Monday, March 26, 2007

The Crescent and the Pen: The Strange Journey of Taslima Nasreen

From the publisher: This is a book about a writer, Islamic fundamentalism, mythmaking, and international literary politics. It is the story of Taslima Nasreen, a former medical doctor and protest writer who shot to international fame in 1993 at the age of thirty-four after she was accused of blasphemy by religious fanatics in Bangladesh and her book Shame was banned. In order to escape a warrant for her arrest, the controversial writer went underground and, as the official story has it, fled to the West where she became a human rights celebrity, a female version of Salman Rushdie. Taslima Nasreen's name almost became a household word in 1994, when she was awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament, and she was feted by presidents, chancellors, mayors, and famous writers and intellectuals around Europe for two years. She is still remembered and widely admired as a modern-day feminist icon who fought the bearded fundamentalists in her own country and whose life was in danger. This is the official story that most people are familiar with, and the one that is widely believed by Taslima supporters around the world. However, as The Crescent and the Pen reveals, in the style of a literary detective tale, the true story behind the international campaign to save Taslima has bever been told until now. Following on the trail of Taslima, Deen questions the reasoning behind the international "crusade" to save her, in the process debunking much of the current thinking that has shaped Islam into the new global enemy. She discovers that the story of what really happened to Taslima is a fascinating labyrinth where memory and myth have merged, the tale having acquired a life of its own with a hundred different authors.
About the author:
HANIFA DEEN is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Muslim Minorities at Monash University. An award-winning Australian author of Pakistani-Muslim ancestry who writes narrative nonfiction and lives in Melbourne, Deen has held a number of high-profile positions in a career spanning twenty-three years in human rights, ethnic affairs, and immigration, including: Hearing Commissioner with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Global Issues

Book Description from publisher: This Fourth Edition of TAKING SIDES: CLASHING VIEWS ON GLOBAL ISSUES presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript.

Impossible to Hold: Women and Culture in The 1960s

Book description from publisher: With Jackie in a pill-box hat and Marilyn crooning to the president, the 1960s opened with women hovering at the fringes of the public imagination—and ended with a feminist movement that outpaced anything NASA could concoct. A compelling story, but did it really happen that way? Yes and no, argue Lauri Umansky and Avital Bloch, editors of Impossible to Hold.
Unlike many accounts of the era, which ironically tend toward the pigeonhole, Impossible to Hold revels in the complexities of female identity and American culture. The collection's sixteen original essays move beyond conventional discussions of hippie chicks and Weatherwomen to examine the diverse lives of women who helped to shape religion, sports, literature, and music, among other aspects of the cultural hodgepodge known as the sixties.
From familiar names like Yoko Ono, Diana Ross, and Billie Jean King to lesser-known figures like Anita Caspary and Barbara Deming, the women revealed in Impossible to Hold represent a variety of points on the celebrity and feminist spectrums. The book traces women who sought to break into "male" fields, women whose personae and work link the radical sixties to earlier cultural traditions, and those who consciously confronted power structures and demanded change. Separately and together, their cultural work informed the sixties and their biographies offer a lucid and complex picture of that proverbial "long decade."
About the Authors:
Avital H. Bloch is research professor at the Center for Social Research, University of Colima, Mexico. and author of Politics, Political Thought, and Historiography in the Contemporary United States. Lauri Umansky is professor of history at Suffolk University.

High-Profile Crimes: When Legal Cases Become Social Causes

Book Description from publisher: O. J. Simpson. The Central Park jogger. Bensonhurst. William Kennedy Smith. Rodney King. These are more than crimes and criminals, more than court cases. They are cultural events that, for better or worse, gave concrete expression to latent social conflicts in American society. In High-Profile Crimes, Lynn Chancer explores how these cases became conflated with larger social causes on a collective level and how this phenomenon has affected the law, the media, and social movements.
About the Author:

Lynn S. Chancer is associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Fordham University. She is the author of two other books, including, most recently, Reconcilable Differences.

