Columbia Ink: Winter 2018-19

January 04, 2019
book cover The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves

The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War
By Andrew Delbanco
Penguin Random House

For decades after its founding, America was really two nations—one slave, one free. There were many reasons why the nation ultimately broke apart, but enslaved black people repeatedly risking their lives to flee their masters in the South in search of freedom in the North proved that the “united” states was a lie. By awakening northerners to the true nature of slavery, and enraging southerners who demanded the return of their human “property,” fugitive slaves forced the nation to confront the truth about itself. Their story, as told by Andrew Delbanco, the Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies, illuminates what brought us to civil war and the terrible legacies of slavery that remain.


book cover Why Journalism Still Matters

Why Journalism Still Matters
By Michael Schudson

Michael Schudson, professor of journalism, examines news-making and news institutions in relation to democratic theory and practice, to the economic crisis that affects many news organizations today and to recent discussions of “fake news.” In contrast to those who suggest that journalism has had its day, Schudson argues that journalism has become more important than ever. For the public to be swayed from positions they have already staked out, and for government officials to respond to charges that they behaved corruptly or unconstitutionally or simply rashly and unwisely, the information has to come from organizations that hold themselves to the highest standards of verification, fact-checking, and independent and original research, exactly what professional journalism aspires to do.


book cover Your Duck is My Duck

Your Duck Is My Duck
By Deborah Eisenberg
HarperCollins Publishers

In her first short story collection since 2006, Deborah Eisenberg, professor of writing at the School of the Arts, pulls us as if by gossamer threads through her characters—a tormented woman whose face determines her destiny; a group of film actors shocked to read a book about their past; a privileged young man who unexpectedly falls into a love affair with a human rights worker caught up in an all-consuming quest that he doesn’t understand. The six stories compel us to confront disturbing truths about ourselves— as lovers, parents, and children, and as citizens on a violent, terrifying planet. In her world, the forces of money, sex, and power cannot be escaped, and the force of history, whether confronted or denied, cannot be evaded.


book cover Distant Islands: The Japanese American Community in NYC

Distant Islands: The Japanese American Community in New York City, 1876-1930s
By Daniel H. Inouye
University Press of Colorado

Distant Islands is a narrative history of the Japanese American community in New York City between America’s centennial year and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Often overshadowed by the Japanese diaspora on the West Coast, this community, which dates back to the 1870s, was a composite of several micro communities divided along status, class, geographic, and religious lines. Using oral histories, memoirs, newspapers, government documents, photographs, and more, Daniel H. Inouye, a lecturer in history, tells the stories of business and professional elites, midsized merchants, small business owners, workingclass families, menial laborers, and students in these communities. The book reveals the common humanity of pioneering Japanese New Yorkers despite diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and life stories.


book cover The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age

The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age
By Tim Wu
Columbia Global Reports

From the man who coined the term “net neutrality” comes a warning about the dangers of excessive corporate and industrial concentration for our economic and political future. In an age of extreme corporate concentration, global industries are controlled by just a few giants—big banks, big pharma, and big tech, just to name a few. History suggests that tolerance of inequality and failing to control excessive corporate power may prompt the rise of populism, nationalism, extremist politicians, and fascist regimes. Tim Wu, Julius Silver Professor of Law, Science and Technology, describes how Louis Brandeis and Theodore Roosevelt confronted the democratic threats posed by the great trusts of the Gilded Age and calls for a broader revival of American progressive ideas.


book cover Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation

Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition
By Souleymane Bachir Diagne
Translated by Jonathan Adjemian
Columbia University Press

In Open to Reason, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, professor of French and philosophy, traces Muslims’ intellectual and spiritual history of examining and questioning beliefs and arguments to show how Islamic philosophy has always engaged critically with texts and ideas both inside and outside its tradition. He explores how Islamic thinkers have asked and answered such questions as: Does religion need philosophy? How can religion coexist with rationalism? What does it mean to interpret a religious narrative philosophically? Is there such a thing as an Islamic state, or should Muslims reinvent political institutions that suit their own times? The book shows that throughout the centuries philosophizing in Islam has meant a commitment to forward and open thinking.


book cover A Terrible Country

A Terrible Country
Penguin Random House

In his first novel in 10 years, Keith Gessen, the George T. Delacorte Professor in Magazine Journalism, writes about Russia, family, love, and loyalty. When Andrei Kaplan is asked to return to Moscow to care for his ailing grandmother, he takes stock of his life in New York. His girlfriend has stopped returning his text messages. His dissertation adviser is dubious about his job prospects and his bank account is running dangerously low. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother. In Moscow, Andrei is forced to come to terms with the Russian society he was born into and the American one he has enjoyed since he was a kid.


book cover Restating Orientalism

Restating Orientalism: A Critique of Modern Knowledge
Columbia University Press

Generations of scholars have debated the overlap of knowledge and power and Orientalism’s complicity in colonialism. In this theoretical investigation, Wael B. Hallaq, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, refuses to isolate or scapegoat Orientalism and extends the critique to other fields, from law, philosophy, and scientific inquiry to core ideas of academic thought such as sovereignty and the self. Hallaq traces their involvement in colonialism, mass annihilation, and systematic destruction of the natural world. It is an ambitious attempt to overturn the foundations of a wide range of academic disciplines while also drawing on the best they have to offer, exposing the depth of academia’s lethal complicity in modern forms of capitalism, colonialism, and hegemonic power.