Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages

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Overview

"Territory, Authority, Rights takes up pivotal sources of friction in a process of globalization too often seen as simple and inexorable. With clarity and insight Sassen shows how the meaning of each is reconfigured in contemporary social change. Her work is essential to making sense of practical problems as well as theoretical issues."—Craig Calhoun, Social Science Research Council

"Saskia Sassen is a spectacularly original thinker. She offers us not only new concepts, but often a new vocabulary. Her central insight in Territory, Authority, Rights, that understanding globalization actually requires focusing on the national-or more precisely, the phenomenon of 'denationalization' of many familiar domestic institutions and processes-opens the door to reimagining and retheorizing some of the most fundamental physical and political elements of our world."—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University

"In this brilliant and pioneering work, Saskia Sassen provides a whole new way of thinking about globalization and political development generally. This is a stunning achievement. One of the beauties of the book is its careful historical analysis that puts the globalizing present in the contexts of the past. However, not only is the message important, but also the author's way of illustrating the story in wonderful detail, so we are reading specifics as well as sweeping abstract ideas."—Yale H. Ferguson, Rutgers University, Newark

"Territory, Authority, Rights is a bold new work by the leading scholar of globalization. It will undoubtedly engage the author's many fans, renewing the conversation about globalization that Sassen has shaped in such substantial ways over the past twenty years. But far more than merely bringing her readers up to date with her thinking, the book also represents a major new theorization of globalization. Profoundly multidisciplinary, it will reach new audiences, and in the process redefine the issues, possibilities, and theoretical stakes in globalization. Sassen responds to globalization's critics from both right and left, carving out a distinctive analytical path with critical foundations of its own. The result is persuasive and compelling—a brilliant achievement that will define the research agenda with respect to globalization for years to come."—Alfred Aman, Indiana University School of Law

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Editorial Reviews

International History Review - Richard W. Mansbach
The book is a magisterial work of major theoretical importance and merits the close attention of scholars of global change in general and of globalization in particular. It illustrates the crucial role of historical analysis in making sense of contemporary socio-political phenomena.
Economic Times - Narendar Pani
[Sassen] take[s] a broad view of territory, authority and rights from the middle ages to the era of globalization, to argue that this denationalization is itself influenced by what happened when the nation state was built. She believes the process of globalization is shaped, channeled and enabled by institutions and networks that were originally designed to build the nation state, including the rule of law and respect for private authority. Globalization builds on these institutions and networks and gives them a new direction.
Political Science Quarterly - Paul Kantor
[A] magisterial work of enormous scope and penetrating analysis. . . . [T]his work will stand as the leading exploration of the subject for many years.
Harvard Law Review - Robert Howse
One of Sassen's distinctive strengths is in studying in their full complexity the local sites of globalization, including financial centers like New York and London. . . . Sassen's work clearly reflects an understanding of the end of the globalization debate. She explains in detail how the activists often associated with 'antiglobalization' values or causes have themselves become effective global actors.
Journal of Regional Science - Richard Gioioso
Saskia Sassen's latest book is a significant advance in globalization studies. . . . In sum, the analytics that Sassen lays out provides away to explain and understand and explain transformation through a more complete, and complex, lens. It allows for—indeed, it demands—demands a closer look into the dynamics of change on a local scale.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2007 Robert Jervis and Paul Schroeder Award, International History and Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association

Honorable Mention for the 2006 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Sociology & Social Work, Association of American Publishers

"The book is a magisterial work of major theoretical importance and merits the close attention of scholars of global change in general and of globalization in particular. It illustrates the crucial role of historical analysis in making sense of contemporary socio-political phenomena."—Richard W. Mansbach, International History Review

"[Sassen] take[s] a broad view of territory, authority and rights from the middle ages to the era of globalization, to argue that this denationalization is itself influenced by what happened when the nation state was built. She believes the process of globalization is shaped, channeled and enabled by institutions and networks that were originally designed to build the nation state, including the rule of law and respect for private authority. Globalization builds on these institutions and networks and gives them a new direction."—Narendar Pani, Economic Times

