10 episodes

Host Richard Aldous, contributing editor of The American Interest and professor of history at Bard College, welcomes you to TAI's books podcast.

The American Interest The American Interest

    • News

Host Richard Aldous, contributing editor of The American Interest and professor of history at Bard College, welcomes you to TAI's books podcast.

    The Wall, the Square, and the Post-Cold War Order

    The Wall, the Square, and the Post-Cold War Order

    Relevant Reading:Post Wall, Post Square: How Bush, Gorbachev, Kohl, and Deng Shaped the World after 1989
    Kristina Spohr
    Yale University Press, 2020, $40.00
    The world’s exit from the Cold War, argues historian Kristina Spohr, is really a two-fold story: one set in Berlin, where the fall of the Berlin Wall put an end to communism and inspired electoral revolutions across Europe, and one in Beijing, where Deng Xiaoping’s crackdown at Tiananmen Square put a brutal end to a burgeoning protest movement. We cannot understand one event without the other, Spohr argues—and we cannot understand the world that emerged without careful attention to the diplomatic decisions made in the dizzying aftermath of both events.In Post Wall, Post Square: How Bush, Gorbachev, Kohl, and Deng Shaped the World after 1989, Spohr offers a sweeping diplomatic history of the period, showing how the “conservative diplomacy” of leaders like George H.W. Bush and Helmut Kohl helped usher in a peaceful new order, while also exploring how missed opportunities and blindspots created tensions that remain with us today.Kristina Spohr is the Helmut Schmidt Distinguished Professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). This week, she joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the book. Be sure to tune in and follow @aminterest on Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the app of your choice.

    How History Shaped Brexit

    How History Shaped Brexit

    Relevant Reading:Island Stories: An Unconventional History of Britain
    David Reynolds
    Basic Books, 2020, $30.00
    The 2016 Brexit campaign, notes historian David Reynolds, was dominated by appeals to history—particularly to Winston Churchill and Britain’s “Finest Hour” in 1940. But the Brexit result also confounded popular narratives of British history, halting the UK’s integration with Europe and raising a question of identity to the center of national debate: What does it mean to be British in the 21st century?In Island Stories: An Unconventional History of Britain, historian David Reynolds explores this question, while placing the Brexit vote in a long historical context stretching back to 1066. He also offers a broader reflection on how historical narratives and national memory shape political debates, with lessons for the United States as well as Britain.David Reynolds is professor of international history at Christ’s College, Cambridge and the prize-winning author of 11 books, including America, Empire of Liberty. This week, he joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his latest. Be sure to tune in and follow @aminterest on Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the app of your choice.

    Japan Seeking Balance

    Japan Seeking Balance

    TAI Executive Editor Damir Marusic recently talked with Dr. Charles Edel, Senior Fellow at the United States Studies Centre in Australia, co-author (with Hal Brands) of The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order, and one of the smartest Asia analysts around. Fresh from a trip to Tokyo, Edel discusses coronavirus, the shifting strategic landscape in Asia, and the future of American involvement in the region.

