Saturday, February 19, 2011

Last Day to Enter Cafe Press Int'l Giveaway...East Europe Challenge info!

Just a note to remind you that today is the last day to enter the Cafe Press giveaway, wherein the winner selects $50 worth of merchandise, and gets free international shipping as well!

Please note:  Eastern European Reading Challenge participants are NOT automatically entered, you must still leave a comment to enter. 

A few book recommendations:

The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas, a Scandinavian literary fiction title that is really amazing.  I hesitated to review it here, as it's difficult to find; however, if you are up for a search for a subtle, quiet, yet tension-filled character study, it's well worth your efforts.  The title was recommended to me by Peter Geye, author of Safe From The Sea

The gist of the story is a competent but lonely woman caring for her mentally-challenged younger brother in rural Norway.  The story is told through his eyes, and how he interprets events that occur in their life is fascinating.  As a stranger enters the scene, things change that he cannot understand, leading to a disturbing and compelling conflict.  An excellent novel....

I'm currently reading Thomas Bernhard's Prose, which could be subtitled, Really Smart Guys Who Think Far Too Much.  It's a German translation that has been mentioned on numerous literary sites...I find myself giggling and grieving for the people in this complicated little collection of seven short stories.  As far as I can tell, they aren't linked, but I'm only half way through it.  A great read so far, with lots of word play and symbolism throughout. 

Additionally, two great giveaways coming up in March...stay tuned for an international giveaway of Wave of Terror from Theodore Odrach, and a new US-only giveaway for Algonquin's latest title, West of Here.

By the way, are you nerdy enough to have a favorite font?  Prefer a sans-serif font?  Do you even know what a serif is?  If you fit that geeky description (as I do), you might find this article to be particularly interesting in regard to how you retain information based on what font you are reading---

Lastly, for a laugh, check out the fake trailer for a fake British movie from last week's Saturday Night a fan of British crime shoes, this one killed us:

Oops!  One more thing....came across a list of "Rules" for a college art department:  Corita Kent's Rules and Hints for Students and Teachers.  An excellent set of ideas that could be beneficial to just about anyone...the best:
  • find a place you trust and then try trusting it awhile
  • consider everything an experiment
  • nothing is a mistake, there's no win and no fail, there's only make
  • don't try to create and analyze at the same time, they are different processes
  • be happy whenever you can, manage it.  Enjoy yourself, it's lighter than you think.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bye Bye Birdie-Hello CAFO!

Bye Bye Birdie

Reuters reported in January that the thousands of starlings found dead near South Yankton, SD were the result of poisoning by the USDA. The original news link:
Naturally, I found the idea of poisoning the birds appalling, and was disgusted that a government agency supported by tax dollars would not only condone the action but provide the poison and apply it on behalf of the feedlot owner. Of course, the recent spate of mass bird deaths (in AK) and other dramatic animal deaths worldwide came to mind. In the case of South Dakota, the first thing that concerned me was the poison that might remain in the dead birds could conceivably be eaten by a pet or another animal, or worse, pollute a nearby river. Thus, the last few weeks I spent time investigating the practice, and the anger I felt was replaced by confusion. It appears that the problem is far more complex.

Starling. Image:
First, the problem. European Starlings were the specifically targeted birds. There doesn’t appear to be a fan-club for Starlings, as even avid bird lovers agree that they are an invasive species known to overwhelm a habitat, force other birds (included endangered species) from nests to take them over, and leave extreme amounts of excrement wherever they congregate. Their flocks range from the hundreds to hundreds of thousands, and their evening ritual formations can darken the sky. Starlings also carry diseases (as do most birds) that can be spread to humans by direct contact or through the meat of animals that have eaten feed contaminated by the excrement.
In this case, a feedlot in Nebraska reported to the USDA that Starlings were indeed contaminating their cattle feed. However, while the Reuters report notes that the cattle lot operator was concerned with disease, my interview with Ricky Woods, the APHIS/USDA worker who was cited in the original article and who handled the abatement procedure, revealed another aspect of the problem. While he agreed that the operator was concerned about excessive feces on farm equipment, he added that the more pressing issue that led to the poisoning was that the Starlings, a flock of 5000 who had begun roosting on the feedlot, were eating massive quantities of grain. Woods stated that on average, 1000 starlings will eat 40 pounds of cattle feed per day, meaning that the operator was losing 200 pounds of cattle feed onsite in a single day (three tons per month). Admittedly this would be an expensive issue for a feedlot operator (Woods).

Woods explained the procedure for poisoning the starlings, per USDA regulations. An operator can call out a USDA representative to examine the problem and confirm the issue of the starlings, estimating the flock size and that the damage is a viable concern. Then, on three separate occasions, the USDA rep will do a preliminary bait test with cracked corn (no poison), to observe whether the starlings will accept the bait and to confirm that no endangered species are part of the flock to be poisoned. If it is determined that the flock is made up of starlings and not other birds, a precise amount of the poison DRC-1339 is applied to a specific, confined area (and not in open pasturage). The birds usually die immediately (it affects their nervous system), and in this case, it was an anomaly that they flew away to die near Yankton.

The poison itself is clearly labeled: “high acute toxicity to nontarget birds and aquatic invertebrates”, with the specific direction that its runoff is considered hazardous and the poison should not be applied to or near water (DRC label). However, if it is used within the feedlot, in the tons of waste that form a semi-liquid sludge, couldn’t the poison still spread? After all, what is done with the manure from a CAFO lot? It varies between lagoons that serve as holding basins or liquefied to be sprayed into the air to facilitate evaporation (Imhoff).

In November, 2001, Audubon presented an essay by Ted Williams that explores the role of the USDA and their representatives (APHIS) in baiting birds using DRC-1339. His approach to the matter seems fairly balanced:

"APHIS doesn't casually festoon the American landscape with biocides. In controlled experiments it has been killing blackbirds with rice laced with DRC-1339, a short-lived, rapidly metabolized poison with a long track record of effectiveness, safety, and selectivity. For 30 years DRC-1339 has been successfully used on ravens, crows, pigeons, starlings, cowbirds, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, magpies, and sundry gulls. Because it is quickly metabolized, the possibility of secondary poisoning (in which a bird or mammal dies from eating a stricken blackbird) is remote. Direct mortality of nontargets is probably inevitable but, in this case at least, utterly unacceptable in any quantity because the proposed program is basically a political gesture that is unlikely to succeed…"

In the situation he was describing, sunflower growers were complaining about blackbirds. However, the similarity between situations leads to a similar conclusion: how successful can the abatement of the starlings be if it’s likely that another flock will take their place? Is it worth the risk to nontargeted, and possibly endangered, birds that may be mixed in the flock?

Woods admits that the procedure is not common and it was the only time this year he’s employed the poison bait, having done so twice last year in his designated region. Rather, he said, the USDA instructs feedlots to close doors and take steps to prevent the birds from roosting. However, are they required to implement such a simple solution as covering the cattle feed? In this case, it wasn’t deemed reasonable. Interestingly, he also said that the USDA will respond to any size farm, small or massive, that feels their cattle or crops are in danger. Lost expense and possibility of disease have been used to justify the action so far.

However, one advantage of the APHIS/USDA policy especially warrants mentioning. In their cooperative work with farmers and feedlot operators, their expertise and intervention prevents an operator from taking matters into their own hands, poisoning indiscriminately and “off the record” using more dangerous methods that can’t be tracked.

However, the events can be examined further and lead to an ethical quandary. First, the operator was a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). A CAFO is quite simply, not a farm. It is a factory that processes, in this case, beef. A CAFO normally gets special tax breaks and government subsidies to operate, yet at the same time are not required to meet Clean Air or Safety Requirements as an industrial facility does. In most cases, cattle in a CAFO rarely see the outdoors, instead being penned up and given steroids to ensure fast growth (in some cases, the animals are unable to carry their own weight by the distortion of their genetics).

With disease being cited as a concern for the poisoning, it should be noted what cattle are fed in a CAFO facility. In his new book, CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, Dan Imhoff quotes two studies, one from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the other from Environmental Health Perspectives that explain exactly what is in some cattle feed: chicken feathers, poultry excrement, and ‘various minerals and metals’. Additionally, ‘poultry litter’, the bedding on which confined chickens reside for six weeks before slaughter, is fed to the cattle. The litter itself can contain “the rendered remains of slaughtered cattle” (CAFO 144). Given the potential for disease implicit in the excrement already, the additional additives of antibiotics and pharmaceutics given to both chickens and cattle to boost their size and prevent illness prior to slaughter seem to make the Starlings potential impact much less than what the CAFO is already sustaining.

