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Edward E. BaptistThe Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

September 8, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in American Studies] An unflinching examination of the trauma, violence, opportunism, and vision that combined to create the empire for slavery that was the Old South, Ed Baptist‘s new book The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Basic Books, 2014) challenges popular conceptions of that region that imagine it as [...]

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John TreschThe Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon

September 5, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] John Tresch’s beautiful new book charts a series of transformations that collectively ushered in a new cosmology in the Paris of the early-mid nineteenth century. The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon  (University of Chicago Press, 2012) narrates the emergence of a new image of the machine, a [...]

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Ovamir AnjumPolitics, Law, and Community in Islamic Thought: The Taymiyyan Moment

August 22, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Islamic Studies] In Politics, Law, and Community in Islamic Thought: The Taymiyyan Moment (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Ovamir Anjum explores a timely topic, even though his focus is hundreds of years in the past. In order to present his topic Professor Anjum asks a series of foundational questions, such as: How have Muslims understood ideal government [...]

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David B. DennisInhumanities: Nazi Interpretations of Western Culture

August 8, 2014

I occasionally teach Western Civilization and you may have taken it in college. We all know the drill: Greeks-Romans-Dark Ages-Middle Ages-Renaissance-Reformation-Scientific Revolution-Enlightenment-Romanticism-Modernity. Or something like that. I teach Western Civilization as a “march of ideas”: Reason, Beauty, Freedom, Equality, Justice (caps intended) and the like. This way of telling the tale is sort of Whiggish, [...]

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David N. LivingstoneDealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution

August 6, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] David N. Livingstone’s new book traces the processes by which communities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that shared the same Scottish Calvinist heritage engaged with Darwin and Darwinians in different local contexts. Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) locates [...]

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Toby GreenThe Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589

July 30, 2014

Slavery was pervasive in the Ancient World: you can find it in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In Late Antiquity , however, slavery went into decline. It survived and even flourished in the Byzantine Empire and Muslim lands, yet it all but disappeared in Medieval Western and Central Europe. Then, rather suddenly, slavery reappeared in [...]

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Andrew DemshukThe Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory, 1945-1970

July 23, 2014

At the close of the Second World War, the Allies expelled several million Germans from the eastern portion of the former Reich. Thanks to the work of many historians, we know quite a bit about Allied planning for the expulsion, when and how it took place, and the multitude of deaths that occurred as a [...]

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Abigail PerkissMaking Good Neighbors: Civil Rights, Liberalism and Integration in Postwar Philadelphia

July 16, 2014

Sitting in my home office this morning, I’ve periodically looked up from my computer screen and out the window to see who the dog is barking at. Sometimes it’s a young mother pushing a stroller, sometimes an older man walking his dogs, occasionally a young woman jogging. Regardless of age, gender or agenda, all of [...]

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Edmund LevinA Child of Christian Blood: Murder and Conspiracy in Tsarist Russia: The Beilis Blood Libel

July 13, 2014

There is a lot of nasty mythology about Jews, but surely the most heinous and ridiculous is the bizarre notion that “they” (as if Jews were all the same) have long been in the habit of murdering Christian children, draining them of blood, and mixing said blood into Passover matzo. We know when and where [...]

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Lisa GitelmanPaper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents

July 9, 2014

“One doesn’t so much read a death certificate, it would seem, as perform calisthenics on one…” From the first, prefatory page of Lisa Gitelman’s new book, the reader is introduced to a way of thinking about documents as tools for creating bodily experience, and as material objects situated within hierarchies and relationships of labor. Working beautifully at [...]

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