Wednesday, August 31, 2022

"The House Party"

New from William Morrow: The House Party: A Novel by Rita Cameron.

About the book, from the publisher:

Everywhere and Ask Again, Yes.

It’s the party of the year. Afterward, nothing will ever be the same.

Maja Jensen is smart, stylish, and careful, the type of woman who considers every detail when building her dream home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The perfect house that would compensate for her failure to have a child, the house that was going to save her marriage. But when a group of reckless teenagers trash the newly built home just weeks before she moves in, her plans are shattered.

Those teenagers, two months away from graduating high school, are the “good kids”—the ones on track to go to college and move on to the next stage of their privileged lives. They have grown up in a protected bubble and are accustomed to getting by with just a slap on the wrist. Did they think they could just destroy property without facing punishment? Or was there something deeper, darker, at play that night? As the police close in on a list of suspects, the tight-knit community begins to fray as families attempt to protect themselves.

What should have been the party of the year will have repercussions that will put Maja’s marriage to the ultimate test, jeopardize the futures of those “good kids,” and divide the town over questions of privilege and responsibility.

An absorbing novel told through shifting perspectives, The House Party explores how easily friendships, careers, communities, and marriages can upend when differences in wealth and power are forced to the surface.
Visit Rita Cameron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"A World in a Shell"

New from MIT Press: A World in a Shell: Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions by Thom van Dooren.

About the book, from the publisher:

Following the trails of Hawai'i's snails to explore the simultaneously biological and cultural significance of extinction.

In this time of extinctions, the humble snail rarely gets a mention. And yet snails are disappearing faster than any other species. In A World in a Shell, Thom van Dooren offers a collection of snail stories from Hawai'i—once home to more than 750 species of land snails, almost two-thirds of which are now gone. Following snail trails through forests, laboratories, museums, and even a military training facility, and meeting with scientists and Native Hawaiians, van Dooren explores ongoing processes of ecological and cultural loss as they are woven through with possibilities for hope, care, mourning, and resilience.

Van Dooren recounts the fascinating history of snail decline in the Hawaiian Islands: from deforestation for agriculture, timber, and more, through the nineteenth century shell collecting mania of missionary settlers, and on to the contemporary impacts of introduced predators. Along the way he asks how both snail loss and conservation efforts have been tangled up with larger processes of colonization, militarization, and globalization. These snail stories provide a potent window into ongoing global process of environmental and cultural change, including the largely unnoticed disappearance of countless snails, insects, and other less charismatic species. Ultimately, van Dooren seeks to cultivate a sense of wonder and appreciation for our damaged planet, revealing the world of possibilities and relationships that lies coiled within a snail's shell.
Visit Thom van Dooren's website.

The Page 99 Test: Flight Ways.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Make-Up Test"

New from St. Martin's Griffin: The Make-Up Test: A Novel by Jenny L. Howe.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this smart, swoony, rom-com debut from Jenny L. Howe The Make-Up Test, two college exes find themselves battling against each other—and their unresolved feelings—for a spot in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program.

Allison Avery loves to win. After acing every academic challenge she’s come up against, she’s finally been accepted into her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying medieval literature under a professor she’s admired for years. Sure, grad school isn’t easy—the classes are intense, her best friend is drifting away, and her students would rather pull all-nighters than discuss The Knight's Tale—but she’s got this. Until she discovers her ex-boyfriend has also been accepted. Colin Benjamin might be the only person who loves winning more than Allison does, and when they're both assigned to TA for the same professor, the game is on.

What starts as a personal battle of wits (and lit) turns into all-out war when their professor announces a career-changing research trip opportunity—with one spot to fill. Competing with Colin is as natural as breathing, and after he shattered her heart two years ago, Allison refuses to let him come out on top. But when a family emergency and a late-night road trip—plus a very sexy game of Scrabble—throw them together for a weekend, she starts to wonder if they could be stronger on the same team. And if they fall for each other all over again, Allison will have to choose between a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and what could be a twice-in-a-lifetime love.

In this charmingly bookish debut, The Make-Up Test embraces the truth that people can sometimes change and grow, even when you least expect it.
Visit Jenny L. Howe's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Live Music in America"

New from Oxford University Press: Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé by Steve Waksman.

About the book, from the publisher:

When the Swedish concert singer Jenny Lind toured the U.S. in 1850, she became the prototype for the modern pop star. Meanwhile, her manager, P.T. Barnum, became the prototype for another figure of enduring significance: the pop culture impresario. Starting with Lind's fabled U.S. tour and winding all the way into the twenty-first century, Live Music in America surveys the ongoing impact and changing conditions of live music performance in the U.S. It covers a range of historic performances, from the Fisk Jubilee Singers expanding the sphere of African American music in the 1870s, to Benny Goodman bringing swing to Carnegie Hall in 1938, to 1952's Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland - arguably the first rock and roll concert - to Beyoncé's boundary-shattering performance at the 2018 Coachella festival. More than that, the book details the roles played by performers, audiences, media commentators, and a variety of live music producers (promoters, agents, sound and stage technicians) in shaping what live music means and how it has evolved. Live Music in America connects what occurs behind the scenes to what takes place on stage to highlight the ways in which live music is very deliberately produced and does not just spontaneously materialize. Along the way, author Steve Waksman uses previously unstudied archival materials to shed new light on the origins of jazz, the emergence of rock 'n' roll, and the rise of the modern music festival.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

"How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water"

New from Flatiron Books: How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water: A Novel by Angie Cruz.

About the book, from the publisher:

Write this down: Cara Romero wants to work.

Cara Romero thought she would work at the factory of little lamps for the rest of her life. But when, in her mid-50s, she loses her job in the Great Recession, she is forced back into the job market for the first time in decades. Set up with a job counselor, Cara instead begins to narrate the story of her life. Over the course of twelve sessions, Cara recounts her tempestuous love affairs, her alternately biting and loving relationships with her neighbor Lulu and her sister Angela, her struggles with debt, gentrification and loss, and, eventually, what really happened between her and her estranged son, Fernando. As Cara confronts her darkest secrets and regrets, we see a woman buffeted by life but still full of fight.

