Sunday, June 30, 2013

Andrew C. Isenberg's "Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life"

Andrew C. Isenberg is the author of Mining California: An Ecological History and The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750–1920 and the editor of The Nature of Cities: Culture, Landscape, and Urban Space. He is a historian at Temple University and lives in Penn Valley, PA.

Isenberg applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life describes faro, the most popular card game in the nineteenth-century West. The book devotes attention to the game because Earp was an accomplished gambler who made his living primarily as a faro dealer. To understand Earp, one must understand the culture of faro in the nineteenth-century West.

The rules of faro are simple: players bet on one or more of the thirteen face cards in a standard deck, and the dealer turns over pairs or cards: “winners” which pay players who have bet on that card, and “losers” which pay the dealer if a player has bet on that card. At the end of play, when there are three cards left in the deck--note the resemblance to three-card monte--the players bet on the order in which the three cards will appear.

The odds only barely favor the dealer, which is why a faro dealer was, almost by definition, a card cheat. Faro players understood that dealers were palming cards, and part of the challenge for a player was to outsmart (or out-cheat) the dealer.

Faro offers a window into Wyatt Earp’s personality. A faro dealer cultivated an air of detachment. The poise and coolness that contemporaries saw in Earp was, in many respects, a trait he developed at the gaming tables.

The boundary between faro dealer and confidence man was blurry. Like dealers of three-card-monte, faro dealers often worked with an accomplice posing as a player who would amble up to the table, place a few bets, win easily, and draw real players to the table. In the 1870s and 1880s, Earp, working with accomplices, sold rocks painted yellow as gold. In 1896, he was involved in fixing a heavyweight championship prizefight in San Francisco. Earp never reformed: in 1911, he was arrested by the Los Angeles police bunco squad for running a crooked faro game.

The law-breaking for which Earp is best known was his so-called “vigilante ride” in 1882, in which he killed some of the men he held responsible for the murder of his brother, Morgan. Earp justified the killings by claiming that the murderers would never have been brought to justice in Arizona’s corrupt courtrooms--a claim that is hard to dispute. But the vigilante killings were also the acts of a gambler and con man accustomed to living by his own rules.
Learn more about Wyatt Earp at the Hill and Wang website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Barbara Sahakian & Jamie Nicole LaBuzetta's "Bad Moves"

Barbara J. Sahakian is a world-renowned researcher in the fields of neurology and psychiatry, and is currently based at University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology. She is co-inventor of the CANTAB computerised neuropsychological tests, which are in use world-wide. She is probably best known for her research work on cognition and depression, cognitive enhancement using pharmacological treatments, neuroethics and early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

Jamie Nicole LaBuzetta received her medical degree from UCSD, and is currently in the midst of her residency training at the Harvard-affiliated hospitals in Boston, USA. She is a neurology resident at the Partners program (Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's, two of the Harvard-affiliated hospitals). Her current academic interests are in neurocritical care and neuroethics, and she was recently co-author of an article discussing ethical issues involved in consenting vulnerable patients for neuroscientific research.

Sahakian applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Bad Moves: How decision making goes wrong, and the ethics of smart drugs, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Bad Moves finds us in the midst of discussing the benefits of using modafinil in healthy individuals. This captures a key issue in this book – should such ‘smart drugs’ be used by individuals who do not have neuropsychiatric disorders or brain injury? Modafinil is a ‘wakefulness-promoting agent’ for the treatment of “fatigue associated with narcolepsy, sleep apnoea, and shift-work sleep disorder”. Unlike traditional stimulants (e.g. methylphenidate or Ritalin), modafinil does not have demonstrable abuse potential which opens up the possibility of its widespread use by healthy individuals. The risk-benefit considerations may seem favourable for healthy individuals, although as yet no long term studies on the use of modafinil in healthy people have been conducted. On page 99, we see that modafinil improves decision-making and task enjoyment in healthy individuals as well as memory and attention in younger volunteers and spatial manipulation and mental flexibility in older volunteers. However, to fully understand the implications of having such ‘smart drugs’, we need to place it within the general framework of decision-making, which brings us back to the first few chapters. Decision-making can be purely rational, or ‘cold’, for example when choosing what ingredients to buy for supper. There are also ‘hot’ decisions that “have an emotional component or may involve weighing rewards and punishments”, for example when deciding whether to continue seeing your current partner or accept a date with another person. These “pathways interact in ways that allow our rational selves to be influenced by our emotions and vice versa. This critical interaction is necessary for normal life.” In pathological conditions, however, the balance is disrupted resulting in poor decision-making which can cause detrimental effects on daily living and important life choices. For example, in bipolar disorder, patients in the manic phase experience extreme and persistent euphoria which may lead to risky and bizarre behaviour such as, in one case, investing all their life savings on aquatic equipment intended to keep fish alive forever. So, are there drugs which can improve decision-making and cognition in neuropsychiatric disorders? Yes, there are and modafinil is one of them; for example, modafinil helps people with ADHD improve their performance on ‘cold’ decision-making tasks and enhances their ability to inhibit impulsive, unwanted behaviour. Back on page 99, we also explore the idea that the cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil might “have something to do with its primary function as a treatment for sleep disorders. Sleep is, after all, probably the most dramatic cognitive enhancer we know of.” But in cases where sleeping is a luxury and mental alertness is crucial, such as in sleep-deprived doctors or the military, modafinil and other ‘smart drugs’ might help to improve performance and reduce fatal errors. But why stop there? Perhaps drugs like modafinil can be used to improve cognition and performance in the general population as well, including the elderly. However, we need to stop and consider what the consequences will be if these drugs are readily available. Is it unfair, will people be coerced into using these drugs, and will we become a 24/7 society? These are crucial neuroethical issues that need to be discussed and we “require a well-informed and engaged public to participate in and shape the debate”.
Learn more about Bad Moves at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mark P. Witton's "Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy"

Mark P. Witton is a paleontologist in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. He has served as a technical consultant for Walking with Dinosaurs 3D and many other film and television productions. His illustrations of pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and other prehistoric creatures have appeared in numerous publications, including Science and newspapers around the world.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy, and reported the following:
From page 99:
So far as can be seen, the first pterosaurs share a suite of features that are documented, along with the rest of their anatomy, by Owen (1870), Wild (1978, 1984b), Padian (1983b), Unwin (1988b), and Dalla Vecchia (1998). They are generally small, with wingspans of 0.5 m in Preondactylus, 0.6 m in Peteinosaurus, and 1.3 m Dimorphodon. They do not have the outlandish proportions seen in other pterosaurs with heads, necks, and forelimbs that are large, but not so much to make their bodies and legs look tiny. Their skulls are rather deep and perforated with large fenestrae so that, despite their size (the skull of Dimorphodon is about 20 cm long), they were probably quite lightweight. The only known skull of Preondactylus is somewhat crushed and its exact shape cannot be determined, but it is often reconstructed with a rather shallow snout (e.g., Wellnhofer 1991a; Dalla Vecchia 1998). This may not be accurate however, as the length of the bony strut between its antorbital fenestra and nasal opening dictates that it must have had a deeper snout than is typically reconstructed (Fig. 10.3; Unwin 2003). The skulls of these pterosaurs are generally unornamented, but Dimorphodon does bear a slight keel along the front part of its lower jaw. Dimorphodon also possesses an external mandibular fenestra, an archosauriform trait retained from pterosaur ancestry that was lost in later pterosaurs (Nesbitt and Hone 2010). Sadly, the remains of other early pterosaurs are too poorly preserved determine if they bore the same feature.
OK, page 99 is a bad place to walk in. That text looks quite horrid in places, with nasty Latin words and lots of dry anatomical description. It’s not all like this. Honest.

Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy is a popular science book dedicated to pterosaurs, the extinct flying reptiles that shared the world with dinosaurs millions of years ago. Pterosaurs are awesome creatures. They were the first backboned animals to develop powered flight, comprise at least 130 funky looking species and, towards the end of their 160 million year evolutionary history, attained the proportions of giraffes while still being able to fly.

With accolades like that, it’s hard to write about pterosaurs in dry terms for long. Page 99 describes the anatomy of some of the oldest and most ‘primitive’ pterosaurs currently known, alongside a skeletal diagram and life restoration of one early species, Dimorphodon macronyx. The descriptive text here serves as a primer so we can discuss the locomotion, lifestyles and evolutionary significance of these animals in greater depth elsewhere, discussions of which comprise the majority of the text. Those ferocious-looking words won’t be a problem for readers this far in, either, as the language in Pterosaurs is as straightforward as possible with jargon minimised, but clearly explained when unavoidable. Pterosaurs was penned with enthusiasts of natural history and palaeontology in mind, not academics.

Pterosaurs does a lot more than just looking at specific pterosaur species however. All aspects of pterosaur palaeontology are touched on with introductory chapters covering pterosaur discovery and biology, their evolutionary origins, general anatomy, how they walked and flew, and the basics of their reproduction, growth and habits. Section two, including page 99, breaks pterosaurs up into 16 distinct groups and discusses the history of discovery, anatomy and lifestyles of each lineage. The final section looks at why pterosaurs met their demise 65 million years ago. The text is complemented with over 200 images of pterosaur fossils, numerous original paintings of pterosaurs in life and diagrams of their fossils and anatomy.

Over 500 pterosaur research papers are cited in the text and listed for extensive follow-up reading should readers want to take their knowledge further. My hope is that a number of readers will do just that because, if I’ve done my job right, this book will make pterosaurs as interesting for them as they are for me.
Learn more about the book and author at Mark P. Witton's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"The Vulnerable in International Society"

Ian Clark, currently E. H. Carr Professor of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, was educated at the University of Glasgow and at the Australian National University. He taught at Cambridge University from 1984 until his move to Aberystwyth in 1998. He held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship 2002-4 and an ESRC Professorial Fellowship 2007-10. During 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He has published many books and his most recent project has been a multi-volume study of international legitimacy: Legitimacy in International Society; International Legitimacy and World Society; and Hegemony in International Society. He is a co-author of Special Responsibilities: Global Problems and American Power. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Founding Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, and an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Clark applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Vulnerable in International Society, and reported the following:
What makes people vulnerable? Just exactly what do combatants, small island states, refugees, and those in danger of contracting a tropical disease share in common? Page 99 of my book discusses people made vulnerable because of their movement, and reports as follows specifically about refugees: ‘there is a striking mal-distribution in the sharing of the refugee burden, and seemingly no good fit between the location of the refugees and those with the resources best placed to assist them. Some 90 per cent of the world’s refugees find themselves hosted by the poorest states’. Moreover, ‘people in flight are now subject to a range of practices that leave refugees vulnerable to decisions about which category is to apply.’

This brings out two key points about the vulnerabilities associated with movement. First, where you end up physically is largely hostage to international decisions and agreements. Secondly, how much protection you are afforded depends upon which category you are placed into (refugee, internally displaced, illegal migrant). In short, the precise nature of your individual vulnerability results from the application of general international rules and norms. What is demonstrably true of human movement applies equally with respect to political violence, responses to climate change, and the governance of global health. While it might seem at first glance that people are exposed to the ‘natural’ risks that apply in those contexts, this misses the crucial point that the degree of exposure is already ‘socially’ determined by the international regimes that distribute those resulting risks.

The application, or non-application, of the category of refugee is thus crucial to subsequent life chances for the person in flight. In the same way, the extent of the protection afforded in warfare (but not necessarily in other forms of political violence) depends critically on the application of the categories of combatant and non-combatant. While small island states are exposed to the risks of sea-level rise, they are more deeply exposed to the decisions or non-decisions of international society about the appropriate regime for managing climate change. Meanwhile, vulnerability to specific diseases is largely determined by historical neglect by international regimes of diseases that are geographically confined, and of little concern to international regulatory structures. The vulnerable are as we make them.
Learn more about The Vulnerable in International Society at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chiara Lepora and Robert E. Goodin's "On Complicity & Compromise"

Chiara Lepora, who trained as a medical practitioner at the Universities of Pavia and Lisbon and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has worked with Medecins sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in various capacities across Africa and the Middle East. She currently works with (MSF) as Programme Manager responsible for operations across the Middle East.

Bob Goodin is a political philosopher with appointments in both the Department of Government at the University of Essex and the School of Philosophy at Australian National University. He is founding editor of The Journal of Political Philosophy, coeditor of the British Journal of Political Science and General Editor of the eleven-volume Oxford Handbooks of Political Science. A Fellow of the British Academy, he has given the Dewey Lecture at the University of Chicago Law School, the Edmund Burke Lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, and the Lee Lecture at All Souls College, Oxford. His coauthored book Discretionary Time won the Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research.

Goodin applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, On Complicity and Compromise, and reported the following:
By page 99 [below left, click to enlarge] you're already in it up to your eyeballs. Complicity is like that. One little compromise, then another. Before you know it you're sucked in, contributing way more than you really want to the nefarious projects of someone else – rationalizing it saying that was the only way that you could successfully pursue some genuinely worthy project of your own.

Dr Chiara Lepora knows more about this than most. She had participated in many humanitarian missions with Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders across Africa, the Middle East and beyond. She had grown increasingly wary of the compromises and complicity with the wrongdoing of others that was required to deliver medical services to populations in desperate need, and took some time off to search for some framework that would help her determine 'how much was too much'. At the Bioethics Department of the National Institutes of Health she began working up with me, political philosopher Bob Goodin, on these topics.

But it was not a question for which any 'off the shelf' answer was readily available. Most academic work on complicity (like that that page 99 begins to criticize) comes from lawyers concerned with criminal complicity, bad guys cooperating with bad guys and sharing their intentions to do something bad. A broader framework (such as that page 99 begins to sketch) is required to cover cases of good guys doing things that they know will further the evil purposes they do not share, because that is the only way to pursue good purposes of their own. It would be wrong to deny that they have thereby contributed to some bad, but it would be equally wrong to deny that their doing so was justified by the greater good that they thereby achieved.

That's the general idea, onto which page 99 provides a perfect window. Of course there are all different kinds of compromise and complicity, some much worse than others. And there are all sorts of counterintuitive conclusions in store (like: 'Why shouldn't a physician treat a patient who's being tortured, if the patient really wants her to, even knowing that the sooner his wounds are healed the sooner they will torture him again? Who does the physician work for, if not her patient?').

But for all that, of course, you'll have to read the book.
Learn more about On Complicity and Compromise at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted”

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, O, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March 2013.

Armstrong applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, and reported the following:
As it turns out, I love this exercise as applied to my book. My page 99 is my book in a nutshell, and with a few minor tweaks could be the back-cover copy.

