Poland vs. History

Timothy Snyder

The construction site of the Museum of World War II, Gdańsk, Poland, April 17, 2016
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In early 2017, Poland was supposed to unveil what is perhaps the most ambitious museum devoted to World War II in any country. Yet the current Polish government, led by the conservative Law and Justice party, now seems determined to cancel the museum, on the grounds that it does not express “the Polish point of view.” It is hard to interpret this phrase, which in practice seems to mean the suppression of both Polish experience and the history of the war in general.

A Darker Jungle

Christopher Benfey

Bagheera, voiced by Ben Kingsley, and Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi, in Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book, 2016
Walt Disney Pictures

Parts of the new Jungle Book film have a goofy, happy-go-lucky charm, a throwback to the Sixties version. And yet, for the most part this new Jungle Book is shockingly dark, replacing the psychological conflict and nuanced family dynamics of Kipling’s original stories with sporadic violence and a pervasive air of menace.

The Ballad of Slippin’ Jimmy

Francine Prose

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul
Ben Leuner/AMC

The appearance of a sequel, prequel or spinoff often signals an attempt to wring the last bit of juice (or cash) out of a proven success. How unexpected and satisfying, then, that Better Call Saul—which features several characters from the popular AMC series Breaking Bad and which has just completed its second season—should offer us something so entirely new. The new season has proven to be even stronger, funnier and more focused than the first.

2016: When the Rules Change the Game

Elizabeth Drew

Ted Cruz on video at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa, January 31, 2016
Rick Wilking/Reuters

With finalists in both parties questioning the legitimacy of the presidential nominating process, the 2016 election is once again presenting the country a hitherto unimagined spectacle. Though each likely final candidate will have a clump of strong supporters, most people will be casting their ballot for the one they dislike less. That’s not the healthiest start to the next presidency.

Trump’s Putin Fantasy

Timothy Snyder

Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Syracuse, New York, April 16, 2016; Vladimir Putin at a meeting with journalists, Moscow, Russia, April 14, 2016
Carlo Allegri/Reuters; Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Trump presents himself as the maker of a financial empire who is willing to break all the rules, whereas that is what Putin in fact is. Thus far Trump can only verbally abuse his opponents at rallies, whereas Putin’s opponents are assassinated. Thus far Trump can only have his campaign manager rough up journalists he doesn’t like. In Russia some of the best journalists are in fact murdered.

Why Write in English?

Tim Parks

Writing in another language is successful when there is a genuine, long-term need to switch languages (often accompanied by serious trauma), and when the new linguistic and social context the author is moving in meshes positively with his or her ambitions and talents. But changing languages doesn’t always work.

“Now the Writing Starts”: An Interview with Adonis

Jonathan Guyer

Adonis, 2016
Jonathan Guyer

Adonis: A writer can never be on the side of killing. It is not possible. How can a poet or a painter be on the [same] side as a person with an explosive belt who goes into a school and detonates himself? How? Those are children. How, how do you kill them? It is an unimaginable monstrosity. My brother, if the regime is tyrannical then fight the regime. Do not fight children and schools. It is humiliating. To belong to this world is humiliating.

Behind the New German Right

Jan-Werner Müller

Supporters of the anti-immigration right-wing movement Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) carry versions of the Imperial War Flag (Reichskriegsflagge) during a demonstration march, in reaction to mass assaults on women on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Germany, January 9, 2016
Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

The rhetoric of the rapidly growing Alternative for Germany party and its supporters indicates a potentially profound shift in German political culture: it is now possible to be an outspoken nationalist without being associated with—or, for that matter, without having to say anything about—the Nazi past.

Clinton and Goldman: Why It Matters

Simon Head

Hillary Clinton and Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), New York, September 24, 2014
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

To understand the significance of Hillary Clinton’s repeated dealings with Goldman Sachs and its top executives since the financial crisis, we have to bring together two strands of history. One concerns Bill and Hillary Clinton’s long-running connections to Goldman, among their closest with any US corporation. The second concerns Goldman’s activities leading up to and during the Wall Street crash of 2007–2008, including its deceptive marketing of contaminated mortgage derivatives.