1. Against Everything, Essays, by Mark Greif. The worst of these are still well-written and interesting, and the best are among the best essays being written today. There are many good sentences: “Were “In the Penal Colony” to be written today, Kafka could only be speaking of an exercise machine.”
2. The Blind Photographer, edited by Julian Rothenstein and Mel Gooding. Here is an article on Pedro Martinez, one such photographer from Oaxaca. An excellent book, thought-provoking about both the nature of disability and photography, and also the mind’s eye. Here is a good National Geographic article on the volume.
3. Harvey Cox, The Market as God. Harvard theologian argues that economists have started to argue as theologians do. The closing sentence is “When The Market does not have to be God anymore, it might be a lot happier.”
4. William Domnarski, Richard Posner. This biography focuses on Posner the infovore, and is itself a big pile of information. We should not forget Posner’s role in founding the Journal of Legal Studies and Lexecon when awarding him a much-deserved Nobel Prize. Every page of this book has information, recommended, even if (because?) it is a bit of a splat. Here is one cited account of Judge Posner: “One of my favorite lines is when he would characterize a lawyer’s answer as “mere words” when in fact he wanted a “real reason.”
Do not miss Posner’s descriptions of various (unnamed) colleagues on pp.193-195, for instance: “…certainly ambitious, but that cannot be rated a fault. He has a vaguely cold and supercilious exterior; of the inner man I cannot speak because I do not know. But I do have trouble seeing him actually marrying an outdoors girl [as was the rumor], as he is very definitely the hot-house intellectual plant.” Another, from the philosophy department at Chicago, was “a timid, small-bore type.” Also stunning are pp.249-250, when Posner discusses his own naivete when witnessing the behavior of others, most of all his colleagues in academia. pp.251-256, which close the book, are just sublime.
I don’t think I will have time to get to Lynne B. Sagalyn’s Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money, and the Remaking of Lower Manhattan, but it looks very good.
I read only a fragment of Chris Wickham’s Medieval Europe, but found it well-written, to the point, and illuminating for both the specialist and general reader.