A timely and invigorating antidote to the quixotic bloviating that characterizes much contemporary debate on inter-cultural dialogue and cultural appropriation, this book foregrounds world culture writ large as “a huge recycling project,” where fierce enemies often turn out to be each other’s most faithful preservationists. Puchner, a ferociously well read and gifted storyteller, takes the reader on a grand and truly global tour of world history, visiting Paleolithic France, pharanoic Egypt, Classical Athens, Vesuvian Pompeii, early-Abbasid Baghdad, Columbian Mesoamerica, medieval Germany, Renaissance Portugal, late-Tokugawa Japan, Revolutionary Haiti, Victorian England, 20th-century Nigeria, and 21st-century Korea, with sojourns in ancient Ethiopia, India, and China. Focusing on morally fraught and often violent moments of cultural exchange, these vivid portraits of art, diplomacy, and travel grant expansive insights into the abounding internal contradictions that come down to us in our shared glorious, corrupted, vital, inspiring, and conflicting traditions.
Whether understood as a concept or a tool, time is elusive and can be perceived and put to use in myriad ways. History is full of examples, and itself serves to show the ever-increasing importance time has played in regulating our lives. This is the theme of Rooney's engrossing study. Using clocks and other measuring devices as a lens for charting our relationship to time--one that has grown to represent many aspects of our lives--he shows how various leaders, institutions, and ordinary individuals have used time to signify qualities ranging from grandeur to piety to learning.
Ben Macintyre, further burnishing his reputation as John le Carré’s nonfiction counterpart, recounts the story of another real-life, accomplished spy. This time his subject is Ursula Kuczynski—codename Sonya—who, over the course of a 20th-century career working for Moscow that took her from Germany to China, Poland, Switzerland, and eventually Britain, managed to elude German, British, and American authorities. Before coming in from the cold, she lived in a quiet village in the English Cotswolds with three children and a husband. Behind the facade of her picturesque life, she worked with nuclear physicist Klaus Fuchs, transmitting scientific secrets that enabled the Soviets to develop nuclear bombs