Joseph Lelyveld’s most recent book is His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt.
 (September 2016)


Hillary vs. Donald: The Benefit of the Doubt

Hillary Clinton on the last night of the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, July 2016
Assuming for the moment that the surveys hold up, that there’s no enthusiasm gap or populist upsurge they’re failing to detect, a Hillary Clinton victory in an election in which a majority express mistrust of either candidate won’t be easy to interpret, whatever the margin. How she interprets it may matter most of all.

Prophet and Outcast Bush

George H.W. Bush shown on a television screen during his 1988 presidential campaign

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush

by Jon Meacham
In his active years as a politician, the forty-first president was pleased to be known as plain George Bush. Now we’re reintroduced to him as George Herbert Walker Bush, often shortened to George H.W. Bush. The starchier monikers serve not only to distinguish the father from his eldest son. They …

Obama: Confessions of the Consultant

Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, at the Democratic National Convention, Denver, August 2008. Joe Biden is at left.

Believer: My Forty Years in Politics

by David Axelrod
In a debate before the 2008 New Hampshire primary, the suddenly embattled Hillary Clinton—finally recognizing the threat posed to her candidacy by the upstart junior senator from Illinois—had something to say about the stirring promises of transformative post-partisan change he’d been making. She said she’d been fighting for change all …

The Prodigal Fall of Nelson Rockefeller

Nelson Rockefeller (right) with Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Bob Dole at the Republican National Convention, Kansas City, Missouri, 1976

On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller

by Richard Norton Smith
In his later years the first John D. Rockefeller, known to his family as “Senior,” was said to have handed out 30,000 dimes. Adjusting to hard times when the Depression hit, the country’s richest man dispensed nickels instead. His grandson, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, adjusted to hard times in the second …


Hard Choices

by Hillary Rodham Clinton
The latest installment of Hillary Clinton’s memoirs is strewn with clues to the way the odds-makers’ favorite for next president thinks about the world and our place in it. Fond as she is of proclaiming “new eras” and “new beginnings,” little in her approach reflects new thinking.

Inside Our New America

Joel Sternfeld: Wet ’n Wild Aquatic Theme Park, Orlando, Florida, September 1980; from Sternfeld’s first collection of photographs, American Prospects. Originally published in 1987, the book has recently been issued in a new edition by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers.

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

by George Packer
Before jumping off on his brave spelunking descent into the “new America,” George Packer offers up an orientation, or maybe it’s a pep talk, for readers who’ll be accompanying him on his expedition. In just eight paragraphs, he sketches a philosophy of history that’s faintly Hegelian. His dialectic works like …

The Likely Winner

While it may be true that we’re unlikely to see another election in which the issues are more clearly drawn, it’s probably not too soon to declare dysfunction the likely winner, when we take account of the splurge of Super PAC dollars, the nature of our checks-and-balances system (which might be shortened to read simply “checks system,” or perhaps “check for checks system”), and the obsession of the media with the latest stumble rather than the underlying commitments of candidates.


Apartheid’s Twisted Dream: David Goldblatt’s South Africa

As a matter of crude shorthand, the South African photographer David Goldblatt might be described as his country’s Walker Evans. Though Evans was one of Goldblatt’s models when he was starting out more than a half century ago, the comparison at this point serves only to hint at the moral clarity of his vision, the seriousness of his purpose and the scope of his achievement. It does not prepare you in any serious way for the stirring experience that awaits you at the Jewish Museum where a copious exhibition of his black-and-white work, mainly from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties—the heyday of apartheid—will be on display through September 19.