Eloise: The Feral Star

April Bernard

Eloise, the children’s literature star—she of the Plaza, Paris, and Moscow—was born of Kay Thompson, not otherwise an author. There’s currently an Eloise revival, in the form of a new museum show emphasizing illustrator Hillary Knight’s contributions, now at the New-York Historical Society until October.

Glossing Africa

Namwali Serpell

Côte d'Ivoire, 1972

When African writers talk about glossaries, we don’t just exchange tips—How long? How comprehensive? By whom? We talk about whether to include one at all, whether to offer glosses within the text or omit all glossing entirely. To gloss, or not to gloss? That is the question.

Charlottesville: Why Jefferson Matters

Annette Gordon-Reed

White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the alt-right, encircle counterprotestors at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the University of Virginia campus, Charlottesville, Virginia, August 11, 2017

It was not necessarily Thomas Jefferson himself, but the ideas associated with him that mattered that night in Charlottesville, and warranted forming a protective barrier around his statue on the University of Virginia campus. I have no doubt that the people trying to keep the tiki torchers away from the statue know about the problematic aspects of Jefferson. Because he was at or near the heart of so many aspects of the American founding for such a long time—longer than any other member of the founding generation—we have had many occasions to ponder Jefferson’s complex nature and legacy.

In the Flower Garden of the Brain

Gavin Francis

Drawing of injured Purkinje neurons of the cerebellum, 1914

It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that brain structures began to be uncovered, by a Spanish microscopist called Santiago Ramón y Cajal. As an undergraduate in neuroscience and then medicine I was given Cajal’s drawings to study—they have a timeless elegance and enduring value for students. A new book, The Beautiful Brain, collects some of his finest.

Loving the Vicious Race

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

Chris Froome during the Vuelta a España race, August 27, 2016

Even those with no interest in bike racing might try watching the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 19, on television: they are the best possible travelogues, with aerial shots of three countries ravishingly beautiful in different ways, landscape of mountains and valleys, meadows and vineyards, castles, cathedrals and churches, great cities and pretty little towns. It might make even the most zealous Brexiter or American Firster warm a little to the glories of Europe.

The Lonely Struggle of Lee Ching-yu

Richard Bernstein

Lee Ching-yu at a press conference at the Parliament in Taipei, May 23, 2017

Lee Ming-che in a sense is like other political prisoners in China, a man stripped of rights, facing in solitary fashion the organized power of the Chinese state, but he is also different because he is from Taiwan. He is in fact the only Taiwanese ever to be charged with subversion of state power, and this imparts a special meaning to his case.

The Books We Don’t Understand

Tim Parks

Aherontas River, Epirus, Greece, 1989

What is going on when a book simply makes no sense to you? Perhaps a classic that everyone praises. Or something new you’re being asked to review. I don’t mean that you find the style tiresome, or the going slow; simply that the characters, their reflections, their priorities, the way they interact, do not really add up.

The City Strikes a Pose

Tobi Haslett

Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographers of Times Square Pose for a Photo during Some Down Time, Times Square, 1982

Jamel Shabazz is a kind of anti-Walker Evans. Born in Brooklyn in 1960, he has documented New York street life, largely in the city’s black neighborhoods, with a cheerful guilelessness. A new collection of his work from his beginnings in 1980 to the present, displays Shabazz’s wish to honor and flatter, to fashion touching tributes to a certain kind of black, urban life.

Trump’s Cruel Deportations

Kenneth Roth

A US Border Patrol agent checking birth certificates while taking immigrants from Central America into detention, McAllen, Texas, January 4, 2017

A fair immigration system would consider family and community ties before ordering deportation, but US law generally ignores them, and Trump’s policies are taking this to new extremes. Congress also bears responsibility for its abject failure to reform a system that everyone agrees is broken. It should require a hearing before deportation—or better yet, find a way to regularize the status of people who deserve legal recognition.

Our Hackable Democracy

Sue Halpern

The Voting Machine Hacking Village at the Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 29, 2017

The recent news that voting machines had been hacked for sport at the Def Con hackers’ conference, should not have been news at all. Since computerized voting was introduced more than two decades ago, it has been shown again and again to have significant vulnerabilities that put a central tenet of American democracy—free and fair elections—at risk.