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Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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New Books in American Studies New Books Network

    • Gesellschaft und Kultur

Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/american-studies

    Andre E. Johnson, "No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry Mcneal Turner" (U Mississippi Press, 2020)

    Andre E. Johnson, "No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry Mcneal Turner" (U Mississippi Press, 2020)

    No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (U Mississippi Press, 2020) is a history of the career of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915), specifically focusing on his work from 1896 to 1915. Drawing on the copious amount of material from Turner’s speeches, editorial, and open and private letters, Dr. Andre E. Johnson tells a story of how Turner provided rhetorical leadership during a period in which America defaulted on many of the rights and privileges gained for African Americans during Reconstruction. Unlike many of his contemporaries during this period, Turner did not opt to proclaim an optimistic view of race relations. Instead, Johnson argues that Turner adopted a prophetic persona of a pessimistic prophet who not only spoke truth to power but, in so doing, also challenged and pushed African Americans to believe in themselves.
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    Andre E. Johnson, PhD is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Film and the Scholar in Residence at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. Connect on Twitter @aejohnsonphd
    Lee M. Pierce, PhD is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Communication at SUNY Geneseo and host of the RhetoricLee Speaking podcast. Connect on Twitter @rhetoriclee
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    • 1 Std. 4 Min.
    Jeffery A. Jenkins and Justin Peck, "Congress and the First Civil Rights Era, 1861-1918" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Jeffery A. Jenkins and Justin Peck, "Congress and the First Civil Rights Era, 1861-1918" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Jeffrey Jenkins and Justin Peck’s new book Congress and the First Civil Rights Era, 1861-1918 (U Chicago Press, 2021) explores how Congressional Republicans enacted laws aimed at establishing an inclusive, multiracial democracy. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, Congress crafted a civil rights agenda -- including laws, strict enforcement mechanisms, and Constitutional amendments that (for a brief time) enabled Black Americans to vote, sit on juries, and exercise other civil rights. Using a rich collection of data, the book documents how the Republican coalitions that passed and enforced civil rights weakened because of GOP political weakness in the South, shifts in the political preferences of Northern voters, and lack of GOP unity over core assumptions. Jenkins and Peck offer a Congress-centered American political development perspective to understand how Republicans built civil rights yet subsequently undermined the nascent multiracial democracy that their civil rights agenda helped make possible. The book focuses on the conflict within the Republican Party and electoral trends to argue that “policy enactments are a consequence of, and a window into, evolving attitudes about civil rights.” The book’s granular political history demonstrates how legal institutions -- created by majoritarian bodies like Congress -- liberated and protected an oppressed class of citizens but also reasserted the power of the white majority.
    Dr. Jeffery A. Jenkins is Provost Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Law, Judith & John Bedrosian Chair of Governance and the Public Enterprise, Director of the Bedrosian Center, and Director of the Political Institutions and Political Economy (PIPE) Collaborative at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.
    Dr. Justin Peck is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Wesleyan University. In addition to his work on Congress and Civil Rights, he is engaged in a project that seeks to understand how the United States’ role in international affairs leads to the production of new political ideas and to the reform of domestic political institutions.
    Daniella Campos assisted with this podcast.
    Susan Liebell is professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “BLM versus #BLM:The Dangers of the New Armed Rebellion Narrative” was recently published as part of the Brennan Center for Justice’s series on Protest, Insurrection, and the Second Amendment and “Sensitive Places: Originalism, Gender, and the Myth Self-Defense in District of Columbia v. Heller” appeared in July 2021’s Polity. Email her comments at sliebell@sju.edu or tweet to @SusanLiebell.
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    • 1 Std. 1 Min.
    Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko, "Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon" (Redwood Press, 2021)

    Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko, "Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon" (Redwood Press, 2021)

