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Review

We Are Not Free

Author Traci Chee is best known for her young adult fantasy trilogy, The Reader series. We Are Not Free is a complete departure from that genre, with a setting and characters close to her heart and history. In this novel, which begins in 1942, 14 Japanese American teenagers are ripped from their ...

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Beyond the Book

The U.S. 442nd Infantry Regiment

In Traci Chee's young adult historical novel We Are Not Free, which follows 14 Japanese American teens from San Francisco through World War II, two young men in Topaz detention camp, Mas and Twitchy, decide to volunteer for the army. Japanese American men were unable to serve until early 1943; the ...

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Review

The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures

The title of Jennifer Hofmann's perceptive debut novel with its bureaucratese strongly suggests a satire in the vein of Kafka or Dostoevsky, and there are certainly elements of humor and incisive critique within its pages. The protagonist is a surveillance agent for East Germany's secret police, the...

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Beyond the Book

Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Prison

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones governed by France, Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1949, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also referred to as East Germany, was formed as a communist state in the Soviet territory. The most...

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Review

His Only Wife

21-year-old Afi is a talented Ghanaian seamstress eager to study fashion design, but her life is upturned when her mother agrees to an arranged marriage with a virtual stranger, the son of a wealthy local businesswoman, on her behalf. Afi is whisked from her small town and placed in a luxury ...

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Beyond the Book

Contemporary Ghanaian Women Writers

In her novel His Only Wife, Peace Adzo Medie captures the clash of tradition and modernity in present day Ghana. Medie belongs to a long line of talented women writers who show the country's rich culture and history to be bountiful sources of inspiration. Here are just a few of the most exciting ...

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Review

We Have Been Harmonized

You'd be forgiven if, while reading We Have Been Harmonized, you momentarily mistook it for a modernized reboot of George Orwell's 1984. If it weren't for the intermittent interviews with Chinese executives, since-deleted essays from disappeared academics and quotes from locked up journalists ...

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Beyond the Book

Gamification and AI: Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go

As American political scientist Joseph Nye postulated in the 1980s, there are two ways to control people in geopolitics: hard power (i.e., coercion via violence) or soft power (i.e., enticement via incentive). Successful geopolitical strategy is often about knowing when to use soft power instead of ...

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Review

Jack

If you are a fan of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead series, you already know who Jack is. Chances are, you already know his story too. Jack is the enigmatic ne'er do well who disrupts the peace of Gilead's quiet narrator, Rev. John Ames, with his return to town after a 20-year absence. In that first ...

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Beyond the Book

The Segregation of St. Louis

In Marilynne Robinson's novel Jack, the title character, a white man, meets and falls in love with a Black woman named Della. However, America's racism, segregation and anti-miscegenation laws in the 1950s present a nearly insurmountable obstacle for the couple. One of their specific concerns is how...

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