What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us

What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us
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Updated 10 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us

What We Are Reading Today: Birds and Us

Author: Tim Birkhead

Since the dawn of human history, birds have stirred our imagination, inspiring and challenging our ideas about science, faith, art, and philosophy. We have worshipped birds, hunted them for sustenance, adorned ourselves with their feathers, studied their wings to engineer flight, and, more recently, attempted to protect them.

In Birds and Us, award-winning writer and ornithologist Tim Birkhead takes us on a dazzling epic journey through our mutual history with birds, from the ibises mummified and deified by ancient Egyptians to the Renaissance fascination with woodpecker anatomy—and from the Victorian obsession with egg collecting to today’s fight to save endangered species and restore their habitats.

Spanning continents and millennia, Birds and Us chronicles the beginnings of a written history of birds in ancient Greece and Rome, the obsession with falconry in the Middle Ages, and the development of ornithological science.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Preexisting Conditions: Recounting the Plague

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Updated 24 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Preexisting Conditions: Recounting the Plague

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Author: Samuel Weber

Many are the losses suffered and lives lost during the recent CoVid-19 pandemic. Since 2020, writers around the globe have penned essays and books that make sense of this medical and public health catastrophe.

The philosopher and literary and cultural critic Samuel weber returns to past narratives of plagues and pandemics to reproduce the myriad ways individual and collective, historical and actual, intentional and unintentional forces converge to reveal how cultures and societies deal with their vulnerability and mortality.

 

 

 


What We Are Reading Today: An Unwritten Future

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Updated 24 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: An Unwritten Future

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Author: Jonathan Kirshner

An Unwritten Future offers a fresh reassessment of classical realism, an enduring approach to understanding crucial events in the international political arena. Jonathan Kirshner identifies the fundamental flaws of classical realism’s would-be successors and shows how this older, more nuanced and sophisticated method for studying world politics better explains the formative events of the past. Kirshner also reveals how this approach is ideally equipped to comprehend the vital questions of the present—such as the implications of China’s rise, the ways that social and economic change alter the balance of power and the nature of international conflict, and the consequences of the end of the US-led postwar order for the future of world politics.
Laying out realism’s core principles, Kirshner discusses the contributions of the perspective’s key thinkers, including Thucydides, Hans Morgenthau, and Raymond Aron, among others. He illustrates how a classical realist approach gives new insights into major upheavals of the 20th century, such as Britain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany and America’s ruinous involvement in Vietnam.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Neuroscience of You

What We Are Reading Today: The Neuroscience of You
Updated 22 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Neuroscience of You

What We Are Reading Today: The Neuroscience of You

Author: Chantel Prat

Chantel Prat’s The Neuroscience of You is a rollicking adventure into the human brain that reveals the surprising truth about neuroscience, shifting our focus from what’s average to an understanding of how every brain is different and what this means for each of us.

Using real-world examples, the book shows you how to identify the strengths and weakness of your own brain, while learning what might be going on in the brains of those who are unlike you.

Prat also helps us see how brains that are engineered differently ultimately take diverse paths when it comes to prioritize information, relate to other people, and so much more.


What We Are Reading Today: Dangerous Rhythms

What We Are Reading Today: Dangerous Rhythms
Updated 21 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Dangerous Rhythms

What We Are Reading Today: Dangerous Rhythms

Author: T. J.  English

T. J.  English’s dangerous rhythms tells the symbiotic story of jazz and the underworld: A relationship fostered in some of 20th century America’s most notorious vice districts.

By offering artists a stage, the mob provided opportunities that would not otherwise have existed. 

Even so, at the heart of this relationship was a festering racial inequity.

The musicians were mostly African Americans, and the clubs and means of production were owned by white men. it was a glorified plantation system that, over time, would find itself out of tune with an emerging civil rights movement.


REVIEW: Extremism turns peaceful city upside down in ‘Flowers in Flames’

REVIEW: Extremism turns peaceful city upside down in ‘Flowers in Flames’
Updated 20 September 2022

REVIEW: Extremism turns peaceful city upside down in ‘Flowers in Flames’

REVIEW: Extremism turns peaceful city upside down in ‘Flowers in Flames’

CHICAGO: Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2018 and newly translated into English in 2022, “Flowers in Flames” is by award-winning Sudanese author Amir Tag Elsir.

Weaving a narrative made up of ethereal dreams and harsh wakefulness, Elsir introduces readers to Sur, a city where Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Africans, and Europeans peacefully coexist.

Among the residents is a small group of Copts including Khamila, the narrator of the tale. Between Khamila, her father Jamari Azer, the wealthiest corn merchant in the city, and a host of community members, residents live predictable lives until rumors of a threat emerge and life is turned upside down.

Translated into English by Raphael Cohen, Sur appears like a light and is extinguished just as fast when the Righteous One and his extremists overrun the city.

Through Khamila, readers discover Sur, a rich city built by the multiple personalities that call it home. Governed by the Turk Yusuf Dameer, the residents have eased into life, providing each other with sustenance and engaging relationships. In a large melting pot like Sur, there are bound to be religious and patriarchal boundaries that are not crossed, but everything is dealt with peacefully.

Khamila is a young Copt in her twenties and is curious about the world around her. She lives in a city that has moved between cultures and religions throughout the ages, creating a special place to call home. But the welcoming atmosphere diminishes when war arrives.

According to Khamila, Sur is a city, “that had always swung between order and chaos, between civilization and a charming primitiveness, but had always been a home for every community and faith.” And it is for this reason that the Righteous One and his extremists target Sur.

As people begin to disappear, and food becomes scarce, Khamila’s world fades. She realizes that she may never see the people she once loved and lived with again. The comfort and safety that she once knew is snatched away in an underground bunker in Majd Square where the women are kept safe and then ultimately captured.

Like Sur, a transitional city between ancient and modern, accommodating to the various cultures and religions it represents, the attack represents a transitional time in Elsir’s fictional world, from liberal and open-minded to extreme conservative thought. Caught in the crosswinds are the people who have no desire to be forced into a new normal.

Elsir masterfully brings readers into Sur to fall in love with its inhabitants and then quickly snatches it away when extremist ideology befalls them. His story is one of a vibrant city that disappears overnight and with it the people who have shaped it for centuries.