What We Are Reading Today: Workers’ Tales

Updated 24 October 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Workers’ Tales

  • In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than 40 of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume

Edited by Michael Rosen

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, unique tales inspired by traditional literary forms appeared frequently in socialist-leaning British periodicals, such as the Clarion, Labour Leader, and Social Democrat.
Based on familiar genres— the fairy tale, fable, allegory, parable, and moral tale— and penned by a range of lesser-known and celebrated authors, including Schalom Asch, Charles Allen Clarke, Frederick James Gould, and William Morris, these stories were meant to entertain readers of all ages — and some challenged the conventional values promoted in children’s literature for the middle class. In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than 40 of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume.
Throughout, the tales in this collection exemplify themes and ideas related to work and the class system, sometimes in wish-fulfilling ways. In “Tom Hickathrift,” a little, poor person gets the better of a gigantic, wealthy one. In “The Man Without a Heart,” a man learns about the value of basic labor after testing out more privileged lives.
And in “The Political Economist and the Flowers,” two contrasting gardeners highlight the cold heart of Darwinian competition. Rosen’s informative introduction describes how such tales advocated for contemporary progressive causes and countered the dominant celebration of Britain’s imperial values.


What We Are Reading Today: The Chief by Joan Biskupic

Updated 21 March 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Chief by Joan Biskupic

  • The Chief reveals the making of a justice and the drama on America’s highest court

This is an incisive biography of the US Supreme Court’s enigmatic chief justice, taking us inside the momentous legal decisions of his tenure so far. 

In The Chief, award-winning journalist Joan Biskupic contends that Chief Justice Roberts is torn between two, often divergent, priorities: To carry out a conservative agenda, and to protect the Supreme Court’s image and his place in history. 

Biskupic shows how Roberts’s dual commitments have fostered distrust among his colleagues, with major consequences for the law. Trenchant and authoritative, The Chief reveals the making of a justice and the drama on America’s highest court. 

“Given the court’s current composition, anyone who does not want the law to lurch to the right in civil rights, abortion and other areas has to hope Roberts will hold it close to its current course — either based on actual beliefs, or to protect the Supreme Court as an institution,” said Adam Cohen in a review published in The New York Times.

Biskupic has covered the Supreme Court since 1989.