November list

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum: “Applebaum’s account will surely become the standard treatment of one of history’s great political atrocities … She re-creates a pastoral world so we can view its destruction. And she rightly insists that the deliberate starvation of the Ukrainian peasants was part of a larger [Soviet] policy against the Ukrainian nation …  To be sure, Russia is not the Soviet Union, and Russians of today can decide whether they wish to accept a Stalinist version of the past. But to have that choice, they need a sense of the history. This is one more reason to be grateful for this remarkable book.” Timothy Snyder, Washington Post

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy: “[An] exemplary account of Europe’s least-known large country … one of the joys of reading The Gates of Europe is that what might seem a dense account of distant events involving unfamiliar places and people is leavened by aphorism and anecdote.” Wall Street Journal

The Land Where the Blues Began by Alan Lomax: “No one has come close to Alan Lomax in illuminating the intersecting musical roots of an extraordinary range of cultures, including our own.” Nat Hentoff

King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era by Edward A. Berlin: “A masterful demonstration of the scholar’s art, revealing previously unknown aspects of Joplin as ragtime musician, teacher, composer, and student … Enlightens as it challenges, traversing the worlds of music, culture and politics in describing Joplin’s publishing arena and the cultures of prostitution, the church, the social club, and family life. The thorough discussion of Joplin’s famous ‘Maple Leaf Rag,’ of his opera Treemonisha, of the tour schedule for his first opera A Guest of Honor, and of his relationship to his second wife, are significant and alone are worth the reading of this book. King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era is a major contribution to American musical scholarship.” Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., author of The Power of Black Music

Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington

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