Posts filed under ‘History’

Professors: Free Examination Copy Available. The Taste of Ashes by Marci Shore, professor of history at Yale

dcoverInterweaving archival history, scholarly research, personal recollections, and first-person vignettes, Yale historian and professor Marci Shore has written a unique treatise on post-communist Eastern Europe. Drawing on recently opened communist archives, and the memories of colleagues, acquaintances, and family members, Shore gives a platform to former communists and dissidents, Zionists, Stalinists, and their children and grandchildren. Moving across Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, and Moscow, The Taste of Ashes is a scholarly yet personal portrait of events that, even as they recede into history, continue to resonate and reverberate today.

Here is a message from Marci Shore:

I was at an impressionable age when the revolutions came. This is the short answer I often give when asked by Poles or Czechs or Russians why I became interested in their part of the world. In 1989, I was seventeen years old and knew nothing about Eastern Europe. Yet growing up in suburban Pennsylvania, it was impossible not to absorb that we were locked in a struggle with the Evil Empire that might well bring about the end of the world. (more…)

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January 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

Two Colleges Choose Behind the Beautiful Forevers for Fall courses

Behind the Beautiful ForeversThe University of Arkansas’s Department of Journalism and Vassar College’s Sociology Department have chosen Behind the Beautiful Forevers for their fall courses.
From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.

In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.” (more…)

July 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm Leave a comment

A Life of Montaigne in One Question: HOW TO LIVE

978-1-59051-483-2Below is a note from Sarah Bakewell, author of  How to Live, on why she chose to write Montaigne’s new biography:

Why did I write about Montaigne? Mostly because I wanted to keep on reading him.

Ever since my early 20s, when I picked up his Essays by chance, wanting a good book for a long train journey, he never really left me. My first response to his work on that train was one of astonishment. How could someone who wrote in the 1500s sound so familiar, so conversational, so like me? It was like having a friend or a traveling companion sitting opposite me as we whizzed through the landscape. For years after that, Montaigne was never far from my side. And I discovered that practically everything else I read had the power of leading me back to him in some way—for Montaigne is the first truly modern author, the great hidden presence behind 400 years of literature, and indeed behind much of philosophy, politics, and social theory over those centuries.

This is mainly for one simple reason: No one before Montaigne had written so honestly and minutely about the inner world of a human being. He followed every twist and turn of his psyche, believing that every individual is worth writing about at such length, for “each man bears the entire form of the human condition.” But he also paid plenty of attention to the world outside. He was interested in everything; he traveled widely, held offices as magistrate and mayor, ran diplomatic missions for kings and princes, and tried his best to end the religious civil wars that tore apart the France of his day. These experiences led him to a deep fascination with human variety and difference. We share our essential humanity, he knew, but each of us has a radically different cultural, historical, and personal perspective, and that is just as fundamental. (more…)

September 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

University of California, Santa Barbara Picks the Acclaimed Book Apollo’s Angels

Finalist, 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
(winner to be announced March 10th, 2011)

Named one of “The 10 Best Books of 2010” by the editors of the New York Times Book Review

“It has never been done before, what Jennifer Homans has done in Apollo’s Angels. She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet…Homans accomplishment is akin to setting the most delicate and beautiful of all the imperial Faberge eggs into a fissure high on Mount Rushmore and tracking its unlikely survival…Inspired…The story of Balanchine has been told before, and at greater lengths, but never better…An eloquent and lasting elegy to an unlasting art.”—Cover Review, The New York Times Book Review

University of California, Santa Barbara selects Apollo’s Angels for its History of Modern Dance course this winter. (more…)

January 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

Author Rebecca Skloot Shares Inspiration Behind The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The phenomenal story behind a woman named Henrietta Lacks, or better known as HeLa by scientists worldwide, is grabbing the attention of teachers and students alike.

Henrietta was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.

In the following video clip, author Rebecca Skloot shares her inspiration for writing the book and how one woman’s life changed the world and came to be The  Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Author website: www.rebeccaskloot.com

To read an excerpt, click here

To order an examination copy, click here (more…)

January 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

Recommended for Course Adoption: Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, by Two Political Insiders

Professors: Be one of the first to assign Power in Words for your course. Email rhacademic@randomhouse.com to request a free copy. Mention that you saw it at “Make Me Required Reading.”

“In the long sweep of history, readers will be able to refer to this work to better understand and appreciate the power of words of our forty-fourth president of the United States.”–Dana Perino, former White House press secretary

In his foreword, Ted Sorensen, former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, suggests that President Obama’s campaign speeches place him with the oratorical greats, “the first indication that he would rank with Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy.” In Power in Words, political insiders Mary Frances Berry and Josh Gottheimer introduce Obama’s most memorable speeches, from his October 2002 speech against the war in Iraq and his November 2008 election-night victory speech to “A More Perfect Union,” his March 2008 response to the Reverend Wright controversy, and lesser-known but revealing speeches, such as one given in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2006. Berry and Gottheimer include a rich introduction to every speech that features political analysis and provides insight and historical context. Power in Words includes commentary from Jon Favreau, Obama’s chief speechwriter, as well as former presidential speechwriters such as Michael Waldman (Bill Clinton) and Michael Gerson (George W. Bush). (more…)

October 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment

Nothing to Envy Selected for History Course at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

nothing to envy

This is a real place – the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea or North Korea. The Communist regime that has controlled the northern  half of the Korean peninsula since 1945 might be the most totalitarian of modern world  history.

The winner of the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea offers a never-before-seen view of a country and society largely unknown to the rest of the world.

The book is on the course syllabus at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (course name: History: The US and The Far East).  (more…)

October 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

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