Monday, February 28, 2022

Kristy Nabhan-Warren's "Meatpacking America"

Kristy Nabhan-Warren is the V. O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair of Catholic Studies and a professor in the Departments of Religious Studies and Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of The Cursillo Movement in America: Catholics, Protestants, and Fourth-Day Spirituality.

Nabhan-Warren applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland, and reported the following:
When I received the invitation to apply the Page 99 Test to Meatpacking America I was intrigued and immediately accepted. I also love challenges. Game on!

Page 99 is an excellent page to introduce a browser to what Meatpacking America is about. Since the book was published last fall, I have recorded several podcasts and Zoom talks, and page 99 is one of the pages (along with page 98!) I have consistently chosen to read aloud. Page 99 is part of chapter four, “The Work of God and Hogs,” in which I provide a vivid description of the inside of a Tyson hog processing plant. I bring the reader into the slaughterhouse and have her/him/them imagine and feel that they are there, on the line, wearing a hard hat, and getting their white smock bloody. I want the reader to feel the bodily sensation of a whizzer knife in their hands and to worry about the line speed. I want the reader’s hands to feel the cold and to have their hands cramp up from being wet and frigid in the 35 degree Fahrenheit air. I describe the orderliness of the plant---page 99 describes what is interchangeably called the fabrication side/fab/cold side. I detail how the mostly African and Latino/a workers move swiftly and gracefully, how it is dangerous work, and how it is bloody. Page 99 provides the reader with what the famous anthropologist of religion Clifford Geertz called “thick description.” I think that it is really important to create the setting where the reader can truly imagine themselves as part of the story, and I hope that this imaginative leap can lead to greater empathy for the refugee and migrant workers who staff meatpacking plants.

As a scholar I am committed to writing in a way that reaches a wide audience. In Meatpacking America, I want my readers to picture themselves in the rural communities I describe and to recognize the women and men whose stories fill the book’s pages. The book is about the lives of African, Asian, and Latino/a workers who live, pray, and work in rural Iowa. It is also about white Iowans who live alongside these newer arrivals and about the complex power dynamics, but also the cooperation that can happen in rural communities where meatpacking plants dominate the towns.
Learn more about Meatpacking America at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Neal Thompson's "The First Kennedys"

Neal Thompson is a journalist and the author of several highly acclaimed books, including A Curious Man, Driving with the Devil, and the fatherhood-and-skateboarding memoir Kickflip Boys. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Esquire, Outside,, and more and has taught creative nonfiction at Hugo House and the Great Smokies Writing Program. He lives in Seattle with his family.

Thompson applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The First Kennedys: The Humble Roots of an American Dynasty, and reported the following:
This page happens to fall nicely on the opening paragraphs of chapter 9, entitled “Bridget the Widow.” It’s not giving away too much to reveal that Bridget Murphy Kennedy (JFK’s great-grandmother), an Irish immigrant maid in the slums of East Boston, will soon lose her husband. But in a hint at the many ups and downs of the book, and of the Kennedy family's first decades in an unwelcoming America, the chapter opens with a glimmer of hope and promise: “In the small bedroom of their chilly Liverpool Street apartment, with newspapers and old stockings stuffed into window cracks to ward off winter’s chill, with her sister and likely a midwife by her side, Bridget gave birth to her fifth child, her second son, who was destined to be raised and spoiled by three older sisters.” Though the second paragraph on this page shows us P.J. Kennedy being baptized at his local (and newly built) church, the boy will grow up fatherless: his father, Patrick, dies later that year, on Nov. 22, 1858. P.J. is then raised and deeply influenced by his tenacious mother, Bridget, who after the Civil War opens her own grocery shop — the rare single-female shop owner in the neighborhood. Later, she’ll loan P.J. some money to help him open his first saloon, the start of a lucrative liquor-selling career that will provide the launching pad and connections to initiate his influential (and largely overlooked) political career. In this case, page 99 of The First Kennedys “passes” the test — it neatly gives readers a sense of place and a tight glimpse into the difficult lives of the poor immigrant Kennedys during their early years of struggling to make it in their adopted homeland. Ideally, someone who picks up the book and flips to page 99 might ask themselves: I wonder what happens next to Bridget Kennedy and her only son, P.J.?
Visit Neal Thompson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Charles H. Parker's "Global Calvinism"

Charles H. Parker is professor of history at Saint Louis University. He is the author of Global Interactions in the Early Modern Age, 1400–1800 and Faith on the Margins: Catholics and Catholicism in the Dutch Golden Age.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Global Calvinism: Conversion and Commerce in the Dutch Empire, 1600-1800, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Global Calvinism goes into detail about the establishment of diaconates (boards of deacons) that administered charity in Dutch colonies in Sri Lanka (then, Ceylon) and South Africa (then, the Cape of Good Hope). The deacons functioned as the social welfare brokers within Calvinist (Reformed Protestant) churches in the Netherlands and the Dutch trading companies exported them overseas in their territorial holdings

Alas, the Page 99 Test does not work well for this book, as a reader will get no sense of the broad themes of the book from these two and a half paragraphs.

The broad argument of the book is that Dutch Calvinists, typically regarded as the progenitors of Western European modernity (think Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic) actually belonged to all the gritty grimy stuff of world history. Dutch ministers accompanied the Dutch East and West India Companies and tried to convert “pagans” and Muslims, supported the companies’ commercial initiatives and empire building operations, including enslavement. One of the colonial functions of the Dutch Reformed Church was to provide a modicum of social welfare in colonial societies. Deacons oversaw orphanages, almshouses for the disposed, and distributed alms. Calvinism contributed to commercial empire building around the world and page 99 illustrates the role of poor relief in this effort.
Learn more about Global Calvinism at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 25, 2022

Reed Gochberg's "Useful Objects"

Reed Gochberg is Assistant Director of Studies and a Lecturer on History and Literature at Harvard University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Useful Objects: Museums, Science, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Useful Objects, we find Nathaniel Hawthorne experimenting with different outcomes for the end of his short story, “The Ancestral Footstep,” from his American Claimant manuscripts. In this unfinished story, Hawthorne depicts an American man who travels to England in order to claim his title to a family estate. In a crucial scene, the protagonist seeks a lost manuscript potentially hidden in a “cabinet”—a cabinet of curiosities that at once represents both the family estate and for a collection that might preserve his claim. Hawthorne never published this story, and he also never quite decided how he wanted it to end. In one version, Middleton finds that what he seeks has been carefully preserved and awaits his discovery; in another, he opens the cabinet to find that only dust remains of an object that is now lost.

Page 99 captures many of the key themes of the book as a whole. Useful Objects examines the early history of American museums through the eyes of writers, artists, and visitors, showing how they participated in wider debates about the role of institutions in determining what to collect and preserve. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, museums promised to promote “useful knowledge,” and their collections often ranged widely, bringing together natural history specimens, antiquarian artifacts, mechanical models, and anthropological materials. By the late nineteenth century, many museums had become more specialized, with collections explicitly dedicated to science, history, or art. This earlier period, however, was a dynamic era of transition, when the very idea of a “museum” was still being defined.

