Thursday, May 5, 2016

10 Simple Solutions to Better Hand Hygiene


Did you know today, May 5th, is World Hand Hygiene Day?

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the force behind an awareness campaign to make sure we're all practicing responsible hand hygiene. It just so happens that this week, through our ForeEdge imprint, we've also released The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World, by Miryam Z. Wahrman—yes, a handbook to understanding the critical importance of maintaining clean hands in your daily life, with advice on best hand hygiene practices.

So what better time to share some of Wahrman's helpful tips? And some may seem like common sense, but often the most obvious are the easiest habits to break. Here are ten things you can and should be doing to keep those hands clean and yourself and others germ-free:

1. Don’t shake hands, do the fist bump. If you do shake hands, be sure to wash up or use alcohol-based hand rub before touching your face or eating.

2. Keep your washing-up areas stocked with plenty of soap and clean cloth towels or paper towels. This is equally as important at home as it is at work.


3. Always keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub handy, at work or on the road.

4. If you are a parent of small children, or a caretaker for a family member, keep your charge’s hands clean.

5. Teach your children from the earliest ages to keep their hands clean, in particular, to wash after coming home from school, the playground, or other activities, and before eating.

6. If you are a supervisor at work, develop and encourage hygiene policies for your employees. Your initiative may be as modest or subtle as making sure there is soap and paper towels in the bathrooms and hand rub available in the office.

7. If you work in health care, be vigilant about hand hygiene, cooperate with hygiene policies, and take the initiative to be a role model for others.


8. According to the WHO, 61% of health workers do not clean their hands at right moment. So if you are a patient, politely ask your health worker to wash hands and don gloves. If you are advocating for a family member who is being treated, you should do the same. This is not the time to be bashful or worry about insulting someone.

9. If possible, when buying prepared food, be aware of how your food is handled and ask the food handler to wash hands or don gloves.

10. Learn about local health codes, and advocate for them. Encourage your legislators to develop policies, codes, and laws to further protect consumers.

For more information about World Hand Hygiene Day and how you can spread the word (not the germs), visit the WHO's website.

And to learn even more, including how ancient cultures dealt with disease and hygiene and how scientific developments led to the germ theory, pick up Miryam Wahrman's The Hand Book: Surviving a Germ-Filled World, available now!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

An American Woman in the City of Violins

Carleen Hutchins measuring the thickness of a violin plate, ca. 1960. Images courtesy of Hutchins estate.

by Quincy Whitney
author of American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins—the Art & Science of the Violin

Cremona, Italy, October 1997. Standing in Piazza Lodi, I felt a ­mixture of excitement and frustration at the realization that my husband Eli and I had clearly reached a dead-end. We had veered off the beaten path of an itinerary we had planned for an anniversary trip to Italy in order to take in the City of Violins, at the suggestion of Carleen Hutchins, whom I had met just a month before. We were now evidently quite lost.

I met Carleen because of a stranger sitting next to me at the New Hampshire Humanities Council annual dinner who, upon hearing that I was a Boston Globe arts reporter covering New Hampshire, said I should contact a violinmaker who summered up on Lake Winnipesaukee. Nevertheless, when I took up her lead, the most significant interview I ever conducted was almost the fish that got away. When I phoned Hutchins to ask for an interview, she turned me down flat. In fourteen years, I had never come across an artist, educator, historian, or scholar who did not want free publicity. I soon discovered that Carleen Hutchins seldom did the predictable thing. Taken aback by her refusal, I hung on the phone, contemplating my next move. Suddenly, Hutchins blurted out: “What’s your angle?” No one had ever asked me about “my angle” before. With no time for a clever comeback, the first thing that came to mind was the truth—I told her I was fascinated by stories where science and art overlap. Bingo. The door opened. “That’s exactly what I do,” Hutchins said. “When do we talk?”

Two weeks after my feature appeared in the Globe in August 1997, Hutchins phoned to ask if I would consider writing her biography. Tired of weekly deadlines and intrigued by the idea of a larger project, I still wondered if everything she had told me could possibly be true, as her story seemed too remarkable to be real. Just a month later in October 1997, a serendipitous trip to Italy cast away all doubt. When Hutchins found out that my husband and I were going to Italy, she asked if we would mind visiting Cremona, “City of Violins” and the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari, as she was bent on tracking down an old friend who had moved his workshop—Maestro Francesco Bissolotti. “Bisso,” as Carleen called him, was one of two master luthiers who in 1937 had founded the city’s prestigious violinmaking school in honor of the two hundredth anniversary of Stradivari’s death. Hutchins wanted to send him Research Papers in Violin Acoustics 1975–1993, the definitive collection she had just finished editing.

