What We Are Reading Today: The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe since 1492

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Updated 19 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe since 1492

Author: Philipp Ther

European history has been permeated with refugees. The Outsiders chronicles every major refugee movement since 1492, when the Catholic rulers of Spain set in motion the first mass flight and expulsion in modern European history.
Philipp Ther provides needed perspective on today’s “refugee crisis,” demonstrating how Europe has taken in far greater numbers of refugees in earlier periods of its history,  in wartime as well as peacetime. His sweeping narrative crosses the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, taking readers from the Middle East to the shores of America.
In this compelling book, Ther examines the major causes of mass flight, from religious intolerance and ethnic cleansing to political persecution and war. He describes the perils and traumas of flight and explains why refugees and asylum seekers have been welcomed in some periods—such as during the Cold War — and why they are rejected in times such as our own.


What We Are Reading Today: The Riddle of the Rosetta

Updated 18 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Riddle of the Rosetta

Authors: Jed Z. Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz

 

In 1799, a French Army officer was rebuilding the defenses of a fort on the banks of the Nile when he discovered an ancient stele fragment bearing a decree inscribed in three different scripts. So begins one of the most familiar tales in Egyptology — that of the Rosetta Stone and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

This book draws on fresh archival evidence to provide a major new account of how the English polymath Thomas Young and the French philologist Jean-François Champollion vied to be the first to solve the riddle of the Rosetta.

Jed Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz bring to life a bygone age of intellectual adventure. Much more than a decoding exercise centered on a single artifact, the race to decipher the Rosetta Stone reflected broader disputes about language, historical evidence, biblical truth, and the value of classical learning. Buchwald and Josefowicz paint compelling portraits of Young and Champollion, two gifted intellects with altogether different motivations. Young disdained Egyptian culture and saw Egyptian writing as a means to greater knowledge about Greco-Roman antiquity. Champollion, swept up in the political chaos of Restoration France and fiercely opposed to the scholars aligned with throne and altar, admired ancient Egypt and was prepared to upend conventional wisdom to solve the mystery of the hieroglyphs.

Taking readers from the hushed lecture rooms of the Institut de France to the windswept monuments of the Valley of the Kings, The Riddle of the Rosetta reveals the untold story behind one of the nineteenth century’s most thrilling discoveries.