History

  • The Warmth of Other Suns

    Isabel Wilkerson

    Isabel Wilkerson’s book about the migration of African Americans out of the South is appropriately epic considering it spans the greater part of the 20th century (from 1910–1970). She interviewed over 1,200 people and spent fifteen years researching and writing this book that is part oral history, part narrative non-fiction focusing on three migrant’s experiences in detail (basically each person’s entire life story), and the rest historical contextualization of it all. Aside from some research done by sociologists in the 1920s on those who landed in Chicago, this phenomenon has been largely unstudied with such depth and historical scope.

    I won’t attempt to summarize the entire book, but there were two moments from Wilkerson’s contextualizing that stuck in my head....more

  • A Short History of the Printed Word

    Warren Chappell

    This book is likely to retain its place as a design classic, as Chappell recorded a uniquely specific point in history, balancing at the point before computers completely infiltrated design, leaving printing presses and typesetting machines to archaism. This is a history of printing starting with the earliest alphabets evolving through the advances of the printing press, with due given to major contributors to typographic design.

    It’s hard not to wonder what Chappell (who died in 1991) would think of the world of design today when he closes, saying,

    It is equally imperative that the results of applying modern technology to presswork be constantly measured against the most primitive printing, so that the lessons of the importance of impression and stiff ink

    ...more
  • Persepolis 2

    Marjane Satrapi

    The highly anticipated follower to Persepolis!; I am very lucky that Steve had requested it from the library early and then let me read it first when he got it. This book starts with Marjane arriving in Vienna, the first one having ended with her leaving Iran, and her transition into a life in a Western country, away from her family is rough. Eventually she decides to return to Iran, which turns out to be equally, if not more, difficult after her time away.

    This book is less about Iran’s history, one thing I especially appreciated about the first book, but for the obvious reason that she is disconnected from her family and her country for half of the book....more

  • We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families

    Philip Gourevitch

    the may 2004 issue of harper’s included a letter from Congo titled “In the Valley of the Gun: A massacre unfolds in eastern Congo” by Bryan Mealer — a very intense witness of the violence in the Republic of Congo. in talking to my roommate about it, she mentioned how it is tied into what happened in Rwanda and recommended this book. it’s pretty devastating (much like that article), but an important read.

    my knowledge of Rwanda was limited. though i picked up elements about what happened here and there, i still remember seeing news about the Rwandan refugees in Zaire (before it was renamed the Republic of Congo) in the mid-90s, but no context of what they were refugees from...more

  • Persepolis

    Marjane Satrapi

    amazing memoir of growing up in iran during the islamic revolution — i was unfamiliar with iran’s history and this gives a good overview from the perspective of being a girl from a resistant family, growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. the drawings are stark black and white, there is a lot of humor amid the painful parts. i really loved this.more