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John Lukacs on Nicholson Baker’s ‘Human Smoke’

Was World War II necessary? In an exercise in literary hygiene, a distinguished historian casts a skeptical eye at an acclaimed novelist’s revisionist take on the “Good War.”

Posted on Apr 18, 2008 READ MORE


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Steve Wasserman on Fidel Castro

What will history say about the implacable anti-imperialist and unrepentant revolutionary who has held power in Cuba for nearly 50 years? The publication of Fidel Castro’s and Ignacio Ramonet’s “My Life: A Spoken Autobiography” helps us understand the man and his myth.

Posted on Apr 10, 2008 READ MORE


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Bill Boyarsky on the Inimitable Willie Brown

More than a quarter of a century before Barack Obama made his name with a speech at the Democratic National Convention, another African-American politician, Willie L. Brown Jr. of San Francisco, did the same—but under much different circumstances.

Posted on Mar 31, 2008 READ MORE


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Fred Branfman on Tom Brokaw’s ‘Boom!’

What kind of look back to the ‘60s manages to almost entirely ignore or miss the point of the Vietnam War?

Posted on Mar 28, 2008 READ MORE


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Anthony Heilbut on MaryBeth Hamilton’s ‘In Search of the Blues’

What accounts for the strange need of some white scholars—from the plantation nostalgists of the late 1890s to the “Blues Mafia” of the 1960s—to honor African-American culture by trying to save black people from themselves?

Posted on Mar 21, 2008 READ MORE


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Mark Dowie on Michael Shnayerson’s ‘Coal River’

How a few brave Americans took on a powerful company and the federal government to save the land they love.

Posted on Mar 13, 2008 READ MORE


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Warren Cohen on the Rise (and Fall) of the Neocons

Just who are the “neocons,” where did they come from and how was it they came to wield so profound an influence among the highest circles of America’s policy elites? These are some of the questions asked by Jacob Heilbrunn in his new book, “They Knew They Were Right.”

Posted on Mar 6, 2008 READ MORE


Larry Blumenfeld on New Orleans’ Refusal to Vanish

Ned Sublette’s remarkable new book tells an inspiring story of resilience and resistance by ordinary men and women who won’t cooperate in their own erasure.

Posted on Feb 22, 2008 READ MORE


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Timothy Snyder on the Forgotten Holocaust

One of the great crimes of the 20th century—the mass murder of Jews in the Nazi-occupied Soviet territories—is all but forgotten. “The Unknown Black Book” helps us remember.

Posted on Feb 15, 2008 READ MORE


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Mark Arax on California’s Capitalist Founders

It is said that behind every great fortune there is a crime. Here’s a true-life drama of self-invention, greed and ambition involving four larger-than-life men who singly, and together, helped create California. A book to be read after you’ve watched “There Will Be Blood.”

Posted on Feb 7, 2008 READ MORE


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