What I’ve been reading

  1. Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel. Part two of the (fictionalized) life of Thomas Cromwell. Not as good as the first novel, Wolf Hall, but still excellent. And, in it’s own way, a subtle lesson in the transition from warlord to state rule, and the messy business of building the rational bureaucracy. Read alongside Max Weber and Seeing Like a State?
  2. Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A biography of Lincoln and his rivals cum cabinet members. An excellent window into the Civil War and also, as it happens, full of subtle lessons in state-building. Goodwin’s treatment of Lincoln is a little hagiographic, but if one must elevate someone to secular sainthood, Lincoln might be your man.
  3. Comparative Politics: Principles of Democracy and Democratization, by John Ishiyama. A new introductory text by the new editor of the APSR. Thoughtful and effective and to the point, and so a good intro to the field and a great resource for class. I plan to assign most of the book in my undergraduate and Masters development classes this year.
  4. The Virginian, by Owen Wister. Supposed to be one of the greatest literary Westerns of all time. Yawn. I put it down a third of the way in. I still vote Lonesome Dove, but I have yet to tackle Cormac McCarthy.
  5. Wool, by Hugh Howey. A post-apocalptic tale, set in a silo. Began as a short story in 2011, then a slightly less short story added, and now three decidedly unshort stories since. All in an omnibus volume. Original and hard to put down, leading you to wonder why it is 1:30am and your child will wake you in 5 hours and so why oh why are you still reading? (This was not a problem with Team of Rivals.)