Your New Reading List: Andrei Markovits’s Picks

Now that World Cup fever is cooling off, you might find that you have some extra time on your hands since you’re no longer keeping track of your favorite team or practicing the vuvuzela. Why not use that time to catch up on a good book?

We asked our authors and staff to send us their recommendations for books that they can’t – and that you shouldn’t – live without. We’ve compiled an extraordinary list of books of different topics, genres, and time periods, and we’re bringing them straight to you! Starting today, we’ll be posting daily reading lists, and you’ll be sure to discover a new favorite in no time.

First up is Andrei S. Markovits’s reading list. As the author of Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism, Uncouth Nation: Why Europe  Dislikes America, and Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture, I’m sure he’s just as devastated that the World Cup is over as you are. However, he – and now you – can find comfort in the following books. Here are Andrei’s picks and a few words on why they should top your reading list:

1. “Nobody should go through the summer or year or life without having read
Jared Diamond’s GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL: The Fates of Human Societies.  It is FAR AND AWAY THE very best and most accomplished multi-disciplinary explanation and interpretation as to why Europe won, meaning why it was a group of illiterate Spanish thugs who captured the Inka king in the midst of his capital surrounded by his army as opposed to Inka warriors capturing Charles V in Madrid. Harnessing his immense knowledge of biology, virology, zoology, geography, history, sociology — just to name a few of the extant disciplines informing this amazing book — Diamond demonstrates how a confluence of forces and structures led to Europe’s military and economic superiority over the rest of the world. Amazing book!!!!”

2. R. Crumb, The Book of Genesis Illustrated
“I need not — actually cannot — explain what has made this master cartoonist SO compelling to me for decades. Sure I am a child of the sixties, for whom R. Crumb was more than a voice; he was a genuine icon. But to have this well-known and well-worn story of the Bible presented in such an original and unusual manner is nothing short of brilliant.”

3. Robert Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad
“Must reading for all those who wishfully but erroneously believe that anti-Semitism has been vanquished by our present-day liberal democratic societies in the West. Even more important reading for those who view anti-Semitism as merely another manifestation of racism, xenophobia and prejudice. To be sure, it is all that — and then some. Having read many books on anti-Semitism in my life, I still found Wistrich’s tome compelling not only in its encyclopedic dimensions but also in its explanations and analyses.”

So there you have it – 3 books that you might not have known about but that you should certainly check out. And if these don’t whet your appetite for reading, check back with us tomorrow for more suggestions!


  1. These are great picks! I would love reading GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL: The Fates of Human Societies.