Posted on March 24th, 2016

Mary Beard SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

(Liveright Publishing Corporation)


Mary Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts Professor of ancient literature. She is also the classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement, and author of the blog, A Don’s Life, which appears in The Times as a regular column.

Robert J. Gordon The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

(Princeton University Press)


Robert J. Gordon is Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Northwestern University.

Gordon is one of the world’s leading experts on inflation, unemployment, and long-term economic growth. His recent work asking whether U.S. economic growth is “almost over” has been widely cited, and he was named in 2013 by Bloomberg as one of the nation’s ten most influential thinkers. Gordon is author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War (published in January 2016 by Princeton University Press). He is also author of Macroeconomics, twelfth edition, The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices, The American Business Cycle, and The Economics of New Goods. His book of collected essays is Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment.

Gordon did his undergraduate work at Harvard and then attended Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. He received his Ph.D. in 1967 at M.I.T. and taught at Harvard and the University of Chicago before coming to Northwestern in 1973. He is a distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association and a Fellow of both the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee. He is also a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (London) and the Observatoire Français des Conjunctures Economiques (OFCE, Paris). He is an economic adviser to the Bureau of Economic Analysis and to the economic forecasting firm MacroAdvisers, and a member of the policy advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Thomas W. Laqueur The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains

(Princeton University Press)


Thomas Laqueur was born to German Jewish emigres in Istanbul nine months after the Battle of the Bulge had signaled the definitive defeat of Hitler. He grew up in the coal fields of southern West Virginia where his father was a pathologist in a hospital belong to the United Mine Workers. Laqueur studied philosophy, history and biology at Swarthmore College and modern history at Princeton and Nuffield College, Oxford. He began teaching at UC-Berkeley in 1973 and has never left.  He was a founding editor of Representations and for five years the Director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities where, among other things, he started a human rights center and a series of graduate working groups which still thrive today. He has for more than forty years been a passionate graduate and undergraduate teacher.

Laqueur’s work has been focused on the history of popular religion and literacy; on the history the body— alive and dead; and on the history of death and memory. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the Threepenny Review, among other journals. He has won the usual fellowships but is most proud of the Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award, the proceeds from which he used as seed money for programs in religion, human rights, and science studies at Berkeley—all of which are now self-sustaining.

Philippe Sands East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

(Alfred A. Knopf)


Philippe Sands QC is professor of international law at University College London, and a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers, involved in many leading international cases as counsel and arbitrator. He is the author of Lawless World (2005) and Torture Team (2008) and several leading academic books on international law, and is an occasional contributor to the New York Review of BooksVanity Fair, the Financial Times and The GuardianEast West Street: On the Origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide is part of a broader project that includes a BBC film (My Nazi Legacy) and a performance piece (A Song of Good and Evil). He is a vice president of the Hay Festival of Arts & Literature and a member of the board of English PEN and of the Tricycle Theatre.

David Wootton The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution

(Stuart Proffitt)
credit to Valerie Bennett


David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York. He was educated at Cambridge and Oxford, and held positions in history and politics at four Canadian universities from 1980 to 1994, including two years at McGill University. He has held visiting positions at Princeton and Washington University in St Louis. His previous books include Paolo Sarpi (1983), Bad Medicine (2006) and Galileo (2010). In addition to his work on the history of science he also writes on the history of political and economic thought, 1500-1800, in North America, Britain, France and Italy. He has given the Raleigh Lecture at the British Academy (2008), the Carlyle Lectures at Oxford (2014) and the Benedict Lectures at Boston (2014), and he will give the Besterman Lecture at Oxford later this year. He has reviewed for the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the TLS, the LRB, and the Spectator. For an interview with him see His website for this book is

Andrea Wulf The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World

(Alfred A. Knopf and John Murray Publishers)


Andrea Wulf was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She lives in London, where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of Chasing VenusFounding Gardeners, and The Brother Gardeners, which was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize and awarded the American Horticultural Society Book Award. She has written for The New York Times, the Financial TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. She appears regularly on radio and TV, and in 2014 copresented British Gardens in Time, a four-part series on BBC television.