Francis Fukuyama, “The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution” (FSG, 2011)
When I was an undergraduate, I fell in love with Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws. In the book Montesquieu reduces a set of disparate, seemingly unconnected facts arrayed over centuries and continents into a single, coherent theory of remarkable… Read More
Dan Drezner, “Theories of International Politics and Zombies” (Princeton UP, 2011)
International theorists like to game out every possible scenario. What would happen if you applied their methodology to dealing with the fictional public policy challenge of a zombie infestation? In Dan Drezner’s Theories of International Politics and Zombies (Princeton UP,… Read More
David Day, “Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others” (Oxford UP, 2008)
People will often say that “this land”–wherever this land happens to be–is theirs because their ancestors “have always lived there.” But you can be pretty sure that’s not true. It’s probably the case that somebody else’s ancestors once lived on… Read More
Joyce Appleby, “The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism” (Norton, 2010)
Today everybody wants to be a capitalist, even Chinese communists. It would be easy to think, then, that capitalism is “natural,” that there is a little profit-seeker in each one of us just waiting to pop out. There is some… Read More
Fred Spier, “Big History and the Future of Humanity” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)
My son Isaiah likes to play the “why” game. Isaiah: “Why is my ice cream gone?” Me: “Because you ate it.” Isaiah: “Why did I eat it?” Me: “Because you need food.” Isaiah: “Why do I need food?” And so… Read More
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