100 books like Ape to Apollo

By David Bindman,

Here are 100 books that Ape to Apollo fans have personally recommended if you like Ape to Apollo. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of There Are No Slaves in France: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

Sue Peabody’s book on the death of the “free soil principle” in France is a milestone in legal history. Beginning in 1315, when Louis X signed the letters patent that forever associated the words French and France with the eradication of slavery, anyone who was bonded or a serf was supposedly “free” when stepping foot in France. This tenet began to fall apart in 1716, when the then Regent created a loophole for slaveowners returning to France with their enslaved servants. Peabody takes us deep into the legality (and illegality) of slavery on French soil as well as several illustrative court cases. There are No Slaves in France is a model of how archive-extracted research can be woven into a riveting and revealing story. A must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between mercantilism, race, and the legal statutes that created and legislated different categories of people.  

By Sue Peabody,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked There Are No Slaves in France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There Are No Slaves in France examines the paradoxical emergence of political antislavery and institutional racism in the century prior to the French Revolution. Sue Peabody shows how the political culture of late Bourbon France created ample opportunities for contestation over the meaning of freedom. Based on various archival sources, this work will be of interest not only to historians of slavery and France, but to scholars interested in the emergence of
modern culture in the Atlantic world.


Book cover of The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

Roxanne Wheeler’s The Complexion of Race occupies an important place in both our libraries. Rare are the books that deal with the complexities of human complexions with such subtlety. Wheeler does not start off by assuming the existence of a monological or commonly shared understanding of race; she charts the numerous causal flows that produced the early-modern discussion of the human, including the “empire of climate,” natural history (physiology and anatomy), and the fact that the British (Protestant) way of life became the benchmark for measuring all things foreign. 

By Roxann Wheeler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complexion of Race as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1723 Journal of a Voyage up the Gambia, an English narrator describes the native translators vital to the expedition's success as being "Black as Coal." Such a description of dark skin color was not unusual for eighteenth-century Britons-but neither was the statement that followed: "here, thro' Custom, (being Christians) they account themselves White Men." The Complexion of Race asks how such categories would have been possible, when and how such statements came to seem illogical, and how our understanding of the eighteenth century has been distorted by the imposition of nineteenth and twentieth century notions of race on…


Book cover of Medicalizing Blackness: Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

This groundbreaking book takes the reader into the forgotten world of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century medicine, especially as it relates to the enslaved peoples of the New World (from the Southern United States to the wider Caribbean). One cannot help but hear the first examples of “race norming” or “adjusting” in Hogarth’s study of how white doctors saw pathology, treatment, and various diseases themselves as affecting different categories of people in different ways. Medicalizing Blackness allows us to see how doctors transformed the New World into an enormous laboratory that not only generated new knowledge, but created structures of surveillance and control that became part and parcel of medical literature and practice.

By Rana A. Hogarth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Medicalizing Blackness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1748, as yellow fever raged in Charleston, South Carolina, doctor John Lining remarked, ""There is something very singular in the constitution of the Negroes, which renders them not liable to this fever."" Lining's comments presaged ideas about blackness that would endure in medical discourses and beyond. In this fascinating medical history, Rana A. Hogarth examines the creation and circulation of medical ideas about blackness in the Atlantic World during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She shows how white physicians deployed blackness as a medically significant marker of difference and used medical knowledge about black bodies to improve…


Book cover of Dark Side of the Light: Slavery and the French Enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

The philosopher and polemicist Sala-Molins fired a bow shot across Enlightenment scholarship with this book in 1992. In an era when most French scholars of the Enlightenment continued to study (and valorize) the figureheads of the era, Sala-Molins attributed the supposed silence of the philosophes regarding the horrors of chattel slavery to deep-seated racism. More polemically he called out individual thinkers such as Voltaire and Montesquieu, the latter of whom Sala-Molins memorably called a négrier or slave trader. Peu importe or little does it matter that the book itself is rife with historical inaccuracies. The Dark Side of the Light was and is a powerful cri de coeur directed at scholars of the eighteenth century, a plea for them to look more carefully at the legacies – good and bad – that we now associate with the Enlightenment. 

By Louis Sala-Molins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dark Side of the Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau and Montesquieu are best known for their humanist theories and liberating influence on Western civilization. But as renowned French intellectual Louis Sala-Molins shows, Enlightenment discourses and scholars were also complicit in the Atlantic slave trade, becoming instruments of oppression and inequality.

Translated into English for the first time, Dark Side of the Light scrutinizes Condorcet's Reflections on Negro Slavery and the works of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Diderot side by side with the Code Noir (the royal document that codified the rules of French Caribbean slavery) in order to uncover attempts to uphold the humanist project…


Book cover of Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds

Janet Vertesi Author Of Shaping Science: Organizations, Decisions, and Culture on NASA's Teams

From my list on NASA and space exploration, from a human perspective.

Who am I?

Also known as “Margaret Mead among the Starfleet,” I’m a Princeton professor who has been embedded with NASA missions for two decades as a social scientist. I’ve observed missions to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, and beyond; consulted with NASA as a sociological expert; and written two books, with a third on the way. Growing up, I always loved science and technology, but not just for the ideas: for the people behind the findings, the passion they bring to their work, and the ways in which culture and politics play a role in how science gets done. Writing about this, I hope to humanize science and make it accessible for everyday readers.

Janet's book list on NASA and space exploration, from a human perspective

Janet Vertesi Why did Janet love this book?

Did you know there is a research center in Utah made for scientists to pretend they are living on Mars? Or that deep-sea submarines and arctic explorers are supposed to be giving us a taste for finding life on Jupiter’s moon Europa?

My friend and co-author, Anthropologist Lisa Messeri, followed planetary scientists to the unlikeliest of places to witness them transform the planets they study from distant pinpricks in the sky or traces on a graph, into places we can explore or even inhabit.

I loved feeling like I was traveling alongside her as she visits remote telescopes in Chile, Mars camp in the desert, and even sits next to computer scientists building Google Mars to show how our dreams of the extraterrestrial are made right here on Earth.

By Lisa Messeri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Placing Outer Space as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Placing Outer Space Lisa Messeri traces how the place-making practices of planetary scientists transform the void of space into a cosmos filled with worlds that can be known and explored. Making planets into places is central to the daily practices and professional identities of the astronomers, geologists, and computer scientists Messeri studies. She takes readers to the Mars Desert Research Station and a NASA research center to discuss ways scientists experience and map Mars. At a Chilean observatory and in MIT's labs she describes how they discover exoplanets and envision what it would be like to inhabit them. Today's…


Book cover of Intimate Indigeneities: Race, Sex, and History in the Small Spaces of Andean Life

Catherine J. Allen Author Of The Hold Life Has: Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community

From my list on Andean life, landscape, and personhood.

Who am I?

My connection with the Andean highlands of southern Peru stretches back to 1975 when I spent about a year in a small community of Quechua-speaking potato farmers and llama herders. I have returned there many times over the years, most recently in 2019. Its people, their way of life, and vision of the world are dear to my heart and are the subject of The Hold Life Has as well as a play, creative nonfiction, and, more recently, poetry. I love the way anthropology forces me to think outside the box and experience the world with different eyes, something I aim to convey in my work.

Catherine's book list on Andean life, landscape, and personhood

Catherine J. Allen Why did Catherine love this book?

What does it mean to be “indigenous”? The answer is never simple, and I particularly like the way Andrew Canessa approaches the question by drawing us into people’s lives in an Aymara-speaking community in highland Bolivia and exploring how the people themselves understand different ways of being indigenous in different contexts. In the process he shows how “indigenous” identity is complex and situationally defined.

