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In every country there have been certain men and women whose busy lives have made the world better or wiser. The names of such are heard so often that every child should know a few facts about them. It is hoped the very short stories told here may make boys and girls eager to learn more about these famous people. (from the Forward of the text)
 
Popography (pop culture + biography) is a podcast born out of my interest in the relationship between our identities and the pop culture we love. Each episode features a conversation with someone I find inspiring, and I hope you'll feel the same. We'll discuss how music, television shows, movies, art pieces, and other media shape our personal journeys and professional development. So join me for these stories and let's learn how to appreciate and exchange passions.
 
In writing this ponderous tome, the author's desire has been to describe the eminent characters and remarkable events of our annals, in such a form and style, that the YOUNG might make acquaintance with them of their own accord. For this purpose, while ostensibly relating the adventures of a Chair, he has endeavored to keep a distinct and unbroken thread of authentic history. The Chair is made to pass from one to another of those personages, of whom he thought it most desirable for the young ...
 
"The life of a wild animal always has a tragic end," as Ernest Thompson Seton said. This is the story of Metitsi Wahb, born a playful cub, orphaned young by the murder of his mother, his brothers and sister, raising himself surrounded by enemies, and growing to the fiercest creature anywhere in his vast range -- though showing himself a gentleman in the Yellowstone National Park. And finally, he is laid low by a smaller, more cunning enemy, and defeated in the end by age and injury. "The lif ...
 
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Isabel Rosario Cooper, if mentioned at all by mainstream history books, is often a salacious footnote: the young Filipino mistress of General Douglas MacArthur, hidden away at the Charleston Hotel in DC. Empire’s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper (Duke University Press: 2021) by Professor Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez refuses to reduce Cooper’s…
 
"TAKE. MY. TEARS. AND. THAT'S. NOT. NEAR-LEE ALLLLLLLLLLL, TAINTED-", oh, come on. You know. That song. Soft Cell's Tainted Love spent 43 weeks on Britain's Billboard charts and ranked #5 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders. You've probably heard the song yourself once or twice, whether it be on the dance floor or while ordering a Subway sandwich…
 
Boy On Fire: The Young Nick Cave (HarperCollins, 2020) is the first volume of a long-awaited, near-mythical biography of Nick Cave by award-winning writer, Mark Mordue. A beautiful, profound and poetic biography of the formative years of the dark prince of Australian rock 'n' roll, Boy on Fire is Nick Cave's creation story. This is a portrait of th…
 
At the dawn of the 1950s, a promising and dedicated young painter named Helen Frankenthaler, fresh out of college, moved back home to New York City to make her name. By the decade's end, she had succeeded in establishing herself as an important American artist of the postwar period. In the years in between, she made some of the most daring, head-tu…
 
Shake and Bake is the story of Archie Clark, one of the top playmaking guards in the 1970s pre-merger NBA. While not one of the game’s most recognized superstars, Clark was a seminal player in NBA history who staggered defenders with the game’s greatest crossover dribble (“shake and bake”) and is credited by his peers as the originator of today’s p…
 
Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s inheritance was passed down not through blood or soil but through a framed map of Trentino, Alto Adige—the region where family's ancestral alpine village is found. Far more than a map hanging above the family television, the image featured colors and lines that held in place the memories and values fueling the Povinelli fam…
 
Artemisia Gentileschi is by far the most famous woman artist of the premodern era. Her art addressed issues that resonate today, such as sexual violence and women’s problematic relationship to political power. Her powerful paintings with vigorous female protagonists chime with modern audiences, and she is celebrated by feminist critics and scholars…
 
What more can we learn about legendary American writer Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79), dubbed by Bethany Hicok “the most stunning poet of the twentieth century”, by exploring the wonderful archives of her life and work at Vassar? Why are literary archives coming back into vogue? How do new techniques in digital humanities create novel possibilities for…
 
Today I talked to Nelson Johnson about his new book Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer (Rosetta Books, 2021) In 1911 the 26-year-span in which Clarence Darrow took on capital punishment, advocated for civil rights, and handled the Scopes trial was still before him. Those accomplishments might never have ha…
 
Edward M. Almond belonged to the generation of US Army officers who came of age during World War I and then ascended to senior command positions during World War II. During WWII, Almond led the 92nd Infantry Division, one of only two African American divisions to see combat in the war. Yet, alongside his achievements, including a command during the…
 
Lydia Harvey was meant to disappear. She was young and working class; she'd walked the streets, worked in brothels, and had no money of her own. In 1910, politicians, pimps, policemen and moral reformers saw her as just one of many 'girls who disappeared'. But when she took the stand to give testimony at the trial of her traffickers, she ensured sh…
 
