Thomas Frank

  • Creative Vacuum

    It’s 2016, and another management guru is revealing the secrets of the creative mind.

    It’s not really a very original thing to do. The literature on encouraging corporate nonconformity is already enormous; it goes back many years, to at least 1960, when someone wrote a book called How to Be a More Creative Executive. What was once called “the creative revolution” in advertising got going at around the same time. I myself wrote a book about that subject—a history book!—nearly twenty years ago.

    There have been slight variations in the creativity genre over the half-century of its ascendancy,

  • Dead Center

    On page 102 of The Center Holds, former Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter’s account of the 2012 election (and his second book about the presidency of Barack Obama), we learn that the president was facing a problem as his 2012 “reelect” approached: Liberals didn’t particularly care what happened to him. “Reenergizing the base was tough,” Alter writes. Fortunately, however, Obama got an assist in this task from right-wing governors such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio, whose wars on public-employee unions and their pensions “proved to be powerful motivators for the base.”

  • The Naked and the Daft

    First time tear gas, second time robo-polls: If Karl Marx were on hand today to record the progress of our long cultural civil war, one suspects this would be the law of history he would coin to describe its bewildering phases. The novelist Norman Mailer was physically present for the tear-gas part—which is to say, at the famous “police riot” during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. His classic account of the proceedings, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, has been reissued in a fortieth-anniversary edition this year, and in it we can find him sneering at the Republicans, whom