From The New York Review of Books, a review of We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction by Joan Didion; Double-Cross in the Congo: A review of The Mission Song by John le Carré; a review of Collected Stories by Roald Dahl; and a review of The Collected Poems, 1956–1998 by Zbigniew Herbert.
From Identity Theory, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford talks with Robert Birnbaum about his latest (and last) Frank Bascombe novel, The Lay of the Land; Donald Hall, Poet Laureate of the United States, talks at length with Robert Birnbaum about baseball, his relationship with Robert Frost, the cultural importance of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," writing about loss, and why song lyrics don't make good poems; and Elizabeth Benedict, author of The Practice of Deceit, talks with Robert Birnbaum about sex, middle-aged dilemmas, and careerist memoir writers.
From California Literary Review, a review of The Uses of Memory All Whom I Have Loved by Aharon Appelfeld, translated from the Hebrew by Aloma Halter; a review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy; an essay on Brontë in Brussels by Trilby Kent.
From n+1, Love and Boredom: A review of Cathleen Schine’s The New Yorkers; Is it odd to begin liking a poet on the basis of a pair of lines? Three Books by Lisa Robertson; and an article on The Haunting of Payless: Questions for a commercial semiotician.
From Mute magazine, the Situationists and the Creative Class are neck and neck in the competition for most mythologised ‘avant garde’. In riot-torn Copenhagen at the end of last month the two converged. While the conference Expect Anything Fear Nothing - Seminar on the Situationist Movement in Scandinavia was laying to rest delusions about the SI, partisans of the creative class seized on the riots as a victory for the new creative vanguardists. Stewart Home rattles some cage; and with political art now celebrated in galleries and museums all over the world what happens when practices tied to specific struggles and places are institutionalised? At the recent retrospective of textbook political artist, Loraine Leeson, Peter Suchin uncovers the remains of an earlier discussion intitiated by Art & Language to propose a radical reconsideration of Leeson’s art and the terms of the debate.
From Nextbook, as National Poetry Month winds to a close, guest editor Adam Kirsch offers up some favorite verse; with novels like Showboat and Giant Edna Ferber captured the hearts of Americans. How, asks Mollie Wilson, did she lose them?
From The Nation, Revolutionary Devotion: Communism, Catholicism and radical Modernism meet on the dissecting table of César Vallejo's poetry; and Stranger in the City: The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears tells the story of an Ethiopian immigrant's unrequited love affair with the American Dream. Po-co meets sci-fi: A review of So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonial science fiction and fantasy, by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan, eds. And Colette Labouff Atkinson talks with Mark Monmonier, author of From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame.
Kevin Anthony Stoda (GUST): A Federalist Peace Theory, 1946-1992. From Vive le Canada, an article on Charles Taylor and the Hegelian Eden Tree: Canadian Philosophy and Compradorism. From Ghana's The Statesman, Kwame Anthony Appiah is our postmodern Socrates. He asks what it means to be African and African-American, but his answers immediately raise issues that encompass us all. From Think Tank, is social science the God that failed? An interview with Seymour Martin Lipset and James Q. Wilson (1998). The introduction to The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan.
From LRB, Judith Butler reviews Hannah Arendt: The Jewish Writings, and more from The Jerusalem Post. How odd of God: A review of Jews and Gentiles by Milton Himmelfarb. A review of David Mamet's The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews. He mocks the cultural elite and defends George Bush - at 77, Tom Wolfe is as contrary as ever.
From Lacan.com, Slavoj Zizek on Blows Against the Empire? Stephen Moss runs into Slavoj Zizek: The philosopher's moan. A review of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes. Michael Caine is God: An article on the planned adaptation of Norwegian novelist Jostein Gaarder's international bestseller Sophie's World. Swanning about: Tim Radford on how metaphors are dangerous, especially when you don't think about what they mean. The Truth in Progress: It would be a mistake to abandon the idea of progress because history does not follow a linear path to social harmony or because most progress—though certainly not all—has an embarrassingly Western origin.
A review of The Meaning of Life by Terry Eagleton. A review of E. O. Wilson's The Creation: A Meeting of Science and Religion and Owen Gingerich's God’s Universe. God in the Details: For a quarter-century Roy Abraham Varghese has been assembling God proofs. Along the way he won over the world's most influential atheist. The concept of heaven remains attractive, opines Matthew Engel. Hell is altogether less marketable these days. A review of Sacred Bull, Holy Cow: A Cultural Study of Civilization's Most Important Animal.
Yeti crabs and vampire squids:A review of The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss. Vets reject claims by a British animal welfare charity that giving dogs drugs to treat behavioural problems will create a population of "pill-popping pets".
From Cracked, here's A Beginner's Guide to Narcotics. A tiny molecule that promotes plant growth may hold the key to a family of new drugs for a whole range of illnesses in humans. Move over Wheaties, there's a new breakfast of champions: Cigars and coffee are the ideal combo. The duel life: Fencing's violent origins have evolved into a popular pastime.
From Radar, a photo tour of restricted spaces: Do Not Enter. Asymmetry and the next-gen umbrella: Designers finally reinvent the all-too-collapsible device. And the lightning bolt of embarrassment can leave you flushed, frozen and the memory can linger for years. But what makes it such a powerful emotion?
From New Politics, Michael Lowy (CNRS): Marx and Weber: Critics of Capitalism; Ashley Dawson (CUNY): The Return to Limits; David Friedman on the Democratic Party and the Future of American Politics; Michael Hirsch on Socialists, Democrats and Political Action: It's the movements that matter; and is the Bush Administration fascist? Matthew N. Lyons investigates. For its third annual essay contest, Vanity Fair asked readers to define the U.S.'s grasp on reality. Exploring a national disconnect between self-image and behavior, winner Kipling Buis channels an infuriated 19th-century immigrant: Frances Trollope, the famous novelist's mother.
From Vanity Fair, The Tax That Saved the Planet: Sure, we can keep trying to reduce carbon emissions through the Kyoto Protocol and other schemes. Or we can do the smart thing; as teams from two top universities chart consumption patterns, the map of the world bulges and shrinks. Famed biologist E. O. Wilson puts the findings into perspective; reporting on an emotional battle in a makeshift jungle courtroom, by William Langewiesche investigates how many hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest in Ecuador became a toxic-waste dump; the Bush administration has gutted decades of environmental protection, appointing energy-industry executives to uphold the very laws they'd worked against. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. busts the polluters' picnic; when scientists are united, and even corporate sponsors like ExxonMobil are backing off, how does a global-warming skeptic stay busy? As long as the media calls, Myron Ebell is happy to explain why CO2 is good. Michael Shnayerson catches him in full denial; and lampooning environmentalists as "wackos," Rush Limbaugh lulled millions of Americans into happy complacency. As the country wakes up to the climate crisis, James Wolcott asks: Who looks wacko now?
George Monbiot responds to Alexander Cockburn on global warming. Reading Green: Here are ten books to help understand and save the environment. No United Nations organization currently dominates the headlines as much — or is as controversial — as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Critics call the panel politically one-sided and its reports alarmist. Its defenders say the opposite is true.
The world goes to town: After this year the majority of people will live in cities. Human history will ever more emphatically become urban history. The pace of life for city dwellers is literally getting faster, a new British-led study suggests.
From Rediff, an interview with Amartya Sen: Hunger is quiet violence. The bank the world needs: The World Bank is in desperate trouble, but it is still the best institution to address international challenges such as climate change. A study finds law-breaking officials respect the laws of economics. After amassing a fortune in excess of $300 billion over the last decade, Norway has started pulling investments for what it claims are ethical failings of some US companies. The United Fruit Company reinvented the banana as a mass-market product and pioneered the modern multinational. It also overthrew governments and helped bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. John Kenneth Galbraith's The New Industrial State remains a relevant explanation of the modern economy. And a review of Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction
From Azure, Chaim Gans (Tel Aviv): Is There a Historical Right to the Land of Israel?; Michael Oren on The Second War of Independence: Fifty years later, the lessons of the Suez War are only now becoming clear; an essay on Circumcision as Rebellion: Why Judaism rejected the decrees of Nature, Fortune, and Rome; an article on The State of Freedom and the State of Emergency; and Robert Bork reviews The Judge in a Democracy by Aharon Barak. Palestinians’ hard choice: An interview with Sari Nusseibeh, a leading Palestinian intellectual and political figure.
Mad, bad or a joker? A review of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran. A review of Inside Hamas: the untold story of militants, martyrs and spies; Hamas: unwritten chapters; and Hamas: politics, charity and terrorism in the service of jihad. A review of Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni and Warring Souls by Roxanne Varzi.
Kevin Drum reviews The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism by Matthew Carr and The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror by Stephen Holmes. Londonistan Calling: From the shoe-bomber to the July 2005 suicide attacks, terrorism has an unlikely new player: the British jihadist. Returning to the London streets of his youth, Christopher Hitchens finds a breeding ground for Islamic radicalism, in a country that may have to rethink its multicultural ideals (and an interview).
From New Statesman, a special issue on Tony Blair, 1997-2007: The Reckoning. What makes Tony Blair tick, and what he stands for, have eluded all his biographers. Will the prime minister, who rose without a trace, now leave none behind him? A purple patch on how politicians earn their keep by Max Weber.
Sex and foreign aid: The lessons learned from a high-level administration official's resignation in the D.C. Madam scandal. An Elite Escort Service: Washington is on edge as names of the clients of accused D.C. Madam Deborah Palfrey begin trickling out. But the women who worked for her might surprise you: college grads, white-collar professionals, even military personnel. He’s impeachable, you know: The power to impeach civil officers like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is at bottom a tool granted Congress to defend the constitutional order; and Two Parties, One Law: Whatever happens to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the taint of politics will remain. That’s why the only real solution is to depoliticize the Justice Department.
The Economist begins a series on the main presidential contenders for 2008, starting with Rudy Giuliani. From USA Today, here are 5 reasons the GOP faces an uphill climb in '08. A review of The Thumpin': How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution and Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time by Chuck Schumer. Bob Kerrey, Unbound: The former Senator has some questions about Rudy’s security credentials and likes Obama’s name. And on reforming disloyal Democrats: Ari Melber reports on how unions and Internet activists are joining forces to reform the Democratic Party from the ground up through "Work for Us"