Structurally inventive and emotionally kaleidoscopic, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is Angie Cruz’s most ambitious and moving novel yet, and Cara is a heroine for the ages.
Visit Angie Cruz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Fooling with the Amish"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: Fooling with the Amish: Amish Mafia, Entertaining Fakery, and the Evolution of Reality TV by Dirk Eitzen.

About the book, from the publisher:

Using Amish Mafia as a window into the interplay between the real and the imagined, this book dissects the peculiar appeals and potential dangers of deception in reality TV and popular entertainment.

When Amish Mafia was released in 2012, viewers were fascinated by the stories of this secret group of Amish and Mennonite enforcers who used threats, extortion, and violence to keep members of the Amish community in line—and to line their own pockets. While some of the stories were based loosely on actual events, the group itself was a complete fabrication. Its members were played by ex-Amish and ex-Mennonite young adults acting out scenarios concocted by the show's producers. What is most extraordinary about Amish Mafia is that, even though it was fictional, it was cleverly constructed to appear real. Discovery Channel, which aired it, assiduously maintained that it was real; whole episodes were devoted to proving that it was real; and many viewers (including smart reality TV fans) were fooled into believing it was real.

In Fooling with the Amish, Dirk Eitzen examines the fakery in Amish Mafia and how actual viewers of the show responded to it to discover answers to two questions that have long puzzled media scholars: What is it about the so-called reality of reality shows that appeals to and gratifies viewers? How and why are people taken in by falsehoods in the media? Eitzen's ultimate answer to these questions is that, in taking liberties with facts, Amish Mafia works very much like gossip. This helps to explain the workings not just of this and other reality TV shows but also of other forms of media fakery, including fake news.

The book winds through numerous fascinating case studies of media fakery, from P. T. Barnum's famous "humbugs" of the nineteenth century to recent TV news scandals. It examines the social and emotional appeals of other forms of entertaining fakery, including professional wrestling and supermarket tabloids. It explains how and why conventions of contrivance evolved in reality TV as well as the ethics of media fakery. And, for readers interested in the Amish, it tells how the ex-Amish "stars" of Amish Mafia got involved in the show and the impact that involvement had on their lives.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Aces Wild"

New from Peachtree Teen: Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt.

About the book, from the publisher:

What happens in Vegas when an all-asexual online friend group attempts to break into a high-stakes gambling club? Shenanigans ensue.

Some people join chess club, some people play football. Jack Shannon runs a secret blackjack ring in his private school’s basement. What else is the son of a Las Vegas casino mogul supposed to do?

Everything starts falling apart when Jack’s mom is arrested for their family’s ties to organized crime. His sister Beth thinks this is the Shannon family’s chance to finally go straight, but Jack knows that something’s not right. His mom was sold out, and he knows by who. Peter Carlevaro: rival casino owner and jilted lover. Gross.

Jack hatches a plan to find out what Carlevaro’s holding over his mom’s head, but he can’t do it alone. He recruits his closest friends—the asexual support group he met through fandom forums. Now all he has to do is infiltrate a high-stakes gambling club and dodge dark family secrets, while hopelessly navigating what it means to be in love while asexual. Easy, right?

A wild romp told in a can't-look-away-from voice, Aces Wild is packed with internet friend hijinks and ace representation galore!
Visit Amanda DeWitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Like Water"

New from NYU Press: Like Water: A Cultural History of Bruce Lee by Daryl Joji Maeda.

About the book, from the publisher:

Highlights Bruce Lee’s influence beyond martial arts and film

An Asian and Asian American icon of unimaginable stature and influence, Bruce Lee revolutionized the martial arts by combining influences drawn from around the world. Uncommonly determined, physically gifted, and artistically brilliant, Lee rose to fame as part of a wave of transpacific globalization that bridged the nearly seven thousand miles between Hong Kong and California. Like Water unpacks Lee’s global impact, linking his legendary status as a martial artist, actor, and director to his continual traversals across the newly interconnected Asia and America.

Daryl Joji Maeda’s multifaceted account of Bruce Lee’s legacy uniquely traces how movements and migrations across the Pacific Ocean structured the cultures Bruce Lee inherited, the milieu he occupied, the martial art he developed, the films he made, and the world he left behind. A unique blend of cultural history and biography, Like Water unearths the cultural strands that Lee intertwined in his rise to a new kind of global stardom. Moving from the gold rush in California and the British occupation of Hong Kong, to the Cold War and the deployment of American troops across Asia, Maeda builds depth and complexity to this larger-than-life figure. His cultural chronology of Bruce Lee reveals Lee to be both a product of his time and a harbinger of a more connected future.

Nearly half a century after his tragic death, Bruce Lee remains an inspiring symbol of innovation and determination, with an enduring legacy as the first Asian American global superstar.
Visit Daryl Joji Maeda's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 29, 2022

"As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow"

New from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh.

About the book, from the publisher:

A love letter to Syria and its people, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is a speculative novel set amid the Syrian Revolution, burning with the fires of hope, love, and possibility. Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Salt to the Sea.

Salama Kassab was a pharmacy student when the cries for freedom broke out in Syria. She still had her parents and her big brother; she still had her home. She had a normal teenager’s life.

Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors daily. Secretly, though, she is desperate to find a way out of her beloved country before her sister-in-law, Layla, gives birth. So desperate, that she has manifested a physical embodiment of her fear in the form of her imagined companion, Khawf, who haunts her every move in an effort to keep her safe.

But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, Salama is torn between her loyalty to her country and her conviction to survive. Salama must contend with bullets and bombs, military assaults, and her shifting sense of morality before she might finally breathe free. And when she crosses paths with the boy she was supposed to meet one fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve in leaving home at all.

Soon, Salama must learn to see the events around her for what they truly are—not a war, but a revolution—and decide how she, too, will cry for Syria’s freedom.
Visit Zoulfa Katouh's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"At War with King Alcohol"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: At War with King Alcohol: Debating Drinking and Masculinity in the Civil War by Megan L. Bever.