By Andrew Canessa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Intimate Indigeneities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on extended ethnographic research conducted over the course of more than two decades, Andrew Canessa explores the multiple identities of a community of people in the Bolivian highlands through their own lived experiences and voices. He examines how gender, race, and ethnic identities manifest themselves in everyday interactions in the Aymara village. Canessa shows that indigeneity is highly contingent; thoroughly imbricated with gendered, racial, and linguistic identities; and informed by a historical consciousness. Addressing how whiteness and indianness are reproduced as hegemonic structures in the village, how masculinities develop as men go to the mines and army, and how…


Book cover of Kava: The Pacific Elixir: The Definitive Guide to Its Ethnobotany, History, and Chemistry

Lamont Lindstrom Author Of Tanna Times: Islanders in the World

From my list on kava (piper methysticum).

Who am I?

I first tasted kava in the colonial New Hebrides (Vanuatu today) in early 1978. Since then, I have returned to Vanuatu many times to carry out ethnographic and linguistic research on Tanna Island on a range of issues. Although firmly incorporated within global systems since explorer James Cook visited in 1774, Islanders have fiercely maintained their island culture and languages. In addition to kava and other traditional drug substances, I have published books and articles about local knowledge systems, “cargo cults,” contemporary chiefs, Islander experience in the Pacific War, urban migration, and early Pacific photography. Currently, I am Kendall Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa. 

Lamont's book list on kava (piper methysticum)

Lamont Lindstrom Why did Lamont love this book?

This is the kava Bible. Kava expert Vincent Lebot shares his comparative analysis of 247 kava cultivars collected from 55 Pacific islands to identify their morphological, chemical, and genetic characteristics—including the six major kavalactones responsible for kava’s physiological effects. Lebot’s research pinpointed kava’s origins in northern Vanuatu as a domesticated form of “wild kava” (Piper wichmannii). The book provides ethnographic information about the religious and social significance of kava across the Pacific, including origin myths, ceremonial and recreation uses, its ethnomedical applications, and growing importance as a cash crop. The authors predicted, successfully, that kava will become the next world drug.

By Vincent Lebot, Mark Merlin, Lamont Lindstrom

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kava as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

• The most comprehensive book ever written on nature's most effective stress-relieving plant.

• First paperback edition of the classic comprehensive text originally published by Yale University Press.

This complete guide to kava summarizes the literature and research on a plant that is now considered comparable or superior to anti-stress prescription drugs, and describes its use in the religious, political, and economic life of the Pacific islands for centuries. Beyond its soporific qualities kava is also used throughout the the Pacific as an analgesic, a diuretic, and an anesthetic. There is even evidence suggesting it is effective in the treatment…


Book cover of Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century

Elesha Coffman Author Of Margaret Mead: A Twentieth-Century Faith

From my list on Margaret Mead and her life.

Who am I?

Elesha Coffman writes about religion and ideas in twentieth century America. A journalist before she trained as a historian, she’s especially interested in the circulation of ideas—how they were communicated, how they were received, why some ideas gained traction and others did not. Her first book examined how a magazine, The Christian Century, helped define the religious tradition known as the Protestant mainline. She didn’t realize that Margaret Mead belonged to that tradition until she was invited to write about Mead for the Oxford Spiritual Lives series, billed as spiritual biographies of people who are famous for something other than being spiritual. Elesha lives in Texas, but she’d rather be at the beach in North Carolina.

Elesha's book list on Margaret Mead and her life

Elesha Coffman Why did Elesha love this book?

Margaret Mead belonged to a rambunctious generation of anthropologists who were trained by Franz Boas at Columbia. His star students were unconventional women—Mead, Ruth Benedict, Ella Deloria, and Zora Neal Hurston—who asked different questions and told different stories than any scholars before them. Were gender and race merely cultural constructions, and what would it take to overhaul them? How did Native Americans and Black Americans understand themselves, without the distortion of the white gaze? Could humans learn to live with their differences, or would the fascists win?

