The Best Books on The Middle Ages | Five Books Expert Recommendations

Oxford medieval historian Hannah Skoda chooses her top five books on the Middle Ages, explaining why she finds the whole idea of their 'middleness' problematic and how a more global approach tends to shatter many long-held assumptions about the period. — Read on fivebooks.com/best-books/the-middle-ages-hannah-skoda/

A Writer Pursues His Subjects as a Hunter Stalks His Prey – The New York Times

Calasso is especially good at describing the characters of myth and legend with a novelist’s omniscient authority — and the occasional zinger. “For 16 generations Zeus had intercourse with women from earth,” he writes, and “had always been attracted to the women of the house of Argus.” (Even the king of the gods, it seems, [...]

Looking at War Across 2,500 Years – The New York Times

I think the United States was right to invade Afghanistan after 9/11 (yet wrong to stay any longer than six months). But even as I differed with his words, I was glad to read them. Edstrom is asking hard questions that both the American people and their leaders have sidestepped for years. For example, he [...]

How Do You Know If You’re Living Through the Death of an Empire? – Mother Jones

The fall of an empire—the end of a polity, a socioeconomic order, a dominant culture, or the intertwined whole—looks more like a cascading series of minor, individually unimportant failures than a dramatic ending that appears out of the blue. Carts full of olive oil failing to arrive at some nameless fort because of a dysfunctional [...]

Iris Murdoch: The Art of Fiction No. 117 – Paris Review

Murdoch and her husband live in a house in academic north Oxford. In its comfortably untidy rooms books overflow the shelves and are piled high on the floor. Even the bathroom is filled with volumes on language, including Dutch and Esperanto grammar books. Her paper-strewn second-floor study is decorated with oriental rugs and with paintings [...]

On the City of Florence’s Struggle to Get Back Dante’s Body | Literary Hub

Giovanni Boccaccio’s call for Florence to retrieve Dante’s corpse appears in retrospect to have been primarily an elaborate literary conceit. The city’s abusive treatment and subsequent unworthiness of Dante enabled Boccaccio to fulfill the principal aim of his biography—notably titled a “treatise in praise of Dante”—by casting the poet and his work as “divine.” Later [...]

When it comes to coronavirus response, superpowers may need to study smaller nations – The Washington Post

... smaller countries have gained newfound recognition as the world takes note of their early, and still tentative, successes. Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, put it this way: The largest and most powerful nations will need to study what went right among smaller and less powerful ones. “I’d like [...]

‘Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime’ Book Review | National Review

David Pryce-Jones’s Signatures is a masterpiece... The premise is brilliantly simple. The author, a familiar presence to NR readers, selects 90 books from his considerable library, each signed by its author. Each book, of the many collected over the course of a long life, is awarded its own brief chapter, allowing Pryce-Jones to open his [...]