November 30, 2011


John Muir, Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Selected Essays, edited by William Cronon (New York: Library of America, 1997) (From "Wild Wool": "No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relation which culture sustains to wildness, as that which declares that the world was made especially for the uses of men. Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts it in the plainest terms. Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious, and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged." "I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for itself. . . ." Id. at 598, 602-603. From The Story of My Boyhood and Youth: "The muskrat is one of the most notable and widely distributed of American animals, and millions of the gentle, industrious, beaver-like creatures are shot and trapped and speared every season for their skins, worth a dime of so,--like shooting boys and girls for their garments." Id. at 1, 88.).

November 29, 2011


Anand M. Saxena, The Vegetarian Imperative (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2011) ("We have not learned to take food seriously. A person living in the developed world seems to have an endless variety of food choices, from breakfast cereals and lunch meats to snack items. We munch all through the day. However, there are vitally important reasons for taking food seriously. Put simply, if we do not change our ways, we humans will eventually run out of food because our planet will not be able to produce what we need. We need to take food seriously to save the environment (or at least not despoil It to the extent that our children have to suffer deprivations), to provide sufficient food for people living right now and in the future, and to protect our own health." Id. at 3. "The global demand for food for the present population is already very large, and it is on an upward spiral, increasing with each passing year. There are to main reasons for this situation. First, the population of the world is growing by 76 million every year and is projected to reach 9.1 billion by the year 2050. Second, and at least as important, a nutritionally transition is taking place in most regions of the world, with a greater demand for foods of animal origins--meats, milk products, and eggs. The consumption of these items in the developed world, while already very high, is still increasing at a slow rate, while in the developing world the demand for animal-based foods is increasing rapidly." Id. at 4. "Eating the primary agricultural products--grain, fruits, vegetables, and nuts--is called eating closer to the sun because there are no intermediary steps. Feeding agricultural products to farm animals and then consuming animals as food is a secondary process, with a large concomitant loss of energy; thus producing these foods increases the burden on the ecosphere. Our choice of food is important because it determines the quantity of primary agricultural products used to fuel our activities." Id. at 6.).

November 28, 2011


Adam Kirsch, Why Trilling Matters (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2011) (From the bookjacket: Why Trilling Matters is more than a study of Trilling's work: Kirsch argues that, at a time when serious readers are fearful about the decline of literature, reading, even the book itself, Trilling has more to teach us than ever before.").

November 27, 2011


Thomas L. Friedman & Michael Mandebaum, That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) ("When America failed to see what a profound challenge the end of the Cold War posed, this could be chalked up to ignorance or inattention. We simply didn't understand the world in which we were living. But when we decided to go to war on math and physics, we did so with eyes wide open. And when we did all these things at once, we made a radical departure from the norms of American history. That is why we call this initial decade of the twenty-first century the 'Terrible Twos'." "This term comes originally from child psychology. It refers to the developmental stage, beginning sometime after the child turns two, when the child becomes cranky, moody, and willful about almost everything. Pediatricians reassure anxious parents of such cantankerous toddlers that the behavior pattern is normal. They'll grow out of it. American behavior in the Terrible Twos, by contrast, was anything but normal, and we have not yet grown out of it." "As a country, we lost the plot. We forgot who we were, how we had become the richest and most powerful country in the history of the world, where we wanted to go and what we needed to do to get there. We failed to update our five-part formula for greatness--education, infrastructure, immigration, research and development, and appropriate regulation--just at a time when changes in the world, especially the expansion of globalization and the IT revolution, made adapting that formula to new circumstances as important as it had ever been, Then we fell into the pit of the Great Rescission, while fighting two wars in the Middle East and being the first generation of Americans not only to fail to raise taxes to pay for a war but actually to cut them." "In short, we were the generation of Americans that threw out its umbrella just before the storm. . . ." Id. at 217-218. Friedman and Mandlebaum do not really say anything new here, nothing that one could not come to know by simply opening one's eyes, ears, and paying attention. Unfortunately, we Americans are very adept at only seeing and hearing what we want to see and hear, and of simply not paying attention. As someone both involved in education (legal education) and an interest in corporate (or organizational) governance, I wish Friedman's and Mandelbaum's discussion of innovation. You would think that educational institutions would be hotbeds of innovation. Yet very few are--especially those that have become more corporate in their governance structure, moving governance away from the faculty to administrative staff and adopting more a more top down authoritative decision-making structure. This may fuel the decreasing innovation in even the area of education. From the top will come dumb innovation, stifling out smart innovation from below. "Given the rising innovative power and knowledge that can so easily more from the bottom up now--the power to invent, design, manufacture, improve, and sell products--and not just from the top down, Carlson sees the following mega-trend barrelling down the highway: 'More and more, innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb. Innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart.' Therefore, 'the sweet spot for innovation today is moving down.' " "We call this Carlson's Law: Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb. Innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. This makes it all more important for every worker to be a creative creator or creative server and for every boss to understand that the boss's job is to take advantage of Carlson's Law--to find ways to inspire, enable, and unleash innovation from the bottom up, and then to edit, manage, and merge that innovation from the top down to produce goods, services, and concepts." Id. at 97-98. Anyway, I do not share whatever optimism Friedman and Mandelbaum have about America's future. The American Century is over, and the American people need to get over themselves and thinking of themselves and the country as being exceptional. We have read our own press releases and slef-advertisements so long that we have forgotten that we made it up and that it has little basis in reality.).

