The End of the Journey
July 02, 2007
I. In late 1988, when I set out to write a life of Whittaker Chambers,the cold war had reached its ceremonial endgame: Mikhail Gorbachevacknowledging the autonomy of peoples long after they had liberatedthemselves, valiant students halting tank columns in TiananmenSquare. It was an impressive, if occasionally hollow, spectacle,and it inspired a chorus of sweeping pronouncements in the UnitedStates.
January 22, 2007
ON A BALMY day in Antwerp's medieval city center, not far from the offices of Vlaams Belang, the right-wing Flemish nationalist party,the boulevards were crowded. At a clogged artery on a mainthoroughfare, as the light turned, a tram pulled away and a van driven by an orthodox Jew—side curls and black yarmulkevisible—became stuck in the pedestrian crossing. Walkers, annoyed,muttered to themselves.
Sarah Williams Goldhagen on Architecture: Extra-Large
July 31, 2006
A FRIEND RECENTLY TOLD me that his most important pedagogical tool as an architect is this maxim: the architect's primary ethical responsibility is to be the guardian of the public realm, in contrast to the myriad others who currently configure our built landscape— clients, politicians, contractors, developers, and NIMBY-driven "community action" committees.
June 19, 2006
This article was adapted from The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup. There have been revolutions to create socialism, democracy, and authoritarian dictatorship. But humankind has yet to fight a revolution to guarantee one of the most vital elements--if not the most vital element--of the good life. That is, a winning soccer team. If we were to take up arms for this reason, what kind of government would we want to install? Political theory, for all its talk about equality and virtue, has strangely evaded this question.
January 16, 2006
"Open" has long been a catchword for the Netherlands, referring to everything from the flat, low-lying fields of Zuid-Holland and the curtain-less windows of Amsterdam and The Hague to the country's liberal stances on marijuana and prostitution, both of which are enjoyed freely and legally in cheerful "coffee shops" and red-lighted bordellos throughout the country. To many, the country has long seemed the apotheosis of a free, liberal, and democratic state. But, these days, Filip Dewinter, leader of one of Europe's most extreme far-right political parties, Belgium's Vlaams Belang (Flemish Inte
The Sorrow Reflex
July 25, 2005
Campo Santo By W.G. Sebald Translated by Anthea Bell (Random House, 221 pp., $24.95) Unrecounted Poems by W.G. Sebald Lithographs by Jan Peter Tripp Translated by Michael Hamburger (New Directions, 109 pp., $22.95) I. Although he arrived at it relatively late in his senselessly truncated life, once W.G. Sebald found his real voice, it became unmistakable: melancholy, allusive, inward, and elegant, its cadences carried from book to book until each one seemed like another sketch from a single, instantly recognizable personal landscape.
April 11, 2005
Dirty SnowBy Georges Simenon Translated by Marc Romano and Louise Varse (New York Review Books, 257 pp., $14) Three Bedrooms in Manhattan By Georges Simenon Translated by Marc Romano and Lawrence G. Blochman (New York Review Books, 158 pp., $12.95) Monsieur Monde Vanishes By Georges Simenon Translated by Jean Stewart (New York Review Books, 174 pp., $12.95) Georges Simenon famously claimed to have slept with ten thousand women during the course of his lifetime. Or perhaps it was twenty thousand—the figure varies.
June 07, 2004
Most of the time in war, diplomatic machinations don't create enduring realities--events on the battlefield do. After World War I, the defeated, but not humiliated, German army that surrendered in France and Belgium provided the origins for the "stab in the back" mythology that fueled Hitler's rise to power. After World War II, by contrast, the shattered and shamed Wehrmacht in Berlin was unable to energize a Fourth Reich. George S.
Jerusalem Dispatch: Fantasy
December 15, 2003
Some two million Israeli homes recently received in the mail the 47-page text of the Geneva Accord, which claims to be the comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Accord, a European-funded effort secretly negotiated by Palestinian officials and Israeli public figures for two years--and signed in a symbolic, lavish ceremony in Geneva this week--states that Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders, a Palestinian state will emerge with its capital in Jerusalem, and the two peoples will recognize each other's right to statehood and resolve the refugee issue.
Birds and Others
April 21, 2003
The statistics are staggering. Winged Migration, a French documentary about birds in flight, took four years to make. It employed, as it proceeded, a total crew of four hundred fifty. It was shot in a global variety of places-or over them, rather-to capture the four principal migration routes: those used by North American birds, European and Asian birds, Asian birds, and Southeast Asian birds. Needed for the cinematography were gliders and model gliders, helicopters and model ones, light motorized aircraft, and balloons.