    Two experts of extremist radicalization take us down the QAnon rabbit hole, exposing how the conspiracy theory ensnared countless Americans, and show us a way back to sanity.
    In January 2021, thousands descended on the U.S. Capitol to aid President Donald Trump in combating a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. Two women were among those who died that day. They, like millions of Americans, believed that a mysterious insider known as "Q" is exposing a vast deep-state conspiracy. The QAnon conspiracy theory has ensnared many women, who identify as members of "pastel QAnon," answering the call to "save the children."
    With Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon (Redwood Press, 2021), Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko explain why the rise of QAnon should not surprise us: believers have been manipulated to follow the baseless conspiracy. The authors track QAnon's unexpected leap from the darkest corners of the Internet to the filtered glow of yogi-mama Instagram, a frenzy fed by the COVID-19 pandemic that supercharged conspiracy theories and spurred a fresh wave of Q-inspired violence.
    Pastels and Pedophiles connects the dots for readers, showing how a conspiracy theory with its roots in centuries-old anti-Semitic hate has adapted to encompass local grievances and has metastasized around the globe—appealing to a wide range of alienated people who feel that something is not quite right in the world around them. While QAnon claims to hate Hollywood, the book demonstrates how much of Q's mythology is ripped from movie and television plot lines.
    Finally, Pastels and Pedophiles lays out what can be done about QAnon's corrosive effect on society, to bring Q followers out of the rabbit hole and back into the light.
    Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner.
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    • 53 Min.
    Chris A. Barcelos, "Distributing Condoms and Hope: The Racialized Politics of Youth Sexual Health" (U California Press, 2020)

    Chris A. Barcelos, "Distributing Condoms and Hope: The Racialized Politics of Youth Sexual Health" (U California Press, 2020)

    Distributing Condoms and Hope: The Racialized Politics of Youth Sexual Health (U California Press, 2020) is a feminist ethnographic account of how youth sexual health programs in the racially and economically stratified city of “Millerston” reproduce harm in the marginalized communities they are meant to serve.
    Chris Barcelos makes space for the stories of young mothers, who often recognize the narrow ways that public health professionals respond to pregnancies. Barcelos’s findings show that teachers, social workers, and nurses ignore systemic issues of race, class, and gender and instead advocate for individual-level solutions such as distributing condoms and promoting "hope." Through a lens of reproductive justice, Distributing Condoms and Hope imagines a different approach to serving marginalized youth—a support system that neither uses their lives as a basis for disciplinary public policies nor romanticizes their struggles.
    In our interview, Chris Barcelos explains how they use the framework of a “teen pregnancy prevention industrial complex” to illuminate the webs of power that ultimately serve to perpetuate the systemic social inequities leading to teen pregnancy. They describe the concept of “messiness” as it applies to deviations from social normativity, and how such deviations “mess up” society’s ideas of what is right and normal. Distributing Condoms and Hope forthrightly engages with messiness. One hopes it will have a real-world impact – for, as Barcelos observes, “It is easy to critique social structures while nonetheless continuing on with your day-to-day work in ways that do not incorporate those critiques.”
    Rachel Pagones teaches preventive medicine and public health in the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego, and she is a licensed acupuncturist. Her book about acupuncture as a tool of medical, social, and political revolution in the United States will be published later this year.
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    • 1 Std.
    Meena Bose and Andrew Rudalevige, "Executive Policymaking: The Role of the OMB in the Presidency" (Brookings, 2020)

    Meena Bose and Andrew Rudalevige, "Executive Policymaking: The Role of the OMB in the Presidency" (Brookings, 2020)

