Oxford University

The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in The American University By Louis Menand (W.W. Norton, 174 pp., $24.95) The last hour has come, the times are very bad. As it was in the twelfth century, when Bernard of Cluny began his bitter satire On Contempt of the World with those words, so it is now, in the halls of the humanities. Our space is shrinking: only one-third of American undergraduates still major in the arts and sciences, and less than a third of them in the humanities.

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Kindled

The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future By Robert Darnton (Public Affairs, 218 pp., $23.95)   On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books & Bookstores By Jean-Luc Nancy Translated by David Wills (Fordham University Press, 59 pp., $16)   I. The airplane rises from the runway. Bent, folded, and spindled into the last seat in coach class--the one that doesn’t really recline--I pull my Kindle out of the seat pocket in front of me, slide the little switch, and lose myself in Matthew Crawford’s story of his passage from policy wonk to motorcycle mechanic.

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Perfect Strangers

In the popular imagination, the United States and Europe are assumed to be radically opposing poles--"Mars" and "Venus"--on issues such as market regulation, public education, social policy, health care, crime, and the environment. But is that really the case? The numbers would suggest otherwise. My book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike, presents quantifiable data on a wide array of social conditions on each side of the Atlantic.

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Maurice Bowra: A Life By Leslie Mitchell (Oxford University Press, 385 pp., $50) As warden of Wadham College in Oxford, president of the British Academy, the author of well-known books on ancient Greek literature, and a conversationalist of legendary brilliance, Maurice Bowra seemed, in the middle of the last century, the very embodiment of Oxford life. Enjoying a huge international reputation as a scholar, a wit, and an administrator, he was duly elected into prestigious academies and awarded honorary degrees in both Europe and America. George VI knighted him in 1951.

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The Usefulness of Cranks

Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery By Steve Nicholls (University of Chicago Press, 524 pp., $30) American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben (Library of America, 1,047 pp., $40) Defending The Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, And The Legacy Of Madison Grant By Jonathan Peter Spiro (University of Vermont Press, 462 pp., $39.95) A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir By Donald Worster (Oxford University Press, 535 pp., $34.99) A Reenchanted World: The Quest for A New Kinship With Nature By James William Gibson (Metropolitan Books,

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Wealthcare

Jonathan Chait: Ayn Rand and the invincible cult of selfishness on the American right

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Wealthcare

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right By Jennifer Burns (Oxford University Press, 459 pp., $27.95) Ayn Rand and the World She Made By Anne C. Heller               (Doubleday, 559 pp., $35) I. The current era of Democratic governance has provoked a florid response on the right, ranging from the prosaic (routine denunciations of big spending and debt) to the overheated (fears of socialism) to the lunatic (the belief that Democrats plan to put the elderly to death).

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The Constitution in 2020 Edited by Jack M. Balkin and Reva B. Siegel (Oxford University Press, 355 pp., $19.95) There is a genre, the "constitutional manifesto," that sits uneasily between the scholarly or theoretical analysis of constitutional law and the buzzwords of day-to-day constitutional politics. The latter category may be nicely illustrated by the competing slogans of interest groups contesting the Sotomayor nomination: "judicial activism," "empathy," and so on.

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THE CONSTITUTION IN 2020 Edited by Jack M. Balkin and Reva B. Siegel (Oxford University Press, 355 pp., $19.95)   There is a genre, the "constitutional manifesto," that sits uneasily between the scholarly or theoretical analysis of constitutional law and the buzzwords of day-to-day constitutional politics. The latter category may be nicely illustrated by the competing slogans of interest groups contesting the Sotomayor nomination: "judicial activism," "empathy," and so on.

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To the unschooled eye, the photograph of the 1987 class of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club could be mistaken for a 100-year-old image. The ten young men crowding the frame are dressed in long tails and blue bowties and pose on marble steps, most of them studiously looking away from the camera. But this is a relatively recent photo of members of the aristocratic, and destructive, drinking club: Participants honor the unofficial motto--"I like the sound of breaking glass"--by getting drunk and trashing private property.

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