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The OLL blog explores the fascinating, vital, and often surprising texts and people that fill our library. Come talk in our library!

A Goodbye to a Good Man

By: Michael Zigismund

Flower Still Life, Ambrosius Boschaert the Elder, 1614 (detail)
The movement for human freedom just lost one of its great champions. The Cato Institute’s “North Star,” David Boaz, passed away on June 7, 2024, at the age of 70. I commend you to read the many heartfelt remembrances already published about this intellectual giant.

Joseph Priestley: “Enlightenment Man”

By: Walter Donway

If anyone does, Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) warrants the description “Renaissance man.” But, to avoid confusion, since Priestley lived a couple of centuries after the Renaissance, let me argue here that this “Enlightenment man,” as…

The Market for Liberty in Ancient China

By: Roderick T. Long

In his 1956 book The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, free-market economist Ludwig von Mises wrote:
“The idea of liberty is and has always been peculiar to the West. What separates East and West is first of all the fact that the peoples…

Crouchbackus Contritus: Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor Trilogy as a Chivalric Romance

By: Nathaniel Birzer

Several far-better known and experienced reviewers than I have written on Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor Trilogy, noting the resemblance of its major romantic sub-plot to the prophet Hosea while at the same time generally consigning…

John Milton—Secret Fan of The Crown?

By: Daniel Ross Goodman

For those of you who, like me, became hooked on Netflix’s award-winning drama about Queen Elizabeth II and the modern British monarchy during the Covid lockdown (or, in my case, shortly thereafter), the end of The Crown was somewhat…

OLL’s May Birthday: Friedrich von Gentz (May 2, 1764 – June 9, 1832)

By: Peter Carl Mentzel

This May’s Birthday Essay is in honor of the political journalist and statesman Friedrich Gentz. Though born a commoner, he called himself von Gentz after he was knighted by the Swedish crown in 1804. Gentz made an intellectual…

Shaftesbury’s Theory of a “Moral Sense” Sets the Direction of the British Enlightenment (Part 2)

By: Walter Donway

“T’was Mr. Locke that struck all fundamentals, threw all order and virtue out of the world...” Lord Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury’s Theory of a “Moral Sense” Sets the Direction of the British Enlightenment (Part 1)

By: Walter Donway

The moral sense is “predominant...inwardly joined to us, and implanted in our nature...a first principle in our constitution...” Lord Shaftesbury

“Farmer Refuted”

By: Anna Leman

Hamilton: An American Musical features an epic standoff between young, fiery Hamilton and bold, preachy Samuel Seabury in “Farmer Refuted.” In their musical sparring match, Hamilton “tears the dude apart,” with his defense of the…

Bayle’s Dictionary: #1 Bestseller in the 18th Century

By: Walter Donway

“In matters of religion, it is very easy to deceive a man and very hard to undeceive him.” --Pierre Bayle

Decent People, Bad Institutions

By: Bill Glod

Consider the following: a major United States city has witnessed a recent upswing in violent crime. Generally, U.S. crime levels are still much lower than their peak in the early 90’s, but many residents perceive their city has…

The Logic of Desire: From Homer’s Odyssey to Alice in Wonderland

By: Alexander Schmid

When one idly day-dreams one frequently imagines how things might be different. What if the clouds were red? What if I had a million dollars, tax-free? What if I did not have to wake up at 5 a.m. during the week? Generally, one…
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