Nicholas Kristof on Lead and Other Dangerous Chemicals

In an op-ed for the New York Times yesterday, Nicholas Kristof shared a story from Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner’s Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children. He recounts the story of Sam, who chewed on lead paint as a baby and suffered permanent brain damage as a result. Kristof compares “the monstrous irresponsibility of companies in the lead industry” chronicled in the book to today’s chemical industry, in which “companies like Exxon Mobil, DuPont, BASF and Dow Chemical… [churn] out endocrine-disruptor chemicals that mimic the body’s hormones.” Read the full op-ed now.

Notes from the Third General Assembly: A Look Back at Occupy’s Origins

Thank You, Anarchy To mark the 2nd anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we’re revisiting the origins of the General Assembly with this excerpt from Nathan Schneider’s Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. The book is an up-close, inside account of OWS’s first year in New York City, written by one of the first reporters to cover the phenomenon. Schneider chronicles the origins and explosive development of the Occupy movement through the eyes of the organizers who tried to give shape to an uprising always just beyond their control. Read an excerpt below, then head over to the book’s webpage to read all of Chapter One.


Some Great Cause

#A99 #Bloombergville #Jan25 #solidarityWI #nycga #OCCUPYWALLSTREET #October2011 #OpESR #OpWallStreet #S17 #SeizeDC #StopTheMach #usdor

Under the tree where the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was founded in 1966, on the south side of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, sixty or so people are gathered in a circle around a yellow banner that reads, in blue spray paint, “GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NYC.” It is Saturday, August 13, 2011, the third of the General Assembly’s evening meetings.

“No cops or reporters,” someone decrees at the start of the meeting. Others demand a ban on photographs.

From where I’m sitting in the back, my hand inches up, and I stand and explain that I am a writer who covers resistance movements. I promise not to take pictures.

Just then, a heavyset man in a tight T-shirt, with patchy dark hair and a beard, starts snapping photos. He is Bob Arihood, a fixture of the neighborhood known for documenting it with his camera and his blog. People shout at him to stop; he shouts back something about the nature of public space. Soon, a few from the group break off to talk things through with him, and the discussion turns back to me.

The interrogation and harrowing debate that follow are less about me, really, than about them. Are they holding a public meeting or a private one? Is a journalist to be regarded as an agent of the state or a potential ally? Can they expect to maintain their anonymity?

After half an hour, at last, I witness an act of consensus: hands rise above heads, fingers wiggle. I can stay. A little later, I see that Arihood and the people who’d gone to confront him are laughing together.

Those present were mainly, but not exclusively, young, and when they spoke, they introduced themselves as students, artists, organizers, teachers. There were a lot of beards and hand-rolled cigarettes, though neither seemed obligatory. On the side of the circle nearest the tree were the facilitators-David Graeber, a noted anthropologist, and Marisa Holmes, a brown-haired, brown-eyed filmmaker in her midtwenties who had spent the summer interviewing revolutionaries in Egypt. Elders, such as a Vietnam vet from Staten Island, were listened to with particular care. It was a common rhetorical tic to address the group as “You beautiful people,” which happened to be not just encouraging but also empirically true.

Several had accents from revolutionary places-Spain, Greece, Latin America-or had been working to create ties among pro-democracy movements in other countries. Vlad Teichberg, leaning against the Hare Krishna Tree and pecking at the keys of a pink laptop, was one of the architects of the Internet video channel Global Revolution. With his Spanish wife, Nikky Schiller, he had been in Madrid during the May 15 movement’s occupation at Puerta del Sol. Alexa O’Brien, a slender woman with blond hair and black-rimmed glasses, covered the Arab Spring for the website WikiLeaks Central and had been collaborating with organizers of the subsequent uprisings in Europe; now, she was trying to foment a movement called US Day of Rage, named after the big days of protest in the Middle East.

That meeting would last five hours, followed by working groups convening in huddles and in nearby bars. I’d never heard young people talking politics quite like this, with so much seriousness, and revelry, and determination. But their unease was also visible when a police car passed, and conversation slowed; a member of the Tactics Committee had pointed out that, since any group of twenty or more in a New York City park needs a permit, we were already breaking the law. […]

Want to read more? We’re holding a book giveaway for Thank You, Anarchy over at Goodreads. Enter now to win one of 5 copies!


Carrying Civil Rights Forward through Scholarship

From Martin Berger’s Freedom Now!. Unidentified photographer, Woman Resisting Arrest, Birmingham, Alabama, April 14, 1963. Courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

It’s been 50 years since the March on Washington, and the issues of racial equality and economic justice are just as vital as ever.

UC Press is proud to contribute to the preservation of Martin Luther King’s legacy by publishing The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., a project of The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. King’s most important correspondence, sermons, publications, speeches, unpublished manuscripts, and other material are reproduced chronologically in these six volumes. The series’ Editor, Clayborne Carson, was interviewed this morning on KQED about his memories of of the march and the gulf between ideals and reality expressed in Dr. King’s speech.

Lucy G. Barber’s Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition explains how using the nation’s capital for public protest went from being outside the political order to a new American political norm. Barber shows how highly visible events like the March on Washington contributed to the development of a broader and more inclusive view of citizenship and transformed the capital from the exclusive domain of politicians and officials into a national stage for Americans to participate directly in national politics.

Photographers shot millions of pictures of the black civil rights struggle between the close of World War II and the early 1970s, yet most Americans today can recall just a handful of images that look remarkably similar. Martin Berger’s Freedom Now! presents a collection of forgotten photographs that illustrate the action, heroism, and strength of black activists in driving social and legislative change.

These are just a few texts in UC Press’s extensive catalog of books on African American History and Race and Class. Dive in for an array of groundbreaking works that will inspire, challenge, and perhaps even galvanize you to work for change.


Replenished Ethnicity Author on Immigration Reform in the L.A. Times

Replenished Ethnicities

Tomás R. Jiménez, author of Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity, recently contributed an op-ed to the L.A. Times on the immigration bill just passed in the Senate whose fate will now be determined by the House of Representatives. Jiménez and co-author Helen B. Marrow argue against claims that Mexicans who immigrate to the U.S. show no interest in assimilating into American culture and will remain a “permanent underclass.”

To the contrary, they say, “Many Mexican immigrants and their children have traveled paths to becoming full Americans that, even if slower, are not unlike the paths followed previously by European immigrants.” Advocating an approach testable by social science data, the authors write:

For Mexicans, who have been immigrating to the United States for a century, the historical moment of arrival and the number of generations removed from the immigrant generation are crucial parts of the story. When accounting for both, the best analyses suggest cautious optimism. Each passing generation of Mexican Americans does better than the one before at making economic gains and progressing toward full integration into U.S. society.

One comprehensive study published in 2008 tracks Mexican Americans’ experiences in the large Mexican centers of Los Angeles and San Antonio, where sociologists Edward Telles and Vilma Ortiz found significant and steady upward educational mobility. On average, first-generation parents completed just 4.1 years school in the 1900s to 1930s. Their second-generation children completed 10 years in the 1930s to 1950s, and their third-generation grandchildren completed 13.1 years of school in the 1950s to 1980s. Later-generation Mexican Americans also narrowed the gaps in educational attainment with non-Latino whites to 1.3 years from 3.4 years.

Read the rest of the op-ed for Jiménez and Marrow’s full arguments, including an analysis of border security.


New UC Press Author Asks: Who Profits From Poverty?

Ananya Roy and her colleagues at the #GlobalPOV Project, an initiative of UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies, have just released a stunning new illustrated video that explores the business of poverty. Roy is the author of Encountering Poverty (forthcoming from UC Press), a path-breaking book that will consolidate a new field of inquiry: global poverty studies.

Watch the video to learn about the surprising ways microfinance companies take advantage of the poor, how society tends to criminalize opportunism and innovation only when it comes from the lower classes, and why Roy is skeptical about the time-worn maxim, “If you teach a man to fish…”. Roy looks at what it takes to build a “pro-poor” economy—one that doesn’t profit off the labor, consumption, and debt of the poor. It’s a complex problem, and this project is a great start.

Follow the #GlobalPOV project on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and its website. And check back in 2015 for the first edition of Encountering Poverty. 


Sheryl Sandberg and Jody Williams: A Study in Contrasts

My Name Is Jody Williams coverWhat do Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams have in common? According to a recent article in Foreign Policy Journal, “two remarkable women have been in the news promoting their books. [Sandberg’s ubiquitous Lean In and Williams’ recent UC Press book, My Name Is Jody Williams] Both women are brilliant, hardworking, dedicated, focused and very accomplished. They have much in common […]”

The similarities end there, however. FPJ argues that Sandberg and Williams “hold opposing philosophical belief systems.” Read the full article to learn about Sandberg and Williams’ divergent paths to success.


