In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.
In this fascinating exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction Murder in Britain in the nineteenth century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, transformed into novels, into broadsides and ballads, into theatre and melodrama and opera―even into puppet shows and performing dog-acts. Detective fiction and England's new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other―the pioneers of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens's Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell. [more inside]
The definitive edition of the classic, myth-shattering history of the American family Leave It to Beaver was not a documentary, a man's home has never been his castle, the "male breadwinner marriage" is the least traditional family in history, and rape and sexual assault were far higher in the 1970s than they are today. In The Way We Never Were, acclaimed historian Stephanie Coontz examines two centuries of the American family, sweeping away misconceptions about the past that cloud current debates about domestic life. The 1950s do not present a workable model of how to conduct our personal lives today, Coontz argues, and neither does any other era from our cultural past. [more inside]
In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome "with passion and without technical jargon" and demonstrates how "a slightly shabby Iron Age village" rose to become the "undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean" (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating "the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life" (Economist) in a way that makes "your hair stand on end" (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this "highly informative, highly readable" (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.
A sweeping new history of how climate change and disease helped bring down the Roman Empire Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome's power, a story of nature's triumph over human ambition. Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. [more inside]
Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women—more than a million in total—were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten. Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war—the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories. [more inside]
In 1918, the Italian-Americans of New York, the Yupik of Alaska and the Persians of Mashed had almost nothing in common except for a virus--one that triggered the worst pandemic of modern times and had a decisive effect on the history of the twentieth century. The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth--from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I. [more inside]
How many lives fit in a lifetime? When Hero De Vera arrives in America–haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents–she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter–the first American-born daughter in the family–can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands. (Penguin Random House blurb) Elaine Castillo's debut novel, and well-regarded, from Kirkus Reviews to Bustle. [more inside]
From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” From IndieBound.org.
Historian Louis Hyman on the surprising origins of the "gig economy." Hyman is joined in conversation by Data & Society's Labor Engagement Lead Aiha Nguyen and Researcher Alex Rosenblat. Hyman's latest book "Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary" tracks the transformation of an ethos that favored long-term investment in work (and workers) to one promoting short-term returns. A series of deliberate decisions preceded the digital revolution, setting off the collapse of the postwar institutions that insulated us from volatility including big unions, big corporations, and powerful regulators. Through the experiences of those on the inside–consultants and executives, temps and office workers, line workers and migrant laborers–Temp shows how the American Dream was unmade.
The agents travel to Spain and France in 1943 to ensure the success of Britain's "Operation Mincemeat" during WWII. A Spanish spy captured in Nazi-occupied France is revealed to be an important figure in the Ministry's past and its present. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Con el tiempo en los talones (With Time on His Heels) First Watch Season 3, Ep 1
Amelia and Alonso are sent to the premiere of "Vertigo" at the 1958 San Sebastián Film Festival, to foil a plan by Russia to kidnap Alfred Hitchcock and force him to produce propaganda films. While the Ministry is under construction, a wheelchair-bound Salvador becomes suspicious of a Sony Walkman-wearing construction worker he observes through his office window. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Cambio de tiempo (Change of Time) First Watch Season 2, Ep 13
Season Finale: After the defeat of the Spanish Armada along the English coast in 1588, King Philip II decides to break the Ministry rules (imposed by his great-grandmother Isabella) and travel back in time to so the Armada will win the battle. When the Ministry refuses to help, Philip takes over, discovering that he can not only travel into the past but the future as well. Julián, Alfonso and Amelia return to 2016 from a mission to find history has been drastically changed. Philip is now King of the World, and the King of Time. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Hasta que el tiempo os separe (Til Time Do Us Part) First Watch Season 2, Ep 12
Ortigosa and Natalia's wedding is complicated by a hidden time portal and a romantic legend from the 13th century. [more inside]
When the host of a show about paranormal mysteries and conspiracies reveals the existence of the Ministry on the internet, Salvador tries to convince him that he is mistaken by inviting him on a tour of headquarters, while pretending that it is the dullest government office in Spain. [more inside]
In the present, Irene looks into a mystery involving "Las Sinsombrero," a group of avant-garde women artists and activitsts who have been forgotten. In the course of her investigation, it is discovered that the Vampire of Raval was not arrested when she should have been. She is free, and may be traveling through time. [more inside]
A Velázquez painting is auctioned off in 2016. But the painting in question was one of many destroyed in a fire at the Alcázar de Madrid in 1734. Velázquez is given a mission: travel back in time with Irene to investigate the paradox. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Tiempo de valientes (Time of the Brave) -- Part 2 First Watch Season 2, Ep 8
Salvador sends Alonso on a mission to save Julián from a lengthy battle during the Siege of Baler in the Philippines. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Tiempo de valientes (Time of the Brave) -- Part 1 First Watch Season 2, Ep 7
While hiding out in the Philippines in the 19th century, Julián makes a promise to a dying soldier that gets him into a dangerous situation.
