New Books Network

Podcasts with Authors about their New Books

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Nicholas Thompson, “The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War” (Henry Holt, 2010)


I met George Kennan twice, once in 1982 and again in about 1998. On both occasions, I found him tough to read. He was a very dignified man–I want to write “correct”–but also quite distant, even cerebral. Now that I’ve read Nicholas Thompson‘s very writ...


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 19 February 2010  1h2m
 
 

Nicholas Thompson, “The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War” (Henry Holt, 2010)


I met George Kennan twice, once in 1982 and again in about 1998. On both occasions, I found him tough to read. He was a very dignified man–I want to write “correct”–but also quite distant, even cerebral. Now that I’ve read Nicholas Thompson‘s very writ...


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 19 February 2010  1h2m
 
 

Ben Kiernan, “Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur” (Yale UP, 2007)


Chimps, our closest relatives, kill each other. But chimps do not engage in anything close to mass slaughter of their own kind. Why is this? There are two possible explanations for the difference. The first is this: chimps are not programmed,


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 12 February 2010  1h5m
 
 

Brian Balogh, “A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in 19th-Century America” (Cambridge UP, 2009)


Americans don’t like “big government” right? Not exactly. In the Early Republic (1789 to the 1820s) folks were quite keen on building up the (you guessed it) republic. As in res publica, the “things held in common.


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 05 February 2010  1h15m
 
 

Alan E. Steinweis, “Kristallnacht 1938” (Harvard UP, 2009)


One of the most fundamental–and vexing–questions in all of modern history is whether cultures make governments or governments make cultures. Tocqueville, who was right about almost everything, thought the former: he said that American culture made Amer...


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 23 January 2010  1h10m
 
 

Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, “Natural Experiments of History” (Harvard UP, 2010)


I remember telling my wife, the mathematician, that historians typically work on one time and place their entire careers. If you begin, say, as a historian of Russia in the 1600s (as I did), you are likely to end as a historian of Russia in the 1600s (...


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 20 January 2010  1h1m
 
 

Julian E. Zelizer, “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security From WWII to the War on Terrorism” (Basic Books, 2010)


Historians are by their nature public intellectuals because they are intellectuals who write about, well, the public. Alas, many historians seem to forget the “public” part and concentrate on the “intellectual” part.


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 14 January 2010  1h6m
 
 

Toby Lester, “The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America its Name” (Free Press, 2009)


Why the heck is “America” called “America” and not, say, “Columbia?” You’ll find the answer to that question and many more in Toby Lester‘s fascinating and terrifically readable new book The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth,


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 07 January 2010  1h16m
 
 

Stephen Kotkin, “Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment” (Modern Library, 2009)


Why did communism collapse so rapidly in Eastern Europe in 1989? The answer commonly given at the time was that something called “civil society,” having grown mighty in the 1980s, overthrew it. I’ve always been more than a little uncomfortable with bot...


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 31 December 2009  1h3m
 
 

Harvey Schwartz, “Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU” (University of Washington Press, 2009)


One of my favorite bumper stickers reads “Unions: the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.” Indeed they did. Organized labor has had a rocky history in the U.S. It’s been hounded for leaning left, associating with mobsters, and being corrupt.


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 17 December 2009  1h7m