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The Longitude Blog

Havana

authorDue to recent changes in relations between Cuba and the United States, many books have been published about the island nation, but few have centered on its capital with the kaleidoscopic focus of award-winning author Mark Kurlansky’s Havana, A Subtropical Delirium. In accessible prose worthy of the elegant metropolis itself, Kurlansky, a longtime Caribbean correspondent, profiles Cuban music, literature, food and, of course, baseball. Kurlansky uses literary references to add color and context to his own experiences in Havana.

The Poetry of Place
CRB153In celebration of National Poetry Month, we're reading some of our favorite poets of place, including the renowned poet of the Caribbean, Derek Walcott, who passed away in March.   Collected Poems, 1948-1984. The St. Lucia-born Nobel laureate, who's been known to say he's "just an island boy," writes boggling, complicated, richly rhythmical poems -- which do, in fact, owe much to the oral traditions of Walcott's boyhood (but also to Homer, Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon and "The Wasteland"). Derek Walcott won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. The Portable Romantics.
Teufelsberg, Berlin
Teufelsberg1To get from downtown Berlin to Teufelsberg without a car, you take the 17-minute S-Bahn ride from Berlin Central Station to the Heerstrabe stop. Once there, you step onto the train platform and begin a 30-minute trek along a dirt path that meanders through an expanse of grass and up a hill. You might feel like you’re trespassing or heading into an abyss, but I promise, Teufelsberg waits for you. A man-made hill, Teufelsberg, German for “Devil’s Mountain,” sits atop a never completed Nazi military technical college.
An Interview with Doug Mack
DougIn his informative travelogue, The Not-Quite States of America, Doug Mack puts a magnifying glass over the United States' overseas territories and commonwealths: American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With this interview, he continues the conversation about these corners of America, asking important questions about independence, statehood and why Americans should care—and probably visit—these often overlooked destinations.
The Not-Quite States of America
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The journey begins with Mack in his gym shorts. It’s laundry day in his apartment in Minneapolis, and he’s sorting through some quarters, setting a few aside to add to his wife’s state quarter collection, which includes coins from the first incorporated state, Delaware (1787) to the last, Hawaii (1959). But there are a few empty slots in her cardboard portfolio, beyond Hawaii. “Oh, right,” Mack remembers, “We have territories.”

Behold the Dreamers
behold dreamers coverCameroonian writer Imbolo Mbue has lived in New York City for more than a decade. Her experiences in the city and the stories she’s gathered from other immigrants have given her plenty of material for her debut novel, Behold the Dreamers. An ambitious effort, the novel tells the tale of two Cameroonians living in New York City while taking baby steps to achieve the holy grail--American citizenship--on their way towards the American Dream. The novel starts in 2007, as the economy is gearing up to collapse, and follows Jende Jonga, a cab driver working illegally, and his wife Neni, a community college student who dreams of a future as a pharmacist.
The Alps
ALP51In his entertaining new history, Stephen O'Shea drives 500 miles through the Alps, crossing six countries while musing on the historic personalities who braved the forbidding range, including Napoleon, Hitler and James Bond. His account, The Alps, begins with the idea of the sublime and the Romantics who championed it--artists and writers whose works evoked the beauty and terror of the Alps. O’Shea himself admits to a fear of heights and carefully chronicles each hairpin turn as he snakes his way from Geneva to Trieste through dizzying high passes in his shiny muscle car.
An interview with Matt Sewell
singleWith pop-art watercolors and whimsical descriptions, Matt Sewell express the individual characters of 50 seabirds in his new book Penguins and Other Seabirds. His illustrations are so inviting, we had to learn more.
  Longitude. Are penguins fish or birds? …Just kidding. The idea for your book came this autocorrect question on Google. What, besides educating the general public, were your goals in producing this book? Sewell. Penguins are ace but it was also a really good chance for me to focus on seabirds in general there are so many around the world it was great way to get them in my canon.
A Litter of Polar Bear Books
ARC309On International Polar Bear Day Feb. 27, let us celebrate the charismatic creature with a few books for discerning (and concerned) readers. This Arctic roundup includes a biological overview, a graphic novel, a travelogue, a pictorial anthology and a children’s book.
La Turbie, France
ALP52Kindly contributed by Jonathan Arlan, author of the new book Mountain Lines, in which he narrates an inspirational trek through the French Alps that he undertook in 2015. Arlan overcomes apprehension, nerves, poor physical condition and days of bad weather as he slowly conquers the Grand Traverse route from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean. Along the way, the author meets friendly, decent people and experiences both true exhaustion and true exhilaration.