Best Books: Non-Fiction Books of May 2020

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AThe recommendation list with the largest distribution in the German-speaking countries appears monthly here. Media partners are LITERARISCHE WELT, WDR 5, “NZZ” and Austria 1. Experts select ten non-fiction books (not specialist books) from the humanities, natural sciences, social and economic sciences. May is about explosive thinkers and the broken climate in ancient Rome.

1. Jim Holt:

When Einstein and Godel went for a walk. Trips to the edge of thinking. Rowohlt, 496 p., € 26.

There were two in Princeton in the 1940s: Albert Einstein, the thinker of the theory of relativity, and Kurt Gödel, who only liked mathematics if it was also philosophical. In addition to this encounter, the book contains 20 other anecdotal essays from epistemology and the history of science.

2. Kyle Harper:

Fatum. The climate and the fall of the Roman Empire. C. H. Beck, 567 pp., € 32. (March 16)

Doom narratives always go. Hegel already read Edward Gibbon’s “Fall and Fall of the Roman Empire” from 1776 – now C. H. Beck’s “Fatum” by Kyle Harper has a “Gibbon of the 21st Century” in the program. In line with our times, the thesis is: Rome also perished from climate change.

3. Desmond Morris:

The life of the surrealists. Unionsverlag, 352 p., € 26.

Anecdotal like 500 years before him Giorgio Vasari, the Brit Morris tells artist biographies, from Magritte to Miro and Dalí. Anyone who knows Morris as a behavioral researcher (“The naked monkey”) knows that this is also worthwhile for surreal masters.

4. Eske Bockelmann:

The money. What it is that dominates us. Matthes & Seitz, 368 p., 28 €.

Money makes the world go round. As a saying, a bulrush, as a book theme, a classic, here from a philologist who shows that although markets and coins have existed since ancient times, money only became established in Europe in the late Middle Ages.

5. Sue Prideaux:

I am dynamite. The life of Friedrich Nietzsche. Velcro cotta, 560 p., € 26.

Philosophy as an explosive from a thinker who called himself “dynamite” because he questioned religion and educational values ​​more radically than anyone before him: Sue Prideaux, already an excellent biographer, takes on the tragic life of the nihilist Nietzsche.

6. Susan Neiman:

Learn from the Germans. How societies can deal with evil in their history. Hanser Berlin, 575 pages, € 28.

Of all people from the Germans should learn to face the dark side of their own past? Yes, says the American Susan Neiman and gives her compatriots a provocative piece of advice.

also read

7. Quinn Slobodian:

Globalists. The end of the empires and the birth of neoliberalism. Suhrkamp, ​​523 pages, € 32.

Right and left nationalists like to scold “globalists” today. The economist Quinn Slobodian shows that since Friedrich August von Hayek, neoliberalism has been a school of thought for free trade and prosperity that we should remember.

8. Hans-Peter Kunisch:

Todtnauberg. The story of Paul Celan, Martin Heidegger and their impossible encounter. DTV, 351 p., € 24.

Why are a National Socialist-minded philosopher and a poet escaping the Shoah fascinated by each other? This book seeks answers, and the fact that similar books do similar things also indicates that it is Celan year.

9. Lisz Brain:

Who needs superheroes? What is really necessary to save our world, Molden Verlag, 160 p., 22 €.

From Heracles to Batman, from Boris Johnson to Donald Trump: The superhero is very popular. But is he still a role model for our time? The Austrian philosopher and publicist has alternative ideas, for example: more reason.

10. Wolfgang Martynkewicz:

1920. At the zero point of meaning. Structure, 383 pages, € 24.

The year the Golden Twenties started was chaotic, anarchic, baseless. This book (based on the bestseller “1913”) offers a panopticon of the atmosphere at that time, compiled from sources by Brecht, Freud, Ernst Jünger, Hannah Höch and others.

Special recommendation of the month of May

Ludger Weß: Tiny, tough and numerous. A bacteria atlas (series Naturkunden, 62). Matthes & Seitz, 280 pages, € 25.

Recommended by Markus Krajewski (Department Arts, Media, Philosophy, Uni Basel):

“While the cupping of the corona virus captivates the eye, Ludger Weß wisely widened the microbiological perspective on sulfur pearls and milk balls, on the heaviest and weightless, on the ubiquitous and persistent, on the exalted and exotic among the smallest organisms: his bacterial atlas reconciles with one World, even while it is out of joint, by showing the microbes as crowns of creation on a small scale. “

The jury of the “non-fiction books of the month”

Tobias Becker, “Mirror”; Kirstin Breitenfellner, “Falter”, Vienna; Eike Gebhardt, Berlin; Daniel Haufler, Berlin; Prof. Jochen Hörisch, University of Mannheim; Günter Kaindlstorfer, Vienna; Otto Kallscheuer, Sassari, Italy; Petra Kammann, “FeuilletonFrankfurt”; Jörg-Dieter Kogel, Bremen; Wilhelm Krull, The New Institute, Hamburg; Marianna Lieder, freelance critic, Berlin; Prof. Herfried Münkler, Humboldt University; Marc Reichwein, THE WORLD; Thomas Ribi, “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”; Prof. Sandra Richter, German Literature Archive Marbach; Wolfgang Ritschl, ORF; Florian Rötzer, “Telepolis”; Frank Schubert, “Spectrum of Science”; Norbert Seitz, Berlin; Anne-Catherine Simon, “The Press”, Vienna; Prof. Philipp Theisohn, University of Zurich; Andreas Wang, Berlin; Michael Wiederstein, getAbstract, Lucerne; Prof. Harro Zimmermann, Bremen; Stefan Doubt, Switzerland.

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