American Painters on Technique -- 1860-1945 by Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, Getty Publications '13, printed on glossy stock, 298 pages, ASIN #1606061356. Index, selected bibliography, notes follow each chapter, dozens of color images (some of them full-page) sprinkled through text.
"How paintings were made -- in the most literal sense -- is an important but largely unknown aspect of the story of American art," write authors Lance Mayer and Gay Myers. "This book, like (our) previous volume on American techniques from the colonial period to 1860, is based on descriptions of the materials and methods that painters used, as found in artists' notebook, painting manuals, magazines, suppliers' catalogues, letters, diaries, books, and interviews....
"Chapters are devoted to the impulsive and ever-changing methods of George Inness; James McNeill Whistler, whose flamboyant personality extended to his unique and eccentric painting techniques; and John Singer Sargent, whose technical virtuosity dazzled onlookers from the time he was a teenager."
According to the authors, by the 20th century, a diverse range of painters concluded that "commercially made products did not suit their needs, and they began to make their own supports, grounds, and paints, from raw materials."
Authors Lance Mayer and Gay Myers are independent paintings conservators based in New London, CT, who have worked for many years for large and small museums and private collectors.
Russian Roulette -- How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution by Giles Milton, Bloomsbury Press '13, $28, 378 pages, ASIN #1620405687. Index, selected reading, notes and sources, grouping of b&w glossy images.
"People scoffed when Vladimir Lenin vowed to sweep away the old order in Russia., writes author Giles Milton. "Yet he did just that within months of returning to the country after years of exile. Few believed that he would pull Russian forces out of WW1, and even fewer that he would have Tsar Nicholas and his family murdered in cold blood. Yet both of these things came to pass. Very soon after Lenin seized power, the world awoke to the fact that it was facing a new and terrible threat."
In Russian Roulette, Milton recounts the harrowing story of British spies in revolutionary Russia and their mission to stop Lenin's red tide from washing across the free world. "They were an eccentric cast of characters;" according to the author, "led by Mansfield Cumming, a one-legged, monocle-wearing former naval officer, and included novelist W. Somerset Maugham, beloved children's author Arthur Ransome, and the dashing, ice-cool Sidney Reilley, the legendary 'Ace of Spies' and a model for Ian Fleming's James Bond."
Author Giles Milton has written eight works of narrative nonfiction and lives in London.
Africa Consensus -- New Interests, Initiatives, and Partners by Ludger Kuhnhardt, Wilson Center/Johns Hopkins UPress '14 paperback. $44.95, 380 pages, ASIN #1421414155. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the back cover:
"In the past, the world scrambled for Africa to win slaves, territory, and resources. Today, the world scrambles with Africa to do business in global markets. In Africa Consensus: New Interests, Initiatives and Partners, Ludger Kuhnhardt argues that new African politics, African regional institutions, and global demand for partnerships for trade and security will lead the continent to new relationships with the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil, and other emerging economies.
"Kuhnhardt reviews the history of Africa's international status and employs the rising African Union's own identified 'intervention areas' -- peace and security; development, intergration, and cooperation; shared values; and institution-and capacity-building -- to analyze challenges and possibilities."
Author Luther Kuhnhardt is director of the Center for European Integration Studies and professor of political science at the University of Bonn, Germany. He was a public policy scholar a the Wilson Center in 2012.