Resemblance of things past: Günter Grass's shadowy account of his long and eventful life, Peeling the Onion, is far less convincing than his fiction (and more and more and more and more). Gullible’s travels: What happens when an author writes about a country they have never been to? The quixotic don: The cultural pull of Cervantes' creation runs dark and deep, influencing Latin American literature, music and art. Writer Jorge Luis Borges saw mazes as a metaphor for life. Two decades after his death, a real one is helping to keep his name alive.

JT LeRoy, the authorial “other” whom the writer Laura Albert employed as her alter ego and self-protective proxy in the world, was found to be not just a fictional creation, but a fraud, and more on the tension between art and commerce. No bad authors: Reasonableness is one of the first things to go when we toil to put our hearts and minds on the printed page. Manga Shakespeare. You hear the words and you think, Manga Shakespeare? Really?

A Comic Kingdom Made of Words: Know-it-all butlers, doddering earls and flighty young ladies—all were P. G. Wodehouse’s elaborate cover for his lifelong love affair with the language. A review of Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939 by Katie Roiphe (and an interview). True or False: Jane Austen outsells Alice Walker and Ann Coulter. 

A review of Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America by Joan Shelley Rubin. From The New Yorker, an article on Harold Bloom and Barack Obama's poetry. From Dissent, art meets politics: Gail Levin on how Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party came to Brooklyn; and an article on Tony's Last Supper: On The Sopranos and politics.

A new issue of Open Letters Monthly is out, including Running Toward the Truck: Newspaper book pages are under threat. John Cotter assesses the reviews of Jonathan Lethem’s novel You Don’t Love Me Yet to learn what (if anything) in our print reviews is worth saving. What might the Wall Street Journal become if Rupert Murdoch owned it? Ken Auletta investigates.

Can the Internet be saved? Citing spam, viruses, and unreliable connections, scientists plan a moon shot: reinventing the whole thing. When Computers Attack: Governments are readying themselves for the Big One, a long-announced, long-awaited cyberwar of global proportions. I just want to be friends with you It used to be the old boys' network that kept the powerful connected, and the riff-raff out. Now politicians and princes go cyber-schmoozing on Facebook. Since when did it become OK to sign off work emails with kisses? Stuart Jeffries laments the rise of bogus email intimacy.


From the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, a roundtable on globalization, with Gianni Vattimo, Charles Taylor, and Richard Rorty; and a conversation with Michael Hardt; who's afraid of atomic bombs? A review of Glimmer of a New Leviathan: Total War in the Realism of Niebuhr, Morgenthau, and Waltz by Campbell Craig; a review of Globalization and Its Enemies by Daniel Cohen; a review of September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences; and a review of Religion, Politics, and the Christian Right: Post-9/11 Powers and American Empire.

From CT, a review of Imperial Nature, The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization by Michael Goldman and The World's Banker, A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises, and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Poverty Reconsidered: Most everyone has a theory about why the poor stay poor. Most everyone is wrong. A review of Connected: 24 Hours In The Global Economy by Daniel Altman. 

Form Dissent, an essay on the Russian conundrum: Growing economy, failing society. Wait till the Kremlin starts buying our stocks: Sebastian Mallaby on the next globalization backlash. For Christa Wolf, the socialist dream still flickers: A review of One Day a Year: 1960–2000. Oliver Kamm on how Gordon Brown will change Britain's foreign policy. Fantasy Island by Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson takes a broadside shot at the economics of New Labour.

Form Asia Times, how to project soft power: A review of The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century by Richard T. Arndt. Hard Realities of Soft Power: The United States has dedicated tens of millions of dollars to promoting democracy in Iran. But for Iranian democrats and America alike, the effort may be more trouble than it’s worth. Piece Process: Our mission in the Middle East is not to make things better; it’s to keep them from getting worse. When Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft all start saying the same thing, it's time to pay attention.

A review of The Good Fight by Peter Beinart. Fleeing our responsibility: An article on why the United States owes succor to Iraqi refugees. An interview with Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute on engaging Iran.  An interview with Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar: "We will try to form an Islamic society", and an article on how to deal with Hamas. Arcadi Gaydamak — billionaire, philanthropist, arms dealer — may be the most popular man in Israel. And the most troubling.


From Newsweek, a series of articles on What You Need to Know Now, including Fareed Zakaria on the War Against Radical Islam; Robert Samuelson on the biggest threat to the US economy; Steven Levy on Broadband Penetration; and Howard Fineman on Election 2008.

From Dissent, a symposium on exporting democracy: What have we learned from Iraq? Daniele Archibugi, Seyla Benhabib, Paul Berman and others respond. This is not a 1938 encore: The idea that liberals are appeasing Islamism as once they did Hitler is a dangerous delusion. As the Romans: An interview with Cullen Murphy, author of Are We Rome? More on The Pentagon: A History by Steve Vogel. The Specialist: An article on Robert Gates and the tortured world of American intelligence (and part 2).

Bye, Bye, Miss American Empire: Which way out of the current mess? Turn left (or is it right?) toward the Green Mountains and explore the patriotic territory of succession. A review of Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics by Rebecca Solnit (and more). A review of Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small-Town America by Bill Geist.

The coal, hard truth: Written almost 90 years apart, a pair of muckraking books neatly frames the messy debate over the consequences of the "dirty rock" – and its stubbornly prominent role in our future. Tim Flannery fears global warming will reach a tipping point beyond which recovery will be impossible. Nicholas Lezard urges us to start acting on the recommendations of Heat (and an interview with George Monbiot). On the eve of his Live Earth global concerts, an exclusive interview with Al Gore on climate change, George Bush and whether he'll run for president in 2008. 

Anxiety in the Land of the Anti-Immigration Crusader: Economic worries and cultural differences fuel anger over immigration in Colorado. Benjamin Barber's Consumed makes Chris Petit ponder the perils of consumerism. A review of Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank. Hedge Clipping: John Cassidy on trying to get rich on the cheap. The Man Who Sells the Moon: Dennis Hope has made $9 million selling space "property".


From the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Peyman Vahabzadeh (Victoria): Measure and Democracy in the Age of Politics of Fright; Matthew Abraham ( DePaul): Confronting the Politics of Evasion in an Age of Fright: Democracy, Religious Enthusiasm, and the State; Mario Costa ( Drew): "A Love as Strong as Death": Reconstructing a Politics of Christian Love; Daniel M. Bell, Jr. (LTSS): The Politics of Fear and the Gospel of Life: Jason C. Bivins (NC State): The Religion of Fear: Conservative Evangelicals, Identity, and Antiliberal Pop; William Little (Victoria): The Return of the Sacred Man: Politics, Fundamentalism and Fright; Simon Wood (Nebraska): Islamic Fundamentalism Revised: Ruhollah Khomeini, Mawlana Mawdudi, and the Fundamentalist Paradigm; Rubina Ramji (Ottawa): Women’s Bodies and Islam: Individual Freedoms in a World of Fundamentalisms; and a review of Theology and the Political: The New Debate, ed. Creston Davis, John Milbank, and Slavoj Zizek. 

From Dissent, pragmatist hope: A review of Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth by Robert B. Westbrook and Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself: Interviews with Richard Rorty, ed. by Eduardo Mendieta. Richard Rorty tried to rescue analytic philosophy from essentialist abstraction. In doing so, he alienated many peers but won readers across the intellectual world, writes Carlin Romano. A review of Truth and Realism, ed. Patrick Greenough and Michael P. Lynch. Big ideas: A review of The Heart of Things: Applying Philosophy to the 21st Century by AC Grayling; Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein; The Meaning of Life by Terry Eagleton; and A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes by Witold Gombrowicz.

A review of Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense by Scott McCredie (and more). When does your brain stop making new neurons? A. Infant; B. 42 Years Old; C. 53 Years Old. According to a controversial theory, electricity is just a side effect of how nerves really operate: by conducting high-density waves of pressure that resemble sound reverberating through a pipe. Unwanted Thoughts: Trying hard not to think about something almost guarantees that it will pop up in your consciousness. A review of I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter. A review of Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics by Gino Segre (and more). Stephen Hawking, whose brilliant mind and robotic voice inspired millions of people to buy his hit book, A Brief History of Time, plans to do it again - but this time for children.


