Cultural Studies

*pre Order* White Burgers, Black Cash: Fast Food from Black Exclusion to Exploitation

*pre Order* White Burgers, Black Cash: Fast Food from Black Exclusion to Exploitation

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The long and pernicious relationship between fast food restaurants and the African American community

Today, fast food is disproportionately located in Black neighborhoods and marketed to Black Americans through targeted advertising. But throughout much of the twentieth century, fast food was developed specifically for White urban and suburban customers, purposefully avoiding Black spaces. In White Burgers, Black Cash, Naa Oyo A. Kwate traces the evolution in fast food from the early 1900s to the present, from its long history of racist exclusion to its current damaging embrace of urban Black communities.

Fast food has historically been tied to the country's self-image as the land of opportunity and is marketed as one of life's simple pleasures, but a more insidious history lies at the industry's core. White Burgers, Black Cash investigates the complex trajectory of restaurant locations from a decided commitment to Whiteness to the disproportionate densities that characterize Black communities today. Kwate expansively charts fast food's racial and spatial transformation and centers the cities of Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C., in a national examination of the biggest brands of today, including White Castle, KFC, Burger King, McDonald's, and more.

Deeply researched, grippingly told, and brimming with surprising details, White Burgers, Black Cash reveals the inequalities embedded in the closest thing Americans have to a national meal.

Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information ACT

Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information ACT

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"Staggeringly good." --Counterpunch

A major new work, a hybrid of history, journalism, and memoir, about the modern Freedom of Information Act--FOIA--and the horrifying, decades-old government misdeeds that it is unable to demystify, from one of America's most celebrated writers

Eight years ago, while investigating the possibility that the United States had used biological weapons in the Korean War, Nicholson Baker requested a series of Air Force documents from the early 1950s under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Years went by, and he got no response. Rather than wait forever, Baker set out to keep a personal journal of what it feels like to try to write about major historical events in a world of pervasive redactions, witheld records, and glacially slow governmental responses. The result is one of the most original and daring works of nonfiction in recent memory, a singular and mesmerizing narrative that tunnels into the history of some of the darkest and most shameful plans and projects of the CIA, the Air Force, and the presidencies of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

In his lucid and unassuming style, Baker assembles what he learns, piece by piece, about Project Baseless, a crash Pentagon program begun in the early fifties that aimed to achieve an Air Force-wide combat capability in biological and chemical warfare at the earliest possible date. Along the way, he unearths stories of balloons carrying crop disease, leaflet bombs filled with feathers, suicidal scientists, leaky centrifuges, paranoid political-warfare tacticians, insane experiments on animals and humans, weaponized ticks, ferocious propaganda battles with China, and cover and deception plans meant to trick the Kremlin into ramping up its germ-warfare program. At the same time, Baker tells the stories of the heroic journalists and lawyers who have devoted their energies to wresting documentary evidence from government repositories, and he shares anecdotes from his daily life in Maine feeding his dogs and watching the morning light gather on the horizon. The result is an astonishing and utterly disarming story about waiting, bureaucracy, the horrors of war, and, above all, the cruel secrets that the United States government seems determined to keep forever from its citizens.

BLACK IN THE MIDDLE: AN ANTHOL

BLACK IN THE MIDDLE: AN ANTHOL

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An ambitious, honest portrait of the Black experience in flyover country. One of The St. Louis Post Dispatch's Best Books of 2020.

Black Americans have been among the hardest hit by the rapid deindustrialization and accompanying economic decline that have become so synonymous with the Midwest. After the 2016 election, many traditional media outlets renewed their attention on the conditions of "Middle America," but they often marginalized or completely overlooked the experience of the Black people who live there.

Edited by Terrion Williamson, the director of the Black Midwest Initiative, Black in the Middle places the voices of Black midwesterners front and center. Filled with compelling personal narratives, thought-provoking art, and searing commentaries, this anthology explores the various meanings and experiences of blackness throughout the Rust Belt, the Midwest, and the Great Plains. It brings together people from major metropolitan centers like Detroit and Chicago as well as smaller cities and rural areas where the lives of Black residents have too often gone unacknowledged to create "a timely, compelling collection that allows predominantly Black Midwesterners to reclaim their home, histories, and future."

