We know a lot about Isfahan in the 17th century. Poets and court chroniclers praised its beauty and recorded its expansion under the great monarch, Shah Abbas (1588-1629). European travelers like John Chardin and Pietro della Valle left us picturesque descriptions of its monuments and people. Artists painstakingly recorded the city-scape. Scholars have long studied its architecture and urbanism. In recent years, Kathryn Babayan has delved into the letters and diaries of its citizens. Now Farshid Emami tries to pull all these threads together and answer the question: what was it like to live in Shah Abbas’s Isfahan?

Publisher Oxford University Press hails Activism and Post-activism as the first-ever English language work on the birth and development of South Korean nonfiction film. Drawing on more than 200 films and videos, Jihoon Kim’s trailblazing book charts the history of documentary filmmaking in the South from its early “activism” period in the 1980s to what the author calls its modern “post-activism” period in the late ’90s and 2000s. In doing so, Kim highlights the work of marginalized groups—including women, sexual minorities, and the working class—who, without the ease of access modern technology brings to documentary film, would have little platform to speak.

At last someone has found a practical application for virtual reality. Brian Kwok teaches design at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University and he has been studying Hong Kong’s neon signs and the culture that surrounds them. It has convinced him that they should be preserved. But how? Kwok has a really difficult row to hoe, and he knows it full well.

The venerable Charles Allen left perhaps his most contentious subject for his last (and posthumously-published) book. The Aryans: The Search for a People, a Place and a Myth is a wide-ranging discourse on history, science, archaeology, linguistics, the history of all four, interleaved with commentary on some two centuries of highly-objectionable politics and political discourse: he opens with a chapter titled: “The Rise and Fall of Superman: Aryanism and the Swastika”.

Yunte Huang writes in his new book of a meeting between Anna May Wong and Sir Robert Ho Tung in Hong Kong. What started with a gathering at Ho Tung’s estate on the Peak quickly turned into a miniature biography of Ho Tung himself, the son of a Dutch Jewish father and Chinese mother. In this account, Huang writes of Ho Tung’s half-brother, a man with twelve wives and more than thirty children. One of these children was a woman named Grace Ho. This account appears to be a little slice of Hong Kong history, fascinating and not atypical of the mixing of families in the earlier years of the British colony. But then Huang writes that Grace Ho was the mother of Bruce Lee, an actor who, like Ho Tung’s guest, Anna May Wong, was slighted by Hollywood.

Anyone familiar with Fuchsia Dunlop’s work would surely take up any “Invitation to a Banquet” from her. For those unfamiliar with her oeuvre, she has previously written four cookbooks and a memoir covering her time apprenticing at a Sichuanese cooking school, where she was the only non-Chinese student and one of only a handful of women in training; several of these have been nominated for and won awards in the food and travel spheres.

When meeting an expatriate friend on my first trip to Dubai, the host at the restaurant where we were meeting quickly ushered me up to the second floor. For foreigners, he said—before handing me a wine list. Dubai’s tolerance of alcohol is a more formalized version of Muslim tolerance—and clandestine drinking—of alcohol that dates back to its very inception, despite religious commands to the contrary. Professor Rudi Matthee tells that story in Angels Tapping at the Wine-shop’s Door: A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World.