“Aftermath”, a Polish Film Based on Jan T. Gross’ “Neighbors” Is Released

aftermath_us_poster_1_lgAftermath, a Polish film based on the historical book Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan T. Gross, was recently released in limited showing in the United States, including New York City and Los Angeles (with Boston, Chicago and more to come shortly).

The official website for the film can be found here on Menemsha Films’ website, which includes a short synopsis, a trailer, photos from the film, and reviews. It also has links to locations and showtimes for the film in the United States.

The film was reviewed by The New York Times, which can be found here.

k7018One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half, 1,600 men, women, and children, all but seven of the town’s Jews. Neighbors tells their story.

This is a shocking, brutal story that has never before been told. It is the most important study of Polish-Jewish relations to be published in decades and should become a classic of Holocaust literature.

Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. His investigation reads like a detective story, and its unfolding yields wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. It is a story of surprises: The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne’s Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne’s surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it.

Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne’s Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted, and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbors tells us why.

Regina Grafe Wins the 2013 Gyorgy Ranki Biennial Prize

Regina Grafe – Distant Tyranny: Markets, Power, and Backwardness in Spain, 1650-1800
Winner of the 2013 Gyorgy Ranki Biennial Prize, Economic History Association

The Gyorgy Ranki Biennial Prize is awarded for an “Outstanding Book on the Economic History of Europe,” and includes a $1200 prize.

For more information about the Ranki Prize, click here. For the official list of winners, click here.

Distant TyrannySpain’s development from a premodern society into a modern unified nation-state with an integrated economy was painfully slow and varied widely by region. Economic historians have long argued that high internal transportation costs limited domestic market integration, while at the same time the Castilian capital city of Madrid drew resources from surrounding Spanish regions as it pursued its quest for centralization. According to this view, powerful Madrid thwarted trade over large geographic distances by destroying an integrated network of manufacturing towns in the Spanish interior.

Challenging this long-held view, Regina Grafe argues that decentralization, not a strong and powerful Madrid, is to blame for Spain’s slow march to modernity. Through a groundbreaking analysis of the market for bacalao–dried and salted codfish that was a transatlantic commodity and staple food during this period–Grafe shows how peripheral historic territories and powerful interior towns obstructed Spain’s economic development through jurisdictional obstacles to trade, which exacerbated already high transport costs. She reveals how the early phases of globalization made these regions much more externally focused, and how coastal elites that were engaged in trade outside Spain sought to sustain their positions of power in relation to Madrid.

Distant Tyranny offers a needed reassessment of the haphazard and regionally diverse process of state formation and market integration in early modern Spain, showing how local and regional agency paradoxically led to legitimate governance but economic backwardness.

Regina Grafe is associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

Henry R. Nau Events On November 4th

nau-henryConservative Internationalism: Armed Diplomacy under Jefferson, Polk, Truman and Reagan
featuring author Henry R. Nau

Debates about U.S. foreign policy have revolved around three main traditions – liberal internationalism, realism, and nationalism.  This book delves deeply into a fourth, overlooked foreign policy tradition that he calls “conservative internationalism.”  This approach spreads freedom, like liberal internationalism; arms diplomacy, like realism; and preserves national sovereignty, like nationalism.  It targets a world of limited government or independent “sister republics,” not a world of great power concerts or centralized international institutions.

Conservative Internationalism shows how the United States can effectively sustain global leadership while respecting the constraints of public will and material resources.


Monday, November 4, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.

Hosted by Edwin Meese III

Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, The Heritage Foundation

RSVP online | or call (202) 675-1752

The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium

~  Books will be available for purchase. ~

214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE | Washington, DC 20002 | (202) 546-4400

Plus! Later in the same day at 5:30, Nau will be speaking at the American Enterprise Institute:

5:15 PM

5:30 PM
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Henry Nau, US–Japan–South Korea Legislative Exchange Program

7:00 PM
Adjournment and Reception

To learn more, visit their website here.

Henry R. Nau is professor of political science and international affairs in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. His many books include The Myth of America’s Decline, At Home Abroad, and Perspectives on International Relations.

Financial Times Interview Angus Deaton

Angus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, recently did an interview with John McDermott of Financial Times. Deaton spoke about his book and the past and present of global inequality.

