Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

Quick Post: My summer reading list

This Christmas, I’m doing an epic reread.  Rereading is an overlooked pleasure, revisiting a work which has remained the same although you have since changed.

1. The Book of Five Rings, Musashi.

This is one from my adolescence that I haven’t yet revisited.  I have the Cleary translation which, although flawed, I find accessible enough.  Although the subject material of the book is no longer applicable (it’s not a great skill to train as a samurai), the thought processes behind the situations and thinking about thinking strategically is still important.

2. The Prince, Machiavelli.

I last read this at university and loved every moment of it.  Armed with some good commentary by Australian philosopher, Doug Adeney, this is a challenging book that was personally extremely influential.  It definitely doesn’t deserve it’s reputation.

3. The Politics, Plato.

I recently obtained a new collection of Plato’s works and I haven’t dived into this new translation as much as I’ve wanted to this year.  I’m at that point where I struggle to remember precisely what it was that Plato was arguing, rather than what other people have argued about Plato.

4. On War, von Clausewitz.

Another strategy book.  Still the classic.

5. The Republic, Aristotle.

Every time I come back to Aristotle for a reference, I’m surprised at how much more there is to get from reading it.  As the libertarians and the objectivists keep getting louder, being more familiar and fluent in Aristotle’s political thought are handy attributes.

6. The 15 Decisive Battles of the World, Creasy.

There appears to be a theme emerging…  I last read this as a teenager and remember not thinking it was particularly good.  I hope I appreciate it more this time.

7. History of Rome (Books I – V), Livy.

I haven’t read this since studying Roman history.  Since reading Hegel’s account of history, I’ve wanted to go back to the classics and see what more I can get out of them.

8. The Three Musketeers, Dumas.

I think several movies have destroyed my ability to remember what actually goes on in this book.

9. The Rights of Man, Paine.

All I remember about this book was that he was wrong from start to finish, but if I had to give a summary of what he was arguing, I’d be stuck.  Burke was clearly the better writer, and the better human being.  All I can remember is that the book was smug, poorly argued, and a complete waste of time.  It was therefore completely predictable that it’s a favourite read amongst Americans.  Expect me to get ranty all over again.

10. The Federalist Papers

As I spend a ridiculous amount of time going through the constitutional conventions that produced Australia’s constitution, I’ve realised how patchy my memory is of the American debates which produced their diseased and gangrenous constitution.  What I do remember is that a lot of our current political debates seem to mirror theirs, particularly around the relationship between the citizen and the State.  Given the terrible outcomes from the American constitution, it will be fun to get back into the swing of the best arguments that America could put forward.


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