Graham Hutchings writes in his new book China 1949 that “historians have often used a single year as a prism through which to view key changes that are said to have shaped an era”. He goes on to observe (somewhat counterintuitively) that of the years of China’s Civil War from 1945 to 1949, “… the year 1949 seems to have been singled out less often as decisive …” Hutchings seeks to balance the scales of history and to establish 1949 as such a prism.

For nearly seventy years, Kazuo Odachi, a respected police officer, insurance investigator, and Kendo-sensei in Japan, kept secret that during the last months of World War II he was a young kamikaze pilot who flew eight suicide missions but miraculously survived. Odachi’s memoir was published in Japanese in 2016, and has now been translated into English. It is a remarkable story of youth, comradeship, courage, honor, despair, recovery, introspection, and closure.

One of the most recognizable garments in Japanese fashion, kimonos were closet staples for people of all classes, ages, and genders. Literally translated as “a thing worn”, it is a term broadly used to describe a T-shaped costume with sleeves partially detached under the arm that can be wrapped around the body and secured with a belt. Over time, the simple yet iconic design in many ways became a canvas for imagery that communicated information about the wearer’s identity.

Endearingly referred to as “Mother Volga” in Russian, it is the longest river in Europe, flowing from forests to the steppes and marshlands of the Caspian Sea. In The Volga, Janet M Hartley pens a vivid, human-centered story of the great river standing at a crossroad of peoples and cultures. She explores and contextualizes its significance to the history of Russia.