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Recent & Forthcoming Faculty Publications

In addition to teaching, WSU History faculty share new knowledge by publishing widely on a variety of fascinating and important research topics. Three recent books are highlighted here, followed by an impressive list of faculty work published or forthcoming within the past year.

Reign of Arrows

Nikolaus Overtoom, clinical assistant professor, released his new book, Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire in the Hellenistic Middle East, which “reimagines and reconstructs the rise of the Parthians within the hotly contested and dangerously competitive international environment of the Hellenistic world.” From its origins as a minor nomadic tribe to its status as a major world empire, the rise of the Parthian state in the ancient world is nothing short of remarkable. In their early history, the Parthians benefitted from strong leadership, a flexible and accommodating cultural identity, and innovative military characteristics that allowed them to compete against and even overcome Greek, Persian, Central Asian, and eventually Roman rivals.

Reign of Arrows provides the first comprehensive study, in almost a century, dedicated entirely to early Parthian history. Assimilating a wide array of especially recent scholarship across numerous fields of study, Nikolaus Overtoom presents the most cogent, well-rounded, and up-to-date account of the Parthian empire in its wider context of Hellenistic history. It explains the political and military encounters that shaped the international environment of the Hellenistic Middle East from the middle third to the early first centuries BCE. This study combines traditional historical approaches, such as source criticism and the integration of material evidence, with the incorporation of modern international relations theory to better examine the emergence and expansion of Parthian power.

Scholars are excited about the book. University of Maryland professor Arthur Eckstein writes “Overtoom’s study of the rise of the Parthian Empire brings a new perspective to this important development in the history of the Hellenistic Middle East. By emphasizing the changing international-systems elements that led to the expansion of the Arsacid kings, Overtoom allows scholars to develop a more sophisticated view of how this expansion occurred, with less causal emphasis merely on the warlike nature of Parthian society or the personalities of individual rulers—important though these were.” Richard Payne from the University of Chicago praised Overtoom’s new book, saying “A novel, salutary, and stimulating effort to give meaningful order to hitherto confused Parthian political histories. Reign of Arrows restores dynamism to the Parthian Empire, enlivening discussion of its history and enabling its inclusion in the comparative study of ancient empires and the ancient world more generally.”


Double Crossed

In September, professor and department chair Matthew Sutton published Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War (Basic Books). It is the riveting, true story of the Christian missionary spies in World War II.

What makes a good missionary makes a good spy—or so thought “Wild” Bill Donovan when he secretly recruited a team of religious activists for the Office of Strategic Services. They entered into a world of lies, deception, and murder, confident that their nefarious deeds would eventually help them expand the kingdom of God. Sutton tells the extraordinary story of the entwined roles of spy-craft and faith in a world at war. Missionaries, priests, and rabbis, acutely aware of how their actions seemingly conflicted with their spiritual calling, carried out covert operations, bombings, and assassinations within the centers of global religious power, including Mecca, the Vatican, and Palestine. Working for eternal rewards rather than temporal spoils, these loyal secret soldiers proved willing to sacrifice and even to die for Franklin Roosevelt’s crusade for global freedom of religion. Chosen for their intelligence, powers of persuasion, and ability to seamlessly blend into different environments, Donovan’s recruits included people like John Birch, who led guerilla attacks against the Japanese, William Eddy, who laid the groundwork for the Allied invasion of North Africa, and Stewart Herman, who dropped lone-wolf agents into Nazi Germany. After securing victory, those who survived helped establish the CIA, ensuring that religion continued to influence American foreign policy. Surprising and absorbing at every turn, Double Crossed is the untold story of World War II espionage and a profound account of the compromises and doubts that war forces on those who wage it.

The Washington Post called the book “Arresting and informative… Double Crossed is a great read and a fresh, archive-intensive contribution to our understanding of American intelligence during World War II,” and the Times Literary Supplement called it “lively and fascinating… Sutton’s story is filled with moments of derring-do.” Sutton’s research was funded by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.