When I first opened my book to page 99, I thought I would give up entirely, as it’s the end of a chapter and mostly blank. It has exactly one paragraph of text. But this is that paragraph:
She and the other new Mary Tyler Moore writers — recruited via friends of friends, lured from off-Broadway, snatched from the male-dominated writing staffs like those Treva Silverman had endured — would make Mary one of the most authentic, and emulated, female characters to ever hit television. Getting to that point, however, wouldn’t be any easier than it had been to get the show on the air to begin with.
With that, I barely know what else to tell you, except that the “she” here is one of The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s first female writers, Susan Silver, hired shortly after Treva Silverman, who’s mentioned here. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is, as its subtitle says, about the making of a classic sitcom, but a huge part of that success comes from the women behind the scenes, the ones many have never heard of before.

My main mission when I set out to write the book was to find the “real Mary Richards,” that unapologetically single, independent career woman Moore played in this seminal show. That character inspired millions of young women who are now working today, living their lives happily without men or without kids, and often making great comedy. (Hi, Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus!) I wanted to know where Mary came from, and what I found was that though she sprung initially from the imaginations of the show’s creators, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, she got a big assist from the women they hired to help write her.

The show had more female writers than any shows before it (and many shows that came after it) because of Brooks’ and Burns’ commitment to authenticity. They wanted to know what it was like to be a young and/or single woman in the ‘70s, down to the smallest details — makeup routines, clothes-swapping with your best friend, the horrors of being a bridesmaid. This led them to mentor a few dozen young women just entering TV production as the women’s movement took hold, and those women went on to write many sitcoms, run production companies, and mentor other young women.

Those were the real Mary Richardses, and this page is a window into their stories.
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kate Bowler's "Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel"

Kate Bowler is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in the United States at Duke Divinity School.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, and reported the following:
By page 99 this book finally starts addressing what readers assume the prosperity gospel is all about: money. Until that point, I have been trying to convince readers that the many tangled threads that make up this movement are better thought of as developing ideas about how the mind works. Do your thoughts have power? What is the relationship between your spiritual thoughts (your faith) and your circumstances? I show how very different groups of people, from touring mesmerists to Holy Ghost prophets to business literature gurus, have been promoting various prosperity gospels that trace benefits in health and wealth to a person’s thoughts. But now this thing I’m calling the prosperity gospel comes out of the post-WWII economic bump and a group of pentecostal preachers who argue that faith can produce spiritual as well as financial rewards.

On page 99, I show how these financial promises are starting to get really specific.
Automobiles were marked as heaven-sent with vanity plates boasting PRAYED 4, BLESSED, 100 FOLD, and LUKE 12:31 (“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you”).

The “hundredfold blessing” served as the most common calculus of God’s “money-back guarantee.” It was often said that God rewarded givers a hundred times their original donation. Gloria Copeland, a famous evangelist in her own right, calculated the returns: “You give $1 for the Gospel’s sake and $100 belongs to you; give $10 and receive $1000; give $1000 and receive $100,000.... Give one airplane and receive one hundred times the value of the airplane. Give one car and the return would furnish you a lifetime of cars. In short, Mark 10:30 is a very good deal.”
The world became a treasure-trove for the faithful, who just needed to find the key to God’s bank. I argue that these promises became more and more abstract—less tied to money earned and more about money you could earn—with the gross inflation of the 1970s and its corresponding invention of credit cards. Preachers started to encourage their followers to give money in order to receive, rather than donate money they had in their pockets. Though the prosperity gospel certainly has robust theological categories that make it so satisfying to insiders, page 99 shows that even preachers are sensitive to the changing economic mood.
Follow Kate Bowler on Twitter, and learn more about Blessed at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Anna L. Peterson's "Being Animal"

Anna L. Peterson teaches at the University of Florida. Her research focuses on environmental and social ethics and the relations between animal ethics and animal advocacy. Her books include Being Human: Ethics, Environment, and Our Place in the World and Everyday Ethics and Social Change: The Education of Desire.

Peterson applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Being Animal: Beasts and Boundaries in Nature Ethics, and reported the following:
Page 99 is in Chapter 5, on Domesticated Animals. I did not initially expect to spend a whole chapter on domestic animals. I first conceived of this as a book about the place of animals in environmental ethics, without thinking too much about different kinds of animals. However, I quickly realized that the dichotomy between wild and domesticated animals was crucial to environmental philosophers and, more surprisingly, to some animal ethicists as well.

The top of page 99 winds up a discussion of environmentalist exceptions to animal agriculture, especially in industrial forms, and then moves to the ecological impact of other domestic and feral animals, especially feral or free-roaming cats. Feral cats are a very hot topic in both wildlife ecology and animal welfare. Ecologists believe that the cats do enormous damage to native wildlife, especially songbirds and want lethal methods of control, while many animal welfare groups support “trap-neuter-return” (TNR) programs that attempt to reduce population growth while leaving the cats mostly alone. Here’s how I summed it up:
The debate about feral cats sheds light on larger conflicts between animal advocates and environmentalists, in part because it requires a hierarchy of value that determines whether cats or birds shall live. Perhaps even more revealing is the way in which TNR, in attempting ‘to define a place that is neither tame nor fully wild for cats in communities,’ muddies the all-important line between wildness and domesticity. It is hard to know how to value, let alone how to treat, animals that do not fit neatly into a single category.
The dilemma of feral cats crystallizes the poignant reality of domesticated animals:
The marginal status of domesticated nonhumans seems to ensure the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, domestic animals do not deserve protection as integral parts of native ecosystems because they are part of human society rather than wild nature. On the other hand, because they are not human, domestic animals are not protected within human society.
I followed with a quote from Holmes Rolston, a prominent environmental philosopher, who wrote that there is little “value destruction” when a sheep is killed because “they have been bred for this purpose.” Ouch. The “bred for this purpose” argument is almost painful to read, but many other environmental thinkers place domesticated animals in a completely different category than wild ones. What matters is not the creatures’ own capacities but their place in a larger natural or social whole.

Page 99 gets at what started me thinking about these issues: the environmentalist view of animals as parts of wholes and the way it contrasts with animal advocates’ understanding of animals as individuals. And the page also hints at some of the conclusions I eventually reached about how the “boundary” place of animals, especially domesticated ones, creates both tragedy and possibility.
Learn more about Being Animal at the Columbia University Press website.

Writers Read: Anna L. Peterson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Celeste Montoya's "From Global to Grassroots"

Celeste Montoya is Assistant Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, From Global to Grassroots: The European Union, Transnational Advocacy, and Combating Violence against Women, and reported the following:
The central question of From Global to Grassroots is why, despite growing global rhetoric calling for its eradication, violence against women remains so pervasive. The disparities in policy and practice represent an ongoing dilemma in the pursuit of women’s human rights.

From page 99, which falls in the middle of a chapter that gives a historical overview of global and European efforts to address violence against women:
One of the most recent UN efforts to address violence against women comes from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. Launched in 2008, it is a multiyear program aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. It has five goals for its member states: (1) the adoption and enforcement of national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls; (2) adoption and implementation of multisectoral national action plans; (3) strengthening of data collections; (4) increased public awareness and social mobilization; and (5) addressing sexual violence in conflict. UNiTE is a coordinated effort among a number of UN offices and agencies. It includes a wide range of capacity-building efforts, such as providing resource support to local advocates for drafting policies, operating victim services, initiating public awareness and education campaigns, and training relevant legal and medical personnel. While the efficacy of this effort has yet to be fully assessed, it represents a concerted effort to keep violence against women on the international agenda and to build local capacity, both positive steps.
This paragraph picks up on several important themes in the book. It demonstrates global recognition of violence against women; the importance of not only adoption, but implementation and enforcement of policies; and the need for broad-ranging approaches. Furthermore, it emphasizes building local capacity as a key component to making meaningful reform.

This paragraph is somewhat unreflective of the book in that focuses on the UN instead of the EU. More importantly, this paragraph falls short in that it is only a description of UN rhetoric on the campaign. The rest of the book is committed to very painstakingly deconstructing and evaluating the various strategies undertaken by the EU to address violence against women. The book examines the ways in strategies are enacted and analyzes the real and potential impacts at the national and local level. In this paragraph, we do not know whether the UN campaign is one that is imposed from the top-down by the UN, or whether its construction and implementation has been an interactive process including advocates at the national and local level. One of the important findings of the book is that interactive and inclusive transnational processes are much more effective than top-down coercive methods that tend to be disconnected from the particular needs of local communities. This paragraph also does not speak to how violence against women is understood. Another important finding of the book is that violence against women can be understood in ways that are exclusionary or inclusionary. For example, violence against women in marginalized groups is often either ignored or pathologized. There has been an alarming trend in European anti-violence discourse in which the framings of the issue as widespread and rooted in gender inequality have increasingly been replaced by exclusionary framings that focus on certain “foreign” forms of violence. These framings do little to address the needs of marginalized women, instead exacerbating vulnerabilities rooted in institutionalized xenophobia and racism.

Violence against women is one of the most important societal issues to address and I hope that readers will take the time to learn more about it and strategies aimed at its eradication.
Learn more about From Global to Grassroots at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lisa-ann Gershwin's "Stung!"

Lisa-ann Gershwin is director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services. She was awarded a Fulbright in 1998 for her studies on jellyfish blooms and evolution, and since that time has discovered over 150 new species—including at least sixteen types of jellyfish that are highly dangerous, as well as a new species of dolphin—and has written for numerous scientific and popular publications.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, and reported the following:
Bummer. How sad that it’s not The Page 43 Test, where one of the worst cases of introduced species and jellyfish blooms in history weaves the stories of impacts and jellyfish. Or p111, from which the lesser-known implications of fishing are discussed as a powerful basis for ecosystem change. Or p161, where a vignette on the giant jellyfish wreaking havoc on Asian fishing grounds leads into the extremely serious problem of too much fertilizer in coastal waters. Or p232, where climate change is presented in plain English: not the politics of it, but the problems with warmer waters that are occurring now, regardless of whether one chooses to believe that it is natural or man-made. Or p288, with a poem about red tides and toxic algae (yeah, really!). Or p317, where the three primary effects of ocean acidification are discussed, along with how our uncontrolled global atmospheric CO2 experiment has gone terribly wrong. Or p334, where I quote from the big cheeses in different fields of marine and atmospheric research, on how bad things really are... not someday, but now.

In fact, p99 discusses how jellyfish are so damn good at taking over distressed ecosystems, which is only part of what the book is about. In a nutshell, Stung! is about disturbances and their unanticipated and unwanted consequences. Jellyfish are a visible indicator that something is out of balance, and are merely responding to environmental stimuli. Lucky them that we are causing more of the conditions in which they prosper: warmer water so they grow faster and breed more, fewer predators and competitors, plenty of fresh surfaces on which to settle ... lucky them!

But what about us? What if we don’t want collapsed fisheries and corrosive ocean waters and dead zones and mid-ocean garbage patches and toxic food? Bummer again, because these things are already happening around us, and it appears that we have passed a tipping point from which we can return. We now have to decide whether we want to keep hurtling down this same path – at breakneck speed toward a crummier way of life – or if there is value in slowing it so that our kids might have a better chance to salvage the ruins of our success. We have a choice.
Learn more about Stung! at the University of Chicago Press website, the Stinger Advisor webpage, and the Stung! Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Michael Shenefelt & Heidi White's "If A, Then B: How the World Discovered Logic"

Michael Shenefelt has a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University and began teaching logic after having worked previously as a newspaper reporter. He is the author of The Questions of Moral Philosophy.

Heidi White has a doctorate in philosophy from the New School for Social Research and a master's degree in the history of ideas from the University of Texas at Dallas. She teaches philosophy and intellectual history and is a former U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.

Both authors teach Great Books at New York University's Liberal Studies Program.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book,  If A, Then B: How the World Discovered Logic, and reported the following:
The classical Greeks were prone to relativism—just like us. Relativistic opinions are now common in the modern world, and page 99 [inset, below left] tells the story of how relativism first grew out of ancient trade. Relativism was particularly important to ancient logicians because the whole point of their studies was to show that logic is not relative. On the contrary, in their view, logic is objectively true. And it is objectively true in a very strange way.

Unlike truths of geography or physics, which tell us how things are, logic tells us how things could be or must be. Physics is about contingency, but logic is about possibility and
[pg 99: click to enlarge]
necessity. And logical truths seem to be independent of space, of time, and of passing human opinions. Logic isn’t like language, varying from culture to culture. Logic is like arithmetic—with objectively right and wrong answers. Just as the number seven has been prime to every culture that has ever defined prime numbers, so the most common methods of deductive reasoning have always been logically valid. Of course, not everyone sets forth a logician’s definition of validity in the first place, and not everyone pursues the idea to its further reaches. But those who reflect on it always arrive at the beginnings of the same abstract realm, a realm infinitely complicated yet implicit in much that we do—a realm of form, structure, and pattern discovered twenty-three centuries ago. And the nature of that discovery was strange, just as logic itself is strange.

For one thing, though everyone uses logic, not everyone studies it (just as, though most people walk, not everyone studies walking). Logic as a discipline begins only with the Greek philosopher Aristotle, and peculiar as it sounds, all modern studies of logic in the sense of deductive validity (meaning logical necessity) descend from his efforts. The deductive validity of argumentation was studied by later Greeks, by later Romans, by Arab physicians serving powerful caliphs in the tenth century A.D., and by medieval theologians working in various European universities. It is now studied by computer programmers the world over.

If the truths of logic are objective and culturally invariant, why does the study of logic show up only in particular times and places, like Greece in the fourth century B.C.? This is one of the questions we mean to answer as we trace logic’s history from ancient times to the present.
Learn more about the book and authors at the If A, Then B website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adam Rome's "The Genius of Earth Day"

Adam Rome teaches environmental history and environmental nonfiction at the University of Delaware. Before earning his Ph.D. in history, he worked for seven years as a journalist. His first book, The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism, won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the Lewis Mumford Prize.

Rome applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation, and reported the following:
The story of the first Earth Day turned out to be even more amazing than I expected. In September 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin promised to organize “a nationwide teach-in on the environment” in spring 1970, and his call to action ultimately inspired more than 12,000 Earth Day celebrations across the nation. Those events had a freshness and intensity that are difficult to imagine today.

Because Earth Day 1970 was unprecedented, the organizers had to plan everything from scratch, and the organizing work often was life-changing. Tens of thousands of people spoke on Earth Day – and many had never spoken publicly about environmental issues before. The discussions at Earth Day teach-ins sometimes were soul-searching: Many participants were struggling to get to the roots of “the environmental crisis.”

Earth Day truly made history. The events built a lasting eco-infrastructure – lobbying organizations, environmental-studies programs, environmental beats at newspapers, eco sections in bookstores, and community ecology centers. Thousands of organizers and participants decided to devote their lives to the environmental cause. Earth Day gave birth to the first green generation.

