Today's (7/2/2015) New Book Releases on History

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Ancient Irrigation Systems of the Aral Sea Area: The History, Origin, and Development of Irrigated Agriculture (American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph) by B. V. Adrianov - 300 pages
Ancient Irrigation Systems in the Aral Sea Area, is the English translation of Boris Vasilevich Andrianov's work, Drevnie orositelnye sistemy priaralya , concerning the study of ancient irrigation systems and the settlement pattern in the historical region of Khorezm, south of the Aral Sea (Uzbekistan). This work holds a special place within the Soviet archaeological school because of the results obtained through a multidisciplinary approach combining aerial survey and fieldwork, surveys, and excavations. This translation has been enriched by the addition of introductions written by several eminent scholars from the region regarding the importance of the Khorezm Archaeological-Ethnographic Expedition and the figure of Boris V. Andrianov and his landmark study almost 50 years after the original publication.
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Identity, Youth, and Gender in the Korean American Church (Asian Christianity in the Diaspora) by Christine J. Hong - 140 pages
This volume develops an understanding of Korean American girls in the Korean American church between the ages of thirteen and nineteen. Christine J. Hong analyses and evaluates girl's formation around self, gender, and understandings of God in the context of Korean American mainline protestant congregational life. The book utilizes a practical theological qualitative study and develops a hybrid methodology using a feminist ethnography with de-colonial aims and indigenous research methods. Its goal is to facilitate practical theology's aim of enabling transformative experiences in communities of faith. The study asks and answers the question: what is the experience of being a Korean American girl in the Korean American immigrant church? Hong asserts that cultivating a better understanding of how Korean American girls develop concepts of self, gender, and God will help practical theologians, particularly religious educators, pinpoint, unpack, and evaluate the complexities of bi-cultural identity and faith formation.
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The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather (Library of Religious Biography (LRB)) by Rick Kennedy - 176 pages
Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was America's most famous pastor and scholar at the beginning of the eighteenth century. People today generally associate him with the infamous Salem witch trials, but in this new biography Rick Kennedy tells a bigger story: Mather, he says, was the very first American evangelical.

A fresh retelling of Cotton Mather's life, this biography corrects misconceptions and focuses on how he sought to promote, socially and intellectually, a biblical lifestyle. As older Puritan hopes in New England were giving way to a broader and shallower Protestantism, Mather led a populist, Bible-oriented movement that embraced the new century -- the beginning of a dynamic evangelical tradition that eventually became a major force in American culture.

Incorporating the latest scholarly research but written for a popular audience, The First American Evangelical brings Cotton Mather and his world to life in a way that helps readers understand both the Puritanism in which he grew up and the evangelicalism he pioneered.

Watch a 2015 interview with the author of this book here:

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A Short History of Christianity by Geoffrey Blainey - 636 pages

A Short History of Christianity vividly describes many of the significant players in the religion’s rise and fall through the ages, from Jesus himself to Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Francis Xavier, John Wesley, and even the Beatles, who claimed to be “more popular than Jesus.” Blainey takes us into the world of Christian worshipers through the ages—from housewives to stonemasons—and traces the rise of the critics of Christ and his followers.

Eminently readable, and written with Blainey’s characteristic curiosity and storytelling skill, this book often places Christianity at the center of world history. Will it remain near the center? Blainey’s narrative illustrates that Christianity’s history is a much-repeated story of ups and downs.
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Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa by Robert A. Dowd - 240 pages
Drawing from research conducted in Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda, Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy offers a deeper understanding of how Christian and Islamic faith communities affect the political attitudes of those who belong to them and, in turn, prospects for liberal democracy. While many analysts believe that religious diversity in developing countries is an impediment to liberal democracy, Robert A. Dowd concludes just the opposite. Dowd draws on narrative accounts, in-depth interviews, and large-scale surveys to show that Christian and Islamic religious communities are more likely to support liberal democracy in religiously diverse and integrated settings than in religiously homogeneous or segregated ones. Religious diversity and integration, in other words, are good for liberal democracy. In religiously diverse and integrated environments, religious leaders tend to be more encouraging of civic engagement, democracy, and religious liberty.