From Reason, the contested legacy of the most controversial founding father: A review of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America by Harvey J. Kaye. A review of Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution. What does Lincoln stand for? Nearly anything we wish: A review of Land of Lincoln by Andrew Ferguson. Juneteenth: Was the announcement of Emancipation really a surprise? From The Atlantic Monthly, an interview with Jack Beatty, author of Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900

From The New Yorker, a revisionist history of the Depression: John Updike reviews The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes (and more and more). Bombings, shootings, and other violence were common during the labor strife of the 1930s, when two unions battled for supremacy in the central Illinois coalfields. A review of Impounded: Dorothea Lange and Censored Images of Japanese Internment. A review of FDR by Jean Edward Smith. A review of 15 stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall Three Generals Who Saved the American Century by Stanley Weintraub and Partners in Command: George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace by Mark Perry. From The American Scholar, The Mystery of Ales: The argument that Alger Hiss was a WWII-era Soviet asset is flawed. New evidence points to someone else.

From Bad Subjects, a special issue on Dead Heads of State/Dead Presidents: Symbolic Death, Social Death & Bone-Rotting Death. From Time, a series of articles on The Lessons of JFK. An interview with James Piereson, author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism.

A review of Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan. More on Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power by Robert Dallek. Those Weren't the Days: Nixon has been looking better lately compared to George W. Bush. But in fact he's as bad as we remember. An interview with James Reston, Jr., author of The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews (and a review).

Long on detail but short on revelations: A review of The Reagan Diaries (and more). The canonization of Ronald Reagan rests crucially on one thing Reagan himself did well: forgetting the facts. It seems timely to exhume a few. A look at why less brilliant presidents do better. The Heroic and the Crass: A review on Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989 by Michael Beschloss.


From Ethics & International Affairs, Yvonne Terlingen (AI): The Human Rights Council: A New Era in UN Human Rights Work? A review of Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights by Carol C. Gould. Attacks on Amnesty International and politicians show the Vatican is forcing the issue of abortion firmly back on to the agenda. For a Radical Ethics of Equality: What does it mean today to be anticapitalist? Today, left identity is an identity in crisis. The middle classes have discovered they've been duped by the super-rich: Never have so many of us appeared so well-off yet felt so poor - and we used to believe obscene wealth was victimless. The rich must be penalised: Politicians who run away from this basic principle will never have the nerve to achieve true equality. Jeffrey Owens warns of the threat that offshore tax evasion poses to sovereign governments.

From American Heritage, forgotten but true: Japan attacks the American mainland. Joseph Nye on the rise of Liberal Japan. Japan as a Global Contributor: An essay on envisioning an expanded role in a world of militarism, global warming and multipolarity. Japan has rechristened the island of Iwo Jima, site of one of World War II’s most horrific battles, with its prewar name in an attempt to rectify a misnomer proliferated for a half-century.

From TLS, Putin's list: A review of Tony Wood's Chechnya: The case for independence; Gordon M. Hahn's Russia's Islamic Threat; Timothy Phillips' Beslan: The tragedy of school no. 1; and Anna Politkovskaya's A Russian Diary. After Turkmenbashi, Tajikmanbashi: Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov died in December, but Tajikistan's president is continuing the tradition of bizarre despotism in post-Soviet Central Asia.

From Eurozine, ultra-nationalism is on the rise in Turkey. However, following the wave of protest at the murder of Hrant Dink, observers hoped prime minister Tayyip Erdogan would be forced to take action. Instead: nothing. That ought to be no surprise. After all, it is the State and not the government that runs Turkey. And what the State wants, the State gets. In Turkey, the military and the government are engaged in an all-out struggle for power. The country is deeply divided, and decidedly unstable. Turkish writer Ahmet Altan describes his country's paradoxes and warns of the potentially dire consequences. The "deprivatization" of religion has caused strains in Turkey, the most resolutely secular of nations. 

All for one and one for all? Europe is divided on how to unite. In Brussels there is irritation that Poland is playing the "history card" once again. But Germans in particular should be wary of being too quick to judge. An article on France's new foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, a French doctor to cure Trans-Atlantic ills. The French may love their bicycles, but in Paris, only a courageous minority braves traffic on two wheels. Mayor Bertrand Delanoe wants Parisians to consider looking backward. Tidal wave: A look at how Malta fears it may be swamped by migrants. A map of New Switzerland, finally in need of a Navy!