Page 99 is about two-thirds of the way into chapter 2, “Organizers.” That chapter is the heart of my book, because the organizing effort explains so much of the power of Gaylord Nelson’s idea. By page 99, I have explained how and why Nelson worked to make Earth Day happen. I also have profiled the twenty-something activists hired by Nelson to help coordinate the teach-in. On page 99, I am beginning to tell readers about the thousands of local organizers.

Many of the student organizers had no interest in the environment before 1970. “Some,” I write, “were campus activists who concluded that the new environmental movement was more likely to transform society than the antiwar movement. Earth Day appealed even more to idealistic students who were wary of extremism. Though they were not willing to get arrested or alienate their parents, they were keen to be involved in a cause. Who could doubt that stopping pollution was a noble mission? The respectability of the anti-pollution effort also inspired some student-government leaders to organize Earth Day events. As one explained, ‘We want to show the good side of students for a change.’”

That ends the first paragraph on page 99. After a paragraph about the professors who became Earth Day organizers, I start to explain the mechanics of the organizing effort. At most colleges and universities, “the planning process was ad hoc. Someone heard about Earth Day, talked about the event with friends or colleagues, and then called a public meeting for anyone interested in helping to save the world. The public meetings sometimes drew hundreds of people. The attendees became the Earth Day committee – or they formed a group with a more grandiose name.”

I was inspired by the story of the Earth Day organizers, and I hope you will be too.
Learn more about The Genius of Earth Day at the Hill and Wang website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Philip F. Napoli's "Bringing It All Back Home"

Philip F. Napoli is an assistant professor of history at Brooklyn College, where he also directs the Veterans Oral History Project. He was one of the chief researchers for Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and An Album of Memories.

Napoli applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Bringing It All Back Home: An Oral History of New York City's Vietnam Veterans, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Bringing It All Back Home is a representative slice of the entire work. The book is an oral history, based on 600 hours of interviews conducted between 2004 and 2010. It tells the stories of a wide range of New Yorkers who went to Vietnam and were profoundly transformed by the experience. Those events of more than 40 years ago continue to shape the way they understand the world around them today.

This page contains quotations from interviews, historical documentation that I have uncovered, and my interpretation of my interviews with Joan Furey, a nurse who served in Vietnam. Arriving as a young woman committed to the cause of anti-communism and believing in the American mission in Vietnam, by late fall she was opposed to the war.

Furey was stationed at a hospital in the central highlands of Vietnam. There the staff planned an antiwar protest – actually a Thanksgiving Day fast -- to attract public attention to G.I. opinion. Additionally, 141 soldiers, including members of the medical staff, signed a letter to President Nixon denouncing American involvement in the war. Furey was among them, and worried that her antiwar attitude and willingness to speak out publicly might lead to a court – martial. While that never happened, nevertheless, word of the fast and the letter to President Nixon spread. Patients would occasionally arrive and ask, "Is this the antiwar hospital?"

At a distance of 40 years, Furey is still proud of what she did. She spoke up publicly — and was even quoted on the front page of the New York Times and on the ABC television news broadcast – and made her views known to the entire nation. But she had to defend her actions to her parents. In a letter to her mother she explained that she participated because "I am a concerned American, because I love my country and I love my people and I do not wish to spend the rest of my life watching them destroy each other – in Vietnam, Africa Egypt, Israel and Nigeria and the United States.”

Oral histories explore the connection between the past and the present. On this page, Furey explicitly engages in the process of recollection and evaluation.
Learn more about Bringing It All Back Home at the publisher's website and Philip F. Napoli's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hugh Aldersey-Williams's "Anatomies"

Hugh Aldersey-Williams's books include Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements, which has been published in ten languages, and The Most Beautiful Molecule, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His new book is Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body.

Aldersey-Williams applied the “Page 99 Test” to Anatomies and reported the following:
On page 99, Sir Francis Galton makes one of his several appearances in Anatomies. Galton was a remarkable figure in Victorian science, a polymath, a ceaseless questioner, and a tireless collector of data and investigator. He once wrote a paper entitled ‘Notes on Ripples in Bathwater’, which gives you a pretty accurate idea of his mental restlessness. On another occasion, he found himself at an especially dull lecture, and thought he might try to derive a quantitative index of boredom by measuring the rate at which members of the audience were fidgeting.

Galton made numerous quantitative investigations of the human face and body, too. He sought to measure the beauty of Britain’s women in the following way: he cut out a cross in cardboard and mounted a pin on a thimble on his thumb. He could then go about the towns and cities of the country covertly measuring the pulchritudinal index: a beauty warranted a pinhole in the top part of the cross, an average-looking woman in the crossbar, and an ugly woman in the stock of the cross. This gave Galton an instant statistical snapshot for each town. (According to his results, Aberdeen women were the ugliest and Londoners the most beautiful.)

A more serious project involved the new technique of photography. He went round national institutions of various sorts – prisons, mental asylums, private schools – and photographed individuals there. Then, he layered the photos so that a composite was obtained which blurred out the differences and reinforced the common features of the people’s appearance. His aim, of course, was to distil the essence of, say, the ‘criminal look’. Although we recognize such a project as futile today, it perhaps has its dubious descendants among those who seek to use MRI scans to a similar end.

As for Galton, his legacy today is not so much the vast volumes of data he collected, or what these data ultimately told – which was frequently nothing – but the accompanying statistical methods that he had to devise in order to do all the necessary number-crunching.
Learn more about the book and author at Hugh Aldersey-Williams's website.

Writers Read: Hugh Aldersey-Williams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Donna Dickenson's "Me Medicine vs. We Medicine"

Donna Dickenson was born and educated in New England. After an appointment as associate in research at Yale University, she held professorships at several U.K. universities. She is now professor emerita of medical ethics at the University of London and research associate at the Centre for Health, Law, and Emerging Technologies at the University of Oxford. Her book Body Shopping: Converting Body Parts to Profit was called “essential reading” by The Lancet and “ambitious and thoughtful” by New Scientist. In 2006, Dickenson was awarded the prestigious International Spinoza Lens award for her contribution to public debate on ethics, becoming the first and only woman to win the prize.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Me Medicine vs. We Medicine: Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good, and reported the following:
Even in the highly individualized American medical system, influential advocates of “personalized medicine” claim that our healthcare just isn’t individualized enough. What I call “Me Medicine” ranges from personalized cancer therapy regimes—which can definitely do good in some cases—through highly speculative notions such as neurocognitive enhancement—creating the “best me I can possibly be”-- and on to one form of individualized care that can actually do harm.

If you opened Me Medicine at page 99, that’s the technique you’d find being discussed: private umbilical cord blood banking, where a portion of the blood that would normally flow from the placenta to the baby is diverted during delivery. Instead it’s stored—at a charge-- as a private “spare parts kit” for the child’s later use, if stem cell technologies ever get to that point. But that means that public cord blood banks, open to all regardless of ability to pay, lose out on that contribution—and the procedure may increase the risk of jaundice or anemia for the baby. It’s an emblematic example of the potential harms in individualized medicine.

In another way, however, page 99 isn’t at all typical of the wider sweep of the book’s argument: that we risk losing sight of the common good in biotechnology—what I call “We Medicine”—in our haste to embrace personalized healthcare. To set this debate in a wider political and economic context, I examine four possible reasons for the rise of Me Medicine: a sense of threat, the rise of narcissism, corporate interests backed by neo-liberal government policy, and the sacredness of personal choice. I’m primarily a political theorist and medical ethicist: the book ends with an extended development of the notion of the public good and the commons in biomedicine.

