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While many have noted the general Jewishness of the Gospel of John, few have given it a seat at the ideologically crowded table of ancient Jewish practice and belief—until now. Join us as we speak with Wally Cirafesi, whose book, John Within Judaism: Religion, Ethnicity, and the Shaping of Jesus-Oriented Jewishness in the Fourth Gospel (Brill, 2021…
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Christine Tan argues that the most fruitful way to read the Zhuangzi, if one is seeking political and ethical insight, is through the Jin Dynasty commentator Guo Xiang. In Freedom’s Frailty: Self-Realization in the Neo-Daoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang’s Zhuangzi (SUNY Press, 2024), she lays out her reasoning for this position, offering her interpreta…
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In 1941 and 1942 the British and Indian Armies were brutally defeated and Japan reigned supreme in its newly conquered territories throughout Asia. But change was coming. New commanders were appointed, significant training together with restructuring took place, and new tactics were developed. A War of Empires: Japan, India, Burma, and Britain: 194…
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In the second volume of The Weight of Words Series, In Fielding's Wake (St. Augustine's Press, 2022), Jeremy Black continues his efforts to present and preserve Britain's literary genius. Its intelligence and enduring influence is in large part reliant on the underlining conservatism that has motivated authors such as Agatha Christie (Black's earli…
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A powerful analysis and call to action that reveals disability as one of the defining features of environmental devastation and resistance. Deep below the ground in Tucson, Arizona, lies an aquifer forever altered by the detritus of a postwar Superfund site. Disabled Ecologies: Lessons from a Wounded Desert (U California Press, 2024) tells the stor…
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In Abundance: Sexuality’s History (Duke UP, 2023), Anjali Arondekar refuses the historical common sense that archival loss is foundational to a subaltern history of sexuality, and that the deficit of our minoritized pasts can be redeemed through acquisitions of lost pasts. Instead, Arondekar theorizes the radical abundance of sexuality through the …
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Virgil's Eclogues are a fundamental text of Western literature that served as a model for the nascent poetry of the Augustan and later of the Imperial Age. Inspired by the bucolic poetry of Theocritus, the work uses the apparent simplicity of rural settings to explore complex elements of poetic, literary, philosophical, and even figurative culture,…
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This volume proposes a method for reading Milton's De Doctrina Christiana as an artifact of his process of theological thinking rather than as a repository of his doctrinal views. Jason A. Kerr argues that reading in this way involves attention to the complex material state of the manuscript along with Milton's varying modes of engagement with scri…
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The paradox of poverty amidst plenty has plagued the United States throughout the 21st century--why should the wealthiest country in the world also have the highest rates of poverty among the industrialized nations? Based on his decades-long research and scholarship, one of the nation's leading authorities provides the answer. In The Poverty Parado…
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Nick Underwood's Yiddish Paris: Staging Nation and Community in Interwar Paris (Indiana University Press, 2022) is a captivating study of the culture and politics of the vibrant community of Yiddish-speaking immigrants to Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. Making their way to the French capital from various sites in Eastern Europe, members of this Jewis…
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The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language, which has just been reissued in paperback by Oxford University Press, with a new preface. The Rise of English charts the spread of English as the dominant lingua franca worldwide. The book explores the wide-ranging economic and political effects of English. It examines both the good an…
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The Hollow Parties: The Many Pasts and Disordered Present of American Party Politics (Princeton UP, 2024) traces the political history of American political parties, not so much as historical institutions with different constituents—though it does that—but as living and breathing entities that have, over the course of more than 200 years, been, at …
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Global risks present formidable challenges to international law. Although they have long been identified in many other scientific disciplines, they are currently only considered on a sectoral basis in international law in the absence of a legal definition. The aim of Sarah Cassella's book Global Risks and International Law: The Case of Climate Chan…
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In a broken world, in which even God Himself is in a state of deep crisis, what is required in order to mend the rupture? How can one heal God and His world? Moreover, what might allow our actions to be effective? These questions stand at the heart of the Lurianic Kabbalah, the apex of the Safedian intellectual and religious renaissance of the sixt…
