A history book recommendation: The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World In Flux by Cathy N. Davidson

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2DnocoF.
Davidson’s enthusiasm and her examples should inspire creativity from a lot more college teachers. And in fact there is a lot of good teaching in American higher education. But the puzzle left by Davidson’s book is why the overall model has been so impervious to change.
Book description from Google Books:
“The most important book I have read in many years.”-Tony Wagner, Harvard University i-lab Expert in Residence, author of Creating Innovators A leading educational thinker argues that the American university is stuck in the past–and shows how we can revolutionize it for our era of constant changeOur current system of higher education dates to the period from 1865 to 1925, when the nation’s new universities created grades and departments, majors and minors, in an attempt to prepare young people for a world transformed by the telegraph and the Model T. As Cathy N. Davidson argues in The New Education, this approach to education is wholly unsuited to the era of the gig economy. From the Ivy League to community colleges, she introduces us to innovators who are remaking college for our own time by emphasizing student-centered learning that values creativity in the face of change above all. The New Education ultimately shows how we can teach students not only to survive but to thrive amid the challenges to come.
The book is rated 4.22/5 at goodreads.com, from 58 ratings. See 17 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DjIfUL.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Doe5zL.

A history book recommendation: Motherest: A Novel by Kristen Iskandrian

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2D0NcBU.
“Motherest” is wonderfully agnostic about differing approaches to the nurturing process, generous in its view of the way not just mothers but fathers, daughters and siblings struggle with what life brings them, doing the best they can.
Book description from Google Books:
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2017 Marrying the sharp insights of Jenny Offill with the dark humor of Maria Semple, MOTHEREST is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship — all through the lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond.It’s the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior. As Agnes falls into new romance, mines female friendships for intimacy, and struggles to find her footing, she writes letters to her mother, both to conjure a closeness they never had and to try to translate her experiences to herself. When she finds out she is pregnant, Agnes begins to contend with what it means to be a mother and, in some ways, what it means to be your own mother.
The book is rated 3.83/5 at goodreads.com, from 380 ratings. See 76 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Du62lW.
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A history book recommendation: The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford History of the United States) by Richard White

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2Dq5xt0.
…most of all Mr White’s book should be read—not just because it has so much to say about the latter part of the 19th century, but also because it casts light on America’s current problems with giant companies and roiling populism.
Book description from Google Books:
The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multivolume history of the American nation. In the newest volume in the series, The Republic for Which It Stands, acclaimed historian Richard White offers a fresh and integrated interpretation of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age as the seedbed of modern America. At the end of the Civil War the leaders and citizens of the victorious North envisioned the country’s future as a free-labor republic, with a homogenous citizenry, both black and white. The South and West were to be reconstructed in the image of the North. Thirty years later Americans occupied an unimagined world. The unity that the Civil War supposedly secured had proved ephemeral. The country was larger, richer, and more extensive, but also more diverse. Life spans were shorter, and physical well-being had diminished, due to disease and hazardous working conditions. Independent producers had become wage earners. The country was Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant, and increasingly urban and industrial. The “dangerous” classes of the very rich and poor expanded, and deep differences — ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and political — divided society. The corruption that gave the Gilded Age its name was pervasive. These challenges also brought vigorous efforts to secure economic, moral, and cultural reforms. Real change — technological, cultural, and political — proliferated from below more than emerging from political leadership. Americans, mining their own traditions and borrowing ideas, produced creative possibilities for overcoming the crises that threatened their country. In a work as dramatic and colorful as the era it covers, White narrates the conflicts and paradoxes of these decades of disorienting change and mounting unrest, out of which emerged a modern nation whose characteristics resonate with the present day.
The book is rated 4.21/5 at goodreads.com, from 132 ratings. See 39 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CXjZHS.
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A history book recommendation: Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CZlJAl.
Riot Days could so easily have been a straightforward, from-the-horse’s-mouth confessional account of one of the most publicised political protests of recent years. Alyokhina takes on a far greater challenge: creating a text that is not just a reflection on a piece of art, but becomes one itself…
Book description from Google Books:
A Pussy Rioter’s riveting, hallucinatory account of her years in Russia’s criminal system and of finding power in the most powerless of situationsIn February 2012, after smuggling an electric guitar into Moscow’s iconic central cathedral, Maria Alyokhina and other members of the radical collective Pussy Riot performed a provocative “Punk Prayer,” taking on the Orthodox church and its support for Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.For this, they were charged with “organized hooliganism” and were tried while confined in a cage and guarded by Rottweilers. That trial and Alyokhina’s subsequent imprisonment became an international cause. For Alyokhina, her two-year sentence launched a bitter struggle against the Russian prison system and an iron-willed refusal to be deprived of her humanity. Teeming with protests and police, witnesses and cellmates, informers and interrogators, Riot Days gives voice to Alyokhina’s insistence on the right to say no, whether to a prison guard or to the president. Ultimately, this insistence delivers unprecedented victories for prisoners’ rights.Evocative, wry, laser-sharp, and laconically funny, Alyokhina’s account is studded with song lyrics, legal transcripts, and excerpts from her jail diary—dispatches from a young woman who has faced tyranny and returned with the proof that against all odds even one person can force its retreat.
The book is rated 4.04/5 at goodreads.com, from 206 ratings. See 68 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D0HHmt.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DvDWqj.

