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Human Smoke author to visit Lehigh Nov. 10-11



Nicholson Baker

Best-selling author Nicholson Baker will visit Lehigh November 10-11 to discuss his new and controversial blockbuster work Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization.

The book, which challenges the traditional view that World War II was inevitable, is described as, “A compelling work of nonfiction bound to provoke discussion and controversy—a wide-ranging, astonishingly fresh perspective on the political and social landscape that gave rise to World War II.” Baker’s closely researched study traces the war's most tragic and brutal and, as he suggests, avoidable storylines in a literary form new to American letters.

Baker will speak on Monday, November 10 at 7 p.m. in Whitaker Auditorium. He’ll join John Pettegrew, associate professor of history, and Seth Moglen, associate professor of English to discuss the violence of World War II and the art of writing history. The event is sponsored by the American Studies program, the Humanities Center, and the Departments of English and History.

On Tuesday, November 11, Baker will talk further on the topic in Linderman Library, Room 200 from 1:10-2:25 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

“This book couldn’t be more controversial, provocative, and timely,” says Pettegrew. “It argues that the war didn't have to happen, and certainly not in the mass murderous manner carried out through high-altitude bombing of whole civilian populations. I see the book as a moral intervention into the madness of total war-making. It's a historical indictment of U.S. over-reliance on airpower—a strategy that gave us ‘Shock and Awe’ and that belongs on a continuum with terrorism.”

A major literary figure, Baker is the author of seven novels and three previous works of nonfiction. He received the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award for his work Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper. Other titles include The Mezzanine, A Box of Matches, Fermata and Vox.

For a limited time, Human Smoke is available at the Lehigh University Bookstore at a discounted rate of $12.

--Tricia Long


Posted on Sunday, November 09, 2008

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