When visions of freedom and equality were rapidly vanishing

    The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 by Richard White, Oxford University Press, US $35.00, Pp 942, ISBN 9780199735815

    As the Civil War came to an end in 1865, the older American nation died. The old union perished in a fratricidal war, but Northerners did not doubt that, in President Abraham Lincoln’s words, “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” The Americans resurrected the best of the …

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    Dark corners of American history

    Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen, Random House, US $30.00, Pp 480, September 2017, ISBN 978-1400067213

    Is the post-factual and fake news moment – or, as some would love to call it, the Trump moment — a new inexplicable phenomenon? Most Americans, as well as non-Americans, believe it is a recent phenomenon that can be blamed on President Trump. In Fantasyland, eminent novelist and journalist Kurt Andersen argues that this is as old as …

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    “Unexpected beauty in the art and science of whiskey making”

    Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage by Carol Peachee, Indiana University Press, US $28.00, Pp 240, September 2017, ISBN 978-0253029478

    The story of Bourbon and the evolution of the Bourbon industry are fascinating not only for Bourbon lovers but also for others. The story of Bourbon is veritably the story of American innovation, industry, and craft. In Straight Bourbon, Carol Peachee takes us to a farm-to-bottle journey and shows how the industry evolved over the last century. Carol Peachee …

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  • AHAH

    Why the Soviet Union collapsed

    The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution by Yuri Slezkine, Princeton University Press, US $39.95, Pp 1104, August 2017, ISBN 978-0691176949

    During the first five-year plan (1928-1932), the Communist Party of the Soviet Union built the Soviet government for the new socialist state with a fully centralized and nationalized economy. They also built a house for itself, known as The House of Government. The House of Government was built in a low-lying area in Moscow called “the …

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  • ATAT

    From holy warriors to holy bankers

    The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors by Dan Jones, Viking, US$30.00, Pp 448, September 2017, ISBN 978-0525428305

    The Templars, or the Poor Knighthood of the Temple, were holy warriors or men of religion and men of the sword. Their uniforms were emblazoned with a red cross, symbolizing the blood Christ had shed for mankind and that they themselves were prepared to spill in the Lord’s service. Although the Templars were only one among a host …

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  • AFAF

    Editor’s picks: Novels

    The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, US $27.00, Pp 352, August 2017, ISBN 978-0735212664

    Dead Woman Walking: A Novel by Sharon Bolton, Minotaur Books, US $25.99, Pp 364, September 2017, ISBN 978-1250103444

    Private investigator Roland Ford is good at finding people. He has had a bright and shining career as a cop and then a marine in the past. When Air Force veteran Clay Hickman goes missing from a mental asylum, Ford instinctively …

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    Airstream has a unique shape and exquisite design

    Living the Airstream Life by Karen Flett,  Harper Design,  US $35,  Pp 160, September 2017, ISBN 978-0062440822

    The uniqueness of the exterior shape, the shiny silver, and the timeless design are often the first things that people notice about the Airstream, but the thing that makes them fall in love with an Airstream is the spirit in which they were created and the intention for their use. Airstream’s founder Byam was an adventurer with a desire for learning about the …

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    Understanding how violence crushes the human spirit

    Dinner at the Center of the Earth: A novel by Nathan Englander, Knopf, US $26.95, Pp 272, September 2017, ISBN 978-1524732738

    In 1996, Nathan Englander moved to Israel in search for peace. He thought that it was right there and it was going to happen. Englander planned to live in Israel for a brief period but he ended up staying back in Jerusalem for an extended period of time. He even lived through the second intifada in Jerusalem “where …

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  • ASAS

    Eating the Swedish way

    Smörgåsbord: The Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treats by Johanna Kindvall, Ten Speed Press, US $17.99, Pp 176, September 2017, ISBN 978-0399579097

    Scandinavian countries boast of very rich culinary traditions. One of these great culinary traditions is smorgasbord where a large number of people eat easy-to-make but very delicious treats and drinks. As these treats and drinks are consumed slowly, it helps them socialize with fellow guests. The word smörgåsbord is composed of two words: …

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