What We Are Reading Today: Winston Churchill

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Updated 17 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Winston Churchill

Author: Richard Toye

The book explores what elevated Winston Churchill to prominence and the shadows he continues to cast on British and American political culture.
In his book, Winston Churchill: A Life in the News, Richard Toye makes the fundamental claim that “Churchill would surely have had a political career in any age; but it was only the late-19th- and 20th-century media that made possible the type of political career he wanted to have,” said Kori Schake in a review for The New York Times.
Schake directs foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and is the author of Safe Passage: The Transition From British to American Hegemony.
According to the review, Toye argues that because Churchill bestrode an age deferential to “the right of the authorities to shape coverage” and focus on elite (rather than mass public) opinion, he was preternaturally effective in the first half of the 20th century.
But once the news media democratized and television became widely available, Churchill lost the ability to control the narrative and therefore to remain in power.


What We Are Reading Today: Republics of Knowledge by Nicola Miller

Updated 22 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Republics of Knowledge by Nicola Miller

The rise of nation-states is a hallmark of the modern age, yet we are still untangling how the phenomenon unfolded across the globe. Here, Nicola Miller offers new insights into the process of nation-making through an account of 19th-century Latin America, where, she argues, the identity of nascent republics was molded through previously underappreciated means: The creation and sharing of knowledge.

Drawing evidence from Argentina, Chile, and Peru, Republics of Knowledge traces the histories of these countries from the early 1800s, as they gained independence, to their centennial celebrations in the 20th century. Miller identifies how public exchange of ideas affected policymaking, the emergence of a collective identity, and more. She finds that instead of defining themselves through language or culture, these new nations united citizens under the promise of widespread access to modern information. Miller challenges the narrative that modernization was a strictly North Atlantic affair, demonstrating that knowledge traveled both ways between Latin America and Europe.