Reviews

Review: Szczeklik, Catharsis

April 10, 2006
By
Review: Szczeklik, Catharsis

The Times Higher Education Supplement recently reviewed Andrzej Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine. In the review, Niall O’Higgins said: "This book is timely in its publication and timeless in its content.… Drawing on mathematical ideas, physics, music, mythology, clinical science and clinical practice, Szczeklik never forces the issues or compels. He treads lightly. He reminds and explains. He draws attention to details of physiology that can be explained and those that remain mysterious. He shifts gears effortlessly between the known and the mysterious and, being a cardiologist, seems particularly at home in explaining the amazing conducting system of the heart. To describe a single extrasystole, an ectopic heartbeat, as like a slight stumble in a dance and to introduce the complex mechanism of hearing with the statement that ‘every one of us has a tiny harp inside his ear’ suggests that he is a skillful teacher.… The kathartai, forerunners of doctors in pre-Hippocratic Greece, were said to purify the soul by the soothing and calming combination of music, dance, poetry and song. Szczeklik is in tune with them." The ancient Greeks used the term catharsis for the cleansing of both the body by medicine and the soul by . . .

Read more »

Review: Yoo, The Powers of War and Peace

April 10, 2006
By
Review: Yoo, The Powers of War and Peace

The Claremont Review of Books recently reviewed John Yoo’s The Powers of War and Peace. Joseph M. Bessette praised the book in a lengthy review, in which he concluded that " makes a compelling case that Congress need not formally authorize many, perhaps most, military commitments abroad, for which the president possesses ample constitutional authority. It is rare that one scholar fundamentally recasts the debate on a constutional issue of pressing public importance. In The Powers of War and Peace, John Yoo has done exactly that." John Yoo, formerly a lawyer in the Department of Justice, here makes the case for a completely new approach to understanding what the Constitution says about foreign affairs, particularly the powers of war and peace. Looking to American history, Yoo points out that from Truman and Korea to Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo, American presidents have had to act decisively on the world stage without a declaration of war. They are able to do so, Yoo argues, because the Constitution grants the president, Congress, and the courts very different powers, requiring them to negotiate the country’s foreign policy. Yoo roots his controversial analysis in a brilliant reconstruction of the original understanding of the foreign . . .

Read more »

Review: Steven B. Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

April 6, 2006
By
Review: Steven B. Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Steven B. Smith’s Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism: "Though German philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973) is referred to as the father of neo-conservatism, Yale political science professor Smith argues that relationship is a ‘mountain of nonsense’ and that Strauss was ‘a friend of liberal democracy—one of the best friends democracy ever had.…’ Smith quietly builds a persuasive case that Strauss’s work ‘makes clear that the danger to the West comes not from liberalism but from our loss of confidence in it.’" Interest in Leo Strauss is greater now than at any time since his death, mostly because of the purported link between his thought and the political movement known as neoconservatism. Steven B. Smith, though, surprisingly depicts Strauss not as the high priest of neoconservatism but as a friend of liberal democracy—perhaps the best defender democracy has ever had. Moreover, in Reading Leo Strauss, Smith shows that Strauss’s defense of liberal democracy was closely connected to his skepticism of both the extreme Left and extreme Right. . . .

Read more »

Review: Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time

April 5, 2006
By
Review: Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time

Nature features a nice review of Martin J. S. Rudwick’s Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution. From the review by Stephen Moorbath: "Bursting the Limits of Time is a massive work and is quite simply a masterpiece of science history.… Rudwick’s text is beautifully written and grips the attention throughout.… The book should be obligatory for every geology and history-of-science library, and is a highly recommended companion for every civilized geologist who can carry an extra 2.4 kg in his rucksack.… Rudwick has amply fulfilled his stated aim of describing the injection of history into a science that had been primarily descriptive or causal. Indeed, thanks to Rudwick and his kind, we may rest assured that the future of the history of science is in safe hands." Bursting the Limits of Time is the culmination of a lifetime of study by Martin J. S. Rudwick, the world’s leading historian of geology and paleontology. In 1650, Archbishop James Ussher of Armagh joined the long-running theological debate on the age of the earth by famously announcing that creation had occurred on October 23, 4004 B.C. Although widely challenged during the Enlightenment, this belief in . . .

Read more »

Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

April 5, 2006
By
Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Mark Monmonier’s From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame. From the review: "As the title of this slight but engaging treatise on the politics of place names indicates, a sufficiently detailed gazetteer offers plenty of material to rile up minorities, feminists and persons of refined sensibility. Geographer Monmonier gets a lot of mileage out of typing provocative words into a U.S. Geological Survey database and picking through the resulting ethnic slurs, body parts and scatological imprecations. The Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states, with their ripe mining-camp history, offer up the most offensive place names, but even staid Newfoundland has a village named Dildo situated next to Spread Eagle Bay.… Although general readers will find much of the procedural and bureaucratic details of official place-naming arcane, they will enjoy a trove of giggle-inducing lore." . . .

