From The Nation, Stephen Holmes reviews Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson. Michael Lind reviews Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance — and Why They Fall by Amy Chua and Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors by Charles S. Maier. David Gordon reviews World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism by Norman Podhoretz (and more). David Ignatius on the dignity agenda: Dignity, not democracy, is the issue that vexes billions of people around the world. Democratosis: Why can’t we stop our (sometimes hypocritical) preaching to the world about democracy? Other people’s dictators: Americans of all political stripes seem less certain that autocratic rulers – at least those of other countries – are such a bad thing. What Iraq and Burma have in common: The champions of democracy often share an overly romantic view of how quickly it can flower in hostile soil.
From American Scientist, not just a pantomime: A review of Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals about the Mind by Margalit Fox and The Gestural Origin of Language by David F. Armstrong and Sherman E. Wilcox. Tracking the evolution of language: Researchers discover that irregular verbs change in a predictable manner — just like genes and living organisms. Steven Pinker caused outrage by arguing that everything from adultery to altruism has its roots in natural selection — his work on irregular verbs still provokes hate mail. We are what we say: More on The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, and more and more and more on the magic of metaphors. What the F*? A look at why we curse. Pinker knows what’s going on inside your head, jogs his way around America and Britain, swears on air, joins his partner on a tandem, and delights in using the word "gobsmacked". From Salon, Steven Pinker and Rebecca Goldstein, America's brainiest couple, confess that belonging to one of America's most reviled subcultures doesn't mean they believe scientists can explain everything.
From The New Yorker, if you can make it here: James Surowiecki reviews The Warhol Economy by Elizabeth Currid. From The New York Times Magazine, a special issue on City Life in the Second Guilded Age, including The Capital of Capital No More? New York has reigned for years as the world’s financial center, but now it had better get used to sharing the wealth. From Economic Principals, a review of The Confiscation of American Prosperity: From Right-Wing Extremism and Economic Ideology to the Next Great Depression by Michael Perelman. A review of The Big Con by Jonathan Chait. From Buzzflash, an interview with Paul Krugman on The Conscience of a Liberal (and another interview and more). Michael Kinsley reviews The Age of Turbulence. What is one to make of the criticisms of Greenspan’s tenure at the Federal Reserve? Brad DeLong investigates. Only a recession makes sense: Economic growth is a political sedative, snuffing out protest as it drives inequality—it is time we gave it up.
A review of For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War by Melvyn P. Leffler (and more). A review of The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam (more and more and more and more and more and more and more). An interview with Kasey S. Pipes, author of Ike’s Final Battle: The Road to Little Rock and the Challenge of Equality. A review of Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America by Burton Hersh. From The Nation, a review of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 by Mark Moyar and A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam by Lewis Sorley. A review of The My Lai Massacre in American History and Memory by Kendrick Oliver.
From First Science, where physics and mysticism don't meet: Are all things in the universe connected to each other? Massimo Pigliucci on why the problems with exploring the borderlands between science and philosophy have deeper roots than just administrative bean counting. A review of Scientific Perspectivism by Ronald N. Giere. From Seed, Chris Mooney on how the next president will control a $150 billion annual research budget, 200,000 scientists, and 38 major research institutions and all their related labs. This president will shape human endeavors in space, bioethics debates, and the energy landscape of the 21st century. And you thought the Bush administration was bad: A look at why science's worst enemy is corporate funding. From OJR, can science blogs save science journalism? Ig Nobels honor crazy science with a point: Spoof prizes recognize research on gay bomb, hamster jet lag and more.
From the Kettering Review, Jane Mansbridge (Harvard): Self-Interest in Deliberation. Andreas Kalyvas (New School) and Ira Katznelson (Columbia): The Republic of the Moderns: Paine's and Madison's Novel Liberalism. A review of Natural Law Liberalism by Christopher Wolfe. The introduction to A Philosophy of Political Myth by Chiara Bottici. The introduction to The Psychology of Freedom by Thomas Pink. Alec Stone Sweet (Yale): The Juridical Coup d’Etat and the Problem of Authority (and responses). Chris Achen and Larry Bartels (Princeton): Tumbling Down into a Democratical Republick. Joseph Grcic (ISU): The Electoral College and Democratic Equality. The more the merrier? Emmanuelle Auriol Robert J. Gary-Bobo on choosing the optimal number of representatives in modern democracies.
From The New Yorker, Alex Ross on the well-tempered Web: The Internet may be killing the pop CD, but it’s helping classical music, and from The Nation, a review of Ross' The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. From NYRB, the best book on Mozart: A review of W.A. Mozart by Hermann Abert. From Christianity Today, a review of Nietzsche and Music by Georges Liebert; and music in God's world: An excerpt from Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music by Jeremy S. Begbie. Keeping the faith: Waiting for the second coming of a rock god takes true devotion. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way: Syd Barrett's physical presence/mental absence would have undermined Pink Floyd’s American tour, but Barrett was a product of his time, and fittingly, the audience in San Francisco was receptive to the vision of a man decomposing on stage. A review of There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of ’60s Counter-culture by Peter Doggett. The lonely state of rock music: Contemporary artists are turning away from social commentary to make soundtracks for navel-gazing.
From National Journal, right vote, wrong president: Lawmakers who originally supported the war weren't wrong to authorize the use of force in Iraq. They were wrong to trust that President Bush would use that power wisely; and shoot/don't shoot? The kinds of aggressive acts that win battles for the U.S. Military in Iraq can all too easily slide into the kinds of aggressive acts that lead to war crimes. From LRB, it’s the oil: The US may be "stuck" precisely where Bush/Cheney et al want it to be, which is why there is no "exit strategy". What can we still achieve in Iraq? Reconciliation's off the table, but there are other decent ways out. If addressing the nation’s moral obligation entails something other than sending someone else’s kid to fight a misbegotten war, then we are not especially interested. That’s the dirty little secret embedded in the argument of those who say we should continue on our current course.
John Richardson befriended Picasso and has dedicated much of his life to a magisterial biography of the artist. The third volume is about to be published, with a fourth promised. But at 83, will the great obsessive finish his life's work? To every thing, there is a season: Why the fall brings melancholy art. How old masters are helping study of global warming: Paintings of striking sunsets show effect of huge volcanic eruptions on climate. My kid could paint that: Does Marla Olmstead's work belong in a museum or on the fridge? (and more). Whatever the artistic import, images of naked children are now viewed by society exclusively through a sexual filter.
Avery F. Gordon (UCSB): The Disasters of War. From Animus, a special issue on war, including Wayne Hankey (Dalhousie): 9/11 and the History of Philosophy; Floy E. Doull on Islam and the Principle of Freedom; Paul Epstein on Aristophanes on War: Acharnians; and Holly Pike (SWGC): A Woman's War. From 49th Parallel, a special issue on US Hyper-Power; and a review of How America Goes to War by Frank Vandiver. A review of War and Liberty: An American Dilemma: 1790 to the Present by Geoffrey R. Stone. From Monthly Review, a pair of articles on a new form of state: War and criminal law. From EnterText, a special issue on war and society. From Electronic Book Review, a review of The Age of the World Target: Self-Referentiality in War, Theory and Comparative Work by Rey Chow.