A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living, by Luc Ferry.
This is one of the most fascinating books I have read. Most of the ground he covers is of the major historical philosophical ideas I have studied in any number of previous presentations, but this was different. Luc, who is a philosopher at the University of Paris, takes the reader from the question of what is philosophy, to the Greeks, to the victory of Christianity, to humanism, to postmodernity, and to contemporary philosophy in terms that relate to his concept of the relevance of these ideas to the meaning of life. I disagree with some of what he has to say and he is not a man of religious faith, but he is not your every day leftist. He has an engaging presentation style and is convincing that we ignore the prominence of speculative philosophy in our life to our detriment.
A Skeptic Challenges a Christian: An Honest Conversation About Reasons to Believe, by Dr. David Pendergrass.
I learned of this book when its author, a theologian and philosopher, spoke at our church several months ago. If you are a Christian and are often challenged by doubts, as most of us are, or if you are of another faith, a non-believer or an agnostic, this book will be of interest. It is an engaging conversation between a Christian who has seriously reasoned through the theological and philosophical commitments of his creed and an unbeliever who is at least willing to listen to the rationale for Christian faith while confronting and seriously doubting every proposition of it. A fascinating presentation.
George F. Kennan: An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis.
I have often said that, in order to fully understand the 20th century, one needs to read Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, and see the movie Judgment at Nuremberg. I should probably have added Walter Lippman and the American Century, by Ronald Steel, and now certainly this excellent biography of the man who in various official roles was either directly or indirectly involved in the development of almost every significant U. S. foreign policy strategy from the beginning of World War II through the Vietnam War. Kennan is noted most prominently, of course, for the so-called “long telegram” from Moscow shortly after the end of World War II expounding on the nature of the Soviet Union and the following anonymous “X” essay in Foreign Affairs shortly thereafter, as well as his authorship of the Soviet containment policy that dominated American foreign policy from the Truman administration to the beginning of the Reagan administration. But he was influential in so many other ways that included his scholarship, his teaching and lectures around the world, his formal and informal advisory role to Presidents from Roosevelt to Clinton, and his influence on opinion leadership as a public intellectual. This is great history and great insight into the life of an often controversial, but very gifted man who served us well.