New Books in History podcast

Jay Rubenstein, “Apocalypse Then: The First Crusade” (Open Agenda, 2021)

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Apocalypse Then: The First Crusade is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jay Rubenstein, Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Premodern World at the University of Southern California, and provides us with fascinating insights into medieval society. How did the First Crusade happen? What could have suddenly caused tens of thousands of knights, commoners and even nuns at the end of the 11th century to leave their normal lives behind and trek thousands of miles across hostile territory in an unprecedented vicious and bloody quest to wrest Jerusalem from its occupying powers? Jay Rubenstein, historian of the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual worlds of Europe in the Middle Ages, carefully explores those questions based on his extensive research while discussing the Apocalypse: the crusaders’ sincere belief that the end of the world was approaching and their opportunity to participate in the last stage of the divine plan. Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadshow, Ideas on Film and host of the Ideas Roadshow Podcast. He can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

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    Anne Hugon, "Etre mère en situation coloniale: Gold Coast (années 1910-1950)" (Editions de la Sorbonne, 2020)


    For a majority of African women, the “colonial encounter” occurred at the maternity ward, the health centre, or Maternal and Infant Welfare Centres. In Être mère en situation coloniale: Gold Coast (années 1910-1950) (Editions de la Sorbonne, 2020), Anne Hugon analyzes the consequences of colonialism on colonized women, through a history of maternal and child health institutions in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). How were colonial biomedical interventions around pregnancy and childbirth implemented? How did the women who sought care in these centres perceive and repurpose such interventions? By relying on administrative archives of medical services, oral history with retired midwives, private archives, and newspapers, this book sheds light on the multifaceted experiences of African mothers in a colonial context. Anne Hugon is an Associate Professor of African History at Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne and a member of the Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAf). Thomas Zuber is a PhD Candidate in History at Columbia University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    David Herzberg, "White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and the Hidden History of Addiction in America" (U Chicago Press, 2020)


    The contemporary opioid crisis is widely seen as new and unprecedented. Not so. It is merely the latest in a long series of drug crises stretching back over a century. In White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and the Hidden History of Addiction in America (U Chicago Press, 2020), David Herzberg explores these crises and the drugs that fueled them, from Bayer's Heroin to Purdue's OxyContin and all the drugs in between: barbiturate "goof balls," amphetamine "thrill pills," the "love drug" Quaalude, and more. As Herzberg argues, the vast majority of American experiences with drugs and addiction have taken place within what he calls "white markets," where legal drugs called medicines are sold to a largely white clientele. These markets are widely acknowledged but no one has explained how they became so central to the medical system in a nation famous for its "drug wars"--until now. Drawing from federal, state, industry, and medical archives alongside a wealth of published sources, Herzberg re-connects America's divided drug history, telling the whole story for the first time. He reveals that the driving question for policymakers has never been how to prohibit the use of addictive drugs, but how to ensure their availability in medical contexts, where profitability often outweighs public safety. Access to white markets was thus a double-edged sword for socially privileged consumers, even as communities of color faced exclusion and punitive drug prohibition. To counter this no-win setup, Herzberg advocates for a consumer protection approach that robustly regulates all drug markets to minimize risks while maintaining safe, reliable access (and treatment) for people with addiction. Accomplishing this requires rethinking a drug/medicine divide born a century ago that, unlike most policies of that racially segregated era, has somehow survived relatively unscathed into the twenty-first century. By showing how the twenty-first-century opioid crisis is only the most recent in a long history of similar crises of addiction to pharmaceuticals, Herzberg forces us to rethink our most basic ideas about drug policy and addiction itself--ideas that have been failing us catastrophically for over a century. David Herzberg is an associate professor of history at the University of Buffalo is also the author of Happy Pills in America from Milltown to Prozac. David is also the co-editor of the journal Social History of Alcohol and Drugs.  Jay Shifman is a vulnerable storyteller, a stigma-destroying speaker, and the founder of Choose Your Struggle podcast. A guy in long-term recovery, Jay is dedicated to ending stigma and promoting fact-based education around Mental Health, Substance Misuse & Recovery, and Drug Use & Policy. You can learn more about Jay at his links here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Samuel Moyn, "Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War" (FSG, 2021)


    Is it possible that efforts to make war more humane can actually make it more common and thus more destructive?   This tension at the heart of this query lies at the heart of Samuel Moyn's new book Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2021). He draws fascinating connections between literary figures such as Tolstoy and Bertha von Suttner, civil society organizations such as the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, and politicans and military figures to try to understand a central question: why, when we have done so much to limit the violence inherent in war, has war remained so common. His answer is counterintuitive and challenging--it is precisely the limitations on violence that have taken some of the urgency out of the effort to eliminate war itself. The result, he suggests, is as series of forever wars.   Moyn's anaylsis is fascinating. But Moyn also reminds the reader about historical figures and movements widely known at the time but largely ignored in recent times. The result is a fascinating survey of the history of anti-war movements and the debates within them as they tried to imagine and create a world in soldiers, or some of them, put down their weapons, or some of them, to end the violence, or as much of it as they could. Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Shaoling Ma, "The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861–1906" (Duke UP, 2021)


    In this episode, I interview Shaoling Ma, professor of Humanities (Literature) at Yale-NUS about her new book, The Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861-1906 (Duke UP, 2021). In this fascinating book, Ma grapples with theoretical and historical questions of media and mediation in the late Qing. Calling on a diverse set of sources, including diplomatic records, science fiction novels, modern poetry, and telegraphic dispatches among many others, Ma’s examines “mediation in terms of the discursive interactions with physical devices and material processes of communication” (49). By reading the treatment of documents and labor in Wu Jianren’s New Story of the Stone against representations of the new, “stoney” lithographic practices of the Dianshizhai Pictorial, or showing how the Boxer crisis shaped understandings of telegraphy and transmission, The Stone and the Wireless enriches not only Chinese studies, but also speaks broadly to scholarship on media and technology. In her conclusion, Ma teases readers with an interpretation of a very recent Chinese sci-fi novel, convincingly making the case for the contemporary political relevance of her study. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Drew A. Thompson, "Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times" (U Michigan Press, 2021)


    Photographers and their images were critical to the making of Mozambique, first as a colony of Portugal and then as independent nation at war with apartheid in South Africa. When the Mozambique Liberation Front came to power, it invested substantial human and financial resources in institutional structures involving photography, and used them to insert the nation into global debates over photography's use. The materiality of the photographs created had effects that neither the colonial nor postcolonial state could have imagined. Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times (U Michigan Press, 2021) tells a history of photography alongside state formation to understand the process of decolonization and state development after colonial rule. At the center of analysis are an array of photographic and illustrated materials from Mozambique, South Africa, Portugal, and Italy. Thompson recreates through oral histories and archival research the procedures and regulations that engulfed the practice and circulation of photography. If photographers and media bureaucracy were proactive in placing images of Mozambique in international news, Mozambicans were agents of self-representation, especially when it came to appearing or disappearing before the camera lens. Drawing attention to the multiple images that one published photograph may conceal, Filtering Histories introduces the popular and material formations of portraiture and photojournalism that informed photography's production, circulation, and archiving in a place like Mozambique. The book reveals how the use of photography by the colonial state and the liberation movement overlapped, and the role that photography played in the transition of power from colonialism to independence. Drew A. Thompson is Assistant Professor of Historical and Africana Studies and Director of Africana Studies, Bard College. Sara Katz is a postdoctoral associate in the history department at Duke University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Michael S. Neiberg, "When France Fell: The Vichy Crisis and the Fate of the Anglo-American Alliance" (Harvard UP, 2021)


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    Saskia E. Wieringa and Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, "Propaganda and the Genocide in Indonesia" (Routledge, 2018)


    Several months ago, Saskia Wieringa joined her co-authors Jess Melvin and Annie Pohlman on the show to talk about their edited volume The International People's Tribunal for 1965 and the Indonesian Genocide.   This time, Wieringa is on the show to talk about another co-edited volume.  Propaganda and the Genocide in Indonesia (Routledge, 2018) is a kind of companion volume to the first study. Wieringa and Katjusungkana focus here on the way in which propaganda set the stage for, encouraged participation in and offered explanations for the genocide. This campaign portrayed communists as enemies of the Indonesian nation. But more than that, the propaganda leveraged already existing political and gender stereotypes, presenting communists as atheists, hypersexualized and amoral. This propaganda was and remains widely accepted in Indonesia, enabling mass violence in the 1960s and political persecution in the decades since. But the book expands at time from its core focus on propaganda, shedding new light on the events of 30 September and, in particular, on the impacts of the violence on contemporary Indonesian society. Scholars and casual readers will find much of interest in the book. Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Álvaro Santana-Acuña, "Ascent to Glory: How One Hundred Years of Solitude Was Written and Became a Global Classic" (Columbia UP, 2020)


    One Hundred Years of Solitude is a revered classic today fifty five years after it was first published in 1967. Today I talked to Alvaro Santana Acuña a sociologist and historian who describes the ingredients that went into manufacturing the success of this book. In Ascent to Glory: How One Hundred Years of Solitude Was Written and Became a Global Classic (Columbia UP, 2020), Alvaro Santana-Acuña first deconstructs the “fake news” surrounding García Márquez and then describes the cultural brokers, the literary cognoscenti of the Boom, the gatekeepers, the Spanish publishing industry and the Casa de las Americas who made the One Hundred Years of Solitude a bestseller across generations. The multitudinous references in this book are part of the archives that Alvaro Santana-Acuña has curated for an exhibition “Gabriel Garcia Márquez – The Making of a Global Writer” by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin which will run till January 2022. Minni Sawhney is a professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Delhi Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Anustup Basu, "Hindutva as Political Monotheism" (Duke UP, 2020)


    In Hindutva as Political Monotheism (Duke University Press, 2020), Professor Anustup Basu provides a genealogical study of Hindutva. The interview is a discussion upon the connection drawn by the author between the Hindu nationalism and Carl Schmitt’s idea of political theology to portray the orientalist and Eurocentric nature of the Hindutva ideology. Further, the podcast is an enquiry into the ideas portrayed by Professor Basu throughout his book, ranging from complications that accompany the Hindutva insistence on the original varna system, the journey of Indian modernization, and the emergence of Hindutva 2.0 as advertised monotheism. As pointed out by the author, this book is not an answer to the present but an investigation of the present ground. Shruti Dixit is a PhD Divinity Candidate at CSRP, University of St Andrews, researching the Hindu-Christian Dialogue in Apocalyptic Prophecies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Barbara Martin, "Dissident Histories in the Soviet Union: From De-Stalinization to Perestroika" (Bloomsbury, 2019)


    In Dissident Histories in the Soviet Union: From De-Stalinization to Perestroika (Bloomsbury,, 2019), Barbara Martin traces the careers of four prominent figures: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Roy Medvedev, Aleksandr Nekrich and Anton Antonov-Ovseenko. Based on extensive archival research into these four authors, Martin provides a new account of dissident history writing in the Soviet Union from the post-Stalin Thaw through to the Brezhnev era and Perestroika. Dissident Histories illuminates the challenges associated with researching, writing and publishing Soviet history and the critical impact that this work had on intellectual life in the Soviet Union. Barbara Martin is a postdoctoral researcher within the Department of History at the University of Basel. Iva Glisic is a historian and art historian specialising in modern Russia and the Balkans. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

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