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Interviews with Scholars of Intellectual History about their New Books
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New Books in Intellectual History New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.0 • 43 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Intellectual History about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/intellectual-history

    Bradford P. Wilson and Carson Holloway, eds., "The Political Writings of Alexander Hamilton" (Cambridge UP, 2017)

    Bradford P. Wilson and Carson Holloway, eds., "The Political Writings of Alexander Hamilton" (Cambridge UP, 2017)

    How much does the average person know about Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757 – 1804)? Would we have guessed that this hero of many fiscal conservatives wrote, “A national debt, if it is not excessive will be to us a national blessing; it will be a powerful cement of our union…?”
    Most of us know that he was killed by his political enemy Aaron Burr in a duel. But long before that fatal encounter, Hamilton had engaged in major rows with several of his fellow founding fathers, notably Thomas Jefferson but also James Madison and John Adams. Because he cared so deeply about the fate of the newly established United States and its foreign relations, he dipped his pen in rhetorical vitriol when describing many of his rivals and former close allies in private letters and in public writings detailing where he felt they had gone wrong and were, in his view, harming the country.
    The angrier side of this brilliant man is on full view in the compendious 2017 two-volume set, The Political Writings of Alexander Hamilton: Volume 1, 1769-1789 and The Political Writings of Alexander Hamilton: Volume 2, 1789-1804, edited by Bradford P. Wilson and Carson Holloway.
    We are also afforded glimpses of the ambitious 12-year-old clerk Hamilton vowing to better himself and longing for a war that might afford him the opportunity for just such advancement. We read the letters he wrote during the War of Independence, which brought him into the circle of George Washington. In that war, Hamilton served bravely and bitterly criticized the brand new Congress that oversaw and, in Hamilton’s view, mismanaged the conflict. We are able to read the letter Hamilton wrote his wife to be read in the event of his death in the duel and follow the public and behind the scenes campaign that Hamilton led against Burr which precipitated the fateful encounter.
    This collection of writings is probably best perused with a search engine at the ready so as to look up the members of the sprawling cast of characters in it, such as the many recipients of Hamilton’s extensive correspondence and to read about the origins of the many pseudonyms he employed (e.g., Lucius Crassus). The documents are presented with little annotation, so some work is required by readers who possess little knowledge of the period. But because so much of the material encompassed is relevant to our day, the investment of time is well worth it.
    Hamilton laid the groundwork for the legal and political environment we live in and his influence is felt in everything from banking and government finance to libel and bankruptcy law to the structure and scope of powers of the judiciary. As a serving and former soldier, Hamilton took an active interest in the organization of the military and in veterans’ affairs and played a vital role in preventing unrest in the ranks in the unsettled days immediately following the cessation of active hostilities with Britain in the Revolutionary War. He was deeply involved in the Citizen Genet affair and helped his young nation traverse tricky diplomatic terrain as France and Britain battled for supremacy. All of this is offered up in the book we are discussing today.
    The tone of the many letters, partisan policy papers, proto op-eds and governmental reports featured in the book runs the gamut from ruthless ridicule to the coolly analytic to bitter despair to fury and contempt at what Hamilton saw as behavior damaging to the infant republic he loved. Hamilton took offense easily and wrote both voluminously and hot-bloodedly in his own defense. No spin doctors for him.
    Today, we will talk to Mr. Wilson about this important collection of the political writings of that rare combination of man of action and world-shaping public intellectual that was Alexander Hamilton.
    Give a listen.
    Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.
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    • 1 hr 19 min
    D. G. Hart, "Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    D. G. Hart, "Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Benjamin Franklin grew up in a devout Protestant family with limited prospects for wealth and fame. By hard work, limitless curiosity, native intelligence, and luck (what he called "providence"), Franklin became one of Philadelphia's most prominent leaders, a world recognized scientist, and the United States' leading diplomat during the War for Independence. Along the way, Franklin embodied the Protestant ethics and cultural habits he learned and observed as a youth in Puritan Boston. 
    Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant (Oxford UP, 2021) follows Franklin's remarkable career through the lens of the trends and innovations that the Protestant Reformation started (both directly and indirectly) almost two centuries earlier. His work as a printer, civic reformer, institution builder, scientist, inventor, writer, self-help dispenser, politician, and statesmen was deeply rooted in the culture and outlook that Protestantism nurtured. Through its alternatives to medieval church and society, Protestants built societies and instilled habits of character and mind that allowed figures such as Franklin to build the life that he did. Through it all, Franklin could not assent to all of Protestantism's doctrines or observe its worship, but for most of his life he acknowledged his debt to his creator, reveled in the natural world guided by providence, and conducted himself in a way (imperfectly) to merit divine approval. In this biography, D. G. Hart recognizes Franklin as a cultural or non-observant Protestant, someone who thought of himself as a Presbyterian, ordered his life as other Protestants did, sometimes went to worship services, read his Bible, and prayed, but could not go all the way and join a church.
    Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.
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    • 46 min
    Archie T. Wright, "Satan and the Problem of Evil: From the Bible to the Early Church Fathers" (Fortress Press, 2022)

