I read this while the World Cup was on. I know Laurent Dubois from my graduate work reading the Atlantic World historiography, but since then he has become one of my favorite writers on sports as well. This book is arranged in chapters using different participants in the game—players by position, managers, referees, fans—to anchor thematic observations on politics, gender, race, and culture in soccer.
I was completely unaware of the specifics of the bureaucratic apparatus (and really lack thereof) for code breaking during World War II, but that is hardly the only interesting aspect of this. Not only are there many other axes of interest for history of science and technology in the different communities of research and scholarship that Elizebeth Friedman moved through, but I appreciate Fagone’s enthusiastic championing of his subject and her largely unheralded work.
Max Temkin strongly recommended this on the Do By Friday podcast. I think there may be a little bit of context I’m missing from not being familiar with the larger story of Vision, but nonetheless I thought it was a pretty interesting exploration of what makes community (through both exclusion and inclusion) and how identities are constructed.
Universal Harvester builds a strong sense of place in late 90s Iowa in which its quiet, suspenseful almost-horror sits neatly next to people living with loss and grief. Darnielle’s experience building characters in the small spaces of songs shows itself in his knack for finding the small exemplary. This writing felt patient and confident; I really enjoyed being in and moving slowly through this world.
Kurt Andersen traces the development of magical thinking and individualistic ‘truth’ in American culture from early English settlement to the present day. He does a good job summarizing the early modern cultural history. It’s a survey, and I’m not the imagined audience for it, but it was nice to see this perspective on early American Protestant religion in a work of popular nonfiction. Andersen’s clear interest is in the second half of the twentieth century when he argues that the American predeliction for personal truth, facilitated by the counterculture and postmodernism, allow for an explosion of non-reality-based worldviews across the political and cultural spectrum. The obvious endpoint is the era of the Trump presidency. In tying this moment to a long history fusing individualistic and supernatural worldviews into a uniquely American epistemology, Andersen helpfully challenges the idea that this Trumpist moment is some kind of catastrophic rupture rather than inherently American.
I picked this out at the comic book store with Mees having seen it mentioned before as a good book for kids. It’s a nice Nancy Drew- or Harriet the Spy-like girl-detective story about a precocious teenager who takes it upon herself to act as house detective at South Florida hotel where her father works in a early 1960s setting. The primary young characters are people of color and the teen romance is not exclusively heterosexual. The artwork is colorful and fun, and the action is mostly non-violent. It was a worthwhile read for my own enjoyment, but it’s also definitely a great option for non-superhero comics for kids.
When I started reading the Harry Hole series, the installment available in English was The Redbreast, which is actually the third book in the series. Almost ten years later, it’s interesting to return to this earlier entry. It’s a page-turner the way they all are. Having spent a short time in Bangkok staying with Northern European ex-pat friends, it was interesting to see Nesbø’s frame for conflicts between Thai and ex-pat culture, particularly as he seems to experience it differently as a Northern European than I do as an American.
This was lighter reading than some Stephenson fare—more like Zodiac than Sevenes—and ends up as a sort of time-traveling heist novel that mashes up Big Science and the occult, the military and academia. The narrative is presented in letters, networked groupware messaging platforms, and journals. On both these counts it’s reminiscent of other things I’ve read recently, but far more successful. I’m not familiar with Nicole Galland, but I’m sort of curious to read her historical fiction now, and I’m glad to see indications that this is the first installment in a series.