JHU Press Blog

America's Bloodiest War

by mktstu | Friday, May 2, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Guest Post by Michael C. C. Adams Over a period of years, I steadily collected the documentary materials necessary for taking an unflinching look at the human cost of the Civil War. The resulting book, Living Hell , appears at a key moment in our remembrance of that struggle. Throughout history, from ancient Rome to modern Syria, fratricidal conflicts have been notoriously vicious. Ours was no exception. A struggle that many in 1861 assumed would be short and fought with chivalric restraint had by 1864 become seemingly unlimited in its toll on lives, property, and damage to the environment. War psychosis—that is, rage at the enemy held responsible for the misery and ruin—provoked both sides to acts of savagery. Rebels massacred black soldiers, and Union troops responded in kind. Guerrillas tortured, maimed, and killed indiscriminately. Some military and political leaders on both sides came to advocate genocide. Determined to finally end Confederate resistance, in the spring of 1864, the Federal high command embarked on a bloody war of attrition designed to grind the weaker opponent into defeat. Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant ultimately stopped prisoner exchanges, partly to prevent the replenishment of rebel ranks, effectively...Read More

May means History of Medicine, the Natural World of DC (via Ottawa), and more on the Press Calendar

by jmh | Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Was it the Bard or a 2014 Weather Channel presenter who warned of “rough winds that shake the darling buds” this month? Perhaps the same astute observer might describe the JHU Press calendar as “full of spirit as the month of May.” No matter, Shakespeare certainly remains top of mind this month as Steve Grant continues his whirlwind promotional activities for Collecting Shakespeare , his fascinating book about the Folger Library. Rough winds will surely help Chicago welcome the American Association for the History of Medicine this month, and JHUP author Margaret Humphreys breezes into that city’s acclaimed Abraham Lincoln Bookshop for one of their popular “virtual book signings” and a discussion of Marrow of Tragedy . Even further north, double-takes can be expected and forgiven for the book signing in Ottawa (Canada!) for Howard Youth’s Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, DC . Turns out there is plenty of interest in D.C. in the Canadian capital—Howard will speak to the staff of the American Embassy, then sign books for friends and colleagues across the street at Chapters Rideau. So, Bienvenue, Mai! Please help spread the word about this month’s events. Events in May with Stephen H. Grant...Read More

April/May news and new books

by rr | Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Enter code HDPD at checkout to receive a 30% discount on all books featured in this blog post or mention this code when calling in your order at 1-800-537-5487.

News and Notes/Praise and Reviews

Doris Iarovici, M.D., author of Mental Health Issues and the University Student , discusses the “antidepressant generation” in The New York Times Well Blog . “Access to well-trained health workers when you need them should not be an accident of geography,” say the coauthors of Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World , Jeffrey Sturchio and Louis Galambos, in The Huffington Post . John Eric Goff, author of Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports , discusses the redesign of the World Cup soccer ball on NPR’s All Things Considered ...Read More

Finish What You Started

by mktstu | Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 8:30 AM

by Michele Callaghan, Manuscript Editing I know that many of you are, like me, once or current aspiring writers. Through my blogs, I have pontificated on the correct way to handle all sorts of parts of speech and random bits of punctuation. But now I want to focus on the writing process itself and on two pieces of advice others gave me that have changed my approach to writing. The first is one of things that we all know but don’t always do: simply finish something. I met a filmmaker when I was in college and asked what he would tell people wanting to succeed in creative endeavors. He told me a story about the smartest and most talented person he knew, who never finished anything. I understood what he meant. If you don’t finish anything, no matter your skills or what you have to say, you cannot succeed. I wish I could tell you that I completed every novel or play I began. I didn’t. But I have learned to write small pieces and to feel proud of finishing them. Blog, anyone? And, you never know. I may finally finish my “magnum opus” yet. The second was less...Read More

Doctors Without Borders in Action

by mktstu | Monday, April 28, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Sociologist Renée C. Fox considers how communications from Médecins San Frontières/Doctors Without Borders keep her connected with the achievements, trials, dreams, and values of medical humanitarian action. She is the author of Doctors Without Borders: Humanitarian Quests, Impossible Dreams of of Médecins Sans Frontières , published by Johns Hopkins Press.

I first became aware of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 1993 and I began to explore the possibility of making a sociological study of this medical humanitarian organization. Some twenty years later my long, questing relationship to MSF in the role of a participant observer—or what some of its members refer to as an “inside-outsider”—is the basis for my newest book, Doctors Without Borders .

