A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

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A Gentleman in Moscow

He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Continue reading…

The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)

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The Underground Railroad

“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Continue reading…

Authority (Richard Sennett)

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“This book is a study of both how we experience authority and how we might experience it differently. Sennett explores the bonds that rebellion against authority paradoxically establishes, showing how this paradox has been in the making since the French Revolution and how today it expresses itself in offices, in factories, and in government as well as in the family. Drawing on examples from psychology, sociology, and literature, he eloquently projects how we might reinvigorate the role of authority according to good and rational ideals. Continue reading…

Why Don’t We Learn from History? (B.H. Liddell Hart)

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Why Don’t We Learn from History?

“A concise exposition of the fallacies of history, the conflict between history and propaganda, what it means to us, and what we may look forward to.”

New Books Playground says: Why Don’t We Learn from History? has taught us a lot more about what humans do and what we need to keep in mind when looking at history. Continue reading…

Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw)

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Pygmalion is a play by George Bernard Shaw, named after a Greek mythological character. It was first presented on stage to the public in 1912. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a commentary on women’s independence. Continue reading…

Cartoons of World War II (Tony Husband)

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Cartoons of World War II

“In peacetime cartoonists are a diverse collection of individuals with their own styles and projects, but when the trumpets of war blow it is like unleashing the dogs of war. Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt and Mussolini were a gift for them and, as this collection shows, one they weren’t about to turn down. This book shows that humour was one of the key weapons of war, with countries using cartoons to demoralise their opponents and maintain morale. Continue reading…

Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (Jostein Gaarder)

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Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy

“One day Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Where does the world come from?’ Before she knows it she is enrolled in a correspondence course with a mysterious philosopher. Thus begins Jostein Gaarder’s unique novel, which is not only a mystery, but also a complete and entertaining history of philosophy.”

New Books Playground says: Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, one of the most beautiful philosophy books we know. Continue reading…

What It Is Like to Go to War (Karl Marlantes)

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What It Is Like to Go to War

“In 1968, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of a platoon of forty Marines who would live or die by his decisions. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his war experience. In What It Is Like to Go to War, Marlantes takes a deeply personal and candid look at what it is like to experience the ordeal of combat, critically examining how we might better prepare our soldiers for war. Continue reading…

Highlights from The Symbolism of Freemasonry (Albert G. Mackey)

Establishing our new series, here are some highlights from Albert G. Mackey’s The Symbolism of Freemasonry (1882).

Emphasis as it appears in the original work may be missing, and our own edits, though marked, may be broad. Important: By sharing these highlights we neither endorse nor recommend respective authors and their views. Assume that we know little of the authors, and that we have nuanced views on the matter—as with all our book recommendations.

The Symbolism of Freemasonry

“One of the most remarkable phenomena of the human race is the universal existence of religious ideas—a belief in something supernatural and divine, and a worship corresponding to it.”—Gross

[…] we find, soon after the cataclysm, the immediate descendants of Noah in the possession of at least two religious truths […].

Continue reading…

The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For (David McCullough)

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The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For

“A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States—winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others—that reminds us of fundamental American principles.

Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. Continue reading…