The Unexpected Fantasist: The Portuguese novelist and Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago is a stubborn atheist, an unreconstructed Communist, an ornery political polemicist — and the creator of some of the world’s most magical, imaginative, sweetly lyrical fiction. Caribbean Odyssey: When he first read Derek Walcott's poems, VS Naipaul was overwhelmed by the talent of his fellow West Indian, who, at the age of 18, was already a master. The young poet had created a new language to describe both the beauty and the limitations of island life. VS Naipaul as the great offender: Few writers get up noses like VS Naipaul, but his views on Islam, Gandhi and English Lit courses have a ring of truth.
From New York, Watching Matt Drudge: He hides, but craves attention. He is prurient and prudish, powerful and paranoid, an icon of the right who seems obsessed with making Hillary Clinton our next president. And he has America caught in the grip of his contradictions; and somewhere at the intersection of policy porn and score-settling memoir lies the big-name political tract, and fall is often the season for them. Which will make the biggest media splash possible? Never mind the Journal's editorial independence. Pray for the New York Post's. Already Chewed News: What Jack Shafer's beloved newspaper has been reduced to serving.
A review of This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood by Jack Valenti. How violent taboos were blown away: Bonnie and Clyde shocked and thrilled the world when it was released in 1967. But the legacy of this savage classic is that it opened the floodgates for all forms of screen violence over the next 40 years. Where TV Is Good for You: With perhaps the exception of Homer Simpson, Americans tend to denounce television even as they devour it. TV Is Good for You: If you are a woman in rural India, at least. Vint Cerf, aka the godfather of the net, predicts the end of TV as we know it.
Moises Naim on The Free-Trade Paradox: Why is trade booming while trade talks are crashing. A review of The White Man’s Burden: Why The West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly. A review of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier. An excerpt from Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization by Michael Goldman. A business version of Doctors Without Borders, Executives Without Borders, could help alleviate poverty by targeting the developing world’s persistent economic ailments, says Jonathan Ledgard, a journalist based in Africa.
From Perspectives on Politics, Jeffrey W. Legro (Virginia): What China Will Want: The Future Intentions of a Rising Power. From Foreign Affairs, The Great Leap Backward? China's disastrous environmental record is about to bring the house crashing down. A review of A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni; and China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood by Jeff Gammage. A review of Inside the Red Mansion: On the Trail of China's Most Wanted Man by Oliver August. A review of China: The Fragile Superpower by Susan L. Shirk and China Road: A Journey Into the Future of a Rising Power by Rob Gifford.
Not quite the pact that was: China, Russia and the countries sandwiched between them can stage a fine military show—but they are not about to merge into a new monolith. From Exile, Top Ten Pieces Of New Cold War Bullshit: Everyone knows the old Marxist cliche that history is repeated first as tragedy, and then as farce. The making of a neo-KGB state: Political power in Russia now lies with the FSB, the KGB's successor; and Putin's people: The former KGB men who run Russia have the wrong idea about how to make it great. Here are ten reasons why Russia can’t trust Uncle Sam.
Jack Snyder and Robert Shapiro (Columbia) and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon (Bar Ilan): Free Hand Abroad, Divide and Rule at Home: The Domestic Politics of Unipolarity. The Utter Uselessness of the Petraeus Report: If you think the White House-penned report on Iraq will be anything other than a validation of "the surge" and the Bush administration's larger strategy, you haven't been paying attention. This war is not like the others — or is it? The problem with using historical analogies to make foreign policy. The Decline and Fall of Declinism: Some people don’t want to admit it, but America is in great shape. The waning power of the War Myth: As Iraq dies, Bush is falling back on his old standby: Patriotic blackmail. But this time it won't work.
A review of The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. A review of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite by D. Michael Lindsay. Evangelicals Turn Toward ... The Orthodox Church? What their flight says about the relationship between Evangelicals and the modern world. There is an angle to contemporary Christian progressivism which thus far has gotten too little attention: shareholder activism.
A review of Richistan: A Journey Through the 21st Century Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich and Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class, by Robert H Frank; The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture, by Brink Lindsey; and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben. How the neoliberals stitched up the wealth of nations for themselves: A cabal of intellectuals and elitists hijacked the economic debate, and now we are dealing with the catastrophic effects. Global capitalism will survive the current credit crisis. But in the long term, a system that depends on extracting every last cent from the poor cannot hope for a healthy prognosis.
A review of On Truth by Harry G. Frankfurt. A review of Relativism and the Foundations of Philosophy by Steven D. Hales. A review of Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy by John Rawls. A review of The Moral Imagination: From Edmund Burke to Lionel Trilling by Gertrude Himmelfarb. A review of Simplexity: The Simple Rules of a Complex World by Jeffrey Kluger. A review of Smoot's Ear: The Measure of Humanity by Robert Tavernor. A review of The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization by Thomas Homer-Dixon. A review of The Threat to Reason: How the Enlightenment Was Hijacked and How We Can Reclaim It by Dan Hind. A review of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays by Frederick Crews.
From TNR, an interview with Peter Singer on the ethical difference between hunting and dog fighting, and why both of those are minor cruelties in the scale of things. What is disadvantage? How should we treat those in society who are most disadvantaged? An interview with Jonathan Wolff. Battle lines being drawn for new war over stem cells: With restrictions in countries such as the US, Germany and Australia nearing an end, research floodgates seem set to spring open and with them a whole new set of quandaries for patients and doctors. Rapid advances in genetic testing promise to transform medicine, but they may up-end the insurance business in the process. Public fears aside, scientists mimic nature’s genetic scrambling to bolster fruits and vegetables, as well as beer and whiskey.
A review of Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates our Mental World, by Chris Frith. Sex, shopping and thinking pink: The brains of men and women are, indeed, different. Through analysis, gut reaction gains credibility: In a conversation with Gerd Gigerenzer, this German psychologist looks at intuition and how we use it. A review of The Top 10 Myths About Evolution by Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan. Head Case: Two fossils found in Kenya raise evolutionary questions. A review of Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith by Philip Kitcher.