Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo / The last days of John Kelly? / Remembering the 2017 Oscar disaster / Hitler’s, Mao’s and Stalin’s death tolls / Inside the U.S. embassy in Havana

This week: Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo / The last days of John Kelly? / Remembering the 2017 Oscar disaster / Hitler’s, Mao’s and Stalin’s death tolls / Inside the U.S. embassy in Havana

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Emerging from ‘the House of Gaslight’ in the Age of #MeToo
By Monica Lewinsky | Hive :: Vanity Fair | February 2018
“On the 20th anniversary of the Starr investigation, which introduced her to the world, the author reflects on the changing nature of trauma, the de-evolution of the media, and the extraordinary hope now provided by the #MeToo movement.”

2. ‘The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed’: Backfires and Explosions at The New York Times as a Possible Future Chief Re-Invents the Paper’s Opinion Pages
By Joe Pompeo | Hive :: Vanity Fair | February 2018
“A yoga-pants refusenik, a climate-science skeptic, and a tech writer with a neo-Nazi pal, among other offenders, have put James Bennet in the crosshairs.”
Also, from the Washington Post: ‘Criticize our work privately’: NYT editorial page chief sends a 1,500-word treatise to colleagues

3. How Long Can John Kelly Hang On?
By Matt Flegenheimer | The New York Times | February 2018
“Last year, Democrats and Republicans alike agreed that if anyone could bring order to the Trump administration, it was the retired four-star Marine general. Were they wrong?”

4. “They Got the Wrong Envelope!”: The Oral History of Oscar’s Epic Best Picture Fiasco
By Scott Feinberg | Hollywood Reporter | February 2018
“One year after the craziest, most improbable and downright embarrassing moment in Academy Awards history, 29 key players open up (many for the first time) about the onstage chaos, backstage bickering and who’s really to blame for Envelopegate and the two minutes and 23 seconds that ‘La La Land’ beat ‘Moonlight.'”
Also, from the Hollywood Reporter: They’re Back: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway to Present Oscars Best Picture

5. Personal Connections with the Civil War West
By Maria Angela Diaz | Muster :: Journal of the Civil War Era | February 2018
“While listening to the papers of my own panel, walking around the book exhibit, and attending several of the other panels, it got me thinking about being a Mexican-American woman, a historian of the Civil War era, and how I’ve related to, or at times not been able to relate to, the field that I’ve chosen to study.”

6. How showing vulnerability helps build a stronger team
By Daniel Coyle | Ideas :: TED.com | February 2018
“If you’d like trust to develop in your office, group or team — and who wouldn’t? — the key is sharing your weaknesses”

7. When Government Drew the Color Line
By Jason DeParle | The New York Review of Books | February 2018
“Government agencies used public housing to clear mixed neighborhoods and create segregated ones. Governments built highways as buffers to keep the races apart. They used federal mortgage insurance to usher in an era of suburbanization on the condition that developers keep blacks out. From New Dealers to county sheriffs, government agencies at every level helped impose segregation — not de facto but de jure.”

8. The Instagram matchmaking queer women via old school personal ads
By Biju Belinky | Dazed Digital | February 2018
“Spoiler alert: it’s led to cross-country love affairs”

9. The Sound and the Fury: Inside the Mystery of the Havana Embassy
By Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella | ProPubilica | February 2018
“More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case.”

10. Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?
By Ian Johnson | The New York Review of Books | February 2018
“[T]he Hitler and Stalin numbers invite questions that Mao’s higher ones do not. Should we let Hitler, especially, off the hook for combatant deaths in World War II? It’s probably fair to say that without Hitler, there wouldn’t have been a European war.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Secrets to San Antonio / Houston’s dolphins / Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ / The best Texas playlist / Kirsten Gillibrand in the spotlight / Robert Caro and LBJ

This week: Secrets to San Antonio / Houston’s dolphins / Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ / The best Texas playlist / Kirsten Gillibrand in the spotlight

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Insider’s Guide to San Antonio
By Lauren Smith Ford | Texas Monthly | December 2017
“Join the dapper Mike Casey for a bicycle tour of his favorite bars, restaurants and more in the funky, charming King William neighborhood.”

