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In The Devil's Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past (University of Toronto Press, 2020), Amy S. Kaufman and Paul B. Sturtevant examine the many ways in which the medieval past has been manipulated to promote discrimination, oppression, and murder. Tracing the fetish for “medieval times” behind toxic ideologies like nationalism,…
 
In Epidemic Illusions: On the Coloniality of Global Public Health (MIT Press, 2020), physician-anthropologist Eugene T. Richardson explores how public health practices—from epidemiological modeling to outbreak containment—help perpetuate global inequities. This book questions the Global North's "monopoly on truth" in global public health science, m…
 
Photography emerged in the 1840s in the United States, and it became a visual medium that documents the harsh realities of enslavement. Similarly, the photography culture grew during the Civil War, and it became an important material that archived this unprecedented war. Deborah Willis's The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and…
 
The Work of Politics: Making a Democratic Welfare State (Cambridge University Press 2020) advances a new understanding of how democratic social movements work with welfare institutions to challenge structures of domination. Steven Klein develops a novel theory that depicts welfare institutions as “worldly mediators,” or sites of democratic world-ma…
 
Americans rely on credit to provide for their food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and other daily necessities and the 2008 financial crisis demonstrated how they relied on private financial institutions that encouraged risky lending practices. Yet federal policy makers did little to change their approach to curbing risky lending practices and …
 
From the ancient world to the present women have been critical to the progress of science, yet their importance is overlooked, their stories lost, distorted, or actively suppressed. Forces of Nature sets the record straight and charts the fascinating history of women's discoveries in science. In the ancient and medieval world, women served as royal…
 
The dominant impression of Russia in the news media and politics, even today, is that it is and always has been an autocratic power controlled by a single despotic ruler. But historians of the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries have long realized that this vision was to some extent a myth projected by the central authorities to support a s…
 
Sushi and sashimi are by now a global sensation and have become perhaps the best known of Japanese foods—but they are also the most widely misunderstood. Oishii: The History of Sushi (Reaktion Books, 2020) reveals that sushi began as a fermented food with a sour taste, used as a means to preserve fish. This book, the first history of sushi in Engli…
 
The Power of Principles: Physics Revealed is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Nima Arkani-Hamed, faculty member at the renowned Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Prof. Arkani-Hamed is one of today’s leading particle physicists. This extensive Ideas Roadshow conversation explores how we discover the laws of…
 
This book sounds an alarm: after decades of being lulled into complacency by narratives of technological utopianism and neutrality, people are waking up to the large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley–led technophilia. This book trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases in our technological systems, showing how they are no…
 
Political Theorist Sara Rushing’s new book, The Virtues of Vulnerability: Humility, Autonomy, and Citizen-Subjectivity (Oxford UP, 2020), examines the very real experiences that individuals have in the context of healthcare, especially healthcare and medical approaches to the most human of all experiences, birth, illness, and death. Rushing’s analy…
 
There are few movements more firmly associated with civil disobedience than the Civil Rights Movement. In the mainstream imagination, civil rights activists eschewed coercion, appealed to the majority's principles, and submitted willingly to legal punishment in order to demand necessary legislative reforms and facilitate the realization of core con…
 
In this wide-ranging and authoritative book, the first of its kind in English, Christopher Wood tracks the evolution of the historical study of art from the late middle ages through the rise of the modern scholarly discipline of art history. Synthesizing and assessing a vast array of writings, episodes, and personalities, this original account of t…
 
The vision for America’s cross-cultural future lies beyond the multicultural myth of the "great melting pot." That idea of diversity often imagined ethnically distinct urban districts—the Little Italys, Koreatowns, and Jewish quarters of American cities—built up over generations and occupying spaces that excluded one another. But the neighborhood o…
 
Hello, this is Eric LeMay, a host on the New Books Network. Today I interview Sergio Lopez-Pineiro about his new book, A Glossary of Urban Voids (2020). It's one of the more fascinating books I've encountered in some time. And I say "encountered" because it's not only a book, in the traditional sense of something you read, but also a keen intellect…
 
Popular discussions of China’s growth prospects often focus on the success or failure specific industries. They might address the challenges rising wages pose to the export manufacturing sector, or the emergence of the new data-fueled tech sector. But one of the most important determinants of a country’s long-run economic growth is human capital—th…
 
