John Efron at Centre for Jewish Studies, UC Berkeley @ Townsend Center for the Humanities, Stephens Hall, #2340 Geballe Room
Dec 2 @ 6:00 pm

Efron_GermanJewry_F15German Jewry and the Allure of the Sephardic
John M. Efron
Book Presentation: German Jewry and the Allure of the Sephardic
6 pm Reception, 6:30 Lecture
Koret Professor of Jewish History at UC Berkeley, John Efron will read from his new book, German Jewry and the Allure of the Sephardic in conversation with Steven Zipperstein, the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University. The book explores the special place accorded to medieval Sephardic Jewry in modern German-Jewish culture, with a special focus on highly romanticized perceptions of Sephardic aesthetics.

Stimulating and provocative, this book demonstrates how the goal of this aesthetic self-refashioning was not assimilation but rather the creation of a new form of German-Jewish identity inspired by Sephardic beauty.

John M. Efron is the Koret Professor of Jewish History at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Medicine and the German Jews: A History and Defenders of the Race: Jewish Doctors and Race Science in Fin-de-Siècle Europe and the coauthor of The Jews: A History.

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Sheila Fitzpatrick at UC Berkeley @ Dwinelle Hall
Dec 3 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

On Stalin's Team jacketOn Stalin’s Team
The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics
Sheila Fitzpatrick

Book Talk

Stalin was the unchallenged dictator of the Soviet Union for so long that most historians have dismissed the officials surrounding him as mere yes-men and political window dressing. On Stalin’s Team overturns this view, revealing that behind Stalin was a group of loyal men who formed a remarkably effective team with him from the late 1920s until his death in 1953.

Drawing on extensive original research, Sheila Fitzpatrick provides the first in-depth account of this inner circle and their families, vividly describing how these dedicated comrades-in-arms not only worked closely with Stalin, whom they both feared and admired, but also constituted his social circle. Readers meet the wily security chief Beria, whom the rest of the team quickly had executed following Stalin’s death; Stalin’s number-two man, Molotov, who continued on the team even after his wife was arrested and exiled; the charismatic Ordzhonikidze, who ran the country’s industry with entrepreneurial flair; Andreev, who traveled to provincial purges while listening to Beethoven on a portable gramophone; and Khrushchev, who finally disbanded the team four years after Stalin’s death. Among the book’s surprising findings are that Stalin almost always worked with the team on important issues and that after his death the team managed a brilliant transition to a reforming collective leadership.

Taking readers from the cataclysms of the Great Purges and World War II to the paranoia of Stalin’s final years, On Stalin’s Team paints an entirely new picture of Stalin within his milieu—one that transforms our understanding of how the Soviet Union was ruled during much of its existence.

Sheila Fitzpatrick is professor of history at the University of Sydney, professor emerita at the University of Chicago, and the author of many books on the Soviet Union, including The Russian Revolution, Everyday Stalinism, Tear Off the Masks! (Princeton), and a memoir of Moscow in the 1960s, A Spy in the Archives.

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Jorgensen @ Politics and Prose @ Politics and Prose
Mar 5 @ 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Strange GlowMore than ever before, radiation is a part of our modern daily lives. We own radiation-emitting phones, regularly get diagnostic x-rays, such as mammograms, and submit to full-body security scans at airports. We worry and debate about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the safety of nuclear power plants. But how much do we really know about radiation? And what are its actual dangers? An accessible blend of narrative history and science, Strange Glow describes mankind’s extraordinary, thorny relationship with radiation, including the hard-won lessons of how radiation helps and harms our health. Timothy Jorgensen explores how our knowledge of and experiences with radiation in the last century can lead us to smarter personal decisions about radiation exposures today.

Jorgensen introduces key figures in the story of radiation—from Wilhelm Roentgen, the discoverer of x-rays, and pioneering radioactivity researchers Marie and Pierre Curie, to Thomas Edison and the victims of the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Tracing the most important events in the evolution of radiation, Jorgensen explains exactly what radiation is, how it produces certain health consequences, and how we can protect ourselves from harm. He also considers a range of practical scenarios such as the risks of radon in our basements, radiation levels in the fish we eat, questions about cell-phone use, and radiation’s link to cancer. Jorgensen empowers us to make informed choices while offering a clearer understanding of broader societal issues.

Investigating radiation’s benefits and risks, Strange Glow takes a remarkable look at how, for better or worse, radiation has transformed our society.

Timothy J. Jorgensen is associate professor of radiation medicine and director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program at Georgetown University. He lives with his family in Rockville, Maryland.