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Book Description from publisher: Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but there is great confusion as to why. In this paradigm-shifting analysis, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has collected groundbreaking evidence to explain the strategic, social, and individual factors responsible for this growing threat.One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject, Professor Pape has created the first comprehensive database of every suicide terrorist attack in the world from 1980 until today. With striking clarity and precision, Professor Pape uses this unprecedented research to debunk widely held misconceptions about the nature of suicide terrorism and provide a new lens that makes sense of the threat we face.

The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy, and the New Fundamentalism

Book Description from the publisher: Our daily news bulletins bring us tales of the wonder of science, from Mars rovers and intelligent robots to developments in cancer treatment and successful separations of conjoined twins, and yet we are also aware of the threats posed by science: 'Frankenstein' foods, chemical pollution, drug-resistant illnesses, and potentially-dangerous mobile phones. In The March of Unreason, Dick Taverne takes as his starting point his concern that irrationality is on the rise in Western society, and argues that public opinion is increasingly dominated by unreflecting prejudice and an unwillingness to engage with factual evidence. Experts no longer command respect, and polls show that the only scientists the public seem to trust are those who work for environmental pressure groups. When the Chief Government Medical Officer assured the British public that the MMR vaccine was safe, for example, parents' fears seemed to be intensified rather than allayed: this debate continues today, and many experts fear that children's health is being put at risk by a decline in vaccinations. In this compelling and timely examination of science and society, Taverne discusses topics such as genetically modified crops and foods, organic farming, the MMR vaccine, environmentalism, the precautionary principle, and the new anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements. He argues that the rejection of science nurtures a culture of suspicion, distrust and cynicism, and leads to dogmatic assertion and intolerance. Science, with all the benefits it brings, is the key to a civilized and democratic society: it offers the most hopeful future for mankind.

The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions: A Philosophical Adventure with the World's Greatest Thinkers

Book Description from publisher: The work of the classic philosophers is well known. But where can the general reader discover what today’s philosophers believe about what it is to be a human being? In his serious, challenging, and remarkably accessible new book, Nicholas Fearn turns to contemporary philosophers to ask the age old questions: Who am I? What do I know? What should I do? In a work that is part travelogue, part search for higher meaning, Fearn consults with thinkers from around the world (including John Searle, Martha Nussbaum, Daniel Dennett, Jacques Derrida, among many others) to create an impressive survey of recent thought. Variously, they believe that free will, identity, and consciousness are not what they seem; that the difference between virtue and wickedness can be a matter of sheer luck; and that, one day, we will all be vegetarians. Fearn discovers that the topics haven’t changed, though our world has. Or has it? Moving deftly from pop culture to the writings of Plato, The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions is a brilliant and entertaining guide to the current state of the philosophical art

Tales of the Out & the Gone

Book description from publisher: Comprising short fiction from the early 1970s to the twenty - first century-most of which has never been published- Tales of the Out & the Gone reflects the astounding evolution of America's most provocative literary anti-hero.

The first section of the book, "War Stories," offers six stories enmeshed in the vola-tile politics of the 1970s and 1980s. The second section, "Tales of the Out & the Gone," reveals Amiri Baraka's increasing literary adventurousness, combining an unpredictable language play with a passion for abstraction and psychological exploration.

Throughout, Baraka's unique and constantly changing literary style will educate readers on the evolution of one of America's most accomplished literary masters of the past four decades.

About the author:

Amiri Baraka is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He was named Poet Laureate of New Jersey by the N.J. Commission on Humanities, from 2002-2004. His last two books of poetry, Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems and Un Poco Low Coup received tremendous critical acclaim.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction

Description from the publisher: Focusing on more recent classical ethnographies, this important study provides a critical introduction to the social anthropology of religion. It covers all the major religious traditions that have been studied concretely by anthropologists--Shamanism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and its relation to African and Melanesian religions and contemporary Neopaganism. Treating religion as a social institution and not simply as an ideology or symbolic system, the book follows the dual heritage of social anthropology in combining an interpretative approach with sociological analysis.

The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde

Description from the publisher: The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde is Neil McKenna's acclaimed and controversial first biography. The books charts fully for the first time Oscar Wilde's astonishing erotic odyssey through Victorian London's sexual underworld.

