Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia’s History
Basic Books (US), Allen Lane (UK)
Water’s excess and its absence, its ownership and its distribution, have shaped modern Asia. Today, the great rivers that originate in the Himalayas flow through sixteen Asian countries, nourishing a quarter of the world’s population. Nine out of the ten world megacities most at risk from rising sea levels are in Asia. As Asia’s global power and its environmental peril grow in tandem, Unruly Waters boldly reimagines the continent’s history through the dramatic story of its rains, rivers, coasts, and seas. Crossing political frontiers to situate India in relation to China and Southeast Asia, the prize-winning historian Sunil Amrith highlights the connections forged by water, which links the monsoon clouds to stores of water deep underground, and the heights of the Tibetan plateau to the seabed of the Indian Ocean.
Since the nineteenth century, the effort to control Asia’s waters has motivated weather-watchers and engineers, mapmakers and statesmen, farmers and town planners. Unruly Waters tells of the century- long quest to understand the monsoon and its behavior, which prompted innovation in sciences ranging from meteorology to oceanography. It describes how water emerged as a political problem- how dreams and fears of water shaped visions of political independence and economic development, provoked escalating interventions to reshape nature through dams and canals, and unleashed tensions between and within nations.
About the Author
Sunil Amrith is the Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies and Professor of History at Harvard University and a 2017 MacArthur Fellow. The prize- winning author of Crossing the Bay of Bengal (2013), as well as several other books and articles, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Orphans of Empire: The Fate of London’s Foundlings
Oxford University Press (UK, US)
Eighteenth-century London was teeming with humanity, and poverty was never far from politeness. Legend has it that, on his daily commute through this thronging metropolis, Captain Thomas Coram witnessed one of the city’s most shocking sights-the widespread abandonment of infant corpses by the roadside. He could have just passed by. Instead, he devised a plan to create a charity that would care for these infants; one that was to have enormous consequences for children born into poverty in Britain over the next two hundred years.
Orphans of Empire tells the story of what happened to the thousands of children who were raised at the London Foundling Hospital, Coram’s brainchild, which opened in 1741 and grew to become the most famous charity in Georgian England. It provides vivid insights into the lives and fortunes of London’s poorest children, from the earliest days of the Foundling Hospital to the mid-Victorian era, when Charles Dickens was moved by his observations of the charity’s work to campaign on behalf of orphans. Through the lives of London’s foundlings, this book provides readers with a street-level insight into the wider global history of a period of monumental change in British history as the nation grew into the world’s leading superpower. Some foundling children were destined for Britain’s ‘outer Empire’ overseas, but many more toiled in the ‘inner Empire’, labouring in the cotton mills and factories of northern England at the dawn of the new industrial age.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
Simon & Schuster (US, UK)
2018 marked 200 years since the birth of Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became one of the greatest orators and writers of his generation, a leading abolitionist and political activist of the nineteenth century, and one of the most significant figures in American history. On October 16, 2018, Simon & Schuster published Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom a definitive biography of Douglass by prize-winning historian David Blight. Based on nearly a lifetime of research, as well as letters and papers housed in a private collection which no biographer has previously referenced, Blight’s masterpiece is the first major biography of Douglass in a quarter century, and offers new insight into the life and legacy of one of this country’s most towering figures.
The voice of Frederick Douglass—the unapologetic prophet and radical—has never been more relevant or necessary. Douglass’s voice has been echoed by black leaders throughout history—from W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King Jr. to Barack Obama and members of the Black Lives Matter movement. At a time in this country when the question of freedom looms large, what we can take from Douglass’s legacy is how he understood the complexities of what it means to be truly free, and how he used his powerful voice to challenge inequality.
About the Author
David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life, and been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others.
Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice
Oxford University Press (UK, US)
A single word―”Auschwitz”―is often used to encapsulate the totality of persecution and suffering involved in what we call the Holocaust.
Yet a focus on a single concentration camp- however horrific, however massively catastrophic its scale - leaves an incomplete story, a truncated history. It cannot fully communicate the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side
of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. In the process, we also miss the continuing legacy of Nazi persecution across generations, and across continents.
Mary Fulbrook’s encompassing book expands our understanding, exploring the lives of individuals across a full spectrum of suffering and guilt, each one capturing one small part of the greater story. Reckonings seeks to explore the disjuncture between official myths about dealing with the past, on
the one hand, and the extent to which the vast majority of Nazi perpetrators evaded justice, on the other. The Holocaust is not mere history, and the memorial landscape barely hints at the maelstrom of reverberations of the Nazi era at a personal level.
About the Author
Mary Fulbrook is Professor of German History at UCL. She is the author of many books on German and European history, including the Fraenkel Prize- winning A Small Town near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust. A Fellow of the British Academy, she is former Chair of the German History Society and was founding Joint Editor of its journal, German History. Among other commitments, she serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the Foundation for the former Concentration Camps at Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora. She is currently directing an AHRC- funded research project on ‘Compromised Identities? Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism’.
