The Baron's Cloak -- A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution by Willard Sunderland, Cornell UPress '14, $35, 344 pages, ASIN #0801452708. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"On either Sept. 15 or 16, 1921, Ungern took off his cloak. Or perhaps someone took it from him. Shortly after that he was shot." So historian Willard Sunderland writes at the outset of his latest book.
"The cloak, technically speaking, is a deel, the traditional dress of Mongolian nomads. With a wide base and narrow collar, it runs about four feet from top to bottom, with two broad sleeves almost as long as the garment itself hanging from the sides. We can tell that this particular deel belonged to someone important because of the color, a rich shade of orangey-gold usually reserved for nobles, and the fact that it is made of silk rather than more ordinary wool or cotton.
"The embroidered roundels running across the front and back suggest a certain refinement. Yet for all this, only one thing about the cloak is truly unusual. Sewn to the shoulders are two faded gray-green European-style army epaulettes. They seem out of place, as if stitched on after the fact. Each bears the mark of two small stars and the initials 'A.S.' in Cyrillic lettering."
Author Willard Sunderland is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati. He has written or edited three previous books.
Memory and Complicity:Migrations of Holocaust Remembrance by Debarati Sanyal, Fordham UPress '15 paperback, $35, 341 pages, ASIN #082326548X. Index, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"Since World War II, French and Francophone literature and film have repeatedly sought not to singularlize the Holocaust as the paradigm of historical trauma but rather to connect its memory with other memories of violence, namely that of colonialism," writes author Debarati Sanyal in her latest work. "These works produced what Debarati Sanyal calls a 'memory-in-complicity' attuned to the gray zones that implicate different regimes of violence across history as well as those of different subject-positions such as victim, perpetrator, witness, and reader/spectator.
"Examining a range of works from Albert Camus, Primo Levi, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Paul Sartre to Jonathan Littell, Assia Djebar, Giorgio Agamben, and Boualem Sansal, Memory and Complicity develops an inquiry into the political force and ethical dangers of such implications, contrasting them with contemporary models for thinking about trauma and violence and offering an extended meditation on the role of aesthetic form, especially allegory, within acts of transhistorical remembrance."
Scholar Debarati Sanyal is Professor of French at the University of California,Berkeley.
Freedom and the Self -- Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace, Edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, Columbia UPress '15 paperback. $25, 192 pages, ASIN #0231161530. Index, contributors, references and notes follow easy essay, unillustrated.
From the Introduction:
"Like Mary Ann (or Marian) Evans, better known as George Eliot, who translated Spinoza's monumental Ethica, Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata, and T.X. Eliot, who was offered a faculty position in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University, David Foster Wallace (1962--2008) was a major literary figure who also excelled in philosophy.
"The son of the noted philosopher James D. Wallace, who taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, David Foster Wallace, like his father, graduated from Amherst College, receiving a BA degree summa cum laude in 1985 with majors in English and philosophy.
"His honors thesis in English was published two years later as his first novel, The Broom of the System; his honors thesis in philosophy, titled "Richard Taylor's 'Fatalism' and the Semantics of Physical Modality" was published in 2011 by Columbia University Press as the centerpiece of a collection we edited titled Fate, Time, and Language."
Editor Steven M. Cahn is professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Editor Maureen Eckert is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. With Stephen M. Cahn, she edited Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will."