From the latest issue of Bookforum, Fiction and Political Fact: Morris Dickstein on political novels; and reflections by Madison Smartt Bell, Daniel Kehlman, Richard Flanagan, Dana Spiotta, Lydia Millet, Dubravka Ugresic, Norman Rush, Valerie Martin, Claire Messud, Margot Livesy, Zakes Mda, and Siddhartha Deb. From FT, the role of intellectuals may have diminished, but they remain central to French public life — four of the country's most provocative thinkers yield insights on the state of their homeland, the environment, human rights and military interventionism. From NYRB, Robert Darton on The Library in the New Age; Michael Tomasky reviews books on John McCain; Freeman Dyson reviews books on global warming; a review of books on jihadi suicide bombers: The new wave; and more on Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. From Scientific American, does time run backward in other universes? (and more) Beyond the male "pill": From remote-control key fobs to ultrasound, male contraception goes high tech. From Radar, get off the stage: One Millennial responds to Gen X's discontents. A journey into the heart of the enemy: Exiled Iraqi writer Najem Wali travelled to Israel to uncover some uncomfortable truths about the Arab leaders. Let's coin a term for this kind of poetic, extralogical accuracy: Let's call it agenbite. More on A History of Histories by John Burrow.
From Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi in the superdelegates: By trying to overturn Obama's victory, Hillary has helped make America a place where elections are decided by lawyers instead of voters. Jonathan Alter on how Hillary's latest math hurts the party. Hillary's defeat isn’t a reflection of bias: Sometimes, a loss is just a loss. Why McCain's age is a legitimate issue. John Mueller on why the terror threat is overblown. From TLS, a review of Stefan Collini's Common Reading: Critics, historians, publics. From TLS, a review of Mark Edmundson's The Death of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, psychoanalysis and the rise of fundamentalism; and a review of Is Milton Better Than Shakespeare? by Nigel Smith. Here's the story of William McGonagall, the worst poet in the history of the English language. In the age of blogging, great critics appear to be on life support: Salon's book reviewers discuss snobbery, how to make criticism fun and the need for cultural gatekeepers. Blogging, it's good for you: The therapeutic value of blogging becomes a focus of study. "Great Thinkers I Have Skimmed, or Dragging My Lazy Ass to the Computer One Mo' Time": A review of The Philosophy of Herbert Spencer by Michael W. Taylor. From Ovi, an article on Alfred North Whitehead's critique of modern materialism and an article on Richard Rorty's unflinching critique of modern Western philosophy.
From New Scientist, here are five things humans no longer need. From Scientific American, an article on the science of irrationality: Why we humans behave so strangely (and more and more on Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely and Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein). A review of Symmetry: A Journey Into the Patterns of Nature by Marcus du Sautoy. In science, as in life, some stories are too good to be true. A review of Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture by Alan Sokal. Intelligent Life is in praise of short plays: Cultural quickies might help to topple the image of theatre as an elitist, hoary old dame who only comes out at night. In praise of liberal guilt: It's not wrong to favor Obama because of race. It's not personal: Critics should understand that not supporting Clinton isn't an attack on feminism. From HNN, an article on Hillary Clinton and the possessive investment in Whiteness. Why they fought on: A review of Diehard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility by Jason Phillips. A stepchild of imperialism in 1898, it's Puerto Rico’s moment in the sun. Edward Skidelsky reviews Reappraisals by Tony Judt (and more and more). What, me host? Why was guileless Jimmy Fallon hired for Conan’s late-night desk? Are cable TV writers cribbing from Foucault? Not exactly, but Scott McLemee is keeping an eye on them anyway.
From PUP, credit, blame and social life: The first chapter from Charles Tilly's Credit and Blame; the introduction to Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op by Kiku Adatto; the introduction to Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage by James Cuno; and the first chapter from Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human by Tom Boellstorff. Exposed: Emily Gould on what she gained — and lost — by writing about her intimate life online. Scouting micro social networks: MySpace and Facebook only account for half of all visits to social-network sites — what about the 4,000 other sites? Net libertarianism: A review of Daniel J. Solove's The Future of Reputation and Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet: And how to stop it. From Reason, an article on The State of Libertarianism, 2058: How the Rand Era gave way to the Surveillance Era and what we can do about it — a speculative flight into the future. Thomas Frank on the tragic irony of Beltway Libertarianism. Will the real libertarian please stand up? Does the Libertarian Party matter? Will the libertarians spoil McCain’s chances? How the lunatic fringe hijacked America: An excerpt from Arianna Huffington's Right Is Wrong. Pollster secrets revealed: Doublethink goes inside the political numbers racket.
From THES, a review of Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World; and a review of The Disrespect Agenda or How the Wrong Kind of Niceness is Making us Weak and Unhappy by Lincoln Allison. A review of Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West by Anthony Pagden. Irrational, passionate, unpredictable — politicians' marriages remind us of all the things that drive us nuts about relations (and government). A review of The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s by Patricia Cline Cohen, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. The first chapter from Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin by Lawrence Weinstein and John A. Adam (and test your estimability). From Comment, an interview with Timothy Shah on the opening of the evangelical mind. David Frum remembers William F. Buckley, the loyal son. Change the world (in five easy steps): Even with millions of signatures, the success of petitions is hard to gauge — which do we sign, forward or delete? A review of ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century by Susan Greenfield. A review of Dawn, Dusk, or Night: A year with Nicolas Sarkozy by Yasmina Reza. A review of The Powers to Lead by Joseph Nye. Everyone wants girls to have as many opportunities in sports as boys, but can we live with the greater rate of injuries they suffer?
From PopMatters, there are four hip-hop rules for families: One, fathers, take care of your children and their mothers; two, don't talk about other people's mamas; three, be good to your own mother; four, repeat as necessary. A review of The Creative Feminine and Her Discontents: Psychotherapy, Art and Destruction by Juliet Miller. The bipartisan folly of farm subsidies: How the latest farm bill provides welfare for the wealthy. From Seed, science, and morality, of our planet's modern palate: Humanity's rapidly increasing appetite for meat is fast becoming a matter of global consequence; and the evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser and the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris discuss game theory, Stanley Milgram, and whether science can make us better people. An interview with Sidney Blumenthal, author of The Strange Death of Republican America. The Popularity Gap: A new study reveals that for teens, it's not whether you're really popular — it's whether you think you are. A review of Chris Hedges’ I Don’t Believe in Atheists. An article on the parallel dimension in which anti-Obama chain e-mails make sense. A review of The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity by Andro Linklater. A review of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop.
From Index on Censorship, just as Russia's economic growth has obviated talk of democracy, the media's financial successes leave no place for ethical debate. A review of Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate by Derek Turner. A look at how natural disasters often prompt political reforms — and, sometimes, revolutionary changes. From Transit, Mykola Riabchuk on how he became a Czech and a Slovak. From Gelf, an interview with Daniel Radosh, author of Rapture Ready!; and Paul Collins on how he used statistics to understand the true power of amicus curiae briefs on the Supreme Court. An interview with Matt Taibbi, author of The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire (and a review). From The Atlantic, a lawyer discovers that making ethics entertaining is the right thing to do. Thomas Frank on our great economic u-turn. From Nextbook, an article on the rise and fall—and rise—of “Jewess”. As the country turns 60, novelist Arnon Grunberg reconsiders Zionism amid revealing encounters with the Israeli military. Why the world would be a better place if women ruled. More on The Roads to Modernity by Gertrude Himmelfarb. An easy out when you don’t want to read the book: An excerpt from The Solitary Vice: Against Reading by Mikita Brottman (and a review).
From National Journal, President Bush has been taking a beating from the Right lately, with members of his own party heaping abuse on his administration — has Bush gone wobbly? Maybe We Can't: Cinque Henderson on the black case for Obama-skepticism. Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Barack Obama on Zionism and Hamas; and an interview with Joseph O'Neill on The Great Gatsby, post-9/11 New York, and his new novel, Netherland (and more and more). An interview with Keli Goff, author of Party Crashing: How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence. Just give peace a chance? Christopher Hitchens reviews Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker (and an interview). From Colorlines, Kai Wright on her high school sex life; and an article on the rise of street literature. From Portfolio, depending on who's talking, the Fed's Tim Geithner either kept the financial world from collapsing or did Goldman Sachs' bidding. An interview with Ophelia Benson, co-author of Why Truth Matters and The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense. The supernatural frogs falling from the sky, mysterious airships, spontaneous human combustion — it all fascinated Charles Fort, whose appetite for the paranormal lives on today in sci-fi, conspiracy theories and that quirky chronicle of the unknown, The Fortean Times. More on Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto.
John Holbo (NUS): Twelve Twists in Euthyphro’s Case. If Hillary Clinton does not become the first female president of the United States, where should we look for her successor? A look at what Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has taught our daughters. In background and in character, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain present as stark a contrast as their husbands. A review of Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene by Masha Gessen. From Writ, what's so special about genetic discrimination? Congress passes a revealing bill; and a look at how one subgroup of evangelical Christians is attempting to redefine the very term "evangelical". A review of Mysticism and Architecture: Wittgenstein and the Meanings of the Palais Stonborough by Roger Paden. A review of Ecce monstrum: Georges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form by Jeremy Biles. An interview with Howard Zinn on why anarchism is often ridiculed as violent and chaotic. How far left has Latin America moved? Immanuel Wallerstein investigates. From Vanity Fair, the Italian police may have had their reasons for holding 20-year-old American Amanda Knox in connection with the “extreme sex” murder last November of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Alberto Manguel writes about finding a place to keep his library of some 30,000 books.
From Wired, a special issue on Inconvenient Truths: Cutting carbon is the only thing that matters (and a response: It's not just carbon, stupid!) Creating cheap, clean energy is a huge problem; so, how's this for a big solution. From The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows on why smoggy skies over Beijing represent the world’s greatest environmental opportunity. From First Science, there have been three great revolutions which have shaped our view of the heavens and our place in the Cosmos, and we are currently living through the turmoil of the third period of astronomical breakthrough. Jon Chait on why everything Obama and McCain say about foreign policy should be ignored. From Harper's, an article on democracy and deference. From Jewcy, an article on Atlas Shrugs Blog, where sociopathy gets confused with Zionism. Jeffrey Goldberg on Israel's "American problem". Leave Hitler out of it: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end. From The New Yorker, an article on Chinua Achebe and the great African novel. From Magazine Rack, a look at the Battle of the Gossip Rags: Us vs. In Touch. A review of The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory by Amy Allen. The book business may be flat, but there's at least one bright spot: the booming sales of books for teens—and no, it's not all Harry Potter.