From LRB, Nothing for Ever and Ever: Frank Kermode reviews The Letters of A.E. Housman. From The Common Review, "Coin of the Realm": Daniel Born on writing about money; Michael Berube on Harry Potter and the power of narrative; and Kevin Mattson on movies as history. A review of Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm by Daniel Leab. If The Da Vinci Code came out of a chapter in Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, and if Mr. Eco's other best seller, The Name of the Rose, itself came out of an eightpage Borges story, might each Borges story be no more than a thriller in kernel? A review of Diary of Indignities by Patrick Hughes, a book that started out as a blog by the name of Bad News Hughes and written with brutal honesty. Pith and Pen: A review of The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes.
France is world-famous for being protective of its language but have you ever wondered who is the guarde rapproche (body guard) of the French language? A literary fraud who is not a fake: How a writer's value has plummeted just because its author wasn't actually pimped out as a child. Sarah's Antidote: Is the J.T. Leroy scandal what you think it is? Parents, beware: Beloved childhood classics such as Winnie the Pooh may be teaching kids false facts about the world — like tigers are bouncy and donkeys are chronically depressed.
Publishing? It’s an art form: When mainstream publishers rejected his novel as too literary, Tom McCarthy turned to the art world. It took success in the US to make them come running. The joys of not being published: Every aspiring writer dreams of getting a publishing contract - but there are lots of other equally satisfying ways to get your writing into the world. Jack Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia says publisher is part of a vendetta against him. Is the internet killing proper research? Time was, preparing a novel meant months in libraries; websites now offer instant insights. How profound they are is another matter.
An article on the state of the magazine industry. Getting rid of books creates tension for many, although it is often one of the first things people have to do when downsizing or simply trying to organize their lives. The library fix: When politics gets mean and dumb, you can cheer yourself up by walking into a public library.
From The Nation, a review of L'Iran : Naissance d'une république islamique by Yann Richard; Iran: A People Interrupted by Hamid Dabashi; Britain and the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911 by Mansour Bonakdarian; Conversations in Tehran by Jean-Daniel Lafond and Fred A. Reed; and Reading 'Legitimation Crisis' in Tehran: Iran and the Future of Liberalism by Danny Postel; and a review of Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation by Eyal Weizman. Our second biggest mistake in the Middle East: A review of Hamas: Unwritten Chapters by Azzam Tamimi; Where Now for Palestine: The Demise of the Two-State Solution; and Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Sara Roy. A review of Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon by Bernard Rougier. Islam's authority deficit: Don't count on state-sponsored greybeards to silence all awkward voices.
From Radar, Baghdad Déjà Vu: A vintage military guide shows that America has been lost in Iraq since World War II. Its troubles in Iraq have much weakened it; but America is likely to remain the dominant superpower. Still No.1: Wounded, tetchy and less effective than it should be, America is still the power that counts.
From GQ, Dan Bartlett—the president's most trusted aide—has been a true believer ever since he signed onto George W. Bush's gubernatorial campaign back in 1993. So why's he leaving now? The first Bush mistake? Choosing Cheney over Danforth. If you think the Vice President's abuse of power is scary now, consider what might happen when he counts Electoral College votes in a divisive 2008 election. Mount Broder erupts: Washington's leading political columnist discovers that Dick Cheney does bad stuff. This is much more important than it sounds.
For progressives, Gore's the One in 2008: The 44th American presidency is his for the taking. And it's time for the left to get busy asking. A look at how fringe politician Ron Paul took over the Web. Michael Bloomberg doesn't actually have to run for President to tilt the race his way. The rise of the $2 billion presidency: A review of The Buying of the President 2008. Cleaning up a candidate’s act: How to get special interest money out of elections. How to lose your inner Redneck: To help folks transition into the new world of Northern elite dominance (which includes, generally, the left coast as well), The Politico has a few suggestions. Candidates are forced to present two different faces to two different audiences — the plugged and the unplugged, the hip and the un-hip. How to deal with a noxious but prominent commentator like Ann Coulter? Confront her bigoted remarks and outright falsehoods? Or ignore her in hopes of dimming her spotlight?
From Stars & Stripes, a series of articles on Heroes. The Marine flack who starred in Control Room has been called a hero and a traitor for joining an Arabic news network: A review of Mission Al Jazeera: From Jarhead to Journalist by Josh Rushing. Breaking Rank: Meet Iraq veteran Adam Kokesh, the new mouthpiece of the anti-war movement. Armed & Dangerous: A look at how extremists are infiltrating the military.
