What We Are Reading Today: Superpower by Russell Gold

What We Are Reading Today: Superpower by Russell Gold
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Updated 27 April 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Superpower by Russell Gold

What We Are Reading Today: Superpower by Russell Gold

In the ever more urgent quest for sources of renewable energy, meet the man boldly harnessing the natural forces that could power America’s future.

Russell Gold’s  Superpower tells the story of Michael Skelly whose innovations, struggles, and persistence represent the groundbreaking changes underway in American energy.

In Superpower, we meet Skelly’s financial backers, a family that pivoted from oil exploration to renewable energy; the farmers ready to embrace the new “cash crop”; the landowners prepared to go to court to avoid looking at overhead wires; and utility executives who concoct fiendish ways to block renewable energy. 

Gold also shows how Skelly’s innovative company, Clean Line Energy, conceived the idea for a new power grid that would allow sunlight to light up homes thousands of miles away, and take wind from the Great Plains to keep air conditioners running in Atlanta. Thrilling, provocative, and important, Superpower is a fascinating look at America’s future.


What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak

What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak
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Updated 19 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak

What We Are Reading Today: The Barbarians Speak

Author: Peter S. Wells

The Barbarians Speak re-creates the story of Europe’s indigenous people who were nearly stricken from historical memory even as they adopted and transformed aspects of Roman culture.
The Celts and Germans inhabiting temperate Europe before the arrival of the Romans left no written record of their lives and were often dismissed as “barbarians” by the Romans who conquered them.
Accounts by Julius Caesar and a handful of other Roman and Greek writers would lead us to think that prior to contact with the Romans, European natives had much simpler political systems, smaller settlements, no evolving social identities, and that they practiced human sacrifice. A more accurate, sophisticated picture of the indigenous people emerges, however, from the archaeological remains of the Iron Age.
Here Peter Wells brings together information that has belonged to the realm of specialists and enables the general reader to share in the excitement of rediscovering a “lost people.”

 


What We Are Reading Today: Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati

What We Are Reading Today: Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati
Updated 18 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati

What We Are Reading Today: Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati

Seeing Serena is an in-depth chronicle of the return to tennis of Serena Williams after giving birth to her daughter, and an insightful cultural analysis of the most consequential female athlete of her time.
It is a riveting chronicle of her turbulent 2019 tour season and a revealing portrait of who she is, both on and off the court.
Author Gerald Marzorati shadows her through her 2019 season, from Melbourne and the Australian Open, to Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, and on to the US Open as she seeks her 24th Grand Slam singles title.
He writes about her tennis and her forays into fashion, investing, and developing her personal brand on social media.
Seeing Serena illuminates Williams’s singular status as the greatest women’s tennis player of all time and — in a moment when race and gender are the most talked-about topics in America and beyond— a pop icon like no other.
Marzorati observes her, listens to her, studies her, explores her roles in society and history— sees Serena fully, in all the ways she has come to matter.


What We Are Reading Today: The Philosophical Stage; Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens

What We Are Reading Today: The Philosophical Stage; Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens
Updated 17 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Philosophical Stage; Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens

What We Are Reading Today: The Philosophical Stage; Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens

Edited by Joshua Billings

The Philosophical Stage offers an innovative approach to ancient Greek literature and thought that places drama at the heart of intellectual history. Drawing on evidence from tragedy and comedy, Joshua Billings shines new light on the development of early Greek philosophy, arguing that drama is our best source for understanding the intellectual culture of classical Athens.

In this incisive book, Billings recasts classical Greek intellectual history as a conversation across discourses and demonstrates the significance of dramatic reflections on widely shared theoretical questions. He argues that neither “literature” nor “philosophy” was a defined category in the fifth century BCE, and develops a method of reading dramatic form as a structured investigation of issues at the heart of the emerging discipline of philosophy.

A breathtaking work of intellectual history by one of today’s most original classical scholars, The Philosophical Stage presents a novel approach to ancient drama and sets a path for a renewed understanding of early Greek thought.


What We Are Reading Today: Founded in Fiction; The Uses of Fiction in the Early United States

What We Are Reading Today: Founded in Fiction; The Uses of Fiction in the Early United States
Updated 16 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Founded in Fiction; The Uses of Fiction in the Early United States

What We Are Reading Today: Founded in Fiction; The Uses of Fiction in the Early United States

Author: Thomas Koenigs

What is the use of fiction? This question preoccupied writers in the early United States, where many cultural authorities insisted that fiction reading would mislead readers about reality. Founded in Fiction argues that this suspicion made early American writers especially attuned to one of fiction’s defining but often overlooked features—its fictionality. Thomas Koenigs shows how these writers explored the unique types of speculative knowledge that fiction could create as they sought to harness different varieties of fiction for a range of social and political projects.

Spanning the years 1789–1861, Founded in Fiction challenges the “rise of novel” narrative that has long dominated the study of American fiction by highlighting how many of the texts that have often been considered the earliest American novels actually defined themselves in contrast to the novel. 

Their writers developed self-consciously extranovelistic varieties of fiction, as they attempted to reform political discourse, shape women’s behavior, reconstruct a national past, and advance social criticism. Ambitious in scope, Founded in Fiction features original discussions of a wide range of canonical and lesser-known writers, including Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Royall Tyler, Charles Brockden Brown, Leonora Sansay, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Montgomery Bird, George Lippard, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs.


What We Are Reading Today: Ethnography through Thick and Thin by George E. Marcus

What We Are Reading Today: Ethnography through Thick and Thin by George E. Marcus
Updated 15 June 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Ethnography through Thick and Thin by George E. Marcus

What We Are Reading Today: Ethnography through Thick and Thin by George E. Marcus

In the 1980s, George Marcus spearheaded a major critique of cultural anthropology, expressed most clearly in the landmark book Writing Culture, which he coedited with James Clifford. Ethnography through Thick and Thin updates and advances that critique for the late 1990s. Marcus presents a series of penetrating and provocative essays on the changes that continue to sweep across anthropology. He examines, in particular, how the discipline’s central practice of ethnography has been changed by “multi-sited” approaches to anthropology and how new research patterns are transforming anthropologists’ careers. Marcus rejects the view, often expressed, that these changes are undermining anthropology. The combination of traditional ethnography with scholarly experimentation, he argues, will only make the discipline more lively and diverse.

The book is divided into three main parts. 

In the first, Marcus shows how ethnographers’ tradition of defining fieldwork in terms of peoples and places is now being challenged by the need to study culture by exploring connections, parallels, and contrasts among a variety of often seemingly incommensurate sites. The second part illustrates this emergent multi-sited condition of research by reflecting it in some of Marcus’s own past research on Tongan elites and dynastic American fortunes. In the final section, which includes the previously unpublished essay “Sticking with Ethnography through Thick and Thin,” Marcus examines the evolving professional culture of anthropology and the predicaments of its new scholars.