Wednesday, February 1, 2006

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

February's Books of the Month

The international relations book for February is Jeffry Frieden's Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century.

About five years ago W.W. Norton started publishing a series of books on international relations theory, written by senior scholars in the field, with the stated purpose of appealing beyond a scholarly audience. Frieden's book is part of this project, and Global Capitalism should makethe Norton people happy. It's a concise, accessible history of international economic relations during the twentieth century -- a period that began with one era of globalization, suffered a thirty year spasm of instability and closure, sought a Keynesian compromise, and then embraced globalization again.

As policymakers and publics deal with the aftertaste of the current era, Frieden's book does a great job of setting the historical table of how we got to the present day. Go check it out.

The general interest book is Marjorie Williams' The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, And Fate. Williams was a reporter and columnist for the Washington Post, and published political profiles for Vanity Fair. She died of liver cancer in 2005. This book, edited by her husband (Slate's Tim Noah), is a compendium of her published writing, plus some previously unpublished work on her family and her experiences of living and dying from cancer.

Jack Shafer had a lovely elegy for Williams in Slate when she died last year, and I kept meaning to buy the book when it was released in November, but didn't get around to it until a few days ago. And now, even though I have a daunting pile of reading and writing to finish, I can't go a few hours without stealing into her book and soaking up one of the essays.

There are two things about The Woman at the Washington Zoo that stand out. The first thing is Williams' sharp observations about the role that individuals play in politics, and the role that positions of power play in shaping the individual. She has just the right tone -- realistic without being cynical, observational without suggesting that she was above it all, rendering judgments without smacking of partisanship.

The second thing is more humbling -- Williams could write like a song, regardless of the length or topic. Her essay on her mother is the written equivalent of thirty-year old tawny port, exceptionally smooth while still leaving one a bit buzzed afterwards.

So be warned -- read this book only if you have no illusions about being a great writer. As political scientists go, I'm pretty decent at cobbling sentences together in a jargon-free way. After reading Williams, I now know my true place in the literary cosmos -- academic hack.

posted by Dan on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM


And the last essay is the best, and most heartbreaking.

posted by: Bill Harshaw on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM [permalink]

This website is very nice and colorful too. Its nice to have something to show others where you attend church and to show all the smiling people filled of the goodness of the Lord. You have a wonderful website here. May God rich bless you always acurarl5 adipexdietpills5 acurarl airconditioner

posted by: vmenq on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM [permalink]

posted by: Sandra-uy on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM [permalink]

posted by: Sandra-uy on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM [permalink]

posted by: Sandra-ia on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM [permalink] >billly virgin birth movie

posted by: serega on 02.01.06 at 02:06 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?