More Noted Things
The new Common-place is up, with lots of good things! Gilles Havard and Cécile Vidal on the recovery of New France, Madison Smartt Bell and Laurent Dubois discuss the Haitian Revolution, Richard John on Thomas Bender's A Nation Among Nations, Robert Wright on Saul Cornell's A Well-Regulated Militia, and more.
Daniel Pick, professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London, and an editor of History Workshop Journal, reviews *Mike Davis's Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb for the TLS, 4 July. Pick seems to think Davis takes"delight ... in all the carnage."
It may seem churlish, given the impressive erudition and educational aims of this book, to raise a question about how it works to be so readable. The pace of the narrative, stylish turns of phrase and arch chapter headings (such as"Welcome to Bombsville,""Hell's Kitchen" or"Festivals de plastique") make it a page-turner, but at the risk of inducing a certain queasiness. To speak of Havana being"serenaded by concerts of dynamite" in the early 1930s is surely to hit a false note. … The narrative runs a fine line between"unflinching" reportage and connoisseurship of the monstrous. This uneasy and uneven effect is not helped by the liberal use of adjectives such as"ingenious,""brilliant,""daring" and"innovative," to catalogue the technical prowess displayed in various atrocities.
*Yes, it's that Mike Davis. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'd love to see the fireworks if Mike Davis were to tell Angela Davis how romantic it must have been to grow up on Birmingham's ‘dynamite hill' in the 1950s.
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