New Books Network

W. Taylor Fain, “American Ascendance and British Retreat in the Persian Gulf Region” (Palgrave-McMillan, 2008)
If you ask most Americans when the U.S. became heavily involved in the Persian Gulf, they might cite the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1981 or, more probably, the First Gulf War of 1990. Of course the roots of American entanglement in the region run much deeper, as W. Taylor Fain... Read More
Hans Kundnani, “Utopia or Auschwitz: Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust” (Columbia UP, 2010)
It’s pretty common in American political discourse to call someone a “fascist.” Everyone knows, however, that this is just name-calling: supposed fascists are never really fascists–they are just people you don’t like very much. Not so in post-War West Germany. There, too, it was common to call people “fascists. But... Read More
Charles Lane, “The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction” (Henry Holt, 2008)
Why did Reconstruction fail? Why didn’t the post-war Federal government protect the civil rights of the newly freed slaves? And why did it take Washington almost a century to intercede on the behalf of beleaguered, oppressed African Americans in the South? In a terrific new book, Charles Lane explains why.... Read More
Gabrielle Hamilton, “Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” (Random House, 2011)
Gabrielle Hamilton has a hard time admitting she wrote a memoir. “It’s like admitting you wrote a power love ballad,” she told me. But her new book, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011), has been garnering strong reviews, a blurb from Anthony... Read More
Kenneth Moss, “Jewish Renaissance in the Russian Revolution” (Harvard UP, 2010)
For us, every “nation” has and has always had a “culture,” meaning a defining set of folkways, customs, and styles that is different from every other. But like the modern understanding of the word “nation,” this idea of “culture” or “a culture” is not very old. According to the OED,... Read More
Benjamin Binstock, “Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice” (Routledge, 2009)
Ben Binstock‘s Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice (Routledge, 2009) is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It does what all good history books should do–tell you something you thought you knew but in fact don’t–but it does it ON EVERY PAGE. I... Read More
Lesley Hazleton, “After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split” (Doubleday, 2009)
Sometimes a shallow explanation, the kind you read in newspapers and hear on television, is enough. “The home team was beaten at the buzzer” is probably all you need to know. Sometimes, however, it’s not. The intermittent conflict between the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq (and elsewhere) provides a good... Read More