What We Are Reading Today: Brooklyn by Thomas J. Campanella

Updated 04 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Brooklyn by Thomas J. Campanella

America’s most storied urban underdog, Brooklyn has become an internationally recognized brand in recent decades—celebrated and scorned as one of the hippest destinations in the world. 

In Brooklyn: The Once and Future City, Thomas J. Campanella unearths long-lost threads of the urban past, telling the rich history of the rise, fall, and reinvention of one of the world’s most resurgent cities, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Spanning centuries and neighborhoods, Brooklyn-born Campanella recounts the creation of places familiar and long forgotten, both built and never realized, bringing to life the individuals whose dreams, visions, rackets, and schemes forged the city we know today. 

He takes us through Brooklyn’s history as homeland of the Leni Lenape and its transformation by Dutch colonists into a dense slaveholding region. We learn about English émigré Deborah Moody, whose town of Gravesend was the first founded by a woman in America.


What We Are Reading Today: The Fire Is upon Us by Nicholas Buccola

Updated 24 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Fire Is upon Us by Nicholas Buccola

On Feb. 18, 1965, an overflowing crowd packed the Cambridge Union in Cambridge, England, to witness a historic televised debate between James Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and William F. Buckley Jr., a fierce critic of the movement and America’s most influential conservative intellectual. 

The topic was “the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro,” and no one who has seen the debate can soon forget it. 

Nicholas Buccola’s The Fire Is upon Us is the first book to tell the full story of the event, the radically different paths that led Baldwin and Buckley to it, the controversies that followed, and how the debate and the decades-long clash between the men continues to illuminate America’s racial divide today, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. Born in New York City only 15 months apart, the Harlem-raised Baldwin and the privileged Buckley could not have been more different, but they both rose to the height of American intellectual life during the civil rights movement. 

By the time they met in Cambridge, Buckley was determined to sound the alarm about a man he considered an “eloquent menace.”