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The Last of the Welcome Immigrants
Born of a Palestinian father and British mother, Bill Rezak has always been intrigued by the different worlds his parents came from. His father’s ancestors were highwaymen on the Arabian Peninsula in the eighteenth century. They sparred unsuccessfully with ruling Ottoman Turks and escaped with their family to America. His mother’s parents were sent to Canada from Great Britain into indentured servitude as children separately and alone at the ages of 10 and 16. They worked off their servitude, met, married and moved to New York State. In The Arab and the Brit, a memoir that spans multiple generations and countries, Rezak traces the remarkable lives of his ancestors. Narrating their experiences against the backdrop of two World Wars and an emerging modern Middle East, the author gives readers a textured and vivid immigrant story. Rezak recalls his paternal grandmother apprehending would-be Russian saboteurs during World War One, his grandfather’s time at Dr. Bernardo’s home, a shelter for destitute children, and his father’s work with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association following the war. Told with humor and captivating detail, The Arab and the Brit, chronicles the trials and triumphs of one family’s struggle to succeed in the New World.
The Travels of Elias al-Mûsili in the Seventeenth Century
In 1905, the Jesuit scholar Antûn Rabbât discovered the writings of Elias-al- Mûsili in a Jacobite diocese in Aleppo, Syria. al- Mûsili, a seventeenth century Arab and priest of the Chaldean Church, traveled widely across colonial Spanish America becoming the first person to visit the Americas from Baghdad. Rabbât transcribed into Arabic and published those portions relating to al-Mûsili’s travels and Middle Eastern historian Caesar Farah is the first to make these writings available in English translation.
A Strange Familiarity
In Arabs and the Art of Storytelling, the eminent Moroccan literary historian and critic Kilito revisits and reassesses, in a modern critical light, many traditional narratives of the Arab world. He brings to such celebrated texts as A Thousand and One Nights, Kalila and Dimna, and Kitab al-Bukhala’ refreshing and iconoclastic insight, giving new life to classic stories that are often treated as fossilized and untouchable cultural treasures. For Arab scholars and readers, poetry has for centuries taken precedence, overshadowing narrative as a significant literary genre. Here, Kilito demonstrates the key role narrative has played in the development of Arab belles lettres and moral philosophy. His urbane style has earned him a devoted following among specialists and general readers alike, making this translation an invaluable contribution to an English-speaking audience.
Probing, wide-ranging, brimming with passion and outrage, Melhem’s eighth collection of poems grips the reader with accounts of individual triumphs and the ongoing catastrophic conflicts of our world. The author draws on her years as a painter and sculptor to bring a distinct visual and tactile quality to her poetry. In this volume, Melhem proceeds from robust individual portraits through observable terrains to traumatic visions of war. "Certain Personae" ranges from black writers to Abraham Lincoln, from a portrait of the suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the poetry of John Updike, and finishes with paintings of Hannibal crossing the Alps. In "Mostly Political," the poems traverse the local and the universal: melting polar ice caps, capitalism, a painting by Max Ernst interpreted in antithetical ways, and a poem surveying Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the context of international events. "Wars," the third and last section, gives intimate and searing glimpses of the Trojan War, World War I, the Gulf War, the Iraq war, and the conflict over Palestine.
Little has been written about the economic history of Egypt prior to its incorporation into the European capitalist economy. While historians have mined archives and court documents to create a picture of the commercial activities, networks, and infrastructure of merchants during this time, few have documented a similar picture of the artisans and craftspeople. Artisans outnumbered merchants, and their economic weight was considerable, yet details about their lives, the way they carried out their work, and their role or position in the economy are largely unknown. Hanna seeks to redress this gap with Artisan Entrepreneurs in Cairo and Early Modern Capitalism (1600–1800) by locating and exploring the role of artisans in the historical process. Offering richly detailed portraits as well as an overview of the Ottoman Empire’s economic landscape, Hanna incorporates artisans into the historical development of the period, portraying them in the context of their work, their families, and their social relations. These artisans developed a variety of capitalist practices, both as individuals and collectively in their guilds. Responding to the demands of expanding commercial environments in Egypt and Europe, artisans found ways to adapt both production techniques and the organization of production. Hanna details the ways in which artisans defied the constraints of the guilds and actively engaged in the markets of Europe, demonstrating how Egyptian artisan production was able to compete and survive in a landscape of growing European trade.
