Category » Book Reviews

True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed;
Something whose truth convinced at sight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind.
-Alexander Pope

William H. Gass’ The World Within The Word

The foremost distinguishing characteristic of any good writer is a fascination with words. This never struck me as a very high bar, for words are inherently interesting: try thinking or communicating without them. We use words not only to describe […]

Wesley Yang’s The Souls Of Yellow Folk

I have been an avid reader of Wesley Yang’s for some time now. I can’t recall which of his many essays first caught my attention, but the rare combination of original insight and lyrical flair that characterizes his writing was […]

Douglas Murray’s The Madness Of Crowds

The end of the last decade has occasioned all manner of reflection on the past ten years, and speculation about the next ten. For my part, I will remember the 2010s as being defined by the culture wars that presently […]

Michael Oakeshott’s The Voice Of Liberal Learning

It has become fashionable nowadays to speak of the “crisis in higher education,” evident in exploding costs, over-leveraged students and a job market that can seldom justify the high number of graduates with specialties in increasingly esoteric fields. These are […]

E.M. Cioran’s The Trouble With Being Born

The first month of the new year, of the new decade, even, seems to me the worst possible time to pick up a book by Emil Cioran, whose particular brand of nihilism is pessimistic even by the weighty standards of […]

Leszek Kołakowski’s Is God Happy?

I ended the year reading a collection of essays by the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski, whose life spanned not only the two great catastrophes to befall 20th century Poland – the Nazi and Soviet invasions – but the collapse of […]

René Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Until his death in 2015, René Girard was one of France’s most illustrious philosophers, whose works encompassed topics as varied as economics and mythology, literary criticism and anthropology, sociology and theology. He was a two-time winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship, […]

Paul Berman’s A Tale Of Two Utopias

It is my conviction that my generation is growing up within an elaborate experiment, whose parameters we did not choose, whose conclusions cannot be predicted. The authors of this experiment came of age in the 1960s – a decade which […]

Will Self’s The Butt

Will Self was once the enfant terrible of British letters, a former drug addict turned writer and satirist whose infamy peaked in 1997, when he was caught doing heroin on the private plane of former UK Prime Minister John Major, […]

Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between

In reading a contemporary autopsy of America’s involvement in Afghanistan, I came across a startling figure: $133 billion – the total amount of money Washington has spent on reconstruction and aid since the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. […]