Other Publications by Northwestern Faculty and Staff
Reviews by Martin Brady


The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World
Ken Alder, associate professor of history (Free Press, 2002)

Historian Alder, also a novelist and a cyclist, manages to combine his talents and interests in producing this unusual account of the founding of the metric system. With the scope of a piece of good fiction, Alder’s well-researched volume relates the tale of astronomers Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre and Pierre-François-André Méchain, who set out from Paris in 1792 in different directions — one to Dunkirk, the other to Barcelona — to, in effect, “measure the world” and to arrive at a measurement standard that has since dominated our planet. Alder offers interesting profiles of his principal characters and colorfully describes the other mathematicians and scientists who played key roles. More critically, he reveals some heretofore hidden secrets about flaws in the discoverers’ scientific method. Part of Alder’s preparation for this book included his own rarefied feat of cycling the entire routes originally traveled by Delambre and Méchain.

To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City
Martha Biondi, assistant professor of African American studies and
history (Harvard University Press, 2003)

This social history sheds necessary light on the efforts of many courageous African American men and women in post–World War II New York City, who took to the streets and the legislatures to protest lingering discrimination. With its focus on the 10 years following the end of the war, Biondi’s detailed and highly informative account vividly portrays the desire of newly migrated Northern Blacks “to find protection from racial subordination and violence, claim the fruits of their labor and vindicate their rights as first-class citizens.” Her story of the collision of race and class in Cold War McCarthy-era America involves labor unions, political gamesmanship, iron-fisted power brokering and the forceful merger of idealism with socialist thought. The heroes are many — Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., attorney Paul O’Dwyer and well-known artists such as Paul Robeson — but Biondi also offers long-overdue acknowledgement of the mostly unheralded crusaders who broke necessary ground for the civil-rights freedom fighters yet to come. The text includes fascinating archival photos.

Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870–71)
S. Hollis Clayson, professor of art history (University of Chicago Press, 2002)

While the Franco-Prussian War has receded into some obscurity with the general reader, there remains power in the notion that Paris — City of Light and incubator for great art — was for a brief time held at siege. Clayson’s handsomely produced art history features an erudite text that provides the appropriate historical and military backdrop for the events of 1870–71, then presents “a wide range of examples of the visual art produced and artistic practices sustained during or disrupted by the intense metropolitan calamity.” Lithographs, oils, pencil drawings, various sculptures and even rare photographs — more than 200 examples in all — depict soldiers defending their beloved city, the hardships of daily life, the populace’s jingoistic devotion to La Résistance and certain satirical viewpoints on contemporary events. The heart of Clayson’s book encompasses in-depth reflection on the French artists. Among the artworks beautifully captured are those of Edouard Manet, Henri Regnault, Rosa Bonheur and Edgar Degas.

Rural Dimensions of Welfare Reform: Welfare, Food Assistance and Poverty in Rural America
Bruce A. Weber; Greg J. Duncan, Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy; and Leslie A. Whitener, eds. (W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2002)

The Clinton Administration’s Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) changed the mechanics of welfare as Americans knew it. This collection of articles attempts to describe the effects of the new paradigm on rural areas, which, in fact, have higher poverty levels and different logistical challenges than urban areas. The distinguished group of some 50 contributors (economists, sociologists, agriculturalists) strives to find a “strong empirical basis to help inform the policy debate on the upcoming reauthorization of PRWORA.” The text is divided into five major sections: “Welfare Reform, Rural Labor Markets and Rural Poverty”; “Welfare Dynamics in Rural and Urban Areas”; “Employment and Family Well-Being under Welfare Reform”; “Food Assistance and Hunger”; and “Lessons Learned,” which is essentially the editors’ closing summary. This serious research tool may have far-reaching effects on decision making.

It’s Time: Poems
Reginald Gibbons, English department chair and professor (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)

Gibbons, formerly editor of Northwestern’s prestigious TriQuarterly, once again displays his poetic gifts with this seventh volume of verse, bringing together 29 works, many originally published in literary journals. Gibbons’ is a versatile voice: One moment he’s ruminating artfully on ancient civilizations (“Poem Including History”), the next he’s painting a vivid portrait of a lonely artisan (“Potter in Retrospect”). Images of water, music, the seasons and birds sensually infuse these pieces, which supremely exhibit the workings of the author’s highly cultured mind and his powers of honest, humanly felt observation. Structurally, Gibbons tends to write in wide-open, freely experimental patterns — see the brilliant stream-of-consciousness effect in “Stop” — with the occasional side trip to more conventional rhyme schemes, as in the six A-B-A-B quatrains in “Oh.” Either way, his work proves to be as deep as it is accessible, and repeated visitations will continuously reward the reader.

