What I’ve been reading

1. George W. Bush, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.  Not only are the paintings good, but this book is the perfect antidote to too much time spent on Twitter, especially if you read the text about all the injuries sustained.

2. Dennis C. Rasmussen, The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought.  A beautifully written book, with wonderful balance, about a beautiful friendship.  Recommended.

3. Richard White, The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896.  This will make the year’s “best of” list for sure.  I’m not usually a fan of reading a 900 pp. plus survey book to cover a period of more than three decades.  Usually too much stays superficial, and the author does not apply consistent quality standards to the whole work, if any of it.  But this book is interesting and informative on virtually every page, and it is unfortunately all too relevant for the current day.  Here is a good Kyle Sammin review.

Two books I have only browsed, but both look good:

Lizzie Collingham, The Hungry Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World, with a slightly different title for the U.S. edition, and

Brian Fagan, Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization.

There is also:

Thomas S. Mullaney, The Chinese Typewriter: A History, is a thorough and informative treatment of what its title suggests.  Here is a WSJ review.

John L. Campbell and John A. Hall, The Paradox of Vulnerability: States, Nationalism & the Financial Crisis, considers the state capacities of Denmark, Ireland, and Switzerland in responding to the financial crisis.  I liked what was there, though wanted more.

Barry Riley, The Political History of American Food Aid: An Uneasy Benevolence, I have only perused bits, but it seems to be the book to read or own on this topic.


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