Archive | Review

  • Speaking Truth to Power: The Mythology of Imperialism

      When I decided to teach Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness at Berkeley High School, it had been out of favor as an appropriate text because it was considered too controversial.  I wanted to do a whole unit on Africa and the Congo, including African authors, journalism, and history, and I figured we could start […]

  • Barrels of Crude and the Price of Pollutants: Power, Environment, and the Petroleum Complex in America’s Energy Capital

      Martin V. Melosi, Joseph A. Pratt, eds.  Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.  vii + 344 pp.  $27.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8229-5963-2; $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8229-4335-8. Much of the American past is connected to the growth of cities.  Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth […]

  • Embedded with Organized Labor: An Interview with Steve Early

      Steve Early is a 25-year veteran of the labor movement, journalist, and author of the new book Embedded with Organized Labor (Monthly Review Press, 2009).  His is a voice for a more militant rank-and-file democratic form of trade unionism which attempts to challenge the bosses by re-energizing a mostly dormant labor movement. Kristin Schall: […]

  • Decentralized Despotism and Its Discontents

      Lungisile Ntsebeza.  Democracy Compromised: Chiefs and the Politics of the Land in South Africa.  Leiden: Brill, 2005.  300 pp.  $38.00 (paper), ISBN 978-90-04-14482-8. One central question forms the backbone for this local study of governance in a rural district of the Eastern Cape: how is it that the chiefs and headmen, many of whom […]

  • The “Cosmopolitan Century”: European Re-Membering

      Natan Sznaider.  Gedächtnisraum Europa: Die Visionen des europäischen Kosmopolitismus; eine jüdische Perspektive.   Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2008.  153 pp.  EUR 16.90 (paper), ISBN 978-3-89942-692-2. As Europe moves into the twenty-first century, its search for a shared identity continues to occupy academic journals, the feuilleton pages, and Eurocrats eager to underwrite a by-and-large successful administrative […]

  • What Is Cosmopolitanism?

      Chris Rumford, ed. Cosmopolitanism and Europe.  Studies in Social and Political Thought.  Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007.  272 pp.  $85.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84631-046-1; $30.00 (paper), ISBN 978-1-84631-047-8. Rebecca L. Walkowitz.  Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.  248 pp.  $45.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-13750-8. These two explorations of cosmopolitanism from quite […]

  • The People’s Drawing Room

      Lisa Keller. Triumph of Order: Democracy and Public Space in New York and London.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.  xvii + 338 pp.  Illustrations.  $45.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-14672-2; (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-51847-5. How do a city’s parks, squares, and boulevards enable democracy, and how does the local state negotiate the sometimes fine line between free […]

  • Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception

      Giorgio Agamben.  State of Exception.   Translated by Kevin Attell.   Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.  104 pp.  $15.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-226-00925-4. State of Exception, a book written by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, is the English translation by Kevin Attell of the monograph Stato di eccezione.  Well known are the author’s works that […]

  • Market Delusions

      Birgit Müller.   The Disenchantment with Market Economics: East Germans and Western Capitalism.  Translated by John Bellamy, Jennie Challender, and Kathleen Repper.  European Anthropology in Translation.  New York: Berghahn Books, 2007.  ix + 244 pp.  $80.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84545-217-9; $27.50 (paper), ISBN 978-1-84545-506-4. “Disenchantment with market economics” is the type of phrase that comes […]

  • Education and Its Cold War Discontents

      Andrew Hartman.  Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.  x + 251 pp.  $74.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-230-60010-2. Although world affairs are inherently distant from the local activity of running a school, international events can often heighten a sense of threat from abroad and a related […]

  • Mapping a Legal Geography of Yugoslavia’s Disintegration

      Ana S. Trbovich.   A Legal Geography of Yugoslavia’s Disintegration.   Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.  xiv + 522 pp.  $80.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-533343-5. Ana S. Trbovich’s A Legal Geography of Yugoslavia’s Disintegration is a valuable intervention in the long running and, at times, torturous debate over the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.  The […]

  • Not Your Grandfather’s Labor History

      Robert Cassanello, Melanie Shell-Weiss, eds.  Florida’s Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor, Race, and Gender from Spanish Florida to the New Immigration.  Working in the Americas Series.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008.  320 pp.  $69.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8130-3283-2. Once upon a time, but within this reviewer’s scholarly lifetime, the primary focus of labor […]

  • Recapturing the Middle Ground: “Reasonable Belief” in the European Enlightenment

      David Jan Sorkin.  The Religious Enlightenment: Protestants, Jews, and Catholics from London to Vienna.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.  xv + 339 pp.  $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-691-13502-1. On January 14, 1791, the Comte de Mirabeau delivered a speech to the National Assembly in defense of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, the controversial project […]

  • Maimonides: Turn Him Over and Over Again for Everything Is in Him

      Arthur Hyman, Alfred Ivry, ed.  Maimonidean Studies.  Volume 5. Jersey City: KTAV Publishing House, 2008.  442 pp. $49.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-88125-941-4. The fifth volume of Maimonidean Studies is an eclectic amalgam of studies, the majority of which are based on papers delivered at a conference in New York City commemorating the 800th anniversary of […]

  • Nation-States as Building Blocks

      Paul Nugent.  Africa since Independence: A Comparative History. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.  xix + 620 pp.  $99.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-333-68272-2; $35.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-333-68273-9. This is a masterful work of usable academic history.  By sharply delineating diverse trends in scores of countries, it applies expert analysis to sub-Saharan Africa, “the continent which has been […]

  • Lessons in Imperialism from Iraq’s Past

      Peter Sluglett.  Britain in Iraq: Contriving King and Country.   New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.  318 pp.  $24.50 (paper), ISBN 978-0-231-14201-4. The current war in Iraq has had many ironic consequences, the least sordid being perhaps the belated interest in Iraq’s history.  As Peter Sluglett confesses in the opening pages of the reissue […]

  • Dislodging Comfortable Fictions

      Celia E. Naylor.  African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens.   The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.  Illustrations, maps.  xii + 360 pp.  $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8078-3203-5; $22.50 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8078-5883-7. Debates about the citizenship status of Cherokee freedmen […]

  • Socially Conscious Art and Its Social Contexts

      Hazel Dickens, Bill C. Malone.  Working Girl Blues: The Life and Music of Hazel Dickens.   Music in American Life Series.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008.  Illustrations.  ix + 102 pp.  $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-252-03304-9; $17.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-252-07549-0. One of the foremost voices on behalf of working people in country music recently […]

  • Judith Butler — Ungrievable Lives

      A discussion with Judith Butler on public mourning: Antigone, grieving, victimization, the production of certain populations as “ungrievable”, and the politics of public mourning as the expansion of our ideas of what constitutes a livable life, the expansion of our recognition of those lives that are worth protecting, worth valuing. Nelly Kambouri: In your […]

  • Jasad, the Body Unveiled

      “Fetishism: the Key to Sensuality”; “Is Cannibalism a New Religion?”; “Syrian Lingerie”; “I Am Gay, Therefore I Do Not Exist.” . . .  With such a table of contents, Jasad (“body” in Arabic), a Lebanese, Arabic-language, cultural quarterly “specializing in the art, literature, and science of the body,” might be mistaken for an unidentified […]