From BBC Magazine, one of literature's great conspiracy theories has new impetus with Sir Derek Jacobi questioning whether William Shakespeare of Stratford really wrote the works associated with him. So what are the arguments for and against this man really being the Bard? The introduction to Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer. A review of Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary by Henry Hitchings (and an excerpt). 175 years after the death of Scotland’s most celebrated novelist, Murray Pittock asks if Walter Scott was an enemy of the Enlightenment, or its champion. A review of Scotland's Books by Robert Crawford.  He's seen it all: They don't call him "Famous Seamus" for nothing - the Nobel Prize-winner has won the Whitbread twice and sells more books in Britain than any other living poet. 

From Ralph, a review of American Windmills: An Album of Historic Photographs; a review of Past Tents: The Way We Camped by Susan Snyder. A review of Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto, by David Tracey. Climbing trees, and reading about them, is back in fashion. From high in the canopy, Robert Macfarlane finds a new perspective on our need to reconnect with nature, and more on The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. A review of The Volcano Adventure Guide by Rosaly Lopes. A review of Marshes: The Disappearing Edens by William Burt. A review of The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts. A review of The Most Important Fish in the Sea Menhaden and America by H. Bruce Franklin. A review of Jonathan Miles’s The Wreck of the Medusa: The Most Famous Sea Disaster of the Nineteenth Century

From HNN, an article on the Saudi Billionaire vs. Cambridge University Press. The University of Michigan Press halts — but may resume — the distribution of Overcoming Zionism by Joel Kovel, a book published in Britain arguing that creation of Israel was a mistake. Thanks, Mr. Nabokov: A trove of rejection files from Alfred A. Knopf Inc. includes dismissive verdicts on the likes of Jorge Luis Borges (“utterly untranslatable”) and Sylvia Plath (“There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice”). Reading serious non-fiction books about current and pressing issues — apart from name-calling books by political hacks and right-wing bitches with flowing Breck-girl hair — is on its deathbed. From Britannica, an article on guilty pleasure books: Mysteries, True Crime Books and Best-Selling “Trash”: Hidden in a Brown-Paper Wrapper. Could you read 100 novels in 100 days?

Oona Hathaway (Yale): International Delegation and State Sovereignty. As Undiplomatic Activities by Richard Woolcott reveals, the world of international diplomacy is full of bizarre pratfalls.  Here are the worst countries in the world, according to the Failed States Index — all 10 are violent, miserable, corrupt and poor, with the traits that vault them ahead of other notorious shitholes. Deaths by numbers: Is it all right for humanitarian aid workers to tell lies and mislead people in a "good cause"? Forced labour: 200 years since it was abolished, slavery is not only still happening, it’s actually increasing all over the world. A review of Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery by Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten and After Abolition. Britain and the Slave Trade since 1807 by Marika Sherwood. A review of International Prosecution of Human Rights Crimes

From Democratiya, an excerpt from The Truth About Syria by Barry Rubin. Policing religion: There are signs that Saudi society may finally have had enough of the country's draconian religious police. A review of Rethinking Global Sisterhood: Western Feminism and Iran by Nima Naghibi. Molding the Ideal Islamic Citizen: Enjoy sex (in marriage), and abstain from dissent. Iran shapes a national identity. From Asia Times, Spengler on the discreet charm of US diplomacy. The US appears to be relying on imported friendliness. Does this mean it is running out of "nice"? Wars That Defy Categorization: The war in Iraq, 9/11 attacks and the Iranian Revolution pose challenges for Western imagination. From Slate, The House Tosses Softballs to Gen. Petraeus. That's More Like It! The Senate grills Petraeus and Crocker. A top general's dilemma: Gen. David Howell Petraeus is the wrong man fighting the wrong enemy in the wrong country. 

A Legacy Bush Can Control: Every president issues “midnight regulations” in the twilight of the term. In the waning days of the Bush administration expect a wave of them. A look at why Bush's architect is a perfect match for his presidency. John Dean on understanding the contemporary Republican Party: Authoritarians have taken control. What's Not The Matter With Kansas: A fratricidal GOP and a rapidly expanding Democratic electorate have made the one-time red state politically competitive. Is "Voter Purging" a legal way for Republicans to swing elections? Now the Department of Justice, like the Republican Party, wants fewer registered voters in 2008. Who’s Your Daddy Now? Lost, stubborn, and surly, the GOP is rapidly rebranding itself as the bad-dad party. But can the Dems finally ditch their soft-mommy rep? Linda Hirshman on why Democrats should embrace the philosophy of Liberalism

From Monthly Review, Who said Marx wasn't green? No amount of "tinkering" with the system will solve things, and, in fact, "tinkering" will increase the speed of the slide toward ecological catastrophe. Personal Choices Won't Save the Planet: All our individual efforts to limit our eco-footprints won't amount to squat if they aren't accompanied by major political action. A review of Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. Tim Flannery reviews Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming by Bjorn Lomborg. Geoengineering is the Future: The deliberate modification of the Earth's environment will receive ever more attention as the steep and unavoidable costs of mitigating carbon emissions become more obvious. Here's why. 

