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The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a critical feature of the modern international system. It binds the global hegemon to a region on the other side of the planet. And it has facilitated capitalist-led globalization. However, as both the US and and Saudi governments have tried to hide the relationship from their respective citizens, it also has been poorly understood.Victor McFarland, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri, has sorted through the secrecy and head-spinning complexities of the US-Saudi relationship, examining everything from petrodollars to military contracting. His new book, Oil Powers: A History of the US-Saudi Alliance (Columbia University Press) is a testament to that hard work.In Oil Powers, McFarland, traces the history of the US-Saudi alliance across the twentieth century. He shows how the alliance contributed to financialization; how it helped entrench a world order based on oil; and how it tugged both countries rightward in the 1970s, both in economic and foreign policy. As can be surmised from this sample of the book’s arguments, McFarland makes our contemporary moment a lot more comprehensible.Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @DexterFergie.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The title of Harvard historian Alexander Keyssar,’s new book poses the question that comes up every presidential election cycle: Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? (Harvard University Press, 2020). Keyssar presents the reader with a deep, layered, and complex analysis not only of the institution of the Electoral College itself, drawing out how it came about at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but of the many attempts over more than two centuries to reform it or get rid of it. This is an historical subject with keenly contemporary relevance, as we move into the final stretch of the 2020 election cycle, and we consider how the political landscape, party platforms, and the shape of the presidential race all look the way they do because of the Electoral College. Keyssar unpacks the discussions and debates at the Constitutional Convention about how to elect a president, and then dives into the immediate response to the Electoral College as it was implemented in the new system.In going through the history of the Electoral College itself, and the points of contention between the popular vote tallies and the Electoral College results, as well as the many, many attempts to reform or eliminate the Electoral College, Keyssar highlights the two points in American political history when we came closest to doing away with this means of electing the president. The Era of Good Feeling (1815-1825)—when there was really only one functioning party, and the party system itself was in flux as party competition shifted—saw a significant effort to revise the Electoral College and the contingent election system that had been used when no candidate received a majority of the votes and the House of Representatives must designate a winner. Keyssar also maps out the efforts in the 1960s and early 1970s to pass an amendment to the Constitution to replace the Electoral College with direct popular vote. This legislation was filibustered in the Senate by senior Southern Democratic and Dixiecrat senators who saw the disproportional voice that the Electoral College gave to the Southern states—states where the Black vote had been significantly diminished because of regulations and threats that made it extraordinarily difficult and dangerous for African Americans to vote. Keyssar explains that this was known as the “5/5 rule”—in contrast to the 3/5th rule in the Constitution—whereas the southern states were able to count all Black citizens are part of their populations and preclude all of them from voting.Why Do We Still Have The Electoral College also traces the internal shifts within the states as they moved from their initial approach to the distribution of electoral college votes to the establishment of the “unit rule” or “general ticket” that allocates all of a state’s electoral college votes to the winner in that particular state. Not only have there been attempts to amend the Constitution to get rid of the Electoral College, but there is a long history of the efforts to reform or eliminate the general ticket/unit rule. Keyssar brings the reader forward to the contemporary period through a number of different threads as he outlines multiple dimensions of reform attempts and their failure, all while providing the reader with a deep history of debate about the structure and function of the Electoral College. This unique aspect of the American constitutional system also reflects the continuing impact of the role of race in American politics and political institutions. For those interested, curious, or confused, this book is truly a tour de force on the Electoral College.Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The updated paperback edition of Hate: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship (Oxford University Press) dispels misunderstandings plaguing our perennial debates about "hate speech vs. free speech," showing that the First Amendment approach promotes free speech and democracy, equality, and societal harmony.As "hate speech" has no generally accepted definition, we hear many incorrect assumptions that it is either absolutely unprotected or absolutely protected from censorship. Rather, U.S. law allows government to punish hateful or discriminatory speech in specific contexts when it directly causes imminent serious harm.Yet, government may not punish such speech solely because its message is disfavored, disturbing, or vaguely feared to possibly contribute to some future harm. "Hate speech" censorship proponents stress the potential harms such speech might further: discrimination, violence, and psychic injuries. However, there has been little analysis of whether censorship effectively counters the feared injuries.Citing evidence from many countries, this book shows that "hate speech" are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. Therefore, prominent social justice advocates worldwide maintain that the best way to resist hate and promote equality is not censorship, but rather, vigorous "counterspeech" and activism.New York Law School professor Nadine Strossen, the immediate past President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), is a leading expert and frequent speaker/media commentator on constitutional law and civil liberties, who has testified before Congress on multiple occasions.Arya Hariharan is a lawyer in politics. She spends much of her time working on congressional investigations and addressing challenges to the rule of law. You can reach her via email or Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Logic, the study of how certain arguments either succeed or fail to support their conclusions, is one of the most important topics in philosophy, its importance illustrated by the common assumption that if one is being logical, they are probably right. However, the importance of logic has led to a certain amount of misuse and abuse over the years, with questionable arguments being given a veneer of reasonableness to cover up some questionable philosophical mechanics. In a way this is nothing new; since the beginning of philosophy there has been an ongoing tension between true philosophers and sophists. The form this sophistry takes is often a reflection of the particular political and cultural questions that are being debated, and so any attempt to make sense of one’s times and build any sort of popular consensus will require diving into the pseudologic and deconstructing it, hopefully with a better argument in its place.This is the project of Ben Burgis in his book ​Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left (Zero Books, 2019). Both a professor of philosophy and a committed political leftist, Burgis wades through a host of contemporary examples, arguing that the common arguments for capitalism and against socialism often rely on questionable logic that can be debated. On top of this, he argues that the left needs to learn to better integrate logical thinking into its own analysis, and communicate its ideas in ways that not only maintain their rigor, but offer clarity to a wider swathe of people.Ben Burgis is a philosophy instructor at Georgia State University Perimeter College. His writing has appeared in a number of outlets including ​Jacobin​, ​Areo and ​Quillette​. He is a cohost of ​The Dead Pundits Society​ and hosts his own podcast ​Give Them an Argument​. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In her latest book, The Hidden Face of Rights: Toward a Politics of Responsibilities (Yale University Press), Kathryn Sikkink puts forward a framework of rights and responsibilities; moving beyond the language of rights that has come to dominate scholarship and activism, she makes the case that human rights cannot be truly implemented unless we also recognise that there are corresponding obligations to implement those rights.Recognising that talk of responsibility, obligation and duty are often unpopular - because people do not like to be told what they ‘should’ do - Sikkink advocates that we rethink how we conceive of responsibility – it should not be limited to backward-looking blame attribution, but should be expanded to become one of forward-looking responsibility; instead of just asking who is to blame, responsibility should be expanded to ‘what together can we do?’In making this argument, she focuses on five key areas – climate change, voting, digital privacy, freedom of speech, and sexual assault - to demonstrate how responsibility is engaged. She provides many examples of grass-roots initiatives where people can choose to adopt the rights and responsibilities model for collective action.There are fewer more pertinent concerns for our times. Sikkink’s book will make you rethink your own responsibilities, and as a citizen of the world, ‘what together we can do’.Kathryn Sikkink is the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.Jane Richards is a doctoral candidate in Human Rights Law at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include disability, equality, criminal law and civil disobedience. You can find her on twitter @JaneRichardsHK where she avidly follows the Hong Kong’s protests and its politics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Although Latinos are now the largest non-majority group in the United States, existing research on white attitudes toward Latinos has focused almost exclusively on attitudes toward immigration. Ignored Racism: White Animus Toward Latinos (Cambridge University Press) changes that.It argues that such accounts fundamentally underestimate the political power of whites' animus toward Latinos and thus miss how conflict extends well beyond immigration to issues such as voting rights, criminal punishment, policing, and which candidates to support.Providing historical and cultural context and drawing on rich survey and experimental evidence, Mark Ramirez and David Peterson show that Latino racism-ethnicism (LRE) is a coherent belief system about Latinos that is conceptually and empirically distinct from other forms of out-group hostility, and from partisanship and ideology. Moreover, animus toward Latinos has become a powerful force in contemporary American politics, shaping white public opinion in elections and across a number of important issue areas - and resulting in policies that harm Latinos disproportionately.Mark D. Ramirez is Associate Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.David A. M. Peterson is Professor and Whitaker-Lindgren Faculty Fellow in Political Science at Iowa State University.David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics and social movements. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How do we have a serious conversation about race that moves beyond the brevity of Twitter or an op-ed? In this episode of Post-Script (a New Books in Political Science series from Lilly Goren and Susan Liebell), three scholars engage in a nuanced and fearless discussion grounded in history, data, and theory. There is no way to summarize this hour of engaged and enraged conversation about racism in the United States. The scholars present overlapping narratives with regards to racial violence and unequal citizenship – but they also openly challenge each other on first assumptions, definitions, and the contours of racism in the United States.Dr. Davin Phoenix (Associate Professor, Political Science Department, University of California, Irvine ) focuses on anger and black politics as the “politics of bloodshed”– in which all forms of violence are used to destroy the political standing, well-being, and equal citizenship of Black Americans.Dr. Frank B. Wilderson III (professor and chair of the African American Studies Program, University of California, Irvine) thoughtfully challenges the assumption that citizenship can be equal for Black Americans – even with radical reform.Dr. Cristina Beltrán (associate professor and director of graduate studies in the department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU) interrogates whether American ideals rely upon uninterrogated violence and oppression.Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013) and, most recently, “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In 2007, Ecuador joined the Latin American “Pink Tide” by electing a left-wing president, Rafael Correa, who voiced opposition to US imperialism and advocated higher levels of redistribution and social investment. However, shortly after coming to power, Correa came into conflict with members of his own coalition over the future of resource extraction in the country. Should Ecuador try to leverage its mineral wealth and oil fields to promote social welfare and human development, or should the country abandon the extractive model altogether because of its human and environmental costs?Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador (Duke UP, 2020) examines the deeper questions for democratic theory at stake in conflicts over resource extraction. Who are “the people” that have the authority to make decisions about whether the benefits of mining projects exceed the costs, the mining communities or the nation as a whole? How much authority should democratic governments delegate to experts to make decisions with enormous economic and environmental consequences for large groups of people? Using ethnographic and archival methods, Thea Riofrancos delves into the contentious politics of resource extraction, and in the process provides a new perspective on the “resource curse” literature in political science and economics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Despite her nearly two decades as the publisher of the largest newspaper in a politically pivotal state, the role of Nackey Scripps Loeb in American political and media history has been unjustly forgotten. In Political Godmother: Nackey Scripps Loeb and the Newspaper That Shook the Republican Party (Potomac Books, 2020), Meg Heckman describes the ways in which she shaped both journalism in New Hampshire and presidential politics in America. An heiress to the Scripps publishing empire, Nackey enjoyed a childhood that was privileged yet unorthodox After a first marriage ended acrimoniously, she married William Loeb, the right-wing publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader, and together they ran the newspaper from their ranch in Nevada. After the twin tragedies of a crippling car accident and the death of her husband from cancer, Nackey took over the newspaper and maintained both its independence and its stridently conservative voice. As Heckman explains, the newspaper’s location in the state hosting the nation’s first presidential primary gave Nackey an outsized political influence, one which she used to promote conservative Republican presidential candidates, most notable Pat Buchanan in his disruptive primary challenge to President George H. W. Bush in 1992. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Prior to the 1960s, Democrats were seen as having a lock on the South in national and local electoral politics, while Republicans had strengths in other parts of the country. While this was the case for some time, Boris Heersink and Jeffrey A. Jenkins, in their new book,Republican Party Politics and the American South, 1865-1968 (Cambridge University Press, 2020), look a bit more deeply into the role of the Republican Party in the Southern states following the Civil War, and they find some interesting dynamics at play across the next hundred years. Heersink and Jenkins argue that the overly simplified view of the “solid Democratic South” creates an incomplete narrative. Outlining the role of the Republican Party in the former states of the Confederacy, they explain how Southern Republicans had meaningful roles in selecting Republican presidential candidates even if few of those candidates carried any electoral college votes from Southern states.Heersink and Jenkins describe how Southern Republicans, despite their unpopularity in the South, remained nationally important through their regular participation at the Republican national conventions. They explain that Southern delegates made up a sizable portion of the conventions, and candidates often vied for support from these delegates. Southern delegates were so valuable that candidates often turned to corrupt practices, including bribery, to win over these delegates. As a result, many GOP delegates were able to leverage their support for candidates for patronage appointments back home, even if they couldn’t produce broad-based state support for Republican presidential candidates. Heersink and Jenkins created a complex data set that came from census records, delegate rosters, local newspaper articles from the time, and information about patronage appointments. This is a fascinating multi-methods analysis, and they are continuing to expand the analysis to look more closely at these questions of patronage appointments.Additionally, Heersink and Jenkins discuss electoral strategies of the Republican Party over the century that followed the Civil War. They recount the different ways that the GOP, in different states, approached party building and political engagement. This dimension of the research and the book is particularly rich since it dives into how the parties operated at the state level and how the approach of those operations also changed and shifted over time. As Reconstruction ended and as Southern states began to institute laws and regulations that would come to form the Jim Crow era, the various state-level Republican parties (and Democratic Parties) pursued support among voters, especially white voters as Black voters were pushed out of active political participation in the South. This hundred-year span is both nuanced and complex, and Heersink and Jenkins guide the reader through the evolution of the Republican Party, how this paved the way for Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and partisan realignment of the South in the latter part of the 20th century.Adam Liebell-McLean assisted with this podcast.Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Party Decides is the most (only?) meme'd book in the history of political science. It's the one MTV called the biggest loser after the South Carolina primary in 2016. It is also a book of deep research, scholarship, and collaboration.This episode of the Co-Authored podcast focuses on the team of Marty Cohen, David Karol, Hans Noel, and John Zaller. This group came together to write The Party Decides while at UCLA in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The book and other articles by future collaborators, like Kathleen Baun and Seth Masket, has been dubbed the UCLA School of Political Parties. In the episode you'll hear about how this group came together, how they grappled with being bold and being realistic, and how the Nate Silver-effect has changed the course of their careers.The Co-Authored podcast is supported by the American Political Science Association, the John Jay College, and the New Books Network. This episode was produced by Sam Anderson.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Drawing on detailed archival research on the parallel histories of human rights and neoliberalism, in Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism (Verso), Jessica Whyte uncovers the place of human rights in neoliberal attempts to develop a moral framework for a market society.In the wake of the Second World War, neoliberals saw demands for new rights to social welfare and self-determination as threats to “civilisation”. Yet, rather than rejecting rights, they developed a distinctive account of human rights as tools to depoliticise civil society, protect private investments and shape liberal subjects.Jessica Whyte is Scientia Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. She has published widely on human rights, humanitarianism, sovereignty and war. She is author of Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben, (SUNY 2013) and The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism (Verso, 2019) and an editor of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development. More of her research is available here: Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is a visiting researcher at the British Museum and teaches Digital Humanities at University College London. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America.“I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud.“I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that.” – Shirley Chisholm, January 25, 1972, Announcement of Run for the PresidencyWhat is the political and intellectual legacy of Shirley Chisholm? Recent coverage of Chisholm – especially after the announcement of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s choice of Vice-Present – emphasizes ‘trailblazer talk.’ Chisholm’s extraordinary career included being both the first African-American woman elected to the United States congress and the first to run for the U.S. presidency. But emphasizing these “firsts” obscures Shirley Chisholm’s political and intellectual significance. She was a brilliant political strategist who deftly cultivated relationships that allowed her to accomplish her principled and wide-ranging political agenda. Shirley Chisholm said of herself that her achievement was having the "audacity and nerve" to run for the presidency of the United States: "I want history to remember me not as the first black woman to have be elected to the Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the united states, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself." Chisholm spoke and acted forcefully throughout her long career – Her slogan was “unbought and unbossed” – and she defined empowerment in the second half of the 20th century. She is better understood in the context of #BLM and than Kamala Harris.POSTSCRIPT, a new series from New Books in Political Science, invites authors to react to contemporary political developments that engage their scholarship. Dr. Anastasia Curwood and Dr. Zinga A. Fraser – imminent scholars of Shirley Chisholm’s political strategies and ideals – engage in a remarkable dialogue.Shirley Chisholm is often “disremembered” and Drs. Curwood and Fraser emphasize the importance of evaluating her work in the context of the Black Power movement of the 1970s, Black Women’s history, and Black feminism. Chisholm’s feminism was central to both her principles and her practice. She spoke the language of intersectionality – emphasizing the overlapping identities of gender, race, and class – decades before it was a popular term in Critical Race Theory. She had a majority woman staff with a woman as her top legislative aid. Political Science often equates political strategy with masculinity – failing to adequately explore Chisholm’s brilliant strategy of cultivating relationships that allowed her to deftly construct cross-cutting alliances. Her understanding of power was complex. She did not care who got credit and artfully created unlikely coalitions that allowed her to accomplish her political goals – always her priority.Dr. Anastasia Curwood is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and the Director of African-American and Africana Studies in the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Zinga A. Fraser is an Assistant Professor in the Africana Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brooklyn College. In addition to her academic responsibilities she is also the Director of the Shirley Chisholm Project on Brooklyn Women’s Activism at Brooklyn College. Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013) and, most recently, “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jacob Mundy is associate professor of PCON at Colgate University He’s written a great book titled Libya, published in 2018 in Polity Presses' "Hot Spots in Global Politics" series. Jacob’s book is part-history, part-political science to guide readers through the intricate maze of foreign and Libyan actors and institutions that define modern day Libya.Mundy’s book is an accessible account of the complex political, security, and humanitarian crises that have engulfed Libya – Africa’s largest oil-exporting country – since the Arab Spring of 2011. His analysis centers on the roots of the anti-Gaddafi revolution. Mundy identifies new centers of power that coalesced in the wake of the collapse of the Gaddafi regime. The more these rival coalitions vied for political authority and control over Libya’s vast oil wealth, the more they reached out to external actors who were playing their own “great game” in Libya and across the region. In the face of such a multifaceted crisis, Libya’s conflict-free future is uncertain as the international community seems unable to bring peace to this divided and conflict-ridden nation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
