The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unique in their sophisticated weaponry and surreal nation-building aspirations, surely demand their own brand of literature, a mode of writing that will capture, somehow, the careless brutality that the world’s most powerful country wrought on two fragile populations.
After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, online activists produced a jarring Internet meme, juxtaposing photos of the Islamic State’s atrocities with historical images of those of the Ku Klux Klan. However strained this connection may be, its visual impact is undeniably arresting.
Circa August 1993, in a museum in the Netherlands, I had what Adam, the narrator of Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station, skeptically calls “a profound experience of art,” something riveting and unselfconscious. (Adam has only experienced the absence of a profound experience of art, and he
Ghetto is one of those words that ring tinnily today. The put-down “He’s ghetto” implies that its target is low-class or unsavory—an association that only has meaning in the context of America’s poisonous culture of race. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, when social scientists fretted about
It’s no great exaggeration, these days, to say that the state of the white American working class is driving the American commentariat crazy. The non-college-educated white voter is notoriously the bedrock demographic aligned behind likely GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump—and leaders of the
In 2008, Matthew Desmond moved into a trailer park on the southern edge of Milwaukee, where most everyone was white. A few months later, he relocated to a rooming house on Milwaukee’s heavily African American north side. There, he lived with a security guard who worked at the trailer park. Desmond
Tamara Draut doesn’t mince words. “The working class has had a boot on its neck for three decades,” she writes in her new book, Sleeping Giant. Working-class Americans, she says, have endured a bruising descent into economic hardship and instability. The good blue-collar jobs that fueled postwar
Capitalism as we know it is failing, says Paul Mason, and it’s high time to anoint a successor. In his futurist tract Postcapitalism, he attempts to do just that, mixing Marxist theory, labor history, tech euphoria, and about forty other ingredients into something resembling a unified theory of
A warning to American leftists: These two fine works of history will probably depress you. They may also nudge you to think hard about what your forerunners did to change the country and why they failed to accomplish more. Both books mention “limits” in their subtitles, and the authors define
It’s 2016, and another management guru is revealing the secrets of the creative mind. It’s not really a very original thing to do. The literature on encouraging corporate nonconformity is already enormous; it goes back many years, to at least 1960, when someone wrote a book called How to Be a More