Every year, millions of women turn to law to help them escape intimate partner violence. The legal processes are complex and varied, often enmeshing women for many years. In Intimate Partner Violence and the Law, published by Oxford University Press in 2021, Professor Heather Douglas examines intimate partner violence, including nonphysical coerciv…
 
It may be difficult to imagine that a consequential black electoral politics evolved in the United States before the Civil War, for as of 1860, the overwhelming majority of African Americans remained in bondage. Yet free black men, many of them escaped slaves, steadily increased their influence in electoral politics over the course of the early Ame…
 
The Mongols are widely known for one thing: conquest. Through the ages, word "horde" has entered the English lexicon with a negative connotation, conjuring up images of warriors on horseback, sweeping across the plain--a virtual human flood destroying everything in its path and then receding, leaving a wave of devastation and grief. Such is often t…
 
“…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” -Isaiah 2:4 The instinct to fight may be innate in human nature, but war—organized violence—comes with organized society. War has shaped humanity’s history, its social and po…
 
In her new book Typical Girls: The Rhetoric of Womanhood in Comic Strips (Ohio State Press, 2021) Susan Kirtley examines female-created comics that were nationally syndicated starting in the late 1970s-2010. Kirtley uncovers the understudied and developing history of these strips, defining and exploring the ramifications of this expression of women…
 
What can debt reveal to us about coloniality and its undoing? In Colonial Debts: The Case of Puerto Rico (Duke University Press, 2021), Rocío Zambrana theorizes the way debt has been used as a technique of neoliberal coloniality in Puerto Rico, producing profit from death on the island. With close attention to the material practices of protestors w…
 
World War II endures in the popular imagination as a heroic struggle between good and evil, with villainous Hitler driving its events. But Hitler was not in power when the conflict erupted in Asia—and he was certainly dead before it ended. His armies did not fight in multiple theaters, his empire did not span the Eurasian continent, and he did not …
 
Heterosexuality is in crisis. Reports of sexual harassment, misconduct, and rape saturate the news in the era of #MeToo. Straight men and women spend thousands of dollars every day on relationship coaches, seduction boot camps, and couple’s therapy in a search for happiness. In The Tragedy of Heterosexuality (NYU Press, 2020), Jane Ward smartly exp…
 
Listen to this interview of William Tierney, University Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. We talk about his book Get Real: 49 Challenges Confronting Higher Education (SUNY, 2020), about what people really believe when it comes to higher education, and also a…
 
The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America (Reaktion Books, 2020) is a beautifully written and groundbreaking historical study of homemade, handmade and amateur pornographic artifacts. Covering everything from erotic scrimshaw to amateur videos on the web, Lisa Sigel offers a fascinating account of what ordinary people thought …
 
In Rebirthing a Nation: White Women, Identity Politics, and the Internet (U Mississippi Press, 2021), author Wendy K. Z. Anderson details how white nationalist and alt-right women refine racist rhetoric and web design as a means of protection and simultaneous instantiation of white supremacy, which conservative political actors including Sarah Pali…
 
Gospel music evolved in often surprising directions during the post-Civil Rights era. Claudrena N. Harold's in-depth look at late-century gospel, When Sunday Comes: Gospel Music in the Soul and Hip-Hop Eras (U Illinois Press, 2020), focuses on musicians like Yolanda Adams, Andraé Crouch, the Clark Sisters, Al Green, Take 6, and the Winans, and on t…
 
Many believe the solution to ongoing crises in the news industry — including profound financial instability and public distrust — is for journalists to improve connections to their audiences. Conversations about the proper relationship between the media and the public go back to Walter Lippmann and John Dewey and through the public journalism movem…
 
In an “other world” composed of language—it could be a fathomless Martian well, a labyrinthine hotel, or forest—a narrative unfolds, and with it the experiences, memories, and dreams that constitute reality for Haruki Murakami’s characters and readers. Memories and dreams in turn conjure their magical counterparts—people without names or pasts, fan…
 
We are here today with Manon Garcia, the author of We Are Not Born Submissive: How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives, published this year, 2021, by Princeton University Press. The book was originally published in 2018 by Climats as On ne naît pas soumise, on le devient. This book was a phenomenon and a runaway bestseller when released in France. We a…
 
The title of Edward Westermann's new book, Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany (Cornell University Press, published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2021), suggests that it is about the use of alcohol by perpetrators of the Holocaust. And it is. Westermann documents extensively how alcohol serv…
 
In his new book Why Should We Obey the Law? (Polity Press, 2018), George Klosko, the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, has provided an introduction to the competing theories behind why people should obey the law. What Klosko refers to as “political obligations” exist in all societies, but he seeks to re…
 
Why do many startups fail? Tom Eisenmann, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School realised that even he didn’t really know the answer, despite a lifetime teaching entrepreneurship, and decided to write a book to answer exactly that question. You can hear him go into detail on the NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership Channel intervie…
 
In recent years Americans have experienced a range of assaults upon the truth. In The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth (Brookings Institution Press, 2021), Jonathan Rauch describes the various ways in which our understanding of truth has come under attack, and the mechanisms that exist to fight back. As Rauch explains, the challenge of…
 
In recent years the phrase “revisionist history” has emerged as a label for politically-correct reexaminations of an unalterable understanding of our past. As James M. Banner, Jr. demonstrates in his book The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History Is Revisionist History (Yale UP, 2021), such a definition ignores how historical knowledge in the West ha…
 
The predominantly secular focus of socialism can often obscure the parts of its ideology that reflect the elements it inherited from Western religious thinking. In Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History (Lexington Books, 2021), Andrei Znamenski shows how this religious inheritance created elements within it that were closer in form t…
 
Eve Rosen's The Voucher Promise: 'Section 8' and the Fate of an American Neighborhood (Princeton UP, 2020) examines the Housing Voucher Choice Program, colloquially known as "Section 8," and the effect of the program on low-income families living in Park Heights in Baltimore. In a new era of housing policy that hopes to solve poverty with opportuni…
 
According to an intuitive view, those who commit crimes are justifiably subject to punishment. Depending on the severity of the wrongdoing constitutive of the crime, punishment can be severe: incarceration, confinement, depravation, and so on. The common thought is that in committing serious crimes, persons render themselves deserving of punishment…
 
To many mathematicians and math enthusiasts, the word "innumeracy" brings to mind popular writing like that of John Allen Paulos. But inequities in our quantitative reasoning skills have received considerable interest and attention from researchers lately, including in psychology, development, education, and public health. Innumeracy in the Wild: M…
 
Why do I feel bad? There is real power in understanding our bad feelings. With his classic Why We Get Sick, Dr. Randolph Nesse helped to establish the field of evolutionary medicine. Now he returns with Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry (Dutton, 2019), a book that transforms our understanding of me…
 
Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life (Wayne State University Press, 2020), by Zev Eleff, challenges the current historical paradigm in the study of Orthodox Judaism and other tradition-bound faith communities in the United States. Paying attention to "lived religion," the book moves beyond sermons and synagogues and exam…
 
Linda Colley is a luminary in the fields of British and imperial history, and the Shelby M. C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University. Her captivating new book The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World (Liveright, 2021) narrates a sweeping global history of written constitutions from…
 
Freedom of choice lies at the heart of American society. Every day, individuals decide what to eat, which doctors to see, who to connect with online, and where to educate their children. Yet, many Americans don't realize that these choices are illusory at best. By the start of the 21st century, every major industrial sector in the global economy wa…
 
The English Reformation started in the middle of the sixteenth century, and right away there were more zealous reformers who were not satisfied with the changes made in the English church. These "hotter sort of Protestants" kept trying to conform English to the pattern of Reformed churches in continental Europe. In a fast-paced introductory volume,…
 
What are digital inequalities? In The Digital Disconnect: The Social Causes and Consequences of Digital Inequalities (Sage, 2021), Ellen Helsper, a Professor of Digital Inequalities in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, explores the unequal nature of our now digital world. The book introduces the correspon…
 
Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United State…
 
Vaudeville is one of the most famous styles of theater in American history, a font of showbiz legend and the training ground for a generation of stars. It’s also one of the least studied. In his new book, Vaudeville and the Making of Modern Entertainment, 1890-1925 (UNC Press, 2020), Professor David Monod examines Vaudeville as both a cultural form…
 
Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Princeton UP, 2020) by Matthew Clair is a powerful ethnographic study of the experiences and perspectives of criminal defendants. While many studies have demonstrated the existence of race and class disparities in the criminal justice system, Clair conducted a rare and compellin…
 
The inside story of the world's most famous board game-a buried piece of American history with an epic scandal that continues today. The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game (Bloomsbury, 2015) reveals the unknown story of how Monopoly came into existence, the reinvention of its history by Parker Broth…
 
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