About the book, from the publisher:

Liquor was essential to military culture as well as healthcare regimens in both the Union and Confederate armies. But its widespread use and misuse caused severe disruptions as unruly drunken soldiers and officers stumbled down roads and through towns, colliding with civilians. The problems surrounding liquor prompted debates among military officials, soldiers, and civilians as to what constituted acceptable drinking. While Americans never could agree on precisely when it was appropriate to make or drink alcohol, one consensus emerged: the wasteful manufacture and reckless consumption of spirits during a time of civil war was so unpatriotic that it sometimes bordered on disloyalty.

Using an array of sources—temperance periodicals, soldiers' accounts, legislative proceedings, and military records—Megan L. Bever explores the relationship between war, the practical realities of drinking alcohol, and temperance sentiment within the United States. Her insightful conclusions promise to shed new light on our understanding of soldiers' and veterans' lives, civil-military relations, and the complicated relationship between drinking, morality, and masculinity.
Follow Megan Bever on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue


Coming September 27 from Red Hen Press: Livid: A Novel by Cai Emmons.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sybil White Brown returns from Boston to the small West Coast city where she once lived, hoping to heal after a terrible loss. Summoned to jury duty, she is dismayed to be assigned to the jury of a murder trial alongside her ex-husband with whom she had a rancorous divorce. As the trial progresses, she and her ex tiptoe around each other but eventually become disastrously entangled. Meanwhile, Sybil obsesses about the female defendant, whom she believes is innocent. The situation explodes during jury deliberations when Sybil comes face-to-face with her own unexpressed rage.
Visit Cai Emmons's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


New from Oxford University Press: Spanked: How Hitting Our Children is Harming Ourselves by Christina L. Erickson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Spanked: How Hitting Our Children is Harming Ourselves is a historical and cultural analysis of the long accepted practice of hitting children for learning and obedience. The book begins with understanding who spanks and how the practice of using a hand to hit the buttocks of children evolved. Erickson explores the cultural factors from historical magazine articles and parenting books to contemporary beliefs that support this type of discipline. Spanking's connections to a variety of topics are clarified, including the feelings of parents, perceptions of children, potential child abuse, school corporal punishment, attachment and bonding, the legal language that allows hitting of one's children but not others, and international perspectives on physical punishment.

The book invites an exploration of who we are as parents, and as a society, and what family leadership really means. Book group questions for families, professionals, and organizations lend the book useful for conversation and dialogue in libraries, living rooms, offices, and classrooms. Erickson gives readers an open platform to discuss respectfully what we are really communicating when we spank children.
Follow Christina L. Erickson on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 28, 2022

"The Guest House"

New from Poisoned Pen Press: The Guest House: A Novel by Robin Morgan-Bentley.

About the book, from the publisher:

How far would you go to protect the ones you love?

Jamie and Victoria are off for a last quick vacation before the arrival of their first baby. The remote country guesthouse Victoria chose seems like the perfect retreat―miles away from the distractions of work and their regular life. And the older couple that run the establishment, Barry and Fiona, are more than accommodating.

But when Jamie and Victoria awake on their first morning, they find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. And their cell phones and car keys have disappeared.

They have no way out and no way to call for help and the contractions are getting stronger.

Disturbing and irresistible, The Guest House is devilish, jaw-dropping, and completely unpredictable with twists perfect for fans of Riley Sager and Mary Kubica.
Visit Robin Morgan-Bentley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Wise Gals"

New from G.P. Putnam’s Sons: Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage by Nathalia Holt.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls comes the never-before-told story of a small cadre of influential female spies in the precarious early days of the CIA—women who helped create the template for cutting-edge espionage (and blazed new paths for equality in the workplace) in the treacherous post-WWII era.

In the wake of World War II, four agents were critical in helping build a new organization that we now know as the CIA. Adelaide Hawkins, Mary Hutchison, Eloise Page, and Elizabeth Sudmeier, called the “wise gals” by their male colleagues because of their sharp sense of humor and even quicker intelligence, were not the stereotypical femme fatale of spy novels. They were smart, courageous, and groundbreaking agents at the top of their class, instrumental in both developing innovative tools for intelligence gathering—and insisting (in their own unique ways) that they receive the credit and pay their expertise deserved.

Throughout the Cold War era, each woman had a vital role to play on the international stage. Adelaide rose through the ranks, developing new cryptosystems that advanced how spies communicate with each other. Mary worked overseas in Europe and Asia, building partnerships and allegiances that would last decades. Elizabeth would risk her life in the Middle East in order to gain intelligence on deadly Soviet weaponry. Eloise would wield influence on scientific and technical operations worldwide, ultimately exposing global terrorism threats. Through their friendship and shared sense of purpose, they rose to positions of power and were able to make real change in a traditionally “male, pale, and Yale” organization—but not without some tragic losses and real heartache along the way.

Meticulously researched and beautifully told, Holt uses firsthand interviews with past and present officials and declassified government documents to uncover the stories of these four inspirational women. Wise Gals sheds a light on the untold history of the women whose daring foreign intrigues, domestic persistence, and fighting spirit have been and continue to be instrumental to our country’s security.
Visit Nathalia Holt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


New from Dutton: Unleashed: A Novel by Cai Emmons.

About the book, from the publisher:

Set amid California’s wildfire season, a vivid and magical novel following a family in crisis thrust on a collision course with the world around them that has an outcome beyond their wildest imaginings...

When Lu and George Barnes drop their only daughter, Pippa, off at college, they return to their Sonoma home to find that their paths have diverged. Confronted with an empty nest, Lu’s increasing dissatisfaction with their materialistic lives becomes impossible to ignore. She is most content outdoors, finding the animals in her backyard far superior company to her pretentious neighbors. In contrast, George is eager to throw himself into his business, a local winery with an elite clientele, as well as his art collection. He cannot for the life of him understand his wife’s discontent.

Meanwhile, Pippa feels completely adrift at school in the bustle of LA—its unfamiliar noises, its unfriendly atmosphere. She finds comfort only in the beloved family cat she’s brought with her and in her zoology class, which makes the world seem just a bit brighter. As Lu, George, and Pippa struggle to adapt, growing apart in the process, tensions outside the family are mounting as well; women have been disappearing across the country with no worldly explanation, all while California’s wildfire season is swiftly approaching, bringing with it a reckoning that none of the Barneses can avoid.

At once a grounded story about love and family, and a transcendent tale about the power of nature, Unleashed is a stunning look at what matters in an all too chaotic world, the things that sustain us when we are on the verge of losing it all, and how we might find ourselves in the most unexpected of ways.
Visit Cai Emmons's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Hold It Real Still"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: Hold It Real Still: Clint Eastwood, Race, and the Cinema of the American West by Lawrence P. Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:

How did the American western feature film genre rebrand itself in the late seventies and respond to the fury of global and domestic political affairs?

In Hold It Real Still, Lawrence Jackson examines Clint Eastwood's influence on the western film while also exploring how that genre continues to operate into the twenty-first century as an ideological channel for ideas about race and imperialism. Jackson argues that the western genre pivoted from an initial doctrine of racial liberalism, albeit a clumsy one, during the John Wayne years to a motile agenda of substitution, exclusion, and false equivalency during the Clint Eastwood period. The book traces how Eastwood, an actor first associated with the avant-garde, anti-colonialist discourse of "spaghetti" western cinema, reversed himself in the second half of the 1970s with The Outlaw Josey Wales—a film that had at its heart the fantasy of Black erasure from American life. Jackson situates Eastwood's work as a response to massive social and political upheavals in America: defeat in Vietnam, riots in northern cities, the civil rights movement and associated legislation, and the Great Migration, which made possible a degree of mixed-race public interaction that was impossible even as late as the 1960s.

Hinged by a close reading of four blockbuster films which continue to shape discourses in cinematic arts, American liberalism, the westerns, and race relations today—The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Josey Wales, Ride with the Devil, and Django Unchained—Jackson's unique critique flashes on the contradictory symbolic structures at work in these masterpieces. Juxtaposing the films' motifs, tropes, and hidden Black figures with historicist readings lays bare the containment strategies of the 1970s and beyond used to stymie civil rights progress and racial equity in the United States.

Tackling the rise of neoracism and the domestic apparatus of surveillance, control, and erasure, Hold It Real Still offers an astonishing revision of what audiences and critics thought they understood about a uniquely American genre of film.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 27, 2022

"That's Debatable"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR): That's Debatable by Jen Doll.

About the book, from the publisher:

Millicent Chalmers isn’t here to make friends.

She’s here to win, and she’s on track to set a record if—no, when—she wins the state debate tournament for the fourth year in a row. Calm, cool, and always in control, Millie doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of her, least of all the sexist bullies bent on destroying her reputation.

Taggart Strong couldn’t care less about winning debate, much to the consternation of his teammates, school and parents. In fact, he might even enjoy losing, as long as the side he believes in wins.

But when a tournament takes a scary turn, Millie and Tag find themselves unexpectedly working together. Maybe Millie can teach Tag a thing or two about using his head, and Tag can teach Millie a little bit about following her heart.
Visit Jen Doll's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Ecology of a Changed World"

New from Oxford University Press: Ecology of a Changed World by Trevor Price.

About the book, from the publisher:

An increasing amount of usable space on our planet is crowded by humans. Whether we are using the space for permanent homes, vacation homes, travel accommodations, farming, public recreation, transportation, or office buildings, our chronic overuse of Earth's resources is pushing our ecosystem into uncharted territories. This has spurred many species extinctions, and we can expect the losses to continue to grow.

Ecology of a Changed World outlines the importance of species conservation relative to human existence. The book breaks down ecological principles and explains six threats to biodiversity in terms anyone studying ecology, evolutionary biology, environmental science, or environmental justice will understand. Ecologist Trevor Price begins the book by breaking down population growth, food webs, species interaction, and other ecological principles. He draws on examples from agriculture, disease, fisheries, and societal growth throughout each chapter, offering insight into the relationships between demographic transitions, monetary exchanges, and ecosystems.

Price focuses on six threats to biodiversity--climate change, overharvesting, pollution, habitat loss, invasive species, and disease--and offers the history, current status, and economic as well as environmental impacts of each of these. He ends the book with a rigorous review of the importance of species diversity, outlining the ways losses to our ecosystem will be a detriment to public health and global wealth.

Taking readers through competition, predation, and parasitism, Ecology of a Changed World helpfully traces what has occurred on our planet throughout history, why these things happened, and how we can use this information to determine and shape our future.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Means"

New from Mariner Books: The Means: A Novel by Amy Fusselman.

About the book, from the publisher:

The debut novel from “wholly original” (Vogue) memoirist Amy Fusselman, a tragicomic family saga that skewers contemporary issues of money, motherhood, and class through a well-to-do woman’s quest to buy a Hamptons beach house.

Shelly Means, a wealthy stay-at-home mom and disgraced former PTA president, is poised to get the one thing in life she really wants: a beach house in the Hamptons. Who would have guessed that Shelly, the product of frugal Midwesterners, or her husband George, an unrepentant thrift shopper, would ever be living among such swells? But Shelly believes it’s possible. It might be a very small house, and it might be in the least-fancy part of the Hamptons. But Shelly has a vision board, an architect, and a plan.

But what should be a simple real estate transaction quickly goes awry as Shelly’s new neighbors disapprove of her proposed shipping container house at the same time that George’s lucrative work as a VoiceOver artist dries up. But Shelly is dogged. She knows how to go into beast mode. But will it ever be enough to realize her beach house dreams?

A novel of real estate, ambition, family, and money from “one of our best interrogators of how we live now, and how we should live” (Dave Eggers), The Means is also a fantastical, fast-moving and very funny exploration of class, wealth, and the value of work.
Visit Amy Fusselman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Proving Pregnancy"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Proving Pregnancy: Gender, Law, and Medical Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century America by Felicity M. Turner.