In each chapter on one of the new techniques, however, I undertake a crucial reality check of the scientific research base, for and against. At page 99, you’d land smack in the middle of what might appear an arcane obstetric debate about whether early clamping of the cord and diversion of blood harm the baby. In fact, however, that debate is crucial to establish scientific credibility and to give you the necessary factual base, so that you can make up your own mind about Me Medicine vs. We Medicine.
Learn more about the book and author at Donna Dickenson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mary Pipher's "The Green Boat"

Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist and the author of nine books, including Reviving Ophelia, which was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for 26 weeks. Her area of interest is how American culture influences the mental health of its people.

Pipher applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Green Boat is titled “Organizing a Group.” It is neither the most lyrical of passages nor the most profound, but it actually captures the essence of my book. I describe calling a few friends together to talk about a local environmental issue, the Keystone XL Pipeline. And I shared my philosophy about how to make a group work.

“We met over soup and artisan sourdough. I wanted the event to be more like a party than a meeting. I assumed that my friends were like me—too busy already and tired at the end of a workday. They would only return if they were relaxed and having fun.”

My book is about how to transform our grief, fear and anger about global environmental problems into action, community, empowerment and even bliss. I suggest that action is the antidote to despair and I encourage readers to plan actions in their own hometowns. I write as a therapist, making a mental health argument for social engagement around environmental issues.

In The Green Boat I tell the story of our group’s evolution over its first two years. We planned many events, had lots of fun and, to our surprise, actually stopped the pipeline from being approved, at least until now. I learned many lessons from my adventures with our coalition, but I’ll share two in this brief space. I learned that if we believe we are powerless, we are. That belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or, to say this differently, action empowers us. I also learned that working with a group over time is deeply satisfying. I stopped feeling hopeless and alone and became a member of what Martin Luther King called “a beloved community.”

We don’t know what will happen with the Keystone XL pipeline, but we do know what happened to us. We became more vibrant, hopeful and connected to each other. We learned that saving the world and savoring it are not opposites, but rather deeply intertwined processes.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Pipher's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Brian Fagan's "The Attacking Ocean"

Brian Fagan is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an internationally respected authority on the impact of climate change on human societies through history. His climatic books for general audiences include Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El NiƱo and the Fate of Civilizations, The Little Ice Age, The Long Summer, and The Great Warming. He was editor of The Oxford Companion to Archaeology and lectures on a broad array of subjects to audiences around the world.

Fagan applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels, and reported the following:
To my surprise, I found that Page 99 got right to the very core of the diffuse subject of rising sea levels, currently the object of much media hysteria. The Attacking Ocean is a history of the impact of rising sea levels on human societies over the past 10,000 years. It’s my fifth book that deals in one way or another with ancient, and to some extent, modern climate change in relation to humanity. It began about three years ago when I heard a lecture about the potential impact of an encroaching ocean on the low-lying, heavily populated coastline of Bangladesh. Tens of millions of people live only a few feet above sea level in a country that’s basically a giant river delta with a rapidly growing population. They are at risk not only from the encroaching Bay of Bengal, but also from saltwater contamination of groundwater. Then there are tropical cyclones that barrel ashore with savage winds. Huge sea surges inundate villages and rice paddies, and, in the past, killed tens of thousands of people. Today, they kill far fewer victims, thanks to well-rehearsed evacuation plans, but the threat is still there. One estimate has it that at least ten million people will have to be resettled elsewhere within a half century—and there’s nowhere in Bangladesh for them to go.

The Attacking Ocean tells a complex history that begins with Doggerland, a now-submerged landscape that once formed the North Sea. Here, hunters moved effortlessly to higher ground in the face of changing shorelines. As population rose, people took up farming, then towns and cities came into being, and the situation became far more complex as human vulnerability, especially to sea surges, increased exponentially. We explore the violent surges that hit the medieval Low Countries, describe the long history of sea defenses in the Netherlands. We visit Asian villages confronted by a heightened danger from tsunamis in a world of rising oceans, consider the plight of Shanghai, a megacity on or below sea level, with an exploding population. Then there are Pacific islands, the Maldives, and Inuit villages on barrier islands in the Arctic, all in danger of extinction. I argue that the greatest immediate danger is from sea surges brought by violent tempests. Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy were early warnings, a foretaste of a warming world where extreme weather events will be much more commonplace and the potential damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Page 99 is the last page of Chapter 6, which describes some of the dramatic changes to places like Homeric Troy, the Piraeus (the harbor of classical Athens), and the ports of Rome. From ancient times, we move onto the plight of modern cities like Venice, where a magnificent historic city is subsiding inexorably into the Adriatic Sea. Page 99 considers the options. Does one wall off the city from its ever-more frequent inundations at high tide? Or does one jack up ancient buildings to higher levels? All the options are dauntingly expensive. “Venice is a sobering wake-up call, a prototype for what may happen to many low-lying cities with much larger populations in the not-too-distant future,” I write. Page 99 introduces a major theme of the book—that of our increasing, and very frightening, vulnerability to an attacking ocean. Many people assume the attack is one for future generations to worry about, but the threat is much more immediate. It is sea surges and their attendant destruction that offer immediate, and potentially devastating challenges to an already extremely vulnerable humanity. I ended up feeling very frightened by the future, tempered with a confidence that we will prevail—but it will take all our ingenuity and abilities to plan and innovate to do so.
Learn more about the author and his work at Brian Fagan's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fagan's The Great Warming.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Joseph Margulies's "What Changed When Everything Changed"

Joseph Margulies is clinical professor of law and assistant director, Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, Northwestern University School of Law. He has been deeply involved in post-9/11 litigation and scholarship, and his book Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power received the American Bar Association’s prestigious Silver Gavel Award as well as several other awards.

Margulies applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity, and reported the following:
For those of us who came to 9/11 from the criminal justice world, the revolt against certain post-9/11 policies like indefinite detention without trial and warrantless surveillance was something of a mystery. The fact is that policies like these have been a fixture of the American criminal justice system for many years. The curious thing about the reaction to 9/11 was not that these policies were adopted, but that they caused such an uproar, at least for a time. Why would policies that were met with yawning indifference in the criminal justice context be the occasion for so much angst when applied to the supposedly more serious threat of trans-national terror?

This was one of the many riddles I set out to understand in my book, What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity. Another was the curious course of our post-9/11 hostility to Islam. Contrary to what is widely imagined, the antipathy toward Islam within the right did not begin with the attacks of September 11. On the contrary, in the first weeks and months after the attacks, conservatives and Republicans were actually more likely to express favorable views of Muslims and Islam than were independents, liberals, and Democrats (though the differences were fairly modest).

And favorable sentiment on the right continued a trend that began even before the 2000 presidential elections, when the Muslim and Arab communities in the United States voted overwhelmingly for George Bush in his contest with Al Gore. Longtime Republican activist Grover Norquist wrote an article that actually credited Bush's victory to the Muslim vote and described Muslims as "natural conservatives". In truth, Republican animosity toward Islam did not reach its current highs until years later, long after the threat from trans-national jihad had all but disappeared. Why?