Consider too, the feed that the Starlings were said to consume. If a feedlot is losing three tons of feed in a single month due to the birds, just how big is the facility? The amount of feed provided must be exponentially higher, meaning that this CAFO factory is creating tons of its own cattle excrement to deal with. One environmental study based of a proposed moderate-sized CAFO in South Dakota estimated 684 tons of manure per day, a total of 62 million gallons of manure (Weida 11). Woods would not identify the cattle lot, but did confirm it was a moderate-sized CAFO. Comparatively, could the Starlings’ waste possibly come close to what the cattle are putting out? The cattle waste likely contains the same chemicals that went in: antibiotics, steroids, estrogen, as well as any bacteria left from the animals they consumed. Can a CAFO that creates such a vast amount of fecal matter complain about that of a flock of birds? Are workers, already working in crowded and filthy conditions where up to half of the cattle carry E. Coli, really be at risk by the possibility of avian disease from the Starlings? In CAFO, Michael Pollan’s essay “Power Steer: On the Trail of Industrial Beef” traces the very path of a feedlot animal from calf to slaughter, pointing out the various avenues for disease to be transmitted into the food chain.

Incidentally, it should be noted that smaller, traditional farms are less likely to have a need to poison Starlings. By means of their smaller size and pasturing methods, manure is not concentrated as densely. Close contact with farm animals prevents the mass use of antibiotics as a preventive, instead using it discriminately on an animal that is actually sick and can be monitored. With smaller farms, feeding is intensely observed to prevent the loss of expensive feed, and the food is kept covered. A small farm couldn’t sustain the loss of feed, while a CAFO considers it an operating cost and makes no attempt to cover their cattle feed, leaving vast amounts of animal offal and additives outdoors to be mixed by tractor.

In addition, consider that the food placed for the cattle is actually attracting the birds in the first place. SRAP Communications, a nonprofit organization promoting Socially Responsible Agriculture, stated in an email that “this is one more indication that industrial feeding operations are not sustainable--because they are not even compatible with the normal wildlife in semi-urban settings. Rather than incur the cost to responsibly manage their feed, the CAFO operators prefer to kill the birds that are drawn to their irresponsibly stored material” (SRAP).

Another sort of abatement that could potentially be implemented instead of poison is a auditory pest repellent that is “a combination of distress cries and predator bird sounds,” that would succeed in making “starlings, grackles and black birds feel uncomfortable living in the area, driving them to a more friendly location”(Powell). Used in conjunction with visual preventatives (include “terror eyes”) and spike installation to prevent roosting, a CAFO could reduce the appeal of their lot by non-chemical means.

Both sides can make a compelling case: the fear of disease being brought to our dinner tables definitely gets our attention. But at what point is intervention necessary, and can it be avoided? While the USDA’s APHIS department was straightforward in answering my questions, their scope of nuisance-animal and predator abatement is wide. In response to my questions, Imhoff responded via email:

We see this war against nature approach applied by the USDA in other aspects of agriculture. Wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions are killed across the country every year to protect ranchers and their animals. Despite the dubious outcomes, the real irony is that many of those calves that are being protected at the expense of wild predators end their days knee-deep in feces, in a barren lot with only cows and starlings around for companionship and scenery. And there are many livestock rearing cultures around the world that have learned to successfully coexist with predators.

As consumers, how do we decide? Some homeowners regularly use insecticides and poisons to combat weeds, gophers, and other unwanted pests. Does the average person who can purchase Roundup or another common chemical off the shelf first determine a specific bait area, verify that non-target species are protected, and follow up with preventive measures? On the other hand, can an animal factory that produces tons of contaminated fecal matter in an unnaturally dense environment really complain about the consequential activities of the birds drawn to their massive amounts of unprotected feed?

--------------essay by Amy Henry

Works Cited:

DRC 1339 product label, USDA

Imhoff, Daniel. CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories. California: Earth Aware, 2010. Print.

Imhoff, Daniel. Email response. 1/31/2011

Powell, Lani. “Starlings: Information….” Professional Pest Control. Commercial website.