The team travels to 1920s New York into the world of magic and Houdini, as the Ministry's own existence is placed in peril. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Un virus de otro tiempo (A Virus from Another Time) First Watch Season 2, Ep 5
During a mission in 1918 to attend the birth of Carmen Amaya, Irene falls ill with the Spanish flu. New undersecretary Susana orders (against regulations)) that Irene be retrieved and returned to the Ministry, risking widespread exposure to a highly contagious disease that once killed millions and for which there is no vaccine. Soon, more personnel begin to show flu symptoms and the Ministry is forced to close its doors to prevent the disease from being spread through time. [more inside]
In 1808, Napoleon visited the Royal Convent of Santa Clara de Tordesillas, where the abbess convinced him to release three prisoners that were about to be executed. Unfortunately, the abbess has unexpectedly died before she met Napoleon. Now, the Ministry must send a replacement to convince him not to execute the prisoners, as one of them is an ancestor of Adolfo Suárez González, the first Prime Minister of Spain after the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Adolfo guided Spain through its transition to a democracy. His ancestor must survive! [more inside]
Pacino joins the team for the first time as they work to ensure that Miguel de Cervantes publishes "Don Quixote" in 1604. [more inside]
Salvador activates a protocol to have Julián detained and returned to the Ministry. Meanwhile, a cop from 1981 arrives in the present chasing a murderer who fled through a closet that turns out to have been a time door. His name is Jesús Méndez, nicknamed "Pacino" for his resemblance to the actor. In 2016, Pacino discovers that the he was declared guilty in absentia of the murders he was investigating. [more inside]
Season finale. When the Ministry discovers that a young Salvador Dali has designed a film poster in 1924 depicting a modern electronic tablet computer, the team is sent to investigate. [more inside]
In 1843, Isabella II of Spain became Queen at the age of 13 (with her mother Maria Christina assuming regency). A year later, she demanded to visit the Ministry of Time. Former Ministry agent Armando Leiva, who recruited Irene back in 1960, has escaped from a Ministry prison in the Middle Ages and plans to kill the Queen during her visit. With the very existence of the Ministry at stake, Ernesto, Amelia and Alonso are sent to foil Leiva's plans. [more inside]
The Ministry is called to investigate when archaeologists find a cell phone belonging to a missing 21st century corrupt executive in a room that was sealed off in 1520. Julián, Amelia and Alonso travel to the past and meet the novella-inspiring Lazarillo de Tormes. Meanwhile, Irene interrogates Paul Walcott who has been captured by the Ministry and locked in a 1053 prison in Huesca. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Cualquier tiempo pasado (Any time in the past is better) First Watch Season 1, Ep 5
Julián, Amelia and Alonso travel to 1981 to ensure a Picasso painting is returned to Spain. [more inside]
During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. [more inside]
Salvador sends the team to 1491 to save the first discoverer of the time doors from the Spanish Inquisition. Amelia hides her job at the Ministry by telling her 1880 parents that she has a boyfriend. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Cómo se reescribe el tiempo (How time is rewritten) First Watch Season 1, Ep 3
The Ministry sends agents to 1940 after a man being chased by Nazis promises to show Heinrich Himmler how to travel in time if he'll spare his life. Amelia, Julián and Alonso travel to Montserrat. Ernesto and Irene go to Hendaye, where Hitler and Franco negotiate Spain's participation in WWII. [more inside]
Julián, Amelia and Alonso are ordered to travel to Lisbon, 1588 to prevent the playwright Lope de Vega from dying before he writes his greatest works. [more inside]
El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time) is the best kept secret of the Spanish state: an autonomous government institution whose patrols guard the doors of time and preserve Spain's past. Now, the Ministry's newest recruits: an Army of Flanders soldier from 1956, (Alonso de Entrerríos,) a female college student from 1880 (Amelia Folch) and a modern day SAMUR paramedic (Julián Martínez,) must prevent two Frenchmen in 1808 from altering a war's outcome.
Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates. [more inside]
A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States. [more inside]
A group of ex-farmers, a terrorist from Kansas, and a schoolteacher attempt the greatest covert operation of the Civil War.
The Vietnam War: The Weight of Memory (March 1973 - Onward) Season 1, Ep 10
Civil war continues in Vietnam as President Richard Nixon resigns. After North Vietnamese troops regain control of Saigon and the war ends, people from all sides search for reconciliation. [more inside]
The South Vietnamese fight on their own, succumbing to terrible losses in Laos. After he is reelected, President Richard Nixon strikes a peace deal with Hanoi that sees the release of American prisoners of war. [more inside]
With morale plummeting in Vietnam, President Nixon begins withdrawing American troops. As news breaks of an unthinkable massacre committed by American soldiers, the public debates the rectitude of the war, while an incursion into Cambodia reignites antiwar protests with tragic consequences at Kent State University.
Public support for the war declines, and American men of draft age face difficult decisions and wrenching moral choices. After police battle with demonstrators in the streets of Chicago, Richard Nixon wins the presidency, promising law and order at home and peace overseas. In Vietnam, the war goes on and soldiers on all sides witness terrible savagery and unflinching courage.
The Vietnam War: Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968) Season 1, Ep 6
On the eve of the Tet holiday, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launch surprise attacks on cities and military bases throughout the south, suffering devastating losses but casting grave doubt on Johnson’s promise that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” The president decides not to run again and the country is staggered by assassinations and unrest.
American casualties and enemy body counts mount as Marines face deadly North Vietnamese ambushes and artillery south of the DMZ and Army units chase an elusive enemy in the central highlands. Hanoi lays plans for a massive surprise offensive, and the Johnson Administration reassures the American public that victory is in sight.
The Vietnam War: Resolve (January 1966-June 1967) Season 1, Ep 4
Defying American airpower, North Vietnamese troops and materiel stream down the Ho Chi Minh Trail into the south, while Saigon struggles to “pacify the countryside.” As an antiwar movement builds back home, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and Marines discover that the war they are being asked to fight in Vietnam is nothing like their fathers’ war.
The Vietnam War: The River Styx (January 1964-December 1965) Season 1, Ep 3
With South Vietnam in chaos, hardliners in Hanoi seize the initiative and send combat troops to the south, accelerating the insurgency. Fearing Saigon’s collapse, President Johnson escalates America’s military commitment, authorizing sustained bombing of the north and deploying ground troops in the south.
Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. [more inside]
I am toying with this idea, in part because of chainsofreedom's new fictional "in these trying times" club and Miko's excellent recent ask. Except these days, most of what I read is nonfiction. Anyone up for a nonfiction #resisting club tackling useful works to know about? I'm thinking a mix of history, maybe some political thought, maybe some sociology kinds of things. Suggestions inside the cut. [more inside]
Vikings: The Reckoning Season 4, Ep 20
The Brothers Lothbrok fulfill their vow to revenge Rangar's death, but can anything hold them together in victory? [more inside]
Vikings: On The Eve Season 4, Ep 19
In an action-focused episode, Ragnar's sons turn their attack to King Ecbert and Aethelwulf, while Lagertha fends off an attack on Kattegat.
Vikings: Revenge Season 4, Ep 18
Ragnar's plan comes to fruition; the Viking army lands on the coast of Northumbria.