A history book recommendation: Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2Dyhtc5.
It is grim but essential reading, and does much to explain the legacy of burning resentment in Ukraine, which led to the country’s clash with Vladimir Putin, a strongman seen by many as from the same mould as Stalin.
Book description from Google Books:
AN ECONOMIST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag and the National Book Award finalist Iron Curtain, a revelatory history of one of Stalin’s greatest crimes–the consequences of which still resonate today In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization–in effect a second Russian revolution–which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them. Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: after a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. The state sealed the republic’s borders and seized all available food. Starvation set in rapidly, and people ate anything: grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses. In some cases, they killed one another for food. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil. Today, Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more. Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.
The book is rated 4.40/5 at goodreads.com, from 307 ratings. See 71 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D4ktw3.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2D5JoPA.

A history book recommendation: The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DrMXkt.
…The Epic City is a wonderful, beautifully written and even more beautifully observed love letter to Calcutta’s greatness: to its high culture, its music and film, its festivals, its people, its cuisine, its urban rhythms and, above all, to its rooted Bengaliness.
Book description from amazon.com:
Shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the YearA masterful and entirely fresh portrait of great hopes and dashed dreams in a mythical city from a major new literary voice.Everything that could possibly be wrong with a city was wrong with Calcutta.When Kushanava Choudhury arrived in New Jersey at the age of twelve, he had already migrated halfway around the world four times. After graduating from Princeton, he moved back to the world which his immigrant parents had abandoned, to a city built between a river and a swamp, where the moisture-drenched air swarms with mosquitos after sundown. Once the capital of the British Raj, and then India’s industrial and cultural hub, by 2001 Calcutta was clearly past its prime. Why, his relatives beseeched him, had he returned? Surely, he could have moved to Delhi, Bombay or Bangalore, where a new Golden Age of consumption was being born. Yet fifteen million people still lived in Calcutta. Working for the Statesman, its leading English newspaper, Kushanava Choudhury found the streets of his childhood unchanged by time. Shouting hawkers still overran the footpaths, fish-sellers squatted on bazaar floors; politics still meant barricades and bus burnings, while Communist ministers travelled in motorcades. Sifting through the chaos for the stories that never make the papers, Kushanava Choudhury paints a soulful, compelling portrait of the everyday lives that make Calcutta. Written with humanity, wit and insight, The Epic City is an unforgettable depiction of an era, and a city which is a world unto itself.
The book is rated 3.99/5 at goodreads.com, from 70 ratings. See 17 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CUs2W0.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CUstzC.

A history book recommendation: A Disappearance in Damascus: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War by Deborah Campbell

