Category “Civilization & History”

Age of Anger

Pankaj Mishra (2017)

Pankaj’s new book might well have been subtitled, ‘An Anthology of Terrorism’.  And at times it’s not the most cohesive one, reading more like a smattering attempt to capture every act of politically subversive violence, and a checkered description of the perpetrators and their inter-relationships, since the Enlightenment.

But looking through this somewhat ramshackle layer of narrative exposes an uncut gem of substance.  Pankaj makes the case that the same fundamental processes that are giving rise to the likes of Brexit, Erdogan, Hofer, Le Pen, Orban, Trump and Wilders simultaneously explain ISIS.  Ressentiment, in a nutshell:

“… where individual dissatisfaction with the actually available degree of freedom constantly collides with elaborate theories and promises of individual freedom and empowerment.”

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Raiders & Rebels

Frank Sherry (1986)

Highly entertaining and accessible narrative covering the Golden Age of Piracy.

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An Ecological View of History: Japanese Civilization in the World Context

Tadao Umesao (1957)

 tadaoumesao_ecologicalviewofhistory No good. If only it lived up to its title …

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Political Order and Political Decay

Francis Fukuyama (2014)

francisfukuyaja_politicalorderandpoliticaldecay To all y’all Wes-Coas homies who tuned me I’d nevah pull off dah Opus let me herewith undiss mahself cause here it iz ya know its true that I got thru.

Respec, y’all.  Respec.

And a Big One goes out to mah main man Fukuyama.  You the man for pullin’ this togetha man, dat some mad Eas-Coas politico-economic skillz mah man.

Peace out.

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And the Weak Suffer What They Must?

Yanis Varoufakis (2016)

YanisVaroufakis_AndTheWeakSufferWhatTheyMust At times haughty and generally poorly structured, with confusing achronological interludes.  That’s the bad stuff out of the way.  On balance, still a highly worthwhile read, in particular the last two chapters, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Europe’s Crisis, America’s Future’.  Also a must-read for anyone that seriously wants to take an informed position in the Brexit debate, rather than just follow the dogma – ‘progressive Brexin’ and ‘populist Brexit’ alike!

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Man and the Natural World: Changing attitudes in England 1500–1800

Keith Thomas (1983)

KeithThomas_ManAndTheNaturalWorld _

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Inventing the Individual

Larry Siedentop (2014)

LarrySiedentop_InventingTheIndividual Siedentop seeks to place Christianity firmly in the historical driving seat towards Western individualism.

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Owning the Earth

Andro Linklater (2013)

AndroLinklater_OwningTheEarth _

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The Black Swan

Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007)

Taleb_TheBlackSwan _

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Common Sense and The Rights of Man

Thomas Paine (1774)

ThomasPaine_CommonSense An enjoyable rant against British royalty.

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