April 2014

Gandhi Before India

April 29, 2014

The first volume of what may well be the definitive biography of Mohandas Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha’s Gandhi Before India covers the years from Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his departure from South Africa in July, 1914. Biographers have often treated Gandhi’s earlier life– especially his two decades working in South Africa–as a  little more than […]

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History on Display: Lost Kingdoms

April 26, 2014

On my annual visit to New York for writerly stuff, I always try to squeeze in a visit to a museum or that mecca for all book lovers, the Strand Bookstore. This year, with my office over-flowing with books and a move on the horizon, I promised My Own True Love that I would stay […]

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Traveling the Silk Roads

April 23, 2014

We tend to use the phrase “the Silk Road” as if it were the Route 66 of East-West commerce. In fact, it is a metaphor. German geographer Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen (1833-1905) invented the name in the late nineteenth century, long after the overland luxury routes between Asia and the West had been supplanted by […]

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Road Trip Through History: The Planning Stages

April 18, 2014

My Own True Love and I are in the early planning stages of an adventure. This fall we’re going to drive along the Mississippi from Minnesota to Louisiana on the Great River Road. * Three weeks of roots music, regional food, and historical sites. (Not to mention blog posts.) It’s an open question whether we’ll […]

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Road Trip Through History: The Alamo

April 15, 2014

The first thing that struck me about the Alamo when I visited it with My Own True Love back in October* was how small it is.** It casts a historical shadow disproportionate to its size. The Alamo is billed as “the shrine of Texas liberty”. Consequently, I expected a monument to the famous last stand […]

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The Crusades From Another Perspective

April 11, 2014

Recently I’ve been reading Sharan Newman’s Defending The City of God: A Medieval Queen, The First Crusade And The Quest for Peace In Jerusalem. It was a perfect read for March, which was Women’s History Month.* Newman tells the story of a historical figure who was completely new to me. Melisende (1105-1161) was the first […]

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The Other American Colonies

April 8, 2014

I struggled to come up with a title for this post that was not United States-centric*–a fact which pretty much sums up the topic at hand. For most Americans** the grade school version of history that we carry in our heads jumps from Columbus in 1492 straight to the arrival of the Puritans in Massachusetts […]

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The Invention of News

April 3, 2014

At a time when digital media is transforming the way news is delivered–and by whom– Andrew Pettegree offers a reminder that newspapers too were once a revolutionary form of delivering information. In The Invention of News: How The World Came To Know About Itself, Pettegree looks at the changing definition, use, control, and distribution of […]

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