Read more »

Review: Theodore Arabatzis, Representing Electrons

March 30, 2006
By
Review: Theodore Arabatzis, Representing Electrons

Chemistry World recently reviewed Theodore Arabatzis’s Representing Electrons: A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities. From the review by Dennis Rouvray: "erhaps the most disconcerting message contains is that no experiement has indubitably established the existence of the electron. The author of this thought-provoking work is to be congratulated both for challenging some of our most cherished assumptions and for reminding us that the world of chemistry is not nearly as cut and dried as most chemists would have us believe." Both a history and a metahistory, Representing Electrons focuses on the development of various theoretical representations of electrons from the late 1890s to 1925 and the methodological problems associated with writing about unobservable scientific entities. Using the electron—or rather its representation—as a historical actor, Arabatzis illustrates the emergence and gradual consolidation of its representation in physics, its career throughout old quantum theory, and its appropriation and reinterpretation by chemists. As Arabatzis develops this novel biographical approach, he portrays scientific representations as partly autonomous agents with lives of their own. Furthermore, he argues that the considerable variance in the representation of the electron does not undermine its stable identity or existence. . . .

Read more »

Review, David S. Brown, Richard Hofstadter

March 29, 2006
By
Review, David S. Brown, Richard Hofstadter

Publishers Weekly recently reviewed David S. Brown’s Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography. From the review: "Richard Hofstadter wrote several of the 20th century’s most popular and important works of American history, but, as historian Brown reminds readers in this nuanced study, those works were as much a critique of the political culture of his own day as they were an analysis of the past. brief, pointed readings of the Columbia-based thinker’s books and analyses of his era’s conflicts…. As he makes a strong case for the relevance of Hofstadter’s influential understanding of political conflict to contemporary society, Brown is attentive to his flaws, as well: most notably, his personal devotion to postwar, meritocratic liberalism often led him to apply and selectively develop his historical arguments. Although the Hofstadter estate’s prohibition against quotation from his letters weakens the presentation of his inner life, Brown’s thorough research has yielded plenty of well-chosen snippets from the words of Hofstadter’s family, colleagues and students to flesh out this valuable intellectual portrait." Read an excerpt. . . .

Read more »

WSJ‘s pick for art collectors: Duveen

March 28, 2006
By
WSJ‘s pick for art collectors: Duveen

Earlier this month, as part of its coverage of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF Maastricht), the European edition of the Wall Street Journal featured their top picks for "readings on art for collectors." Duveen: A Life in Art by Meryle Secrest made the list. Regarded as the most influential—or, in some circles, notorious—dealer of the twentieth century, Joseph Duveen (1869-1939) established himself selling the European masterpieces of Titian, Botticelli, Giotto, and Vermeer to newly and lavishly wealthy American businessmen—J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Mellon, to name just a few. It is no exaggeration to say that Duveen was the driving force behind every important private art collection in the United States. The key to Duveen’s success was his simple observation that while Europe had the art, America had the money; Duveen made his fortune by buying art from declining European aristocrats and selling them to the "squillionaires" in the United States. . . .

Read more »

Review: Dorrik Stow, Oceans

March 28, 2006
By
Review: Dorrik Stow, Oceans

The New Scientist has praised Dorrik Stow’s Oceans: An Illustrated Reference. From the review by Adrian Barnett: "From sun-drenched atolls to the ice-capped Arctic, Oceans provides a photo-packed history of the seas, their geology, geochemistry and physics, their cycles and circulations. In elegant prose, Stow examines marine life in all its glorious strangeness and extreme abundance. He covers major areas of oceanographic research, including sociology, anthropology and archaeology, revealing how much we know, and the enormous amount we don’t. Helped by lots of colour photographs and explanatory diagrams, charts and maps, this is a splendid, fact-packed read." . . .

Read more »

Review: Robert E. Wright, Financial Founding Fathers

March 27, 2006
By
Review: Robert E. Wright, Financial Founding Fathers

Library Journal recently reviewed Robert E. Wright and David J. Cowen’s Financial Founding Fathers: The Men Who Made America. From the review: "The early financial history of the United States merits additional popular and scholarly attention, and Wright and Cowen provide biographical information on nine founders of America’s financial and economic systems, from Alexander Hamilton to Andrew Jackson and Nicholas Biddle.… The book emphasizes biographical information with limited explanation of financial and economic arguments.… This book is useful for large public libraries so that general readers may understand formative economic ideas in American history." Robert E. Wright and David J. Cowen chronicle how a different group of founding fathers forged the wealth and institutions necessary to transform the American colonies from a diffuse alliance of contending business interests into one cohesive economic superpower. From Alexander Hamilton to Andrew Jackson, the authors focus on the lives of nine Americans in particular—some famous, some unknown, others misunderstood, but all among our nation’s financial founding fathers. Read an excerpt. Visit Wright and Cowen’s Financial Founding Fathers Web site. . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors