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Articles in current events

Grosz Anatomy

October 1, 2014
Grosz Anatomy

In his latest collection of essays, Theater of Cruelty, Ian Buruma launches a series of expert investigations into the springs of cruelty and the perils of victomhood.

Coalition of the Chilling

October 1, 2014
Coalition of the Chilling

A British historian’s richly-sourced accounting of Molotov-Ribbentrop offers fresh insights into this Nazi-Soviet pact of “non-aggression.”

Hidden in Plain Sight

October 1, 2014
Hidden in Plain Sight

A new book blames Pakistan for the carnage in Afghanistan. But what does “Pakistan” really mean when its government is so fraught with dissension?

WAKE UUUUP!

October 1, 2014
WAKE UUUUP!

What does the summer of 1989, when Do the Right Thing hit theaters, have to say to the summer of Ferguson, and police militarization, and race relations today?

Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

September 1, 2014
Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

The critical consensus around reclusive Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is enough to make you suspect collusion – but to what end? and at what cost? Rohan Maitzen reviews the reviewers.

High and Outside

September 1, 2014
High and Outside

Uncertain Justice, by Lawrence Tribe and Joshua Matz, suggests that personality plays a greater role than ideology in today’s Supreme Court. David Culberg assesses the arguments.

From the Archives: The Battle for Justice in Palestine

September 1, 2014
Layout 1

A controversial author’s latest and most devastating indictment of Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian citizens and neighbors

From the Archives: A False Quarrel

September 1, 2014
Sari Nusseibeh

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems depressingly intractable, an impasse without end. A new book offers a hypothetical solution, but is it foolish idealism, unworkable pragmatism – or a desperately innovative kind of hope?

Socrates Offside

August 1, 2014
Socrates Offside

What place do deep questions about the meaning of life have in our technological age? Is philosophy more important than ever?

Troubled Sheep

August 1, 2014
Troubled Sheep

William Deresiewicz has written-up some admonitions for gifted children of privilege: beware of status-mongering, ignorance of other classes, greed. But is his book itself just a wee bit … privileged?

From the Archives: Playing the Shadow Game

August 1, 2014
first_intifada

Since the days of T.E. Lawrence, reporters have been providing the West with carefully-wrought (or overwrought) tales of the Middle East. A new book comments on the excesses–and maybe commits a few too.

Pashtunwali

July 1, 2014
Pashtunwali

Of all the borders in the world, the Durand line is perhaps the most dangerous. A new book seeks to explain the Taliban, who plague the peoples on both sides of it.

2nd Amendment Fundamentalists

July 1, 2014
2nd Amendment Fundamentalists

“You can throw out every damn other thing in the Constitution, as long as you don’t touch my guns,” one Southern U.S. Senator famously bellowed, perfectly typifying a certain psychosis. A new book picks fights on history of American gun law.

Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

June 1, 2014
Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

Thomas Piketty’s great mountain of Gallic macro-economics, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, was the hit of the Western world for one heady season. Then the parade moved on, and we were left, dazed and disheveled, wondering if we’ve been fed un truc de ouf. Our Peer Review attempts to sort out the l’affaire Piketty

Hanging On: Modernity and the Crisis of Suicide

June 1, 2014
Hanging On: Modernity and the Crisis of Suicide

With suicides on the rise throughout the Western world, a recent study by Jennifer Hecht attempts to both diagnose the frightening trend and evangelize against it. Ivan Kenneally discusses how effective her arguments are likely to be.

So Why Write?

May 1, 2014
So Why Write?

As the world’s supply of writers outpaces the world’s demand for their books, the financial returns for writing have fallen to laughable levels. Then why keep doing it? Paul Griffin explores the problem of writing and money.

Sermons from the Ivory Tower

April 1, 2014
Sermons from the Ivory Tower

A thoughtful exploration of what it means to teach the humanities would be a welcome intervention in the never-ending talk of crisis. Unfortunately, Why Teach? is not that book.

“There Is No Enjoyment in This Life”

April 1, 2014
“There Is No Enjoyment in This Life”

Iraqi lawyer and former exile Zaid al-Ali writes a bleak, sobering account of the state of his homeland in the post-“Mission Accomplished” era – but is there any reason for hope?

