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Todd H. WeirSecularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany: The Rise of the Fourth Confession

December 1, 2014

If you look up the word “secular” in just about about any English-language dictionary, you’ll find that the word denotes, among other things, something that is not religious. This “not-religious-ness” would seem to be the modern essence of the word. If a government is secular, it can’t be religious. If a court is secular, it [...]

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Brian PurnellFighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn

November 25, 2014

Scholars interested in the history of the civil rights movement in the North will definitely be interested in Brian Purnell‘s new book, Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn (University Press of Kentucky, 2014). This case study of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Brooklyn joins one of the fastest-growing [...]

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Edward Ross DickinsonSex, Freedom and Power in Imperial Germany 1880-1914

November 19, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Intellectual History]  In this interview with historian Edward Ross Dickinson we talk about sex. Well, actually we talk about the talk about sex. Since Michel Foucault’s epochal work History of Sexuality (1976) how moderns talked about sex has been a central concern of cultural and intellectual historians. Foucault linked a number of nineteenth-century phenomena, such [...]

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Steven ConnAmericans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century

November 12, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Urban Studies] Americans have a paradoxical relationship with cities, Steven Conn argues in his new book, Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2014).  Nearly three-quarters of the population lives near an urban center, the result of a centuries-old, global trend that reflects not just industrialization but the role cities [...]

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Kirsten WeldPaper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala

November 6, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Latin American Studies] Kirsten Weld‘s book Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala (Duke University Press, 2014) tells the story of the 2005 discovery of a vast police archive in Guatemala. Officials had long denied that it existed, and for good reason, because it documented years of kidnapping and murder under the auspices of [...]

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Terry GolwayMachine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics

October 31, 2014

For most Americans, Tammany Hall is a symbol of all that was dishonest, corrupt, illiberal, and venal about urban government and the political machines that ran it in the past, a shorthand for larceny on a grand scale. Not so, says Terry Golway. In his new book Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of [...]

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Thierry CruvellierThe Master of Confessions: The Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer

October 31, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] What is justice for a man who supervised the interrogation and killing of thousands?  Especially a man who now claims to be a Christian and to be, at least in some ways and cases, repentant for his crimes? Thierry Cruvellier has written a fascinating book about the trial of ‘Duch’ [...]

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Kenneth Brashier Public Memory in Early China

October 29, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asia Studies] Ken Brashier’s new book is another tour de force and must-read for scholars of Chinese studies. Public Memory in Early China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2014) offers a history of identity and public memory in early China. An extensive introductory chapter lays a foundation for the rest of the book by [...]

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Mason B. WilliamsCity of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York

October 23, 2014

“Today, many New Yorkers take the FDR to get to La Guardia,” Mason B. Williams jokes in the opening line of his new book City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York (W.W. Norton, 2013) . And, depending on where they start, they pass any number of vital, iconic features in Gotham’s landscape [...]

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Melvin ElyIsrael on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War

October 21, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Law] In Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War (Vintage Books, 2004), Melvin Ely uses a trove of documents primarily found in the county court records of Prince Edward County, Virginia to unravel a rich story about the free blacks who inhabited “the gentle slope of [...]

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