I frequently find myself involved in pointless political debates, where some person begins regurgitating talking points from either Fox News, or MSNBC, and I reciprocate by regurgitating the talking points of the opposing television station.
This is all well and good, but I wondered if maybe there might be room for some original thinking. Unfortunately, I don’t know the first thing about politics. So, I thought it might do me some good to read more about political philosophy, and thereby baffle my debating opponents with some esoteric piece of knowledge about Locke or Rousseau or some other such person.
To that end, I have been reading a few books.
Introducing Political Philosophy
I picked this one up at the bookstore in direct violation of my new policy to only buy books for my Kindle. It’s not available for the Kindle (I suspect) because it’s essentially a comic book. It’s quite silly, actually. There are cartoons of David Hume and Karl Marx explaining their various theories in speech balloons.
Unfortunately, the introduction is so brief, you only get a one or two sentence summary of each idea, before moving on to the next. Sadly, I do not think that the knowledge I’ve gleaned from this book will be sufficient to win any arguments.
I give Introducing Political Philosophy 2 Jihadis out of 5
Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man: A Biography (Books That Changed the World)
This is a very short biography of Paine and his ideas. I’m afraid it’s almost entirely over my head, and it was a bit tedious to get through. I really like Hitchens, though, and I think I may pick up his biography of Jefferson next.
I give Hitchen’s Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man 3 Jihadis out of 5
Speaking of Jefferson, I just (today) finished American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
I am planning to make a pilgrimage to Monticello sometime this fall, and I want to know as much as possible about Jefferson before I go, so I get as much out of the experience as possible. I visited Monticello before; once when I was 2 years old (which I don’t remember), and once when I was 10 years old, which I remember vividly, and I think that experience gave me my hero-worship for Mr. Jefferson.
Anyhow, American Sphinx tarnished my Jefferson-worship a little bit. I didn’t know, for instance, that Mr. Jefferson was essentially bankrupt when he died or that he was kind of a miserable, grumpy old fart towards the end of his life.
It’s a tad more of a standard history book than John Adams, which had more of a storytelling style. Nevertheless, it held my attention for 464 pages, which is no small feat.
I give American Sphinx 4 Jihadis out of 5.
After I finished American Sphinx today, I went down to the Barns and Noble in Camp Hill. I walked over to the biography section, and found the books on Jefferson. In some freak accident of alphabetical order, Jefferson is bookended by biographies of Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy.
Now, I have as much esteem for Ms. Jameson’s work as the next guy, but I think the last place in the world anyone would want to end up is between her and Mr. Jeremy.