What We Are Reading Today: The Daughters of Yalta

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Updated 09 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Daughters of Yalta

Situated in the political maelstrom that marked the transition to a postwar world, The Daughters of Yalta is a remarkable story of fathers and daughters whose relationships were tested and strengthened by the history they witnessed and the future they crafted together.
The Yalta conference, a pivotal meeting between the “Big Three” (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stalin) was held in February 1945 discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe.
This is the story of the fascinating and fateful “daughter diplomacy” of Anna Roosevelt, Sarah Churchill, and Kathleen Harriman, three glamorous young women who accompanied their famous fathers to the Yalta Conference with Stalin. Author Catherine Grace Katz “skillfully marshals diaries, letters, oral histories and memoirs to support her thesis that the pressures of wartime had warped normal familial bonds, so that the Western leaders’ relationships with their daughters had become more like those between business partners than between parent and child,” said Jennet Conant in a review for The News York Times.


What We Are Reading Today: The Privatized State by Chiara Cordelli

Updated 26 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Privatized State by Chiara Cordelli

Many governmental functions today—from the management of prisons and welfare offices to warfare and financial regulation—are outsourced to private entities. Education and health care are funded in part through private philanthropy rather than taxation. Can a privatized government rule legitimately? The Privatized State argues that it cannot.

In this boldly provocative book, Chiara Cordelli argues that privatization constitutes a regression to a precivil condition—what philosophers centuries ago called “a state of nature.” Developing a compelling case for the democratic state and its administrative apparatus, she shows how privatization reproduces the very same defects that Enlightenment thinkers attributed to the precivil condition, and which only properly constituted political institutions can overcome—defects such as provisional justice, undue dependence, and unfreedom. 

Cordelli advocates for constitutional limits on privatization and a more democratic system of public administration, and lays out the central responsibilities of private actors in contexts where governance is already extensively privatized. 

Charting a way forward, she presents a new conceptual account of political representation and novel philosophical theories of democratic authority and legitimate lawmaking.

The Privatized State shows how privatization undermines the very reason political institutions exist in the first place, and advocates for a new way of administering public affairs that is more democratic and just.