In India, where 4,000 year-old stories still inspire death threats, historians, mathematicians and nationalists are going to battle over an ancient civilisation’s script. A review of The God Market: How Globalization Is Making India More Hindu by Meera Nanda. The rise of Hindu nationalism is a major threat to intellectual freedom, but it's also time to confront a climate of implicit censorship that leads to its own pathology. In the name of the people: The politics of an imagined "people" is anti-democratic because it can so easily slide into direct fascist action against perceived "enemies". A review of India's Foreign Policy: The Democracy Dimension by SD Muni. A look at India's controversial new war doctrine — preparing for a "two-front" war with Pakistan and China. Can Bollywood heal the India-Pakistan relationship? An ordinary man and a nobody: An excerpt from The Great Divide: India and Pakistan. The pluralism and diversity that has defined spiritual life on the Indian subcontinent for centuries continues to transcend the divisive politics of religion. Meet Shireen Mazari, the Ann Coulter of Pakistan. Waziristan, headquarters of Islamist terror, has repelled outsiders for centuries; now the Pakistani government is making a determined effort to control the place. Why does Pakistan hate the US? Because it is dependent on it. Will there always be a Pakistan?: Fissures within the military could tear not just the army but the entire country apart — it's coming sooner than you think. An interview with Syed Ashfaqul Haque on books about Bangladesh. The first few weeks of the year may finally witness the execution, 35 years after the fact, of the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. From Dissent, Sumedha Senanayake on Sri Lanka's post-war crisis (and more).


Scott Woodcock (Victoria): When Will Your Consequentialist Friend Abandon You for the Greater Good? There's no shortage of movies that play fast and loose with the laws of nature — one scientist is on a mission to fix these flaws, but will it really improve scientific literacy? From Reason, an interview with The Philanthropy Roundtable’s Adam Meyerson on the future of charity, power grabs by the IRS, and pressures to create a nonprofit cartel. What is porn? Whatever Apple says is porn. From NYRB, Jeremy Bernstein on how Iran became a "nuclear state". Mixed Metaphors: Moises Naim on why the wars on cancer, poverty, drugs, terror, drunk driving, teen pregnancy, and other ills can't be won. From Slate, a debate on The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State by Shane Harris (and more and more). Making men without chests: RJ Snell on the intellectual life and moral imagination. Can sophisticated mathematical models help police fight crime? Three video interviews with Garry Wills, author of Bomb Power (and more and more and more; and a profile of Wills by Rick Perlstein at Bookforum). A review of Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books. Your flying car awaits: Stephanie Hlywak on 8 predictions the futurists got wrong. As the Internet replaces print publishing, the urge to "unpublish" means censoring history. An interview with Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (and more). Why has Gawkwardness given way to sweet, vulnerable, non-intimidating, awkwardness when it comes to online interactions? Digital Disappearance: Never has the world historical and cultural record been more accessible — or more fragile.


Dana Muntenu (OSU): Placing Thebes and Ithaca in Eastern Europe: Kundera, the Greeks, and I. A review of Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment by Stephen Kotkin. Michael Zantovsky on the gears of 1989. Twenty years after the communist monopoly of power ended in their countries, east Europeans reveal how much their lives have changed. A review of From the Soviet Bloc to the European Union: The Economic and Social Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe since 1973 by Ivan Berend. Does the EU possess a strategy for dealing with the type of illiberal politician gaining ground in the Visegrad Four nations? (and two responses) The consequences of bad ideas: An interview with Father Marcel Guarnizo, founder of the Educational Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe (and part 2). What’s left in Eastern Europe? An interview with Stefan Zgliczynski and Jane Hardy. The hidden economy in east-central Europe: Lessons from a ten-nation survey. The economic downturn has made it harder to speak sensibly of a region called “eastern Europe”. Eastern Europe's third wheel: NATO and Russia are getting closer — and leaving Ukraine out. What Viktor Yanukovych's election victory means for Ukraine (and more on Yulia Tymoshenko as Evita). Timothy Snyder on Ukraine's past on trial (and more). The future of EU expansion: It all depends on what the meaning of the word "Macedonia" is. Old rows, new book: Albania and Macedonia quibble over an encyclopaedia. Enver Hoxha's bunkers remind Albanians of the destructive paranoia of their recent past, but they are being re-used by a generation for whom that history is now ancient. Stephen Schwartz debunks the myth of "Homeric" Balkan folk songs. Here are six reasons for marrying a Balkan man.


A new issue of Quarterly Conversation is out. From The Millions, Sarah McCoy reads cookbooks like novels — cover to cover, page by page, the dedication, the acknowledgments, the indexes. The Party is over in Washington: The short-lived, irregularly appearing column in The Washington Post by Sally Quinn was dumped last week (and a response). The Death of Film Criticism: Smart films and smart film critiques have gone hand in hand — the Internet age endangers both. Stefany Anne Golberg on steampunk, the 21st-century answer to 20th-century loss via a nostalgic 19th-century sensibility. Stepped-up surveillance technology may be tipping the scales in the cat-and-mouse game between spies and their targets — Robert Baer on the current state of spycraft. Spud Hilton on the fine art of place-dropping: With a subtle, well-crafted remark about your last trip, you, too, can win friends and influence people! Richard Thaler on paring the deficit by selling part of the radio spectrum. Author Bill Geerhart, posing as a schoolboy, writes letters to politicians and receives revealing replies, in Little Billy’s Letters: An Incorrigible Inner Child’s Correspondence with the Famous, Infamous and Just Plain Bewildered. The Raging Septuagenarian: Taking on the Times, Google, and, in a sense, his own children, Rupert Murdoch is not going gently into the night. An interview with Michael Belfiore, author of The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs. A room temperature of one's own: An article on better living through "personal climates". Britannica.com reports from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. An interview with Mat Whitecross on books on film directing.


Steven Simon (CFR) and Jonathan Stevenson (NWC): Disarming Hezbollah. The militarization of sex: The story of Hezbollah's halal hookups. When Salah Ezzedine’s alleged pyramid scheme collapsed, it left thousands of Lebanese Shia with empty bank accounts — and presented Hizbollah with a crisis of authenticity. An excerpt from Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies' Table, Our Journey Through the Middle East by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis (and more). Hamas U.: Islamism has won hearts and minds across the Middle East — it also offers a BA. Garbage in the streets of Cairo: Culture in any country is judged by the nation's commitment to certain civilized issues in life, and one of them is cleanliness. Repopulating an antique land: An article on Egypt’s forbidding Western Desert. Reluctant Revolutionary: Mohamed ElBaradei was greeted by cheering crowds upon his return to Cairo — now for the hard part (and an interview). Saudi Arabia’s cross-border attacks on Yemeni rebels were meant to bring down an insurgency, but will they only make this largely ignored conflict even worse? Who knows what else is in the offing for Dubai: The one-time wonderland seemed to turn into one giant yard sale. From Bidoun, for as long as there has been a United Arab Emirates, Zaki Nusseibeh has been by the side of its leader; and an interview with James Thornett, founder of the Baghdad Country Club. Salons, a vital part of Iraqi intellectual life for centuries, have sprung up around Baghdad as violence has dropped. Iraq was not a war for oil, but the oil fields are the nation's best hope for recovery. Almost seven years later, the most catastrophic legacy of the Iraq war is shaping up to be the refugees who are locked in limbo on its borders.

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