exploitation. “Racial capitalism” is a concept developed through the Black Marxist tradition that counts race/racism as integral to capitalist ideology. 2. Tell the story of American race/racism through those racialized as “Asian Americans.” I try to show how contemporary antiracism’s intense focus on racial identity (where the substance of race is white/black) cannot help marginalizing those already marginalized by racism. 3. Articulate Christian complicity in American racism while also encouraging Christians to do better, as a form of repentance more than anything else. In the second half of the book, I tell the real-life story of how a group of Asian American Christians try to do just that, and the types of complexities that come with doing so.

Page 99 gets at 1 and 2. Coming in a chapter that offers “a moving picture of racial capitalism” I recount the story of how Chinese migrants, after escaping a Reconstruction-era scheme to use them as cheap labor, took part in the political economy of racial capitalism by creating a business model that took advantage of racialized conditions. I present this scenario as a more accurate picture of how race/racism actually work, a picture that does not depend on sensationalized and hyperbolic accounts of white supremacy or “whiteness.” Rather, racism issues from structures and systems (often faceless, and no less deadly for it) that advantage some at the cost of others. Racism is not primarily about individual racist attitudes and microaggressions that sometimes rise to the level of structures and systems; it rather always operates systematically and structurally and accordingly produces requisite attitudes and aggressions. These are complicated stories, and I try to make this part of the argument with nuance and sympathy, attempting to attend to the dual role Asian Americans play as both racism’s victims and beneficiaries. A conviction driving the book is that racism is extraordinarily complex, and we need accounts of moral psychology sophisticated enough to take in those complexities (i.e., virtue signaling won’t do).
Visit Jonathan Tran's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Sandro Galea's "The Contagion Next Time"

Sandro Galea is Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. He has been named an "epidemiology innovator" by Time and one of the "World's Most Influential Scientific Minds" by Thomson Reuters. A native of Malta, he has served as a field physician for Doctors Without Borders and held academic positions at Columbia University, University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Galea applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Contagion Next Time, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls within the chapter of the book entitled “Politics, Power, and Money.” As you might imagine, since my book is about how we can prepare our nation and its people for the next pandemic, I have a lot to say on how these three things insect in America today. This page offers some examples of how public health mandates and advice became politically-charged during our current pandemic experience. I’m specifically writing about the wearing of masks to help prevent the spread of the COVID19 virus, and how even the hospitalization of President Trump with COVID19 didn’t change the politicization of this disease, which is something that surprised me:
The political divide during COVID-19, with some Americans painstakingly adhering to mask-wearing and physical-distancing while other behaved as if times were more or less normal, was a striking example of how politics shapes attitudes towards health. It is by no means the first example of such a divide.
I think page 99 of my book would offer a browser a fair example of my writing throughout the book. In all chapters, I try to connect how things have been done during our current pandemic to how they could be done differently—and better—in the future to prevent another such terrible public health crisis from occurring. And I try to use examples and stories that will draw in the reader, and help make these ideas more concrete. Page 99 does that well, I think.

But I do not feel the test offers a browser a good look at my overarching thesis of the book, which is that we must do more as a nation to fight against racial and economic inequality if we hope to improve health for all Americans, whether or not we are in the midst of another pandemic. This is a big subject—bigger than any author could fit on one page. In the book, I explain how our health as a nation has improved drastically over the past 100 years, and the steps and changes that must be made at the national, local, and individual level to help ensure everyone can be healthy in America in the future, no matter the color of their skin or the state of their bank account.

It was fun to read through page 99 again. I find when I give talks, people say, “but didn’t we already know that?” And that is part of the point: some of the facts will be apparent to readers, as we have lived through this moment together. But if you read beyond 99, particularly towards the latter half of the book, I hope to create an urgent charge for us to re-assess the very foundations that we live in and see daily, the history that we may take for granted, and the potential for change in the future. Given that we mainly passed the Page 99 test, I encourage readers to take a peek and keep going—to see how these foundational forces in plain sight shape much of what happened and, more importantly, how we can shift them to make the world’s response a better, fairer one when the next pandemic emerges.
Visit Sandro Galea's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Brendan Borrell's "The First Shots"

Brendan Borrell is Outside magazine correspondent and has written on science, health, and business for The Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek, National Geographic, Wired, and the New York Times. He lives in Los Angeles

Borrell applied the “Page 99 Test” to The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine, his first book, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The First Shots opens with the first line of Chapter 11: "The path from a scientific hunch to a lifesaving product is rarely a linear one.” And, wow, that just about sums up my book perfectly! The rest of the page begins the story of the decade-long path that mRNA technology took from an academic laboratory to one company’s patent holdings, and eventually into the hands of Moderna and Pfizer, where it made possible the rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in 2020.

That first sentence also encapsulates a central theme of the book as a whole. Over the course of The First Shots, we learn about other breakthroughs that made the COVID-19 vaccines possible. As the clock is ticking amid the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, we watch these precious vaccines move through clinical trials and towards FDA authorization under the overheated political atmosphere of the presidential election season. By the end of the book, Operation Warp Speed and healthcare providers around the country deliver those vaccines to the people who need them the most.
Visit Brendan Borrell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Emelia Quinn's "Reading Veganism"

Emelia Quinn is Assistant Professor of World Literatures & Environmental Humanities. Prior to this post she completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford. Her work establishes the emergent field of vegan theory and considers its intersections with queer theory, animal studies, ecocriticism, and postcolonial studies. She is co-editor of Thinking Veganism in Literature and Culture: Towards a Vegan Theory (2018).

Quinn applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Reading Veganism: The Monstrous Vegan, 1818 to Present, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Reading Veganism: The Monstrous Vegan, 1818 to Present comes midway through Chapter 3, entitled Margaret Atwood and Monstrous Vegan Words. The chapter as a whole positions Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (2003-2013) as the culmination of a literary trajectory of monstrous vegan figures, constructed from Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein (the focus of Chapter 1) through H. G. Wells’s 1896 The Island of Doctor Moreau (the focus of Chapter 2). Atwood’s re-writing of both Shelley’s and Wells’s vegan monsters in her works of speculative fiction is read as dismissive of veganism, which is presented as a monstrous projection of innocence that fails to recognise its implication in exploitative systems. Page 99 works to establish the vegetarian and vegan elements engaged with by the MaddAddam novels, detailing the various elements of vegetarian and vegan history which are found embedded in Atwood’s texts: from allusions to the Ancient Greek Orphics to iterations of the writing of radical vegetarianism from the Romantic period.

This page represents surprisingly well the key themes of the book as a whole. Firstly, it makes clear that veganism is not just a dietary fad or passing trend, positioning Atwood’s contemporary novels in relation to much longer textual histories of veganism. Secondly, in its attention to the incorporation of past literary traces of veganism into the narrative, this page hints at the book’s broader interest in veganism as textual assemblage. Throughout Reading Veganism I am wary of essentialist claims about the biologically vegan body. The textuality of the monstrous vegan is one way of thinking about the discursively constructed nature of our ethical identities.

However, page 99 does not provide any clear definition of the “monstrous vegan” figure. Throughout Reading Veganism, I defined the monstrous vegan in relation to four key traits: monstrous vegans do not eat meat; are hybrid compositions of human and nonhuman animals parts; are sired outside of heterosexual reproduction; and are intimately related to acts of writing. Without this overarching framework, there is little sense for the reader of the contradictions and complications that cohere in monstrous vegan literary figures. This sense of contradiction and complication is vital to the argument made by Reading Veganism as a whole: that the monstrous vegan provides a helpful way of re-conceiving of vegan identity as a site of continual striving, a monstrous assemblage of contradictions, failings, and utopian imaginings. In this sense, page 99 is also at risk of misrepresenting the book as a whole, which is certainly not a comprehensive historicist study, but a theoretical consideration of what veganism is and does. Indeed the book argues that vegan reading practices, and vegan theory, are much more than simply mining texts for references to vegetarians or vegans.

Finally, page 99 offers no clues as to the reparative reading strategies that emerge in chapters 4 and 5 of the book. Whereas chapters 1-3 build a historical trajectory of monstrous vegan figures as they recur across literary history, chapters 4 and 5 make clear the possible benefits to be gained from reading for the monstrous vegan, acknowledging the possibility of performing the monstrous vegan. The reparative strategies proposed in these final two chapters turn away from Atwood’s disparagement of veganism to offer new ways of vegan being in the world, and seek to reclaim vegan joys and pleasures from the overwhelming focus in vegan-oriented work on sincerity and despair.
Learn more about Reading Veganism at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 8, 2021

Andrew Demshuk's "Three Cities After Hitler"

Andrew Demshuk is associate professor of history at American University in Washington, DC. His books include Bowling for Communism: Urban Ingenuity at the End of East Germany, Demolition on Karl Marx Square: Cultural Barbarism and the People’s State in 1968, and The Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory.

Demshuk applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Three Cities After Hitler: Redemptive Reconstruction Across Cold War Borders, and reported the following:
Three Cities after Hitler compares the politics of urban reconstruction in three cities that had been part of Germany before the Nazi seizure of power but were rebuilt under three competing Cold War regimes: West Germany, East Germany, and Poland. One might think that this would render the Page 99 test less than ideal: each chapter features a chronological period with subsections on each state and then city (Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Wrocław). As a result, Page 99 is largely circumscribed to just one urban example, namely debates about the demolition of Leipzig’s war-torn New Theater façade at the end of the 1940s. This episode nonetheless exemplifies the quandaries surrounding what I call “redemptive reconstruction”: the process by which political and planning elites under all three regime ideologies aesthetically reevaluated and reshaped their partially damaged cities to craft a usable urban future from the physical and ideological ruins the Nazis had left behind. This essentially top-down process yielded “simplified architectural narratives,” whose didactic messaging narrated how each city was taking part in a national story of renewal (page 4). In Frankfurt and Leipzig, which did not suffer Wrocław’s cleansed memory after total population exchange, civic attachment to alternate landmarks increasingly provoked dissention from “redemptive reconstruction.” Page 99 illustrates how the seeds for broader public disaffection were already sown in the early postwar years. As the historic New Theater façade came down in 1950 to make way for a more symbolically redemptive replacement, Leipzigers “expressed suspicion that the solicitation of opinion was mere ritual.” Quotes on page 99, taken from Leipzig’s city archive, reveal anxiety from engaged Leipzigers that the press was a mere mouthpiece for state prescriptions, and gestures toward public inclusion were hollow. By ignoring public input, Page 99 concludes, “city leaders demonstrated flagrant disregard for public interest in how their cityscape evolved after Hitler,” fostering “a sense of disconnect between residents and local leaders.” As the mandates of “redemptive reconstruction” wiped out the historic core of Frankfurt and Leipzig through the following two decades, civic pride increasingly opposed the simplified urban narrative as alien to their sense of home. In Wrocław, meanwhile, public ascriptions of local and national meaning to urban spaces tended to coalesce with the top-down “redemptive” rebranding of formerly German Breslau as an ancient Polish city. But to get at the heart of this comparative story, you need to read the book.
Learn more about Three Cities After Hitler at the University of Pittsburgh Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Lost German East.

The Page 99 Test: Demolition on Karl Marx Square.

The Page 99 Test: Bowling for Communism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Michael Lenox and Rebecca Duff's "The Decarbonization Imperative"

Michael Lenox is the Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. He is the coauthor of Can Business Save the Earth? Innovating Our Way to Sustainability (2018) and The Strategist's Toolkit (2013). Rebecca Duff is Senior Research Associate with the Batten Institute at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. She also serves as the managing director for Darden's Business Innovation and Climate Change Initiative.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, The Decarbonization Imperative: Transforming the Global Economy by 2050, and reported the following:
The Decarbonization Imperative explores the potential for clean technology disruption in the industry sectors critical to global decarbonization with each of the Chapters 2 – 6 focused on a single industry, including: energy, transportation, industrials, buildings, and agriculture. Page 99 is found in the Industrials chapter and is packed with data on domestic and global cement market trends. Below is an excerpt:
We see similar industry dynamics around the world, with production recovering post-2008 and starting to slow in the last 5 years. In the last 10+ years, China has seen a significant increase in production in response to rising domestic demand for concrete to support urbanization. With 20 million people moving into cities every year, there are estimates that half of China’s infrastructure has been built since 2000. More than half of global production in 2019 came from China. Production started to slow in response to overcapacity concerns and according to industry sources, this trend is expected to continue over the next few years, eventually declining to a level similar to production in developed countries. However, China is looking to infrastructure to drive its economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result, its demand plateau will likely get pushed out another 3-5 years. Overall, industry analysts predict continued growth worldwide driven largely by continued urbanization in developing countries.
On its own, page 99 reads like a McKinsey cement market characterization report. The page 99 test fails because it doesn’t provide the reader with the broader picture of the need to address greenhouse gas emissions across all the critical industries if we are going to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. This is one of the key messages of the book and is missed from simply reading this page alone. That being said, the industrials sector is one that is often ignored in climate mitigation discussions and the chapter as a whole does provide a better understanding of the importance of including it in any decarbonization strategy.

There is also evidence of a common theme found on page 99 which is echoed throughout the book, which is that this is a global issue. While we might be successful in decarbonizing the US economy, growing populations and consumption, increasing urbanization, and continued use of fossil fuels in developing countries will push us beyond our 2-degree limit without aggressive mitigation measures. To tackle this problem, we need a coordinated international effort to create solutions, much like the Space Race in the 1960s. If we can get past the politics and collectively focus on finding innovative solutions to this problem, the resulting technologies will more quickly diffuse through the global marketplace. This book identifies the technologies with the best potential to disrupt each of the major sectors and the policy levels that could be pulled to accelerate their adoption. We are running out of time, let’s get to work!
Learn more about The Decarbonization Imperative at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Michael S. Neiberg's "When France Fell"

Michael S. Neiberg is the award-winning author of Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe, Fighting the Great War, and Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I, among other books. He is Professor of History and the inaugural Chair of War Studies at the United States Army War College.

Neiberg applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, When France Fell: The Vichy Crisis and the Fate of the Anglo-American Alliance, and reported the following:
I have to hand it to Ford Madox Ford. Page 99 sits at the crux of my entire argument. The setting is Washington in September 1940. France had just fallen and senior American officials were deciding what to do about it. Fear that the Germans might gain control of the French fleet or access to French ports sent those officials into a panic. The entire structure of pre-war American defense and security had suddenly turned upside down. France, once a key part of that structure, now seemed like a clear and present threat if it cooperated with Germany.

On page 99 I start to trace the convoluted arguments Americans used to justify recognizing the Vichy French government, even while evidence mounted of its complicity with Nazi war efforts. Ambassador William Bullitt, just back from Paris, warned Roosevelt that “you will be unable to protect the United States from German attack” if Germany took the French fleet. Previous scholars have argued that the United States recognized Vichy reluctantly in order to forestall this possibility. But that explanation is too simple. Americans also saw much that they admired in the new regime. It was avowedly non-communist and its leaders professed (disingenuously) that they wanted to keep France pro-American.

Backing Vichy also meant that the United States could disavow itself of Charles de Gaulle, then a renegade brigadier general who had fled to Britain and begun to build a Free France movement from London. The Americans disliked and distrusted de Gaulle, who returned the sentiments. But the British had backed him, all his faults notwithstanding. The end result, as I argue in the remainder of the book, was a policy choice in Washington that nearly destroyed the alliance with Britain.
Learn more about When France Fell at the Harvard University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Dance of the Furies.

The Page 99 Test: The Blood of Free Men.

The Page 99 Test: Potsdam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Meghan R. Henning's "Hell Hath No Fury"

Meghan R. Henning is associate professor of Christian origins at the University of Dayton. She is the author of Educating Early Christians Through the Rhetoric of Hell.

Henning applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Hell Hath No Fury: Gender, Disability, and the Invention of Damned Bodies in Early Christian Literature, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Hell Hath No Fury we find ourselves in chapter three, witnessing hell freezing over in the Apocalypse of Paul. Chapter three looks at the tortures of early Christian hell that equate female, enslaved, and disabled bodies with sin:
In the Apocalypse of Paul 42, Paul sees those who deny the resurrection in a place of extreme cold and snow that will never become warm: “And I looked from the north towards the west and I saw there the worm that never rests, and in that place there was gnashing of teeth. Now the worm was a cubit in size and it had two heads. And I saw there men and women in the cold and gnashing of teeth.” Here the text combines the eternal punishment tropes of gnashing of teeth and the worm that never dies with a third element: extreme cold.

The gnashing of teeth as a reference to emotional distress is found throughout the Septuagint ( Job 16:9; Ps 34:16; 36:12; 111:10; Lam 2:16). In Greek literature, gnashing teeth can refer to anger or the passions. The expression “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in Matthew influenced the early Christian apocalypses in which we find different interpretations of those who weep and gnash their teeth in the places of eternal punishment (Matt 8: 12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; cf. Luke 13:28a; Sibylline Oracles 8.231). For an early Christian thinker like Origen, this feature inspired the question of why resurrected bodies would have teeth at all. In contrast to the Apocalypse of Paul, however, Matthew and other early Christian authors often connected “gnashing of teeth” with Gehenna and fiery punishment rather than with cold.

In judicial settings chattering teeth were a sign of guilt or nervousness. Cicero associates chattering teeth with “fright as paralyzing fear which causes paleness, trembling and chattering teeth” (Tusc. Disp. 4.8). Such fright is associated with losing control of one’s body across a broad span of time (e.g., Homer, Il. 10.375–80; Libanius, Or. 23.20). In a punitive context chattering teeth are connected not only to fear and guilt, but also to the excessively cold conditions of prison.
This page is a great indicator of what the book is about, thinking about the ways that the images of hell in the early Christian apocalypses draw upon the bodily realities of their audiences. Those who deny the resurrection are subjected to the extreme cold of a subterranean ancient prison and the illness that might come from living there. The loss of bodily control that comes from extreme cold was a symptom specifically associated with women’s bodies in antiquity.

