I read only one war novel while I was writing my own. There were reasons: I didn't want to hear another novelist's voice as I was trying to find my own way into a soldier's mind. Also, my book is about a marine coming home from Iraq, and every war has its own weather and terrain, its own equipment and language.
THE HISTORIES by Herodotus of Halicarnassus, fifth century BCE, is the founding work of history written by anyone not a god. Its fourth book—subtitled Melpomene, after the muse of tragedy—gives an account of the Scythians, a martial confederation of nomadic Eurasian tribes that converged around
IN DISPATCHES (1977), Michael Herr’s seminal Vietnam memoir, the author remembers being a kid and poring over war photographs in Life magazine, “the ones that showed dead people or a lot of dead people.” The corpses, he recalls, were all smashed together, often in positions of strange intimacy,
Two new books—David Van Reybrouck's Congo and Dayo Olopade's The Bright Continent—take a fresh look at the African past and future. Both escape the constant need to treat Africa as a problem, the tedious compulsion to explain what has gone wrong or to prescribe how to fix it, that plagues so much writing about the continent.
In the 1920s and '30s, the Vienna-born biographer and fiction writer Stefan Zweig was the best-selling author in the world. His emotionally charged books captured a culture that was about to fracture beyond recognition. With the rise of Hitler, Zweig, who was Jewish, fled that world to watch it crumble from afar—moving to England, America, and finally Brazil, where he committed suicide in 1942. Seventy years later, his books are still popular and still inspire a range of responses: admiration, sympathy, and, in some cases, loathing.
This charming collection of very personal essays by writers, artists, scholars, and filmmakers does the great service of offering no generalizable advice. Once you finish the forty or so short pieces, you will certainly like these interesting and accomplished people. But if you are considering grad school, you will not find your answer here. And that's a good thing.
STEFAN ZWEIG was a popular writer from the outset of his career. He instinctively wrote the kind of thing that appeals to a lot of people: a reliable entertainer. Not a line-for-line, impeccable stylist (one reads much of Zweig mentally crossing out adjectives), not a hundred-watt intellectual writer
FOR ANYONE who has spent several years covering, or even just reading up on, climate change, an inevitable question arises: How can you write something new? So many images—stranded polar bears, shrinking ice caps, rising seas—have grown so clichéd that it’s become hard to convey global warming’s
LAST SPRING, A THIRTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE DROPOUT–TURNED–ENERGY EXECUTIVE named Billy Parish came to talk to my journalism class at Vanderbilt University. The course focused on climate reporting, and Parish had recently been profiled in Fortune magazine as a young virtuoso in the solar industry.
According to New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert, we're heading for a sixth extinction, which she characterizes as "the amazing moment that to us counts as the present, [when] we are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed."