From The Nation, an article on John Templeton's Universe: The right-wing philanthropist is pushing the phony science of positive psychology to numb Americans into smiley-faced acquiescence to the status quo. When Malkin Attacks! The right-wing blogosphere whipped itself into a self-righteous frenzy bashing a 12-year-old on S-CHIP—too bad they got everything. Who's afraid of Naomi Wolf? The American intellectual and feminist icon does not believe the Bush Administration is run by Nazis, but she is convinced it uses classic Nazi methodology and that the world should be alarmed. A review of The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization by Diana West. From Taki's Top Drawer, an article on Hitchens unhinged, on Jeffrey Epstein, pervert, and on the neocons and Charles Maurras. From Reason, an article on the culture war on facts: Are you entitled to your own truth?
From Le Monde diplomatique, how to pay for a free press: In a media world with one eye on the bottom line and the other on the official line, it’s getting harder to publish or broadcast anything that doesn’t promise huge sales and attendant profits, and that doesn’t say or show what is approved. But it’s still possible (and more). An interview with The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg on Bush, blogging, and what's wrong with The Washington Post. The conservative betrayed: Russell Baker reviews The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years of Reporting in Washington by Robert D. Novak. Rupert Murdoch, closet liberal: Fox News President Roger Ailes outs his boss as a Republican-hater.
A review of Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East by Juan Cole. The forgotten reigns that followed Napoleon: A review of The Perilous Crown: France Between Revolutions 1814-1848 by Munro Price (and more). Here's a map of John Bull bombarding France with bum-boats. An interview with John V. C. Nye, author of War, Wine, and Taxes: The Political Economy of Anglo-French Trade, 1689-1900. From TLS, the thinginess of history: A review of Making History: Antiquaries in Britain 1707–2007. The first chapter form The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order, 1860-1900 by Duncan Bell. A review of Hubbub: Filth, Noise & Stench in England by Emily Cockayne and London: After a Fashion by Alistair O'Neill. The introduction to Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain by Michael Bentley. A review of The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 by Piers Brendon. The introduction to The Great Naval Game: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire by Jan Ruger. A review of A History of Modern Germany 1800-2000 by Martin Kitchen. A review of Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy by Eric D. Weitz. A review of The People's State: East German Society from Hitler to Honecker by Mary Fulbrook. An excerpt and a timeline from The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor.
From The Economist, an article on why executive stock options are bad for business. Harold James on the perils of financial historicism. From The New Yorker, the blow-up artist: Can Victor Niederhoffer survive another market crisis? A look at the five biggest hedge fund players and just where these new “masters of the universe” spend their billions. The first chapter from Plight of the Fortune Tellers: Why We Need to Manage Financial Risk Differently by Riccardo Rebonato. The introduction to From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession by Rakesh Khurana.
From The Hindu, a review of Religion and the Human Prospect by Alexander Saxton. A review of A Secular Age by Charles Taylor. A review of The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea by Remi Brague. A review of God? Major Evidence and Arguments for and Against God by Chris DeSalvo. Lee Siegel on why militant atheists are wrong: A flurry of literary attacks on God may also be closing the book on imagination. From Secular Web, was Christianity too improbable to be false? A review of World Christianities, c. 1815-c. 1914 and World Christianities, c. 1914-c. 2000. Jesus Christ Superhero: How characters from the Bible were converted to kid-friendly plastic. A review of The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (and more).
From The New York Observer, hey, hey we're the Manques! People say we manque around! The imitative triumph of giddy second-raters can be addictive and definitive! So what if you’re not great—you can always pretend. From Vanity Fair, The Simple Life, White House Edition: From the slapstick genius of his China trip to his spitball contests with the press, Bush has the makings of a major reality-TV star. With some image tweaking, James Wolcott proposes, a 24-hour "Prez Channel" could turn the administration's dismal ratings around; and the Man in the Irony Mask: Stephen Colbert has zinged the cultural establishment with his faux-news hit, rarely breaking out of egomaniacal character. A review of I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert (and more and more).
From TNR, Michael Ignatieff reviews Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur by Ben Kiernan (and more and an excerpt). The essence of group conflict: Eruptions of open conflict between ethnic or religious groups have a lot to do with the way communities are geographically distributed. From The Weekly Standard, a demographic theory of war: Population, power, and the slightly weird ideas of Gunnar Heinsohn. Patricia Sullivan, a professor at the University of Georgia, has devised a simple yet effective statistical formula that correctly predicts the outcome of 78% of the conflicts plugged into it. From the Journal of Intercultural Communication, Christopher Coyne (HSC): Culture, Common Knowledge and Post-Conflict Reconstruction.
The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize goes to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". Here is the website for the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and the website for the IPCC. There is also the Draft Gore campaign, and the Snopes.com search of Al Gore urban legends. The prize caps a year of highs for Gore, but "brace yourself for a hurricane of heated rhetoric". And check out RealClimate, "a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists".
From Sign and Sight, nonchalance out of the depths: An article on Benjamin Biolay, France's new Serge Gainsbourg. From American Heritage, a look at what went wrong with Disney’s Worlds Fair; and an essay on the Disney utopia that never was. From Sky Flivver to Hydropolis: What happened to the science-fiction future? Close encounters of the fourth kind: In the age of the internet and instant communications, aliens have become irrelevant. An interview with Jessica Cutler, author of The Washingtonienne. A review of Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing in on Internet Sexploration by Audacia Ray. A Social History of the Bra: One hundred years ago, Vogue coined the term "brassiere" and launched a billion-dollar industry that changed the way women dress forever. A review of Worth the Detour: A History of the Guidebook by Nicholas T. Parsons. A review of The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage by Jamie Benidickson. The introduction to On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters by Matthew Desmond.
Life and soul for the party: Hu Jintao’s fixation on the communist party as the sole institution with the standing, the ability and the right to govern China remains unshakeable. Can traditional Chinese religions help contemporary China clean up its environmental mess? A top Chinese official seems to think so. Even if Seoul is willing to spend a fortune to revive North Korea’s economy, the cult of Kim Jong Il may make it impossible. Look who’s Mr. Fixit for a fraught age: China helped George W. Bush on North Korea. Can it do the same on Iran? Bush recently announced tougher sanctions on Burma’s brutal military government, hoping to pressure the ruling junta to stand aside. But a closer look at Burma’s major exports reveals why this strategy is likely to fail. Why Burma was crushed: We are failing to see the seismic changes that authoritarian capitalism is bringing the world.