Carolyn Burke, “No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf” (Knopf, 2011)
Edith Piaf’s story is rife with drama. The daughter of an acrobat and a singer, she was the first French superstar and sang with wild abandon in a voice that rivaled Judy Garland’s. And yet, so often Piaf’s high-spirits are… Read More
Andrew Curran, “The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)
We’ve dealt with the question of how racial categories and conceptions evolve on New Books in History before, most notably in our interview with Nell Irving Painter. She told us about the history of “Whiteness.” Today we’ll return to… Read More
Jeffrey H. Jackson, “Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910” (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2010)
In the late 19th century, French sociologist Emile Durkheim warned the world about spreading “normlessness” (anomie). He claimed that modern society, and particularly life in concentrated urban-industrial areas like Paris, left people without the sense of belonging that… Read More
Ruth Harris, “Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century” (Henry Holt, 2010)
If you’re like me (and I hope you aren’t), the “Trial of the Century” involved a washed-up football star, a slowly moving white Bronco, an ill-fitting glove, and charges of racism. I watched every bit of it and remember exactly… Read More
Richard Fogarty, “Race and War in France: Colonial Subjects in the French Army,  1914-1918” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2008)
The thing about empire building is that when you’re done building one, you’ve got to figure out what to do with it. This generally involves the “extraction of resources.” We tend to think of this in terms of things like… Read More
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