Your New Reading List: Lars Rensmann’s Picks

Last month, we brought you the reading list of Andrei Markovits, co-author of Gaming the World: How Sports are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture.  Now let’s turn to the other half of the dynamic duo that made this book possible, Lars Rensmann.

No one can introduce Lars Rensmann’s reading list better than Lars himself. Without further ado, here is what he told us:

“It is August now, and the end of summer is looming on the horizon. Well, it is still far enough away for now. There’s still plenty time of time to read. Here’s my short list of recommendations for the rest of the summer:

1. If you are interested in philosophy and in sports and take pleasure in philosophizing about sports, Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game (Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court, 2010), edited by Ted Richards, should be your book of choice this summer. It certainly is mine. It is about, well, soccer and philosophy, fair and square. While edited volumes often tend to have particular highlights (and include some less intriguing contributions), reading this book is pure pleasure throughout—offering a multitude of perspectives, it is consistently witty and full of passion (impassionate philosophers, beware!). It offers a sophisticated theoretical edge and sufficient self-irony to make you think and smile. Read about “Aristotle’s Favorite Sport”, or learn about “Kierkegaard at the Penalty Spot”. And find answers to questions you either never had or did not dare to raise.

2. My second choice is Public Freedom by Dana Villa (Princeton University Press, 2008). Villa offers a powerful defense of political liberties in our age. Without concealing his Arendtian bias, he discovers new perspectives on various modern political philosophers and speaks with a distinct and clear voice. He thereby shows the significance of public freedom and (arenas for) public agency. Expect controversial readings of modern classics that are always engaging and stimulating and often surprising. For me, it is Villa’s best book, and a must-read for political theorists.

3. Finally, I am thrilled that Theodor Adorno’s Guilt and Defense: On the Legacies of National Socialism in Postwar Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010) has eventually been translated and published in a fine American edition. This book documents Adorno’s qualitative interpretations of group discussions that were conducted by the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt and entailed different strata of German society short after WW II and the Holocaust. Here you can read and learn about what average Germans thought in the late 1940s, and how Adorno reconstructed their ideas. This is the best insight into immediate post-War Germany you will ever get. Anyone interested in post-War German politics and culture needs to take a close look at this. Maybe nothing for the beach, either. But for any intellectual interested in 20th century Germany: Indispensable.”

Unbelievably, August is here – but despite back-to-school fever, summer is far from over.  As Lars reminds us, “there’s still plenty of time to read.”

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