Book Notes: March-April 2002

March 31, 2002

 

Turning South AgainTurning South Again:
Re-thinking Modernism/Re-Reading Booker T.

By Houston A. Baker Jr.
Duke University Press, 2001. 136 pages. $15.95.
Baker, the Susan Fox and George D. Beischer Arts and Sciences Professor of English and professor of African and African American Studies, has written what Booklist calls a "scathing and insightful essay on race issues" that "lyrically and evocatively explores the painful truths of American racism." Turning South Again argues incarceration has largely defined black life in the United States, whether in slavery or today's prisons, and that the work of Booker T. Washington led to "mulatto modernism," a compromised attempt at full citizenship. Combining autobiography, literary criticism, psychoanalysis, blues lyrics, and poetry, he meditates on the consequences of mulatto modernism for "black modernism," which he defines as the achievement of mobile, life-enhancing participation in the public sphere and economic solvency for African Americans.

The Cold War and The Color LineThe Cold War and the Color Line:
American Race Relations in the Global Arena
By Thomas Borstelmann A.M. '86, Ph.D. '90.
Harvard University Press, 2001. 369 pages. $35.
After World War II, the United States faced two challenges: the administration of global responsibilities as the world's strongest power and the management of a growing domestic struggle for racial justice and civil rights. The Cold War emphasized the American commitment to freedom, even as the absence of that freedom for nonwhite Americans created an embarrassing contradiction. The Cold War and the Color Line examines the intersection of the Cold War with the final destruction of global white supremacy, paying close attention to southern Africa and the American South as the primary sites of white authority's last stand. In doing so, it places the history of American race relations into an international context.
Do Bald Men Get Half-Price Haircuts?Do Bald Men Get Half-Price Haircuts?
In Search of America's Great Barber Shops
By Vince Staten '69.
Simon and Schuster, 2001. 175 pages. $19.
Why are the stripes on a barber pole red and white? How did The Beatles almost kill the barbershop? What was Plutarch's favorite barber joke? Staten has provided the answers to these and other quirky questions about the American barbershop in his carefully researched, humorous look at a small-town institution, which dares to take the surprising position that the mullet isn't the worst haircut in history.
The Lure of the EdgeThe Lure of the Edge:
Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs, and the Pursuit of UFOs
By Brenda Denzler Ph.D. '98.
University of California, 2001. 313 pages. $35.
UFO phenomena entered American consciousness at the beginning of the Cold War and eventually entered the public imagination as a cultural myth of the twentieth century. Denzler examines the scientific and religious perspectives of the UFO/alien abduction movement, surveying its sociological contours as a community and its attempts to achieve scientific legitimacy, concluding with a look at the movement's spiritual component. The Lure of the Edge repositions what may be considered a marginal segment of society into a central debate about the nature of science and technology and the production of modern myth.
The Fiscal Challenge of an Aging Industrial WorldThe Fiscal Challenge of an Aging Industrial World
By Robert Stowe England '67.
Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2002.
155 pages. $21.95.
In the coming half-century, the proportion of elderly in developed nations will nearly double, challenging the sustainability of old-age pensions and health care. England's study, produced for the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Global Aging Initiative, examines that challenge, and offers alternative forecasts for the leading industrialized nations.
Enfants Terribles, by Susan WeinerEnfants Terribles:
Youth and Femininity in the Mass Media in France, 1945-1968
By Susan Weiner Ph.D. '93.
Johns Hopkins Press, 2001. 251 pages. $38.
As imagined by the postwar media in France, the teenage girl was no longer a demure and daughterly jeune fille. Instead, she had become an enfant terrible. Weiner focuses on the role of gender in representations of youth in post-war France, showing how young men and women became symbols of different aspects of social order and disorder in a troubled nation. The anxieties of a country traumatized by Nazi occupation and the Cold War, becoming increasingly consumer-minded, and caught in an undeclared war in Algeria, all found expression in the portrayal of these enfants terribles.