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The Crucible
An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla
Cruz, Denise
Rutgers University Press, 2010

On December 8, 1941, as the Pacific War reached the Philippines, Yay Panlilio, a Filipina-Irish American, faced a question with no easy answer: How could she contribute to the war?

In this 1950 memoir, The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla, Panlilio narrates her experience as a journalist, triple agent, leader in the Philippine resistance against the Japanese, and lover of the guerrilla general Marcos V. Augustin. From the war-torn streets of Japanese-occupied Manila, to battlegrounds in the countryside, and the rural farmlands of central California, Panlilio blends wry commentary, rigorous journalistic detail, and popular romance.

Weaving together appearances by Douglas MacArthur and Carlos Romulo with dangerous espionage networks, this work provides an insightful perspective on the war. The Crucible invites readers to see new intersections in Filipina/o, Asian American, and American literature studies, and Denise Cruz's introduction imparts key biographical, historical, and cultural contexts to that purpose.


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Crucible of Conflict
Tamil and Muslim Society on the East Coast of Sri Lanka
Dennis B. McGilvray
Duke University Press, 2008
Crucible of Conflict is an ethnographic and historical study of Hindu castes, matrilineal family structure, popular religious traditions, and ethnic conflict. It is also the first full-length ethnography of Sri Lanka’s east coast, an area that suffered heavily in the 2004 tsunami and that is of vital significance to the political future of the island nation. Since the bitter guerrilla war for an independent Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka broke out in 1983, the easternmost region of the island has emerged as a strategic site of conflict. Dennis B. McGilvray argues that any long-term resolution of the ethnic conflict must accommodate this region, in which Sinhalese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus, and Tamil-speaking Muslims are each a significant share of the population.

McGilvray explores the densely populated farming and fishing settlements in this coastal zone, focusing on the Tamil and Muslim inhabitants of an agricultural town in the Ampara District. Drawing on fieldwork conducted over more than thirty years as well as on Tamil and Dutch historical sources, he describes the regional dominance of a non-Brahmin matrilineal caste of thirteenth-century Kerala origin. The Muslims, who acquired dowry lands and matrilineal family patterns through local intermarriages, have in the twentieth century emerged from Hindu caste domination and are now the Tamil Hindus’ political and economic equals. Crucible of Conflict offers a uniquely detailed account of Muslim kinship and community organization in eastern Sri Lanka, as well as a comparison of Tamil and Muslim practices and institutions. McGilvray concludes with an analysis of the interethnic tensions and communal violence that have intensified in recent years.


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The Crucible of Consent
American Child Rearing and the Forging of Liberal Society
James E. Block
Harvard University Press, 2011

A democratic government requires the consent of its citizens. But how is that consent formed? Why should free people submit to any rule? Pursuing this question to its source for the first time, The Crucible of Consent argues that the explanation is to be found in the nursery and the schoolroom. Only in the receptive and less visible realms of childhood and youth could the necessary synthesis of self-direction and integrative social conduct—so contradictory in logic yet so functional in practice—be established without provoking reservation or resistance.

From the early postrevolutionary republic, two liberal child-rearing institutions—the family and schooling—took on a responsibility crucial to the growing nation: to produce the willing and seemingly self-initiated conformability on which the society’s claim of freedom and demand for order depended. Developing the institutional mechanisms for generating early consent required the constant transformation of child-rearing theory and practice over the course of the nineteenth century. By exploring the systematic reframing of relations between generations that resulted, this book offers new insight into the consenting citizenry at the foundation of liberal society, the novel domestic and educational structures that made it possible, and the unprecedented role created for the young in the modern world.


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The Crucible of Desegregation
The Uncertain Search for Educational Equality
R. Shep Melnick
University of Chicago Press, 2023
Examines the patchwork evolution of school desegregation policy.

In 1954, the Supreme Court delivered the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education—establishing the right to attend a desegregated school as a national constitutional right—but the decision contained fundamental ambiguities. The Supreme Court has never offered a clear definition of what desegregation means or laid out a framework for evaluating competing interpretations. In The Crucible of Desegregation, R. Shep Melnick examines the evolution of federal school desegregation policy from 1954 through the termination of desegregation orders in the first decades of the twenty-first century, combining legal analysis with a focus on institutional relations, particularly the interactions between federal judges and administrators. Melnick argues that years of ambiguous, inconsistent, and meandering Court decisions left lower court judges adrift, forced to apply contradictory Supreme Court precedents in a wide variety of highly charged political and educational contexts. As a result, desegregation policy has been a patchwork, with lower court judges playing a crucial role and with little opportunity to analyze what worked and what didn’t. The Crucible of Desegregation reveals persistent patterns and disagreements that continue to roil education policy.

