David A. Bell

When French Irrationality Was Deadly
The writers who fell in love with fascism
May 31, 2014

France was the seat of the Enlightenment and intellectual order. Perhaps this made its writers fall in love with disorder.

The Historical Analogy That Should Have Ukraine's Revolutionaries Very Worried
February 27, 2014

What the French Revolution can tell us about events in Crimea. 

This Is What Happens When Historians Overuse the Idea of the Network
October 25, 2013

In the so-called “global turn” in contemporary historiography, it has not been enough simply to study the way Western powers have affected the rest of the world. The task has also been to show how the rest of the world affected the West. And it has been a matter of applying, even to quite distant historical periods, the controlling metaphor of the digital age: the “network.” Yet a remarkable amount is absent as well.

Is War Civilized?
The Evolution of the Battlefield
March 03, 2013

Were princes more humanitarian than the Hague?

The War in Mali is a Reminder of France's Grand Malaise
January 15, 2013

The French public has recently been more inclined to a sense of decline, malaise, paralysis and crisis. And it is at least partially justified. 

François Hollande’s Apology Tour—and What Americans Should Learn From It
October 19, 2012

In France, apologizing for your country can be good politics. Maybe American presidents should give it a try?

The Bookless Library
July 12, 2012

I. THEY ARE, in their very different ways, monuments of American civilization. The first is a building: a grand, beautiful Beaux-Arts structure of marble and stone occupying two blocks’ worth of Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The second is a delicate concoction of metal, plastic, and glass, just four and a half inches long, barely a third of an inch thick, and weighing five ounces. The first is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the main branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL). The second is an iPhone.

Happy Birthday to Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Why the World’s First Celebrity Intellectual Still Matters
June 22, 2012

He was a man who claimed to have abandoned all five of his children, as newborns, at the door of an orphanage. He broke with nearly every friend he ever made, including some who sacrificed dearly for him, denouncing them in the most hateful and vitriolic terms. He wrote that law-breakers deserved to be treated as rebels and traitors.

Happy Birthday to Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Why the World’s First Celebrity Intellectual Still Matters
June 22, 2012

He was a man who claimed to have abandoned all five of his children, as newborns, at the door of an orphanage. He broke with nearly every friend he ever made, including some who sacrificed dearly for him, denouncing them in the most hateful and vitriolic terms. He wrote that law-breakers deserved to be treated as rebels and traitors.

The Conductor
April 05, 2012

In this new biography, Peter McPhee is quite right to point out that Robespierre was in no sense a pathological freak. He was perfectly capable of ord

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