Philip Otterness, author of Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York, recently appeared on an episode of the NBC television showWho Do You Think You Are?, with country music star Tim McGraw. McGraw’s ancestors were part of the 1709-1710 Palatine migration from Europe to New York State. Otterness discussed the history of the Palatines with McGraw and told him that the ancestors of another music legend were also part of the Palatine migration: Elvis Presley’s. Watch the entire episode here:
In an interview in the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette published on 25 May, author John B. Hench discussed how his interest in collecting books and other materials on American culture and psychology that were printed during World War II led to researching the history of the wartime Overseas Editions and Transatlantic Editions and the writing of Books As Weapons, recently published by Cornell University Press.
“Over time,” reporter Pamela H. Sacks writes, “Hench himself amassed a collection of ephemera. The assemblage included ‘ration cards, pamphlets, that sort of thing — really home-front propaganda — and some books on subjects such as how to behave in wartime: how to give a party, what to write to your husband, to be wary of the charms of an attractive man who was 4-F but otherwise fit,’ [Hench] said with a laugh. As he sought interesting material, he ran across a copy of an Overseas Edition. It was completely new to him, and his interest was piqued. After some initial research, Hench realized he had a potential book in the making.”
Read the entire article here.
As Mary Kay Henry begins her tenure as the President of the Service Employees International Union, we’d like to suggest the following ILR Press titles for information, guidance, and inspiration—
A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement by Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds
Power in Coalition: Strategies for Strong Unions and Social Change by Amanda Tattersall
Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy by Ruth Milkman, Joshua Bloom, and Victor Narro (editors)
A Shameful Business: The Case for Human Rights in the American Workplace by James A. Gross
Building More Effective Unions, Second Edition by Paul F. Clark
Safety in Numbers: Nurse-to-Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care by Suzanne Gordon, John Buchanan, and Tanya Bretherton
Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress by Candacy A. Taylor
Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital through Cross-Border Campaigns by Kate Bronfenbrenner (editor)
The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor by Dorothy Sue Cobble (editor)
Kate Bronfenbrenner, the Director of Labor Education Research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the coauthor, editor, and coeditor of several books with Cornell University Press including, most recently, Global Unions, was interviewed this morning on NPR’s “Morning Edition” in a story about the Mary Kay Henry, the new president of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union.
On NJ.com, columnist Raymond A. Scroth thanks Cornell author James T. Fisher for bringing Father John M. “Pete” Corridan—the real-life model for Karl Malden’s Fr. Pete Barry in “On the Waterfront”—to life. “He was tall, tough, balding, with a take-charge presence,” Scroth writers, “someone this idealistic 18-year-old Fordham freshman in 1951 might want to identify with.” And he praises Fisher’s book, On the Irish Waterfront, for offering “a critical, though loving, portrait of the New York-New Jersey docks and the pious, though also corrupt Irish Catholics who made their living there; an in-depth account of the making of the movie, its script development, casting, on-site shooting on the Hoboken side of the Hudson; a case-study of one of the church’s and the Jesuits’ better attempts to re-connect with the working class; and finally the story of a very dedicated, yet flawed, priest some would say failed in his mission, but triumphed nevertheless.”
Read the entire column here.
In a review posted on January 31, 2007, to the website of The Georgian Times (originally published in the Caucasus Research Resource Centers blog), Aaron Erlich notes, “Many social researchers working on the Caucasus bemoan the lack of good scholarly works on the region. However, one recent book, which is both excellent and readable, seems to have fallen under people’s radars: Mathijs Pelkmans’ Defending the Border: Identity, Religion, and Modernity in the Republic of Georgia, which came out in 2006 with Cornell University Press.” The book, part of Cornell’s Culture and Society after Socialism series, was recently announced as co-winner of the 2007 William A. Douglass book prize given by the Society for the Anthropology of Europe.
In it, Pelkmans illuminates the ways in which residents of the Caucasus have rethought who they are since the collapse of the Soviet Union through an exploration of three towns in the southwest corner of the Republic of Georgia. “Pelkmans’ book,” Erlich writes, “is deeply embedded within the literature on the studies of borderlands. Using the case of Sarpi (and Ajara more generally), Pelkmans argues convincingly that the Georgian (Soviet) border was not like other borders treated in the academic literature, which were porous and where strong cross-border networks have and continue to play an important role. Conversely, the Georgian border still plays a strong role, despite the ease with which it is now crossed.”
In a September 13, 2007, interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, which was rebroadcast in December ahead of the film’s DVD release and three Golden Globe nominations, director David Cronenberg cited Vladimir Volkov’s 2002 Cornell UP book, Violent Entrepreneurs: The Use of Force in the Making of Russian Capitalism, as one of the inspirations for his critically acclaimed 2007 thriller, Eastern Promises, which stars Viggo Mortensen as a London-based Russian mobster. In his interview with host Terry Gross, Cronenberg identified the book as important in shaping his view of the Russian underworld depicted in the film as the “rawest, most virulent form of capitalism” and his characters as “ardent capitalists.”