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The Crucible of Experience
R. D. Laing and the Crisis of Psychotherapy
Daniel Burston
Harvard University Press, 2000

One of the great rebels of psychiatry, R. D. Laing challenged prevailing models of madness and the nature and limits of psychiatric authority. In this brief and lucid book, Laing’s widely praised biographer distills the essence of Laing’s vision, which was religious and philosophical as well as psychological.

The Crucible of Experience reveals Laing’s philosophical debts to existentialism and phenomenology in his theories of madness and sanity, family theory and family therapy. Daniel Burston offers the first detailed account of Laing’s practice as a therapist and of his relationships—often contentious—with his friends and sometime disciples. Burston carefully differentiates between Laing and “Laingians,” who were often clearer, more confident, and more simplistic than their teacher.

While he examines Laing’s theories of madness, Burston focuses most provocatively on Laing’s views of sanity and normality and on his recognition, toward the end of his life, of the essential place of holiness in human experience. In a powerful last chapter, Burston shows that Laing foresaw the present commercialization of medicine and asked pointed questions about what the meaning of sanity and the future of psychotherapy in such a world could be. In this, as in other matters, Laing’s questions of a generation ago remain questions for our time.


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The Crucible of Islam
G. W. Bowersock
Harvard University Press, 2017

Little is known about Arabia in the sixth century, yet from this distant time and place emerged a faith and an empire that stretched from the Iberian peninsula to India. Today, Muslims account for nearly a quarter of the global population. A renowned classicist, G. W. Bowersock seeks to illuminate this obscure and dynamic period in the history of Islam—exploring why arid Arabia proved to be such fertile ground for Muhammad’s prophetic message, and why that message spread so quickly to the wider world. The Crucible of Islam offers a compelling explanation of how one of the world’s great religions took shape.

“A remarkable work of scholarship.”
Wall Street Journal

“A little book of explosive originality and penetrating judgment… The joy of reading this account of the background and emergence of early Islam is the knowledge that Bowersock has built it from solid stones… A masterpiece of the historian’s craft.”
—Peter Brown, New York Review of Books


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The Forge and the Crucible
The Origins and Structure of Alchemy
Mircea Eliade
University of Chicago Press, 1979
Primitive man's discovery of the ability to change matter from one state to another brought about a profound change in spiritual behavior. In The Forge and the Crucible, Mircea Eliade follows the ritualistic adventures of these ancient societies, adventures rooted in the people's awareness of an awesome new power.

The new edition of The Forge and the Crucible contains an updated appendix, in which Eliade lists works on Chinese alchemy published in the past few years. He also discusses the importance of alchemy in Newton's scientific evolution.

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Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery
In the Crucible of Public Debate
David Zarefsky
University of Chicago Press, 1990
Winner of the Speech Communication's Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address.
Zarefsky examines the dynamics of the seven 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, placing them in historical context and explaining the complicated issue of slavery in the territories, their focal point. He elucidates the candidates' arguments, analyzes their rhetorical strategies, and shows how public sentiment is transformed.

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Methodists and the Crucible of Race, 1930-1975
Peter C. Murray
University of Missouri Press, 2004
In Methodists and the Crucible of Race, 1930–1975, Peter C. Murray contributes to the history of American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement by examining a national institution—the Methodist Church (after 1968 the United Methodist Church)—and how it dealt with the racial conflict centered in the South. Murray begins his study by tracing American Methodism from its beginnings to the secession of many African Americans from the church and the establishment of separate northern and southern denominations in the nineteenth century. He then details the reconciliation and compromise of many of these segments in 1939 that led to the unification of the church. This compromise created the racially segregated church that Methodists struggled to eliminate over the next thirty years.

During the Civil Rights movement, American churches confronted issues of racism that they had previously ignored. No church experienced this confrontation more sharply than the Methodist Church. When Methodists reunited their northern and southern halves in 1939, their new church constitution created a segregated church structure that posed significant issues for Methodists during the Civil Rights movement.

Of the six jurisdictional conferences that made up the Methodist Church, only one was not based on a geographic region: the Central Jurisdiction, a separate conference for “all Negro annual conferences.” This Jim Crow arrangement humiliated African American Methodists and embarrassed their liberal white allies within the church. The Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision awakened many white Methodists from their complacent belief that the church could conform to the norms of the South without consequences among its national membership.

Murray places the struggle of the Methodist Church within the broader context of the history of race relations in the United States. He shows how the effort to destroy the barriers in the church were mirrored in the work being done by society to end segregation. Immensely readable and free of jargon, Methodists and the Crucible of Race, 1930–1975, will be of interest to a broad audience, including those interested in the Civil Rights movement and American church history.

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Crucible of Cultural Revolution
Katerina Clark
Harvard University Press, 1995

One of the most creative periods of Russian culture and the most energized period of the Revolution coincided in the fateful years 1913–1931. During this time both the Party and the intellectuals of Petersburg strove to transform backward Russia into a nation so advanced it would shine like a beacon for the rest of the world. Yet the end result was the Stalinist culture of the 1930s with its infamous purges.

In this new book, Katerina Clark does not attempt to account for such a devolution by looking at the broad political arena. Rather, she follows the quest of intellectuals through these years to embody the Revolution, a focus that casts new light on the formation of Stalinism. This revisionist work takes issue with many existing cultural histories by resisting the temptation to structure its narrative as a saga of the oppressive regime versus the benighted intellectuals. In contrast, Clark focuses on the complex negotiations between the extraordinary environment of a revolution, the utopian striving of both politicians and intellectuals, the local culture system, and that broader environment, the arena of contemporary European and American culture. In doing so, the author provides a case study in the ecology of cultural revolution, viewed through the prism of Petersburg, which on the eve of the Revolution was one of the cultural capitals of Europe. Petersburg today is in the national imagination of modern Russia, a symbol of Westernization and radical change.


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Race in the Crucible of War
African American Servicemen and the War in Vietnam
Gerald F. Goodwin
University of Massachusetts Press, 2023

When African American servicemen went to fight in the Vietnam War, discrimination and prejudice followed them. Even in a faraway country, their military experiences were shaped by the racial environment of the home front. War is often viewed as a crucible that can transform society, but American race relations proved remarkably durable.  

In Race in the Crucible of War, Gerald F. Goodwin examines how Black servicemen experienced and interpreted racial issues during their time in Vietnam. Drawing on more than fifty new oral interviews and significant archival research, as well as newspapers, periodicals, memoirs, and documentaries, Goodwin reveals that for many African Americans the front line and the home front were two sides of the same coin. Serving during the same period as the civil rights movement and the race riots in Chicago, Detroit, and dozens of other American cities, these men increasingly connected the racism that they encountered in the barracks and on the battlefields with the tensions and violence that were simmering back home.


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Social Science in the Crucible
The American Debate over Objectivity and Purpose, 1918–1941
Mark C. Smith
Duke University Press, 1994
The 1920s and 30s were key decades for the history of American social science. The success of such quantitative disciplines as economics and psychology during World War I forced social scientists to reexamine their methods and practices and to consider recasting their field as a more objective science separated from its historical foundation in social reform. The debate that ensued, fiercely conducted in books, articles, correspondence, and even presidential addresses, made its way into every aspect of social science thought of the period and is the subject of this book.
Mark C. Smith first provides a historical overview of the controversy over the nature and future of the social sciences in early twentieth-century America and, then through a series of intellectual biographies, offers an intensive study of the work and lives of major figures who participated in this debate. Using an extensive range of materials, from published sources to manuscript collections, Smith examines "objectivists"—economist Wesley Mitchell and political scientist Charles Merriam—and the more "purposive thinkers"—historian Charles Beard, sociologist Robert Lynd, and political scientist and neo-Freudian Harold Lasswell. He shows how the debate over objectivity and social purpose was central to their professional and personal lives as well as to an understanding of American social science between the two world wars. These biographies bring to vivid life a contentious moment in American intellectual history and reveal its significance in the shaping of social science in this country.

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Win, Lose, or Draw
Domestic Politics and the Crucible of War
Allan C. Stam III
University of Michigan Press, 1999
While the factors affecting the initiation of war have been extensively studied, the factors that determine the outcome of war have been neglected. Using quantitative data and historical illustrations from the early 1800s to the late 1980s, Allan Stam investigates the relative effect on war outcomes of both the choices leaders must make during war and the resources they have at their disposal. Strategy choices, along with decisions about troop levels and defense spending, are not made in a vacuum, according to Stam, but are made in the crucible of domestic politics. Because of domestic political constraints, states must frequently choose less than optimal strategies in the international arena. Stam shows how we must go beyond simply counting resources and look at the process or strategy by which they are employed as the key factor determining who will win.
Challenging the assumptions of many realist and neorealist thinkers on war and interstate conflict, Stam shows how domestic political factors affect the outcome of war. Using a rational choice analysis, Stam looks at the factors that affect the decisionmakers' preferences for different outcomes of military conflict, as well as how the payoffs of those outcomes are affected by both domestic and structural factors. Structural factors, such as the state's population, define a state's power relative to that of other states and will affect the probability of a policy succeeding. Domestic factors, such as the positions taken by domestic political groups, will affect the preferences of the leaders for particular outcomes and their willingness to bear the costs associated with the payoffs and probabilities of the various outcomes.
This book will be of interest to political scientists studying war and conflict in the international system as well as to historians and military strategists interested in understanding the factors that predict the outcome of war.
Allan Stam is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Yale University.

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