This bestselling book makes a compelling and convincing argument that Oscar Wilde was driven personally and creatively by his powerful desires for sex with young men and that his work can only be fully understood in terms of his sexuality.
Drawing on a vast and sensational array of previously unknown and unpublished material, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde meticulously and brilliantly reconstructs Oscar Wilde's emotional and sexual life, painting an astonishingly frank and vivid psychological portrait of a troubled genius who chose to martyr himself for the cause of love between men.

Albert Einstein - Chief Engineer of the Universe: Einstein's Life and Work in Context and Documents of a Life's Pathway

Book description from the publisher: In 1905, Albert Einstein published five scientific articles that fundamentally changed the world-view of physics: The Special Theory of Reativity revolutionized our concept of space and time, E=mc² became the best-known equation in physics. This work explores the character and the myth of Einstein.

Margaret Sanger's Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility

Book description from the publisher: Margaret Sanger, the American birth-control and population-control advocate who founded Planned Parenthood, stands like a giant among her contemporaries. With her dominating yet winning personality, she helped generate shifts of opinion on issues that were not even publicly discussed prior to her activism, while her leadership was arguably the single most important factor in achieving social and legislative victories that set the parameters for today’s political discussion of family-planning funding, population-control aid, and even sex education.

This work addresses Sanger’s ideas concerning birth control, eugenics, population control, and sterilization against the backdrop of the larger eugenic context.

The Tet Offensive: Politics, War, and Public Opinion (Vietnam-America in the War Years)

Book Description from the publisher: In this new work, historian David F. Schmitz analyzes what is arguably the most important event in the history of the Vietnam conflict. Schmitz situates the Tet Offensive in the context of American foreign policy and the state of the war up to 1968 while carefully considering the impact of the media on American public opinion. Through his up-to-date analysis of recently available sources, Schmitz works to dispel myths and clarify the central debates surrounding this pivotal event that brought an end to American escalation of the war and led to LBJ's decision to withdraw from the presidential race.

Modern Liberty: And The Limits of Government (Issues of Our Time)

Book description from the publisher: How has the modern welfare state redefined our notion of individual liberty? Are we free to express ourselves in speech, at work, or through sex? Arguing that equality is often the most potent rival of liberty, Charles Fried demonstrates how the dense tangle of government regulations both supports and threatens our personal freedoms. Richly illustrated with examples from contemporary life, Modern Liberty is vividly relevant to the experiences and needs of everyday Americans. This is Hayek's The Road to Serfdom updated for a time when we have put fascist and Marxist tyranny firmly behind us but still confront kinder, gentler threats to our liberty. Armed with Fried's insights, readers will be better able to defend themselves against those on both the left and the right who would limit their liberty to promote virtue, equality, or the greatness of the nation. Modern Liberty has profound implications for the societies in which we live now.
About the Author
Charles Fried teaches constitutional law at the Harvard Law School. He has served as Ronald Reagan's solicitor general and as a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An American Lens: Scenes from Alfred Stieglitz's New York Secession

Book Description from the publisher: In An American Lens, Jay Bochner looks at a series of milestones in the development of the American avant-garde that capture a pivotal period in artistic consciousness. He focuses on the multiple roles of Alfred Stieglitz -- as influential gallery owner, photographer, and impresario of the emerging art scene -- at a series of significant moments in his career. These close-ups offer a more intense and expanded understanding of the subject than the familiar long view.

Bochner uses these scenes to recreate for today's readers the birth of modernism in America--what it was like to be an audience for the art of the early avant-garde. Moving from frame to frame, he shows us, for example, a single photograph by Stieglitz of a snowy night in 1893 and a short description by Stephen Crane of just such a snowfall; the preparation, the reception, and the aftermath of the famous Armory Show of modern art in 1913; Gertrude Stein's portraits in prose; New York at the dawn of Dada, with Paul Strand, Francis Picabia, and others; and the intersecting paths of Mina Loy, William Carlos Williams, and Marcel Duchamp in 1917. Bochner also examines Stieglitz's three great photographic series: his photographs of Georgia O'Keeffe, of clouds, and of skyscrapers. These sections of the book include many Stieglitz photos, including some rarely seen portraits of O'Keeffe.

