What We Are Reading Today: Falter by Bill McKibben

Updated 15 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Falter by Bill McKibben

  • It is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity

Falter, the environmentalist Bill McKibben’s latest book about threats to the planet, combines fear of bad outcomes with hope for good outcomes.  It is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity.

McKibben’s worst fear is summarized in his subtitle: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  

In a review published in The New York Times, Jared Diamond said McKibben’s book “is much more about grounds for fear, which take up some 18 chapters, than about grounds for hope, which take up five.”  Diamond added: “Fear will motivate some people who are currently undecided, and increase the motivation of others already convinced. But in my experience most people need a strong dose of hope to be spurred to action.” 

The review also said that McKibben “explains the present dangers to civilization, which include the risk of nuclear war and multiple hazards associated with climate change: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, rising sea levels, and ocean warming and acidification.”


What We Are Reading Today: Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book by Thomas Jefferson

Updated 24 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book by Thomas Jefferson

  • This authoritative volume is the first to contain the complete text of Jefferson’s notebook

As a law student and young lawyer in the 1760s, Thomas Jefferson began writing abstracts of English common law reports. Even after abandoning his law practice, he continued to rely on his legal commonplace book to document the legal, historical, and philosophical reading that helped shape his new role as a statesman. Indeed, he made entries in the notebook in preparation for his mission to France, as president of the US, and near the end of his life. 

This authoritative volume is the first to contain the complete text of Jefferson’s notebook, says a review on the Princeton University Press review. With more than 900 entries on such thinkers as Beccaria, Montesquieu, and Lord Kames, Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book is a fascinating chronicle of the evolution of Jefferson’s searching mind.

Unlike the only previous edition of Jefferson’s notebook, published in 1926, this edition features a verified text of Jefferson’s entries and full annotation, including essential information on the authors and books he documents. 

In addition, the volume includes a substantial introduction that places Jefferson’s text in a legal, historical and biographical context.