As early Christians develop their ideas about the damned body, the womanly, out of control body becomes a mechanism for policing sin. Damned bodies are not simply a mirror for ancient ideas about bodily conformity, they reinforce those ideas and intensify them by assigning them eternal significance. In hell the female and the disabled body are on display as monstrous emblems of sinful souls. The cultural fear of effeminate, disabled bodies is used as a weapon to control behavior.

What we don’t get to see on page 99 is the way that this logic is not only present in ancient Christian depictions of hell, but gets transmitted to us today through Dante, who read the Apocalypse of Paul, and whose work has had a tremendous influence. As a result, ancient ideas of criminal justice and many of the ableist and misogynistic notions of the body in the early Christian apocalypses have been assigned lasting significance. The Epilogue of the book invites readers to think about other ways in which we bring hell to earth today, weaponizing our own society’s bodily norms.
Learn more about Hell Hath No Fury at the Yale University Press website.

Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Robert Cohen and Sonia E. Murrow's "Rethinking America's Past"

Robert Cohen is a professor of history and social studies at New York University and is the author of Howard Zinn's Southern Diary: Sit-ins, Civil Rights, and Black Women's Student Activism. He lives in New York City.

Sonia Murrow is an associate professor of the social foundations of education and adolescence education in the School of Education at Brooklyn College. Her research interests include the history, policy, and practice of urban education and the teaching of history to adolescents. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Cohen and Murrow applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Rethinking America's Past: Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States in the Classroom and Beyond, and reported the following:
Our page 99 introduces readers to letters high school juniors wrote to Howard Zinn (between the 1980s and the early 21st century), attesting that whether or not they agreed with the iconoclastic chapters they read from his A People's History of the United States and compared with their conventional textbooks they learned from such comparative history. Today, in a time of political tribalism when politicians want to ban curriculum they disagree with, like that of the 1619 Project or Critical Race Theory, this classroom evidence on Zinn shows that debate and discussion, not censorship, work best to promote historical teaching and learning in schools.

On this same page we discuss how in these letter students who disagree with Zinn's critical take on American capitalism, war-making etc. try to offer historical interpretations to refute his. And students who tend to agree with Zinn use the evidence his People's History offers to challenge their textbook's less critical view of such key historical figures and Christopher Columbus and Andrew Jackson. In both cases students were learning how to think independently about the past, offering their own views of history grounded in evidence and reason. This was facilitated by the excellent work of their teacher, who employed debate-oriented pedagogy quite effectively. The student letters this page helps introduce offer convincing evidence that politicians such as Donald Trump, who accuse teachers of indoctrinating students with Zinn's left wing "propaganda" do not know what they are talking about and grossly underestimate the intelligence of teachers and their eagerness to promote debate, pluralism, and critical thinking.

Since our book also covers how Zinn impacted America beyond the classroom, page 99 does not, however introduce our whole study. But it does represent an important part of our argument that the history of Zinn's best seller shows that when such evidenced-based dissident views of America's past are read and discussed they foster engagement with history and challenge us to examine nationalist assumptions that while popular are also often misleading.

In saying the book goes beyond the classroom we are referring to the fact that majority of the 3.3+ million copies of Zinn's People's History have been sold to adults at bookstores rather than to schools. So we looked at the many adult letters to Zinn and found that, much like students, they found Zinn's lively, critical, pacifist-inflected history, with its emphasis on the positive role of civil rights, antiwar, labor, and feminist movements, a sharp contrast to the boring, factoid-centered, natonalistic history texts they had slogged through in their school years. In this sense their letters offer a window onto the failure of school history, and yet more evidence that dissident and engaging historical accounts such as Zinn's are needed if this tradition of stultifying textbooks and disengaged history students is to be overcome via debate-oriented pedagogy.

Also beyond the classroom is the way Zinn's People's History provoked a re-thinking of American history via theater, film, and television, as when in the award winnng TV series The Sopranos viewers found fictional mob boss Tony Soprano angrily debating his son, as Tony insisted that Columbus was a hero, after his son had read and supported Zinn's critical account of the Italian explorer as cruel conqueror and greedy slaver. Zinn's impact on popular culture and his own theatrical events featuring radical dissenters from the American past, culminating in the film The People Speak, which reached nine million viewers on the History channel, are explored in our book's final chapter. Thus whether or not one agrees with Zinn's reading of the American past, his accessible approach to historical writing and his effective use of entertainment venues to promote critical social thought and historical understanding offer a useful model for achieving a far higher level of historical literacy and citizen engagement in our society.
Learn more about Rethinking America's Past at the University of Georgia Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue