Calendar

May
9
Mon
Maurizio Viroli @ Lewis Library, Princeton University
May 9 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

ViroliOne of the greatest political advisers of all time, Niccolò Machiavelli thought long and hard about how citizens could identify great leaders—ones capable of defending and enhancing the liberty, honor, and prosperity of their countries. Drawing on the full range of the Florentine’s writings, acclaimed Machiavelli biographer Maurizio Viroli gathers and interprets Machiavelli’s timeless wisdom about choosing leaders. The brief and engaging result is a new kind of Prince—one addressed to citizens rather than rulers and designed to make you a better voter.

Demolishing popular misconceptions that Machiavelli is a cynical realist, the book shows that he believes republics can’t survive, let alone thrive, without leaders who are virtuous as well as effective. Among much other valuable advice, Machiavelli says that voters should pick leaders who put the common good above narrower interests and who make fighting corruption a priority, and he explains why the best way to recognize true leaders is to carefully examine their past actions and words. On display throughout are the special insights that Machiavelli gained from long, direct knowledge of real political life, the study of history, and reflection on the political thinkers of antiquity.

Recognizing the difference between great and mediocre political leaders is difficult but not at all impossible—with Machiavelli’s help. So do your country a favor. Read this book, then vote like Machiavelli would.

Maurizio Viroli is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin, and professor of political communication at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano. His many books include Niccolò’s Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli (Hill & Wang) and Redeeming “The Prince”: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece (Princeton).

May
17
Tue
Joseph S. Wilson @ OMSI Empirical Theater
May 17 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

BeesThe Bees in Your Backyard provides an engaging introduction to the roughly 4,000 different bee species found in the United States and Canada, dispelling common myths about bees while offering essential tips for telling them apart in the field.

The book features more than 900 stunning color photos of the bees living all around us—in our gardens and parks, along nature trails, and in the wild spaces between. It describes their natural history, including where they live, how they gather food, their role as pollinators, and even how to attract them to your own backyard. Ideal for amateur naturalists and experts alike, it gives detailed accounts of every bee family and genus in North America, describing key identification features, distributions, diets, nesting habits, and more.

May
22
Sun
Joe Wilson @ Beaty Biodiversity Museum
May 22 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

beesThe Bees in Your Backyard provides an engaging introduction to the roughly 4,000 different bee species found in the United States and Canada, dispelling common myths about bees while offering essential tips for telling them apart in the field.

The book features more than 900 stunning color photos of the bees living all around us—in our gardens and parks, along nature trails, and in the wild spaces between. It describes their natural history, including where they live, how they gather food, their role as pollinators, and even how to attract them to your own backyard. Ideal for amateur naturalists and experts alike, it gives detailed accounts of every bee family and genus in North America, describing key identification features, distributions, diets, nesting habits, and more.

Joseph S. Wilson is assistant professor of biology at Utah State University and has been studying bees and wasps for more than a decade. Olivia Messinger Carril received her PhD in plant biology from Southern Illinois University and has been studying bees and the flowers they visit for nearly twenty years.

May
31
Tue
Gary Gerstle @ Hay Festival
May 31 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

GerstleAmerican governance is burdened by a paradox. On the one hand, Americans don’t want “big government” meddling in their lives; on the other hand, they have repeatedly enlisted governmental help to impose their views regarding marriage, abortion, religion, and schooling on their neighbors. These contradictory stances on the role of public power have paralyzed policymaking and generated rancorous disputes about government’s legitimate scope. How did we reach this political impasse? Historian Gary Gerstle, looking at two hundred years of U.S. history, argues that the roots of the current crisis lie in two contrasting theories of power that the Framers inscribed in the Constitution.

One theory shaped the federal government, setting limits on its power in order to protect personal liberty. Another theory molded the states, authorizing them to go to extraordinary lengths, even to the point of violating individual rights, to advance the “good and welfare of the commonwealth.” The Framers believed these theories could coexist comfortably, but conflict between the two has largely defined American history. Gerstle shows how national political leaders improvised brilliantly to stretch the power of the federal government beyond where it was meant to go—but at the cost of giving private interests and state governments too much sway over public policy. The states could be innovative, too. More impressive was their staying power. Only in the 1960s did the federal government, impelled by the Cold War and civil rights movement, definitively assert its primacy. But as the power of the central state expanded, its constitutional authority did not keep pace. Conservatives rebelled, making the battle over government’s proper dominion the defining issue of our time.

