Monday, June 27, 2005

Summertime Reading

It's summer. School's out and time to soak up some sun and listen to the waves lapping up on the shore. What to bring along? Hmmm. The salty air will wreck havoc on those old manuscripts (won't even tell you what the suntan lotion does to them), so nothing published before 2003, nor ones that I'm waiting to get published. That limits my list to ten.

1. Peter S. Onuf and Eliga Gould's Empire and Nation : The American Revolution in the Atlantic World (Anglo-America in the Transatlantic World) (Johns Hopkins U. Press; 1993). I've been an admirer of Onuf's works on Jefferson for some time; Jefferson's Empire and Jeffersonian Legacies are two of my favorites. The most interesting recent writings on the American Revolution have focused on the transatlantic nature of the Revolution, which has been something I've looked at since Robert R. Palmer's brilliant Age of the Democratic Revolution first came out. Very curious about Onuf's take on the subject.

2. Philip S. Gorski's The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2003). This work is a dialectical analysis of the rise of the modern state in Europe during 1500-1700 a.d. (shades of Chris Sciabarra), focusing mainly on the Dutch and German experiences. What he does remarkably well is place religion within this context, pointing out how Calvinism influenced social discipline and allowed for forms of social control to strengthen both the ecclesiastical polity and the political realm. I've always felt that the Rothbardian line about Pre-, Post- and whatever else Millennialism misses the mark on the role of religion on politics, and Gorski fills in the gaps and integrates ecclesiastical effects on political society in a much clearer manner. Almost done reading this. Couldn't wait.

3. John E. Moser's Right Turn: John T. Flynn and the Transformation of American Liberalism (New York: NYU Press; 2005). I've read some of Moser's previous essays and expect to find an accurate understanding of both Flynn and classical liberalism with, hopefully, some perceptive insights.

4. Robert Lomas' Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science (Gloucester: Fair Winds Press; 2003). The reviewers say that it details the history of the rise of The Royal Society under Charles II through the efforts of Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren and, primarily, Sir Robert Moray. And yes, it probably has some sort of claims for Masonic involvement or conspiracy or some such, but it may well have a few gems of insights here and there.

5. Before Robert V. Andelson's untimely death, he edited the two volume Critics of Henry George: an Appraisal of Their Structures on Progress and Poverty (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing; 2003-4). This is a wonderful compilation, many written by libertarians, of examining the claims of the critics of Henry George. Included are commentaries on Individualist-Anarchism, F.A. Hayek, Spencer Heath, Murray Rothbard and Robert LeFevre, as well as essays on most major economists and many minor ones. A lot of good material here.

6. Gale Ahrens' Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality & Solidarity, Writings & Speeches 1878-1937 (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co.; 2004). The three major women in the anarchist movement at the turn of the last century were Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Lucy Parsons. Goldman and de Cleyre have had numerous collections of their essays available and are currently in print. Only Parsons has not had her writings available save in a few collections of anarchist or feminist writings. Now, with this publication, this has changed, and an updated biography (albeit too short) is provided by the editor. For those interested in anarchist activism and thought, this is a valuable asset.

7. Sharon Presley and Crispin Sartwell's Exquisite Rebel: the Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre--Anarchist, Feminist, Genius (Albany: SUNY Press; 2005). Along with The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader and Gates of Freedom : Voltairine de Cleyre and the Revolution of the Mind, this year has been a phenomenal one for de Cleyre collections. Because Exquisite Rebel contains an essay on de Cleyre by Presley, whom I've always respected as a libertarian feminist, I've decided to start with this one. Why are there so many books on de Cleyre? Because she was a great writer and poet. She deserves the acclaim.

8. Jessica Warner's John the Painter: Terrorist of the American Revolution (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press; 2004) When the Scot and former emigre to America, John Aikens, set fire to the Royal Navy dockyards of Portsmouth and Bristol, he brought the American Revolution home to the British. The terrorists of yesterday are forgotten today. This is the story of one.

9. Michael R. Hill and Susan Hoecker-Drysdale's Harriet Martineau: Theoretical & Methodological Perspectives (New York: Routledge; 2003). A collection of essays on Martineau's life and theories of sociology covering many aspects of her voluminous writings, from history to disability. I wish this had been available years ago when I first studied Martineau.

10. Ray Raphael's The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord (New York: the New Press; 2003). Raphael argues that the American Revolution began in small communities in which control by the British authorities had already been lost to Americans and that the later skirmishes were attempts by the British to take back control. The transfer of political authority to the American patriots by 1774 (and the loss by the British) was the real revolution making the later clash in April 1775 a British counter-revolution to regain lost territory. Interesting thesis and I'm looking forward to reading this work.

OK, there's my top 10. Any other suggestions for this summer?

Just a thought.
Just Ken

cross-posted at Liberty & Power Blog
CLASSical Liberalism


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