Mammon's Kingdom: An Essay on Britain Now review – David Marquand's cry of despair
A funny thing happened on the way to this review: I saw Garrison Keillor perform. The Lake Wobegon author shared the stage with a jazz band, a blues singer, violinists and radio comedians. It was a dizzying, patchy and occasionally obtuse performance, punctuated with moments of brilliance.
The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown – review
Americans love to honour their former presidents: paintings, statues, libraries. Even airports get relabelled. Since 1963, travellers to New York have been touching down at JFK; Washington DC is served by Reagan national airport. There is now a campaign, led by senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, to give Harry Truman his due by renaming DC's main train station Truman Union station. But the plan is facing an unexpected opponent, from beyond the grave: Truman himself.
The Great Debate by Yuval Levin – review
Edmund Burke maintains a strong hold on the English conservative imagination, but is scarcely known on the other side of the Atlantic. Thomas Paine, while half-forgotten in his native Britain, is presented to American eighth-graders as a founding philosopher of the 1776 revolution. Yuval Levin treats their ideas in tandem, and shows how their disagreements – most vividly over the French revolution, most intensely over the political authority of history – illuminate divisions in politics to this day, especially those between left and right.
Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D Putnam review – concerned, scholarly
In his book Happiness, former Oxford don Theodore Zeldin provided a brilliant description of life in the modern academy: “To remain sane, scholars had to become willing prisoners in a tiny cell, because here at least they could lay down the law about some tiny fragment of truth, like the habits of the earwig or the foreign policy of medieval Zanzibar.
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics by Richard H Thaler review – why don’t people pursue their own best interests?
Professor Richard Thaler is a bit lazy, prone to procrastination and likes his booze: his observations, not mine. He is also the president of the American Economic Association, a role held in the past by such luminaries as Milton Friedman, JK Galbraith, Gary Becker and Amartya Sen.
The dismal science cheers up
Something strange has happened. Economics has became fun and is now full of people investigating human frailties and quirks, following hunches, sharing anecdotes, and playing lots of games. Many of them are also able to write with real verve. Read more at https://www.managementtoday.co.uk/dismal-science-cheers/article/1347688#UhWFhRv8LgYflMp2.99
Why the fast pace of modern life could be good for us
Time is the currency of modern economic life. During the industrial revolution, minute hands were added to clocks. Cities woke to the sounds of bells calling people to the factories, work became calibrated by hours and shifts. Karl Marx considered long hours to be the way capitalists extracted surplus value from their workforce. Read more at https://www.managementtoday.co.uk/why-fast-pace-modern-life-good-us/article/1392323#s6IrKgFOBmWl1WpY.99
Why a nudge from the state beats a slap
One of the many competitive advantages American public intellectuals have over their British counterparts is the ability to capture their thesis in a single word: Chaos, Sway, Faster, Blink. The most successful of these endeavours colonise the word for the author's purposes.
Mammon's Kingdom: An Essay on Britain Now review – David Marquand's cry of despair
A funny thing happened on the way to this review: I saw Garrison Keillor perform. The Lake Wobegon author shared the stage with a jazz band, a blues singer, violinists and radio comedians. It was a dizzying, patchy and occasionally obtuse performance, punctuated with moments of brilliance.
The Point Is to Change It
This is quite a treat: two books on justice from two of the leading public thinkers in the Anglophone intellectual world. Amartya Sen, the Nobel-prize winning economist, has produced in The Idea of Justice a book that synthesizes half a century of work on choice, rationality and freedom, and provides his first major contribution to political philosophy.