When Breast Isn’t Best: Spiked Reviews Bottled Up

Bottled Up coverIn the wake of Mayor Bloomberg’s decision last summer to remove formula samples from the diaper bags given to new mothers in New York City, the breast vs. bottle feeding debate is more contentious than ever.

The Spiked Review of Books recently took up this issue in a review of Suzanne’s Barston’s new book, Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t. Discussing the politics of breastfeeding and several misguided public health strategies used to denigrate bottle-feeding, Nancy McDermott says Bottled Up “should be required reading for all new parents, regardless of how they feed their infant, just because it does such a great job of interrogating the scientism that has come to permeate every child-rearing decision.” Read the full review at Spiked.

Among Murderers: Prisoners Respond to Sabine Heinlein

Among Murderers cover imageSabine Heinlein sent a finished copy of her book, Among Murderers, to Richie, an interviewee serving time at Attica prison. He then passed it around to friends and fellow cellblock-mates. Two of them were so moved by her research on the struggle to navigate life after a murder conviction, they felt compelled to write responses to Heinlein.

Below are excerpts from their letters, which are honest, heartfelt, and at times, conflicted. Read the full letters on Sabine Heinlein’s blog.


Letter #1, from Jason Rodriguez, who is serving 37 years-to-life for murder:

I started questioning the true essence of remorse, rehabilitation, and the whole process of corrections; what society deems fit when they’re looking in from the outside at a bunch of papers, data. If it’s anything remotely close to the little girl who got scared at the Halloween party or the arbitrariness of the parole board, then certainly we are the worst thing we’ve ever done. If they’re like you, having the ability to empathize, then there is still hope. In this regard I share, and am grateful for, your sentiments on page 18, “each man’s story—his needs, desires, risks, failures and moral responsibilities—calls for a highly individualized approach.”


Letter #2, from a prisoner who has served 48 years of his 20-to-life murder sentence and wishes to remain anonymous:

I read until 1:30 AM, then finished your book this morning. It kept my interest. I was thrown off some by chapter 20, The New Home, which for me kind of broke the flow. But that was read at about 1 AM, I was tired and that may have contributed.

I found it very honest and real. Your handling of personality profiles was, as always, excellent. I think it will be an eye opener for those who have the misconception that parole is freedom. I’d like to see it as mandatory reading for all first offenders because they often think “parole is freedom” and are quickly, very negatively struck with profound disappointment when reality smacks or kicks them in the face.

Travelling the 38th Parallel: What’s Happening Now?

38th Parallel coverThree years ago, David and Janet Carle, authors of the new book Traveling the 38th Parallel, embarked on the trip of a lifetime. The former state park rangers from Mono Lake, California journeyed around the world along the 38th parallel in search of water-related environmental and cultural intersections.

We’ve followed their adventures before here on the UC Press blog, and as the book’s publication date nears, we give you this recent dispatch from the authors on a subject that ultimately became a key chapter in the book:

Audit, 1 year after completion of S. Korea’s 4 Rivers Restoration Project

An internal state audit of the 4 Rivers project (reported on January 19, 2013, at, by the Board of Audit and Inspection, found that “16 dams that were the key parts of the restoration project had problems in durability and safety. The report also claimed that ‘unreasonable management’ caused fears over deterioration of water quality. […] The findings suggest that the government rushed to complete the project before President Lee left office, causing breaches in quality control and exposing sign of shoddy construction.” The government disputed the findings, but scheduled its own audit.

Read on for more about the audit’s findings and to see the Carles’ controversial post about the project from 2010.

Visit David and Janet Carles’ blog Parallel Universe to learn about the dedicated individuals working to protect the fragile places along the water line, and to see more images, news, and reviews related to the book.

UC Press Podcast: Sabine Heinlein on Life After a Murder Conviction

Among Murderers cover imageWhat is it like for a convicted murderer who has spent decades behind bars to suddenly find himself released into a world he barely recognizes? What is it like to start over from nothing? To answer these questions Sabine Heinlein followed the everyday lives and emotional struggles of Angel Ramos and his friends Bruce and Adam—three men convicted of some of society’s most heinous crimes—as they return to the free world.

In the latest episode of the UC Press Podcast, Heinlein discusses how she chose Bruce, Angel, and Adam as subjects, the social function of facilities like the Castle (the halfway house profiled in the book), and the three men’s unexpected strategies for coping with life on the outside.

Listen now: