From NYRB, a review of Putin: The Results: An Independent Expert Report by Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov; an interview with George Soros; and a review of books on Michel de Certeau. The simplification dodge: Robert Kuttner reviews 100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States by Michael J. Graetz and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You With the Bill) by David Cay Johnston. A review of Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport by Barbara Smit. The dictators are back, and we don’t care: With the fall of communism and the rise of globalisation in the 1990s, the West believed democracy had won — how wrong it was (and a profile of Robert Kagan, a neocon by any other name). Leon Wieseltier reviews Martin Amis' The Second Plane (and more from Bookforum). A simple and deceptively tricky question: What does a president do? Eric Banks reviews Tintin and the Secret of Literature by Tom McCarthy. Men and their mothers, what's it all about?: Why is the mother-son relationship so complicated? You are the river: An interview with Ken Wilber, on religion, New Age fads and the ultimate reality that traditional science can't touch.

From The Walrus, an article on Latrine Graffiti, Kuwait and Afghanistan. From PopMatters, a review of You Call This the Future? The Greatest Inventions Sci-Fi Imagined and Science Promised by Nick Sagan, Mark Frary, and Andy Walker; and an article on the persistent politics of the Olympic Games. From Newsweek, Barack Obama is a Niebuhr-reading ESPN watcher — the origins of his troubles with the "other" tag. The Natural no more: The greatest mystery in a mystifying campaign — what happened to Bill? Entertainment has come to mean junk, but its definition also should include everything pleasurable that arises from an encounter with literature. From Argentina to Canada to France, Alberto Manguel crossed a planet of stories, a world champion of books (and a review of The Library at Night and a review of The City of Words; and more from Bookforum). From Reason, an interview with entrepreneur Peter Thiel on liberty and scientific progress (and a look at Floating Burning Man, "jurisdictional arbitrage," and other adventures in anarchism). From CQ Politics, here are make or break moments on the presidential campaign trail. A review of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel. Rearming the world: Why nations are suddenly locked in an arms race unseen since the early days of the Cold War.

From the latest issue of Ethics & International Affairs, Philip Coyle and Victoria Samson on Missile Defense Malfunction: Why the Proposed U.S. Missile Defenses in Europe Will Not Work; Mathias Risse (Harvard): On the Morality of Immigration; and a review of Inventing Human Rights: A History by Lynn Hunt. Truth, can you handle it? Better yet, do you know it when you see it? Since World War II, Republicans and Democrats have presided over startlingly different economies. Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector: Presidential candidates are calling for tougher labor standards in trade agreements — but can such standards be enforced? Here's what T. A. Frank learned from his old job. Erik Davis reviews Rudolph Wurlitzer's The Drop Edge of Yonder. Ilan Stavans makes the case of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of the 50 greatest books. 50 best cult books: Critics present a selection of history's most notable cult writing; some is classic; some is catastrophic — all of it had the power to inspire. The future of dirt: Better soil could accomplish some surprising things, but improving it is no small task. What happened to South Africa’s transformation? A review of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC by William Gumede. Young gay rites: Why would gay men in their 20s rush to the altar?

From Scientific American, a cover story on Science 2.0: Is open access science the future? An excerpt from A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion by Catherine L. Albanese. Does language shape what we perceive or are our perceptions pure sensory impressions?  An excerpt from Shut Up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government by Gregory Levey. How Republicans quietly hijacked the Justice Department to swing elections: An excerpt from Loser Take All. An excerpt from Pierre Manent's Democracy without Nations? The Fate of Self-Government in Europe (and part 2). Yona Zeldis McDonough reviews Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves. The hazards of telling the truth: A review of History Lesson: A Race Odyssey by Mary Lefkowitz. Looking at the US often encourages proto-paranoia suppositions and scenarios — and no wonder, reading some of recent books on the American way. The coming hunger: Was Malthus right? Are we getting too numerous to feed ourselves? Technology may have changed the way we obtain music, but as Nick Hornby's High Fidelity reminds us, it can never alter our love affair with the medium. What drove so many Libyans to volunteer as suicide bombers for the war in Iraq? A visit to their hometown—the dead-end city of Darnah.

From CRB, Harvey Mansfield reviews Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: the Making of a Political Philosopher by Eugene R. Sheppard and Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography by Daniel Tanguay; Ramesh Ponnuru reviews The Big Con by Jonathan Chait; a review of The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century; a review of Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age by Kay S. Hymowitz and The Future of Marriage by David Blankenhorn; and a review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin R.C. Gutzman. Patrick McGrath reviews Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project. From Wired, a series of articles on memory and brainpower. Is this green enough? How much are we willing to spend to save the planet? An interview with Daniel Gilbert, Professor Happiness. A review of Posthumous Keats by Stanley Plumly. A review of books on visual politics, and a review of books on Wall Street. New research from a Harvard scholar suggests that Africa's economic woes may have their roots in the slave trade. A review of Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons by Daniel D. Hutto. For two-thirds of its history, Homo sapiens lived exclusively in Africa — only now are the details of that period becoming clear.

From TED, Yochai Benkler on open-source economics. Rules vs. principles: James Surowiecki on regulatory overhauls. Shankar Vedantam on what Obama might learn from Emily Dickinson. George W. Bush as he now appears in a history book: An excerpt from The American President by Kathryn Moore. Is religion a threat to rationality and science? Daniel Dennett and Robert Winston debate. What are the psychological "rules" of bartering, and why things cost $19.95? Ghosts from a small island: At its very heart, Manhattan never really changes. From The Nation, a review of books on the Second Amendment; and Leaving Cheyenne Mountain: Post-cold war America is looking a lot like the former Soviet Union. Lorraine Adams reviews James Meeks' We Are Now Beginning Our Descent. The first chapter from Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District by Peter Moskos (and a blog). From Discover, the thrill-seeker's travel guide: 5 difficult journeys to excite even the bravest science buff; and here are 20 things you didn’t know about recycling. A look at how social networking could kill Web search as we know it. David Gordon reviews Morality and Political Violence by CAJ Coady. The dirty truth about plastic: BPA and other plastics may be as harmful as they are plentiful. The GOP on the verge of imploding: A look at how radicalism has forced the GOP to retreat.

From National Journal, the U.S. Institute of Peace is winning plaudits from both parties and experts worldwide for its efforts.  Stairway to heaven is paved with books: He never left; God, that is — from your local bookstore shelves. Imagine for a moment the Supreme Court had gone the other way in Bush v. Gore in 2000 — we would now be in year eight of the Gore-Lieberman administration. Is the economic implosion of the US a crisis or an opportunity? Two eco-millenarian novelists disagree. Stacey Levine reviews Josh Barkan’s Blind Speed. When David Mamet declared that he was no longer a "brain-dead liberal", he joined the ranks of leftwing writers, from Arthur Koestler to Kinglsey Amis to Christopher Hitchens, who have moved to the right and attacked former allies. The introduction to Why? by Charles Tilly. "I waste people’s time online": It’s not easy to distract you — the taste of the Internet user is as idiosyncratic as it is fickle.  Dani Rodrik on guns, drugs, and financial markets. Noam Scheiber on the commander of Obama's nerd army. An article on the mind-reading hat that can prevent brain farts; a look at how culture affects how we read faces, and the cultural differences in pee. From The American's "The American Scene", a look at the Venti Effect, the "Hispanization" of America, off-shoring pollution, etc. An excerpt from The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel.

From Mute, is the convergence of art and sport under the pressure of pseudo-participatory spectacle undermining the utopian potential of both? If almost every species on Earth was killed some 250 million years ago, how did our ancient ancestors survive and evolve into us? Lily Burana reviews Alexandra Fuller’s The Legend of Colton H. Bryant. A review of How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well by Eric Felten. Richard Hansen on the collapse of the public financing system for US presidential campaigns: Blame Congress, not the candidates. Tired of the mommy wars? Perhaps we should start blaming our mothers instead of our kids. Jeffrey Rosen on how George Bush's legal war against the environment backfired. Stephen Kinzer on the Petraeus effect: The promotion of George Bush's favourite general is a dangerous miscalculation. The young and the restless: A new generation drawn to politics by Obama could just as easily become alienated. Slate presents a series of online discussions with leading environmental advocates. From The Economist, an article on Europe's Marxist dilemma: It is easier to influence a country before than after it joins the club. The fantastic appeal of fantasy: The more rational the world gets, the more we demand the irrational in our fiction. From Carnegie Ethics, here are five international questions for the National Basic Income debates.

From Modern Age, an essay on The Problem with Modern Art: Or, Why Beautiful Art Matters. From CRB, Harry V. Jaffa on Macbeth and the moral universe. You walk wrong: It took 4 million years of evolution to perfect the human foot — but we’re wrecking it with every step we take. A review of The Hamburger: A History by Josh Ozersky. From America, an article on Catholicism and the new atheism. From THES, in the first in a series in which academics range beyond their area of expertise, philosopher Simon Blackburn proffers his top ten modern myths; and a review of In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier by Thomas I. White. Carlin Romano reviews Francois Jullien’s Vital Nourishment: Departing from Happiness. From TED, Brian Greene talks of the universe on a string. Michael A. Lebowitz on the capitalist workday, the socialist workday. From Skeptical Inquirer, a special issue on the anti-vaccination movement. From The Nation, a review of Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore; and a review of books on race. From Monthly Review, Stephen Gallagher on why we should forget Guantanamo. Arianna Huffington on how the mainstream news media jumps into bed with another propagandist. Here's a list of presidential hopefuls who won big by losing. Still with stupid: Why wouldn't we want an intellectual to be our president?

From Wired, here are the top 5 reasons to dislike pre-med students. From the latest issue of The Trumpeter, Michael E. Zimmerman (Colorado): Heidegger in the Mountains. Turn the other cheek, or pop him on the nose? Even if we are violent by nature, following "the law of love" can also win the day. A review of Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution by William R. Newman. A review of The Finger Book: Sex, Behaviour and Disease Revealed in the Fingers by John T. Manning. From Intelligent Life, an article on the rise and fall of The Beeb. If America declines, don't expect anyone to talk about it: An excerpt from Kevin Phillips' Bad Money (and more and more). From Taki's Top Drawer, a look at why nationalism is what we need now: The case for an “unpatriotic conservatism”; and is there conservatism beyond Christianity? (or how to book a mental vacation in Athens or Valhalla) From Law and Politics Book Review, a special issue of Legal Fiction. The Archipelago of Arrogance: Dude, if you're reading this, you're a carbuncle on the face of humanity and an obstacle to civilization — feel the shame. Rosie Blau reviews Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker: Real-Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up and Floris-Jan van Luyn’s A Floating City of Peasants: The Great Migration in Contemporary China.