Deborah Chasman

  • Evil Empire

    Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen

    Investigation of power and dominion, through the lens of genre fiction, interviews, and essays.

    A collection of genre fiction, interviews, and essays that turn a critical lens on society, Evil Empire explores imaginary empires alongside historical ones, considering gender and racial regimes as well as the ascendancy of technology.

    Featuring some of the biggest names in fiction as well as relative newcomers, Evil Empire offers a wide variety of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, techno-thrillers, and more. In their investigation of power and dominion, these writers raise a multitude of challenging questions. One writer, for example, imagines “the algorithmic governance of affect”—a world in which the credit scores of misbehaving and dissenting citizens are marked down at government request; another revisits Reagan's 1983 “Evil Empire” speech and considers the burdensome legacy of Reagan's words.

    Contributors include Michael Kimmage, Frank Pasquale, Arundhati Roy

    • Paperback $16.00

Contributor

  • Greening the Global Economy

    Greening the Global Economy

    Robert Pollin

    A program for building a global clean energy economy while expanding job opportunities and economic well-being.

    In order to control climate change, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that greenhouse gas emissions will need to fall by about forty percent by 2030.

    Achieving the target goals will be highly challenging. Yet in Greening the Global Economy, economist Robert Pollin shows that they are attainable through steady, large-scale investments—totaling about 1.5 percent of global GDP on an annual basis—in both energy efficiency and clean renewable energy sources. Not only that: Pollin argues that with the right investments, these efforts will expand employment and drive economic growth.

    Drawing on years of research, Pollin explores all aspects of the problem: how much energy will be needed in a range of industrialized and developing economies; what efficiency targets should be; and what kinds of industrial policy will maximize investment and support private and public partnerships in green growth so that a clean energy transformation can unfold without broad subsidies.

    All too frequently, inaction on climate change is blamed on its potential harm to the economy. Pollin shows greening the economy is not only possible but necessary: global economic growth depends on it.

  • Conflict in Ukraine

    Conflict in Ukraine

    The Unwinding of the Post–Cold War Order

    Rajan Menon and Eugene B. Rumer

    The crisis in Ukraine and its implications for both the Crimean peninsula and Russia's relations with the West.

    The current conflict in Ukraine has spawned the most serious crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. It has undermined European security, raised questions about NATO's future, and put an end to one of the most ambitious projects of U.S. foreign policy—building a partnership with Russia. It also threatens to undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts on issues ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation. And in the absence of direct negotiations, each side is betting that political and economic pressure will force the other to blink first. Caught in this dangerous game of chicken, the West cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of stable relations with Russia.

    This book puts the conflict in historical perspective by examining the evolution of the crisis and assessing its implications both for the Crimean peninsula and for Russia's relations with the West more generally. Experts in the international relations of post-Soviet states, political scientists Rajan Menon and Eugene Rumer clearly show what is at stake in Ukraine, explaining the key economic, political, and security challenges and prospects for overcoming them. They also discuss historical precedents, sketch likely outcomes, and propose policies for safeguarding U.S.-Russia relations in the future. In doing so, they provide a comprehensive and accessible study of a conflict whose consequences will be felt for many years to come.

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  • Lurching Toward Happiness in America

    Lurching Toward Happiness in America

    Claude S. Fischer

    Amid confusing and alarmist media claims about our changing culture, Claude Fischer sets the record straight on social trends in America.

    The promise of America has long been conceived as the promise of happiness. Being American is all about the opportunity to pursue one's own bliss. But what is the good life, and are we getting closer to its attainment? In the cacophony of competing conceptions of the good, technological interventions that claim to help us achieve it, and rancorous debate over government's role in securing it for us, every step toward happiness seems to come with at least one step back.

    In Lurching toward Happiness in America, acclaimed sociologist Claude Fischer explores the data, the myths, and history to understand how far America has come in delivering on its promise. Are Americans getting lonelier? Is the gender revolution over? Does income shape the way Americans see their life prospects? In the end, Fischer paints a broad picture of what Americans say they want. And, as he considers how close they are to achieving that goal, he also suggests what might finally get them there.

  • A Constitution for All Times

    A Constitution for All Times

    Pamela S. Karlan

    A prominent lawyer and legal scholar describes her vision of an evolving Constitution, examining current legal issues that range from health care to gun control.

    Pamela S. Karlan is a unique figure in American law. A professor at Stanford Law School and former counsel for the NAACP, she has argued seven cases at the Supreme Court and worked on dozens more as a clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. In her first book written for a general audience, she examines what happens in American courtrooms—especially the Supreme Court—and what it means for our everyday lives and to our national commitments to democracy, justice, and fairness.

    Through an exploration of current hot-button legal issues—from voting rights to the death penalty, health care, same-sex marriage, invasive high-tech searches, and gun control—Karlan makes a sophisticated and resonant case for her vision of the Constitution. At the heart of that vision is the conviction that the Constitution is an evolving document that enables government to solve novel problems and expand the sphere of human freedom. As skeptics charge congressional overreach on such issues as the Affordable Care Act and even voting rights, Karlan pushes back. On individual rights in particular, she believes the Constitution allows Congress to enforce the substance of its amendments. And she calls out the Roberts Court for its disdain for the other branches of government and for its alignment with a conservative agenda.

  • A Case for Climate Engineering

    A Case for Climate Engineering

    David Keith

    A leading scientist argues that we must consider deploying climate engineering technology to slow the pace of global warming.

    Climate engineering—which could slow the pace of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the upper atmosphere—has emerged in recent years as an extremely controversial technology. And for good reason: it carries unknown risks and it may undermine commitments to conserving energy. Some critics also view it as an immoral human breach of the natural world. The latter objection, David Keith argues in A Scientist's Case for Climate Engineering, is groundless; we have been using technology to alter our environment for years. But he agrees that there are large issues at stake.

    A leading scientist long concerned about climate change, Keith offers no naïve proposal for an easy fix to what is perhaps the most challenging question of our time; climate engineering is no silver bullet. But he argues that after decades during which very little progress has been made in reducing carbon emissions we must put this technology on the table and consider it responsibly. That doesn't mean we will deploy it, and it doesn't mean that we can abandon efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we must understand fully what research needs to be done and how the technology might be designed and used. This book provides a clear and accessible overview of what the costs and risks might be, and how climate engineering might fit into a larger program for managing climate change.

  • The Syria Dilemma

    The Syria Dilemma

    Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel

    Can we stop the bleeding in Syria without its becoming another Iraq?

    The United States is on the brink of intervention in Syria, but the effect of any eventual American action is impossible to predict. The Syrian conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions, yet most observers warn that the worst is still to come. And the international community cannot agree how respond to this humanitarian catastrophe. World leaders have repeatedly resolved not to let atrocities happen in plain view, but the legacy of the bloody and costly intervention in Iraq has left policymakers with little appetite for more military operations. So we find ourselves in the grip of a double burden: the urge to stop the bleeding in Syria, and the fear that attempting to do so would be Iraq redux.

    What should be done about the apparently intractable Syrian conflict? This book focuses on the ethical and political dilemmas at the heart of the debate about Syria and the possibility of humanitarian intervention in today's world. The contributors—Syria experts, international relations theorists, human rights activists, and scholars of humanitarian intervention—don't always agree, but together they represent the best political thinking on the issue. The Syria Dilemma includes original pieces from Michael Ignatieff, Mary Kaldor, Radwan Ziadeh, Thomas Pierret, Afra Jalabi, and others.

    Contributors Asli Bâli, Richard Falk, Tom Farer, Charles Glass, Shadi Hamid, Nader Hashemi, Christopher Hill, Michael Ignatieff, Afra Jalabi, Rafif Jouejati, Mary Kaldor, Marc Lynch, Vali Nasr, Thomas Pierret, Danny Postel, Aziz Rana, Christoph Reuter, Kenneth Roth, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Fareed Zakaria, Radwan Ziadeh, Stephen Zunes

  • Giving Kids a Fair Chance

    Giving Kids a Fair Chance

    James J. Heckman

    A top economist weighs in on one of the most urgent questions of our times: What is the source of inequality and what is the remedy?

    In Giving Kids a Fair Chance, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman argues that the accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality in America today. Children born into disadvantage are, by the time they start kindergarten, already at risk of dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, crime, and a lifetime of low-wage work. This is bad for all those born into disadvantage and bad for American society.

    Current social and education policies directed toward children focus on improving cognition, yet success in life requires more than smarts. Heckman calls for a refocus of social policy toward early childhood interventions designed to enhance both cognitive abilities and such non-cognitive skills as confidence and perseverance. This new focus on preschool intervention would emphasize improving the early environments of disadvantaged children and increasing the quality of parenting while respecting the primacy of the family and America's cultural diversity.

    Heckman shows that acting early has much greater positive economic and social impact than later interventions—which range from reduced pupil-teacher ratios to adult literacy programs to expenditures on police—that draw the most attention in the public policy debate. At a time when state and local budgets for early interventions are being cut, Heckman issues an urgent call for action and offers some practical steps for how to design and pay for new programs.

    The debate that follows delves deeply into some of the most fraught questions of our time: the sources of inequality, the role of schools in solving social problems, and how to invest public resources most effectively. Mike Rose, Geoffrey Canada, Charles Murray, Carol Dweck, Annette Lareau, and other prominent experts participate.

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  • Occupy the Future

    Occupy the Future

    David Grusky, Doug McAdam, Rob Reich, and Debra Satz

    How the Occupy movement has challenged the gap between American principles and American practice—and how we can realize our most cherished ideals.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement has ignited new questions about the relationship between democracy and equality in the United States. Are we also entering a moment in history in which the disjuncture between our principles and our institutions is cast into especially sharp relief? Do new developments—most notably the rise of extreme inequality—offer new threats to the realization of our most cherished principles? Can we build an open, democratic, and successful movement to realize our ideals? Occupy the Future offers informed and opinionated essays that address these questions. The writers—including Nobel Laureate in Economics Kenneth Arrow and bestselling authors Paul and Anne Ehrlich—lay out what our country's principles are, whether we're living up to them, and what can be done to bring our institutions into better alignment with them.

    Contributers: David Grusky, Doug McAdam, Rob Reich, Erin Cumberworth, Debra Satz, Kenneth J. Arrow, Kim A. Weeden, Sean F. Reardon, Prudence L. Carter, Shelley J. Correll, Gary Segura, David D. Laitin, Cristobal Young, Charles Varner, Doug McAdam, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Donald A. Barr, Michele Elam, Jennifer DeVere Brody, H. Samy Alim and David Palumbo-Liu.

  • Shopping for Good

    Shopping for Good

    Dara O'Rourke

    Where public policy fails, can consumer choices lead the way to more ethical and sustainable production practices?

    “Buy local,” “buy green,” “buy organic,” “fair trade”—how effective has the ethical consumption movement been in changing market behavior? Can consumers create fair and sustainable supply chains by shopping selectively?

    Dara O'Rourke, the activist-scholar who first broke the news about Nike's sweatshops in the 1990s, considers the promise of ethical consumption—the idea that individuals, voting with their wallets, can promote better labor conditions and environmental outcomes globally. Governments have proven unable to hold companies responsible for labor and environmental practices. Consumers who say they want to support ethical companies often lack the knowledge and resources to do so consistently. But with the right tools, they may be able to succeed where governments have failed.

    Responding to O'Rourke's argument, eight experts—Juliet Schor, Richard Locke, Scott Nova, Lisa Ann Richey, Margaret Levi, Andrew Szasz, Scott Hartley, and Auret van Herdeen—consider the connections between personal concerns and consumer activism, challenge the value of entrusting regulation to consumer efforts, and draw attention to difficulties posed by global supply chains.

  • Back to Full Employment

    Back to Full Employment

    Robert Pollin

    Why we should put full employment back on the national agenda and how we can summon the political will to achieve it.

    Full employment used to be an explicit goal of economic policy in most of the industrialized world. Some countries even achieved it. In Back to Full Employment, economist Robert Pollin argues that the United States—today faced with its highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression—should put full employment back on the agenda.

    There are good reasons to seek full employment, Pollin writes. Full employment will help individuals, families, and the economy as a whole, while promoting equality and social stability. Equally important, creating a full-employment economy can be joined effectively with two other fundamental policy aims: ending our dependence on fossil fuels and creating an economy powered by clean energy.

    Explaining views on full employment in macroeconomic theory from Marx to Keynes to Friedman, Pollin argues that the policy was abandoned in the United States in the 1970s for the wrong reasons, and he shows how it can be achieved today despite the serious challenges of inflation and globalization.

    Pollin believes the biggest obstacle to creating a full-employment economy is politics. Putting an end to the prevailing neoliberal opposition to full employment will require nothing less than an epoch-defining reallocation of political power away from the interests of big business and Wall Street and toward the middle class, working people, and the poor, while mounting a strong defense of the environment. In the end, achieving full employment will be a matter of political will: Can the United States make having a decent job a fundamental right?

  • Blaming Islam

    Blaming Islam

    John R. Bowen

    Why fears about Muslim integration into Western society—propagated opportunistically by some on the right—misread history and misunderstand multiculturalism.

    In the United States and in Europe, politicians, activists, and even some scholars argue that Islam is incompatible with Western values and that we put ourselves at risk if we believe that Muslim immigrants can integrate into our society. Norway's Anders Behring Breivik took this argument to its extreme and murderous conclusion in July 2011. Meanwhile in the United States, state legislatures' efforts to ban the practice of Islamic law, or sharia, are gathering steam—despite a notable lack of evidence that sharia poses any real threat.

    In Blaming Islam, John Bowen uncovers the myths about Islam and Muslim integration into Western society, with a focus on the histories, policy, and rhetoric associated with Muslim immigration in Europe, the British experiment with sharia law for Muslim domestic disputes, and the claims of European and American writers that Islam threatens the West. Most important, he shows how exaggerated fears about Muslims misread history, misunderstand multiculturalism's aims, and reveal the opportunism of right wing parties who draw populist support by blaming Islam.

  • Border Wars

    Border Wars

    Tom Barry

    The consequences of political fear-mongering and tough talk on immigration in the American Southwest.

    The Tea Party and its allies celebrate the rogue states of the Southwest as a model for the nation in their go-it-alone posturing and tough immigration-enforcement talk. In Border Wars, dogged investigative journalist Tom Barry documents the costs of that model: lives lost; families torn apart; billions of wasted tax dollars; vigilantes prowling the desert; and fiscal crises in cities, counties, and states. Even worse, he warns, the entire nation risks following their lead. As Barry explains, the lack of coherent federal policy on immigration and drug war conduct and the uncritical embrace of all things in the name of national security has opened doors for opportunists from boardrooms to governor's offices in Texas and Arizona. Corporate-prison magnates eagerly swallow up undocumented immigrants into taxpayer-funded dungeons, border sheriffs and politicians trade on voters' fears of Latinos and “big government,” and pro-business policy institutes and lobbyists battle the public interest. Border Wars offers a stark portrait of the domestic cost of failed federal leadership in the post-9/11 era.

  • Government's Place in the Market

    Government's Place in the Market

    Eliot Spitzer

    In his first book, the former New York governor and current CNN cohost offers a manifesto on the economy and the public interest.

    As New York State Attorney General from 1998 to 2006, Eliot Spitzer successfully pursued corporate crime, including stock price inflation, securities fraud, and predatory lending practices. Drawing on those experiences, in this book Spitzer considers when and how the government should intervene in the workings of the market. The 2009 American bank bailout, he argues, was the wrong way: it understandably turned government intervention into a flashpoint for public disgust because it socialized risk, privatized benefit, and left standing institutions too big to fail, incompetent regulators, and deficient corporate governance. That's unfortunate, because good regulatory policy, he claims, can make markets and firms work efficiently, equitably, and in service of fundamental public values. Spitzer lays out the right reasons for government intervention in the market: to guarantee transparency, to overcome market failures, and to guard our core values against the market's unfair biases such as racism. With specific proposals to serve those ends—from improving corporate governance to making firms responsible for their own risky behavior—he offers a much-needed blueprint for the proper role of government in the market. Finally, taking account of regulatory changes since the crash of 2008, he suggests how to rebuild public trust in government so real change is possible. Responses to Spitzer by Sarah Binder, Andrew Gelman, and John Sides, Dean Baker, and Robert Johnson, raise issues of politics, ideology, and policy.

  • Preparing for Climate Change

    Preparing for Climate Change

    Michael D. Mastrandrea and Stephen H. Schneider

    Why we should prepare for climate change now by taking anticipatory action in vulnerable regions.

    Global momentum is building to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So far, so good. The less happy news is that Earth's temperatures will continue to rise for decades. And evidence shows that climbing temperatures are already having serious consequences for vulnerable people and regions through droughts, extreme weather, and melting glaciers. In this book, climate experts Michael Mastrandrea and Stephen Schneider argue that we need to start adapting to climate change, now. They write that these efforts should focus primarily on identifying the places and people most at risk and taking anticipatory action—from developing drought-resistant crops to building sea walls. The authors roundly reject the idea that reactive, unplanned adaptation will solve our problems—that species will migrate northward as climates warm, and farmers will shift to new crops and more hospitable locations. And they are highly critical of “geoengineering” schemes that are designed to cool the planet by such methods as injecting iron into oceans or exploding volcanoes. Mastrandrea and Schneider insist that smart adaptation will require a series of local and regional projects, many of them in the countries least able to pay for them and least responsible for the problem itself. Ensuring that we address the needs of these countries, while we work globally to reduce emissions over the long term, is our best chance to avert global disaster and to reduce the terrible, unfair burdens that are likely to accompany global warming.

  • Immigrants and the Right to Stay

    Immigrants and the Right to Stay

    Joseph H. Carens

    A proposal that immigrants in the United States should be offered a path to legalized status.

    The Obama administration promises to take on comprehensive immigration reform in 2010, setting policymakers to work on legislation that might give the approximately eleven million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States a path to legalization of status. Commentators have been quick to observe that any such proposal will face intense opposition. Few issues have so divided the country in recent years as immigration. Immigrants and the Right to Stay brings the debate into the realm of public reason. Political theorist Joseph Carens argues that although states have a right to control their borders, the right to deport those who violate immigration laws is not absolute. With time, immigrants develop a moral claim to stay. Emphasizing the moral importance of social membership, and drawing on principles widely recognized in liberal democracies, Carens calls for a rolling amnesty that gives unauthorized migrants a path to regularize their status once they have been settled for a significant period of time. After Carens makes his case, six experts from across the political spectrum respond. Some protest that he goes too far; others say he does not go far enough in protecting the rights of migrants. Several raise competing moral claims and others help us understand how the immigration problem became so large. Carens agrees that no moral claim is absolute, and that, on any complex public issue, principled debate involves weighing competing concerns. But for him the balance falls clearly on the side of amnesty.

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  • Taking Economics Seriously

    Taking Economics Seriously

    Dean Baker

    A leading economist's exploration of what our economic arrangements might look like if we applied basic principles without ideological blinders.

    There is nothing wrong with economics, Dean Baker contends, but economists routinely ignore their own principles when it comes to economic policy. What would policy look like if we took basic principles of mainstream economics seriously and applied them consistently? In the debate over regulation, for example, Baker—one of the few economists who predicted the meltdown of fall 2008—points out that ideological blinders have obscured the fact there is no “free market” to protect. Modern markets are highly regulated, although intrusive regulations such as copyright and patents are rarely viewed as regulatory devices. If we admit the extent to which the economy is and will be regulated, we have many more options in designing policy and deciding who benefits from it. On health care reform, Baker complains that economists ignore another basic idea: marginal cost pricing. Unlike all other industries, medical services are priced extraordinarily high, far above the cost of production, yet that discrepancy is rarely addressed in the debate about health care reform. What if we applied marginal cost pricing—making doctors' wages competitive and charging less for prescription drugs and tests such as MRIs? Taking Economics Seriously offers an alternative Econ 101. It introduces economic principles and thinks through what we might gain if we free ourselves from ideological blinders and get back to basics in the most troubled parts of our economy.

  • Rule of Law, Misrule of Men

    Rule of Law, Misrule of Men

    Elaine Scarry

    A passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not.

    This book is a passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not. Arguing that post-9/11 legislation and foreign policy severed the executive branch from the will of the people, Elaine Scarry in Rule of Law, Misrule of Men offers a fierce defense of the people's role as guarantor of our democracy. She begins with the groundswell of local resistance to the 2001 Patriot Act, when hundreds of towns, cities, and counties passed resolutions refusing compliance with the information-gathering the act demanded, showing that citizens can take action against laws that undermine the rights of citizens and noncitizens alike.

    Scarry, once described in the New York Times Sunday Magazine as “known for her unflinching investigations of war, torture, and pain,” then turns to the conduct of the Iraqi occupation, arguing that the Bush administration led the country onto treacherous moral terrain, violating the Geneva Conventions and the armed forces' own most fundamental standards. She warns of the damage done to democracy when military personnel must choose between their own codes of warfare and the illegal orders of their civilian superiors. If our military leaders uphold the rule of law when civilian leaders do not, might we come to prefer them? Finally, reviewing what we know now about the Bush administration's crimes, Scarry insists that prosecution—whether local, national, or international—is essential to restoring the rule of law, and she shows how a brave town in Vermont has taken up the challenge.

    Throughout the book, Scarry finds hope in moments where citizens withheld their consent to grievous crimes, finding creative ways to stand by their patriotism.

  • Why We Cooperate

    Why We Cooperate

    Michael Tomasello

    Understanding cooperation as a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behavior.

    Drop something in front of a two-year-old, and she's likely to pick it up for you. This is not a learned behavior, psychologist Michael Tomasello argues. Through observations of young children in experiments he himself has designed, Tomasello shows that children are naturally—and uniquely—cooperative. Put through similar experiments, for example, apes demonstrate the ability to work together and share, but choose not to. As children grow, their almost reflexive desire to help—without expectation of reward—becomes shaped by culture. They become more aware of being a member of a group. Groups convey mutual expectations, and thus may either encourage or discourage altruism and collaboration. Either way, cooperation emerges as a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behavior. In Why We Cooperate, Tomasello's studies of young children and great apes help identify the underlying psychological processes that very likely supported humans' earliest forms of complex collaboration and, ultimately, our unique forms of cultural organization, from the evolution of tolerance and trust to the creation of such group-level structures as cultural norms and institutions. Scholars Carol Dweck, Joan Silk, Brian Skyrms, and Elizabeth Spelke respond to Tomasello's findings and explore the implications.

  • After America's Midlife Crisis

    After America's Midlife Crisis

    Michael Gecan

    A longtime community organizer outlines a way to reverse the fifty-year decline in social mobility and economic progress.

    Michael Gecan, a longtime community organizer, offers in this book a disturbing conclusion: the kinds of problems that began to afflict large cities in the 1970s have now spread to the suburbs and beyond. The institutional cornerstones of American life are on an extended decline. No longer young, no longer without limitations or constraints, the country is facing a midlife crisis. Drawing on personal experiences and the stories of communities in Illinois, New York, and other areas, Gecan draws a vivid picture of civic, political, and religious institutions in trouble, from suburban budget crises to failing public schools. Gecan shows that the loss of social capital has followed closely upon institutional failure. He looks in particular at the two main support systems of social mobility and economic progress for the majority of working poor Americans in the first half of the last century—the Roman Catholic school system and the American public high school. As these institutions that generated social progress have faded, those depending on social regression—prisons, jails, and detention centers—have thrived. Can we reverse the trends? Gecan offers hope and a direction forward. He calls on national and local leadership to shed old ways of thinking and face new realities, which include not only the substantial costs of change but also its considerable benefits. Only then will we enjoy the next rich phase of our local and national life.

  • Inventing American History

    Inventing American History

    William Hogeland

    A historian's call to make the celebration of America's past more honest.

    American public history—in magazines and books, television documentaries, and museums—tends to celebrate its subject at all costs, even to the point of denial and distortion. This does us a great disservice, argues William Hogeland in Inventing American History. Looking at details glossed over in three examples of public history—the Alexander Hamilton revival, tributes to Pete Seeger and William F. Buckley, and the Constitution Center in Philadelphia—Hogeland considers what we lose when history is written to conform to political aims. Questioning the resurrection, by both neocons and the left, of Alexander Hamilton as the founder of the American financial system—if not of the American dream itself—Hogeland delves deeply into Hamilton's brutal treatment of working-class entrepreneurs. And debunking recent hagiographies of Pete Seeger and William F. Buckley, Hogeland deftly parses Seeger's embrace of communism and Buckley's unreconstructed views on race.

