What We Are Reading Today: Credit Nation

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Updated 05 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Credit Nation

Even before the US became a country, laws prioritizing access to credit set colonial America apart from the rest of the world.

Credit Nation examines how the drive to expand credit shaped property laws and legal institutions in the colonial and founding eras of the republic, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Claire Priest describes how the British Parliament departed from the customary ways that English law protected land and inheritance, enacting laws for the colonies that privileged creditors by defining land and slaves as commodities available to satisfy debts.

Colonial governments, in turn, created local legal institutions that enabled people to further leverage their assets to obtain credit.

Priest shows how loans backed with slaves as property fueled slavery from the colonial era through the Civil War, and that increased access to credit was key to the explosive growth of capitalism in nineteenth-century America.

Credit Nation presents a new vision of American economic history, one where credit markets and liquidity were prioritized from the outset and where property rights and slaves became commodities for creditors’ claims.


What We Are Reading Today: Eco-Types; Five Ways of Caring about the Environment

Updated 01 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Eco-Types; Five Ways of Caring about the Environment

Edited by Emily Huddart Kennedy

When we picture the ideal environmentalist, we likely have in mind someone who dedicates herself to reducing her own environmental footprint through individual choices about consumption—driving a fuel-efficient car, for example, or eating less meat, or refusing plastic straws.

This is a benchmark that many aspire to—and many others reject. In Eco-Types, Emily Huddart Kennedy shows that there is more than one way to care about the environment, outlining a spectrum of eco-social relationships that range from engagement to indifference.

Kennedy argues that when liberals feel they have a moral monopoly on environmental issues, polarization results. If we are serious about protecting the planet, we must acknowledge that we don’t all need to care about the environment in the same way.

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What We Are Reading: Status & Culture by W. David Marx

Updated 16 September 2022

What We Are Reading: Status & Culture by W. David Marx

The book from W. David Marx lays out how individuals in pursuit of status trigger the cultural mechanisms behind taste, identity, fashion, art, class, subcultures, and the current state of internet culture.

Marx is a long-time writer on culture based in Tokyo. he is also the author of Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style.

If Ametora was a specific case study of “how culture happens” and how trends form, this new book is a deep look into the universal principles of cultural change — all with status as the motor.


What We Are Reading Today: Land of Wondrous Cold by Gillen D’arcy Wood

Updated 15 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Land of Wondrous Cold by Gillen D’arcy Wood

Antarctica, the ice kingdom hosting the South Pole, looms large in the human imagination. The secrets of this vast frozen desert have long tempted explorers, but its brutal climate and glacial shores notoriously resist human intrusion.

Land of Wondrous Cold tells a gripping story of the pioneering nineteenth-century voyages, when British, French, and American commanders raced to penetrate Antarctica’s glacial rim for unknown lands beyond.


What We Are Reading Today: Always Faithful

Updated 13 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Always Faithful

Authors: Thomas Schueman and Zainullah Zaki

In Always Faithful, Thomas Schueman and Zainullah Zaki tell the full story of the divergent paths that led them to Afghanistan, the dangerous road they walked together in service to America, and how their commitment to each other ended up saving them both. 

Always Faithful tracks the parallel lives of these two men who each spent their childhoods in fear, peril, and poverty, and turned to war in attempt to build a meaningful future. 

Through their eyes and their experiences, they challenge readers to explore the legacy of the war for American and Afghan citizens alike, as we all collectively seek to understand whether twenty years of war was worth the price.

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What We Are Reading Today:  Play Nice But Win by Michael Dell and Jams Kaplan

Updated 04 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today:  Play Nice But Win by Michael Dell and Jams Kaplan

This book is about the founder and chief executive of one of America’s largest technology companies, and the inside story of the battles that defined him as a leader.

In 1984, soon-to-be college dropout Michael Dell hid signs of his fledgling PC business in the bathroom of his University of Texas dorm room. 

Almost 30 years later, at the pinnacle of his success as founder and leader of Dell Technologies, he found himself embroiled in a battle for his company’s survival. What he’d do next could ensure its legacy — or destroy it completely.

The book is a riveting account of the three battles waged for Dell Technologies.