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. Nonprofit web site. Email response. 2/3/2011

Weida, Dr. William J. “Comments on the Potential Regional Economic Effects of Large Feedlots”. Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. Aug 24, 2001.

Williams, Ted. “Red Baiting”. Audubon. Nov 2001. New York: National Audubon Society.

Woods, Ricky. APHIS representative. United States Department of Agriculture. Phone interview 1/26/11, 1/31/11

Friday, February 11, 2011

International Giveway from Cafe Press! $50 merchandise and free ship!

The very generous people at Cafe Press have offered a great giveaway...and it's international to boot!

The prize is $50 of merchandise from their website, where you can find all kinds of great gifts, or even personalize some of your own.  Then, they'll even ship it to you for free.  CafePress is the ultimate destination for personalized gifts where you can make a -t-shirt or customize a teddy bear!  For instance, mugs, cool posters, and even cool baby gear is all available, and they have images and phrases from popular tv shows.

They have lots of literary themed shirts and totes, including posters of famous quotes, Tolstoy and Hemingway tote bags, and lots of Russian and Eastern European items (want a shirt with a map from our challenge?).  Their messenger bags are very cool too.
I got a gift from them too (my perk!) and got two cool  t-shirts for my husband and son.  With your $50, you could easily get a tote and t-shirt, or two totes and a mug.  Go there, explore!  Make a wish list!  And come back to enter to win here via easy entry requirements below!

The rules:  Contest ends February 21, 2011 at 9pm PAC time.  Random generator chooses a winner. 
  • You must make it possible to contact you because you only get 48 hours to respond. 
  • You must be a follower of The Black Sheep Dances
  • Enter by leaving a comment below, only one comment per person.
  • Important:  in your comment, tell me one item you'd purchase if you could.*
 Thanks to CafePress for letting me host this giveaway....

*You could customize an Eastern European Reading Challenge tote if you were truly devoted!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Black Life by Dorothea Lasky (poetry)

Dorothea Lasky’s new book, Black Life, brims with the chaos of real life and real people, fighting to express themselves when shiny and happy words aren’t sufficient. A unifying component of the poems is frequent references to her father’s battle with dementia, and sprinkled among these are tiny images, made all the more terrifying for their brevity: helpless rest home patients with bald baby heads being beaten by staff. Fire as both purifier and destroyer also makes appearances in unexpected contexts.

Talking about life, she twists around the state of health into the dimensions of inner and outer well-being, with the two often in fierce juxtaposition. She muses on Emily Dickinson’s muse, on anorexia, and refers to pop culture as freely as old boyfriends and husbands. Her voice alters from that of a hyperactive teen, to a stalker, to an overly-kind ghost.  In all of it, she is seldom quiet or sedate.

In frequent references to poetry, she contrasts the kinds of poetry that exist: pretty and intangible or ugly and real. Therein, she makes it appear that it would be worse to be ignored than blasphemed, and that flowery prose often hides an uncertain intent. From “I Am a Politician”,

I am a politician
Just watch:
I will be very nice to you
But when I turn around I will write the creepiest poems about you that
Have ever been written.
Or worse yet,
I will write nothing about you at all
And will instead
Write about the water cascading endlessly in the ocean
Full of flowers and lovers at their very best...

She doesn’t hide from revealing insecurity, such that her poems often appear inspired by it. In “I Just Feel So Bad”, she expresses both loneliness as well as the concept of needing pain in order to function, trying to understand what she has to give and what she can take when thinking “nice” thoughts doesn’t work. Her answer is in the final phrases:

I have no home
No bread
I am destitute
But inside me
Is a little voice
That must speak
It gets louder when you listen

"ARS Poetica” has a kinesthetic energy to it, almost as if it's the adverbs that matter most...being whatever needs being, but in a big way.