November 26, 2011


Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Basic Books, 1959) ("Thee empirical basis of objective science has thus nothing 'absolute' about it. Science does not rest upon rock-bottom. The bold structure of its theories rises, as it were, above a swamp. It is like a building erected on piles. The piles are driven down from above into the swamp, but not down to any natural or 'given' base; and when we cease our attempts to drive our piles into a deeper layer, it is not because we have reached firm ground. We simply stop when we are satisfied that they are firm enough to carry the structure, at least for the time being." Id. at 111.).

November 25, 2011


Malachi Haim Hacohen, Karl Popper, The Formative years, 1902-1945: Politics and Philosophy in Interwar Vienna (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 2000) (" 'Experiences can motivate a decision, and hence an acceptance or a rejection of a statement, but a basic statement cannot be justified by them - no more than by thumping the table.' " "Popper used jury trials to demonstrate his point. Courts present juries with a case and a question formulated according to legal rules. Guided by procedures, the jury reaches a verdict, 'a true statement of fact.' No doubt convictions motive the decision to accept a particular story as 'fact,' but convictions do not justify the decision. Indeed, the verdict may be wrong. In contrast, judges justify their judgment. They determine punishment by 'deducing' the judgment from the laws. Scientific parallels are close. Basic statements can no more be justified by scientists' convictions than a jury's verdict. Questions posed to, and decisions reached by, both juries and scientists represent application of a system, legal or theoretical, not unadulterated facts, or experience. Only 'arbitrary' acceptance of a basic statement makes further application of the system - one that can be justified - possible. Theory informs all action and decision. Decision can not be justified." Id. at 246. "The historian has the right, however, to interrogate Popper's claim to have overcome the conditions of an 'assimilated Jew.' In an open society, those declining to belong to any nationality might be recognized as Weltburger. Popper did not live in such a society. From childhood to death, his closest friends were assimilated Jews. He grew up in an assimilated Jewish family. Progressive Viennese circles were essential to his intellectual formulation and Central European networks to his intellectual growth. Both were preponderantly Jewish, His cosmopolitanism emerged from Jewish marginality and reflected the assimilated Jews' dilemmas. Anti-Semitism drove him to exile. He retained a special relationship to Jewish nationality, condemning it, yet feeling responsible for it. Using the category of 'assimilated Jew' to describe and analyze Popper, I neither follow in 'the Fuhrer's steps nor deny cosmopolitanism's emergence, demise, and constraints. To do so simply recognizes that Central Europe set limits to cosmopolitanism. I hope with Popper for a world where such limits will no longer exists." Id. at 308-309.).

November 24, 2011


Samuel Hynes, Anne Matthews, Nancy Caldwell Sorel, & Roger J. Spiller, Reporting World War II: Part Two: American Journalism 1944-1946 (New York: Library of America, 1995) (From: The Editors of Fortune, "Issei, Nisei, Kibei": "The longer the Army permits California and the rest of the Pacific Coast to be closed to everyone of Japanese descent the more time is given to the Hearst papers and their allies to convince Californians that they will indeed yield to lawlessness if the unwanted minority is permitted to return. By continuing to keep American citizens in 'protective custody,' the U.S. is holding to a policy as ominous as it is new. The American custom in the past has been to lock up the citizen who commits violence, not the victim of his threats and blows. The doctrine of 'protective custody' could prove altogether too convenient a weapon in many situations. In California, a state with a long history of race hatred and vigilanteism, antagonism is already building against the Negroes who have come in for war jobs. What is to prevent their removal to jails, to 'protect them' from riots? Or Negroes in Detroit, Jews in Boston, Mexicans in Texas? The possibilities of 'protective custody' are endless, as the Nazis have amply proved." Id. at 47, 69-70.).

November 22, 2011


Samuel Hynes, Anne Matthews, Nancy Caldwell Sorel & Roger J. Spiller, eds., Reporting World War II: Part One: American Journalism 1938-1944 (New York: Library of America, 1995) (From Ernie Pyle, "Life Without Redemption": "Since the first night I have seen too much of it. I no longer feel that way about the shelters in mass. Repetition makes the unusual become commonplace. Enough of anything dulls the emotions." "But I still think my first impression was a valid one. I still think it speaks the frightening poverty of character in this world more forcibly than do the bombs that cause it." "A bombed building looks like something you have seen before--it looks as though a hurricane had struck. But the sight of thousands of poor, opportunityless people lying in weird position against cold steel with all their clothes on, hunched up in blankets, lights shinning in their eyes, breathing fetid air--lying there far underground like rabbits not fighting, not even mad, just helpless scourged, weakly, waiting for the release of another dawn--that, I tell you, is life without redemption." Id. at 150, 152.).

November 20, 2011


Keith Wailoo, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2011) (From the bookjacket: "In the course of the 20th century, cancer went from being perceived as a white woman's nemesis to a 'democratic disease' to a fearsome threat in communities of color. Drawing on film and fiction, on medical and epidemiological evidence, and on patients' accounts, Keith Wailoo tracks this transformation in cancer awareness, revealing how not only awareness, but also cancer prevention, treatment, and survival, have been refracted through the lens of race." [] "A pioneering study, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line gracefully documents how race and gender became central motifs in the birth of cancer awareness, how patterns and perceptions changed over time, and how the 'war on cancer' continues to be waged along the color line.").

November 19, 2011


Jaffa, Harry V., A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and The Coming of the Civil War (Lanham, Maryland, & Oxford, England: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) ("The present work is intended to be what, in medieval literature, would be called a Great Commentary. Its text, as the title indicates, is the Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg Address, as we know, has been read and recited countless times by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, by schoolchildren of all ages, by visitors to the Lincoln Memorial, by politicians, citizens, and scholars. As Soviet tanks were crushing the Hungarian revolution of 1956, the final message the Hungarian freedom fighters, broadcast on the Free Hungarian Radio, was a reading of the Gettysburg Address. The reading was not completed when it was cut off to the sound of gunfire. Some forty years later, however, the Soviet tanks were gone, and the reading of the Gettysburg Address will have resumed. We can say once again that Lincoln's work, and Jefferson's, have proved more powerful than tyranny and despotism." Id. at 78. "A commentary on the Gettysburg Address is necessarily, and above all, a commentary on what is meant by dedication to 'the proposition that all men are created equal.' The idea compressed withing this proposition is called, by Lincoln, 'an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.' It is also said, by Lincoln, to be the central idea, from which all minor thoughts radiate, of the public opinion upon which the nation was founded. I have found it necessary . . . to lead the argument again and again from the periphery back to the center, to illuminate the geometrical necessity that, in Lincoln's mind, governed the struggle memorialized at Gettysburg. In doing so, I have no hesitated to repeat either the proposition, abstractly considered, or he structure of reasoning into which it is incorporated. This structure comprehends precisely what James Madison meant in his oft repeated dictum that 'compact is the essence of all free government.' That maxim of Madison unites his thought and Jefferson's, as it unites the principles of the Declaration [of Independence] and the Constitution, The compact theory and the doctrine of human equality are identical, and I found that the repetition of that identity was essential to compel us to think, as Lincoln thought, that the cause of union was no less metaphysical than moral and political." Id. at xiii. "Lincoln, in his speech on the Dred Scott decision in 1857, confronted the argument of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and Senator Stephen A. Douglas tat the authors of the Declaration of Independence has not meant to include Negroes in the proposition of universal human equality, on the evidence that 'they did not at once actually place them on an equality with the whites.' 'This grave argument,' said Lincoln, 'comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards, actually place all white people on an equality with one another.' Lincoln did not then say who were the whites excluded form the privileges of equality. However, in one of the earliest announcements of his political views, in the Sangamo Journal on June 13, 1836, Lincoln had said, 'I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear arms, (by no means excluding females).' Certainly the largest class of excluded 'equals' were women, and Lincoln at the age of twenty-seven is on record as favoring female suffrage. Speaking in 1957, however, he said he understood that the authors of the Declaration 'meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit.' Jefferson himself, in his famous diatribe against slavery in Notes on Virginia, speaks of the 'execration' with which a statesman would be loaded, 'who, permitting one half of the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the moral of the one part, and the amor patriae of the other.' For Jefferson to write in the 1780s of slaves as 'one half citizens' of Virginia--that is to say, citizens by natural right, if not by positive law--is certainly extraordinary. But It is consistent with his reference in 1774 [in Summary View] to the whole population of America as the equals, by right of nature, to the electors of Great Britain." Id. at 21.).