About the book, from the publisher:

Examining infanticide cases in the United States from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries, Proving Pregnancy documents how women—Black and white, enslaved and free—gradually lost control over reproduction to male medical and legal professionals. In the first half of the nineteenth century, community-based female knowledge played a crucial role in prosecutions for infanticide: midwives, neighbors, healers, and relatives were better acquainted with an accused woman's intimate life, the circumstances of her pregnancy, and possible motives for infanticide than any man. As the century progressed, women accused of the crime were increasingly subject to the scrutiny of white male legal and medical experts educated in institutions that reinforced prevailing ideas about the inferior mental and physical capacities of women and Black people. As Reconstruction ended, the reach of the carceral state expanded, while law and medicine simultaneously privileged federal and state regulatory power over that of local institutions. These transformations placed all women's bodies at the mercy of male doctors, judges, and juries in ways they had not been before.

Reframing knowledge of the body as property, Felicity M. Turner shows how, at the very moment when the federal government expanded formal civil and political rights to formerly enslaved people, the medical profession instituted new legal regulations across the nation that restricted access to knowledge of the female body to white men.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 26, 2022

"Never Meant to Meet You"

Coming October 1 from Montlake: Never Meant to Meet You: A Novel by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the authors of Tiny Imperfections comes a riotously funny, emotionally real look at race and religion, love and heartache, and the realities of parenting through it all.

Self-appointed fixer of other people’s woes Marjette Lewis is uncharacteristically determined to keep to her side of the driveway when it comes to her flawless neighbor Noa Abrams. Professionally, Marjette has her hands full as she prepares for a new class of kindergarteners and her first year of teaching without her best friend, Judy, as campus “Black-up.” And at home, her son’s budding manhood challenges her expectations, and her vexing ex-husband continues to be a thorn in her side.

But when tragedy strikes Marjette’s street, and an unexpected child shows up on the first day of school with an uncle who has all the class moms aflutter, Marjette is forced to contend with both her neighbor and her own heartache over losing the life she once thought was guaranteed. Through laughter, tears, and the gift of found family, Marjette and Noa navigate the rituals of loss together and discover the strength to remake their lives―whether they meant to or not.
Visit the Alli + Asha website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"A Death on W Street"

New from PublicAffairs: A Death on W Street: The Murder of Seth Rich and the Age of Conspiracy by Andy Kroll.

About the book, from the publisher:

A true-crime story for the post-truth era

In the early hours of July 10, 2016, gunshots rang out and a young man lay fatally wounded on a quiet Washington, DC, street. But who killed Seth Rich? When he was buried in his hometown, his rabbi declared: “There are no answers for a young man gunned down in the prime of his life.” The rabbi was wrong. There were in fact many answers, way too many.

In the absence of an arrest, a howling mob filled the void. Wild speculation and fantastical theories surfaced on social media and gained traction thanks to a high-level cast of provocateurs. But it wasn’t until Fox News took the rumors from the fringes to the mainstream that Seth Rich’s life and death grew into something altogether unexpected—one of the foundational conspiracy theories of modern times.

A Death on W Street unravels this gripping saga of murder, madness, and political chicanery, one that would ensnare Hillary Clinton and Steve Bannon, a popular pizzeria in northwest DC and the most powerful voices in American media. It's the story of an idealistic twenty-seven-year-old political staffer who became a tragic victim of the culture wars, until his family decided that they had no choice but to defend his name and put an end to the cruel deceptions that surrounded his death.

This is the definitive story of Seth Rich, of those who tried to weaponize his memory in a war of words unlike any other, and of one family’s crusade to protect the truth against all odds.
Visit Andy Kroll's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Deceptions"

New from Catapult: The Deceptions: A Novel by Jill Bialosky.

About the book, from the publisher:

An explosive tale of art and myth, desire and betrayal, from New York Times best-selling author Jill Bialosky

Something terrible has happened and I don’t know what to do. An unnamed narrator’s life is unraveling. Her only child has left home, and her twenty-year marriage is strained. Anticipation about her soon-to-be-released book of poetry looms. She seeks answers to the paradoxes of love, desire, and parenthood among the Greek and Roman gods at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As she passes her days teaching at a boys’ prep school, spending her off-hours sequestered in the museum's austere galleries, she is haunted by memories of a yearlong friendship with a colleague, a fellow poet struggling with his craft. As secret betrayals and deceptions come to light and rage threatens to overwhelm her, the pantheon of gods assume remarkably vivid lives of their own, forcing her to choose between reality and myth in an effort to free herself from the patriarchal constraints of the past and embrace a new vision for her future.

The Deceptions is a page-turning and seductively told exploration of female sexuality and ambition as well as a human drama that dares to test the stories we tell ourselves. It is also a brilliant investigation of a life caught between the dueling magnetic poles of privacy and its appropriation in art and literature. Celebrated poet, memoirist, and novelist Jill Bialosky has reached new and daring heights in her boldest work yet.
Visit Jill Bialosky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Climate Future"

New from Oxford University Press: Climate Future: Averting and Adapting to Climate Change by Robert S. Pindyck.

About the book, from the publisher:

Most people would probably agree on what should be done to avert severe climate change: The world must reduce CO2 emissions as much and as quickly as possible. But we must also ask what will be done. Is it realistic to expect worldwide emissions to fall rapidly enough to prevent severe climate change? And if we conclude it is not realistic, and so higher temperatures and rising sea levels are likely, what should we do? What actions should we take now to reduce the likely impact of climate change?

Whatever climate policies are adopted, there will be a great deal of uncertainty over what will happen as a result. In Climate Future, Robert Pindyck, an authority on the economics of climate change and global catastrophes, explains what we know and what we don't know about the extent of climate change and its impact, why there is so much uncertainty, and what it means for climate policy. This book shows that given the economic and political realities, it is simply not realistic to expect emission reductions needed to avert substantial global warming. Pindyck argues that investments in adaptation-developing new hybrid crops, discouraging building in flood-prone or wildfire-prone areas, building sea walls and dikes, and geoengineering-are needed to insure against catastrophic climate change events. We should invest now in adaptation, and Pindyck shows how that can be done.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 25, 2022

"The Ways We Hide"

New from Sourcebooks: The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris.

