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Morality is often imagined to be at odds with capitalism and its focus on the bottom line, but in The Moral Neoliberal morality is shown as the opposite: an indispensible tool for capitalist transformation. Set within the shifting landscape of neoliberal welfare reform in the Lombardy region of Italy, Andrea Muehlebach tracks the phenomenal rise of voluntarism in the wake of the state's withdrawal of social service programs. Using anthropological tools, she shows how socialist volunteers are interpreting their unwaged labor as an expression of social solidarity, with Catholic volunteers thinking of theirs as an expression of charity and love. Such interpretations pave the way for a mass mobilization of an ethical citizenry that is put to work by the state. Visiting several sites across the region, from Milanese high schools to the offices of state social workers to the homes of the needy, Muehlebach mounts a powerful argument that the neoliberal state nurtures selflessness in order to cement some of its most controversial reforms. At the same time, she also shows how the insertion of such an anticapitalist narrative into the heart of neoliberalization can have unintended consequences.
Sculptor, architect, painter, playwright, and scenographer, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was the last of the great universal artistic geniuses of early modern Italy, placed by both contemporaries and posterity in the same exalted company as Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. And his artistic vision remains palpably present today, through the countless statues, fountains, and buildings that transformed Rome into the Baroque theater that continues to enthrall tourists today. It is perhaps not surprising that this artist who defined the Baroque should have a personal life that itself was, well, baroque. As Franco Mormando's dazzling biography reveals, Bernini was a man driven by many passions, possessed of an explosive temper and a hearty sex drive, and he lived a life as dramatic as any of his creations. Drawing on archival sources, letters, diaries, and--with a suitable skepticism--a hagiographic account written by Bernini's son (who portrays his father as a paragon of virtue and piety), Mormando leads us through Bernini's many feuds and love affairs, scandals and sins. He sets Bernini's raucous life against a vivid backdrop of Baroque Rome, bustling and wealthy, and peopled by churchmen and bureaucrats, popes and politicians, schemes and secrets. The result is a seductively readable biography, stuffed with stories and teeming with life--as wild and unforgettable as Bernini's art. No one who has been bewitched by the Baroque should miss it.
A star par excellence, Dolly Parton is one of country music's most likable personalities. Even a hard-rocking punk or orchestral aesthete can't help cracking a smile or singing along with songs like "Jolene" and "9 to 5. " More than a mere singer or actress, Parton is a true cultural phenomenon, immediately recognizable and beloved for her talent, tinkling laugh, and steel magnolia spirit. She is also the only female star to have her own themed amusement park: Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Every year thousands of fans flock to Dollywood to celebrate the icon, and Helen Morales is one of those fans. In Pilgrimage to Dollywood, Morales sets out to discover Parton's Tennessee. Her travels begin at the top celebrity pilgrimage site of Elvis Presley's Graceland, then take her to Loretta Lynn's ranch in Hurricane Mills; the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashvil<= to Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; and finally to Pigeon Forge, home of the "Dolly Homecoming Parade," featuring the star herself as grand marshall. Morales's adventure allows her to compare the imaginary Tennessee of Parton's lyrics with the real Tennessee where the singer grew up, looking at essential connections between country music, the land, and a way of life. It's also a personal pilgrimage for Morales. Accompanied by her partner, Tony, and their nine-year-old daughter, Athena (who respectively prefer Mozart and Miley Cyrus), Morales, a recent transplant from England, seeks to understand America and American values through the celebrity sites and attractions of Tennessee. This celebration of Dolly and Americana is for anyone with an old country soul who relies on music to help understand the world, and it is guaranteed to make a Dolly Parton fan of anyone who has not yet fallen for her music or charisma.
