199 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

New Books in Eastern European Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.1, 12 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

    Elissa Bemporad, "Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Elissa Bemporad, "Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    The history of antisemitism in Europe stretches back as far as Ancient Rome, but persecutions of Jews became widespread during the Crusades, beginning in the early 11th century when the wholesale massacre of entire communities became commonplace. From the 12th century, the justification for this state-sanctioned violence became the blood libel accusation: the idea that Jews ritually murdered Christian children and used their blood in the celebration of Passover.
    Nowhere in Europe was the blood libel more tenacious, credible, and long lived than in the Russian Empire, particularly during the late Imperial period, which saw large scale pogroms and harsh restrictions visited upon the empire's Jewish population. The Russian Revolution of 1917 attracted many Jews to its cause, thanks in large measure to Bolshevik condemnations of antisemitism and persecution of the Jewish minority. These numbers grew in the wake of the brutal Civil War that followed from 1918 - 1922 when the White Army revived the pogrom with particular vigor.
    What happened after the Bolshevik victory is the subject of Elissa Bemporad's new book, Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets (Oxford UP, 2019), which won the National Jewish Book Award (Modern Jewish Thought and Experience). Bemporad probes the underbelly of the "Soviet myth"— that the USSR had eradicated the pogroms, banished the notion of a blood libel to the scrapheap of other opiates for the people, and vanquished antisemitism as part of the regime's broad anti-religious campaign — and discovers that both pogroms and the blood libel had a robust afterlife in the USSR.
    As she traces changing attitudes towards Jews in the USSR, Bemporad also examines the uneasy and often ambivalent but mutually dependent, and ever-shifting relationship between the regime and the Jewish population as the Soviet century unfolds. Legacy of Blood looks at the re-emergence of overt antisemitism in the occupied territories of the USSR during World War II and the troubled return of the Jews to mainstream society after the war. The result is a meticulously researched, thought-provoking, and eminently readable book that adds much to both Jewish and Russian historical scholarship.
    Elissa Bemporad is an Associate Professor of History at CUNY Graduate Center and the Jerry and William Ungar Chair in East European Jewish History, Queens College of CUNY. She is the author of Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk (Indiana University Press, 2013) and the forthcoming A Comprehensive History of the Jews in the Soviet Union, vol I (NYU Press).
    Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and Royal History, with bylines in Reuters, Fodor's, USTOA, LitHub, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life. She is the award-winning author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow and Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia: A Pocket Guide to Russian History.
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    • 59 min
    Alex Jeffrey, "The Edge of Law: Legal Geographies of a War Crimes Court" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Alex Jeffrey, "The Edge of Law: Legal Geographies of a War Crimes Court" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    What happens when a court tries to become a “new” court? What happens to the many artifacts of its history—previous laws and jurisprudence, the building that it inhabits, the people who weave in and out of it?
    This is the question that grounds Alex Jeffrey’s new book, The Edge of Law: Legal Geographies of a War Crimes Court (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which explores the making of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through extensive engagements with the different actors working in and around the Court, as well as with the Court itself, Jeffrey shows how the law is productive of many different edges, which are themselves both practical (in the sense that they reflect real-world conditions) and idealized (in the sense that they allow the law to take responsibility for some things but not others). By looking at the ways that a court that is imagined to be above the small concerns of the world that it inhabits must, in fact, encounter those small concerns, Jeffrey is able to shine light on the ways that courts, too, are socialized.
    Dino Kadich is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @dinokadich.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day.
    The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education.
    Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia).
    Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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    • 59 min
    Alexander Watson, "The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands" (Basic Books, 2020)

    Alexander Watson, "The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands" (Basic Books, 2020)

    The opposing powers had already suffered casualties on a scale previously unimaginable by October 1914. On both the Western and Eastern fronts elaborate war plans lay in ruins and had been discarded in favour of desperate improvisation. In the West this soon resulted in the remorseless world of the trenches; in the East all eyes were focused on the old, beleaguered Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemysl. The great siege that unfolded at Przemysl was the longest of the Great War. In the defence of the fortress and the struggle to relieve it Austria-Hungary suffered some 800,000 casualties.
    Almost unknown in the West, this battle was one of the great turning points of the conflict. If the Russians had broken through in the Fall of 1914, they could have invaded Central Europe and probably knocked Austria out of the war. But by the time the fortress fell in March 1915, the Russian’s strength was so sapped they could go no further.
    In The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands (Basic Books, 2020), Professor Alexander Watson, Professor of History at the University of London, prize-winning author of Ring of Steel, has written one of the great epics of the First World War. Comparable to Stalingrad in 1942-3, Przemysl shaped the course of Europe's future. This book, described by Sir Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, as a ‘splendid book’, is a must read for both layman and scholar alike. It is based upon voluminous archival research and is without a doubt the definitive treatment of the subject.
    Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.
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    • 53 min
    Kevin O'Connor, "The House of Hemp and Butter: A History of Old Riga" (NIUP, 2019)

    Kevin O'Connor, "The House of Hemp and Butter: A History of Old Riga" (NIUP, 2019)

