Excerpted from Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics, by Michael J. Socolow

A few hours later, with the Germans having already compiled one of the most impressive regatta records in Olympic history, Riefenstahl’s twenty-one cameramen stood ready to shoot. Radio reporters from England, France, Germany, the United States, and elsewhere stood perched on an elevated platform, chatting rapidly into their microphones, preparing millions of listeners around the globe for the latest sensational Olympic contest. The six eight-oared shells completed their warm-ups and arrived at the starting line to position themselves for the race. The tension drew everyone’s nerves tight. Even the enormous crowd, many waiting patiently under umbrellas, quieted noticeably as the regatta’s finale neared.

Two thousand meters downriver, in the low-profile racing shell built by Seattle’s master boatwright George Pocock, the eight oarsmen and one coxswain representing the United States prepared for the challenge of their lives. They had never lost a race together, and as they finished their warm-up, the rowers shared a sense of purpose and confidence. Yet the oarsmen also felt something wasn’t right in the boat. Their shell felt a bit sluggish and heavy. With the most important race of their lives about to start, an unaccustomed concern arose in each of their minds. It wasn’t exactly doubt, but rather, an anxiety about the boat’s feeling in the water. They also worried about their teammate, the boat’s stroke Don Hume.

Hume had been sick even before the regatta started, and a brutal qualifying heat severely worsened his condition. Hume’s job as stroke was to set the pace for the men behind him; to take the coxswain’s verbal demands and translate them into rhythmic movements followed by the rest of the oarsmen. Hume barely responded to coxswain Bob Moch’s calls in the warm-up. Something was clearly amiss. With the most important race in their life about to begin, this annoyance added additional tension to an incredibly intense moment. “I don’t think we were that confident on the final day,” Gordon Adam, sitting in the three seat, would later remember. “We were running scared from start to finish, believe me.” Sitting in the five-seat, two seats down the shell from Adam, Jim McMillin, the crew’s captain, tried to banish such thoughts. “I had felt that if we rowed the best we knew how, we could get there,” he remembered almost seventy years later. But “everything went wrong from that point on.”

randel et. alMaster songsmith Cole Porter is no longer around to play command performances or record duets with pop stars. But the music lives on.

Yesterday Susan Forscher Weiss, an editor of Cole Porter Companion (along with Don M. Randel and Matthew Shaftel) visited the Baltimore radio program Midday to discuss Porter’s life and peerless career. A pair of local musicians also sat in to play a selection of Porter songs, and they will perform again tonight at The Ivy Bookshop as part of Forscher Weiss’s discussion of the book. The reading and music starts at 7 p.m.

ottenheimerForbidden Relatives challenges the belief—widely held in the United States—that legislation against marriage between first cousins is based on a biological risk to offspring. In fact, its author maintains, the U.S. prohibition against such unions originated largely because of the belief that it would promote more rapid assimilation of immigrants.

A social anthropologist, Martin Ottenheimer questioned U.S. laws against cousin marriage because his international research into marriage patterns showed no European countries prohibit such unions. He examines the historical development of U.S. laws governing marriage, contrasts them with European laws, and analyzes the genetic implications of first cousin marriage. Modern genetic evidence, Ottenheimer says, doesn’t support the concept that children of these unions are at any special risk.

Ottenheimer’s book, the only volume available that deals with kinship in this way, will challenge readers and give them much to consider and discuss.

marovichAwards season in academic publishing is once again kind to the Press. A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music by Robert M. Marovich recently won a Certificate of Merit in the category Best Historical Research in Recorded Blues, Gospel, Soul, or R&B from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

In the book, Marovich follows gospel music from early hymns and camp meetings through its growth into the sanctified soundtrack of Chicago’s mainline black Protestant churches. Marovich mines print media, ephemera, and hours of interviews with artists, ministers, and historians—as well as relatives and friends of gospel pioneers—to recover forgotten singers, musicians, songwriters, and industry leaders. He also examines the entrepreneurial spirit that fueled gospel music’s rise to popularity and granted social mobility to a number of its practitioners

wadeLaurie C. Matheson, Director of the Press, on the latest UIP award winner.

Stephen Wade, author of The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience, has been awarded the 2016 Judith McCulloh Public Sector Award from the Society for Ethnomusicology. The citation from the award committee said in part, “Great leaders instill in others a shared sense of responsibility for making the world a better place. They lead by example to promote openness and sensitive cultural awareness among the diverse communities that they and their colleagues work with each day. . . . Over thirty years Stephen has woven an extended career of thoughtful scholarship and the performing arts which continually analyzes and documents the diverse musical, social, cultural, and historical narratives that surround us each day and frequently go unrecognized by everyday America.”

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We are pleased to announce that The Music of the Stanley Brothers by Gary B. Reid has won Best Discography in the ARSC Awards for Excellence, awarded by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. It’s a bit of double dip for Reid. He also won Bluegrass Print/Media Person of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 2015.

reidPraised not only to but around and over the hills, The Music of the Stanley Brothers brings together forty years of passionate research. Reid augments his own vast knowledge of their music with interviews, documents ranging from books to folios sold by the brothers at shows, and the words of Ralph Stanley, former band members, guest musicians, session producers, songwriters, and bluegrass experts. The result is a reference that illuminates the Stanleys’ art and history.

