March 26, 2001
Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books by H.J. Jackson (Yale University Press, 324 pp., $27.95) A certain Cambridge classics teacher named Walter Whiter suddenly became fairly famous when a peculiar book of his, A Specimen of a Commentary on Shakespeare, originally published and scorned in 1794, was rediscovered and for a while admired in the twentieth century. The brief vogue of the Specimen prompted some research into its author, so we know that Whiter was for some years the close friend of Richard Porson, the great Greek scholar.
Jazz Lips: On Louis Armstrong
November 22, 1999
There came a time when Louis Armstrong decided that his importance as a musician and his status as a worldwide American entertainer were of such magnitude that he should produce his own documentation of his career.
Doctors and Deities
October 13, 1997
A Review of Anne Fadiman's 'The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down'
Hate in the Time of Cholera
May 26, 1997
The Yiddish language is only scantily endowed with cuss words. In the shtetlakh of Eastern Europe, it was impossible to "swear like a trooper" or to "curse a blue streak," because the requisite vocabulary did not exist.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Thomas Jefferson
March 10, 1997
Thomas Jefferson a film by Ken Burns (PBS) The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 by Conor Cruise O'Brien (University of Chicago, 367 pp., $29.95) Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed (University Press of Virginia, 279 pp., $29.95) American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis (Knopf, 351 pp., $26) I. Especially during his troubled second administration, Thomas Jefferson received a lot of hate mail.
Reed in the Wind
July 08, 1996
Active Faith: How Christians Are Changing the Soul of American Politics by Ralph Reed (The Free Press, 311 pp., $25) The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore (W.W. Norton, 191 pp., $22) Ralph Reed is Pat Robertson's boy, but his new book contains not a trace of such Robertsonian concerns as Armageddon, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Warburgs and the Rothschilds, or, for that matter, God. Rather than propose that the United States become a theocracy, Reed heatedly renounces the idea.
March 22, 1996
To explain why he has written his autobiography now, at 41, the Reverend Al Sharpton cites as a "defining episode" his stabbing by a white man on January 12, 1991, as he prepared to lead a march in Brooklyn's Bensonhurst section, where a black youth
October 16, 1995
On the history of polio.
Balance in the Earth
October 02, 1995
The good, the bad, and the ugly of environmentalism.
The Forest and the Trees
August 07, 1995
Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama (Knopf, 652 pp., $40) We rush across the gleaming surface of the ocean, moving rapidly but smoothly above the untroubled beauty of the dark waters. Jagged cliffs and wild surf, rugged hills and lush grass pass beneath us. Music plays. Finally we reach our destination, where the action begins. It may be a prison from which a psychopathic bomber prepares to break out, or a clearing where poor Scottish farmers will discover the hanged bodies of their chiefs, or a village where women will be impregnated by aliens.