What We Are Reading Today: Alaric the Goth by Douglas Boin

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Updated 11 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Alaric the Goth by Douglas Boin

Stigmatized and relegated to the margins of Roman society, the Goths were violent “barbarians” who destroyed “civilization,” at least in the conventional story of Rome’s collapse. But a slight shift of perspective brings their history, and ours, shockingly alive.

Combining vivid storytelling and historical analysis, Douglas Boin reveals the Goths’ complex and fascinating legacy in shaping our world, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

Alaric grew up near the river border that separated Gothic territory from Roman. He survived a border policy that separated migrant children from their parents, and he was denied benefits he likely expected from military service. Romans were deeply conflicted over who should enjoy the privileges of citizenship. They wanted to buttress their global power, but were insecure about Roman identity; they depended on foreign goods, but scoffed at and denied foreigners their own voices and humanity.

In stark contrast to the rising bigotry, intolerance, and zealotry among Romans during Alaric’s lifetime, the Goths, as practicing Christians, valued religious pluralism and tolerance.

The marginalized Goths, marked by history as frightening harbingers of destruction and of the Dark Ages, preserved virtues of the ancient world that we take for granted.


What We Are Reading Today: A Course in Microeconomic Theory

Updated 27 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A Course in Microeconomic Theory

Author: David M. Kreps 

 

David M. Kreps has developed a text in microeconomics that is both challenging and “user-friendly.” The work is designed for the first-year graduate microeconomic theory course and is accessible to advanced undergraduates as well. 

Placing unusual emphasis on modern noncooperative game theory, it provides the student and instructor with a unified treatment of modern microeconomic theory — one that stresses the behavior of the individual actor (consumer or firm) in various institutional settings. The author has taken special pains to explore the fundamental assumptions of the theories and techniques studied, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses.

The book begins with an exposition of the standard models of choice and the market, with extra attention paid to choice under uncertainty and dynamic choice. 

General and partial equilibrium approaches are blended, so that the student sees these approaches as points along a continuum. 

The work then turns to more modern developments. Readers are introduced to noncooperative game theory and shown how to model games and determine solution concepts. Models with incomplete information, the folk theorem and reputation, and bilateral bargaining are covered in depth. Information economics is explored next. A closing discussion concerns firms as organizations and gives readers a taste of transaction-cost economics.