To celebrate the Review’s fifty-fifth anniversary in 2018, we have been going back into our archives year by year. Today we go back to the turn of the millennium, with Tatyana Tolstaya on Russia’s new president, Tony Judt on the future of Israel, James McPherson on enduring Civil War fantasies, William Nordhaus on what war in Iraq would cost, and Marcia Angell on the deceptions of the pharmaceutical industry.
Official betrayal was epitomized in Britain by the Victory Parade of July 19, 1919. Lutyens, whose Cenotaph in London was the saluting point, may have sought to embrace all the Empire faithful, but Colonial Office officials deemed it “impolitic to bring coloured detachments to participate in the peace processions.” Indians were among the 15,000 soldiers and sailors on parade, but West Indians and Nigerians were not. Today, a wave of work by artists and historians is challenging World War I’s monochrome image, raising profound questions about the selectiveness of remembrance and how those who have been willfully erased can best be restored to memory.
There is overwhelming evidence that the English people who voted for Brexit do not, on the whole, care about the United Kingdom and in particular that part of it called Northern Ireland. Asked whether “the unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland” is a “price worth paying” for Brexit, fully 83 percent of Leave voters and 73 percent of Conservative voters in England agree that it is. So, while the people who voted for Brexit are waving goodbye to the United Kingdom, Theresa May—with, in this, the support of Corbyn’s Labour—has vowed to “always fight to strengthen and sustain this precious, precious Union.” Brexit cannot be properly articulated because it has made a sacred cause of fighting for the very thing Brexit voters don’t care about.
Claudia Dreifus: If your predecessor as the dean of the White House press corps, the late Helen Thomas, could come down from journalism heaven, what do you think she’d tell you? April Ryan: “Keep doing what you’re doing.” She’d be the first person banging on the door for answers. She had the doors closed quite a bit on her, though it never stopped her. But people in power were afraid of her. She wielded real power. Like her, I’m not looking for approval. I’m looking to do my job.
This seal belongs to the Brooklyn Zoo. She barks like a dog and even looks a bit like a dog. She also looks like an old man—Winston Churchill, specifically—and depending on her expression, like another, more contemporary politician who will remain nameless. She is a fantastic swimmer. She catches small fish and the children love to watch. Altogether, she seems content enough with her life, if a bit pensive.
It came to be a core belief held by the American public and media that Barack Obama was a self-creation who had stepped out of nowhere. But for me, Obama’s story is remarkably familiar and concrete. Our fathers both belonged to the postwar wave of Africans educated in the West who saw themselves as the architects of decolonization. The writer Wole Soyinka called them the “Renaissance Generation.” There’s a quality of character they wear, whose origins I have come to understand. They carry, alongside a worldly ease, a sense of duty, of obligation and responsibility, that imbues all they say and do. I try to imagine an Africa if they had never been, and I cannot.
With the divisions in the country seeming to harden in the wake of the midterms, journalists need to do a better job of overcoming them. Sadly, Jim Acosta’s confrontation with President Trump at the post-election press conference seemed certain to heighten the divisions. For CNN, the encounter added to their star reporter’s visibility and the network’s image as a fighter for press freedom. To Trump and his supporters, Acosta’s grandstanding provided further evidence of the news media’s implacable hostility to them. Each side, in short, seemed to get from the encounter exactly what it wanted.
The fact that nobody saw the end coming, the way it did, highlights the value of going back, a hundred years later, and reliving events day by day, as they took place. What may seem obvious now was anything but so then, and we do the people who lived through it, and our understanding of them, a real disservice when we assume that it was. “Life can only be understood backwards,” the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard observed, “but it must be lived forwards.”
Twenty years after publishing the last issue of Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte, Drawn & Quarterly has gathered the first dozen issues along with Doucet’s early, unpublished, and previously uncollected work, and numerous appreciations, in a two-volume slipcase edition. Such lavish treatment can’t dispel the unruliness of Doucet’s project; these comics are as pertinent and captivating today as when they first made their way into the culture. Doucet’s parodic depictions of intense violence are still unsettling; her elastic treatment of sex and gender is still daring; and her open-ended treatment of female identity is still vital.
Naming can be an art. We have a president who takes names very seriously, using them for specific purposes and according them strange powers. Having apprenticed himself to mobsters and wrestlers (great adopters of mythic nicknames), he has transformed politics into mass entertainment. He relishes the sound of names, especially his own. For Trump, naming is branding. Extending the Trump brand appears to have been the central driver of his initially only half-serious presidential bid, and it continues to drive Trump’s presidency, as he dreams, no doubt, of a Trump Tower on Mars.