Kees Boterbloem, “The Fiction and Reality of Jan Struys: A Seventeenth-Century Dutch Globetrotter” (Palgrave-McMillan, 2008)
When we speak of the “Age of Discovery,” we usually mean the later fifteenth and sixteenth century. You know, Columbus, Magellan and all that. But the “Age of Discovery” continued well into the seventeenth century as Europeans continued to travel… Read More
Simon Morrison, “The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years” (Oxford UP, 2009)
In the Soviet Union, artists lived lives that were at once charmed and cursed. Though relatively poor, the USSR poured resources into the arts. The Party created a large, well-funded cultural elite of which only two things were expected. First,… Read More
Carl Bon Tempo, “Americans at the Gates: The United States and Refugees during the Cold War” (Princeton UP, 2008)
My Midwestern high school was pretty typical. There were freaks, geeks, jocks, drama-types. Some were white. And some were black. All were recognizably “American.” The only unusual thing about Wichita Southeast was the presence of a reasonably large number of… Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews in the Russian Army, 1827-1917” (Cambridge UP, 2008)
Every Jew knows the story. The evil tsarist authorities ride into the Shtetl. They demand a levy of young men for the army. Mothers’ weep. Fathers’ sigh. The community mourns the loss of its young. It’s a good story, and… Read More
Samuel Kassow, “Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive” (Indiana UP, 2007)
Scholars argue about whether the Holocaust was unprecedented. It’s a difficult question. On the one hand, slaughters litter the pages of history. On the other hand, none of them seem quite as calculated, systematic and horribly efficient as the Nazi… Read More
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