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.

Royce, “The Political Theology of European Integration”

In May, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Political Theology of European Integration: Comparing the Influence of Religious Histories on European Policies,” by Mark Royce (Northern Virginia Community College).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book traces the connections between diverging postwar European integration policies and intra-Christian divisions to argue that supranational integration 9783319534466originates from Roman Catholic internationalism, and that resistance to integration, conversely, is based in Protestantism. Royce supports this thesis through a rigorously supported historical narrative, arguing that sixteenth-century theological conflicts generated seventeenth-century constitutional solutions, which ultimately effected the political choices both for and against integration during the twentieth century. Beginning with a survey of all ecclesiastical laws of seventeen West European countries and concluding with a full discussion of the Brexit vote and emerging alternatives to the EU, this examination of the political theology surrounding the European Union will appeal to all scholars of EU politics, modern theology, religious sociology, and contemporary European history.

Orwin, “Redefining the Muslim Community”

Next month, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Redefining the Muslim Community: Ethnicity, Religion, and Politics in the Thought of Alfarabi,” by Alexander Orwin (Harvard University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Writing in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Baghdad, Alfarabi (870-950) is unique in the history of premodern political philosophy for his extensive discussion of pennpressbluelogothe nation, or Umma in Arabic. The term Umma may be traced back to the Qur’ān and signifies, then and now, both the Islamic religious community as a whole and the various ethnic nations of which that community is composed, such as the Turks, Persians, and Arabs. Examining Alfarabi’s political writings as well as parts of his logical commentaries, his book on music, and other treatises, Alexander Orwin contends that the connections and tensions between ethnic and religious Ummas explored by Alfarabi in his time persist today in the ongoing political and cultural disputes among the various nationalities within Islam.

According to Orwin, Alfarabi strove to recast the Islamic Umma as a community in both a religious and cultural sense, encompassing art and poetry as well as law and piety. By proposing to acknowledge and accommodate diverse Ummas rather than ignoring or suppressing them, Alfarabi anticipated the contemporary concept of “Islamic civilization,” which emphasizes culture at least as much as religion. Enlisting language experts, jurists, theologians, artists, and rulers in his philosophic enterprise, Alfarabi argued for a new Umma that would be less rigid and more creative than the Muslim community as it has often been understood, and therefore less inclined to force disparate ethnic and religious communities into a single mold. Redefining the Muslim Community demonstrates how Alfarabi’s judicious combination of cultural pluralism, religious flexibility, and political prudence could provide a blueprint for reducing communal strife in a region that continues to be plagued by it today.

Akhtar, “Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs”

In May, the Cambridge University Press will release “Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs: Politics and Authority from Cordoba to Cairo and Baghdad,” by Ali Humayun Akhtar (Bates College & University of Wisconsin – Madison).  The publisher’s description follows: 

What was the relationship between government and religion in Middle Eastern history? In a world of caliphs, sultans, and judges, who exercised political and religious 9781107182011authority? In this book, Ali Humayun Akhtar investigates debates about leadership that involved ruling circles and scholars of jurisprudence and theology. At the heart of this story is a medieval rivalry between three caliphates: the Umayyads of Cordoba, the Fatimids of Cairo, and the Abbasids of Baghdad. In a fascinating revival of Late Antique Hellenism, Aristotelian and Platonic notions of wisdom became a key component of how these caliphs debated their authority as political leaders. By tracing how these political debates impacted the theological scholars and their own conception of communal guidance, Akhtar offers a new picture of premodern political authority and the connections between Western and Islamic civilizations. It will be of use to students and specialists of the premodern and modern Middle East.

Truschke, “Aurangzeb”

In May, Stanford University Press will release “Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King,” by Audrey Truschke (Rutgers University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir is one of the most hated men in Indian history. Widely reviled as a religious fanatic who sought to violently oppress pid_28067Hindus, he is even blamed by some for setting into motion conflicts that would result in the creation of a separate Muslim state in South Asia. In her lively overview of his life and influence, Audrey Truschke offers a clear-eyed perspective on the public debate over Aurangzeb and makes the case for why his often-maligned legacy deserves to be reassessed.

