Princeton author Daniel Stedman Jones had a busy day on 16th January promoting his recently published ‘Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics’. In the afternoon he appeared on BBC Radio 4′s ‘Thinking Allowed’ and that evening he was the lead speaker at a public lecture based around the book at the London School of Economics where his respondents were Professor Lord Skidelsky and Professor Mark Pennington. Please follow the links to catch up with both events.
FACT: “FDR’s effectiveness as president and as keystone of the Grand Alliance depended on his personal alliances with dedicated, live-in aides who entertained him, translated his notions into pragmatic policy, and got results. Harry L. Hopkins and Marguerite ‘Missy’ LeHand (and in earlier years, Louis M. Howe and Thomas G. Corcoran) wore themselves out in trying to cope not only with the extraordinary needs of the ‘Boss’ but also with his possessiveness regarding even their personal lives. By 1944, the very time when Roosevelt faced mounting challenges in managing the war and planning the peace, he had lost the crucial players of his inner circle. FDR became, partly owing to his demanding nature, dangerously isolated.”
Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics
Helped Start the Cold War
by Frank Costigliola
In the spring of 1945, as the Allied victory in Europe was approaching, the shape of the postwar world hinged on the personal politics and flawed personalities of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances captures this moment and shows how FDR crafted a winning coalition by overcoming the different habits, upbringings, sympathies, and past experiences of the three leaders. In particular, Roosevelt trained his famous charm on Stalin, lavishing respect on him, salving his insecurities, and rendering him more amenable to compromise on some matters.
Yet, even as he pursued a lasting peace, FDR was alienating his own intimate circle of advisers and becoming dangerously isolated. After his death, postwar cooperation depended on Harry Truman, who, with very different sensibilities, heeded the embittered “Soviet experts” his predecessor had kept distant. A Grand Alliance was painstakingly built and carelessly lost. The Cold War was by no means inevitable.
This landmark study brings to light key overlooked documents, such as the Yalta diary of Roosevelt’s daughter Anna; the intimate letters of Roosevelt’s de facto chief of staff, Missy LeHand; and the wiretap transcripts of estranged adviser Harry Hopkins. With a gripping narrative and subtle analysis, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances lays out a new approach to foreign relations history. Frank Costigliola highlights the interplay between national political interests and more contingent factors, such as the personalities of leaders and the culturally conditioned emotions forming their perceptions and driving their actions. Foreign relations flowed from personal politics—a lesson pertinent to historians, diplomats, and citizens alike.
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9524.pdf
Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.
FACT: “Catholics were first allowed to enlist in the British army in large numbers in the 1790s, and for more than a century thereafter tens and even hundreds of thousands of Irishmen continued to follow the increasingly well-worn path into the armed forces of the Crown. Many joined Irish regiments such as the Connaught Rangers, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and the King’s Liverpool Regiment (popularly known as the Liverpool Irish). In some cases, their uniform jackets were green, and the insignias on their jackets included harps, shamrocks, or other distinctively Irish symbols.”
Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race
by Bruce Nelson
This is a book about Irish nationalism and how Irish nationalists developed their own conception of the Irish race. Bruce Nelson begins with an exploration of the discourse of race—from the nineteenth—century belief that “race is everything” to the more recent argument that there are no races. He focuses on how English observers constructed the “native” and Catholic Irish as uncivilized and savage, and on the racialization of the Irish in the nineteenth century, especially in Britain and the United States, where Irish immigrants were often portrayed in terms that had been applied mainly to enslaved Africans and their descendants.
Most of the book focuses on how the Irish created their own identity—in the context of slavery and abolition, empire, and revolution. Since the Irish were a dispersed people, this process unfolded not only in Ireland, but in the United States, Britain, Australia, South Africa, and other countries. Many nationalists were determined to repudiate anything that could interfere with the goal of building a united movement aimed at achieving full independence for Ireland. But others, including men and women who are at the heart of this study, believed that the Irish struggle must create a more inclusive sense of Irish nationhood and stand for freedom everywhere. Nelson pays close attention to this argument within Irish nationalism, and to the ways it resonated with nationalists worldwide, from India to the Caribbean.
“This is a brilliant history of British imperial white racism and Irish resistance to it—and cooperation with it—in Ireland and the United States. From Frederick Douglass and Daniel O’Connell in the nineteenth century to Marcus Garvey and Liam Mellows in the twentieth, we are given here a pathbreaking account of a still unfinished struggle.”—Seamus Deane, Keough Emeritus Professor of Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame
We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9719.pdf
Dana Mackenzie – Four Way Interview
Dana Mackenzie is the author of The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to Be (Wiley), among other books. He is a frequent contributor to Science, Discover, and New Scientist. He has a PhD in mathematics from Princeton and was a mathematics professor for thirteen years before becoming a full time writer. His latest book is The Universe in Zero Words.
To me, mathematics is the most universal language. It is a subject with a continuous unbroken tradition from the ancient Chinese, Babylonians, and Egyptians to the present day – a longer tradition than any other science and virtually any other human endeavor. It is an enabling subject, in the sense that every other science depends on it to some extent, and generally speaking the more modern a science becomes, the more explicitly it incorporates mathematical reasoning and ideas.
Most importantly and most personally for me, I love mathematics because there is no other field I know of where truth and beauty are so closely intertwined. They are related in the other sciences as well, but I still feel feel that scientific truths are to some extent contingent and occasionally a result of happenstance. Our knowledge is based upon imperfect data and our imperfect interpretations thereof. In
mathematics, by contrast, nothing is ever true by accident. A mathematical theorem, once proven correctly, can never be falsified. (It can only become irrelevant, and even then it often returns to relevance when you least expect it.) The best theorems, and the best proofs, are almost always the ones with the greatest beauty and economy of ideas.
Why this book?
My purpose in writing this book is to demystify mathematics, and in particular to demystify equations.
For many people, an equation is a forbidding and scary thing. It looks like some kind of mystical incantation filled with secrets they are not privy to. And yet for scientists, and especially for mathematicians, it is exactly the opposite. Words are too imprecise and clumsy to express the fine details of a mathematical idea; an equation is often the only way to do it. This is why I called the book The Universe in Zero Words - because by opening yourself up to equations (which typically have zero words), you open yourself to seeing the universe more clearly.
To compare words to equations, imagine comparing a painting of Earth to a Google map. No matter how well executed, the painting is rough and inaccurate. When you zoom in on it, you don’t see any new geographic details. By contrast, the farther you zoom into a Google map, the more interesting details you see. It is the same way with an equation. This book is an attempt to help the reader through that process, to see the ”Google Maps” version of mathematics rather than the caricature version that popular culture presents us.
I also wrote this book because I wanted to write a mathematics book! My first book (The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to Be) was about a subject that I had no special training in when I began the project. It was a great way to exercise and develop my journalistic muscles. For my second book, I wanted to write about something that I already knew a lot about. This allowed me to write from a much more personal point of view, rather than the dispassionate view of the journalist or historian.
In the short term, I am continuing to write a series of booklets for the American Mathematical Society called What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences. The next one in the series, volume 9, should come out early next year, and I am very busy with that and hoping that I can meet my deadline.
In the long term, I expect that at some point I will get to work on another trade book. I love writing the “What’s Happening” series, but I have to admit that it reaches a rather narrow audience. At this point I can only describe the broadest features of what I am looking for in my next mass market book. Having written one book “far from home” (about planetary science) and one “close to home” (about mathematics) I will probably venture “farther from home” again. But I may change that plan if The Universe in Zero Words is a big success, and if there seems to be a big demand for another mathematical book from me. I would also be interested in writing a book that takes place over a shorter time frame, because both of my previous books covered nearly the whole period of recorded history. There is something to be said for the classical unities of time, space, and action (although I would not interpret themtoo literally).
What’s exciting you at the moment?
Mostly the things I have written about most recently and the things I am writing about right now. That would include an article I wrote for Science magazine about robotic flapping birds, and a chapter I wrote for What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences about mathematical algorithms to solve Rubik’s cube. An interesting thing that they had in common was that for the first time I found myself using YouTube as a research tool! There is an absolutely amazing video on YouTube of one of the new robotic birds, designed by a German company called Festo, flying over the audience at a TED conference in Edinburgh. You should look it up if you haven’t seen it. And there are many, many amazing videos on YouTube of “speedcubers” — people who solve Rubik’s cube as quickly as possible. Some use their hands, some use their feet, some do it blindfolded! The current world record for solving Rubik’s cube (by a human) is 5.66 seconds. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even unlock the door to my house in 5.66 seconds!
This interview was first published on 25th May 2012 on Popular Science. For more interviews like this as well as book reviews on popular science and maths titles, please visit www.popularscience.co.uk.
“The idea that pirates were better at governing themselves than the European Union might seem a little surreal, unless you’re a very sceptical person when it comes to the EU. So prepare for your timbers to be shivered and your preconceptions of pirates to be swashbuckled. According to Peter Leeson, author of the Invisible Hook, a wordplay on Adam Smith’s invisible hand, pirates were quite a civilised bunch. When it came to governing themselves, that is.”
Ahoy Mateys! The Daily Reckoning posts a long article about the EU, drawing on ideas from The Invisible Hook by Peter Leeson. And since there’s nothing like a pirate economics book to bring out some wonderful imagery and piratical puns, this article is a must read. If your appetite is whetted, we’re happy to offer two ways to dip further into the material:
The Secrets of Pirate Management is a new Princeton Shorts that distills important lessons that can apply to any enterprise, nautical or otherwise. This short e-book is available on internet retailers at a bonny low price and is an economical way to sample the book.
In Praise of Moderation
By Aurelian Craiutu
Moderates have not fared well lately in American politics. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has recently announced that she will not seek a fourth term because of the growing political partisanship in the Senate. An iconic figure of moderation in American politics, she will be remembered for having played a key role in the passing of the $787bn stimulus package proposed by the Obama administration in 2009 that was opposed by the majority of her republican colleagues on ideological grounds. In the current republican primaries, Mitt Romney has been working very hard to defend himself against accusations of being a “moderate.” This label has made him unappealing in the eyes of many Republican voters whom he has tried to sway by calling himself “a severely conservative governor.” Politicians who are running for office in the upcoming elections are strongly advised to distinguish themselves from those who practice moderation and pursue their agendas while looking to—and even drawing from—both the left and the right.
For all the strategic considerations surrounding all political campaigns, this should surprise us since political moderation is the touchstone of democracy which cannot function without compromise and bargaining. Yet moderation remains a concept that challenges our imagination and appears as a fuzzy virtue which defies universal claims and moral absolutes. Not surprisingly, we often tend to misrepresent or distort the true meanings of moderation. The latter has often been regarded as the virtue of tepid, middling, shy, timorous, indecisive, and lukewarm individuals, incapable of generating heroic acts or great stories. A few decades ago, Barry Goldwater famously proclaimed (before losing in the presidential elections of 1964): “Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Our current political culture seems to have embraced again his skepticism toward moderation and, perhaps, has taken it a notch further. Among other things, the impending retirement from the Senate of six moderates (two Republicans, four Democrats) underscores the little stock many voters seem to place in this virtue. Not surprisingly, many of us find it difficult to be enthusiastic about something that seemingly lacks charisma and carries the connotation of small-mindedness, opportunism, or dullness. Instead, they are often fascinated by firm and stubborn politicians who stand uncompromisingly on principle and whose universe is a one-dimensional, black-and-white one.
As I argued in a recent book on this topic*, moderation is a difficult virtue for courageous minds, and one that cannot be studied in abstract, but only as instantiated in various historical and political contexts and discourses. In other words, there is no objective theory of moderation outside of particular situations. There is something about the nature of moderation that can only be captured through embodiment in the specific political and historical context and actors. The principles chosen by moderates have been—and will always be— inseparable from their concrete choices and decisions regarding certain actions performed in specific political, social, and historical contexts. What is moderate in one context and period may significantly differ from another. More importantly, moderation has many faces connected to each other. It is much more than a simple trait of character, a certain state of mind, or a disposition. In addition to its ethical meaning, moderation also has a distinctively political and institutional dimension, being linked to balance (and separation) of powers, social and political pluralism, and mixed government. As Montesquieu and the authors of The Federalist Papers demonstrated, political moderation rests on a bold constitutional vision based on a complex institutional architecture. As such, moderation requires great skills, strong determination, a great deal of courage, and (often) a good dose of non-conformism. That is why the majority of moderate politicians are not moral chameleons who seek personal advancement. They are “trimmers” who try to adjust the cargo and sails of the ship of state to keep it on an even keel. These adjustments may be small and unheroic, and they may not always fit the “party” line (as in the case of Senator Snowe, for example), but they often save the state from anarchy or ruin.