There is a romantic abandon in me always
I want to feel the dread for others
I only feel it through song
Only through song am I able to sum up so many words into a few
Like when he said I am no good
I am no good
Goodness is not the point anymore
Holding on to things
Now that’s the point

The collection is varied and intense.  Being about a decade older than Lasky, there were moments when I wanted to tell her to relax a bit and slow down.  To realize that not all problems will be resolved as quickly as we'd like, but that it's okay to wait them out.  The vivid descriptions and staccato action at times felt like it was too edgy to get close to, like the wild person at the party who gets the attention and the laughs but who is terrifying to be alone with for more than a moment.  Yet the liveliness prevails and relays an enthusiasm that I hope essentially remains.
Special thanks to Wave Books for the Review Copy.
Keep an eye on Friday:  Big Giveaway coming!
CafePress is the ultimate destination for personalized gifts where you can make a shirt or customize a teddy bear!  You can pick out literary tote bags, or design your own Black Sheep Dances tote as well.  Wouldn't you like one?  LOL

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Supermarket in California", Ginsberg reading aloud

Just for a kick, Allen Ginsberg reading his poem "Supermarket in California" and discussing Whitman.
Somehow his monotone delivery feels exactly right.

(Still not loving Whitman but like this poem, alot.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Did I Get Here by Tony Hawk (nonfiction)

The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO, with Pat Hawk

Having two sons who used to watch that awful show, Jackass, I know who Tony Hawk is, and can understand how he’s become such an icon in both sports and entertainment. How can you not like a guy riding a bike through a loop de loop, into the ocean, wearing a chicken suit? Not taking himself too seriously seems to be his attitude, and he explains how that has worked for him in this new book, How Did I Get Here? You can almost hear him laugh as he asks that, as his business smarts and wise choices have made him one of the wealthiest non-mainstream sports personas out there despite his low-key image.

As a franchise, he’s been successful, seeming to catch on to pop culture trends (like Twitter) early on and manipulating them successfully. Raising a family as well as his business hasn’t been easy, but mistakes that were made were usually overshadowed by successes soon after. A team mentality endures in Tony Hawk Inc., which sponsors skate boarding and other sports events as well as designing merchandise to market to fans. Some considered him a sell-out for selling Tony Hawk bedspreads for little kids, but he justifies it expertly, explaining that given the popularity of skateboarding, somebody was going to make little kids bedspreads with skateboards no matter what, so why not do it and make them cool? This justification goes on into his endorsement of numerous other products.

Going beyond the fame though, he also creates the Tony Hawk Foundation that raises money for different nonprofits and assists low-income areas to create community centers for skating as a means of socialization, positive peer influence (yes, but while he hangs out with Bam Margera!), and exercise.

So, does the book offer savvy business advice for other wannabe entrepreneurs? Not really-and it doesn’t intend to. Instead it’s more of a history book of the era of skateboarding, MTV, social networking, and hoodies. A snapshot of the time period, it is enjoyable to read but hardly in-depth. A fan would enjoy it, and he does give some valuable advice (although the generic kind). I found it a pretty light read but did enjoy seeing how a brand name is made and the challenges that come with what is essentially marketing yourself.   He seems a genuinely nice guy with refreshing honesty and candor, and that may be why one of his suggestions for success involves having good lawyers!

Special thanks to Wiley for the Review Copy.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Two giveaways ended this weekend, and the $15 Book Depository GC goes to Anna in Poland.  I'll email her and if I don't get a response, the random generator will select another name.  I hope BD delivers in Poland!!!

The winner of the Luis Sepulveda book is Sarah E.-I'm contacting her as well!

The next giveaway is a big one-but it's US only.  More details soon, but you may want to take a look at the book goodies at and imagine having a gift certificate there!  Both of the cool posters shown here are available at their site, as well as tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, etc. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith

Be prepared to get sucked into this new thriller from Keigo Higashino. While he’s already a big name in Japan, this is his first book translated into English. It’s best called a police procedural rather than just a crime novel, because every little detail Higashino includes has a point in the story. What’s most unique is as soon as you begin, the murder of a man occurs, and you know exactly who did it. Straight up, it’s right there, demanding you pay attention!

The mystery of the novel comes into play as the crime is investigated by the police force as well as two academics, one a physicist and the other a mathematician, both former competitors who are eager to prove their superiority to each other as well as the police detectives that they look down upon. Nothing plays out as ordinary, although the characters can be considered regular people. Rather than an all-seeing Hercule Poirot type of solution, the novel is instead about observation of facts and the interpretation of the tiniest details. Because of the amount of intricate details, sometimes the narrative slows down. In fact, at a few points, you may even be distracted and feel as if you are balancing your checkbook. Yet that’s the trick Higasino plays: the monotonous details are the most revealing and ultimately solve the crime.

