From FT, this time it’s personal V.S. Naipaul’s prose is elegant and spare. One of the best writers living today, why does he allow his pettiness to get in the way? A review of A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling. From Christianity Today, a review of In a Cardboard Belt! Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage by Joseph Epstein. From The Mises Institute, an essay on The Great Capitalist Novel. A review of Heroes: The Champions of Our Literary Imagination by Bruce Meyer. From Reason, an article on Robert Heinlein at 100: How the science fiction master created the template for our looser, hipper, more pluralist world. One-Hit Wonders: What’s a superhero worth these days, anyway? We may soon be able to scale vertical walls like Spider-man thanks to scientists. What other superhero characteristics are achievable for mere mortals?

From NYRB, the dreamlike paintings of the German artist Neo Rauch are as mystifying and enigmatic as those of any artist at work today, although his figurative scenes, carnivalesque in their rich, surprising colors and tricky shifts from the real to the fantastic, are also among the likeliest to grab the attention of twelve-year-olds. From Forward, an article on Pissarro’s Unquiet Pastoral. A review of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, ed. Sherry Turkle.  And God created the artist... or was it the other way around? Ever since the dawn of civilisation, artists have been in competition with the gods. The hand-made tale: In cultural terms, authenticity is all-important. But it has always been a tricky notion, a blurry concept even more complex in the contemporary art world. Culture, done right, can be a cash cow for cities: A review of The Warhol Economy by Elizabeth Currid. 

Inspiring modernity: Does Toronto have a fashion scene? Has the Canadian city once described as "New York run by the Swiss" and "Canada’s Big Apple" finally outclassed its American counterpart? The spread of the fashion bug: Fashion and infectious diseases have a lot in common. It’s the same bug, transmitted from New York to London to Milan to Paris, now spreading exponentially; and new notions of what is luxurious are not about brands or even money, but about experience, rarity and wonder: An excerpt from Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre by Dana Thomas (and more). The Big Brand Theory: More and more young designers are gambling on the mass market. But is it all risk and no profit? The Knockoff Won’t Be Knocked Off: With media coverage of fashion so broad and instantaneous, consumers have been conditioned to seek out the latest styles — and they expect more for less.

From Democratiya, a review of War Law: Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict by Michael Byers and Of War and Law by David Kennedy. A review of An Instinct for War: Scenes from the Battlefields of History by Roger Spiller. A review of The Eye of Command by Kimberly Kagan. A review of Making War to Keep Peace by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick. A review of Where War Lives by Paul Watson. The first chapter from While Dangers Gather: Congressional Checks on Presidential War Powers by William G. Howell and Jon C. Pevehouse. A review of In the Common Defense : National Security Law for Perilous Times by James E. Baker. A review of The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration by Jack L. Goldsmith (and more and more and an excerpt and an excerpt).

Ashton B. Carter (Harvard), Michael M. May and William J. Perry (Stanford): The Day After: Action Following a Nuclear Blast in a U.S. City. A review of Annihilation From Within: The Ultimate Threat to Nations by Fred Charles Ikle. Why have some states sought nuclear weapons whereas others have shunned them? The introduction to Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East by Etel Solingen. An interview with Harry Helms, author of Top Secret Tourism: Your Travel Guide to Germ Warfare Laboratories, Clandestine Aircraft Bases and Other Places in the United States You’re Not Supposed to Know About. From Der Spiegel, an interview with Mohamed ElBaradei: "We are moving rapidly towards an abyss". A review of Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon by P.D. Smith. A review of Incendiary Circumstances: A Chronicle of the Turmoil of Our Times by Amitav Ghosh.

