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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new... Continue »
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Janna Mauldin Heiner has commented on (18) products.

Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
Geography of Bliss

Janna Mauldin Heiner, March 16, 2014

Searching for happiness? Ride along with self-identified grump and longtime NPR correspondent Eric Weiner as he travels the world to all of its happiest--and unhappiest--places, trying to get a handle on what makes some places (and the people who inhabit them) more joyful than others. From Great Britain to Muldova, from Iceland to Qatar, Weiner looks for bliss in everyone else's backyard. His witty observations might not result in a map to happiness, but they will make you laugh. And, unexpectedly, think. This is either the weirdest travel book ever, or the weirdest book on happiness ever; but either way, it's a really fun read with some interesting insights into overlooked cultures around the world...and how to culture happiness in your own world.
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Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride by Peter Zheutlin
Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride

Janna Mauldin Heiner, March 5, 2014

In 1895, Annie Kapchovsky--a married Jewish mother of three young children with no cycling experience--climbed on a bicycle and set out to "girdle the globe" to win a bet.

Or not.

Actually, the impetus for and circumstances of her round-the-world trip are a little bit hard to pin down. Annie--who went by the name of Annie Londonderry during her escapade--played fast and loose with pretty much everything, from how much she actually rode her bicycle to the precise terms of the wager behind it. A brilliant marketing strategist and storyteller, closely attuned to the winds of the times, she made her escape from convention and turned it into money, notoriety, and a banner for a woman's right to freedom from restricting clothing and roles. This wasn't quite the adventure book I expected it to be, but I didn't care. Annie Londonderry's creativity and charisma captured me as well as it captured so many of her contemporaries. And while Peter Zheutlin only alludes to it, hidden in her tale is a wonderful love story--that of the man who stayed at home with their little family and let her make her independent way, welcomed her back at her journey's end, and continued to enjoy her company for the rest of their lives.
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Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story

Janna Mauldin Heiner, February 28, 2014

Dame Daphne Sheldrick writes with humor and deep passion of her life in Africa--the orphaned animals she nurtured, the wild ones she tried to protect, and the man with whom she shared everything except her ultimate grief. The story would be fascinating if that was all it was--but perhaps the most interesting part is the undercurrent of the pressures and tensions that characterized life as a second-generation native white African in a deeply divided world. Sheldrick's views represent a colonial perspective; a careful and sensitive reader can get a feel for how that perspective affected those who lived in Africa long before the British arrived. I didn't find Sheldrick an entirely sympathetic figure, but I learned as much from those passages that made me question her as from those driven by her deep love for the African landscape and the living creatures that inhabit it. At once an adventure story, a love story, and a story of two very different cultures meeting at rocky crossroads in a vast, often dangerous landscape, _Love, Life, and Elephants_ both filled my heart and made it ache.
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Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Out of My Mind

Janna Mauldin Heiner, February 1, 2014

In _Out of My Mind_, Sharon M. Draper offers an important addition to the canon of books that explore the issues surrounding disability. Her protagonist, Melody, is a 10-year-old girl with a photographic memory, an impressive vocabulary, a keen mind...and no way to show it. Misjudged and misunderstood more often than not, Melody struggles to express herself, to reveal herself, and to protect herself from repeated underestimation from peers and adults alike. But even the ability to communicate and participate doesn't entirely save Melody from disappointments and betrayals; and in the end, her biggest victory comes not from the technology that helps her communicate, but from her own strong and forgiving heart.
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The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
The Good Lord Bird

Janna Mauldin Heiner, January 31, 2014

From the day John Brown appears in his father's barbershop, Henry Shackleford's life becomes entwined in the passionate, righteous, and slightly insane crusade of one of the most enigmatic figures of American history. Son of a privileged slave, Henry is torn from a life that, in his view, is hardly worth the fuss Brown is making about slavery; and in the fire of Brown's disturbed charisma, becomes party to the abolitionist's efforts to free the Negro from slavery. Henry--mistaken for a girl and given the nickname Onion by Brown--is a perceptive narrator, but young, naïve, and not entirely reliable. Brown comes to vivid life through his eyes, in all his authority, glory, and insanity, his dedication and dereliction. Henry's own confusion and uncertainty adds a layer of meaning to the slave story as well as to this particular one. And in the writing, James McBride offers up a fascinating combination of history and possibility to explain Brown's God-fueled, turbocharged, ultimately doomed attack at Harper's Ferry--and shows clearly the ultimate winning power of his defeat.
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