New Books Network

Joyce Tyldesley, “Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt” (Basic Books, 2008)
“Swords and Sandals” movies always amaze me. You know the ones I’m talking about: “Spartacus,” “Ben-Hur,” “Gladiator,” and the rest. These movies are so rich in detail–both narrative and physical–that you feel like you are “there.” But the fact is that we don’t and really can’t know much about “there”... Read More
Howard Jones, “The Bay of Pigs” (Oxford UP, 2008)
There is just something about Fidel Castro that American presidents don’t like very much. Maybe it’s the long-winded anti-American diatribes. Maybe it’s the strident communism (to which he came rather late, truth be told ). Maybe it’s the beard. In any event, it’s clear that Eisenhower, JFK, and Johnson held... Read More
Ian McNeely, “Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet” (Norton, 2008)
We don’t think much about institutions. They just seem to “be there.” But they have a history, as Ian McNeely and Lisa Wolverton show in their important new book Reinventing Knowledge. From Alexandria to the Internet (W.W. Norton, 2008). The book deals specifically with institutions in which knowledge has been... Read More
Heather Prescott, “Student Bodies: The Influence of Student Health Services in American Society and Medicine” (University of Michigan Press, 2007)
When you were in college, did you visit the health center? I did, several times. Did you ever wonder why there was a student health center? I didn’t. It seemed like a part of the college scenery, something that had “always” been there. Far from it, as Heather Prescott shows... Read More
William Beezley, “Mexican National Identity: Memory, Innuendo and Popular Culture” (University of Arizona Press, 2008)
The question of how we come to understand who we are–nationality-wise–is a thorny one. In a widely-read book, Benedict Anderson said we got nationality, inter alia, by reading about it in books. William Beezley‘s got a different, though complementary, thesis regarding Mexicans of the 19th century: they were shown nationality... Read More