Now here we stood in Piazza Lodi. After hiking up the stairs to Bisso’s abandoned workshop, which held no clue as to a forwarding address, we had reached an impasse. As we sat in our rental car, ready to pull away, two students crossed the piazza, one carrying what looked to be a violin case. I approached the student who had stopped at a pay phone on the edge of the piazza, and in my struggling Italian, I said, “Bissolotti.”

“Bisso?” he said suddenly in broken English as he hung up the phone. “We have never met Maestro Bissolotti, but we have come to Cremona today to buy a viola!” The four of us meandered down a cobblestone street as if feeling our way in the dark, until two Japanese gentlemen appeared out of nowhere, asking, “Bisso?” We followed them to an archway leading to a small courtyard, through an open wrought iron gate, into a smaller courtyard, where we found ourselves pulling the knocker on an old door covered with peeling green paint.

We were ushered into the outer room of the workshop of “Bisso,” a short man with a mustache and winning smile, who immediately began speaking Italian to the student bent on purchasing a viola. Bisso knew not a word of English, but when I presented a letter signed by Hutchins, his face lit up. He motioned for one of his apprentices, Lorenzo Cassi, to accompany us on a tour of the Palazzo Comunale. When I asked Lorenzo if he knew of Hutchins, he replied: “I have never met her, but we have read every paper she has ever written!”
Carleen Hutchins, ca. 1990.

To find the Collezione Civica in the Palazzo Comunale, one need only look for the tall bell tower in the heart of Cremona. Inside the galleries, glass display cases house the earliest known violin, made in 1566 by Andrea Amati—the undisputed father of the violin—along with a 1615 viola made by Amati’s son Girolamo, a 1689 Giuseppe Guarneri violin, and a 1715 Stradivarius violin. On the day we visited, in the corridor just outside the violin galleries, we passed From Tree to Violin, a month-long exhibition created by the violinmaking school. Had we visited two weeks later, we would have missed it. The very last exhibit panel was devoted to Carleen Maley Hutchins.

Here in the City of Violins, keeping company with the most celebrated names in the violin world—all of them Italian men—was a living American female violinmaker, a woman who had taught herself acoustics by carving violins. I was immediately intrigued. Why had I never heard of this female luthier who had asked me to tell her story? In the midst of our conversations, Hutchins would get phone calls from luthiers in Australia or China, physicists and museum curators in England and Scotland, a dendro­chronologist in Paris, a luthier in Belgium, members of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in Russia, a conductor in California, a faculty member at Juilliard. It became clear Hutchins had developed an international community around violin acoustics and she had created a new family of violins—yet she seemed to be a hidden treasure.


The preceding is excerpted from the introduction in American Luthier.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

5 Cool Artifacts Unearth Boston's Rich Past

Volunteers for the City Archaeology Program excavating a site in Boston.

As the city archaeologist of Boston, Joseph Bagley's job includes managing more than one million artifacts excavated from dozens of sites throughout the city and conducting digs, often with volunteers, on small projects on city-owned land. Between what resides in the archives and what still remains unrecovered, he would tell you there's no shortage of fascinating discoveries deep in the soil of Boston history.

So when Bagley decided to write a book about some of his favorite finds, the hard part was narrowing it down to the few dozen that could adequately represent this place over the ages, from as early as the first human inhabitants thousands of years ago. Painstakingly, he did just that, and the result is A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts, complete with photos and essays on each artifact, due out in April from UPNE. Here Bagley selects five of those 50 objects that begin to tell Boston's fascinating story:

Neville Point
7500–5500 BP | Boston Common

Found on Boston Common during a 1986 archaeological survey before installation of lighting throughout the park, this 5,500–7,500-year-old native spear point base is the oldest artifact found in downtown Boston. It was made from stone harvested from outcrops found only in the Blue Hills area south of Boston. While the oldest man-made object found in downtown Boston (so far), the earliest evidence for people in the area around Boston goes back 12,000 years. This stone tool is older than the Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge.



