JHU Press Blog

The Agency of African States in Global Health Efforts with Amy Patterson

by eea | Friday, March 16, 2018 - 12:00 PM

One of my most vivid memories from my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Senegal occurred soon after I moved to my assigned village. A group of NGO and government workers arrived to immunize children. Village elites enthusiastically told them to leave, even though children were routinely infected with tetanus, measles, and polio. The elites shunned this government-supported, well-funded international effort. Overtime I came to discover some of their reasons: distrust of the state, bad experiences with NGOs, and cultural views on biomedicine. But the incident illustrated to this naïve volunteer a powerful lesson: Lofty aspirations and action plans that come from the top may mean little in local communities.

I discuss this incident almost every semester when I teach about development or global health governance. While the event raises numerous questions, I tackle two in my new book Africa and Global Health Governance . The first is “What factors affect the implementation of global health policies?” The book uses case studies of AIDS, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to explore this question. It builds on country case studies and incorporates explanations from the international, state and local levels...Read More

Examining Medical Futility

by bjs | Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 10:00 AM

The journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine recently published a special issue on decisions involving medical futility. The issue features 21 responses to a paper written by Lawrence J. Schneiderman, Nancy S. Jecker and Albert R. Jonsen. Editor Martha Montello has agreed to publish the introduction to this issue on the blog. The issue is available to Project MUSE subscribers .

In the summer of 2017, much of the world was riveted by the case of Charlie Gard, a baby in London whose parents wanted an experimental treatment and whose doctors thought that further treatment would be futile. The case worked its way through the British courts and, eventually, was even heard by the European Court of Human Rights. Pope Francis and President Trump weighed in. If nothing else, the case revealed how controversial the issues around medical futility and shared decision-making still are.

Many ethical issues resolve over time. Discussions about disagreements lead to discovery of common ground. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the issue of medical futility and, particularly, with the appropriateness of unilateral decisions by doctors to withdraw life support...Read More

The Art of Writing Carefully with Sara Taber

by eea | Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 12:00 PM


Why did I write Chance Particulars , a guide to keeping a field notebook?

Most of my books, I have written spurred by my own curiosity or lust, or from a need to sort something out--books about the creeds of lonely Argentine shepherds; the source of a French baker's divine and earthy loaf; the soul of my tortured spy father--but I wrote Chance Particulars for my students and for those like them with a hankering or a need to record their past and current experiences on this astonishing and perplexing planet.

It might appear very simple, this task of putting one's daily or momentous experience into words, but to translate experience into sentences that snap that experience to sputtering and chortling life on the page is not so very simple after all. I discovered this, with dismay, myself, upon my return home from a life-changing year on the dry rangelands of Patagonia. I opened the thumbed notebook in which I'd deliberately recorded my days only to discover that, while I’d noted that I'd had a great talk with a...Read More

The Post-Watergate 94th Congress with John Lawrence

by eea | Monday, March 12, 2018 - 2:00 PM

With the announced retirement of Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, a milestone in congressional history will be reached next January. For the first time in 48 years, the House will contain no one elected to the historic post-Watergate 94 th Congress, the Class of ’74.

Inevitably, one must ask how different today’s Congress is from the one the Class of ’74 – 92 new members strong – that entered in 1975. In the two years leading up to the Democratic wave victory, the country had experienced unprecedented turmoil: the Watergate break-in and cover-up, Senate and House inquiries, Supreme Court rulings and impeachment resolutions -- culminating with the resignation of President Richard Nixon just four months before Election Day. A month later, the political world was rocked yet again when the new, unelected president, long-time minority House leader Gerald Ford, granted Nixon “a full, free, and absolute pardon.”

The response of Democratic House hopefuls was giddy. Many had entered their campaigns with little expectation of actually winning the election. “We thought, ‘Whoa, better find a place to live,’ recalled George Miller, a 29 year old Californian, ‘because we’re coming to Washington!’” “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!,” exulted Jim...Read More

Moralizing the Market

by eea | Friday, March 9, 2018 - 12:00 PM


This book started as an inquiry into a very specific case of policy transfer from the United States to France in the late 1960s: prompted by the outrage generated by a spectacular insider trading scandal at the Paris Bourse , French policy makers endeavored to “moralize the market”; to that end, they established an independent securities regulator, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse (COB), loosely modeled on the American Securities and Exchange Commission.

My curiosity in this rather esoteric episode of postwar financial history was piqued by the fact that it took place toward the end of Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, at a time when, according to conventional wisdom, strident opposition to American imperialism was a tenet of French foreign policy. While the American origins of the COB were not a secret—Gaullist reformers acknowledged them in their memoirs and they are routinely mentioned in books on the Paris securities market—, they had never been investigated thoroughly from a historical perspective.