A much-needed corrective to common narratives about the Midwest.


EJACULATE RESPONSIBLY: A WHOLE

EJACULATE RESPONSIBLY: A WHOLE

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THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In Ejaculate Responsibly, Gabrielle Blair offers a provocative reframing of the abortion issue in post-Roe America.

In a series of 28 brief arguments, Blair deftly makes the case for moving the abortion debate away from controlling and legislating women's bodies and instead directs the focus on men's lack of accountability in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Highly readable, accessible, funny, and unflinching, Blair builds her argument by walking readers through the basics of fertility (men are 50 times more fertile than women), the unfair burden placed on women when it comes to preventing pregnancy (90% of the birth control market is for women), the wrongheaded stigmas around birth control for men (condoms make sex less pleasurable, vasectomies are scary and emasculating), and the counterintuitive reality that men, who are fertile 100% of the time, take little to no responsibility for preventing pregnancy.

The result is a compelling and convincing case for placing the responsibility--and burden--of preventing unwanted pregnancies away from women and onto men.

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY: TRAVELI

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY: TRAVELI

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Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Zoroastrian sky burials to wish-granting Bolivian skulls, she investigates the world's funerary customs and expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity. Her account questions the rituals of the American funeral industry--especially chemical embalming--and suggests that the most effective traditions are those that allow mourners to personally attend to the body of the deceased. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a fascinating tour through the unique ways people everywhere confront mortality.

HELL OF A BOOK

HELL OF A BOOK

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***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize


A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick!

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year One of TIME Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books One of NPR.org's Books We Love EW's Guide to the Biggest and Buzziest Books of 2021 One of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults San Diego Union Tribune--My Favorite Things from 2021 Writer's Bone's Best Books of 2021 Atlanta Journal Constitution--Top 10 Southern Books of the Year One of the Guardian's (UK) Best Ten 21st Century Comic Novels One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books You Need to Read This June On Entertainment Weekly's Must List One of the New York Post's Best Summer Reading books One of GMA's 27 Books for June One of USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss One of Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming Out in the Second Half of 2021 One of The Root's PageTurners: It's Getting Hot in Here One of Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in 2021

An astounding work of fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole

In Jason Mott's Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and more urgent: Mott's novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters' stories build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it's also about the nation's reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists, it truly becomes its title.

In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black  author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters’ stories build and build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it’s also about the nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists it truly becomes its title.

How to Live Like a Monk

How to Live Like a Monk

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We know that they prayed, sang, and wore long robes, but what was it really like to be a monk? Though monastic living may seem unimaginable to us moderns, it has relevance for today. This book illuminates the day-to-day of medieval European monasticism, showing how you can apply the principles of monastic living, like finding balance and peace, to your life.

With wit and insight, medievalist and podcaster Daniele Cybulskie dives into the history of monasticism in each chapter and then reveals applications for today, such as the benefits of healthy eating, streamlining routines, gardening, and helping others. She shares how monks authentically embraced their spiritual calling, and were also down to earth: they wrote complaints about being cold in the manuscripts they copied, made beer and wine, and even kept bees.

How to Live Like a Monk features original illustrations by Anna Lobanova, as well as more than eighty color reproductions from medieval manuscripts. It is for anyone interested in the Middle Ages and those seeking inspiration for how to live a full life, even when we're confined to the cloister of our homes.

Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human

Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human

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An extraordinary menagerie of fantastical and unreal beasts featuring hundreds of illustrations, from griffins to dog-men, mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and yetis.

