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Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution

The soundtrack to decolonization is heard in Havana’s son, Rio’s samba, New Orleans’ jazz, Buenos Aires’ tango, Seville’s flamenco, Cairo’s tarab, Johannesburg’s marabi, and more.

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31 Jul 2015 // 2:15 AM

Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival

Folk City explores New York's central role in fueling the nationwide craze for folk music in postwar America.

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24 Jul 2015 // 2:15 AM

Unbuttoning America: A Biography of Peyton Place

With its frank discussions of poverty, sexuality, class and ethnic discrimination, and small-town hypocrisy, Peyton Place was more than a tawdry potboiler.

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Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience

Acid Hype offers the untold tale of LSD's wild journey from Brylcreem and Ivory soap to incense and peppermints.

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29 May 2015 // 3:30 AM

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld

All it takes is the installation of one free web browser to access a realm of the internet where, for a certain amount of cash, you can join in an assassination betting pool.

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Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web

All it takes is one mis-sent Tweet to reveal just how muddy the context for engaging in social media discourse really is.

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15 May 2015 // 3:15 AM

Curiosity

As far as literary companions go, Dante and Montaigne are some of the finest ones to have when in pursuit of one's own curiosity.

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So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead

In 1970, the Grateful Dead's repertoire made them the most eclectic, fearsome, and versatile American rock band of their time.

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Fateful Ties: A History of America’s Preoccupation With China

Spanning fascination and fear, ideas about China have long been embedded in America’s conception of itself and its own fate.

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Sex and Unisex: Fashion, Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution

Three cultural tectonic plates came together to produce the gender revolution: the postwar baby boom, the sexual revolution, and the civil rights movement.

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24 Apr 2015 // 2:10 AM

Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age

As a multifaceted cultural object, vinyl has remained a persistent force within our technologically accelerated culture -- although not without bumps in the road.

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Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis

Who was the greatest of all American guitarists? The relatively unknown blind son of sharecroppers, whom Bob Dylan called “one of the wizards of modern music.”

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10 Apr 2015 // 4:00 AM

The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood

The model of a good parent is an ever-changing concept, one at the mercy of the forces of cultural change.

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10 Apr 2015 // 2:05 AM

I Found My Friends: The Oral History of Nirvana

Right from the start, Nirvana had numerous musicians backing their cause.

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7 Apr 2015 // 2:45 AM

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

Given what we know about Billie Holiday now, much of Lady Sings the Blues can be read as autobiographical fiction.

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It’s Been Beautiful: ‘Soul!’ and Black Power Television

Iconic chair-smashings helped shape the identity of the Soul! television program, while also alluding to the civil disobedience of the late '60s and early '70s.

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Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Science of Hedonism and the Hedonism of Science

The colourful science of marijuana and psychedelic drugs will make you wish you paid more attention in science class.

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20 Mar 2015 // 2:05 AM

Hitchcock à la Carte

Alfred Hitchcock's reputation for meticulousness in conceiving his thrillers also extended to his kitchen.

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13 Mar 2015 // 2:15 AM

Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education

Although sex education is important, sex can never be reduced to a matter of health, science, or even knowledge.

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Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press

Ethel Payne's gripping accounts of black life in post-World War II America provided critical information that was largely missing from mainstream journalism.

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20 Feb 2015 // 3:15 AM

Roland Hayes: The Legacy of an American Tenor

Performing in a country rife with racism and segregation, the tenor Roland Hayes was the first African-American man to reach international fame as a concert performer.

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Love Songs: The Hidden History

What do evolutionary biology and its founding father, Charles Darwin, have to do with love songs? As it turns out, quite a lot.

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6 Feb 2015 // 3:05 AM

1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music

The year 1965 saw many musical developments, a significant one of which is Brian Wilson's development from poet laureate of high school to baroque visionary.

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23 Jan 2015 // 3:45 AM

1995: The Year the Future Began

The world didn't just sit through the trials of both the tobacco industry and O.J. Simpson in 1995: it also welcomed in the sea changes that would shape the new millennium.

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The First Amendment Bubble: How Privacy and Paparazzi Threaten a Free Press

What legal and ethical restrictions exist, and should exist, in today’s privacy-interested yet over-exposure society?

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12 Dec 2014 // 3:30 AM

The Year’s Work at the Zombie Research Center

The Year's Work at the Zombie Research Center answers any questions you might have about the burgeoning field of zombie studies.

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5 Dec 2014 // 3:15 AM

Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man

In this excerpt from his book on legendary soul singer Gil Scott-Heron, Marcus Baram recounts Scott-Heron's crucial time touring with Stevie Wonder.

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John Cleese Tells Some of It in ‘So, Anyway…’

The Monty Python legend offers something completely different: a look back on what led him to his storied career in comedy.

