What I’ve Been Reading

  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities
    • Wonderful, erudite, full of such funny tags: the triunity of Ecclesiastical Latin, Koranic Arabic, and Examination Chinese as the pillars of the religious-hierarchical pre-modern world; the importance of SE Asian history – the Malay states, colonial Philippines; the ways in which colonial social hierarchies molded individual careers eventually creating something like nationalist thought; the slow cooptation of nationalism by the ruling classes, particularly in Russia, which was unnatural, of a type; role of primary education for holding up other international models of nationalism to post-colonial activists in Africa; etc etc etc 
  • James Verini, They Will Have to Die Now
    • Quirky little read – too much unjustified Assyriology, fun as it was. War reporting somewhat lackluster. Seemed as though he really only had three or four sources, and couldn’t speak Arabic himself, so what gives? Certainly the guy was fearless. 
  • Tom Nicholas, VC: An American History
    • Dark horse candidate for coming in above expectations! Lots more good unpacking of historical anecdotes. Big problem – no evidence of any import to the historical episodes he brings up – did anyone learn or carry anything from the whaling industry which was important for later VC?
  • Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History
    • So so good! So much weird Mao, so much good Indonesian history (last bit I just read). She’s phenomenal. Mao making Khrushchev swim for meetings, history of brainwashing and later torture, Sukarno as the human lynchpin, international responses to Red Star over China.

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