“Religion, Culture, and the Public Sphere in China and Japan” (Welter & Newmark, eds.)

This month, Springer released Religion, Culture, and the Public Sphere in China and Japan edited by Albert Welter (University of Arizona) and Jeffrey Newmark (University of Winnipeg). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion Culture and the Public Sphere in China and JapanThis collection examines the impact of East Asian religion and culture on the public sphere, defined as an idealized discursive arena that mediates the official and private spheres. Contending that the actors and agents on the fringes of society were instrumental in shaping the public sphere in traditional and modern East Asia, it considers how these outliers contribute to religious, intellectual, and cultural dialog in the public sphere. Jürgen Habermas conceptualized the public sphere as the discursive arena which grew within Western European bourgeoisie society, arguably overlooking topics such as gender, minorities, and non-European civilizations, as well as the extent to which agency in the public sphere is effective in non-Western societies and how practitioners on the outskirts of mainstream society can participate. This volume responds to and builds upon this dialogue by addressing how religious, intellectual, and cultural agency in the public sphere shapes East Asian cultures, particularly the activities of those found on the peripheries of historic and modern societies.

Gurock, “The Holocaust Averted”

This month, Rutgers University Press released the paperback edition of The Holocaust Averted: An Alternate History of American Jewry, 1938-1967 by Jeffrey S. Gurock (Yeshiva University). The publisher’s description follows:

The Holocaust AvertedThe increasingly popular genre of “alternative histories” has captivated audiences by asking questions like “what if the South had won the Civil War?” Such speculation can be instructive, heighten our interest in a topic, and shed light on accepted history. In The Holocaust Averted, Jeffrey Gurock imagines what might have happened to the Jewish community in the United States if the Holocaust had never occurred and forces readers to contemplate how the road to acceptance and empowerment for today’s American Jews could have been harder than it actually was.

 

Based on reasonable alternatives grounded in what is known of the time, places, and participants, Gurock presents a concise narrative of his imagined war-time saga and the events that followed Hitler’s military failures. While German Jews did suffer under Nazism, the millions of Jews in Eastern Europe survived and were able to maintain their communities. Since few people were concerned with the safety of European Jews, Zionism never became popular in the United States and social antisemitism kept Jews on the margins of society. By the late 1960s, American Jewish communities were far from vibrant.

This alternate history—where, among many scenarios, Hitler is assassinated, Japan does not bomb Pearl Harbor, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt is succeeded after two terms by Robert A. Taft—does cause us to review and better appreciate history. As Gurock tells his tale, he concludes every chapter with a short section that describes what actually happened and, thus, further educates the reader.