Excerpt From: “Talk Talk”
February 16, 1987

Now that the schools have more or less abandoned the responsibility, passing judgment on speech has become semi-institutionalized in our society in the columns and commentaries of the so-called 'pop grammarians.' The label is a little unfair, since talking about talk is, or ought to be, a kind of right of cultural citizenship.

The Improlific Appetite
July 01, 1985

Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th-century England by Louis Crompton (University of California Press, 419 pp., $24.95) The central subject of this book is declared in its subtitle rather than in its title. Homophobia (fear and hatred of homosexuals) played a particular role in English life. No executions for homosexual acts are recorded in Continental Europe after 1791, but the figures remained constant at about two a year in England for the three decades after 1806. Executions for every other capital offense declined dramatically.

A New Deal Hero
July 01, 1985

Harold Ickes of the New Deal by Graham White and John Maze (Harvard University Press, 263 pp., $20) The title of this book gives the reader hope that the authors will open a window on the idealism, the accomplishments, and the significance of the people who made up the Roosevelt administration. But that hope quickly dims. The book presents only a minuscule part of the story of the New Deal that transformed the stark capitalism of the 1920s into the welfare state of the 1930s.

In Praise of Spying
July 01, 1985

Secrecy and Democracy: The CIA in Transition by Stansfield Turner (Houghton Mifein, 304 pp., $16.95)  "Arrogant, insensitive, absurd ideas … [he] has ruined the place. …" That was the common run of rightward Washington comment on Stansfield Turner as director of Central Intelligence by the end of 1977, his first year in office. By then Jimmy Carter no longer maintained his deceptive pretension to bi-Pauline balance.

Separate But Equal
July 01, 1985

In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America by Barbara Miller Solomon (Yale University Press, 298 pp., $25)  Women in College: Shaping New Feminine Identities by Mirra Komarovsky (Basic Books, 355 pp., $19.95) Alma Mater: Design and Experience in Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the I930s by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz (Knopf, 420 pp., $25)  “The absurdity of sending ladies to college, may, at first thought, strike every one, to whom this subject shall be proposed.

Chip of Fools
August 20, 1984

Before rushing blindly into the computer age, we need to remind ourselves that events have already falsified most of the predictions about “postindust

Art and Apartheid
April 09, 1984

J.M. Coetzee on Athol Fugard.

The Fascination of Henry Adams
August 01, 1983

Adams after his death in 1918 was to emerge as one of his century’s recovered modernists—like Whitman, Melville, Dickinson.

The Fascination of Henry Adams
August 01, 1983

The voluminous Adams papers now being gradually published by the Massachusetts Historical Society are a national archive in themselves. These magnific

The Spell of Fagin
June 20, 1983

Oliver Twist can attract and hold almost every kind of imagination, since its main figures—the defenseless waif, the devilish fence, the unctuous bead