A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution
University of Chicago Press (US), Allen Lane (UK)
Long before colonial powers began asserting their influence, Africa had already been globally connected for centuries. With A Fistful of Shells, Toby Green collects the histories of West and West-Central Africa and shows us the world of these kingdoms, which revolved around trade, diplomacy, complex religious beliefs, and the production of art. Green reveals how the slave trade led to economic disparities that caused African kingdoms to lose relative political and economic power. Drawing not just on written histories, but also on archival research in nine countries, art, oral history, archaeology, and letters, Green lays bare the transformations that have shaped world politics and the global economy since the fifteenth century and paints a new and masterful portrait of West Africa, past and present.
Toby Green’s groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West-Central Africa. It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence (like those of Europe) revolved around warfare, taxation, trade, diplomacy, complex religious beliefs, royal display and extravagance, and the production of art. A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, on art, praise-singers, oral history, archaeology, letters, and the author’s personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world’s most important regions.
About the Author
Toby Green is a senior lecturer in Lusophone African history and culture at King’s College London. He has written a number of previous books, including The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589, and his work has been translated into twelve languages. After holding fellowships from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, in 2015 he was recipient of a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award. He has also been PI of research projects funded by the AHRC, British Library, European Union, and the Leverhulme Trust, and was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for History in 2017.
American Eden: David Hosack, Botony, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
Liveright Publishing (US)
When Dr David Hosack tilled the America’s first botanical garden in the Manhattan soil more than two hundred years ago, he didn’t just dramatically alter the New York landscape; he left a monumental legacy of advocacy for public health and wide-ranging support for the sciences. A charismatic dreamer admired by the likes of Jefferson, Madison and Humboldt, and intimate friends with both Hamilton and Burr, the Columbia professor devoted his life
to inspiring Americans to pursue medicine and botany with a rigour to rival Europe’s. Though he
was shoulder-to-shoulder with the founding fathers Hosack and his story remain unknown. Now, in melodic prose, Victoria Johnson eloquently chronicles Hosack’s tireless career to reveal the breadth of his impact.
About the Author
Victoria Johnson is Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where she teaches on philanthropy, nonprofits, and the history of New York City. She has been a Fellow of the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and a Mellon Visiting Scholar at the New
York Botanical Garden. American Eden won the 2018 John Brinkerhoff Jackson Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies, the 2018 New York City Book Award from the New York Society Library, and the 2019 Colonial Dames of America Book Award. It was also a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.
These Truths: A History of the United States
W. W. Norton & Company (US, UK)
The American experiment rests on three ideas-”these truths”, Jefferson called them-political equality, natural rights and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, “on a dedication to inquiry, fearless and unflinching”, writes Jill Lepore in a ground-breaking investigation into the American past that places truth at the centre of the nation’s history. Telling the story of America, beginning in 1492, These Truths asks whether the course of events has proven the nation’s founding truths or belied them. Finding meaning in contradiction, Lepore weaves American history into
a tapestry of faith and hope, of peril and prosperity, of technological progress and moral anguish. This spellbinding chronicle offers an authoritative new history of a great, and greatly troubled, nation.
About the Author
Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. A prize-winning professor, she teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, humanistic inquiry, and American history. Much of her scholarship explores absences and asymmetries in the historical record, with a particular emphasis on the history and technology of evidence. As a wide-ranging and prolific essayist, Lepore writes about American history, law, literature, and politics. She is the author of many award-winning books, including the bestselling These Truths: A History of the United States (2018). Her latest book is This America: The Case for the Nation (2019).
Maoism: A Global History
The Bodley Head (UK), Knopf (US)
For decades, the West has dismissed Maoism as an outdated historical and political phenomenon. Since the 1980s, China seems to have abandoned the utopian turmoil of Mao’s revolution in favour of authoritarian capitalism. But Mao and his ideas remain central to the People’s Republic and the legitimacy of its Communist government. With disagreements and conflicts between China and the West on the rise, the need to understand the political legacy of Mao is urgent and growing.
The power and appeal of Maoism have extended far beyond China. Maoism was a crucial motor of the Cold War: it shaped the course of the Vietnam War (and the international youth rebellions that conflict triggered) and brought to power the murderous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; it aided, and sometimes handed victory to, anti-colonial resistance movements in Africa; it inspired terrorism in Germany and Italy, and wars and insurgencies in Peru, India and Nepal, some of which are still with us today – more than forty years after the death of Mao.
In this new history, Julia Lovell re-evaluates Maoism as both a Chinese and an international force, linking its evolution in China with its global legacy. It is a story that takes us from the tea plantations of north India to the sierras of the Andes, from Paris’s fifth arrondissement to the fields of Tanzania, from the rice paddies of Cambodia to the terraces of Brixton.
About the Author
Julia Lovell is Professor of Modern China at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her two most recent books are The Great Wall and The Opium War (which won the 2012 Jan Michalski Prize). Her many translations of modern Chinese fiction into English include Lu Xun’s The Real Story of Ah Q, and other Tales of China (2009). She is currently completing
a new translation of Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. She writes about China for several newspapers, including the Guardian, Financial Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.