In addition to the mystery, the author builds credible characters, and makes their motives always remain a bit unclear. At times, while knowing ‘whodunit’, I still found myself questioning what I already knew, and wondering how much I assumed.  Seeing a snapshot of the life of middle-class Japan, with its emphasis on decorum, routine, and reputation, makes a cryptic setting for the murder and its repercussions.

Two factors bear mentioning: one, despite the complexity, the pace of the novel is subtle and quiet. This isn’t an episode of CSI; there are no car chases or explosions. An intellectual challenge for the reader, it’s as quiet as a crossword puzzle and much more complicated. Additionally, despite the initial murder (it was a bad guy, after all), there is no gore or expletives. None of the skin-crawling vulgarity or horrific crime scenes that some crime novels rely on appear in this story.  To be honest, this is a classy crime novel, and I hope more of the series is translated into English, soon.

Special thanks to Minotaur for the Advanced Review Copy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tashkent: Forging a Soviet City by Paul Stronski

City planning often seems to be a new concept: a trend towards community-oriented design features that are usually intended to better a neighborhood or development by particular ordinances. For example, in my area, the housing boom of the 1980s led to massive building without much consideration of long-term community cohesiveness. After that bubble burst, a “new” trend arrived, requiring builders to consider small design enhancements to afford a better feel to a city. Encouraging front porches, open space, altering lot layouts, and keeping garage doors from being seen from the main streets were ideas encouraged to prevent the cookie-cutter home styles that arrived with the Baby Boom of the 1950s (think Hicksville, NY).

However, in the past, city planning was not considered a trend at all. Especially with the expansion West, cities were, at one point, often planned around where the city buildings, parks, and access roads would lie, and then the housing was built around that. One especially fascinating account of city planning that is unlike anything I’ve read before is Paul Stronski’s book Tashkent: Forging a Soviet City. Stronski compiles the details of how this city was planned from both a civil and structural aspect, right down to an artistic vision of the daily life of its residents. This was not small scale planning! A political endeavor from the beginning, it was an ideological effort to demonstrate Soviet superiority and show the Western world the advancement that the Socialists confidently intended to promote.

While the book covers a great deal of the planning stages, I’m going to focus on two areas that were especially interesting to me. First was the concept of engineering and building codes: apparently even in Soviet Russia, builders wanted to cut corners! The area of Central Asia was already determined to be the site of previous deadly earthquakes, but officials felt that since a 7.0 earthquake hadn’t presumably occurred in a hundred years, they could lower the codes to only deal with the ramifications of a 7.0 earthquake instead of an 8.0 quake (as initially considered). This “small” difference in engineering, combined with hurried construction done on the cheap, with inferior materials, and built in ways that were not common to the builders (tilt-up construction was still something new in the region) left the city vulnerable to earthquake damage. Even when devastating earthquakes occurred nearby, officials were still bent on promoting an image rather than safety.

“Tashkent urban planners still concentrated most of their attention on designing monumental structures….building a compact and beautiful public space was a quicker and easier way to impress and ‘show the state’s care for’ its citizens than building apartments or schools for the population.”

No spoilers, but you can imagine how well that went, and what signaled the end of Tashkent.

Another intention in designing Tashkent was to show that Soviet rule had a cultural side, and that it would be open to permitting ethnic and artistic diversity. In detail, one section discusses how the city tried to incorporate cultural forms that would rival Europe. One woman, Tamara Khanum, was one of the “first Uzbek women to perform unveiled in the 1920s” and became a ‘People’s Artist of the USSR’. She performed in various languages and became a spokesperson for the advanced Tashkent culture. She, along with other women, were used to advance the Soviet cause by appearing to be images of female emancipation, at a time when the West had yet to acknowledge women’s rights.

While the book is heavily detailed in discussing the planning and construction stages of Tashkent, it also sheds light on the Soviet mindset towards propaganda and their intentions. A city that few have ever heard of, Tashkent seems an anomaly in the history of Soviet rule, especially given what was going on in Siberia to the North. I think that is what I liked best about it: it exposes another facet of the era that I hadn’t run across in reading other history books.

Special thanks to Maria Sticco of the University of Pittsburgh Press for the Review Copy.