Along with all of our new books, each season we release paperback editions of dozens of titles that were first published in cloth a year or two earlier. When a paperback comes out it can be a nice reminder of a favorite work from seasons past, but it can also be an occasion to take a new look at a book that may have escaped notice the first time through. For the books themselves it can be a second chance at a first impression. With that in mind, we’ve collected here the first crop of Fall paperbacks, and excerpted the first few sentences of each. Maybe you’ll find something you didn’t even know you’d missed.
This book is a somewhat primitive book. It has a very straightforward purpose: to relate a selection of moments in European history when, in the very heart of countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Hungary, Muslims and Christians collaborated and co-operated with one another to fight against a common enemy–often an enemy also composed of Muslims and Christians. The book does not really do much more than this. It is not some vast overview of Muslim-Christian relations since 1100, nor an in-depth analysis of inter-cultural exchange between Islam and Christianity. It does not offer profound gems of philosophical insight into how human beings can learn to love one another, nor moving moments of idealism concerning the common humanity which can overcome all political/social/religious divisions, etc., etc. The book’s very modest aim, on the contrary, is to show how Muslims do not belong to an ‘other’ civilisation, but rather to the essence of a ‘Europe’ we are quickly in the process of forgetting.
Historical accounts of events and developments that took place in the Atlantic world began to appear almost as soon as contacts were established between Europe and the Americas in the late fifteenth century. But Atlantic history itself—that is, the evolving history of the zone of interaction among the peoples of Western Europe, West Africa, and the Americas—was first seen as a distinct and cohesive subject of historical inquiry in the years immediately after World War II.
Daniel Bodansky, The Art and Craft of International Environmental Law
One evening a few years ago, a volunteer for a well-known environmental organization rang my doorbell to solicit a contribution. I declined, saying that I disagreed with the organization’s positions on various issues. The volunteer demanded to know which ones.
Anthony F. D’Elia, A Sudden Terror: The Plot to Murder the Pope in Renaissance Rome
The year was 1468. On Fat Tuesday, the last and most extravagant night of carnival in Rome, Pope Paul II sat attentively watching the races from his throne high above the boisterous crowd, when suddenly a scuffle broke out. The papal guards had stopped someone who was loudly insisting on speaking with the pope urgently about a matter of life and death. The man, his beard and dark eyes barely discernible under his hood, was dressed like a philosopher. Seeing that he had captured the pope’s attention, the “philosopher” broke free of the guards and intoned: “Holy Father! You are in great danger!” The pope sat up, leaned forward, and beckoned the stranger to approach and explain. What he heard made him tremble and turn pale.
Chrystal N. Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching
This is a history of two southern women, Rebecca Latimer Felton (1835–1930) and Ida B. Wells (1862–1931), and the thousands of women who joined their campaigns against rape and for women’s rights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries during the height of lynching in the American South. Felton was born in 1835 to a prosperous slaveholding family in De Kalb, Georgia. Wells, the daughter of slaves, was born in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Despite differences in their age, race, class, and status, they both, in very different contexts, took radical stances on rape and lynching. Together, their struggles against sexual violence—Wells advocated on black women’s behalf and Felton mostly fought for the protection of poor white women—brought to southern politics the concerns of women who historically had been excluded from debates about rape and protection. Although both campaigned for women’s safety, they confronted the problem of lynching in completely different ways. While Wells became internationally known for her radical anti-lynching crusade, it was Felton’s notorious plea to “lynch a thousand a week” that thrust her into the national spotlight. From different sides of the color line, Felton and Wells were women’s rights pioneers who negotiated and challenged the racial and sexual politics of the New South.
The legal trinity of nation statehood—sovereignty, jurisdiction, and territory—has a recent history that is yet to be told. It is a history suspended between empire and statehood, between local and global. It is about defining sovereignty as the ordering of indigenous people in space: a project undertaken by Anglophone settler polities around the globe between 1822 and 1847.
Eric Hinderaker, The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery
Early on a September morning in 1755, a thousand Anglo-American provincial troops and two hundred Iroquois warriors marched from their camp alongside Lac St. Sacrement—soon to be called Lake George—to reconnoiter a French force they believed to be moving south toward Fort Edward. They were led by the most famous Indian in the English-speaking world, a Mohawk named Theyanoguin. His baptismal name was Hendrick: Britons knew him as Chief Hendrick, King Hendrick, or “the antient Mohawk.” He would not survive the day’s events.
Lynne A. Isbell, The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well
If you are holding this book in your hands and you are reading these words, you can thank your primate ancestors. Of all mammals, only primates can both grasp objects in their hands and see so well that they can distinguish easily between the individual squiggles that we humans use to create our written words. If you have gone as far as this sentence, you are probably also fairly curious about the world around you. Again, you can thank your primate ancestors; the evolution of our large brains, which give us our curiosity, really took off with them.
Jane G. Landers, Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions
Sometime near the end of the seventeenth century, British traders purchased a young Mandinga man in West Africa and transported him to Barbados. From there the youth was shipped on to South Carolina, where he joined other Africans and still more numerous indigenous captives to form the “charter generation” of slaves on that colonial frontier. The Mandinga were a people famed for their animal husbandry, and the young man may have become one of the enslaved “Cattle Hunters” who tracked rapidly growing herds through the dense Carolina forests. When the local Yamasee Indians rose against their British oppressors in 1715, the Mandinga man and other enslaved Africans recognized the chance for their own liberation.
Adriane Lentz-Smith, Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I
In 1918, as day turned to dusk, the sound of singing black soldiers wafted across Camp Gordon, Georgia. Situated on the edges of Atlanta, Camp Gordon housed almost 9,000 African American draftees during World War I, local men mostly, along with white recruits and draftees. These black Georgians wore the uniform of the United States Army, but military service had brought little of the honor and less of the glory that pro-war patriots had led them to expect. Instead, most of the African American troops labored as hard in camp as they did as civilians, maybe harder, toiling in labor battalions under white sergeants and commanding officers chosen because of their past experience as overseers of black work gangs.
Diana Selig, Americans All: The Cultural Gifts Movement
Beginning in the mid-1920s and extending through World War II, hundreds of thousands of Americans took part in a vibrant and complex crusade to overcome their own racial and religious prejudices. Students, teachers, and school administrators, from kindergartens in Boston to high schools in Chicago, celebrated the cultural contributions of immigrant and minority groups to American life.
Michael Strevens, Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation
If science provides anything of intrinsic value, it is explanation. Prediction and control are useful, and success in any endeavor is gratifying, but when science is pursued as an end rather than as a means, it is for the sake of understanding—the moment when a small, temporary being reaches out to touch the universe and makes contact.