What We Are Reading Today: The Album of the World Emperor by Emine Fetvacı

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Updated 12 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Album of the World Emperor by Emine Fetvacı

The Album of the World Emperor examines an extraordinary piece of art: An album of paintings, drawings, calligraphy, and European prints compiled for Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I (1603–17) by his courtier Kalender Paşa (d. 1616). 

In this detailed study of one of the most important works of 17th-century Ottoman art, Emine Fetvacı uses the album to explore questions of style, iconography, foreign inspiration, and the very meaning of the visual arts in the Islamic world, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

The album’s 32 folios feature artworks that range from intricate paper cutouts to the earliest examples of Islamic genre painting, and contents as eclectic as Persian and Persian-influenced calligraphy, studies of men and women of different ethnicities and backgrounds, depictions of popular entertainment and urban life, and European prints depicting Christ on the cross that in turn served as models for apocalyptic Ottoman paintings. Through the album, Fetvacı sheds light on imperial ideals as well as relationships between court life and popular culture.


What We Are Reading Today: Race of Aces by John R. Bruning

Updated 16 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Race of Aces by John R. Bruning

This is the astonishing untold story of the Second World War airmen who risked it all in the deadly race to become the greatest American fighter pilot, according to critics.

John R. Bruning’s story focuses on Richard Bong, Tommy McGuire, Neel Kearby, Charles MacDonald, and Gerald Johnson, who through training, became the deadliest aces during the Pacific War. 

Race of Aces “is an educational, powerful, and intense read, with a behind-the-scenes look at the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations in the Second World War,” said a review in goodreads.com.

It added: “In the early years of the war, air forces from the US, Australia, and Japan engaged in an unrelenting struggle for superiority in the skies over New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Allied forces were operating under primitive conditions in a largely unknown and noxious physical environment.”

Bruning “explores the technology and tactics, the multi-dimensional battlefield, and the leadership, living conditions, medical challenges, and morale of the combatants,” said the review.