Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches philosophy at NYU. His new book, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, is based on his 2016 BBC Reith Lectures.
 (October 2018)

Follow Kwame Anthony Appiah on Twitter: @KAnthonyAppiah.

IN THE REVIEW

The Red Baron

Michael Young, London, 1997
Michael Young was an inconvenient child. His father, an Australian, was a musician and music critic, and his mother, who grew up in Ireland, was a painter of a bohemian bent. They were hard-up, distractible, and frequently on the outs with each other; Michael, born in 1915 in Manchester, soon …

Surreal Anthropology

Francis Bacon: Portrait of Michel Leiris, 1976

Phantom Africa

by Michel Leiris, translated from the French by Brent Hayes Edwards
On April 15, 1931, a host of Parisian luminaries gathered to attend a boxing match showcasing “Panama” Al Brown—an Afro-Panamanian bantamweight and the sport’s first Latino world champion. If a resurrected Proust had wanted to evoke the social life of Paris at the time, he could have done worse than …

We’re Still Puzzled

President Obama at the White House, January 2012

The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House

by Edward Klein

The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era

by Michael Grunwald
You know the joke. A psychiatrist shows a patient a series of inkblots. Each time, the patient sees an erotic episode. “You seem to be preoccupied with sex,” the psychiatrist concludes. The patient protests: “You’re the one with all those dirty pictures.” Ask people to read the inkblots of American political life and that result, too, is likely to tell you more about them than it does about what is really going on.

Battling with Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois, 1904; photograph by J.E. Purdy

Democracy's Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W.E.B. Du Bois

by Lawrie Balfour

In the Shadow of Du Bois: Afro-Modern Political Thought in America

by Robert Gooding-Williams
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois looms over the study of African-American life like a cathedral over its close. He wrote in almost every conceivable genre—autobiography, biography, criticism, drama, essays, fiction, journalism, poetry, reviews—and was a scholar in a variety of disciplines. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868, he became, …

NYR DAILY

The Achievement of Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe found a way to represent for a global Anglophone audience the diction of his Igbo homeland, allowing readers of English elsewhere to experience a particular relationship to language and the world in a way that made it seem quite natural—transparent, one might almost say. A measure of his achievement is that Achebe found an African voice in English that is so natural its artifice eludes us.