Books and Arts

Money and Soul
January 12, 2004

The PatronA Life of Salman Schocken,1877-1959By Anthony David(Metropolitan Books, 451 pp., $ 30)For a year in the early 1960s, not long after finishing college, I had a job working for Schocken Books, a small publishing house in New York. Actually, "small" is something of an overstatement. Schocken consisted at the time of four people working in a two-room apartment on 38th Street and Park Avenue: the editor-in-chief Herzl Rome, two secretaries, and the editorial staff, which was me.

Tramps Like Who?
December 15, 2003

Bruce Springsteen's America: The People Listening, A Poet Singing By Robert Coles (Random House) Thirty years ago this fall, Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey. I knew from whence he greeted, having grown up in the same state a few years behind him.One of Springsteen's teenage bands, the Castiles, had been the entertainment at my friend Doug's eighth-grade graduation party; so when Columbia Records sent the twenty-four-year-old and his new group, the E Street Band, on a tour of midsized Northeast colleges to promote his record debut, Doug and I d

Spaldeen Dreams
October 13, 2003

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem(Doubleday, 511 pp., $26) I.  Jonathan Lethem’s new novel is a bohemian rhapsody about an unwilling bohemian—a delicate little white pioneer named Dylan Ebdus, whose right- thinking parents decide, in the early 1970s, that a ragged street in swinish Brooklyn is the place before which to cast their only jewel.

This Year's Model
October 06, 2003

North Elvis Costello (Deutsche Grammophon) Why don't we let rock stars grow up? The pop music domain is like a confederation of Never-Never Land and the Island of Lost Boys, where nobody can ever grow old and nasty behavior is the social code. It is some fifty years now since rock and roll began to emerge as a musical style and a cultural phenomenon, originally of a piece with the adolescent rebellion against postwar conservatism that the rebelled-upon used to call juvenile delinquency. The music's surviving originators—Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis, most of the

Road Maps
September 22, 2003

Support Any Friend: Kennedy's Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel AllianceBy Warren Bass(Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $30)Imagine a fetching young president who takes office and tries to transform America's Middle East policies, tackling instead of sidestepping the Palestinian problem, not distancing but embracing the Israelis, wooing rather than resisting Arab radicals. And imagine a president who strives to achieve these goals at the very moment the Middle East becomes the focus of a vicious global struggle.

Who's On First
September 01, 2003

How statistics geeks revolutionized baseball.

The Prelude
June 02, 2003

The Enemy at His Pleasure: A Journey Through the Jewish Pale of Settlement During World War IBy S. AnskyEdited and translated byJoachim Neugroschel(Metropolitan Books, 327 pp., $30)I was a college student when I first read, in Hebrew, S.Y. Agnon's novel A Guest for the Night, which tells the story of a Jew from Palestine who returns after the war to his native town in Galicia, the area of southeastern Poland that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1917. There he finds the remains of a devastated Jewish community.

The Rejection
April 28, 2003

The Palestinian People: A HistoryBy Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal(Harvard University Press, 608 pp., $45)I.What are the Palestinians after? There are two basic interpretations of their actions in the past three years, which began with their rejection of the Barak-Clinton compromise proposals and the launching of the ongoing terroristic and guerrilla assault on Israel known as the Aqsa Intifada.

April 21, 2003

Regarding the Pain of Others By Susan Sontag (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 131 pp., $20)   One of the great platitudes of our epoch is that images, in particular photographic or filmed images, transmit messages that are much clearer and stronger than words, which disguise the truth more than they reveal it. But in truth nothing could be less certain: a photograph can stun us, but taken out of context it may not convey any significant meaning.

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.