"An erudite and spirited defense of the only approach to public policy that has brought mankind sustained economic growth, widespread alleviation of poverty, and embedded respect for the worth and dignity of the individual."—Economic Affairs

"[A] magisterial work of enormous scope and penetrating analysis. . . . [T]his work will stand as the leading exploration of the subject for many years."—Paul Kantor, Political Science Quarterly

"University of Chicago sociologist Sassen, a leading scholar of globalization, argues convincingly that while much 'denationalization' characterizes globalization, nation building and globalization are not oppositional. . . . This work makes a significant contribution to the globalization literature."—Choice

"One of Sassen's distinctive strengths is in studying in their full complexity the local sites of globalization, including financial centers like New York and London. . . . Sassen's work clearly reflects an understanding of the end of the globalization debate. She explains in detail how the activists often associated with 'antiglobalization' values or causes have themselves become effective global actors."—Robert Howse, Harvard Law Review

"Saskia Sassen's latest book is a significant advance in globalization studies. . . . In sum, the analytics that Sassen lays out provides away to explain and understand and explain transformation through a more complete, and complex, lens. It allows for—indeed, it demands—demands a closer look into the dynamics of change on a local scale."—Richard Gioioso, Journal of Regional Science

International History Review
The book is a magisterial work of major theoretical importance and merits the close attention of scholars of global change in general and of globalization in particular. It illustrates the crucial role of historical analysis in making sense of contemporary socio-political phenomena.
— Richard W. Mansbach
Economic Times
[Sassen] take[s] a broad view of territory, authority and rights from the middle ages to the era of globalization, to argue that this denationalization is itself influenced by what happened when the nation state was built. She believes the process of globalization is shaped, channeled and enabled by institutions and networks that were originally designed to build the nation state, including the rule of law and respect for private authority. Globalization builds on these institutions and networks and gives them a new direction.
— Narendar Pani
Economic Affairs
An erudite and spirited defense of the only approach to public policy that has brought mankind sustained economic growth, widespread alleviation of poverty, and embedded respect for the worth and dignity of the individual.
Political Science Quarterly
[A] magisterial work of enormous scope and penetrating analysis. . . . [T]his work will stand as the leading exploration of the subject for many years.
— Paul Kantor
Choice
University of Chicago sociologist Sassen, a leading scholar of globalization, argues convincingly that while much 'denationalization' characterizes globalization, nation building and globalization are not oppositional. . . . This work makes a significant contribution to the globalization literature.
Harvard Law Review
One of Sassen's distinctive strengths is in studying in their full complexity the local sites of globalization, including financial centers like New York and London. . . . Sassen's work clearly reflects an understanding of the end of the globalization debate. She explains in detail how the activists often associated with 'antiglobalization' values or causes have themselves become effective global actors.
— Robert Howse
Journal of Regional Science
Saskia Sassen's latest book is a significant advance in globalization studies. . . . In sum, the analytics that Sassen lays out provides away to explain and understand and explain transformation through a more complete, and complex, lens. It allows for—indeed, it demands—demands a closer look into the dynamics of change on a local scale.
— Richard Gioioso
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691136455
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Edition description: Updated
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 1,232,712
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Saskia Sassen is professor of sociology and a member of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, and Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of "The Global City" (Princeton), "The Mobility of Labor and Capital", and "Globalization and its Discontents", and coeditor of "Digital Formations" (Princeton). She has written for the "New York Times, Financial Times", and "International Herald Tribune".

