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Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher talk with Anna Della Subin about her new book, Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine. Accidental Gods traces the rarely told history of the deification of living men in modern times, revealing the phenomenon’s connection to imperial conquest, revolution, and civil war. Taking as a starting point Columbus’s exploitation of his reception by native peoples as a deity come from the heavens, the book offers in-depth studies of figures such as the Ethiopian King Haile Selassie, who is regarded as God by Rastafarians in Jamaica, England’s Prince Philip, who became the center of a religion on an island in the South Pacific, and Jiddu Krishnamurti, who was seen as divine by early Theosophists. What does it mean to make a man a God? Why is it always a man? And what does that say about notions of masculinity, the place of religion in society, and the relations between political power and divinity?

Also, Sam Quinones, author of The Least of Us, returns to recommend Calvin Trillin’s Killings.