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Hump Day Recommendations, May 29, 2024

Read:The Black Sea: A History,” by Charles King. With Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and the larger war Vladimir Putin launched in 2022, the Black Sea has again become a crossroads of conflict. With this page-turner of a history, King recounts 27 centuries of complex cultural evolution, war, and trade across one of the world’s most fascinating bodies of water. – Willis

See: The Elephant of Liberty. In the late 19th century, the first large structure that immigrants arriving by boat in New York harbor would see wasn’t, in fact, the Statue of Liberty. It was this seven-story-tall building in the form of an elephant on Coney Island. The so-called Elephantine Colossus, built in the heyday of the area’s resort and amusement park boom, contained a hotel, a concert venue, telescopes in its eyes, a museum in its left lung, and, later, a brothel. It burned down in 1896 but is survived by a sister, who still lives down the coast in Atlantic City. – Alex

Watch: “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.”Though this wasn’t my favorite movie in the series, it was a solid addition and extremely entertaining. It was less subtle than past “Planet of the Apes” films in terms of its allegorical messages about racism, tribalism, and authoritarianism — but it still sticks the landing. Definitely worth seeing in theaters. – John


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