De Gaulle, History, Race, Adam Smith, Lyme


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The Seducer

Ferdinand Mount | LRB | 26th July 2018

Marvellous review of Julian Jackson’s new life of Charles de Gaulle. “What gives de Gaulle’s nationalism its peculiar bleakness is his lack of illusion. He was fond of quoting Nietzsche’s aphorism that ‘the state is the coldest of cold monsters’. For de Gaulle it was the armistice of 1940 that was Pétain’s crime. He was furious that the marshal’s trial focused on the later crimes of Vichy. There is a certain moral blankness except where the survival of the nation is in question” (5,400 words)

History, Climate, And The New Past

Nicola Di Cosmo | IAS | 1st June 2018

The effect of climate on historical events used to be all but ignored by historians until Le Roy Ladurie’s pioneering work 50 years ago. Now, buoyed by the surge of interest in climate science and global warning, historians risk making the opposite error — assigning climate too great a role in history. Studies assign to climate a leading part in great events from Chinese peasant rebellions to the fall of the Roman Empire. These new accounts are to be welcomed, but as conjectures, not as facts (2,400 words)

The Video That Haunts McKinney

Olga Khazan | Citylab | 23rd July 2018

The writer returns to her hometown, McKinney in Texas, where a white policeman was filmed wrestling a black teenager to the ground at a poolside party in 2015. The video went viral, like others across America showing “encounters between people of color and police officers [which] deteriorated into violence”. It would be heartening to report that the McKinney incident led to bridge-building between communities. But it seems to have deepened a long-standing racial divide (3,500 words)

Is There More To Adam Smith?

John Kay | 25th July 2018

Adam Smith’s first great book, “The Theory Of Moral Sentiments”, argued for empathy and altruism. His second great book, “The Wealth Of Nations”, is the bible of free-marketeers. Did Smith’s views really change so much? No. Free marketeers misrepresent the “Wealth Of Nations”. It argues that well-functioning markets require a strong state and strong social institutions. Smith was “writing about a market economy, not what came to be called capitalism, and there is a difference” (1,340 words)

The Challenge Of “Chronic Lyme”

Rachel Pearson | New York Review Of Books | 25th July 2018

Lyme disease is real enough, and can be treated effectively with antibiotics. “Chronic Lyme” is another matter. It describes “a constellation of enduring symptoms — joint pain, fatigue, muscle pain, brain fog, fevers, blurry vision, and much more” in a person who “attributes these symptoms” to Lyme disease, but who “may have no plausible laboratory, clinical, or epidemiological evidence of exposure to the bacterium”. The bad doctor exploits such a patient. What does the good doctor do? (4,066 words)

Video of the day The Great Haboob Chase

What to expect:

Tracking a dust storm for four hours and 140 miles across California (2’45”)

Thought for the day

There are truths that you have to grow into
H.G. Wells

Podcast Laura Marsh | Writers We Admire

Laura Marsh, literary editor of The New Republic, talks with Robert Cottrell abut publishing, #MeToo, American culture
(22m 33s)

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