Good Books

What’s the point in having a weblog if you don’t get to plug good books by your estimable friends, colleagues and teachers?

Bonnie Honig, Democracy and the Foreigner, Princeton University Press, 2001. Readers in England will be especially interested in Bonnie Honig’s excellent new book, since her account of the ways in which foreign energies simultaneously supplement and subvert the project of democratic citizenship perfectly theorises the role of England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson in the life of the nation. (Her analysis may even extend to Millennium Dome Supremo Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, too). With illuminating discussions of Machiavelli on founding, Shane, the Book of Ruth, Strictly Ballroom, Rousseau on Poland, the international marriage trade, The Wizard of Oz and Michael Walzer’s What It Means To Be an American, this book presents contemporary academic political theory at its most exciting and least stuffy. A fine, short, and not-too-expensive book. Highly recommended.

Sasha Abramsky, Hard Time Blues: how politics built a prison nation, St Martin’s Press, 2002. New York journalist Sasha Abramsky’s first book – published early next year – won’t be shipped to British bookshops, alas, so you may have to acquire it over the internet, or by getting a friendly US-based colleague to buy a copy over there. But if his writing in The Atlantic Monthly is anything to go by, promises to be a well-researched and exceedingly interesting account of the rise of the mass incarcertation regime in today’s America, where an astonishing two million people are today in the custody of the state and federal authorities’ prison-industrial complex.

David Renton, This Rough Game: Fascism and Anti-Fascism, Sutton Publishing, 2001. The ever-prolific David Renton has yet another book published, hard on the heels of his Fascism: Theory and Practice, Fascism, Anti-Fascism and the State in Britain in the 1940s and Marx on Globalisation. This Rough Game brings together a collection of his recent-ish essays on the subject(s), all of them lively and engaged; and one of them, I am very pleased to say, first published in the pages of The Voice of the Turtle.

Patrick Riley, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Rousseau, Cambridge University Press, 2001. This is where I declare an interest, since my own essay on the Stoic and Augustinian origins of Rousseau’s political thought has been published in these pages. The rest of the volume, however, looks superb, and Patrick Riley has done a fine job of assembling a set of essays which provide a comphrehensive overview of Rousseau’s many-sided achievement without a dull moment in sight. Good stuff. Available in bookshops now in an expensive hardback and cheap paperback edition. Buy the paperback.

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