New Books Network

Robert Pasnau, “Metaphysical Themes: 1274-1671” (Oxford UP, 2011)
What was the scholastic metaphysical tradition of the later Middle Ages, and why did it come “crashing down as quickly and completely” as it did towards the end of the 17th Century? Why was the year 1347 a “milestone in the history of philosophy”? And why didn’t philosophy itself collapse... Read More
Michael Kevaak, “Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking” (Princeton UP, 2011)
In the course of his concise and clearly written new book Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton University Press, 2011), Michael Keevak investigates the emergence of a “yellow” and “Mongolian” East Asian identity in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Becoming Yellow incorporates a wide range of sources in... Read More
Christopher Krebs, “A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich” (Norton, 2011)
Being a historian is a bit of a slog: years in graduate school, more years in dusty libraries and archives, and even more years teaching students who sometimes don’t seem interested in learning what you have to teach. But the job does have its pleasures, and one of the greatest–and... Read More
Dagmar Schaefer, “The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China” (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
In her elegant work of historical puppet theater The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China (University of Chicago Press, 2011), Dagmar Schaefer introduces us to the world of scholars and craftsmen in seventeenth-century China through the life and work of Song Yingxing (1587-1666?). A minor... Read More
Peter Baehr, “Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, and the Social Sciences” (Stanford UP, 2010)
Contemporary research into illiberal governments draws much inspiration from the writings of Hannah Arendt. In her classic The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Arendt claimed that Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia were not merely typical authoritarian regimes, but rather were despotisms of a new “totalitarian” sort. Arendt believed “totalitarianism” was entirely... Read More
Jerry Muller, “Capitalism and the Jews” (Princeton UP, 2010)
I confess I was attracted to this book by the title: Capitalism and the Jews (Princeton, 2010). Capitalism is a touchy subject; Jews are a touchy subject. But capitalism and the Jews, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t suggest you try this, but just imagine what would happen... Read More
Toby Lester, “The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America its Name” (Free Press, 2009)
Why the heck is “America” called “America” and not, say, “Columbia?” You’ll find the answer to that question and many more in Toby Lester‘s fascinating and terrifically readable new book The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the... Read More
Sarah Ross, “The Birth of Feminism: Woman as Intellect in Renaissance Italy and England” (Harvard UP, 2009)
I’ll be honest: I have a Ph.D. in early modern European history from a big university you’ve probably heard of and I couldn’t name a single female writer of the Renaissance before I read Sarah Ross’s new book The Birth of Feminism. Woman as Intellect in Renaissance Italy and England... Read More
Jennifer Burns, “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right” (Oxford UP, 2009)
When I was in high school I had several friends who went to Wichita’s only prep school. They were nice guys, played D&D, andsaid they were “Libertarians.”I thought that “Libertarian” might have something to do with the library, so I wanted to have nothing to do with it. But they... Read More
Thomas Wheatland, “The Frankfurt School in Exile” (University of Minnesota Press, 2009)
I have a friend who, as a young child, happened to meet Herbert Marcuse, by that time a rock-star intellectual and darling of the American student movement. Upon seeing the man, he exclaimed “Marcuse! Marcuse! You have such a beautiful head!” I don’t know how beautiful Herbert Marcuse’s head was,... Read More