Aurangzeb was arguably the most powerful and wealthiest ruler of his day. His nearly 50-year reign (1658–1707) had a profound influence on the political landscape of early modern India, and his legacy—real and imagined—continues to loom large in India and Pakistan today. Truschke evaluates Aurangzeb not by modern standards but according to the traditions and values of his own time, painting a picture of Aurangzeb as a complex figure whose relationship to Islam was dynamic, strategic, and sometimes contradictory. This book invites students of South Asian history and religion into the world of the Mughal Empire, framing the contemporary debate on Aurangzeb’s impact and legacy in accessible and engaging terms.

Duffy, “Reformation Divided”

This month, Bloomsbury Publishing released Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants, and the Conversion of England by Eamon Duffy (Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:

Reformation Divided.jpgPublished to mark the 500th anniversary of the events of 1517, Reformation Divided explores the impact in England of the cataclysmic transformations of European Christianity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The religious revolution initiated by Martin Luther is usually referred to as ‘The Reformation’, a tendentious description implying that the shattering of the medieval religious foundations of Europe was a single process, in which a defective form of Christianity was replaced by one that was unequivocally benign, ‘the midwife of the modern world’. The book challenges these assumptions by tracing the ways in which the project of reforming Christendom from within, initiated by Christian ‘humanists’ like Erasmus and Thomas More, broke apart into conflicting and often murderous energies and ideologies, dividing not only Catholic from Protestant, but creating deep internal rifts within all the churches which emerged from Europe’s religious conflicts.

The book is in three parts: In ‘Thomas More and Heresy’, Duffy examines how and why England’s greatest humanist apparently abandoned the tolerant humanism of his youthful masterpiece Utopia, and became the bitterest opponent of the early Protestant movement. ‘Counter-Reformation England’ explores the ways in which post-Reformation English Catholics accommodated themselves to a complex new identity as persecuted religious dissidents within their own country, but in a European context, active participants in the global renewal of the Catholic Church. The book’s final section ‘The Godly and the Conversion of England’ considers the ideals and difficulties of radical reformers attempting to transform the conventional Protestantism of post-Reformation England into something more ardent and committed. In addressing these subjects, Duffy shines new light on the fratricidal ideological conflicts which lasted for more than a century, and whose legacy continues to shape the modern world.

Lemire, “Jerusalem 1900”

In April, the University of Chicago Press will release Jerusalem 1900: The Holy City in the Age of Possibilities by Vincent Lemire (University of Marne-la-Vallée, Paris). The publisher’s description follows:

uni-chicago-pressPerhaps the most contested patch of earth in the world, Jerusalem’s Old City experiences consistent violent unrest between Israeli and Palestinian residents, with seemingly no end in sight. Today, Jerusalem’s endless cycle of riots and arrests appears intractable—even unavoidable—and it looks unlikely that harmony will ever be achieved in the city. But with Jerusalem 1900, historian Vincent Lemire shows us that it wasn’t always that way, undoing the familiar notion of Jerusalem as a lost cause and revealing a unique moment in history when a more peaceful future seemed possible.

In this masterly history, Lemire uses newly opened archives to explore how Jerusalem’s elite residents of differing faiths cooperated through an intercommunity municipal council they created in the mid-1860s to administer the affairs of all inhabitants and improve their shared city. These residents embraced a spirit of modern urbanism and cultivated a civic identity that transcended religion and reflected the relatively secular and cosmopolitan way of life of Jerusalem at the time. These few years would turn out to be a tipping point in the city’s history—a pivotal moment when the horizon of possibility was still open, before the council broke up in 1934, under British rule, into separate Jewish and Arab factions. Uncovering this often overlooked diplomatic period, Lemire reveals that the struggle over Jerusalem was not historically inevitable—and therefore is not necessarily intractable. Jerusalem 1900 sheds light on how the Holy City once functioned peacefully and illustrates how it might one day do so again.

