The Modern Christmas in America is an account of the evolution of Christmas in the United States between 1880 and 1940; these were the years of the formation of Christmas as we celebrate it today.
James Monroe is no fawning celebration of its subject, but it comes from a tradition in which authors went through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to prove that their subjects were responding to the needs of the public rather than their own desires.
This biography does not address the low opinion many had of Gropius in that era, and it probably will not change some widespread perceptions of Gropius and modern architecture that have taken hold since his death in 1969. It does offer a readable and largely sympathetic account of the complicated personal history of this centrally important modern design educator and mentor.
In the end, Paul Hendrickson’s quest does succeed—just not in the way he leads us to expect. Throughout the book, he refers to “the back of” Wright’s life, as though it is an edifice. But it is the edifices Wright designed that reveal his humanity. We hear it when he articulates his vision; we hear it in Hendrickson’s descriptions of the structures.
In over thirty years of prodigious journalistic activity captured in The Scandal of the Century and Other Writings there is not much Gabriel García Márquez has not witnessed, read about, investigated, or invented. His style evolved and matured, but even his early writings never really feel like those of a young apprentice, crafted as they are with flair and a great deal of self-confidence.
Brandishing the tools of genetic criticism, Rachel Douglas illustrates how James wrote and revised texts not simply as part of his own creative development, but to recast his political insights for new audiences and changing circumstances.
As artistic profile, Dread Poetry and Freedom is successful. In fact, it also succeeds in constructing a worthwhile rubric through which political art can be viewed. Though this may be accidental, it also unveils a broader problem, albeit one well beyond the scope of the book. That is, if poetry can play a role in “informing our understanding of political possibilities,” can it play a role in widening those possibilities?
Black women, as a group, are not known for their conservatism. They are, in fact, more likely to vote Democratic and along progressive lines than Black men. So, Uprising and Blackout are worth thinking about in this context. Why are some Black women openly, even aggressively as in the cases of Owens and Diamond and Silk, identifying as conservative?
Because it is about our nation as much as it is about one city, and because Johnson frames it as “the two-hundred-year history of removal, racism, and resistance that flowed through the two minutes of confrontation on August 9, 2014”—the killing of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, which touched off Black Lives Matter—the book is for all of us and for now.