What We Are Reading Today: W. Arthur Lewis and the Birth of Development Economics

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Updated 26 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: W. Arthur Lewis and the Birth of Development Economics

Author: Robert L. Tignor

W. Arthur Lewis was one of the foremost intellectuals, economists, and political activists of the 20th century. In this book, the first intellectual biography of Lewis, Robert Tignor traces Lewis’s life from its beginnings on the small island of St. Lucia to Lewis’s arrival at Princeton University in the early 1960s. 

A chronicle of Lewis’s unfailing efforts to promote racial justice and decolonization, it provides a history of development economics as seen through the life of one of its most important founders.

If there were a record for the number of “firsts” achieved by one man during his lifetime, Lewis would be a contender. 

He was the first black professor in a British university and also at Princeton University and the first person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in a field other than literature or peace. 

His writings, which included his book The Theory of Economic Growth, were among the first to describe the field of development economics.


What We Are Reading Today: Down from Olympus

Updated 06 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Down from Olympus

Since the publication of Eliza May Butler’s Tyranny of Greece over Germany in 1935, the obsession of the German educated elite with the ancient Greeks has become an accepted, if severely underanalyzed, cliché. In Down from Olympus, Suzanne Marchand attempts to come to grips with German Graecophilia, not as a private passion but as an institutionally generated and preserved cultural trope. 

The book argues that 19th-century philhellenes inherited both an elitist, normative aesthetics and an ascetic, scholarly ethos from their Romantic predecessors; German “neohumanists” promised to reconcile these intellectual commitments, and by so doing, to revitalize education and the arts. 

Focusing on the history of classical archaeology, Marchand shows how the injunction to imitate Greek art was made the basis for new, state-funded cultural institutions. 

Tracing interactions between scholars and policymakers that made possible grand-scale cultural feats like the acquisition of the Pergamum Altar.