Category Archives: Reviews

Books I’ve read this summer

1. Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout. The author uses published works on Louis Armstrong, and tape recordings privately made by Armstrong himself during the course of his life, to tell the story of one of the greatest musicians of the last century. If jazz is your thing, and you like Louis Armstrong, you… Read More »

The Economist reviews Teju Cole’s Open City

There are three reasons why the book is so compelling, and the quality of translation will be vital if this success is to continue in other languages. In the precision with which Mr Cole chooses words or phrases he is not unlike Gustave Flaubert, who sometimes took a week to write a single paragraph. Thus… Read More »

Europeans against Multiculturalism

John R. Bowen in Boston Review: Political criticisms of multiculturalism confuse three objects. One is the changing cultural and religious landscape of Europe. Postwar France and Britain encouraged immigration of willing workers from former colonies; Germany drew on its longstanding ties with Turkey for the same purpose; somewhat later, new African and Asian immigrants, many… Read More »

An anthropologist’s take on development economists

Anthropologist Mike McGovern on popular development economics, as exemplified mainly by Paul Collier’s books: What is striking to me as an anthropologist, however, is that much of the fundamental intellectual work in Collier’s analyses is, in fact, ethnographic. Because it is not done very self-consciously and takes place within a larger econometric rhetoric in which… Read More »

Ha-Joon Chang – Economics Upside Down

I read Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism last week and I found it very interesting and instructive. Here is a video of him discussing the book. For the book I thank Baz; for the Video HT to the Naked Capitalism blog.

On The Book of Mormon – the musical

In the NYRB blog: In the face of … inconveniences, in 1978, the leaders of the church experienced, in an “upper room” in Salt Lake City, a highly convenient Pentecost, and with it a revelation ending the ban against black priests. Mormons were still counseled by their church President, Spencer W. Kimball, not to “cross… Read More »

How flat is the world?

The Economist reviews a book, World 3.0, by Pankaj Ghemawat of IESE Business School in Spain: Mr Ghemawat points out that many indicators of global integration are surprisingly low. Only 2% of students are at universities outside their home countries; and only 3% of people live outside their country of birth. Only 7% of rice… Read More »

A profile of Werner Herzog

In GQ: To propose to his first wife, Herzog traveled on foot about a thousand miles, across the Alps. (Herzog, who had made several other such journeys, is insistent that this not be referred to as walking. “Traveling on foot,” he says. “Walking is something different.”) He went because he had something important to ask.… Read More »

Kwame Appiah reviews Peter Firstbrook’s book on Obama’s family

In The New York Review of Books: Many years ago, the Belgian anthropologist Johannes Fabian identified a tendency he called “the denial of coevalness.” “The history of our discipline,” he wrote, reveals the use of time for “distancing those who are observed from the Time of the observer.” But this isn’t just a professional deformation of… Read More »

In praise of futile acts of resistance

Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin(Jeder stirbt für sich allein), written in 1946, 18 months after the end of the Second World War, is based on the true story of Elise and Otto Hampel, a working-class couple who lived in Berlin during the Nazi period. After the death of Elise’s brother in the war, the couple… Read More »