1. Emma Rothschild, The Inner Life of Empires, An Eighteenth Century History. The story of the Johnstones, in Scotland and around the globe. It appears to have lots of useful information, but it is too far from my current interests for me to read it now.
2. Robin Fox, The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind. Great themes, namely Hayek plus Levi-Strauss. But it’s too diffuse for me to get a handle on.
3. John Gray, The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death. A bunch of weird guys, in the early 20th century, thought they could cheat death but they couldn’t! And it all has something to do with H.G. Wells and a Russian spy. When is the cutting polemic against rationalism going to fall? It doesn’t, and when the book ends it feels as if it is only one-third over. The mood is wistful. I recall once predicting to Jim Buchanan that Gray would someday end up converting to Roman Catholicism. This one is now in the hands of Robin Hanson.