Category: Book Reviews

  • Poetry on its own Terms

    Poetry on its own Terms

    In the Republic, Plato famously remarked that “there is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry.”  He also refused to include most types of poetry in his ideal city.  Without suggesting a causal connection, it seems that as poetry loses its prominence more and more in pop culture and public life, the world becomes less […]

  • Life Through an Unfiltered Lens

    Life Through an Unfiltered Lens

    This book is not for the timid or unabashed. Written by Elise Krentzel of Austin, it details the raw, earthy, family details of a dysfunctional family. It is her first memoir, an autobiographical look at her life from the 60s and 70s, with the opening chapter set in the 80s. There are 7 pages of […]

  • History Returning From the Past

    History Returning From the Past

    Hegel stated that Europe was the “Centre and end of History.” In a chapter by Suresh Sharma, where she gives this quote by Hegel, she writes that by the early 20th century, “the rest of the world had no choice but to learn to subsist in the shadow of Europe as the measure of all […]

  • Ancient Latin Poetry Books

    Ancient Latin Poetry Books

    What is a poem? That is the question Gabriel Macedo (University of Liège in Belgium) tackles at the outset of this book. While the ancient Romans left us few theoretical definitions, the one that seems most appropriate was written by the scholar Varro (116-27 BCE). “Poema,” he wrote, “is a rhythmical diction, that is a […]

  • Achilles and the Black Cloud of Grief

    Achilles and the Black Cloud of Grief

    In this book on the futility of longing for the dead, Professor Emily Austin of the University of Chicago explores the reaction of Achilles to the loss of his compatriot Patroclus. The text is, of course, the bedrock text of the Western world, The Iliad by Homer. Even though it was written some 2,750 years […]

  • Jan. 6 and the Ancient Greek Poet Simonides

    Jan. 6 and the Ancient Greek Poet Simonides

    Proving that poetry is the path to eternity, we have here a large book on Simonides. While most of the leaders and military generals of that long ago time when he lived (born in 556 BCE) have vanished from memory, we still remember this itinerant poet who commemorated the great events that founded the Western […]

  • Building Democracy

    Building Democracy

    The built environment is something we often take for granted. For example, if you were born in London anytime in the last century, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace would be seemingly timeless landmarks. But if you went back to London 200 years ago, neither building we admire now would be there. So it […]

  • Diderot: Prose of the World

    Diderot: Prose of the World

    This book could have been subtitled The Many Faces of Diderot. Like the 1957 film Man of a Thousand Faces, even the world expert on Diderot, who authored this, can’t fully explain him. As editor of the 17-volume Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot (1713-1784) has been regarded by many as the Face of the Enlightenment, although as […]

  • The Story of Undersea Cables

    The Story of Undersea Cables

    In lively prose that transforms an otherwise dull subject into an exciting adventure story, Dr Bruce Hunt of the University of Texas in Austin has written a book on how undersea cables were developed in the 1800s. There are several starring roles in this tale, with Michael Faraday and William Thomson being cast as the […]

  • British Literature in 1,165 pages

    British Literature in 1,165 pages

    There are several landmarks in the study of British/English literature. The latest of these is a 3-volume set published by Cambridge University Press. Covering the period 1557-1714 in an expansive 1,165 pages, a host of experts have come together to produce a comprehensive look at what may be regarded as the defining times of our […]