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The Macat Library: Great Works for Critical Thinking


About the Series

Making the ideas of the world’s great thinkers accessible, affordable, and comprehensible to everybody, everywhere. 

With a growing list of over 180 titles across a broad range of subject areas, Macat works with leading academics from the world’s top universities to produce new analyses that focus on the ideas and the impact of the most influential works ever written. By setting them in context – and looking at the influences that shaped their authors, as well as the responses they provoked – Macat encourages readers to look at these classics and game-changers with fresh eyes.

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Walter Benjamin's The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Walter Benjamin's The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Rachele Dini
February 21, 2018

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction combats traditional art criticism’s treatment of artworks as fixed, unchanging mystical objects. For Walter Benjamin, the consequences of addressing a work of art in this manner have a wider resonance: closed off from any active visual or...

Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger: An analysis of the concepts of pollution and taboo

Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger: An analysis of the concepts of pollution and taboo

Padraig Belton
February 21, 2018

Mary Douglas is an outstanding example of an evaluative thinker at work. In Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, she delves in great detail into existing arguments that portray traditional societies as “evolving” from “savage” beliefs in magic, to religion, to modern...

Amartya Sen's Inequality Re-Examined

Amartya Sen's Inequality Re-Examined

Elise Klein
February 21, 2018

Amartya Sen’s Inequality Re-examined is a seminal text setting out a theory to evaluate social arrangements and inequality. By asking the question, ‘equality of what’?, Sen shows that (in)equality should be assessed as human freedom; for people to have the ability to pursue and achieve goals they...

Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow

Jacqueline Allan
February 21, 2018

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman offers a general audience access to over six decades of insight and expertise from a Nobel Laureate in an accessible and interesting way. Kahneman’s work focuses largely on the problem of how we think, and warns of the dangers of trusting to intuition –...

An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Clare Clarke, Lindsay Scorgie-Porter
July 15, 2017

Few works of scholarship have so comprehensively recast an existing debate as Chinua Achebe’s essay on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Achebe – a highly distinguished Nigerian novelist and university teacher – looked with fresh eyes at a novel that was set in Africa, but in which Africans appear...

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Helen Roche
July 15, 2017

A flagbearer for the increasingly fashionable genre of "transnational history," Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands is, first and foremost, a stunning example of the critical thinking skill of evaluation. Snyder's linguistic precocity allows him to cite evidence in 10 languages, putting fresh twists on the...

Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s

Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s

Victor Petrov, Riley Quinn
July 15, 2017

How was the Soviet Union like a soup kitchen? In this important and highly revisionist work, historian Sheila Fitzpatrick explains that a reimagining of the Communist state as a provider of goods for the ‘deserving poor’ can be seen as a powerful metaphor for understanding Soviet life as a whole....

Gender and the Politics of History

Gender and the Politics of History

Pilar Zazueta, Etienne Stockland
July 15, 2017

Joan Scott's work has influenced several generations of historians and helped make the topic of gender central to the way in which the discipline is taught and studied today. At root a new way of conceptualizing capitalist societies, Scott's theories suggest that gender is better understood as a...

Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era

Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era

Jarrod Homer
July 15, 2017

Elaine Tyler May’s 1988 Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era is a ground-breaking piece of historical and cultural analysis that uses its findings to build a strong argument for its author’s view of the course of modern US history. The aim of May’s study is to trace the links...

In Defence of History

In Defence of History

Nicholas Piercey, Tom Stammers
July 15, 2017

Richard Evans wrote In Defence of History at a time when the historian's profession was coming under heavy attack as a result of the ‘cultural turn’ taken by the discipline during the late 1980s and the 1990s. Historians were being forced to face up to postmodern thinking, which argued that,...

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Martin Fuller, Ryan Moore
July 15, 2017

Despite having no formal training in urban planning, Jane Jacobs deftly explores the strengths and weaknesses of policy arguments put forward by American urban planners in the era after World War II. They believed that the efficient movement of cars was of more value in the development of US cities...

The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives

The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives

Robert Houghton, Damien Peters
July 15, 2017

For many centuries, the history of the crusades, as written by Western historians, was based solidly on Western sources. Evidence from the Islamic societies that the crusaders attacked was used only sparingly – in part because it was hard for most westerners to read, and in part because much of it...

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