• print • Apr/May 2019

    Show Your Work

    Bhaskar Sunkara’s Socialist Manifesto begins by entering an imaginary world. It’s 2018 and “you” are a die-hard fan of Jon Bon Jovi, “the most popular and critically acclaimed musician of this era.” So devoted are you to the singer-songwriter that you’ve found work at the pasta sauce factory his father owns in New Jersey. The job isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing. After a year, your wages rise from $15 an hour to $17, a 13 percent increase that fails to match your recent 25 percent increase in productivity; meanwhile your colleague Debra, who’s been working there for three years, is

    Read more
  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Psycho Analysis

    “I never pretended to be an expert on millennials,” writes Bret Easton Ellis halfway through White, and the reader desperately wishes this were true. Ellis is best known for American Psycho, the controversial 1991 cult novel about an image-obsessed Wall Street serial killer; the film adaption would star Christian Bale as psychotic investment banker Patrick Bateman. Following several increasingly metafictional novels and a few bad screenplays, White is Ellis’s first foray into nonfiction, and the result is less a series of glorified, padded-out blog posts than a series of regular, normal-size

    Read more
  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Lust Never Sleeps

    We’ve had half a century with The Second Sex, The Dialectic of Sex, Sexual Politics, and all the rest, yet straight men of letters still regard their fossilized sexism and quotidian horniness as windows into existential wisdom. Hard again! the male author marvels while streaming free porn in his book-lined office. What does it all mean? These are the inquiries of those who refuse to read feminists: How would a nerdy man have power over a pretty woman if she’s the one making him want her? How could a man be accused of disrespecting women when he’s so awestruck by their young, sexy bodies? David

    Read more
  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Are Your Commie Children Right?

    A specter is haunting the straight white liberal sixtysomething American dad—the specter of his damn socialist kids. A generation that grew up eating Cold War propaganda with their cornflakes confronts one in which socialism regularly outpolls capitalism, and it’s happening across the breakfast table. New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik’s new book, A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, is a manual for the dad side, a work of rousing reassurance for open-minded men who are nonetheless sick of losing political debates to teenagers whose meals they buy.

    The book is epistolary—though

    Read more
  • print • Apr/May 2019

    A Novel History

    At the end of Alice Munro’s short story “Meneseteung,” which reconstructs in painfully intimate detail the life of an all but unknown woman poet in a small Ontario town in the late nineteenth century, Munro’s narrator discovers the poet’s grave, overgrown and forgotten a century later. “I thought that there wasn’t anybody alive in the world but me who would know this, who would make the connection,” she says. “But perhaps this isn’t so. People are curious. A few people are. . . . You see them going around with notebooks, scraping the dirt off gravestones, reading microfilm, just in the hope of

    Read more
  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Now You See It

    Even in a decade not wanting for political weirdness, one of the weirder aspects of the past ten years has been American empire’s guilty conscience with respect to itself. On the campaign trail, both our current and our previous president complained about imperial overreach, about “stupid” wars that cost billions of dollars and weren’t winning the country any new friends. Then, in office, each president kept prosecuting those same wars, editing around the margins without fundamentally changing the scope of the country’s military presence around the world. On both sides of the aisle, our

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    We Screwed Up!

    When did Facebook start to seem evil? Was it last March, when United Nations investigators accused the platform of enabling the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar? Or was it a few days after that, when it was revealed that the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested millions of people’s personal data to target votes, momentarily sending Facebook’s reputation (and stock) plummeting? Or in 2014, when researchers revealed that they had conducted a massive psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 users—without their consent—to determine whether manipulating feeds to

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Long Division

    Michael Tomasky wants his readers to understand right up front that If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How It Might Be Saved isn’t just another liberal screed provoked by anguish at Donald Trump’s presidency. “Chapter for chapter, most of this book could have appeared just as it now stands” if Hillary Clinton had won the White House, he tells us, and he began mulling the project in the full expectation she was going to do just that. Since Tomasky has written generally favorable books about both her and Bill, it’s a safe guess that she’d have been his beleaguered heroine in that

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Frontiers for Fears

    If you’d asked me, fifteen years ago, to picture a group of activists up in arms about illegal immigration, I might’ve imagined a small gathering of eccentrics at some suburban restaurant, passing around xeroxed pamphlets. At least in Texas, where I live, immigration was a marginal concern. Conservative activists here considered gays and lesbians more of a threat than laborers from Mexico. There were two main channels of Republican politics, pro-business and Christian-right, and to be a hard-core nativist was to subscribe to a fusty extremism not really embraced within either one.

    So what

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Rude Awakening

    When I was in seventh and eighth grades, my class’s newfound maturity was channeled into learning about the most difficult moments of the twentieth century in a unit called Facing History. A central focus of the course was on the culpability of ordinary citizens in the worst crimes of human history. During the Holocaust, we learned, ordinary Germans, whether by ignorance or complacency, paved the way to genocide by not speaking up. The resistance to authoritarianism requires constant vigilance by citizens alert to even the tiniest erosions of society’s morals.

    The presidency of Donald Trump

    Read more
  • print • Dec/Jan 2019

    A House Divided

    IN HER 2007 MEMOIR, Flying Close to the Sun, radical leftist Cathy Wilkerson describes feeling perplexed by women’s liberationists in the late 1960s. Wilkerson, who lived on oatmeal in a group home, had renounced her family’s wealth to devote herself to student organizing. Though she agreed with the feminists’ analysis, she couldn’t relate to their unwillingness to make similar sacrifices:

    Many of the concerns of women in the group seemed self-indulgent. I found it confusing to be in discussions about the ways in which business used women, manipulating ideas

    Read more
  • print • Dec/Jan 2019

    Vlad Handing

    For the past several decades, the overwhelming majority of Western reporting about Russia has rested on a specific historical narrative about the fall of the Soviet Union. In this story, the USSR collapsed largely from its own economic contradictions. But the heroes were the thousands of ordinary Russians who first supported perestroika and then, in August 1991, turned out in the streets of Moscow to successfully oppose a hard-line Communist coup, precipitating the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union. Though derived from the Cold War school of understanding Soviet citizens as

    Read more