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Read an Excerpt

Territory, Authority, Rights

From Medieval to Global Assemblages
By Saskia Sassen

Princeton University Press

Copyright © 2006 Princeton University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-691-09538-8


Introduction

We are living through an epochal transformation, one as yet young but already showing its muscle. We have come to call this transformation globalization, and much attention has been paid to the emerging apparatus of global institutions and dynamics. Yet, if this transformation is indeed epochal, it has to engage the most complex institutional architecture we have ever produced: the national state. Global-level institutions and processes are currently relatively underdeveloped compared to the private and public domains of any reasonably functioning sovereign country. This engagement cannot be reduced, as is common, to the victimhood of national states at the hands of globalization. The national is still the realm where formalization and institutionalization have all reached their highest level of development, though they rarely reach the most enlightened forms we conceive of. Territory, law, economy, security, authority, and membership all have largely been constructed as national in most of the world, albeit rarely with the degree of autonomy posited in national law and international treaties. For today's globalizing dynamics to have the transformative capacities they evince entailsfar deeper imbrications with the national-whether governments, firms, legal systems, or citizens-than prevailing analyses allow us to recognize.

The epochal transformation we call globalization is taking place inside the national to a far larger extent than is usually recognized. It is here that the most complex meanings of the global are being constituted, and the national is also often one of the key enablers and enactors of the emergent global scale. A good part of globalization consists of an enormous variety of micro-processes that begin to denationalize what had been constructed as national-whether policies, capital, political subjectivities, urban spaces, temporal frames, or any other of a variety of dynamics and domains. Sometimes these processes of denationalization allow, enable, or push the construction of new types of global scalings of dynamics and institutions; other times they continue to inhabit the realm of what is still largely national.

These are charged processes, even though they are partial and often highly specialized and obscure. They denationalize what had been constructed as national but do not necessarily make this evident. The institutional and subjective micro-transformations denationalization produces frequently continue to be experienced as national when they in fact entail a significant historical shift in the national. Such transformations often need to be decoded in order to become evident. These instantiations of the global, which are in good part structured inside the national, do not need to run through the supranational or international treaty system. Nor do they need to run through the new types of global domains that have emerged since the 1980s, such as electronic financial markets or global civil society. They include particular and specific components of a broad range of entities, such as the work of national legislatures and judiciaries, the worldwide operations of national firms and markets, political projects of nonstate actors, translocal processes that connect poor households across borders, diasporic networks, and changes in the relationship between citizens and the state. They are mostly particular and specific, not general. They reorient particular components of institutions and specific practices-both public and private-toward global logics and away from historically shaped national logics (including in the latter international operations, which are to be differentiated from current global ones). Understanding the epochal transformation we call globalization must include studying these processes of denationalization.

Much of the writing on globalization has failed to recognize these types of issues and has privileged outcomes that are self-evidently global. Global formations matter, and they are consequential. Yet even global regimes often only become operative, or performative, when they enter the national domain. This entry is predicated on-and in turn further strengthens-particular forms of denationalization. The encounter between national and denationalizing processes is not an innocent event; it has multiple and variable outcomes. There is a sort of invisible history of the many moments and ways in which denationalizing tendencies failed to materialize and succumbed to the powerful currents of the national, still alive and well. In other cases denationalizing processes feed nationalizing dynamics in separate though at times connected domains-for example, the denationalizing of certain components of our economy and the renationalizing in some components of our immigration policy. In brief, there is much more going on than meets the global eye-or than highly recognizable global scalings allow us to understand. The transformation we are living through is a complex architecture with many distinct working elements, only some of which can easily be coded as globalization.

Both self-evidently global and denationalizing dynamics destabilize existing meanings and systems. This raises questions about the future of crucial frameworks through which modern societies, economies, and polities (under the rule of law) have operated: the social contract of liberal states, social democracy as we have come to understand it, modern citizenship, and the formal mechanisms that render some claims legitimate and others illegitimate in liberal democracies. The future of these and other familiar frameworks is rendered dubious by the unbundling, even if very partial, of the basic organizational and normative architectures through which we have operated, especially over the last century. These architectures have held together complex interdependencies between rights and obligations, power and the law, wealth and poverty, allegiance and exit. I will emphasize both negative and positive potentials associated with this destabilizing of existing arrangements.

