Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thomas C. Schelling

Looking through The Harvard Guide to Influential Books recently, I discovered Thomas C. Schelling's entry. He wrote: "These books give readers a taste of the best in natural science, social science, classical and modern history and literary style," and went on to cite Darwin's The Origin of Species, Thucydides' History, Erving Goffman's Interaction Ritual, Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and John Keegan's The Face of Battle.

When I asked him in February 2007 if his selections would differ if he named such a list today, he had an interesting reply.

That's the backstory to his reply to my query about what he has been reading lately:
I'm willing to add two authors, partly because readers may have missed them.

One is Ryszard Kapuscinski, the Polish journalist and novelist who died recently. His The Emperor, Vintage Books, 1984, is probably the most underlined book in my collection. When I read it I went out to the nearest book store and bought all the copies they had and gave them to friends. It takes quite a few pages to catch on to what it is.

The other is José Saramago, whose books are nearly impossible to read until one learns the style. (He doesn't punctuate, for one thing.) He makes the most fantastic events seem natural. It's important to start with an easier book; I suggest Blindness, or The Stone Raft. By then you'll find his style easy going and you can go on to the rest, especially The History of the Siege of Lisbon.
Thomas C. Schelling is an American economist and an authority on foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control. He was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics for "having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis."

His many influential publications include the books The Strategy of Conflict, Arms and Influence, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, and Choice and Consequence.

Influential books: Thomas C. Schelling.

--Marshal Zeringue