New Books Network

Laurence Monnais, C. Michele Thompson, and Ayo Wahlberg, “Southern Medicine for Southern People: Vietnamese Medicine in the Making” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)
Southern Medicine for Southern People: Vietnamese Medicine in the Making (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012) gives me hope for the future of edited volumes. Not only is it a fascinating and coherent treatment of the history and practice of Vietnamese medicine, but it’s also a wonderfully interdisciplinary collection of approaches that... Read More
Mark Rowe, “Bonds of the Dead: Temples, Burial, and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism” (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
Mark Rowe‘s new book Bonds of the Dead: Temples, Burial, and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) is a fascinating study of the life of Buddhism in Japan by looking at the many facets of death in modern Japanese Buddhism. Rowe guides us from the... Read More
Robert Lane Greene, “You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws and the Politics of Identity” (Delacorte Press, 2011)
Isn’t it odd how the golden age of correct language always seems to be around the time that its speaker was in high school, and that language has been going to the dogs ever since? Such is the anguish of declinists the world over, pushing the commercial success of language-bashing... Read More
Noboru Ishikawa, “Between Frontiers: Nation and Identity in a South East Asian Borderland” (NUS Press, 2010)
Borneo is an island where three very different nation-states meet: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The Indonesian province of Kalimantan occupies most of the island; of the rest, all except one percent is taken up by the Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak. The tiny but wealthy Sultanate of Brunei occupies... Read More
Douglas Rogers, “The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals” (Cornell UP, 2009)
What are ethics? What are morals? How are they constituted, practiced, and regulated? How do they change over time? My own research is informed by these question; so is Douglas Rogers‘. So it was only natural that I would be drawn to Rogers’ new book The Old Faith and the... Read More
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
Azar Gat, “War in Human Civilization” (Oxford UP, 2006)
Historians don’t generally like the idea of “human nature.” We tend to believe that people are intrinsically malleable, that they have no innate “drives,” “instincts,” or “motivations.” The reason we hew to the “blank slate” notion perhaps has to do with the fact–and it is a fact–that we see remarkable... Read More