1. Gunther S. Stent, The Coming of the Golden Age: a view of the end of progress. Starting on p.84 (!), this short 1969 tract becomes a remarkable disquisition on stagnation, through the lens of “Faustian Man,” the decline of romanticism, Ortega y Gasset, Kierkegaard, and the hippie beats of San Francisco. At some point the social sciences won’t make that much more progress, and Stent portrays the Maori as the non-complacent branch of the Polynesians.
2. Susan Southard, Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War. What is a city like after a nuclear bomb hits? Beautifully written, both historical and anecdotal, and the ignoble record of the American government in this episode, with respect to cover-ups and poor treatment of survivors, extends well into the recovery period.
3. Jonathan Abrams, Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution. A study of youth vs. experience, you can think of this as an excellent management book in addition to its basketball virtues.
4. Javier Cercas, La verdad de Agamenón, selected essays about literature, Borges, Tijuana, Spanish political culture as expressed through history, and the life of an author. About half of them are excellent, none of them bad. Could Cercas be the least-known (in America) great author in the world today?
5. Richard V. Reeves, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What To Do Abut It. The top one percent is not the relevant group.
6. Fernando Vallejo, Our Lady of the Assassins. This short and violent novel is about Colombia during the period of its troubles. Full of life and vigor, makes the case for complacency.
Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro, Cents and Sensibility: What Economists Can Learn from the Humanities, covers a topic I am greatly interested in; here is a partial review by David Henderson. Related issues are considered by Mihir A. Desai, The Wisdom of Finance, with Charles Sanders Peirce and Wallace Stevens being two points of focus.
I am happy to have just written a blurb for Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles, The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Become Richer, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality, self-recommending.