James Zogby’s The Tumultuous Decade: Arab Public Opinion and the Upheavals of 2010–2019 (Steuben Press, 2020) takes the reader on a decade-long tour of the Middle East as the region reverberates from popular revolts that toppled long-standing dictators, civil and proxy wars that sparked some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, foreign interventions and seemingly intractable power struggles.It does so through the eyes of ordinary Arabs, Iranians, and Turks rather than the region’s political elites. Zogby’s ability to tease out a sense of public opinion in a part of the world in which freedom of expression and freedom of the media are rare quantities constitutes an important contribution to the literature and understanding of a region that often seems too complex and intricate to easily wrap one’s head around.In a world of autocracy, repression and conflict, polls often offer ordinary citizens a rare opportunity to express an opinion. Zogby demonstrates that autocratic and authoritarian leaders frequently ignore public opinion but track it closely and at times are swayed by what the public thinks and wants. Years of polling also demonstrates that failure to understand public sentiment and/or take it into account produces misinformed and misguided policies not only by rulers in the region but also governments like that of the United States.Zogby’s discussion of Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein illustrates the point. So does his analysis of polling of attitudes over several years in countries that overthrew their leaders during the 2011 popular Arab revolts as well as of perceptions of Iran and Palestinians incapable of wresting themselves from Israeli occupation. Zogby’s book offers a different look at the Middle East, one that offers fresh insights on the basis of citizens’ aspirations rather than what authoritarian and often corrupt elites would like the world to believe.James Zogby is director of Zogby Research Services, a firm that has conducted groundbreaking surveys across the Middle East, and the founder and president of the Washington, DC-based Arab American Institute.James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
History matters in Russia. It really matters, so much so that the state has a "historical policy" to help legitimize itself and support its policy agenda. The Use of History in Putin's Russia (Vernon Press, 2020), James C. Pearce examines how the past is perceived in contemporary Russia and analyses the ways in which the Russian state uses history to create a broad coalition of consensus and forge a new national identity. Central to issues of governance and national identity, the Russian state utilises history for the purpose of state-building and reviving Russia's national consciousness in the twenty-first century.Assessing how history mediates the complex relationship between state and population, this book analyses the selection process of constructing and recycling a preferred historical narrative to create loyal, patriotic citizens, ultimately aiding its modernisation. Different historical spheres of Russian life are analysed in-depth including areas of culture, politics, education, and anniversaries. The past is not just a state matter, a socio-political issue linked to the modernisation process, containing many paradoxes.Daniel Peris is Senior Vice President at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh. Trained as a historian of modern Russia, he is the author most recently of Getting Back to Business: Why Modern Portfolio Theory Fails Investors. You can follow him on Twitter @HistoryInvestor or at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
America's Inequality Trap (University of Chicago Press, 2020) focuses on the relationship between economic inequality and American politics. Nathan J. Kelly, Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, argues that the increasing concentration of economic power effects political power, thus allowing the gap between the rich and everyone else to become more acute and more rigid. The increasing level of inequality, according to Kelly, also tends to be reinforced by public policies. This then creates a self-perpetuating plutocracy because those with more economic resources will have more political power or the capacity to influence those with political power and the kinds of policies that are being made. Thus, we have the theory of the inequality trap.Kelly’s analysis is fairly specific to the United States, since the inequality trap itself combines aspects of the American political system that are rather unique, but he notes that the trip is not exclusive to the U.S., it is part of a “more general phenomenon.” In order to understand this inequality trap, Kelly’s research links politics, policy, and income inequality. He then explores different pathways that contribute to establishing and perpetuating this system, which concentrates more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Each chapter assesses a different pathway: public opinion, elections, inegalitarian policy convergence, and policy stagnation, all of which contribute to economic inequality in the United States and how it operates within the political system. Public opinion and elections center around political attitudes and behavior while inegalitarian policy convergence and policy stagnation focus on policy-making institutions and processes. Each pathway shares the same outcome that they contribute to the inequality trap in which only those who are wealthy benefit from it.In analyzing the effects of high inequality on each of the pathways, Kelly exposes the pattern of political response, or non-response, to the problem of inequality and the role of partisan politics within these dynamics. Kelly also emphasizes that racial bias and economic inequality play a substantial role in political decision making, especially in public opinion and elections. These distinct areas often have some overlap in terms of voter engagement and political behavior and choices and, according to the research, this also helps us understand the outcome in the 2016 presidential election. America’s Inequality Trap concludes with a discussion about economic inequality before the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Both events occurred during times of high economic inequality but there were distinct differences in the political response to that inequality and the economic collapses that followed. Kelly explains how and why the political responses differed, and by comparing the two, he suggests possible strategies for escaping the ongoing inequality trap.Daniella Campos assisted with this podcast.Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When most Westerners think of the Gulf, the first thing that comes to mind is often oil. However, as Adam Hanieh demonstrates in Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East (Cambridge UP, 2018), the economies of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait are about more than just the “black gold.” Conglomerates and state-owned firms from this region have become major players throughout the Middle East and the broader global economies in sectors like agribusiness, finance, real estate, and logistics. In the process, processes of class and state formation in the Gulf have become inextricably tied up with political and economic developments in the broader Middle East, as the valorization of Gulf oil surpluses has come to depend on access to markets for land (both urban and rural) throughout the region. Hanieh analyzes how the Gulf states’ quest for food security in the wake of the food price increases of the late 2000s has affected agrarian class relations in Egypt and other countries, how Gulf capital has contributed to market-led remaking of cities throughout the region, and how Gulf control of Arab state financial reserves has given GCC countries tremendous geopolitical and economic leverage over their neighbors.Furthermore, Hanieh shows that the boundary between public and private interests in the Gulf states is blurred by the close relationships between wealthy private businesses and patrimonial monarchies, and capital accumulation in the region depends on the hyper-exploitation of foreign guest workers, who can easily be deported if they demand higher wages or go on strike. Money, Markets, and Monarchies dispels widespread myths about the political economies of the Gulf while providing a distinct vantage point for exploring the complex geographies of global capitalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
"It used to be," soon-to-be secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright said in 1996, "that the only way a woman could truly make her foreign policy views felt was by marrying a diplomat and then pouring tea on an offending ambassador's lap."This world of US diplomacy excluded women for a variety of misguided reasons: they would let their emotions interfere with the task of diplomacy, they were not up to the deadly risks that could arise overseas, and they would be unable to cultivate the social contacts vital to success in the field. The men of the State Department objected but had to admit women, including the first female ambassadors: Ruth Bryan Owen, Florence "Daisy" Harriman, Perle Mesta, Eugenie Anderson, Clare Boothe Luce, and Frances Willis. These were among the most influential women in US foreign relations in their era.In Breaking Protocol: America's First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964 (University Press of Kentucky, 2020), Philip Nash examines the history of the "Big Six" and how they carved out their rightful place in history. After a chapter capturing the male world of American diplomacy in the early twentieth century, the book devotes one chapter to each of the female ambassadors and delves into a number of topics, including their backgrounds and appointments, the issues they faced while on the job, how they were received by host countries, the complications of protocol, and the press coverage they received, which was paradoxically favorable yet deeply sexist. In an epilogue that also provides an overview of the role of women in modern US diplomacy, Nash reveals how these trailblazers helped pave the way for more gender parity in US foreign relations.Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Rancor reigns in American politics. It is possible these days to regard politics as an arena that enriches and ennobles?Matthew D. Wright responds with a resounding yes in his 2019 book, A Vindication of Politics: On the Common Good and Human Flourishing (UP of Kansas, 2019).Wright takes issue with the instrumentalist view of politics and walks readers through key debates in the field of natural law and the ideas of titans in it, primarily John Finnis and Alasdair MacIntyre but discussing along the way some of their peers such as Robert P. George and Mark Murphy.In the section of the book on the relationship of government and the state to family matters, Wright takes on the notions of Amy Gutmann and Robin West, which allow for a level of interference in the family sphere greater than conservative thinkers could ever conceive of countenancing.Not only are living thinkers addressed but so are such figures as Aristotle, Edmund Burke and Abraham Lincoln.Wright shows us how to conduct ourselves on the basis of civic friendship, another major theme in his book.With Wright’s help, we learn what terms such as “the common good” and “human flourishing” mean in both everyday life and in the field of philosophy. He clarifies what terms such as “political culture,” “political association” and “political community” mean and enables us to grasp what it means to “think institutionally” and what the “moral imagination” is.Wright is hearteningly hopeful and shows that being part of a political community is easier than we think, is character building and is more vital than ever. His book is indeed a vindication of a part of human society, politics, that we cannot escape and which encompasses everything from the workings of the individual family to what love, justice and virtue look like through the lens of politics.Give a listen.Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Why is the scholarship and advocacy work of W.E.B. Du Bois so relevant for 21st century politics? Does his unique combination of both serve as a possible template for today’s freedom movements?Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly (assistant professor of Africana Studies and Political Science at Carleton College and 2020-2021 Visiting Scholar with the Race and Capitalism Project at the University of Chicago) new book in called W.E.B. Du Bois: A Life in American History (ABC-CLIO, 2019). In it, she argues that the application of Du Bois’s ideology, epistemology, and theory to practical action elucidates a road map for struggle against myriad forms of exploitation – and enduring features of his praxis provide lessons for our contemporary understanding and our ability to potential challenging of imperialism and racism.Dr. Burden-Stelly works at the intersection of Critical Theory, Africana Studies, political theory, and political economy – and her analysis of Du Bois’s political and methodological contributions reflect these deep and broad scholarly traditions. She has revised Dr. Gerald Horne’s 2009 book substantively by refocusing on how Du Bois is part of and helps frame black radical history. He should be understood as a “veritable entrepôt of African-American, Pan-African, and radical Black History.” In order to create a book more accessible to those who do not specialize in Du Bois, political thought, or black history, Dr. Burden-Stelly has crafted helpful side-bars that help contextualize Du Bois’s political legacy, included and edited superb excerpts, and created a comprehensive chronology.The most remarkable chapter of the book is “Why W.E.B. Du Bois Matters” in which she presents Du Bois as one of the “greatest activist-scholars in modern history” who took advantage of the best political-intellectual tools of his times – in a life that spanned almost 100 years and included 8 decades of political engagement. Du Bois’s “persistent engagement with the most pressing issues during his lifetime offers a template for scholar-activism that is still instructive today; his combination of ideological acumen and liberatory striving remains relevant to contemporary freedom movements.”The podcast begins with some highlights of the intellectual biography including Dr. Burden-Stelly’s framing of Du Bois as a militant liberal and a militant anti-sexist (personally and professionally) who was able to simultaneously interrogate race, gender, and class. Engaging Du Bois’s work on Reconstruction allows Dr. Burden-Stelly to reveal the extent to which Du Bois should be understood as part of the Black Marxist tradition given that he analyzed the Civil War and beyond as “phases of capitalist exploitation, U.S. imperialism, global white supremacy, and Black labor insurgency.” Likewise, Du Bois shaped modern Pan Africanism such that Burden-Stelly considers him a father of modern Pan Africanism. Throughout all his scholar-activism, Du Bois nurtured deep and nuanced relationship that allowed him to both forge personal bonds and create institutions of enduring importance.The podcast concludes with Dr. Burden-Stelly connecting Du Bois to the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement focusing on political mobilization as a tool of liberation and analyzing the code that is being used to delegitimatize new liberatory projects.Dr. Burden-Stelly is a veteran of the New Books Network and you can hear her earlier interview with me and her co-authors as we discussed Black Political Thought: From David Walker to the Present in June 2020.Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013) and, most recently, “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nearly everyone in the United States is aware of the fiery rhetoric and divisive political stratagems of Donald Trump and the contemporary Republican party. What many people forget, however, is that Trump is not the first Republican to rise to power by pushing incendiary policies and destroying opponents. Julian E. Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University, traces many of these tactics back to Newt Gingrich, the former representative from Georgia and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Zelizer argues that Gingrich’s success with such tactics paved the way for Trump’s rise and his path to power. Burning Down the House examines Gingrich’s ascent within the Republican Party and to the Speakership, and the long-lasting effects of this approach to partisan politics.Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party(Penguin, 2020) follows Gingrich through his controversial political career in the House of Representatives. Originally, he was dismissed by many within the Republican establishment as an angry newcomer who would, with time, mellow. Many of the party elites never suspected that he would transform their party’s approach to politics. His first conquest as a junior member of the House was a takedown of long-standing congressman, Charles Diggs, whose expulsion he called for over alleged ethics violations in the House of Representatives. Gingrich pushed hard for Diggs to be punished, and Diggs was officially censured in 1979. This bold success brought Gingrich attention within the Republican Party, and he continued to hammer away at the Democratic majority with personal accusations and media manipulation that catapulted into the national spotlight. These methods would lead to Gingrich’s famous showdown with the Democratic Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, and Wright’s ultimate resignation from his seat, representing the 12th congressional district in Texas, and the speakership.Zelizer’s deep dive into this historical event highlights how Newt Gingrich fundamentally changed partisan politics, directly attacking political opponents, using the media to his advantage, and doggedly pursuing partisan power instead of legislative outcomes. This template, as he demonstrated the capacity for success, leading the Republicans to their first majority in the House of Representatives since the 1950s, has reshaped the GOP and has pushed a generation of Republican leaders to adopt his approach. Gingrich and his approach to politics has upended the Madisonian ideal of compromise—replacing it