Staff Pick

“Tell me about a complicated man. / Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost / when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, / and where he went, and who he met, the pain / he suffered in the storms at sea, and how / he worked to save his life and bring his man / back home.” In a graceful return to iambic pentameter, Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey (W.W. Norton, $39.95) is resonant and light footed, swift and lithe. It also happens to be the first, in all 432 years since Homer was first translated into English, by a woman. The volume itself is a luminous beauty, well spaced, readable, with a thorough glossary, hand-drawn maps, and an enthralling but unencumbered translator’s note that heroically balances the interests and prerogatives of both casual or first-time readers and scholars long engaged with the epic.  It has never been a better time to pick up this foundational work!

The Odyssey Cover Image
By Homer, Emily Wilson (Translator)
ISBN: 9780393089059
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2017

Staff Pick

The Oxford History of the United States series (to which magna opera such as McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom and Gordon Wood’s Empire of Liberty belong) marks its latest installment, The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford, $35). The volume begins with the funeral of Lincoln—compared to whom the presidents that follow are disappointing in all but their facial hair—and continues through the 1876 election.  A Stanford historian of Native Americans and the American West, Richard White deftly dismantles the stock cutouts of lone robber barons that have long populated this “historical flyover country.” With lively prose, ambitious scope, and an all-too keen sense of irony, he gives us a vivid depiction of an age of contradictions. White considers Reconstruction and the Gilded Age to have “gestated together” on sublime post-Civil War ideals, both quickly scaled back “to the unforgiving metrics of recalcitrant reality.”  With balanced, tenderly evoked portraits of the “uncommon men and women,” the dizzying spin of technological progress, political corruption, immigration, urbanization, Westward expansion, crusading causes, economic inequality, and high-minded hope, are brought to a pace at which we can make out the foundations of the similarly complex epoch we now inhabit.

The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199735815
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - September 2017

Staff Pick

The ne plus ultra of Vermeer art books, Vermeer in Detail (Abrams, $65) is a conclusive cataloguing of all thirty-two paintings by the master, accompanied by 170 extremely intimate—often full page—magnifications. Satisfyingly, in this one volume is everything the eye can take in from a Vermeer painting, elucidated by a thorough presentation of all the documentation and research we do have about the dismayingly mysterious, historically unreachable Johannes Vermeer. And yet this canonical volume’s greatest asset is the lightness with which author Gary Schwartz wears his learning. An American art historian residing in the Netherlands, Schwartz delivers prose unencumbered by any scholastic staidness or over-certainty, taking an intelligent but lightsome tone wholly befitting Vermeer’s oeuvre (“Dear Reader: it’s every Vermeer scholar for himself on this one,” he avers at one point).  The manner in which Schwartz groups his chosen details into chapters is itself a revelation, providing fascinating insight into life in 17th- century Delft, as well as into Vermeer’s technical genius, yet nowhere detracting from the sheer awe of viewing the Old Master at such microscopic proximity.

Vermeer in Detail Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419727641
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harry N. Abrams - September 12th, 2017