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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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Jason Straight has commented on (12) products.

Women Writers of the Middle Ages: A Critical Study of Texts from Perpetua ((Dagger) 203) to Marguerite Porete ((Dagger) 1310) by Peter Dronke
Women Writers of the Middle Ages: A Critical Study of Texts from Perpetua ((Dagger) 203) to Marguerite Porete ((Dagger) 1310)

Jason Straight, February 14, 2011

Expanding the Western canon. Dronke's classic book is as important and timely now as ever. Somewhere between an anthology and a scholarly survey, Dronke discusses the writings of women from the 3rd-14th centuries. This book avoids the pitfall of artificially creating a genre of "women's literature" but rather considers women writers as creative and innovative authors. This book is essentially for anyone interested in Medieval history, women's history, or western literature. Dronke's book is a powerful indictment of the patriarchal institution that is the Western Literary Canon by showing that women writers should be included, not for the sake of diversity, but because their works can stand on their own merits alongside the greatest works of male geniuses.
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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Sun

Jason Straight, February 14, 2011

This book is a book about real people who never existed. Adichie is careful to show us that the characters in this book are real flesh and blood people, they eat, they drink, they have sex, they argue, they make mistakes, they do the things that real people do. The book takes a microscopic view of individual struggles and suffering withing a struggle too large and complex to admit clear understanding. A man trying to cross a border to bury his mother when 1,000,000s of soldiers and refugees are fighting over and crossing that exact border makes the macro comprehensible by the micro. What makes this book most powerful is that while it is an African book, a Nigerian book, an Igbo book--and in large part a book of one generation coming to terms with the history of a past generation--the events portrayed could have happened anywhere. It is a universal story despite being a specifically Igbo story.
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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Jason Straight, October 30, 2010

An instant classic. Wilkerson using the lives of 3 different people to stand for the millions of African Americans who took part in America's greatest internal migration. Both intensely personal and full of scholarly erudition, you won't want to put this book down and the people you encounter in it will stay with you. This is by far one of the best books of 2010.
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When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge by K. David. Harrison
When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge

Jason Straight, August 23, 2010

Built up over tens of thousands of years, language is the single most complex and powerful storehouse of human learning. But as Harrison warns us, this vast array of knowledge is quickly eroding. Harrison's book is a call to action for linguistics and anthropologist and at the same time a fascinating account for the lay reader on the variety and richness of the world's fast-vanishing languages.
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The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Jason Straight, August 23, 2010

Stephen Pinker chalks up the blank slate. Drawing on a broad array of disciplines (psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy) Pinker subtly and persuasively argues that humans come prepackaged with a broad array of mental faculties and traits. This, however, is not another tired nature/nurture book, but turns the whole argument on its head by appealing constantly to the best current scientific evidence. One of the seminal books of our time.
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