The founders of museums were not the only participants in this conversation. In fiction, essays, and travel narratives, many writers described visits to museum galleries and reflected on the collections they encountered. They considered possibilities of loss, erasure, and decay, questioning what objects would be valued and preserved. They also raised significant questions about who would be able to access and claim authority within the elite world of cultural institutions. Their accounts illuminate the larger concerns and challenges evoked by nineteenth-century museums—many of which we see on page 99.

Page 99 offers a fictional and imaginative version of this process, showing how writers like Hawthorne were considering various possibilities for what might be found—or lost—within a museum. Yet it also foregrounds the role of individuals seeking to know and discover their own history through objects. In this way, it captures the questions that are at the center of Useful Objects: about how we determine what to value, about who participates in that process, and about how we can continue to seek out more expansive and inclusive visions in cultural institutions today.
Learn more about Useful Objects at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Roy Sorensen's "Nothing: A Philosophical History"

Roy Sorensen is the author of eight books: Blindspots, Thought Experiments, Pseudo-Problems, A Brief History of the Paradox, Vagueness and Contradiction, Seeing Dark Things, and A Cabinet of Philosophical Curiosities. Prior to joining the UT Austin faculty in 2019, he taught at University of Delaware, New York University, Dartmouth College, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Sorensen applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Nothing: A Philosophical History, and reported the following:
The page 99 test works for Nothing! The page concerns Socrates’ teacher Anaxagoras who believed that everything is in everything. Page 99 includes a little bit of every type of thing there is. That means it also contains every page of my book!

Page 99 refers to a geometrical construction on page 98. This is the Pythagorean Pentagram, a star formed from three intersecting triangles. (The Pythagoreans wore it as badge of membership in their sect.) At the intersection of the three triangles is a pentagon. At the center of the pentagon is the star again. The construction proceeds in endless miniaturization. Each pentagon is pregnant with a pentagram. Each pentagram is pregnant with a pentagon.

Anaxagoras abhors nothingness (like every ancient Greek philosopher except the atomists). Nothing can come from nothing! Everything comes from something. Thales thought that something was one type of thing – water. But Anaxagoras denies that fire can be reduced to water. Like can only come from like.

You cannot make a man out of something that had no manly ingredients. You need semen. The semen contains little men. The little men must contain littler men (because the son contains the ingredients for the grandson). If the semen falls on the ground, then it can nourish a plant. So semen must also contain plants. There really is no limit on the fertility of semen. So semen must contain a little bit of everything. And those little bits must themselves contain littler bits of everything. What goes for semen, goes from everything. Semen is just a pellucid illustration of the `All in all’ principle.

Nothing: A Philosophical History pairs each thinker with an absence: Lao Tzu = absence of action, Buddha = absence of wholes, ... , Arthur Schopenhauer = absence of meaning, Bertrand Russell = absence of referents. In between the dots is: Anaxagoras = absence of total absences. A pure sample would have a total absence of everything else. So Anaxagoras thinks there is no such thing as pure sample. Every sample is a complete mixture containing every type of thing. Consequently, everything is a representative sample of everything.

The point of Ford Madox Ford’s Page 99 Test was to avoid the biased sample offered by the first pages of a book or its back-cover synopsis (which have extra editorial care). Therefore, Anaxagoras is not the perfect philosopher for Ford. Nevertheless, Anaxagoras is good enough to make me critical of the way Ford changed his name in 1919 from Ford Madox Hueffer (to fulfill the terms of a small legacy). Ford should have changed his name to Ford M. Ford. When asked what the initial M. stands for, he could then answer Ford M. Ford. (Inspiration: Asked what the B stands for in the name of the fractal geometer Benoit B. Mandelbroit, one mathematician quipped Benoit B. Mandelbroit.)
Learn more about Nothing: A Philosophical History at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Maggy Krell's "Taking Down Backpage"

Maggy Krell is a legal trailblazer who has taken on impactful cases as a criminal prosecutor and human rights lawyer.

Krell was a prosecutor for 15 years, serving as Supervising Deputy Attorney General in California and cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Krell prosecuted high-profile cases including murder, organized crime, human trafficking, domestic violence and white-collar crime. Krell’s most notable accomplishments stem from her tireless efforts to combat human trafficking and protect and empower survivors, including her ground-breaking prosecution of the sex-trafficking website,

Krell also served as Chief Legal Counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California where she fought to protect and expand reproductive rights and access to healthcare.

Krell currently runs her own practice providing legal support and impact strategy for survivors and non-profit organizations.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Taking Down Backpage: Fighting the World’s Largest Sex Trafficker, and reported the following:
Page 99 in my book is almost completely free of text. It shows two photographs (with captions): one of Carl Ferrer, the CEO of when he was arrested, and one of his boarding pass for the flight from Texas to California when he was extradited (which took place the day after his arrest).

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and page 99 is one of a very few pages in this book that contains pictures. Page 99 is an inflection point in the story. The main “bad guy” is arrested in an airport following an international flight, a moment that should be satisfying for readers who have read 98 pages leading up to this crucial operation. But the story is about a lot more than catching bad guys, which is why the Page 99 Test ultimately doesn’t do it justice. Taking Down Backpage is a nonfiction look into how sex trafficking occurs in America, who it impacts most, and how we should go about preventing it. Through a combination of memoir and legal insight, the book tells the story of building a case against a website that was used to facilitate sex trafficking throughout the world. The book seeks to provide a roadmap on how to combat sex trafficking systematically, and how to create a more just world for survivors.
Visit Maggy Krell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Scott Reynolds Nelson's "Oceans of Grain"

Scott Reynolds Nelson is the UGA Athletics Association professor of the humanities at the University of Georgia. He is a Guggenheim fellow and the author of five books, including Steel Drivin’ Man, which received the Merle Curti Social History Award and the National Award for Arts Writing.

Nelson applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World, and reported the following:
Ninety-nine pages into Oceans of Grain gets you to an important cause for the American Civil War you probably never thought of: a conflict between the one percent in the North and the one percent in the South.

Slavery caused the war but page 99 hits the most important issue for the merchant kings who dominated the Republican Party in the North. Would extreme inequality in the South spread northward? In the 1850s the most politically powerful people in New England and New York were not industrialists but merchants who made fortunes promoting and profiting from long-distance trade to the Midwest. Indiana wheat traded for New York plows, Ohio pork traded for Boston books, Mississippi cotton traded for, well, there’s the rub.

On page 99 we find that a scant ninety thousand slaveholders owned the vast majority of slaves in the South and most of its best land. Plantations had plenty to sell: cotton, tobacco, rice, and sometimes wheat. But plantations didn’t buy much of anything. Boxcars on Southern railroads carried staple crops to the coast and came back empty. Extreme inequality turned the South, as the Northern one percent saw it, into a wasteland. Enslaved people could not own land or buildings; the southern white ninety-nine percent were desperately, shockingly poor. Southern railroads in these consumer-thin regions failed repeatedly. In the 1850s when Southern slaveholders sought to force Kansas to become a slave state, the Northern one percent saw this as unnatural devastation, and grounds for war.