Cat Skeleton
1714–1750 | Three Cranes Tavern, Charlestown
This intact cat skeleton was found buried in a bowl under the entrance of the Three Cranes Tavern in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. It dates to around the turn of the 18th century when witchcraft hysteria was peaking in and around Boston, and appears to be similar to other caches of cats in thresholds and hearths as a means to deter vermin and witchcraft from the home.



Whizzer
Circa 1750 | Faneuil Hall, Downtown
This whizzer toy, which would produce a buzzing sound when spun on a loop of string through the two central holes, was hammered from a lead musket ball. Thomas Apthorp was the son of Charles Apthorp, a major merchant and slave dealer in Boston who had a shop near Town Dock near present-day Faneuil Hall, where this artifact was excavated. The Apthorps were the wealthiest family in Boston in the early to mid 18th century. After Charles' death Thomas became the pay master for the British troops, who were at the time encamped on Boston Common. As a Tory, Thomas fled the city with the British on Evacuation Day in 1776.



Shell-Edge Pearlware
1819–1830 | African Meeting House, Beacon Hill

While this type of ceramic is one of the most common artifacts one will ever find on an archaeological site in Boston, this plate in particular was part of a large matching set of dishes that were encountered during excavations behind the 1806 African Meeting House on Beacon Hill. The oldest standing Black church in America, the church also had apartments in the basement where Domingo Williams lived. As a free black man, Domingo ran his own business and became a popular very popular event caterer and organizer for Boston's white upper class. Despite his freedom he and others in the Black community faced broad discrimination in Boston. Based on the number of similar dishes, archaeologists believe this plate is part of Domingo's catering set, which was used throughout the City for parties, but also for community events at the African Meeting House back yard.



Red Sox Pin
1912 | Dillaway-Thomas House, Roxbury

This 1912 pin was issued to members of the Boston Red Sox fan club the year Fenway Park opened. Parts have broken off in the past, but it consists of a baseball face with eyes and a mouth, crossed-bat arms, and a chest made from an umpire's pads. The pin was found in the yard of the Dillaway-Thomas house in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.





A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts by Joseph Bagley is available for purchase now.

Follow the City of Boston Archaeology Program's ongoing projects on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

All About the McDuffies?: The Geopolitics of Jacksonian Bank Notes


by Christopher C. Apap
author of The Genius of Place: The Geographic Imagination in the Early Republic
 
It is tough in an election year not to pay attention to state and local politics—indeed, as we once more revisit the way that Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primaries set the tone for the national conversation, we are reminded how local debates shape not only America’s idea of the nation, but the idea of America abroad. This is no new occurrence. My book, The Genius of Place: The Geographic Imagination in the Early Republic, is an exploration of the complexity of local, national, and at times global identities during the 1820s and 30s. And while primary season is now one way that individual states shape their identities today, I am reminded of a different form of localized identity-formation from the period that I study: currency.

We now think of American currency as a nationalizing force, and, whether it is how we think of the Almighty Dollar or how Sean Combs has argued that it is “All about the Benjamins,” we know what American money looks like. Yet national bank notes were instituted only in 1862. Before that, hundreds of state-chartered banks around the nation printed their own notes that could be redeemed at those banks for “specie,” or the hard money of gold and silver. Some of these early notes were simple and quite utilitarian in design, but by the 1820s and 30s, the thriving engraving business would mean that banks could issue complex notes which would be considerably harder to counterfeit. The engraving industry went bust with the Panic of 1837 (for which fans of Hudson River painter Asher Durand, who made a very good living engraving banknotes before turning to art as a more full-time occupation, are thankful), but for nearly two decades, bank notes often reflected complex local identities.

I first discovered this when, during a fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in Worchester, Massachusetts, I heeded the advice of Paul Erickson and delved into the crates of antebellum banknotes in the AAS archives. I discovered paper currencies that reflected a pointed and often quite political form of self-fashioning.


