Marc Edward Hoffman

  • Thaw and Disorder

    No statesman in living memory has experienced a more meteoric rise, and at his height enjoyed more universal esteem—or suffered a more precipitous fall, and thereafter more curious neglect—than Mikhail Gorbachev. When he became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, few knew what to make of this bald-pated, purple-birthmarked former secretary of agriculture. His relative youth (he was fifty-four years old) immediately distinguished him from the dotard preceding him and the gerontocrats still surrounding him in the politburo—but no one could have anticipated the

  • Fathers and Sons

    Not long after finishing his first novel, Cevdet Bey and His Sons, a family saga in the tradition of Buddenbrooks, the Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk says he “began to regret having written something so outmoded.” (Perhaps that explains why the book, published in 1982, has never been translated into English.) Determined to separate himself from the regnant Turkish tradition of realistic, engagé fiction—which he deemed “narrow and parochial”—the young novelist resolved to become more “experimental.”

    The problem, as he saw it, was that the Westernizing elite of the early Turkish Republic “

  • A Tale of Two Countries

    Time was when liberal democracy was on the march, across the globe. Or at any rate, so we were told. The collapse of the Communist bloc in 1989 and the rapid democratization of states in Central and Eastern Europe, on the heels of similar transitions in Iberia, Latin America, and East Asia, prompted widespread optimism about the diffusion of Western ideology and institutions. Political scientists rushed to describe what Samuel Huntington famously termed this "Third Wave" of democratization (following the "First Wave" in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the "Second Wave" after

  • The Anomie Within

    Through the open window, along with a breeze that’s small relief for the mugginess of Istanbul in summer, comes a screech, a series of staccato honks, and shouting. Two men are in each other’s faces, livid, gesticulating wildly. One is a taxi driver. The other is an impressively groomed fellow who leaped out of an Audi coupe. Their cars are idling, doors akimbo, nose to nose in the one-lane street. The driver of the Audi is yelling that he’d flashed his lights, claiming right-of-way, and that the cabbie should have yielded the road. The cabbie is yelling that the yuppie is a son of a donkey

  • politics July 18, 2016

    Friday Night in Istanbul

    My wife and I had settled in for a quiet Friday night. With all the recent madness in Istanbul—the bombings, the scapegoating, the reprisals, the anxiety, the melancholic farewells with friends who decided they can’t take it anymore, and the consolatory exchanges with others who feel the same way but have no avenue of egress—we weren’t in the mood for socializing. So after putting our son to bed and eating a quick dinner, we snuggled up on the couch and chose a promisingly anodyne romantic comedy. Right around the time the leads were coming to the realization that they were, in fact, meant for