Friday, January 29, 2010

Poems of Hafez

The Poems of Hafez
by Shamsed-din Hafez
translated by Reza Ordoubadian

Shamsed-din Hafez was born some six hundred years ago in southern Iran, but his poems have universal and contemporary appeal. Wherever Persian is known, he is easily recited by both king and common man. Those uncertain about matters of love, fortune, or any other situation open a page of his collection of poems at random and in it see their dilemmas untangled. His turns of phrase have enriched the Persian lexicon and entered everyday language; this has made him Persian culture's most read, quoted, and revered figure. Reza Ordoubadian's translations make the poems of Hafez accessible to the English language reader, while remaining faithful to the nuances of Hafez's language and thought in the original Persian.

Filipinos in Los Angeles

Images of America: Filipinos in Los Angeles
by Mae Respicio Koerner

The year 2006 marked the centennial of Filipino migration to the United States, when 15 migrant workers called sakadas arrived in Hawaii to work on the islands’ sugar plantations. Today the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines exists in Southern California. In the 1920s, the first substantial wave of newcomers settled in downtown Los Angeles, eventually migrating to areas just northwest of downtown, a district now designated by the city as Historic Filipinotown. The majority of early Filipino settlers were males who found employment in service-oriented industries, including work as janitors, dishwashers, and houseboys. Filipino Americans now contribute to all aspects of life and culture and live in virtually every Los Angeles neighborhood and suburb, including Eagle Rock, Cerritos, Glendale, Carson, and West Covina.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

History of the Philippine Islands

History of the Philippine Islands, Vol. I & II
by Antonio de Morga

Morga suffered important failures in both his military and political capacities. The same cannot be said for his work as historian. In 1609, he published the work for which he is now remembered — Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Events in the Philippine Isles). This work, perhaps the best account of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines written during that period, is based partly on documentary research, partly on keen observation, and partly on Morga's personal involvement and knowledge.

The history was published in two volumes, both in 1609 by Casa de Geronymo Balli, in Mexico City. (The work had circulated for years before this in manuscript form.) New Spain Viceroy Luis de Velasco authorized the publication and granted Morga the sole right to publish it for ten years, on April 7, 1609. On the same date, Fray García Guerra, archbishop of Mexico, approved the publication of the work. The history covers the years from 1493 to 1603. Political, social, and economic phases of life, both among the natives and their conquerors, are treated. Morga's official position allowed him access to many government documents.

The work so impressed Philippine independence hero José Rizal (1861-96), himself a man of letters and of action, that he decided to annotate it and publish a new edition. He began work on this in London, completing it in Paris in 1890. He wrote:

If the book (Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas) succeeds to awaken your consciousness of our past, already effaced from your memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered, then I have not worked in vain, and with this as a basis, however small it may be, we shall be able to study the future.
An English translation by E.H. Blair and J.A. Robertson was published in Cleveland in 1907, and an edition edited by J.S. Cummins was published by the Hakluyt Society in 1971.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Although the American anti-slavery movement had existed at least as long as the nation itself, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) galvanized public opinion as nothing had before. The book sold 10,000copies in its first week and 300,000 in its first year. Its vivid dramatization of slavery’s cruelties so aroused readers that it is said Abraham Lincoln told Stowe her work had been a catalyst for the Civil War.

Today the novel is often labeled condescending, but its characters—Tom, Topsy, Little Eva, Eliza, and the evil Simon Legree—still have the power to move our hearts. Though “Uncle Tom” has become a synonym for a fawning black yes-man, Stowe’s Tom is actually American literature’s first black hero, a man who suffers for refusing to obey his white oppressors. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a living, relevant story, passionate in its vivid depiction of the cruelest forms of injustice and inhumanity—and the courage it takes to fight against them.

Harriet Beecher Stowe first published her groundbreaking novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852 as an outcry against slavery after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. The book sold more copies than any book other than the Bible and caused Abraham Lincoln to exclaim upon meeting her, during the Civil War, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

American Legacy

American Legacy: The United States Constitution and Other Essential Documents of American Democracy

American Legacy is an 80-page booklet that comprises the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence together with passages from other documents that encompass essential ideas of American democracy. The documents are arranged chronologically beginning with the Mayflower Compact.

Included are excerpts from such documents as:
  • The Federalist
  • Chief Justice John Marshall's decision in Marbury v. Madison
  • George Washington's "Farewell Address"
  • Thomas Jefferson's first inaugural address
  • Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?"
  • Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address
  • The Gettysburg Address
  • The Emancipation Proclamation
  • Learned Hand's "The Spirit of Liberty"
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream"
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Uprising

The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington
by David Sirota

A work of investigative journalism, The Uprising is a firsthand narrative account inside America's new populist movement, from the streets of New York City to the halls of Microsoft to the Mexican border.

David Sirota, a 32-year-old progressive activist and journalist, spent a year on the road chronicling what he thinks are the stirrings of a mass revolt against the wealthy and the powerful. He may not have the Establishment quaking in its Guccis, but his always energetic, often ironic reporting certainly made the quest worthwhile…The Uprising is a hard book to dislike or dismiss. Sirota reports cleverly and in pleasing detail about a complex world of political conflict that the journalistic throng obsessed with presidential candidates and their handlers seldom notices.