A close look at the rich archival records confirmed that Michel Debré, then Minister of Finance in the government of Georges Pompidou and a staunch advocate of national sovereignty, initiated...Read More

The Value and History of the EEG with Melissa Littlefield

by eea | Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 12:00 PM

After finishing my previous book about lie detection technologies ( The Lying Brain ), I went in search other machines that monitor various physiological data, analyze them according to a specific algorithm, and produce information about what a subject is thinking. What I stumbled upon were Necomimi Brain Wave Cat Ears. First introduced in 2012, these furry ears sit atop a headset armed with a single channel recording device. The tag line reads “Make My Ears Wiggle! Be the center of attention everywhere you go! People can’t help but watch in fascination as your Necomimi ears move in real-time according to your state of mind” (Necomimi.com). I was curious: why the interest in broadcasting your state of mind? How did the device work? What exactly was it measuring? And, most importantly, was this an isolated product? More searching revealed that Necomimi’s cat ears were the tip of a 21 st century iceberg. My list of similar devices swelled to include the Neurooon sleep mask, Kokoon headphones, a bicycle helmet known as MindRider, something called a SmartCap, a NEUROTiQ headdress, and so many more. All of these devices were based on headsets that incorporated human electroencephalography (EEG), most promised to measure...Read More

Why One Refrigeration History Book Was Not Enough with Jonathan Rees

by eea | Monday, March 5, 2018 - 2:00 PM

Why One Refrigeration History Book Was Not Enough

I first became interested in the history of refrigeration while I was in graduate school, when I started leafing through back issues of a late-nineteenth century trade journal housed in the engineering library at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. After deciding to make that the subject of my first post-dissertation research project, I started leafing through a lot more old journals when I got a Smithsonian fellowship in 2000.

After quickly accumulating countless boxes of source material, I had to limit the project somehow to make a book out of it. In 2006, at a conference at the Hagley, I decided to make the development of the modern cold chain (the supply system for perishable food) the organizing concept of that refrigeration history book. After a conference at the University of California-Davis in 2009, I realized I had to at least make a passing effort at giving this project an international perspective. After additional research along those lines, the Johns Hopkins University Press published Refrigeration Nation in 2013.

Knowing I had a lot of research that I had left on the proverbial cutting-room floor,...Read More

America's Man in Cold War Moscow with Jenny and Sherry Thompson

by eea | Friday, March 2, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Remembering Llewellyn Thompson

by Jenny and Sherry Thompson

Llewellyn Thompson died forty-six years ago, on February 6, 1972, shortly after his retirement at the age of 68. He was one of the most critical players in the Cold War, engaging directly with Soviet rulers abroad and exerting great influence with both Republican and Democratic presidents in their interactions with the Soviet Union. Thompson´s quiet diplomacy won him the unusual distinction of being branded both a Hawk and Dove, earning the label of Cold War Owl from British correspondent Henry Brandon.

Three times posted to the Soviet Union, twice as Ambassador, Thompson experienced life there during periods of the greatest tension, from the time when German artillery shells fell on Moscow during the Second World War, to the downing of the U-2 spy plane, and confrontations and negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and his successors in the postwar period. Thompson’s service extended through almost the entire Cold War, including roles in the formulation of the Truman doctrine, the negotiations that freed Austria from occupation, the intractable Berlin Crisis, and the start of the Strategic Arms Limitation talks (SALT).

And yet for many...Read More

A Passion for Planes with Captain Robert Hedges

by eea | Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 12:00 PM

I wanted to be an airline pilot since I was young, and began reading as much as I could about flying from age 10. I largely credit my father, Dr. James Hedges, an English Professor, for kindling my love of reading. Books about planes filled my youth. I started taking flying lessons at the age of 14, and the next year met a teacher who would be transformative in my life. Dr. John Kiser was my English teacher through high school and taught me the love of writing. Along the way I became a pilot in the US Air Force, and later started an airline career. I’ve been fortunate to fly a wide variety of aircraft, and found that not only did I like flying, I liked teaching as well.

Although I enjoy the technical challenges of flying, the cerebral challenges of writing, and the human factors challenges involved in teaching a very demanding and complex subject, I wanted to write about the overarching theme of aviation safety. There are many excellent aviation safety books out there, but many dwell on technical esoterica to the extent that only industry insiders would delve into them. At the other end of...Read More

Happy, Healthy, Heart Month with Carolyn Thomas

by eea | Monday, February 26, 2018 - 12:00 PM

When I started copyediting Carolyn Thomas’s manuscript A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease , I was excited. Having taught women’s health at Ohio State in 1996 and 1997, I knew that heart disease was women’s number-one health threat. And yet, there seem to be very few books out there on this topic. In the survey class I taught, we went over how women are often under-treated compared to men, for a variety of diseases and conditions. We discussed how we could take action to change this by educating ourselves and our families and friends and by supporting women’s health groups. In those days people did not look for information about health on the Internet, because it was so new, and many people did not have computers at home.

Here we are twenty years later, and information about women’s health and health in general is abundant on the Internet. But has this change made women and their doctors more aware of women’s heart issues? It seems that the answer is, for the most part, no. Carolyn Thomas informed me that at the national Canadian cardiovascular meeting she has attended for years,...Read More