What I’ve been reading and browsing

The Bill of Rights did not become an essential feature of Supreme Court opinions until the justices needed a new justification for their authority to strike down legislation as unconstitutional.  In 1940, the Court began citing the Bill of Rights routinely and started building up the doctrine that the 1791 amendments were a linchpin of judicial review.

That is from Gerard N. Magliocca, The Heart of the Constitution: How the Bill of Rights Became the Bill of Rights.

Jesse Norman, Adam Smith: Father of Economics. Written by an MP, impressive, though I remain closer to a traditional classical liberal view of Smith.

Geoffrey B. Robinson, The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66.  Hardcore excellent across both the factual and conceptual dimensions.  It is striking that as of 1965 Indonesia had the world’s largest non-governing communist party, until this episode that is.  At least half a million people were killed and “…the vast majority were felled with knives, sickles, machetes, swords, ice picks, bamboo spears, iron rods, and other everyday implements.”  Not so much high tech, not even by 1940 standards.  Yet most were highly organized rather than spontaneous.  Definitely recommended.

Elhanan Helpman, Globalization and Inequality.  A very well done survey of what we know about this issue, from a leader in the field.

Lincoln Ballard and Matthew Bengtson, with John Bell Young, The Alexander Scriabin Companion, the definitive treatment of its topic.  Bengston is also my favorite Scriabin pianist.

On herding and social influence, there is Michelle Baddeley, Copycats & Contrarians: Why We Follow Others…and When We Don’t.

Eric Rauchway, Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal considers Roosevelt’s early plans for the New Deal, before his election, and also how Hoover started laying the groundwork for opposition.

Ashoka Mody, Eurotragedy: A Drama in Nine Acts, has produced the best book yet on that “not quite yet in our rear view mirror” episode.


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