HISTORICIZING ASSEMBLAGES OF TERRITORY, AUTHORITY, AND RIGHTS

In my reading of the evidence there are two distinct sets of dynamics driving globalization. One of these involves the formation of explicitly global institutions and processes, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), global financial markets, the new cosmopolitanism, and the war crimes tribunals. The practices and organizational forms through which these dynamics operate are constitutive of what is typically thought of as global scales.

But there is a second set of processes that does not necessarily scale at the global level as such, yet, I argue, is part of globalization. These processes take place deep inside territories and institutional domains that have largely been constructed in national terms in much of the world. What makes these processes part of globalization even though they are localized in national, indeed subnational, settings is that they are oriented towards global agendas and systems. They are multisided, transboundary networks and formations which can include normative orders; they connect subnational or "national" processes, institutions and actors, but not necessarily through the formal interstate system. Examples are cross-border networks of activists engaged in specific localized struggles with an explicit or implicit global agenda, for example, human rights and environmental organizations; particular aspects of the work of states, for example, certain monetary and fiscal policies critical for the constitution of global markets now being implemented in a growing number of countries; the use of international human rights instruments in national courts; and noncosmopolitan forms of global politics that remain deeply attached to or focused on localized issues and struggles.

A particular challenge in the work of identifying these types of processes and actors as part of globalization is the need to decode at least some of what continues to be experienced and represented as national. The practices and dynamics listed above are not usually seen within global scalings. When the social sciences focus on globalization it is typically not on these practices and dynamics but rather on the self-evidently global scale. These instances are too often absorbed into conceptual frameworks that equate their location in a national setting with their being national, which obscures their global dimensions.

A key proposition that has long guided my research is that we cannot understand the x-in this case globalization-by confining our study to the characteristics of the x-i.e., global processes and institutions. This type of confinement is a kind of endogeneity trap, one all too common in the social sciences and spectacularly so in the globalization literature. The basic position in that literature is to explain globalization as growing interdependence, the formation of global institutions, and the decline of the national state; the most persuasive organizing fact in these descriptions is the power of transnational corporations (TNCs) to override borders and national governments or of the new telecommunications technologies to compress time and space. These various features of the global amount to a description but not an explanation of globalization.

Avoiding this endogeneity trap is one of the organizing efforts in this book. There are consequences to a type of analytics that posits that an explanation of x needs to be configured in terms of the non-x. For one, it demands a focus on the work that produced the new condition-in this case, globalization. How do we get from non-x to x? But we cannot confine this effort to tracking how a new condition-in this case, globalization-gets constituted. The "new" in history is rarely simply ex nihilum. It is deeply imbricated with the past, notably through path dependence, and, I will argue, through a tipping dynamic that obscures such connections to the past. The new is messier, more conditioned, and with older lineages than the grand new global institutions and globalizing capabilities suggest.

To avoid endogeneity and to historicize both the national and the global as constructed conditions, I have taken three transhistorical components present in almost all societies and examined how they became assembled into different historical formations. These three components are territory, authority, and rights (TAR). They assume specific contents, shapes, and interdependencies in each historical formation. The choice of these three rests partly on their foundational character and partly on the contingency of my fields of knowledge. One could, and I hope someone will, choose additional components or replace one or another of these.

Territory, authority, and rights are complex institutionalizations constituted through specific processes and arising out of struggles and competing interests. They are not simply attributes. They are interdependent, even as they maintain their specificity. Each can, thus, be identified. Specificity is partly conditioned by level of formalization and institutionalization. Across time and space, territory, authority, and rights have been assembled into distinct formations within which they have had variable levels of performance. Further, the types of instruments through which each gets constituted vary, as do the sites where each is in turn embedded-private or public, law or custom, metropolitan or colonial, national or supranational, and so on. Using these three foundational components as analytic pathways into the two distinct assemblages that concern me in this book, the national and the global, helps avoid the endogeneity trap that so affects the globalization literature. Scholars have generally looked at these two complex formations in toto and compared them to capture the differences. Rather than starting with these two complex wholes-the national and the global-I disaggregate each into these three foundational components. They are my starting point. I dislodge them from their particular historically constructed encasements-in this case, the national and the global-and examine their constitution in different historical configurations and their possible shifting across and/or insertions in various institutional domains. This also produces an analytics that can be used by others to examine different countries in the context of globalization or different types of assemblages across time and space.

The dislodging of national capabilities that, I posit, is at work in constituting the global poses particular analytic difficulties. Critical here are the historical assemblage represented by the nation-state and the state-centric interpretation of history that has dominated the social sciences. In the modern state, TAR evolve into what we now can recognize as a centripetal scaling where one scale, the national, aggregates most of what there is to be had in terms of TAR. Though never absolutely, each is constituted as a national domain and, further, exclusively so. Where in the past most territories were subject to multiple systems of rule, the national sovereign gains exclusive authority over a given territory and at the same time this territory is constructed as coterminous with that authority, in principle ensuring a similar dynamic in other nation-states. This in turn gives the sovereign the possibility of functioning as the exclusive grantor of rights. Clearly, then, globalization can be seen as destabilizing this particular scalar assemblage. Much attention has gone to the fact that the nation-state has lost some of its exclusive territorial authority to new global institutions. Now we need to examine in depth the specific, often specialized rearrangements inside this highly formalized and institutionalized national apparatus that enable that shift. It is not simply a question of policy-making. In overlooking such rearrangements it is also easy to overlook how critical components of the global are structured inside the national, producing multiple specialized denationalizations.

Today particular elements of TAR are becoming reassembled into novel global configurations. Therewith, their mutual interactions and interdependencies are altered as are their institutional encasements. These alterations take place both within the nation-state, for example, from public to private, and through shifts to the international and global level. What was bundled up and experienced as a unitary condition-the national assemblage of TAR-now increasingly reveals itself to be a set of distinct elements, with variable capacities for becoming denationalized. The disassembling, even if partial, denaturalizes what has often unwittingly become naturalized-the national constitution of territory, authority, and rights. These three building blocks are my navigators inside the two black boxes that are the national and the global. Each evinces the analytic capability for dissecting these two master categories.

FOUNDATIONAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN AND OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS

At its most abstract, my question is about how to study and theorize foundational transformations in and of complex systems. Complex systems are not made ex nihilum. Critical to the analysis in this book is the possibility that some capabilities can be shifted toward objectives other than the original ones for which they developed. Also critical is that for this shift to happen a foundational reorientation in existing systems must occur. In part 1 of this book, that foundational shift is the constructing of the national in good measure through a repositioning of particular medieval capabilities. In part 2 this foundational reorientation is the construction of the global in good part through the repositioning of particular national capabilities. Part 3 then examines what assemblages might be forming though they may remain as yet barely legible, and what elements of the new organizational logic articulating territory, authority, and rights are getting locked in, thereby precluding other path dependencies.

When it comes to the analytics of historical transitions, knowledge about the dynamics shaping them can help raise the level of complexity through which we examine and understand current transformations. Rather than modeling the past or current periods to isolate a few causal variables, the effort here goes in the opposite direction. Recent scholarship has shown us the multifaceted rather than monocausal character of the earlier historical period that saw the emergence of territorial sovereign states. This is an important correction of the state-centric perspective that continues to dominate our understanding of the rise of territorial states and emerged partly as a function of the formation of national states. The effect has been a sort of capture by the nation-state frame of much of post-sixteenth-century history in the West.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Territory, Authority, Rights by Saskia Sassen Copyright © 2006 by Princeton University Press . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables xi
Acknowledgments xiii

Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Historicizing Assemblages of Territory, Authority, and Rights 3
Foundational Transformations in and of Complex Systems 6
Capabilities 7
Tipping Points 9
Organizing Logics 10
Using History to Develop an Analytics of Change 11
Outline of the Book 18

Part One: Assembling the National 25

Chapter 2: Territory, Authority, and Rights in the Framing of the National 31
Deciphering Medieval Territory, Authority, and Rights 32
Territorializing Authority and Rights 41
The Political Economy of Urban Territoriality 53
The Legal Order 61
Political Cultures of Towns 67
Conclusion: Medieval Capabilities and Their Consequences 71

