What We Are Reading Today: Our Great Purpose by Ryan Patrick Hanley

Updated 18 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Our Great Purpose by Ryan Patrick Hanley

Adam Smith is best known today as the founder of modern economics, but he was also an uncommonly brilliant philosopher who was especially interested in the perennial question of how to live a good life. 

Our Great Purpose is a short and illuminating guide to Smith’s incomparable wisdom on how to live well, written by one of today’s leading Smith scholars, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

In this inspiring and entertaining book, Ryan Patrick Hanley describes Smith’s vision of “the excellent and praiseworthy character,” and draws on the philosopher’s writings to show how each of us can go about developing one. For Smith, an excellent character is distinguished by qualities such as prudence, self-command, justice, and benevolence — virtues that have been extolled since antiquity. 

Yet Smith wrote not for the ancient polis but for the world of market society — our world — which rewards self-interest more than virtue. Hanley shows how Smith set forth a vision of the worthy life that is uniquely suited to us today.


What We Are Reading Today: Empires of the Sky

Updated 30 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Empires of the Sky

Author: Alexander Rose

Alexander Rose’s new book, Empires of the Sky,  is a well written work on the history of commercial aviation.
Rose chronicles the early 20th century rivalry between airships and airplanes for the future of commercial air travel in this exhaustive account.
“Though it seems obvious now that we would get on a jet to cross the Atlantic, that wasn’t the situation in the early periods of aviation. When Lindberg crossed the Atlantic in 1927, it was one man in an airplane that had been stripped down to the lowest weight possible. By comparison, Zepplins, a rigid frame airship, had been capable of carrying over 50 crew members since about 1912,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The book looks at the origins of the Zepplin — first envisioned by a German, Ferdinand von Zepplin.
The company was later helmed by Hugo Eckener. It also looks at technical innovation, political and social topics.
Historian Rose delivers a multi-dimensional story of bold entrepreneurial and engineer exploits, as well as the political machinations and the military value of dirigibles and aeroplanes.