It is all here: dates and locations; the roster of players on well-known and obscure sessions alike; master/matrix and catalog/release numbers, with reissue information; a full discography sorting out the Stanleys’ complex recording history; the stories behind the music; and exquisitely informed biographical notes that place events in the context of the brothers’ careers and lives. Monumental and indispensable, The Music of the Stanley Brothers provides fans and scholars alike with a guide for immersion in the long career and breathtaking repertoire of two legendary American musicians.

 

history of the present journalHistory of the Present, launched in 2010, is devoted to history as a critical endeavor. Its aim is twofold: to create a space in which scholars can reflect on the role history plays in establishing categories of contemporary debate by making them appear inevitable, natural or culturally necessary; and to publish work that calls into question certainties about the relationship between past and present that are taken for granted by the majority of practicing historians.

In 2012, the Journal was awarded “Best New Journal” by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.

While the editors of HOP continue to curate exciting content, they have recently put together an exceptional special issue.

From one of the editors, Brian Connolly: “[Issue 6.2] asks how the violence of the archives of slavery contributes to the production of a history of our present. What is at stake in revisiting the devastation and death contained in the documents of slavery? How does a critical relationship to these archives of death and destruction not only unsettle our present but help think through liberated futures. In thinking through the linguistic, geographic, and representational logics of our archival reading practices, while attending to the ways in which our understanding or archives of slavery themselves—sites of lack or excess or both—all of the authors offer provocative meditations on how to reconceptualize histories of slavery through reimagined relations to the archive.”

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QiuExcerpted from the new UIP book Goodbye iSlave, by Jack Linchuan Qiu. Hans Rollman at PopMatters reviewed the book here.

Welcome to a brave New World of profit making, propelled by high technology, guarded by enterprising authority, carried forward by millions of unfortunate fellows being deprived of their souls. These millions of bodies—with massive labor power—gather in factories to produce coveted commodities. They face punishment if they disobey. If they cannot take it anymore and attempt “to go away”—a euphemism for suicide—they have to penetrate the physical barrier of a tall fence or “anti-jumping net” in order to free themselves from this hopeless world.

The factories need these workers because their products are not ordinary goods. Rather, they are addictive substances—be they sugar or gadgetry or ephemeral content—which the Old World craves in huge supply, to be shipped to the other side of the planet for consumption by people with lighter skin, many of whom also lead shattered lives. These consumers depend on the importation of addictive commodities in order to be “productive,” measured by productivity standards set by the new capitalist system. They keep feeding on it without ever needing to know about the harsh reality of the factories, oceans away.

The world turns and turns. So does the vicious cycle of coercion and exploitation, trade and addiction, culminating in unprecedented levels of profit maximization. The system seems to be “natural” and “perfect” despite, or precisely due to, its cruelty and animosity. It expands and expands, until rebel forces of activism one day emerge from the laborers, sneak into the factories, embed themselves in the new frontiers of accumulation, report to the world what they hear and see, and begin to agitate.

An abolition movement takes shape under new conditions of global geopolitics. Also empowered by new tools of communication, it starts to convince consumers that this New World is not heaven but hell, that a better world is desirable and possible, and that everyone can and should be part of this struggle for progressive change. The system is disrupted. Although it keeps working for some time, the endgame has already begun because, in addition to abolitionist mobilization and consumer awareness, the workers themselves have started to wield new and old weapons of grassroots networking, to express themselves and form solidarity, to initiate their own campaigns and redefine what it means to be a human being.

von braunThis classic on space travel was first published in 1953, when interplanetary space flight was considered science fiction by most of those who considered it at all. Here the German-born scientist Wernher von Braun detailed what he believed were the problems and possibilities inherent in a projected expedition to Mars.

Today von Braun is recognized as the person most responsible for laying the groundwork for public acceptance of America’s space program. When President Bush directed NASA in 1989 to prepare plans for an orbiting space station, lunar research bases, and human exploration of Mars, he was largely echoing what von Braun proposed in The Mars Project.

boddice

The new UIP book The Science of Sympathy takes readers back to the Victorian Era and into the arguments over sympathy’s place in Darwinist reconsiderations of science and humanity.

Charles Darwin placed sympathy at the crux of morality in a civilized human society. His idea buttressed the belief that white, upper-class, educated men deserved their sense of superiority by virtue of good breeding. It also implied that societal progress could be steered by envisioning a new blueprint for sympathy that redefined moral actions carried out in sympathy’s name.

Rob Boddice joins a daring intellectual history of sympathy to a portrait of how the first Darwinists defined and employed it. As Boddice shows, their interpretations of Darwin’s ideas sparked a cacophonous discourse intent on displacing previous notions of sympathy. Scientific and medical progress demanded that “cruel” practices like vivisection and compulsory vaccination be seen as moral for their ultimate goal of alleviating suffering. Some even saw the so-called unfit—natural targets of sympathy—as a danger to society and encouraged procreation by the “fit” alone. Right or wrong, these early Darwinists formed a moral economy that acted on a new system of ethics, reconceptualized obligations, and executed new duties. Boddice persuasively argues that the bizarre, even dangerous formulations of sympathy they invented influence society and civilization in the present day.