We Have the War Upon Us -- The Onset of the Civil War by William J. Cooper, Knopf '13, $30, 332 pages, ASIN #1400042003. Index, notes, no bibliography, b&w images sprinkled through text.
Early reviews of William J. Cooper's latest are an author's dream. "Thorough and unbiased," says Publishers Weekly, "....Cooper leaves no stone unturned."
And Kirkus Reviews describes how Cooper "exposes the players who drew the country into war...
"President James Buchanan's attempts to diffuse the tensions only postponed a crisis. After South Carolina's secession, he concluded a gentleman's agreement with Gov. Francis Pickens not to reinforce Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor as long as there was no interference. Though historians often claim that slavery was not the true cause of the war, the Southern states demanded their right to reclaim escaped slaves and the rights of the new territories to establish themselves as slave or free.
"Abraham Lincoln was adamantly against extending the right of slavery in the territories, a true deal breaker for the South. The Republican Party, rejoicing upon gaining the White House in November 1960, was determined to control the South, and they were unwilling to compromise, thwarting every attempt in Congress and using debate and delay methods that are all too familiar today....Drawing on his wide knowledge of the time period, Cooper clearly enumerates the many ways the Civil War could have been avoided and how many people were clueless as to the real threat, especially Lincoln."
Author William J. Cooper is a Boyd Professor at Louisiana State University and a past president of the Southern Historical Association.
Scotland -- A Concise History by Fitzroy Maclean, Thames & Hudson '12 paperback, on glossy stock. $19.95, 260 pages, ASIN #0500289875. Index, list of illustrations, b&w images sprinkled through text
A brief excerpt reflects the fluid style the author brings to his latest book:
"The early history of Scotland, like that of most countries, is largely veiled by what are known as the mists of antiquity, in this case a more than usually felicitous phrase. From piles of discarded sea-shells and implements of bone and stone, from monoliths and megaliths and mounds of grass-grown turf, from crannogs and brochs and vitrified forts, painstaking archaeologies have pieced together a handful of basic facts about the Stone and Bronze Age inhabitants of our country and about the first Celtic invaders who followed them in successive waves a good many centuries later.
"But it is not until the beginning of our own era that we come upon the first written records of Scottish history. These are to be found in the works of the Roman historian Tacitus, whose father-in-law Cnaeus Julius Agricola, then Governor of the Roman Province of Britain invaded what is now southern Scotland with the Ninth Legion in the year A.D. 81."
Author Fitzroy Maclean held a number of senior posts in the Diplomatic Service, the Armed Forces, and the government.
Why Growth Matters -- How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries by Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya. PublicAffairs '13, $28.99, 304 pages, ASIN #161039271X. Index, references, notes, four appendices, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the dust jacket:
"In the 1950s, economists viewed China and India as certainties to pioneer development strategies that would be role models for the world. In reality, the state-controlled Chinese economy is hard to replicate anywhere else.
'The reverse is true of India. Since Independence in 1947, India has experimented with a wide diversity of economic strategies -- from Jawaharlal Nehru's pragmatism to Indira Gandhi's rigid state socialism to the brisk liberalization of the 1990s -- within a democratic system. India is, therefore, a data-rich economic story from which it is now possible to address the central moral challenge facing the world today: what strategy will lift the greatest number of people out of extreme poverty?"
C-author Jagdish Bhagwati is university professor of economics at Columbia, and a longtime fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States. Co-author Arvind Panagariya is a professor of economics and Indian political economy at Columbia University and was a past chief economist of the Asian Development Bank.