What I’ve been reading

1. Ann Mari May, Gender and the Dismal Science: Women in the Early Years of the Economics Profession.  A good history of the injustices suffered by women in the earlier years of American economics.  It also serves indirectly as a good history of early journals, early academic practices, and the ongoing professionalization of American academia.

2. Quinn Slobodian and Dieter Plehwe, editors, Market Civilizations: Neoliberals East and South.  Many of the individuals essays here are quite interesting, such as the coverage of Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala, how Montenegro became a neoliberal outpost of sorts, Rothbardianism in Brazil, or the career of Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson of Iceland.  But the book would be much better if it reversed its mood affiliation and turned these essays into tributes.  There is a fair amount of sneering, use of words like “tentacles” (in conjunction with neoliberalism), and one-sentence rebuttals of neoliberal views, without any real documentation of the evidence.  How many of the individuals semi-criticized in this book have done anything worse than favor price controls for U.S. pharmaceuticals?  Or oppose Covid vaccine boosters, as did so many members of the health care establishment so recently?  Not too many of them, I suspect.

3. Hugh Eakin, Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America.  John Quinn is the hero of this story.  Who’s he?  He was a wealthy Irish-American lawyer on Wall Street in the early part of the twentieth century.  He supported James Joyce, the various Yeatses, the later-famous Irish playwrights, Irish painters, and Pound and Eliot, all before they became accepted and then famous.  What a talent spotter.  He simply sent them money.  He was also very early on the Picasso and Henri Rousseau bandwagons, most of all in America, where Quinn was a central figure in popularizing, collecting, and displaying modern art.  His is a career to study, and this book is the place to start.

4. Mustafa Akyol, Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance.  Progress Studies for Muslims?  Akyol, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, argues that the values of the Western Enlightenment had Islamic counterparts in the broader sweep of history, and that it is possible to win them back.

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