The next best thing to a new history by Ian Buruma, twice named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals, is a collection of his fine essays. Theater of Cruelty (New York Review Books, $29.95) contains twenty-eight pieces of commentary and criticism Buruma has published over the last two decades. Putting near-equal weight on the two halves of his title, Theater includes a look at the plays of Alan Bennett, Mike Leigh, and the dramatic adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary as well as films by Fassbinder, Eastwood, Herzog, and Kurosawa, and considers the “theatrical” with an exhibit of David Bowie’s “outrageously beautiful” costumes. “Theater” here also means “theater of war,” and Buruma tests the cultural icons against humanity’s darker impulses. Admitting his “fearful fascination with power and cruelty,” Buruma is especially eloquent on events and people that tangle the lines of art and violence; was Leni Riefenstahl both a Nazi and an artist? Is such a hybrid possible? Similar questions arise with the Japanese painter Foujita, who joined the French modernists before the war but produced images praising Japanese militarism during it. While Buruma deeply admires art and artists, he understands they are not infallible. At bottom, his work is a warning to all that “cultural sophistication, alas, is no prophylactic against the allure of terrible ideas.”
Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590177778
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: New York Review Books - September 16th, 2014

To use cartography to chart the many social, political, and technological changes of the twentieth century is a brilliant idea—and antiquarian map experts Tim Bryars and Tom Harper meet this challenge beautifully. Their engrossing survey of a turbulent era, A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps (Chicago, $45), balances the art of mapmaking with an astute narrative sensibility and is both visually impressive and intellectually stimulating. Here’s the visual record of the London underground, troop deployment at the Somme, the Beatles’ touring map of Liverpool, immigration and land settlement in Palestine, and even a chronicle of the fall of Yugoslavia, with informative commentary. Bryars and Harper have also gathered maps scribbled on napkins, newspaper cartoon maps, street maps, tapestry maps, digital maps, and even literary maps (you won’t get lost in The Hundred Acre Wood or Middle Earth). While the scope is global, this survey tends to be Eurocentric (or perhaps Anglocentric; both authors are British); that said, this is a wonderful feast for history buffs as well as cartography aficionados.
A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226202471
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - October 22nd, 2014

Meet Julia Warhola, Andy Warhol’s mother. And this is Thomas A. Watson, the assistant to Alexander Graham Bell. And let’s not forget Vera Nabokov and Anna Dostoyevskaya, the wives of literary masters Vladimir Nabokov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, respectively. The Who, The What, and The When (Chronicle, $24.95) is both familiar and revelatory; for every well-known figure of science, art, and politics it names, editors Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe, partners in ALSO, an award-winning Chicago– and New York–based design firm, introduce that personage’s loved ones or assistants, and these engaging profiles allow us to see the famous personalities in a fresh and different light. Each capsule biography is complemented with a unique visual portrait—the artwork ranging in style, medium, and sensibility to reflect the diverse temperaments of the subjects—thus sustaining a sense of the wonder of discovery which makes this volume something refreshingly different.
The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History Cover Image
ISBN: 9781452128276
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Chronicle Books - October 14th, 2014