NEW BOOKS: Politics. Economics.

A Century of Wealth in America by Edward Wolff. Harvard University Press, 2017. Wealth: who has it, how was it acquired, and then held on to it? What are the consequences of these patterns to the country’s well-being?

Democracy in Chains; The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean. Viking, 2017. The late political economist, James Buchanan (1919 to 2013), and his conservative allies have become what MacLean calls “paloecapitalists.”

The Ordinary Virtues; Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff. Harvard University Press, 2017. Given our global economy, it is important to ascertain what values humans hold in common. Are these values converging or diverging?

The Know-It-Alls; The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball by Noam Cohen. The New Press, 2017. Silicon Valley as a political and intellectual force in American life.

Vanguard of the Revolution; The Global Idea of the Communist Party by A. James McAdams. Princeton University Press, 2017. The author reminds us of the importance of communism in the last century and then the causes and consequences of its fall.

October; The Story of the Russian Revolution by Cina Miéville. Verso 2017 paper. The months between the February revolution and Lenin’s October triumph.

Lenin; The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror by Victor Sebestyen. Pantheon, 2017. A revisionary history of the Bolshevik revolution and Vladimir Lenin’s role in the upheaval.

A Foreign Policy for the Left by Michael Walzer. Yale University Press, 2018. Foreign relations can no longer be based on the old leftist shibboleths. Nor modern-day anti-imperialism. Nor a straight-forward advocacy of centrally planned economies.

From Fascism to Populism in History by Federico Finchelstein. University of California Press, 2017. Their connections in history and theory and how we might correctly apply the concepts in thinking about our current views of the post-war world.

NEW BOOKS: Politics. Economics. continued.

The Death of Homo Economicus; Work, Debt, and the Myth of Endless Accumulation by Peter Fleming. Pluto Press, 2017 paper. Homo Economicus have not quite lived up to their reputation as a workaholic and money-saver.

Secrecy World; Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite by Jake Berstein. Henry Holt, 2017. A hidden circulatory system flows beneath the surface of the global economy, moving trillions of dollars from drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises.

A History of the United States in Five Crashes; Stock Market Meltdowns That Defined a Nation by Scott Nations. The Panic of 1907, Black Tuesday (1929), Black Monday (1987), the Great Recession (2008), and the Flash Crash (2010).

Making Sense of the Alt-Right by Robert Hawley. Columbia University Press, 2017. “Alt-right” is short for alternative right, a new term to enter the political lexicon. A white-nationalist movement, youthful and tech-savvy, it has been given credit for energizing President Trump’s presidential bid.

Alt-America; The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump by David Neiwert. Verso, 2107. The far-right has been growing steadily in the US since the 1990s following 9/11.

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles Sykes. St. Martin’s, 2017. A former Wisconsin conservative radio talk-show host describes the implosion of the Republican Party and the wider conservative movement.

The Islamaphobia Industry; How the Right Manufactures Hatred of Moslems by Nathan Lean. Pluto Press, 2017 paper. A rising tide of Islamaphobia is sweeping across the US and Europe. Check out the conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, and evangelical preachers.

And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future by Yanis Varoufakis. Nation Books, 2017. A former Greek finance minister explains his country’s position on the Eurozone’s austerity response to its financial difficulties.

Under Surveillance; Being Watched in Modern America by Randolph Lewis. University of Texas Press, 2017. The emotional, ethical, and aesthetic challenges of living in a surveillance regime.

Open Season; Legalized Genocide of People of Color by Benjamin Crump.  Amistad, 2017. A prominent lawyer reflects on landmark cases he has fought, which, sadly, have too often resulted in an injustice to the African Americans he represented.

Overload; Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News by Bob Schieffer & H. Andrew Schwartz. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. Two television journalists give advice on how to sort through the deluge of news that comes our way daily.

NEW BOOKS: Politics. Economics. continued.

The Unlikely Trust; Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Improbable Partnership That Remade American Business by Gerard Helferich. Lyons Press, 2017. An odd association; one was a trust buster and the other a trust builder.

Energy Democracy; Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions by Denise Fairchild, et alii Island Press, 2017 paper. We have not begun to think clearly about the issue of distributive justice as we introduce and become more dependent upon alternative energy sources.

Ramp Hollow; The Ordeal of Appalachia by Steven Stoll. Hill & Wang 2017. Settled by hardy homesteaders, who got jobs in the coal mines, that depended upon an industrial economy elsewhere. Employed! But unfortunately there wasn’t much of a paycheck involved. Hence poverty.

Loaded; A Disarming History of the Second Amendment by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. City Lights, 2017 paper. A “people’s history” of the right to bear arms.

What Unites Us by Dan Rather. Algonquin, 2017. Rather seeks to inspire a badly-needed conversation around our common values.

Steam Titans; Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic by William Fowler, Jr. Bloomsbury, 2017. The rivalry between British and US steamship companies in the emerging globalized economy in the early last century.

NEW BOOKS: American studies.

Bible Nation; The United States of Hobby Lobby by Candida Moss & Joel Baden. Princeton University Press, 2017. How the billionaire owners of this chain are spending millions of dollars to influence our social and political thinking.

Rival Power; Russia’s Influence in Southeast Europe by Dimitar Bechey. Yale University Press, 2017. Russia’s continued interest in the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey and the responses of that region to its attention.

Blind Injustice; A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions by Mark Godsey. University of California Press, 2017. How psychological flaws such as faulty memory, “group think” mindsets and a “tough on crime” political environment can lead to the conviction of innocent people.

Inside Private Prisons; An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Lauren-Brooke Eisen. Columbia University Press, 2017. Our previous tough-on-crime politics resulted in overcrowded state prisons and encouraged private companies to enter the business. There is now a private sector with a vested interest in supporting a revived tough-on-crime politics.

The Pentagon’s Wars; The Military’s Undeclared War Against America’s Presidents by Mark Perry. Basic, 2017. The internal civilian-military animus that has long shaped American foreign policy.

Chocolate Cities; The Black Map of American Life by Marcus Hunter & Zandria Robinson. University of California Press, 2017 paper. Locates the ebb and flow of the Black American experience on illustrative maps.

Democracy’s Schools; The Rise of Public Education in America by Johann Neem. Johns Hopkins, 2017 paper. The story of how ordinary Americans built a nation-wide public school system in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

Reinventing America’s Schools; Creating a Twenty-First-Century Education System by David Osborn. Bloomsbury 2017. A close look at charter schools and their answer to revitalizing US education.

Unbelievable; My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Kary Tur. MIT Press, 2017.  His claim may be a bit of a stretch; we have had many a crazy presidential campaign.

2016 Election; The Log Cabin; An Illustrated History by Andrew Belonsky. Countryman Press, 2017. When times get tough, we head for the shelter (metaphor- log cabin) for our security.

Identity Crisis; The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America by John Sides, et alii Princeton University Press, 2018. Perhaps by February of 2018 we’ll have changed our minds several times about last November’s unexpected results.

Impeachment; A Citizen’s Guide by Cass Sunstein. Harvard University Press, 2017. An essential tool of self-government; just in case.

NEW BOOKS: American Studies. continued.

Schlesinger; The Imperial Historian by Richard Aldous. W.W. Norton, 2017. Mostly known for his involvement with the Kennedy White House, Arthur Schlesinger (1917-2007) had an interesting life in his own right.

Playing with Fire; The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by Lawrence O’Donnell. Penguin, 2017. Seen as an argument between (1) the Kennedy machine after two assassinations, and (2) the traditional Democratic Party.

The Naughty Nineties; The Triumph of the American Libido by David Friend. Twelve, 2017. A sexual history of the 1990s when the Baby Boomers took over Washington, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue. A look at the captains of its cultural wars.

Ali; A Life by Jonathan Eig. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. “The Best” or so he claimed. But Muhammad Ali was many things at different times of his life. And much eulogized since his death in 2016.

Uncommon People; The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars by David Hepworth. Henry Holt, 2017. Perhaps the age of the rock star is passing; what images have they left. Good hair? Expensive shoes? What had we wanted of them? For them to be larger than life but also like us.

Border Odyssey; Travels along the US/Mexico Divide by Charles Thompson, Jr. University of Texas, 2017 paper. How US border policy has affected those who live in the region, from migrant workers to border patrol agents.

The Long Haul; A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy. Norton, 2016. The major means of transport and their operators.

Drunks; An American History by Christopher Finan. Beacon Press, 2017. The nation’s entanglement with alcohol and its search for sobriety.

The Golden Elixir of the West; Whiskey and the Shaping of America by Sherry Monahan & Jane Perkins, Revised Edition. TwoDot, 2017. This iconic drink and its role in shaping the American west. Distilleries were the microbreweries of their day, cropping up all over the west.

NEW BOOKS: American Studies. continued.

The Kelloggs; The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markiel. Pantheon, 2017. John, founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium; his brother Will, experimented with wheat and corn meal to produce what he called corn flakes, shredded wheat, bran flakes, etc.

Terror in the City of Champions; Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit by Tom Standon. Lyons Press, 2017 paper. Mid-1930s, racist mobs, and clandestine groups planning more havoc in a baseball city.

Dawn of Detroit; A Chronicle of Bondage and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles. New Press, 2017. Slavery was an important part of the economic success of this northern city in the early Republic.

Fins; Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit by William Knoedelseder. Harper, 2018. He is given credit for introducing style – and, therefore, the annual style changes – into General Motors’ automobiles.