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is sometimes described as “the most important governmental office no one has ever heard of” and it certainly occupies a very important position and role in the functioning of the American presidency and the way that the Executive branch operates. Political Scientists Meena Bose (Hofstra University) and Andrew Rudalevige (Bowdoin College) have edited an excellent primer on OMB, not just in terms of exploring what it does and how it works, but also integrating a host of perspectives examining the history, function, and details of OMB. The book begins with a Forward and an introductory chapter by the Honorable Jacob J. Lew, who served as OMB Director during both the Clinton and Obama Administrations. Lew’s chapter sets up the rest of the work in
    Executive Policymaking: The Role of the OMB in the Presidency (Brookings Institution Press, 2020), since he discusses OMB as an insider and a leader of the agency, as well as from the position as a cabinet secretary who also needed to work with OMB and as President Obama’s chief of staff, a position that requires a similar kind of broad understanding of the functioning and structure of the entire Executive branch. The rest of the chapters in Executive Policymaking follow Lew’s lead, with analysis from academics who study and research the presidency and the Executive branch and bureaucracy along with co-authored chapters that bring in the perspectives from other current and former OMB employees.
    The Office of Management and Budget has evolved from the Bureau of the Budget (BOB) that was put into place in 1921, a century ago. Over time, the BOB was moved to the Department of Treasury, but OMB was given more the responsibilities that provide it with the capacity to essentially manage the workings of the Executive branch, which is no small undertaking. The president’s budget is the way that the Executive branch can broadly manage the priorities of the bureaucracy, and OMB is the centralizing actor in the way that this essentially operates. Bose and Rudalevige, both experts on the presidency and the bureaucracy, have brought together authors who examine OMB from important and distinct perspectives. The first section of Executive Policymaking explains the role that OMB plays in the federal budget process. This section also includes a chapter that specifically looks at the president’s budget powers during the Trump Era, since abuse of these powers also led to the first of President Donald Trump’s two impeachments. The next part of the book explores Executive Orders, Central Clearance, and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), all of which are key components of the role that OMB plays in regard to the Executive branch agencies and departments. The final section of the book shifts the focus a bit from the budget to management, looking at the role that OMB plays in terms of managing the entirety of the Executive branch and also managing itself. The authors in this section also include OMB employees, who speak to their own experiences working inside this complex and important agency and the role and position that OMB holds in relation to the president, the presidency, and the Executive branch. This is a fascinating and useful examination of the many dimensions of the Office of Management and Budget, placing the agency in historical, political, and institutional context.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
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    • 1 Std. 5 Min.
    Andrew Jenks, "Collaboration in Space and the Search for Peace on Earth" (Anthem Press, 2021)

    Andrew Jenks, "Collaboration in Space and the Search for Peace on Earth" (Anthem Press, 2021)

    Andrew Jenks' book Collaboration in Space and the Search for Peace on Earth (Anthem Press, 2021) explores the era of space collaboration (from 1970 to the present). This period has been largely ignored by historians in favor of a focus on the earlier space race. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a key program and catalyst for Détente, marked the transition to the new age of space collaboration, which continued through the Soviet Interkosmos missions, the Mir-Shuttle dockings of the early 1990s, and on through the International Space Station. Europeans, Americans, and Russians envisioned space collaboration as a way to reconfigure political and international relations.
    The shift toward collaboration was a result of a new focus on safety, which displaced the earlier emphasis on risk-taking in the first phase of the space race, when military imperatives often overshadowed peaceful goals. Apollo-Soyuz (ignored by Cold War historians) was thus imagined as a test project for a docking mechanism that would allow a manned-capsule stranded in orbit to dock with another capsule and provide an escape hatch back to earth (it was actually inspired, in part, by the 1969 Hollywood film “Marooned” with Gene Hackman). The focus on engineering for safety grew out of the broader concerns about environmental degradation and nuclear war that in turn reflected a growing sense in the 1970s and 1980s of the dangers associated with excessive risk-taking in politics and engineering. Few historians or social scientists have examined the social construction of safety and its use in engineering and politics.
    The book draws on the Russian Academy of Sciences Archives, Nixon and Reagan libraries and National Archives Collections, NASA headquarters library documents, and various memoirs and other published sources in English and Russian.
    Paul Werth is a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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    • 57 Min.

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