Reviews of Cornell University Press books in the June 2013 Choice Magazine

The June 2013 issue of Choice contains reviews of the following Cornell University Press titles:

Spoils of Truce: Corruption and State-Building in Postwar Lebanon by Reinoud Leenders
“One of the most disturbing legacies of the post–civil war experience in Lebanon has been the persistence of corruption in the country’s sociopolitical institutions. In this well-researched book, Leenders examines the myriad causes of corruption in the country . . . . [and] convincingly demonstrates how Lebanon’s archaic political system perpetuates corruption. . . . Although the book’s focus is on Lebanon, the author’s theoretical arguments can be applied to the study of corruption in many other Arab countries. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”

Balkan Smoke: Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria by Mary C. Neuburger
“This fascinating book explores the history of tobacco and tobacco culture in Bulgaria from the mid-19th century, when the country became partially and then fully independent from the Ottoman Empire, to the postcommunist present. Neuburger argues convincingly that smoking and the production of tobacco products played an important—if not the key—part in Bulgaria’s political, economic; and cultural modernization during this period. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended.”

Catholics in the American Century: Recasting Narratives of U.S. History, edited by R. Scott Appleby and Kathleen Sprows Cummings
“These six wide-ranging and impressive essays do indeed ‘recast narratives of US history’ through the lens and critique of Catholicism. Taken together, these essays challenge well-trodden tales of Catholics in America becoming American Catholics.”

Fictions of Dignity: Embodying Human Rights in World Literature by Elizabeth S. Anker
“In her analysis of ‘the vocabulary of human rights,’ Anker interrogates the liberal/Enlightenment tradition that values the intellect over the body. She regards this preference, one that stretches from Plato to Descartes, as dismissive of corporeal and indigenous factors. Hence, imperialism emphasizes the ‘barbarism’ of the global south, patriarchy stresses the weakness of women’s bodies to justify their suppression, society categorizes animals as unconscious ‘carnal being[s],’ and large political bodies ignore smaller interests in implementing justice. Anker discusses four works that engage these stances. . . . [Readers] will be intrigued and challenged by Anker’s critique. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”

Heart-Pine Russia: Walking and Writing the Nineteenth-Century Forest by Jane T. Costlow
“This erudite study of the Russian forest in 19th-century literature and art . . . argues that the forest holds a particularly mythologized place in the Russian cultural imagination. Each of the book’s six chapters addresses a different author or artist. . . . This look at the Russian forest in literature and the arts is overdue. As an added plus, it includes ample reproductions of 19th-century paintings in both color and black and white.”

Public Jobs and Political Agendas: The Public Sector in an Era of Economic Success, edited by Daniel J. B. Mitchell
“A valuable and timely contribution. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”

Reviews of Cornell University Press books in the June 2013 Choice Magazine