What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form

What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form
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Updated 07 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form

What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form

Authors: David P. Billington and David P. Billington Jr. 

Power, Speed, and Form is the first accessible account of the engineering behind eight breakthrough innovations that transformed American life from 1876 to 1939—the telephone, electric power, oil refining, the automobile, the airplane, radio, the long-span steel bridge, and building with reinforced concrete.

Beginning with Thomas Edison’s system to generate and distribute electric power, the authors explain the Bell telephone, the oil refining processes of William Burton and Eugene Houdry, Henry Ford’s Model T car and the response by General Motors, the Wright brothers’ airplane, radio innovations from Marconi to Armstrong, Othmar Ammann’s George Washington Bridge, the reinforced concrete structures of John Eastwood and Anton Tedesko.


What We Are Reading Today: On Savage Shores

What We Are Reading Today: On Savage Shores
Updated 07 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: On Savage Shores

What We Are Reading Today: On Savage Shores

Author: Caroline Dodds Pennock
 

Caroline Dodds Pennock’s “On Savage Shores” is a landmark work of narrative history that tells the story of the indigenous Americans who journeyed across the Atlantic to Europe after 1492. 

We have long been taught to presume that modern global history began when the “Old World” encountered the “New,” when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America in 1492, but for tens of thousands of Aztecs, Maya, Totonacs, Inuit and others — the reverse was true: they discovered Europe.

Drawing on their surviving literature and poetry, Pennock gives us a sweeping account of the indigenous American presence in, and impact on, early modern Europe.


What We Are Reading Today: The South China Sea

What We Are Reading Today: The South China Sea
Updated 06 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The South China Sea

What We Are Reading Today: The South China Sea

Author: Bill Hayton

The book explains why the world can’t afford to be indifferent to the simmering conflict in the South China Sea.

China’s rise has upset the global balance of power, and the first place to feel the strain is Beijing’s back yard: the South China Sea. 

For decades tensions have smoldered in the region, but today the threat of a direct confrontation among superpowers grows ever more likely. This important book is the first to make clear sense of the South Sea disputes. 

Bill Hayton, a journalist with extensive experience in the region, examines the high stakes involved for rival nations that include Vietnam, India, Taiwan, the Philippines, and China, as well as the US, Russia, and others. 

Hayton also lays out the daunting obstacles that stand in the way of peaceful resolution, according to a review on goodreads.com.

The book offers stories of individuals who have shaped current conflicts. 

Hayton makes understandable the complex history and contemporary reality of the South China Sea.

He underscores its crucial importance as the passageway for half the world’s merchant shipping and one-third of its oil and gas.

Whoever controls these waters controls the access between Europe, the middle east, South Asia, and the pacific.


What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict

What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict
Updated 05 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict

What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict

Authors: Prannoy Roy & Dorab R. Sopariwala

“The Verdict” unwraps many a fascinating but hidden story behind the stale and often intimidating numbers and tables on Indian elections over decades. It is also anecdotal, and in part, a political history of the country.

“The Verdict” discusses the key factors that win or lose elections in India, what does, or does not, make India’s democracy tick, and is this the end of anti-incumbency.

It also discusses whether opinion polls and exit polls are reliable, and does the Indian woman’s vote matter.

“The Verdict” uses rigorous psephology, original research, and facts to talk about the entire span of India’s entire electoral history-from the first elections in 1952, till today, according to a review on goodreads.com.

Written by Prannoy Roy, renowned for his knack of demystifying electoral politics, and Dorab Sopariwala, this book is regarded a compulsory reading for anyone interested in politics and elections in India.


What We Are Reading Today: The China Questions

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Updated 05 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The China Questions

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Author: Jennifer Rudolph

“The China Questions” provides a window into the challenges Beijing faces today and the uncertainties its meteoric ascent on the global horizon has provoked.
In only a few decades, the most populous country on Earth has moved from relative isolation to center stage. Thirty-six of the world’s leading China experts answer key questions about where this new superpower is headed and what makes its people and their leaders tick.
They distill a lifetime of cutting-edge scholarship into short, accessible essays about Chinese identity, culture, environment, society, history, or policy.
The book raises questions about whether China can embrace the sacrifices required for a clean environment.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Ugliness and Judgment

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Updated 04 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Ugliness and Judgment

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Author: Timothy Hyde

When buildings are deemed ugly, what are the consequences? In Ugliness and Judgment, Timothy Hyde considers the role of aesthetic judgment — and its concern for ugliness — in architectural debates and their resulting social effects across three centuries of British architectural history. From 18th-century ideas about Stonehenge to Prince Charles’s opinions about the National Gallery, Hyde uncovers a new story of aesthetic judgment, where arguments about architectural ugliness do not pertain solely to buildings or assessments of style, but intrude into other spheres of civil society.
Hyde explores how accidental and willful conditions of ugliness — including the gothic revival Houses of Parliament, the brutalist concrete of the South Bank, and the historicist novelty of Number One Poultry — have been debated in parliamentary committees, courtrooms, and public inquiries. He recounts how architects such as Christopher Wren, John Soane, James Stirling, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have been summoned by tribunals of aesthetic judgment.