When eight-year-old Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana (1590OCo1662) entered one of the preeminent convents in Bologna in 1598, she had no idea what cloistered life had in store for her. Thanks to clandestine instruction from a local "maestro di cappella"OCoand despite the church hierarchyOCOs vehement opposition to all convent musicOCoVizzana became the star of the convent, composing works so thoroughly modern and expressive that a recent critic described them as OC historical treasures. OCO But at the very moment when VizzanaOCOs works appeared in 1623OCoshe would be the only Bolognese nun ever to publish her musicOCoextraordinary troubles beset her and her fellow nuns, as episcopal authorities arrived to investigate anonymous allegations of sisterly improprieties with male members of their order. aaaaaaaaaaa Craig A. Monson retells the story of Vizzana and the nuns of Santa Cristina to elucidate the role that music played in the lives of these cloistered women. Gifted singers, instrumentalists, and composers, these nuns used music not only to forge links with the community beyond convent walls, but also to challenge and circumvent ecclesiastical authority. Monson explains how the sisters of Santa CristinaOCorefusing to accept what the church hierarchy called GodOCOs will and what the nuns perceived as a besmirching of their honorOCofought back with words and music, and when these proved futile, with bricks, roof tiles, and stones. These women defied one Bolognese archbishop after another, cardinals in Rome, and even the pope himself, until threats of excommunication and abandonment by their families brought them to their knees twenty-five years later. By then, Santa CristinaOCOs imaginative but frail composer literally had been driven mad by the conflict. aaaaaaaaaaa MonsonOCOs fascinating narrative relies heavily on the words of its various protagonists, on both sides of the cloister wall, who emerge vividly as imaginative, independent-minded, and not always sympathetic figures. In restoring the musically gifted Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana to history, Monson introduces readers to the full range of captivating characters who played their parts in seventeenth-century convent life. a
Evidence for Health: From Patient Choice to Global Policy is a practical guide to evidence-informed decision-making. It provides health practitioners and policy-makers with a broad overview of how to improve health and reduce health inequities, as well as the tools needed to make informed decisions that will have a positive influence on health. Chapters address questions such as: What are the major threats to health? What are the causes of poor health? What works to improve health? How do we know that it works? What are the barriers to implementation? What are the measures of success? The book provides an algorithm for arriving at evidence-informed decisions that take into consideration the multiple contextual factors and value judgements involved. Written by a specialist in public health with a wealth of international experience, this user-friendly guide demystifies the decision-making process, from personal decisions made by individual patients to global policy decisions.
New insights into the molecular biology of childhood leukemias have stimulated numerous advances in diagnostic methods, strategies for risk assessment and the development of novel therapy for genetic subtypes of the diseases. Fully revised and updated, this new edition of Childhood Leukemias provides the most comprehensive, clinically-oriented and authoritative reference dedicated to these diseases. Beginning with an overview of history, cell biology, and pathology, subsequent chapters review approaches in the evaluation and management of specific leukemias, new therapeutic development and the unique pharmacodynamics and pharmacogenetics of individual patients. New chapters include epigenetics of leukemias, leukemias in patients with Down syndrome and leukemia in adolescents and young adults. The final section covers the complications associated with the disease or its treatment and supportive care during and after treatment. Authored by leading experts, this is a 'must-have' for any physician or investigator who deals with leukemias in childhood.
Scientists need statistics. Increasingly this is accomplished using computational approaches. Freeing readers from the constraints, mysterious formulas and sophisticated mathematics of classical statistics, this book is ideal for researchers who want to take control of their own statistical arguments. It demonstrates how to use spreadsheet macros to calculate the probability distribution predicted for any statistic by any hypothesis. This enables readers to use anything that can be calculated (or observed) from their data as a test statistic and hypothesize any probabilistic mechanism that can generate data sets similar in structure to the one observed. A wide range of natural examples drawn from ecology, evolution, anthropology, palaeontology and related fields give valuable insights into the application of the described techniques, while complete example macros and useful procedures demonstrate the methods in action and provide starting points for readers to use or modify in their own research.
Covering both noncooperative and cooperative games, this comprehensive introduction to game theory also includes some advanced chapters on auctions, games with incomplete information, games with vector payoffs, stable matchings and the bargaining set. Mathematically oriented, the book presents every theorem alongside a proof. The material is presented clearly and every concept is illustrated with concrete examples from a broad range of disciplines. With numerous exercises the book is a thorough and extensive guide to game theory from undergraduate through graduate courses in economics, mathematics, computer science, engineering and life sciences to being an authoritative reference for researchers.
Recent research on the U. S. House of Representatives largely focuses on the effects of partisanship, but the strikingly less frequent studies of the Senate still tend to treat parties as secondary considerations in a chamber that gives its members far more individual leverage than congressmen have. In response to the recent increase in senatorial partisanship, Why Not Parties? corrects this imbalance with a series of original essays that focus exclusively on the effects of parties in the workings of the upper chamber. Illuminating the growing significance of these effects, the contributors explore three major areas, including the electoral foundations of parties, partisan procedural advantage, and partisan implications for policy. In the process, they investigate such issues as whether party discipline can overcome Senate mechanisms that invest the most power in individuals and small groups; how parties influence the making of legislation and the distribution of pork; and whether voters punish senators for not toeing party lines. The result is a timely corrective to the notion that parties don't matter in the Senate--which the contributors reveal is far more similar to the lower chamber than conventional wisdom suggests.
Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must. The second edition is updated with the addition of two new chapters, 10 color plates, and a new foreword by renowned geographer H. J. de Blij. One new chapter examines the role of national interest and cultural values in national mapping organizations, including the United States Geological Survey, while the other explores the new breed of multimedia, computer-based maps. To show how maps distort, Monmonier introduces basic principles of mapmaking, gives entertaining examples of the misuse of maps in situations from zoning disputes to census reports, and covers all the typical kinds of distortions from deliberate oversimplifications to the misleading use of color. "Professor Monmonier himself knows how to gain our attention; it is not in fact the lies in maps but their truth, if always approximate and incomplete, that he wants us to admire and use, even to draw for ourselves on the facile screen. His is an artful and funny book, which like any good map, packs plenty in little space. " "Scientific American" "A useful guide to a subject most people probably take too much for granted. It shows how map makers translate abstract data into eye-catching cartograms, as they are called. It combats cartographic illiteracy. It fights cartophobia. It may even teach you to find your way. For that alone, it seems worthwhile. " Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "The New York Times" . " . . witty examination of how and why maps lie. The book] conveys an important message about how statistics of any kind can be manipulated. But it also communicates much of the challenge, aesthetic appeal, and sheer fun of maps. Even those who hated geography in grammar school might well find a new enthusiasm for the subject after reading Monmonier's lively and surprising book. " "Wilson Library Bulletin" "A reading of this book will leave you much better defended against cheap atlases, shoddy journalism, unscrupulous advertisers, predatory special-interest groups, and others who may use or abuse maps at your expense. " John Van Pelt, "Christian Science Monitor" "Monmonier meets his goal admirably. . . . His] book should be put on every map user's 'must read' list. It is informative and readable . . . a big step forward in helping us to understand how maps can mislead their readers. " Jeffrey S. Murray, "Canadian Geographic""
Arnaldo Momigliano was one of the foremost classical historiographers of the twentieth century. This collection of twenty-one carefully selected essays is remarkable both in the depth of its scholarship and the breadth of its subjects. Moving with ease across the centuries, Momigliano supplements powerful readings of writers in the Greek, Jewish, and Roman traditions, such as Tacitus and Polybius, with writings that focus on later historians, such as Vico and Croce. Charmingly written and concise, these pieces range from review essays reprinted from the New York Review of Books to treatises on the nature of historical scholarship. Essays in Ancient and Modern Historiography is a brilliant reminder of Momigliano's profound knowledge of classical civilization and his gift for deftly handling prose. With a new Foreword by Anthony Grafton, this volume is essential reading for any student of classics or historiography.
While competing with Langston Hughes for the title of "Poet Laureate of Harlem," Countée Cullen (1903-46) crafted poems that became touchstones for American readers, both black and white. Inspired by classic themes and working within traditional forms, Cullen shaped his poetry to address universal questions like love, death, longing, and loss while also dealing with the issues of race and idealism that permeated the national conversation. Drawing on the poet's unpublished correspondence with contemporaries and friends like Hughes, Claude McKay, Carl Van Vechten, Dorothy West, Charles S. Johnson and Alain Locke, and presenting a unique interpretation of his poetic gifts, And Bid Him Sing is the first full-length critical biography of this famous American writer. Despite his untimely death at the age of forty-two, Cullen left behind an extensive body of work. In addition to five books of poetry, he authored two much-loved children's books and translated Euripides' Medea, the first translation by an African American of a Greek tragedy. In these pages, Charles Molesworth explores the many ways that race, religion, and Cullen's sexuality informed the work of one of the unquestioned stars of the Harlem Renaissance. An authoritative work of biography that brings to life one of the chief voices of his generation, And Bid Him Sing returns to us one of America's finest lyric poets in all of his complexity and musicality.