Not Just Cutting Ribbons

April 1, 2014
Not Just Cutting Ribbons

For the past 25 years, the Irish Presidency has been a wonder to behold: a place where passionate eccentrics can embody a complicated country.

Policy Papers: Ukraine and the Left

March 8, 2014
Relief_of_the_Light_Brigade

Russia and the West, talking past each other, have blundered into conflict over Ukraine. Some commentators on the American left aren’t behaving much differently.

The Danelaw

March 1, 2014
The Danelaw

In her brilliantly scathing new book, Elaine Scarry charges that US Presidents, in maintaining and augmenting an enormous nuclear arsenal, have broken the social contract and become monarchs in all but name.

A Disproportionate Response

February 1, 2014
Andrew_Sullivan

For years, pioneering blogger Andrew Sullivan was one of the most vocal supporters of the war in Iraq. Time and the war’s wretched progress gradually forced him to change his thinking, however, and a new collection of his writings on the subject charts the disillusioning step-by-step.

What Does an African Woman Want in America?

November 1, 2013
What Does an African Woman Want in America?

Chimananda Ngozi Adichie’s expansive novel Americanah centers on a Nigerian woman’s immigration to the United States and eventual return to Nigeria. Orem Ochiel explores what her story says about complex, often traumatic experience of being black and African in the West.

Mé Féin

June 1, 2013
Mé Féin

Fintan O’Toole is an idealist about Irish republicanism and his books begin a desperately necessary conversation. It’s a bad sign, though, that he can’t quite get past the preliminaries.

Failing Gracelessly

May 1, 2013
Failing Gracelessly

The authors have invaluable sources in America’s ‘deep state’ of surveillance and counter-terrorism, but how much secrecy does security justify? And what happened to moral accountability?

The Geeks Shall Inherit

March 1, 2013
The Geeks Shall Inherit

We’ve long endowed campaign consultants with shamanistic powers, but now a new truth is beginning to emerge–the people behind the scenes who can do most to win elections are the data analysts and stat nerds.

Judaize This

February 1, 2013
Judaize This

The belief that Jews are the enemy of civilization is one of the West’s most tenacious and systemic ideas. Professor David Nirenberg’s new history offers a vast, seemingly inexhaustible record of a very old, very useful hatred.

Puce Needle Diggings

February 1, 2013
Puce Needle Diggings

When the Paris Review, long regarded as a literary standard-bearer, publishes a volume on the art of the short story, it flushes a flurry of conversations into the open: what is a short story? What constitutes an anthology-worthy example? What’s the audience for this kind of thing? And: can these stories answer such questions?

Sharing A Cab

December 1, 2012
Sharing A Cab

Give Anthony Burgess a check and he’d write anything, even a Time-Life picture book. Which doesn’t mean that his 1976 guide to New York is anything less than fascinating.

Too Much Signal

December 1, 2012
Too Much Signal

Nate Silver is currently enjoying his status as that unlikeliest of people, the celebrity statistician. Does his bestseller The Signal and the Noise live up to its carefully calculated expectations?

The Evolutionary: Barack Obama’s First Term in the White House

November 1, 2012
The Evolutionary: Barack Obama’s First Term in the White House

Four years ago, Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency on a platform of hope and change. This month, as he fights for re-election, Greg Waldmann takes a detailed look at the incumbent’s first term.

A Man Apart

October 1, 2012
A Man Apart

Mitt Romney’s diatribe at a Boca Raton fundraiser may have torpedoed his candidacy. Was he just pandering, or did he actually mean all of those things he said?

Change-gamer

October 1, 2012
TPM2012

Election-weary Americans might wonder why anybody in their right minds would elect to play a video-game presidential contest – but the process can be oddly enlightening.

A Hostage Worth Ransoming

September 1, 2012
A Hostage Worth Ransoming

Who’s at fault for our disastrous politics — both parties? Not a chance, say Washington insiders Ornstein and Mann. Our resident politico fisks their analysis.

Those Feet

August 1, 2012
CoF

This summer’s London Olympics take us back to 1981’s Chariots of Fire, the 1924 Olympics, and the poetry of William Blake. The connection? All remind us of the fragility of glory and our endless wish to make the past present.

Century 16, Aurora

July 20, 2012
pic 2

In the wake of today’s news from Connecticut, we are reposting a note written by our Executive Editor following the shootings in Aurora earlier this year.

Roberts Saves POTUS and SCOTUS

July 1, 2012
Roberts Saves POTUS and SCOTUS

We may never know with certainty what brought Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to cast the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act and salvage the chief accomplishment of Barack Obama’s presidency. But …

We Are Oil

June 1, 2012
We Are Oil

Just how powerful is Exxon Mobil? Who can they pay off and which governments are they propping up? Steve Coll’s new book explores the dark side of power and light.

Keeping Up With the Windsors – The Invisible Woman

June 1, 2012
HMQEIIHC

She’s occupied the throne of Great Britain and the Commonwealth for 60 years, and in June Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Three new biographies try to understand the woman wearing the crown.

Monumental and Fragile

May 1, 2012
sikuquanshu

No form of literature seems as thoroughly doomed in the 21st century as the printed encyclopedia, but even dinosaurs can have rich and rewarding life-stories. Where did we go, before we all went to the Internet?

Ghost Town Apostle

May 1, 2012
abandoned-house

Ken Layne’s political writing is sharp and raucus, and a novel about a financially devastated near-future United States would seem like a perfect vehicle for more anger. But though that fire is still there, a gentle-but-compelling spiritualist tone has risen to to the fore.

LOL, SRSLY?

May 1, 2012
LOL, SRSLY?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has made a career of joking about easy political targets – so what happens when she tries to deliver a factual inquiry of a serious subject? Nothing funny, as Greg Waldmann discovers.

No Strange Quirk of Fate

May 1, 2012
Avengers

This month sees the arrival of the long-awaited $250 million dollar Hollywood movie adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Avengers. Lost in all the hype is the rich history of the comic itself; Justin Hickey explores the convergence of pulp and pixels.

Good Enough

April 1, 2012
Good Enough

A new book takes readers back to a time when, according to historian Ira Shapiro, politics could sometimes be noble and senators could sometimes be giants.

The People’s Prisoner

April 1, 2012
TiananmenSquareJune289

When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 2010, it was given to an empty chair. Its recipient, Liu Xiaobo, was in prison for advocating human rights in China. Though he is still incarcerated, a collection of essays sheds light on his thought and struggle.

American Aristocracy – Harvard Pulpit: Boston Brahmin Liberalism

April 1, 2012
MIT postcard

To the quintessential virtues the Puritans lent to a fledgling republic – globality, philantropy, and autonomy – the ‘speaking aristocracy’ of the Boston Brahmins added one more: the love of learning

Designing Desire

April 1, 2012
Steve_Jobs_and_Bill_Gates

Steve Jobs, the visionary predator who founded Apple and forged a new way of thinking about technology, wasn’t a particularly nice man (as even his dutiful biographer must occasionally concede) – but was he a genius?

A Man Could Stand Up: On Downton Abbey’s Second Season

April 1, 2012
ethel-and-the-major

Unlike the soap operas with which it is often dismissively aligned, Downton Abbey is defined by change rather than stasis – by its beautifully produced attention to social evolution.

Breitbart at Rest

March 3, 2012
andrew-breitbart

Andrew Breitbart, the brash, conservative media warrior, died a few days ago. He was by all accounts a wonderful husband, father, and friend – but should that matter?

Romney After Florida

February 1, 2012
Romney_2011_Paradise_Valley,_AZ

After a brutal six months, Mitt Romney has won Florida and almost certainly the GOP nomination. Democrats and Republicans are rightly focused on his record, but they’re each doing it for the wrong reasons.

The Apparatchik

February 1, 2012
condoleezza-rice

For two terms, first as National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was the most – often the only – likeable face of the George W. Bush administration. But does this quintessential team player break ranks in her new memoir?

American Aristocracy – Brahmin Dreams: In Search of the Capital of The World

January 1, 2012
fatkd

Boston without Brahmins, like Vienna without Jews, frames shifting capitoline visions, visions much more in the spirit than most realize of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., who actually wrote: ‘It dwarfs the mind to feed it on any localism.’

The Prince of Now and Then

December 1, 2011
william

He lost his famous mother when he was a boy, became a teen idol, had a storybook wedding, and he’s second in line to be King of England. The monarchy Prince William inherits will be like nothing his predecessors have experienced – if it exists at all. “A Year with the Windsors” concludes.

A Heartbeat Away

November 1, 2011
Dick Cheney

John Nance Garner famously referred to the vice presidency as being not worth a bucket of warm, er, spit – and yet, during the two terms of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney used that office to wield unprecedented power. The former vice president writes an unapologetic memoir.

In Lieu of a Drink

November 1, 2011
hitchenshat

Provocative public intellectual/muckraker Christopher Hitchens offers an enormous volume of collected essays and articles, probably his last.

American Aristocracy – Letter from Boston: Toward a New History

October 1, 2011
prendergast-west-church

Boston, so often reproved for living in its memories, may well be poised to lead the future, not in spite of its history but because of it.

Pseudo-Binaristic Wiki-Okatu

October 1, 2011
interrnets

The key to storytelling is world-building, and a new book wonders if our new and all-encompassing Digital Era has given mankind world-building tools like it’s never had before. Is it the death of the imagination – or Story 2.0?

Splendide Mendax

September 1, 2011
Splendide Mendax

The ethics of Wikileaks (and the antics of its mastermind, Julian Assange) continue to be the focus of controversy – and new books. Greg Waldmann takes a comprehensive look at the entire phenomenon.

Work in Progress

September 1, 2011
triumphofthecity

Could you actually be hurting the environment by going green and moving to the suburbs? A new book champions that oft-maligned human invention: the big city.

A Prison Spotlight

July 1, 2011
9780806533049

Former political radical Susan Rosenberg received the longest sentence ever given for the charge of possessing explosives. Her new memoir revisits her prison experience.

A Brief for the Defense

June 1, 2011
A Brief for the Defense

If you’re hoping for a heartfelt mea culpa from an architect of two disastrous wars, this isn’t it. Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir is shallow at best, cynically self-serving at worst.

Bohemia Rundown

May 1, 2011
tc

Semiotext(e) is famous for theory and provocation. So what happens when its co-founder takes on the art world in the latest installment of their manifesto series? To begin with, she doesn’t write a manifesto…

A Novelist in Tahrir Square

April 1, 2011
SiestaFrederickLewis

It’s fitting that Ahdaf Soueif is narrating this exciting new chapter in Egypt’s history: for decades she has offered her readers richer, more complicated stories of the Middle East than the commonplace ones of submission and extremism.

A Light on the Ground

March 1, 2011
aerialflyby

The myth of idyllic rural America dies hard, but the scourges of modern society have long since struck the heartland, including the scourge of drug addiction and drug trafficking. A recent book explores the darkness at the edge of town.

Squid Pro Quo

February 1, 2011
Goldmansachsexecutivestestifysenate

Matt Taibbi is the foremost political-writing muckraker of his generation, matching an acerbic wit with a pressure-cooked prose style. But is there substance behind the bluster?

Literature is Dead, Long Live Literature

January 1, 2011
dictionaryofreceivedieas

Is the death of literature finally dead? If not, it’s been dealt a healthy blow by Gregory Jusdanis’ Fiction Agonistes, even it art does have to “justify itself in a way not necessary before.”

Simple Man

December 1, 2010
Simple Man

No American president in a generation has so polarized the country as George W. Bush, and his new book will almost certainly polarize its readers. Is it defiant agitprop or heartfelt memoir?

The Purposes of Creation

November 1, 2010
0118_cloned_embryo

As reproductive technology has become more advanced, the value of those engineered lives has become more complicated. Two recent novels provide a striking perspective on this growing conflict.

The 2010 Bestseller Feature

October 1, 2010
obamadiaries

It’s that time of year again, when our writers gird themselves and review all ten books on The New York Times bestseller list. This time around the quarry is bestselling Nonfiction.

The Mutilated World

October 1, 2010
baghdad-un-cp-1164024

The attacks of 9/11 evoked reactions from writers around the world, and journalist Scott Malcolmson finds fault with a great many of them – but does he do any better a job himself?

Uneasy Witness

August 1, 2010
Cows – Slaughter House

Vegetarians choose to be vegetarians and meat-eaters choose to be “normal.” Melanie Joy cuts into the language we use to describe our food and the mindset behind it.