The name of Dorothy Hale is not well known these days. In the 1920s, she enjoyed a career on Broadway as a dancer, including in a leading role with Fred Astaire. When an accidental injury ended that career, she auditioned, successfully, for the filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn and landed a part opposite Ronald Coleman, who would later star in Lost Horizon.…
 
Not long ago, the only resource for uncovering our familial pasts was to consult libraries and archives, combing old newspapers for birth announcements and obituaries. These days, many people are turning to websites like Ancestry and 23andMe, taking DNA tests to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from—often discovering long buried…
 
From the beginning of his career, Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) was often in conflict with the spirit of his times. While during the First World War German poets and philosophers became intoxicated by the experience of community and transcendence, Barth fought against all attempts to locate the divine in culture or individual sentiment. T…
 
From the New York Times bestselling author of A. Lincoln and American Ulysses, a revelatory glimpse into the mind and soul of our sixteenth president through his private notes to himself, explored together here for the first time. A deeply private man, shut off even to those who worked closely with him, Abraham Lincoln often captured “his best thou…
 
Despite—or because of—its huge popular culture status, Peanuts enabled cartoonist Charles Schulz to offer political commentary on the most controversial topics of postwar American culture through the voices of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang. In postwar America, there was no newspaper comic strip more recognizable than Charles Schulz's …
 
Whoa-oh here he comes! Before there was Whole Foods, there was Whole Oates, the musical mash-up of Daryl Hall and John Oates (and eventually just Hall & Oates). A duo whose look was perennially out of touch, their music has nevertheless remained in heavy rotation, heavily sampled, and referenced for close to 40 years. To most people John Oates was …
 
Today I talked to Vanessa Carlisle about her new book Take Me with You (Running Wild, 2021). Kindred Powell's youth is marked by a secret that her white mother and Black father kept from her. After her father Carl's unjust incarceration and her mother's death from illness, Kindred moves from Los Angeles to New York in a desperate search for peace. …
 
John Calvin's 1559 Institutes takes the reader on a journey that ends not in the celestial city but rather an ordinary, terrestrial city with all the attendant political and social secular concerns. Michelle Chaplin Sanchez, associate professor of theology at Harvard Divinity School, brings this crucial text into conversation with critical theories…
 
Mirza Ghalib is one of the most celebrated poets in the Urdu literary canon. Yet, at the time, Ghalib was prolific in both Urdu and Persian. His output in Persian output dwarfs his Urdu writing (at least in its published form), and he often openly dismissed his Urdu works, once writing: Look into the Persian so that you may see paintings of myriad …
 
Erich Ludendorff is a contentious figure in military history. Focused, energetic, and hailing from humble origins, Ludendorff rose through the ranks of the largely aristocratic late-nineteenth century German officer corps to play a leading role in the First World War. As a field officer at Liège and Tannenberg, as a driving force behind the develop…
 
Louis Jacobs was Britain's most gifted Jewish scholar. A Talmudic genius, outstanding teacher and accomplished author, cultured and easy-going, he was widely expected to become Britain's next Chief Rabbi. Then controversy struck. The Chief Rabbi refused to appoint him as Principal of Jews' College, the country's premier rabbinic college. He further…
 
A brief, elegant memoir of the author's work as a Red Cross volunteer delivering emergency water to residents of Flint, Michigan, Standpipe sets the struggles of a city in crisis against the author's personal journey as his mother declines into dementia and eventual death. Written with a poet's eye for detail and quiet metaphor, Standpipe: Deliveri…
 
In today’s episode, we speak with Ayesha Chaudhry about her new book, The Colour of God (Oneworld Publications, 2021). The book describes Chaudhry’s personal, spiritual, and professional journey as she navigates her life as a South Asian immigrant Muslim girl raised in Canada. Rich in its analysis of its major themes – such as patriarchy, religion,…
 
Before Winston Churchill made history, he made news. To a great extent, the news made him too. If it was his own efforts that made him a hero, it was the media that made him a celebrity - and it has been considerably responsible for perpetuating his memory and shaping his reputation in the years since his death. Discussing this topic and much more …
 
In her new book From Rabbit Ears to the Rabbit Hole: A Life with Television (University of Mississippi Press, 2021) TV scholar and fan Kathleen Collins reflects on how her life as a consumer of television has intersected with the cultural and technological evolution of the medium itself. In a narrative bridging television studies, memoir, and comic…
 
Today I talked to Dave Seminara about his book Footsteps of Federer: A Fan’s Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts (Post Hill Press, 2021) Dave Seminara is a writer, former diplomat, and passionate tennis fan. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other publications. His two previous books a…
 