The Great Pseudo-Debate: We only pretend to talk seriously about Iraq. The politics of the war are Kabuki theater, punctuated by moments of Democratic jujitsu. Overvaluing American Values: The trouble with putting "values" at the center of our foreign policy. Bob Hormats talks about his book, The Price of Liberty: Paying for America's Wars. A review of The Pentagon: A History by Steve Vogel.
The End of the Journey: Is George W. Bush's conservatism the fulfillment of his movement or the betrayal of it? Sam Tanenhaus looks back at Whittaker Chambers, one of the founders of contemporary conservatism, who might not be so proud of our president. The introduction to The Right Talk: How Conservatives Transformed the Great Society into the Economic Society by Mark A. Smith. The Aquarians and the Evangelicals: How left-wing hippies and right-wing fundamentalists created a libertarian America. There are two kinds of responses to hypocrisy: cynicism and outrage. Watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” for evidence of the former and Fox News for examples of the latter. And while the parallel isn’t exact, we might think of misdirected Rortian ironists as favoring cynicism and misdirected Rortian metaphysicians as tending toward outrage. Politics, People and the Spectacle: The rules of democratic politics as a rational discourse do not seem to apply.
From Fronesis, in Richard Florida's "creative city", the creative class dissolves the classical division between the productive bourgeoisie and the bohemian. But creativity strategies have been crafted to co-exist with urban socio-economic problems, not to solve them. From Business Week, The New Rich Are Building Bigger: Amid subprime woes, today's ultra-wealthy continue to build enormous trophy homes as testaments to their success. From Hoover Digest, an interview with Edward Lazear, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. Dean Baker on undoing Bush on the economy. SEIU President Andy Stern heads one of the strongest unions in the country. Why is he so cozy with corporations? A review of Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don’t by John R. Lott, Jr.
Michael Salter and Susan Twist (Central Lancashire): The Micro-Sovereignty of Discretion in Legal Decision-Making: Carl Schmitt’s Critique of Liberal Principles of Legality; and a review of Questioning Sovereignty: Law, State, and Nation in the European Commonwealth by Neil MacCormick. From TNR, Mark Lilla reviews Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life by Hugh Brogan. From Telos, Russell Berman on Intellectuals and Power, and an article on the inspiring power of the shy thinker: Richard Rorty. From Forward, a look at What Rorty Wrought. A review of The Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek. An interview with Gerald J. Russello, author of The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk.
From New Statesman, a review of Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia by John Gray. From Ovi, an essay on Teihlard De Chardin on the evolution of Man (and part 2). We will never explain the cosmos by taking on faith either divinity or physical laws. True meaning is to be found within nature. Are we alone in the vastness of space? Or is the universe filled with life? After thousands of years of guesswork, humankind may soon know for sure. Cosmic mood-swings: Why human psychology will make sending people to Mars hard. The Asteroid Hunters: Backyard astronomers keep watch against Armageddon.
From CRB, Ramesh Ponnuru reviews Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life by Lee M. Silver. Scientists could create the first new form of artificial life within months after a landmark breakthrough in which they turned one bacterium into another, and create embryonic stem cells by stimulating unfertilized eggs, a significant step toward producing transplant tissue that's genetically matched to women. It's not all the parent's fault: Delinquency in children now linked to biology. Brain Boosters: Enter the new world of neuroenhancers and have your brain zapped with electricity and dosed with chemicals.
David Weisbach (Chicago): What Does Happiness Research Tell Us About Happiness? Clive James on how there are lots of reasons to be cheerful about the world, many the result of human creativity - the difficulty is remembering not to be miserable. Darrin McMahon on Nanoseconds of Happiness: You're going to love your iPhone, until the next gizmo calls. Can happiness be quantified? An article on number-crunching satisfaction and desire. Michael Dirda reviews Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours by Noga Arikha (and more).
