Bulbs And Bubbles
May 28, 2008

TulipMania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age By Anne Goldgar (University of Chicago Press, 425 pp., $30)   Deep within the massive masonry structure of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, an archive is tucked away among the domed vaults of the north aisle.

Cosmic Realism
May 28, 2008

The Boys in the Trees By Mary Swan (Holt Paperbacks, 224 pp., $14) Words have become too self-conscious, too anxious, to sit still on the page. In a world blaring with YouTube videos and buzzing with blog posts, there is, especially in fiction, an apparent need to justify the extended use of text. Why write a story when you can film one? Why read when you can watch? Writers, when they react to this new instability, tend either to defiantly renounce the page or to defensively embrace it.

Depravity's Rainbow
May 07, 2008

Beautiful ChildrenBy Charles Bock(Random House, 417 pp., $25) If you ate breakfast in America during the 1980s, you probably remember the milk-carton children. A face staring out next to your bowl of cereal, identified only by the barest of data--name, date of birth, height, weight, date last seen--and accompanied by the vaguely implicatory question: Have you seen this child?

The Tangled Truth
May 07, 2008

Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948By Hillel CohenTranslated by Haim Watzman(University of California Press, 344 pp., $29.95) I. The hills of the West Bank--Judea and Samaria--are dotted with well-ordered, red-roofed Jewish settlements. Clearly, they make the partition of the land of Israel/Palestine into two states more difficult, and as such they constitute an obstacle to peace. This is certainly the view in Washington, Brussels, and Tel Aviv, the bastion of center-left Israel.

The Old Frontiers
May 07, 2008

Seizing Destiny: How America Grew from Sea to Shining Sea By Richard Kluger (Knopf, 628 pp., $35) In 1893, more than twelve million Americans traveled to Chicago to attend a national exposition celebrating the quadricentennial of Columbus's voyage of American discovery. "The World's Columbian Exposition" summoned Americans to celebrate the astonishing rapidity of their own ascent to continental dominance and international power.

May 07, 2008

We slip under the skinof ocean, slide intothe brine, float belly-down. A Barracuda scours.Gold dangles: fishing lures.Blue Tang scuttle in sync. Further below a Tarpon,lengthy as any man,cruises the sand-floor. Mothers, we hover: blue fins wavewhile hair ripples, escaping.Will he doubt our authority? Dripping, we pull our weightonto the deck. Bats plunge.Clouds tinge coral. We raise our young to know the oceanheaves every grain. Night falls.Suspended between timber and foam, buoyed, then dropped,we pitch, catch hold. The seacradles the sighing hull. --Elise Paschen By Elise Paschen

May 07, 2008

City with the loveliest name, Syracuse; don't let me forget the dim antiquity of your side streets, the pouting balconies that once caged Spanish ladies, the way the sea breaks on Ortygia's walls. Plato met defeat here, escaped with his life, what can be said about us, unreal tourists. Your cathedral rose atop a Greek temple and still grows, but very slowly, like the heavy pleas of beggars and widows. At midnight fishing boats radiate sharp light, demanding prayers for the perished, the lonely, for you, city abandoned on a continent's rim, and for us, imprisoned in our travels. By Adam Zagajew

Correspondence: Leon Wieseltier Responds To Andrew Sullivan
April 24, 2008

I still do not see why a Catholic cannot call a Muslim a fraud or a Jew call a Protestant a liar or an agnostic call a believer a cynic, or why one's identity should have any bearing upon the truth or falsity of anything one says, or why the Christianization of Republican politics should not be attributed directly to Christians, but about one thing I wish to be piercingly clear: I do not believe that Andrew Sullivan is an anti-Semite. No, it is more than a matter of my own belief.

The End of the End of History
April 23, 2008

is senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund. His new book, The Return of History and the End of Dreams, will be published by Knopf later this month. I.In the early 1990s, optimism was understandable. The collapse of the communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. The great adversaries of the Cold War suddenly shared many common goals, including a desire for economic and political integration.

'What We Know About Murdered Peoples'
April 09, 2008

Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive By Samuel D. Kassow (Indiana University Press, 523 pp., $34.95) I. This may well be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read. It is also a very important book of history, telling the story of an extraordinary research project in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1940 and 1943. As a tale about why doing history matters, Samuel D. Kassow's book has few equals in our collective record.