shows how promises and paper have lifted humans from subsistence farmers in Babylon to Masters of the Universe on Wall Street.
Among his core arguments is that "poverty is not the result of rapacious financiers exploiting the poor. It has much more to do with the lack of financial institutions, with the absence of banks, not their presence." Money, he contends, is essential to human progress; it is "trust inscribed" on paper or metal, and without that trust we would all be poorer.
With thrilling immediacy, Humbert's book guides us through the first stumbling steps of what became known as the Musée de l'Homme roup, a disparate cell of writers, linguists, historians and social gadflies led by a charismatic Polish ethnographer, Boris Vildé. The cell's greatest achievement, before it was broken up by the Nazis in April 1941, was to publish and deliver five editions of a four-page broadsheet newspaper called, naturally, "Résistance." The paper's main aim was to counter Nazi propaganda, notably by providing evidence that food shortages in France were being caused not by the British blockade but by wholesale looting by the Germans.Continue here.
More than 60 years after it was first published, Humbert's book, one of the first memoirs of the war to enter the public domain, has finally been translated into English. It was worth the wait.
Children of the Revolution: The French, 1799-1914 by Robert Gildea is reviewed in The Nation by Ruth Scurr, who finds it an "erudite account of France's long nineteenth century."
Gildea's book shows the internecine struggle there had been in France throughout the nineteenth century to secure the Republic and unify the nation, an effort that would culminate in the monumental sacrifice demanded by the Great War. That so many young men were prepared to die for a vision of France that was relatively new, and essentially contested, is testimony to the deep complexities of patriotism and the nation-state. Gildea assembles a wealth of information--historical, political, cultural and economic--to elucidate the conundrum, without pretending to explain it away. It is impossible to interpret the slaughter of a million and a half people as a triumph in any setting, but Gildea shows unforgettably a national identity winning out against all odds. It's a lengthy, complex saga, but he manages to sustain enough buoyancy in his prose to allow it to be read from beginning to end with interest and pleasure.
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SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North by Thomas J. Sugrue (Random House) is reviewed by Joseph Rosenbloom in the Boston Globe. "Sugrue sets out to debunk 'the tired clichés of recent books that fixate on the 1960s as the fundamental turning point in the history of race in modern America.," writes Rosenbloom.
His exhaustively researched account demonstrates that Northern activists achieved critical breakthroughs in the cause of African-American economic and political equality....Sugrue's scholarship is most impressive in his analysis of the social, economic, and political currents that swirled around the activists.
The rest is here.