Book Review: ‘In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire’ examines the roots of Islam (Dallas Morning News)

Since the 1990s, when Islamic extremism replaced the Soviet Union as the main geopolitical foe of the West, there has been an explosion in publishing about Islam. Some of those books have been polemics, while others have highlighted the religion’s more appealing aspects.

What perhaps all these volumes have in common is that the authors accept at face value the account of Muhammad’s life as it has been transmitted through Muslim tradition. Tom Holland, author of In the Shadow of the Sword, does not.

Pussy Riot and Russian "Art Protest" (Sabotage Times)

In April a shitty punk band with the excellent name of Pussy Riot attained worldwide fame by performing their less than awesome track “Holy Shit” inside Moscow’sChurch of Christ the Saviour, which until the mid-1990s was the site of an open air swimming pool.  “St. Maria, Virgin, Holy Mother, Drive Putin Out!” they sang, also filming the performance, which they afterward uploaded to Youtube.

Russian Author Dmitri Kosyrev, aka Master Chen, on His Asian Alter-ego (Publishing Perspectives)

MOSCOW: Russia’s Dmitri Kosyrev is a journalist and has written primarily about Asia for such publications as Pravda, Independent Newspaper, and New Newspaper. He also occasionally writes about wines, food, and cigars. Master Chen, his fiction-writing alter ego, writes historical spy novels set in Asia, often working in elements of jazz, love, and politics. Publishing Perspectives spoke to Kosyrev about life and espionage shortly prior to BookExpo America earlier this year.

Yale U. Press Digitizes Stalin’s Massive Personal Archive (Publishing Perspectives)

Over the last two years Yale University Press and the Russian State Archive for Social and Political History have been quietly digitizing Stalin’s personal archive, consisting of thousands of documents, letters, and books, that passed through the Soviet leader’s hands. Vadim Staklo, the editor overseeing the project appeared earlier this month on the BEA panel “Stepping into the Digital Future with Russia” to talk about this and other initiatives. Regular Publishing Perspectives contributor Daniel Kalder caught up with him to discuss some of the intriguing “Secrets from the Russian Archive.”

The Incal (The Dabbler)

There comes a point in every individual’s lifetime when he or she must face the inevitable question: should I read a 307 page mystical- psychedelic Chilean-French science fiction tarot epic that was originally published in the same format as a Tintin book?

Review: Whispers in the Walls and Pandemonium (Coliseum)

My interest in comics ebbs and flows. So much that is published is embarrassingly bad, but I still love the medium, and so I want there to be books that are good. English language comics publishing remains dominated by superheroes, an exhausted genre which was great when the stories were aimed at young lads, but which stinks now that the target audience is 30/40something anally retentive boy-men. Nor have I ever been able to develop a taste for autobiographical “indie” comics, which are often (though not always) a) boring b) poorly drawn and c) solipsistic. As a result, I search hopefully for European comics in translation, where the standard of craft is usually higher, there is a broader spread of genre and there are no images of Cyclops in a red thong.