Stieglitz as impresario and artist achieved an almost mythical status, which some recent critics have worked to deflate -- casting him, for example, as Svengali to Georgia O'Keeffe's spellbound Trilby. Engaging in neither idolatry nor demolition, Bochner looks instead for the truth about the man and the myth. The scenes from American art in An American Lens create a new version of Stieglitz's biography, allowing us to reread his life and the life of his times by focusing intently on what is visible and not so visible in the art he left behind.

Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World

Description from the publisher: Eighteenth-century Jamaica, Britain's largest and most valuable slave-owning colony, relied on a brutal system of slave management to maintain its tenuous social order. Trevor Burnard provides unparalleled insight into Jamaica's vibrant but harsh African and European cultures with a comprehensive examination of the extraordinary diary of plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood.

Thistlewood's diary, kept over the course of forty years, describes in graphic detail how white rule over slaves was predicated on the infliction of terror on the bodies and minds of slaves. Thistlewood treated his slaves cruelly even while he relied on them for his livelihood. Along with careful notes on sugar production, Thistlewood maintained detailed records of a sexual life that fully expressed the society's rampant sexual exploitation of slaves. In Burnard's hands, Thistlewood's diary reveals a great deal not only about the man and his slaves but also about the structure and enforcement of power, changing understandings of human rights and freedom, and connections among social class, race, and gender, as well as sex and sexuality, in the plantation system.

The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies

Book Description from the publisher: Hollywood moviemaking is one of the constants of American life, but how much has it changed since the glory days of the big studios? David Bordwell argues that the principles of visual storytelling created in the studio era are alive and well, even in today's bloated blockbusters. American filmmakers have created a durable tradition--one that we should not be ashamed to call artistic, and one that survives in both mainstream entertainment and niche-marketed indie cinema. Bordwell traces the continuity of this tradition in a wide array of films made since 1960, from romantic comedies like Jerry Maguire and Love Actually to more imposing efforts like A Beautiful Mind. He also draws upon testimony from writers, directors, and editors who are acutely conscious of employing proven principles of plot and visual style. Within the limits of the "classical" approach, innovation can flourish. Bordwell examines how imaginative filmmakers have pushed the premises of the system in films such as JFK, Memento, and Magnolia. He discusses generational, technological, and economic factors leading to stability and change in Hollywood cinema and includes close analyses of selected shots and sequences. As it ranges across four decades, examining classics like American Graffiti and The Godfather as well as recent success like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, this book provides a vivid and engaging interpretation of how Hollywood moviemakers have created a vigorous, resourceful tradition of cinematic storytelling that continues to engage audiences around the world.

Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (The Middle East in Focus)

Book Description from the publisher: Exploring continuities and changes, this book provides the historical backdrop crucial to understanding how Iranian pride and sense of victimization combine to make its politics contentious and potentially dangerous. From the struggle between the Shah and Ayatollah Khomeini to the current tension between the reformers and traditionalists, a central issue in Iranian domestic politics has long been its place in the world and relations with the West.

The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law

Book Description from the publisher: Covering more than three centuries of legal history, this study presents an important account of how Islam developed its own law from ancient Near Eastern legal cultures, Arabian customary law and Quranic reform. The book explores the interplay between law and politics, demonstrating how the jurists and ruling elite led a symbiotic existence that paradoxically allowed Islamic law to become uniquely independent of the "state."

Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery

Book Description from the publisher: Slavery in the South has been documented in volumes ranging from exhaustive histories to bestselling novels. But the North’s profit from–indeed, dependence on–slavery has mostly been a shameful and well-kept secret . . . until now. In this startling and superbly researched new book, three veteran New England journalists demythologize the region of America known for tolerance and liberation, revealing a place where thousands of people were held in bondage and slavery was both an economic dynamo and a necessary way of life.