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot
consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men,
living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
will little note nor long remember what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished
work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us…that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here
highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
freedom; and that government of the people, by the people,
for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 19, 1863

November 17, 2011


Jason Burke, The 9/11 Wars (London: Allen Lane, 2011) ("A broader mistake which also proved tragically expensive in lives and resources was the insistence that the violence suddenly sweeping two, even three, continents was the product of a single, unitary conflict pitting good against evil, the West against Islam, the modern against the retrograde. For the last decade has not seen one conflict but many. Inevitably, a multi-polar, multifaceted, chaotic world without overarching ideological narratives generates conflicts in its own image. The events described in this book can only be understood as part of matrix of ongoing, overlaid, interlinked and overlapping conflicts, some of which ended during the ten years since 9/11 and some of which started; some of which worsened and some of which died away; some of which have roots going back decades if not centuries and some of which are relatively recent in origins." "This is not a unique characteristic of the current crisis but is certainly one of its essentially distinguishing qualities. The wars that make up this most recent conflict spans the globe geographically--from Indonesia in the east to the Atlantic-Mediterranean coastline in the west, from south-west China to south-west Spain, from small-town America to small-town Pakistan--as well as culturally, politically and ideologically. With no obvious starting point and no obvious end, with no sense of what might constitute victory or defeat, their chronological span is impossible to determine. No soldier at the battle of Castillon in 1453 knew they were fighting the last major engagement of the Hundred Years War. No one fighting at Waterloo could have known they were taking part in what turned out to be the ultimate confrontation of the Napoleonic Wars. The First World War was the Great War until the Second World War came along. Inevitably perhaps, this present conflict is currently without a name. In decades or centuries to come historians will no doubt find one--or several, as is usually the case. In the interim, given the one event that, in the Western public consciousness at least, saw hostilities commence, 'the 9/11 Wars' seems an apt working title for a conflict in progress. Id. at xviii-xix. An excellent read for those who actually care about what we have done to others these last ten years, what others have been done to, and what we and others will do in the future. One on the implicit themes is that the United States may be a large player, but it is not necessarily the central player, the controlling player, etc., and may very well be the one ultimately played. That unshaken belief in so-called American Exceptionalism may be our biggest blind spot.).

November 15, 2011


Jean-Francois Drolet, American Neoconservatism: The Politics and Culture of A Reactionary Idealism (New York: Columbia U. Press, 2011) ("This book seeks to come to terms with the politics and theory of American neoconservatism. It exposes and interrogates the ideational substance of this 'new' conservatism and offers a critical assessment of the implications for American democracy and American foreign policy. Thee aim is to generate a better understanding of neoconservative ides and political sociology, in light of the historical events and changing social compacts that have created a demand for them over the past decades. The motivation for this enterprise is simply. As Michael C. Williams noted in the aftermath of the Iraq War, despite the important role that neoconservatism has played in American political life since the 1960s, theoretically-oriented literature with the field of politics and International Relations (IR) has remained remarkably scarce, This study seeks to fill this important gap in the literature. It moves beyond recent debates over the implications and political intrigues of the Bush presidency to offer a deeper look at the intellectual preemies of neoconservative political sociology, While animated by progressive politics, it seeks to understand the gaps that neoconservative politics appear to fill in American society so as [to] encourage engagement and a more effective response." Id. at 3. "Neoconservatives . . . see themselves as the guardians of a 'liberalism betrayed' by the events of the 1960s." Id. at 5. "In the pages that follow, I examine this 'new kind of politics; and set out to demonstrate that American neoconservatism is not the mainstream 'liberal conservatism' that it pretends to be (and that many analysts have diagnosed). I argue that neoconservatism in fact owes a lot more to the counter-Enlightenment than to the liberal tradition that its protagonists allegedly want to reform and protect against its enemies." Id. at 6. "My contention is that to the extent that neoconservatism is committed to this discourse, these commitments are subordinated to an authoritarian form of cultural conservatism that is in fact ferociously predatory on liberal values--both in domestic and global politics. Over the years, analysts of all persuasions (including many neoconservatives) have used a variety of evocative Wilsonian slogans to describe the neoconservative approach to foreign affairs: 'Wilsonianism in boots'. 'hard Wilsonianism'. 'closet Wilsonianism', 'Realistic Wilsonianism'. 'Wolfish Wilsonians', 'Hobbes meets Kant', etc. I argue here that these Wilsonian tropes are misleading. For they suggest that neoconservatism resorts to realist power politics to pursue a liberal vision and deepen the normative fabric of the global liberal order. This is simply not the case. Whether in domestic or in international politics, neoconservative attachments to liberalism are predicated on an atavistic conservative philosophy which is at the service of values--authority, hierarchy, elitism, nationalism, community, sacrifice--that are inimical to the transformative mechanisms of liberal governance and the progressive discourse of democracy and human rights." Id. at 7.).

