Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: How China eclipsed the U.S. / 2018’s best books / The library of and for the future / Death in the Atacama Desert / Histories of historians

This week: How China eclipsed the U.S. / 2018’s best books / The library of and for the future / Death in the Atacama Desert / Histories of historians

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. China Rules: A special report
By Philip Pan, Amy Qin, Javier C. Hernandez, Peter Goodman, Jane Perlez, Keith Bradsher, Li Yuan and Mark Landler | The New York Times | November 2018
Part 1: The Land That Failed to Fail
Part 2: How China’s Rulers Control Society: Opportunity, Nationalism, Fear Part 3: Money and Muscle Pave China’s Way to Global Power
Part 4: China’s Economy Became No. 2 by Defying No. 1
Part 5: The Road to Confrontation

2. Five Classic American Novels That I Enjoy Teaching
By Andrew Delbanco | LitHub | November 2018
“I’ve been teaching classic American literature to college students for almost 40 years, and while some books have been banished from the category of ‘classic’ and others have been invited in, certain works continue year after year to disturb, confuse, delight, or devastate my students — or, more likely, all of the above.”

3. 100 Notable Books of 2018
The New York Times Book Review | November 2018
“The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.”

4. From There to Here
Not Even Past :: Department of History, UT Austin | November 2018
“UT History faculty come from all over the world. Here are their stories.”

5. Pretentious, impenetrable, hard work … better? Why we need difficult books
By Sam Leith | The Guardian | November 2018
“This year’s Booker-winner Milkman has been criticized for being challenging. But are we confusing readability with literary value?”

6. This Library Has New Books by Major Authors, but They Can’t Be Read Until 2114
By Merve Emre | The New York Times Style Magazine | November 2018
“The Scottish artist Katie Paterson is collecting 100 unpublished works that won’t be released in their writers’ lifetimes.”

7. Rains bring death to the Atacama Desert
By David Szondy | New Atlas | November 2018
“Studying the effects of once-in-a-century rainfall in the hyper-arid core of the desert, a team of astrobiologists led by Cornell University found that instead of causing a bloom of growth, the unexpected abundance of water killed off three quarters to seven/eighths of the microbe species present.”

8. 70 Philosophy Books Everyone Should Read
IAI News | November 2018
“Last year, we spoke to a number of leading philosophers to ask them why philosophy matters and what it has meant to them in their personal and professional lives (which you can read here, alongside a poem by Kwame Anthony Appiah). This year, we have tried to do something special, asking experts across the discipline to put together a list of their recommended philosophy books that everyone should read.”

9. In Lagos, Space For My Thoughts To Fly
By Allyn Gaestel | Guernica | November 2018
“On nomadism, toxicity, and the question of home.”

10. She’s 15 in Brazil. These are her dreams.
By Masuma Ahuja | Girlhood Around the World :: The Lily | October 2018
“Kaylane is studying sanitation at a public technical school in Recife. Outside of school, she’s part of her church choir and loves sports, with several athletic awards to her name.”

Amerikan Rambler: The War of 1812 on the web and in history

From June 2012: “For the most part, the War of 1812 was not America’s finest military hour.”

Rather than a Vietnam War-like debacle, the War of 1812 was probably more of a draw. Not much changed on the map, though afterward, the English stopped impressing Americans onto English ships — a cruel practice that had contributed much to the war. Thankfully, it’s the last war the U.S. and England have fought.

via The War of 1812 on the web and in history — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A charming little woman

Stone’s visitors brought her gloomy confirmation that the Northern states hardly felt the effects of a war that brought so much devastation and deprivation to her once-luxurious life.

KS46

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone’s visitors brought her gloomy confirmation that the Northern states hardly felt the effects of a war that brought so much devastation and deprivation to her once-luxurious life.


Dec. 19, 1863

Tyler, Texas

Mamma, Mrs. Carson, and the little girls are off looking for a house to rent for Mrs. Savage. They are now on their way to Tyler and wish to have a house rented by their arrival. They expect to reach here by Christmas, and we will all be overjoyed to have them again as neighbors. We have not seen them for just a year. If Julia could come too, we would be pleased. She keeps us in kind remembrance. She has just sent me “the Rebel headress” and some visiting cards. Texas will not seem so desolate with old friends around us.

It has been intensely cold for some days, but the norther has at last blown itself away. We went out this morning to see Mrs. Prentice, fearing she has been lonely. We found Mrs. Hull and Mrs. Clark with her. Mrs. Hull is just back from Shreveport, going there to meet some St. Louis friends lately banished from the state. They say there is no prospect of peace. The North is more prosperous than ever before. Traveling through the states, one would hardly know there was a war going on. How different from our own suffering country. Mrs. Hull is a charming little woman. I would like to know her well. Mrs. Levy and Mrs. Wells beg us to come out and stay some with them, but we have not the heart to visit now, only to see some refugee in trouble. Refugees must be good to each other. …

We are sewing and reading some dull, dry books. Mamma spent nearly a thousand dollars while in Shreveport buying clothes, five or six dresses. Everything is so enormously high … a velvet mantle or poplin dress cannot be bought for less than $1,500. She did not indulge in one of those.

‘He was nearly pulled apart’

Part 6 of this series focuses on Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet, a British couple who honeymooned in the United States and Canada in the 1840s.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 6 focuses on Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet, a British couple who honeymooned in the United States and Canada in the 1840s. They wrote and illustrated a travel diary, recording — and often haughtily (and hilariously) criticizing — daily life in American society.

“On the boat’s arrival at her destination, the passengers were assailed by a mob of cabmen, porters &c who though not allowed to come on board the steamer quarreled about their passengers, and if any one ventured ashore and presumed to scorn their offer he was nearly pulled to pieces for his temerity.”

Examine images of their wonderful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin