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Archive for the 'Featured Book' Category

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Soul Dollars

Down the Up Staircase

“Harlem was full of contradictions for anyone who dared to look. Mamie Canty, my mother’s seamstress, was also a fulltime bookie for Harlem kingpin Nicky Barnes, one of the biggest drug dealers in the city.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Introducing Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“We owned a three-story brownstone in Harlem, the kind built for a rising moneyed class. Now it stood as a testament to our family’s rise and demise over the century. Its walls echoed the voices of three generations of a black middle-class family: the hard-won glories of my grandfather, the whispered regrets and concessions of my parents, the fall from grace of their firstborn, and the wrenching blow that came with the death of their second.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“Bruce D. Haynes’s story is a classic American tale—which combines the big themes of history with the gritty reality of a single family’s extraordinary story.” — Jeffrey Toobin

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Why I Chose to Research What Slaveholders Think

What Slaveholders Think

“The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. In today’s post, an excerpt from an article published at The Huffington Post, Choi-Fitzpatrick explains why he took his unique approach to researching modern slavery.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

Why I Chose to Research What Slaveholders Think
By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

I often get asked why I wrote a book about contemporary slaveholders. Once people get over the fact that slavery still exists they want to know who on earth is out there, right now doing what it takes to exploit their fellow humans in the worst sort of way?

At the moment the contemporary anti-slavery movement has raised over a billion dollars, reduced the vulnerabilities of untold millions, and brought thousands out of exploitation. Yet we know little about the individuals committing these crimes. I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years and can tell you this: we know as much about slaveholders today as we did about victims two decades ago; hardly anything.

I set out to change that. In conversations with hundreds and hundreds of people—perpetrators and their victims, local government officials and rights activists—a picture of the life and times of contemporary slaveholders began to emerge.

In case after case, slaveholders targeted by human rights groups told me that they missed the old days. They told me that they wished for a brighter future for their children but that they themselves had been overlooked. Rights groups, broad economic factors, powerful political players, and even their victims, now had all the power.

Some solutions to slavery and trafficking are easier to see once we factor in what slaveholders think. Recognizing that they themselves are only doing what they can to get by doesn’t justify criminality and abuse, but it does suggest that some more traditional development solutions—alternative livelihood projects and microcredit included—may hold potential for emancipation among both perpetrators and victims. Of course. for freedom to be sustainable minds must be changed—that’s why it’s as important as ever to focus community organizing and human rights empowerment efforts at grassroots struggles for freedom.

The goal is not to equivocate between bonded labor and impoverished slaveholders, but instead to emphasize that slavery is relational, emancipation is complex, and the goal of ending slavery in our lifetime will require strategies that address the reality of the situation rather than the way it may appear in our imagination.

Read the article in full at The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

What do slaveholders think?

What Slaveholders Think

“The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. Today, we are happy to present a short excerpt from an article by Choi-Fitzpatrick published at Aeon.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

What do slaveholders think?: It is everywhere illegal yet slavery persists in many corners of the global economy. How do its beneficiaries justify it?
By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

Withholding pay and limiting opportunities to mobilise are important strategies for controlling workers. But all of this is done for the workers’ own good, Aanan insists. Though landlords complain about alcohol, such indulgences are also tactics for increasing debt. Rowdy festivals allow workers to blow off steam, effectively directing frustration away from their abusers. These events also allow workers to spend what little money they have, increasing the likelihood that they will remain dependent on the landlord’s line of credit.

When asked if he needs the workers or the workers need him, Aanan explains that: ‘The worker is my cash machine, my fate.’ In this one statement, he has captured a central contradiction inherent in most human-rights violations worldwide: exploitation takes place at the intersection of culture and capital, in the overlap between relationship and extraction, at the moment where care and exploitation intersect.

Long accustomed to power, slaveholders work hard to sustain their status and baulk at any hint of equality. One previously powerful employer confided to me that his community was in decline. ‘In the olden days … labourers used to work in their fields, they used to think of their work,’ he told me. Now, however, they freshen up after work and drink coffee and tea while talking about ‘unnecessary things’, an opportunity for democratic discourse that is ‘deviating their minds’.

