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Lawrence Lessig's Bookcase

Lester Lawrence "Larry" Lessig III (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic, attorney, and political activist. He is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Lessig was a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but withdrew before the primaries.

Photo by: Lessig Equal Citizens Exploratory Committee

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Public Goods and the Theory of Groups

This book develops an original theory of group and organizational behavior that cuts across disciplinary lines and illustrates the theory with empirical and historical studies of particular organizations. Applying economic analysis to the subjects of the political scientist, sociologist, and economist, Mancur Olson examines the extent to which the individuals that share a common interest find it in their individual interest to bear the costs of the organizational effort.The theory shows that most organizations produce what the economist calls “public goods”―goods or services that are available to every member, whether or not he has borne any of the costs of providing them. Economists have long understood that defense, law and order were public goods that could not be marketed to individuals, and that taxation was necessary. They have not, however, taken account of the fact that private as well as governmental organizations produce public goods.The services the labor union provides for the worker it represents, or the benefits a lobby obtains for the group it represents, are public goods: they automatically go to every individual in the group, whether or not he helped bear the costs. It follows that, just as governments require compulsory taxation, many large private organizations require special (and sometimes coercive) devices to obtain the resources they need.This is not true of smaller organizations for, as this book shows, small and large organizations support themselves in entirely different ways. The theory indicates that, though small groups can act to further their interest much more easily than large ones, they will tend to devote too few resources to the satisfaction of their common interests, and that there is a surprising tendency for the “lesser” members of the small group to exploit the “greater” members by making them bear a disproportionate share of the burden of any group action.All of the theory in the book is in Chapter 1; the remaining chapters contain empirical and historical evidence of the theory’s relevance to labor unions, pressure groups, corporations, and Marxian class action.

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This volume brings together Pierre Bourdieu’s highly original writings on language and on the relations among language, power, and politics. Bourdieu develops a forceful critique of traditional approaches to language, including the linguistic theories of Saussure and Chomsky and the theory of speech-acts elaborated by Austin and others. He argues that language should be viewed not only as a means of communication but also as a medium of power through which individuals pursue their own interests and display their practical competence.

Drawing on the concepts that are part of his distinctive theoretical approach, Bourdieu maintains that linguistic utterances or expressions can be understood as the product of the relation between a “linguistic market” and a “linguistic habitus.” When individuals use language in particular ways, they deploy their accumulated linguistic resources and implicitly adapt their words to the demands of the social field or market that is their audience. Hence every linguistic interaction, however personal or insignificant it may seem, bears the traces of the social structure that it both expresses and helps to reproduce.

Bourdieu’s account sheds fresh light on the ways in which linguistic usage varies according to considerations such as class and gender. It also opens up a new approach to the ways in which language is used in the domain of politics. For politics is, among other things, the arena in which words are deeds and the symbolic character of power is at stake.

This volume, by one of the leading social thinkers in the world today, represents a major contribution to the study of language and power. It will be of interest to students throughout the social sciences and humanities, especially in sociology, politics, anthropology, linguistics, and literature.

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Toward a Feminist Theory of the State presents Catharine MacKinnon's powerful analysis of politics, sexuality, and the law from the perspective of women. Using the debate over Marxism and feminism as a point of departure, MacKinnon develops a theory of gender centered on sexual subordination and applies it to the state. The result is an informed and compelling critique of inequality and a transformative vision of a direction for social change.

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Originally published anonymously, The Federalist Papers first appeared in 1787 as a series of letters to New York newspapers exhorting voters to ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States. Still hotly debated, and open to often controversial interpretations, the arguments first presented here by three of America’s greatest patriots and political theorists were created during a critical moment in our nation’s history, providing readers with a running ideological commentary on the crucial issues facing democracy.

Today The Federalist Papers are as important and vital a rallying cry for freedom as ever.

This edition features the original eighteenth-century text, with James Madison’s fascinating marginal notations, as well as a complete text of the Constitution.

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The self-interested disregard of a dying woman's bequest, an impulsive girl's attempt to help an impoverished clerk, and the marriage between an idealist and a materialist — all intersect at a Hertfordshire estate called Howards End. The fate of this beloved country home symbolizes the future of England itself in E. M. Forster's exploration of social, economic, and philosophical trends, as exemplified by three families: the Schlegels, symbolizing the idealistic and intellectual aspect of the upper classes; the Wilcoxes, representing upper-class pragmatism and materialism; and the Basts, embodying the aspirations of the lower classes. Written in 1910, Howards End won international acclaim for its insightful portrait of English life during the post-Victorian era.

