What We Are Reading Today: Disney’s Land by Richard Snow

Updated 02 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Disney’s Land by Richard Snow

  • In Disney’s Land, Snow “brilliantly presents the entire spectacular story

Disney’s Land is an interesting and informative book.

It is a propulsive history “chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland, the masterpiece California theme park, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow,” said a review in goodreads.com

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates. Eight hundred million visitors have flocked to the park since then. 

In Disney’s Land, Snow “brilliantly presents the entire spectacular story, a wild ride from vision to realization, and an epic of innovation and error that reflects the uniqueness of the man determined to build ‘the happiest place on earth’ with a watchmaker’s precision, an artist’s conviction, and the desperate, high-hearted recklessness of a riverboat gambler,” the review added.

Tom Zoellner said in a review for The New York Times: “This is primarily a construction saga, albeit a highly readable one set in an anxious nation that didn’t know it needed Disneyland until Walt provided it.”

“The clockwork of the park — and to some extent, the personality of the man who created it — receives an expert inspection in Disney’s Land,” said Zoellner.


What We Are Reading Today: Empires of Vice by Diana S. Kim

Updated 20 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Empires of Vice by Diana S. Kim

During the late 19th century, opium was integral to European colonial rule in Southeast Asia. 

The taxation of opium was a major source of revenue for British and French colonizers, who also derived moral authority from imposing a tax on a peculiar vice of their non-European subjects. 

Yet between the 1890s and the 1940s, colonial states began to ban opium, upsetting the very foundations of overseas rule — how did this happen? Empires of Vice traces the history of this dramatic reversal, revealing the colonial legacies that set the stage for the region’s drug problems today, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Diana Kim challenges the conventional wisdom about opium prohibition — that it came about because doctors awoke to the dangers of drug addiction or that it was a response to moral crusaders — uncovering a more complex story deep within the colonial bureaucracy. 

Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence across Southeast Asia and Europe, she shows how prohibition was made possible by the pivotal contributions of seemingly weak bureaucratic officials.