The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.

Read the article in full at Aeon.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

In All Its Forms: Slavery and Abolition, Movements and Targets

What Slaveholders Think

“It is imperative to understand variation in exploiters and exploitation as well as the exploiters’ own perspectives on how their lives are changing. Perhaps we will then better understand the difficulties involved in securing sustainable emancipation.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. To start the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from Choi-Fitzpatrick’s first chapter: “In All Its Forms: Slavery and Abolition, Movements and Targets.”

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Book Giveaway! What Slaveholders Think, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

What Slaveholders Think

“A much-needed and unique work. Our understanding of modern slavery holds virtually nothing on slaveholders. Such a study has always been seen as the Holy Grail, truly critical knowledge if we are to move forward, but always outside our ability to grasp. Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick also goes somewhere that few scholars in this area have gone—raising important, challenging questions about how slaveholders might be understood and rehabilitated.” — Kevin Bales, cofounder of Free the Slaves

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Exciting Times in Brain Science

Genes, Brains, and Human Potential

“Far from confirming what was expected, the research results, in fact, are suggesting something else: no less than a fundamental re-appraisal of many of our basic concepts. They indicate that expectations – the models framing research – have been more based on ideological assumptions that objective science. This is what happens when social experiences, such as class-structure or conventional gender roles, come to shape the concepts upon which scientific research is based – and which scientific research is then expected to reinforce.” — Ken Richardson

This week, our featured book is Genes, Brains, and Human Potential: The Science and Ideology of Intelligence, by Ken Richardson. Today, we are happy to present an article by Richardson on why the mountains of new data about particulars of brain activities have failed to construct a coherent model of overall function – what the brain is really for.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Genes, Brains, and Human Potential!

Exciting Times in Brain Science
By Ken Richardson

“These are exciting times in…” That’s a well-worn cliché, of course. But in two fields of science, at least, it’s not so trite. Advances in genetics over the last twenty years or so have been remarkable. Now DNA can be sequenced, and genes, even their molecular components – and who has them, or not – can be identified.

So the scene has been set for discovering genetic associations with complex diseases, or even individual differences in potential for traits like intelligence or education. And maybe that information can be used for selecting individuals for careers or as a basis for precision treatments in schools or families. In streams of exhortations, educators everywhere are now being told to think “genetically”.

Likewise with the brain: we’re enjoying a period of terrific breakthroughs, teeming with details about structure and function. New methods, particularly in “brain imaging”, have even produced speculation that the true nature of intelligence itself – and, again, who has it, or who does not – can be worked out “in the brain”. So teachers and educators are also being encouraged to be “brain scientists”.

But vaulting claims and promissory notes are one thing, reality another. High hopes about pinpointing genes are turning to disappointments. For well-defined medical conditions even weak genetic correlations have been difficult to establish. The difficulties are hugely magnified for traits like intelligence, for which there is not even agreed definition (quite apart from falling into the trap of automatically treating correlations as causes). (more…)

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Introducing Genes, Brains, and Human Potential

Genes, Brains, and Human Potential

“Whatever powerful new technologies are applied [to questions about the causes of variation in human potential], we will still only get slightly more sophisticated expressions of essentially the same message. That is because the concepts themselves are really only veneered expressions of a very old—albeit often unconscious—ideology, rooted in the class, gender, and ethnic structure of society: a ladder view of a social order imposed on our genes and brains.” — Ken Richardson

This week, our featured book is Genes, Brains, and Human Potential: The Science and Ideology of Intelligence, by Ken Richardson. To kick the feature off, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Genes, Brains, and Human Potential!

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Book Giveaway! Genes, Brains, and Human Potential, by Ken Richardson

Genes, Brains, and Human Potential

“In his latest book, Genes, Brains, and Human Potential, Richardson has again creatively illuminated the bases and limitations of genetic reductionist accounts of human intelligence, showing how cutting-edge research provides a valid alternative to such counterfactual and egregiously flawed models. Informative and inspiring, he convincingly counters these failed accounts of intelligence, forwarding a new relational theory of human development.” — Richard M. Lerner, Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science and Director, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development Tufts University

This week, our featured book is Genes, Brains, and Human Potential: The Science and Ideology of Intelligence, by Ken Richardson. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

The Historical Case for Asia Strategy

By More Than Providence

“Is the United States capable of grand strategy? Two centuries of American engagement with Asia and the Pacific strongly suggest that the answer is yes. American grand strategy has been episodic and inefficient, but in the aggregate it has been effective.” — Michael J. Green

This week, our featured book is By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific Since 1783, by Michael J. Green. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from the conclusion.

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Introducing By More Than Providence

By More Than Providence

“Over the course of two hundred years, the United States has in fact developed a distinctive strategic approach toward Asia and the Pacific. There have been numerous instances of hypocrisy, inconsistency, and insufficient harnessing of national will and means. There have been strategic miscalculations— particularly before Pearl Harbor, on the Yalu River, and in Vietnam. In the aggregate, however, the United States has emerged as the preeminent power in the Pacific not by providence alone but through the effective (if not always efficient) application of military, diplomatic, economic, and ideational tools of national power to the problems of Asia.” — Michael J. Green

This week, our featured book is By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific Since 1783, by Michael J. Green. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from the introduction.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of By More Than Providence!

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Michael Green on Rex Tillerson’s Beijing Visit

By More Than Providence

This week, our featured book is By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific Since 1783, by Michael J. Green. In a recent appearance on NPR’s Morning Edition, Michael Green tells Steve Inskeep about what the Chinese think of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as Tillerson meets with Chinese officials as part of a trip to Asia.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of By More Than Providence!

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Book Giveaway! By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific Since 1783

By More Than Providence

“Michael Green’s magisterial study is a timely and insightful reminder of the deep and long-standing ties between East Asia and the United States, and the complex interplay between our economic and security interests, and our values, a dynamic which has shaped US policy for two and a half centuries. It is an indispensable point of reference for students and policy makers seeking to understand a critical region where history casts a long shadow, notwithstanding the extraordinary changes of recent years.” — James Steinberg, Syracuse University and former deputy secretary of state

This week, our featured book is By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific Since 1783, by Michael J. Green. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Press Roundup for ‘Weird Dinosaurs’

Weird Dinosaurs

“Our current understanding of dinosaurs is nothing like the creatures depicted in 2015′s Jurassic World... the new species are weirder than anything movie producers have been able to devise.” — John Pickrell

This week, our featured book is Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, by John Pickrell, with a foreword by Philip Currie. Today, we feature a roundup of articles featuring Weird Dinosaurs from around the web.

The Sydney Morning Herald calls the book a “tour de force through the latest digs across the planet” that search for new species of dinosaurs, which are rapidly being discovered, and describes several such new species. For those of you who are fans of radio and podcasts, Radio New Zealand sat down with Pickerell in December and recorded a 35-minute interview with him on the book, highlighting how so many of the dinosaur species we now know have been discovered very recently – even since the 1990s.

Reviewer and dinosaur fan Jonathan Crowe admires how the book features stories of how these new dinosaurs were discovered, which are “replete with colourful characters, intrigue and controversy in some cases.” The Canadian National Post, meanwhile, has written up a list of important takeaways from Weird Dinosaurs that includes ‘rock stars’ and ‘feathered friends.’

