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UC Davis authors help readers prepare for a general election

September 10, 2012

Three book covers

Books about the education gap, concepts of masculinity in films and organizational bad behavior are topical during this election.

Readers wanting to bone up on politics and policy issues before the November election may want to turn to UC Davis faculty authors for insights. The following titles, all published within the last year, cover topics ranging from political influences in popular movies to the achievement gap in K-12 schools.

“Contemporary Hollywood Masculinities: Gender, Genre and Politics” by Susanne Kord and Elizabeth Krimmer (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, $85, 290 pages): This book traces changing concepts of masculinity in popular Hollywood blockbusters during the Clinton and Bush presidencies against a backdrop of contemporary political events. The authors, who look at more than 60 films (including “The Matrix,” “Lord of the Rings” and “40-Year-Old Virgin”), argue that movies respond directly to the day’s social and political realities -- and are far from mere entertainment. Krimmer is a professor of German, performance studies and cultural studies at UC Davis. Her co-author is a professor at University College of London.

“Narrowing the Achievement Gap: Perspectives and Strategies for Challenging Times” edited by Tom Timar and Julie Maxwell-Jolly (Harvard Education Press; $29.95; 336 pages): This book does not offer any quick fixes, but it lays out promising and realistic measures for helping close the achievement gap that holds back children who are poor, racially isolated or have language challenges. The authors provide thoughtful alternatives to federal policies that have failed to close this gap. Timar is a professor at the UC Davis School of Education and executive director of its Center for Applied Policy in Education. Maxwell-Jolly is a senior researcher and managing director at the center.

“Learning to Liberate: Community-Based Solutions to the Crisis in Urban Education” by Vajra Watson (Routledge, $39.35, 248 pages): Watson, director of research and policy for equity at the UC Davis School of Education, analyzes four nontraditional educators’ tactics and strategies for reaching and teaching students in this book about community-based school reform.

 “Normal Organizational Wrongdoing: A Critical Analysis of Theories of Misconduct in and by Organizations” by Donald Palmer (Oxford University Press, $85, 352 pages): Why good people do bad things has long been an interest of this UC Davis Graduate School of Management professor. Going beyond the headlines for such stories as the mortgage meltdown and energy market manipulations, he makes the case that wrongdoing by managers, seniors officials and employees is common, and often committed by ordinary people whose behavior is unwittingly shaped by the immediate social context. Palmer offers potential explanations of wrongdoing and makes policy suggestions to reduce it.

“Immigration Law and the U.S. Mexico Border” by Kevin R. Johnson (University of Arizona Press, $19.95, 312 pages): Taking on issues central to the national debate on immigration, this book explores the history of discrimination against Mexican Americans, recent crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and key policy questions. Johnson is dean of the UC Davis School of Law and the Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies. The book’s co-author is Valparaiso University School of Law Professor Bernard Trujillo. The book has relevance for anyone interested in the state of border relations. It recently placed first for Best Reference Book in English in the International Latino Book Awards competition.

“Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada” by Drew Halfmann (University of Chicago Press, $35, 336 pages): This book by a UC Davis sociology professor explores abortion as a medical and political issue in Britain, Canada and the U.S. The publisher calls it: “a groundbreaking study of the complex legal and political factors behind the evolution of abortion policy … vital to anyone trying to understand this contentious issue.” The book won the American Sociological Association’s 2012 Charles Tilly Best Book Award, Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements.

“States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of the California Justice System” by Miroslava Chávez-García (University of California Press, $27.95, 314 pages): Chávez-García, a professor of Chicana/o studies at UC Davis, uses California as a case study for examining racism in the treatment of incarcerated young people of color. “States of Delinquency” looks at the experiences of young Mexican Americans, African Americans and other young people of color in California correctional facilities who endured harsh treatment and abuse, including sterilization.

 “Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions” by Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor Jr. (Routledge, $25, 248 pages): Benner, an associate professor of human and community development at UC Davis, and Pastor, a professor of geography and American studies at the University of Southern California, argue that some metropolitan regions achieved improved social equity and economic performance during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Seven case studies are featured. “In certain places, key metropolitan actors — including collaboratives of business, labor, civic and community leaders — have been increasingly clear that a more inclusive economic approach could actually strengthen the social consensus and human capital needed to compete in a global economy,” they write. Benner also serves on the executive committee of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.

“Aquanomics: Water Markets and the Environment” edited by B. Delworth Gardner and Randy T. Simmons (The Independent Institute, $29.95, 456 pages): This book discusses some of the instruments and policies that may be implemented to postpone or avoid the onset of water crises regionally and throughout the world. Three chapters focus on California. Gardner is an emeritus professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis and a long-time water expert. His co-editor is an economics professor at Utah University. 

To keep up with other new books from UC Davis authors, subscribe to the UC Davis Bookstore Buzz, published by UC Davis trade books buyer Paul Takushi (who helped select titles for this list). Send an e-mail to pmtakushi@ucdavis.edu with “buzz subscribe” in the subject heading. Books by UC Davis authors are also on sale at the bookstore in the “Campus Authors,” section or can be ordered through UC Davis Stores. For more information, visit http://ucdavisstores.com/home.aspx.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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