Itineraries of Expertise

Assistant Professor Andra Chastain celebrated the publication of her co-edited book, Itineraries of Expertise: Science, Technology, and the Environment in Latin America, which contends that experts and expertise played fundamental roles in the Latin American Cold War. While traditional Cold War histories of the region have examined diplomatic, intelligence, and military operations and more recent studies have probed the cultural dimensions of the conflict, the experts who constitute the focus of this volume escaped these categories. Although they often portrayed themselves as removed from politics, their work contributed to the key geopolitical agendas of the day. The paths traveled by the experts in this volume not only traversed Latin America and connected Latin America to the Global North, they also stretch traditional chronologies of the Latin American Cold War to show how local experts in the early 20th century laid the foundation for post–World War II development projects, and how Cold War knowledge of science, technology, and the environment continues to impact our world today. These essays unite environmental history and the history of science and technology to argue for the importance of expertise in the Latin American Cold War.

Co-edited with Timothy Lorek, Itineraries of Expertise has received praise for supplying “outstanding” and “stimulating” collections. Raymond Craib, Professor of History at Cornell University, suggests that “Itineraries of Expertise is a stimulating collection on the making of expertise and the dialectic of knowledge production and application. The breadth of topics combined with state-of-the-field framing essays give it an intellectual heft that traverses multiple historiographies, from the long Cold War and science and technology studies to political ecology and environment. By following itineraries, the authors blur stubborn distinctions between foreign and domestic, finding experts in unexpected places along the way. More than the sum of its parts, this is a volume that sets an intellectual agenda.”

Marcos Cuetos, professor of history at the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, praised Itineraries of Expertise, saying “This collection of papers decenters the study of the relationship between technology, environment and power away from the U.S. and Europe. It examines Latin American scientists, engineers, medical doctors, agronomists and other professional and lay experts who helped to define modernity in their countries, became active participants of larger transnational networks, and sometimes, challenged the imperialistic motivations of superpowers. A sound contribution that intertwines the fields of science and technology studies, Latin American history and environmental history.”


Brecher, William

Co-editor. Defamiliarizing Japan’s Asia-Pacific War. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2019.

“War Games: The Meiji Shrine Games (1924-43) as Civil Religion,” in Beyond the Five Rings: Religion and Sport in Japan, eds. Zachary Smith, Stephen Covell, and Dennis Frost (forthcoming).

Chastain, Andra

Chile Underground: The Santiago Metro and the Struggle for a Rational City. New Haven: Yale University Press (forthcoming).

Rethinking Basic Infrastructure: Urban Development and Metro-Building in Latin America, 1960s-1980s,” special issue of Comparativ, edited by Marc Frey, Sönke Kunkel, and Nancy Kwak (forthcoming).

Faunce, Ken

Global Drug Trade. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Fountain, Steven M.

Horses of Their Own Making: An Equestrian History of Native North America. Seattle: University of Washington Press (forthcoming).

Hanshew, Tracey

Oklahoma Rodeo Women. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2020.

Hatter, Lawrence

“The Limits of American Empire: The Transnational Life of John Askin, 1796-1815.” In Karen Marrero and Andrew Sturtevant, eds. A Place in Common: Telling Stories of Early Detroit. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press (forthcoming).

Heidenreich, Linda

Nepantla2: Excavating Transgender Mestiz@ Histories in Northern California. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press (forthcoming).

“La Sombra y el Sueño: Looking for Queer Hope in Times of Epochal Shift,”. in El Mundo Zurdo 7: Selected Works from the 2015 Meeting of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 2019: 63-78.

Herzog, Shawna R.

Gender, Slavery, and Abolition in the British Straits Settlements 1795 – 1841. London: Bloomsbury (forthcoming).

Nobbs-Thiessen, Ben

Landscape of Migration. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press (forthcoming).

Overtoom, Nikolaus L.