Sounds Simple, Nearly Impossible

August 1, 2010
antietam2

The documentary Restrepo, set in the deepest and most violent American outpost in Afganastan, ushers us “through a door most Americans don’t know about and don’t want to know about”

City of Sorrow

August 1, 2010
Ciudad.Juarez

In 2009, Ciudad Juarez reported 2,700 homicides. As Charles Bowden’s new book Murder City shows, the bloody drug-war just south of the border shows no signs of abating

In Defense of the Memory Theater

July 1, 2010
bookshelves–crespi

Our bookshelves are a hedge against our failing memories, and as such, an extension of our minds. Nathan Schneider explores if and how this sacred role will be preserved in the age of digitization.

How, Not If

July 1, 2010
How, Not If

The so-called Tea Party would like to dump President Obama in Boston Harbor – but even ordinary politicians often misunderstand him. The reasons are simpler than you think.

A Certain Perturbation

July 1, 2010
robinsonyale

In Absence of Mind, Marilynne Robinson explores both the dynamics of faith and the complacency of recent anti-faith screeds. But is her own book something of a fall from grace?

“For a Long Time I Hated God…”

June 1, 2010
junger

Famed reporter Sebastian Junger spent months embedded with frontline troops in Afghanistan’s most forbidding region and tells the stories of the men who fight there.

Rapture Crash

April 1, 2010
JaronLanier_YouTube

There’s a frightening possibility at the heart of Jaron Lanier’s new manifesto You Are Not a Gadget: how often do we subjugate our own personalities to the fixed designs of computer software?

Soothing the Elites

March 1, 2010
menand

Louis Menand has offered a calm and lucid response to the usual jeremiads about higher education–but is its lecture targeted to an ever-shrinking audience?

Twilight of the Giants

March 1, 2010
Southern Right Whale

The elephants of South Africa and the right whales of the North Atlantic are enormous, complex – and confronted with a growing human population. Two books estimate their chances.

The Long and Winding Road

January 1, 2010
cowland

Jonathan Safran Foer is not the first, but is certainly the most famous, to investigate the ethics of eating animals. Megan Kearns studies both the style and the substance of his argument, with an eye to his less acknowledged allies in vegetarianism

Yikes!

December 1, 2009
speechless

Unlike most prior White House wonks, Matt Latimer aw-shucks his way through history and into deep, deep trouble; Greg Waldmann reviews Speech Less

A Handbook for Hope

December 1, 2009
half

In Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sherilyn DuWunn chronicle the plight of women from the Congo to Cambodia, and everywhere else across the globe; Megan Kearns reviews their work.

The Books and the City

December 1, 2009
ninelives1

Dan Baum and Dave Eggers have made very different books on New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Thomas Larson separates sense from sensationalism.

Ain’t That America

November 1, 2009
little-pink-house

Foreclosure isn’t the homeowner’s only enemy. No one’s safe in their home when big money sniffs around; so the Supreme Court famously ruled in Kelo v. New London: John Cotter reviews muckraker Jeff Benedict’s Little Pink House.

Hurricanes, Murders, and Music

November 1, 2009
yearbeforetheflood

Ned Sublette pens a loving portrait of New Orleans before Katrina struck. Ingrid Norton reviews The Year Before the Flood.

SuperSemiQuasiKindaSortaPseudoMaybeDudeWhateveronomics

November 1, 2009
superfreakonomics

The writers of Freakonomics are at it again, this time in super-sized form; Arthur Brock scrutinizes their findings.

Thorns Too

October 1, 2009
avindicationoflove

In A Vindication of Love, Christina Nehring has set herself the task of reclaiming romantic love for the Twitter Age. Ingrid Norton rates the results.

Check Out My Cicero

October 1, 2009
theamericanfuture

Simon Schama’s The American Future finds ways to relate most of American history to President Obama. Amanda Bragg checks the connections.

In a Thing So Small

September 1, 2009
signaturecell

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer suggests that science has prematurely evicted a prime mover from cellular biology, and he would like it put back. Ignazio de Vega tests his case.

Humanist, Heal Thyself

August 1, 2009
Humanist, Heal Thyself

In Reason, Faith, and Revolution, literary critic Terry Eagleton joins the contentious “God Debates” popularized by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Jeremy Kessler moderates the results.

‘May Your BlackBerry Rot in Hell’

July 1, 2009
digital_barbarism

Brilliant novelist/amateur crank Mark Helprin despairs of your online thievery, and Esther Schell despairs of his new book, Digital Barbarism.

In Praise of Snobbery

July 1, 2009
carol-ann-duffy

Great Britain has finally made a woman poet laureate—and a lesbian no less. As Bryn Haworth reports, when she’s isn’t writing about the Royals, she’s plenty worthy of the honor. Since writing about the Royals is one of the job’s few requirements, what changes might we expect from the post?

The Empire Strikes Back?

May 1, 2009
new-cold-war

Edward Lucas, in The New Cold War, puts a modern face on the hoary geopolitical struggle between the Russian bear and the American eagle. Greg Waldmann sorts the players and evaluates the stakes.

EMK

April 1, 2009
last_lion1

For half a century, Senator Ted Kennedy has been carving out a legacy in Congress. The legacy and the man come into focus in Thomas J. Daly’s review of Last Lion.

Paddy Whacked

April 1, 2009
1

Malcolm Gladwell is once again on the bestseller lists, this time for Outliers, about the social science of genius. Peter Coclanis begs to differ with the vox populi.

Free with Subscription! Order Now!

February 1, 2009
longtime

Evan Thomas, under the aegis of Newsweek, with substantial researcher assistance, after the editing of … well, “A Long Time Coming”, the first post-election account of President Obama’s campaign, got written somehow. Greg Waldmann goes into it with high hopes – and then conducts the autopsy.

They Went to Work Quickly

December 1, 2008
They Went to Work Quickly

Jane Mayers’ The Dark Side describes the United States’ rapid descent into the murky ways of torture and secret autocracy. Whether its the expediting of illegal proceedings or the out-sourcing of brutality, Greg Waldmann tries not to flinch from what he finds in Meyers’ account.

I Can Haz Qwalitee Kontrol

November 1, 2008
petfood

Millions of people all over the world feed their pets food manufactured under circumstances that would make Upton Sinclair spin in his grave. Sara Shaffer sifts through the ingredients of Marion Nestle’s Pet Food Politics.

The Education of Barack Obama

October 1, 2008
obama-harvard

A mere month remains until the most fiercely fought and most historically pivotal American presidential election of the last half-century. In July, Greg Waldmann served up an in-depth look at Republican John McCain. Here, just in time for the election, he does likewise for Democrat Barack Obama.

The New Road to Meritocracy?

October 1, 2008
crowdsourcing

With his new book and coinage Crowdsourcing, Jeff Howe argues that a democratic, everyman wisdom is the secret to business success. So is the vox populi really the key to quality? Kathleen Smith, crowd of one, weighs the argument.

Scolds in the Agora

August 1, 2008
dumbest

For those too addled by Xbox to grasp subtlety, Mark Bauerlein and Richard Shenkman have titled their respective books The Dumbest Generation and Just How Stupid Are We? For the rest of us, Laura Tanenbaum provides a nuanced evaluation of the laments of these cultural Jeremiahs.

The Truth and John McCain

July 1, 2008
mccain-pilot

In covering John McCain’s life and accomplishments, the American press has been, how shall we put it? less than tenacious. There are real stories they’ve yet to explore, or so argues Greg Waldmann in his first piece as Open Letters‘ Politics Editor.

Book Review: The China Diary of George H.W. Bush

June 24, 2008
9780691130064

For a year in the mid 1970s George H.W. Bush was the head of the United States Liaison Office in China. Steve Donoghue laments the contrast they make with his incurious son.

Wild World

May 1, 2008
threadless-thumbs

We know that we can digitize books, but is it possible to translate digital texts back onto paper? Carolyn Grantham explores this and other 21st-century dilemmas in her review of Sarah Boxer’s Ultimate Blogs.

Strangers to Ourselves

March 1, 2008
sawyerfence

The premise of Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational is that all of us are a lot more irrational a lot more often than we thought; Steve Donoghue tries to determine if the inmates really are running the asylum

Irreverence by Half-Measure

March 1, 2008
milbankpic

He makes tools; he uses fire; he caucuses with interest groups: this is Dana Milbank’s Homo Politicus. Greg Waldmann assesses Milbank’s field notes, wishing the taxonomist had been more exacting.

Not Quite Détente

February 1, 2008
Not Quite Détente

Books lamenting our fractured political system are as commonplace these days as polling and pundits, but, as Greg Waldmann discovers, the historical rigor of Ronald Brownstein’s The Second Civil War helps elevate it above its pandering peers.

Denying Absurdity

December 1, 2007
camus

The bestselling New Atheists presume that a simple faith in reason will make short work of the longing for God. David G. Moser takes them to task for what Nietzsche would have called their “complacent rationality.”

The Uncertainty Principle

December 1, 2007
westpoint

Joanna Scutts reviews Soldier’s Heart by West Point professor Elizabeth D. Samet, whose memoir accomplishes the impressive feat of finding common ground between Army officers and English majors.

The Right Man for the Job

December 1, 2007
gore

Does Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason really tell us anything we didn’t already know about our dying national dialogue? Greg Waldmann’s answer is yes.

The Dream After the Nightmare

November 1, 2007
johnwayne

When crises like 9/11 erupt, says Susan Faludi, America’s women wind up in lockdown. Joanna Scutts finds the national unconscious as unbalanced as ever in The Terror Dream.

Costly Friendships

November 1, 2007
israel

Aside from the stammering anger they’ve stirred up, have John W. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt added anything substantial to the Middle East debate? Plenty, Greg Waldmann writes, but not for the reasons they wanted.Aside from the stammering anger they’ve stirred up, have John W. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt added anything substantial to the Middle East debate? Plenty, Greg Waldmann writes, but not for the reasons they wanted.

Vain Offerings

October 1, 2007
amish

In The Know-It-All, A.J. Jacobs reduced learning to the memorization of trivia; now in The Year of Living Biblically he reduces religious faith to growing a beard. Steve Donoghue, in turn, reduces A.J. Jacobs.

Tribal Failings

October 1, 2007
condo

Greg Waldmann wraps his head around The Suicide of Reason and comes away wishing Lee Harris hadn’t tried to talk reason off a ledge.

Cross-Dressing Septuagenarian Self-Medicating Skateboarders of Southeast Bergen County, Unite!

October 1, 2007
penn

Steve Donoghue reviews pollster-guru Mark J. Penn’s Microtrends, a book that sheds light on the campaign mentality of our most powerful politicians. The weak of stomach must consider themselves duly warned.

Peer Review: Kernels of Truth

October 1, 2007
mccheese

In our regular feature, Hugh Merwin tucks in to the reviews of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which alternately acclaim and castigate the bellwether bestseller.

Chicken Little 2.0

September 1, 2007
cult2

Wikipedia is destroying our culture; so are YouTube, MySpace, and Google; and all your damn blogs, too—or so says Andrew Keen. Greg Waldmann exposes Cult of the Amateur, and the amateur authorship behind the screed.

A Very Singular Revolution

August 1, 2007
evolution

Simon & Schuster is calling Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution a work of science. Steve Donoghue examines just how blasphemous a claim that is.

Ex Cathedra

July 1, 2007
Ex Cathedra

Ignazio de Vega conducts a careful exegesis of Pope Benedict XVI’s
Jesus of Nazareth and discovers in it a remarkable quality: a spirit
of reconciliation

Salad Days

June 1, 2007
kingsolver

Teaching a man to fish isn’t enough: you’ve also got to teach him to cook what he catches. Hugh Merwin challenges the usefulness of Barbara Kingsolver’s folksy Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

God-bothering

June 1, 2007
hitchens

After tallying up the fallacies in God is Not Great, Amanda Bragg concludes that Christopher Hitchens is less concerned with enlightened dissent than with cashing in on a craze

Christploitation

May 1, 2007
heartbook

Sam Sacks laments the great divorce of Christianity from literature

Friends on the Street

April 1, 2007
vollmann

Can a writer be objective about poverty? John Cotter thinks William T. Vollmann’s striking approach in Poor People is both beautiful and frustratingly distant.