From Eurozine, Slovenian novelists are finding highly original ways to record the experience of transitional society, writes poet and critic Ales Steger. While male novelists take a hyper-realist, socially critical approach, their equally successful female counterparts are creating fictions only loosely connected to contemporary time and space. Is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie the heir to Nigerian literature as traced from Olaudah Equiano through Christopher Okigbo, Chinua Achebe, and Wole Soyinka? From TLS, South Africa's Ripper pimp? A review of The Fox and the Flies: The world of Joseph Silver - racketeer and psychopath by Charles van Onselen; and Borges finds his Boswell: A review of Borges by Adolfo Bioy Casares.
From Prospect, the problem with assessing much modern art is that it's hard to tell the difference between a banal work and one whose theme is banality. So, how might we make a case against Damien Hirst? A review of Beyond Belief. From Newsweek, which is the most influential work of art of the last 100 years? A review of Stealing the Scream: The Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. A review of Francis Bacon in the 1950s by Michael Peppiatt.
Writing on the Wall: The Graffiti Archaeology Project challenges the definition of archaeology. The maxim of beauty being in the eye of the beholder is no more true than in people's estimations of modern buildings. BBC Magazine takes some of Britain's most controversial buildings to task. Building Democracy: A review of Architecture of Democracy: American Architecture and the Legacy of the Revolution by Allan Greenberg. Builder in Chief: FDR shaped the Pentagon. Why haven't more presidents taken an interest in architecture?
A review Chasing the Rising Sun: The Journey of an American Song by Ted Anthony. Bruceville is New Jersey, as it can be reconstructed out of Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics. Radio Days: Even college radio stations are subject to corporate pressures and playlists.
From Time, a look at the life and work of movie critic Roger Ebert. Why did the hot-shot film producer call upon the humble novelist? Find out in this short story by Woody Allen. A review of Hollywood and the Mob: Movies, Mafia, Sex & Death by Tim Adler. Why should cinemagoers have to endure the narcissistic display of endless opening credits? They're distracting, artistically unacceptable mood-killers. From Slate, a series on summer movies, including The Original Tarantino: How Sergio Leone ushered in our borderless pop culture; The Surf Also Rises: How macho movies get misread as homoerotic; Leisure and Innocence: The eternal appeal of the stoner movie; and make it a large for a quarter more? A short history of movie theater concession stands.
From In These Times, a review of Iran Oil: The New Middle East Challenge to America by Roger Howard and Iran: A People Interrupted by Hamid Dabashi. The Walter Duranty of Saudi Arabia: An article on Commentary's clueless love letter to the land of the Wahhabis. Tony Blair is the wrong man for the job: Bringing peace to the Middle East is a noble goal, but he wants to do too much, and David Rieff on The Last Interventionist. Tony Blair would do well to listen to Akbar Ahmed when he takes up his new role as Middle East envoy in earnest. Frank Luntz on how Gordon Brown is about to realise the second most important adage of politics: you cannot be all things to all people.
From Prospect, an intellectual in power: Intensive study has made Gordon Brown into one of the best-read politicians of recent times. But what is his intellectual formation and style? And how will they inform his premiership? Intellectuals have had a mixed record in British politics. Let's hope that Gordon Brown is in the tradition of Gladstone rather than of Balfour; Brown's thinking is neither cosmopolitan nor sophisticated, and he is a loner with few strong links to leading intellectual contemporaries; Brown is less of an intellectual "magpie" than he seems. He draws on both liberal and conservative Americans for good reason; Brown's new book Courage is a response to the death of his first child. He has transformed his suffering into a lesson; and recent Labour leaders have kept quiet about their religious beliefs. As premier, will Brown allow his faith to leech into his politics
From The Washington Monthly, The New Vision: Theodore C. Sorensen on the speech he wants the Democratic nominee to give. Election '08: A look at how each candidate will blow it. What do the Washington Post — and the rest of the mainstream media — have against Al Gore? Eric Alterman wants to know. Has Jonah Goldberg gone soft on Hillary? Her name's been removed from his forthcoming book's subtitle.
From TAP, Life After the GOP: Congress Santorum, Allen, Weldon, Burns, Pombo — Where are they now? Checking up on the '06 Republican losers. An interview with Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan, authors of Caucus of Corruption: The Truth about the New Democratic Majority. Down With Plutocrats and Fat Cat Donors: Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres on giving the rest of us money to spend on campaign contributions.
