[Mark Safranski / “zen“]
I have an intimidating backlog of new and newish books to review here. I have an even longer queue of not so new books for my Antilibrary. I’m not sure when I will get to some of these, given my schedule, but they are nice to have on hand for research purposes.
Here’s why I picked these up:
Buzz mainly. Saw a few reviews and some chatter on Twitter. I also like evolutionary and cultural evolutionary themes, “Big History” and the like. OTOH I have also read folks bashing Harari for a poor grasp of economics, so we shall just have to see.
This is a natural follow-up to The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings which I reviewed the other day, but in truth I’ve been looking for a copy of this book for a while in used bookstores. I didn’t buy the hardback when it was new and regretted it. This one I will start reading now.
Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity by J. E. Lendon
The ancient world is a topical area where I have been trying to build my Antilibrary for some years now and this book is a twofer being also military history. I am also, in some ways, hoping to make up for the subpar education of my youth by reading the classics and ancient histories.
Edward Luttwak is one of our more creative – some might say weird – strategic thinkers who is known for putting forth provocative positions embedded with offbeat tangents. Luttwak is also, after a fashion, not an “operator” , or so it is bruited about – and not just an armchair theorist. I liked his The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire even though he gave Byzantine purists fits.
Sowell was in the news that day for retiring as a columnist and I was in a bookstore.
I have read some of Holland’s other books, most notably Rubicon. He’s an engaging writer and popular historian with a knack for keeping the narrative moving.
While I’m sure a book like this could write itself, Dixon did it and I’m interested in his systemic conclusions, if any, off organizational incompetence.
Xenophon, the student of Socrates, historian and mercenary always struck me as interesting, which probably led me to organize the Xenophon Roundtable years ago on the Wayne Ambler edition of The Anabasis of Cyrus. I also need to pick up Leo Strauss’ On Tyranny again; so little time. So many books.
A source in almost every major bio or history of Adolf Hitler ever written other than Konrad Heiden’s Der Fuhrer and Trevor-Roper’s The Last Days of Hitler. Most likely, you have already seen the most reliable or noteworthy parts of Kubizek’s memoir reproduced elsewhere more than once in print and documentaries. This is another topical area for Antilibrary building.
You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future by Jonathan Keats
Buckeyballs. That’s why.
Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James
Partially finished with this one. It is a reasonable argument built upon recognizable observations but being a philosopher, Dr. James is a bit of a pedant and circles back frequently in the text to reiterate his line of reasoning. This may be standard philo practice but it makes the book slower going than it might have been for a popular format.
Hitler’s Private Library: The Books that Shaped his Life by Timothy Ryback
A side of Hitler that neither the German public during the Reich nor the generations of students of history after WWII have normally seen. A useful source for research.