    Getting Decadent with Ross Douthat

    Getting Decadent with Ross Douthat

    Relevant Reading:The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success
    Ross DouthatRelevant Listening:TAI Podcast, Episode 195: Ross Douthat on Pope Francis
    Richard Aldous & Ross Douthat
    In his new book The Decadent Society, Ross Douthat argues that the crisis facing the West today is really one of decadence—when a wealthy and mature civilization runs into economic stagnation, institutional decay, and cultural and intellectual exhaustion. Tracing the phenomenon across multiple dimensions, Douthat argues that decadence can endure for longer than its critics might imagine, but also outlines several scenarios—some bleak, some hopeful—for how we might enter a genuinely new era.Ross Douthat is an opinion columnist for The New York Times, and he joins Richard Aldous on the podcast this week to discuss his new book. Be sure to follow @DouthatNYT and @aminterest on Twitter, and subscribe to the podcast on the app of your choice.The conversation is also available as an lightly edited transcript below.Richard Aldous for TAI: Hello, and welcome. You’re listening to The American Interest podcast, with me, Richard Aldous. My guest this week is Ross Douthat, columnist at The New York Times and author of the new book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. Ross, welcome back to the show.RD: Thank you so much for having me back.RA: Congratulations on the new book. So, how are we victims of our own success?RD: In the sense that we are a technologically advanced, extremely wealthy civilization that is running into problems that you run into when you hit the frontiers of wealth and technological proficiency, and start to stagnate a bit and start repeating yourself a bit. So the book starts, I hope appropriately, with the moon landing in 1969, and basically makes the argument that whether it was a coincidence or not, that particular peak of human accomplishment happened at about the same time that all across the developed world, growth rates were about to start slowing down; people were about to start having fewer children, making societies steadily older and less entrepreneurial and creative; and government in the Western world, and particularly in the United States, was about to enter a long period that obviously continues to the present day of increasing sclerosis, in which it becomes harder and harder to pass legislation, implement sweeping reforms, and so forth.And finally, that was the moment when the Baby Boomers essentially were seizing cultural power, and the least statistically precise argument that I make in the book—the most, by definition, in the eye of the beholder—is that in culture and especially pop culture, we have become, effectively, the prisoners of the Baby Boom generation, and haven’t figured out a way to get beyond endless remakes and reboots and recyclings of entertainment properties that became popular when they were young.RA: Yeah, this is one of the really interesting things about the book. As you say, you start with Sputnik and the Apollo moon landing, and this period that you’re talking about really seems to end with the Challenger explosion in 1986. Very often, we’d think of decadence as being something like, “Oh, that chocolate cake was very decadent,” which is one of the examples that you give in the book as the wrong use of the word. But it seems to me that you mean risk aversion as much as anything else.RD: Yes, and I want to say that anyone who wants to use the term decadent to refer to chocolate cakes or weekends in Vegas has my permission. I’m obviously offering a somewhat idiosyncratic definition of the term. But I’m not alone in it; I’m basically stealing it and adapting it from the great cultural critic Jacques Barzun, who wrote a book called From Dawn to Decadence that came out about 20 years ago.His idea, which is now, I suppose,

    Yuval Levin on Rethinking—and Rebuilding—Our Institutions

    Yuval Levin on Rethinking—and Rebuilding—Our Institutions

    Relevant Reading:A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream
    Yuval LevinBuild Them Up, Don’t Let Them Down
    Philip A. Wallach
    Institutions, writes Yuval Levin in A Time to Build, are “something in our society is in need of . . . but isn’t asking for.” In an age of populist anger and performative outrage, Levin argues that institutions, properly understood as molds that shape their members rather than as mere platforms for self-expression, hold the key to renewal.Considering examples like Congress, the elite university, and journalism, Levin argues that crucial institutions in American life have lost their way, abandoning their formative purposes in favor of a performative ethos that exacerbates the culture war and erodes civic trust. He also explains why Americans have long been anti-institutional in theory but have been active institution-builders in practice.Yuval Levin is the founding editor of National Affairs and the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Tune in this week as he joins Richard Aldous to discuss the book, and don’t forget to subscribe to the show on your podcast provider and follow @aminterest on Twitter.

    Megan McArdle: I’d Vote Bernie Over Liz (If I Had To)

    Megan McArdle: I’d Vote Bernie Over Liz (If I Had To)

    Relevant Reading:“The issue with Warren can be summed up with a single question”
    Megan McArdleDream Hoarders
    Richard V. Reeves
    Executive Editor Damir Marusic sat down with Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle to talk about plausible paths forward for the U.S. economy, the different kinds of inequality, and how elites refusing to budge on various orthodoxies empowered populists on both the right and the left to come to power.

Customer Reviews

Mahaut1329 ,

Russia policy and Mosul minaret

Thoughtful and interesting

Top Podcasts In News

Listeners Also Subscribed To