Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Acquisitions...

So I was at the public library's book sale room this past weekend and at Second Story Books today and have a few new acquisitions.

1. First, for fifty cents at the library I finally got a copy of Bernard Bailyn's The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. "Seminal" is a designation that is applied too liberally to books, but this one probably qualifies. I haven't read any of Bailyn's books before, but I also own The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson and The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century.

2. At Second Story Books I found Herbert Hoover: The Great War and Its Aftermath, 1914-1923, a conference volume from the Herbert Hoover Centennial Seminars. This was the first volume from the seminars. I recently got the second volume (without knowing there was a first) in Boston. That one is called Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce: Studies in New Era Thought and Practice 1921-1928. So now I have a quite thorough coverage of Hoover's activities in the early 1920s - which is quite hard to find. Most of what is available on Hoover addresses the Depression (the other Depression, that is). And guess who authored the chapter "Hoover's 1919 Food Diplomacy in Retrospect"? None other than Murray N. Rothbard! I've read the preface to the second volume that I had acquired previously already, and it sounds like a very thoughtful, thorough book. I'm quite excited to have both of these now. As far as I can tell these are the only two volumes.

3. Also at Second Story Books, I was excited to find a first edition of Edward Ruppelt's 1956 book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (an online version is available here). I only know a little about Ruppelt, but I'm eager to learn more. Ruppelt was a part of the government's Project Bluebook which in 1952 was tasked with studying the UFO phenomenon. Ruppelt approached the issue seriously and tried to rigorously assess what sightings could be explained and what couldn't. He fought against the common term "flying saucer" at the time and popularized the term "unidentified flying object" to reduce the sensationalism around the phenomenon and emphasize the fact that it was fundamentally unexplained. The book looks like it will provide an account of the Blue Book years and the way that they weeded through and addressed different sightings. I haven't written an alien post for a while, but I think people have a sense of my interest in this. First, of course, UFOs could really be aliens. It doesn't get much more spectacular than that prospect. Second, UFOs always provide a fascinating exercise in epistemology and method. How do we know what we know about them? What don't we know? When is evidence credible? Can we reason through what is probable or improbable? How do we reason through these phenomena when we have no basis for assessment? Finally, the dawn of the UFO age in the late 40s and early 50s represent the beginning of an important era in human, but especially American history when we started to understand ourselves in the context of a much, much wider cosmos. I find that cultural shift interesting from a historical perspective.

For anyone in the D.C. area, I wanted to (1.) promote Second Story Books because it's a great store, and (2.) especially promote the DuPont Circle location in D.C., which was where I went. They have a ton of Liberty Fund books scattered all over the store that were not there when I was there last time. There is a lot of good seventeenth century English stuff, a lot of colonial writings, many Mises volumes, Mandeville, some Grotius, some Tullock, etc. I didn't end up getting any of it but there is a truck-load of it. Either Liberty Fund had a big sale or some local guy that had a bunch of Liberty Fund books sold his library to them - I'm not sure, but it was pretty cool that they had all that.


  1. We'll need to go to a few bookstores when I'm in town for Christmas... Second Story Books again, and I also need to get to Politics & Prose and Capital Hill Books.

    Maybe I'll write up a recent acquisitions post (though I can't imagine folks here would be quite as interested in my books!)

  2. Nah - go for it. Books iz books.

    I saw one on Medieval Political Thought but wasn't sure if it would be your thing - thought of the Melchizidek paper.

  3. Besides - it's your blog too. Blog about whatever the hell you want to blog about.

  4. There was an old French volume on Joachim of Fiore that I saw there when we went the other year, and I'm kicking myself for not getting it. I thought it might be useful for some of my doctoral research at the time, and I think that still may be the case. I'll have to look for it.

  5. Coincidentally, I started listening to an audio version of Ruppelt's book, available at, two weeks ago. I'll finish it in December (I listen to such materials at a place I work). It's fascinating from the modern perspective, how little has changed in many respects. Some of the anecdotes so far are also pretty amusing.


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