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Nancy Zafris is a critically acclaimed writer because of the highly distinctive, piercing intelligence that underlies her works. Her gifts accumulate in a vision that somehow combines just the right amount of irony, subtle humor, and compassion for characters you won’t see anywhere else in contemporary fiction. Those characters are emotionally all over the map too: resolute, sympathetic, and indelible—their stories can be laugh-out-loud funny one minute and bittersweet the next. In The Home Jar, Zafris reconfirms herself to be among the keenest observers of the human condition around. This is her first short story collection since the critically acclaimed The People I Know, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and her most famous work, the New York Times notable novel The Metal Shredders. Zafris’s very loyal following of readers will herald The Home Jar as a major event in American letters.
Theodicy, Eschatology, and the Biblical Sources of Moby Dick
Though Moby-Dick is one of the most discussed and most-read works of American literature, the influence of the Bible has been overlooked in many contemporary studies of the novel. In Inscrutable Malice, Jonathan A. Cook expertly illuminates Melville’s abiding preoccupation with the problem of evil and the pervasive role of the Bible in shaping his iconic work.
John Henry Newman on the Path to Wisdom
Searching for better ways to inspire people to pursue wisdom, Frederick D. Aquino argues that teachers and researchers should focus less on state-of-the-art techniques and learning outcomes and instead pay more attention to the intellectual formation of their students. We should, Aquino contends, encourage the development of an integrative habit of mind, which entails cultivating the capacity to grasp how various pieces of data and areas of inquiry fit together and to understand how to apply this information to new situations. To fully explore this notion, An Integrative Habit of Mind brings the work of the great religious figure and educator John Henry Newman into fruitful conversation with recent philosophical developments in epistemology, cognition, and education. Aquino unearths some crucial but neglected themes from Newman’s writings and carries them forward into the contemporary context, revealing how his ideas can help us broaden our horizons, render apt judgments, and better understand our world and how we think about it.
On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb exploded just outside of Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. Within a matter of hours, the FBI launched the largest manhunt in U.S. history, identifying the suspects as Timothy James McVeigh and John Doe No. 2, a stocky twentysomething with a distinctive tattoo on his left arm. Eventually the FBI retracted the elusive mystery man as a bombing suspect altogether, proclaiming that McVeigh had acted alone and that John Doe No. 2 was the by-product of unreliable eyewitness testimony in the wake of the attack. Womack recreates the events that led up to this fateful day from the perspective of John Doe No. 2--or JD, as he is referred to in the book. With his ironic and curiously detached persona, JD narrates--from a second-person point of view--his secret life with McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and others in America's militia culture as McVeigh and JD crisscross the Midwest in McVeigh's beloved Chevy Geo Spectrum. John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel is the tragicomic account of McVeigh's last desperate months of freedom, as he prepared to unleash one ofthe deadliest acts of domestic terrorism in the nation's history. Womack's novel traces one man's downward spiral toward the act of evil that will brand his name in infamy and another's desperate hope to save his friend's soul before it's too late.
John Phillip Reid is one of the most highly regarded historians of law as it was practiced on the state level in the nascent United States. He is not just the recipient of numerous honors for his scholarship but the type of historian after whom such accolades are named: the John Phillip Reid Award is given annually by the American Society for Legal History to the author of the best book by a mid-career or senior scholar. Legitimating the Law is the third installment in a trilogy of books by Reid that seek to extend our knowledge about the judicial history of the early republic by recounting the development of courts, laws, and legal theory in New Hampshire. Here Reid turns his eye toward the professionalization of law and the legitimization of legal practices in the Granite State—customs and codes of professional conduct that would form the basis of judiciaries in other states and that remain the cornerstone of our legal system to this day throughout the U.S. Legitimating the Law chronicles the struggle by which lawyers and torchbearers of strong, centralized government sought to bring standards of competence to New Hampshire through the professionalization of the bench and the bar—ambitions that were fought vigorously by both Jeffersonian legislators and anti-Federalists in the private sector alike, but ultimately to no avail.