The Festival of Ideas Brochure Is Available!

BFOI_web_logo_URL_900The 2013 Bristol Festival of Ideas aims to stimulate people’s minds and passions with an inspiring programme of discussion and debate throughout the year.

The authumn 2013 brochure can be found in PDF form here. A Princeton University Press author, Martin Ruhs, will be at one of the events to speak about his book, The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration at The New World Economy discussion on November 22nd (see page 7 of the brochure).

The following is a description of the discussion from the brochure:

The idea that the world’s centre of economic gravity is moving to the BRIC nations – Brazil, China, India and Russia – and other economies formerly known as ‘developing’ has become familiar. But what are the implications for the West of this historic shift in economic power, towards the countries with the majority of the world’s population and resources? Equally, what are the challenges and opportunities ahead for the fast-growing economies of Asia and Africa?

 Be sure to check out all of the great speakers and events, and to keep checking back at the Festival of Ideas website for updates and more information.

NYU Book Launch for Author Angus Deaton

 Deaton_Great_author photoThe NYU Development Research Institute presents a book launch: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Featuring author Angus Deaton:

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Economics Department at Princeton

With an introduction from William Easterly

  • Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute
Thursday, October 24, 2013

5pm-6pm: Wine and cheese reception at 44 Washington Mews
6pm-7pm: Talk and Q&A with Angus Deaton across the street at 14A Washington Mews
7pm-7:30pm: Book Signing at 14A Washington Mews

The Great EscapeThe world is a better place than it used to be. People are wealthier and healthier, and live longer lives. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many have left gaping inequalities between people and between nations. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton–one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty–tells the remarkable story of how, starting 250 years ago, some parts of the world began to experience sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today’s hugely unequal world.

“This is a must-read for anybody interested in the wealth and health of nations.”–Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail

Deaton describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts–including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions–that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape.

To go to the event page, click here.

Nobel Prize Winner Robert Shiller on “The World at One”

Shiller_auAs you may have seen on our blog yesterday, Robert J. Shiller, a professor at Yale University, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics along with Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen.

Shiller is the author of several PUP books, including Irrational Exuberance, The New Financial Order, The Subprime Solution, Animal Spirits, co-written with fellow Nobelist George Akerlof, and his most recent book,  Finance and the Good Society, which was published just last year.

Recently, Shiller was interviewed on “The World at One” about his Nobel Prize and about some of his books. The program can be found here and Shiller’s interview starts about 41 minutes in.

We’re sure this is just the first of many interviews for him and the other winners, so stay tuned!

Heather Gerken to Speak on Moyers & Company

The Democracy IndexAs the government shutdown takes off its shoes and makes itself at home, media outlets have been going wild to get the scoop. Heather Gerken, Professor of Law at Yale Law School and author of The Democracy Index: Why Our Election System Is Failing and How to Fix It, is set to appear on Moyers & Company to speak about the shutdown and how the government will be affected by it.

A preview of the show can be found here, and the official description for the show can be found below.

This week, as the government shutdown continues, the Supreme Court began its new term and justices heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The case has been billed as the successor to the court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 that gave corporations, unions, and the wealthy the opportunity to pour vast and often anonymous amounts of cash into political campaigns. The new case challenges caps on how much individual donors can give to candidates and political parties and could raise the amount to more than $3.25 million.

This week on Moyers & Company (check local listings), Bill Moyers talks with Yale Law School election and constitutional law professor Heather Gerken who warns that McCutcheon has the potential to be even worse than Citizens United. Political parties pay attention to the people with money, and as the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation reports, most of the funding for congressional and presidential campaigns comes from the top one percent of the one percent of the rich – “the elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States.”

Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television. Viewers can find local tune-in information on our site. http://billmoyers.com/schedule/

“Fighting for the Speakership” Named One of CHOICE’s Editors’ Picks for 2013

Jeffery A. Jenkins & Charles Stewart III – Fighting for the Speakership: The House and the Rise of Party Government
One of Choice’s Editors’ Picks for 2013

The editors of CHOICE Review Online rave over , saying: “An excellent look at the history of majority party leadership in the House. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”

Fighting for the SpeakershipThe Speaker of the House of Representatives is the most powerful partisan figure in the contemporary U.S. Congress. How this came to be, and how the majority party in the House has made control of the speakership a routine matter, is far from straightforward. Fighting for the Speakership provides a comprehensive history of how Speakers have been elected in the U.S. House since 1789, arguing that the organizational politics of these elections were critical to the construction of mass political parties in America and laid the groundwork for the role they play in setting the agenda of Congress today.

Jeffery Jenkins and Charles Stewart show how the speakership began as a relatively weak office, and how votes for Speaker prior to the Civil War often favored regional interests over party loyalty. While struggle, contention, and deadlock over House organization were common in the antebellum era, such instability vanished with the outbreak of war, as the majority party became an “organizational cartel” capable of controlling with certainty the selection of the Speaker and other key House officers. This organizational cartel has survived Gilded Age partisan strife, Progressive Era challenge, and conservative coalition politics to guide speakership elections through the present day. Fighting for the Speakership reveals how struggles over House organization prior to the Civil War were among the most consequential turning points in American political history.

Jeffery A. Jenkins is associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia. Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Strategy & Business Gives “Mass Flourishing” A Thumbs Up

Mass FlourishingTheodore Kinni of Strategy & Business reviewed Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change this week, saying:

“I…find his values-driven view of national prosperity fascinating—and applicable to corporate and personal prosperity. If innovation and the prosperity it yields stem from the values to which we subscribe as individuals, organizations, and nations, it stands to reason that we should be paying a great deal of attention to the particular values we adopt and espouse.”
― Theodore Kinni, Strategy-Business.com

To check out the full article, click here.
In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper–and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “flourishing”–meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges. These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn’t driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing–a combination of material well-being and the “good life” in a broader sense–was created by this mass innovation.

Yet indigenous innovation and flourishing weakened decades ago. In America, evidence indicates that innovation and job satisfaction have decreased since the late 1960s, while postwar Europe has never recaptured its former dynamism. The reason, Phelps argues, is that the modern values underlying the modern economy are under threat by a resurgence of traditional, corporatist values that put the community and state over the individual. The ultimate fate of modern values is now the most pressing question for the West: will Western nations recommit themselves to modernity, grassroots dynamism, indigenous innovation, and widespread personal fulfillment, or will we go on with a narrowed innovation that limits flourishing to a few?

A book of immense practical and intellectual importance, Mass Flourishing is essential reading for anyone who cares about the sources of prosperity and the future of the West.

Edmund Phelps was the 2006 Nobel Laureate in economics. He is director of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University. His many books include Designing Inclusion, Rewarding Work, and Seven Schools of Macroeconomic Thought.

Joseph Nye Speaks at “How The Light Gets In” Festival

Presidential Leadership“How The Light Gets In” advertises itself as a philosophy and music festival at Hay on Wye. The event just had its fifth year, with over 30,000 people in attendance, many of whom saw and heard Joseph Nye’s talk about his book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, which examines the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America’s rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His books include Soft Power, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Now, check out his speech in the video below:

Q&A with Abdelwahab Meddeb and Benjamin Stora, Editors of “A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations”

A History of Jewish-Muslim RelationsIn an exclusive interview, Abdelwahab Meddeb and Benjamin Stora, editors of A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day, spoke about their experiences with Jewish-Muslim relations, their inspiration for the book, and what they believe will happen in the future.

At its release in November of this year, the book will be the first encyclopedic guide to the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today. It features more than 150 authoritative and accessible articles by an international team of leading experts in history, politics, literature, anthropology, and philosophy. Organized thematically and chronologically, this indispensable reference provides critical facts and balanced context for greater historical understanding and a more informed dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

Abdelwahab Meddeb is professor of comparative literature at the University of Paris-X (Nanterre). His books include Islam and Its Discontents.

Benjamin Stora is University Professor at the University of Paris-XIII (Villetaneuse), where he teaches the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century North Africa and the history of North African immigrants in Europe. His many books include Algeria, 1830-2000: A Short History.

1. Both of you grew up in places where Jewish and Muslim communities lived side by side but, for the most part, kept to themselves. How did your early experiences affect the way you developed this book?

Benjamin Stora: I grew up in Constantine, in the Jewish Quarter. At that time the Jews in Algeria mostly felt French, but their ties to the Muslim communities were real; we shared the same language of everyday life, the Arabic language. Then came the departure of the Jews from Algeria: another exile after the fracture introduced by the Cremieux Decree. I have worked extensively on the history of the Maghreb and on Algeria in particular, and more recently I have become interested in the question of memory among the Jews of Algeria: it is an essential part of my memory and of Algeria’s history. And to inform these memories, the work of the historian is necessary because it puts events in context, it connects them to one another. This project made sense to me because it would bring together European and American historians, but also Muslims and Jews. And it is only in this collective dimension that the history of Jewish-Muslim relations can be written.

Abdelwahab Meddeb: During my childhood in Tunis, in the 1950s, the presence of Jews was part of my story. During my schooling I had many Jewish teachers in nearly all subjects—history, geography, French literature, English, mathematics, physics, the natural sciences. They were our fellow citizens, our elders. They helped us into the modern world as Tunisians. So, with this background, I decided to join this project. Because Jews have virtually disappeared from Arab reality, from the Maghreb, from Tunisia, it was important to revisit the past, to recall the peaceful coexistence with Jews, sharing the same city. It is necessary to remember, to replace imagination with memory, and from that point, history can be written.

2. This project took more than five years to complete–years that coincided with major changes and conflicts in the Middle East. Did current events affect your decisions about the essays and topics the book would include?

Benjamin Stora and Abdelwahab Meddeb: The history of relations between Jews and Muslims is complex. But the editorial committee tried to focus on the long term, not on issues tied solely to current events.
At a time when the relationship is in bad shape, very bad, we cannot ignore these religious conflicts nor their manifestations in political and social history.
Even in medieval times, when the two civilizations coexisted more peacefully, the “protected” legal status (dhimmi) of Jews did not prevent anti-Judaism among Muslims that led to forced conversions or destruction by the sword. This enmity mutated with the rise of Western hegemony that eventually subjugated the Islamic territories. Other forms of ambivalence developed under colonialism and imperialism.
We have situated A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations at the heart of this tragic scene. We wanted to make this an objective, balanced history, which at first seemed impossible. The history contains not only conflicts, but also times of fertile intellectual, cultural, and artistic exchange.

3. The book traces the history of a long and complicated relationship from a global perspective. Why is this shared history important for contemporary readers to understand?

Benjamin Stora:  Making a book today on the history of relations between Jews and Muslims is a true challenge. Despite all the differences, all the apprehension, all the fears that exist between these two communities, one must maintain the link between them.  They have experienced common histories, and despite the clashes, they belong to the same shared universe.
It is a fundamental undertaking, not simply to remember but to engage readers at the civic level, at the political level. Because if you have this deep knowledge of the recent past, then you can envision working together. But if you do not have this conception of a shared past, how can you find common ground on which to build?

4. What are some of the cultural assumptions this book hopes to challenge?

Benjamin Stora: The first articles in the book challenge the idea that Muslims were hostile toward Jews from the outset. Specialists such as Mark Cohen have shown that the attitude of the Prophet of Islam toward the Jews was shaped by pragmatism, not ideology.
In contrast, the idea of an Andalusian golden age in which the two communities lived in perfect harmony has prevailed for a long time: but again, the historian must have the courage to reflect critically on its sources. This book, which ignores neither the bad nor the good, has the humble ambition to provide the results of contemporary research and to offer a common memory, a tool that will facilitate dialogue.

5. What do you think the future holds for Jewish-Muslim relations?

Abdelwahab Meddeb: I agreed to edit this project because I believe in the possibility of future reconciliation, but always also in the irreconcilable. For there is no reconciliation that does not preserve an irreconcilable part. It is a long history that contains the irreconcilable, on both sides, and for compromise to happen we must recognize that the two entities will maintain irreconcilable elements.
I believe in a future reconciliation and I agreed to do this work because I believe its effect remains to be seen:  to work toward a better time in which everyone will regain reason. Without ignoring the negativities and the abominations, this book tells a complex story. The relationship between Jews and Muslims is complex: it has seen the best, it has seen the worst. But I think it is important at least to remember this ambiguity and to show that it does not move in only one direction.  And to hope that, despite the hatred that currently exists between the two communities, a different vision is possible.