    Latvia's elegant capital, Riga, is one of Europe's best-kept secrets. Strategically located on the Eastern Baltic coast at the mouth of the River Daugava, Riga was founded in the early 13th century as a trading hub, a military outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, and a base for Roman Catholic prelates to convert both the pagan natives and the Orthodox Christians of Rus.
    Kevin O'Connor's new book, The House of Hemp and Butter: A History of Old Riga (Northern Illinois University Press, 2019) charts the fascinating history of Riga from the earliest days to Peter the Great's conquest of the much-coveted trading port in the early 18th century.
    O'Connor's book recounts in fascinating detail the personalities who shaped and dominated Riga's political and economic history. For six centuries, Riga's fortunes rose and fell in step with major political events of Europe, as the uneasy triumvirate of the church, military, and merchants balanced control and power over the city, ever hopeful to keep goods such as furs, timber, resin, and beeswax flowing from the vast Russian forest lands, through Riga and onto the rest of the known world. O'Connor introduces us to the infamous Livonian Brotherhood of the Sword — a military order of knights based in the city, canny and diplomatic prelates, and the notorious Brotherhood of the Blackfaces, one of the city's professional associations.
    From the outset, Riga was a multi-national and polyglot city, much as it remains today. Her membership in the Hanseatic League — the European economic fraternity, which enjoyed a virtual monopoly on trade — greatly enhanced the city's prestige and economic influence, as Germans, Poles, and other Hansa members established successful trading relationships with Riga's guilds. Riga's rapid adoption of Protestantism in the 16th century forged other strong links with her neighbors and separated her even further culturally from the growing might of Russia.
    Though Rigans cherished their independence, the history of their city is one of almost constant occupation or rule of a foreign power, as the larger players in the Baltic constantly fought to gain the prize that was the city on the Daugava. O’Connor’s accounts of German, Polish, and later Swedish occupations help readers understand why the city developed in the way it did.
    O'Connor leaves us at Riga’s nadir. As plague ravishes the war-torn city, Tsar Peter the Great captures Riga as part of his conquest of the Eastern Baltic in the Great Northern War, which established the Russian Empire as the preeminent naval power in the Baltic Sea, but relegates Riga to a second-tier trading hub. Moreover, O'Conner suggests, Russia's conquest of the city forces Riga to adopt "Eastern," which never sits comfortably with the centuries of Riga's primarily "Western" culture and nature. We are left hoping that perhaps now, as Riga sloughs off the Soviet occupation, she will once more take her rightful place in the Baltic’s panoply of prosperous ports.
    The House of Hemp and Butter is an impeccably-researched and very engagingly written account of Riga's fascinating social, economic, and political history.
    Kevin O'Connor is the Chair of History at Gonzaga University.
    Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and Royal History, with bylines in Reuters, Fodor's, USTOA, LitHub, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Sir John Redwood, "We Don't Believe You: Why Populists and the Establishment See the World Differently" (Bite-Sized Books, 2019)

    Sir John Redwood, "We Don't Believe You: Why Populists and the Establishment See the World Differently" (Bite-Sized Books, 2019)

    In We Don't Believe You: Why Populists and the Establishment See the World Differently (Bite-Sized Book, 2019), Sir John Redwood gives us fresh insights into why the populist movements and parties have been winning elections. He looks at how the experts and narrative pushed out by the established elites on both sides of the Atlantic have met with disbelief as well as with strong opposition. He shows how great parties have been all but destroyed as election winning forces as new movements and people sweep them aside.
    From the establishment himself as an expert and a member of one of the traditional parties, he seeks to show how the sensible elites adjust and respond to new moods and new ideas instead of confronting or denying them. In too many cases a rigid and unhappy elite just keeps shouting back the same things people do not want to hear.
    One of the worst features of what is happening is the inability of the two sides to understand each other or to work together. The establishment shows scorn for the populists and keeps reasserting the same policies and attitudes as if nothing had happened. The populists show they do not believe the analysis let alone the prescription of established institutions and governments, and seek to sweep them all away.
    Can the main institutions of the western world adapt in time to the new mood?
    Sir John Redwood is Conservative MP for Wokingham in the UK, first elected in 1987. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in John Major's Cabinet, and twice a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the 1990s. He is also a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford and the author of 23 books on a wide range of subjects, from atheism in early modern British history, to 21st century economics, to politics and government. He always has very insightful and often bold things to say on all these topics.
    Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.
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    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

Caliwinter ,

Great content, but bad quality

Great, interesting content, excellent books. Just wish that the audio quality would be on the level. A lot odd noise, fade outs, tough to hear parts make it not easy to enjoy.

NemoX1970 ,

5 stars content. 1 start production.

This work is too important to have such poor production values. Echoes, fade out, stuttered audio.

Some fantastic books. Articulate authors who are able to discuss their work so that the educated layman may follow it.

The audio should be the easy part. The guests (and listeners) deserve better.

t78tt.r ,

Deserves 5 stars except for one thing--sound quality

Dear God these people at the New Books Network must have a tin-ear. Far too many of the podcasts are poorly recorded enough to realize that they seem to not care or made their interviewers try to maintain quality recording . I listen to several other podcasts, NONE have the quality control problems the "New Books Network" seems to have on some of theirs.

C'mon guys get your act together, podcasts have come a long way.

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