New Books In Political Science

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Interviews with Political Scientists about their New Books


  • Witold Szabłowski, How to Feed a Dictator (Penguin, 2020)

    Witold Szabłowski, "How to Feed a Dictator" (Penguin, 2020)

    07/05/2020 Duration: 01h04min

    If you’re a despot, there are two people you can’t lie to, your doctor and your chef. This is one of the nuggets explained to me by Witold Szabłowski, author of How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks (Penguin, 2020), translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. The author, a tireless journalist, used his skills at getting people to talk and his knowledge of cooking to convince those who served some of the 20th century's most infamous tyrants to open up about the men who employed them, what they ate, and what food can tell you about power. An enlightening, terrifying and deliciously informative read. Since I co-authored a book about Donald Trump, we had some things to discuss about cheeseburgers and fries as well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

  • Antony Dapiran, City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong (Scribe, 2020)

    Antony Dapiran, "City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong" (Scribe, 2020)

    07/05/2020 Duration: 01h03min

    Hong Kong in 2019 was a city on fire. Anti-government protests, sparked by an ill-fated extradition bill sparked seven months of protest and civil unrest. Protestors clashed with police in the streets, in shopping malls, in residential buildings. Driven by Hong Kong’s young people with their ‘Be Water!’ strategy, the pro-democracy movement grew into a massive force, receiving support from all demographics – from the ‘silver-hairs’, to mothers, from healthcare workers, to journalists and bankers, the ongoing protests polarized the community and changed the urban city space, likely forever. In City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong (Scribe, 2020), Antony Dapiran builds on his previous work City of Protest. He explores the 2019 protest movement, how it has changed the city and what Hong Kong means for the world. Dapiran gets you as close to the action as you can be, without having to experience the direct effects of being tear-gassed. This is a must read for anyone interested Hong Kong, China, democracy and human

  • Abram Van Engen, City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism (Yale UP, 2020)

    Abram Van Engen, "City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism" (Yale UP, 2020)

    07/05/2020 Duration: 35min

    Abram Van Engen is an Associate Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Van Engen’s research examines early American literature, the history of emotions, Puritanism, collective memory, and American Exceptionalism. His latest book is City on a Hill: A History of American Exceptionalism (2020), published by Yale University Press. In it, Van Engen offers a fascinating examination of John Winthrop’s A Model of Christian Charity, noting how this sermon was relatively unknown before the middle of the twentieth century. Yet, as he demonstrates by the end of the book, various historical actors, from nineteenth century antiquarians and Harvard academics to most famously Ronald Reagan, have made Winthrop’s phrase “city on a hill” an essential part of the nation’s political lexicon. Chris Babits is an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches the intersecting histories of medicine, religion, and gender and sexuality and is curr

  • Ibrahim Fraihat, Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict (Edinburgh UP, 2020)

    Ibrahim Fraihat, "Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict" (Edinburgh UP, 2020)

    05/05/2020 Duration: 01h11min

    Ibrahim Fraihat’s latest book, Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) is much more than an exploration of the history of animosity between Saudi Arabia and Iran and its debilitating impact on an already volatile Middle East. It is a detailed roadmap for management and resolution of what increasingly looks like an intractable conflict. Based on years of field research, Fraihat builds a framework that initially could help Saudi Arabia and Iran prevent their conflict from spinning out of control, create mechanisms for communication and travel down a road of confidence building that could create building blocks for a resolution. Fraihat’s book could not have been published at a more critical moment. A devastating coronavirus pandemic has hit both Saudi Arabia and Iran hard. So has the associated global economic breakdown and the collapse of oil markets. The double whammies constitute the most existential crisis the kingdom has faced in at least half a century. They hit

  • David A. Bateman, Disenfranchising Democracy: Constructing the Electorate in the US, the UK, and France (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    David A. Bateman, "Disenfranchising Democracy: Constructing the Electorate in the US, the UK, and France" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    05/05/2020 Duration: 55min

    David A. Bateman’s fascinating new book opens with a puzzle. In 19th-century America, why was mass democratization – abolishing property and tax qualifications – accompanied by the mass disenfranchisement of black, male citizens? The book highlights the importance of understanding democratization as both a process of extending political rights and a deliberate effort to change the composition and character of a particular community. Democratization is not simply a neutral set of procedures but a conflict over people-making and Bateman explores the political importance of these narratives with both a deep dive into the American case and two complementary case studies: the United Kingdom and France in the early and late 19th century. Disenfranchising Democracy: Constructing the Electorate in the US, the UK, and France (Cambridge University Press, 2020) first explores democratization at the time of the American revolution – finding that democratization was neither connected to disenfranchisement nor focused on r

  • Yael Tamir, Why Nationalism? (Princeton UP, 2019)

    Yael Tamir, "Why Nationalism?" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    04/05/2020 Duration: 37min

    Around the world today, nationalism is back—and it’s often deeply troubling. Populist politicians exploit nationalism for authoritarian, chauvinistic, racist, and xenophobic purposes, reinforcing the view that it is fundamentally reactionary and antidemocratic. But Yael (Yuli) Tamir makes a passionate argument for a very different kind of nationalism—one that revives its participatory, creative, and egalitarian virtues, answers many of the problems caused by neoliberalism and hyperglobalism, and is essential to democracy at its best. In Why Nationalism? (Princeton University Press, 2019), she explains why it is more important than ever for the Left to recognize these qualities of nationalism, to reclaim it from right-wing extremists, and to redirect its power to progressive ends. Far from being an evil force, nationalism’s power lies in its ability to empower individuals and answer basic human needs. Using it to reproduce cross-class coalitions will ensure that all citizens share essential cultural, political

  • Lucia Rubinelli, Constituent Power: A History (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Lucia Rubinelli, "Constituent Power: A History" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    04/05/2020 Duration: 50min

    "The intellectual historian has to start with the words." – Richard Whatmore, What is Intellectual History? When political theorists write about the principle of popular power, that is, who are the people and what kind of power do they have – the language of ‘constituent power’ is a key concept in this regard. In her new book, Constituent Power: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Lucia Rubinelli, a researcher in the history of political thought at Robinson College, Cambridge, retraces a history of the language of constituent power. Her book examines five key moments from Sieyes and the French Revolution, Schmitt over the Weimar Republic era, Arendt’s thought into the 1960s as well as less recognizable European jurists of the 19th and 20th centuries – all theorizing through these two words an understanding of popular power as an alternative notion to sovereignty as understood in their own contingent historical moments. This is the latest book in Cambridge University Press’s renowned ‘Ideas in Contex

  • María Cristina García, The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford UP, 2017)

    María Cristina García, "The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America" (Oxford UP, 2017)

    30/04/2020 Duration: 01h05min

    “Never again!” This was the rallying cry, seemingly universal and unanimous, among liberal nation-states as they formed the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and later signed the UN Declaration on Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. Emerging from the ashes of a global war that took some 60 million lives, and after witnessing the atrocities of Nazi Germany, a worldwide community appeared resolute in its commitment to not only condemn, but to also strive to prevent future “crimes against humanity.” In The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford University Press, 2017), María Cristina García evaluates how the end of the Cold War brought new and unanticipated challenges to upholding this commitment from 1989 to the present. Through nine case studies that examine the central actors, debates, policies, and conflicts that have shaped the U.S. response to humanitarian crises in the post-Cold War era, Dr. García explains the tensions that exist betwee

  • Yue Hou, The Private Sector in Public Office: Selective Property Rights in China (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Yue Hou, "The Private Sector in Public Office: Selective Property Rights in China" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    30/04/2020 Duration: 40min

    In China, roughly 60% of GDP and 80% of employment comes from the private sector – yet half of private entrepreneurs report that they faced expropriation of property by local governments. Yue Hou’s rich, detailed, and ambitious book documents how private entrepreneurs protect their property from expropriation by running for office – and using their public roles to advance their private economic interest. Entrepreneurs who hold local legislative seats can leverage their political status to deter predatory behavior by lower-level bureaucrats who fear retribution or punishment from the legislator’s political network. Joining local legislatures allows private owners to creatively build a system of selective – yet effective – property rights in the short (and maybe medium) term. Hou’s research combines quantitative and qualitative methods including interviews with entrepreneurs, legislators, and audit experiments – in a political environment in which people are often risk-averse and politically sensitive. The book

  • Leslie M. Harris, Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    28/04/2020 Duration: 59min

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day. The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as P

  • Great Books: Melissa Schwartzberg on Rousseaus The Social Contract

    Great Books: Melissa Schwartzberg on Rousseau's "The Social Contract"

    28/04/2020 Duration: 01h35s

    "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." The opening sentence of 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Roussau's The Social Contract poses a central question for all of us. Why do we live under conditions of inequality, violence, dependency and general unhappiness (just look on twitter!) if society is made by us and for us? Why does it seem that modern human beings are not liberated but in fact subjugate themselves voluntarily to a system that robs them off their freedom? Rousseau's thought has informed much of modern political theory and philosophy and inspired people everywhere to think about the balance between individual liberty and collective existence. In order to understand better the lasting influence of Rousseau and his current significance, I spoke with Melissa Schwartzberg, who is Silver Professor of Politics at New York University and a specialist in political theory. Melissa's research is in the historical origins and normative logic of democratic institutions. This means she examines

  • Mark Sedgwick, Key Thinkers of the Radical Right (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Mark Sedgwick, "Key Thinkers of the Radical Right" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    27/04/2020 Duration: 01h07min

    The resurgence of the radical Right in America and Europe has drawn attention to the existence of political philosophers and writers whose names are only sometimes familiar and whose thought is generally unknown. It even comes as a surprise to some that the radical Right actually has a political philosophy, other than that of Nazism or of Mussolini’s Fascism, both of which in fact remain discredited and marginal. Instead, the resurgent Right draws on well-known thinkers like Nietzsche and Hegel, on less-known thinkers like Oswald Spengler and Julius Evola, and on the relatively obscure writings of living political philosophers such as Alain de Benoist in France and Alexander Dugin in Russia. And then there is a whole range of emergent thinkers, often American, some unknown, and some famous only for their media stunts. In his new book Key Thinkers of the Radical Right: Behind the New Threat to Liberal Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2019), Mark Sedgwick looks at the classic canon, at the most influential m

  • Peter La Chapelle, I’d Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    Peter La Chapelle, "I’d Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    24/04/2020 Duration: 01h23s

    Historians, musicologists, and sociologists have long studied the relationship between politics and music. Peter La Chapelle’s new book, I’d Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music (University of Chicago Press, 2019) traces interactions between country music and politics beginning with two late nineteenth-century politicians who fiddled to their supporters and ending with the 2016 election season. He establishes some long-standing associations between celebrity candidates, populist insurgents, outsider politics and country music. La Chapelle also does not shy away from exposing the ways that racist and anti-Semitic political figures have used country music to support their beliefs. While today many people think of country music as a politically conservative genre, La Chapelle brings to light a more complex story of politicians across the spectrum looking to country music to support their beliefs, publicize their campaigns, and establish their authenticity with their cons

  • Adam H. Domby, The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory (U Virginia Press, 2020)

    Adam H. Domby, "The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory" (U Virginia Press, 2020)

    23/04/2020 Duration: 55min

    Adam H. Domby, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Charleston, has written a rigorous analysis of American political memory as it connects to the Civil War and long shadow of the Confederacy. The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory (University of Virginia Press, 2020) unpacks a variety of threads all connected to the Lost Cause ideology, and all based on falsehoods. These dimensions of the ideology include Domby’s examination of the history of dishonest claims to confederate pensions by white veterans, and also the accusations of fraud associated with claims made by former slaves and free people of color for much smaller pensions. The False Cause digs into the historical claims made about the heroics demonstrated on the battlefield during the Civil War. In this context, The False Cause unpacks the myth that the Confederate army was one of the best ever, and these heroic claims, many of which were made at least forty years after the war itself, are not

  • David Kettler and Thomas Wheatland, Learning From Franz L. Neumann (Anthem Press, 2019)

    David Kettler and Thomas Wheatland, "Learning From Franz L. Neumann" (Anthem Press, 2019)

    22/04/2020 Duration: 01h03min

    Franz Neumann was a member of a generation that saw the end of the Kaiserreich and the beginnings of a democratic republic carried by the labor movement. In Neumann's case, this involved a practical and professional commitment, first, to the trade union movement and, second, to the Social Democratic Party that gave it political articulation. For Neumann, to be a labor lawyer in the sense developed by his mentor, Hugo Sinzheimer, was to engage in a project to displace the law of property as the basic frame of human relations. The defeat of Weimar and the years of exile called many things into question for Neumann, but not the conjunction between a practical democratic project to establish social rights and an effort to find a rational strategy to explain the failures, and to orient a new course of conduct. David Kettler and Thomas Wheatland's new book Learning from Franz L. Neumann (Anthem Press, 2019) pays special attention to Neumann's efforts to break down the conventional divide between political theory an

  • Co-Authored: The Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey

    Co-Authored: The Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey

    20/04/2020 Duration: 30min

    On this episode of the Co-Authored podcast, we learn about one the most ambitious recent collaborations. The Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey or CMPS has brought together hundreds of scholars of racial and ethnic politics. Started just in 2008, the collaboration aims to map the political opinions and behavior of people who have never been seen or studied in this way. Previous surveys have not had the focus on collecting a sufficiently large number of respondents to answer questions and compare the attitudes of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and other marginalized groups. The CMPS has aimed to solve this problem. The original team in 2008 included: Matt A. Barreto, (then at the University of Washington-Seattle) now at UCLA; Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, University of California, Los Angeles; Ange-Marie Hancock, University of Southern California; Sylvia Manzano, Latino Decisions; S. Karthick (Subramanian Karthick) Ramakrishnan, University of California, Riverside; Ricardo Ramirez

  • Charles J. Holden, Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America (UVA Press, 2019)

    Charles J. Holden, "Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America" (UVA Press, 2019)

    20/04/2020 Duration: 01h01min

    Today Spiro Agnew is best known for his resignation from the vice presidency of the United States as part of a plea bargain deal related to a legal case involving bribes he took as a public official. In Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America (University of Virginia Press, 2019), however, Charles J. Holden, Zach Messitte, and Jerald Podair present Agnew as a progenitor of the conservative populism associated today with America’s 45th president. As Holden explains, Agnew enjoyed a rapid rise in politics, going from his first election to a county office to the vice presidency in little more than a decade. Impressing many conservatives with his response as Maryland governor to riots in Baltimore, as vice president Agnew burnished his standing with them with a series of speeches that further fueled his popularity within both the Republican Party and much of the country. Though Agnew’s plea deal brought his political career to an ignominious and premature end, much of his rhetori

  • David Swift, A Left for Itself: Left-Wing Hobbyists and Performative Radicalism (Zero Books, 2019)

    David Swift, "A Left for Itself: Left-Wing Hobbyists and Performative Radicalism" (Zero Books, 2019)

    16/04/2020 Duration: 55min

    Why has the recent crisis of capitalism benefitted the nationalist right rather than the left? Is there a tension between socio-economic realities and the politico-cultural views of leftists? In his new book A Left for Itself:Left-Wing Hobbyists and Performative Radicalism (Zero Books, 2019), David Swift argues that the left is dominated by what he terms hobbyists and performative radicals. An overwhelmingly white, middle class, elite educated left is, according to Swift, searching for a past-time rather than fighting for basic needs. Building on earlier work on the left during WWI, Swift combines a deep knowledge of the political science and history literature with archival work and contemporary interviews with activists and those who reflect on their work. He finds activists on the left to be in search of an identity: a past-time that will enhance their image. The book looks at ethnic identity politics, immigration, the debate over Israel and Palestine, the trans movement, cultural elitism, and feminism. Sw

  • Sara E. Davies, Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    Sara E. Davies, "Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    15/04/2020 Duration: 49min

    At the start of 2020 few of us would have recognized the face of the current director general of the World Health Organization. Three months later, and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic he and other senior WHO officials appear on television and online almost daily, exhorting governments around the world to take urgent measures to stop the spread of the virus, advising them on how to do so, and coordinating efforts. To these exhortations governments in Southeast Asia, like their counterparts elsewhere, have a duty to respond. This duty they owe not only to their citizens and neighbours, but also to the international community of states, via a special regulatory regime that has emerged in part out of experiences fighting recent contagions in East and Southeast Asia. In Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), Sara E. Davies explains how and why a duty to contain contagion at the source or within borders became central to the contemp

  • K. Aronoff, et al., A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso, 2019)

    K. Aronoff, et al., "A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal" (Verso, 2019)

    14/04/2020 Duration: 02h44min

    In early 2019, freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Ed Markey proposed a bold new piece of legislation, now very well known as the Green New Deal. Intended as a means of combating climate change, it stunned a number of people due to its enormous ambition, including massive overhauls of our energy systems, as well as providing housing and healthcare for everyone. Naturally a piece of legislation this large raised a number of questions, which is what my guests today are here to discuss. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Thea Riofrancos, the authors of ​A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal​ (Verso, 2019). The book is short and accessible, written for everyone interested in understanding this vital piece of legislation, so if you are like me and you don’t understand the fine details of climate economics, you can still pick this up and gain a sense of what is to be done. The book also features a short forward by Nao

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