1. Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America, by Andrei S. Markovits. Not the usual swill on this topic; sadly the main prediction of this book is that the passing of Bush will not make America much more popular in Europe. Read this short article on the same.
2. Dante, Paradiso, translated by Robert and Jean Hollander. There still is not a gripping English-language Paradiso on the market, as the Mandelbaum translation is flawed as well and don’t ever trust Penguin translations with anything. This one doesn’t elevate me as the text should. But it has the best notes of any edition, is laid out most nicely, and is the best for trying to follow the Italian and cross-reference the translation. If you buy only one English-language Paradiso maybe it is this one. An alternative is the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow edition, lyrical but archaic, on-line for free.
3. Castles, Battles, and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History, by Jurgen Brauer and Hubert van Tuyll. The table of contents looks amazing, but my browsing indicated this book to be boring. Still, some of you should read it. It is full of factual substance, slotted into an economic framework.
4. Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence, by John Chasteen. Every now and then a history book sweeps you up into its world; this one did it for me, most of all the treatment of Alexander von Humboldt but from beginning to end as well. The best and most readable book on its topic.
5. William Gibson, Neuromancer. Wow, this is now twenty-four years old. I’m teaching it next week in Law and Literature class. Upon rereading what strikes me most is how little science fiction it offers and how much it follows in the stylistic footsteps of Hammett and Chandler.