From American Heritage, why does America have such strange borders? A review of The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity by Andro Linklater (and more). Form Alternet, an interview with Christopher M. Finan, author of From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America. From The Brooklyn Rail, a review of From Welfare State to Real Estate: Regime Change in New York City, 1974 to the Present by Kim Moody. A review of The Second Gilded Age: The Great Reaction in the United States, 1973-2001 by Michael McHugh. A review of Rationing Justice: Poverty and Poor People in the Deep South by Kris Shepard.

From TNR, Benjamin Wittes on the Supreme Court's looming legitimacy crisis. Are we all Legal Realists now? Dahlia Lithwick to: Walter Dellinger debate. One-Off Offing: Why you won't see a disbarment like Mike Nifong's again. From Truthdig, an interview with Troy Duster on the forgotten War on Drugs. From Harper's, would you lobby on behalf of a bloodthirsty dictatorship? Some of DC's most prominent lobby firms wouldn't blink. Prepare to be appalled at the utterly amoral practises of DC's lobbying world as the author exposes Washington's underbelly. From The Washington Post, a series examines Dick Cheney's largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment. The 'I' word: Why a growing grassroots movement on the left wants to impeach the president — and why Democrats in Washington don't even want to talk about it.

From National Journal, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has taken on an increasingly visible and influential role six months into her party's new majority — one that few would have predicted when she first ran for the Senate in 1992 as "just a mom in tennis shoes." From Cracked, a look at the 5 biggest pricks in Congress. From The Ripon Society: The Conscience of the Republican Party, the search for common ground: An interview with Howard Baker; and Bob Michel on the truth about Congressional gridlock; and are Americans overtaxed? Robert Greenstein and Ernie Christian debate.

From The Boston Globe, a series on The Making of Mitt Romney. Republican Fred Thompson aims for blogger-in-chief. Navigating certain lawmakers’ websites can be like stumbling through a virtual maze. Other sites are colorful voyages into a member’s life on Capitol Hill. From TAP, long-shot Democratic candidates are the ones taking a stance on many worthy, yet unsung, policy problems. Time for the front-runners to start paying attention. EJ Dionne on how the "good ideas" that voters are demanding mostly have to do with problems that have been framed by the left, not the right. Jonathan Chait on Michael Bloomberg and the David Broderization of America. Rolling Stone political writer Matt Taibbi responds to questions.


Bronwen Morgan (Britol): Reflections on Governance from an International Perspective. Lawrence Solum (Illinois): Constitutional Texting.  Robert Mikos (UC-Davis): The Populist Safeguards of Federalism. Thomas DiLorenzo (Loyola): Can Governments Function Like Markets? Austrian Insights into Public-Choice Theory. Jacob Gersen (Chicago): Markets and Discrimination

From the Carnegie Council, a review of Law, Politics, and Morality in Judaism, ed. by Michael Walzer, a review of Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny by Amartya Sen and Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and a review of Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues by Catharine A. MacKinnon. John Gray's apocalypse: A sceptic, a wit, and a very English thinker; is John Gray also the best theorist about our troubled world today?

From Ovi, the attempt to divorce mythos (the imaginative) from logos (the rational) is as old as Plato’s Republic. The risk of that intellectual operation is that one ends up in rationalism, what Vico dubs “the barbarism of the intellect," pure reason rationalizing what ought never to be rationalized (and part 2). A review of Conventionalism: From Poincaré to Quine by Yemima Ben-Menahem. An excerpt from Thinking in Circles: An Essay on Ring Composition by Mary Douglas.

From Edge, Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins on dangerous ideas. Animal Farm: William Saletan on the recombination of man and beast. Ready or not, here comes the post-genomic era. Here's a DIY Guide to Becoming a (Real) Cyborg. From Discover, relativity passes absolute test: Exacting research finds Einstein was exactly right. From Physics Today, the Soviet launch of Sputnik shook the confidence of Americans in the country's defense and in its science. President Eisenhower convened a meeting of scientists in the Oval Office that Hans Bethe called an "unforgettable hour". Out of This World: An article on 60 years of flying saucers

For 2,000 years, the document written by one of antiquity's greatest mathematicians was ill treated, torn apart and allowed to decay. Now, historians have decoded the Archimedes book. But is it really new? Normally a sanctuary of scholarly meditation, the Vatican Library has been the scene of unusually hectic activity lately, as word has spread that it will close in July for a three-year renovation. An article on the modern librarian, a role worth checking out. A Peculiar Responsibility: American colleges and universities grapple with their ties to slavery. Doing well or doing good? As they seek meaning in their work, MBA graduates are defecting from Wall Street to work for NGOs trying to save the world. Is there life left in the once-rebellious Iranian student body after the ruthless crackdowns of the late 1990s?


