Solar Dance Secondary Title

In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.

Modris Eksteins

Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age

Solar Dance: Van Gogh, Forgery, and the Eclipse of Certainty

Modris Eksteins is the author of acclaimed books on modernism, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age and Walking Since Daybreak: A story of Eastern EuropeWorld War II, and the Heart of Our Century. He is Professor of History at the University of Toronto at Scarborough.

Knopf Canada 2012

Harvard University Press 2012

Zysk Poland 2013

Solar Dance

Van Gogh, Forgery, and the Eclipse of Certainty

Winner of the B.C Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Nominated for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction 2012

The 19th Century was the century of certainty – of Marx, Darwin, Wagner; it was the century of expansion and empire. It believed that there was a line to be drawn between the subject and the object. It believed in category.

The 20th Century was the century of doubt – of Marcel Duchamp, Werner Heisenberg, and Monty Python; it was the century of contraction and decolonization. It disrupted all category.

A man whose spirit straddled the two ages was Vincent van Gogh. Repudiated in his own time, he became the most loved and expensive artist of the 20th Century.  He was the great synthesizer who captured in his art the exhilaration of life but also its fragility and tragedy.

Modris Eksteins, whose subject is the 20th century, approaches the era through the lens of the sensational trial of a Berlin art dealer Otto Wacker and his role in the forgery of 33 Van Gogh paintings. In 1925, Wacker began releasing these hitherto unknown works which he cleverly had authenticated by experts. Through the progress of this drama Van Gogh’s commercial value rocketed skyward. 

Doubt and disaster also were crucial to Van Gogh’s posthumous success– his own madness and suicidal end, and the subsequent near-destruction of European civilization in fratricidal war.

In the Wacker-Van Gogh story, with its cast of characters who both delight and frighten us, is the story of Weimar Germany, the rise of Hitler and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In this thrilling book, Modris Eksteins illuminates the major themes of the modern world where a culture of vitality, life, and art has overwhelmed one of authority, form, and law.

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