Samuel Moyn is professor of law and history at Harvard University. His most recent book is Human Rights and the Uses of History, which collects some of his pieces for this magazine.
Human rights emerged not in the 1940s but the 1970s, and on the ruins of prior dreams.
Jonathan Israel's epic defense of "Radical Enlightenment" has the dogmatic ring of a profession of faith.
In their discussions of justice, Michael Sandel and Amartya Sen endorse communal good but slight collective endeavor.
The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell's fictive memoir of a Nazi SS officer, is intentionally sickening and an unquestionably brilliant success.
A new history celebrates the nineteenth-century roots of humanitarian intervention and glosses over their imperial pretensions.
Inventing Human Rights traces the roots of humanitarian concern back to the eighteenth century. But there's a world of difference between then and now.