Texas Blood; Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands by Roger Hodge. Knopf, 2017. Fuses memoir and history to tell the story of the Texas borderlands. Seven generations of the author’s ranching family.

Bunk; The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young. Graywolf Press, 2017. Young starts with P.T. Barnum’s “humbug” and ends with an all-too familiar post-factual world.

The Myths of Tet; The Most Misunderstood Event of the Vietnam War by Edwin Moise. University Press of Kansas, 2017. The Tet Offensive was no great victory for the North Vietnamese, but it was a defeat for the US because it undermined support for the War.

The Odyssey of Echo Company; The 1968 Tet Offensive and the Epic Battle to Survive the Vietnam War by Dough Stanton. Scribners, 2017. On 31 January 1968 some one hundred thousand North Vietnamese soldiers moved south. Echo Company, a reconnaissance platoon, was overrun.

Armed in America; A History of Gun Rights From Colonial Militias to Concealed Carry by Patrick Charles. The right to bear arms, how it figures in our Bill of Rights and how it has changed since its first appearance in 1689.

NEW BOOKS: American History.

The Dead March; A History of the Mexican-American War by Peter Guardino. Harvard University Press, 2017. A bloody war (1846-1848) that redrew the map of the American Southwest. And divided us from our soon-to-be neighbors, the Mexicans.

Cattle Kingdom; The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher Knowlton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. Put aside the hard-drinking cowboy, the swinging saloon doors, and the gunfights.

The Cowboy Strike; Bullets, Ballots, & Class Conflicts in the American West by Mark Lause. Verso, 2017. Exploited, underpaid, a seasonal worker who engaged in a series of militant strikes in our Out West.

The Election of 1860; A Campaign Fraught with Consequences by Michael Holt. University Press of Kansas, 2017. Holt looks carefully at the rhetoric of the Republican Party during that election because of its anti-southern tone.

The War That Forged a Nation; Why the Civil War Still Matters by James McPherson. Oxford University Press, 2017 paper. The Civil War remains embedded in our national psyche and identity. 140 years after Appomattox, we are still fighting over memorial statues.

Lincoln and the Abolitionists; John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War by Fred Kaplan. Harper, 2017. Lincoln argued that African-Americans should ‘migrate back to Africa’; Adams was an ardent abolitionist whose advocacy anticipated the later rise of multicultural US.

Grant by Ron Chernow. Penguin, 2017. It takes Chernow 1100 pages to refute the various stereotypes that cloud Ulysses Grant’s reputation. He argues that Grant was a victim of post-Civil War America.

The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant by Charles Calhoun. University Press of Kansas, 2017. Grant’s eight years in the White House (1868 to 1876); his views concerning the Reconstruction of the Confederacy, his economic policy, civil service reform, and foreign affairs.

Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh. Westhome, 2017. Reconstruction was devastating to the old Confederacy. Equally unsettling: President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment (1868) and Ulysses Grant’s scandal-ridden administration .

Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign; Confederate Nationalism and the Fight to Arm Slaves by Philip Dillard. Mercer University Press, 2017. By the fall of 1864 the North was winning the war. Should Davis have opened the ranks of the Confederate armies to freedmen and recast the war as a nationalist struggle? Davis took to the press to open a discussion of the role of slavery and freedman in the American South.

NEW BOOKS: American History. continued.

Hoover; An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times by Kenneth Whyte. Knopf, 2017. Began life as an orphan, built a fortune, became a great humanitarian, and then president. Some would claim that Hebert Hoover fathered New Deal liberalism.

Revolutions in the Atlantic World; A Comparative History by Wim Klooster. New York University Press, 2017 paper. Looking at the French, Haitian, American, and Spanish-American revolutions as a single phenomenon; all were civil rather than class warfare, all inspired by the French Enlightenment.

Supreme Injustice; Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court by Paul Finkelman. Harvard University Press, 2017. Three Supreme Court justices – John Marshall, Roger Taney, and Joseph Story – took positions that weakened the case for emancipation and embedded racism even deeper into the American civil culture.

The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City; Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair by Margaret Creighton. W.W.Norton, 2017 paper. President William McKinley’s assassination. Geronimo was part of the spectacle. The star of the Midway (the smallest woman in the world) was either kidnapped or vamoosed.

President McKinley; Architect of the American Century by Robert Merry. Simon & Schuster, 2017. McKinley (1897 to 1901) fades when compared to his successor, Theodore Roosevelt, but he established the US as an imperial power, developed the doctrine of “fair trade” and forced the “open door” on a reluctant China.

Accidental President; Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World by A. J. Baime. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. The sudden death of F.D.R. and Truman’s insecurities.

Sorrow of the Earth; Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull, and the Tragedy of Show Business by Eric Vuillard & Ann Jefferson. Pushkin Press, 2017. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the fate of those Native American participants who were absorbed into his entertainment machine.