More links and press for Weird Dinosaurs is available on its Facebook page!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

On the Trail of Dinosaurs in Mongolia

Weird Dinosaurs

“Finds we made included the numerous remains of small herbivorous horned dinosaurs, known as Protoceratops; Velociraptor teeth; duck-billed hadrosaurs; armoured ankylosaurs and even Cretaceous-era birds’ eggs. All of these fossils hailed from the 70-million-year-old deposits of the Tugrugin Shiree region of the central Gobi Desert. Here our crew of 18 camped out in a stark, beautiful and very remote stretch of desert for 10 nights.” — John Pickrell

This week, our featured book is Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, by John Pickrell, with a foreword by Philip Currie. Today, we follow Pickrell into the Gobi Desert as he documents the Australian Geographic Gobi Desert Fossil Dig Scientific Expedition in a video that was originally posted, along with an article by Pickrell at the Australian Geographic website. Over the course of the expedition, Mongolian paleontologists from the Institute of Paleontology and Geology in Ulaanbaatar and Australian volunteers found remains of more than thirty individual dinosaurs. Watch the 10-minute film to learn more about the dig and the dinosaur remains the team discovered!

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

How Do We Know What Dinosaurs Really Looked Like?

Weird Dinosaurs

“When faced with new fossils today, palaeontologists have a much bigger body of knowledge to draw upon when creating reconstructions. In fact, our knowledge has increased to the degree that – somewhat miraculously – we can tell the colours of the dinosaur feathers of a range of species.” — John Pickrell

This week, our featured book is Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, by John Pickrell, with a foreword by Philip Currie. Today, we are happy to provide a short excerpt from an article written by John Pickrell for Science Focus, the online home of BBC Focus Magazine, where you can read the article in full.

How Do We Know What Dinosaurs Really Looked Like?
By John Pickrell

We take reconstructions of dinosaurs for granted these days, but just how realistic are they, and how do we know what dinosaurs really looked like?

When ancient people were faced with strange bones, they did exactly what we do today, and used the best knowledge available to reconstruct the creatures that left them behind. Sometimes this resulted in poor conclusions. The first name assigned in print to any dinosaur remains was the ignominious title of Scrotum humanum – a label given by British physician Richard Brookes to the broken end of a femur in 1763, believing it to be the fossilised testicles of a Biblical giant.

We now know that the leg bone belonged to a Megalosaurus – correctly described as an extinct reptile by William Buckland in 1824. You can’t entirely blame Brookes for his conclusions, as dinosaurs would not be described as a group until 1842. That was when Richard Owen, head of what is now the Natural History Museum, revealed to the world a new class of strange, extinct creatures he called dinosaurs, meaning ‘fearfully great reptiles’. He imagined Iguanodon, Megalosaurus and Hylaeosaurus to be reptiles with legs sprawled out to the sides, with scaly grey or green skin: something like modern lizards or crocodiles.

(more…)

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A New Golden Age for Dinosaur Science

Weird Dinosaurs

“Dinosaurs are no longer the green or grey, dim-witted, lizard-like creatures we thought they were before the 1980s, nor the scaly, reptilian predators we remember best from Jurassic Park. Today we know they were fleet-footed and often feathery, with sharp intellects and also strange behaviours, physical attributes and adaptations.” — John Pickrell

This week, our featured book is Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, by John Pickrell, with a foreword by Philip Currie. To get the week’s feature started, we are pleased to present an excerpt from Pickrell’s introduction.

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Weird Dinosaurs, by John Pickrell

Weird Dinosaurs

“In the 26 years since Jurassic Park was released we have unearthed about 75 per cent of all known dinosaur species…. Weird Dinosaurs is a tour de force through the latest digs across the planet. It features the amazing people unearthing new fossils and highlights the odd reptiles that roamed all corners of the earth millions of years ago.” — Marcus Strom, Sydney Morning Herald

This week, our featured book is Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, by John Pickrell, with a foreword by Philip Currie. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

A Stroke of the Pen

Chow Chop Suey

“Forty years after the Johnson-Reed Act had slammed the door on immigration from most of the world, people had generally stopped expecting further chapters to unfold in the story of immigrant cooking. Not even culinary snobs had reason to suppose that the new law [the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965] would ever affect anybody’s ideas of what to have for dinner in Minneapolis, Tallahassee, Boise, Spokane, Houston, or New York.” — Anne Mendelson

This week, our featured book is Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey, by Anne Mendelson. To start the week’s feature off, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s prologue.