Caritas in Veritate: On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth By Pope Benedict XVI (Ignatius Press, 157 pp., $14.95) I. Are we facing an economic crisis? I do not mean the crisis of the credit markets that has wiped trillions off the global balance sheet and plunged the world into recession. I mean a spiritual crisis, of which the crash is but a symptom. According to Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, we are in the midst of a “late capitalist . . .
The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome By Christopher Kelly (W.W. Norton, 350 pp., $26.95) Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia From the Bronze Age To the Present By Christopher I. Beckwith (Princeton University Press, 472 pp., $35) The extraordinary reputation of Attila and his Huns requires an explanation, because they had so much competition.
Even the advent of a growing scientific basis for medical practice--which we can most accurately date from the middle third of the nineteenth century--has not lessened by an iota the degree to which medical authority has traditionally depended primarily on a well-recognized code of morality. As that authority has been in a state of decline for the past several decades, countless commentators have sought to identify the most significant of the congeries of reasons for which the steady downward slope continues. Has the profession sold its soul to science?
On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and PartisanshipBy Nancy Rosenblum (Princeton University Press, 576 pp., $29.95) Partisanship is resurgent in America, and hardly anyone likes it. To say that American politics has become polarized along party lines is tantamount, for most people, to acknowledging that something has gone wrong with the country.
Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages By Jonathan Elukin (Princeton University Press, 193 pp., $24.95) ALL HISTORIES have their sorrows,but those of Jewish history are more studied than most. The chronicles of Israel’s sufferings—the groaning under Pharaoh in Exodus, the Lamentations over lost Jerusalem, Isaiah’s consolations for her captivity—have helped the countless faithful of numerous religions explain God’s puzzling tendency to afflict his followers on earth.
Richard A. Posner is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for theSeventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of ChicagoLaw School. The Judge in a Democracy By Aharon Barak (Princeton University Press, 332 pp., $29.95) Aharon Barak, a long-serving justice (eventually the chief justice)of the Supreme Court of Israel, who recently reached mandatoryretirement age, is a prolific writer, and this is his most recentbook.
The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity By Eric L. Goldstein (Princeton University Press, 307 pp., $29.95) Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America By Eric J. Sundquist (Harvard University Press, 662 pp., $35) I. IN UNCOUNTED, FLEETING, intimate ways, American Jewish children growing up between Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 lived the changing landscape of Jewish and African American relations. I know I did.
A few weeks ago, Andrew Delbanco wrote eloquently in The New Republic about the strange silence of his university in this time of war ("War College," December 11, 2006). Most people don’t think of Columbia University as an island of stillness and detachment. In Morningside Heights, as in Israel, any four people usually have eight opinions and express them with articulate fury. Yet Columbia holds its peace about Iraq—and, according to Delbanco, shows few traces of its active participation in America’s other wars. Princeton University, where I work, does feel like an island, "rising," as F.
On Truth By Harry Frankfurt (Alfred A. Knopf, 101 pp., $12.50) I. In his prime, and without benefit of a keyboard, Samuel Johnson could write twelve thousand words a day. I doubt that there are many more than half that number in Harry Frankfurt’s diminutive book On Bullshit, which was an unexpected best-seller for Princeton University Press last year, shyly peeking out next to the cash registers in bookshops everywhere.
Marcel Mauss: A Biography By Marcel Fournier Translated by Jane Marie Todd (Princeton University Press, 442 pp., $35) The outward lives of great intellectuals do not always make lively reading, even for other intellectuals. For every tragic, monstrous, or heroic thinker whose biography resembles pulp fiction, there is another who passed his days quietly at his desk, reading and writing, returning home every evening to a cocoon of bourgeois respectability. For every Shelley, a Kant; for every Foucault, a Weber. A great mind does not need to experience the abyss to find originality.