What I’ve been reading

1. Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Brazilian Authoritarianism: Past and Present.  One of the best general books on where Brazil is right now, and yes it is sad that you can say that about a book on political authoritarianism.  Don’t forget that most of the slaves brought to the New World were brought to Brazil, and the country now has the second largest African population in the world.  The problem with this book is that while the first half on Brazil is quite good, too much of the second half is social science mumbo-jumbo.

2. Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity.  This novel is not so famous, but it is one of his best and also most literary creations.  Like so many Asimov tales, it is fundamentally biblical in inspiration.  Of course Asimov wrote numerous books about the Bible, so he knew it well.  You can start with Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Samson, but it doesn’t end there.

Dan Slater and Joseph Wong, From Development to Democracy: The Transformations of Modern Asia is a good “state capacity” take on how democracies developed from strong states in Asia.

Richard M. Eaton, India in the Persianate Age.  Among its other virtues, including excellent research, this book does a good job of recharacterizing the “Mughal” era as one of massive Persian influence in India.

Lindsey Hughes, Russia in the Age of Peter the Great.  I only read part of this book, as it had more detail than what I was looking to consume, but it is clearly a major and very useful source on its topic.  It focuses on the progress, science, and state-building sides of the reign of Peter.

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