Amateurish historians often tell us that we must study the past to avoid repeating its mistakes. Such efforts rarely work out well. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, by contrast, offers an unusual, complex and thoughtful approach to history.
After decades, it's clear that the embargo of Cuba has had little political effect. George Schultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, called the embargo "a failure by any measure"; it has served only to help impoverish Cubans while doing nothing to make them freer.
There clearly has been a marked rise of interest in the Crusades since the start of the present war in Iraq--an interest spurred at least in part by President George W. Bush's talk of an American crusade against terror in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Up to this point, the renaissance in publications about the Crusades largely has been limited to works that fit squarely within traditional historical scholarship. Stark and Housley, on the other hand, provide Crusades volumes for an age in which information is targeted to distinct and splintered interest groups.
Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist known for his work in Haiti, has been to Liberia and planned to go back again in the fight against Ebola. According to Farmer, the outbreak of Ebola is a symptom of a very poor and weak health-care system in the three West African countries where it is spreading. In Liberia there is one physician per 100,000 people, compared to 240 in the United States. The president of Liberia points out that the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses more electricity each year than her whole country. Vaccines and drugs don’t exist because Ebola’s victims are poor and—so far—not very numerous (London Review of Books, October 23).