What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Career Arts’ by Ben Wildavsky

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Career Arts’ by Ben Wildavsky
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Updated 14 November 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Career Arts’ by Ben Wildavsky

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Career Arts’ by Ben Wildavsky

Young people coming out of high school today can expect to hold many jobs over the course of their lives, which is why they need a range of essential skills.

“The Career Arts” provides a corrective to the widespread and misleading notion that there is a direct trade-off between going to college and acquiring practical job skills.

Ben Wildavsky cuts through the noise and anxiety surrounding this issue to offer sensible, clear-eyed guidance for anyone who is making decisions about education and career preparation with a view to getting ahead in the workforce.


What We Are Reading Today: Yuan: Chinese Architecture in Mongol Empire

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Updated 02 December 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: Yuan: Chinese Architecture in Mongol Empire

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  • “Yuan” presents the first comprehensive study in English of the architecture of China under Mongol rule

Author: Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt

The Yuan dynasty endured for a century, leaving behind an architectural legacy without equal, from palaces, temples, and pagodas to pavilions, tombs, and stages.
With a history enlivened by the likes of Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, this spectacular empire spanned the breadth of China and far, far beyond, but its rulers were Mongols.
“Yuan” presents the first comprehensive study in English of the architecture of China under Mongol rule.
Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt looks at cities such as the legendary Shangdu as well as the architecture the Mongols encountered on their routes of conquest.
She examines the buildings and monuments of diverse faiths in China during the period, from Buddhist and Daoist to Confucian, Islamic, and Christian, as well as unusual structures. Steinhardt dispels long-standing views of the Mongols as destroyers of cities and architecture across Asia, showing how the khans and their families built more than they tore down.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Price of Collapse by Timothy Brook

What We Are Reading Today: The Price of Collapse by Timothy Brook
Updated 01 December 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: The Price of Collapse by Timothy Brook

What We Are Reading Today: The Price of Collapse by Timothy Brook

In 1644, after close to three centuries of relative stability and prosperity, the Ming dynasty collapsed. Many historians attribute its demise to the Manchu invasion of China, but the truth is far more profound. “The Price of Collapse” provides an entirely new approach to the economic and social history of China, exploring how global climate crisis spelled the end of Ming rule.
The mid-17th century witnessed the deadliest phase of the Little Ice Age, when temperatures and rainfall plunged and world economies buckled.
Timothy Brook draws on the history of grain prices to paint a gripping portrait of the final tumultuous years of a once-great dynasty.
A masterful work of scholarship, “The Price of Collapse” reconstructs the experience of ordinary people under the immense pressure of unaffordable prices as their country slid from prosperity to calamity and shows how the market mediated the relationship between an empire and the climate that turned against it.


What We Are Reading Today: Tales Things Tell

What We Are Reading Today: Tales Things Tell
Updated 30 November 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: Tales Things Tell

What We Are Reading Today: Tales Things Tell

Authors: Finbarr Barry Flood & Beate Fricke

“Tales Things Tell” offers new perspectives on histories of connectivity between Africa, Asia, and Europe in the period before the Mongol conquests of the 13th century. 

Reflected in objects and materials whose circulation and reception defined aesthetic, economic, and technological networks that existed outside established political and sectarian boundaries, many of these histories are not documented in the written sources on which historians usually rely. 

“Tales Things Tell” charts bold new directions in art history, making a compelling case for the archival value of mobile artifacts and images in reconstructing the past.

In this illustrated book, Finbarr Barry Flood and Beate Fricke present six illuminating case studies from the 6th to the 13th centuries to show how portable objects mediated the mobility of concepts, iconographies, and techniques.

The case studies range from metalwork to stone reliefs, manuscript paintings, and objects using natural materials such as coconut and rock crystal. 


What We Are Reading Today: Changing the Game

What We Are Reading Today: Changing the Game
Updated 29 November 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: Changing the Game

What We Are Reading Today: Changing the Game

Author: Nancy Weiss Malkiel

As provost and then president of Princeton University, William G. Bowen (1933–2016) took on the biggest and most complex challenges confronting higher education: cost disease, inclusion, affirmative action, college access, and college completion. Later, as president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, he took his vision for higher education—and the strategies for accomplishing that vision—to a larger arena. 

In “Changing the Game,” drawing on deep archival research and hundreds of interviews, Nancy Weiss Malkiel argues that Bowen was the most consequential higher education leader of his generation.


Review: ‘The House of the Coptic Woman’ is intelligent, complex and rich 

Review: ‘The House of the Coptic Woman’ is intelligent, complex and rich 
Updated 29 November 2023
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Review: ‘The House of the Coptic Woman’ is intelligent, complex and rich 

Review: ‘The House of the Coptic Woman’ is intelligent, complex and rich 

CHICAGO: In rural Upper Egypt, public prosecutor Nader Fayez Kamal arrives in the village of Tayea, where tension is high between Coptic and Muslim communities in award-winning novelist and legal scholar Ashraf El-Ashmawi’s novel, “The House of the Coptic Woman.” Beginning a new job as a deputy public prosecutor on the outskirts of town, Nader must navigate a tricky post with complicated relationships between people and the land they live on. Translated into English by Peter Daniel, Nader finds life away from Cairo more complex than he had hoped for, but faces it with a strong legal mind and a penchant for solving mysteries. 

On the night Nader arrives at the rest house to begin his new job, he meets a caretaker named Ramses who tells him that the lodge was originally built by a British irrigation engineer who was in charge of northern Upper Egypt before he was murdered in the 1940s. From that event, history changed the face of the village which by 1952, after the Egyptian revolution, changes its name to Tayea after the mayor. With a history of religious tension, Nader isn’t prepared for what’s about to happen. Coinciding with his arrival is the appearance of a young woman named Hoda who appears in the middle of the night with a secret that will change her life and that of those around her.  

With an atmosphere that is foreboding, El-Ashmawi’s incredible storytelling sets the mood as the novel shifts between Nader and Hoda. Between the divisive village life, arson attacks, murders that are never solved, and mysterious land acquisitions and sales, Nader and Hoda are thrown into a world where they are forced to tread carefully. Nader has a knack for stepping on toes but has to learn the hard way that the path to justice and peace can be messy.   

Setting a tone that is intelligent, complex, deceptive, and rich, El-Ashmawi’s novel encompasses sectarian strife and a debate about justice. There are laws that penalize for small offences and others in which the punishment is far less than the offense. In a place where justice is more concerned with politics, the protagonists will find themselves facing decisions that could alter their lives forever.