- The Legacy of Tolstoy: Alexandra Tolstoy and the Soviet Regime in the 1920s
Drawing on extensive research in Russian archives, Robert Croskey examines how Alexandra Tolstoy, the youngest daughter of Russian writer Lev (Leo) Tolstoy, sought to preserve the work of her father after the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917. Best known as the founder and lifelong president of the Tolstoy Foundation in New York, where she worked to assist Russian emigres, Alexandra Tolstoy was determined to maintain her family's estate at Iasnaia Poliana as a museum and living memorial to her father's ideals; in addition, she was involved with the Tolstoy museums in Moscow and in preparing her father's manuscripts for publication. Croskey shows how Tolstoy's daughter drew upon patronage networks to sustain Iasnaia Poliana as ideologically hostile winds blew around her, and how and why a precarious accommodation with the Bolshevik government broke down. The story culminates with her emigration from Soviet Russia in 1929, when she was forty-five. "The Legacy of Tolstoy" interweaves Alexandra Tolstoy's life with events in Soviet history and illuminates Lev Tolstoy's legacy during the Soviet period. Robert Croskey is professor of history at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
- International Architecture in Interwar Japan: Constructing Kokusai Kenchiku
After World War I, architects around the world aspired to transcend national boundaries that had been devastated by conflicts. The result was a flurry of artistic creativity. In Japan, young architects strove to create an "international architecture," or kokusai kenchiku, an expression of increasing international travel and communication, growth of the mass media, and technological innovation.
Ken Tadashi Oshima traces the many interconnections among Japanese, European, and American architects and their work during the interwar years by examining the careers and designs of three leading modernists in Japan: Yamada Mamoru (1894-1966), Horiguchi Sutemi (1895-1984), and Antonin Raymond (1888-1976). Each espoused a new architecture that encompassed modern forms and new materials, and all attempted to synthesize the novel with the old in distinctive ways. Combining wood and concrete, paper screens and sliding/swinging glass doors, tatami rooms and Western-style chairs, they achieved an innovative merging of international modernism and traditional Japanese practices. Their buildings accommodated the demands of modern living while remaining appropriate to Japan's climate, culture, and economy.
Until now, scholars have tended to isolate the work of Japanese architects from the European-American sphere of influence. Oshima reverses this trend, exploring the influences that flowed in multiple directions among architects in Japan and their counterparts in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
Sadly, few of the buildings of Japan's interwar period withstood the destruction of World War II and the wrecking balls of subsequent decades of development. Oshima uses a wealth of photographs to vividly capture the character of the burgeoning architectural media of those years and to generously illustrate the works and visions of these pioneering modernists.
- Sizzling Chops and Devilish Spins: Ping-pong and the Art of Staying Alive
Jerome Charyn introduces us in this magical and quirky memoir to the fine art of Ping Pong, a sport and a state of mind. Henry Miller immortalized the game and transformed it into a spiritual exercise: "No other sport can engage in the same way, it allows you to dream, it is like being in a trance state". Jerome Charyn gives gives it the touch of the human and turns it into the metaphor of life. Ping Pong has never been the sport of the rich and famous, but its fascination and glory reaches every corner of the world, played by over 250 million people; here is the sound of the ball, the echo of the racquet, the players and the clubs, and smoky basement holes frequented by anybody and everybody.
- The Scars of Evolution
When Elaine Morgan wrote The Descent of Woman in 1972, it sent shock waves around the world, and is now widely regarded as a key work on human evolution, and essential to any discussion of women's place in society. Now, with The Scars of Evolution, Morgan offers a pioneering look just where it was our earliest ancestors came from, and the legacy--not always advantageous--that they left us. As she sets out to solve one of the enduring riddles of our origins--to discover the evolutionary path that separated us from the rest of the animals--Morgan shows that many of the theories currently accepted by scientists cannot explain our unique features: they leave too many questions unanswered.
Millions of years ago, something happened to our ape ancestors that did not happen to the forebears of gorillas and chimpanzees, something that made them walk on two legs, lose their fur, sweat, develop larger brains, and learn to speak. While scientists have visited many a dig and studied many a fossil for clues, Elaine Morgan argues that all of the facts about our mysterious origins are right in front of us--in the form of fundamental flaws in the human design. Our propensity to suffer from lower back pain, obesity, varicose veins, acne, even infant death syndrome, is essentially the result of a cataclysmic event in our distant past.
Scientists have long observed that our spines were not made for upright walking. Yet natural selection--the basic tenet of evolutionary theory--dictates that enduring changes to a species occur because of the need to adapt to changes in the environment. While thousands of working hours are lost each year to "bad backs," at some point long ago it must have been an advantage to walk on two legs. The most common theory is that we became bipedal while hunting on the African savannah, needing our arms free for weapons, using an upright stance to see enemies from afar. But as Morgan points out, animals need more speed on the savannah, both for pursuit and flight, than two legs can offer. Her explanation: bipedalism emerged from life in an aquatic environment due to the flooding of the African rift valley millennia ago. The apes that suddenly found themselves stranded in swamp land (a swamp that remained for thousands of years) had to walk upright to keep from drowning. The human tendency toward obesity was once not an unsightly health problem, but rather a lifesaving form of insulation, one present in all aquatic mammals. And as Morgan carefully considers all of our other uniquely human traits--our relative hairlessness, our ability to control our breathing, our inability to maintain proper salt levels--a compelling case emerges for our human origins in a watery environment.
Lively, controversial, and presented with a brilliant logic, The Scars of Evolution will change the way you think about the world--and our place in it.
- Discovering Totem Poles: A Traveler's Guide
Rising from a forest mist or soaring overhead in parks and museums, magnificent cedar totem poles have captured the attention and imagination of visitors to Washington State, British Columbia, and Alaska.
Discovering Totem Poles is the first guidebook to focus on the complex and fascinating histories of the specific poles visitors encounter in Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Alert Bay, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau. It debunks common misconceptions about totem poles and explores the stories behind the making and displaying of 90 different poles.
Travelers with this guide in their pockets will return home with a deeper knowledge of the monumental carvings, their place in history, and the people who made them.
Watch the book trailer: https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAaAnYctJcg