What We Are Reading Today: Empress – The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

Updated 11 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Empress – The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal has written a brilliant and compelling biography of Nur Jahan.
In 1611, 34-year-old Nur Jahan became the 20th and most cherished wife of the Emperor Jahangir.
The author uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan, rescuing this dazzling figure from patriarchal cliches of romance and intrigue, and giving new insight into the lives of women and girls in the Mughal Empire.
In Empress, Nur finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens readers to a fascinating history.
“Lal has done a service to readers interested in the Mughal period and the many forgotten or poorly remembered women of Indian history. She has helped shine a little light on an enigmatic character many think they know but few actually understand,” Vikas Bajaj writes in a review published in the New York Times.
“Lal is clearly constrained by the paucity of the material she has to work with. But she seems too reluctant to draw inferences and make analytical deductions,” the review added.


What We Are Reading Today: Gateway State by Sarah Miller-Davenport

Updated 43 min 39 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: Gateway State by Sarah Miller-Davenport

  • Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawaii had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier

Gateway State explores the development of Hawai’i as a model for liberal multiculturalism and a tool of American global power in the era of decolonization. The establishment of Hawaii statehood in 1959 was a watershed moment, not only in the ways Americans defined their nation’s role on the international stage but also in the ways they understood the problems of social difference at home. Hawaii’s remarkable transition from territory to state heralded the emergence of postwar multiculturalism, which was a response both to independence movements abroad and to the limits of civil rights in the US.

Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawaii had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. This was a more inclusive idea of who counted as American at home and what areas of the world were considered to be within the US sphere of influence. Statehood advocates argued that Hawaii and its majority Asian population could serve as a bridge to Cold War Asia — and as a global showcase of American democracy and racial harmony. Business leaders and policymakers worked to institutionalize and sell this ideal by capitalizing on Hawaii’s diversity. 

Asian Americans in Hawaii never lost a perceived connection to Asia. Instead, their ethnic difference became a marketable resource to help other Americans navigate a decolonizing world.