New Books Network

Ann Fabian, “The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead” (University of Chicago, 2010)
What should we study? The eighteenth-century luminary and poet Alexander Pope had this to say on the subject: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man ” (An Essay on Man, 1733). He was not alone in this opinion. The philosophers of the... Read More
Kyra Hicks, “This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt and Other Pieces” (Black Threads Press, 2009)
I’ll tell you something I’ve never really understood: the difference between “art” and “craft.” Yes, I get the sociological difference (“art” is made in New York and Paris; “craft” is made in Omaha and Wichita), but what about the substantive difference? One common way to differentiate the two is to... Read More
David Farber, “The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism” (Princeton UP, 2010)
I think that many smart people, particularly on the Left, make a really ill-considered assumption, to wit, that “Republican” means “Conservative.” I don’t mean lower case “c” conservative, as in wanting to maintain the status quo. Nearly all (there are important exceptions) twentieth-century Republicans were conservatives in that generic sense.... Read More
Abbott Gleason, “A Liberal Education” (TidePool Press, 2010)
I fear that most people think that “history” is “the past” and that the one and the other live in books. But it just ain’t so. History is a story we tell about the past, or rather some small portion of it. The past itself is gone and cannot, outside... Read More
Thomas Kessner, “The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh & the Rise of American Aviation” (Oxford UP, 2010)
Try to imagine having never seen an airplane. It’s hard. Aircraft are an ordinary part of our daily experience. Just look up and you’ll probably see one, or at least its vapor trails. Go to your local airport and you can fly in one pretty inexpensively. Heck, if you like,... Read More
Kip Kosek, “Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy” (Columbia UP, 2010)
There’s a quip that goes “Christianity is probably a great religion. Someone should really try it.” The implication, of course, is that most people who call themselves Christians aren’t very Christian at all. And, in truth, it’s hard to be a good Christian, what with all that loving your enemies,... Read More
Elaine Tyler May, “America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation” (Basic Books, 2010)
Don’t you find it a bit curious that there are literally thousands of pills that we in the developed world take on a daily basis, but only one of them is called “the Pill?” Actually, you probably don’t find it curious, because you know that the pill has had a... Read More