From Humanitas, Bruce P. Frohnen on American Culture: A Story. From The New Criterion, "The literary life" at 25: On the state of the literary life a quarter-century after Joseph Epstein wrote on this subject for the inaugural issue. From Slate, On the Road Again: Friends and scholars recall the man behind the myth of Jack Kerouac (and more by Meghan O'Rourke and Walter Kirn). From The Believer, The Late Style of Thomas McGuane: The novelist’s language has become more direct, his terrain more realistic, and his comedy less over-the-top. Where will he go next? 

The (Re)Birth of the Classics: A review of Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic by Andrew Dalby; and Sailing From Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World by Colin Wells. A review of Penser sans concepts: fonction de l'epopee guerriere, by Florence Goyet, on how martial epics from three different cultures (the Homeric Iliad, the medieval French Chanson de Roland, and the medieval Japanese Hogen and Heiji monogatari) offer their audiences the intellectual tools to assess complex political situations. From The New Yorker, if you haven’t yet read the Divine Comedy—you know who you are—now is the time, because Robert and Jean Hollander have just completed a beautiful translation of the astonishing fourteenth-century poem.

Divine inspiration: The Italian writer Dante had a huge influence on British art, yet it took us 400 years to discover him. What’s so good about British architecture? Its champions claim it’s the best in the world but the reality is dull, corporate and profoundly uninspired. Britain's historic buildings — some of the jewels in our architectural crown - - are crumbling, not because of a lack of money, but because of a shortage of traditional skills.

From Foreign Policy, Robert Reich on How Capitalism is Killing Democracy. From The Economist, a review of Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang. A review of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein. The Wealth of Nations: Analysis of the connections among different types of economic activities explains why some countries succeed, and others fail, in diversifying their economies. "Occupy, resist, produce": Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis report on how Argentina's worker-run factories have nurtured a powerful social movement, while seamstress Matilda Adorno explains how a dispute over pay became a political struggle. 

From In These Times, an article on The Trial (And Errors) of Hugo Chavez. Crazy like a fox, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has strange ways and a purpose, too. A review of Hugo Chavez by Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka and Hugo! by Bart Jones (and more). From Monthly Review, an essay on Venezuela as a good example of the bad Left of Latin America. A wannabe Chávez short of oil: Rafael Correa tries his own version of "21st century socialism".

From Vanity Fair, Going After Gore: For the first time, Gore and his family talk about the effect of the press attacks on his campaign—and about his future plans—to the author, who finds that many in the media are re-assessing their 2000 coverage. From National Journal, the '08 campaign beat is a never-ending soft-news story, punctuated now and then by tiny bursts of hard news. Does it seem like there's a new Republican scandal in the news every single week? Well, that may be because there is. The Most Feared Man on the Hill? For gay blogger Mike Rogers, Craig's resignation is just the latest on his list.

From Time, A Time To Serve: In a changing society facing all manner of new challenges, volunteers are helping bind America together. Why the U.S. and the next President should make a new commitment to national service; and National Service? Puh-lease. Michael Kinsley thinks the call for compulsory national service is naive. What we really need is better free-market capitalism.   Good Intentions, Bad Idea: It's not easy to knock H.R. 1671 and S. 960, the House and Senate bills that would establish the U.S. Public Service Academy. Political Engagement 101: Research suggests that political engagement can be taught. Targeting Deliberative Democracy: A review of Diana C. Mutz's Hearing the Other Side and Andrew Perrin's Citizen Speak

A review of Activism, Inc: How the Outsourcing of Grassroots Campaigns is Strangling Progressive Politics in America by Dana R Fisher. An interview with Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. To surprise and dissent: At Heathrow, a potent demonstration of the new tactics of protest (and more).  Passport, or carte blanche to raise hell? An increasing number of activists are blending tourism with aggressive advocacy abroad. In the process, they may be taking their liberty for granted. 

E.J. Dionne Jr. on The Liberal Moment: The American left has its greatest political opening since the 60s, and its greatest philosophical one since the 30s. Mutiny on the Manifesto: Spineless scalawags are sabotaging the most promising leftist doctrine in decades. Don't let them. The guilt-free liberal: It's hard to sympathise with former liberals who completely misrepresent liberalism. They need a broader outlook. What's left, right and wrong? Although the terms of political debate have shifted over the last 25 years, some core values have remained the same.

From Dissent, Squeezing Public Education: History and ideology gang up in New Orleans. From In These Times, an essay on restoring classroom justice. On career-focused education: Starting high school? Aligning studies with interests could reduce dropout rates; or keep options open: Give students broad education, not narrow vocational tracks. Under police guard, about 60 pupils at New York's first Arabic bilingual school turned up for classes on Tuesday amid accusations the institution is a potential breeding ground for Islamic extremists. Snips, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails: There's finally proof that boys do ruin schools for girls.

A review of Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard Kahlenberg (and an interview from Inside Higher Ed). Teacher Credentials Don't Matter for Student Achievement: Many American school districts pay teachers with master's degrees substantially more, even though a number of studies suggest that having a master's degree has little if any effect on student achievement. A World Without Teacher Unions? Despite the myriad criticisms of teacher unions, their abolition would be a huge loss for supporters of public education — and for the American labor movement as a whole. Back to School: Could teachers become the new lawyers

From The Chronicle, DePaul University has canceled Norman G. Finkelstein's courses, taken away his office, and put him on leave, but the controversial political scientist plans to hold classes, even it means going to jail; and Tenure by Plebiscite: Competing petitions on a Web site have entangled the tenure bid of a Barnard College anthropologist in Israeli-Palestinian politics. The American Psychological Association has adopted stricter standards for its members' involvement in interrogations of suspected terrorists, but critics say the rules are still too lax.