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by Vault Education Editors | December 09, 2010


It's annual book recommendation time from the professors at the University of Chicago Law School! What did judge Frank Easterbrook have to say about the The Time Traveler's Wife? Who loved Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader for a Day, calling it "extremely compelling reading that provides a scholar’s view of a largely hidden world." And which book did an assistant professor describe as "a series of lyrics both vicious and graceful, never bathetic and sometimes baleful, and constantly watchful of the brittle interweaving of natural and manmade worlds"?

Here's what Martha Nussbaum had to say about Richard Toye's Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made:

This new book on Churchill pulls together all the evidence about his attitudes about empire, race, and political liberty, producing a highly complex picture. On the one hand, Churchill was a virulent racist who believed to the end of his life that Indians and Africans were incapable of self-government, and who derided Gandhi in terms as full of opprobrium as those he used to denigrate Hitler. On the other hand, he had a sincere attachment to political liberty and liberal institutions that motivated his courageous and admirable resistance to both fascism and communism. Moreover, his attitudes on all these matters were not stable, but shifted, sometimes unpredictably. So the first contribution of the book is to help us understand one of recent history's most influential and controversial figures. Its second is more general: Toye's book reminds us that political leaders are not simple heroes or villains, but children of parents (in this case, an indifferent father and an egocentric mother), who, as a result of such human matters as a fear of abandonment and a longing for love, develop complicated personalities that shape their intellectual convictions. Its third contribution, as we live in an era of postcolonial historiography, in which the ideas of liberalism are often seen as tainted by their association with empire, is to remind us that people committed to domination can also sincerely advocate admirable ideals, and that these ideals are not themselves tarnished by their association with an all-too-human obtuseness.

[What are We Reading? - UChicago Law School Faculty Book Recommendations for 2010]


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