New Books Network

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 explanitory power. Alas, grand theoretical books like Spirit of the Laws... 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, 2011), he looks at each of the major international relations... Read More
David Aaronovitch, “Voodoo Histories: The Role of Conspiracy Theory in the Shaping of Modern History” (Penguin, 2010)
In preparation for this interview I watched the documentary (that’s what the producers call it, anyway) “Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup.” Of course it’s absolutely loony. In fact, it’s so loony that I began to wonder if the director, Dylan Avery, wasn’t having us on. It’s hard to tell... Read More
Michaela Hoenicke, “Know Your Enemy: American Debate on Nazism, 1933-1945” (Cambridge UP, 2009)
To Americans, Hitler et al. were a confusing bunch. The National Socialists were Germans, and Germans had a reputation for refinement, industry, and order. After all, many Americans were of German descent, and they surely thought of themselves as refined, industrious, and orderly. The Nazis, however, seemed un-German in important... 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
Ray Boomhower, “Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary” (Indiana UP, 2008)
As some of you may be aware, there’s a big election coming up. Yes, it’s time to pick a new auditor for Iowa City, Iowa, my hometown. It’s a hotly contested race between a jerk with a drinking problem and a twenty-four-year-old who ran a cake business into the ground.... Read More