What We Are Reading Today: Manhattan by Jennifer Thermes

Updated 08 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Manhattan by Jennifer Thermes

  • This volume is a rich, multilayered creation worth leisurely exploration

This is an excellent book about the history of Manhattan island, staring with the indigenous tribes who lived there.

Jennifer Thermes’ illustrated chronicle of the history of Manhattan “is filled with a series of loose-limbed, eye-pleasing maps that trace the island’s transformation from the natural landscape of the native Lenape people to the newly built Dutch and English colony to the gridded American metropolis of the early 19th century and so on until the current day,” said a review in The New York Times.

It added: “Thermes has a gift not only for rendering delicate watercolor, colored pencil and ink illustrations but for narrating history in a way that inspires wonder. How terrifying it must have been to live through the Great Fire of 1835! And how exciting it must have been to ride that first subway in 1904!”

The review said: “Just like Manhattan itself, this volume is a rich, multilayered creation worth leisurely exploration. And it will give all children growing up in New York City a new perspective on their hometown.”


What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

The ancient Romans famously distinguished between civic life in Rome and military matters outside the city — a division marked by the pomerium, an abstract religious and legal boundary that was central to the myth of the city’s foundation. 

Michael Koortbojian explores how the Romans used social practices and public monuments to assert their capital’s distinction from its growing empire, to delimit the proper realms of religion and law from those of war and conquest, and to establish and disseminate so many fundamental Roman institutions across three centuries of imperial rule. Crossing the Pomerium probes such topics as the appearance in the city of Romans in armor, whether in representation or in life, the role of religious rites on the battlefield, and the military image of Constantine on the arch built in his name. 

The book reveals how, in these instances and others, the ancient ideology of crossing the pomerium reflects the efforts of Romans not only to live up to the ideals they had inherited, but also to reconceive their past and to validate contemporary practices during a time when Rome enjoyed growing dominance in the Mediterranean world.