About the book, from the publisher:

As a little girl raised amid the hardships of Michigan's Copper Country, Fenna Vos learned to focus on her own survival. That ability sustains her even now as the Second World War rages in faraway countries. Though she performs onstage as the assistant to an unruly escape artist, behind the curtain she's the mastermind of their act. Ultimately, controlling her surroundings and eluding traps of every kind helps her keep a lingering trauma at bay.

Yet for all her planning, Fenna doesn't foresee being called upon by British military intelligence. Tasked with designing escape aids to thwart the Germans, MI9 seeks those with specialized skills for a war nearing its breaking point. Fenna reluctantly joins the unconventional team as an inventor. But when a test of her loyalty draws her deep into the fray, she discovers no mission is more treacherous than escaping one's past.

Inspired by stunning true accounts, The Ways We Hide is a gripping story of love and loss, the wars we fight—on the battlefields and within ourselves—and the courage found in unexpected places.
Visit Kristina McMorris's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


New from St. Martin's Press: Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell.

About the book, from the publisher:

In a sparkling, beautifully illustrated social history, Skirts traces the shifting roles of women over the twentieth century through the era’s most iconic and influential dresses.

While the story of women’s liberation has often been framed by the growing acceptance of pants over the twentieth century, the most important and influential female fashions of the era featured skirts. Suffragists and soldiers marched in skirts; the heroines of the Civil Rights Movement took a stand in skirts. Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe revolutionized modern art and Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes in skirts. When NASA put a man on the moon, “the computer wore a skirt,” in the words of one of those computers, mathematician Katherine G. Johnson. As women made strides towards equality in the vote, the workforce, and the world at large, their wardrobes evolved with them. They did not need to "wear the pants" to be powerful or progressive; the dress itself became modern as designers like Mariano Fortuny, Coco Chanel, Jean Patou, and Diane von Furstenberg redefined femininity for a new era.

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell's Skirts looks at the history of twentieth-century womenswear through the lens of game-changing styles like the little black dress and the Bar Suit, as well as more obscure innovations like the Taxi dress or the Pop-Over dress, which came with a matching potholder. These influential garments illuminate the times in which they were first worn—and the women who wore them—while continuing to shape contemporary fashion and even opening the door for a genderfluid future of skirts. At once an authoritative work of history and a delightfully entertaining romp through decades of fashion, Skirts charts the changing fortunes, freedoms, and aspirations of women themselves.
Visit Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Secret of Elephants"

New from Lake Union: The Secret of Elephants by Vasundra Tailor.

About the book, from the publisher:

Navsari, India. Penniless and trapped in a loveless marriage, Nirmala spends her days anxiously caring for her sick young son, Varun. Looming over Nirmala’s impoverished home is an imposing mansion built by her grandfather, and from its balcony her cruel aunt scorns them, refusing to help in any way.

But when a mysterious letter addressed to her long-dead father arrives from Zimbabwe, it opens a door to a past Nirmala never knew existed and a future she never imagined possible. If the contents of the letter can be believed, not only does she have family in Africa, but they might also hold the answers to a family mystery that spans three generations.

While travelling to Zimbabwe might lead to a brighter future for Nirmala and her son, it could also reignite the bitter family feud that condemned her family to poverty. Nirmala is ready to risk it all to uncover the truth, but how will she cope when this journey changes her life forever?
Follow Vasundra Tailor on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Keeping Family Secrets"

Coming November 8 from NYU Press: Keeping Family Secrets: Shame and Silence in Memoirs from the 1950s by Margaret K. Nelson.

About the book, from the publisher:

From teen pregnancy and gay sexuality to Communism and disability, the startling secrets that families kept during the Cold War era

All families have secrets but the facts requiring secrecy change with time. Nowadays A lesbian partnership, a “bastard” son, an aunt who is a prostitute, or a criminal grandfather might be of little or no consequence but could have unraveled a family at an earlier moment in history. Margaret K. Nelson is interested in how families keep secrets from each other and from outsiders when to do otherwise would risk eliciting not only embarrassment or discomfort, but profound shame and, in some cases, danger. Drawing on over 150 memoirs describing childhoods in the period between the aftermath of World War II and the 1960s, Nelson highlights the importance of history in creating family secrets and demonstrates the use of personal stories to understand how people make sense of themselves and their social worlds.

Keeping Family Secrets uncovers hidden stories of same-sex attraction among boys, unwed pregnancies among teenage girls, the institutionalization of children with mental and physical disabilities, participation in left-wing political activities, adoption, and Jewish ancestry. The members of ordinary families kept these issues secret to hide the disconnect between the reality of their own family and the prevailing ideals of what a family should be. Personal accounts reveal the costs associated with keeping family secrets, as family members lie, hurl epithets, inflict abuse, and even deny family membership to protect themselves from the shame and danger of public knowledge. Keeping Family Secrets sheds light not only on decades-old secrets but pushes us to confront what secrets our families keep today.
The Page 99 Test: Parenting Out of Control.

The Page 99 Test: Like Family.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

"Bindle Punk Bruja"

Coming September 13 from Harper Voyager: Bindle Punk Bruja: A Novel by Desideria Mesa.

About the book, from the publisher:

Boardwalk Empire meets The Vanishing Half with a touch of earth magic in this sexy and action-packed historical fantasy set in the luminous Golden Twenties from debut author Desideria Mesa, where a part-time reporter and club owner takes on crooked city councilmen, mysterious and deadly mobsters, and society’s deeply rooted sexism and racism, all while keeping her true identity and magical abilities hidden—inspired by an ancient Mexican folktale.

Yo soy quien soy. I am who I am.

Luna—or depending on who’s asking, Rose—is the white-passing daughter of an immigrant mother who has seen what happens to people from her culture. This world is prejudicial, and she must hide her identity in pursuit of owning an illegal jazz club. Using her cunning powers, Rose negotiates with dangerous criminals as she climbs up Kansas City’s bootlegging ladder. Luna, however, runs the risk of losing everything if the crooked city councilmen and ruthless mobsters discover her ties to an immigrant boxcar community that secretly houses witches. Last thing she wants is to put her entire family in danger.