    Archie T. Wright, "Satan and the Problem of Evil: From the Bible to the Early Church Fathers" (Fortress Press, 2022)

    Satan's transformation from opaque functionary to chief antagonist is one of the most striking features of the development of Jewish theology in the Second Temple Period and beyond. Once no more than an "accuser" testing members of the human community, Satan, along with his demons, is presented by Jewish apocalyptic texts and the New Testament as a main source of evil in the world. In Satan and the Problem of Evil, noted scholar Archie Wright explores this dynamic in both its historical and theological trajectories.
    Interactions with Zoroastrianism led Jewish and Christian writers of the Second Temple Period to separate God from responsibility for evil in the world. This led to the emergence of a heavenly being that is responsible for evil and suffering: Satan. Satan and the Problem of Evil charts the development of Satan traditions and the problem of evil from the Hebrew Bible and its various translations in the Greek Septuagint to Jewish literature from the Second Temple Period to the Greek New Testament. It concludes by examining the writings of the early church theologians, from the late first century through the fourth century CE. Wright argues that these latter writers present a shift in the understanding of Satan to one that is significantly different from the Jewish Scriptures, extrabiblical Jewish literature, and the New Testament.
    Accessibly written and comprehensive in scope, Satan and the Problem of Evil: From the Bible to the Early Church Fathers (Fortress Press, 2022) offers researchers, scholars, students, and even the general reader a definitive treatment of a perennial question.
    Archie T. Wright is interim executive director of the Catholic Biblical Association and visiting lecturer at the London School of Theology. He is the author of The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6:1-4 in Early Jewish Literature (Fortress, 2015).
    Jackson Reinhardt is a graduate of University of Southern California and Vanderbilt University. He is currently an independent scholar, freelance writer, and research assistant. You can reach Jackson at jtreinhardt1997@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @JTRhardt
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    • 45 min
    Meredith Farmer and Jonathan D. S. Schroeder, "Ahab Unbound: Melville and the Materialist Turn" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Meredith Farmer and Jonathan D. S. Schroeder, "Ahab Unbound: Melville and the Materialist Turn" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Today’s guests are Meredith Farmer and Jonathan D.S. Schroeder, the co-editors of a bracing new collection of essays about the figure of Ahab in Melville’s novel Moby-Dick. Meredith is the Assistant Teaching Professor of Core Literature at Wake Forest University. Her book Melville’s Leaks: Science, Materialism, and the Reconstitution of Persons is under contract at Northwestern University Press. Jonathan is the Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies at Brandeis University. His articles have been published in American Literature, American Literary History, and the Routledge Handbook of Reenactment Studies. His book Prisoners of Loss: An Atlantic History of Nostalgia, is under contract with Harvard University Press. Their new collection of essays is titled Ahab Unbound: Melville and the Materialist Turn (U Minnesota Press, 2021), published with the University of Minnesota Press. The collection includes contributions from a range of scholars from Christopher Castiglia, Samuel Otter, Steve Mentz, Jonathan Lamb, and Bonnie Honig, among others.
    John Yargo recently received his PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. His articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Marc David Baer, "German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    Marc David Baer, "German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    Hugo Marcus (1880–1966) was a man of many names and many identities. Born a German Jew, he converted to Islam and took the name Hamid, becoming one of the most prominent Muslims in Germany prior to World War II. He was renamed Israel by the Nazis and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp before escaping to Switzerland. He was a gay man who never called himself gay but fought for homosexual rights and wrote queer fiction under the pen name Hans Alienus during his decades of exile.
    In German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus (Columbia University Press, 2020), Marc David Baer uses Marcus’s life and work to shed new light on a striking range of subjects, including German Jewish history and anti-Semitism, Islam in Europe, Muslim-Jewish relations, and the history of the gay rights struggle. Baer explores how Marcus created a unique synthesis of German, gay, and Muslim identity that positioned Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as an intellectual and spiritual model. Marcus’s life offers a new perspective on sexuality and on competing conceptions of gay identity in the multilayered world of interwar and postwar Europe. His unconventional story reveals new aspects of the interconnected histories of Jewish and Muslim individuals and communities, including Muslim responses to Nazism and Muslim experiences of the Holocaust. An intellectual biography of an exceptional yet little-known figure, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay illuminates the complexities of twentieth-century Europe’s religious, sexual, and cultural politics.
    Marc David Baer is professor of international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
    Armanc Yildiz is a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology with a secondary field in Studies in Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University. He is also the founder of Academics Write, where he supports scholars in their writing projects as a writing coach and developmental editor.
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    • 48 min
    Adrienne Mayor, "Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws: And Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities" (Princeton UP, 2022)

