Get notified of Words&Dirt updates

Tag: nonfiction

Review: Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s “The Coddling of the American Mind”

The Coddling of the American Mind is a book that every American should read. While this was my first encounter with author Greg Lukianoff, I’ve long respected and followed the work of his coauthor, Jonathan Haidt. In the early 2010s, Haidt’s The Righteous Mind was one of my gateway texts into the field of moral psychology, which has captivated [...]

Review: Yuval Noah Harari’s “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”

Last week, I was one of the lucky audience members who witnessed a live discussion between Yuval Noah Harari and Sam Harris in San Francisco. Harris opened the conversation by saying, “So, Yuval, you have these books that just steamroll over all other books.” That’s pretty much how I felt about Harari’s two previous works, [...]

Review: Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”

I am fortunate to have a mother who recommended this book and a father-in-law who gifted it to me. Given their convergent enthusiasm for this fascinating but grim piece of history, I expected something unique. Even so, I was unprepared for the wild ride of Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost. This book is a quintessential example [...]

Review: Andrew Yang’s “The War on Normal People”

Like many others, I discovered Andrew Yang by way of his excellent interview with Sam Harris last month. Yang, who is running for President in 2020, immediately struck me as honest, intelligent, well-informed, and profoundly reasonable––a heroic foil for the repugnant personalities that dominate today’s national politics. Yang’s central campaign issue is the institution of [...]

Review: Peter Godfrey-Smith’s “Other Minds”

As humanity finally learns (or is forced) to confront the reality and imminent dangers of climate change, we’re going to need every bit of mental flexibility and creativity we can muster. There has probably never been a moment in history when it was more critical for us to explore and appreciate types of intelligence different from [...]

Review: Mathew A. Foust’s “Confucianism and American Philosophy”

It’s been more than a decade since I walked into my first Philosophy 101 discussion group at the University of Oregon and noticed a diminutive, sparkly-eyed man at the front of the room. There’s no way I could have predicted how profoundly my life would change due to the influence of this man, who spent [...]

Review: Van Jones’s “Beyond the Messy Truth”

In this era of increasingly putrid political division, there are lots of books out there attempting to diagnose America’s problems and suggest workable solutions. And although I’m not convinced that Van Jones’s Beyond the Messy Truth is necessarily the best of them, if I had the ability to force all Americans to read this book, I would [...]

Review: Antonio Damasio’s “The Strange Order of Things”

Antonio Damasio’s impact on my intellectual development would be difficult to overstate. I first encountered his work when I was assigned The Feeling of What Happens for a philosophy of mind course in college. That book fundamentally transformed how I understood myself as a thinking, feeling being, and when I read Self Comes to Mind a few years later, [...]

Review: Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now”

Steven Pinker was one of the first writers to kindle my passion for scientific thinking. When I read The Blank Slate in 2011, it exposed me to a host of intellectual disciplines that my undergraduate training in philosophy had neglected––most notably evolutionary psychology, skepticism, and the empirical foundations of human nature. Nearly a decade later, I am [...]

Review: Thomas Nagel’s “Mortal Questions”

The title of Thomas Nagel’s Mortal Questions may appear to promise a set of inquiries with reachable termination points, but in fact the opposite is true. This collection of short essays explores a slew of multifaceted and often-insouble problems surrounding the nature of human society and experiential life that Nagel pondered during the 1970s. Nagel is nobly [...]