History

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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Press release: Philip Smith, Why War

January 20, 2006
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Press release: Philip Smith, Why War

Philip Smith presents the simple theory that we make sense of certain situations, threats, and risks such as war by telling stories: stories about what form of involvement is necessary in conflict, what the outcome might be, who the heroes and villains are. Taking the cases of three broadly comparable conflicts—Suez, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War—Smith exposes the stories told by respective politicians in Washington, London, Paris, and Madrid. Storytelling, he shows, makes it easier to assemble confusing information into comprehensible scenarios…. Read the press release. Read an excerpt on Britain and the war in Iraq. . . .

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