Adam Kirsch

Do Politicians Really Learn Anything From Literature?
August 19, 2010

“If he’s so smart, and so sane, why has he fallen short of his spectacular potential so far?” No need to wonder who Frank Rich is writing about in this sentence, which gives the headline to this recent New York Review of Books essay: “Why Has He Fallen Short?” Only President Obama could inspire that particular blend of admiration and disillusionment among liberals.

The Primal Place
August 13, 2010

Considering that Hans Keilson is a hundred years old—he was born in Berlin in 1909, and has lived in the Netherlands since the Hitler era—this gives h

Notes from Underground
August 03, 2010

Combining the disciplines of history and ethnomusicology, and working with archival sources in Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew, James Loeffler gives subs

Why Wikileaks Still Needs 'The New York Times'
July 26, 2010

The final scene of the 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor is enough to make any journalist nostalgic. After two hours of dodging assassins and exposing corruption at the heart of the American government, Robert Redford finds sanctuary by making his way to 229 West 43rd Street—the iconic old address of The New York Times. There he confronts his CIA tormentor (played by Cliff Robertson), announcing that he has told a Times reporter everything he knows.

Zizek Strikes Again
July 26, 2010

Pity is not one of the qualities one associates with Slavoj Zizek, whose radicalism runs more towards fantasies of purgative violence. But in a recent interview with The Times of India, he indulged in at least a little pity for himself, complaining that “now they say I am the most dangerous philosopher in the West.

Muscular Movement
July 20, 2010

Just as sunlight is the best disinfectant, so the best response to myths and rumors about neoconservatism is the actual history of neoconservatism. Th

The Prose and the Passion
July 13, 2010

A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster By Wendy Moffat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 404 pp., $32.50) Concerning E.M. Forster By Frank Kermode (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 180 pp., $24) Whenever E.M. Forster is discussed, the phrase “only connect” is sure to come up sooner or later. The epigraph to Howards End, the book he described with typical modesty as “my best novel and approaching a good novel,” seems to capture the leading idea of all his work—the moral importance of connection between individuals, across the barriers of race, class, and nation.

Why Don't We Take the Russian Spies Seriously?
July 13, 2010

In a season of crises, from Iran to North Korea to the Gulf of Mexico, the revelation of a Russian spy ring in the United States has been greeted as a source of welcome comic relief. It’s not just Jon Stewart, or the headline writers of the New York Post, who can’t keep a straight face talking about the eleven Russian “illegals,” long-term secret agents who built up elaborate cover identities as ordinary Americans.

The Prose and the Passion
July 13, 2010

A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster By Wendy Moffat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 404 pp., $32.50) Concerning E.M. Forster By Frank Kermode (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 180 pp., $24) Whenever E.M. Forster is discussed, the phrase “only connect” is sure to come up sooner or later. The epigraph to Howards End, the book he described with typical modesty as “my best novel and approaching a good novel,” seems to capture the leading idea of all his work—the moral importance of connection between individuals, across the barriers of race, class, and nation.

Redrawing Boundaries
July 09, 2010

In the writing of history, there are no innocent decisions—especially if you are trying to write a compact book about a huge, complex, and polarizing

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