February 2, 2005 |
To come across a daring, original, sweeping work of history in this age of narrow specialization is not just a welcome event; it is almost a sensation. In just such a book, "The Jewish Century," UC Berkeley history professor Yuri Slezkine makes the assertion that the 20th century was the Jewish century, that modernization is about everyone "becoming" Jewish. According to Slezkine, Marxism was Jewish.
May 16, 2004 |
In "The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror," Michael Ignatieff addresses the ethical problems faced by liberal democracies, noting that "the beginning of wisdom ... is that democracies should not attempt to rule others against their consent." Good advice. Unfortunately it is a rule the United States too often breaks, as in Iraq today.
April 30, 2004 |
It's obvious, after brief inspection, that this isn't USC football or Duke basketball. These athletes stay at roadside motels when they play away games, pooling their money to buy bagels, gas and everything else the school's annual $14,000 allocation doesn't cover.
April 4, 2004 |
Neither Comcast and Disney, nor Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and DirecTV, nor AOL and Time Warner -- nor many of the recent media mergers that have flattened the media landscape -- play featured roles in Paul Starr's "The Creation of the Media" or James Hamilton's "All the News That's Fit to Sell." Yet each book provides a context to better understand the mania to merge.
March 14, 2004 |
It was one of the bitterest, longest-running political standoffs in recent memory. On one side, business interests and immigrant advocates argued that we needed foreigners to do dirty, low-paying jobs native-born U.S. workers didn't want to do. But much of the general public was wary if not angrily opposed to the immigrants, skeptical of these economic arguments and, more important, intensely frightened of how the newcomers were likely to change American culture.
February 29, 2004 |
"Blues City" is the latest title in the "Crown Journeys" series, a collection of highly literary travel guides whose conceit is to place a writer of distinction at large in a place that he or she knows especially well and then see what happens. As rendered by Ishmael Reed, a distinguished novelist, playwright, poet and essayist, however, "Blues City" is less a travelogue than a potent and provocative mix of literary memoir, revisionist history, amateur urbanology and red-hot political manifesto.
February 15, 2004 |
Among the religious and biblical reference works in my home library, "The Dictionary of the Bible" by John L. McKenzie, S.J., is one for which I have a special admiration. Published in 1965, this remarkable one-man effort glosses every proper name in the Bible and offers succinct, penetrating entries on a long list of relevant topics, all between the covers of an affordable paperback numbering fewer than 1,000 pages.
November 23, 2003 |
When I once gave a lecture in England on religious freedom in the West, a Muslim scholar asked why anyone should care. The answer, I thought, was that the material and cultural progress of a nation depends on the creation and maintenance of human freedom, and that in turn depends on religious freedom.
October 31, 2003 |
If you're thinking about writing a year-end check to your college or favorite charity, my story might give you pause. It is about Charles and Marie Robertson, my late parents, and the $35-million donation they made to Princeton University. Similar stories have involved Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and even the Metropolitan Opera in New York, among others.
October 26, 2003 |
A library becomes a museum when you read the books. The things to see in a museum have been chosen. People who choose, and can give the reason for their choice, use an ancient Greek word for themselves -- "critic." Critics at their most useful are those who can guide us through a library when we are turning it into a museum by reading the books. They tend to be very special people, these guides to hundreds of books.