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The Jesus and Mary Chain: Barbed Wire Kisses

Zoë Howe's biography of the Jesus and Mary Chain opens with a look at the band's hometown of East Kilbride, Scotland, a "dull" and "antiseptic" place that wasn't the worst place in the world.

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21 Nov 2014 // 3:45 AM

Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity

Robert Beachy's study of gay life in pre-Weimar Berlin reveals just how much influence that subculture had on our current understandings of sexuality.

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Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI

America’s first anti–sex trafficking law, meant to protect women, more often resulted in the policing of women’s sexual behavior.

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7 Nov 2014 // 2:15 AM

The Flatlanders: Now It’s Now Again

The tale of the musical journey of the Flatlanders—Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock—from a house in Lubbock, Texas to a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall.

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24 Oct 2014 // 2:45 AM

Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones

Brian Jones was the golden boy of the Rolling Stones—the visionary who gave the band its name and its sound. Yet he was a haunted man, and much of his brief time with the band was volatile and tragic.

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17 Oct 2014 // 2:45 AM

Time Out of Mind: The Lives of Bob Dylan

Ian Bell explores Dylan's unparalleled second act in a quintessentially American career. It's a tale of redemption, of an act of creative will against the odds, and of a writer who refused to fade away.

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10 Oct 2014 // 2:45 AM

Austin City Limits: A History

An unprecedented access telling of this landmark musical showcase whose history spans dramatic changes in the nature of television, the expansion of digital media, and the ways in which we experience music.

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22 Aug 2014 // 2:15 AM

Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock

Southbound profiles the musicians, producers, record labels, and movers and shakers that defined Southern rock, including the Allmans, Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and here, the Charlie Daniels Band.

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Producing Country: The Inside Story of the Great Recordings

The story of country music told through hit records by Hank Williams, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and many others.

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The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC: Back in Black

It's one of the biggest selling albums of all time and, according to former Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum, "the greatest resurrection of a band in history". But how much of Back in Black was the work of the late Bon Scott?

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The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC: Riff Raff

Powerage is regarded by aficionados, including Keith Richards and Gene Simmons, as the band's finest album. But its commercial failure had major repercussions behind the scenes.

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The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style

Soul Train boldly went where no show had gone before, showcasing young African Americans and the fashions and music that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel.

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Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film

Artisanal chocolate. Mustaches. Locally sourced vegetables. Etsy. Birds. Flea markets. Cult films. Horn-rimmed glasses. Twee.

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The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-72

When the police began using their discretion with African American gang leaders, gay and lesbian bar owners, Haight-Ashbury hippies and other postwar San Franciscans, a rise in liberal cosmopolitism would follow throughout America.

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16 May 2014 // 2:10 AM

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s

Mad World celebrates the New Wave music phenomenon of the ‘80s via new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period including Duran Duran, New Order, the Smiths and here, OMD.

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Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy

There's the world as most understand it and the world as it's actually evolving, towards an extreme form of capitalism occuring across international borders—to devastating effects.

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A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen

This is a portrait of an artist attuned to notions of justice, lust, longing, loneliness, and redemption, and possessing the sort of voice and vision commonly reserved for the prophets.

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Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport

In the late 1800s, America’s most popular spectator sport wasn’t baseball, boxing, or horseracing—it was competitive walking. Indeed, when a New York arena overbooked, fans rioted.

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4 Apr 2014 // 2:15 AM

Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World

From Benjamin Franklin's hoax about the the death of his rival to Abbie Hoffman’s attempt to levitate the Pentagon to Stephen Colbert’s “news reporting”, pranksters, hoaxers, and con artists use humor to underscore larger, pointed truths about society.

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21 Mar 2014 // 2:15 AM

Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment

In the last 20 years, America’s incarceration rates have risen 500 percent. Sentences are harsh, prisons are overcrowded, life inside is dangerous, and rehabilitation programs don't work. Do we want our prisons to be this way?

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14 Mar 2014 // 2:15 AM

Sex Scene: Media and the Sexual Revolution

Sex Scene suggests that what we have come to understand as the sexual revolution of the late '60s and early '70s was actually a media revolution.

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The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age

Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee "Tennie" Claflin -- the most fascinating and scandalous sisters in American history -- were unequaled for their vastly avant-garde crusade for women's fiscal, political, and sexual independence.

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Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear

Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and Stokely Carmichael led the chant that would define a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.

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14 Feb 2014 // 3:15 AM

Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator

Before skyscrapers forever transformed urban landscapes, the conveyance that made them possible had to be created.

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24 Jan 2014 // 3:30 AM

Elegy for Theory

While university curriculums are being driven by scientism and market forces, Rodowick argues for the importance of the arts and humanities as transformative, self-renewing cultural legacies.

