"Woman manacled before giving birth" and "Battery hen cells being built for women" are only two of the various horror stories about everyday life in British prisons which have recently hit the headlines. Hardly a week seems to go by without new revelations about dire conditions in prisons both here and across the Atlantic.
A few weeks before Peter W. Williams, ed., Perspectives on American Religion and Culture, (Blackwells, Oxford 1999) arrived, I met a Chinese-American professor whose dress, accent and confidence suggested a long-established American family. In fact she was of Chinese-Vietnamese parents, brought up in Cambodia and had spent two years as a boat refugee.
This book is impressively detailed, showing women's experience of demobilisation and the aftermath of armed conflict - an often neglected area of military study relating to women - as well as their feelings about morality, their male counterparts, uniforms, duties and a slew of other subjects.
The history of public health has been a flourishing field in the last three decades. Yet despite a spate of excellent monographs about various epidemic diseases and many good collections about health and disease in Africa, Asia, The Middle East, Latin America, as well as Europe and North America, the most recent textbook on the history of public health is four decades old.
The flight of Jews out of Nazi Germany has been the subject of much attention. Virtually every country that witnessed the entry of Jews in the 1930s has had its experiences discussed in at least one book.(1) Britain is no exception.
On the cover of the book is a photograph of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, taken by Robert Y. Kaufman. Here, Thomas Jefferson stands silent and stoic, silhouetted against an orange fading sky, and flanked, perhaps even incarcerated, by the appropriately neo-classical columns of the Memorial.
Tavern-going was as an important a part of the social fabric of early America as churchgoing. Even in the most obscure communities Americans visited a tavern regularly if not daily.
This is an ambitious and in many respects singularly brave book which adds a further dimension to the growing understanding of middle-class life that has prompted the research of increasing numbers of historians in the last decade or so.
In 1852 the African-American physician and writer James McCune Smith described the ‘negro’ as ‘not an actual physical being of flesh and bones and blood, but a hideous monster of the mind’.(quoted on p. 247, McCune Smith’s italics) Yet in Bruce Dain’s detailed, subtle, and fascinating book, race theory appears more like a virus.
For a very long time, writers have sneered at the suburbs. They have looked down on suburbanites for being materialistic, unimaginative, and boring. They have complained about the social and physical monotony of the suburban scene while deploring its individualism and lack of community.