• print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    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

    Read more
  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    Hot Shot

    Cody Wilson was a twenty-four-year-old law student when in early 2012 he realized he could unite his two strong interests, open-source software and the right to bear arms. By distributing digital blueprints for a handgun, he and his friends would allow anyone with a 3-D printer to manufacture his own “Wiki Weapon.” As soon as he conceives it, Wilson imagines himself on the news. “And now we turn to another story, seemingly out of the pages of science fiction,” he fantasizes. “Three-dimensional printable guns, made at home.”

    Wilson is a natural-born persuader. He is handsome, a little gleaming,

    Read more
  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    The Big Comedown

    Late in the autumn of 2014, a prominent Yemeni politician was out taking a walk near his home in the capital city of Sana’a when two men on motorbikes shot him to death. Muhammad Abdelmalik al Mutawakel was a professor of political science who had long been advocating for a strong, democratic state in an otherwise fractious, feudal place. Mutawakel was the leader of a liberal party and an architect of the uprisings that had deposed Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s autocratic former president; he had been negotiating a peace deal behind the scenes among Houthi rebels, the opposition, and the new(ish)

    Read more
  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    Class Act

    When you finish Nicholson Baker’s seven-hundred-plus-page tome devoted to a day-by-day, minute-by-minute account of his several-week stint as a substitute teacher in rural Maine, you will be exhausted by the accumulation of minutiae, irritated by the endlessly distracted chatter, and numbed by the sheer relentlessness of human interaction in large groups: You will, in a word, have been schooled. There is a wide variety among books about education; the lofty view engages pedagogy and policy, while a subgenre with long-standing currency offers first-person narrative—fictional and factual—from

    Read more
  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    Votes of No Confidence

    Could there be a more propitious time to come out, as the title of Jason Brennan’s book announces, Against Democracy? From the Brexit vote to the Trump nomination, both liberal and conservative bien-pensants are grumbling that, if this is what the people decide, then maybe the people should not decide after all. If that is your mood, Brennan has catnip for you.

    Brennan divides citizens into three gimmicky species: hobbits, who don’t care much about politics and just want to live their lives; hooligans, keenly interested in politics, who tend to be hyper-partisan and filter everything through

    Read more
  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    Society and the Spectacle

    FDR grasped the potential of radio in 1936. Ike made pioneering use of television in 1952 (as did his running mate Richard Nixon). JFK triumphed on live TV in 1960. Ronald Reagan, a veteran screen performer, exploited the televised photo op in 1984. Bill Clinton recognized the power of MTV. With the rise of social media, Barack Obama had YouTube, Hillary Clinton has, in a negative sense, e-mail, and the master of reality TV Donald Trump is defined by . . . Twitter?

    It’s sobering, at least in this election cycle, to think that the candidate with the greatest affinity for newfangled communications

    Read more
  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2016

    Do We Really Need to Talk About Dylan?

    In 2012 Sue Klebold and her husband Tom popped up in Andrew Solomon’s deliriously received Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, talking about their love for their son Dylan, who with his friend Eric Harris shot and killed twelve students and a teacher and injured twenty-four others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Both seniors, they had been planning to blow up the school and kill many more, but the bombs they built didn’t go off. Sue Klebold said some rather startling things in Solomon’s book, such as “I am glad I had kids and glad I had the kids

    Read more
  • review • August 10, 2016

    Richard Price’s Screen Tests

    The New York of The Night Of—an eight-episode HBO miniseries adapted by the novelist and screenwriter Richard Price from the British TV drama Criminal Justice—is gray, windswept, and blanketed in gloom. Watching the show’s first five episodes, four of which were directed by the show’s co-creator Steven Zaillian, we pass from a sparsely populated Upper West Side block to a dingy police booking station; from a well-furnished yet somehow oppressive house in Queens to a still more oppressive district court; from a support group for men battling skin conditions to a block in Rikers where obscure

    Read more
  • review • July 22, 2016

    Off-Camera at the RNC

    This year’s Republican National Convention, perhaps more than any previous one, brought incongruous segments of American society into close quarters. I didn't have much in common with most of the people I met, but I did have one thing in common with the folks below: All of us were, in our own ways, outsiders.

    On the last day of the RNC, just outside “the perimeter” of the Quicken Loans Arena, inside a mall next to the Residence Inn, I met Danny, fifty, from Illinois and Mike, fifty-three, from Wisconsin. They were trying out different insults for “lyin,’ cryin’ Ted" Cruz. Both had been avid

    Read more
  • review • July 21, 2016

    The Island of Urban Cleveland

    The 1.7-square-mile restricted “event zone” demarcating this year’s Republican Convention in Cleveland, which includes two smaller, even more restricted “security zones” managed by the Secret Service, would have once seemed out of place in the American landscape. Ideals of open mobility and equal access are written into the land by the Jeffersonian grid that organizes not only the country’s farmland, but also many of its city blocks and streets, including those of Cleveland.

    The temporary stronghold around the convention in Cleveland, while not quite reminiscent of Baghdad’s “Green Zone,” is

    Read more
  • review • 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

    Read more
  • review • June 16, 2016

    Taking Back the Second Amendment

    In the aftermath of the most deadly mass shooting in American history, the issue of gun regulation is once again in the news. Gun-rights advocates continue to invoke the Second Amendment as an obstacle to common-sense gun regulations. Supporters of gun-violence prevention dispute the advocates’ interpretation of the Second Amendment. Some have even suggested repealing or rewriting this much-invoked but poorly understood part of America’s constitutional heritage. It is important to reaffirm a simple fact: The Second Amendment does not belong to gun owners alone but to all Americans. Nor does

    Read more