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houston 2015 JPEGJAMES L. HUSTON (Regents Professor), The British Gentry, The Southern Planter, and the Northern Family Farmer (LSU Press, 2015)There exists a traditional view about sectionalism in the United States that pits the industrial North against the agrarian South; it is inaccurate. The reality was that the sectional divide was between the family farm North (about 72 percent of the population) versus the plantation South (possessing 65 percent of the congressional districts). Moreover, the different types of agrarian establishments produced marked dichotomies in ideas and politics. The family farm promoted social mobility, community activity, a glorification of manual labor, and a celebration of equality. The plantation cultivated notions of hierarchy, inequality, leisure for the upper class, and debasement for those engaged in manual labor (that is, the slaves). So long as the two regimes stayed in their geographical boundaries, the clash between them was muted, but when the Missouri Compromise line was repealed in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, sectional animosity exploded in the North and took political form in the creation of the Republican party. The express purpose of the Republicans was to keep plantation society and ideas out of the land reserved for the family farmer.

kinderJOHN KINDER (Associate Professor), Paying with Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran (University of Chicago Press, 2015) Christian Bagge, an Iraq War veteran, lost both his legs in a roadside bomb attack on his Humvee in 2006. Months after the accident, outfitted with sleek new prosthetic legs, he jogged alongside President Bush for a photo op at the White House. The photograph served many functions, one of them being to revive faith in an American martial ideal—that war could be fought without permanent casualties, and that innovative technology could easily repair war’s damage. When Bagge was awarded his Purple Heart, however, military officials asked him to wear pants to the ceremony, saying that photos of the event should be “soft on the eyes.” Defiant, Bagge wore shorts.

America has grappled with the questions posed by injured veterans since its founding, and with particular force since the early twentieth century: What are the nation’s obligations to those who fight in its name? And when does war’s legacy of disability outweigh the nation’s interests at home and abroad? In Paying with Their Bodies, John M. Kinder traces the complicated, intertwined histories of war and disability in modern America. Focusing in particular on the decades surrounding World War I, he argues that disabled veterans have long been at the center of two competing visions of American war: one that highlights the relative safety of US military intervention overseas; the other indelibly associating American war with injury, mutilation, and suffering. Kinder brings disabled veterans to the center of the American war story and shows that when we do so, the history of American war over the last century begins to look very different. War can no longer be seen as a discrete experience, easily left behind; rather, its human legacies are felt for decades.

The first book to examine the history of American warfare through the lens of its troubled legacy of injury and disability, Paying with Their Bodies will force us to think anew about war and its painful costs.

Du The Order of Places

 YONGTAO DU (Associate Professor), The Order of Places: Translocal Practices of the Huizhou Merchants in Late Imperial China (Brill, 2015) There were over a thousand counties and prefectures in late imperial China; each loomed large in the hearts and minds of the local natives, and had a history of its own. The Order of Places tells a story of how these places were ordered by the long-lived imperial state, and then re-orderedduring the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries as geographical mobility increased. At the center of the story are the mobile merchants from south China’s Huizhou Prefecture, then the most prominent merchantgroup in China. The story presents the dynamics of geography in the world’s most enduring empire on the eve of its entry into modern history, as the author explores the changing relationships between people and the place they called “home”, between local place andthe life-world the Chinese called “all-under-Heaven,” and between local places.