Although radical or extreme gestures create bold and colorful narratives which are often much more attractive than moderation, searching for the middle and the mean (as attributes of moderation) is always more difficult than making one’s journey along the margins. Moderate political action requires balancing and weighing various principles in each situation rather than merely resorting to a single set of universal principles or values. Moderation presupposes reasoning and deliberation, but it also demands intuition, foresight, and flexibility for which there is no single or simple formula. That is why moderation is a difficult and eclectic virtue which is not for all seasons and all people. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would not have been successful in challenging the Soviet communist system had he adopted a more moderate approach. Sometimes, only immoderate voices like his can successfully oppose tyranny.
The recent growing partisanship in the Congress has silenced moderates on both aisles and weakened their appeal and base. Moderates’ willingness to compromise and work with the other side has put them out of step with their own parties and decreased their chances of being (re)elected in the upcoming elections. The moderate middle has become a very lonely place in American politics—and a very insecure one. Therefore, we must take a new look at this elusive and difficult virtue, one that, in Montesquieu’s words, represents the supreme virtue of the legislator. Moderation is neither a fixed ideology (party platform), nor a merely positional virtue depending on the vitality and agenda of the extremes. Defined as the antonym of fanaticism and single-mindedness, moderation is particularly relevant today. Through their actions, moderates remind us that in politics we do not have to choose between good and evil, but between what is preferable and what is detestable.
Moderates perform a vital balancing role in our society. Without moderation, John Adams once wrote, “every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey.” Defined as that virtue which allows us to see things in the right proportions and prevents us from resorting to hyperbole and violence, moderation blends measure, spirit, and reasonableness and makes one’s mind at once firm and flexible, full of common sense and vivacity. Moderation can be a fighting and combative virtue, and it should not be equated with indecision, shyness, and submissiveness. Moderates may sometimes benefit from partisanship and polarization insofar as the exposure to the crossfire of radicals can stimulate their imagination by encouraging them to develop original political and institutional responses to their problems. Paradoxically, like poisons taken in small dosages, various forms of extremism that act in the framework of legality can have healing effects if they trigger much-needed course corrections. By adopting the soundest attitudes and principles of all parties, moderates seek to facilitate agreements for the common good, and prevent the country from slipping into atomism, anarchy, or civil war. As members of a “party without banners,” they help preserve the fragile balance between various social forces and political interests on which pluralism, order, and freedom depend in our society.
*Aurelian Craiutu is Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. His most recent book is A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748-1830 (Princeton University Press, 2012) on which this short essay is based.
Paul Seabright gave a fascinating and typically wide ranging talk “On Lying, Risk Taking and the Euro” for our second annual Princeton University Press
in Europe lecture on 18th April. The talk, which is open to the public, honours our European Advisory Board. In the lecture, Seabright argued that many of the factors which led to the Euro crisis were in plain sight from its launch. The challenge is that in many different ways we are hard wired not to notice. We tend for example to like to tell a morality tale with good guys and bad guys; we tend not to notice slow creeping crises; and we succumb to the very human desire not to rock the boat. Drawing on a wealth of economic data and the insights of neuroscience and behavioural economics, Seabright’s analysis is both compelling – and chilling.
As voters went to the polls for the French presidential elections, Richard Kuisel, author of The French Way: How France Embraced and Rejected American Values and Power shared his thoughts with Election 101 on the distinct differences between election season in the US and the one in France. Read on for an interesting study in contrasts between two political cultures including treatments of key issues like the market and capitalism, immigration, as well as a marked difference in the amount of interest in candidates’ private lives and religious faith.
Mitt Romney speaks French! For some voters, this French connection is a handicap. A look at the concurrent presidential elections in the U.S. and France reveals some striking parallels, telling differences, and intriguing connections.