Complicity reveals the cruel truth about the Triangle Trade of molasses, rum, and slaves that lucratively linked the North to the West Indies and Africa; discloses the reality of Northern empires built on profits from rum, cotton, and ivory–and run, in some cases, by abolitionists; and exposes the thousand-acre plantations that existed in towns such as Salem, Connecticut. Here, too, are eye-opening accounts of the individuals who profited directly from slavery far from the Mason-Dixon line–including Nathaniel Gordon of Maine, the only slave trader sentenced to die in the United States, who even as an inmate of New York’s infamous Tombs prison was supported by a shockingly large percentage of the city; Patty Cannon, whose brutal gang kidnapped free blacks from Northern states and sold them into slavery; and the Philadelphia doctor Samuel Morton, eminent in the nineteenth-century field of “race science,” which purported to prove the inferiority of African-born black people.

Culled from long-ignored documents and reports–and bolstered by rarely seen photos, publications, maps, and period drawings – Complicity is a fascinating and sobering work that actually does what so many books pretend to do: shed light on America’s past. Expanded from the celebrated Hartford Courant special report that the Connecticut Department of Education sent to every middle school and high school in the state (the original work is required readings in many college classrooms,) this new book is sure to become a must-read reference everywhere.

Tambourines to Glory: A Novel by Langston Hughes

Book Description from the publisher: For every bustling jazz joint that opened in Korean War–era Harlem, a new church seemed to spring up. Tambourines to Glory introduces you to an unlikely team behind a church whose rock was the curb at 126th and Lenox.
Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed live in adjoining tenement flats, adrift on public relief. Essie wants to somehow earn enough money to reunite with her daughter and provide her with a nice home; Laura loves young men, mink coats, and fine Scotch. On a day of inspiration, the friends decide to use a thrift-store tambourine and a layaway Bible to start a church.
Their sidewalk services are a hit: Laura’s a natural street performer who loves the limelight, while Essie is a charismatic singer with a quiet spirituality. Before long they move to a thousand-seat theatre called the Tambourine Temple. The two women are joined in their ministering by Birdie Lee, the little-old-lady trap drummer who can work the congregation to a feverish pitch, and Deacon Crow-For-Day, an impassioned confessor.
But then Laura falls for Buddy, a scam artist who suggests selling to the faithful lucky numbers from Scripture and bottles of tap water as “Holy Water from the Jordan.” Even with a Cadillac and piles of money from Laura, Buddy won’t stay faithful, igniting a crime of passion and betrayal.Harlem Moon Classics is proud to reintroduce readers of all generations to this sparkling gem from the canon of Langston Hughes.
About the Author
LANGSTON HUGHES (1902–1967), a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance, worked as a novelist, poet, and playwright, in addition to being a mentor and inspiration to other greats.

Race Mixture in Nineteenth-Century U.S. and Spanish American Fictions: Gender, Culture, and Nation Building

Book Description from Publisher: Race mixture has played a formative role in the history of the Americas, from the western expansion of the United States to the political consolidation of emerging nations in Latin America. Debra J. Rosenthal examines nineteenth-century authors in the United States and Spanish America who struggled to give voice to these contemporary dilemmas about interracial sexual and cultural mixing.

Rosenthal argues that many literary representations of intimacy or sex took on political dimensions, whether advocating assimilation or miscegenation or defending the status quo. She also examines the degree to which novelists reacted to beliefs about skin differences, blood taboos, incest, desire, or inheritance laws. Rosenthal discusses U.S. authors such as James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Walt Whitman, William Dean Howells, and Lydia Maria Child as well as contemporary novelists from Cuba, Peru, and Ecuador, such as Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, Clorinda Matto de Turner, and Juan Leon Mera. With her multinational approach, Rosenthal explores the significance of racial hybridity to national and literary identity and participates in the wider scholarly effort to broaden critical discussions about America to include the Americas.

Rosenthal examines the political nature of intimacy and sex in novels about miscegenation. She discusses authors from the U.S. (Cooper, Sedgwick, Twain, Whitman, Howells, and Harper) as well as contemporary novelists from Cuba, Peru and Ecuador.