The rest of the book describes how the Northern one-percent’s dream for Kansas would be fulfilled after the Civil War. America would soon feed Europe with oceans of grain. After page 99 you’ll learn how a war between capitalism and slavery produced a futures market, interstate railroads connecting Chicago to New York, and a flow of European funds that made America’s robber barons among the richest people in the world. You’ll read how tens of millions of pounds of cheap American grain improved the welfare of European workers while it humbled America’s competitor – imperial Russia. By page 200 you’ll see how that cheap grain helped lay the groundwork for a world war and two revolutions.

But ninety-nine pages in we see where Northern and Southern elites would collide, hammer and tongs. You can keep the South, the Northern one percent told the Southern one percent, but you shall never have the plains of Kansas. That was enough to fight a war over.
Follow Scott Reynolds Nelson on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Steel Drivin' Man.

My Book, The Movie: Steel Drivin' Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 21, 2022

Jason Pack's "Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder"

Jason Pack is President of Libya-Analysis LLC and a Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder, and reported the following:
My book is all about bringing out the humour, tragedy, and inefficiencies of the world system by using Libya as a case study for the economic and political collective action failures which undergird our current era of global dysfunction, which I term the Enduring Disorder. Page 99 showcases one such sub-optimal outcome by highlighting how Chapter 1's theme -- appeasement -- plays out in the post-Qadhafian Libyan context:
Since 2014, the country [Libya] has experienced the vicissitudes of war, the degradation of its infrastructure, and a haemorrhaging of truly unimaginable wealth: according to conservative estimates, at least 200 billion USD has been expended, wasted, or “evaporated” since 2011 on corruption, subsidies, cash transfers, and smuggling—all forms of appeasement. It also seems that Qadhafian assets valued at roughly 100 billion have simply vanished. Add to this the more than 170 billion directly lost from federalist (2014–16) and LNA oil blockades (summer 2018, January–September 2020) and the around 300 billion indirectly lost because the security situation did not allow multinationals to upgrade Libya’s out of date oil infrastructure. The point here is that the direct costs of appeasement—i.e. subsidy programmes and transfer payments—from Qadhafi’s ouster to the present appear to be ‘not that costly’: only in the tens of billions or around a third of Libya’s oil earnings in a regular year. But the indirect costs are certainly in the high hundreds of billions and quite likely over a trillion dollars cumulatively over the first post-Qadhafi decade. In short, even using conservative estimates, by 2021 the overall costs of appeasement have exceeded the total wealth currently inside the country or sovereignly owned abroad.

Libya used to be a very wealthy, extremely sparsely populated place; tragically, the vast majority of its sovereign wealth either remains frozen by UN sanctions against the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), has now vanished due to appeasement, corruption, and misuse, or is trapped underground with only inefficient ways to get it out (due to blockades, security issues, the global recession, and the expected future price of oil).... Those untold riches and what they could have done for Libya’s institutions, infrastructure, and human capital are genuinely lost forever.

Libya will now never be a Kuwait on the Mediterranean, but it is wrong to say that it never could have been. To my mind, appeasement is responsible for this lost future. Politicians believed that because Libya was wealthy, they didn’t need to solve complex collective action problems about who gets what. They could simply pay off their opponents and supporters alike and that all would be well. Such magical thinking pervades appeasement traps elsewhere. In fact, the legacy of appeasement has been a shared feature in other oil producers who have experienced institutional and state collapse during the Enduring Disorder. Venezuela is the most prominent example of an appeasement trap leading to the irrevocable squandering of far more than a trillion dollars of sovereign wealth, the complete implosion of state institutions, and the facilitation of a civil war
The Page 99 Test captures quite a bit of the spirit and structural approach of Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder. Page 99 demonstrates how a key dynamic in today's world-- governmental appeasement-- plays out in Libya causing a sub-optimal economic outcome and how investigating Libya showcases how this dynamic plays out in other far flung global theatres, such as Venezuela. The excerpt also captures the humorous, tragi-comedy approach with which the book seeks to tackle global affairs: pointing out unsettling, yet quite funny paradoxes about today's disordered world and the negative feedback loops which promote further disorder.

A key theme of the book is the question of 'lost futures' (i.e. better global scenarios that could have materialized if multiple actors put aside their short term gains to coordinate for greater collective long term gains). Arguably the example of appeasing Libyan militias through salaries and subsidies on refined petrol, which is then smuggled abroad, is one of the best examples of how these dynamics play out in real life. Post-Qadhafi Libya should have been the wealthiest country in Africa from a per capita GNP perspective. It should also have been able to use its oil wealth and turn that into human development and infrastructure. Yet it has failed to do so. It has rather used its oil wealth to fuel its cycles of civil strife. This dynamic is quite indicative of many of the other collective action conundrums that the book deals with. From climate change, to jihadis, to regulating cyberspace, Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder, presents examples of the negative feedback loops of badly coordinated policies that create the wrong incentive structures.

What the Page 99 Test misses, however, is any glimmering of the book's primary theoretical contentions: that we are no longer living in the post-Cold War world and that Realist IR theory with its notion of the balance of power is no longer applicable to the current world order. To find out more about those, as well as my personal adventures in Qadhafi's Libya, Trump's Washington, and with Fortune 500 Lobbyists, buy the book.
Learn more about Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder at the Oxford University Press website and Jason Pack's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Stephen Mumford's "Absence and Nothing"

Stephen Mumford is Professor of Metaphysics at the Department of Philosophy, Durham University. He was previously at the University of Nottingham where he was Head of Philosophy, Head of the School of Humanities, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He has written many papers and books in metaphysics, including a number of more popular works intended for a non-specialist audience including articles in Times Higher Education magazine, encyclopaedias, and magazines. His most famous book is Dispositions (1998) but he also authored Laws in Nature ( 2004), Getting Causes from Powers (with Rani Lill Anjum, 2011) and Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotions (2011).

Mumford applied the “Page 99 Test” to his newest book, Absence and Nothing: The Philosophy of What There is Not, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls near the end of a chapter on mere possibilities. The issue is whether mere possibilities have any being or reality at all. Mere possibilities are the possibilities that are not also actualities, which need to be distinguished from the possibilities that are also actual. There’s no philosophical problem about the latter being real. A queue could delay you, for instance, but it seems that a merely possible queue couldn’t. The discussion is winding up, by page 99, with a discussion of fictionalism regarding mere possibilities. Treating mere possibilities as fictions allows us to maintain that they have no reality as such, though there are still constraints on what makes something a credible fiction.

The Page 99 Test works to an extent in the case of Absence and Nothing. It certainly gives a flavour of what the book is about. The style and philosophical methods should be, and I think are, consistently applied across the whole text. But the book also deals with a number of distinct issues, such as causation by absence, perception by absence, holes, shadows, negative truth and negative properties. Dipping into the book will give you only one of those. What unites them is that, with each, at least some philosopher has been tempted to treat nothing as if it is something. The book takes Parmenides’ view that nothing is not and sees how far we can explain some of these long-standing philosophical conundrums without reifying nothingness. Mere possibilities are one such problem. Can we treat them as really nothing? David Lewis famously gives them reality: though reality in other possible worlds. Even that should be a step too far for a Parmenidean.

