What We Are Reading Today: The Kings of Algiers

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Updated 18 November 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: The Kings of Algiers

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Author: Julie Kalman

At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the Bacri brothers and their nephew, Naphtali Busnach, were perhaps the most notorious Jews in the Mediterranean.
Based in the strategic port of Algiers, their interconnected families traded in raw goods and luxury items, brokered diplomatic relations with the Ottomans, and lent vital capital to warring nations.
For the French, British, and Americans, who competed fiercely for access to trade and influence in the region, there was no getting around the Bacris and the Busnachs. “The Kings of Algiers” traces the rise and fall of these two trading families over four tumultuous decades in the 19th century.
In this panoramic book, Julie Kalman restores their story — and Jewish history more broadly — to the histories of trade and high-stakes diplomacy in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath.
“The Kings of Algiers” brings vividly to life an age of competitive imperialism and nascent nationalism.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Snakes of Australia’

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Updated 15 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Snakes of Australia’

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Authors: TIE EIPPER AND SCOTT EIPPER

With more than 1,000 photographs, Snakes of Australia illustrates and describes in detail all 240 of the continent’s species and subspecies—from file snakes, pythons, colubrids, and natricids to elapids, marine elapids, homalopsids, and blind snakes.

It features introductions to each family, species descriptions, type locations, distribution maps, and quick-identification keys to each family and genera.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Data Economy’

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Updated 14 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Data Economy’

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Authors: ISAAC BALEY AND LAURA VELDKAMP

The most valuable firms in the global economy are valued largely for their data. Amazon, Apple, Google, and others have proven the competitive advantage of a good data set.

And yet despite the growing importance of data as a strategic asset, modern economic theory neglects its role. In this book, Isaac Baley and Laura Veldkamp draw on a range of theoretical frameworks at the research frontier in macroeconomics and finance.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Liquid Empire’

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Updated 13 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Liquid Empire’

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Author: COREY ROSS

In the 19th and 20th centuries, a handful of powerful European states controlled more than a third of the land surface of the planet.

These sprawling empires encompassed not only rainforests, deserts, and savannahs but also some of the world’s most magnificent rivers, lakes, marshes, and seas. “Liquid Empire” tells the story of how the waters of the colonial world shaped the history of imperialism, and how this imperial past still haunts us today.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Leon Battista Alberti: Writer and Humanist

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Updated 12 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Leon Battista Alberti: Writer and Humanist

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  • McLaughlin begins with what we know of Alberti’s life, comparing the facts laid out in Alberti’s autobiography with the myth created in the 19th century by Burckhardt, before moving on to his extraordinarily wide knowledge of classical texts

Author: Martin McLaughlin

Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) was one of the most prolific and original writers of the Italian Renaissance—a fact often eclipsed by his more celebrated achievements as an art theorist and architect, and by Jacob Burckhardt’s mythologizing of Alberti as a “Renaissance or Universal Man.” In this book, Martin McLaughlin counters this partial perspective on Alberti, considering him more broadly as a writer dedicated to literature and humanism, a major protagonist and experimentalist in the literary scene of early Renaissance Italy. McLaughlin, a noted authority on Alberti, examines all of Alberti’s major works in Latin and the Italian vernacular and analyzes his vast knowledge of classical texts and culture.

McLaughlin begins with what we know of Alberti’s life, comparing the facts laid out in Alberti’s autobiography with the myth created in the 19th century by Burckhardt, before moving on to his extraordinarily wide knowledge of classical texts. He then turns to Alberti’s works, tracing his development as a writer through texts that range from an early comedy in Latin successfully passed off as the work of a fictitious ancient author to later philosophical dialogues written in the Italian vernacular (a revolutionary choice at the time).

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes

What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes
Updated 11 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes

What We Are Reading Today: The Little Book of Black Holes

Authors: Steven S. Gubser & Frans Pretorius

Although Einstein understood that black holes were mathematical solutions to his equations, he never accepted their physical reality — a viewpoint many shared. 

This all changed in the 1960s and 1970s, when a deeper conceptual understanding of black holes developed just as new observations revealed the existence of quasars and X-ray binary star systems, whose mysterious properties could be explained by the presence of black holes.