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Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature hit the philosophical world like a bombshell. Richard Rorty, a Princeton professor who had contributed to the analytic tradition in philosophy, was now attempting to shrug off all the central problems with which it had long been preoccupied. After publication, the Press was barely able to keep up with demand, and the book has since gone on to become one of its all-time best-sellers in philosophy.

Rorty argued that, beginning in the seventeenth century, philosophers developed an unhealthy obsession with the notion of representation. They compared the mind to a mirror that reflects reality. In their view, knowledge is concerned with the accuracy of these reflections, and the strategy employed to obtain this knowledge--that of inspecting, repairing, and polishing the mirror--belongs to philosophy. Rorty's book was a powerful critique of this imagery and the tradition of thought that it spawned. He argued that the questions about truth posed by Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and modern epistemologists and philosophers of language simply couldn't be answered and were, in any case, irrelevant to serious social and cultural inquiry. This stance provoked a barrage of criticism, but whatever the strengths of Rorty's specific claims, the book had a therapeutic effect on philosophy. It reenergized pragmatism as an intellectual force, steered philosophy back to its roots in the humanities, and helped to make alternatives to analytic philosophy a serious choice for young graduate students. Twenty-five years later, the book remains a must-read for anyone seriously concerned about the nature of philosophical inquiry and what philosophers can and cannot do to help us understand and improve the world.

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“Radiant as [To the Lighthouse] is in its beauty, there could never be a mistake about it: here is a novel to the last degree severe and uncompromising. I think that beyond being about the very nature of reality, it is itself a vision of reality.”—Eudora Welty, from the Introduction

 

The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women.

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When The Fountainhead was first published, Ayn Rand's daringly original literary vision and her groundbreaking philosophy, Objectivism, won immediate worldwide interest and acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. This edition contains a special afterword by Rand’s literary executor, Leonard Peikoff, which includes excerpts from Ayn Rand’s own notes on the making of The Fountainhead. As fresh today as it was then, here is a novel about a hero—and about those who try to destroy him.

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Translated into 100 languages, winner of the National Book Award, and named one of the 100 Most Influential Books since World War II by the Times Literary Supplement, Anarchy, State and Utopia remains one of the most theoretically trenchant and philosophically rich defenses of economic liberalism to date, as well as a foundational text in classical libertarian thought. With a new introduction by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, this revised edition will introduce Nozick and his work to a new generation of readers.

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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841–1935) is generally considered one of the two greatest justices of the United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Marshall being the other. In more than 2000 opinions, he delineated an impressive legal philosophy that profoundly influenced American jurisprudence, particularly in the area of civil liberties and judicial restraint. At the same time, his abilities as a prose stylist earned him a position among the literary elite. In The Common Law, derived from a series of lectures delivered at the Lowell Institute in Boston, Holmes systematized his early legal doctrines. The result was an enduring classic of legal philosophy that continues to be read and consulted over a century later. Beginning with historical forms of liability (thought to have originated in the desire for vengeance in ancient Roman and Germanic blood feuds), the book goes on to discuss criminal law, torts, bails, possession and ownership, contracts, successions, and many other aspects of civil and criminal law. Encompassing Holmes's profound, wide-ranging knowledge of the law in its historical aspects, yet written in a manner easily accessible to the layman, The Common Law provoked this observation from another famed jurist; "The book is a classic in the sense that its stock of ideas has been absorbed and become part of common juristic thought … they placed law in a perspective which legal scholarship ever since has merely confirmed." — Felix Frankfurter, Of Law and Men. Now the influential ideas and judicial theory of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. can be studied and appreciated in this superb edition — the only one in print — of his magnum opus. This edition also features a new introduction by Professor Sheldon M. Novick, author of Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes. First published in 1881, this book is still indispensable reading for lawyers, political scientists, historians, general readers — anyone interested in the origins, development, and continuing evolution of the laws that govern human society.

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"Ten Days That Shook the World" is American journalist and socialist John Reed's first-hand account of the Russian October Revolution of 1917. While it is intended as an impartial and unbiased historical account, by Reed's own admission, "in the struggle [his] sympathies were not neutral". An important historical document of an event that would shape the political landscape for most of the 20th century, "Ten Days That Shook the World" is a must read for those interested in the socialistic movement and how it shaped Russian history.

