Society’s Books of Note
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Chris Stokel-Walker, YouTubers:How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars. Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, 2019. $30.00. 271 pp.
Two billion people watch YouTube. Yet stars such as KSI and PewDiePie remain a mystery to many. What is the secret of their appeal? How do they cope with being in front of the lens? And who is behind them? Journalist Chris Stokel-Walker explains how YouTube rose from showing a single home video to a multi-billion-dollar site bigger than Facebook. And he reveals whether vlogging will replace normal TV.
This study of contemporary Russians in search of ways to achieve immortality profiles a diverse cast of characters, from the owners of a small cryonics outfit to scientists inaugurating the field of biogerontology, from grassroots neurotech enthusiasts to believers in the Cosmist ideas of the Russian Orthodox thinker Nikolai Fedorov. Bernstein puts their debates and polemics in the context of a long history of immortalist thought in Russia, with global implications that reach to Silicon Valley and beyond.
Tod G. Hamilton, Immigration and the Remaking of Black America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2019. $35.00. 287 pp.
Over the last four decades, immigration from the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa to the U. S. has increased rapidly. In several states, African immigrants are now the primary drivers of growth in the black population. While social scientists and commentators have noted that these black immigrants’ social and economic outcomes often differ from those of their native-born counterparts, few studies have carefully analyzed the mechanisms that produce these disparities. This book shows how immigration is reshaping black America.
Paul Dragos Aligica, Peter J. Boettke, and Vlad Tarko, Public Governance and the Classical-Liberal Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. $74.00. 267 pp.
Classical liberalism entails not only a theory about the scope of government and its relationship with the market but also a distinct view about how government should operate within its proper domain of public choices in non-market settings. Building on the political economy principles underpinning the works of diverse authors such as Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan and Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, the authors argue that individualism, freedom of choice, and freedom of association have deep implications on the design, management and assessment of our public governance.
Elizabeth S. Amato, The Pursuit of Happiness and the American Regime: Political Theory in Literature. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018. $90.00. 189 pp.
The Declaration of Independence claims that individuals need liberty to pursue happiness but provides little guidance on the “what” of happiness. Happiness studies and liberal theory are incomplete guides. Amato argues that American novelists are surer guides on the pursuit of happiness. Treated as political thinkers, her book offers a close reading of four American novelists, Tom Wolfe, Walker Percy, Edith Wharton, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and their critique of the pursuit of happiness.