Take, for example, the currency of the Portsmouth-based New Hampshire Union Bank, whose five-dollar note was printed with a rich tableau across its top. At the left-hand edge, we have images of state houses, churches, and farmhouses, with agricultural workers in the foreground representing the state’s general national image: as an agricultural center. However, the right-hand side of the image suggests a different aspiration to broader commercial interests with the images of a bustling port with ships at sail. In the center, the common representation of America, Columbia, presides, flanked by the representations of other goddesses. To her left, holding an anchor, is perhaps a representation of the goddess Fortune, who is often understood to patronize sea-journeys and trade; to her right is likely Ceres, goddess of agriculture, with what appears to be plowing instruments and a sheaf of grain.

If geography textbooks of the day tended to minimize New Hampshire’s commercial impact, what this banknote seems to suggest is that its agriculture acumen could and should be turned to trade interests that would benefit the state and the nation. Or, at the very least, the bank note suggests that the President and Directors of the New Hampshire Union Bank hoped that this would be the case.


The Farmers and Exchange Bank of Charlestown, South Carolina, can be understood in similar ways. At the top center of their ten-dollar note is a fleet of trading vessels that underscore its position as one of the chief southern ports of Jacksonian America, and the bottom right depicts an agricultural scene that reflects not only the centrality of cotton to their economy, but makes the state’s dependence on slave labor a centerpiece of that depiction. If one is tempted to overlook what John C. Calhoun had termed South Carolina’s “peculiar institutions” on the note, or to minimize it as a mere attempt at honest representation, the portrait at the lower left might cause them to think otherwise. It pictures Representative George McDuffie, who was not merely a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives and, a year after this note is dated, the governor of South Carolina, but who also was, with Calhoun and Robert Hayne, one of the more vocal proponents of Nullification (the argument that states had the right to reject, or nullify, federal laws that negatively affected that state; Nullification was the philosophical precursor to secession). McDuffie would in fact powerfully and repeatedly argue that national tariffs had a direct and deleterious effect on South Carolina’s economy. How interesting, then, that this Charlestown bank would choose McDuffie to symbolize its exchange value; it is hard not to read the bank note as a political statement in favor of Nullification, state’s rights, and the defiance of South Carolina in the face of Andrew Jackson and the nation as a whole.

This latter example is a striking reminder of how, even and especially in the 1820s and 30s, bank notes could be fundamentally and intrinsically political: they could be the vehicles through which states articulated their own identities locally and, to the extent that they might circulate more widely, nationally as well. And while our politics today is deeply implicated in money as well, it is the primary races which are capturing the national imagination at the moment. But it is worth remembering the different ways that states like New Hampshire and South Carolina presented themselves to each other and the rest of the nation nearly two centuries ago; they are a reminder of how acts of self-definition often reflect broader political debates and aspirations.

Christopher C. Apap teaches English literature at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and is the author of The Genius of Place: The Geographic Imagination in the Early Republic. 
 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why the Grateful Dead Will Always Matter

Grateful Dead at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, Oct. 9, 1980. Photo by Chris Stone.

Last summer, after fifty years, the band with which the tie-dye shirt became synonymous, the group that helped to define an era (or certainly its vibe), the Grateful Dead performed a series of shows as a whole group (with Jerry smiling down in the form of a rainbow) for the last time. But like many of the concert-goers who couldn't bring themselves to leave after the final notes of the final "Fare Thee Well," the Dead won't soon fade from time or memory. In 2016, an offshoot of the band, called Dead & Company, is expected to tour, and a Dead tribute album seems to be in the works. And just released from ForeEdge, a lovesong to all things Dead, titled Why the Grateful Dead Matter, by Michael Benson, dives deep—as deep as any Dead guitar riff—into this timeless band's enduring legacy. Here’s a taste. 


by Michael Benson
author of Why the Grateful Dead Matter

Light the song, and pass it around. Don’t bogart. Let it shine, let it shine, stoke it on a Palo Alto stage, until that fire reaches the mountain in Concord, the magnolia fields down by the river, becomes a conflagration of the heart stretched from South Colorado to the West Texas town of El Paso, the twilight purple plain of Wichita, all the way to Europe and the Pyramids of Egypt under a lunar eclipse. Stoke it until it envelops the Earth with an accelerando of Peace.

