Conversations About History, Volume 3, includes the following 5 carefully-edited Ideas Roadshow Conversations featuring leading historians. This collection includes a detailed preface highlighting the connections between the different books. Each book is broken into chapters with a detailed introduction and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:
1. Eating One’s Own: Examining Civil War - A Conversation with intellectual historian David Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blanfein Professor of History at Harvard University. This conversation covers David Armitage’s extensive research on the history of ideas of civil war from Ancient Rome to the present. A salient feature of his work is a strong focus on etymology as it relates to our understanding of how people interpreted (or misinterpreted) and perceived events in history which results in a fascinating exploration of how our understanding of various concepts has been prejudiced by past societies and past beliefs that we might not even be aware of, and how they, in turn, go on to influence other societies; and how this cumulative process frames our understanding of these ideas.
2. China: Up Close and Personal - A Conversation with Karl Gerth, Hwei-Chih and Julia Hsiu Chair in Chinese Studies and Professor of History at UC San Diego. This wide-ranging conversation covers the emerging American-style consumer culture of China which is revolutionizing the lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese, how it has transformed its economy and lifestyle and has the potential to reshape the world.
3. Sheathing the Bodkin: Combating Suicide - A Conversation with poet, author and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht. After intriguing details about how she combines writing poetry, doing scholarly history and public writing, this wide-ranging conversation movingly embellishes upon Jennifer Michael Hecht’s book, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It, which is an intellectual and cultural history of the most persuasive arguments against suicide from the Stoics and the Bible to Dante, Shakespeare, Wittgenstein, and such twentieth-century writers as Albert Camus.
4. For the Love of History - A Conversation with Margaret MacMillan, Professor of History at the University of Toronto and emeritus Professor of International History and the former warden of St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. This wide-ranging conversation examines her research on patriotism and nationalism, which are essential themes of her lifelong work on 19th and 20th history.
5. The Epicurean Republic - A Conversation with award-winning author and independent scholar Matthew Stewart. In his later years, Thomas Jefferson referred to “the revolutionary part of the [American] Revolution”, which for him meant the founding ideals that would serve as a model for the world on how to build a modern state, as opposed to an incidental squabble between one country and its former colonists. This wide-ranging conversation explores how many of these ideals that Jefferson referred to are part of an intellectual thread that passes through key Enlightenment thinkers such as Spinoza and can be traced all the way back to Epicurus.
Howard Burton is the founder and host of all Ideas Roadshow Conversations and was the Founding Executive Director of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy.