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According to Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills, most readers of Augustine interpret his meditation on sin in the "Confessiones" as an indication of his obsession with sex. But as Wills suggests in his discussion of book two of Augustine's influential work, sexual transgression is not Augustine's main focus as he reflects on the nature of human sinfulness. Instead, Augustine seeks to understand man's power to transgress-how it is that good creatures can choose evil deeds. He describes his own shame after participating in a minor theft as a teenager and interprets this act--and all other acts of sin--in light of the three founding sins of the Bible: the fallen angels' rebellion, the temptation of Adam, and Cain's fratricide. With a brilliant introduction and notes throughout, this is a rewarding interpretation of a seminal work translated with new vividness and authority.
In Under God, Garry Wills, one of our liveliest and most eminent political observers, moves through the tapestry of American history, illuminating the instances where American politics and American religion have collided. Beginning with the 1988 presidential contest, an election that included two ministers and a senator accused of sin, Wills surveys our history to show the continuity of present controversies with past religious struggles and argues that the secular standards of the Founding Fathers have been misunderstood. He shows that despite reactionary fire-breathers and fanatics, religion has often been a progressive force in American politics and explains why the policy of a separate church and state has, ironically, made the position of the church stronger. Marked by the extraordinary quality of observation that has defined the work of Garry Wills, Under God is a rich, original look at why religion and politics will never be separate in the United States.
Garry Wills's Venice: Lion City is a tour de force -- a rich, colorful, and provocative history of the world's most fascinating city in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when it was at the peak of its glory. This was not the city of decadence, carnival, and nostalgia familiar to us from later centuries. It was a ruthless imperial city, with a shrewd commercial base, like ancient Athens, which it resembled in its combination of art and sea empire.Venice: Lion City presents a new way of relating the history of the city through its art and, in turn, illuminates the art through the city's history. It is illustrated with more than 130 works of art, 30 in full color. Garry Wills gives us a unique view of Venice's rulers, merchants, clerics, laborers, its Jews, and its women as they created a city that is the greatest art museum in the world, a city whose allure remains undiminished after centuries. Like Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches, on the Dutch culture in the Golden Age, Venice: Lion City will take its place as a classic work of history and criticism.
A dazzling study of the operas Verdi adapted from Shakespeare- and a spellbinding account of their creation. In Verdi's Shakespeare, Pulitzer Prize winner and lifelong opera devotee Garry Wills explores the writing and staging of Verdi's three triumphant Shakespearian operas: Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff. An Italian composer who couldn't read a word of English but adored Shakespeare, Verdi devoted himself to operatic productions that authentically incorporated the playwright's texts. Wills delves into the fast-paced worlds of these men of the theater, focusing on the intense working relationships both Shakespeare and Verdi had with the performers and producers of their works. We see Verdi study the Shakespearean dramaturgy as he obsessively corresponds with his chosen librettists, handpicks the singers he feels are best- suited to the roles, and coaches them intensely. With fascinating portraits of these artistic giants and their entourages, sharp insights into music and theater, and telling historical details, Verdi's Shakespeare re-creates the conditions that allowed Verdi to complete his masterworks and illuminates the very nature of artistic creation. .
"Garry Wills brings his signature brand of erudite, unorthodox thinking to his latest book of revelations. . . . A tour de force and a profound show of faith." (O, the Oprah Magazine) In what are billed "culture wars," people on the political right and the political left cite Jesus as endorsing their views. But in this New York Times-bestselling masterpiece, Garry Wills argues that Jesus subscribed to no political program. He was far more radical than that. In a fresh reading of the gospels, Wills explores the meaning of the "reign of heaven" Jesus not only promised for the future but brought with him into this life. It is only by dodges and evasions that people misrepresent what Jesus plainly had to say against power, the wealthy, and religion itself. But Wills is just as critical of those who would make Jesus a mere ethical teacher, ignoring or playing down his divinity. An illuminating analysis for believers and nonbelievers alike, What Jesus Meant is a brilliant addition to our national conversation on religion.
The Curve is a new way of doing business and of seeing the world. For most of the last century, companies strived to sell more and more products at uniform prices. But the future of business is about variation: tailoring products for customers of all stripes, and letting your biggest fans spend as much as they like on things they value. The Curve shows us not to be afraid of giving some things away for free. The internet helps you forge direct relationships with a vast global audience, and take them on a journey from freeloaders into superfans. Value lies in how you make people feel, by building communities, bespoke products and experiences. Small numbers of high spenders are enough to fuel a profitable business. In games, free is becoming the norm, but some people now spend hundreds or thousands of dollars playing a single game. You can already see the Curve transforming areas like music, books and film, and it will rapidly spread to the physical world as 3D printing becomes reality. With stories drawn from artists, toymakers, sports, food, manufacturing and more, The Curve is nothing short of a business thinking revolution. 'Well researched and well argued. A must-read. ' Management Today'From the commercial vortex of the internet, Lovell has neatly forged The Curve, a comprehensive consumer-buyer model any business can lucratively exploit. ' The Observer'Arresting. Lovell argues his case colourfully and fluently. ' Financial Times'An astute and perceptive guide to the new rules for making money in a radically disrupted internet economy. This book deserves to be a hit. ' David Rowan, editor, WIRED'Business is changing. The days of one-size fits all are over. From pay-what-you-want pricing to niche customization, customers have come to expect (and demand) more. The Curve welcomes us to this new reality and shows us how to take advantage of the exciting opportunities it offers. ' Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On 'Before reading this book, I was behind the curve. Now, I'm behind The Curve - as a supporter of Nicholas Lovell's provocative and important thesis that marketers have to think very differently today about the relationship between pricing and value. ' Robert Cialdini, author of Influence
"A remarkable achievement-a learned yet eminently readable and provocative exploration of the four small books that reveal most of what's known about the life and death of Jesus. " ( Los Angeles Times ) In his New York Times bestsellers What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant , Garry Wills offers tour-de-force interpretations of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Here Wills turns his remarkable gift for biblical analysis to the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Wills examines the goals, methods, and styles of the evangelists and how these shaped the gospels' messages. Hailed as "one of the most intellectually interesting and doctrinally heterodox Christians writing today" (The New York Times Book Review), Wills guides readers through the maze of meanings within these foundational texts, revealing their essential Christian truths. .