Like the film, the book Violent Entrepreneurs has been critically acclaimed and has become a bestseller on Cornell’s political science list, widely used in courses on post-Soviet Russia and criminology. According to the New York Review of Books, “Volkov supplies the missing link between almost everything else you may read about business in post-Communist Russia and almost everything else you can read about organized crime there. He treats the two activities, business and crime, with equal respect as fields of sociological inquiry, and so arrives at the first satisfying account of how they affect each other.” Fans of the film wanting to know more about the fascinating world of Russian organized crime should put Violent Entrepreneurs at the top of their reading list.
As reported in the September/October issue of Philosophy Now, Muhsin Mahdi, the world’s foremost expert on medieval Arabic and Islamic political philosophy, died in August at the age of 81. Born in Iraq, he spent his academic career at the University of Baghdad (1947–1957), the University of Chicago (1957–1969), and Harvard University (1969–1996), where he held the James Richard Jewett Professorship in Arabic. Among his many books were two works he published with Cornell University Press—Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, which he coedited with Ralph Lerner, and an acclaimed translation of Alfarabi’s Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, originally published in 1969 and reissued in 2002 with a new foreword by Charles E. Butterworth and Thomas L. Pangle. Both books reflect the remarkable archival and philological work for which Mahdi was universally admired.
Eric Janus, author of the 2006 Cornell Press book Failure to Protect: America’s Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventative State, was recently named president and dean of William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Janus has been a member of the William Mitchell faculty since 1984 and vice dean since 2004. He got his law degree from Harvard University in 1973. Prior to joining the William Mitchell faculty, he served as a staff lawyer and managing attorney with the Minneapolis Legal Aid Society, where his work included drafting and lobbying for the Minnesota Vulnerable Adult Protection Act.
With the DVD release of Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition, fans of the show can relive every twist and turn of the landmark television series that asked (and, unfortunately, answered) the most important question of 1990–1991: “Who killed Laura Palmer?” What many American fans of the cult show probably don’t realize is how popular the show was in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Amidst the extreme homegrown Russian entertainment he surveys in his new book, Overkill: Sex and Violence in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture, an unflinching tour of the dark underbelly of post-Soviet culture, Eliot Borenstein also highlights the impact of American popular culture (not to mention Mexican telenovelas) on Russia’s media industry. “For the Russian audience,” Borenstein writes, “Twin Peaks, despite its iconoclasm, is a case study in the strengths and pitfalls of the American serialized drama.” He also takes note of the the series’ appearance as an artifact in Russian popular culture itself: “In Maks Frai’s Chronicles of Echo fantasy series, when Frai returns to the otherdimensional land of Ekho from an extended sojourn in our world, he brings back his video library and his ex-girlfriend’s VCR to introduce film and television to a land that has never seen it. His boss immediately takes several days off from work so he can watch Twin Peaks nonstop.”
Faisal Devji, author of Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity (2005), has written an article for openDemocracy on recent efforts by liberal Muslim religious and intellectual leaders to promote the cause of dialogue and debate with Christians on a global scale, in the face of opposition by more militant Muslims. These efforts, Devji finds, are “a case-study in both the state of religious thinking and the democratization of sovereignty in the global arena.”
From the September 2007 issue of The Journal of American History, Anne M. Boylan’s review of To Set This World Right: The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau’s Concord by Sandra Harbert Petrulionis:
“Petrulionis knows how to tell a good story. . . . With its interesting story, evocative analysis of how national issues reverberated in a specific locality, and engaging characters, To Set This World Right should prove an appealing book to assign to undergraduates. Scholars will admire those virtues while also appreciating the book’s recovery of Thoreau’s career in antislavery.”
From the September 2007 issue of the Journal of Modern History, Robert Forster’s review of Nobility Reimagined: The Patriotic Nation in Eighteenth-Century France by Jay Smith:
“In Nobility Reimagined, Smith has written an original kind of history of ideas of eighteenth-century France, focusing on a few key concepts. His is an important addition to our understanding of the origins of the French Revolution, and his goal of presenting a new approach to the processes of cultural change will stimulate a historical debate for our own time.”
From the October 2007 issue of the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Carol Symes’s review of Ritual Imports: Performing Medieval Drama in America by Claire Sponsler:
“Ritual Imports undertakes six fascinating case studies, amounting to a provocative exploration of America’s perennial fascination with the Middle Ages and the half-forgotten ways in which vestiges of the medieval have survived in various local contexts. It should be required reading for all students and teachers of medieval drama, of course, but also for historians of American theatre and even for scholars of U.S. labor history and immigration, African American studies, Latin American studies, and other related areas of inquiry.”
From the Winter 2007 issue of Canadian-American Slavic Studies, Barbara C. Allen’s review of Republic of Labor: Russian Printers and Soviet Socialism, 1918–1930 by Diane P. Koenker:
“Koenker’s study . . . makes important contributions to our understanding of the relationship between Russian workers, their unions, and the Soviet and Communist Party leadership. Moreover, it challenges the conventional periodization of early Soviet history. This is a complex and nuanced study, which explores diverse worker responses to the regime. . . . It should be a staple of graduate reading lists in modern Russian history, modern European history, and comparative labor history.”