November 13, 2011


Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, edited and with a Foreword by Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, , 1944, 1974, 2011) (On the "Dictatorship Complex": "Man is born an asocial and antisocial being. The newborn child is a savage. Egoism is his nature. Only the experience of life and the teaching of his parents, his brothers, sisters, playmates, and later of other people force him to acknowledge the advantages of social cooperation and accordingly to change his behavior. The savage thus turns toward civilization and citizenship. He learns that his will is not almighty, that he has to accommodate himself to others and adjust his actions to his social environment, and that the aims and the actions of other people are facts with which he must reckon." "The neurotic lacks this ability to adapt himself to his environment. He is asocial; he never arrives at an adjustment with the facts. But whether he likes it or not, reality has its own way. It is beyond the neurotic's power to eliminate the will and the actions of his fellowmen and to sweep everything before him. Thus he escapes into daydreams. The weakling, lacking the strength to get on with his life and reality, indulges in reveries on dictatorship and on the power to subdue everybody else. The land of his dreams is the land in which his will alone decides; it is the realm in which he alone gives orders and all other obey. In this paradise only that happens which he wants to happen. Everything is sound and reasonable, i.e., everything corresponds exactly to his ideas and wishes, is reasonable from the viewpoint of his reason." "In the secrecy of these daydreams the neurotic assigns to himself the role of the dictator; he himself is Caesar. When addressing his fellow citizens he must be more modest, He depicts a dictatorship operated by somebody else. But this dictator is only his substitute and handyman; he acts only as the neurotic wants him to act, A daydreamer who refrained from this cautious restriction and proposed himself for the post of dictator, would risk being considered and treated as a lunatic. The psychiatrists would call his insanity egomania." "Nobody ever recommended a dictatorship aiming at ends other than those he himself approved. He who advocates dictatorship always advocates the unrestricted rue of his own will, although operated by an intermediary, an amanuensis. He wants a dictator made in his own image." Id. at 270-271. Look around. Does not this characterized many of today's so-called political leaders, corporate managers, and (pseudo) public intellectuals?).

November 11, 2011


Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War: Meditations on the Centennial (New York: Random House, 1961) ("Union, the abolition of slavery, the explosion of the westward expansion, Big Business and Big Technology, style in war, philosophy, and politics--we can see the effects of the Civil War in all of these things. In a sense they all add up to the creation of the world power that America is today. Between 1861 and 1865 America learned how to mobilize, equip, and deploy enormous military forces--and learned the will and the confidence to do so. For most importantly, America emerged with a confirmed sense of destiny, the old sense of destiny confirmed by a new sense of military and economic competence. The Civil War was the secret school for 1917-18 and 1941-45. Neither the Kaiser nor the Fuhrer had read the right history book of the United States." Id. at 46. "The War made us a new nation, and our problem, because of the very size and power of that new nation and the nobility of the promise which it inherits, remains that of finding in our time and in our new terms a way to recover and reinterpret the 'Founders' dream.' Is is possible for the individual, in the great modern industrial state, to retain some sense of responsibility? Is it possible for him to remain an individual? Is it possible, in the midst of all the forces making for standardization and anonymity, for society to avoid cultural starvation--to retain, and even develop, cultural pluralism and individual variety, and foster social and individual integrity? Can we avoid, in its deep and more destructive manifestations, the tyranny of the majority, and at the same time keep a fruitful respect for the common will? We sense that one way, however modest, to undertake this mandatory task of our time is to contemplate the Civil War itself, that mystic cloud from which emerged our modernity." Id. at 48-49. Unfortunately, I suspect that the questions Robert Penn Warren raised in 1961 would be answered, fifty years later in 2011, in the negative given the current state of early twenty-first-century America. Perhaps, just perhaps, as we have begun to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the contemplation of the Civil War will cause us, both individually and collectively, to reassess what we have become, to understand how we got here and, then, to begin to make the necessary corrections . . . if possible and not too late.).

November 8, 2011


Mary C. Brinton, Women and the Economic Miracle: Gender and Work in Postwar Japan (Berkeley & Oxford: U. of California Press, 1993).

Judith C. Brown, Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (New York & Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1986).

Kim Chernin, Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself (New York: Times Books, 1987) (reclaiming women's wildness).

Catherine Clement, Opera, or the Undoing of Women, translated from the French by Betsy Wing, with a Forward by Susan McClary (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1988) ("Opera is not forbidden to women. That is true. Women are its jewels, you say, the ornament indispensable for every festival. No prima donna, no opera. But the role of jewel, a decorative object, is not the deciding role; and on the opera stage women perpetually sing their eternal undoing. The emotion is never more poignant than at the moment when the voice is lifted to die. Look at these heroines. With their voices they flap their wings, their arms writhe, and then there they are, dead, on the ground. Look at these women who fill the theater, accompanied by penguins in uniform that scarcely vary: they are present, they are decorative. They are present for the dispatch of women like themselves. And when the curtain closes to let the singers take the last bow, there are the women kneeling in a curtsey, their arms filled with flowers; and there, beside them, the producer, the conductor, the set designer. Occasionally, a . . . But you wouldn't know how to say it: a produceress? A conductress? Not many have access to the great masculine scheme surrounding this spectacle though up to adore, and also kill, the feminine character." Id. at 5-6.).

Angela Y. Davis, Women, Culture and Politics (NEw York: Vintage Books, 1990).

Angela Y. Davis, Women, Race, and Class (New York: Vintage Books, 1983) (From "Class and Race in the Early Women's Rights Campaign": "The failure to recognize the potential for an integrated women's movement--particularly against sexism in education--was dramatically revealed in an episode occurring during the crucial summer of 1848. Ironically, it involved the daughter of Frederick Douglass. After her official admission to a girl's seminary in Rochester, New York, Douglass' daughter was formally prohibited from attending classes with the white girls. The principal who issued the order was an abolitionist woman! When Douglass and his wife protested this segregationist policy, the principal asked each white girl to vote on the issue, indicating that one objection would suffice to continue the exclusion. After the white girls voted in favor of integrating the classroom, the principal approached the girls' parents, using the one resulting objection as an excuse to exclude Douglass' daughter." "That a white woman associated with the anti-slavery movement could assume a racist posture toward a Black girl in the North reflected a major weakness in the abolitionist campaign--its failure to promote a broad anti-racist consciousness. This serious shortcoming . . . was unfortunately carried over into the organized movement for women's rights." Id. at 46, 59.).

Barbara Ehrenreich & Arlie Russell Hochschild, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003) ("Sex tourism, it is commonly noted, is fueled by the fantasies of white, First-Wold men who exoticize dark-skinned 'native' bodies in the developing world, where they can buy sex for cut-rat prices. These two components--racial stereotypes and the economic disparity between developed and the developing worlds--characterize sex-tourist destinations everywhere. But make sex tourists are not the only ones who travel to places like Sosua to fulfill their fantasies. Many Dominican sex workers look to their clients as sources not only of money, marriage, and visas, but also of greater gender equity than they can hope for in the households they keep with Dominican men. Some might hope for romance and love, but most tend to fantasize about greater resources and easier lives." "Yet even for the women with the most pragmatic expectations, there are few happy endings. . . Though only a handful of women regularly receive money wires from clients in Europe, the stories of those who do circulate among sex workers like Dominicinized versions of Hollywood's Pretty Woman." Id. at 156-157.).

Elissa D. Gelfand, Imagination in Confinement: Women's Writings From French Prisons (Ithaca & London: Cornell U. Press, 1983).

Claudia Goldin, Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women (New York & Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1990) (From the bookjacket: "Goldin argues that women's employment advances are the result of a culmination of historical trends initiated nearly two centuries ago, not the consequence of abrupt social change. She demonstrates that the narrowing of the gender gap in earnings today finds historical precedent. Twice before in American history, the ratio of female to male earnings increased substantially--during the rise of white collar employment from 1890 to 1930, and during the industrial revolution, from 1820 to 1850.").