    Hogeland then turns his attention to the U.S. Constitution Center in Philadelphia (the location of Barack Obama's speech on race), comparing its one-note celebration of the document to the National Park Service tours of nearby Independence Hall. The Park Service tours don't advance any particular point of view, but by being almost purely informative with a kind of hands-on detail, they make the past come to life, available for both celebration and criticism. We should be able to respect the Constitution without being forced to our knees before it, Hogeland argues; we can handle the truth about the Framers' intense politicking and compromises. Only when we can ground our public history in the gritty events of the day, embracing its contradictions and difficulties, will we be able to learn from it.

  • Africa's Turn?

    Africa's Turn?

    Edward Miguel

    Signs of hope in sub-Saharan Africa: modest but steady economic growth and the spread of democracy.

    By the end of the twentieth century, sub-Saharan Africa had experienced twenty-five years of economic and political disaster. While “economic miracles” in China and India raised hundreds of millions from extreme poverty, Africa seemed to have been overtaken by violent conflict and mass destitution, and ranked lowest in the world in just about every economic and social indicator. Working in Busia, a small Kenyan border town, economist Edward Miguel began to notice something different starting in 1997: modest but steady economic progress, with new construction projects, flower markets, shops, and ubiquitous cell phones. In Africa's Turn? Miguel tracks a decade of comparably hopeful economic trends throughout sub-Saharan Africa and suggests that we may be seeing a turnaround. He bases his hopes on a range of recent changes: democracy is finally taking root in many countries; China's successes have fueled large-scale investment in Africa; and rising commodity prices have helped as well. Miguel warns, though, that the growth is fragile. Violence and climate change could derail it quickly, and he argues for specific international assistance when drought and civil strife loom. Responding to Miguel, nine experts gauge his optimism. Some question the progress of democracy in Africa or are more skeptical about China's constructive impact, while others think that Miguel has underestimated the threats represented by climate change and population growth. But most agree that something new is happening, and that policy innovations in health, education, agriculture, and government accountability are the key to Africa's future.

    Contributors Olu Ajakaiye, Ken Banks, Robert Bates, Paul Collier, Rachel Glennerster, Rosamond Naylor, Smita Singh, David N. Weil, and Jeremy M. Weinstein

  • Race, Incarceration, and American Values

    Race, Incarceration, and American Values

    Glenn C. Loury

    Why stigmatizing and confining a large segment of our population should be unacceptable to all Americans.

    The United States, home to five percent of the world's population, now houses twenty-five percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate—at 714 per 100,000 residents and rising—is almost forty percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). More pointedly, it is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan. Economist Glenn Loury argues that this extraordinary mass incarceration is not a response to rising crime rates or a proud success of social policy. Instead, it is the product of a generation-old collective decision to become a more punitive society. He connects this policy to our history of racial oppression, showing that the punitive turn in American politics and culture emerged in the post-civil rights years and has today become the main vehicle for the reproduction of racial hierarchies. Whatever the explanation, Loury argues, the uncontroversial fact is that changes in our criminal justice system since the 1970s have created a nether class of Americans—vastly disproportionately black and brown—with severely restricted rights and life chances. Moreover, conservatives and liberals agree that the growth in our prison population has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Stigmatizing and confining of a large segment of our population should be unacceptable to Americans. Loury's call to action makes all of us now responsible for ensuring that the policy changes.

  • The Men in My Life

    The Men in My Life

    Vivian Gornick

    Gornick on V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth and the intimate relationship between emotional damage and great literature.

    Vivian Gornick, one of our finest critics, tackled the theme of love and marriage in her last collection of essays, The End of the Novel of Love, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. In this new collection, she turns her attention to another large theme in literature: the struggle for the semblance of inner freedom. Great literature, she believes, is not the record of the achievement, but of the effort.

    Gornick, who emerged as a major writer during the second-wave feminist movement, came to realize that “ideology alone could not purge one of the pathological self-doubt that seemed every woman's bitter birthright.” Or, as Anton Chekhov put it so memorably: “Others made me a slave, but I must squeeze the slave out of myself, drop by drop.” Perhaps surprisingly, Gornick found particular inspiration for this challenge in the work of male writers—talented, but locked in perpetual rage, self-doubt, or social exile. From these men—who had infinitely more permission to do and be than women had ever known—she learned what it really meant to wrestle with demons. In the essays collected here, she explores the work of V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth. Throughout the book, Gornick is at her best: interpreting the intimate interrelationship of emotional damage, social history, and great literature.

  • Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters

    Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters

    Hans Blix

    From the former UN head weapons inspector in Iraq, a plea for a renewed global disarmament movement.

    In 2002 Dr. Hans Blix, then chief United Nations weapons inspector, led his team on a search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Before the United States went to war with Iraq the next March, he maintained there were no WMD in Iraq. History proved him right. For more than forty years Dr. Blix has worked on global disarmament, and with this new book he renews the call for nuclear nonproliferation. His interests, though, go beyond stemming the threat of nuclear attack from rogue states and terrorists. It is not, he argues, a recipe for success for nuclear states to tell the rest of the world that it must stay away from the very weapons that nuclear states claim are indispensable. We will never be able to convince rogue states to halt the pursuit of nuclear weapons programs unless we take the lead in a new nonproliferation and disarmament movement. Looking back at the UN post-World War II efforts against the use of nuclear weapons, Blix documents the retreat from early commitments by nuclear powers, most alarmingly from pledges against first use and toward programs to develop new types of nuclear weapons. He urges us to revive these efforts, and that the world's powers also look at issues of global disarmament and security as pieces of the same puzzle. Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters includes specific suggestions—how the UN can set the stage for a credible multilateral disarmament and nonproliferation process; what kind of treaties would be most helpful—and recommendations for regional policy, including providing the Middle East with enriched uranium for civilian nuclear power production but not allowing uranium enrichment there. From March 2000 to June 2003 Hans Blix was Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Dr. Blix, author of Disarming Iraq, is Chair of the Swedish government's Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction.

  • The Road to Democracy in Iran

    The Road to Democracy in Iran

    Akbar Ganji

    A famous Iranian dissident calls for universal human rights and democracy based on our common humanity.

    Akbar Ganji, called by some “Iran's most famous dissident,” was a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. But, troubled by the regime's repressive nature, he became an investigative journalist in the 1990s, writing for Iran's pro-democracy newspapers. Most notably, he traced the murders of dissident intellectuals to Iran's secret service. In 2000, Ganji was arrested, sentenced to six years in prison, and banned from working as a journalist. His eighty-day hunger strike during his last year in prison mobilized the international human rights community.The Road to Democracy in Iran, Ganji's first book in English, demonstrates his lifelong commitment to human rights and democracy. A passionate call for universal human rights and the right to democracy from a Muslim perspective, it lays out the goals and means of Iran's democracy movement, why women's rights trump some interpretations of Islamic law, and how the West can help promote democracy in Iran (he strongly opposes U.S. intervention) and other Islamic countries. Throughout the book Ganji argues consistently for universal rights based on our common humanity (and he believes the world's religions support that idea). But his arguments never veer into abstraction; they are rooted deeply in the realities of life in Islamic countries, and offer a clear picture of the possibilities for and obstacles to improving human rights and promoting democracy in the Muslim world. Since his release from prison in March 2006, Akbar Ganji has been traveling outside Iran, meeting with intellectuals and activists in the international human rights community. He is currently living in the United States.

  • Movies and the Moral Adventure of Life

    Movies and the Moral Adventure of Life

    Alan A. Stone

    Essays on small art films and big-budget blockbusters, including Antonia's Line, American Beauty, Schindler's List, and The Passion of the Christ, that view films as life lessons, enlarging our sense of human possibilities.

    For Alan Stone, a one-time Freudian analyst and former president of the American Psychiatric Society, movies are the great modern, democratic medium for exploring our individual and collective lives. They provide occasions for reflecting on what he calls “the moral adventure of life”: the choices people make—beyond the limits of their character and circumstances—in response to life's challenges. The quality of these choices is, for him, the measure of a life well lived. In this collection of his film essays, Stone reads films as life texts. He is engaged more by their ideas than their visual presentation, more by their power to move us than by their commercial success. Stone writes about both art films and big-budget Hollywood blockbusters. And he commands an extraordinary range of historical, literary, cultural, and scientific reference that reflects his impressive personal history: professor of law and medicine, football player at Harvard in the late 1940s, director of medical training at McLean Hospital, and advisor to Attorney General Janet Reno on behavioral science. In the end, Stone's enthusiasms run particularly to films that embrace the sheer complexity of life, and in doing so enlarge our sense of human possibilities: in Antonia's Line, he sees an emotionally vivid picture of a world beyond patriarchy; in Thirteen Conversations about One Thing, the power of sheer contingency in human life; and in American Beauty, how beauty in ordinary experience draws us outside ourselves, and how beauty and justice are distinct goods, with no intrinsic connection. Other films discussed in these essays (written between 1993 and 2006 for Boston Review) include Un Coeur en Hiver, Schindler's List, Pulp Fiction, Thirteen Days, the 1997 version of Lolita, The Battle of Algiers, The Passion of the Christ, Persuasion, and Water.

  • Making Aid Work

    Making Aid Work

    Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    An encouraging account of the potential of foreign aid to reduce poverty and a challenge to all aid organizations to think harder about how they spend their money.