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13 Dec 2013 // 3:15 AM

Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World

From Star Trek to The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter, Twilight, and beyond, Fic sheds light on the widely misunderstood world(s) of fanfiction and how it is reshaping our literary landscape.

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The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America

Eminent criminologists make a compelling case for why America's 40 year embrace of the punitive spirit has been morally bankrupt and endangered public safety.

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8 Nov 2013 // 3:30 AM

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him

Controversial and somewhat enigmatic, Richard Pryor’s performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn’t just new—it was heretofore unthinkable.

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Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story

Ray Davies tries to make sense of his long love-hate relationship with America, the country that both inspired and frustrated him.

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25 Oct 2013 // 2:15 AM

Novelty: A History of the New

Novelty remains a central problem of contemporary science and literature—an ever-receding target that, in its complexity and evasiveness, continues to inspire and propel the modern.

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18 Oct 2013 // 2:15 AM

Merle Haggard: The Running Kind

Merle Haggard’s music helped invent the America we live in today. David Cantwell explores the fascinating contradictions that define not only Haggard’s music and public persona, but the very heart of American culture.

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20 Sep 2013 // 3:30 AM

Sweet Dreams: The World of Patsy Cline

Country music singer Patsy Cline embodied the power and appeal of women in country music, and helped open the lucrative industry to future female solo artists.

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13 Sep 2013 // 4:00 AM

The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History

In our postmodern, porn-obsessed culture, vaginas appear to be everywhere, literally or symbolically -- yet they are as silenced as they are objectified. The Vagina examines the paradox of female genitalia through literature, film, TV, visual, and performance art.

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Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain

This is a book about the periphery, the elusive point at which law and piracy traded places, legitimacy became lawless, and courtesy grew discourteous.

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29 Aug 2013 // 11:15 PM

Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana

Award-winning investigative journalist Martin A. Lee takes us on an entertaining and informative ride through the complex landscape of the Great American Pot story.

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22 Aug 2013 // 11:15 PM

Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music

More extreme than punk, industrial music revolted against the very ideas of order and reason: it sought to strip away the brainwashing that was identity itself. It aspired to provoke, bewilder, and roar with independence.

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15 Aug 2013 // 11:15 PM

Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass

Drawing from extensive interviews, well-known banjoist Murphy Hicks Henry gives voice to women performers and innovators throughout bluegrass's history.

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8 Aug 2013 // 11:15 PM

Mingus Speaks

Charles Mingus is among jazz’s greatest composers and perhaps its most talented bass player. During his lifetime he had a lot to say about the place of jazz in music history and American culture and much more. Mingus speaks, we listen.

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1 Aug 2013 // 11:15 PM

Contemporary Collecting: Objects, Practices, and the Fate of Things

These essays cover a breadth of interdisciplinary perspectives and subjects -- from PEZ candy dispensers and trading cards to sports memorabilia and music –- and examine collecting practices on both a personal and professional level.

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The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business

Across every geographical and socioeconomic spectrum, the authors reveal the dramatic developments—good and bad—that will transform both our everyday lives and our understanding of self and society, as technology advances and our virtual identities become more and more fundamentally real.

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Ready For a Brand New Beat: How “Dancing in the Street” Became the Anthem for a Changing America

Can a song change a nation? Mark Kurlansky’s work chronicles that extraordinary summer of 1964 and showcases the momentous role that a simple song about dancing played in history.

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Desert America: A Journey Through Our Most Divided Landscape

Over the past decade, the most iconic of American landscapes has undergone a political and demographic upheaval comparable only to the opening of the frontier.

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Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in America’s Loudest City

An oral history of Detroit and its music told by the people who were on the stage, in the clubs, the practice rooms, studios, and in the audience, blasting the music out and soaking it up, in every scene from 1967 to today.

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Sounds of War: Music in the United States During World War II

While Dinah Shore, Duke Ellington, and the Andrew Sisters entertained civilians and G.I.s with swing and boogie-woogie, Fauser shows it was classical music that truly distinguished musical life in the wartime United States.

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That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick: National Lampoon & the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream

Ellin Stein’s book goes behind the jokes to witness the fights, the parties, the collaborations—and the competition—among this fraternity of the self-consciously disenchanted.

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20 Jun 2013 // 11:15 PM

Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music

Revealing how music mediates both the ideology and the lived experience of race, Hidden in the Mix challenges the status of country music as "the white man’s blues."

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Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

In time for the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel comes the first comprehensive literary biography of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, creators of the DC Comics superhero Superman.

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6 Jun 2013 // 11:35 PM

Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation

Is Noise, an underground music made through an amalgam of feedback, distortion, and electronic effects, Japanoise? Is it even music at all?

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A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley

The supreme irony of Robert L. Ripley’s life, which was dedicated to exalting the strange and unusual, is that he may have been the most amazing oddity of all.