Fire-breathing dragons, beautiful mermaids, majestic unicorns, terrifying three-headed dogs--these fantastic creatures have long excited our imagination. Medieval authors placed them in the borders of manuscripts as markers of the boundaries of our understanding. Tales from around the world place these beasts in deserts, deep woods, remote islands, ocean depths, and alternate universes--just out of our reach. And in the sections on the apocalypse in the Bible, they proliferate as the end of time approaches, with horses with heads like lions, dragons, and serpents signaling the destruction of the world. Legends tell us that imaginary animals belong to a primordial time, before everything in the world had names, categories, and conceptual frameworks. In this book, Boria Sax digs into the stories of these fabulous beasts. He shows how, despite their liminal role, imaginary animals like griffins, dog-men, yetis, and more are socially constructed creatures, created through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as real ones. Tracing the history of imaginary animals from Paleolithic art to their roles in stories such as Harry Potter and even the advent of robotic pets, he reveals that these extraordinary figures help us psychologically--as monsters, they give form to our amorphous fears, while as creatures of wonder, they embody our hopes. Their greatest service, Sax concludes, is to continually challenge our imaginations, directing us beyond the limitations of conventional beliefs and expectations. Featuring over 230 illustrations of a veritable menagerie of fantastical and unreal beasts, Imaginary Animals is a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art

Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art

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America is haunted. Ghosts from its violent history--the genocide of Indigenous peoples, slavery, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and traumatic wars--are an inescapable and unsettled part of the nation's heritage. Not merely in the realm of metaphor but present and tangible, urgently calling for contact, these otherworldly visitors have been central to our national identity. Through times of mourning and trauma, artists have been integral to visualizing ghosts, whether national or personal, and in doing so have embraced the uncanny and the inexplicable. This stunning catalog, accompanying the first major exhibition to assess the spectral in American art, explores the numerous ways American artists have made sense of their own experiences of the paranormal and the supernatural, developing a rich visual culture of the intangible.

​Featuring artists from James McNeill Whistler and Kerry James Marshall to artist/mediums who made images with spirits during séances, this catalog covers more than two hundred years of the supernatural in American art. Here we find works that explore haunting, UFO sightings, and a broad range of experiential responses to other worldly contact.

The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony

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**SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, "10 BEST HISTORY BOOKS OF 2022"**
**AMAZON, "BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH (Nonfiction)"**
**APPLE, "BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH"**

From a historian and senior editor at Atlas Obscura, a fascinating account of the daring nineteenth-century women who moved to South Dakota to divorce their husbands and start living on their own terms

For a woman traveling without her husband in the late nineteenth century, there was only one reason to take the train all the way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one sure to garner disapproval from fellow passengers. On the American frontier, the new state offered a tempting freedom often difficult to obtain elsewhere: divorce.

With the laxest divorce laws in the country, five railroad lines, and the finest hotel for hundreds of miles, the small city became the unexpected headquarters for unhappy spouses--infamous around the world as The Divorce Colony. These society divorcees put Sioux Falls at the center of a heated national debate over the future of American marriage. As clashes mounted in the country's gossip columns, church halls, courtrooms and even the White House, the women caught in the crosshairs in Sioux Falls geared up for a fight they didn't go looking for, a fight that was the only path to their freedom.

In The Divorce Colony, writer and historian April White unveils the incredible social, political, and personal dramas that unfolded in Sioux Falls and reverberated around the country through the stories of four very different women: Maggie De Stuers, a descendent of the influential New York Astors whose divorce captivated the world; Mary Nevins Blaine, a daughter-in-law to a presidential hopeful with a vendetta against her meddling mother-in-law; Blanche Molineux, an aspiring actress escaping a husband she believed to be a murderer; and Flora Bigelow Dodge, a vivacious woman determined, against all odds, to obtain a "dignified" divorce.

Entertaining, enlightening, and utterly feminist, The Divorce Colony is a rich, deeply researched tapestry of social history and human drama that reads like a novel. Amidst salacious newspaper headlines, juicy court documents, and high-profile cameos from the era's most well-known players, this story lays bare the journey of the turn-of-the-century socialites who took their lives into their own hands and reshaped the country's attitudes about marriage and divorce.