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Wensheng WangWhite Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire

June 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Wensheng Wang’s new book takes us into a key turning point in the history of the Qing empire, the Qianlong-Jiaqing reign periods. In White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire (Harvard University Press, 2014), Wang re-evaluates how we understand this crucial period in [...]

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J. Matthias DetermannHistoriography in Saudi Arabia: Globalization and the State in the Middle East

June 20, 2014

Saudi Arabia is, for most Westerners, a mysterious place. It’s home to one of the most conservative forms of Islam around and ruled by one of the least democratic regimes in the world.  Yet it’s a great friend of the liberal, democratic Western powers, the United States in particular. That’s odd.  As Jörg Matthias Determann shows in [...]

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Elizabeth LunbeckThe Americanization of Narcissism

June 20, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] “It is a commonplace of social criticism that America has become, over the past half century or so, a nation of narcissists.” From this opening, Elizabeth Lunbeck’s new book proceeds to offer a fascinating narrative of how this came to be, exploring the entwined histories of narcissism, psychoanalysis, and [...]

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Omar Valerio-JiménezRiver of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands

June 12, 2014

Historically speaking, who you were depended on who your rulers were and the ethnic identity (including language, religion, and folkways) of “your” people. In the era of nation-states–that is, our era–these two characteristics have, for most people, been fused. Ethnic Germans live in Germany, ethnic Chinese live in China, ethnic Egyptians live in Egypt. The [...]

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David WilliamsI Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

June 5, 2014

Lincoln was very clear–at least in public–that the Civil War was not fought over slavery: it was, he said, for the preservation of the Union first and foremost. So it’s not surprising that when the conflict started he had no firm plan to emancipate the slaves in the borderland or Southern states. He also knew [...]

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Stephen R. PlattAutumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War

June 3, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Stephen R. Platt’s new book is a beautifully written and intricately textured account of the bloodiest civil war of all time. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War (Vintage Books, 2012) is a deeply international history of the Taiping Civil [...]

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Jace WeaverThe Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

June 3, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Native American Studies] For all the incisive work published in Native American and Indigenous studies over the past decades, troubling historical myths still circulate in both academic and popular discourse. One of the most persistent is how we tell the story of the Atlantic world as a set of unidirectional processes dominated [...]

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Geoffrey WawroA Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

May 27, 2014

When I was in graduate school, those of us who studied World War One commented regularly on the degree to which historians concentrated their attention on the Western front at the expense of the other aspects of the war. In the years since then (I won’t say how many), historians have worked hard to remedy [...]

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Marwa ElshakryReading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950

May 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] The work of Charles Darwin, together with the writing of associated scholars of society and its organs and organisms, had a particularly global reach in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Marwa Elshakry’s new book offers a fascinating window into the ways that this work was read and [...]

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Paula A. MichaelsLamaze: An International History

May 16, 2014

The twentieth-century West witnessed a revolution in childbirth. Before that time, most women gave birth at home and were attended by family members and midwives. The process was usually terribly painful for the mother. Beginning in the nineteenth century, however, doctors started to “medicalize” childbirth. Physicians began to think of ways to ease the pain of childbirth. [...]

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