A Conservative Critique
In this original new study, Grant Havers critically interprets Leo Strauss’s political philosophy from a conservative standpoint. Most mainstream readers of Strauss have either condemned him from the Left as an extreme right-wing opponent of liberal democracy or celebrated him from the Right as a traditional defender of Western civilization. Rejecting both of these portrayals, Havers shifts the debate beyond the conventional parameters of our age. He persuasively shows that Strauss was neither a man of the Far Right nor a conservative, but in fact a Cold War liberal with a strong secular bias who taught his followers to uphold Anglo-American democracy as the one true universal regime that can be embraced and practiced by all human beings regardless of time, place, or creed. Strauss firmly rejects the traditional conservative view held by Edmund Burke and others about the leavening influence of Christian morality. Havers maintains that this inattention to Christianity, though historically unjustified, is crucial to Strauss and the Straussian portrayal Anglo-American democracy as a regime whose eternal ideals of liberty and constitutional government are in accord with the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, rather than the Gospels. In the process, Havers argues, Straussians end up rewriting history by falsely idealizing the ancient Greeks, who tolerated slavery and infanticide, as the forerunners of modern liberal democracy. Straussians also misrepresent heroes of the Anglo-American political tradition such as Abraham Lincoln and Sir Winston Churchill as heirs to the ancient Greek tradition of statecraft. Havers suggests that the most troubling implication of this Straussianism is that it provides a rationale for the aggressive spread of democratic values on a global basis while ignoring the preconditions that make these values possible. Concepts such as the rule of law, constitutional government, Christian morality, and the separation of church and state are not easily transplanted beyond the historic confines of Anglo-American civilization, as recent wars to spread democracy in the Middle East and Central Asia have demonstrated.
Imperial Historicism and American Military Rule in the Philippines' Muslim South
Making Moros offers a unique look at the colonization of Muslim subjects during the early years of American rule in the southern Philippines. Hawkins argues that the ethnological discovery, organization, and subsequent colonial engineering of Moros was highly contingent on developing notions of time, history, and evolution, which ultimately superseded simplistic notions about race. He also argues that this process was highly collaborative, with Moros participating, informing, guiding, and even investing in their configuration as modern subjects. Drawing on a wealth of archival sources from both the United States and the Philippines, Making Moros presents a series of compelling episodes and gripping evidence to demonstrate its thesis. Readers will find themselves with an uncommon understanding of the Philippines’ Muslim South beyond its usual tangential place as a mere subset of American empire.
Haunted by the larger-than-life shadow of his father, a scientist who may have helped develop the atomic bomb, twenty-nine-year-old Eliot Barnes, Jr., is an apple that’s fallen far from the tree. Saddled with a useless degree in literature, caged in a rundown apartment he can’t afford, and embittered by his failure to live up to the future’s promise, Barnes, who dreams of a corner office—an aerie roost high above the city, working with the higher-ups—begrudgingly accepts a job as an elevator man in a downtown Chicago skyscraper. Thus begins a profound but comedic meditation on failure in this life, how one comes to terms with not achieving one’s dreams, the nature and origin of such dreams, and, fittingly, the meaning of the American dream itself.
In an abridged translation that retains the grace and passion of the original, Klots and Ufberg present the stunning memoir of a young woman who became an actress in the Gulag. Tamara Petkevich had a relatively privileged childhood in the beautiful, impoverished Petrograd of the Soviet regime’s early years, but when her father—a fervent believer in the Communist ideal-was arrested, 17-year- old Tamara was branded a “daughter of the enemy of the people.” She kept up a search for her father while struggling to support her mother and two sisters, finish school, and enter university. Shortly before the Russian outbreak of World War II, Petkevich was forced to quit school, and against her better judgment, she married an exiled man whom she had met in the lines at the information bureau of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs). Her mother and one sister perished in the Nazi siege of Leningrad, and Petkevich was herself arrested. With cinematic detail, Petkevich relates her attempts to defend herself against absurd charges of having a connection to the Leningrad terrorist center, counter-revolutionary propaganda, and anti-Semitism that resulted in a sentence of seven years’ hard labor in the Gulag. While Petkevich became a professional actress in her own right years after her release from the Gulag, she learned her craft on the stages of the camps scattered across the northern Komi Republic. The existence of prisoner theaters and troupes of political prisoners such as the one Petkevich joined is a little-known fact of Gulag life. Petkevich’s depiction not only provides a unique firsthand account of this world-within-a-world but also testifies to the power of art to literally save lives. As Petkevich moves from one form of hardship to another, she retains her desire to live and her ability to love. More than a firsthand record of atrocities committed in Stalinist Russia, Memoir of a Gulag Actress is an invaluable source of information on the daily life and culture of the Soviet Union at the time. Russian literature about the Gulag remains vastly underrepresented in the United States, and Petkevich’s unforgettable memoir will go a long way toward filling this gap. Supplemented with photographs from the author’s personal archive, Petkevich’s story will be of great interest to general readers while providing an important resource for historians, political scientists, and students of Russian culture and history.