Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nussbaum on the humanities, Cooper on Wilson, Flavell on When London was Capital of America, and more

“‘The goal of a liberal arts education is not to make money. Education is not a ‘tool of the gross national product,’” Martha C. Nussbaum argues in Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, reviewed today by Susan Salter Reynolds for the Los Angeles Times. The humanities “exist first and foremost to help students become better citizens in a democracy.” Other books on education noted in the LA Times: Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning by Paul E. Peterson and No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom by Cary Nelson.

Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper was reviewed this week in The New Republic, The Book. David Greenberg writes:
John Milton Cooper's lively, fair-minded biography of Wilson-the culmination of a scholarly career spent studying the man and his era-has been described as revisionist. That label implies an attempt to overturn a settled judgment, and the book does challenge the main thrust of post-1960s scholarship, which stresses the now-familiar litany of Wilsonian shortcomings. But since, in the larger scheme of things, Wilson has not really lost much glory, and since Cooper wisely avoids picking fights with Wilson's individual detractors, and since Cooper himself offers copious and unminced criticisms of his own, the revisionist tag is in the end inapt. Woodrow Wilson is too authoritative and independent to be reduced to the gadfly position of contrarianism: it is a judicious, penetrating measure of the man and his achievements and it should stand as the best full biography of Wilson for many years.
Continue reading here.

Andrea Wulf writes in the New York Times that WHEN LONDON WAS CAPITAL OF AMERICA by Julie Flavell “illuminates this fascinating chapter of London's - and North America's - past, showing how the metropolis functioned as a magnet for colonists from across the Atlantic (including the West Indies) who sought accomplishment, opportunity and commerce. An American-born scholar who is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Flavell has unearthed a host of stories that bring alive a previously neglected aspect of the colonial experience.”

Also reviewed in the NY Times, NORMAN PODHORETZ: A Biography by Thomas L. Jeffers, and RUNNING COMMENTARY: The Contentious Magazine That Transformed the Jewish Left Into the Neoconservative Right by Benjamin Balint.

Finally, Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court by Jeff Shesol is taken up in The Nation.