From Japan Focus, Reins of Liberation: An article on geopolitics and ethnopolitics of China, Central Asia and the Asia Pacific. They loom, desolately incandescent, over the city that was. Glowing spikes claw at the sky, reaching ever upward, wilfully ignorant of what lies beneath. This is modern Shanghai. From Defense News, an essay on US and Chinese nuclear and missile development, and the risk of accidental nuclear war.

Why Japan won't save the whales: The Japanese government is expanding its whale catches and winning international support with pseudoscience. It's all about me: Have today's Japanese lost their empathy? Thomas Palley on how Japan fuels global financial instability.

Buy American! China does. The Saudis too. Loaded with dollars, they are buying U.S. assets. Is that good? A review of The Emerging Markets Century by Antoine van Agtmael. Design that solves problems for the world’s poor: The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is honoring inventors dedicated to helping the billions of people living on less than $2 a day. "Food Force", the world’s first humanitarian video game for children, is celebrating the launch of three new language versions.

From The Economist, a question of life and death: The struggle between “pro-choice” and “pro-life” forces around the world. Johann Hari on the tricky question of Gordon Brown's God. The New Alliance, a new political party challenging the role of religion in public life, has been an instant hit in Denmark. The pope's half-hearted apology to indigenous groups in the Americas shows he has a long way to go in understanding history. For a man with such strong convictions, Pope Benedict has shown a surprising penchant for verbal missteps. Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to expand permission to use the pre-1960s Latin Mass will be hyped beyond all recognition, because doing so serves the purposes of both conservatives and liberals within the church, as well as the press.

A review of Full Circle: Death and Resurrection in Canadian Conservative Politics by Bob Plamondon (and an excerpt) pdf. An article on the perfect slogan for Toronto, coined by a citizen genius. They Came, They Toured, They Offended: It may be time to retire the term "ugly American". When it comes to tourists, bad manners may be a global phenomenon. To many critics, US embassies are like the US itself: remote, foreboding and impenetrable. Andrew J. Bacevich lost his son to a war he opposes. They were both doing our duty.

From Public Opinion Pros, a special issue on terrorism and the media. A review of If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear by Melinda Henneberger. Hillary Clinton’s competence-based campaign has been stealthily making progress. But two bios put her persona back in the spotlight.

From New York, five teams compete to make Governors Island an urban paradise. Only one will survive; and The Vandalism Vandal: Who’s been splashing the city’s most prized graffiti? The hunt for the radical, young and possibly lovelorn conceptual-Marxist street-art supervillain. Howard Kurtz on Celeb Rag Shocker: Us's Exposé Exposé! And look out Paris, Britney: Perez is watching you

From The Wilson Quarterly, a review of The Case for Literature by Gao Xingjian. The Modernist who hated modernity: A review of Henry James Goes to Paris by Peter Brooks. A master analyst of his times, and of the human heart, it's an ongoing mystery why Philip Roth, America's best novelist, has yet to receive his rightful laurels. Frank Rich reviews Falling Man by Don DeLillo. Is DeLillo equating survivors of 9/11 with terrorists? A debate on Falling Man (and a review).

Newt Gingrich's new novel is an alternative history of the war — World War II, that is. But are there contemporary lessons to be learned from rewriting the past? What’s so funny about that? Even when it wasn’t explicitly about the Holocaust, Primo Levi’s fiction was haunted by his time at Auschwitz. More on A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Stories of Primo Levi.

The responsibility of the novelist: Samir El-Youssed, Mohsin Hamid and Gabriel Vasquez discuss complexity in fiction at Hay. A successful journalist resigns to pursue a new life - and an ambitious reading list: A review of Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna.

From First Things, if the Ministry of Truth had devoted their full attention to obliterating the memory of Harry Sylvester, his elimination from the public consciousness could not have been more total; Ross Douthat on Stephen King’s American Apocalypse; and lots of novel readers—from the highest brow to the lowest—nod politely when the science-fiction writer Gene Wolfe is mentioned. Both the Soldier cycle and the Book of the New Sun series reveal the problem and the promise of Gene Wolfe. A law professor's first legal thriller hits its mark: A review of Scott Gerber's The Law Clerk.

If you find much of life and politics so absurd as to be hilarious, you need to read Christopher Buckley. Words that once shocked and surprised have become standard expressions, but do we really need to use the F-word in every sentence? Seeking Signs of Literary Life in Iran: Forget reading Lolita in Iran. In the officially vetted edition of Madame Bovary, even adultery is off limits. A review of Karaoke: the global phenomenon by Zhou Xun and Francesca Tarocco. Land of the rising daughters: A review of Kickboxing Geishas by Veronica Chambers. A review of Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America by Linda Furiya.

A review of The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love, and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop. Judd Apatow, the director of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and now “Knocked Up”, makes comedies about saving yourself for marriage and staying together for the sake of the kids. An interview with Rebecca Mead, author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. A work of genius has more in common with its brilliant opposite than it does with a dozen dull siblings. Witness the following unlikely pair, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Novel in Cartoons by Jeff Kinney and How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor. And misery loves comedy: Grief takes on many forms, though it’s rare to hear about a sudden addiction to comedy clubs and Seth Meyers’s political impersonations

From Mother Jones, a message to you, Rudy Giuliani: How the zero-tolerance policies of "America's Mayor" set us up for the Patriot Act and Guantanamo. A review of Ghost Plane: the inside story of the CIA’s secret rendition programme. Pearl's wisdom: A new film about the murder of the American journalist raises the question: why doesn't more mainstream culture delineate radical Islam?

From TNR, who's afraid of Tariq Ramadan? Paul Berman reviews To Be a European Muslim; Islam, the West, and the Challenges of Modernity; Western Muslims and the Future of Islam; and In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad; the cult of the Washington whistle-blower: Whistle-blowing has become a full-fledged personal identity—a scene with its own specialized lawyers, therapists, 40-odd advocacy groups, a publishing imprint, swag, and even a timeless philosophy; and how energy independence threatens the environment: Bradford Plumer on how Big Coal cozied up to Democrats, and a look at how the Bushies killed the EPA's clean-up program.

Robert J. Samuelson on The Case for Gouging: Higher gas prices may be the best way to slow global warming. Even supporters of alternative energy agree that the easiest way to cut carbon emissions and air pollution is to focus more on efficiency. When it comes to energy sources, nuclear fusion used to be the wallflower. But now, scientists are working to see if it could be a safe and environmentally-friendly way of producing electricity. How to turn global warming into a tourist attraction: Celebrities are flocking to a small town in Greenland – helping to accelerate the very climate-change process they've come to witness.

From FT, Gideon Rachman on Obama and the comforting myth of political consensus. In defence of the rich, sort of: Criticising candidates who fight for the poor while enjoying a life of personal excess misses the reality of American politics. Ezra Klein on giving bigger government a chance: For too long, we've bought the idea that government has failed us. For the record, it isn’t until the fourth page of the introduction to his new memoir, No Excuses, that Robert Shrum begins making excuses. Party Unfaithful: Jeffrey Goldberg on the Republican implosion. The Conservative Mind: Peter Berkowitz on how the American right is a cauldron of debate; the left isn't. From 3:AM, The Last Revolution in Town: An interview with Christopher Hitchens on the death of that other religion: liberalism.

A review of Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers by Michael Barone. A review of Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. A review of Blood and Thunder: An epic of the American West; Crazy Horse: A Lakota life; and Violence Over the Land: Indians and empires in the early American west. A review of Mencken: The American Iconoclast (and part 2). A review of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. An interview with Thomas Mallon, author of Mrs. Paine’s Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy.

From New York, Cramer vs. Cramer: “Why does everybody hate me?” The Wall Street maniac explains his critics, the market, and himself. A review of The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co. And from The Brookings Institution, an article on economic mobility: Is the American Dream alive and well?

Mark Greenberg (UCLA): Naturalism and Normativity in the Philosophy of Law. John Hasnas (Georgetown): The Depoliticization of Law. Russell Pearce (Fordham): The Legal Profession as a Blue State: Reflections on Public Philosophy, Jurisprudence, and Legal Ethics. Curtis J. Milhaupt and Katharina Pistor (Columbia): Law and Capitalism: What Corporate Crises Reveal About Legal Systems and Economic Development Around the World.

From Dissent, teaching Plato in Palestine: Can philosophy save the Middle East?; and an interview with Sari Nusseibeh, author of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life. A review of Talking India: Ashis Nandy in conversation with Ramin Jahanbegloo.

A review of Robert of Arbrissel: Sex, Sin and Salvation in the Middle Ages. A review of Demonstration and Scientific Knowledge in William of Ockham.  An excerpt from Empires of the Atlantic: World Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830. A review of Wilfred Thesiger: The life of a great explorer. A review of The Silent Deep: The Discovery, Ecology, and Conservation of the Deep Sea by Tony Koslow and  The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian.

From PopMatters, a review of New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory, ed. Gary Hall and Clare Birchall. A review of Impossible Conservatism [Le Conservatisme impossible: Libéraux et réactionnaires en France depuis 1789]. From n+1, Nikil Saval on V., in honor of Memorial Day. From The New Yorker, How I Spent the War: Günter Grass as a recruit in the Waffen S.S.

From New York, Literary Idol: Discussion of, and the engagement in, the unearthing of pleasantly surprising books, including a gimmicky showdown among the city's most promising up-and-comers, and a critic-compiled list of 60 criminally underrated novels, and more. Publishing gets a little less indie: There’s soul searching among the industry’s little guys as Perseus closes two recently acquired imprints. A review of The Little Book of Plagiarism by Richard A. Posner. Atheist authors grapple with believers: Many books decrying religion's negative influence on the world are bestsellers.

Reading the Book of Jim: The co-discoverer of the double helix is making his DNA public, pioneering the personal genome. A review of The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph From the Frontiers of Brain Science. From Wired, "Hacking My Kid's Brain": An article on how a child's neurons were rewired; and researchers claim to have developed the first mathematical model for creating invisibility simulations on a computer. What is it about nitrogen that makes it so eminently employable, so readily and indispensably incorporated into the cell’s premier laboring masses? From Scientific American, A.D. 100 Billion, Big Bang goes bye-bye: Cosmic expansion may leave astronomers of the far future with no hint of the big bang that started it all.

From Governing, data storage is the backbone of today’s Internet economy. But are power-hungry server farms worth wooing for economic development? Jonathan Freedland on how the internet will revolutionise the very meaning of politics. And order is in the Eye of the Tiger: An excerpt from Everything Is Miscellaneous