And that’s the Grateful Dead, not just a band that played songs, sold records, and gave concerts, but a band of sorcerers, conjurers of a rare and different tune, music with a heartbeat and breath, with the perfect tension between dissonance and resonance, suspension and completion, a cynosure for the huddled masses, tie-dyed angel music for spinning the sacred dance of life as a falling leaf at the jubilee, a rolling away of the dew, a movement and groove that gets into the fiber of your skull, spreads like ripples on still water, grows roses along a trellis of bones, messes with the gears of your body clock until you’re on a long, strange pilgrimage jonesing to find the 45-minute Sugaree, waving that flag, driving that train, holding away the despair with a cloak of space and drums, lightening the load until you get up and fly away.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell (his book The Power of Myth is required reading in college sociology courses) went to a Dead show and said the music was the antidote to the Damoclean sword of nuclear war.

Jerry Garcia, performing with the Dead, May 10, 1980, in New Haven, CT.

Why does the Dead still matter? Why will they always matter? Sure, because of the genius music, years of trippy listening pleasure—Jerry Garcia’s beam-me-up-Scottie leads and achingly sad vocals, Phil Lesh’s intricate bass lines weaving in and out of everything including the sound system, Bobby Weir’s strong masculine vocals and truly weird and wonderful second-chair guitar, the growling blues of Pigpen, the musicality and lightness of Keith and Donna Godchaux, and the Apocalypse Now rhythm section, the devils, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, all of whom we’ll be on a first name basis with from now on—but there’s a rebel bad boy social component as well. Their first fans thought they were bikers. The band matters because through it the counterculture lived on—ironic because the musicians were more piratical than political. They never turned a show into an anti-war demonstration. Although they were against all violence, their vision of show biz didn’t involve causes. They just didn’t like to follow rules and were constantly trying to get away with shit. But it didn’t matter. The counterculture burbled urgently from deep fissures in the earth beneath the San Andreas Fault and the Dead were swept away in the movement despite their apathy. They were too close to the crack to avoid the deep rifts in society.

America came out of World War II a militaristic animal, intoxicated by its own might, its ability to push enemies around, to purge the world of evil. But the following generation, the kids coming of age in the 1960s, saw military solutions in a different light. The war in Vietnam had no real purpose; it had sprung up like a malignant weed through the cracks in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, a crossfire disguised as a magic bullet that burned Camelot to the ground. While America was spoon-fed Oswald pabulum, an undigested buzz of coup cabal grew into an electronic feedback wail—Dylan at Newport—and radicalized the American folkie-bohemian.

Bob Weir, performing with the Dead, Dec. 31, 1976.
Anti-Nam protests evolved smoothly from the pre-existing Cold War academic beatnik movement to “Ban the Bomb.” Like the war before it in Korea, Vietnam was a Civil War, a North fighting a South, and there seemed no cause for the U.S. to intervene. What was it all about, anyway? Profit? They said it was about the “Domino Theory”: if North Vietnam—and it’s Red Chinese backers—were allowed to conquer South Vietnam, the other small countries of southeastern Asia would fall as well. To many, the theory seemed weak—who cared who owned the jungle? Eisenhower had warned of the military-industrial complex, which would one day come slouching toward Bethlehem. War without reason was a symptom of the behemoth. The younger generation believed that war existed only to make a few men rich, while sacrificing the lives of American boys who didn’t have the connections to avoid the draft.

American involvement in Vietnam was light until the so-called “Gulf of Tonkin” incident, in which it was reported that a North Vietnamese ship fired across the bow of an American ship, an act of aggression used by LBJ, sworn in on Air Force One on a terrible day in Dallas, as an excuse to escalate hostilities to the jangly tune of billions of dollars and more than 50,000 American lives.

Finally, CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, “The Most Trusted Man in America,” said on the six o’clock news that the war was unwinnable. In order to show their dissatisfaction with the world the adults were creating, the youth of America grew their hair long, a fashion that began as Beatles-esque but eventually became anti-military. Youths began to take mind-altering drugs, which they were told by Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Ken Kesey and so many others, would expand their consciousness. Like Jack Kerouac and the beatniks before them, they worshipped the road, all the roads that led to the next Dead show, psychic roads that led to enlightenment.

It was the birth of a movement, initially a fad of psychedelia, from which the Dead were the last survivors.


