Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More Books I Love that I Haven't Read in a While

Recently, as I was re-reading Robert Bonner's fantastic essay on Michael O'Brien's Conjectures of Order, I was reminded that his first book was a history of the southern identity between the two world wars, The Idea of the American South, 1920-41--and about UNC's contribution through the university's sociologists. In previous readings of The Idea of the South I've focused on the conservative thought (much of is about the agrarians), but Bonner's gentle reminder sent me over to my book shelf to pull down The Idea of the American South, to learn about my new home.

One thing about O'Brien's work--I always have the sense that he's smarter than everyone he's writing about (and he's sure smarter than I am). It's strange to read a book where the author sees connections that I don't think the subjects under study saw--or to deal with ideas that the subjects under study didn't understand as well as the author. But then maybe that's maybe one of the central goals of intellectual history--to see people's ideas in context and perhaps put them in a stream of thought, which they themselves perhaps only dimly perceived.

One of these days I want to talk about legal thought in his Conjectures of Order.

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