In this provocative work, which could not be timelier, Garry Wills, one of our country's most noted writers and historians, offers a powerful statement of his Catholic faith. Beginning with a reflection on his early experience of that faith as a child and later as a Jesuit seminarian, Wills reveals the importance of Catholicism in his own life. He goes on to challenge, in clear and forceful terms, the claim that criticism or reform of the papacy is an assault on the faith itself. For Wills, a Catholic can be both loyal and critical, a loving child who stays with his father even if the parent is wrong. Wills turns outward from his personal experiences to present a sweeping narrative covering two thousand years of church history, revealing that the papacy, far from being an unchanging institution, has been transformed dramatically over the millennia -- and can be reimagined in the future. At a time when the church faces one of its most difficult crises, Garry Wills offers an important and compelling entrée into the discussion of the church's past -- and its future. Intellectually brisk and spiritually moving, Why I Am a Catholic poses urgent questions for Catholic and non-Catholic readers alike.
New York Times-bestselling author Garry Wills provides a provocative analysis of the theological and historical basis for the priesthood In a riveting and provocative tour de force from the author of What Jesus Meant, Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills poses the challenging question: Why did the priesthood develop in a religion that began without it and, indeed, was opposed to it? Why Priests? argues brilliantly and persuasively for a radical re-envisioning of the role of the church as the Body of Christ and for a new and better understanding of the very basis of Christian belief. As Wills emphasizes, the stakes for the writer and the church are high, for without the priesthood there would be no belief in an apostolic succession, the real presence in the Eucharist, the sacrificial interpretation of the Mass, and the ransom theory of redemption. This superb study of the origins of the priesthood stands as Wills's towering achievement and will be of interest to all inquiring minds, believers and non-believers alike.
In Witches and Jesuits, Wills focuses on a single document to open up a window on an entire society. He begins with a simple question: If Macbeth is such a great tragedy, why do performances of it so often fail? After all, the stage history of Macbeth is so riddled with disasters that it has created a legendary curse on the drama. Superstitious actors try to evade the curse by referring to Macbeth only as "the Scottish play," but production after production continues to soar in its opening scenes, only to sputter towards anticlimax in the later acts. By critical consensus there seems to have been only one entirely successful modern performance of the play, Laurence Olivier's in 1955, and even Olivier twisted his ankle on opening night. But Olivier's ankle notwithstanding, Wills maintains that the fault lies not in Shakespeare's play, but in our selves. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of the vivid intrigue and drama of Jacobean England, Wills restores Macbeth's suspenseful tension by returning it to the context of its own time, recreating the burning theological and political crises of Shakespeare's era. He reveals how deeply Macbeth's original 1606 audiences would have been affected by the notorious Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when a small cell of Jesuits came within a hairbreadth of successfully blowing up not only the King, but the Prince his heir, and all members of the court and Parliament. Wills likens their shock to that endured by Americans following Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination. Furthermore, Wills documents, the Jesuits were widely believed to be acting in the service of the Devil, and so pervasive was the fear of witches that just two years before Macbeth's first performance, King James I added to the witchcraft laws a decree of death for those who procured "the skin, bone, or any other part of any dead person--to be employed or used in any manner of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment." We see that the treason and necromancy in Macbeth were more than the imaginings of a gifted playwright--they were dramatizations of very real and potent threats to the realm. In this new light, Macbeth is transformed. Wills presents a drama that is more than a well-scripted story of a murderer getting his just penalty, it is the struggle for the soul of a nation. The death of a King becomes a truly apocalyptic event, and Malcolm, the slain King's son, attains the status of a man defying cosmic evil. The guilt of Lady Macbeth takes on the Faustian aspect of one who has singed her hands in hell. The witches on the heath, shrugged off as mere symbols of Macbeth's inner guilt and ambition by twentieth century interpreters, emerge as independent agents of the occult with their own (or their Master's) terrifying agendas. Restoring the theological politics and supernatural elements that modern directors have shied away from, Wills points the way towards a Macbeth that will finally escape the theatrical curse on "the Scottish play." Rich in insight and a joy to read, Witches and Jesuits is a tour de force of scholarship and imagination by one of our foremost writers, essential reading for anyone who loves the language.
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