Ghosts. Railroads. Sing Sing. Sex machines. These are just a few of the phenomena that appear in John Lardas Modern's pioneering account of religion and society in nineteenth-century America. This book uncovers surprising connections between secular ideology and the rise of technologies that opened up new ways of being religious. Exploring the eruptions of religion in New York's penny presses, the budding fields of anthropology and phrenology, and Moby-Dick, Modern challenges the strict separation between the religious and the secular that remains integral to discussions about religion today. Modern frames his study around the dread, wonder, paranoia, and manic confidence of being haunted, arguing that experiences and explanations of enchantment fueled secularism's emergence. The awareness of spectral energies coincided with attempts to tame the unruly fruits of secularism--in the cultivation of a spiritual self among Unitarians, for instance, or in John Murray Spear's erotic longings for a perpetual motion machine. Combining rigorous theoretical inquiry with beguiling historical arcana, Modern unsettles long-held views of religion and the methods of narrating its past.
Sex can be an oppressive force, a tool to shame, divide, and control a population. But it can also be a force for change, for the legal and physical challenge of inequity and injustice. In "West of Sex," Pablo Mitchell uses court transcripts and criminal cases to provide the first coherent picture of Mexican-American sexuality at the turn of the twentieth century, and a truly revelatory look at sexual identity in the borderlands. As Mexicans faced a rising tide of racial intolerance in the American West, some found cracks in the legal system that enabled them to assert their rights as full citizens, despite institutional hostility. In these chapters, Mitchell offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of ethnicity and power in the United States, placing ordinary Mexican women and men at the center of the story of American sex, colonialism, and belonging. Other chapters discuss topics like prostitution, same-sex intimacy, sexual violence, interracial romance, and marriage with an impressive level of detail and complexity. Written in vivid and accessible prose, "West of Sex" offers readers a new vision of sex and race in American history.
Like a lot of good stories, this one begins with a rumor: in 1239, Pope Gregory IX accused Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, of heresy. Without disclosing evidence of any kind, Gregory announced that Frederick had written a supremely blasphemous book--De tribus impostoribus, or the Treatise of the Three Impostors--in which Frederick denounced Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad as impostors. Of course, Frederick denied the charge, and over the following centuries the story played out across Europe, with libertines, freethinkers, and other "strong minds" seeking a copy of the scandalous text. The fascination persisted until finally, in the eighteenth century, someone brought the purported work into actual existence--in not one but two versions, Latin and French. Although historians have debated the origins and influences of this nonexistent book, there has not been a comprehensive biography of the Treatise of the Three Impostors. In The Atheist's Bible, the eminent historian Georges Minois tracks the course of the book from its origins in 1239 to its most salient episodes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, introducing readers to the colorful individuals obsessed with possessing the legendary work--and the equally obsessive passion of those who wanted to punish people who sought it. Minois's compelling account sheds much-needed light on the power of atheism, the threat of blasphemy, and the persistence of free thought during a time when the outspoken risked being burned at the stake.
"After Auschwitz to write even a single poem is barbaric. " The Conflagration of Community challenges Theodor Adorno's famous statement about aesthetic production after the Holocaust, arguing for the possibility of literature to bear witness to extreme collective and personal experiences. J. Hillis Miller masterfully considers how novels about the Holocaust relate to fictions written before and after it, and uses theories of community from Jean-Luc Nancy and Derrida to explore the dissolution of community bonds in its wake. Miller juxtaposes readings of books about the Holocaust--Keneally's Schindler's List, McEwan's Black Dogs, Spiegelman's Maus, and Kertész's Fatelessness--with Kafka's novels and Morrison's Beloved, asking what it means to think of texts as acts of testimony. Throughout, Miller questions the resonance between the difficulty of imagining, understanding, or remembering Auschwitz--a difficulty so often a theme in records of the Holocaust--and the exasperating resistance to clear, conclusive interpretation of these novels. The Conflagration of Community is an eloquent study of literature's value to fathoming the unfathomable.
Dubbed by the New York Times as "one of the most sought-after legal academics in the county," William Ian Miller presents the arcane worlds of the Old Norse studies in a way sure to attract the interest of a wide range of readers. Bloodtaking and Peacemaking delves beneath the chaos and brutality of the Norse world to discover a complex interplay of ordering and disordering impulses. Miller's unique and engaging readings of ancient Iceland's sagas and extensive legal code reconstruct and illuminate the society that produced them. People in the saga world negotiated a maze of violent possibility, with strategies that frequently put life and limb in the balance. But there was a paradox in striking the balance-one could not get even without going one better. Miller shows how blood vengeance, law, and peacemaking were inextricably bound together in the feuding process. This book offers fascinating insights into the politics of a stateless society, its methods of social control, and the role that a uniquely sophisticated and self-conscious law played in the construction of Icelandic society. "Illuminating. "-Rory McTurk, Times Literary Supplement "An impressive achievement in ethnohistory; it is an amalgam of historical research with legal and anthropological interpretation. What is more, and rarer, is that it is a pleasure to read due to the inclusion of narrative case material from the sagas themselves. "-Dan Bauer, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
These days, the idea of the cyborg is less the stuff of science fiction and more a reality, as we are all, in one way or another, constantly connected, extended, wired, and dispersed in and through technology. One wonders where the individual, the person, the human, and the body are--or, alternatively, where they stop. These are the kinds of questions Hélène Mialet explores in this fascinating volume, as she focuses on a man who is permanently attached to assemblages of machines, devices, and collectivities of people: Stephen Hawking. Drawing on an extensive and in-depth series of interviews with Hawking, his assistants and colleagues, physicists, engineers, writers, journalists, archivists, and artists, Mialet reconstructs the human, material, and machine-based networks that enable Hawking to live and work. She reveals how Hawking--who is often portrayed as the most singular, individual, rational, and bodiless of all--is in fact not only incorporated, materialized, and distributed in a complex nexus of machines and human beings like everyone else, but even more so. Each chapter focuses on a description of the functioning and coordination of different elements or media that create his presence, agency, identity, and competencies. Attentive to Hawking's daily activities, including his lecturing and scientific writing, Mialet's ethnographic analysis powerfully reassesses the notion of scientific genius and its associations with human singularity. This book will fascinate anyone interested in Stephen Hawking or an extraordinary life in science.
"Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" Such comments spotlight a central question animating Suzanne Mettler's provocative and timely book: why are many Americans unaware of government social benefits and so hostile to them in principle, even though they receive them? The Obama administration has been roundly criticized for its inability to convey how much it has accomplished for ordinary citizens. Mettler argues that this difficulty is not merely a failure of communication; rather it is endemic to the formidable presence of the "submerged state. " In recent decades, federal policymakers have increasingly shunned the outright disbursing of benefits to individuals and families and favored instead less visible and more indirect incentives and subsidies, from tax breaks to payments for services to private companies. These submerged policies, Mettler shows, obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry. Neither do they realize that the policies of the submerged state shower their largest benefits on the most affluent Americans, exacerbating inequality. Mettler analyzes three Obama reforms--student aid, tax relief, and health care--to reveal the submerged state and its consequences, demonstrating how structurally difficult it is to enact policy reforms and even to obtain public recognition for achieving them. She concludes with recommendations for reform to help make hidden policies more visible and governance more comprehensible to all Americans. The sad truth is that many American citizens do not know how major social programs work--or even whether they benefit from them. Suzanne Mettler's important new book will bring government policies back to the surface and encourage citizens to reclaim their voice in the political process.
Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture And Synthesize The Social Sciencesby Alex Mesoudi
Charles Darwin changed the course of scientific thinking by showing how evolution accounts for the stunning diversity and biological complexity of life on earth. Recently, there has also been increased interest in the social sciences in how Darwinian theory can explain human culture. Covering a wide range of topics, including fads, public policy, the spread of religion, and herd behavior in markets, Alex Mesoudi shows that human culture is itself an evolutionary process that exhibits the key Darwinian mechanisms of variation, competition, and inheritance. This cross-disciplinary volume focuses on the ways cultural phenomena can be studied scientifically-from theoretical modeling to lab experiments, archaeological fieldwork to ethnographic studies-and shows how apparently disparate methods can complement one another to the mutual benefit of the various social science disciplines. Along the way, the book reveals how new insights arise from looking at culture from an evolutionary angle. Cultural Evolutionprovides a thought-provoking argument that Darwinian evolutionary theory can both unify different branches of inquiry and enhance understanding of human behavior.