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The Subjection of Women

Two cornerstones of liberalism from the great social radical of English philosophy

John Stuart Mill was a prodigious thinker who sharply challenged the beliefs of his age. In On Liberty, one of the sacred texts of liberalism, he argues that any democracy risks becoming a "tyranny of opinion" in which minority views are suppressed if they do not conform to those of the majority. The Subjection of Women, written shortly after the death of Mill?s wife, Harriet, stresses the importance of sexual equality. Together they provide eloquent testimony to the hopes and anxieties of Victorian England, and offer a trenchant consideration of what it really means to be free.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Foundations

Bruce Ackerman offers a sweeping reinterpretation of our nation's constitutional experience and its promise for the future. Integrating themes from American history, political science, and philosophy, We the People confronts the past, present, and future of popular sovereignty in America. Only this distinguished scholar could present such an insightful view of the role of the Supreme Court. Rejecting arguments of judicial activists, proceduralists, and neoconservatives, Ackerman proposes a new model of judicial interpretation that would synthesize the constitutional contributions of many generations into a coherent whole. The author ranges from examining the origins of the dualist tradition in the Federalist Papers to reflecting upon recent, historic constitutional decisions. The latest revolutions in civil rights, and the right to privacy, are integrated into the fabric of constitutionalism. Today's Constitution can best be seen as the product of three great exercises in popular sovereignty, led by the Founding Federalists in the 1780s, the Reconstruction Republicans in the 1860s, and the New Deal Democrats in the 1930s.

Ackerman examines the roles played during each of these periods by the Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. He shows that Americans have built a distinctive type of constitutional democracy, unlike any prevailing in Europe. It is a dualist democracy, characterized by its continuing effort to distinguish between two kinds of politics: normal politics, in which organized interest groups try to influence democratically elected representatives; and constitutional politics, in which the mass of citizens mobilize to debate matters of fundamental principle. Although American history is dominated by normal politics, our tradition places a higher value on mobilized efforts to gain the consent of the people to new governing principles.In a dualist democracy, the rare triumphs of constitutional politics determine the course of normal politics.More than a decade in the making, and the first of three volumes, this compelling book speaks to all who seek to renew and redefine our civic commitments in the decades ahead.

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First published in 1913, Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country is a scathing novel of ambition featuring one of the most ruthless heroines in literature. Undine Spragg is as unscrupulous as she is magnetically beautiful. Her rise to the top of New York’s high society from the nouveau riche provides a provocative commentary on the upwardly mobile and the aspirations that eventually cause their ruin. One of Wharton’s most acclaimed works, The Custom of the Country is a stunning indictment of materialism and misplaced values that is as powerful today for its astute observations about greed and power as when it was written nearly a century ago.

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Anti-Necessitarian Social Theory in the Service of Radical Democracy

False necessity is the central work in the three-volume series Politics. It presents both a way of explaining society and a program for changing it. The explanation develops a radical alternative to Marxism, showing how we can account for established social arrangements without denying their contingency or our freedom. The program offers a progressive alternative to the now-dominant ideological conceptions of neoliberalism and social democracy: a set of institutional innovations that would democratize markets, deepen democracy and empower individuals.

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One of Time magazine's 100 all-time best English-language novels.

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.

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Since it appeared in 1971, John Rawls's A Theory of Justice has become a classic. The author has now revised the original edition to clear up a number of difficulties he and others have found in the original book.

Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition--justice as fairness--and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, which had dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought since the nineteenth century. Rawls substitutes the ideal of the social contract as a more satisfactory account of the basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal persons. "Each person," writes Rawls, "possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override." Advancing the ideas of Rousseau, Kant, Emerson, and Lincoln, Rawls's theory is as powerful today as it was when first published.

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Version 2.0

There’s a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulated-that it is, in its very essence, immune from the government’s (or anyone else’s) control. Code, first published in 2000, argues that this belief is wrong. It is not in the nature of cyberspace to be unregulable; cyberspace has no “nature.” It only has code-the software and hardware that make cyberspace what it is. That code can create a place of freedom-as the original architecture of the Net did-or a place of oppressive control. Under the influence of commerce, cyberspace is becoming a highly regulable space, where behavior is much more tightly controlled than in real space. But that’s not inevitable either. We can-we must-choose what kind of cyberspace we want and what freedoms we will guarantee. These choices are all about architecture: about what kind of code will govern cyberspace, and who will control it. In this realm, code is the most significant form of law, and it is up to lawyers, policymakers, and especially citizens to decide what values that code embodies. Since its original publication, this seminal book has earned the status of a minor classic. This second edition, or Version 2.0, has been prepared through the author’s wiki, a web site that allows readers to edit the text, making this the first reader-edited revision of a popular book.

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