Sunday, February 7, 2010

Anti-Semitism, 1492, the University, African American Women & Religion, and the Nature of Time in the book reviews

A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad by Robert S. Wistrich is a "vast and important book," writes Jeffrey Herf in the New Repubic's The Book. It is "the most comprehensive account in print of the history of anti-Semitism since 1945 in Europe, the Middle East, and Iran."
1492: The Year Our World Began
by Felipe FernándezArmesto is a "convincing history," writes Peter Ackroyd in the London Times. In this book, "History is in some sense the sum of human error. This book is also a record of chance and mishap, in which 'some undetectably random event is responsible for initiating big change'. There is no question of 'progress' or 'development' but rather of an infinite number of contingencies perpetually present, with what FernándezArmesto describes as 'random convulsions' seeming only for a moment to create significant patterns."

Economist Claudia Goldin takes up THE GREAT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected by Columbia University Provost Jonathan R. Cole; and Richard Thompson Ford reviews JESUS, JOBS, AND JUSTICE: African American Women and Religion by Bettye Collier-Thomas, both in the New York Times.
And finally, two very different books related to the nature of time. FROM ETERNITY TO HERE: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by physicist Sean Carroll is taken up in the Washington Post. A book excerpt can be found on Carroll's blog. And Don DeLillo "is mesmerized by the 'radically altered plane of time'" in his new novel POINT OMEGA, discussed in the New York Times.