While the modern world has largely dismissed the figure of the saint as a throwback, we remain fascinated by excess, marginality, transgression, and porous subjectivity--categories that define the saint. In this collection, Françoise Meltzer and Jas Elsner bring together top scholars from across the humanities to reconsider our denial of saintliness and examine how modernity returns to the lure of saintly grace, energy, and charisma. Addressing such problems as how saints are made, the use of saints by political and secular orders, and how holiness is personified, Saints takes us on a photo tour of Graceland and the cult of Elvis and explores the changing political takes on Joan of Arc in France. It shows us the self-fashioning of culture through the reevaluation of saints in late-antique Judaism and Counter-Reformation Rome, and it questions the political intent of underlying claims to spiritual attainment of a Muslim sheikh in Morocco and of Sephardism in Israel. Populated with the likes of Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, and Padre Pio, this book is a fascinating inquiry into the status of saints in the modern world.
The poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) has been labeled the very icon of modernity, the scribe of the modern city, and an observer of an emerging capitalist culture. Seeing Double reconsiders this iconic literary figure and his fraught relationship with the nineteenth-century world by examining the way in which he viewed the increasing dominance of modern life. In doing so, it revises some of our most common assumptions about the unresolved tensions that emerged in Baudelaire's writing during a time of political and social upheaval. Françoise Meltzer argues that Baudelaire did not simply describe the contradictions of modernity; instead, his work embodied and recorded them, leaving them unresolved and often less than comprehensible. Baudelaire's penchant for looking simultaneously backward to an idealized past and forward to an anxious future, while suspending the tension between them, is part of what Meltzer calls his "double vision"--a way of seeing that produces encounters that are doomed to fail, poems that can't advance, and communications that always seem to falter. In looking again at the poet and his work, Seeing Double helps to us to understand the prodigious transformations at stake in the writing of modern life.
Over the past half-century, think tanks have become fixtures of American politics, supplying advice to presidents and policy makers, expert testimony on Capitol Hill, and convenient facts and figures to journalists and media specialists. But what are think tanks? Who funds them? What kind of "research" do they produce? Where does their authority come from? And how influential have they become? In Think Tanks in America, Thomas Medvetz argues that the unsettling ambiguity of the think tank is less an accidental feature of its existence than the very key to its impact. By combining elements of more established sources of public knowledge--universities, government agencies, businesses, and the media--think tanks exert a tremendous amount of influence on the way citizens and lawmakers perceive the world, unbound by the more clearly defined roles of those other institutions. In the process, they transform the government of this country, the press, and the political role of intellectuals. Timely, succinct, and instructive, this provocative book will force us to rethink our understanding of the drivers of political debate in the United States.
"Among the many books written on Germany after the collapse of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich, this book by Milton Mayer is one of the most readable and most enlightening. "--Hans Kohn, New York Times Book Review "It is a fascinating story and a deeply moving one. And it is a story that should make people pause and think--think not only about the Germans, but also about themselves. "--Ernest S. Pisko, Christian Science Monitor "Writing as a liberal American journalist of German descent and Jewish religious persuasion Mr. Mayer aims--and in the opinion of this reviewer largely succeeds--at scrupulous fairness and unsparing honesty. It is this that gives his book its muscular punch. "--Walter L. Dorn, Saturday Review "Once again the German problem is at the center of our politics. No better, or more humane, or more literate discussion of its underlying nature could be had than in this book. "--August Heckscher, New York Herald Tribune
There is nowhere else in the world quite like Chungking Mansions, a dilapidated seventeen-story commercial and residential structure in the heart of Hong Kong's tourist district. A remarkably motley group of people call the building home; Pakistani phone stall operators, Chinese guesthouse workers, Nepalese heroin addicts, Indonesian sex workers, and traders and asylum seekers from all over Asia and Africa live and work there-even backpacking tourists rent rooms. In short, it is possibly the most globalized spot on the planet. But as Ghetto at the Center of the World shows us, a trip to Chungking Mansions reveals a far less glamorous side of globalization. A world away from the gleaming headquarters of multinational corporations, Chungking Mansions is emblematic of the way globalization actually works for most of the world's people. Gordon Mathews's intimate portrayal of the building's polyethnic residents lays bare their intricate connections to the international circulation of goods, money, and ideas. We come to understand the day-to-day realities of globalization through the stories of entrepreneurs from Africa carting cell phones in their luggage to sell back home and temporary workers from South Asia struggling to earn money to bring to their families. And we see that this so-called ghetto-which inspires fear in many of Hong Kong's other residents, despite its low crime rate-is not a place of darkness and desperation but a beacon of hope. Gordon Mathews's compendium of riveting stories enthralls and instructs in equal measure, making Ghetto at the Center of the World not just a fascinating tour of a singular place but also a peek into the future of life on our shrinking planet.