Europe's crisis takes a bad turn
Italy enters the European debt crisis, and politicians and central bankers begin a long summer of painful negotiations
New Books in East Asian Studies
Michael Keevak, “Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking”
In the course of his concise and clearly written new book Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton University Press, 2011), Michael Keevak investigates the emergence of a “yellow” and “Mongolian” East Asian identity in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Becoming Yellow incorporates a wide range of sources in its exploration of the European imagination of an East Asian racial identity, including poetry, travel accounts, medical and anthropological texts, and children’s toys. Over the course of our interview, we talked about the difficulties and rewards of trying to situate the idea of a “Yellow Peril” in historical context, and the potential pitfalls along the way.
New Books in Military History
Konrad Jarausch, “Reluctant Accomplice: A Wehrmacht Soldier’s Letters from the Eastern Front”
Konrad H. Jarausch, whose varied and important works on German history have been required reading for scholars for several decades, has published Reluctant Accomplice: A Wehrmacht Soldier’s Letters from the Eastern Front (Princeton University Press, 2011), a collection of his father’s missives from Poland and Russia during the early years of the Second World War, now translated into English. As you can imagine, this was an intensely personal project, and one that says almost as much about the postwar generation of “fatherless children” like Jarausch as it reveals about men like his father (also named Konrad) who found themselves in the cauldron of war.
New Books in Human Rights
Aziz Rana, “The Two Faces of American Freedom”
America, wrote the late historian and public intellectual Tony Judt, is “intensely familiar—and completely unknown.” America’s current position as the globe’s single superpower means that almost everyone, from a farmer harvesting his crops in Missouri to a street vendor in Kazakhstan, has a strong an opinion about what America is. For example, in its 2011 “World Report,” Human Rights Watch condemned the unlawful arrest of three Georgian poets who peacefully protested on George W. Bush Street in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, demanding that it be renamed in honor of Walt Whitman. “George W. Bush does not represent what America is. Walt Whitman does,” said one of the protesters, Irakli Kakabadze, after being released from detention. It’s not accidental that Aziz Rana‘s new book, The Two Faces of American Freedom (Harvard University Press, 2010), opens up with an epigraph from Walt Whitman’s “Facing West from California’s Shores.” According to Rana, Whitman’s verse highlights the disjuncture between essential American ideals and the politics the country often pursues today.
New Books in Popular Music
Jim Tuedio and Stan Spector, “The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation”
In a career that spanned three decades the Grateful Dead are rock music’s ultimate jam band. To jam, of course, is to improvise, to engage in “spontaneous, extemporaneous expression.” In The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation (McFarland, 2010), Jim Tuedio, professor of philosophy at California State University-Stanislaus, and Stan Spector, professor of philosophy at Modesto Junior College, collect essays from an eclectic group of writers on just this subject. The thread that binds the twenty-nine essays together is that improvisation in the Grateful Dead world was not limited to the band’s music (though this is where it is most clearly stated). Improvisation also occurred more broadly in the philosophies of the band members, in the band’s business practices, and in the spontaneous behaviors of the band’s loyal following of Deadheads. All these forms of improvisation are addressed in these stimulating essays.
Peter Vos, tekenaar
Volgens kenners was hij de beste tekenaar van Nederland en leefde een leven vol poëzie, literatuur, vriendschap, liefde en kroegpraat. Vijftig jaar na het verschijnen van zijn eerste tekeningen keek Peter Vos daarop terug in een Marathoninterview met Chris Kijne op 11 juli 2003.