Date Archives January 2014

Halcyon Days

The phrase “halcyon days” has always meant nothing more to me than general nostalgia. Since moving to Crete, and more particularly since spending winter here, I’ve learned its original, much more specific meaning. Winters here are very mild compared to what I’m used to from London and New York. It’s around 15°C most days, although it rains quite a bit and is damp because we’re close to the sea. It also gets chilly inside because the apartment is built for summer – the wall facing the sea is all glass… Read More

“Rogue” sociology?: Floating City by Sudhir Venkatesh

What a difference a title makes, or even a subtitle. The version I read, the US edition which I received as a review copy, had the subtitle “A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy.” This irritated me throughout the book, because I kept expecting Sudhir Venkatesh to “go rogue”, and he never did. He perhaps got a bit more emotionally involved with his subjects than sociologists are supposed to, but he was always scrupulous about not affecting the outcomes, about being ethical and honest and reading… Read More

Paul Robeson: A Watched Man by Jordan Goodman

If you’ve ever wondered just how far government agencies will go to keep us safe from ideas that they find dangerous, this account of the US government’s sustained attack on the singer Paul Robeson will make fascinating reading. Robeson never participated in or advocated violence or crime, and yet he was placed under continuous surveillance for years, called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, had his passport confiscated and subjected to arbitrary restrictions that almost killed both his career and his health. The official State Department justification for depriving Robeson… Read More