Barnes, “Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic”

This month, Baylor University Press releases Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic: Tuskegee, Colonialism, and the Shaping of African Industrial Education by Andrew E. Barnes (Arizona State University). The publisher’s description follows:

global-chrisitianityMany Europeans saw Africa’s colonization as an exhibition of European racial ascendancy. African Christians saw Africa’s subjugation as a demonstration of European technological superiority. If the latter was the case, then the path to Africa’s liberation ran through the development of a competitive African technology.

In Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic, Andrew E. Barnes chronicles African Christians’ turn to American-style industrial education—particularly the model that had been developed by Booker T. Washington at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute—as a vehicle for Christian regeneration in Africa. Over the period 1880–1920, African Christians, motivated by Ethiopianism and its conviction that Africans should be saved by other Africans, proposed and founded schools based upon the Tuskegee model.

Barnes follows the tides of the Black Atlantic back to Africa when African Christians embraced the new education initiatives of African American Christians and Tuskegee as the most potent example of technological ingenuity. Building on previously unused African sources, the book traces the movements to establish industrial education institutes in cities along the West African coast and in South Africa, Cape Province, and Natal. As Tuskegee and African schools modeled in its image proved, peoples of African descent could—and did—develop competitive technology.

Though the attempts by African Christians to create industrial education schools ultimately failed, Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic demonstrates the ultimate success of transatlantic black identity and Christian resurgence in Africa at the turn of the twentieth century. Barnes’ study documents how African Christians sought to maintain indigenous identity and agency in the face of colonial domination by the state and even the European Christian missions of the church.

“Charity and Social Welfare” (Van Molle, ed.)

In March, Cornell University Press will release “Charity and Social Welfare: The Dynamics of Religious Reform in Northern Europe, 1780-1920,” edited by Leen Van Molle (KU Leuven).  The publisher’s description follows:

“Charity” is a word that fits well in the history of religion and churches, whereas the concept of social reform seems to belong more to the vocabulary of the modern 80140100179110lwelfare states. Christian charity found itself, during the long nineteenth century, within the maelstrom of social turmoil. In this context of social unrest, although charity managed to confirm its relevance, it was also subjected to fierce criticism, as well as to substitute state-run forms of social care and insurance. The history of the welfare states remained all too blind to religion. This book unravels how the churches in Britain and Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium shaped and adjusted their understanding of poverty. It reveals how they struggled with the “social question” and often also with the modern nation-states to which they belonged. Either in the periphery of public assistance or in a dynamic interplay with the state, political parties and society at large, the churches reinvented their tradition as providers of social relief.

 

Cosgel & Ergene, “The Economics of Ottoman Justice”

In November, Cambridge University Press released “The Economics of Ottoman Justice: Settlement and Trial in the Sharia Courts,” by Metin Coşgel (University of Connecticut) and Boğaç Ergene (University of Vermont).  The publisher’s description follows:

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire endured long periods of warfare, facing intense financial pressures and new international 9781107157637mercantile and monetary trends. The Empire also experienced major political-administrative restructuring and socioeconomic transformations. In the context of this tumultuous change, The Economics of Ottoman Justice examines Ottoman legal practices and the sharia court’s operations to reflect on the judicial system and provincial relationships. Metin Coşgel and Boğaç Ergene provide a systematic depiction of socio-legal interactions, identifying how different social, economic, gender and religious groups used the court, how they settled their disputes, and which factors contributed to their success at trial. Using an economic approach, Coşgel and Ergene offer rare insights into the role of power differences in judicial interactions, and into the reproduction of communal hierarchies in court, and demonstrate how court use patterns changed over time.

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