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Johnny Salo and the Great Footrace Across America
On March 31, 1929, seventy-seven men began an epic 3,554-mile footrace across America that pushed their bodies to the breaking point. Nicknamed the “Bunion Derby” by the press, this was the second and last of two trans-America footraces held in the late 1920s. The men averaged forty-six gut-busting miles a day during seventy-eight days of nonstop racing that took them from New York City to Los Angeles. Among this group, two brilliant runners, Johnny Salo of Passaic, New Jersey, and Pete Gavuzzi of England, emerged to battle for the $25,000 first prize along the mostly unpaved roads of 1929 America, with each man pushing the other to go faster as the lead switched back and forth between them. To pay the prize money, race director Charley Pyle cobbled together a traveling vaudeville company, complete with dancing debutantes, an all-girl band wearing pilot outfits, and blackface comedians, all housed under the massive show tent that Pyle hoped would pack in audiences. Kastner’s engrossing account, often told from the perspective of the participants, evokes the remarkable physical challenge the runners experienced and clearly bolsters the argument that the last Bunion Derby was the greatest long-distance footrace of all time.
In this finely observed novel, five young Lebanese women navigate their professional and social lives in a city interrupted by random explosions. It is not a war zone, but there is no peace either; Beirut stands at the edge of both. These women, much like their country, have been shaped by the events of a long civil war, their childhood spent in shelters, their adolescence in an unrecognizable city under rapid reconstruction. And here they are now, negotiating the details of their adult lives, fighting to protect their identities, voices, and relationships in a society constantly under questioning. Talk of politics and gossip by the young and old animate the coffee shops. Heated debates and power dynamics unfold in bars and on the streets. Mandour’s funny and defiant style invites an intimacy, giving readers a glimpse into the absurdities and injustices of everyday life in Lebanon. With empathy and a deep honesty, Mandour narrates the lives of these women who struggle to create their own destiny while at the same time coming to terms with the identity of their Mediterranean city.
Classical Arabic Poetry
Abundance from the Desert provides a comprehensive introduction to classical Arabic poetry, one of the richest of poetic traditions. Covering the period roughly of 500–1250 c.e., it features original translations and illuminating discussions of a number of major classical Arabic poems from a variety of genres. The poems are presented chronologically, each situated within a specific historical and literary context. Together, the selected poems suggest the range and depth of classical Arabic poetic expression; read in sequence, they suggest the gradual evolution of a tradition.
World War II, Mental Institutions, and Religious Objectors
In the mid- to late 1940s, a group of young men rattled the psychiatric establishment by beaming a public spotlight on the squalid conditions and brutality in our nation’s mental hospitals and training schools for people with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities. Bringing the abuses to the attention of newspapers and magazines across the country, they led a reform effort to change public attitudes and to improve the training and status of institutional staff. Prominent Americans, including Eleanor Roosevelt, ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, author Pearl S. Buck, actress Helen Hayes, and African-American activist Mary McLeod Bethune, supported the efforts of the young men. These young men were among the 12,000 World War II conscientious objectors who chose to perform civilian public service as an alternative to fighting in what is widely regarded as America’s "good war." Three thousand of these men volunteered to work at state institutions, where they found conditions appalling. Acting on conscience a second time, they challenged America’s treatment of its citizens with severe disabilities. Acts of Conscience brings to light the extraordinary efforts of these courageous men, drawing upon extensive archival research, interviews, and personal correspondence. The World War II conscientious objectors were not the first to expose public institutions, and they would not be the last. What distinguishes them from reformers of other eras is that their activities have faded from professional and popular memory. Steven J. Taylor’s moving account is an indispensable contribution to the historical record.