Blood Brothers; The Story of the Strange Friendship between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill by Deanne Stillman. Simon & Schuster, 2017. The unlikely friendship between Buffalo Bill Cody and Sitting Bull!

The Second Coming of the KKK; The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition by Linda Gordon. W.W. Norton, 2017. A focus on immigrants and Roman Catholics, and anyone who was not considered sufficiently Christian.

NEW BOOKS: American History. continued.

The Second Coming of the KKK; The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition by Linda Gordon. W.W. Norton, 2017. A focus on immigrants and Roman Catholics, and anyone who was not considered sufficiently Christian.

The Revolution of Robert Kennedy; From Power to Protest after JFK by John Bohrer. Bloomsbury, 2017. The five years from John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and Bobby’s in June 1968.

Kennedy and King; The President, the Pastor, and the Battle Over Civil Rights by Steven Levingston. Hachette, 2017. Two very different kinds of power, the oratory of a preacher and the authority of elite privilege.

Fields of Battle; Pearl Harbor, the Rose Bowl, and the Boys Who Went to War by Brian Curtis. Flatiron Books, 2017 paper. In the wake of Pearl Harbor and fearing further Japanese attacks on California, the 1942 Rose Bowl was moved from Pasadena to Duke University. Many of the players and coaches subsequently entered the military and went off to serve their country in a world at war.

Pale Rider; The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney. Public Affairs, 2017. A huge loss of life, greater even than that of the deadly last year of the Great War.

Hollywood’s Spies; The Undercover Surveillance of Nazis in Los Angeles by Laura Rosenzweig. New York University Press, 2017. In the 1930s Jewish moguls in Hollywood began to take seriously German-American support for insurgent Nazism in the US and to use their position to alarm the nation.

The Gifted Generation; When Government Was Good by David Goldfield. Bloomsbury Press, 2017. Those were the days: the years that followed WWII, including the presidencies of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson. Things got accomplished.

Unshackling America; How the War of 1812 Truly Ended the American Revolution by Willard Randall. St. Martin’s, 2017. Argues that the war of 1812 was not a discrete conflict but rather the culmination of a long struggle for US economic independence from Britain.

Rising Star; The Making of Barack Obama by David Garrow. Morrow, 2017. Obama’s political story up to his 2008 election to the presidency.

Losing an Enemy; Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy by Trita Parsi. Yale University Press, 2017. President Obama’s deal with Iran looks to be surviving several tests.

The Last Republicans; Inside the Extraordinary Relationship between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush by Mark Updegrove. Harper, 20\17. A portrait of this political family and how its brand of politics has been transformed in the Trump era. What about Barbara?

NEW BOOKS: Middle Eastern Conflict.

Ike’s Gamble; America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East by Michael Doran. Free, Press, 2017 paper. In 1956 Gamal Abdel Nasser moved to take possession of the Suez Canal; the British and the French intervened and joined Israel’s invasion of the Canal Zone.

Gaza; An Inquest into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein. University of California Press, 2017.Since the Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1967, it has been systematically “de-developed”.  And Israeli bombardment has reduced most of the built environment to rubble.

Destroying Yemen; What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World by Lisa Blumi. University of California Press, 2017 paper. In the last several years the Arab world, supported by the US and Britain, has waged war on Yemen. Yemen seemed to be challenging the reign of global capitalism and hesitating to join our war on terrorists, “the losers” as terrorists are identified these days.

Yemen in Crisis; Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State by Helen Lackner. Saqi Books, 2018. Civil war rages with Huthi rebels and the Western and Arab supporters of the status quo, resulting in thousands killed and three million displaced.

A Social Revolution; Politics and the Welfare State in Iran by Kevan Harris. University of California Press, 2017 paper. Most pundits have noticed only the ideological rigidity of Iranian public discourse. Look again; Iran seems to be carrying for its citizens and tolerating a moderate amount of dissent.

Enclosure; Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror by Gary Fields. University of California Press, 2017 paper.  The dispossession of the Palestinians is compared to the process of land grabbing in early modern England and colonial North America.

City on a Hilltop; American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement by Sara Hirschhorn. Harvard University Press, 2017. Fifty years since the 1967 war and the settler movement remains at the core of Israeli-Palestinian differences.

The Biggest Prison on Earth; A History of the Occupied Territories by Ian Pappe. One World Publications, 2017. A powerful account of Palestinian Occupied Territories by one of the most respected Israeli historians.

Balfour’s Shadow; A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel by David Cronin. Pluto Press. The infamous Balfour Declaration that favored the Zionist Jewish community has been around for one hundred years with an immense impact on the history of the Palestine people.

The Balfour Declaration; Empire, the Mandate and Resistance in Palestine by Bernard Regan. Verso, 2017.  The British Foreign Minister declared in favor of the establishment of Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people. What were the rivalries, Imperial and otherwise, that informed the larger geopolitical game?