I’m a metaphysician and Absence and Nothing contains plenty of metaphysics. Metaphysicians occasionally invoke a distinction between homoeomerous and heteromerous. Homoeomerous means having similar parts, like the parts of gold are all the same: all golden. Heteromerous means having varied parts, like the parts of a face, which differ from each other. The Page 99 test would be fair if books were homoeomerous, since page 99 would be like any other in the same book. But the book would be very boring if it was about exactly the same thing the whole way through. Books are interesting because they are heteromerous. When I write a book, I want each few pages to move the discussion on, introduce new topics and questions, and to show a development and logical progression throughout the whole. It’s possible, then, that page 99 might be a bit better or worse than others, or that it discusses a topic that is unrepresentative of the whole, but that might be what makes it a good book.
Learn more about Absence and Nothing at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Julia C. Morse's "The Bankers' Blacklist"

Julia C. Morse is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Bankers' Blacklist: Unofficial Market Enforcement and the Global Fight against Illicit Financing, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Bankers’ Blacklist is devoted to laggard states, that is, those few countries that have not changed their laws as result of the FATF noncomplier list. The text reads as follows:
[When the] FATF removed Myanmar from the list in February 2016, the public statement became exclusively focused on Iran and North Korea, and nearly five years later, it remains this way.

Laggard States

The FATF noncomplier list has successfully incentivized policy change in nearly all listed countries. Only four countries listed today have been on the list for more than three years: Iran, the DPRK, Syria, and Yemen. Table 4.1 displays all the listed countries as of June 2020, organized by original listing date, and provides the reasons they have not yet been removed from the list. All the listed countries (with the exception of North Korea) have taken some measures to cooperate with the FATF and to implement their FATF action plans. Both Syria and Yemen have…
The remainder of the page is a table of all countries on the FATF noncomplier list as of June 2020.

This test performs relatively well. It captures a core part of my book’s argument—the FATF noncomplier list has been remarkably successful at incentivizing countries to change their laws—and by discussing the FATF’s few policy failures, it indirectly highlights what makes the noncomplier list so successful. The FATF noncomplier list works in large part because it outsources enforcement to the global banking network. When the FATF lists a country, international banks often shift how they do business with banks in the listed country. Banks, firms, and individuals in listed countries may find that it takes longer to transfer money or access the formal financial system, or pay higher costs for doing business. This unofficial market enforcement process causes the banking sector in listed countries to lobby governments in favor of FATF compliance, thus bringing about policy change.

My discussion of laggard states helps illustrate the importance of market enforcement as an unofficial process. The FATF’s list is powerful because it avoids direct coercion and thus can be deployed against a large variety of countries. But countries like Iran and North Korea are already subject to significant market pressure due to sanctions. They are significantly less integrated into global finance, and as a result, the FATF list creates few financial repercussions for these countries.

The laggard states discussion also highlights the technical nature of the FATF as an organization. At the time of publication, Syria and Yemen had both undertaken significant policy reforms due to listing; however, the FATF had yet to conduct on-site visits in the countries (due to the security situations), and therefore did not remove them from the list. The FATF’s focus on verifying reported change in part of what makes it a credible evaluator of state illicit financing policies, and this point is clearly illustrated on this page.
Visit Julia Morse's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 18, 2022

Henry K. Miller's "The First True Hitchcock"

Henry K. Miller is a Sight and Sound critic, editor of The Essential Raymond Durgnat, and co-editor of DWOSKINO: the gaze of Stephen Dwoskin.

Miller applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The First True Hitchcock: The Making of a Filmmaker, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The First True Hitchcock jumps around quite a bit. The top third tells us about an obscure early sound-film studio in South London, the British branch of De Forest Phonofilms. The next third covers the last days of shooting on the Hitchcock film alluded to in the title, The Lodger, in April 1926. These included location work that give us what I call ‘the film’s only direct trace of the historical moment of its making’, and provide a segue to the last third of the page. For reasons which might seem arbitrary taken out of context, this provides a sketch of the background to the General Strike, which began in May.

This jumpiness, this seemingly arbitrary bringing together of disparate elements, is fairly typical of the book. My aim was that over its course some kind of shape would emerge for the reader, but without too much hand-holding from me.

To spell it out here, though, these seemingly disparate elements have more to do with Hitchcock and The Lodger than one might imagine. To give a simple example, Hitchcock claimed to have contemplated making a film about the General Strike.

More significantly, one of my arguments is that The Lodger was, at the time of its release in 1927, a relic. In between shooting and release, seismic changes had occurred in the British film industry, for reasons that I relate to the general political and economic situation of the mid-1920s, including the General Strike, in some ways a symptom of the national post-war malaise. The Lodger was also a relic in that it was a silent film released in the year of The Jazz Singer. In some cinemas its supporting programme included Phonofilms. Some of the Phonofilm pioneers came from Hitchcock’s immediate social circle.

But having said all that, in a sense the arguments are less important to me than the feeling of immersion in the moment, hence the montage effect.
Follow Henry K. Miller on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden's "From Servant to Savant"

Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden is an Associate Professor of Music History at the University of North Texas who works on eighteenth-century music cultures and musical labor during the early Age of Revolution.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, From Servant to Savant: Musical Privilege, Property, and the French Revolution, and reported the following:
On page 99 of From Servant to Savant, it’s 1792. The page introduces more than thirty male musicians amidst heated debates about who “owned” music and how they might come to own it according to the French Revolution’s new property laws. Their names had been affixed to a petition requesting strict legal formalities to regulate the exchange of musical property. These two-and-a-half paragraphs outline the diverse stakes that each of them held in the Parisian music world and in the wider music world of cosmopolitan Europe. Some composed pedagogical works for domestic use, others were big-name publishers who held voluminous catalogues of well-loved music, still others worked as arrangers who made small fortunes by reducing opera and symphony themes into compositions for solo keyboard. And so the reader is struck, first and foremost, by the fact that the professional identity “musician” accounted for many kinds of labor during this period.

The musicians claim here to be struggling against all kinds of “thievery” (to employ their word), especially in the form of pirated musical editions. But the real plaintiffs in this scene are men whose names remain absent from the petition in question—opera composers like Nicolas-Marie Dalayrac and Étienne-Nicolas Méhul, who watched the entire music industry financially profit from their musical ideas, ideas that they described as the most “sacred” and the most “personal” of all properties. Their words drew on the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a revolutionary document that would come to inspire human rights-granting documents through the twentieth century.

Page 99 parachutes the reader into an apt introduction—if not in content then in spirit—to the book’s larger claims and methods. First, the modern property regime implemented during the French Revolution gave birth to practices that would inflect professional musicianship and music historiography for centuries to come. And second, understanding such tectonic cultural shifts requires an exploration of the entire ecosystem of musical production comprised of legal, social, and economic factors. This means looking beyond the individuals like Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, who continue to steal the spotlight in today’s “classical music” discourse. Page 99 introduces us to dozens of forgotten musicians who helped to forge the economic and legal frameworks of musical modernity.