Memory, Spirituality, and Space
In 1991, archaeologists in lower Manhattan unearthed a stunning discovery. Buried for more than 200 years was a communal cemetery containing the remains of up to 20,000 people. At roughly 6.6 acres, the African Burial Ground is the largest and earliest known burial space of African descendants in North America. In the years that followed its discovery, citizens and activists fought tirelessly to demand respectful treatment of eighteenth-century funerary remains and sacred ancestors. After more than a decade of political battle—on local and national levels—and scientific research at Howard University, the remains were eventually reburied on the site in 2003. Capturing the varied perspectives and the emotional tenor of the time, Frohne narrates the story of the African Burial Ground and the controversies surrounding urban commemoration. She analyzes both its colonial and contemporary representations, drawing on colonial-era maps, prints, and land surveys to illuminate the forgotten and hidden visual histories of a mostly enslaved population buried in the African Burial Ground. Today, personal offerings and commemorative artworks, many of which incorporate traditional African and diasporic arts and religions, pay tribute to the ancestors and the sacred space. Tracing the history and identity of the area from a forgotten site to a contested and negotiated space, Frohne situates the burial ground within the context of late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century race relations in New York City to reveal its enduring presence as a spiritual place. Finally, she illustrates visually, spiritually, and spatially the historic and contemporary formation of a New York City African diaspora in relation to the African Burial Ground.
The Vision of Mac Conglinne
Aislinge Meic Conglinne, an anonymous Middle Irish romance, recounts the efforts of the eponymous hero to exchange the hardscrabble life of a clerical scholar for the prestigious life of a poet. Mac Conglinne wins the patronage of Cathal mac Finguine, the king of Munster, after rescuing him from a "demon of gluttony" by reciting a fantastic, food-laden vision of alternate worlds. An accomplished and original eleventh-century satiric narrative poem, Aislinge Meic Conglinne is now available for the first time as a stand-alone translation.
Modern Irish Historical Pageantry
In the early twentieth century, publicly staged productions of significant historical, political, and religious events became increasingly popular—and increasingly grand—in Ireland. These public pageants, a sort of precursor to today’s opening ceremonies at the Olympic games, mobilized huge numbers of citizens to present elaborately staged versions of Irish identity based on both history and myth. Complete with marching bands, costumes, fireworks, and mock battles, these spectacles were suffused with political and national significance. Dean explores the historical significance of these pageants, explaining how their popularity correlated to political or religious imperatives in twentieth-century Ireland. She uncovers unpublished archival findings to present scripts, programs, and articles covering these events. The book also includes over thirty photographs of pageants, program covers, and detailed designs for costumes to convey the grandeur of the historical pageants at the beginning of the century and their decline in production standards in the 1970s and 1980s. Tracing the Irish historical pageant phenomenon through the twentieth century, Dean presents a nation contending with the violence and political upheaval of the present by reimagining the past.
The Poetry of Samih Al-Qasim
All Faces but Mine gathers selected poems from the acclaimed Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qasim (1934–2014). A contemporary of Mahmoud Darwish, Al-Qasim was a celebrated resistance poet whose passionate call for independence inspired a generation of poets. In this award-winning volume, poems are drawn from fourteen of the poet’s collections published over the last twenty years in addition to some of his final works. Lu’lu’a’s fluid translation captures both Al-Qasim’s innovative style and the emotional tenor of his poetry.
The Life and Letters of Private William Whitlock of the 188th New York Volunteers
“Allegany to Appomattox” describes the environment, enlistment and political atmosphere that resulted in the Civil War from the perspective of one farmer, William Whitlock who at the age of thirty five left his family for service to the Union. He wrote at least forty letter home to his wife and family. These unpublished letters serve as the foundation of the book.
Allegiance and Betrayal” is comprised of a dozen short stories, all dealing with family in one way or another. The stories are set in New England and the South, including specific locations such as Connecticut and coastal North Carolina. Makuck writes about an offshore fishing trip to settle old scores, a scuba diving experience that rescues a friendship, a family reunion that turns ugly on the subject of religion, a widower trying to survive, and a house painter discovering a need to deal with chronic anger, amongst others. Makuck examines the conflicts of human nature, and the universality and significance of familial relationships. His stories uncover cultural and psychological distances between people, distances that remain present despite society’s technologically-fused attempts at closing these gaps.