A Financial Times and The Economist Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A SURPRISING, GRIPPING NARRATIVE DEPICTING THE THINKERS WHOSE IDEAS SHAPED CONTEMPORARY CHINA, INDIA, AND THE MUSLIM WORLD
A little more than a century ago, independent thinkers across Asia sought to frame a distinct intellectual tradition that would inspire the continent's rise to dominance. Yet this did not come to pass, and today those thinkers--Tagore, Gandhi, and later Nehru in India; Liang Qichao and Sun Yat-sen in China; Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Abdurreshi al Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire--are seen as outsiders within the main anticolonial tradition. But as Pankaj Mishra demonstrates in this enthralling portrait of like minds, Asia's revolt against the West is not the one led by faith-fired terrorists and thwarted peasants; rather, it is rooted in the ideas of these once renowned intellectuals. Now, when the ascendency of Asia seems possible as never before, From the Ruins of Empire is as necessary as it is timely--a book indispensable to our understanding of the world and our place in it.
A fascinating portrait of the minds that have shaped the modern world. In an intriguing series of case studies, Rousseau, Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Brecht, Sarte, Edmund Wilson, Victor Gollancz, Lillan Hellman, Cyril Connolly, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Kenneth Tyan, Noam Chomsky, and others are revealed as intellectuals both brilliant and contradictory, magnetic and dangerous.
Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign--Desforges Pianos--he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop's imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the atelier's master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion.
Praise for The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
-San Francisco Chronicle "Captivating . . . Carhart] joins the tiny company of foreigners who have written of the French as verbs. . . . What he tries to capture is not the sight of them, but what they see."
-The New York Times "Thoroughly engaging . . . In part it is a book about that most unpredictable and pleasurable of human experiences, serendipity. . . . The book is also about something more difficult to pin down, friendship and community."
-The Washington Post "Carhart writes with a sensuousness enhanced by patience and grounded by the humble acquisition of new insight into music, his childhood, and his relationship to the city of Paris."
-The New Yorker NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
European history of the past century is full of examples of philosophers, writers, and scholars who supported or excused the worst tyrannies of the age. How was this possible? How could intellectuals whose work depends on freedom defend those who would deny it?In profiles of six leading twentieth-century thinkers--Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Alexandre Koj ve, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida--Mark Lilla explores the psychology of political commitment. As continental Europe gave birth to two great ideological systems in the twentieth century, communism and fascism, it also gave birth to a new social type, the philotyrannical intellectual. Lilla shows how these thinkers were not only grappling with enduring philosophical questions, they were also writing out of their own experiences and passions. These profiles demonstrate how intellectuals can be driven into a political sphere they scarcely understand, with momentous results. In a new afterword, Lilla traces how the intellectual world has changed since the end of the cold war. The ideological passions of the past have been replaced in the West, he argues, by a dogma of individual autonomy and freedom that both obscures the historical forces at work in the present and sanctions ignorance about them, leaving us ill-equipped to understand those who are inflamed by the new global ideologies of our time.
In the tradition of grand sweeping histories such as From Dawn To Decadence, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and A History of God, Hecht champions doubt and questioning as one of the great and noble, if unheralded, intellectual traditions that distinguish the Western mind especially-from Socrates to Galileo and Darwin to Wittgenstein and Hawking. This is an account of the world's greatest 'intellectual virtuosos, ' who are also humanity's greatest doubters and disbelievers, from the ancient Greek philosophers, Jesus, and the Eastern religions, to modern secular equivalents Marx, Freud and Darwin--and their attempts to reconcile the seeming meaninglessness of the universe with the human need for meaning,
This remarkable book ranges from the early Greeks, Hebrew figures such as Job and Ecclesiastes, Eastern critical wisdom, Roman stoicism, Jesus as a man of doubt, Gnosticism and Christian mystics, medieval Islamic, Jewish and Christian skeptics, secularism, the rise of science, modern and contemporary critical thinkers such as Schopenhauer, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, the existentialists.
From Fouad Ajami, an acclaimed author and chronicler of Arab politics, comes a compelling account of how a generation of Arab intellectuals tried to introduce cultural renewals in their homelands through the forces of modernity and secularism. Ultimately, they came to face disappointment, exile, and, on occasion, death. Brilliantly weaving together the strands of a tumultuous century in Arab political thought, history, and poetry, Ajami takes us from the ruins of Beirut's once glittering metropolis to the land of Egypt, where struggle rages between a modernist impulse and an Islamist insurgency, from Nasser's pan-Arab nationalist ambitions to the emergence of an uneasy Pax Americana in Arab lands, from the triumphalism of the Gulf War to the continuing anguished debate over the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.For anyone who seeks to understand the Middle East, here is an insider's unflinching analysis of the collision between intellectual life and political realities in the Arab world today.
The poet T.S. Eliot. The polo star Tommy Hitchcock. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This diverse group of Americans came to Oxford in the first quarter of the twentieth century--the Jazz Age--when the Rhodes Scholar program had just begun and the Great War had enveloped much of Europe. Scott Fitzgerald created his most memorable character--Jay Gatsby, the Oxford man in the pink suit--shortly after his and Zelda's visit to Oxford. Fitzgerald's creation is a cultural reflection of the aspirations of many Americans who came to the University of Oxford seeking beauty, wisdom, and social connections.
Beginning in 1904, when the first American Rhodes Scholars arrived in Oxford, this book chronicles the experiences of Americans in Oxford through the Great War and the years of recovery to 1929, the end of Prohibition and the beginning of the Great Depression. This period is interpreted through the pages of The Great Gatsby, producing a vivid cultural history. It shows just how much Fitzgerald, the quintessential American modernist author, owes a debt to the medieval, the Romantic, and the European historical tradition. Archival material covering the first American Rhodes Scholars who came to Oxford during Trinity Term 1919--when Jay Gatsby claims he studied at Oxford--enables the narrative to illuminate a detailed portrait of what a "historical Gatsby" would have looked like, what he would have experienced at the postwar university, and who he would have encountered around Oxford--an impressive array of artists including Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Evelyn Waugh, Winston Churchill, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis.
Jay Winter's powerful and substantial new study of the "collective remembrance" of the Great War offers a major reassessment of one of the critical episodes in the cultural history of the twentieth century. Using a wide variety of literary, artistic and architectural evidence, Dr. Winter looks anew at the ways, many of them highly traditional, in which communities endeavored to find collective solace after the carnage of the First World War. The result is a profound and moving book, of seminal importance for the attempt to understand the course of European history during the first half of the twentieth century.