Yale Books in Brief

The following is a list of books recently or soon to be published by members of the Yale community. De­scriptions are based on material provided by the publishers. Authors of new books can forward publishers’ book descriptions to susan.gonzalez@yale.edu.

Al-Ghazali’s Philosophical Theology

Frank Griffel, professor of religious studies and political science

(Oxford University Press)

The Muslim thinker al-Ghazali (d. 1111) is considered one of the most influential theologians and philosophers of Islam and an authority in both Western and Islamic philosophical traditions. Frank Griffel’s book offers a comprehensive study of al-Ghazali’s life and his understanding of cosmology - how God creates things and events in the world, how human acts relate to God’s power and how the universe is structured. Griffel offers a revision of traditional views on al-Ghazali, maintaining that his most important achievement was the creation of a new rationalist theology in which he transformed the Aristotelian views of thinkers such as Avicenna to accord with intellectual currents that were well-established within Muslim theological discourse.

The Last Pharaohs: Egypt Under the Ptolemies, 305-30 BC

Joseph G. Manning, the William K. and Marilyn Milton Simpson ­Professor of Classics and History

(Princeton University Press)

“The Last Pharoahs,” the first detailed history of Ptolemaic Egypt as a state, departs from previous studies by putting the Ptolemaic state firmly in the context of both Hellenistic and Egyptian history. Manning examines the Ptolemaic dynasty in the context of the study of authoritarian and premodern states, shifting the focus away from modern European nation-states and toward ancient Asian ones. By analyzing Ptolemaic reforms of Egyptian economic and legal structures, the book gauges the impact of Ptolemaic rule on Egypt and the relationships that the Ptolemaic kings formed with Egyptian society. Integrating the latest research on archaeology, papyrology, theories of the state and legal history, as well as Hellenistic and Egyptian history, “The Last Pharoahs” draws a new picture of Egypt’s last ancient state.

Thucydides: The Reinvention of History

Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History

(Viking, Penguin Group)

In “Thucydides,” Donald Kagan illuminates the historian and his work by examining Thucydides in the context of his time and by considering him as a revisionist historian. Thucydides took a leap into modernity by refusing to seek explanations for human behavior in the will of the gods or the will of individuals, looking instead at the behavior of men in society. In this context, Kagan explains how “The Peloponnesian War” differs from other accounts offered by Thucydides’ contemporaries and stands as the first modern work of political history, dramatically influencing the manner in which history has been conceptualized ever since.

Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel

Aníbal González, professor of modern Latin American literature, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

(The Univeristy of Texas Press)

The Latin American “literary boom” was marked by complex novels steeped in magical realism and questions of nationalism, often with themes of surreal violence. In recent years, however, those revolutionary projects of the sixties and seventies have given way to a different narrative vision and ideology. Dubbed “the new sentimalism,” this trend is elucidated in “Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel.” Offering an account of the rise of this new mode, as well as its political and cultural implications, Aníbal González delivers a close reading of the novels of Miguel Barnet, Elena Poniatowska, Isabel Allende, Alfredo Bryce Eche­nique, Gabriel García Márquez, Antonia Skármeta, Luis Rafael Sánchez and others. González proposes that new sentimental novels are inspired principally by a desire to heal the division, rancor and fear produced by decades of social and political upheaval. Valuing pop culture above the avant-garde, such works also tend to celebrate agape - the love of one’s neighbor - while denouncing the negative effects of passion (eros), she contends.

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