By providing a theoretical framework for understanding when and where Christian and Islamic communities in sub -Saharan Africa encourage and discourage liberal democracy, Dowd demonstrates how religious communities are important in affecting political actions and attitudes. This evidence, the book ultimately argues, should prompt policymakers interested in cultivating religiously-inspired support for liberal democracy to aid in the formation of religiously diverse neighborhoods, cities, and political organizations.
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An English Spring: Memoirs by Cormac Murphy O'Connor - 240 pages

When John Henry Newman spoke of his hopes for the renewal of the Church, he imagined not only sunshine and the blossoming of new life, but icy winds and torrential rain. His forecast of 'an English Spring' was to prove remarkably far-sighted.

With affection and wry humour, another English cardinal, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, reflects on his Irish Catholic roots and English upbringing, his training for the priesthood in Rome, and his time as a priest and bishop during a time of unprecedented turbulence and change. Then in 2000, at the age of 67, with the Church worldwide engulfed by the sexual abuse crisis, he was a surprise appointment as Archbishop of Westminster. He reflects frankly on the mistakes he himself made and on how the Church has tried to respond to the crisis, and he speaks poignantly of the terrible anguish suffered by the victims of abuse by Catholic priests.

Candid and informal, this unique memoir takes us behind the scenes of the dramatic conclaves in Rome that led to the elections of Popes Benedict and Francis, and we meet some of the remarkable characters who have shaped the Church in recent years, including Pope John Paul II, John Carmel Heenan, Derek Worlock and Basil Hume. Running through the story is Murphy-O'Connor's passionate commitment to the family and to the community, and to the search for Christian unity.

An English Spring is the very human journey of a Catholic priest trying to live out his faith and lead the faithful at a time of both opportunity and turmoil and confusion. Honest and engaging, it reflects the humility, warmth and charm of one of the best-loved church leaders of the last fifty years.

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Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity: The Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom (Humanum Imprint) by David L. Schindler, Nicholas J., Jr. Healy - 496 pages
Pope Paul VI characterized the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom -- Dignitatis Humanae -- as one of the greatest documents of Vatican II. It is also perhaps the most intensely debated document of the Council; both the drafting of the Declaration of Religious Freedom and its reception have been marked by deep disagreements about what this teaching means for the Church.

In this book David Schindler and Nicholas Healy promote a deeper understanding of this important document. In addition to presenting a new translation of the approved text of the Declaration, Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity makes available for the first time in English the five drafts of the document that were presented to the Council bishops leading up to the final version. The book also includes an original interpretive essay on Dignitatis Humanae by Schindler and an essay on the genesis and redaction history of the text by Healy.
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The Journal of Ann Mcmath: An Orphan in a New York Parsonage in the 1850s by Ann Mcmath - 279 pages
An account of an ordinary young woman coming of age in the Burned-Over District of Western New York during the Second Great Awakening.
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Regulating Desire: From the Virtuous Maiden to the Purity Princess by J. Shoshanna Ehrlich - 224 pages
Examines the organized efforts to reshape the law relating to young women's sexuality in the United States.

Starting with the mid-nineteenth-century campaign by the American Female Moral Reform Society to criminalize seduction and moving forward to the late twentieth-century conservative effort to codify a national abstinence-only education policy, Regulating Desire explores the legal regulation of young women's sexuality in the United States. The book covers five distinct time periods in which changing social conditions generated considerable public anxiety about youthful female sexuality and examines how successive generations of reformers sought to revise the law in an effort to manage unruly desires and restore a gendered social order. J. Shoshanna Ehrlich draws upon a rich array of primary source materials, including reform periodicals, court cases, legislative hearing records, and abstinence curricula to create an interdisciplinary narrative of socially embedded legal change. Capturing the complex and dynamic nature of the relationship between the state and the sexualized youthful female body, she highlights how the law both embodies and shapes gendered understandings of normative desire as mediated by considerations of race and class.

"Extremely thorough and very enjoyable to read, this book provides an authoritative scholarly voice on its subject matter." -- Alesha E. Doan, coauthor of The Politics of Virginity: Abstinence in Sex Education

J. Shoshanna Ehrlich is Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is the author of Family Law for Paralegals, Sixth Edition and Who Decides? The Abortion Rights of Teens.