Adam Kirsch is the Director of the master’s program in Jewish Studies at Columbia. His new book, The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature, will be published in October. (June 2016)


Songs Beyond Mankind

Paul Celan, 1967

Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry

by Paul Celan, translated from the German and with commentary by Pierre Joris
On July 25, 1967, postwar Germany’s greatest poet paid a call on its greatest philosopher. Such a meeting would be historically significant no matter what else was at stake; but the encounter of Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger was also haunted by the ghosts of Germany’s terrible recent history. Heidegger …

The World Turned Upside Down

A propaganda newsreel for the Greater Nazi Reich in the first episode of The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

a television series created by Frank Spotnitz and adapted from the novel by Philip K. Dick
In October, The New York Times Magazine presented its readers with an unexpected question: “Could You Kill a Baby Hitler?” The response to the online poll was closely divided, with 42 percent of respondents saying they would indeed take the opportunity to kill Hitler when he was a baby, if …

The Changing Faith of a Hero

Dietrich Bonhoeffer at an ecumenical conference, Gland, Switzerland, August 1932

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

by Charles Marsh
One night in the fall of 1930, when he was twenty-four years old, Dietrich Bonhoeffer went to a Manhattan movie theater to see the new film of All Quiet on the Western Front. Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian who was spending the academic year at Union Theological Seminary, was accompanied …

The Ironic Wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr, 1956

Major Works on Religion and Politics

by Reinhold Niebuhr, edited by Elisabeth Sifton
This selection of Reinhold Niebuhr’s work, edited by his daughter Elisabeth Sifton, is the 263rd volume in the Library of America; and it is possible that the single sentence that appears on page 705 is known to more people, and has affected them more deeply, than anything else the library …

Is Reason Enough?

Rembrandt: The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1635

Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism

by Philip Kitcher
So far, one of the chief lessons the twenty-first century has taught us is that you can’t deduce anything from what century it is. President Obama likes to denounce Vladimir Putin’s power politics in Ukraine as belonging to the nineteenth century, but Putin seems to have no problem conducting a …

A Widow with Her Sons, 1921

after a photograph by August Sander A boy no older than the Armistice Can’t say for certain if there was a time When he was not among the fatherless Who make up half his neighborhood; to him A mother’s someone always dressed in black, Whose …


The Strange Paradise of Paul Scheerbart

In general, to predict that technology will solve all the problems it has caused—that we can innovate ourselves out of global warming, for instance—today seems childishly, intolerably optimistic. It is exactly that kind of unfashionable, childlike hopefulness that animates the writing of Paul Scheerbart, a German writer whose name is only now becoming familiar to English readers, a hundred years after his death.