Faxed -- The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine by Jonathan Coopersmith, Johns Hopkins UPress '15, $54.95, 308 pages, ASIN #1421415917. Index, note on sources, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"In an age of instantaneous information and images, it is hard to appreciate the magic that millions in the 1930s experienced upon seeing photographs of distant disasters appear the new day in their newspapers, or the excitement in the 1980s of watching an exact copy of a letter emerge line by line from a machine connected to the telephone network," writes historian Jonathan Coopersmith in his latest work.
"By accomplishing these contemporary miracles, the fax machine helped create the accelerated communications, information flow, and vibrant visual culture that characterize our contemporary world. Most people assume that the fax machine originated in the computer and electronics revolution of the 1980s, but it has actually evolved, albeit unsteadily, since the 1840s. This book tells the multigenerational, multinational story of that device from its origins and describes how it changed the world, even through its decline in the 21st century.
"The basic concept of a facsimile, or fax machine -- a machine that electrically transmits an image -- has not changed since 1843. The three main components were, and remain, the scanner-transmitter, the transmitting medium, and the receiver-recorder. What changed greatly were the enabling and supporting technologies, the competing technologies and services, the social and economic environment, and the expectations and assumptions of promoters, patrons, observers, and users about markets and applications."
Historian Jonathan Coopersmith is an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University and is the author of The Electrification of Russia, 1880-1926.
Grace of Monaco -- The True Story by Jeffrey Robinson, DaCapo '14 paperback, $15.99, 340 pages, ASIN #1602862419. Index, two groupings of b&w images.
"In one of the most famous romances of the 20th century, Europe's most eligible bachelor, Prince Rainier of Monaco, and America's most beautiful movie star, the Academy Award-winning Grace Kelly, fell in Love and married against the backdrop of the closest thing the modern world has to a magical kingdom, the French Riviera's Principality of Monaco," writes author Jeffrey Robinson in his new book.
"Told with affection and humor, and written with the unprecedented cooperation of Prince Rainier III and his children, Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, and Princess Stephanie; Grace of Monaco takes readers beneath the surface glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo for a never-to-be-forgotten portrait of the House of Grimaldi."
Author Jeffrey Robinson lived in the South of France for a dozen years and got to know Princess Grace and her family. Prince Rainier's only stipulation to him was, "Tell the truth."
Leon Trotsky by Paul Le Blanc, University of Chicago Press, '15 paperback. $16.95, 224 pages, 1780234309. Index, further reading, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the back cover:
"There are few more divisive names in modern history than that of the diehard revolutionary Leon Trotsky. To some he was a hypocritical totalitarian, while to many others he was a revolutionary liberator, an idealist determined to crush an outdated, oppressive dynasty in order to replace it with a proletarian socialist commonwealth. But one thing is agreed: his impact as a leader in the Russian Revolution and his widely read polemical books and articles make Trotsky one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century.
"In this book, Paul LeBlanc delves deep into Trotsky's life and his social, sexual, and political relationships to both criticize and defend the distinctive actions and opinions this complex character generated. He shows how the hero leader of the Red Army in the Revolution found himself in a losing struggle in the 1920s in his efforts to revitalize the revolutionary wing of the labour movement.
"Gradually marginalized by ideological opponents within the Soviet bureaucracy, notably Stalin, Trotsky was exiled to Central Asia in 1928. The following year he was banished from the USSR. What followed was a series of makeshift homes with his family circle. First on an island near Istanbul, then in France, then Norway until in 1937, Trotsky, his family and close supporters settled in Mexico, where he was murdered by a Stalinist agent three years later.
Author Paul LeBlanc is Professor of History at LaRoche College, Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of Unfinished Leninism and co-editor of Trotsky's Writings from Exile.