- Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - 6:30pm45 Books in 45 Minutes - SOLD OUTBen McNally Books
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This Just In
Interesting new titles in November
London Fog by Christine L. Corton
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
In popular imagination, London is a city of fog. The classic London fogs, the thick yellow “pea-soupers,” were born in the industrial age of the early nineteenth century. The first globally notorious instance of air pollution, they remained a constant feature of cold, windless winter days until clean air legislation in the 1960s brought about their demise. Christine L. Corton tells the story of these epic London fogs, their dangers and beauty, and their lasting effects on our culture and imagination.
As the city grew, smoke from millions of domestic fires, combined with industrial emissions and naturally occurring mists, seeped into homes, shops, and public buildings in dark yellow clouds of water droplets, soot, and sulphur dioxide. The fogs were sometimes so thick that people could not see their own feet. By the time London’s fogs lifted in the second half of the twentieth century, they had changed urban life. Fogs had created worlds of anonymity that shaped social relations, providing a cover for crime, and blurring moral and social boundaries. They had been a gift to writers, appearing famously in the works of Charles Dickens, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and T. S. Eliot. Whistler and Monet painted London fogs with a fascination other artists reserved for the clear light of the Mediterranean.
Corton combines historical and literary sensitivity with an eye for visual drama—generously illustrated here—to reveal London fog as one of the great urban spectacles of the industrial age.
Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain by Charlotte Higgins
What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story and song and verse?
Sometimes on foot, sometimes in a magnificent, if not entirely reliable, VW camper van, Charlotte Higgins sets out to explore the ancient monuments of Roman Britain. She explore the land that was once Rome’s northernmost territory and how it has changed since the years after the empire fell. Under Another Sky invites us to see the British landscape, and British history, in an entirely fresh way: as indelibly marked by how the Romans first imagined and wrote, these strange and exotic islands, perched on the edge of the known world, into existence.
A Year of Good Eating by Nigel Slater
The third instalment of Nigel Slater’s classic Kitchen Diaries series, A Year of Good Eating explores the balance and pleasure in eating well throughout the year. The leisurely recipes and kitchen stories of the Diaries are ingeniously interspersed with seasonal sections of quick, weeknight suppers in the style of Nigel’s most recent bestseller Eat. A salmon pie with herb butter sauce or an asparagus and blue cheese tart for when you have time to cook; roasted summer vegetables with sausages or quick baked eggs and greens for when you need to get dinner on the table fast.
With Nigel’s characteristically simple recipes and inspiring writing, this new book will make good eating a joy, every day of the year.
Black Dragon River by Dominic Ziegler
The Penguin Press
Black Dragon River is a personal journey down one of Asia’s great rivers that reveals the region’s essential history and culture. The world’s ninth largest river, the Amur serves as a large part of the border between Russia and China. As a crossroads for the great empires of Asia, this area offers journalist Dominic Ziegler a lens with which to examine the societies at Europe's only borderland with east Asia. He follows a journey from the river's top to bottom, and weaves the history, ecology, and peoples to show a region obsessed with the past—and to show how this region holds a key to the complex and critical relationship between Russia and China today.
The known history of the river begins with Genghis Khan and the rise of the Mongolian empire a millennium ago, and the story of the region has been one of aggression and conquest ever since. The modern history of the river is the story of Russia's push across the Eurasian landmass to China. For China, the Amur is a symbol of national humiliation and Western imperial land seizure; to Russia it is a symbol of national regeneration, its New World dreams and eastern prospects. The quest to take the Amur was to be Russia’s route to greatness, replacing an oppressive European identity with a vibrant one that faced the Pacific. Russia launched a grab in 1854 and took from China a chunk of territory equal in size nearly to France and Germany combined. Later, the region was the site for atrocities meted out on the Russian far east in the twentieth century during the Russian civil war and under Stalin.
The long shared history on the Amur has conditioned the way China and Russia behave toward each other—and toward the outside world. To understand Putin’s imperial dreams, we must comprehend Russia’s relationship to its far east and how it still shapes the Russian mind. Not only is the Amur a key to Putinism, its history is also embedded in an ongoing clash of empires with the West.