The warring monarchies of early modern Europe are not my specialty, compared to my European-historian peers, so I read Pierre Goubert’s Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen (1966; English version 1970) at a mild disadvantage. Still, I found that I rarely needed to peruse Wikipedia for extra context, as Goubert writes with a non-specialist audience […]Read more "The History of History 13: Where’d All These Frenchmen Come From?"
This is the fourth year-end wrap-up I’ve written about music. My past discussions of particular songs or albums have tended to be lengthy, so this year I’ll try to assess items with brevity. While 2016 may not have seen as many inventive recordings as in 2015, the year had a proliferation of well-honed albums and […]Read more "Mountains of the Moon, Earth to Heaven: The Best Music of 2016"
After reading Kenneth Pomeranz’s Great Divergence and Immanuel Wallerstein’s World-Systems Analysis, we staggered into class this week with the literary equivalent of battle scars. We had read two dense tomes in a week and lived to tell the tale. Most people launched into conversation by stressing the density of Pomeranz, with his many footnotes and nuanced case […]Read more "The History of History 12: How the West Won (For a While…)"
Our readings this week disrupted the chronological approach to great books that we have used so far. Last week, we read Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–05). This week, we read Immanuel Wallerstein’s World-Systems Analysis (2004) and Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence (2000). These two books reflect a century’s worth of […]Read more "The History of History 11: The Great Divergence"
Note: My professor reminded me that Max Weber’s writing, while reminiscent of modernization theory, was published before that theory was a thing. Still, here’s my raw take on reading “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”: Before I read the Penguin Classics edition of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism […]Read more "The History of History 9: Max Weber and the Protestants!"
Ah Karl, you little rascal, you. Your philosophy inspired heated debates in the nineteenth century, turned the world upside down in the twentieth century, and lies somewhat dormant in the twenty-first century, as the word communism is associated with totalitarian regimes. Moreover, your name frequently overshadows your collaborator, Friedrich Engels. What of poor Engels, who […]Read more "The History of History 7: Marx & Engels"
I used to dread reading philosophy and to some extent I dread it still. Not just German philosophers like Johann Herder and Georg Hegel, mind you. All philosophers. As I plowed through Herder and Hegel for this class, I observed that, while these authors have written dense sentences, they are not impossible to comprehend. Of […]Read more "The History of History 6: The Classics in Our Schools?"