with a form of zero-sum partisan battle. And the former Speaker is still involved in politics in many ways, but especially as a media advocate for the GOP and Trump.This podcast was assisted by Benjamin WarrenLilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Over the past six decades, Henry Kissinger has been America's most consistently praised--and reviled--public figure. He was hailed as a "miracle worker" for his peacemaking in the Middle East, pursuit of détente with the Soviet Union, negotiation of an end to the Vietnam War, and secret plan to open the United States to China. He was assailed from the left and from the right for his indifference to human rights, complicity in the pointless sacrifice of American and Vietnamese lives, and reliance on deception and intrigue. Was he a brilliant master strategist--"the 20th century's greatest 19th century statesman"--or a cold-blooded monster who eroded America's moral standing for the sake of self-promotion?In Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography (Hill and Wang, 2020), the renowned diplomatic historian Thomas A. Schwartz  offers an authoritative, and fair-minded, answer to this question. While other biographers have engaged in hagiography or demonology, Schwartz takes a measured view of his subject. He recognizes Kissinger's successes and acknowledges that Kissinger thought seriously and with great insight about the foreign policy issues of his time, while also recognizing his failures, his penchant for backbiting, and his reliance on ingratiating and fawning praise of the president as a source of power. Throughout, Schwartz stresses Kissinger's artful invention of himself as a celebrity diplomat and his domination of the medium of television news. He also notes Kissinger's sensitivity to domestic and partisan politics, complicating--and undermining--the image of the far-seeing statesman who stands above the squabbles of popular strife.Rounded and textured, and rich with new insights into key dilemmas of American power, Henry Kissinger and American Power stands as an essential guide to a man whose legacy is as complex as the last sixty years of US history itself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
States of Justice: The Politics of the International Criminal Court (Cambridge University Press, 2020) theorizes the ways in which states that are presumed to be weaker in the international system use the International Criminal Court (ICC) to advance their security and political interests. Ultimately, the book contends that African states have managed to instrumentally and strategically use the international justice system to their advantage, a theoretical framework that challenges the “justice cascade” argument. The empirical work of this study focuses on four major themes around the intersection of power, states’ interests, and the global governance of atrocity crimes: first, the strategic use of self-referrals to the ICC; second, complementarity between the national and the international justice systems; third, the limits of state cooperation with international courts; and fourth, the use of international courts in domestic political conflicts.Oumar Ba is an assistant professor of political science at Morehouse College. The draft manuscript on which his book was based was the 2019 International Studies Association (ISA) Northeast Scholars’ Circle honoree. In 2020, Opinio Juris hosted a symposium on States of Justice, and Africa is a Country hosted a discussion on race and international relations with Oumar Ba and Samar al-Bulushi.Madina Thiam is a PhD candidate in history at UCLA. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How did the Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns affect other elections in 2016? How did the use of gender stereotypes and insulting references to women in the presidential campaign influence the way House and Senate candidates campaigned?The 2016 American elections forced scholars and candidates to reassess the role that gender plays in elections. In Trumping Politics as Usual: Masculinity, Misogyny, and the 2016 Elections (Oxford UP, 2019), Robert G. Boatright and Valerie Sperling (professors of political science, Clark University) focus on how gender norms are used to frame – both positively and negatively – the people who run for office. The book interrogates gender and sexism in campaigns (the “gender issue”) and what happens when the media, electorate, and candidates expect to have a clear winner and loser(the “loser” issue). Boatright and Sperling distinguish between the top of the ticket and down ballot elections to tell a story about the impact of the 2016 presidential race on competitive congressional races. They demonstrate how Donald Trump’s candidacy radically altered the nature of the congressional campaigns by making competitive races more consequential for both parties and changing the issues of contention – towards sexism and misogyny – in many congressional races.It is unusual to see a collaboration of this kind – a comparativist who specializes in Russian politics and wrote an award winning book on political legitimacy in Russia (Sperling) and an Americanist usually focused on campaign finance reform and congressional redistricting (Boatright). The book is a tribute to how crossing disciplinary boundaries in political science yields a more compelling and nuanced qualitative and quantitative analysis – one that is more relevant to contemporary politics.The podcast was recorded the day after Democrat Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate. Sperling and Boatright discuss how stereotyping has already affected the 2020 race. Their trenchant analysis of the code already being deployed by the Trump campaign against Harris in terms of both gender and race should not be missed.Both authors are veterans of the New Books Network and you can hear their earlier interviews with Heath Brown (Boatright, The Deregulatory Moment?) and Amanda Jeanne Swain (Sperling, Sex, Politics, and Putin).Daniella Campos assisted with this podcast. Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013) and, most recently, “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Podcast Details

Created by
Marshall Poe
Podcast Status
Oct 23rd, 2008
Latest Episode
Sep 17th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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