Ben Bradlee Had a Talent for a Specific Kind of Trouble
November 20, 1995
He sold himself as an outsider while he was in many ways the consummate insider.
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.
The Plague Year
July 17, 1995
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (Random House, 300 pp., $23) The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 750 pp., $25) In the spring of 1983, a flock of wild ducks carrying a strain of avian influenza virus settled on a pond in a chicken farm in eastern Pennsylvania. The virus was excreted in the ducks' feces, which meant that it got onto the ground and then onto the boots of a farmer, which is why in turn it soon found its way into the chicken barn.
The Air Around Tom Paine
April 24, 1995
Thomas Paine: Collected Writings edited by Eric Foner (The Library of America, 906 pp., $35) Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom by Jack Fruchtman Jr. (Four Walls Eight Windows, 557 pp., $30) Thomas Paine: A Political Life by John Keane (Little, Brown, 644 pp., $27.95) I. Every twenty-ninth of January, Thomas Paine's admirers assemble at his old farm in New Rochelle, New York, to celebrate his birthday and to lay a wreath on his monument.
All and Nothing at All
March 06, 1995
I. Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America Routledge, 319 pp. $19, $16.95 paper Race Matters Beacon Press, 105 pp. $15 Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism. Volume One: Prophetic Thought in Postmodern Times Common Cause Press, 205 pp. $14.95 paper Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism. Volume Two: Prophetic Reflections: Notes on Race and Power in America Common Cause Press, 244 pp. $14.95 paper Prophetic Fragments William Eerdmans Publishing Co., 294 pp. $14.99 paper The American Evasion of Philosophy:A Genealogy of Pragmatism University of Wisconsin Press, 279 pp. $16.95 pap
A Groom of One's Own
July 25, 1994
Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John Boswell Villard Books, 412 pp., $25 I. We find ourselves, all of us, in a historical crisis of gender. It has produced highly charged arguments over "Amendment 2" to the constitution of Colorado, and over the various legal actions that have stemmed from that controversial initiative. In Ontario, one of the larger provinces in my own country, it has produced acerbic debate and the defeat of a legislative bill that would have recognized same-sex unions as "marital" in nature, and would have granted them comparable rights and duties.
The Father of Spin Control
February 01, 1993
For King and Country: The Maturing of George Washington, 1748-1760 by Thomas A. Lewis (HarperCollins, 203 pp., $27.50) Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith (Houghton Mifflin, 424 pp., $24.95) George Washington is a hard man to get to know. Despite repeated attempts to humanize hint, beginning with Parson Weems's efforts in 1800 to demonstrate that the young Washington could cut down cherry trees but never tell a lie, he remains to this day, as historians like to say, more a monument than a man.