The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750–1850
Sarah Maza, Jane Long Professor and history department chair (Harvard University Press, 2003)

The word bourgeois has always been literally related to the concept of “middle class”; it also has a negative connotative value in some circles, implying ordinariness and possibly even bad taste. Social critic Maza takes an in-depth look at the notion of the bourgeoisie as it first emerged in 18th-century France, arguing that it was largely a myth through which the French realized a self-image of a unified people, steeped in culture and dedication to national service. Maza’s challenge to typical views of the bourgeoisie explodes commonly held ideas about the French Revolution, claiming that the bourgeoisie only enjoyed favored social status during the post-revolution Bourbon Restoration, when a middle class struggled nobly against an aristocratic backlash. In conclusion, the author attempts to parallel the bourgeois, the American and the Jew, asserting that all three have presented threats to the modern French in areas of commerce, materialism and the arts.

The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy
Joel Mokyr, Robert H. Strotz Professor of Economics and professor of history (Princeton University Press, 2002)

Drawing upon his published essays and lectures from the past decade, Mokyr has crafted a fascinating history of modern economic growth and the origins of the “technological miracles” that have been responsible for prosperity. He cogently assesses the impact of the Industrial Revolution and reflects on the rise of the factory system as a key principle of modern economic organization, offering additional analysis of later enhancements in communications, information technology, domestic life and health. From quantum physics to soap products, from car manufacturing to new drug therapies, Mokyr strives to find within these developments the key human links between “useful knowledge” and market forces, institutions and society.

God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages
Barbara Newman, John Evans Professor of the Latin Language and Literature and professor of English and religion (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002)

With her characteristic zeal, feminist scholar Newman probes into medieval art, prose and verse to reveal new perspectives on the images and roles of goddesses, who “substantially transformed and deepened Christendom’s concept of God, introducing possibilities beyond the ambit of scholastic theology and bringing them to vibrant imaginative life.” This deeply researched volume revolves around church history and the theological literature and cultural perceptions of the Middle Ages. It is filled with texts in their original languages (with translations from the Latin, French, etc.) and examples of pertinent period artwork, with subjects ranging from Lady Poverty to the goddess Sapientia to the Virgin Mary.

Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Idea
Mark A. Ratner (G69), Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in Chemistry, and Daniel Ratner (Prentice Hall, 2002)

A father/son Chemist/engineer team steps up to inform readers about the much-ballyhooed nanotechnology, which promises a revolution in electronics, computing, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and even consumer products as prosaic as tennis balls and suntan lotion. Nanoscience, in simplest terms, is the study of fundamental principles of molecular structure at the minutest level, a nanometer being one-billionth of a meter. Nanoscale science involves the “exploitation of new physical, chemical and biological properties of systems . . . between isolated atoms and molecules and bulk materials, where the transitional properties between the two limits can be controlled.” Science behaves differently at the nano-scale, thus opening the way for discoveries with wide-ranging applications. Besides offering coverage of the technical tools used to make nanotechnology a reality, the Ratners prognosticate industry impact and investment trends and discuss the ethics of the new technology. Color and black-and-white photos help to clarify the challenging text.

Children and Anthropology: Perspectives for the 21st Century
Helen B. Schwartzman, professor of anthropology, ed. (Bergin & Garvey, 2001)

This volume brings together material delivered at the 14th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. The authors, a distinguished group of anthropologists specializing in the study of children, offer wide-ranging analysis spanning a range from prehistoric interpretations of children in society to the modern-day impact of computers and the Internet. Other topics include childbearing practices in Africa, homelessness and poverty, feminist theory, ethnic identity and the vulnerability of children in the Third World. Editor Schwartzman’s lead essay, “Children and Anthropology: A Century of Studies,” provides the necessary historical perspective on the role of children in anthropological research.

Rock and Roll: Its History and Stylistic Development, Fourth Edition
Joe Stuessy and Scott D. Lipscomb, associate professor of music (Prentice Hall, 2003)

Some 50 years after Bill Haley and the Comets recorded “Rock Around the Clock,” rock ’n’ roll has reached the status of serious art form. This fabulous volume, now in its fourth edition as a college text, summarizes rock’s early development as an outgrowth and amalgam of blues, pop and country styles, and defines its emerging importance as a social force. Best of all, the authors provide comprehensive and readable profiles of the great artists, from Elvis, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis to the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, on through Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen to the present day’s young artists. The text also features a lot of informative ancillary material on technological changes in the industry, the rise of music videos, the continuing influence of country and folk on the mainstream and the Internet as do-it-yourself promotion and sales tool. The selected discography and bibliography are excellent resources for either student or music fan.

Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America
Ji Yeon Yuh, assistant professor of history (New York University Press, 2002)

Combining historical research with firsthand interviews, former newspaper reporter Ji-Yeon Yuh fills a void in the published literature with her profile of Korean women who found second homes in the U.S. as a result of relationships with American servicemen. These military brides have been a mostly invisible subculture, no longer among friends in their native country and yet only haltingly — if at all — accepted by their American peers. (The “camptown” of the title refers to makeshift villages that spring up outside of American military bases overseas, providing creature comforts for enlisted personnel.) What this book does best is present a podium for women who, after years of silence, offer long-overdue insight into their experiences, including making the difficult adjustment to a new country, dealing with bigotry, developing coping strategies and finding support within their own community. Sixteen women were interviewed, their immigration to the U.S. dating back to the early 1950s. This is a useful addition to the ethnic studies collection.

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