But this bruja with ever-growing magical abilities can never resist a good fight. With her new identity, Rose, an unabashed flapper, defies societal expectations all the while struggling to keep her true self and witchcraft in check. However, the harder she tries to avoid scrutiny, the more her efforts eventually capture unwanted attention. Soon, she finds herself surrounded by greed and every brand of bigotry—from local gangsters who want a piece of the action and businessmen who hate her diverse staff to the Ku Klux Klan and Al Capone. Will her earth magic be enough to save her friends and family? As much as she hates to admit it, she may need to learn to have faith in others—and learning to trust may prove to be her biggest ambition yet.
Visit Desideria Mesa's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Science of Proof"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Science of Proof: Forensic Medicine in Modern France by E. Claire Cage.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Science of Proof traces the rise of forensic medicine in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France and examines its implications for our understanding of expert authority. Tying real life cases to broader debates, the book analyzes how new forms of medical and scientific knowledge, many of which were pioneered in France, were contested, but ultimately accepted, and applied to legal problems and the administration of justice. The growing authority of medical experts in the French legal arena was nonetheless subject to sharp criticism and scepticism. The professional development of medicolegal expertise and its influence in criminal courts sparked debates about the extent to which it could reveal truth, furnish legal proof, and serve justice. Drawing on a wide base of archival and printed sources, Claire Cage reveals tensions between uncertainty about the reliability of forensic evidence and a new confidence in the power of scientific inquiry to establish guilt, innocence, and legal responsibility.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Darkness of Others"

New from Grand Central Publishing: The Darkness of Others by Cate Holahan.

About the book, from the publisher:

USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan delivers her latest nail-biting thriller, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell.

Imani Banks lives in a posh Brooklyn Heights neighborhood that has just been rocked to its core. An acclaimed movie director has been murdered, and his blond trophy wife—Imani’s closest friend—is missing. Their neighbors, along with the media, jump to the conclusion that Melissa Walker has killed her husband in a fit of rage and is on the run.

Fortunately for the missing actress, Imani is a psychiatrist as well as a steadfast friend. She will never give up her search and is determined to prove Melissa’s innocence. It shouldn’t take a degree in human behavior to know that Melissa would never leave her daughter behind.

Recently, Imani and her chef husband rented some extra rooms in their house to a struggling waitress from his restaurant. Tonya Sayre has moved in with her teen daughter and the convenient timing and her suspicious behavior soon lead Imani to suspect that the true killer is living right under her own roof. Now all she has to do is prove it.
Visit Cate Holahan's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Cate Holahan & Westley.

--Marshal Zeringue

"A Question of Standing"

New from Oxford University Press: A Question of Standing: The History of the CIA by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:

A Question of Standing deals with recognizable events that have shaped the history of the first 75 years of the CIA. Unsparing in its accounts of dirty tricks and their consequences, it values the agency's intelligence and analysis work to offer balanced judgements that avoid both celebration and condemnation of the CIA.

The mission of the CIA, derived from U-1 in World War I more than from World War II's OSS, has always been intelligence. Seventy-five years ago, in the year of its creation, the National Security Act gave the agency, uniquely in world history up to that point, a democratic mandate to pursue that mission of intelligence. It gave the CIA a special standing in the conduct of US foreign relations. That standing diminished when successive American presidents ordered the CIA to exceed its original mission. When they tasked the agency secretly to overthrow democratic governments, the United States lost its international standing, and its command of a majority in the United Nations General Assembly. Such dubious operations, even the government's embrace of assassination and torture, did not diminish the standing of the CIA in US public opinion. However, domestic interventions did. CIA spying on domestic protesters led to tighter congressional oversight from the 1970s on.

The chapters in A Question of Standing offer a balanced narrative and perspective on recognizable episodes in the CIA's history. They include the Bay of Pigs invasion, the War on Terror, 9/11, the weapons of mass destruction deception, the Iran estimate of 2007, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and Fake News. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 diminished the CIA and is construed as having been the right solution undertaken for the wrong reasons, reasons that grew out of political opportunism. The book also defends the CIA's exposure of foreign meddling in US elections.
Learn about Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's top ten classic spy novels.

The Page 99 Test: In Spies We Trust.

The Page 99 Test: We Know All About You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

"The Marsh Queen"

New from Gallery Books: The Marsh Queen by Virginia Hartman.

About the book, from the publisher:

For fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, this “marvelous debut” (Alice McDermott, National Book Award–winning author of The Ninth Hour) follows a Washington, DC, artist as she faces her past and the secrets held in the waters of Florida’s lush swamps and wetlands.

Loni Murrow is an accomplished bird artist at the Smithsonian who loves her job. But when she receives a call from her younger brother summoning her back home to help their obstinate mother recover after an accident, Loni’s neat, contained life in Washington, DC, is thrown into chaos, and she finds herself exactly where she does not want to be.

Going through her mother’s things, Loni uncovers scraps and snippets of a time in her life she would prefer to forget—a childhood marked by her father Boyd’s death by drowning and her mother Ruth’s persistent bad mood. When Loni comes across a single, cryptic note from a stranger—“There are some things I have to tell you about Boyd’s death”— she begins a dangerous quest to discover the truth, all the while struggling to reconnect with her mother and reconcile with her brother and his wife, who seem to thwart her at every turn. To make matters worse, she meets a man in Florida whose attractive simple charm threatens everything she’s worked toward.

Pulled between worlds—her professional accomplishments in Washington, and the small town of her childhood—Loni must decide whether to delve beneath the surface into murky half-truths and either avenge the past or bury it, once and for all.

The Marsh Queen explores what it means to be a daughter and how we protect the ones we love. Suzanne Feldman, author of Sisters of the Great War, writes that “fans of Delia Owens and Lauren Groff will find this a wonderful and absorbing read.”
Visit Virginia Hartman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Renegade Rhymes"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan by Meredith Schweig.

About the book, from the publisher:

A close look at how Taiwanese musicians are using rap music as a creative way to explore and reconcile Taiwanese identity and history.