From TNR, a review of Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad. The Improbable Moralist: Leonard Michaels's fiction captured his evolution from sex-obsessed misogyny to self-identified moralism. A review of Mere Anarchy and The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen.

From Harper's, an interview with David Ignatius, author of Body of Lies, a post-9/11 thriller. A review of Tony Wheeler's Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil. Of war, loss and the politics of poetry: An interview with Farideh Hassanzadeh, Iranian poet, translator and freelance journalist. A review of Speaking in tongues: PEN Canada writers in exile.

From The Village Voice, Fashion Victim: Mike Gallagher claims NYU is threatening his famous vintage magazine empire. And he wants some payback. Mega-Branding For MagaBrands: Since magazines are branded to the Nth degree anyways, the next logical step is to brand that branding. How meta! A Fond Farewell: After 13 years and hard luck, Punk Planet bids adieu. The struggle for independents: The bankruptcy of a book distributor sent shock waves through the indie publishing world, leaving small presses like McSweeney's struggling to survive. Can the Internet help keep them afloat?

Indifference at 11: TV viewers are switching off their local newscasts, and ratings are tumbling. The News Counters: An effort to measure how much time news outlets devote to different stories has begun to attract a fair amount of attention itself. An excerpt from Fair and Balanced, My Ass!: An Unbridled Look at the Bizarre Reality of Fox News by Joseph Minton Amann and Tom Breuer.

From The New York Times Magazine, The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer: How the world of online gaming spawned a multimillion dollar shadow economy measured in virtual coins, 80-hour workweeks and very real money. A review of Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark. Next in Child Prodigies — the Gamer: Considering everything else that children do obsessively, is it bad for them to play Xbox for money? 

Thinking outside the box: A look at some of the winners in a global competition to have designers dream up alternative forms for personal computers. Steve Jobs in a Box: For all its marvels, the iPhone inaugurates a dangerous new era for the Apple boss. Has he peaked? A review of Send: The How, Why, When and When Not of Email by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. On one hand, Wikipedia is indispensable; on the other, it's the ultimate resource on things that don't matter.


From Monthly Review, a review of Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz, and a series of videos of Lebowitz discussing Venezuela and 21st-century socialism. A review of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution, by Charles Hardy (and more). From VQR, one more martyr in a dirty war: The life and death of Brad Will. A review of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia by Benjamin Dangl.

A review of Whose War Is It? How Canada Can Survive in the Post 9/11 World by J. L. Granatstein.  From Adbusters, an article on Canada as the United Sidekicks of America: The Stealthing of a Future Superstate; a look at Generation F*cked: How Britain is Eating Its Young; and an essay on Australia as Outlaw Nation: The Lucky Country is No Longer So Lucky. A review of Shakedown: Australia's grab for Timor Oil by Paul Cleary. Rosaries, ovaries and chicanery: A review of Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-first Century by Gary Bouma and Acting on Conscience: How Can We Responsibly Mix Law, Religion and Politics? by Frank Brennan.

From Human Rights & Human Welfare, a roundtable on George Soros, the "Israel Lobby" and anti-Semitism; and a roundtable on Mahmood Mamdani, genocide, and the Politics of Naming. Justice and foreign policy: Terrorism is an excuse for creating a fortress state isolated from the world. Marines are getting too comfortable at their dug-in bases in Iraq, the Corps’ top officer, Commandant Gen. James Conway, tells an audience at the Naval War College. What Rudy Giuliani's greedy decision to quit the Iraq Study Group reveals about his candidacy.

Form TNR, what business do Giuliani and Bloomberg have running for president? Michelle Cottle wants to know; and Noam Scheiber on the real reason Hillary's experience matters. From Salon, an interview with Hillary Clinton. There was one statewide race last fall—in Massachusetts—that should have blown any race-based concerns about Mr. Obama’s general-election bona fides out of the water. Will the Progressive Majority Emerge? New polling data shows that the majority of Americans are leaning liberal. How long will it take politicians and the media to get that? Another joker joins the race: Dave Barry is running for Prez!

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