Chapter 3: Assembling National Political Economies Centered on Imperial Geographies 74
The State as the Critical Actor 76
Constructing a World Scale 82
Constructing National Economies Centered on Imperial Geographies 88
Constructing the Legal Persona of a National Bourgeoisie 96
Constructing the Legality of a Disadvantaged Subject 110
The American State: Making a National Sovereign Out of a Confederation 121
Hypernationalism and Imperialism 132

Part Two: Disassembling the National 141

Chapter 4: The Tipping Point: Toward New Organizing Logics 148
Varieties of Internationalism 149
The Tipping Point 157
Why Was Bretton Woods Not the Tipping Point? 158
The United States: Shaping Systemic Capabilities for the Tipping Point 163
Redistributing Power inside the State 168
The Executive's Privatizing of Its Own Power 179
Reconstructing the Public-Private Divide 184
The Variable Articulations of Private and Public Authority 187
The Rise of Markets and the Law in Reshaping the "Public Interest" 196
Appendix 204
Executive Secrecy and Discretionary Abuses-Bush Administration, 2001-2005 204

Chapter 5: Denationalized State Agendas and Privatized Norm-Making 222
Variable Interpretations of State Power in the Global Economy 224
Denationalized State Agendas 230
Antitrust Policy: From Extraterritoriality to a Global System? 236
International Economic Law: Autonomous from But Inserted in National Law 240
A New Institutional Zone of Privatized Agents 242
The Global Capital Market: Power and Norm-Making 247
Distinguishing Today's Market for Capital 248
Governments and the Global Market for Capital 259
The Partial Disembedding of Specialized State Operations and Nonstate Actors 264
Toward Global Law Systems: Disembedding Law from Its National Encasement 265
Conclusion 269
Appendix 272
Vulture Funds and Sovereign Debt: Examples from Latin America (2004) 272

Chapter 6: Foundational Subjects for Political Membership: Today's Changed Relation to the National State 277
Citizenship and Nationality 281
Debordering and Relocalizing Citizenship 286
Deconstructing Citizenship: A Lens into the Question of Rights 290
The Multiple Interactions between Legality and Recognition 294
Unauthorized Yet Recognized 294
Authorized Yet Unrecognized 296
New Global Classes: Implications for Politics 298
Toward Postnational and Denationalized Citizenship 303
Distinguishing Postnational and Denationalized 305
Toward a Partial Repositioning of Nationality 309
Citizenship in the Global City 314
Conclusion 319

Part Three: Assemblages of a Global Digital Age 323

Chapter 7: Digital Networks, State Authority, and Politics 328
State Authority Confronts Digital Networks 330
Distinguishing Private and Public-Access Digital Space 336
A Politics of Places on Cross-Border Circuits 338
Embedding the Digital 340
Digital/Nondigital Imbrications 344
The Destabilization of Older Hierarchies of Scale 345
Mediating Cultures of Use 347
New Interactions between Capital Fixity and Hypermobility 348
A New Generation of Markets and Instruments 350
Managing Risk in Global Financial Markets 352
The Need for Technical Cultures of Interpretation 355
A Politics of Places on Global Circuits: The Local as Multiscalar 365
Conclusion 375

Chapter 8: Assembling Mixed Spatial and Temporal Orders: Elements for a Theorization 378
Analytic Borderlands: Specificity and Complexity 379
Mixed Spatio-Temporal Assemblages as Types of Territoriality 386
Juxtaposed Temporalities and New Economies 390
Excavating the Temporality of the National 395
Conclusion 397
In Conclusion 399

Chapter 9: Conclusion 401
On Method and Interpretation 404
Territory, Authority, and Rights: National and Global Assemblages 406
From National Borders to Embedded Borderings: Implications for Territorial Authority 415
Toward a Multiplication of Specialized Orders: Assemblages of TAR 420

Bibliography 425
Index 473

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