The Enduring Relevance of Thucydides

For some reason that I will never understand, Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War is not required reading for graduate students of international relations.1 I don’t know how I was handed a college degree without having read it, for that matter.

David Bromwich and the Vanishing Art of Independent Thinking

The intelligence is defeated as soon as the expression of one’s thoughts is preceded, explicitly or implicitly, by the little word “we.”1 Recently, in The London Review of Books, David Bromwich penned an excoriating piece on Barack Obama and the political class that had me chuckling in my chair (see “The World’s Most Important Spectator”). The writing …

Rome

  …in 1860 the lights and shadows were still mediaeval, and mediaeval Rome was alive; the shadows breathed and glowed, full of soft forms felt by lost senses.  No sand-blast of science had yet skinned off the epidermis of history, thought, and feeling.  The pictures were uncleaned, the churches unrestored, the ruins unexcavated.  Mediaeval Rome …

On Hammocks and Critias

Reclining in a hammock in Puerto Escondido last week, my mind wandered to thoughts of my dog and whether there is a tradeoff between freedom and happiness. Since I was on vacation, the further development of these thoughts took a back seat to what one might consider the proper course of action while recumbent in …

“H = MC. Humanities Equals More Cash”

Speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, David Rubenstein reportedly criticized policy initiatives that push students to orient themselves toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  The real scarcity, he apparently asserted, is in problem solving and critical thinking skills—both of which may be gleaned from the study of humanities, …

Favorite Books of 2013

In light of the holiday season and year end, I thought I’d share the best books I read this year.  While most of these weren’t published in 2013—a number of them dutifully collected dust on bookshelves in no less than three apartments until they were summoned—the following eight books stand out as my favorites over …