Those Bloody, Sexy, Glittery Romanov Centuries

Book review: The Romanovs, by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Amazon / Book Depository) Marx wrote that 'History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.' This was witty but far from true. History is never repeated, but it borrows, steals, echoes and commandeers the past to create a hybrid, something unique out of the ingredients of... Continue Reading →

A “Beehive” Network for Women Escaping Islamic State #WITMonth

Book review: The Beekeeper, by Dunya Mikhail (Amazon / Book Depository) Poet Dunya Mikhail, a US resident originally from Iraq, writes in The Beekeeper about the escape stories of women from that country, fleeing the Islamic State/Daesh, made possible by the eponymous beekeeper of Sinjar province. The women were Yazidis, an ethnic minority heavily targeted by IS... Continue Reading →

Hope in Historical Precedence

Book review: Lessons from a Dark Time, by Adam Hochschild Book Depository When times are dark, we need moral ancestors, and I hope the pieces here will be reminders that others have fought and won battles against injustice in the past, including some against racism, anti-immigrant hysteria, and more. The Trumps and Putins of those... Continue Reading →

Catfishing ISIS

Book review: In the Skin of a Jihadist, by Anna Erelle (Amazon / Book Depository) When one worked on “societal” issues, it was out of passion. If only I could write about this topic in a new way, one that avoided treating individuals as part of a succession of similar cases. I wanted to investigate... Continue Reading →

Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Book review: Among the Living and the Dead, by Inara Verzemnieks "This is why I had journeyed to my grandmother's lost village, nestled at the edge of Latvia, which is itself nestled at the edge of Europe's psychic north, south, east and west, or, as Pope Innocent III described it...'the edge of the known world'.  Because I... Continue Reading →

Royals to Refugees: Roots of an Afghan Family

Book review: Crossing the River Kabul, by Kevin McLean Book Depository Author Kevin McLean adopts the voice of Baryalai Popal to tell his dramatic true story, spanning decades, of escaping Afghanistan in 1980 during the Russian invasion and war, and his eventual trek to America. Now an American citizen, Baryalai (called Bar) was born into one... Continue Reading →

Dispatches from an Occupied Land

Book review: The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State, by Samer, translated by Nader Ibrahim Samer (not his real name) is a Syrian hoping to begin his studies when Assad's regime is overthrown and the Islamic State (referred to here as Daesh, another of its names) rolls into the country, taking Raqqa as a de facto capital.... Continue Reading →

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