The French Revolution gave birth to modern property laws that still inflect today’s music industry. Laborers who produced music—from composers and performers to printers, engravers, publishers, theatre directors, amateurs, and others—asked (and continue to ask) a seemingly unanswerable question: who owns music? Music, like nearly everything during the French Revolution, needed to be legally delimited. After the abolition of a feudal order in which the king technically owned everything, French citizens had to determine when music belonged to individuals as personal property and when it belonged to the nation as a public good. Some musicians, like those introduced on page 99, wanted to make music an alienable or transferable form of property so that they could buy and sell it without complication, while other musicians like Dalayrac and Méhul wanted the ineffable aspect of their musical creations (which usually meant, quite tangibly, its theme or melody) to remain inalienable. What they were really debating was music’s emergent status as commodity and art.

These revolutionary property debates yielded all kinds of significant results: the formation of the Paris Conservatory, the first modern school of music; the theft of cultural property like music scores from foreign countries; and the creation of a music industry that would generate foreign revenue from technologically advanced instruments. As they executed these missions, musicians in France began to articulate the standards of their profession, delineating who could and could not be part of their exclusive echelon, a battle that many musicians still fight today.
Learn more about From Servant to Savant at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Yossi Alpher's "Death Tango"

Yossi (Joseph) Alpher is a consultant and writer on Middle East strategic issues. He is the author of Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies and No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine. His books have won the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize, the Chechik Prize, and the Chaikin Prize. He lives in Israel.

Alpher applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Death Tango: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and Three Fateful Days in March, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Death Tango: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat and Three Fateful Days in March, deals with American efforts to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority during the early months of 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada. A browser opening to page 99 could get the mistaken impression that Death Tango is all about the United States and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, the main thrust of the book is about Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world, not Americans. Indeed, the ceasefire effort that was spearheaded by American General Anthony Zinni is significant precisely because it failed—like so many other American efforts—to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. A paragraph about that failure alludes to the wider struggle:
In retrospect, Zinni’s mission was a good indicator of the fruitless nature of the Bush administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Zinni was charged by [Secretary of State Colin] Powell with achieving an immediate cease-fire. This was rendered impossible first by the Karine A revelations of January 2002, then by the Park Hotel attack, which Zinni labeled “Israel’s 9/11 ... I knew immediately we had come to the end of the road.”
Death Tango is mainly about a confluence of events in late March 2002 that set the stage for the next 20 years, to this day, of the Arab-Israel conflict. Israelis, confronting the Park suicide attack that killed 30 Passover celebrants, lost faith in a two-state solution. Israel reoccupied the West Bank in a bloody reconquest and the Israeli security grip there grew tighter, thereby neutralizing one of the important achievements of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Yet the Arab states, by means of a convoluted Arab League summit resolution ratified in Beirut, resolved to live at peace with Israel regardless of the Palestinians.

The 2019 Abraham Accords, whereby with notable American backing Israel normalized relations with four additional Arab states, is the ultimate confirmation of the complex dynamic that began on March 27, 28 and 29, 2002.
Visit Yossi Alpher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Tegan Kehoe's "Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures"

Tegan Kehoe is a public historian who specializes in the history of healthcare and science. She is the exhibit and education specialist at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and received her MA in history and museum studies from Tufts University.

Kehoe applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures, and reported the following:
The Page 99 Test is about half accurate for Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures, my new book on health and medicine through the lens of museum artifacts. The book is made up of fifty short chapters, each with one image, and page 99, excerpted below, happens to be the last page of a chapter.
…they continued to move great numbers of people all over the world throughout the pandemic.

There is still no cure for the flu. However, medicine is better prepared, because of advanced breathing support, antibiotics to treat secondary infections, and flu
A black plastic and clear glass cylinder without visible temperature markings. The caption reads “Thermometer, 1918. National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri.
[click to enlarge]
vaccines developed in the mid-twentieth century. Hospitals and governments also prepare better for pandemics than in the early 1900s, at least when the political will is there. Books and articles describing the 1918 flu pandemic at its centennial in 2018 read quite differently than those written after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. They marvel at old photos of people wearing face masks in public. They also warn that the next pandemic is likely to be borne out of antibiotic resistance, which may still be true of the following one. As both the flu and coronavirus have demonstrated, it takes both medical knowledge and public health initiatives to fight a pandemic.
Page 99 does bring you to the heart of the book in one sense -- each chapter discusses the history surrounding a particular artifact or historic site. This one discusses the context for a thermometer used in WWI, in the middle of the 1918 flu pandemic. On the previous two pages, I described the extent of the pandemic, doctors’ flawed theories about “drenching” flu patients with aspirin, and the various public health efforts that made a dent in the problem.

However, I can only think of a few pages in the book that include this much discussion of the present day and of how our understanding of the past can change. In this chapter in particular, it was important to me to make the historical lessons concrete and explicit. During the coronavirus pandemic, many people have been turning to the past to make sense of the present. If I am going to contribute to readers’ reflections on prior pandemics, I want to give them something to anchor their thoughts with. In this respect, page 99 is better as a sample of why some readers might pick up my book than as a sample of what they’d find on the other pages.
Visit Tegan Kehoe's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 14, 2022

Phi Hong Su's "The Border Within"

Phi Hong Su is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Williams College. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Division of Social Science at New York University Abu Dhabi.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Border Within: Vietnamese Migrants Transforming Ethnic Nationalism in Berlin, and reported the following:
Page 99 finds us attending a cultural night hosted by Friendship and Adventure (FaA), a Berlin-based organization composed of migrants predominantly from northern Vietnam. Three of the attendees—myself included—are from southern Vietnam. People use these regional labels as shorthand, assuming that northerner = communist = contract worker to East Germany, and southerner = anticommunist = refugee to West Germany. Yet Mỹ Linh's biography should give us pause about the accuracy of these shorthands:
As the only young adults present, Kim and I serve desserts and take numerous group photos for FaA members. By 6:00 p.m., however, Kim is itching to go. I had told her earlier that I would leave with her. We gather our belongings and bid the elders farewell as songs continue to play in the background. Midway through one song, Anh runs up to Kim, Mỹ Linh, and me, and whispers indignantly: "It's red music!" (Là bản đỏ đó). Mỹ Linh nods disdainfully, decides she has tolerated the event long enough, and exits with us.

Mirroring my first time at FaA with Hồng, Mỹ Linh rages against northerners as we approach our bus stop. A southerner, she explains that she came to East Germany at a very young age as a contract worker. Mỹ Linh claims she did not know much about politics at the time. She did not differentiate between north and south during her youth, she explains, as she met few northerners in her southern hometown. But she learned about the politics of north and south on German soil. In particular, Mỹ Linh became socialized into the southern refugee stance of mistrusting northerners after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite her contract worker background and willingness to share the same physical space with northerners, Mỹ Linh's mistrust of northerners leads her to openly disparage them.

