SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2017 From the award-winning, best-selling writer: a deeply moving tale of a father and son’s transformative journey in reading – and reliving – Homer’s epic masterpiece.
A timeless and inspiring gift for Father's Day. Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Library Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday A Kirkus Best Memoir of 2017 Shortlisted for the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize From award-winning memoirist and critic, and bestselling author of The Lost: a deeply moving tale of a father and son's transformative journey in reading--and reliving--Homer's epic masterpiece. When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. For Jay, a retired research scientist who sees the world through a mathematician's unforgiving eyes, this return to the classroom is his "one last chance" to learn the great literature he'd neglected in his youth--and, even more, a final opportunity to more fully understand his son, a writer and classicist. But through the sometimes uncomfortable months that the two men explore Homer's great work together--first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son's interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus's famous voyages--it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too: Jay's responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long-buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn's narrative comes to echo the Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home. Rich with literary and emotional insight, An Odyssey is a renowned author-scholar's most triumphant entwining yet of personal narrative and literary exploration.
Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity. It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the "rich conflictedness of things," the double lives all of us lead. Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather; the streets of manhattan's newest "gay ghetto," where "desire for love" competes with "love of desire;" and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood. And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self. The book that Hilton Als calls "equal to Whitman's 'Song of Myself,'" The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut. From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic—part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work—that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2017 From the award-winning, best-selling writer: a deeply moving tale of a father and son's transformative journey in reading - and reliving - Homer's epic masterpiece. When eighty-one-year-old retired scientist Jay unexpectedly enrols in his estranged classicist son Daniel's course on the Odyssey, the journey of a lifetime commences. Professor and student glean life lessons from the page over a semester and, that summer, son and father take to the sea to follow Odysseus's epic trail. Reading Homer becomes their chance to understand each other before it's too late. Theirs is a moving and erudite story of filial love and the importance of the classics. Rich with literary and emotional insight and weaving themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home, this is memoir writing at its finest.
In the second of two volumes of this magnificently illustrated cultural history—the tie-in to the PBS and BBC series The Story of the Jews—Simon Schama details the story of the Jewish people, spanning from their expulsion from Spain during the Inquisition across six hundred years to the present day. It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in the face of oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds. It spans the centuries and the continents—from the Iberian Peninsula and the collapse of “the golden age” to the shtetls of Russia to the dusty streets of infant Hollywood. Its voices ring loud and clear, from the philosophical musings of Spinoza to the poetry written on slips of paper in concentration camps. Within these pages, the Enlightenment unfolds, a great diaspora transforms a country, a Viennese psychiatrist forever changes the conception of the human mind. And a great story unfolds. Not—as often imagined—of a people apart, but of a Jewish culture immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled. Which, as Simon Schama so brilliantly demonstrates, makes the story of the Jews everyone’s story, too. The Story of the Jews Volume 2 features 24 pages of color photos, numerous maps, and printed endpapers.
“Remarkable: a book about borders that makes the reader feel sumptuously free.” —Peter Pomerantsev In this extraordinary work of narrative reportage, Kapka Kassabova returns to Bulgaria, from where she emigrated as a girl twenty-five years previously, to explore the border it shares with Turkey and Greece. When she was a child, the border zone was rumored to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall, and it swarmed with soldiers and spies. On holidays in the “Red Riviera” on the Black Sea, she remembers playing on the beach only miles from a bristling electrified fence whose barbs pointed inward toward the enemy: the citizens of the totalitarian regime. Kassabova discovers a place that has been shaped by successive forces of history: the Soviet and Ottoman empires, and, older still, myth and legend. Her exquisite portraits of fire walkers, smugglers, treasure hunters, botanists, and border guards populate the book. There are also the ragged men and women who have walked across Turkey from Syria and Iraq. But there seem to be nonhuman forces at work here too: This densely forested landscape is rich with curative springs and Thracian tombs, and the tug of the ancient world, of circular time and animism, is never far off. Border is a scintillating, immersive travel narrative that is also a shadow history of the Cold War, a sideways look at the migration crisis troubling Europe, and a deep, witchy descent into interior and exterior geographies.
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD AND THE PEN ART OF THE ESSAY AWARD Over the past decade and a half, Daniel Mendelsohn’s reviews for The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review have earned him a reputation as “one of the greatest critics of our time” (Poets & Writers). In Waiting for the Barbarians, he brings together twenty-four of his recent essays—each one glinting with “verve and sparkle,” “acumen and passion”—on a wide range of subjects, from Avatar to the poems of Arthur Rimbaud, from our inexhaustible fascination with the Titanic to Susan Sontag’s Journals. Trained as a classicist, author of two internationally best-selling memoirs, Mendelsohn moves easily from penetrating considerations of the ways in which the classics continue to make themselves felt in contemporary life and letters (Greek myth in the Spider-Man musical, Anne Carson’s translations of Sappho) to trenchant takes on pop spectacles—none more explosively controversial than his dissection of Mad Men. Also gathered here are essays devoted to the art of fiction, from Jonathan Littell’s Holocaust blockbuster The Kindly Ones to forgotten gems like the novels of Theodor Fontane. In a final section, “Private Lives,” prefaced by Mendelsohn’sNew Yorker essay on fake memoirs, he considers the lives and work of writers as disparate as Leo Lerman, Noël Coward, and Jonathan Franzen. Waiting for the Barbarians once again demonstrates that Mendelsohn’s “sweep as a cultural critic is as impressive as his depth.”
Fifty years of reading Homer—both alone and with students—prepared Eva Brann to bring the Odyssey and the Iliad back to life for today's readers. In Homeric Moments, she brilliantly conveys the unique delights of Homer's epics as she focuses on the crucial scenes, or moments, that mark the high points of the narratives: Penelope and Odysseus, faithful wife and returning husband, sit face to face at their own hearth for the first time in twenty years; young Telemachus, with his father Odysseus at his side, boldly confronts the angry suitors; Achilles gives way to boundless grief at the death of his friend Patroclus. Eva Brann demonstrates a way of reading Homer's poems that yields up their hidden treasures. With an alert eye for Homer's extraordinary visual effects and a keen ear for the musicality of his language, she helps the reader see the flickering campfires of the Greeks and hear the roar of the surf and the singing of nymphs. In Homeric Moments, Brann takes readers beneath the captivating surface of the poems to explore the inner connections and layers of meaning that have made the epics "the marvel of the ages." "Written with wit and clarity, this book will be of value to those reading the Odyssey and the Iliad for the first time and to those teaching it to beginners."—Library Journal "Homeric Moments is a feast for the mind and the imagination, laid out in clear and delicious prose. With Brann, old friends of Homer and new acquaintances alike will rejoice in the beauty, and above all the humanity, of the epics." —Jacob Howland, University of Tulsa, Author of The Paradox of Political Philosophy "In Homeric Moments, Eva Brann lovingly leads us, as she has surely led countless students, through the gallery of delights that is Homer's poetry. Brann's enthusiasm is as infectious as her deep familiarity with the works is illuminating."—Rachel Hadas "Brann invites us to enter a conversation [about Homer] in which information and formal arguments jostle with appreciations and frank conjectures and surmises to increase our pleasure and deepen the inward dimension of our humanity."—Richard Freis, Millsaps College "For anyone eager to experience the profundity and charm of Homer's great epic poems, Eva Brann's book will serve as a passionate and engaging guide. Brann displays a deep sensitivity to the cadence and flow of Homeric poetry, and the kind of knowing intimacy with its characters that comes from years of teaching and contemplation. Her relaxed but informative approach succeeds in conveying the grandeur of the great Homeric heroes, while making them continually resonate for our own lives. Brann helps us see that this poetry has an urgency for our own era as much as it did for a distant past."—Ralph M. Rosen, University of Pennsylvania, Author of Old Comedy and The Iambographic Tradition "The most enjoyable books about Homer are always written by those who have read and taught him the most. Eva Brann's collection of astute observations, unusual asides, and visual snapshots of the Iliad and the Odyssey reveals a lifelong friendship with the poet, and is as pleasurable as it is informative. Homeric Moments is rare erudition without pedantry, in a tone marked by good sense without levity."—Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Other Greeks and co-author of Who Killed Homer?
The book that inspired the major new motion picture Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history's greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life--an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.
Epictetus, a Greek stoic and freed slave, ran a thriving philosophy school in Nicropolis in the early second century AD. His animated discussions were celebrated for their rhetorical wizardry and were written down by Arrian, his most famous pupil. Together with the Enchiridion, a manual of his main ideas, and the fragments collected here, The Discourses argue that happiness lies in learning to perceive exactly what is in our power to change and what is not, and in embracing our fate to live in harmony with god and nature. In this personal, practical guide to the ethics of stoicism and moral self-improvement, Epictetus tackles questions of freedom and imprisonment, illness and fear, family, friendship and love, and leaves an intriguing document of daily life in the classical world.
For fans of Downton Abbey comes an immersive historical epic about a lavish English manor and a dynasty of rich and powerful women who ruled the estate over three centuries of misbehavior, scandal, intrigue, and passion. Five miles from Windsor Castle, home of the royal family, sits the Cliveden estate. Overlooking the Thames, the mansion is flanked by two wings and surrounded by lavish gardens. Throughout its storied history, Cliveden has been a setting for misbehavior, intrigue, and passion—from its salacious, deadly beginnings in the seventeenth century to the 1960s Profumo Affair, the sex scandal that toppled the British government. Now, in this immersive chronicle, the manor’s current mistress, Natalie Livingstone, opens the doors to this prominent house and lets the walls do the talking. Built during the reign of Charles II by the Duke of Buckingham, Cliveden attracted notoriety as a luxurious retreat in which the duke could conduct his scandalous affair with the ambitious courtesan Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury. In 1668, Anna Maria’s cuckolded husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, challenged Buckingham to a duel. Buckingham killed Shrewsbury and claimed Anna Maria as his prize, making her the first mistress of Cliveden. Through the centuries, other enigmatic and indomitable women would assume stewardship over the estate, including Elizabeth, Countess of Orkney and illicit lover of William III, who became one of England’s wealthiest women; Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the queen that Britain was promised and then denied; Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, confidante of Queen Victoria and a glittering society hostess turned political activist; and the American-born Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament, who described herself as an “ardent feminist” and welcomed controversy. Though their privileges were extraordinary, in Livingstone’s hands, their struggles and sacrifices are universal. Cliveden weathered renovation and restoration, world conflicts and cold wars, societal shifts and technological advances. Rich in historical and architectural detail, The Mistresses of Cliveden is a tale of sex and power, and of the exceptional women who evaded, exploited, and confronted the expectations of their times. Praise for The Mistresses of Cliveden “Theatrical festivities, political jockeying and court intrigues are deftly described with a verve and attention to domestic comforts that show the author at her best. . . . [Livingstone’s] portraits of strenuous and assertive women who resisted subjection, sometimes deploying their sexual allure to succeed, on other occasions drawing on their husband’s wealth, are astute, spirited, and empathetic.”—The Wall Street Journal “Missing Downton Abbey already? This tome promises ‘three centuries of scandal, power, and intrigue’ and Natalie Livingstone definitely delivers.”—Good Housekeeping “Lively . . . The current chatelaine—the author herself—deserves no small credit for keeping the house’s legend alive. . . . Any of her action-filled chapters would merit a mini-series.”—The New York Times Book Review “Though the personal tales and tidbits are fascinating, and the sensational details of these women’s lives will intrigue Downton Abbey devotees, the real star of the story is Cliveden.”—Booklist “Lovers of modern English history and the scandals that infiltrated upper-crust society will find much to enjoy in this work.”—Library Journal From the Hardcover edition.
“Thrilling. …A captivating history of two men who dramatically changed their contemporaries’ view of the past.” — Kirkus (starred review) In 1839 rumors of extraordinary yet baffling stone ruins buried within the unmapped jungles of Central America reached two of the world’s most intrepid travelers. Seized by the reports, American diplomat John Lloyd Stephens and British artist Frederick Catherwood—each already celebrated for their adventures in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome—sailed together out of New York Harbor on an expedition into the forbidding rainforests of present-day Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. What they found would re-write the West’s understanding of human history. In the tradition of Lost City of Z and In the Kingdom of Ice, former San Francisco Chronicle journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist William Carlsen reveals the unforgettable true story of the discovery of the ancient Maya. Enduring disease, war, and the torments of nature and terrain, Stephens and Catherwood meticulously uncovered and documented the remains of an astonishing civilization that had flourished in the Americas at the same time as classic Greece and Rome—and had been its rival in art, architecture, and power. Their remarkable book about the experience, written by Stephens and illustrated by Catherwood, became a sensation, hailed by Edgar Allen Poe as “perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published” and recognized today as the birth of American archeology. Most importantly, Stephens and Catherwood were the first to grasp the significance of the Maya remains, recognizing that their antiquity and sophistication overturned the West’s assumptions about the development of civilization. By the time of the flowering of classical Greece (400 B.C.), the Maya were already constructing pyramids and temples around central plazas. Within a few hundred years the structures took on a monumental scale that required millions of man-hours of labor, technical and organizational expertise. Over the next millennium dozens of city-states evolved, each governed by powerful lords, some with populations larger than any city in Europe at the time, and connected by road-like causeways of crushed stone. The Maya developed a cohesive, unified cosmology, an array of common gods, a creation story, and a shared artistic and architectural vision. They created dazzling stucco and stone monuments and bas reliefs, sculpting figures and hieroglyphs with refined artistic skill. At their peak, an estimated ten million people occupied the Maya’s heartland on the Yucatan Peninsula, a region where only half a million now live. And yet, by the time the Spanish reached the “New World,” the classic-era Maya had all but disappeared; they would remain a mystery for the next three hundred years. Today, the tables are turned: the Maya are justly famous, if sometimes misunderstood, while Stephens and Catherwood have been all but forgotten. Based on Carlsen’s rigorous research and his own 1,500-mile journey throughout the Yucatan and Central America, Jungle of Stone is equally a thrilling adventure narrative and a revelatory work of history that corrects our understanding of the Maya and the two remarkable men who set out in 1839 to find them.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE ‘Brilliant' Orhan Pamuk 'The best sort of book for our disordered days: timely, urgent and illuminating' Pankaj Mishra 'It strikes a blow ... for common humanity.' Sunday Times The Islamic Enlightenment: a contradiction in terms? The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise, reform and adapt. But, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has in fact been transformed by modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy. Who were the scholars and scientists, writers and politicians that brought about these remarkable changes? And why is their legacy now under threat? Beginning with the dramatic collision of East and West following Napoleon’s arrival in Egypt, and taking us through 200 tumultuous years of Middle Eastern history, Christopher de Bellaigue introduces us to key figures and reformers; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals like Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn and the writer Ibrahim Sinasi, who transformed Ottoman Turkey’s language and literature. This book tells the forgotten story of the Islamic Enlightenment. It shows us how to look beyond sensationalist headlines to foster a genuine understanding of modern Islam and Muslim culture, and is essential reading for anyone engaged with the state of the world today.
A BRILLIANT AND BEGUILING REIMAGINING OF ONE OF OUR GREATEST MYTHS BY A GIFTED YOUNG WRITER Zachary Mason's brilliant and beguiling debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, reimagines Homer's classic story of the hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy. With brilliant prose, terrific imagination, and dazzling literary skill, Mason creates alternative episodes, fragments, and revisions of Homer's original that taken together open up this classic Greek myth to endless reverberating interpretations. The Lost Books of the Odyssey is punctuated with great wit, beauty, and playfulness; it is a daring literary page-turner that marks the emergence of an extraordinary new talent.
"A globe-spanning investigation into the Transhumanist movement, considering the tech billionaires, scientific luminaries, and DIY body-hackers attempting to prolong, improve, and ultimately transcend the limits of human life"--
Collects the poet's complete works, including the first English translation of the Unfinished Poems, exhibiting the poet's deep intimacy with the ancient world.
The legendary adventures of the Greek king’s epic journey come to life in a modern retelling of The Odyssey that’s “an unmitigated delight” (School Library Journal). In their ten-year siege of Troy, the Greeks claim victory thanks to the cunning wit of Ulysses, King of Ithaca, who devised the infamous Trojan Horse. Now, with the epic war finally finished, Ulysses sets sail for home—but his journey will be long and arduous. Having angered Poseidon, god of the sea, Ulysses and his men are thrown off course by a raging storm and forced to wander the perilous world for another ten years. On his epic trek, Ulysses must match wits and strength with man-eating Sirens, a towering Cyclops, the witch-goddess Circe, and a slew of other deadly foes. Meanwhile, in Ithaca, his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, contend with a rowdy mob of suitors who have taken over their home in an attempt to usurp the absent ruler’s place.
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