Books by Members – December 2010

As a service to AHA members, we are listing books by members received in the headquarters office in recent months. These postings will only constitute an announcement of their publication and provide short descriptions of the books. These are not reviews. Books for review by the AHR need to be sent to the attention of Moureen Coulter, 914 Atwater, Bloomington, IN 47401. Follow the links below to Amazon.com, where a portion of your purchases go to support the AHA. See previous books by members blog posts from this year, including April 2010, July 2010, and November 2010.

The New York Times Complete Civil War Holzer, Harold and Craig Symonds, eds., The New York Times Complete Civil War 1861–65(Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 2010)

The New York Times was one of the few papers with correspondents on the front lines throughout the Civil War. Now for the first time, The New York Times Complete Civil War offers a unique opportunity to experience all the battles, politics, and personal stories through daily, first-hand journalism. The book and accompanying DVD-ROM present all the “news that was fit to print” about the Civil War, from reports of the first shot fired at Fort Sumter to the surrender at Appomattox. More than 600 crucial articles were selected for the book by award-winning Civil War historians Harold Holzer and Craig Symonds (U.S. Naval Acad., emeritus). The book is organized chronologically beginning with the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854* and ending with Lincoln’s assassination and the beginning of Reconstruction. Holzer and Symonds introduce each chapter, guiding readers through the politics, slavery, women, war tactics, and more. The accompanying DVD-ROM includes every article published by the Times during the war.

The Akan Diaspora in the Americas Konadu, Kwasi. The Akan Diaspora in the Americas (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010)

In this groundbreaking study of the Akan diaspora, Kwasi Konadu (CUNY) demonstrates how this cultural group originating in West Africa both engaged in and went beyond familiar diasporic themes of maroonage, resistance, and freedom. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Akan never formed a majority among other Africans in the Americas. But their leadership skills in war and political organization, efficacy in medicinal plant use and spiritual practice, and culture archived in the musical traditions, language, and patterns of African diasporic life far outweighed their sheer numbers. Konadu argues that a composite Akan culture calibrated between the Gold Coast and forest fringe made the contributions of the Akan diaspora possible. His book examines the Akan experience in Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, former Danish and Dutch colonies, and Northern America, and how those early experiences foreground the modern engagement and movement of diasporic Africans and Akan people between Ghana and North America. Locating the Akan variable in the African diasporic equation allows scholars and students of the Americas to better understand how the diasporic quilt came to be and is still evolving.

Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938–54 Navarro, Aaron W. Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938–54 (Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 2010).

Mexican politics in the 20th century was dominated by two complementary paradigms: the rhetoric of the Mexican Revolution and the existence of an “official” party. The Mexican Revolution has enjoyed a long and voluminous historiography; the “official” party has not. While the importance of the Revolution as a historical period is self-evident, the political aspirations of the surviving revolutionary elites have not generally sparked as much historical interest. This book traces the path of the party, founded as the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (PNR), through its reformation as the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PRM) in 1938 and then as the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in 1946, which finally fell from power in 2000. Aaron Navarro (Univ. of North Texas) shows how the transformation of the PRM into the PRI, the removal of the military from electoral politics, the resettlement of younger officers in the intelligence services, and the inculcation of a new discipline among political elites all produced the conditions that allowed for the dominance of a single-party structure for decades.

China in World HistoryRopp, Paul S. China in World History (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010).

China’s influence and power have been growing with greater and greater speed in recent decades, prompting many in the U.S. to wonder what the ultimate significance of this shift in global importance will mean. A lack of knowledge about China’s long and varied past adds to the confusion, with many Americans only aware of the more recent communist-era aspects of Chinese national history and culture. Knowing what cultural, economic, and political developments led to China’s current role on the world stage is central to understanding its primacy at this moment in history. In China in World History, Paul S. Ropp (Clark Univ.) offers a concise interpretive history. Beginning with the geography of China, Ropp explains why the early nation was protected against attack, giving rise to the conception of China as an isolated entity for much of its history. However, rather than reinforcing this stereotype, Ropp goes on to show that the country has in fact been much more open and fluid a society than previously thought by Westerners and even some Chinese scholars. Cultural evolution has always been a hallmark of Chinese society, and this book gives detailed accounts of how and why this process occurred.

*Erroneously listed as 1864 when this post first went up.

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