Books in My Briefcase

I’ve fallen way behind in my reading, but I did recently finish up a few books and start a few more. (I find that I usually have three to five books going at any one time. That’s more on account of laziness than anything else.) I’ve got a review coming out soon in Reason (I’ll link to it when it’s available online) of Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality and will be reviewing for other publications Cass Sunstein’s The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever (on which I had the privilege of commenting at a book luncheon for Professor Sunstein at the Cato Institute) and Peter Berkowitz’s edited collection Never a Matter of Indifference: Sustaining Virtue in a Free Republic. Other items that I’m currently reading and enjoying are: John Micklethwait’s and Adrian Wooldridge’s The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (a very interesting explanation of contemporary American politics); Vickie B. Sullivan’s Machiavelli, Hobbes, and the Formation of a Liberal Republicanism in England (an effective response to the claims of Quentin Skinner and others [see his Liberty before Liberalism] that draw a pretty hard and fast distinction between liberalism and republicanism; so far, I’ve enjoyed Sullivan’s excursions into intellectual history but find her treatment of John Locke puzzling); Richard Ashcraft’s Locke’s Two Treatises of Goverment (which I’m reading as a follow-on to my recent reading of the Two Treatises); and Jack N. Rakove’s Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.

I’ve also just gotten (and hope to read soon) Timur Kuran’s Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism. Timur’s previous book, Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification, was certainly fascinating and his writings on Islamic history and thought are informative and insightful.

(I’ve recently read several books of the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Aleksander Pushkin — alas, in translation — at the suggestion of my friend Jose Pinera, who teased me in Moscow for not knowing that Neruda was a Chilean; being induced to read Neruda and Pushkin was well worth the teasing.)