“The Parthians’ Failed Vassalage of Syria: The Shortsighted Western Policy of Phraates II and the Second Reign of Demetrius II (129-125 BCE).” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae (forthcoming).

“Considering the Failures of the Parthians against the Invasions of the Central Asian Tribal Confederations in the 120s BCE.” Studia Iranica 48: 77-111 (2019).

“The Power-Transition Crisis of the 160s-130s BCE and the Formation of the Parthian Empire.” Journal of Ancient History 7.1: 111-55 (2019).

“A Reconsideration of Mithridates II’s Early Reign: A Savior Restores the Eastern Frontier of the Parthian Empire.” Parthica, Incontri di culture nel mondo antico 21: 9-21 (2019).

Peabody, Susan

Les Enfants de Madeleine: Famille, liberté, secrets et mensonges dans les colonies françaises de l’océan Indien. Paris: Karthala, 2019.

Sanders, Jeffrey C.

Razing Kids: Youth, Environment, and the Postwar American West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2020).

“From Bomb to Bone: Children and the Politics of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” in The Politics of Hope: Grassroots Organizing, Environmental Justice, and Social Change, eds. Char Miller and Jeff Crane. Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2019.

“Duwamps: Extreme Makeover Edition,” in Green Contradictions: Urban Cascadia and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice, eds. Nik Janos and Corina McKendry. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020.

Smelyansky, Eugene

The Intolerant Middle Ages: A Reader. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2020.

Heresy and Citizenship: Persecution of Heresy in Late Medieval German Cities. London: Routledge (forthcoming).

Spohnholz, Jesse A.

Big Ideas and Ruptured Lives: Refugee Crises in World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

“Reformed Exiles and the Calvinist International in Reformation-Era Europe: A Reappraisal.” Handbook of Calvin and Calvinism, edited by Bruce Gordon and Carl Trueman. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).

“The Polyphonies of Microhistories: Yair Mintzker and The Many Questions of Historical Perspective.” Central European History, 53, no. 2 (2020).

“Religious Diversity during Europe’s Age of Religious Wars (1550‒1650).” In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religious Diversity, edited by Kevin Schilbrack. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020.

Sutton, Matthew A.

Chosen Land: How Christianity Made America and Americans Remade Christianity. New York: Basic Books (forthcoming).

One Nation, Divisible: A History of the American People, co-author with Kate Carté. Boston: Bedford Books (forthcoming).

“Religious Worldviews” in Cambridge History of America and the World, Vol. 3, 1900-1945, eds. Brooke L. Blower, Andrew Preston, and Mark P. Bradley. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).

“Religion During World War II and the Cold War,” in Understanding and Teaching Religion in American History, edited by Karen Johnson and Jonathan Yeager. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press (forthcoming).

“God’s Spooks: Religion, the CIA, and Church-State Collaboration,” in Beyond the Culture Wars: Recasting Religion and Politics in the Twentieth Century, edited by R. Marie Griffith and Darren Dochuk. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press (forthcoming).

Walsh, Sarah

Mapping South-South Connections: Latin America and Australia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming).

“The Chilean Exception: Racial Homogeneity, Mestizaje and Eugenic Nationalism,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies (2019).

Wang, Xiuyu

“Modern Sino-Tibetan Relations,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. New York, Oxford University Press (forthcoming).

Weller, R. Charles

Mosaic and Sharia Law in American National History and Identity. Leiden: Brill Academic (forthcoming).

Reason, Revelation and Law in Western and Islamic Theory and History, co-editor with Anver Emon. London: Palgrave (forthcoming).

“The Spread of Islam to the Americas via the Transatlantic Slave Trade: Its Civilizational Legacy, Indigenous Encounters and Implications for American National History and Identity.” World History Connected, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Feb 2019).

Wright, Ashley

“Gender, Violence and Justice in Colonial Assam: the Webb case, c. 1884” Journal of Social History, 1-18 (2020).