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This time we talk with a fascinating sound artist and composer Mack met at a recent meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. As his website puts it, “Brian House is an artist who explores the interdependent rhythms of the body, technology, and the environment. His background in both computer science and noise music informs his …
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Well into the new millennium, the analog cassette tape continues to claw its way back from obsolescence. New cassette labels emerge from hipster enclaves while the cassette’s likeness pops up on T-shirts, coffee mugs, belt buckles, and cell phone cases. In Unspooled: How the Cassette Made Music Shareable (Duke University Press, 2024), Dr. Rob Drew …
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In his latest book, The Road to Freedom: Economics and the Good Society (W. W. Norton, 2024), Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz rethinks the nature of freedom and its relationship to capitalism. While many agree that freedom is good and we want more of it, we don’t agree about what it is, whose freedom we’re talking about, or what outcomes we desir…
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Cyrus McCormick invented the revolutionary mechanical reaper in 1831...right? At least, that's how the story has been told for decades. In Harvesting History: McCormick's Reaper, Heritage Branding, and Historical Forgery (U Nebraska Press, 2023), National Park Service historian Daniel Ott argues that not only have textbooks and other sources of his…
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Ryan Reft is a historian in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, where he oversees collections pertaining to 20th and 21st century domestic politics and policies. He received his PhD in U.S. urban history from the University of California San Diego in 2014, and his writing has appeared all over the place, from edited volumes to acade…
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People experience and comprehend time in different fashions in response to events occurring around them. The experience of time and the speed at which change is perceived to occur may alter during eras of crisis. Time can feel compressed for some and broad or flat for others. These comprehensions of time in turn give form to political views and pro…
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Today I talked to Stuart Reid about his new book The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination (Knopf, 2023). It was supposed to be a moment of great optimism, a cause for jubilation. The Congo was at last being set free from Belgium—one of seventeen countries to gain independence in 1960 from ruling European powers. …
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Apart from an opening survey of modern study of ancient Jewish history, which emphasizes the foundational role of German-Jewish scholars, the studies united in Ancient Jewish Historians and the German Reich: Seven Studies (de Gruyter, 2024) apply philological methods to the writings of four of them: Heinrich Graetz, Isaak Heinemann, Elias Bickerman…
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We have increasingly sophisticated ways of acquiring and communicating knowledge, but efforts to spread this knowledge often encounter resistance to evidence. The phenomenon of resistance to evidence, while subject to thorough investigation in social psychology, is acutely under-theorised in the philosophical literature. Mona Simion's Resistance to…
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Archaeology as a discipline has undergone significant changes over the past decades, in particular concerning best practices for how to handle the vast quantities of data that the discipline generates. As Shaping Archaeological Archives: Dialogues between Fieldwork, Museum Collections, and Private Archives (Brepols, 2023) uncovers, much of this dat…
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The history of rock and roll music can be seen in a long arc of Western civilization's struggle for both greater individual expression and societal stability. In the 1960s, the West's relationship with authority ruptured, in part due to the rock revolution. The lessons and implications of this era have yet to be fully grasped. James A. Cosby's book…
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The low-wage service industry is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the US economy. Its workers disproportionately tend to be low-income and minority women. Service sector work entails rigid forms of temporal discipline manifested in work requirements for flexible, last-minute, and round-the-clock availability, as well as limited to n…
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In Mooring the Global Archive: A Japanese Ship and Its Migrant Histories (Cambridge UP, 2023), Martin Dusinberre follows the Yamashiro-maru steamship across Asian and Pacific waters in an innovative history of Japan's engagement with the outside world in the late-nineteenth century. His compelling in-depth analysis reconstructs the lives of some of…
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'A woman, a dog and a walnut tree, the more they are beaten, the better they’ll be.' So went the proverb quoted by a prominent MP in the Houses of Parliament in 1853. His words – intended ironically in a debate about a rise in attacks on women – summed up the prevailing attitude of the day, in which violence against women was waved away as a part a…
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