cover image Journeys of the Mind: A Life in History

Journeys of the Mind: A Life in History

Peter Brown. Princeton Univ, $45 (600p) ISBN 978-0-691-24228-6

Historian Brown (Through the Eye of a Needle) delivers an insightful and detailed chronicle of his life and academic career. Widely credited with revolutionizing the understanding of late antiquity, revealing it to have been a critical period in the development of modern Europe and the Middle East, Brown recounts his formative years in Ireland, his education at Oxford, and his teaching career at UC Berkeley and Princeton. He traveled widely in the Middle East and the Mediterranean during these years, and developed relationships with British anthropologist Mary Douglas, French theorist Michel Foucault, and other scholars who influenced his theories. Considerable attention is paid to the intellectual development of the major themes of his many works, including the power of religion, the role of holy men in society, poverty and wealth distribution, sexuality, and the transformation of world culture. Throughout, Brown includes incisive and often surprising reflections on colleagues, friends, and family who shaped his view (on Foucault: “I had never met a distinguished scholar with such a capacity to put himself out to listen to others”). A rewarding combination of the personal and the scholarly, this is a valuable resource for students of the ancient world and the early Middle Ages. (May)