From NYRB, They're Micromanaging Your Every Move: A review of The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid; Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich; and The Culture of the New Capitalism by Richard Sennett. Don't blame Wal-Mart, we're getting what we ask for: A review of Supercapitalism The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life by Robert Reich (and more and two interviews). The stock market is just a single indicator that often has little do with the health of a very large economy. Wall Street is not Main Street. Wherever there are problems, people look for villains. The subprime mortgage crisis is a case in point. Supply Side Bait and Switch: Politicians promoting the sham of supply-side economics are foolish, but their economic advisors should know better. Globalism and Barbie's behind: The posterior of America's favorite doll can teach your kids a lot about economics.

From ZNet, an article on The New Atheism. From Christianity Today, an article on The Future of Atheism: Damned if you don't, damned if you don't. A new issue of New English Review is out, including Theodore Dalrymple on How To Hate The Non-Existent. Daydream believers: As the numbers of artificial belief systems boom and clamour for recognition, are they close to collapsing beneath the weight of their own foolishness? Getting Religion: A review of Divided by God: America’s Church-State Problem—and What We Should Do About It, by Noah Feldman. Prisons Purging Books on Faith From Libraries: Chaplains in federal prisons have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials. Legal groups putting God on the docket: Christian advocacy is flourishing as new law field for faithful. Ousted Alabama "Commandments Judge" Roy Moore is waging war on Church-State separation - - and you won't believe the far-out folks who are helping him.

From Parrhesia, Friedrich Balke (Cologne): Restating Sovereignty: On America’s Regaining the Old Sense of the Political; Clare Blackburne (King's): (Up) Against the (In) Between: Interstitial Spatiality in Genet and Derrida; Patrick French (King's): Friendship, Assymetry, Sacrifice: Bataille and Blanchot; Marguerite La Caze (Queensland): Sartre Integrating Ethics and Politics: The Case of Terrorism; Nina Power (Middlesex): Philosophy's Subjects; new horizons in mathematics as a philosophical condition: An interview with Alain Badiou; a review of Husserl: A Guide for the Perplexed by Matheson Russell; and a review of The Aesthetic Paths of Philosophy: Presentation in Kant, Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy by Alison Ross. A review of Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant's Critical Philosophy. A review of Husserl by David Woodruff Smith.

E. O. Wilson on how the Encyclopedia of Life, a new project in biology, should make it possible to discover the remaining 90 percent of species in perhaps a single human generation. Girls Gone Boys Gone Wild: Altering a mouse's sense of smell can seriously mess with its gender identity. Behavioral Science Turns to Dogs for Answers: For a long time, domesticated dogs were seen as just the slobbering, dumbed-down ancestor of the wild wolf. Dogs, though, have learned a few tricks of their own through the millennia — and can teach us a lot about ourselves. It's no secret that we humans are smarter than our primate relatives. But exactly how are we smarter? Higher social skills are distinctly human, toddler and ape study reveals. Will super smart artificial intelligences keep humans around as pets? And other questions from the Singularity Summit.

Glenn A. Davis (ASES): Irving Babbitt, the Moral Imagination, and Progressive Education. For forging higher ideas in young minds, there's nothing like the classics of Western civilization. Eric Foner on Changing History: After 9/11, the history we teach should be a conversation with the entire world, not a complacent dialogue with ourselves. This year, a record number of student activists have been found guilty of terrorist crimes. As the new academic year begins, a look at how universities are dealing with the challenge. Many academics on the supposedly progressive side do not admit that everything they value is intolerable to radical Islam. A tenure bid by Nadia Abu El-Haj, a professor at Barnard, has put Columbia once again at the center of a struggle over scholarship on the Middle East. An interview with Norman Finkelstein, who resigned from DePaul . Ban the bombers? Freedom to Teach: Michael Berube writes about why the AAUP’s new statement on freedom in the classroom matters so much.