Sunday, August 15, 2010

Books on Churchill, the history of print, and more in the book pages

"Winston Churchill is remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour - but what if he also led the country through her most shameful one?" Johann Hari writes in a review of CHURCHILL'S EMPIRE: The World That Made Him and the World He Made by Richard Toye in the New York Times.
What if, in addition to rousing a nation to save the world from the Nazis, he fought for a raw white supremacy and a concentration camp network of his own? This question burns through Richard Toye's superb, unsettling new history, "Churchill's Empire" - and is even seeping into the Oval Office....

The young Churchill charged through imperial atrocities, defending each in turn....Of course, it's easy to dismiss any criticism of these actions as anachronistic. Didn't everybody in Britain think that way then? One of the most striking findings of Toye's research is that they really didn't: even at the time, Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum.
Continue reading here.

Also in the NY Times, Robert Pinsky reviews THE BOOK IN THE RENAISSANCE by Andrew Pettegree. Pinsky writes:
"The humanist mythology of print." With this phrase the British scholar Andrew Pettegree indicates the cultural story his book amends, and to some extent transforms. In an understated, judicious manner, he offers a radically new understanding of printing in the years of its birth and youth. Print, in Pettegree's account, was never as dignified or lofty a medium as that "humanist mythology" of disseminated classics would suggest.
Read the rest here.

Also reveiwed this weekend: THE SUGAR KING OF HAVANA: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon by John Paul Rathbone in the Washington Post;
GOLDEN GATE: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge by Kevin Starr, also in the Washington Post; Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar in the Los Angeles Times; Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope by Chalmers Johnson in the Los Angeles Times.