New Books Network

A Very Square Peg. Bonus Episode: A Discussion with Brian Collins
Today I talked with Dr. Brian Collins, the creator of “A Very Square Peg.” We talked about: –How he discovered Eilser in a used bookstore in Ann Arbor –How he didn’t seem to be able to let go of Eisler once he’d found out about him –How he researched Eisler,... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 9: Vanity of Vanities
In this episode, I look at Eisler’s last days in England, where he found that the Oxford readership he had been promised before being sent to Dachau was taken by someone else, a paper shortage had put a stop to academic publishing, and that foreign Jews without visas were being... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 8: A Very Difficult Man to Kill
Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March of 1938, Robert Eisler wrote to Oxford asking about being appointed to the Wilde Readership in Comparative and Natural Religion, thereby gaining a way out of Nazi-controlled Europe. On the day after Hitler held a rally at the Heldenplatz in... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 7: The Christ Vision
Robert Whitehead of London, a self-described “Business Man” who was “no Churchman and not a Jesus worshipper, much as I admire him,” wrote to Robert Eisler on New Year’s Eve of 1929, asking “if it is a frequent occurrence that men see The Christ; and are there occasions known when... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 6: Negative Interest
Warning: Economics. In this episode, we begin with Eisler’s testimony before the skeptical Senators of the Committee on Banking and Currency in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1934, in which he proposed that the nation adopt a dual currency system to control inflation and end the Great Depression. I (a... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 5: The Slavonic Josephus
In this episode, we focus on one of Eisler’s most controversial works, a reconstruction of the 1st-century Roman Jewish historian Josephus’ account of the events surrounding the death of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist, including a new physical description of Jesus that apparently prompted the Christ to... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 4: Women’s Coats and Beach Cabanas
In this episode, we examine the rivalry/friendship between Eisler and the great scholar of Jewish mysticism Gershom Scholem and reassess Eisler’s infamous meeting with Scholem and Walter Benjamin in Paris in 1926. We try to unravel the mystery of why Eisler was disavowed by his government after he was appointed... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 3: Eisler vs. the Flat Earth
In this episode, we talk with Michael Gubser about the pioneering art historian Alois Riegl, one of Eisler’s teachers in Vienna and a major influence on his thought. Then we look at Eisler’s first work on the history of religions, World Mantle and Heavenly Canopy, a massive two-volume study of... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 2: Value Theory
In this episode (# 2), we discuss Eisler’s early years as a member of the Jewish bourgeoisie in turn-of-the-century Vienna with historian Steven Beller. We also hear from the closest living relative of Robert Eisler, his grand-nephew Richard Regen. Philosopher Tom Hurka provides some background for understanding the arguments Eisler... Read More
A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 1: Man into Wolf
In this episode, we discuss how I discovered Robert Eisler’s Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and Lycanthropy and unpack the book’s argument that modern humans are descended from primates who imitated the hunting practices and pack hierarchies of wolves during the scarcity of the ice age. We... Read More