In The Jean-Michel Basquiat Reader (University of California Press, 2021), Jordana Moore Saggese provides the first comprehensive sourcebook on the artist, closing gaps that have until now limited the sustained study and definitive archiving of his work and its impact. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) burst onto the art scene in the summer of 1980 …
 
Floyd Mayweather Jr is an American boxing champion who is regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his generation. A sport that runs in his blood, Mayweather has given everything to it, his blood, his sweat, his hard work and his life. His career graph is an illustrious one, studded with cent percent victories in his 49 outings, of w…
 
Frank Costello, also known as the «Prime Minister of the Underworld», was an Italian-American gangster and crime boss. He was the head of the «Luciano Family», a very powerful crime family of New York. He was a close associate of the Sicilian boss Charlie «Lucky» Luciano. Costello was politically quite influential and wielded immense power. He was …
 
In her rich book, Mary Magdalene Revealed: The First Apostle, The Feminist Gospel, and the Christianity We Haven’t Tried Yet (Hay House, 2019), Meggan Watterson takes us deep into the heart of Mary Magdalene and her recently uncovered gospel. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene reveals a very different love story from the one we've come to refer to as Chr…
 
Mira Sucharov’s new book, Borders and Belonging: A Memoir (Palgrave MacMillan, 2020), is a work that takes seriously the feminist adage that the “personal is political,” and vice versa. Through an intimate telling of her life, Sucharov uses the work to trace her shifting relationship to Israel, and the Israeli-Plaestinitan conflict, the meaning of …
 
Exhale: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant (Post Hill Press, 2021) is the riveting memoir of a top transplant doctor who rode the emotional rollercoaster of saving and losing lives—until it was time to step back and reassess his own life. A young father with a rare form of lung cancer who has been turned down for a transplant by several hospit…
 
Dr. Alison M. Parker’s new book Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell (University of North Carolina Press, 2020) explores the life of civil rights activist and feminist, Mary Church Terrell. Born into slavery at the end of the Civil War, Terrell (1863-1954) became one of the most prominent activists of her time -- working at the inter…
 
Some achievements speak for themselves: Climbing Mt. Everest. Discovering Fire. Creating the planet Earth. To this pedigree another can now be added: Reading Steven Patrick Morrissey's List of the Lost. Few readers have done it, although many have tried. Recipient of the Literary Review "Bad Sex Award," and described by The Times as "unreadable in …
 
"… I am an axe; And my son a handle, soon; To be shaping again, model; And tool, craft of culture; How we go on." - Gary Snyder, Axe Handles (1983) "… wisdom comes to those who understand the student is more important than the teacher in the lineage of knowledge." - Wade Davis, New Books Network (2021) Of the three major influences on Wade Davis’ l…
 
Quiet Spiders of the Hidden Soul: Mykola (Nik) Bazhan’s Early Experimental Poetry (Academic Studies Press, 2020) presents a collection of early works by Mykola Bazhan, one of the most enigmatic figures in Ukrainian literature of the twentieth century. The volume was prepared and edited by Oksana Rosenblum, Lev Fridman, and Anzhelika Khyzhnia. The n…
 
The 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stands among the canon’s most-cited figures, with aphorisms dotting texts on a variety of topics, and his name evokes strong responses from almost anyone who has ever heard of him. His aphoristic and poetic writing style have made it difficult at times to understand what he meant, although the…
 
Josh Duggar is a former television personality and political activist. He is best known for his appearances on the reality television series 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On. The eldest child of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's 19 children, Duggar was the executive director of FRC Action, a lobbying political action committee sponsored by the Fami…
 
Michael Collins - is one of the three astronauts, who worked on the «Apollo 11» mission, which made the first lunar landing, one of the biggest events in history of mankind. While his colleagues, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon, Collins was the command module pilot of the mission, who orbited around the moon. After an initial rej…
 
In the political ferment of early twentieth century New York City, when socialists and reformers battled sweatshops, and writers and artists thought a new world was being born, an immigrant Jewish woman from Russia appeared in the Yiddish press, in Carnegie Hall, and at rallies. Her name was Rose Pastor Stokes, and she fought for socialism, contrac…
 
Frances Louise McDormand is an American actress and producer. McDormand is the recipient of numerous accolades, including four Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards, two Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award, one of the few performers to achieve the «Triple Crown of Acting». One of the most acclaimed actresses of her generation, she is known for her portrayal…
 
A sadist. A madman. A sociopath seduced by the terrible allure of nuclear weapons. These are but a few of the pejoratives commonly used to describe United States Air Force General Thomas S. Power, Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Air Command (SAC) from 1957 to 1964. Power’s remit as CinCSAC was twofold: deter the Soviet Union from launching a nuclea…
 
One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City.…
 
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