From The Raw Story, does America need a vice president? An interview with Joel K. Goldstein, author of The Modern American Vice Presidency: The Transformation of a Political Institution. A review of Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court by Jan Crawford Greenburg. A Supreme Court Conversation: Walter Dellinger to: Dahlia Lithwick on a mistake of historic proportions. The Christian Right is concerned that yesterday's Supreme Court decision on student speech will restrict high-schoolers' ability to spread anti-gay messages. But they've got nothing to worry about.
From CRB, Lord Have Mercy: Ross Douthat reviews God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and more by A. C. Grayling reviews on the Hitchens book debunking the deity which is a surprise hit (and more and more and more). True or False: The major religions are essentially alike. A review of Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith by Scott Hahn. Sexing God: Thoughts on the Almighty's gender and other unknowables.
From Catholic Men's Quarterly, the Catholic origins of manliness: A review of Manliness by Harvey Mansfield. Jane Via was frustrated with the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on female priests, so she and a small number of women took matters into their own hands. From Commonweal, Eve Tushnet and Luke Timothy Johnson debate homosexuality and the Church. Murray Hausknecht on gay marriage: The third option. On the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, The Guardian revisits the appallingly repressive atmosphere of the Fifties and Sixties that ruined lives, destroyed reputations and finally sparked a campaign for change. Queer connections before Craigslist: How gay men got in touch pre-Internet times.
From PopMatters, a review of Pornology: Noun—1: A Good Girl's Guide to Porn; 2: The misadventures of the world's first anthroPORNologist; 3: A Hilarious Exploration of Men, Relationships, and Sex by Ayn Carrillo-Gailey. Misplaced nostalgia for the 1950s: Damon Linker on conservatives' misplaced ideas about sex. From TLS, Marriage in America: A review of Alone Together: How marriage in America is changing by Alan Booth, Paul R. Amato, David Johnson and Stacy J. Rogers; Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and unequal families in a post-marital age by Kay. S. Hymowitz; and The Future of Marriage by David Blankenhorn. From Dissent, Further Beyond the M Word: A response to Arlene Skolnick's article on politics and marriage (and a reply).
Hugo Mialon and Paul Rubin (Emory): The Economics of the Bill of Rights. A review of The Chicago School: How the University of Chicago Assembled the Thinkers Who Revolutionized Economics and Business by Johan Van Overtveldt. A review of A Man of Letters by Thomas Sowell.
From CRB, A Noble and Generous Soul: A review of Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life by Hugh Brogan and Democracy’s Guide by Joseph Epstein; and a review of The Intellectuals and the Flag by Todd Gitlin. Jonathan Ree on how Richard Rorty ditched his early positivism for an open-minded and iconoclastic pragmatism that irritated as many as it inspired. A review of Democracy and Tradition by Jeffrey Stout.
A review of The War at Troy: a True History by Barry B. Powell. A review of The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles. A review of Introduction a la "philosophie presocratique" by Andre Laks. A review of Socratic Virtue: Making the Best of the Neither-Good-Nor-Bad by Naomi Reshotko. A review of Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome by Brad Inwood. A review of Who Are You? Identification, Deception and Surveillance in Early Modern Europe by Valentin Groebner. A review of Ethics Vindicated: Kant's Transcendental Legitimation of Moral Discourse by Ermanno Bencivenga.
From Counterpunch, an article on the smearing of Robert Trivers, Dershowitz style (with the content of emails). Cynicism 101: Why the campaign against U.S. News & World Report's college rankings reeks of self-serving censorship. A Rank Exercise: Jay Mathews' method for ranking America's best high schools is so narrow it may actually be misleading (and a response). Peter Hyman, formerly one of Tony Blair's close aides who quit to become a teacher, reveals from the frontline why discipline and high quality teaching beat a blizzard of headline-grabbing initiatives.
From The Chronicle, creatures in the curriculum: The growing field of animal law is attracting activists and pragmatists alike to a law school that offers such courses. From National Geographic, a single ant or bee isn't smart, but their colonies are. The study of swarm intelligence is providing insights that can help humans manage complex systems, from truck routing to military robots. Gender-specific fitness? A study finds that reproductively successful males have unsuccessful daughters. Darwin hits dating: Web sites attract beautiful people who use "natural selection" to eliminate the imperfect. Danger from the Belly Button: The navel gives a fetus life, but can bring a newborn death.
From LRB, Terry Eagleton reviews Mikhail Bakhtin: The Word in the World by Graham Pechey. A review of Words and Thoughts: Subsentences, Ellipsis, and the Philosophy of Language by Robert J. Stainton. An interview with American writer Douglas Kennedy on the "Kennedy Theory of Human Behaviour".
