What We Are Reading Today: Unfabling the East 

Updated 30 August 2018

What We Are Reading Today: Unfabling the East 

During the long 18th century, Europe’s travelers, scholars, and intellectuals looked to Asia in a spirit of puzzlement, irony, and openness. In this panoramic and colorful book translated to English by Robert Savage, Jürgen Osterhammel tells the story of the European Enlightenment’s nuanced encounter with the great civilizations of the East, from the Ottoman Empire and India to China and Japan.

Here is the acclaimed book that challenges the notion that Europe’s formative engagement with the non-European world was invariably marred by an imperial gaze and presumptions of Western superiority. Osterhammel shows how major figures such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Gibbon, and Hegel took a keen interest in Asian culture and history, and introduces lesser-known scientific travelers, colonial administrators, Jesuit missionaries, and adventurers who returned home from Asia bearing manuscripts in many exotic languages, huge collections of ethnographic data, and stories that sometimes defied belief. 

Osterhammel brings the sights and sounds of this tumultuous age vividly to life, from the salons of Paris and the lecture halls of Edinburgh to the deserts of Arabia, the steppes of Siberia, and the sumptuous courts of Asian princes. He demonstrates how Europe discovered its own identity anew by measuring itself against its more senior continent, and how it was only toward the end of this period that cruder forms of Eurocentrism — and condescension toward Asia — prevailed.

A momentous work by one of Europe’s most eminent historians, Unfabling the East takes readers on a thrilling voyage to the farthest shores, bringing back vital insights for our own multicultural age.


What We Are Reading Today: Urban Economics and Fiscal Policy by Holfer Sieg

Updated 06 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Urban Economics and Fiscal Policy by Holfer Sieg

With more than half of today’s global GDP being produced by approximately 400 metropolitan centers, learning about the economics of cities is vital to understanding economic prosperity. 

This textbook introduces graduate and upper-division undergraduate students to the field of urban economics and fiscal policy, relying on a modern approach that integrates theoretical and empirical analysis. Based on material that Holger Sieg has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Urban Economics and Fiscal Policy brings the most recent insights from the field into the classroom.

Divided into short chapters, the book explores fiscal policies that directly shape economic issues in cities, such as city taxes, the provision of quality education, access to affordable housing, and protection from crime and natural hazards. 

For each issue, Sieg offers questions, facts, and background; illuminates how economic theory helps students engage with topics; and presents empirical data that shows how economic ideas play out in daily life. 

Throughout, the book pushes readers to think critically and immediately put what they are learning to use by applying cutting-edge theory to data.