Clifford Geertz (1926–2006) was an anthropologist. Widely recognized as the most influential American anthropologist of the twentieth century, Geertz championed the role of symbols in the creation and interpretation of social meaning. His many books include Peddlers and Princes: Social Development and Economic Change in Two Indonesian Towns and Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics.


Among the Infidels

Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

by Natalie Zemon Davis
In 1550 there appeared in Rome (in the words of the first of its English translators) a geographical historie of Africa, written in Arabicke and Italian by John Leo a More, borne in Grenada and brought vp in Barbarie, wherein he hath at large described, not onely the qualities, situations, …

Very Bad News

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

by Jared Diamond

Catastrophe: Risk and Response

by Richard A. Posner
Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To know that for destruction ice Is also great And would …

Morality Tale

Ishi's Brain: In Search of America's Last "Wild" Indian

by Orin Starn

Ishi in Three Centuries

edited by Karl Kroeber and Clifton Kroeber
A California morality tale, the story of Ishi is in itself, like parables in general, a simple one. It is the tellers, each with different involvement and different intent, who complicate it. In late August 1911, a middle-aged man, with buckskin threaded through his ears and a small stick piercing …

Which Way to Mecca? Part II

Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam

by Gilles Kepel

Militant Islam Reaches America

by Daniel Pipes
Since the end of the cold war, when a lot more collapsed than walls and regimes, many of the large-scale concepts by means of which we had been accustomed to sorting out the world have begun to come apart. East and West, Communist and free world, liberal and totalitarian, Arab, …

Which Way to Mecca?

What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East

by Bernard Lewis

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror

by Bernard Lewis
We are, in this country right now, engaged in the process of constructing, rather hurriedly, as though we had better quickly get on with it after years of neglect, a standard, public-square image of “Islam.” Until very recently, we had hardly more than the suggestions of such an image—vagrant notions …

The Last Humanist

A Preference for the Primitive: Episodes in the History of Western Taste and Art

by E.H. Gombrich
When Ernst Gombrich, the most celebrated art historian of our time, died last year at the age of ninety-two it seemed as though not just an individual career but a whole movement of thought and sensibility had come to an end. He was the last of the great Central European …

The Visit

A Society Without Fathers or Husbands: The Na of China

by Cai Hua, translated from the French by Asti Hustvedt
Love and marriage, love and marriage Go together like a horse and carriage Dad was told by mother You can’t have one without the other, —“Love and Marriage,”Sammy Cahn and Jimmy van Heusen Not everywhere. Among the Na, a tribal people hidden away in the Yongning …