Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe By Charles Freeman (Yale University Press, 306 pp., $35) Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe By Caroline Walker Bynum (Zone Books, 408 pp., $32.95) Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe Edited by Martina Bagnoli, Holger A. Klein, Griffith Mann, and James Robinson (Yale University Press, 259 pp., $65) Throughout much of history, at the heart of every village, town, and city in Europe, there lay a dead body.
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is a very brave man. Long before April 3, when he was taken into police custody by the Chinese authorities in Beijing as he attempted to board a flight for Hong Kong, he knew that his vigorous support for human rights in China put him on a collision course with the government. He was badly beaten by the police in 2009, his blog was shut down that same year, and in 2010 his new studio in Shanghai was bulldozed by authorities.
BERLIN, GERMANY It's evening, and the only light on the second floor of Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, the building where members of the Bundestag have their offices, is coming from Cem Oezdemir's suite. Inside, the 36-year-old Oezdemir, who in 1994 became the first person of Turkish descent ever elected to the Bundestag, is describing his hopes for Germany. "What is my goal? It is the kind of hyphenated identity that takes place in your country," he says. "I am Moslem by birth; I am a Moslem like Catholics are Catholics.