To answer these and related questions, I realized fairly early on in my research that it was impossible to talk about after without a very clear understanding of before. In other words, it made no sense to ask how 9/11 had changed national identity without first painting a very clear picture of national identity as it had taken shape prior to the attacks. And that brings us to page 99.

One of the most important aspects of modern life in the United States is the impulse toward punitiveness. Borrowing an expression from my Northwestern University colleague, Mike Sherry, I call it the punitive turn. Many people have described the evidence of this turn: interminable prison sentences, exploding prison populations, mammoth law enforcement budgets, expansion of the death penalty, etc.

In my research, I concluded that the punitive turn had been thoroughly integrated into national identity by the time of the 9/11 attacks, and that it involved certain well-defined rituals. With great regularity, demons are created in the public square, each of which threatens greater apocalyptic peril than the last. And each new demon triggers the all important call to action, in which the elements of civil society join in a shared plea that the executive branch save the country from imminent calamity. New laws are passed, new powers bestowed. The community is calmed, at least somewhat, by the knowledge that law enforcement at the local, state, and national levels has been given greater power to track, seize, prosecute, convict, sentence, and execute the demon in our midst.

Page 99 is smack in the middle of my chapter on the punitive turn. At that point in the book, I am describing a classic example of communal demonization: the creation of the juvenile "super-predator" in the late 80s and 90s. Civil society ritualistically created the crisis of marauding kids and demanded a solution, which culminated in a wholesale rewriting of juvenile codes across the country and tens of thousands of juveniles being prosecuted in adult court. Of course, we now know the juvenile "super-predator" was a myth; juvenile crime rates have been falling for decades. But that knowledge came only later, long after the country had turned its anxious gaze at yet a new demon and the process began anew.

It is vitally important to understand that the punitive turn is a communal process. The community joins in casting a new demon beyond the pale. And it is this communal sentiment that President Bush overlooked in his response to 9/11. By insisting on unilateral power, by adopting such a cavalier attitude toward judicial accountability and congressional oversight, and by developing such an uncommon attachment to secrecy, the Bush Administration outran the limits of the punitive turn by placing itself outside the community it was ostensibly trying to protect. This was the great mistake.

Though it takes us beyond page 99, the solution to the riddle described at the start of this note is that people did not really object to the policies of the Bush Administration (torture being an exception, and for which there is a different riddle with a different solution). Instead, they objected to the way they were implemented, which was contrary to national identity as it had taken shape before the attacks. And once Obama abandoned claims to unfettered power and adopted a rhetoric that seemed to welcome more scrutiny by the other elements of civil society, the narrative that took shape during the Bush Administration all but disappeared.

And that's page 99 of What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity.

Learn more about What Changed When Everything Changed at the Yale University Press website.

Joseph Margulies: Writers Read (June 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mason B. Williams's "City of Ambition"

Mason Williams is a historian of 20th century American politics. He is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, where he has also taught a variety of classes in 19th and 20th century U.S. history. Starting this summer, he will be a Bernard and Irene Schwartz postdoctoral fellow at the New-York Historical Society and the New School. In the fall, he will teach a class called “From the Founding to Facebook: Democracy in American History.”

Williams applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York, and reported the following:
Page 99 of City of Ambition finds Congressman Fiorello La Guardia, progressive Republican from East Harlem, puzzling over the causes of the Great Depression. Like many other Americans, he sought to make sense of the paradox of want amidst abundance. Why were people suffering in poverty while farms and factories were producing so much?

La Guardia believed the root causes of the economic catastrophe lay in the mechanization of industry and agriculture. In a vicious cycle, people rendered superfluous by new machinery had stopped buying consumer goods, in turn reducing the demand for labor. The economy would only revive, La Guardia believed, when legislation worked to spread employment more broadly, rendering the benefits of technological advances to all—not just to the owners and managers of capital. Toward those ends, he championed progressive taxation, unemployment insurance, and, above all, maximum hours-minimum wage regulations. Some of the agenda La Guardia and other congressional progressives pushed in the last years of Herbert Hoover’s presidency would see enactment during Franklin Roosevelt’s “Hundred Days.” Yet these and other attempts to stimulate private-sector job creation failed.

Much of the rest of City of Ambition explores the far-ranging consequences of what FDR and the New Dealers did next. Faced with what would now be called a “jobless recovery,” FDR and the Democratic Congress would decide to put the unemployed to work on public investment projects designed largely by local governments—including New York City’s, headed from 1934–1945 by one Fiorello La Guardia. This approach would dramatically expand the capabilities of America’s local governments. Before the onset of World War II, the federal government and the city of New York, acting collaboratively, would build highways, tunnels, bridges, and a major world airport; would build and staff neighborhood health clinics; would launch a program of working-class public housing; would expand the city’s recreational facilities dramatically; and would build schoolhouses across the city. These programs would also reshape the city’s politics, encouraging citizens to imagine a broader role for government in city life.

While the policy response to the Great Depression did not play out exactly as Fiorello La Guardia had hoped, it did play out in a way that made his remarkable mayoralty possible—and which has shaped New York City and the nation, even until today. While page 99 does not speak to the core of that story, it does help to frame it.
Learn more about City of Ambition at Mason B. Williams's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bridget Anderson's "Us and Them?"

Bridget Anderson's research interests include low waged labor migration, deportation, legal status, and citizenship. Publications include Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (2000) and Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy (2010), co-edited with Martin Ruhs. She has worked with a wide range of national and international NGOs including the Trades Union Congress, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the International Labour Organisation. She is Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at Oxford University.

Anderson applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Us and Them?: The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls, and reported the following:
I’d never heard of the page 99 test and I guess one of the points of it is it gets you to the heart of a book. If the author hasn’t started to say anything interesting by page 99 you’re in trouble. In the case of Us and Them it gets you to citizenship, more specifically, the gap between the rhetoric of citizenship and citizenship in practice. So while in the US, for instance, naturalising citizens must not be ‘habitual drunkards’, plenty of natural born citizens are habitual drunkards, without having their citizenship stripped from them. Naturalising citizens must be Good Citizens. Good Citizenship does not only exclude the foreigner. It excludes many others like the criminal, the single mum, and indeed the ‘habitual drunkard’. While immigrants, whatever their status, are eager to claim Good Citizenship – that they are hardworking, come from strong families, do not commit crimes etc – the book argues that there is much to be gained from looking at Non-citizens and what I term ‘Failed Citizens’ together. After all, in the US the convicted drug felon can lose the right to vote, to Medicaid and to food aid for life. Put like this, and purged of its moral claims there might be more in common between ‘illegal immigrants’ and alleged felons than vulnerability to incarceration. Both Non-citizens and Failed Citizens are the undeserving poor, one global, the other national. The book argues that strong efforts are made to keep them apart, and to view them as competitors for the privileges of membership. So supporters and migrants themselves often emphasise that they are not failed citizens, but are hardworking, come from strong families, don’t commit crime etc. Those who are opposed to migration in contrast present migrants as undermining hardworking families by taking jobs and lowering terms and conditions, fiscally draining the economy etc. This logic is ultimately unhelpful, and rather we need to question the values of Good Citizenship. The book theorizes immigration debates in order to re-politicize them and to demonstrate their relevance to wider politics. Immigration controls not only impact on ‘them’ but have profound consequences for ‘us’.
Learn more about Us and Them? at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Jennifer M. Ramos's "Changing Norms through Actions"

Jennifer M. Ramos is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. Her research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of political change, with an emphasis on the role of ideas, norms, and identity. In addition, she specializes in US public opinion and foreign policy. Her current research interests include religion and foreign policy preferences, drone warfare, and the preventive use of force.

