New Books Network

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
James Fleming, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control” (Columbia UP, 2010)
In the summer of 2008 the Chinese were worried about rain. They were set to host the Summer Olympics that year, and they wanted clear skies. Surely clear skies, they must have thought, would show the world that China had arrived. So they outfitted a small army (50,000 men) with... Read More
Aram Goudsouzian, “King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution” (University of California, 2010)
I imagine the guys who first faced Bill Russell felt like I did when I had to guard Antoine Carr in high school. I “held” Carr to 32 points. But no dunks! Russell’s opponents in college and the NBA rarely fared any better. Sports talk is full of hyperbole, but... Read More
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, “Russian Orientalism” (Yale UP, 2010)
There’s a saying, sometimes attributed to Napoleon, “Scratch a Russian and you find a Tatar.” I’ve scratched a Russian (I won’t say anything more about that) and I can tell you that the saying is false: all I found was more Russian. It’s true, however, that Russians have always known... Read More
Fred Spier, “Big History and the Future of Humanity” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)
My son Isaiah likes to play the “why” game. Isaiah: “Why is my ice cream gone?” Me: “Because you ate it.” Isaiah: “Why did I eat it?” Me: “Because you need food.” Isaiah: “Why do I need food?” And so on. Isaiah naturally wants to know why things are the... Read More
Norman Naimark, “Stalin’s Genocides” (Princeton UP, 2010)
Absolutely no one doubts that Stalin murdered millions of people in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. His ruthless campaign of “dekulakization,” his pitiless deportation of “unreliable” ethnic groups, his senseless starvation of Ukrainian peasants, his cruel attempt to “cleanse” the Communist Party of supposed “enemies of the people”–all of these... Read More