1776, Derek Parfit, Darts, Anthony Burgess, Burma

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Race And Nation In The American Revolution

Annette Gordon-Reed | New York Review Of Books | 2nd January 2017

Robert Parkinson’s “brilliant” book, The Common Cause, argues that America’s founding fathers deliberately fomented fear and distrust towards blacks and Native Americans as a means of uniting white colonists in support of the Revolutionary movement and the War of Independence. “In future it will be will be impossible to think seriously about the American Revolutionary War without reference to this book’s prodigious research, wholly unsentimental perspective, and bracing analysis” (3,500 words)

How To Be Good

Larissa MacFarquhar | New Yorker | 5th September 2011

Classic profile of “the most original moral philosopher in the English-speaking world”, Derek Parfit, who has just died aged 74. In his first great work, Reasons and Persons, Parfit argued that personal identity was fungible and perhaps not even very significant. In his second, On What Matters, he argued that moral truths were fixed and eternal; there were universal answers to moral questions, just as there were to mathematical questions; the philosopher’s job was to find them (Metered paywall) (10,500 words)

Why You Should Watch The World Darts Championship

Daniel Harris | New Statesman | 2nd January 2017

Darts is “simple, repetitive, comforting and compelling”. There is no place for luck, nor for tactics; no place to hide. This year’s challenger, Michael van Gerwen, is a “wondrous bolus of uncut genius – a mix of passion, intimidation, egomania, and the most distinctive phizog of all-time. He throws darts like flaming javelins, celebrates like a psychopath, and because it is impossible not to know how good he is, he makes no attempt not to know how good he is. He is perfect” (1,050 words)

Sensationally Stupid

Anthony Burgess | Times Literary Supplement | 21st December 2016

From the TLS archives, Anthony Burgess explains the art of book reviewing. “Usually the writer knows far better than the reviewer what his faults are, and if he could get rid of them he would. The fairest review any novel of mine received was one I wrote myself. I had read the book and knew it pretty thoroughly, so I was able to discuss its faults and virtues with some confidence. But I was widely condemned for this, and I found it difficult for some time after to get work as a reviewer” (1,900 words)

Reading Burma

Sebastian Strangio | LA Review Of Books | 1st January 2017

A “refreshingly pessimistic” study of modern Burma, Blood, Dreams And Gold, by Richard Cockett, argues that democratic reforms distract attention from the country’s underlying ethnic divisions but do nothing to resolve them. Oppression of the Rohingya minority has got worse since the military ceded power to Aung San Suu Kyi — who was saintly enough under house arrest, but who as de facto prime minister is displaying “a ravenous egotism”, says her biographer, Peter Popham (4,400 words)

Video of the day: Gurgaon, India’s Private City

What to expect:

A giant city stands where 25 years ago there was only bare landscape (9’47”)

Thought for the day

The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us
Eugène Ionesco

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