History

Review: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London

February 22, 2006
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Review: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London

Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 has received the Longman-History Today Book of the Year 2006 award. History Today Editor Peter Furtado described it as "not a story of persecution, but a lucid, sane and fascinating account of how gay people negotiated space for themselves within a hostile cultural environment, dealing with policing, housing, geography, identity and politics." The current edition of the Times Higher Education Supplement features a review of Queer London by Matt Cook: "A ground-breaking work. While middle-class lives and writing have tended to compel the attention of most historians of homosexuality, Matt Houlbrook has looked more widely and found a rich seam of new evidence. It has allowed him to construct a complex, compelling account of interwar sexualities and to map a new, intimate geography of London.… There is a nostalgia here for a world lost. This brings a rare warmth to the book: Houlbrook has a genuine affection for the men and places he describes. Occasionally his spectacles feel just a little too rose (or lilac) tinted. He is right to suggest that some of our understandings of queer life have narrowed since the war, but I find it . . .

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Cowboys and Presidents

February 20, 2006
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Cowboys and Presidents

What did Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon have in common? They both loved the Wild West. Roosevelt, a native New Yorker, molded himself into a cowboy. In his twenties, he worked as a cattle rancher in the Dakotas. He spent thirteen-hour days in the saddle, breaking in wild cow ponies, and fighting off cattle thieves and roaming gangs. Why did he do this? According to Sarah Watts, author of Rough Rider in the White House: Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of Desire, sensed that ordinary men needed a clearly recognizable and easily appropriated hero who enacted themes about the body; the need for extremity, pain, and sacrifice; and the desire to exclude some men and bond with others. In one seamless cowboy-soldier-statesman-hero life, Roosevelt crafted the cowboy ethos consciously and lived it zealously, providing men an image and a fantasy enlisted in service to the race-nation. Nixon, it turns out, was the type of man who believed in such heroes. Mark Feeney, author of Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief, writes that Nixon screened fifty-six Westerns during his five year tenure in office. Twenty of these Westerns were directed by John Ford. In an interview on . . .

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Eric Muller remembers Executive Order 9066

February 15, 2006
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Eric Muller remembers Executive Order 9066

On February 18, 2006, Eric Muller will be the guest speaker at the Northern California Time of Remembrance program in Sacramento, California. The program recalls Executive Order 9066, which gave the military the authority to remove from their homes more than 110,000 people—American citizens of Japanese ancestry and Japanese aliens—and place them in relocation camps during World War II. E.O. 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Muller is the author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II which tells the amazing story of some of those internees who would refuse to be drafted into that same military that evicted them from their homes. Read an excerpt from the book. Eric Muller blogs at Is That Legal? . . .

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Ancient Graffiti

February 15, 2006
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Ancient Graffiti

Contrary to popular belief, not all ancient cave art was created by senior male shamans. R. Dale Guthrie, author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art, reveals that many graphic scenes of sex and hunting were drawn by teenage male "graffiti artists." In an interview with LiveScience, Guthrie said, "Lots of the wild animals in the caves have spears in them and blood coming out of their mouths and everything that a hunter would be familiar with. These were the Ferraris and football games of their time. They painted what was on their minds." The LiveScience feature on Guthrie, which is accompanied by four cave images, can be read . . .

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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

February 14, 2006
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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

Adekeye Adebajo recently reviewed Andrew Apter’s The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria for the Times Literary Supplement: "Traditional studies of Nigerian foreign policy have often ignored the cultural dimensions of Nigeria’s efforts to play a leadership role in Africa, although Nigeria has historically assigned itself the role—as the largest black nation on earth, comprising one in every five sub-Saharan Africans—of protecting black people globally. The country’s diplomats have, therefore, tried to champion the rights and interests of black people not just in Africa, but, for example, also in Brazil. Andrew Apter fills a gap in the literature by focusing on the spectacular Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), which was hosted by Nigeria in 1977." . . .

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Send a valentine: give a book

February 10, 2006
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Send a valentine: give a book

Since ancient times, the heart has been associated with love and passion, but the familiar heart shape (♥) dates from the Middle Ages. Heart-shaped valentines are actually a special instance of the entwining of books and hearts that Eric Jager examined in The Book of the Heart. When we published his book, Jager wrote a special feature for our website in which he traces the heart-as-book metaphor through history. Read his essay, “Reading the Book of the Heart from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century.” . . .

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Review: Georgi M. Derluguian, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus

February 2, 2006
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Review: Georgi M. Derluguian, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus

The Times Literary Supplement just published this favorable review by Charles King: "Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is, without a doubt, the most engaging and deeply analytical guide to this knotty region to have been produced in the past decade.… Georgi Derluguian tells how much of Eurasia, in only a decade and a half, traded the promise of liberty and democracy for a political and moral captivity that will be difficult to escape. Clever, original and at times downright funny, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is both an intimate biography of an unusual Circassian sociologist and an epic account of an entire generation’s trek through modernity. It uncovers the hidden logic behind the tragedies and horrors of the Caucasus—indeed, of the entire late twentieth-century world—and shows how seemingly senseless acts of violence have discernible, and often rather pedestrian, causes." . . .

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One of the most important books of our time?

January 27, 2006
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One of the most important books of our time?

Why would anyone say this fifty-year-old book is “one of the most important books of our time,” as a customer recently described it on Amazon? They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer has been bubbling through the online zeitgeist for a little while now—most recently it was passed around the social bookmarking sites del.icio.us, reddit, and stumbleupon. Ten years after World War II, Mayer went to Germany and spent a year interviewing ordinary Germans to try to understand how they came to accept—even embrace—fascism. Is there any similarity to our current situation, as liberals and libertarians like to claim by citing Mayer’s book? Decide for yourself. Start with an excerpt. . . .

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Review: Sylvia Lovegren, Fashionable Food

January 25, 2006
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Review: Sylvia Lovegren, Fashionable Food

The Guardian (UK) recently praised Sylvia Lovegren’s Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads. From the review: "The lowdown on every fad imaginable is here, within two covers. That they are mostly American is not a problem. What was good for the US was invariably a showstopper here too. Great recipes (if you can stomach them), grand stories. Amusing." Read an excerpt featuring eight recipes. . . .

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Press release: Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire

January 20, 2006
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Press release: Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire

The British Museum exhibition "Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia" opened recently to the delight of critics and museumgoers alike. Taking full advantage of unprecedented loans from the National Museum of Iran, the Persepolis Museum, and the Louvre, the exhibition provides, in the words of the Guardian, a "first-rate" encounter with another culture. The Daily Telegraph called it "a triumph on many levels." The Persian Empire, Lindsay Allen’s beautifully illustrated companion volume to the exhibition, is also, in its own right, a triumph…. Read the press release. . . .

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