Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli in his World

Erica Benner (2017)

A different interpretation of Machiavelli than the common one, viewing him as a republican rather than as a supporter and facilitator of tyrants. It’s an attractive and quite compelling thesis, and surprisingly (to me, anyway) one that was common amongst early readers of The prince before his reputation changed in later centuries.

5/5. Finished Monday 10 February, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Children of Húrin

J.R.R. Tolkien (2007)

The long-form collected version of the tale from The Silmarion. It’s worth a read for a dedicated Tolkien fan (of which I am one), but in fairness doesn’t add a lot more in either detail or texture to the previous text.

2/5. Finished Saturday 11 January, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News

Emily Maitlis (2019)

A choice collection of anecdotes from one of the best-known faces on British TV, at times hilarious and at times somewhere between shocking and terrifying in terms of how some of the figures who make the news actually behave, and how shallow they often are when questioned by someone who knows their stuff.

4/5. Finished Thursday 2 January, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Coddling of the American Mind

Greg Lukianoff (2018)

It’s hard to know whether to be terrified or simply shocked by this book: it depends on whether you believe that the currents at work on US campuses must inevitably make their way to Europe. Certainly we see many of the same issues: a reduction in the resilience of the student population, a narrower focus, more stress. But we haven’t (yet) seen the corollaries to the same extent: no-platforming, triggering, the equation of words with violence that leads to all sorts of impossible situations for academic institutions. Maybe the best way to treat this book is as a warning about one possible direction of travel: I still hope that we can keep universities as places where anyone can hold any opinion for which they can generate a reasoned and evidenced argument – and one that they’re willing to defend intellectually against those with contrary ideas.

4/5. Finished Wednesday 1 January, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Jack of Shadows (23) (Rediscovered Classics)

Roger Zelazny (1972)

A characteristic Zelazny mix of sci-fi and fantasy. You can clearly hear the echoes of Amber in the general set-up of the story, even though in a far less well-developed form.

3/5. Finished Saturday 21 December, 2019.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)