The concerns of northerners such as Phong, as well as the experiences of southerners such as Anh and Mỹ Linh, highlight how people from opposite regions of Vietnam experienced reunification asymmetrically. Vietnamese reunification under the direction of the North means that these symbols have become a form of "banal nationalism" for northerners. As the North's vision of a reunified Vietnam actualized, its accompanying changes became taken for granted, including the renaming of Saigon as Ho Chi Minh City. Yet the mention of Hồ Chí Minh reminds southerners of what they see as the occupation of the South. Anh and Mỹ Linh take offense at a city name to which the northerners in the room had become accustomed. To those who lament the outcome of reunification, the same symbols represent objects of hot nationalism.
This page does a good job of capturing my key concern: How do people rebuild their lives after surviving war, migrating internationally, and experiencing states rise and fall? For my interlocutors, the idea of the "nation" shaped how they understood their opportunities at work, how they practiced religion, and, in the chapter that page 99 is part of, how they initiate and maintain friendships.

The exchange with Mỹ Linh also suggests that folks can become socialized into exile politics after leaving a homeland. And even those born after the end of the Vietnam War become absorbed into these divisions of north and south. Kim, for example, had moved from central Vietnam to Germany for her studies a few months before this FaA event. While growing up, she had never heard of "re-education camps," where many southerners considered enemies of the state were imprisoned after 1975. By the end of my fieldwork in Berlin, Kim would find herself sorted into these divisions.

The scene on page 99 is building to a key point: even as folks unquestionably believe in their shared Vietnamese nationhood, they don't think this means they need to belong to the same nation-state. Decades after the reunification of Vietnam, my interlocutors have come to reject the politics of ethnic nationalism.

As an exercise in analytically informed storytelling, this book is centrally concerned with conveying scenes from everyday life. (See, for example, the book trailer and the preface.) I hope readers will find the protagonists compelling and the prose inviting. And I hope to engage with folks about the book's main thrust: even though we're repeatedly confronted with these protagonists' profoundly felt sense of ethnic nationhood, we also glean that they've left the politics of ethnic nationalism behind.
Visit Phi Hong Su's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Guobin Yang's "The Wuhan Lockdown"

Guobin Yang is the Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology at the Annenberg School for Communication and Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the Director of the Center on Digital Culture and Society, Interim Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, and Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China.

Yang is the author of the award-winning The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (2009) and The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China (2016).

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Wuhan Lockdown, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Wuhan Lockdown is in the middle of telling the story of Ah-Nian. A 26-year-old professional who worked in Beijing, she had traveled back to her hometown Wuhan to spend the Lunar New Year with her family. Back home, she caught COVID and was hospitalized in a temporary shelter hospital. Her 89-year-old grandmother, who also had COVID, was in another hospital for patients with severe symptoms only. When her grandma was put in ICU care, Ah-Nian requested to be relocated to her grandma’s hospital so she could look after her. Her request was granted, whereupon she joined her grandmother. Ah-Nian posted diary entries on social media every day, in which she provided updates about her grandma’s condition as well as descriptions of life in the hospital. Sadly, her grandma died on March 6, 2020. Ah-Nian had promised her mother that she would go home together with Grandma. Now she wrote: “I did not finish my job.”

Page 99 captures several key features of the book. The Wuhan Lockdown is not a conventional academic book. It experiments with a new approach of storytelling, one that focuses on the presentation of scenes and characters. Very much a book of characters, it tells the stories of a galaxy of individuals in Wuhan in their daily struggle to cope with the COVID pandemic. Some stories take up several pages, others are as brief as just one sentence. The story of Ah-Nian is one of the longer character portraits, and probably one of the most memorable.

Although the character portraits in the book cover both men and women, there are more stories of women than men. Women played a prominent role in the lockdown as health care workers, care-givers, volunteers, and activists. Other notable women characters in the book include a gong-beating woman, a swearing aunty, several feminist activists, Dr. Ai Fen, Fang Fang the diarist, and so forth. And I’m pleased to have a woman’s story on page 99.

Finally, Ah-Nian’s story highlights another notable feature of The Wuhan Lockdown – the use of online pandemic diaries to construct my account. Ah-Nian wrote two diaries during the pandemic, one posted on social media, the other published in print. I made use of both. Indeed, although I used many different types of materials in writing the book, online diaries are the main primary sources. I cited at least 46 diarists in the book, and read and consulted numerous others. Diaries are the ideal documents for understanding the visceral feelings, thoughts, and activities of residents caught in their daily struggle. I am glad that page 99 contains several direct diary quotations which convey the voice of one of the characters in the book.
Follow Guobin Yang on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Guobin Yang's The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Franklin Perkins's "Doing What You Really Want"

Franklin Perkins is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and editor of the journal Philosophy East and West. He is the author of Heaven and Earth are not Humane: The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2014), Leibniz: A Guide for the Perplexed (2007), and Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light (2004), and was co-editor of Chinese Metaphysics and Its Problems (2015). His books have been translated into Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Perkins has spent more than eight years teaching and conducting research in Asia, and has previously been a professor at Nanyang Technological University and DePaul University, where he was also the director of Chinese Studies program.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Doing What You Really Want: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mengzi, and reported the following:
Page 99 discusses Confucian views of fate (ming 命), that is, situations where success and failure are not within our control. I quote a passage from Mengzi: “If seeking attains it and abandoning loses it, then seeking has benefits for attaining. The seeking is within me. If the seeking has the way but attaining involves fate, then seeking is of not benefit to attaining. This is seeking in the external” (Mengzi 2A7). The recognition that success and failure are outside of our control has two functions. It tells us where to direct our effort: we can control our character (the internal) and so we should focus on cultivating that. At the same time, recognizing the limits of what we can control allows us to more easily accept bad events, leading to something like peace of mind (which is discussed in the pages that follow).

Does the Page 99 Test work for my book? Page 99 doesn’t contain any of the most essential philosophical points. The previous chapters follow Mengzi in arguing that our deepest concerns are for our relationships with other people and then show how these concerns can be extended and cultivated into motivations for trying to make the world a better place. That often involves sorrow, worry, and stress. Page 99 appears in a chapter on how to keep that concern for the world but still enjoy life. Page 99 is not so much about enjoyment but rather how to avoid the negative feelings that easily arise if we try to make a difference in the world. One way is to focus on what we can control—our own choices and our character—rather than on the outcomes. As I say on that page, Stoics appeal to fate in a similar way.

Even so, page 99 does capture the character and purpose of the book pretty well. The problems addressed on that page are concrete and common: if we genuinely care about the world, how do we deal with all of the suffering, violence, and inequality that we cannot address? The strategies also are practical and realistic. As I say there, we employ a similar view when we say things like “there was nothing you could do about it” or “it was meant to be.” A few pages later I point out that this is a strategy rather than an absolute claim. Mengzi is not a Stoic. He thinks we should be upset when innocent people suffer or when a family member is in trouble. But we can’t be upset all of the time, so looking at what is and is not within our control is a way to bring about some emotional balance.

So, while page 99 will not give you an essential aspect of Mengzi’s philosophy, it is a pretty good basis for judging whether or not you will want to read the whole book. And it does have some good practical advice.
Learn more about Doing What You Really Want at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 11, 2022

Sarah Abel's "Permanent Markers"

Sarah Abel is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Latin American Studies.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Permanent Markers: Race, Ancestry, and the Body after the Genome, and reported the following:
The reader who opens Permanent Markers to page 99 will find some insights into one of the questions I am most frequently asked about DNA ancestry tests: do they actually work? The page describes the reactions of genealogy bloggers to an early version of AncestryDNA’s genetic “ethnicity” test (today the leading DNA ancestry test worldwide, by sales figures) which seemed to regularly produce unexpected results, such as “high levels of ‘Scandinavian’ or ‘Finnish’ ancestry or completely absent ‘French’ ancestry.” I cite two bloggers who took different stances on the issue: the first reminded his readers that genetic heredity obeys different rules than the transmission of oral and written histories, so we shouldn’t expect the two to coincide entirely. The second categorically disagreed: “[AncestryDNA’s] admixture percentages are simply WRONG. Period.”

I suspect many people who pick up Permanent Markers might be seeking concrete answers about how “reliable” and “objective” DNA ancestry tests are as a window onto our personal histories. In this sense, the Page 99 Test works fairly well: it throws readers into the heart of this debate, which – as the quotes from the two bloggers suggest – has no simple answers. Methodologically, DNA ancestry tests have various limitations, and making sense of their data requires a large dose of interpretation on the part of the test-taker. What’s more, by expressing a person’s ancestry (a concept that, a priori, could encompass multiple historical scales and diverse definitions of kinship, both genetic and social) as a series of apparently timeless “genetic ethnicities,” these technologies present a very reductive, racialized representation of the past. While companies continue to refine their techniques to estimate customers’ genetic ancestry with increasing resolution, the question I suggest we should be asking is not whether these technologies are accurate, but rather: how are they impacting the ways we think about race, identity, and – more broadly – our collective pasts?

In this respect, readers who only looked at page 99 would miss out on one of the book’s central arguments: that DNA ancestry tests should not be thought of primarily as a scientific instrument, but as a tool that is used to make diverse political claims about the relationships between our bodies and identities, both past and future. Those who browse further will find out, for instance, how DNA ancestry tests have been used in starkly different ways in the United States and Brazil to intervene in debates about racism and antiracism, and to talk (or avoid talking) about the legacies of slavery in each country. Permanent Markers thus reveals how a technology that claims to uncover universal truths about “who we are” and “where we come from” in fact draws much of its power from its capacity to produce highly malleable and ambiguous portraits of the past.
Follow Sarah Abel on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Henry Richard Maar III's "Freeze!"

Henry Richard Maar III is Lecturer in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and California State University, Northridge.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Freeze!: The Grassroots Movement to Halt the Arms Race and End the Cold War, and reported the following:
From page 99:
in June 1981 by Hamilton Fish (Republican, New York) expressed “the sense of the Congress that nuclear war represents a great hazard and should be prevented.” The resolution urged President Reagan to propose arms control negotiations that would reduce substantially the United States and the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenals while encouraging all nuclear nations to “propose annual reductions and gradual elimination of all nuclear weapons.” That November, Senator Mark Hatfield introduced a bill expressing “the conviction of Congress that the United States should not base its policies on the belief that the United States can limit, survive, or win a nuclear war.” Both bills were referred to committee, though neither made it out.

In the public realm, fiscal conservatives became uneasy with the ballooning defense budget and subsequent deficits, while anxious town halls and churches across the nation began endorsing a nuclear freeze. Despite the momentum, Freeze activists were not ready to align themselves with Congress. In their first year “Structure Proposal,” activists sought to work on “a local, decentralized basis” creating Freeze Task Forces that would coordinate contacts with government officials at home and abroad, raise funds for the Freeze, develop educational and promotional resources, as well as coordinate national events or projects. In acting locally and building support in each Congressional district, the campaign hoped to secure bipartisan support from 150 Congressmen prior to the introduction of any resolution.

But Freeze activists did not have the luxury of building a longer campaign in each Congressional district. As SANE’s David Cortright lamented, “the train was already leaving the station ... and freeze leaders were powerless to stop it.” Within a year of the first Annual National Nuclear Freeze conference in Washington, D.C., eager Congress members began courting the movement. One was Boston’s Edward J. Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts). A four-term representative, Markey was a major critic of nuclear power and an opponent of nuclear proliferation who garnered attention from the antinuclear movement in the wake of the TMI accident. By early 1982, Markey was in the early writing stages of a book outlining his opposition to nuclear power and his concerns over nuclear proliferation when his administrative assistant Peter Franchot discovered Randall Forsberg’s “Call.” An antinuclear activist himself and a former lobbyist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Franchot repeatedly told Markey that the Freeze movement would “sweep the country” and there was no reason Markey’s office “shouldn’t be in the middle of it.”

While Markey’s office began work on a freeze resolution, they soon ran into a major dilemma: Markey was on neither the House Armed Services Committee nor the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), making his claim to an arms control issue, such as nuclear freeze, a violation of legislative protocol.
If a browser were to open to page 99 of Freeze! the reader would be cast into the origins of the nuclear freeze debate as it entered the Congress. The reader would understand that nuclear freeze was an important political issue rapidly gaining momentum across the country. Likewise, page 99 would introduce readers to several important political figures who will come up later in the book (such as then-Rep. Edward Markey) and flags important activists (like David Cortright and Randall Forsberg). The reader would also gather the sense that the movement is a bit uneasy with the pace at which the Congress is proceeding, but ultimately cannot stop it.

The test, however, has its limits, as one page can never tell the whole story. If a reader were to judge the entire book on the basis of page 99, they may incorrectly conclude it is only about the efforts of Congress to respond to or enact a nuclear weapons freeze. But Freeze! demonstrates how a social movement manifests and gains support across society—from the Halls of Congress to the pulpits of the Catholic bishops and the squabbles among Evangelical preachers. The dangers of the arms race that the movement warned against saturated the popular culture of the period, from books and comics, to songs and music videos, in addition to major motion pictures and a made for TV movie that garnered over 100 million viewers (ABC’s The Day After). It became an important, bipartisan political rallying cry that the Reagan administration was forced to address—or face the ire of the public at the ballot box.

Although the page 99 test highlights important figures and an important moment, it ultimately misses the crux of the book’s argument. While we may think we know how the Cold War ended, it took more than just the willingness of Reagan to break with the hawks surrounding him, and it took more than just the new thinking of Gorbachev to make the peaceful outcome possible. Freeze! demonstrates that the diplomatic achievements that defined the end of the Cold War were a byproduct, not just of two giant personas of the era, but of a discourse between the United States and the Soviet Union that was transformed by the direct pressures of antinuclear activism and public opinion.
Visit Henry Richard Maar III's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Dana Fennell's "The World of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder"

Dana Fennell is Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The World of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Experiences of Living with OCD, and reported the following:
Page 99 puts you into the shoes, or rather the minds, of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In that sense, the Page 99 Test is a success. Page 99 is actually part of a table of quotes from people with OCD. The table contrasts how they felt before they were diagnosed, to after they labeled themselves as having the disorder or were professionally diagnosed. However, the Page 99 Test is only a partial success, as this table is not representative of the book as a whole, although it does symbolize core aspects of the book.

A central purpose of The World of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is to represent the life experiences of those with OCD, from when they first started asking if what they were experiencing was “normal” or not, all the way to treatment and learning how to manage and live with the disorder. I wanted to provide a variety of examples and quotes from those with the disorder, and the table beginning on page 99 is comprised of their words.

The table reveals an important moment in the “career” or trajectory of having OCD, the relevance of labeling one’s experiences with the words “obsessive-compulsive disorder.” The gap between the two moments of time captured within the table can be years, in part because this disorder is often stereotyped and trivialized as being much more limited in nature and scope than it actually is in reality. This makes it hard for people to recognize what they are experiencing as possibly falling under the heading of “OCD.” OCD is more than being concerned with order or contamination. Obsessions are unwanted and can involve people’s worst fears, with content involving religion, harm, sexuality, and more. Compulsions can even include mental rituals.

Diagnosis is a pivotal moment that provides some people with great relief. There is an explanation for what they are going through. Others have gone through the same thing and treatments are available. On the other hand, diagnosis means they do have a mental disorder, and they can fear the stigma and trivialization that come with such. Stigma and trivialization are two sociological themes that I discuss over the course of the book.

Overall, then, the Page 99 Test is useful as it brings the reader right into the heart of the thoughts and emotions of people with OCD.
Visit Dana Fennell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Jennifer Frost's "Let Us Vote!"

Jennifer Frost is Associate Professor of History at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and author of “An Interracial Movement of the Poor”: Community Organizing and the New Left in the 1960s, Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservativism, and Producer of Controversy: Stanley Kramer, Hollywood Liberalism, and the Cold War.

Frost applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, "Let Us Vote!": Youth Voting Rights and the 26th Amendment, and reported the following:
My book tells the story of how and why young Americans won the right to vote. The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, passed and ratified in 1971, extended that right to citizens aged eighteen and up and prohibited discrimination in voting “on account of age.” This inspiring and important story about thirty years of efforts, campaigns, and eventual youth franchise movement is not explicitly evident on page 99. But what is there demonstrates a key argument of my book: civil rights organizing, legislation, and successes paved the way for youth voting rights.

Page 99 appears in a chapter on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. These two historic pieces of legislation restored the full citizenship rights of African Americans already recognized by the 14th and 15th Amendments. Prohibiting segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in employment was the purpose of the Civil Rights Act, while re-enfranchising African Americans was the point of the Voting Rights Act. When the Voting Rights Act came up for renewal in 1970, the revised version would include the right to vote for 18, 19, and 20-year-olds.

Prominent figures and events from 1963 feature on page 99. President John F. Kennedy sent his civil rights bill to Congress in June, setting the legislation in motion. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August put pressure on the president and Congress to act. The next month Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. followed up on his famous “I Have a Dream” speech:

“The hundreds of thousands who marched in Washington marched to level barriers,” King emphasized in an essay in the New York Times Magazine in September. “They summed up everything in a word—NOW.” He underscored the urgency of the historical moment. “The long-deferred issue of second-class citizenship has become our nation’s first-class crisis.” New legislation was needed to curb the crisis. “Everything, not some of the things, in the President’s civil-rights bill is part of NOW.”

Passage of the civil rights bill fell to Lyndon B. Johnson after the terrible assassination of President Kennedy in November. Later President Johnson would also take the lead on the voting rights bill, and he considered adding youth suffrage to the bill. But he decided to focus first on ensuring and protecting black voting rights, and only in 1968 did he put his full weight behind youth voting rights.

Page 99 shows the civil rights movement pushing politicians and propelling progress toward a more inclusive American democracy. In turn, the youth franchise movement built on this progress to achieve the 26th Amendment.
Learn more about "Let Us Vote!" at the NYU Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Producer of Controversy.

The Page 99 Test: Producer of Controversy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 7, 2022

Jennifer Forestal's "Designing for Democracy"

Jennifer Forestal is Helen Houlahan Rigali Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Designing for Democracy: How to Build Community in Digital Environments, and reported the following:
Readers opening to page 99 of Designing for Democracy will find me reintroducing the concept of ‘participatory democracy’ that serves as the book’s theoretical foundation. As a form of collective problem solving, democratic politics is the process through which members of a community are actively involved in making the decisions that affect their lives. But this work does not come easily; it requires certain habits, attitudes, and relationships among the community members involved. For one, they must recognize themselves as members of a community. They must also, second, form affective attachments to that community and their fellow members. And, finally, as I explain on page 99, they “must cultivate and act with an ‘experimental habit of mind’—a kind of empowered open-mindedness without which we cannot properly ‘do’ democracy.”

These fundamental civic practices—of recognition, attachment, and experimentalism—are what I call in the book democratic affordances; they are the activities that built environments, whether physical or digital, must facilitate if they are to support democratic politics.

In Designing for Democracy, I show how each of these affordances is tied to a specific design characteristic of built environments—in both the physical and digital realms. Page 99 comes at the beginning of chapter 4, in which I examine the characteristic of flexibility, which affords experimentalism. “[W]e can only develop the experimental habit,” I argue on page 99, “in a built environment characterized by flexibility, meaning spaces that (1) host a variety of perspectives and experiences and (2) are malleable, affording citizens control over their environment so they might reshape the space to fit their needs.” What this means, in practice, is that democracy requires us to build spaces like parks and playgrounds—and subreddits!—that invite many different people and uses.

Overall, page 99 does a nice job of introducing the reader to the concept of democracy upon which Designing for Democracy’s argument depends. But in focusing solely on the design element of ‘flexibility’—with its constituent parts, variety and malleability—page 99 might also leave readers with a distorted sense of what it takes to build democratic spaces in built environments. To be sure, flexibility is important. But, I argue throughout the book, flexibility alone is insufficient. In fact, a too-narrow focus on flexibility will result in a space like Twitter—one that is messy, chaotic, and prone to harassment or worse.

Instead, Designing for Democracy makes the case that democratic spaces—both physical and digital—must balance three characteristics: flexibility must be accompanied by boundedness and durability. In addition to being flexible, in other words, spaces that support a participatory democratic politics must also be clearly demarcated (like a neighborhood or a Facebook Group) and durable over time (like a city park or subreddit). Only when spaces are designed with all three characteristics in mind—boundaries, durability, and flexibility—will they facilitate the civic practices of recognition, attachment, and experimentalism that democratic politics requires.

Ultimately, while the page 99 test does help readers to identify major theoretical themes in Designing for Democracy, it also reminds us that a single page is not in itself enough to support a book’s entire argument; in much the same way, a single civic practice is insufficient to meet the needs of democracy.
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--Marshal Zeringue