What I’ve been reading

1. Ukraine & Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry, by Anatol Lieven.  I didn't think I needed to read a dated book on Russian-Ukrainian relations, but in fact I did.  This has excellent detail and conceptual analysis on every page.  Recommended.

2. Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences, by Thomas Armstrong.  I don't agree with all the details in this book, but so far it is the major popular statement of the position outlined by its title.

3. William Vollmann, Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater, with Some Thoughts on Muses (Especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses, Porn Queens, Poets, Hou.  What can one say about Vollmann at this point?  The title is descriptive, for sure, and the author loves his topic.  He's massively flawed to read but still more alive than most writers.  Here are earlier MR posts on Vollmann, who issues large and deeply informed tomes at the rate I produce blog posts.

4. Kai Bird, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978.  This is a fascinating portrait of the mid-century Arab world, a story of a itinerant childhood, plus it's an account of festering Mideast conflicts, a political Bildungsroman, and, every now and then, a story of what it's like to be an Israel skeptic and also be married to a woman whose parents are Holocaust survivors.  Intelligent on every page.

5. Frank Trentmann, Free Trade Nation.  The rise and decline of free trade ideology in Britain, told in scholarly yet exciting fashion.  I am just starting this one.


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