From Slate, how one family became a dynasty in the world of British letters: Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews Autobiography of a Family: Fathers and Sons by Alexander Waugh. I dream of Darcy: A new wave of Austen-mania revolves around ballgowns, romance and Colin Firth's sexy breeches. But what would Jane Austen say about this fantasy of the perfect man? By the time it appeared in Paris bookstores in 2004, Suite Française, an unfinished novel by unknown author Irene Nemirovsky, who had been dead for 62 years, announced a publishing phenomenon. More on Gunter Grass’s Peeling the Onion, a verbally dazzling but often infuriating piece of work.
Welcome to the bizarre, baroque world of Luis de Góngora (1561–1627), greatest of Spanish poets, and his unfinished masterpiece, The Solitudes. No weirder poem has ever been written. QuickMuse.com, the modern descendant of ancient Greek poetry jousts, has been asking pairs of well-known writers to create poems on a shared topic and posting the results online. Ann Patchett, Terry McMillan, Nathan Englander, Rick Moody and Nicholas Montemarano, five authors who have made their names writing fiction try their pens at a new genre for The Washington Post Magazine's Summer Reading Issue. Each of their nonfiction memoirs of summer is a tale of personal transformation.
From Salon, an interview with Meryle Secrest, author of Shoot the Widow: Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject (and a review). A review of Strange Piece of Paradise: A Return to the American West to Investigate My Attempted Murder - and Solve the Riddle of It by Terri Jentz. A review of My Name is Anne, She Said, Anne Frank: The Memoirs of Anne Frank’s Best Friend by Jacqueline van Maarsen. Wake up, wake up, you sleepyhead: The return to life of a Polish worker after 19 years in a coma leads Robert Wiersema to examine literary equivalents.
From The Village Voice, how the Gotham Book Mart came tumbling down—and its hopes to live again. Would you like that book in paper or plastic? No-paper volumes' ruggedness, recyclability touted, but problems suggest themselves. First person singular: It's good for children to face fear through books.
From Foreign Policy, William Easterly on how the failed ideologies of the last century have come to an end. But a new one has risen to take their place. It is the ideology of Development—and it promises a solution to all the world’s ills. But like Communism, Fascism, and the others before it, Developmentalism is a dangerous and deadly failure. Its Own Worst Enemy: Is colonialism to blame for the woes of former colonies? Not in Ghana. Niall Ferguson explains. Robert Zoellick could use the bank’s influence to help revive dead capital in developing countries. To that end, he could do no better than to follow the advice of Mark Davis and appoint Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto as chief economist for the World Bank.
From Foreign Affairs, Azar Gat (Tel Aviv): The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers. Where does the global human rights movement stand in the seventh year of the 21st century? Jackson Diehl investigates. The Hidden Pandemic: Moises Naim on how crime is quietly becoming a global killer. A tale of two towns: Two controlled, imagined communities symbolise the global disorder and social polarisation that marks the era of war on terror. American goodwill, in shackles: How Bush hardliners and even mainstream pundits have hogtied one of our greatest potential strengths in the war on terrorism. Robert Baer on why the CIA is airing its dirty laundry.
From TNR, Dick Cheney v. Aaron Burr. Who is the most dangerous vice president ever? Eric Rauchway investigates (and more). President Dick Cheney? He would probably think of the Oval Office as a demotion; and the big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office.
Richard Cohen on how the GOP could win in 2008. No Wafer for Rudy: Giuliani campaigns as a Catholic, but he's on the outs with God. Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson is labelled by former flames as a charmer who could bring home the female vote. Larry Sabato on The Hillary Dilemma. Gatekeepers of Hillaryland: The candidate's coterie from her White House days is back together, all for one and one for all. There's never been less need for a third-party candidate for the US presidency. And Mike Bloomberg is a Democrat anyway.
From Mother Jones, a special section on Politics 2.0: Are we entering a new era of digital democracy—or just being conned by a bunch of smooth-talking geeks? Phil Donahue Strikes Back: Relegated to the outskirts of mainstream media, the talk-show veteran and former MSNBC anchor works the indie film circuit. Michael Savage vs. Brian Lamb. Sounds like the unlikeliest of media showdowns, right?