Dispatches from Dystopia - Kate Brown

Ever wondered how historians decide what subjects to pursue? Kate Brown narrates both the back- and front- stories of history-making in six vivid Dispatches from Dystopia. Her explanation involves three factors: events occur to individual bodies in specific locations, and their narratives are reconstructed by historians influenced by their own particular biographies. “Objective” history seldom acknowledges these subjective factors, but Brown shows that personal experience is as valuable an archive as any other; without having lived in Ohio’s rust belt, she wouldn’t have compared failed US and Russian cities, or have understood how a nuclear state’s official secrets can be easier to find than the physical effects concealed on the bodies of its citizens, or explored the “accidental time capsule” of a Seattle hotel, where the abandoned possessions of evacuated Japanese-American residents still wait to be reclaimed.

Dispatches from Dystopia: Histories of Places Not Yet Forgotten By Kate Brown Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226242798
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - May 1st, 2015

Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War - Ian Buruma

The next best thing to a new history by Ian Buruma, twice named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals, is a collection of his fine essays. Theater of Cruelty (New York Review Books, $29.95) contains twenty-eight pieces of commentary and criticism Buruma has published over the last two decades. Putting near-equal weight on the two halves of his title, Theater includes a look at the plays of Alan Bennett, Mike Leigh, and the dramatic adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary as well as films by Fassbinder, Eastwood, Herzog, and Kurosawa, and considers the “theatrical” with an exhibit of David Bowie’s “outrageously beautiful” costumes. “Theater” here also means “theater of war,” and Buruma tests the cultural icons against humanity’s darker impulses. Admitting his “fearful fascination with power and cruelty,” Buruma is especially eloquent on events and people that tangle the lines of art and violence; was Leni Riefenstahl both a Nazi and an artist? Is such a hybrid possible? Similar questions arise with the Japanese painter Foujita, who joined the French modernists before the war but produced images praising Japanese militarism during it. While Buruma deeply admires art and artists, he understands they are not infallible. At bottom, his work is a warning to all that “cultural sophistication, alas, is no prophylactic against the allure of terrible ideas.”
Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War By Ian Buruma Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590177778
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: New York Review Books - September 16th, 2014

A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps - Tom Harper, Tim Bryars

To use cartography to chart the many social, political, and technological changes of the twentieth century is a brilliant idea—and antiquarian map experts Tim Bryars and Tom Harper meet this challenge beautifully. Their engrossing survey of a turbulent era, A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps (Chicago, $45), balances the art of mapmaking with an astute narrative sensibility and is both visually impressive and intellectually stimulating. Here’s the visual record of the London underground, troop deployment at the Somme, the Beatles’ touring map of Liverpool, immigration and land settlement in Palestine, and even a chronicle of the fall of Yugoslavia, with informative commentary. Bryars and Harper have also gathered maps scribbled on napkins, newspaper cartoon maps, street maps, tapestry maps, digital maps, and even literary maps (you won’t get lost in The Hundred Acre Wood or Middle Earth). While the scope is global, this survey tends to be Eurocentric (or perhaps Anglocentric; both authors are British); that said, this is a wonderful feast for history buffs as well as cartography aficionados.
A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps By Tim Bryars, Tom Harper Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226202471
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Chicago Press - October 22nd, 2014