Sunday, November 09, 2014

Wish list

Since one of the reasons I started this blog was to keep notes on what I've read, I want to start noting the books I want to read and why they catch my interest. If you're familiar with any book on the list, feel free to comment about your experience with it! I'm sure I'll only get to a small fraction of my wish lists, but it's fun dreaming I'll read all of them.

Leningrad: Siege and Symphony by Brian Moynahan (Atlantic Monthly Press)
A look at the role of music during the WW II siege of Leningrad, with a focus on Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony. While it looks like interesting topics and subjects, I'm concerned the focus might be too narrow to hold my interest. Shostakovich's career follows a complex arc, so I'm intrigued at looking in detail as his talent translates watching his city destroyed into music.

Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing by Arthur M. Melzer (University of Chicago Press)
Melzer looks at different levels of writing, especially the importance of what isn't included. While that calls to mind Leo Strauss' work, I'm more interested in Mr. Melazer's expansion of the argument. "Esoteric writing," such as hiding things in plain sight by not mentioning them, provides a topic with plenty of debate. It appears Melzer expands the argument by claiming such writing wasn't esoteric when it was written...readers would have clearly understood what was meant. I'm curious to see where he goes with this approach.
Update (14 Nov 2014): An online appendix for Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing is available at The University of Chicago Press' site. Link found courtesy of a review in The Week.

Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence by Jack Kelly (Palsgrave Macmillan)
While American troops had professional leaders and soldiers when the war for independence from England started, many of the famous names from military lore were amateurs. Yet they were able to learn quickly and positively influence the American cause. The name of one of my sons is a play on the name of one of these 'giants," so of course I'll be interested in such a history. One review I read raises a question—if Washington had died during the war, which of the "giants" could have successfully carried out the war? It's not clear that Kelly's book addresses this question directly, but it appears the book covers enough ground to make such speculation fun.

Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer by Bettina Stangneth (Knopf)
Revisiting the claim of Eichmann's bureaucratic role in the extraordinary evil carried out during World War II, Stragneth examines Eichmann's history and conversations between the end of the war and his capture. As German documents continue to be declassified, expect more analysis on principle players and their lack of banality.

Thucydides and the Idea of History by Neville Morley came out earlier this year but I'm just finding out about it now. Geoffrey Hawthorn's Thucydides on Politics: Back to the Present came out about the same time and I'm more intrigued by it. See this review in the Times Literary Supplement for more on both books.

There there's the works of Roberto Calasso and all the references he mentioned in his lecture. Time to stop wishing and start reading...

4 comments:

Lisa Hayden Espenschade said...

I have the Leningrad book and it looks great... unfortunately, it got a little buried in a book pile but I plan to read it this winter!

Dwight said...

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

Karen Kobie said...

I found your blog because I'm looking for someone else who is reading Arthur Melzer's "Philosophy between the Lines." I'm at about the half way point, and I'm very impressed with his writing style, his through research and and his premises. Those who think he's slavishly following in the footsteps of Leo Strauss are mistaken. In fact, at points in the book he's highly critical of Struass.

It's an intriguing adventure to follow Melzer through the brilliant case he makes for the prevalence of esotericism in Western philosophy. I think you'll enjoy reading the book.

Dwight said...

Thanks Karen. I just picked up a copy and hope to get to it soon. I'll try and post on it when I do. Thanks for going into more detail about it...I'm looking forward to reading it!