    Adrienne Mayor, "Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws: And Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities" (Princeton UP, 2022)

    Adrienne Mayor is renowned for exploring the borders of history, science, archaeology, anthropology, and popular knowledge to find historical realities and scientific insights--glimmering, long-buried nuggets of truth--embedded in myth, legends, and folklore. Combing through ancient texts and obscure sources, she has spent decades prospecting for intriguing wonders and marvels, historical mysteries, diverting anecdotes, and hidden gems from ancient, medieval, and modern times. Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws: And Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities (Princeton UP, 2022) is a treasury of fifty of her most amazing and amusing discoveries.
    The book explores such subjects as how mirages inspired legends of cities in the sky; the true identity of winged serpents in ancient Egypt; how ghost ships led to the discovery of the Gulf Stream; and the beauty secrets of ancient Amazons. Other pieces examine Arthur Conan Doyle's sea serpent and Geronimo's dragon; Flaubert's obsession with ancient Carthage; ancient tattooing practices; and the strange relationship between wine goblets and women's breasts since the times of Helen of Troy and Marie Antoinette. And there's much, much more.
    Showcasing Mayor's trademark passion not to demythologize myths, but to uncover the fascinating truths buried beneath them, Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws is a wonder cabinet of delightful curiosities.
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    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5
43 Ratings

43 Ratings

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Audio

Love the content, hope audio quality will match it soon.

Hardy5414 ,

Simon Critchley

The host for that episode asked profoundly dumb question. He almost implied the program was about him and his questions.

IOC19 ,

Drop in quality of book choices

Seriously disappointed with the increase in low-quality, poorly-researched right wing apologia recently chosen for inclusion. Differing viewpoints is one thing, but please pick books without easily debunked claims in the book description. I know the standards for conservative and right wing intellectuals are lower, but please don’t waste anybody’s time with this recent quasi-red-scare nonsense

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