20 April 2010

Newest Old Book Round Up

Spring is here and that means library book sales begin! This is an important part in giving oneself a good education! You can study what you want; you can discover forgotten, excellent scholarship of decades ago; and a few bucks go a long way. Library sales are a lot of fun because I never know what I'll find among the boxes and boxes of donated, used, out-of-print books that sell for dirt cheap. Well, that used to be so. Lately, however, I've acquired so many books this way that I can no longer leave a sale with boxes or bags full of books and instead leave with just a few or, rarely, only an armful at most. This is for two reasons. First, I have pretty much got enough good books on subjects that interest me that I really do not need a whole lot more any time soon. Second, many books at any sale are - ones I already have! There's no more for me to get! Wow!

Some of the best finds for me are books by those I consider philosophical opponents. It's important to know what statists, religionists and others believe and are up to. The best way is to get their writings, especially the ones out of print. There are a lot of them and they wrote a lot of books - and I'm collecting them! Those books have had their impact on their time which in turn influenced what is happening today and what will happen in the future. They are worth knowing about in understanding the battle of ideas going on.

Here is what I acquired from a library sale this weekend. I thought I will share my finds in case anybody might be interested in any of them.

On religion:

Religion In America: An historical account of the development of American religious life (2nd ed.) by Winthrop S. Hudson (1973). This 400+ page book starts with the Puritans and ends with black theology. That's hardly what I would call progress! Anyway, I expect it should be good.

Also I obtained Vol. 3 of Mircea Eliade's A History of Religious Ideas (1985). This volume is "From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms" and I suspect this might be a textbook, but it looks like good overview of the subject matter all the same. Old textbooks tend to be of better scholarly quality than today's, I believe.

On philosophy:

I found one book on philosophy that looks very insightful, Nicolas Berdyaev's The Origin of Russian Communism. This is a 1966 edition, the original published in 1937. It is a short book, but the chapter titles look like it should be an interesting read. Some chapters are "The Russian idea of religion and the Russian state", "Russian socialism and nihilism", "Russian 19th century literature and its predictions", and "Communism and Christianity." I intend to read this soon and I would not be surprised if it is worth reviewing.

In history:

A History of the Weimar Republic Vol. 2: From the Lacarno Conference to Hitler's Seizure of Power by Erich Eyeck (1967). I do not know much about Weimar Germany but I know enough about it to understand that there are important lessons to be learned from it. From the blurbs on the back cover I gather that Eyck was an expert authority on the subject and his book is first-rate. If so, I have to track down a copy of Volume 1.

The Movement: A History of the American New Left, 1959-1972 by Irwin Unger (1974). I knew I found a dandy when I saw that title! I am reading it now and it is very informative and revealing. This one will be in my next book review.

Turning to what is a more positive subject compared with religionists, communists, and New Leftists is Peter Gay's Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist (1965). I read Gay's excellent two volume The Enlightenment: An Interpretation so I knew had to grab this. This is a history of Voltaire's political and social thinking, not presented merely in itself, but how his experiences and events shaped it. I expect I'll be enjoying and learning a lot from this book when I get to it.


John K. Galbraith's The New Industrial State (1967). I know that Galbraith is a "big name" in economics and this is an important book. Being a free-marketer I am not likely to agree with this book, but I am curious about what Galbraith's ideas were and what their impact was.

Lastly, environmentalism:

The Ages of Gaia : A Biography of Our Living Earth by James Lovelock (1988). I think to be in a frame of mind suitable to reading a biography of the organism that we are parasites on Gaia, a.k.a. "the earth" I should first consume ample quantities of Killian's Red. Good thing this book is on the short side!

So those are my library's new additions.

And come to think of it, it is just as well that I am not buying as many books as I used to. My book cases are way overcrowded!

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