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Howard Mortman's book When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill (Cherry Orchard, 2020) is about the rabbis. It’s an unprecedented examination of 160 years of Jewish prayers delivered in the literal and figurative center of American democracy. With exhaustive research written in approachable prose, it uni…
 
When Charles II ascended the English throne in 1660 after two decades of civil war, he was confronted with domestic disarray and a sprawling empire in chaos. His government sought to assert control and affirm the King’s sovereignty by touting his stewardship of both England’s land and the improvement of his subjects’ health. In An Empire Transforme…
 
The majority of Poland’s prewar Jewish population who fled to the interior of the Soviet Union managed to survive World War II and the Holocaust. Polish Jews in the Soviet Union (1939-1959): History and Memory of Deportation, Exile, and Survival (Academic Studies Press, 2021) tells the story of more than 200,000 Polish Jews who came to a foreign co…
 
In Academic Apartheid: Race and the Criminalization of Failure in an American Suburb (U California Press, 2022), sociologist Sean J. Drake addresses long-standing problems of educational inequality from a nuanced perspective, looking at how race and class intersect to affect modern school segregation. Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic …
 
Saudi global export of an ultra-conservative strand of Islam and its impact on Muslim countries and communities across the globe has been a hotly debate topic for more than two decades. The rise of jihadist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and their attacks in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa fuelled the debate, particularly si…
 
Duncan Ryuken Williams was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Japanese mother and British father. After growing up in Japan and England until age 17, he moved to the U.S. to attend college (Reed College) and graduate school (Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in Religion). Williams is currently a Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages & C…
 
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to Michael Berry, Director of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies on American scapegoating, Chinese censorship and the sad story of Fang Fang's brave and influential COVID-19 memoir, Wuhan Diary. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of thre…
 
Today I speak with Alejandro Nava about his new book, Street Scriptures: Between God and Hip-Hop (U Chicago Press, 2022). This book explores an important aspect of hip-hop that is rarely considered: its deep entanglement with spiritual life. The world of hip-hop is saturated with religion, but rarely is that element given serious consideration. In …
 
The great forces of population change – the balance of births, deaths and migrations – have made the world what it is today. They have determined which countries are superpowers and which languish in relative obscurity, which economies top the international league tables and which are at best also-rans. The same forces that have shaped our past and…
 
What is the hidden history of performers of colour in in British theatre? In British Black and Asian Shakespeareans: Integrating Shakespeare, 1966–2018 (Arden Shakespeare, 2022), Jami Rogers, an honorary fellow at Department of English at University of Warwick, examines this question with one of the most central parts of British theatre and culture…
 
Today's vision of world order is founded upon the concept of strong, well-functioning states, in contrast to the destabilizing potential of failed or fragile states. This worldview has dominated international interventions over the past 30 years as enormous resources have been devoted to developing and extending the governance capacity of weak or f…
 
Stephen Vider uncovers how LGBTQ people reshaped domestic life in the postwar United States. From the Stonewall riots to the protests of ACT UP, histories of queer and trans politics have almost exclusively centered on public activism. In The Queerness of Home: Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity After World War II (U Chicago Press, …
 
Few substances have been researched as extensively, and debated as fiercely, as cannabis. In Marijuana on My Mind: The Science and Mystique of Cannabis (Cambridge University Press, 2022), psychiatrist Timmen Cermak offers a balanced, science-based analysis of how marijuana affects people physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually. Cermak dra…
 
It is 2084. Climate change has made life on the Caribbean island of Bajacu a gruelling trial. The sun is so hot that people must sleep in the day and live and work at night. In a world of desperate scarcity, people who reach forty are expendable. Those who still survive in the cities and towns are ruled over by the brutal, fascistic Domins, and the…
 
Elijah is a zealous prophet, attacking idolatry and injustice, championing God. He performs miracles, restoring life and calling down fire. When his earthly life ends, he vanishes in a whirlwind, carried off to heaven in a fiery chariot. Was this a spectacular death, or did Elijah escape death entirely? The latter view prevailed. Though residing in…
 
An interdisciplinary collection in the new field of environmental humanities, Chinese Environmental Ethics: Religions, Ontologies, and Practices (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021) brings together Chinese environmental ethics, religious ontology, and religious practice to explore how traditional Chinese religio-environmental ethics are actually put into…
 
The House of Marvellous Books by Fiona Vigo Marshall (Fairlight Books 2022) describes a publishing house called The House of Marvelous Books that houses an old library in the center of London and hovers on the brink of financial disaster. Told in journal entries over the course of a year by Junior editor Mortimer Blakely-Smith, the publishing house…
 
Stewart Brand has long been famous if you know who he is, but for many people outside the counterculture, early computing, or the environmental movement, he is perhaps best known for his famous mantra "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." Steve Jobs's endorsement of these words as his code to live by is fitting; Brand has played many roles, but one of the m…
 
For centuries, art censorship has been a top-down phenomenon—kings, popes, and one-party states decided what was considered obscene, blasphemous, or politically deviant in art. Today, censorship can also happen from the bottom-up, thanks to calls to action from organizers and social media campaigns. Artists and artworks are routinely taken to task …
 
With the war in Ukraine showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, it was thought a worthwhile idea to have an informed discussion with four expert historians of 19th and 20th century European and Eastern European, diplomatic and military history. As you can readily see from the below biographies, this is a superior and award-winning panel. Please …
 
Recent years have seen out-of-control wildfires rage across remote Brazilian rainforests, densely populated California coastlines, and major cities in Australia. What connects these separate events is more than immediate devastation and human loss of life. In Global Burning: Rising Antidemocracy and the Climate Crisis (Stanford UP, 2022), Eve Daria…
 
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