What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It
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Updated 25 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

Edited by Paul A. Volcker and Christine Harper

The extraordinary life story of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose absolute integrity provides the inspiration we need.

As chairman of the Federal Reserve (1979-1987), Paul Volcker slayed the inflation dragon that was consuming the American economy and restored the world’s faith in central bankers. That extraordinary feat was just one pivotal episode in a decades-long career serving six presidents, says a review on goodreads.com.

Told with wit, humor, and down-to-earth erudition, the narrative of Volcker’s career illuminates the changes that have taken place in American life, government, and the economy since WWII. He vibrantly illustrates the crises he managed alongside the world’s leading politicians, central bankers, and financiers. Yet he first found his model for competent and ethical governance in his father, the town manager of Teaneck, NJ, who instilled Volcker’s dedication to absolute integrity and his “three verities” of stable prices, sound finance, and good government.


What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy
Updated 17 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

Author: Hal Brands and Charles Edel

The book offers an eloquent call to draw on the lessons of the past to address current threats to international peace.

Today, after more than seventy years of great‑power peace and a quarter‑century of unrivaled global leadership, Americans have lost their sense of tragedy. They have forgotten that the descent into violence and war has been all too common throughout human history.

In a forceful argument that brims with historical sensibility and policy insights, two distinguished historians argue that a tragic sensibility is necessary if America and its allies are to address the dangers that menace the international order today, according to a review on goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion

What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion
Updated 16 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion

What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion

Author: Elizabeth Carolyn Miller

The 1830s to the 1930s saw the rise of large-scale industrial mining in the British imperial world. Elizabeth Carolyn Miller examines how literature of this era reckoned with a new vision of civilization where humans are dependent on finite, nonrenewable stores of earthly resources, and traces how the threatening horizon of resource exhaustion worked its way into narrative form.
Britain was the first nation to transition to industry based on fossil fuels, which put its novelists and other writers in the remarkable position of mediating the emergence of extraction-based life.
Miller looks at works like Hard Times, The Mill on the Floss, and Sons and Lovers, showing how the provincial realist novel’s longstanding reliance on marriage and inheritance plots transforms against the backdrop of exhaustion to withhold the promise of reproductive futurity. She explores how adventure stories like Treasure Island and Heart of Darkness reorient fictional space toward the resource frontier.


What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi

What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi
Updated 14 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi

What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi

The enigmatic 16th-century Swiss physician and natural philosopher Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus, is known for the almost superhuman energy with which he produced his innumerable writings, for his remarkable achievements in the development of science, and for his reputation as a visionary (not to mention sorcerer) and alchemist.

Little is known of his biography beyond his legendary achievements, and the details of his life have been filled in over the centuries by his admirers. This richly illustrated anthology presents in modernized language a selection of the moral thought of a man who was not only a self-willed genius charged with the dynamism of an impetuous and turbulent age but also in many ways a humble seeker after truth, who deeply influenced C. G. Jung and his followers.


What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle

What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle
Updated 14 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle

What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle

Digital technology, big data, big tech, machine learning, and AI are revolutionizing both the tools of economics and the phenomena it seeks to measure, understand, and shape. In Cogs and Monsters, Diane Coyle explores the enormous problems—but also opportunities—facing economics today if it is to respond effectively to these dizzying changes and help policymakers solve the world’s crises, from pandemic recovery and inequality to slow growth and the climate emergency.

Mainstream economics, Coyle says, still assumes people are “cogs”—self-interested, calculating, independent agents interacting in defined contexts. But the digital economy is much more characterized by “monsters”—untethered, snowballing, and socially influenced unknowns. What is worse, by treating people as cogs, economics is creating its own monsters, leaving itself without the tools to understand the new problems it faces.


What We Are Reading Today: Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic by Andrew W. Appel

What We Are Reading Today: Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic by Andrew W. Appel
Updated 13 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic by Andrew W. Appel

What We Are Reading Today: Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic by Andrew W. Appel

Between inventing the concept of a universal computer in 1936 and breaking the German Enigma code during World War II, Alan Turing (1912–1954), the British founder of computer science and artificial intelligence, came to Princeton University to study mathematical logic.

Some of the greatest logicians in the world—including Alonzo Church, Kurt Godel, John von Neumann, and Stephen Kleene—were at Princeton in the 1930s, and they were working on ideas that would lay the groundwork for what would become known as computer science.

This book presents a facsimile of the original typescript of Turing’s fascinating and influential 1938 Princeton PhD thesis, one of the key documents in the history of mathematics and computer science. The book also features essays by Andrew Appel and Solomon Feferman that explain the still-unfolding significance of the ideas Turing developed at Princeton.

A work of philosophy as well as mathematics, Turing’s thesis envisions a practical goal—a logical system to formalize mathematical proofs so they can be checked mechanically.