In both campaigns the principal issue is the incumbent president. For many renewing mandates is the question that outweighs all other considerations. In France large majorities say they oppose reelection. Presidents Obama and Sarkozy have provoked determined opponents, some of whom would go to great length to limit them to one term. The far right of the Republican Party, despite reservations about Mitt Romney, would hold their nose and vote for him in order to oust Barack Obama. Similarly, in France, the far Left, who are not enamored of the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, seem willing to endorse him if need be to block Nicolas Sarkozy. For many voters in both countries these elections are referenda on the inhabitants of the White House and the Elysée Palace and much of the energy originates in oppositional politics. In both countries legislative elections (which in France follow in June) may not ratify the presidential vote and may thus bring divided governments.
Critics in both electorates are also motivated by a perception of national decline and blame this downward momentum on their presidents. Voters worry about a loss of international status, domestic cohesion, a sense of common purpose, and even national identity. They ask “Are our best days behind us?” This is an old Gallic anxiety that dates back to the Fall of France in 1940, if not earlier. For Americans this is a newer concern. The way to return the U.S to greatness according to the Tea Party movement is to remove President Obama and revive the spirit of our Founding Fathers. Sarkozy speaks of restoring traditional values like work and responsibility and his slogan is “The Strong France.” For the Left in France the solution is to send Sarkozy into retirement and revive social democracy and civic solidarity.
Both presidential campaigns have focused on domestic rather than foreign affairs. Candidates debate unemployment, budget deficits, and strategies for economic revival rather than international affairs. In the U.S. even though we are engaged in a seemingly endless war, Afghanistan is not a major issue. The war is less and less popular but the end game is depressing rather than controversial. The principal international problem is how far the U.S. should go to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Otherwise the question is how to create jobs, reduce government debt, and remedy health care. Among the French attention is on unemployment, the cost of living, job security, and law and order. And worry about immigration is keener in France than in the U.S. Foreign affairs are peripheral except for Europe and there debate centers on the EU’s new fiscal compact and the union’s openness to immigration. None of these concerns, however, compete with the agenda set by the current economic and financial crises.
What is perhaps more illuminating than similarities are transatlantic differences starting with religion. In France’s secular political culture the religious convictions of presidential candidates are irrelevant and the French are dismayed at how American politicians parade their religiosity or question the beliefs of their rivals, for example, the Mormon faith of Romney. Claiming “I am a better Christian than you” seems to enhance a candidate’s political profile here but not in France. If one’s faith is not an issue in France, however, treatment of the Muslim community is controversial.
Private lives, like religious faith, occupy the American electorate but not the French. In the U.S. presidential candidates parade their wives and children, their records as parents, and their marital fidelity as certificates of electability. And they undermine rivals by raising questions about such matters, e.g. Gingrich’s divorces. Not so in France where politics do not intrude on privacy. That François Hollande sired four children outside of marriage is not a handicap. Sarkozy, however, has crossed this boundary with his high-profile divorce and remarriage to a former model while occupying the Elysée. And he has made his temperament and life style a minor issue, but this is atypical of Gallic politics and a faint echo of how Americans conduct elections.
Money also distinguishes the American electoral process. Some ask whether or not the spending of Super PACS and the media have fundamentally distorted this election. No such problem exists in the current French campaign.
All candidates in the American campaign praise the market and capitalism. Not so in France where both Sarkozy and Hollande denounce market fundamentalism and the far Left presents an openly anti-capitalist stance. Unlike the U.S. virtually all French candidates also agree on raising taxes, especially on the wealthy, avoid discussing spending cuts, and indict the financial sector for the crisis.
Are there any connections between the two elections? A perceived “French connection” is a handicap in the U.S. Thus the Super Pac of Gingrich (who himself knows French) has belittled Romney for speaking French and Santorum has claimed (falsely) that France has not sided with America for the last 20 years. And labeling any Democratic initiative as the “European (French) way” is now a familiar Republican indictment. In France Obama remains popular and anti-Americanism is out of bounds except for latent reservations about Sarkozy. In 2007 the latter had campaigned openly as a friend of the American way, the first presidential candidate in French history to do so, but he has retreated from this stance and America, including France’s reintegration into NATO in 2009, is not a serious issue.
Mercifully all this will be over by May 6 in France while Americans will have to struggle on until November.
Richard F. Kuisel holds a joint appointment at the BMW Center for German and European Studies and in the History Department at Georgetown University. His books include Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization
David Scheffer author of ‘All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals’ was in London this week and spoke at Chatham House. An audio recording of his talk is now available on their website. His trip coincided with the conviction on Wednesday 14th March of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo in what was the first verdict delivered by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (please scroll down to 0824 for the clip) he was interviewed about this and the relationship of the United States to the court.
David Scheffer, author of the recently published ‘All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals’ will be touring Europe from 12 – 24 March, speaking in London, The Hague, Berlin, Cologne, Vienna, Budapest, Sarajevo and Brussels. While in London he will be talking at the Society for Oriental and African Studies on 12th March and at Chatham House on 13 March. Both these events are free and open to the public so please follow the links if you would like to sign up. For more detailed information on any of the other events in Europe please contact Caroline Priday firstname.lastname@example.org or @crpriday
FACT: “On the eve of the First World War, Krupp had been by far the largest German company, with assets of 599.5 million marks in 1912, although it was only one-fifth the size of the largest American corporation, the giant U.S. Steel, and half the size of the largest British firm, the thread and textile maker J. & P. Coats. Its owner, Bertha Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, was listed as being, with assets of 283 million marks, the wealthiest person in Germany.”
Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm
by Harold James
The history of Krupp is the history of modern Germany. No company symbolized the best and worst of that history more than the famous steel and arms maker. In this book, Harold James tells the story of the Krupp family and its industrial empire between the early nineteenth century and the present, and analyzes its transition from a family business to one owned by a nonprofit foundation.
Krupp founded a small steel mill in 1811, which established the basis for one of the largest and most important companies in the world by the end of the century. Famously loyal to its highly paid workers, it rejected an exclusive focus on profit, but the company also played a central role in the armament of Nazi Germany and the firm’s head was convicted as a war criminal at Nuremberg. Yet after the war Krupp managed to rebuild itself and become a symbol of Germany once again—this time open, economically successful, and socially responsible.
Books on Krupp tend to either denounce it as a diabolical enterprise or celebrate its technical ingenuity. In contrast, James presents a balanced account, showing that the owners felt ambivalent about the company’s military connection even while becoming more and more entangled in Germany’s aggressive politics during the imperial era and the Third Reich.
By placing the story of Krupp and its owners in a wide context, James also provides new insights into the political, social, and economic history of modern Germany.
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9680.pdf
This week’s book giveaway is The Paradox of Love by Pascal Bruckner, translated by Steven Rendall and with an afterword by Richard Golsan.
The sexual revolution is justly celebrated for the freedoms it brought—birth control, the decriminalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce, greater equality between the sexes, women’s massive entry into the workforce, and more tolerance of homosexuality. But as Pascal Bruckner, one of France’s leading writers, argues in this lively and provocative reflection on the contradictions of modern love, our new freedoms have also brought new burdens and rules—without, however, wiping out the old rules, emotions, desires, and arrangements: the couple, marriage, jealousy, the demand for fidelity, the war between constancy and inconstancy. It is no wonder that love, sex, and relationships today are so confusing, so difficult, and so paradoxical.
Drawing on history, politics, psychology, literature, pop culture, and current events, this book—a best seller in France—exposes and dissects these paradoxes. With his customary brilliance and wit, Bruckner traces the roots of sexual liberation back to the Enlightenment in order to explain love’s supreme paradox, epitomized by the 1960s oxymoron of “free love”: the tension between freedom, which separates, and love, which attaches. Ashamed that our sex lives fail to live up to such liberated ideals, we have traded neuroses of repression for neuroses of inadequacy, and we overcompensate: “Our parents lied about their morality,” Bruckner writes, but “we lie about our immorality.”
Mixing irony and optimism, Bruckner argues that, when it comes to love, we should side neither with the revolutionaries nor the reactionaries. Rather, taking love and ourselves as we are, we should realize that love makes no progress and that its messiness, surprises, and paradoxes are not merely the sources of its pain—but also of its pleasure and glory.
“Pascal Bruckner is one of the most original, and least academic, of the new French philosophers. He has a mordant wit, a feeling for the pregnant sentence, and his dissection of the myths of romantic love—too elegantly done to be called a ‘deconstruction’—is ideal reading for lovers of paradox, and even for those still in love with love’s paradox.”—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon and The Table Comes First
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9679.pdf
The random draw for this book with be Friday 2/10 at 3 pm EST. Be sure to like us on Facebook if you haven’t already to be entered to win!