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For years following reunification, Berlin was the largest construction site in Europe, with striking new architecture proliferating throughout the city in the 1990s and early 2000s. Among the most visible and the most contested of the new projects were those designed for the national government and its related functions. Julia Walker's Berlin Conte…
 
Animals are staging a revolution—they’re just not telling us. From radioactive boar invading towns to jellyfish disarming battleships, Animal Revolution (U Minnesota Press, 2022) threads together news accounts and more in a powerful and timely work of creative, speculative nonfiction that imagines a revolution stirring and asks how humans can be a …
 
Postwar multilateral cooperation is often viewed as an attempt to overcome the limitations of the nation-state system. However, in 1945, when the United Nations was founded, large parts of the world were still under imperial control. Building States investigates how the UN tried to manage the dissolution of European empires in the 1950s and 1960s—a…
 
The twelve chapters of Moral Foods: The Construction of Nutrition and Health in Modern Asia (U Hawai’i Press, 2020) are divided into three sections: Good Foods, Bad Foods, and Moral Foods. Using case studies from nineteenth- and twentieth-century China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia, these chapters investigate the moralization of foo…
 
Today I talked to Howard Jay Smith about his new novel Meeting Mozart (The Sager Group, 2020). It’s 1946, and a young army intelligence officer is awakened early by a gruff priest who needs another tenor for his church service. But Corporal Jake Conegliano has been invited to see a performance of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and his ride is leaving…
 
Has the pandemic taught us anything? As we look forward and imagine what the future might look like, we like to think ‘next time will be different.’ But, if we don’t take a serious look back, it won’t. Not as long as the people who made this pandemic so bad face zero consequences. In this episode of Darts and Letters, John Nichols says it’s time fo…
 
Hardly a day goes by without news of the extinction or endangerment of yet another animal species, followed by urgent but largely unheeded calls for action. An eloquent denunciation of the failures of Canada's government and society to protect wildlife from human exploitation, Max Foran's The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife: Failures of Principle …
 
Since the 1970s, a “Polynesian Pipeline” has brought football players from American Sāmoa to Hawaii and the mainland United States to play at the collegiate and professional levels. In Gridiron Capital: How American Football Became a Samoan Game (Duke University Press, 2022) Dr. Lisa Uperesa charts the cultural and social dynamics that have made fo…
 
The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2021) provides a cutting-edge look at how accelerating financial change, from the end of cash to the rise of cryptocurrencies, will transform economies for better and worse. We think we have seen financial innovatio…
 
In Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation (Verso, 2022), Paris Marx identifies two convergent forces in the 20th century: the growth of the climate killing automobile industry and the rise of Silicon Valley with its California Ideology (a hypocritical self-rationalization). Their narrative shows how these…
 
For five horrific weeks after Christmas in 1831, Jamaica was convulsed by an uprising of its enslaved people. What started as a peaceful labor strike quickly turned into a full-blown revolt, leaving hundreds of plantation houses in smoking ruins. By the time British troops had put down the rebels, more than a thousand Jamaicans lay dead from summar…
 
There is no shortage of words written about climate change and the goal of reaching net zero - but there is a shortage of practical suggestions about to get to net zero. Even governments committed to net zero are wondering how they are going to do it. Eric Lonergan has tried to address that problem with the book Super Charge Me: Net Zero Faster (Ag…
 
Alistair Paton joins today, writer of Of Marsupials and Men (Black Inc, 2022), a book recounting the fascinating and often hilarious history of the men and women who dedicated their lives to understanding Australia’s native animals. To the first European colonists, Australian wildlife was bewildering. Marsupials and gum trees seemed strange and hos…
 
Nearly 40 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, American writer, sociologist and civil rights activist W. E. B. DuBois shed light on Black life in America and what it meant to be seen through a White gaze. In his 1905 text The Souls of Black Folk, DuBois explores the rich and complex African American world and how it helped shape th…
 
On this episode we have Michael Grenke (St. Johns University) who wrote the introduction to Lise Van Boxel's Warspeak: Nietzsche's Victory Over Nihilism (Political Animal Press, 2020). A comprehensive interpretation of Nietzsche's thought, guided by the problem and task that Nietzsche himself identified as the heart of his own life' work: nihilism …
 
Serving as a vital supplement to the existing scholarship on AIDS activism of the 1980s and 1990s, Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS (U Minnesota Press, 2022) is the first book to critically examine the archives that have helped preserve and create the legacy of those radical activities. Dr. Marika Cifor charts the efforts activ…
 
How do competing interests shape public policy? Why are the economic interests and priorities of lower-, working-, and middle-class Americans often neglected while the interests and priorities of wealthier Americans are often front and center for the U.S. Congress? Previous work in political science has highlighted income disparity or the importanc…
 
Why does the democratic establishment always avoid turning left, even when it might mean a political win? Gordon asks David Sirota. Sirota is behind the smash-hit Netflix movie Don’t Look Up! Even if you weren’t a fan of that movie this is worth a listen, because David is more than just a screenwriter. He’s a journalist who doesn’t limit his journa…
 
Today I spoke to anthropologist William Mathews about his new book, Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination (Berghahn Books, 2021). This book explores how humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. Mathews explains the role that cog…
 
Today I talked to about Amma’s Daughters: A Memoir (Athabasca UP, 2018). This book is available open access here. As a precocious young girl, Surekha knew very little about the details of her mother Amma’s unusual past and that of Babu, her mysterious and sometimes absent father. The tense, uncertain family life created by her parents’ distant and …
 
Today I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell College. Even if you are not "into" math, you will enjoy this conversation. We talked about how math is not what you think it is. It's not just memorizing formulas and grinding. It's about thinking and, like all thinking, it involves abstraction, logic…
 
Moisés Naím's The Revenge of Power: How Autocrats Are Reinventing Politics for the 21st Century (St. Martin's Press, 2022) is an urgent, thrilling, and original look at the future of democracy. It illuminates one of the most important battles of our time: the future of freedom and how to contain and defeat the autocrats mushrooming around the world…
 
Southeast Asia is a region often associated with authoritarian resilience and democratic decline. In this podcast, Professor Baogang He examines the various ways in which Southeast Asian countries have institutionalised mechanisms for deliberative democracy to address complex governance issues. He is the editor (together with Michael Breen, and Jam…
 
Celebrate Winter: An Olympian's Stories of a Life in Nordic Skiing (Morton Trails, 2020) by John Morton is a wonderful look back at experiences and lessons learned from over 55 years of enjoying winter. Morton has attended ten Winter Olympic Games in various capacities: athlete, coach, team leader, chief of course, and fan. He was the Dartmouth Col…
 
Elaine Hsieh Chou is a Taiwanese American writer from California. A 2017 Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow at NYU and a 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Fellow, her short fiction appears in The Normal School, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, Tin House Online and Ploughshares. Her debut novel Disorientation is out now from Penguin Press (US) and Picador (UK). Her short stor…
 
When Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818, it was illegal for him to learn the alphabet. Slave masters feared the power of a literate slave, so Douglass vowed to read. He became one of the most famous and accomplished American writers of his day, harnessing the power of the King James Bible, the spoken word, and the new visual language …
 
It is not terribly controversial to say that castration fear is one of the key conceptual engines driving the psychoanalytic project overall. Whether one thinks of it manifesting as a looming, retributive threat for incestuous longings or as a struggle to face one’s shortcomings, contending with what we are at risk of losing or what has already gon…
 
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