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The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon

As the apotheosis of feminine charm and American careerism, the stewardess subtly bucked traditional gender roles and paved the way for the women's movement.

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16 May 2013 // 11:15 PM

Mojo Hand: The Life and Music of Lightnin’ Hopkins

In a career that took him from the cotton fields of East Texas to the concert stage at Carnegie Hall and beyond, Lightnin’ Hopkins became one of America’s greatest bluesmen.

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Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century

This insightful and entertaining look at the history of music piracy offers invaluable background to the hot-button issue of creativity and the law.

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Should Hollywood Lie Low or Sound the Alarm? ‘Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939’

Between 1933 and 1939, representations of the Nazis and the full meaning of Nazism came slowly to Hollywood, growing more distinct and ominous only as the decade wore on.

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Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific

Hello Kitty is one aspect of "pink globalization"—the spread of goods and images labeled cute (kawaii) from Japan to other parts of the industrial world.

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The People’s Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle

Bernhard Rieger examines culture and technology, politics and economics, and industrial design and advertising genius to reveal how a car commissioned by Hitler and designed by Ferdinand Porsche became an exceptional global commodity on a par with Coca-Cola.

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11 Apr 2013 // 11:15 PM

eGods: Faith Versus Fantasy in Computer Gaming

"If humans are by nature lovers of fantasy, then little may be lost if they consider all their gods to be fantasies."

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Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South

Gavin Wright's work makes clear that the material benefits of the civil rights acts of the '60s are as significant as the moral ones—an especially timely achievement as these monumental pieces of legislation, and the efficacy of governmental intervention more broadly, face new challenges.

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1 Apr 2013 // 11:30 PM

The Stone Roses: War and Peace

Going beyond the myths to depict a band that defined Britpop, Simon Spence illustrates the Stone Roses’ incandescent talent and jaw-dropping success while contextualizing them in the ‘90s music scene.

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28 Mar 2013 // 11:05 PM

‘Mad Men’, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s

Scholars across the humanities consider Mad Men from a fascinating array of perspectives, including fashion, history, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, and art, as well as through theoretical frames such as critical race theory, gender, queer theory, and psychoanalysis.

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21 Mar 2013 // 11:05 PM

New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut

As a critic, curator, journalist, and scholar, B. Ruby Rich has been inextricably linked to the New Queer Cinema from its inception. Her book follows this cinematic movement from its origins in the mid-‘80s to the present.

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14 Mar 2013 // 11:15 PM

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

Which paint color is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? How did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak?

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River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War.

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A Great and Monstrous Thing: London in the Eighteenth Century

White introduces us to shopkeepers and prostitutes, men and women of fashion and genius, street-robbers and thief-takers, as they play out the astonishing drama of life in 18th century London.

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Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Records and the Rise of America’s Musical Grassroots

Gennett Records produced thousands of records and debuted such stars as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Biederbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, Hoagy Carmichael, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Gene Autry.

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13 Dec 2012 // 11:15 PM

The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music

An incredible and opinionated collection of celebrated cultural critic Dylan Jones’s thoughts on more than 350 of the most important artists around the world—alive and dead, big and small, at length and in brief.

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6 Dec 2012 // 11:20 PM

Oliver Sacks’ ‘Hallucinations’

Hearing voices? Don’t worry, the revered Dr. Oliver Sacks assures, in that regard at least, you’re perfectly sane.

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‘The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination’

Music Historian Matthew Guerrieri traces the origins and influence of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, weaving a fascinating piece of musical detective work.

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15 Nov 2012 // 11:15 PM

Reinventing Bach

An electrifying story of how musicians of genius have made Bach’s music new in our time, at once restoring Bach as a universally revered composer and revolutionizing the ways that music figures into our lives.

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The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century

Using the life and career of her father, an early Hollywood actor, New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot tells the thrilling story of the rise of popular culture through a transfixing personal lens.

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1 Nov 2012 // 11:10 PM

Instant: The Story of Polaroid

Instant tells the tale of a one-of-a-kind invention-from Polaroid's first instant camera in 1948, to its meteoric rise in popularity and adoption by artists such as Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, and Chuck Close, to the company's bankruptcy in the late '90s and its unlikely resurrection in the digital age.

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25 Oct 2012 // 11:10 PM

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

Halloween has spread around the globe to places as diverse as Russia, China, and Japan, but its association with death and the supernatural and its inevitable commercialization has made it one of our most misunderstood holidays.

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18 Oct 2012 // 11:15 PM

The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies

At first, film was a waking dream, delivered for a nickel to huddled masses sitting in the dark. But soon movies began transforming our societies and our perceptions of the world.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
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Ubisoft Understands the Art of the Climb

// Moving Pixels

"Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Grow Home epitomize the art of the climb.

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