From the Revolution to the Tea Party, and the Bill of Rights to the national security state, Liberty and Coercion is a revelatory account of the making and unmaking of government in America.

Jun
1
Wed
Louise Fresco @ Hay Festival
Jun 1 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

FrescoFor the first time in human history, there is food in abundance throughout the world. More people than ever before are now freed of the struggle for daily survival, yet few of us are aware of how food lands on our plates. Behind every meal you eat, there is a story. Hamburgers in Paradise explains how.

In this wise and passionate book, Louise Fresco takes readers on an enticing cultural journey to show how science has enabled us to overcome past scarcities—and why we have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Using hamburgers in the Garden of Eden as a metaphor for the confusion surrounding food today, she looks at everything from the dominance of supermarkets and the decrease of biodiversity to organic foods and GMOs. She casts doubt on many popular claims about sustainability, and takes issue with naïve rejections of globalization and the idealization of “true and honest” food. Fresco explores topics such as agriculture in human history, poverty and development, and surplus and obesity. She provides insightful discussions of basic foods such as bread, fish, and meat, and intertwines them with social topics like slow food and other gastronomy movements, the fear of technology and risk, food and climate change, the agricultural landscape, urban food systems, and food in art.

The culmination of decades of research, Hamburgers in Paradise provides valuable insights into how our food is produced, how it is consumed, and how we can use the lessons of the past to design food systems to feed all humankind in the future.

Jun
8
Wed
Fawaz Gerges @ NYU Program in International Relations
Jun 8 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

GergesThe Islamic State has stunned the world with its savagery, destructiveness, and military and recruiting successes. What explains the rise of ISIS and what does it portend for the future of the Middle East? In this book, one of the world’s leading authorities on political Islam and jihadism sheds new light on these questions as he provides a unique history of the rise and growth of ISIS. Moving beyond journalistic accounts, Fawaz Gerges provides a clear and compelling account of the deeper conditions that fuel ISIS.

The book describes how ISIS emerged in the chaos of Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion, how the group was strengthened by the suppression of the Arab Spring and by the war in Syria, and how ISIS seized leadership of the jihadist movement from Al Qaeda. Part of a militant Sunni revival, ISIS claims its goals are to resurrect a caliphate and rid “Islamic lands” of all Shia and other minorities. In contrast to Al Qaeda, ISIS initially focused on the “near enemy”—Shia, the Iraqi and Syrian regimes, and secular, pro-Western states in the Middle East. But in a tactical shift ISIS has now taken responsibility for spectacular attacks in Europe and other places beyond the Middle East, making it clear that the group is increasingly interested in targeting the “far enemy” as well. Ultimately, the book shows how decades of dictatorship, poverty, and rising sectarianism in the Middle East, exacerbated by foreign intervention, led to the rise of ISIS—and why addressing those problems is the only way to ensure its end.

An authoritative introduction to arguably the most important conflict in the world today, this is an essential book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the social turmoil and political violence ravaging the Arab-Islamic world.

Fawaz A. Gerges is professor of international relations and Emirates Professor in Contemporary Middle East Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His many books include The New Middle East, Obama and the Middle East, and The Far Enemy. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Foreign Affairs, and other publications.

Jun
30
Thu
Dov Waxman @ London Jewish Cultural Center
Jun 30 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

WaxmanTrouble in the Tribe explores the increasingly contentious place of Israel in the American Jewish community. In a fundamental shift, growing numbers of American Jews have become less willing to unquestioningly support Israel and more willing to publicly criticize its government. More than ever before, American Jews are arguing about Israeli policies, and many, especially younger ones, are becoming uncomfortable with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Dov Waxman argues that Israel is fast becoming a source of disunity for American Jewry, and that a new era of American Jewish conflict over Israel is replacing the old era of solidarity.

Drawing on a wealth of in-depth interviews with American Jewish leaders and activists, Waxman shows why Israel has become such a divisive issue among American Jews. He delves into the American Jewish debate about Israel, examining the impact that the conflict over Israel is having on Jewish communities, national Jewish organizations, and on the pro-Israel lobby. Waxman sets this conflict in the context of broader cultural, political, institutional, and demographic changes happening in the American Jewish community. He offers a nuanced and balanced account of how this conflict over Israel has developed and what it means for the future of American Jewish politics.

Israel used to bring American Jews together. Now it is driving them apart. Trouble in the Tribe explains why.