New Releases | January 24, 2023
January 24, 2023
Looking for your next great read? We're here to help! Each week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), Emily Porter (EPP), and Jasmine Gonzalez (JAG)—highlights four newly released books we are most excited about.
Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.
This week, our choices are:
Against the World: Anti-Globalism and Mass Politics Between the World Wars by Tara Zahra, W.W. Norton & Company (DJJS)
Before the First World War, enthusiasm for a borderless world reached its height. International travel, migration, trade, and progressive projects on matters ranging from women’s rights to world peace reached a crescendo. Yet in the same breath, an undercurrent of reaction was growing, one that would surge ahead with the outbreak of war and its aftermath.
In Against the World, a sweeping and ambitious work of history, acclaimed scholar Tara Zahra examines how nationalism, rather than internationalism, came to ensnare world politics in the early twentieth century. The air went out of the globalist balloon with the First World War as quotas were put on immigration and tariffs on trade, not only in the United States but across Europe, where war and disease led to mass societal upheaval. The “Spanish flu” heightened anxieties about porous national boundaries. The global impact of the 1929 economic crash and the Great Depression amplified a quest for food security in Europe and economic autonomy worldwide. Demands for relief from the instability and inequality linked to globalization forged democracies and dictatorships alike, from Gandhi’s India to America’s New Deal and Hitler’s Third Reich. Immigration restrictions, racially constituted notions of citizenship, anti-Semitism, and violent outbursts of hatred of the “other” became the norm—coming to genocidal fruition in the Second World War.
Millions across the political spectrum sought refuge from the imagined and real threats of the global economy in ways strikingly reminiscent of our contemporary political moment: new movements emerged focused on homegrown and local foods, domestically produced clothing and other goods, and back-to-the-land communities. Rich with astonishing detail gleaned from Zahra’s unparalleled archival research in five languages, Against the World is a poignant and thorough exhumation of the popular sources of resistance to globalization. With anti-globalism a major tenet of today’s extremist agendas, Zahra's arrestingly clearsighted and wide-angled account is essential reading to grapple with our divided present.
Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan, Agate Midway (EPP)
Not long after Iliana Regan’s celebrated debut, Burn the Place, became the first food-related title in four decades to become a National Book Award nominee in 2019, her career as a Michelin star–winning chef took a sharp turn north. Long based in Chicago, she and her new wife, Anna, decided to create a culinary destination, the Milkweed Inn, located in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, where much of the food served to their guests would be foraged by Regan herself in the surrounding forest and nearby river. Part fresh challenge, part escape, Regan’s move to the forest was also a return to her rural roots, in an effort to deepen the intimate connection to nature and the land that she’d long expressed as a chef, but experienced most intensely growing up.
On her family’s farm in rural Indiana, Regan was the beloved youngest in a family with three much older sisters. From a very early age, her relationship with her mother and father was shaped by her childhood identification as a boy. Her father treated her like the son he never had, and together they foraged for mushrooms, berries, herbs, and other wild food in the surrounding countryside—especially her grandfather’s nearby farm, where they also fished in its pond and young Iliana explored the accumulated family treasures stored in its dusty barn. Her father would share stories of his own grandmother, Busia, who’d helped run a family inn while growing up in eastern Europe, from which she imported her own wild legends of her native forests, before settling in Gary, Indiana, and opening Jennie’s Café, a restaurant that fed generations of local steelworkers. He also shared with Iliana a steady supply of sharp knives and—as she got older—guns.
Iliana’s mother had family stories as well—not only of her own years marrying young, raising headstrong girls, and cooking at Jennie’s, but also of her father, Wayne, who spent much of his boyhood hunting with the men of his family in the frozen reaches of rural Canada. The stories from this side of Regan’s family are darker, riven with alcoholism and domestic strife too often expressed in the harm, physical and otherwise, perpetrated by men—harm men do to women and families, and harm men do to the entire landscapes they occupy.
As Regan explores the ancient landscape of Michigan’s boreal forest, her stories of the land, its creatures, and its dazzling profusion of plant and vegetable life are interspersed with her and Anna’s efforts to make a home and a business of an inn that’s suddenly, as of their first full season there in 2020, empty of guests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She discovers where the wild blueberry bushes bear tiny fruit, where to gather wood sorrel, and where and when the land’s different mushroom species appear—even as surrounding parcels of land are suddenly and violently decimated by logging crews that obliterate plant life and drive away the area’s birds. Along the way she struggles not only with the threat of COVID, but also with her personal and familial legacies of addiction, violence, fear, and obsession—all while she tries to conceive a child that she and her immune-compromised wife hope to raise in their new home.
With Burn the Place, Regan announced herself as a writer whose extravagant, unconventional talents matched her abilities as a lauded chef. In Fieldwork, she digs even deeper to express the meaning and beauty we seek in the landscapes, and stories, that reveal the forces which inform, shape, and nurture our lives.
The Great Escape: A True Story of Forced Labor and Immigrant Dreams in America by Saket Soni, Algonquin Books (GMC)
An eye-opening, emotional page-turner that exposes our treatment of immigrants and the fallout from globalization, this astonishing story of 500 foreign workers from India lured here under false pretenses and entrapped in near slavery conditions is told by a visionary labor leader who devised a plan that would ultimately win these men citizenship.
In late 2006, Saket Soni, a twenty-eight-year-old Indian-born community organizer, received an anonymous phone call from an Indian migrant worker in Mississippi. He was one of five hundred men trapped in squalid Gulf Coast “man camps,” surrounded by barbed wire, watched by guards, crammed into cold trailers with putrid toilets, forced to eat moldy bread and frozen rice. Recruiters had promised them good jobs and green cards. The men had scraped up $20,000 each for this “opportunity” to rebuild hurricane-wrecked oil rigs, leaving their families in impossible debt. During a series of clandestine meetings, Soni and the workers devised a bold plan. In The Great Escape, Soni traces the workers’ extraordinary escape, their march on foot to Washington, DC, and their twenty-three-day hunger strike to bring attention to their cause. Along the way, ICE agents try to deport the men, company officials work to discredit them, and politicians avert their eyes. But none of this shakes the workers’ determination to win their dignity and keep their promises to their families.
Weaving a deeply personal journey with a riveting tale of twenty-first-century forced labor, Soni takes us into the lives of the immigrant workers the United States increasingly relies on to rebuild after climate disasters. The Great Escape is the gripping story of one of the largest human trafficking cases in modern American history—and the workers’ heroic journey for justice.
Struggle and Mutual Aid: The Age of Worker Solidarity by Nicolas Delalande, Anthony Roberts (Translated by), Other Press (JAG)
In current debates about globalization, open and borderless elites are often set in opposition to the immobile and protectionist working classes. This view obscures a major historical fact: for around a century—from the 1860s to the 1970s—worker movements were at the cutting edge of internationalism.
The creation in London of the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864 was a turning point. What would later be called the “First International” aspired to bring together European and American workers across languages, nationalities, and trades. It was a major undertaking in a context marked by opening borders, moving capital, and exploding inequalities.
In this urgent, engaging work, historian Nicolas Delalande explores how international worker solidarity developed, what it accomplished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and why it collapsed over the past fifty years, to the point of disappearing from our memories.