This has been excerpted from Why the Grateful Dead Matter, by Michael Benson.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Mother the Architect


This article is reposted from the HBI Blog of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute 

by Cynthia Kaplan Shamash
author of The Strangers We Became: Lessons in Exile from One of Iraq's Last Jews

On October 18th, I spoke at the Iraqi Synagogue in Queens to celebrate the publication of my book, The Strangers We Became: Lessons in Exile from One of Iraq’s Last Jews. There were at least 70 people in attendance, and after reading a passage from the book in which I describe being interrogated by prison officers when I was nine years old—looking for a recording device with which to accuse me of espionage, they tore apart a doll my father had given me—I pulled the broken doll out of a plastic bag and showed her to them.

When I’d finished speaking, I asked if anyone had questions. A hand went up in the front row; it belonged to my mother, who is 81 years old. “Don’t just bring out your doll,” she said. “Tell them what we didn’t take with us. Tell them what we had to leave behind.”

Shamash's mother, on a Baghdady rooftop
You see, we did not leave Iraq because we wanted to. We left Iraq because we had been persecuted there, for our Judaism, and when we left we were not allowed to take anything except for a few suitcases packed as though we were only going on vacation. Who takes photo albums on vacation? Who takes rugs, or heirloom furniture acquired over generations, or—in my mother’s case—her most precious jewelry? No one. So we left ours behind in Baghdad, because if the authorities had come across any evidence of our intending to flee forever, they would have arrested us again.

My mother got married when she was eighteen. It was an arranged marriage, to a man 24 years older. She had been coloring in a notebook with Iraq’s young King Ghazi on the cover when she was called downstairs to be introduced to her groom. The detour in life lasted much longer than she’d anticipated.

She still talks about the dormant architect in her, the unfulfilled desire to pursue a desire. It wasn’t just her marriage that derailed her: it was also our exile, which threw her dreams an even greater distance away.

Mehandeesa, she will occasionally still say, with a sigh. I wanted to be an architect. Only two years after we fled Baghdad and had settled as refugees in Amsterdam, my father died of a heart attack. Now my mother was widowed, in a strange country, with four children in tow. How would it ever be possible now to fulfill her dreams of designing the arc of liberty?

How I wonder what her style might have been, what bridge she might have built! But then, who would have told me all those bedtime stories, and analyzed my dreams? In Amsterdam, we lived largely in a vacuum. For Mama, the focus was on survival, on providing for her family. Her role as a mother was intensified, in a sense. There was no room for being what the Westerners call a Supermom. Even though she was. She is. She decorated my spirit. She built bridges no one can see.

Shamash and her mother upon arrival in Holland
I remember when she came home from the first day of a potential job that our Dutch social worker had arranged for her. It was as if someone had died. This was shortly after my father had passed away. The social worker had told her that it would be good for her to get out for a few hours a day, to have a purpose, but it wasn’t clear to Mama until she arrived that the job was as a cleaning woman. When she got home, her mood was as if Papa had passed away all over again. She could never even mention that dusty day again. It was if she were in mourning—mourning for her potential.

Today, Mama lives near me, in Queens, where I have a husband, a dentistry practice, and five children of my own. I see clearly now that my having a family and a profession (two professions, if you count writing) is a well-rounded existence that was robbed from her. It was robbed from her like our life in Iraq was robbed from us, like our rugs and furniture and baby pictures and menorah and jewelry were all robbed from us, by anti-Semitism. It was difficult for me, being a child in a strange country, going to a school full of children who looked nothing like me and spoke a different language. But still, compared to my mother, I have enjoyed the express lane in life. When you are derailed as she was—when life is not architecture school but instead learning a new language at 40, familiarizing yourself with new soil, new hurdles, digging deep for courage and chutzpah you didn’t know you had, as though you’d arrived ex nihilo—suddenly it’s too late for your turn, your chance to celebrate your own G-d-given potential.

Or maybe she fulfilled her potential in a different way, building intangible things, through her inspiring nature and her children.

The anatomy my mother was sketching the day she met my father was left unfinished, but she did have time to color in the heart. And the handwriting in that notebook is beautiful, the envy of every high school girl today. She was on her way to liberation and choices. But that was only in the beginning. The beginning is always like this, my mother often says. Hopeful. Still now, when she visits my home, she makes little suggestions as to where I should position my furniture, or she comments on a window’s aspect, its light, the house’s location on the block. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. “Min el sharq illah el gharb,” my mother says with a sigh. They used to tell me I was good with design.




Cynthia Kaplan Shamash is the author of The Strangers We Became: Lessons in Exile from One of Iraq’s Last Jews, the most recent book in the HBI Series on Jewish Women. She serves on the board of the World Organization of Jews from Iraq and owns her own dental practice in New York City where she resides with her husband and five children.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

HOLIDAY SALE! 30% Off Select Titles


The season of giving and—let's face it—getting is upon us again, and UPNE is perfectly delighted to be offering a special deal on a dozen of our most popular books from the past year and beyond. Treat yourself and those you love who love reading, why don't you, and pick up these books at 30% off, only at UPNE.com. Use promo code WWH30E at checkout. (Sale goes through January 15, 2016.)


Meeting Tom Brady: One Man's Quest for Truth, Enlightenment, and a Simple Game of Catch with the Patriots Quarterback 
by Richard J. King

"Meeting Tom Brady should occupy a spot next to Fred Exley's A Fan's Notes on every thinking sports fan's bookshelf."—Sean Glennon, author of Tom Brady vs. the NFL


A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks 
by Stewart Gordon

"From dugout canoes dating to 6000 BC down to 2013, when a modern cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Italy, Gordon lucidly shows how maritime activities reflect the ever-increasing pace of globalization."—Richard M. Eaton, University of Arizona

Baby You're a Rich Man: Suing the Beatles for Fun and Profit
by Stan Soocher

"Soocher's cast of mobbed-up producers, cut-out shilling managers, and opera-composing judges reads like Elmore Leonard in the Sky with Diamonds."—Steven Lee Beeber, author of The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's" A Secret History of Jewish Punk
Dirt: A Love Story 
edited by Barbara Richardson

36 artists, scientists, and renowned writers go wild about the virtues, pleasure, and importance of dirt. Essayists include Vandana Shiva, Peter Heller, Janisse Ray, Bernd Heinrich, Linda Hogan, Wes Jackson, BK Loren, and others. With a foreword by Pam Houston.

The Whistleblower: Rooting for the Ref in the High-Stakes World of College Basketball 
by Bob Katz

"Katz is a talented writer who provides a vivid account of a world not seen by college basketballs fan. He show the referees' complete dedication to the art of working a game.—Chicago Tribune

Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler 
 by Oliver Hilmes

"Alma's incredible life, the contrasting aspects of her powerful nature, her burning passions, the fierce jealousies and dislikes she aroused in others, make for a fascinating tale that is very well told by Hilmes."
—Henry-Louis de la Grange, biographer of Gustav Mahler
Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food 
by Laura Silver

"A whimsical, mouthwatering, and edifying odyssey through New York neighborhoods and beyond."—Sam Roberts, New York Times

And check out 6 Reasons a Knish is Better than a Bagel!



The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy
by Paula Shoyer

"Amaretto cookies, challah beer bread pudding with caramel sauce, and chocolate babka are among the delectable desserts featured in this beautifully illustrated cookbook."—Jewish Book World


Ice Ship: The Epic Voyage of the Polar Adventurer Fram
by Charles W. Johnson

"As splendidly composed a biography of the magnificent vessel Fram as it is a portrait of the courageous men who sailed her into the daunting arctic."—Howard Norman, author of Next Life Might Be Kinder

Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea 
by James W. Graham

"This wonderfully written book takes a well-worn subject—the Kennedys—and gives it as fresh a gust as the sailors on the sturdy, little Victura must have felt a thousand times off the Nantucket shore."—Richard D. Mahoney, author of Sons & Brothers

The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America's Forgotten Military Disaster 
by Michael M. Greenburg

"The most fascinating book that I have read in a long while. This is not the Paul Revere that you thought you knew. This Revere is pugnacious, snarky, maybe underhanded, and despite the verdict in his court-martial a poor military officer."—John Ferling, author of Jefferson & Hamilton
The Strangers We Became: Lessons in Exile from One of Iraq's Last Jews
by Cynthia Kaplan Shamash

"Shamash's writing beautifully communicates the confusion, imagination, and resilience that she experienced as a child from the trauma, displacement, and possibility of immigration, all caused by anti-Semitism. She weaves her story so well that the reader truly feels what the author has lived."—Jewish Book World