April 1, 2008 |
Life, as Kierkegaard pointed out, can only be understood retrospectively, but we must live it prospectively. It's a disjunctive paradox, as true for the lives of nations as it is for those of individuals. Steve Coll's stunningly researched and grippingly told new book, "The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century," is the kind of history that naturally gives rise to such large thoughts.
October 29, 2008 |
James M. McPherson is the most important historian of the most important event to occur in these United States since the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution -- the Civil War. Any new book of his is -- by definition, therefore -- an event, but "Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief" is one that speaks directly to a nation on the cusp of a momentous decision regarding its next president.
October 10, 2007 |
The social historian and essayist Garry Wills is one of our most lucid public intellectuals, and no one working today writes more clearly or with greater authority on the intersection of religion and public life. "Head and Heart: American Christianities" is a major contribution to the national debate over separation of church and state and ought to be read by anyone perplexed by the current interplay of religion and politics. If you've wondered whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.
August 1, 2004 |
In the 1940s and 1950s, when Hendrik Hertzberg was a boy in New York City and its outlying communities, his home was a swirl of postwar passion and political animation. His father was the son of immigrant garment workers, a former teenage street-corner speaker for the Bronx Socialist Party. His mother, a professor of history, was a not-too-distant cousin of Walt Whitman. Both were part of the small, insular world of New York's non-Communist intellectual left.
August 6, 2006 |
WHEN religion and science meet, it often seems like a clash of civilizations. Many who see themselves as beacons of rationality have wanted to eradicate what they consider primitive modes of thinking that survive only through a pernicious combination of human weakness and organized indoctrination. Philosopher Daniel Dennett's latest book, "Breaking the Spell," is a recent instance.
February 20, 2008 |
Samantha Power wears a lot of hats these days -- journalist, human rights activist, professor of "global leadership" at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, author and policy advisor. The latter role is of particular interest, since she spent 2005 and 2006 working in Sen. Barack Obama's office and still advises the Democratic presidential candidate on foreign policy issues. If there's an Obama administration, she's widely believed to be in line for a significant job.
March 16, 2008 |
EVER since Gordon S. Wood's "The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787" was published in 1969 -- and won the prestigious Bancroft Prize -- his books have epitomized the best in American historiography. His pitch-perfect erudition is legendary. Wood's superb 1991 book, "The Radicalism of the American Revolution," won the Pulitzer Prize. The Brown University historian is now the go-to scholar on the American Revolution, the Federalist Papers, the U.S. Constitution and the Jeffersonian era.
October 11, 2005 |
Let My People Go Surfing The Education of a Reluctant Businessman Yvon Chouinard Penguin Press: 264 pp., $26.95 * ANYONE who has been cornered at a party by a true believer -- someone who is perfectly right in principle but insufferable in person -- will know what it's like to read "Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman." Yvon Chouinard -- founder, owner and spiritual life force of Ventura-based Patagonia Inc.