King unpacks the human drama in which these scholars participated on both the interpersonal and the global scale.

By Charles King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods of the Upper Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Winner
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

From an award-winning historian comes a dazzling history of the birth of cultural anthropology and the adventurous scientists who pioneered it—a sweeping chronicle of discovery and the fascinating origin story of our multicultural world.

A century ago, everyone knew that people were fated by their race, sex, and nationality to be more or less intelligent, nurturing, or warlike. But Columbia University professor Franz Boas looked at the data and decided everyone was wrong. Racial categories, he insisted, were biological fictions. Cultures did not come in neat packages…


Book cover of Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society

John Binns Author Of The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia: A History

From my list on the ancient Christian faith of Ethiopia.

Who am I?

I had visited many Eastern Orthodox churches across Eastern Europe and the Middle East for a research project, and finally came to Ethiopia. Here I encountered a large and thriving Christian community which reached back to the earliest days of the church. Its location between the Middle East and East Asia and Africa as well as Europe has given it a distinctive way of living and worshipping which is unique in the Christian world – and overlooked by other churches. I’ve spent the last twenty years exploring this tradition which gives the rest of us a radically different understanding of faith.

John's book list on the ancient Christian faith of Ethiopia

John Binns Why did John love this book?

Ethiopia is a country with the second largest population in Africa. There are over 80 ethnic groups and languages, living in a region that includes the largest area of mountains in Africa and also the lowest point on the earth’s land surface. While this book tells the history of the Christian north, including the national epic which tells how Ethiopian kings are descended from Solomon of Israel, it also describes the culture and traditions of other societies which make up this fascinating country, and shows both the tensions and the creativity within Ethiopian society. 

By Donald N. Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greater Ethiopia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Combines history, anthropology and sociology to answer two major questions. Why did Ethiopia remain independent under the onslaught of European expansionism while other African political entities were colonized? And why must Ethiopia be considered a single cultural region despite its political, religious and linguistic diversity? Donald Levine's interdisciplinary study seeks to make a contribution both to Ethiopian interpretive history and to sociological analysis. In his preface, Levine examines Ethiopia since the overthrow of the monarchy in the 1970s.


Book cover of Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City

Andrew Lawler Author Of Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World's Most Contested City

From my list on grasping the conflict over Jerusalem.

Who am I?

Exploring what is hidden beneath our feet has been a long-time obsession of mine, a passion has taken me into subterranean Syrian tombs, Kurdish caves, Thai grave pits, and buried Assyrian palaces. Since I break things, I let others do the digging and I do the writing. I'm particularly drawn to places that can help explain why humans became the urban species we are today. What did they believe, think, eat, drink, and dream about? And I'll take a dusty and nearly vanished mudbrick Sumerian sanctuary in a remote Iraqi desert to a crowded Egyptian stone temple any day.

Andrew's book list on grasping the conflict over Jerusalem

Andrew Lawler Why did Andrew love this book?

There are many sweeping histories of Jerusalem, but this book tells the intimate stories of people and places that often get short shrift.

Teller takes us into the Arab as well as Jewish worlds of the Old City, and he serves as a gentle guide in the passionate and fraught politics of a city that, as he writes, “wears its history like a teenager wears a school uniform – joyless.”

By Matthew Teller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nine Quarters of Jerusalem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Original and illuminating ... what a good book this is' Jonathan Dimbleby

'A love letter to the people of the Old City' Jerusalem Post

In Jerusalem, what you see and what is true are two different things. Maps divide the walled Old City into four quarters, yet that division doesn't reflect the reality of mixed and diverse neighbourhoods. Beyond the crush and frenzy of its major religious sites, much of the Old City remains little known to visitors, its people overlooked and their stories untold. Nine Quarters of Jerusalem lets the communities of the Old City speak for themselves. Ranging…


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