    With more than a billion people now living on less than a dollar a day, and with eight million dying each year because they are simply too poor to live, most would agree that the problem of global poverty is our greatest moral challenge. The large and pressing practical question is how best to address that challenge. Although millions of dollars flow to poor countries, the results are often disappointing. In Making Aid Work, Abhijit Banerjee—an "aid optimist"—argues that aid has much to contribute, but the lack of analysis about which programs really work causes considerable waste and inefficiency, which in turn fuels unwarranted pessimism about the role of aid in fostering economic development. Banerjee challenges aid donors to do better. Building on the model used to evaluate new drugs before they come on the market, he argues that donors should assess programs with field experiments using randomized trials. In fact, he writes, given the number of such experiments already undertaken, current levels of development assistance could focus entirely on programs with proven records of success in experimental conditions. Responding to his challenge, leaders in the field—including Nicholas Stern, Raymond Offenheiser, Alice Amsden, Ruth Levine, Angus Deaton, and others—question whether randomized trials are the most appropriate way to evaluate success for all programs. They raise broader questions as well, about the importance of aid for economic development and about the kinds of interventions (micro or macro, political or economic) that will lead to real improvements in the lives of poor people around the world. With one in every six people now living in extreme poverty, getting it right is crucial.

    • Hardcover $16.95
    • Paperback $13.95
  • The Story of Cruel and Unusual

    The Story of Cruel and Unusual

    Colin Dayan

    A searing indictment of the American penal system that finds the roots of the recent prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in the steady dismantling of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment.

    The revelations of prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib and more recently at Guantánamo were shocking to most Americans. And those who condemned the treatment of prisoners abroad have focused on U.S. military procedures and abuses of executive powers in the war on terror, or, more specifically, on the now-famous White House legal counsel memos on the acceptable limits of torture. But in The Story of Cruel and Unusual, Colin Dayan argues that anyone who has followed U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment would recognize the prisoners' treatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo as a natural extension of the language of our courts and practices in U.S. prisons. In fact, it was no coincidence that White House legal counsel referred to a series of Supreme Court decisions in the 1980s and 1990s in making its case for torture.Dayan traces the roots of "acceptable" torture to slave codes of the nineteenth century that deeply embedded the dehumanization of the incarcerated in our legal system. Although the Eighth Amendment was interpreted generously during the prisoners' rights movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, this period of judicial concern was an anomaly. Over the last thirty years, Supreme Court decisions have once again dismantled Eighth Amendment protections and rendered such words as "cruel" and "inhuman" meaningless when applied to conditions of confinement and treatment during detention. Prisoners' actual pain and suffering have been explained away in a rhetorical haze—with rationalizations, for example, that measure cruelty not by the pain or suffering inflicted, but by the intent of the person who inflicted it. The Story of Cruel and Unusual is a stunningly original work of legal scholarship, and a searing indictment of the U.S. penal system.

  • The End of the Wild

    The End of the Wild

    Stephen M. Meyer

    A wake-up call that argues that although it may be too late to save biodiversity, we can take steps to save our ecosystems.

    With the extinction rate at 3000 species a year and accelerating, we can now predict that as many as half of the Earth's species will disappear within the next 100 years. The species that survive will be the ones that are most compatible with us: the weedy species—from mosquitoes to coyotes—that thrive in continually disturbed human-dominated environments. The End of the Wild is a wake-up call. Marshaling evidence from the last ten years of research on the environment, Stephen Meyer argues that nothing—not national or international laws, global bioreserves, local sustainability schemes, or "wildlands"—will change the course that has been set. Like it or not, we can no longer talk about conserving nature, only managing what is left. The race to save biodiversity is over.

    But that doesn't mean our work is over. The End of the Wild is also a call to action. Without intervention, the surviving ecosystems we depend on for a range of services—including water purification and flood and storm damage contro—could fail and the global spread of invasive species (pests, parasites, and disease-causing weedy species) could explode. If humanity is to survive, Meyer argues, we have no choice but to try to manage the fine details. We must move away from the current haphazard strategy of protecting species in isolation and create trans-regional "meta-reserves," designed to protect ecosystem functions rather than species-specific habitats.

  • God and the Welfare State

    God and the Welfare State

    Lew Daly

    Can religion cure poverty? The first book to explore the ideas about God and government behind the faith-based initiative.

    When the Bush administration's faith-based initiative was introduced in 2001 as the next stage of the "war on poverty," it provoked a flurry of protest for violating the church-state divide. Most critics didn't ask whether it could work. God and the Welfare State is the first book to trace the ideas behind George W. Bush's faith-based initiative from their roots in Catholic natural law theory and Dutch Calvinism to an American think tank, the Center for Public Justice. Comparing Bush's plan with the ways the same ideas have played out in Christian Democratic welfare policies in Europe, the author is skeptical that it will be an effective new way to fight poverty. But he takes the animating ideas very seriously, as they go to the heart of the relationship among religion, government, and social welfare. In the end Daly argues that these ideas—which are now entrenched in federal and state politics—are a truly radical departure from American traditions of governance. Although Bush's initiative roughly overlaps with more conventional conservative efforts to strengthen private power in economic life, it promises an unprecedented shift in the balance of power between secular and religious approaches to social problems and suggests a broader template for "faith-based governance," in which the state would have a much more limited role in social policy.

    • Hardcover $16.95
    • Paperback $35.00