Books and Arts

American Collapse
August 27, 2007

Within fourteen days of each other, two rush-hour calamities: a bridge collapse and a steam-pipe explosion. In Minneapolis, a forty-year-old bridge along highway I-35W suddenly dropped sixty feet into the Mississippi River, killing at least five people and injuring approximately one hundred more. The federal government had deemed the bridge structurally deficient in 1990, which the Minnesota Department of Transportation acknowledged in separate reports issued in 2005, 2006, and 2007, after inspecting the bridge.

The Hero Machine
August 06, 2007

Alexander Stille is the San Paolo Professor of International Journalism at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, and the author, most recently, of The Sack of Rome: Media + Money + Celebrity = Silvio Berlusconi (Penguin). Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero By Lucy Riall (Yale University Press, 496 pp., $35) Until recently, the publication of yet another life of Garibaldi might have been greeted with a shrug and a yawn.

Books: How It Began
August 06, 2007

David Novak is the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Jesus in the Talmud By Peter Schafer (Princeton University Press, 210 pp., $24.95) When The Passion of the Christ elicited such great public controversy a few years ago, it raised once again the old question of how Jews and Judaism are portrayed in classical Christian sources, first and foremost in the New Testament. And it raised the new question as to how accurately Mel Gibson's film represented that portrayal.

Books: Power and Prudence
August 06, 2007

Edward N. Luttwak is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the author of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (Harvard University Press). Making War to Keep Peace By Jeane J. Kirkpatrick (HarperCollins, 384 pp., $26.95) Jeane J.

Films: Moliere and Mortals
August 06, 2007

Moliere Sony Pictures Classics My Best Friend IFC Films Naming NUmber Two Cyan Pictures Nearly ten years ago, when Shakespeare in Love came along, I felt that the more the viewer knew about Will's life, the more enjoyable the picture would be.

Poem: The Rounded Eyes of the Pagan God
August 06, 2007

Are exitways for the Soul-- and so the eyes half in awe, half-dazed to house so great a magnanimity never close. Rock god with your look of surprise. Be calm. The Soul peers out but rarely goes. By Geri Doran

Books: The Enlightener
August 06, 2007

Ingrid D. Rowland is based in Rome at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. History of the Art of Antiquity By Johann Joachim Winckelmann Translated by Harry Francis Mallgrave (The Getty Research Institute, 446 pp., $67.) Although Johann Joachim Winckelmann is often called "the father of modern art history," that paternal claim belongs by now to another generation.

Magical Realism
July 24, 2007

As the seventh and final installment in J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series hits bookstore shelves this weekend, the frenzy over the young magician and his chums appears set to reach even more spectacular heights. Scholastic, Harry Potter's U.S. publisher, ordered a first-run printing of 12 million copies, which may be the largest in world history. The series has already sold 325 million copies worldwide and been translated into 66 languages. And the Harry Potter films--the fifth of which was released last weekend--have grossed more than $3.8 billion globally.

Black Noise
July 02, 2007

Don DeLillo's new book is not a 9/11 novel but a 9/11 short story, or perhaps a 9/11 poem.

Getting to the End
May 21, 2007

The Road By Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf, 241 pp., $24) IN ADDITION to the 9/11 novel, and the 9/11 novel that is pretending not to be a 9/11 novel, an old genre has been re-awakened by new fears: the post-apocalyptic novel (which may well be, in fact, the 9/11 novel pretending not to be one). The possibility that familiar, habitual existence might be so disrupted within the next hundred years that crops will fail, warm places will turn into deserts, and species will become extinct—that areas of the earth may become uninhabitable—holds and horrifies the contemporary imagination.