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The Last Days of Democracy

The Last Days of Democracy

By Elliot D. Cohen
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Tag: Book Reviews


Call Me Burroughs

William S. Burroughs, the subject of a new biography, probes methods of subjugation—drugs, torture, sex, laws, cults, brainwashing and language. Still, there is always “one Mark you cannot beat. The Mark Inside.”

Posted on Feb 7, 2014 READ MORE



The Science Delusion

Are the humanities—literature, history, art, religion and philosophy—useless? Some scientists would have you think so.

Posted on Jun 20, 2013 READ MORE



The Spark

Kristine Barnett home-schooled her autistic son Jake to “lean into his passions.” She managed not only to mainstream him into kindergarten, but also did the same for many other autistic kids in the learning center she ran out of her garage.

Posted on May 30, 2013 READ MORE



How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour

People who manufacture nothing and bet on everything control the financial destinies of everyone else—and they make stupendous amounts of money doing it. Because, as Les Leopold writes in his book, “Making a million an hour means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Posted on May 23, 2013 READ MORE



The Divine Comedy

We talk with Clive James, translator and cultural critic, about tackling Dante’s masterpiece. “Dante,” writes James, “was the first to put the scientific attitude into art.”

Posted on Apr 26, 2013 READ MORE



Color Blind

Twelve years before Jackie Robinson began dismantling baseball’s racial barriers, an integrated team of five whites and six blacks played in Bismarck, N.D., and went on to win the national semipro championship.

Posted on Apr 18, 2013 READ MORE



The Second Arab Awakening

Adeed Dawisha’s new book examines why democracy has historically failed to take hold in the Middle East, and contemplates the current and future role of Islamists.

Posted on Apr 11, 2013 READ MORE



Sticks and Stones

Many of the adults interviewed by author Emily Bazelon “could access, with riveting clarity, a memory of childhood bullying. … These early experiences of cruelty were transformative, no matter which role you played in the memory reel.”

Posted on Mar 19, 2013 READ MORE



Kill Anything That Moves

Nick Turse’s book about the Vietnam War exposes the sickness of the hyper-masculine military culture, the intoxicating rush and addiction of violence, and the massive government spin machine that lies daily to a gullible public and uses tactics of intimidation, threats and smear campaigns to silence dissenters.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 READ MORE



Fear Itself

Good and evil are inseparable in history: “Liberal democracy prospered because of an accommodation with racial humiliation,” writes Ira Katznelson in “Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time.”

Posted on Mar 6, 2013 READ MORE



Rosa Parks: A Life

Nearly 60 years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott comes “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” the first scholarly biography of the woman who risked much and spoke little.

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 READ MORE



Invisible Armies

In Max Boot’s magisterial account of insurgency and counterinsurgency across the ages, 12 lessons are derived from 5,000 years of guerrilla warfare.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 READ MORE



David Foster Wallace: A Life

A new biography, “Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story,” has collected fascinating details of David Foster Wallace’s life, but fails to examine his development as a writer.

Posted on Feb 12, 2013 READ MORE



The World Until Yesterday

For an audience that may consider the present moment uncritically, Jared Diamond’s “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?” reminds us that in the headlong rush to modernity, much has been lost.

Posted on Feb 5, 2013 READ MORE



More Medea Than Madonna

In Colm Toibin’s “The Testament of Mary,” the mother of God is a troubled woman, haunted by Golgotha, hunted by assassins and waiting for death.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 READ MORE



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Imagine All My Words

“The John Lennon Letters” collects and reproduces 285 postcards, telegrams, to-do lists and other writings from the former Beatle’s early childhood to Dec. 8, 1980, hours before he was killed.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 READ MORE



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Stifled Lives in the Kingdom

On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future” depicts a society paralyzed by an economy based almost solely on oil and government handouts. 

Posted on Oct 3, 2012 READ MORE



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Sweden’s Enfant Terrible

Sue Prideaux’s splendid “Strindberg: A Life” sets out not to record every jot and tittle of August Strindberg’s passage from birth to death, but to limn a vivid portrait of its complex, often self-contradictory and brilliant subject.

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 READ MORE



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Orwell’s Weather Reports

The writer’s diaries reveal that he was happiest while gardening and watching his hens. But he also comments that “apparently nothing will ever teach [the rich] that the other 99 percent of the population exist.”

Posted on Sep 19, 2012 READ MORE



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Nah, We Straight

Baratunde Thurston’s “How To Be Black,” part memoir, part investigative journalism and part cheeky instruction manual, explores such topics as “How to Be the Angry Negro” and “How to Be the (Next) Black President.”

Posted on Sep 11, 2012 READ MORE



Texting Instead of Driving?

It seems young people are more interested in buying iPhones than automobiles these days; Central American families with links to death squads helped Mitt Romney fund Bain Capital; and Jill Stein, the presidential nominee for the Green Party, went to jail for protesting home foreclosures. These discoveries and more after the jump.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 READ MORE



An Understated and Gently Profound Voice

Anne Tyler writes about ordinary, if eccentric, characters and their lives: marriage, sibling rivalry, resentments and losses. Her latest novel, “The Beginner’s Goodbye,” is filled with those moments of recognition that make reading such a pleasure.

Posted on Apr 27, 2012 READ MORE


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