From GQ, Donald Rumsfeld, the much maligned former secretary of defense, talks about his time in office—and insists he has nothing to apologize for; and Colin Powell was pushed aside in the run-up to war, but as he tells Walter Isaacson, he, too, bears some of the blame. Who disbanded the Iraqi Army? And why was nobody held accountable? From TNR, finally, it all makes sense! An article on the important Iraq reports summarized. What Congress needs to ask Petraeus and Crocker: If we're staying in Iraq, we need to know why. The Real Message? We're Screwed: Forget Petraeus. It's Ambassador Crocker's glum assessment that made an impact. From National Journal, with America distracted in Iraq and deeply divided at home, some experts see the current atmosphere as unusually ripe for strategic surprises

From Democracy, After Iraq: A Symposium: The invasion and occupation of Iraq have profoundly changed the entire region. Once U.S. troops do come home, what comes next? What should American strategy be in the Middle East? Planning for Defeat: How and when should the U.S. leave Iraq? George Packer investigates. Washington's serious stars: US foreign policy experts who got the Iraq war badly wrong are still somehow holding sway. Can lobbyists stop the war? Conference calls and e-mail messages to Congress have mostly replaced antiwar demonstrations and street theater. But it’s not clear if that makes for a more effective protest movement. From American Heritage, a look at how Iran and Iraq made peace—and America lost. The Myth of AQI: Fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq is the last big argument for keeping U.S. troops in the country. But the military's estimation of the threat is alarmingly wrong. A review of The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual.

A review of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush by Robert Draper. A review of Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches by John Dean. Republicans do not need to debate who is conservative enough. They need to argue about what conservatism is. Conservatism as a philosophy no longer produces ready-made answers to the quandaries that face the country or the voters. America the Ugly: Norman Podhoretz on the politics of the left. A review of The Fall-Out: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence by Andrew Anthony. Paul Starr on why red scare attacks on liberalism are red herrings. Breaking the Game: Politics might just be a game, but it's still broken. Ideology is back with a vengeance, and psychologists are willing to study it, even if sociologists and political scientists are still reticent. A study suggests that some political divides may be hard-wired (and more).

Is there anything good about men? A look at how culture exploits men. Sensitivity's slippery slope: On the absurd overtures bowing down to men of violence. Why men should be included in abortion discussion: Locking men out of conversations about abortion often comes at a great expense. An interview with Lisa Jean Moore, author of Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man's Most Precious Fluid. Not Just for Erections: On the 15th anniversary of the little pill that changed sex lives around the world, a look at Viagra's many other uses. Over the last six years, hundreds of teenage boys have been expelled or felt compelled to leave the polygamous settlement that straddles Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. Thong politics: The history of shortsighted laws to control young people's underpants. Us Against Phlegm The quest to discover why men spit so much. Ptooey!

From The New Humanist, a review of The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong. An interview with Robert Alter, editor of The Book of Psalms. A review of Decline and Change in Late Antiquity: Religion, Barbarians and their Historiography by J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz. A review of The Early Christian Book by  William E. Klingshirn and Linda Safran. A review of Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers by Ralph McInerny. Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach was the man who brought religion down to earth. When worlds collide: Scientists must not indulge mysticism.  Christopher Brookmyre explains why his latest book is dedicated to Dawkins, Randi and the debunkers of pseudo-science. John Allen Paulos on mathematics, religion and evolution in school curricula. 

From Edge, Country Life in Connecticut: Six scientists find the future in genetic engineering. Michael Sandel on Designer Babies: "There’s a growing debate about what limits, if any, should be put on genetic engineering". Carl Zimmer on The Meaning of Life: We create life, we search for it, we manipulate and revere it. Is it possible that we haven't yet defined the term? Genome 2.0: Detailed explorations of the human genome are showing that individual genes may have complex structures, and that much of what had been called junk DNA is not junk at all. Study finds evidence of genetic response to diet: It is becoming clear that the human genome responds to changes in diet, even though it takes many generations to do so. A review of The Immortalists: Charles Lindhbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever by David M. Friedman (and more).

A review of The New Time Travellers: A Journey to the Frontiers of Physics by David Toomey. From Popular Mechanics, where will the next 50 years in space take us? Leading thinkers from Buzz Aldrin (a robot fan) to Arthur C. Clarke (he wants a sub-orbital joyride) on where they think the half-century ahead could lead. The Mix Tape of the Gods: Contemplation of Voyager’s billion-year future among the stars may make us feel small and the span of our history seem insignificant. Not in my back yard: Private efforts to avert disaster in space. Baptistina's terrible daughters: Astronomers have traced the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs (and more). Digging for Dinos in the Land of Genghis Khan: Can a first-time dinosaur hunter make it through a dig in Mongolia? The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was a wayward fragment from a violent collision in the asteroid belt.