In late 1774 or early 1775, a woman named Jeanne Baret became the first woman to have circumnavigated the globe, landing in France after nearly a decade of global travel that took her from provincial France to places like Tierra del Fuego, Tahiti, and Mauritius. Her story, a fellow traveler noted, should “be included in a history of famous women.”
Greg Grandin has written a page-turner that tells the story of Henry Ford’s foray into the Brazilian Amazon and much more. In 1925, Ford met with Harvey Firestone to discuss England’s challenge to the US rubber supply. Much as the Belgians had done in Africa in the late nineteenth-century, England had extracted this resource by proxy—through companies such as the Peruvian Amazon Rubber Company in the Amazon and its Asian colonies. Ford’s response was to embark upon his own South American venture into the world of rubber.
After finishing the book, the reader will realize that its subtitle, “Explaining World War I,” is far more clever than it appears at first glance. The Pity of War offers not quite a history of the First World War, but rather a history of Great Britain and the First World War; for Ferguson, the two are inseparable.
Much like its eponymous waterway, V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River meanders steadily through the dark reality of postcolonial Africa, alternately depicting minimalist beauty and frightening tension. Like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, subtle prose reveals the timelessness of the continent’s remote corners alongside human corruptibility.
In the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguard, the citizens of Delhi unleashed a murderous campaign of violence on the Sikh community as a whole. Delhi-ites were horrified to discover both the inaction of the local authorities to provide safety and security for citizens, and the failure of the media to report the atrocities taking place.