Mikiso Hane, ed., Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan (Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: U. of California Press, 1989).

bell hooks, Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism (Boston: South End Press, 1981) ("When the contemporary movement toward feminism began, there was little discussion of the impact of sexism on the social status of black women. The upper and middle class white women who were at the forefront of the movement made no effort to emphasize that patriarchal power, the power men use to dominate women, is not just the privilege of upper and middle class white men, but the privilege of all men in our society regardless of their class or race. White feminists so focused on the disparity between white male/white female economic status as an indication of the negative impact of sexism that they drew no attention to the fact that poor and lower-class men are as able to oppress and brutalize women as any other group of men in American society. The feminist tendency to make synonymous male possession of economic power with being the oppressor cause white men to be labeled 'the' enemy. The labeling of the white male patriarch as 'chauvinist pig' provided a convenient scapegoat for black make sexists. They could join with white and black women to protest against white male oppression and divert attention from their sexism, their support of patriarchy, and their sexist exploitation of women. Black leaders, male and female, have been unwilling to acknowledge black male sexist oppression of black women because they do not want to acknowledge that racism is not the only oppressive force in our lives. Nor do they wish to complicate efforts to resist racism by acknowledging that black men can be victimized by racism but at the same time act as sexist oppressors of black women. Consequently there is little acknowledgement of sexist oppression in black male/female relationships as a serious problem. Exaggerated emphasis on the impact of racism on black men has evoked an image of the black make as effete, emasculated, crippled. And so intensely does this image dominate American thinking that people are absolutely unwilling to admit that the damaging effects of racism on black men neither prevents them from being sexist oppressors nor excuses or justifies their sexist oppression of black women." Id. at 87-88.).

bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992).

bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (Boston: South End Press, 1984) ("Since we live in a society that promotes fadism and temporary superficial adaptation of different values, we are easily convinced that changes have occurred in arenas where there has been little or no change. Women's sexist attitudes towards one another are one such arena. All over the United States, women spend hours of their time daily verbally abusing other women, usually through malicious gossip (not to be confused with gossip as positive communication). Television soap operas and night time dramas continually portray woman-to-woman relationships as characterized by aggression, contempt, and competitiveness. In feminist circles sexism towards women is expressed by abusive trashing, total disregard and lack of concern or interest in women who have not joined feminist movement. This is especially evident at university campuses where feminist studies is often seen as a discipline or program having no relationship to feminist movement. In her commencement address at Barnard College in May, 1979, black woman writer Toni Morrison told her audience: 'I want not to ask you but to tell you not to participate in the oppression of your sisters. Mothers who abuse their children are women, and another woman, not an agency, has to be willing to stay their hands. Mothers who set fire to school buses are women, and another woman, not an agency, has to tell them to stay their hands. Women who stop the promotion of other women in careers are women, and another woman must come to the victim's aid. Social and welfare workers who humiliate their clients may be women, and other women colleagues have to deflect their anger.' 'I am alarmed by the violence that women do to each other: professional violence, competitive violence, emotional violence. I am alarmed by the willingness of women to enslave other women. I am alarmed by a growing absence of decency on the killing floor of professional women's world.' To build a politicized, mass-based feminist movement, women must work harder to overcome the alienation from one another that exists when sexist socialization has not been unlearned, e.f., homophobia, judging by appearance, conflicts between women with diverse sexual practices. So far, feminist movement had not transform woman-to-woman relationships, especially between women who are strangers to one another or from different backgrounds, even though it ha been the occasion for bonding between individuals and groups of women. We mist renew out efforts to help women unlearn sexism if we are to develop affirming personal relationships as well as political unity." Id. at 48-49 (italic added). Sadly, the charge remains true.).

bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (Boston: South End Press, 1989) ("At times, the insistence that feminism is really 'a white female thing that has nothing to do with black women' masks black female rage towards white women, a rage rooted in the historical servant-served relationship where white women have used power to dominate, exploit, and oppress. Many black women share this animosity, and it is evoked again and again when white women attempt to assert control over us. This resistance to white female domination must be separated from a black female refusal to bond with white women engaged in feminist struggle. This refusal is often rooted as well in traditional sexist models: women learn to see one another as enemies, as threats, as competitors. Viewing white women as competitors for jobs, for companions, for valuation in a culture that only values select groups of women, often serves as a barrier to bonding, even in settings where radical white women are not acting in a dominating manner. In some settings it has become a way of one-upping white women for black women to trivialize feminism." Id. at 179.).

bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (Boston: South End Press, 1990) ("Aesthetics then is more than a philosophy or theory of art and beauty; it is a way of inhabiting space, a particular location, a way of looking and becoming. It is not organic. I grew up in an ugly house. No one there considered the function of beauty or pondered the use of space. Surrounded by dead things, whose spirits had long ago vanished since they were no longer needed, that house contained a great engulfing emptiness. In that house things were not to be looked at, they were to be possessed--space was not to be created but owned--a violent anti-aesthetic. I grew up thinking about art and beauty as it existed in our lives, the lives of poor black people. Without knowing the appropriate language, I understood that advanced capitalism was affecting our capacity to see, that consumerism began to take the place of that predicament of heart that called us to yearn for beauty. Now many of us are only yearning for things." Id. at 104.).

Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work: A History of Wage_Earning Women in the United States (New York & Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1982) (From the bookjacket: "This pioneering study traces the transformation of ;women's work' into wage labor in the U.S. from the colonial days to the present [i.e, late 1970s, early 1980s], and identifies the social, economic, and ideological forces that have shaped our expectations of what women do.").

John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, with an Introduction by Wendell Robert Carr (Cambridge, Massachusetts, & London, England: M.I.T. Press, 1970) ("When we consider the positive evil caused to the disqualified half of the human race by their disqualification--first in the loss of the most inspiriting and elevating kind of personal enjoyment, and next in the weariness, disappointment, and profound dissatisfaction with life, which are so often the substitute for it; one feels that among all the lessons which men require for carrying on the struggle against the inevitable imperfections of their lot on earth, there is no lesson which they more need, than not to add to the evils which nature inflicts, by their jealous and prejudiced restrictions on one another. Their vain fears only substitute other and worse evils for those which they are idly apprehensive of: while every restraint on the freedom of conduct of any of their human fellow-creatures (otherwise than by making them responsible for any evil actually caused by it), dries up pro tanto the principal fountain of human happiness, and leaves the species less rich, to an inappreciable degree, in all that makes life valuable to the individual human being." Id. at 100-101.).

November 6, 2011


David Margolick, Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2011) ("Life Is More Than a Moment." Id. at 242. From the bookjacket: "Elizabeth and Hazel is about the lives of two central figures in one of the most harrowing and instantly recognizable photographs of the civil rights era: the picture, taken on September 4, 1957, of Elizabeth Eckford, immaculate in a handmade white cotton pique skirt and blouse, trying to enter, and desegregate, Little Rock Central High School, while an angry white girl, Hazel Bryan, shouts racial epithets at her from behind. The book traces the worlds, completely separate but in some ways very similar, from which these two fifteen-year-old girls came; the racial attitudes that permeated those worlds; how the famous picture came to be taken (and by whom), and the impact it would have, far beyond Little Rock and in the lives of the two women themselves. It recounts the nightmarish experience that Eckford, one of the 'Little Rock Nine' who desegregated Central, went on to have that year, and the way in which it has haunted her ever since. And it relates the very different way in which it affected Hazel, who tried mightily to transcend the photograph but could never fully escape it shadow." Also see, Amy Finnerty, "Aftermath," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 10/9/2011.).

November 4, 2011


Markus Zusak, The Book Thief (New York: Knopf, 2006) (From the bookjacket: "Narrated by Death, Mark Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist--books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found." "With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement." "Markus Zusak . . . has crafted an unforgettable novel about the ability of books to feed the soul.").

November 2, 2011


Desmond S. King & Rogers M. Smith, Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama's America (Princeton & Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 2011) ("One final point is worth underlining because today, the Supreme Court is the major governing institution most controlled by color-bind forces and most likely to challenge an executive branch advancing mixed, and therefore partly race-conscious, policies. If America's political leaders are to begin to devise and defend policies that combine color-blind and race-neutral measures in ways that they believe the evidence shows to be effective, it will be necessary for the Supreme Court's majority to cease its efforts to revise constitutional doctrines in order to require more extensive, if to date never full, color blindness. Thus, rather than making professions of color-blind objectivity prerequisites for appointment to the Supreme Court, as may in the Senate sought to do in the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, it would be preferable for judges, for those who appoint them, and for those who argue before them all to interpret the Constitution so that policies are assessed on whether they can reasonably be thought to contribute to achieving constitutional goals for all persons. Again, this means embrace of an overarching public philosophy in which there are still disputes between rival ideological camps, but in which all recognize that the real choices are not between color-blind or race-conscious principles, only between what combinations of color-blind and race-conscious policies will best serve American in the early twenty-first century." Id. at 291-292.).