It was a strange juxtaposition. A big metal box filled with the manuscripts of Isaac Newton, hidden by Newton during his lifetime and unread for two hundred years afterward, and a fat young man with red hair and khaki shorts, strutting on the stage at meetings of the British Union of Fascists. The big metal box was packed up by Newton in 1696, when he left Cambridge and moved to ...Read »
As the Iraqi war has wound down, the United States has been promoting a “road map” intended to solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Together with the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia, the US defines the road map’s destination as “a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel–Palestinian conflict by 2005.” The “settlement, negotiated between the parties, will,” they hope, “result in the emergence ...Read »
Lew Wasserman, longtime head of MCA-Universal, a man thought by many to have the sharpest and best-disciplined business mind ever to exercise executive power at a major American movie studio, died just a year ago, of a stroke, after having been a sometimes distant but always respected presence in Hollywood since the early Forties. His family, faithful to his orders, buried him quietly on the very day of his death ...Read »
Most artists maintain an attitude of healthy disrespect toward their own work. They know, better and with more bitterness than any critic, how far short of their ambitions their art inevitably falls. What, the artist would demand of his admirer, do you really think this is the best I am capable of? Do you really imagine I am satisfied with these botched results of my transcendent intentions? Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ...Read »
The scene at the deserted National Library in Baghdad looks almost too staged to be true. Ignoring the occasional tock-tock-tock of nearby gunplay, a tethered donkey lunches on flowers in the garden. A statue of Saddam is still standing out front, but someone has looped a noose around its neck. A hot gust of wind sends singed catalog cards scudding across the tiled terrace of the four-story building, along with ...Read »
Richard Price’s Samaritan is a novel about return. The grown-up child returns to his parents’ home; the native lured by the material luxuries of Los Angeles and the TV industry returns to his birthplace, a working-class New Jersey neighborhood which has sunk deeper into poverty and neglect; the prodigal (here, cocaine-addled and self-absorbed) son returns to what he takes for the path of virtue. Return is indeed a form ...Read »
Since the end of the cold war, when a lot more collapsed than walls and regimes, many of the large-scale concepts by means of which we had been accustomed to sorting out the world have begun to come apart. East and West, Communist and free world, liberal and totalitarian, Arab, Oriental, underdeveloped, third world, nonaligned, and now apparently even Europe have lost much of their edge and definition, and we ...Read »
In 1970, after the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk and the American invasion, Cambodia became fully involved in the war in Indochina. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) swiftly took over much of the countryside and enabled the Khmer Rouge movement, the Cambodian Communists, gradually to replace them. Phnom Penh, the capital, was in the hands of the pro-American president Lon Nol, as were most of the other cities. But by the ...Read »
In a recent article for the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood describes the moment that inspired the latest of her dystopian fantasies, Oryx and Crake, which, as its eponymous allusion to endangered species suggests, is concerned with ecological disaster in the not-too-distant future:
I was still on a book tour for my previous novel, The Blind Assassin, but by that time I had reached Australia. After I’d ...
In 1829, in Boston, David Walker, a free black, published privately his impassioned Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and very Expressly to Those of the United States of America. Intended to prove that blacks were suffering a worse degradation under Christian Americans than the children of Jacob ever had under heathen Pharaoh, Walker’s pamphlet, reprinted three ...Read »
The standard measure of a national economy’s overall performance is its real gross domestic product (GDP). This is just the sum of all the goods and services produced during the year (except those used up in further production), valued at going market prices and then corrected for price inflation. The graph on this page shows yearly real GDP per person in the population of the United States from 1948 ...Read »
General Khaled Nezzar is often called the “godfather” of Algeria. He is a senior member of the group of generals, active and retired, who control from behind the scenes the pouvoir—the military-financial “power” that rules the country. He lives in Hydra Le Paradou, an elegant neighborhood of white stone villas and palm trees, high in the hills of Algiers, where well-to-do French colons used to live, enjoying Le Paradou ...Read »
To the Editors:
Joseph Lelyveld’s review of The Clinton Wars [NYR, May 29] was a missed opportunity for him to clarify and add to the historical record. He was a direct participant in the events I chronicle in it, and though he notes his participation he elides it with a reiteration of the old New York Times line on the Clintons, which he fails to acknowledge I criticize.
In ...Read »