What We Are Reading Today: Ibn Saud

Updated 21 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Ibn Saud

  • This book tells the story of how Ibn Saud transformed himself into a revered king and elder statesman
  • This fascinating biography of the founding king of Saudi Arabia is a must-read for anyone interested in the formation of a Kingdom that covers the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula

Living the harsh traditional life of a desert nomad, and with immense physical courage, Ibn Saud’s often resorted to breathtaking military tactics unlike any employed by empires in the past. 

Thanks to series of astonishing military triumphs over a succession of adversaries who outnumbered his tribal forces, in 1932 he was able to unite the Hejaz and Najd territories into Saudi Arabia.

Written by Michael Darlow and Barbara Bray, this book tells the story of how Ibn Saud transformed himself into a revered king and elder statesman. It describes his building of solid foundational ties with fellow world leaders such as the 32nd US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. 

As Ibn Saud’s tremendous power and influence over the region increased exponentially, instead of using his might to conquer additional territories, Saud instead promoted peace and stability across his newfound Kingdom, establishing the roots for Saudi Arabia as an invaluable player on the world’s political and economic stage.

This fascinating biography of the founding king of Saudi Arabia is a must-read for anyone interested in the formation of a Kingdom that covers the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula. The text is illuminated by priceless historical photos and extensive footnotes. 

Critics have praised the authors for steering clear of any bias in their pursuit of historical accuracy.


What We Are Reading Today: The Tale of Genji, A Visual Companion

Updated 17 October 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Tale of Genji, A Visual Companion

  • Melissa McCormick provides a unique companion to Murasaki’s tale with the oldest dated set of Genji illustrations known to exist

Book Title:  The Tale of Genji, A Visual Companion

Author: Melissa McCormick

 

Written in the 11th century by the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji is a masterpiece of prose and poetry that is widely considered the world’s first novel. Melissa McCormick provides a unique companion to Murasaki’s tale that combines discussions of all 54 of its chapters with paintings and calligraphy from the Genji Album (1510) in the Harvard Art Museums, the oldest dated set of Genji illustrations known to exist.

In this book, the album’s colorful painting and calligraphy leaves are fully reproduced for the first time, followed by McCormick’s insightful essays that analyze the Genji story and the album’s unique combinations of word and image. 

This stunning compendium also includes English translations and Japanese transcriptions of the album’s calligraphy, enabling a holistic experience of the work for readers today. In an introduction to the volume, McCormick tells the fascinating stories of the individuals who created the Genji Album in the sixteenth century, from the famous court painter who executed the paintings and the aristocrats who brushed the calligraphy to the work’s warrior patrons and the poet-scholars who acted as their intermediaries.

Beautifully illustrated, this book serves as an invaluable guide for readers interested in The Tale of Genji, Japanese literature, and the captivating visual world of Japan’s most celebrated work of fiction.