2. Galveston Bay dolphins struggle to recover from Hurricane Harvey
By Alex Stuckey | Houston Chronicle | November 2017
“Researchers observe lesions covering the marine mammals”

3. Pulp science-fiction? How Quentin Tarantino could save Star Trek
By Luke Holland | The Guardian | December 2017
“The tepid recent installment left Kirk and co needing direction, dialogue and a decent baddie. Luckily Hollywood’s grandmaster of profanity has one more film to make.”

4. Hundreds of dams in Texas could fail in worst-case flood
By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz | Austin American-Statesman | November 2017
“Texas applies its strictest safety standards only if a dam’s failure would probably cost seven or more lives.”

5. Winston Churchill Got a Lot of Things Wrong, But One Big Thing Right
By Matt Lewis | The Daily Beast | December 2017
“He contemplated using poison gas on German civilians. He wanted to keep England white. And more. But he had the quality Britain needed most at exactly the moment it was needed.”

6. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Moment Has Arrived
By David Freedlander | Politico Magazine | December 2017
“The New York senator has made sexual assault the focus of her political career. Now, the world has caught up with her.”

7. Oil and gas industry is causing Texas earthquakes, a ‘landmark’ study suggests
By Ben Guarino | The Washington Post | November 2017
“An unnatural number of earthquakes hit Texas in the past decade, and the region’s seismic activity is increasing. In 2008, two earthquakes stronger than magnitude 3 struck the state. Eight years later, 12 did.”

8. You May Want to Marry My Husband
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal | Modern Love :: The New York Times | March 2017
“He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.”

9. Listen to the Ultimate Texas Music Playlist
By Katy Vine | Texas Monthly | November 2017
“We set out to hear what our state sounds like. We brought back the latest and best of Texas music — so listen up.”

10. Robert Caro: Rising Early, With a New Sentence in Mind
By John Leland | Sunday Routine :: The New York Times | May 2012
“I always remember Ernest Hemingway’s advice to writers: always quit for the day when you know what the next sentence is.”
Also see: Robert Caro’s Big Dig | Robert Caro’s Painstaking Process

Amerikan Rambler: Paul Fussell’s ‘Doing Battle’

From Jan. 2014: “The pages he devotes to the research are one of the best endorsements of the joys of the archives you’ll ever read.”

I recently finished reading Paul Fussell’s memoir, “Doing Battle,” about his experiences growing up in Pasadena, California, as an officer in Europe during World War II, and as a teacher and scholar at Rutgers and Princeton. Fussell received his doctorate in English from Harvard, and he is best known for two books that combine history and literature — “The Great War in Modern Memory” and “Wartime,” the latter of which is about WWII.

via Paul Fussell’s “Doing Battle” — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Amerikan Rambler: Are Historians Too Hard on Hollywood History?

From March 2012: “Historians criticizing Hollywood is almost as old as Hollywood itself.”

While I understand historians’ desire, indeed duty, to make sure that filmmakers respect the integrity of a historical subject, my question is: should we be surprised when a movie — even a documentary — chooses drama or narrative flow over being true to the historical record? I think not.

via Are Historians Too Hard on Hollywood History? — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Obama is back / Celebrating Fiesta in San Antonio / Adrift commanders / What ‘The Last Jedi’ might destroy / Intellectual Trumpism / Man Booker Prize shortlist / The fading Rockefellers

This week: Obama is back / Celebrating Fiesta in San Antonio / Adrift commanders / What ‘The Last Jedi’ might destroy / Intellectual Trumpism / Man Booker Prize shortlist / The fading Rockefellers

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about me on Academia.edu and LinkedIn.

1. Obama making first public appearance of post-presidency in Chicago
By Jordan Fabian | The Hill | April 21
“It ends a three-month period of relative silence since Obama left office on Jan. 20, much of which he has spent on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., on a Caribbean island with English billionaire Richard Branson and at an exclusive resort in French Polynesia.”

2. Cascarón Confusion? Your Guide to All Things Fiesta
By Jessica Elizarraras and Bryan Rindfuss | San Antonio Current | April 20
“Aside from urging you to hydrate, stock up on sunscreen and cash, here’s a quick explainer on what you should know about San Antonio’s largest celebration which runs from April 20-30.”

3. Trump Unleashes the Generals. They Don’t Always See the Big Picture.
By Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper | The New York Times | April 20
“Taken together, the episodes illustrate how even the military’s most seasoned four-star field commanders can fail to consider the broader political or strategic ramifications of their operational decisions, and some current and former senior officials suggested that President Trump’s decision to unshackle the military from Obama-era constraints to intensify the fight against terrorists risked even more miscues.”

4. The Knight’s Move
By Gideon Lewis-Kraus | The Nation | April 19
“Can a new Trump-inspired intellectual magazine transcend its contradictions?”

5. The Man Booker International Prize 2017 shortlist announced
The Man Booker Prizes | April 20
“The settings range from an Israeli comedy club to contemporary Copenhagen, from a sleepless night in Vienna to a troubled delirium in Argentina. The list is dominated by contemporary settings but also features a divided Jerusalem of 1959 and a remote island in Norway in the early 20th century.”

6. Science confirms the incredible story of Lithuania’s Holocaust escape tunnel
By Sarah Birnbaum | The World :: PRI | April 19
“Shortly after the Nazis invaded Lithuania in June 1941, they started bringing groups of Jews from the nearby city of Vilnius, known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania, to the Ponar forest. The Nazis lined them up, shot them at close range, and tossed the bodies into pits.”

7. Will The Last Jedi destroy everything we think we know about Star Wars?
By Ben Child | The Guardian | April 19
“Was Yoda just an old fool? And why is Luke Skywalker calling for an end to the Jedi? Rian Johnson, director of Episode VIII, is veering into dangerous territory”

8. With the death of a patriarch, have the Rockefellers lost their power?
By Michael Kaplan | The New York Post | April 2
“When former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller passed away in 1979 of a heart attack, it was allegedly after having made love to his secretary. Steven Rockefeller shocked everyone by marrying Anne-Marie Rasmussen, his family’s housemaid, in 1959. In 1951, Winifred Rockefeller, great-niece of John D. Rockefeller, killed herself and two of her children inside their Greenwich, Conn., home. Ten years later, in 1961, while hunting down art in New Guinea, 23-year-old Michael Rockefeller was supposedly eaten by cannibals.”

9. Inspired by nature: the thrilling new science that could transform medicine
By Laura Parker | The Guardian | October 2016
“Jeffrey Karp is at the forefront of a new generation of scientists using nature’s blueprints to create breakthrough medical technologies. Can bioinspiration help to solve some of humanity’s most urgent problems?”

10. Party Hopping
By Dave Mann | Texas Monthly | May 2017
“As they lose sway among Texas Republicans, big businesses should try something radical: an alliance with Democrats.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The Mexican War returns / Trump-era patriarchy / A writer’s advice for life / Bob Dylan’s thoughts / Marilyn Monroe and WWII ‘drones’

This week: The Mexican War returns / Trump-era patriarchy / A writer’s advice for life / Bob Dylan’s thoughts / Marilyn Monroe and WWII ‘drones’

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Will Mexico Get Half of Its Territory Back?
By Enrique Krauze | The New York Times | April 6
“The United States invasion of Mexico in 1846 inflicted a painful wound that, in the 170 years that followed, turned into a scar. Donald Trump has torn it open again. Among the many lies that he has constructed, none is more ridiculous than his attempt to contradict history by presenting the United States as a victim of Mexico. …”

2. Hillary Clinton: misogyny ‘certainly’ played a role in 2016 election loss
By Amber Jamieson | The Guardian | April 6
“In first post-election interview, former Democratic presidential candidate calls for US intervention in Syria and a ‘patriotic’ investigation into Russia”

3. Trump’s Patriarchal Counter-Revolution
By Jeet Heer | The New Republic | April 3
“Sexism is making a comeback under the president and his heavily male administration, sparking a renewed war over gender equality.”

4. Life Advice From Adrienne Rich
By Emily Temple | LitHub | March 2017
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work. It means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. ”

5. Q&A with Bill Flanagan
By Bob Dylan and Bill Flanagan | BobDylan.com | March 2017
“These songs are some of the most heartbreaking stuff ever put on record and I wanted to do them justice. Now that I have lived them and lived through them I understand them better. They take you out of that mainstream grind where you’re trapped between differences which might seem different but are essentially the same. Modern music and songs are so institutionalized that you don’t realize it. These songs are cold and clear-sighted, there is a direct realism in them, faith in ordinary life just like in early rock and roll.”

6. These sex addicts can’t stop swiping right on Tinder
By Melkorka Licea | The New York Post | April 2
“Unsurprisingly, many of these hook-ups feel more like cold business transactions than meaningful connections with fellow humans. … But it’s the dependence on one-night-stands that can lead to obsessive behavior, depression, and issues maintaining real connections, therapists believe.”

7. Save All
By Jaeah Lee | The California Sunday Magazine | March 2017
“Archiving the Internet in the Trump Era”

8. The power thinker
By Colin Koopman | Aeon | March 15
“Original, painstaking, sometimes frustrating and often dazzling. Foucault’s work on power matters now more than ever.”

9. There is no such thing as western civilisation
By Kwame Anthony Appiah | The Guardian | November 2016
“The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention”

10. Marilyn Monroe’s World War II Drone Program
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | June 2014
“Working 10 hours a day for $20 a week in a World War II defense plant 70 years ago was 18-year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty, wife of a young United States merchant seaman assigned overseas.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Rape at University of Texas / Trump goes down in defeat / Granddaughter, grandfather both remember war / Selena fans / Great television sagas

This week: Rape at University of Texas / Trump goes down in defeat / Granddaughter, grandfather both remember war / Selena fans / Great television sagas

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. This is what I thought war was supposed to look like
By Tara Copp | The Dallas Morning News | March 2017
This is the first of four excerpts from Copp’s new book The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story
Also see: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

2. Selena super-fans celebrate her in song, dance, likeness
By Julie Garcia | Corpus Christi Caller-Times | March 21
“With blunt cut bangs, long brown hair and a spectacular red shade of lipstick, Nadia Garcia is the image of a young Selena Quintanilla Perez. Garcia twirled on a stage in the center court at La Palmera mall to “Baila Esta Cumbia” dressed in a white bustier and matching white pants in front of a crowd of people who came to celebrate the late Tejano songstress.”

3. 15 percent of female undergraduates at UT have been raped, survey says
By Lauren McGaughy | The Dallas Morning News | March 24
“The study was comprehensive, surveying 28,000 students during the 2015 academic year at 13 UT academic and health campuses. A project of the School of Social Work’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, this survey is just the first round. A second one will be repeated in two years …”

4. How The Americans Became the Best Show on Television
By Matt Brennan | Paste | March 24
“No longer limited to marriage and espionage, The Americans is now the evocative saga of a family that just happens to have two spies in it.”

5. ‘The closer’? The inside story of how Trump tried — and failed — to make a deal on health care
By Robert Costa, Ashley Parker, and Philip Rucker | The Washington Post | March 24
“Shortly after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled the Republican health-care plan on March 6, President Trump sat in the Oval Office and queried his advisers: ‘Is this really a good bill?’ And over the next 18 days, until the bill collapsed in the House on Friday afternoon in a humiliating defeat — the sharpest rebuke yet of Trump’s young presidency and his negotiating skills — the question continued to nag at the president.”

6. The Art of Paying Attention
By Michelle Dean | New Republic | March 20
“Why we need critics to think about power and how it works.”

7. ‘Sometimes I laugh at this farce’: six writers on life behind bars in Turkey
By Kareem Shaheen and Maeve Shearlaw | The Guardian | March 23
“Six persecuted writers describe the mental and physical toll of living in the country that jails more journalists than any other”

8. How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die?
By Emily Temple | Lit Hub | March 22
“It depends, of course, on how you’re counting, but for our purposes here, it’s down to two primary factors.”

9. Life with migraines: ‘It feels like a creature is pushing itself through my skull’
By Anna Altman | The Guardian | November 2016
“When I was 26, I started suffering from dizziness, brain fog, fatigue and chronic pain. I’d had migraines since childhood, but these felt different”

10. Jackie Robinson and Nixon: Life and Death of a Political Friendship
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | June 2014
“In 1968, furious over Nixon’s courtship of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who had once led the segregationist ‘Dixiecrats,’ Jackie backed the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Sinking Mexico City / The brief Trump presidency? / A lurking Hitler double / Michael Flynn’s symbolism / Big Mama Thornton’s soaring blues

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This week: Sinking Mexico City / The brief Trump presidency? / A lurking Hitler double / Michael Flynn’s symbolism / Big Mama Thornton’s soaring blues

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis
By Michael Kimmelman | The New York Times | Feb. 17
“Unlike traffic jams or crime, climate change isn’t something most people easily feel or see. It is certainly not what residents in Mexico City talk about every day. But it is like an approaching storm, straining an already precarious social fabric and threatening to push a great city toward a breaking point.”

2. The Thinning of Big Mama
By Cynthia Shearer | Oxford American | Feb. 15
“She seems to have dwelt by necessity in the margins of prosperity and material success. Considering the successes of her many contemporaries and collaborators, as we listen to her music today … Big Mama’s story raises a persistent question: How could she flourish this way (however briefly) but ultimately fail to thrive?”

3. Michael Flynn, General Chaos
By Nicholas Schmidle | The New Yorker | Feb. 18
“What the removal of Flynn as the national-security adviser reveals about Donald Trump’s White House. ”

4. Austrian authorities seeking Hitler double seen around birthplace
By Michael Shields | Reuters | Feb. 11
“The man, estimated to be 25 to 30 years old, was last seen in a local bookstore browsing through magazines about World War Two, adding he had identified himself in a local bar as ‘Harald Hitler.’ ”

5. These books were beloved. But what happens after their owner dies?
By Laura Krantz | The Boston Globe | Feb. 17
“In this region of intellectuals, used bookstores find themselves inundated with calls as more baby boomers die and others downsize. At the same time, many libraries have faced budget cuts that make them unable to accept the extra stock, and the Internet has rendered many reference books useless.”

6. An essential reading list for understanding Donald Trump
By Pete Vernon | Columbia Journalism Review | Feb. 14
“[T]he profiles and investigative pieces on the list range from skeptical to outright hostile. But despite being burned time and again, Trump seems addicted to the limelight that comes with attention from the media. From Wayne Barrett’s early investigations into a little-known, Queens-born developer to Maggie Haberman’s look at Trump’s life in the White House, the president has welcomed journalists into his life in ways few politicians ever have.”

7. The Talk
Austin American-Statesman | February 2017
“For generations, black parents have had The Talk with their children about how to survive interactions with police: Don’t argue. Don’t get shot. Don’t give them a reason. Come home.”

8. Donald Trump is on his Way to the Second or Third Shortest Presidency in American History
By Ronald L. Feinman | History News Network | Feb. 15
“[Vice President Mike] Pence could … invoke the 25th Amendment, Section 4, with the approval of a majority of the cabinet, which would make Pence ‘Acting President.’ Some might call it a ‘palace coup’ but Pence could make a convincing case that it is too risky to leave Trump in power.”

9. The fire this time — the legacy of James Baldwin
By Lanre Bakare | The Guardian | Feb. 15
“His work fell foul of civil-rights-era binary racial and sexual politics but, as a new film shows, now Baldwin’s ideas are used to explain everything from Trump to Black Lives Matter”

10. The President Who Never Earned His Varsity Letter
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | November 2014
“When Nixon ran for president a second time, in 1968, he quietly pondered recruiting the Green Bay Packers’ Vince Lombardi for his ticket — until his campaign manager (and later attorney general) John Mitchell discovered that Lombardi was a Democrat.”

Book gems of 2016, Part 6

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on World War I and World War II, science, culture, and literature.

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Summer is upon us, and the season of leisure is the perfect time for new stories, characters, ideas, and adventures. Stillness of Heart concludes its occasional series of critical recommendations, from Civil War battle histories to memoirs, and from intellectual histories to photobooks almost as beautiful as the natural world they celebrate.

Read Part 1 of this 2016 series here and subsequent essays in this series here.

Finally … a brief look at some of the best works on World War I and World War II, science, culture, and literature.

David M. Lubin’s Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War (Oxford University Press, 304 pp., $31.96) challenges us to appreciate how the trauma of war on individuals and on society as a whole has a powerful effect on how that society and its most creative minds express themselves through artwork. Political statement, illustration of shattered psyches, celebrations of victory and glory, reflections of societies that will never be the same again — the wartime and postwar motivations for beautiful and horrifying works analyzed in Lubin’s book were as varied and complex as the artists themselves. This valuable book reviews the work of famous artists and introduces us to previously unknown artists we must know about to fully understand the full spectrum of artwork from the Great War era.

Benjamin E. Jones’s Eisenhower’s Guerillas: The Jedburghs, theMaquis, and the Liberation of France (Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $23.96) reminds us that as the D-Day invaders floated off-shore and the paratroopers floated down from the sky, an Allied insurgency distracted, disrupted, or destroyed German operations in the hours and days before the invasion. This stunning book collects the stories of the daring teams that accepted incredible risks and executed impossible missions in the struggle to free France from Nazi domination.

Theresa Kaminski’s Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II (Oxford University Press, 512 pp., $27.95) offers a story of patriotism and bravery in the midst of brutal conquest. Four women contributed in different and priceless ways to the resistance efforts, the return of the American forces, and the final defeat of the Japanese invaders. Kaminski places their efforts in the larger historical context of the military operations, Japanese treatment of American prisoners, and the place of the Philippines in the overall calculus of Pacific strategy.

J. Samuel Walker’s Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan (University of North Carolina Press, 168 pp., $25), reissued this fall in a third edition, analyzes the contemporary debates over the use of the weapon, evaluates the intelligence available to the Truman administration officials at the time the decision had to be made, and includes fresh information from recently opened Japanese archives. The work masterfully illustrates the incredibly complicated considerations made by the Americans and the Japanese as the world — and warfare itself — stepped into a new era.

Miri Shefer-Mossensohn’s Science among the Ottomans: The Cultural Creation and Exchange of Knowledge (University of Texas Press, 262 pp., $55) pushes back against classic Western assumptions that the Ottoman Empire lost its cultural ambitions and interest in technological advancements — two key aspects of an intellectually vibrant entity — throughout the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, thereby dooming itself to (and justifying) European domination after World War I. Far from it, she argues, for the Ottomans retained their intellectual passion for new solutions to old problems, particularly in the field of communications, when, as early as the 1870s, they were one of the world’s leaders in telegraph technology. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire deliberately and nobly strove to create and maintain a rich creative and artistic culture, championing new inventions, embracing and improving innovations from other regions, and building on the mountainous achievements inherited from Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Safavids, and other great civilizations. This work refocuses academic attention on those accomplishments and challenges Western scholars and students to grant Ottoman civilization the credit and respect it richly deserves.

Apollo Pilot: The Memoir of Astronaut Donn Eisele, edited by Francis French (University of Nebraska Press, 192 pp., $24.95), promises to be an incredible story from an incredible individual. Eisele was selected for the Apollo 1 mission, the first in a series of manned missions to the moon. A training injury suddenly grounded him, and then news came that a fire killed the Apollo 1 crew, including his replacement. The disaster paralyzed NASA’s lunar program, and it was up to the next Apollo crew, including Eisele, to face down dual challenges: restart the Apollo mission program and also recover Americans’ faith in the grand endeavor. Apollo 7 did both. Eisele’s memoir of scientific triumph and personal tragedy brings a new dimension to the literature of space flight and of the heroes that won the space race.

Allan Metcalf’s From Skedaddle to Selfie: Words of the Generations (Oxford University Press, 232 pp., $19.95) promises to be a smart and light-hearted stroll through the history of American vernacular and the societies, cultural fads, fashions, and events that inspired or were defined by them. Metcalf’s work is a vital reminder that the stories behind common and colorful language, ranging from the Revolutionary era to today, are complicated but crucial elements of our nation’s history and cannot be underestimated.

Reading Debra Hamel’s Reading Herodotus: A Guided Tour through the Wild Boars, Dancing Suitors, and Crazy Tyrants of The History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 360 pp., $29.95) is like sitting on a beach near Bodrum, formerly Halicarnassus, with Hamel next to you, the classic book open on your lap, as she illuminates every incredible and sexy story — just the way Herodotus hoped we would enjoy his work.

James A. Michener’s Legacy (Penguin Random House, 144 pp., $16) re-appears on the literary stage with a new paperback edition. The 1987 novel centers on Norman Starr, loosely modeled on Iran-Contra figure Oliver North, as he prepares to answer for his actions before a congressional committee. He looks for moral strength in his ancestry, and the novel unspools an incredible cast of characters ranging across American history, each having played a part in forming the democratic republic Starr’s actions may have threatened.

******

Book gems of 2016
An occasional series
Jan. 3: Antiquity, Civil War, World War II, and space
June 22: Presidents and the political world
June 29: Texas and Texas history
July 6: Latin America
July 13: Slavery and the Civil War era
July 20: World War I and II, science, culture, and literature

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Emilia Clarke as 007 / Honoring Confederate veterans / Trump and Roy Cohn / Tanning addictions / Celebrating the film ‘Heat’

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This week: Emilia Clarke as 007 / Honoring Confederate veterans / Trump and Roy Cohn / Tanning addictions / Celebrating the film ‘Heat’

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. How many Americans have died in U.S. wars?
By Megan Crigger and Laura Santhanam | PBS NewsHour | May 24
“This Memorial Day, we decided to take a close look at the number of American service members who lost their lives during wartime in an effort to put their sacrifices into a broader perspective.”

2. ‘17,000 islands of imagination’: discovering Indonesian literature
By Louise Doughty | The Guardian | May 28
“Indonesia is home to hundreds of different ethnicities speaking as many languages, and, along with Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, has a majority Muslim population that is the largest in the world. But, as yet, little of its literature has been translated into English.”

3. Forgetting Why We Remember
By David W. Blight | The New York Times | May 29
“The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true ‘patriots,’ defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a ’cause’ that had been overwhelmed by ‘numbers and resources’ but never defeated on battlefields.”

4. LBJ’s Ad Men: Here’s How Clinton Can Beat Trump
By Robert Mann and Zack Stanton | Politico | May 29
“We talked to two of the geniuses behind the greatest ad campaign in political history. Here’s what they’d do in 2016.”

5. Yes, You Can Become Addicted to Tanning
By Esther Hsieh | Scientific American | November 2014
“UV light may trigger the same reward pathway in the brain as drugs such as heroin”

6. Latin America’s Fatal Gun Addiction
By Robert Muggah | Foreign Affairs | May 27
“Thanks to legal sales and illicit trafficking, the region’s criminal organizations, street gangs, private security firms, and vigilantes have access to a steady supply of weapons. In turn, Latin American countries and cities are the world’s most exposed to gun-related violence. The regional homicide rate hovers above 28 per 100,000 people, compared to a global average of closer to seven per 100,000.”

7. Emilia Clarke reveals her wishes to become the first female James Bond
By James Ingham | The Daily Star | May 29
The Game of Thrones star said, “I would love to play Jane Bond. My ultimate leading man would be Leonardo DiCaprio. No doubt about it.”

8. ‘He Brutalized For You’
By Michael Kruse | Politico | April 8
“How Joseph McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn became Donald Trump’s mentor.”

9. Why Heat Is Still an Action Masterpiece 20 Years Later
By Matt Patches | Esquire | September 2015
“Michael Mann was at an anniversary screening to reveal what makes the De Niro-Pacino heist movie a classic.”

10. Nixon and Pelé: No Meeting of the Minds
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | June 2014
“Nixon kept his encounter with Pelé brief, perhaps because, by his political calculus, there were so few votes in soccer, and he was also busy trying to cope with a fast-escalating Watergate scandal.”