Like many states emerging from oppressive political rule, Taiwan saw a cultural explosion in the late 1980s, when nearly four decades of martial law under the Chinese Nationalist Party ended. As members of a multicultural, multilingual society with a complex history of migration and colonization, Taiwanese people entered this moment of political transformation eager to tell their stories and grapple with their identities. In Renegade Rhymes, ethnomusicologist Meredith Schweig shows how rap music has become a powerful tool in the post-authoritarian period for both exploring and producing new knowledge about the ethnic, cultural, and political history of Taiwan.

Schweig draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, taking readers to concert venues, music video sets, scenes of protest, and more to show how early MCs from marginalized ethnic groups infused rap with important aspects of their own local languages, music, and narrative traditions. Aiming their critiques at the educational system and a neoliberal economy, new generations of rappers have used the art form to nurture associational bonds and rehearse rituals of democratic citizenship, making a new kind of sense out of their complicated present.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Real Bad Things"

New from Thomas & Mercer: Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of Cottonmouths, a Los Angeles Review Best Book of 2017, comes an evocative suspense about the cost of keeping secrets and the dangers of coming home.

Beneath the roiling waters of the Arkansas River lie dead men and buried secrets.

When Jane Mooney’s violent stepfather, Warren, disappeared, most folks in Maud Bottoms, Arkansas, assumed he got drunk and drowned. After all, the river had claimed its share over the years.

When Jane confessed to his murder, she should have gone to jail. That’s what she wanted. But without a body, the police didn’t charge her with the crime. So Jane left for Boston―and took her secrets with her.

Twenty-five years later, the river floods and a body surfaces. Talk of Warren’s murder grips the town. Now in her forties, Jane returns to Maud Bottoms to reckon with her past: to do jail time, to face her revenge-bent mother, to make things right.

But though Jane’s homecoming may enlighten some, it could threaten others. Because in this desolate river valley, some secrets are better left undisturbed.
Visit Kelly J. Ford's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Kutuzov: A Life in War and Peace"

New from Oxford University Press: Kutuzov: A Life in War and Peace by Alexander Mikaberidze.

About the book, from the publisher:

A full-life portrait of the man Tolstoy immortalized, Stalin lionized, and Russian history has manipulated and mythologized beyond recognition.

Every Russian knows him purely by his patronym. He was the general who triumphed over Napoleon's Grande Armée during the Patriotic War of 1812, not merely restoring national pride but securing national identity. Many Russians consider Field Marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Golenischev-Kutuzov the greatest figure of the 19th century, ahead of Pushkin, Tchaikovsky, even Tolstoy himself. Immediately after his death in 1813, Kutuzov's remains were hurried into the pantheon of heroes. Statues of him rose up across the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union. Over the course of decades and centuries he hardened into legend.

As award-winning author Alexander Mikaberidze shows in this fascinating, often startling, and wholly humanizing new biography, Kutuzov's story is far more compelling and complex than the myths that have encased him. An unabashed imperialist who rose in the ranks through his victories over the Turks and the Poles, Kutuzov was also a realist and a skeptic about military power. When the Russians and their allies were routed by the French at Austerlitz he was openly appalled by the incompetence of leadership and the sheer waste of life. Over his long career—marked equally by victory and defeat, embrace and ostracism—he grew to despise those whose concept of war had devolved to mindless attack.

Here, at last, is Kutuzov as he really was—a master and survivor of intrigue, moving in and out of royal favor, committed to the welfare of those under his command, and an innovative strategist. When, reluctantly and at the 11th hour, Czar Alexander I called upon him to lead the fight against Napoleon's invading army, Kutuzov accomplished what needed to be done not by a heroic charge but by a strategic retreat. Across the generations, portraits of Kutuzov have ranged from hagiography to dismissal, with Tolstoy's portrait of him in War and Peace perhaps the most indelible of all. This immersive biography returns a touchstone figure in Russian history to human scale.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 22, 2022

"The Anchored World"

Coming October 11 from Rose Metal Press: The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore by Jasmine Sawers.

About the book, from the publisher:

A goat begins to grow inside a human heart. The rightful king is born a hard, smooth seashell. Supernovas burst across skin like ink in water. Heartbreak transforms maidens into witches, girls into goblins, mothers into monsters. Hunger drives lovers and daughters, soldiers and ghosts, to unhinge their jaws and swallow the world. Drawing inspiration from a mixed heritage and from history—from the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen to the ancient legends of Thailand, from the suburbs of Buffalo, New York to the endless horizon of the American Midwest—Jasmine Sawers invents a hybrid folklore for liminal characters who live between the lines and within the creases of race and language, culture and gender, sexuality and ability. The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore is equal parts love letter to the old tales and indictment of their shortcomings, offering a new mythology to reflect the many faces and voices of the twenty-first century.
Visit Jasmine Sawers's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Belief and Cult"

New from Princeton University Press: Belief and Cult: Rethinking Roman Religion by Jacob L. Mackey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Belief and Cult argues that belief isn’t uniquely Christian but was central to ancient Roman religion. Drawing on cognitive theory, Jacob Mackey shows that despite having nothing to do with salvation or faith, belief underlay every aspect of Roman religious practices—emotions, individual and collective cult action, ritual norms, social reality, and social power. In doing so, he also offers a thorough argument for the importance of belief to other non-Christian religions.

At the individual level, the book argues, belief played an indispensable role in the genesis of cult action and religious emotion. However, belief also had a collective dimension. The cognitive theory of Shared Intentionality shows how beliefs may be shared among individuals, accounting for the existence of written, unwritten, or even unspoken ritual norms. Shared beliefs permitted the choreography of collective cult action and gave cult acts their social meanings. The book also elucidates the role of shared belief in creating and maintaining Roman social reality. Shared belief allowed the Romans to endow agents, actions, and artifacts with socio-religious status and power. In a deep sense, no man could count as an augur and no act of animal slaughter as a successful offering to the gods, unless Romans collectively shared appropriate beliefs about these things.

Closely examining augury, prayer, the religious enculturation of children, and the Romans’ own theories of cognition and cult, Belief and Cult promises to revolutionize the understanding of Roman religion by demonstrating that none of its features makes sense without Roman belief.
--Marshal Zeringue