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Book Beat: November 1998

Recent publications from CLAS faculty.

Impotent Fathers: Patriarchy and Demographic Crisis in the Eighteenth-Century NovelImpotent Fathers: Patriarchy and Demographic Crisis in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

by Brian McCrea, Department of English
(University of Delaware Press, 1998)
Available through the University of Delaware Press

Understanding the novel as both the document and the agent of social change, Impotent Fathers studies how writers in eighteenth-century Britain at once recorded and helped to define a major demographic crisis suffered by the landed elite from 1650 to 1740. To questions about patriarchy, property, and gender in the early novel, it brings recent work on demographics by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population Studies (E. A. Wrigley, R. S. Schofield, Lloyd Bonfield, and others) and by Lawrence F. and Jeanne C. Fawtier Stone. As eighteenth-century families used fictive versions of kinship to save their claims to estates, so novels of the period typically open with the failure of a property owner to provide a legitimate heir. Impotent Fathers proposes that the early novel was an important means for readers and writers to work through anxieties about family, property, and succession created by failures in patrilinear succession.

- Publisher


In tracing the manifestations of demographic crisis in Richardson and in novels by female writers, I will depart most directly from "patriarchal etiology" that underlies much recent feminist criticism. Rather than portraying the patriarch as a powerful figure who either silences or violates the female spirit, Richardson, Lennox, Inchbald, and Burney offer us patriarchs who are absent, impaired or dead. This weakened patriarch creates difficulties for female characters, but difficulties that have less to do with oppression than with the uncertainty created in families by the absence of a commanding father.

Africa Entrepreneurship: Theory and RealityAfrica Entrepreneurship: Theory and Reality

edited by Anita Spring and Barbara McDade, Department of Geography
(University Press of Florida, 1998)
Available through Amazon

Practical and penetrating, this collection explores the varieties of entrepreneurship in Africa - rural and urban, legal and illegal, formal and informal - and considers the vital role of entrepreneurs in the economic development of the continent from Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon to Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa.

- Publisher


This volume contributes to the process of answering questions while at the same time posing additional ones for future consideration, as part of a continuing debate about development. These studies describe and analyze enterprises that vary in size from manufacturing firms with 100 or more employees to handicraft enterprises with one employee. In addition to enterprise or firm size, the continuum of formal and informal sectors and private and public (to a lesser extent) enterprises is considered. In all, these studies show that entrepreneurship is not a missing commodity in Africa.

Robert J. McMahonProblems in American Civilization: The Origins of the Cold War Fourth Edition

Robert J. McMahon, Department of History, and Thomas G. Paterson
(Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

The fourth edition of The Origins of the Cold War has been thoroughly revised to present a balance of classic as well as contemporary scholarly essays that analyze this controversial event in American history. This collection of authoritative but conflicting views allows students of history to interpret and evaluate the issues, participants, and events for themselves.

- Publisher


This book is devoted to explaining the origins of the Cold War. Do not expect a comforting unanimity of opinion or a satisfying synthesis. Even within the two major schools of thought - the traditional and the revisionist - disagreement abounds, although historians have narrowed some of their interpretive differences over time. Much of the debate still centers on one question: Whose fault was the Cold War? Scholars are moving beyond that simple query to examine shared responsibility for the Cold War, the contributing role of nations other than the United States and the Soviet Union, and the nature of the conflict-ridden international system. But the question of blame remains at the forefront of the debate.

Black May: The Epic Story of the Allies' Defeat of the German U-Boats in May 1943Black May: The Epic Story of the Allies' Defeat of the German U-Boats in May 1943

Michael Gannon, Department of History
(Dell, 1998)
Available through Amazon

In addition to receiving a six-page review, Black May was named The Editors' Choice of the History Book Club Review, Midsummer 1998.

Combining scholarship, storytelling and analysis, Gannon (Operation Drumbeat) delivers a compelling, comprehensive account of the turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic in May 1943. Gannon integrates coverage of the North Atlantic convoy battles with the Bay of Biscay offensive simultaneously mounted by RAF Coastal Command. The book's focal point is the epic story of Convoy ONS 5, which included 43 merchantmen (ships used in commerce) and a half dozen escorts. ONS 5 was sailing to Halifax, and most of its ships were in ballast. But cargoes were less important than tonnage for German Admiral Karl Donitz's U-boat wolf packs. Gannon takes readers from the decks of merchantmen to the bridges of warships, to the conning towers of U-boats in a kaleidoscope whose final pattern was as much a function of skill and determination as of weapons systems. Thirteen merchantmen were sunk. But a half-dozen U-boats went down as well, and seven more were so crippled they had to return to base. U-boat captains were like fighter pilots: a relatively small number scored a disproportionate number of victories. By May 1943, many of the original "aces" were dead. Their successors were generally less willing to push attacks against escorts whose crews, techniques and tactics had exponentially improved since 1940. Meanwhile, civilian analysts had developed an operational model indicating that by concentrating on the choke point provided by the Bay of Biscay, RAF Coastal Command would be in a position to paralyze the U-boat offensive. When implemented, the plan's verifiable figures matched the projected numbers. Few men fought better in an evil cause than did the U-boat crews. But, as Gannon shows in his excellent book, none performed better in a good one than those who defeated them. 40 b&w photos.

- Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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