Historical fiction can be the a fantastic way to ingrain history events as long as it doesn’t deviate too far from the dry and dusty demands of factual “truthiness”, and in the vein The Second Seal by Dennis Wheatley is an excellent primer for the dabbler who wants to get started in the area World …

  • May 7, 2021
  • Comments Off on A Fiction About a Fact

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Aminatta Forna tackles trauma, although not in the way that most western readers are used to dealing with trauma’s effects.   Her previous book, Happiness, brings a different explanation to how different cultures deal with trauma.  The problem, rather than the trauma itself, is societal expectations of trauma.  Those who expect a trauma-free life as …

  • April 19, 2021
  • Review
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The events of this novel draw on the infinite well of human memory, whose treasures may be brought to the surface in any period, including our own.  In view of this, any resemblance between the characters and circumstances of this tale and real people and events is inevitable. –Ismail Kadare Published first in 2003 (in …

  • January 22, 2021
  • Comments Off on Book Review: The Successor

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The separate yet intertwined conflicts of 1956, in Hungary and Egypt, changed the presentation and path of the Cold War.  Most stunning among the changes and yet one of the least mentioned outside scholarly works is that Great Britain began the month of October 1956 as one of the great powers at the center of …

  • January 5, 2021
  • Comments Off on Book Review: Blood and Sand: Suez, Hungary, and the Crisis that Shook the World

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First published in 1930, Mhudi was finished in 1920.  The author, Sol Plaatje had trouble finding a publisher, and so the manuscript languished for a decade. Mhudi was a groundbreaking novel, approaching history from an Afro-Centric view rather than the more common European view. It was a radically different approach for the time, showing the …

  • October 16, 2020
  • History
  • Comments Off on The First African Novel in English

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In 2018, just under half of the world’s new HIV infections, 800,000, appeared in South and Eastern Africa.  There are some bright spots – currently 85% of people living with HIV in these areas are now aware of their status.  Thanks to a sustained world effort and the United States PEPFAR program, 79% of those …

  • August 31, 2020
  • Comments Off on A Story About The Story of a Plague

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Vampires are from Serbia. They aren’t attractive, either. The question is – are vampires real? That is the question addressed in Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon. With the action taking place back and forth between centuries, the story follows grad student Stephen Roberts as he researches ancient folklore in a war-ravaged former Yugoslavia. …

  • May 8, 2020
  • Folklore
  • Comments Off on Kiss of the Butterfly – a Review

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Opobo women and children in Nigeria in the late nineteenth century The central theme of The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi, seems to western readers to be supernatural. TillyTilly is real, or she is not. There is no in-between. Eight-year-old Jessamy has developed mental issues.   But to readers familiar with the dual worlds of the …

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Albanian sworn virgin, circa 1910 If you are looking for an in-depth examination of the history of the sworn virgin (or burnesha) phenomenon in the mountains of Northern Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo, Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones, is probably not where you want to start. But if you want to understand, to live a possibility …

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