November 30, 2010
By David Darlington
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, April 2010, andJuly 2010, from this year.
Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (W.W. Norton and Company, 2010).
In a landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Eric Foner (Columbia Univ.) gives us a life of Lincoln as it intertwined with slavery, the defining issue of the time and the tragic hallmark of American history. As the nation expanded into new western territories and economic pursuits, the continuing strength of slavery spawned a new and divisive politics. Lincoln navigated this dynamic political landscape deftly, moving in measured steps, often on a path forged by abolitionists and radicals in his party. Lincoln’s personal and political journey led him finally to embrace what he called the Civil War’s “astounding” result—the immediate, uncompensated abolition of slavery—and recognition of blacks as American citizens. Foner’s Lincoln is a leader whose greatness lay in his capacity for moral and political growth.
Johns, Andrew L. Vietnam’s Second Front: Domestic Politics, the Republican Party, and the War (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2010)
The Vietnam War was fought on two fronts: in the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia and on the political battlefields of the United States. Ultimately, the administrations of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon failed to achieve victory on either front, but why? The answer lies in two overlooked factors in American history: the role of domestic political considerations in the creation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of foreign relations on the American political process. In this book, Andrew L. Johnson (Brigham Young Univ.) examines the relationship between foreign policy and domestic politics during America’s longest war, assessing the influence of the Republican Party—including the congressional leadership, state and local politicians, grassroots organizations, and the Nixon administration—on the escalation, evolution, and resolution of the conflict. This groundbreaking work also sheds new light on the institutional tensions that existed between Congress and the president as they struggled to formulate and implement U.S. foreign policy.
Kilde, Jeanne Halgren. Nature and Revelation: A History of Macalester College (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2010).
Nature and Revelation is an absorbing history of Macalester College, from its origins as a Presbyterian secondary school in frontier St. Paul to its current presence as a nationally prominent liberal arts college. Detailing the college’s history, Jeanne Halgren Kilde tells stories of the college’s influential leaders, its defining moments, its rapidly changing student life, and the sometimes controversial evolution of the school’s curriculum and reputation, exploring its transformation from a modest evangelical college into a progressive, secular institution.
Lawrence, Mark Atwood. The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010).
In The Vietnam War: A Concise International History, Mark Atwood Lawrence (Univ. of Texas) takes readers on a quick tour of one of the most controversial wars in recent American history. Drawing upon sources from both sides of the conflict, The Vietnam War provides a truly international perspective on what, for many Americans, was an American war. The book focuses on the core issues: the origins of the conflict in European colonialism, the course of the war once America became involved, and the consequence and legacy of the war on the American and world psyche.
Lee, Erika and Judy Yung. Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010).
From 1910 to 1940, nearly half a million people passed through the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay to America in hopes of achieve a prosperous life, safe from war, religious and political persecution and poor economic conditions. Chinese “paper sons,” South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Korean students, Filipino repatriates and many more from around the world set foot on Angel Island. Historians Erika Lee (Univ. of Minnesota) and Judy Yung (emerita, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) have written the first comprehensive history of the Angel Island Immigration Station—the “Ellis Island” of the West.
Maier, Pauline. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787–88 (Simon & Schuster, 2010).
Drawing on an extensive new collection of documents, Pauline Maier (MIT) vividly recreates the dramatic public debate that raged in the fledgling American republic after the Constitutional Convention adjourned in September 1787. At that point, the Constitution was nothing more than a proposal that had to be ratified by special conventions in at least nine of the original thirteen states. Contrary to popular belief, the country was sharply divided, and the outcome was far from certain. In Maier’s compelling account, the lively debate over the Constitution sheds new light not only on the mood and spirit of the early Republic, but on the meaning of the document that defines the nation’s government.
Schrag, Zachary M. Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965–2009 (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2010)
University researchers in the U.S. seeking to observe, survey, or interview people are required first to complete ethical training courses and to submit their proposals to an institutional review board (IRB). IRBs have the power to deny funding, degrees, or promotion if their recommended modifications to scholar’s proposals are not followed. This volume explains how this system of regulation arose and discusses its chilling effects on research in the social sciences and humanities. Zachary M. Schrag (George Mason Univ.) draws on original research and interviews with the key shapers of the institutional review board regime to raise important points about the effect of the IRB process on scholarship. In assessing the issue, Schrag argues that biomedical researchers and bioethicists repeatedly excluded social scientists from rule making and ignored the existing ethical traditions in nonmedical fields. Ultimately, he contends, IRBs not only threaten to polarize medical and social scientists, they also create an atmosphere wherein certain types of academics can impede and even silence others.