The Logistical Sublime
June 25, 2010

The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay By Umberto Eco Translated by Alastair McEwen (Rizzoli, 408 pp., $45) The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right By Atul Gawande (Metropolitan Books, 209 pp., $24.50) “Please direct your attention to the front of the cabin where the flight attendants are demonstrating safety procedures ... in the event of a water landing ...

Why General Petraeus Is Better Suited for Our Afghanistan Mission Than General McChrystal Ever Was
June 24, 2010

“Command climate” is what shapes a military organization. The preferences, priorities, and peccadilloes of the commander echo across its staff and subordinate units. Command climate functions as an organization's persona and it plays just as powerful a role in its behavior—and effectiveness—as an individual's personality.

Petraeus Was The Obvious Choice. But Will Obama Allow Him To Fight A Winning War?
June 23, 2010

Had the president chosen some one else, a cry would have risen up from the demos: why not Petraeus? In an age when generals are seldom heroes, David Petraeus was a true hero. Not because he catered to the press or to Congress or, for that matter, to the military intellectuals.

Fatherhood And Apple Pie
June 21, 2010

Most everything associated with President Obama—his policy platform, his public style, his personal story—have become grist for intense partisan conflict. I had thought that the one remaining uncontroversial scrap was his endorsement of fatherhood, which he has been doing periodically since he appeared on the public scene.

Pyramid Schemes
May 30, 2010

On the surface, it seems as if tomorrow's Egyptian elections will be a dreary formality. Although the official campaigning period for the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of parliament, has been going for two weeks, the streets of Cairo are noticeably silent. The only overt evidence of political gamesmanship is the paraphernalia of the ruling party’s candidates plastered in the city’s central squares. Campaigns here tend to be lackluster because they don't usually matter.

Turkey’s Other Dirty War
May 24, 2010

For the last three years Turkey has been gripped by an extraordinary series of legal proceedings revolving around an alleged conspiracy to destabilize and eventually topple the country’s conservative-Islamist government.

The Four Seasons
May 05, 2010

The Rags of Time By Maureen Howard (Viking, 238 pp., $26.95) If we are moved to tears by B movies instead of operas, have we missed anything? The question nags Maureen Howard in the first installment of her great sequence-novel in four parts, of which The Rags of Time is the last, because in her universe the point of ambitious art—which her series is—is not at all a given. One character settles into an old age of embroidery and television, another takes Moby-Dick out of the library.

In a Ditch
May 04, 2010

Corpses have been showing up on roadsides in North and South Waziristan for years. Some of the time they are headless; almost all of the time they display a note alleging that the deceased was a spy. Khalid Khawaja’s death was no different, except that he never hid the fact that he had once worked for Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI. The association gave him credibility in many circles.


One of the worst days for Poland is rapidly becoming one of its greatest. The country's president, its armed forces' chiefs of staff, and its National Bank President, along with many more high state officials--the core members of Poland's governing elite--lost their lives on Saturday morning. Much of the media attention has been on the destination of the presidential visit: the commemoration of the Katyn massacre in 1940. On Stalin’s orders the Soviet NKVD executed nearly 20,000 Polish Army officers (who were also key members of the educational, professional, and administrative elite).

Man of Letters
March 16, 2010

This is the way it happens. They sit in your class poring over Dante’s Inferno or grousing good-naturedly about the silent film you’ve insisted they admire. They graduate to crawling through the mud at Ranger School or learning how to fly a Chinook in Alabama. They write to let you know about the milestones and about the weirdness; they ask what’s new on your end and tell you not to work “too hard.” They stop by the office whenever they’re back in town for a classmate’s wedding or some other event.