Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book reviews...

I've actually found time to read recently, for the first time in a long time - so I am swiftly nearing the end of my book on the 1848 revolutions. Next is Roger Garrison's Time and Money - I suppose you might call it a non-technical formalization of Hayek's Prices and Production. That should go fairly quick too, because I have a long flight to Paris in a week and a half. I've been paying attention to some book reviews to see what I want to read next.

Colossus, by Michael Hiltzik, looks like a very interesting study of the Hoover Dam.

Ed Glaeser provides a really great review of Joel Mokyr's new book on the Industrial Revolution in England, called The Enlightened Economy. Mokyr cites the Enlightenment as the primary source of the Industrial revolution, although Glaeser is skeptical of leaning too hard on that conclusion.

Recently I've been doing a little more independent research on the work that my great grandfather did presiding over the Maryland Constitutional Convention in 1967 (this is sort of an ongoing, open-ended research project of mine). The new state constitution failed in 1968, in no small part because of the disruption caused by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the subsequent riots in Baltimore, which were vigorously quelled by then governor Spiro Agnew (his response to the riots would put him on the presidential ticket with Nixon). The nebulous plans in my head are to one day write something about the failed constitution (perhaps for the 50th anniversary in eight years?), and I'm realizing that King's death is going to be essential for framing it. To that end, this review of a book on James Earl Ray, King's killer, looked interesting. Hellhound on His Trail, by Hampton Sides, traces a wandering Ray across the United States after he escapes from prison in 1967. He makes a few stops to (believe it or not) actually campaign for George Wallace as he tracks King across the country.

Here, Peter Osnos shares the news that the famous Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington is being sold. Its owners are getting very old and need to pass the torch. I haven't been yet, but I really need to stop by - it's supposed to be great.

I have a few other books I'm likely to read after Garrison. I've read a lot of economics this spring, so I think I'm going to turn back to history. Carl Becker's 1909 classic, The History of Political Parties in the Province of New York: 1760-1776 is at the top of the list. Becker provides an important appraisal of the clash of economic and social interests that eventually culminated in the decision to push for independence in New York. Becker's work set off a considerable amount of subsequent interpretation and debate by Charles Beard, Forrest McDonald, Bernard Bailyn, and more recently guys like Woody Holton. I've had a deep interest in the revolutionary period and the early republic for a long time, and I feel like I have to read this literature at some point - Becker seems like the best place to start.

Also on the short list are Friedman and Schwartz's Monetary History of the United States, although that is so long I probably won't take that up next. I've been meaning to read Rhy Isaac's The Transformation of Virginia: 1740-1790. Perhaps the first volume of Joseph Dorfman's The Economic Mind in American Civilization. Also looking at Jacob Cooke's Tench Coxe and the Early Republic.


  1. David Friedman's awesome "The Machinery of Freedom" is now on-line for free:

  2. Hey, as long as you are reading more, I would recommend the following:

    Jonathan Waterman, "Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River"

    Clifford Winston, "Government Failure versus Market Failure: Microeconomic Policy Research And Government Performance"

    Robert A. Garrott, etc., eds., "The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone: Sixteen Years of Integrated Field Studies"

    Paul R. Gregory, "Lenin's Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives"

    Walter Burkert, "Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth"

    Hillman, "The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization"

    Paul Boyer, "When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture"

    Aakash Singh, "Eros Turannos: Leo Strauss & Alexandre Kojeve Debate on Tyranny"

    Charles Emmerson, "The Future History of the Arctic"

    Thomas Levenson, "Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science"

    Bill Streever, "Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places"


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