Champion of Old New York
The concept of an "honest Tammany man" sounds like an oxymoron, but it became a reality in the curious career of Ashbel P. Fitch, who served New York City as a four-term congressman and a one-term city comptroller during the late nineteenth century. Although little known today, Fitch was well respected in his own day and played a pivotal role on both national and local stages. In the U.S. Congress, Fitch was a passionate advocate of New York City. His support of tariff reform and his efforts to have New York City chosen as the site for an 1892 World Exposition reflected his deep interest in issues of industrialization and urbanization. An ardent defender of immigrant rights, Fitch opposed the xenophobia of the times and championed cosmopolitan diversity. As New York’s comptroller, he oversaw the city’s finances during a time of terrible economic distress, withstanding threats from Tammany Hall on one side and from Mayor William L. Strong’s misguided reform administration on the other. In Ashbel P. Fitch, Remington succeeds in illuminating the independence and integrity of this unsung hero against the backdrop of the Gilded Age’s corrupt politics and fierce party loyalty.
Jews in Nazi-oppupied Warsaw during the 1940s were under increasing threat as they were stripped of their rights and forced to live in a guarded ghetto away from the non- Jewish Polish population. Within the ghettos, a small but distinct group existed: the assimilated, acculturated, and baptized Jews. Unwilling to integrate into the Jewish community and unable to merge with the Polish one, they formed a group of their own, remaining in a state of suspension throughout the interwar period. In 1940, with the closure of the Jewish Residential Quarter in Warsaw, their identity was chosen for them. Person looks at what it meant for assimilated Jews to leave their prewar neighborhoods, understood as both a physical environment and a mixed Polish Jewish community, and enter a new, Jewish one. She reveals the diversity of this group and how its members’ identity shaped their involvement in and contribution to ghetto life. In the first English-language study of this small but influential group, Person illuminates the important role of the acculturated and assimilated Jews to the history and memory of the Warsaw ghetto.
Exploring Oral Narrative and Mythic Imagery of the Iroquois and Their Neighbors
The folktales and myths of the Iroquois and their Algonquian neighbors rank among the most imaginatively rich and narratively coherent traditions in North America. Mostly recorded around 1900, these oral narratives preserve the voice and something of the outlook of autochthonous Americans from a bygone age, when storytelling was an important facet of daily life. Inspired by these wondrous tales, Anthony Wonderley explores their significance to the Iroquois and Algonquian religion and worldview.
The Entrepreneurs’ Frontier
Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Auburn, New York, is home to some of the key figures in our nation’s history. Both William Seward and Harriet Tubman lived in Auburn, as did Martha Coffin Wright, a pioneering figure in the struggle for women’s suffrage. Auburn’s significance to American life, however, goes beyond its role in political and social movements. The seeds of American development were sown and bore fruit in small urban centers like Auburn. The town’s early and rapid success secured its place as a cornerstone of the North American industrial core. Anderson chronicles the story of Auburn and its inhabitants, individuals with the skills and ingenuity to nurture and sustain an economy of unprecedented growth. He describes the early settlers who capitalized on the rich geographic advantages of the area: abundant water power and access to transportation routes. The entrepreneurs and capital that Auburn attracted built it into a thriving community, one that became a center of invention, manufacturing, and finance in the mid-nineteenth century. Just as the high profits and rapid accumulation of wealth allowed the community to prosper and grow, these factors also initiated its decline. Anderson traces Auburn’s momentous rise and gradual decline, illustrating American capitalism in its rawest form as it played out in small towns across the nation.
Secrecy in the Middle East Peace Process
Wanis-St. John takes on the question of whether the complex and often perilous secret negotiations between principal parties prove to be instrumental paths to reconciliation or rather roadblocks that disrupt the process. Using the Palestinian-Israeli peace process as a framework, the author focuses on the uses and misuses of "back channel" negotiations. He discusses how top-level PLO and Israeli government officials have often resorted to secret negotiation channels even when there were designated, acknowledged negotiation teams already at work. Intense scrutiny by the media, pressure from constituents, and the reactions of the public all become severe constraints to the process, causing leaders to seek out such back channels. The impact of these secret talks within the peace process over time has largely been unexplored.