Ramos applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Changing Norms through Actions: The Evolution of Sovereignty, and reported the following:
What happens when international norms collide? This is the question I began with for this book. I find it particularly interesting as applied to situations in which the international community had to choose between two competing values that dictate proper state behavior —an inherently difficult decision precisely because the choice is between things that we value. My interest is in the effects of that decision (and its related action) on the normative environment within which states act. Does the “chosen” norm remain at the top of the hierarchy, or does it depend on how well the intervention goes?

I examine these queries in the context of state sovereignty and its challengers. For a long time, state leaders have held state sovereignty as an inviolable norm—a core belief that a state has the right to conduct its internal and external matters as it sees fit. Yet, now we see the rise of other international norms that do not easily coexist with such an idea. Human rights norms are a common example of this.

In order to see the effects of intervention on the normative environment (if any), I compare state discourse before and after an international intervention. On page 99 of my book, which occurs within the human rights chapter, I review China’s international stance on human rights relative to state sovereignty prior to the first international humanitarian intervention in Somalia (1991-1995). My expectation is that, given China’s own culpability regarding human rights as well as its non-participation in the UN mission in Somalia, China will not likely be swayed from its core belief that state sovereignty trumps human rights. Not surprisingly, the evidence confirms this proposition.

Yet, China serves as an important baseline for comparison for states, such as the UK and the US, which did intervene in Somalia. Counter to rational choice expectations, these states more strongly reinforced human rights norms during and after the intervention than did other major non-intervening states such as China—even despite its cost and lack of success. Ironically, there may actually be a silver lining in a failed humanitarian mission.

My book, however, extends beyond human rights and investigates two other areas that challenge—collide with—state sovereignty. These include counterterrorism norms and norms regarding weapons of mass destruction. In addition to replicating the counterintuitive results in the human rights chapter, they also point to the importance of the legitimacy of an intervention for norm evolution to occur.
Learn more about Changing Norms through Actions at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dean King's "The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys"

Dean King's books include the national bestseller Skeletons on the Zahara. He has written for many publications, including Men's Journal, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Granta, Outside, New York Magazine, and the New York Times. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

King applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys, and reported the following:
Page 99 finds us right in the thick of one of the most tension-filled and complex moments of the feud. The day before the action that takes place on this page, August 7, 1888, had been an election day in Pike County, Kentucky. Moonshine had flowed, ultimately resulting in a fight between the Confederate veteran Ellison Hatfield, a brother of feud patriarch Devil Anse Hatfield, and three sons of Randall McCoy, the head of the feuding McCoys. Off stage, Ellison Hatfield lies in West Virginia, where he has been removed, dying of twenty-seven stab wounds and a pistol bullet.

The three brothers have been arrested in Kentucky by deputies, who just happen to be Hatfields. On their way to the jail in Pikeville, Kentucky, they have been intercepted by Wall and Elias Hatfield, brothers of Ellison and Devil Anse. Wall, a justice of the peace in West Virginia, has successfully (if wrongly) argued that the brothers should not be removed to Pikeville but should be tried right there, and he has gained possession of the prisoners.

Now Devil Anse shows up, and we meet the men he has brought with him, a posse including his sons Johnse and Cap and a group of roughneck timber hands, none afraid of a fight.

The action on this page takes place at noon at the home of Devil Anse’s cousin Preacher Anse Hatfield. While Wall Hatfield is inside calmly shaving, Devil Anse takes control of the situation. Preacher Anse tells him to leave his property.

Devil Anse has his men—forty by some accounts—form up in an overwhelming show of force. He calls for a rope. Charlie Carpenter, an itinerant school teacher working on Mate Creek, who some would claim was delusional, fetches it for him. Devil Anse orders Carpenter to lash the brothers together, and he obeys:
The overzealous schoolteacher cinched the rope until it cut off the circulation to their hands. Pain, aside, this was a distinct demotion in status. With the rope, the presumption of innocence was symbolically stripped away, and the line between security on the one hand and humiliation and torture on the other blurred. Devil Anse nodded to Preacher Anse and announced to the Kentucky officers, “We’re taking charge of the murderers.”
This sets the stage for one of the most egregious crimes of the feud in the upcoming pages.
Learn more about the book and author at Dean King's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gordon K. Mantler's "Power to the Poor"

Gordon K. Mantler is a Lecturing Fellow and Assistant Director of the Writing Studio in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University. He has been an editor of Deliberations, the writing program’s journal of first-year writing published every October, as well as an editor and designer for the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) in Florida and the Greenville News in South Carolina. He received his doctorate in U.S. history from Duke and has won several awards including the first annual Ronald T. and Gayla D. Farrar Media and Civil Rights History Award for the best article on the subject.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974, and reported the following:
In the spring of 1968, a small army of the poor and their allies marched on Washington to demand the federal government’s rededication to the War on Poverty. They pitched a camp called Resurrection City and stayed for weeks, some for even months. And while they did not accomplish many of their stated policy objectives, their efforts captured the nation’s attention and imagination.

The Poor People’s Campaign long has been overshadowed by the death of its architect, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the political turmoil of that year. Yet only in Washington that spring did local, regional, and national activists of so many different backgrounds – from veterans of the labor and southern civil rights movements to activists of the newer Chicano, American Indian, antiwar, and welfare rights struggles – attempt to construct a physical and spiritual community explicitly about justice and poverty that went beyond a one-day rally. By bringing such a diverse array of activists together from across the country, the campaign highlighted how multiracial coalitional politics operated alongside the identity politics of black and Chicano power. But that relationship was messy at times and sometimes exacerbated by other forces.

Page 99 captures well the challenge King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference faced in building such a broad coalition, particularly in reaching activists of Mexican descent. The page starts with King’s appointment of Bernard Lafayette in late 1967 as the primary administrator of the Poor People’s Campaign. King had hoped that Lafayette’s antiwar ties would help them reach a multiracial swath of activists who viewed, as King did, antipoverty and antiwar activism as inextricably linked. Yet other than Maria Varela, who Lafayette knew from his days in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he had no real contacts among Mexican Americans. Thus, by January 1968, the campaign had struggled to organize people beyond traditional civil rights circles:
… when announcing their plan to bring three thousand organizers trained in nonviolent protest to Washington, King, Lafayette, and Hosea Williams listed target cities only in the East, Midwest, and South. Although Detroit and Chicago did have Mexican American communities, campaign memoranda on both SCLC staff assignments and supporting organizations included only a handful of nonblack activists such as Grace Mora Newman, a Puerto Rican coordinator of the Fort Hood Three Committee, a Bronx-based antiwar group. Places such as California, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, where the majority of Mexican Americans lived, went unmentioned. When asked about other minorities’ participation in January, King assured the press that, “This is a march of poor people on Washington … Naturally it will be predominately Negro … because the Negro is the poorest of the poor in proportion to his size in the population. But … it will not be an all black march.” Behind the scenes, however, the campaign looked very much all black.
As a result, Lafayette began a concerted effort to reach out beyond SCLC’s comfort zone. This work paid off in the end but only after King’s direct intervention – first by inviting Mexican Americans and others to a historic conference in Atlanta to explain the campaign in detail, and then, ironically, through his assassination in April, which prompted many previous skeptics to join the campaign as a tribute to the slain civil rights leader.
Learn more about the book and author at Gordon K. Mantler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue