What We Are Reading Today: An Unwritten Future

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Updated 24 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: An Unwritten Future

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Author: Jonathan Kirshner

An Unwritten Future offers a fresh reassessment of classical realism, an enduring approach to understanding crucial events in the international political arena. Jonathan Kirshner identifies the fundamental flaws of classical realism’s would-be successors and shows how this older, more nuanced and sophisticated method for studying world politics better explains the formative events of the past. Kirshner also reveals how this approach is ideally equipped to comprehend the vital questions of the present—such as the implications of China’s rise, the ways that social and economic change alter the balance of power and the nature of international conflict, and the consequences of the end of the US-led postwar order for the future of world politics.
Laying out realism’s core principles, Kirshner discusses the contributions of the perspective’s key thinkers, including Thucydides, Hans Morgenthau, and Raymond Aron, among others. He illustrates how a classical realist approach gives new insights into major upheavals of the 20th century, such as Britain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany and America’s ruinous involvement in Vietnam.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Fit Nation

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Updated 03 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Fit Nation

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Author: Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

The author argues that the fight for a more equitable exercise culture will be won only by revolutionizing fitness culture at its core, making it truly inclusive for all bodies in a way it has never been.
In Fit Nation, historian and fitness instructor Natalia Mehlman Petrzela explains why places like US urban public pools are struggling. She traces how the US simultaneously became obsessed with working out and failed to provide necessary resources for it.
Petrzela’s book “continued to haunt me after I put it down,” said Yasmine AlSayyad in a review for The New York Times.
“I was embarrassed by the number of fitness brands that I recognized in it, and I winced at how much money I’ve forked out for them. But I wish I’d come out with a better understanding of how the US compares with other countries in this regard,” said the review.
Petrzela makes several observations about America that could have benefited from more context, AlSayyad added.

“I couldn’t stop wondering: Is workout culture in America more commercial than it is in other countries? And are we any fitter because of it?”

 


What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern
Updated 02 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

Author: Jed Rasula

When T. S. Eliot published The Waste Land in 1922, it put the 34-year-old author on a path to worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize. “But,” as Jed Rasula writes, “The Waste Land is not only a poem: It names an event, like a tornado or an earthquake. Its publication was a watershed, marking a before and after. It was a poem that unequivocally declared that the ancient art of poetry had become modern.”

In What the Thunder Said, Rasula tells the story of how The Waste Land changed poetry forever and how this cultural bombshell served as a harbinger of modernist revolution in all the arts, from abstraction in visual art to atonality in music.


What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern Number Theory

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern  Number Theory
Updated 01 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern Number Theory

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern  Number Theory

Authors: Steven J. Miller & Ramin Takloo-Bighash

In a manner accessible to beginning undergraduates, An Invitation to Modern Number Theory introduces many of the central problems, conjectures, results, and techniques of the field, such as the Riemann Hypothesis, Roth’s Theorem, the Circle Method, and Random Matrix Theory.

Showing how experiments are used to test conjectures and prove theorems, the book allows students to do original work on such problems, often using little more than calculus (though there are numerous remarks for those with deeper backgrounds).

It shows students what number theory theorems are used for and what led to them and suggests problems for further research.


What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters

What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters
Updated 29 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters

What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters

Author: Katharina Volk 

In The Roman Republic of Letters, Katharina Volk explores a fascinating chapter of intellectual history, focusing on the literary senators of the mid-first century BCE who came to blows over the future of Rome even as they debated philosophy, history, political theory, linguistics, science, and religion.

It was a period of intense cultural flourishing and extreme political unrest—and the agents of each were very often the same people.

Members of the senatorial class, including Cicero, Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Cato, Varro, and Nigidius Figulus, contributed greatly to the development of Roman scholarship and engaged in a lively and often polemical exchange with one another. 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Animal Farm’ story of a group of farm animals

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Updated 29 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Animal Farm’ story of a group of farm animals

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  • A memorable quote from the book says, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

“Animal Farm” is a satirical and allegorical beast fable written by George Orwell, and first published in 1945 in England.

Unlike other beast fables, Orwell added human characters to show that oppression in animals and humans is one and the same.

The book focusses on farm animals who one day realize the extreme oppression and living conditions they are experiencing under the power exercised by their human farmer.

The animals envision a society where they can live as equals with free will, and they plan a rebellion.

A memorable quote from the book says, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Orwell argues that in 1945 England — when the book was set — moral discrepancies in society were apparent and obvious enough that it seemed like the eternal norm at the time.

The book sheds light on all forms of totalitarianism, and the socio-political repercussions which follow.

The social criticism referred to in “Animal Farm” also extended to the Soviet Union under Communist rule and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The dystopian theme continues in other Orwell books, such as “1984,” which highlights the future of humanity bereft of justice and equality.

“Animal Farm” sold 250,000 copies when it was first published in 1945. As of today, the book has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide.

George Orwell was the pen name adopted by Eric Arthur Blair who was best known for his political satire. An essayist, novelist, and critic, he was born in India, studied at Eton College, and was buried in England.

He was the pupil of Aldous Huxley, the English writer who set the scene for the dystopian genre.