What I’ve been reading

October 13, 2017
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1. J.M. Coetzee, Late Essays 2006-2017.  The pieces on Robert Walser, Ford Madox Ford, Patrick White, Gerald Murnane, Samuel Beckett, and Juan Ramón Jiménez make this worth buying, the rest are mixed in quality.  Coetzee remains minimlisatically grumpy in the right way.

2. Grant N. Havers, Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique.  Havers argues against Strauss from “the Right,” but sympathetically.  He suggests Strauss underrated Christianity and had too high an opinion of antiquity, and was a true liberal democrat, while the American founders consciously rejected ancient political thought.

3. Neil Monnery, Architect of Prosperity: Sir John Cowperthwaite and the Making of Hong Kong.  I didn’t find this inspiring to read, but still it is a useful account of the under-covered early days of how Hong Kong evolved into a freedom-oriented economy after World War II.  Here is a review from The Economist.

4. Anne Applebaum, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.  “As Dolot remembered it, the presence of the Soviet state in his village in the 1920s had been minimal.”  And “Initially, collectivization was supposed to be voluntary.”  And “When their potatoes were gone…people began to go to the Russian villages and to exchange their clothing for food.”

I have only browsed my library copy of Masha Gessen’s The Future of History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, but it looked very good and so I ordered it from Amazon.

William Blake and the Age of Aquarius is a beautiful exhibition catalog, with text, edited by Stephen F. Eisenman, for a show currently on at Northwestern University.

David Kynaston, Till Time’s Last Sand: A History of the Bank of England, 1694-2013, seems to be a fine work of history, but it is not organized analytically in the way I might wish.  Still, some of you should be interested, as this is 796 pp. of well-written, carefully researched material on the BOE.

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