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CXqcUe.
This important book opens our eyes to the lives of the people who are trying to find peace in a world of chaos.
Book description from Google Books:
Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionWinner of the Freedom to Read AwardWinner of the Hubert Evans PrizeIn the midst of an unfolding international crisis, renowned journalist Deborah Campbell finds herself swept up in the mysterious disappearance of Ahlam, her guide and friend. Campbell’s frank, personal account of a journey through fear and the triumph of friendship and courage is as riveting as it is illuminating.The story begins in 2007, when Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There she meets and hires Ahlam, a refugee working as a “fixer”—providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts to help get the news out. Ahlam has fled her home in Iraq after being kidnapped while running a humanitarian center. She supports her husband and two children while working to set up a makeshift school for displaced girls. Strong and charismatic, she has become an unofficial leader of the refugee community.Campbell is inspired by Ahlam’s determination to create something good amid so much suffering, and the two women become close friends. But one morning, Ahlam is seized from her home in front of Campbell’s eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend’s arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow desperately trying to find Ahlam—all the while fearing she could be next.The compelling story of two women caught up in the shadowy politics behind today’s most searing conflict, A Disappearance in Damascus reminds us of the courage of those who risk their lives to bring us the world’s news.
The book is rated 4.26/5 at goodreads.com, from 218 ratings. See 39 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DrOaIo.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CYKhte.

A history book recommendation: The Red-Haired Woman: A novel by Orhan Pamuk

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CZlMMH.
Happily, The Red-Haired Woman is more approachable than some of Pamuk’s oeuvre…But some things never get obsolete, including good writing by masters like Pamuk.
Book description from Google Books:
From the Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author of Snow and My Name Is Red, a fable of fathers and sons and the desires that come between them. On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul, a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, excavating without luck meter by meter, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before–not the poor middle-aged bachelor nor the middle-class boy whose father disappeared after being arrested for politically subversive activities. The pair will come to depend on each other and exchange stories reflecting disparate views of the world. But in the nearby town, where they buy provisions and take their evening break, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red-Haired Woman, an alluring member of a travelling theatre company, catches his eye and seems as fascinated by him as he is by her. The young man’s wildest dream will be realized, but, when in his distraction a horrible accident befalls the well digger, the boy will flee, returning to Istanbul. Only years later will he discover whether he was in fact responsible for his master’s death and who the redheaded enchantress was. A beguiling mystery tale of family and romance, of east and west, tradition and modernity, by one of the great storytellers of our time. Translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
The book is rated 3.65/5 at goodreads.com, from 4385 ratings. See 493 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CWShex.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DssI5O.

A history book recommendation: Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CZlJAl.
Riot Days could so easily have been a straightforward, from-the-horse’s-mouth confessional account of one of the most publicised political protests of recent years. Alyokhina takes on a far greater challenge: creating a text that is not just a reflection on a piece of art, but becomes one itself…
Book description from Google Books:
A Pussy Rioter’s riveting, hallucinatory account of her years in Russia’s criminal system and of finding power in the most powerless of situationsIn February 2012, after smuggling an electric guitar into Moscow’s iconic central cathedral, Maria Alyokhina and other members of the radical collective Pussy Riot performed a provocative “Punk Prayer,” taking on the Orthodox church and its support for Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.For this, they were charged with “organized hooliganism” and were tried while confined in a cage and guarded by Rottweilers. That trial and Alyokhina’s subsequent imprisonment became an international cause. For Alyokhina, her two-year sentence launched a bitter struggle against the Russian prison system and an iron-willed refusal to be deprived of her humanity. Teeming with protests and police, witnesses and cellmates, informers and interrogators, Riot Days gives voice to Alyokhina’s insistence on the right to say no, whether to a prison guard or to the president. Ultimately, this insistence delivers unprecedented victories for prisoners’ rights.Evocative, wry, laser-sharp, and laconically funny, Alyokhina’s account is studded with song lyrics, legal transcripts, and excerpts from her jail diary—dispatches from a young woman who has faced tyranny and returned with the proof that against all odds even one person can force its retreat.
The book is rated 4.03/5 at goodreads.com, from 197 ratings. See 67 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D0HHmt.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DvDWqj.

A history book recommendation: The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2DrDjOK.
Margaret Willes’s new book shows more clearly and more engagingly than most previous works how this friendship developed, and offers a vivid and subtle depiction of her subjects’ sensibilities.
Book description from Google Books:
An intimate portrait of two pivotal Restoration figures during one of the most dramatic periods of English history Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn are two of the most celebrated English diarists. They were also extraordinary men and close friends. This first full portrait of that friendship transforms our understanding of their times. Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests–diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books–and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design. Through the richly documented lives of two remarkable men, Willes revisits the history of London and of England in an age of regicide, revolution, fire, and plague to reveal it also as a time of enthralling possibility.
The book is rated 3.69/5 at goodreads.com, from 16 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CZraiT.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DrLBGh.