It is reasonable to assume that my involvement with MSF will wane with the publication of this book. But I don’t think this is likely to happen. The values and principles that MSF espouses, its world-view, and the way that it translates its precepts and vision into action and deals in its “culture of debate” with the intrinsic challenges and dilemmas that humanitarian action entails, continue to strongly and deeply link me with it. So...Read More

We speak for the trees!

by mktstu | Friday, April 25, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Guest Post by Angela Sorby Arbor Day is on April 25 th this year, but its—um—roots trace back to 1872, when the journalist J. Sterling Morton organized schoolchildren to plant a million trees in the State of Nebraska. By the turn of the century, tree-planting had become a political issue; as Theodore Roosevelt put it to Congress, “If there is any one duty which more than another we owe it to our children and our children’s children to perform at once, it is to save the forests of this country.” By framing this problem in terms of children, both Morton and Roosevelt added emotional weight to an economic issue: timber companies were destroying vast swaths of the continent’s trees for their own “reckless” gains. But why should anyone care? What was the value of forests, if not as a source of building materials? Both Charlotte Perkins Gilman and a teenage Edna St. Vincent Millay tackled this question, producing children’s poems that were ultimately used to promote Arbor Day and that mark the power—but also the surprising fragility—of trees. Tree Feelings I wonder if they like it—being trees? I suppose they do . . . . It must feel...Read More

In Other Words: Journal of Democracy

by bjs | Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Journal of Democracy Co-Editor Marc F. Plattner discusses "Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World," the upcoming book of essays from the journal on developments in the Middle East over the past few years.

Beginning in December 2010, a series of uprisings swept the Arab world, toppling four longtime leaders and creating an apparent political opening in a region long impervious to the "third wave" of democratization. Despite the initial euphoria, the legacies of authoritarianism—polarized societies, politicized militaries, state-centric economies, and pervasive clientelism—have proven stubborn obstacles to the fashioning of new political and social contracts. Meanwhile, the strong electoral performance of political Islamists and the ensuing backlash in Egypt have rekindled arguments about the compatibility of democracy and political Islam. Even though progress toward democracy has been halting at best, the region’s political environment today bears little resemblance to what it was before the uprisings.

In Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World , leading scholars address the questions posed by this period of historic change in the Middle East and North Africa. This volume includes chapters examining several broad themes: the region’s shifting political culture, the relationship between democracy and political Islam, the legacy...Read More

The Bard's Birthday

by jmh | Monday, April 21, 2014 - 9:20 AM

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant The Bard Will was born on the same day he died—and no one knows for sure on what day he was born. No birth certificate has been found for William Shakespeare. The closest thing is a baptism certificate dated April 26, 1564, in the parish register at Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s bust in the Holy Trinity Church states that he died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 53. Traditionally, then, April 23 is celebrated around the world as his birthday. On April 23, 1932, the English-speaking world celebrated Shakespeare’s 368th birthday in splendid fashion. The Prince of Wales flew from Windsor Castle to Stratford in a red monoplane. On the banks of the Avon River, he and the American ambassador Andrew W. Mellon spoke at the opening of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. American donors had raised nearly half the funds to construct the building, rebuilt after a fire; John D. Rockefeller Jr. was the largest American contributor, a fine irony considering that his father’s longtime factotum and executive employee, Henry Folger, had vigorously competed with Britons—Henry E. Huntington and others—to build a nonpareil Shakespeare collection. Mellon’s Shakespeare speech marked his first...Read More

About “Easter Sundays”

by jmh | Friday, April 18, 2014 - 8:30 AM

Guest post by Daniel Anderson “Easter Sundays” is a poem that begins with a meditation about a quiet and evanescent domestic perfection, then attempts to apprehend a couple of questions regarding what it means to feel at home in this world, and just how illusive that feeling often is. The topical conversations that the poem considers—about belief, about politics—tend to make an unfortunate and inordinate amount of noise in our daily lives, at least they can in my daily life, and so I also wanted to say something, in the poem, about how we manage (or fail to manage) the decibel levels of that chatter. Though “Easter Sundays” is placed squarely in the context of Christianity, I hope the poem’s meditations are not limited by this. For me, the poem is driven more by my own personal associations with the holiday and the time of year and the story of Christ than it is by any serious attempts at addressing theological concerns. Easter Sundays These yellow April evenings I, no longer idealistic or inclined to wish my life were something that it’s not, sip gin and tonics and enjoy a fragrant breath of just-mown grass. Immaculately laned front lawns...Read More

Using advance directives as tools

by mktstu | Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 9:18 AM

Guest Post by Dan Morhaim The tools are here. We just need to use them. These tools offer something rare and important in our modern medical system: an opportunity to exert influence. I am talking about advance directives, the powerful instruments that allow each of us to manage the final chapter of life in a dignified manner and according to our own wishes and values. As an emergency medicine physician, I’ve seen scenarios like this one all too often: An ambulance brings to the hospital a frail, elderly patient with shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and plunging blood pressure. The wasted limbs indicate years of incapacitation, and the medical record reveals a long history of dementia. As we work to restore stability, probing paper-thin skin for a vein, the patient suddenly goes into cardiac arrest. The patient does not have an advance directive or a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, so the ER team goes into full CPR mode, cracking brittle ribs with every chest compression. If the team’s efforts are “successful,” the patient will endure suffering that may last for the rest of his or her life. We know that too much of this “care” is futile, hurtful,...Read More