Literary Resolutions For the New Year
December 30, 2011
Last year, I gave the traditional New Year’s resolutions a literary spin by resolving to become a better reader in 2011. Now it’s time to take stock. Did I keep my promises? And what should I resolve to do this year? 1. Lose weight. I pledged to make 2011 the year of my big switch to e-galleys, freeing myself of the mountains of paper weighing down my shelves and cluttering my apartment. Alas, this didn’t go as smoothly as planned. I signed up for both Netgalley and Edelweiss, but my electronic requests for review copies were often unanswered or (bizarrely) denied.
TNR Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2011
December 23, 2011
Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World by John Szwed This book was published the day before New Year’s Eve, 2010, and I had not yet read it when I chose my best books of that year. With empathy but no defensiveness, Szwed shows Lomax to be something more than a musical imperialist and less than the benevolent patron of American folk culture. - David Hajdu, Music Critic Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson I was hoping to be the lone end-of-year champion for this well-received but somewhat overshadowed debut novel, but the pesky New York Times beat me to it in their ten best list. S
December 22, 2011
With the publication of China in Ten Words, the puzzle over Yu Hua’s surrealism comes largely undone. Here, in ten very realist chapters, which he cal
December 21, 2011
The Rosenwald School takes center stage in Stephanie Deutsch’s book, which charts the steadily expanding alliance between Booker T. Washington and Jul
Outward, and Inward, Bound
December 20, 2011
The shadow of Henry David Thoreau casts itself over many Americans who write about the natural world, and although John Casey works here on a vastly d
December 19, 2011
Hedy’s Folly avoids the pitfalls of other books about Lamarr, starting with the star’s own memoir, Ecstasy and Me. These volumes ultimately fail to ca
It’s the Science, Stupid
December 15, 2011
Back in the 1980s, doctors had little to offer beyond a kind heart, an attentive ear, and a few highly problematic drugs. An avalanche of intriguing i
What Hope Remains?
December 14, 2011
An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age By Jürgen Habermas (Polity Press, 87 pp., $14.95) The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere By Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West Edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (Columbia University Press, 137 pp., $19.50) On October 14, 2001, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas stepped up to the lectern at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt to deliver a short address called “Faith and Knowledge.” The occasion was his acceptance speech of the Peace Prize, a yearly honor that the German Book
The Invention of Space
December 14, 2011
Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science By Hans Belting Translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider (Belknap Press, 303 pp., $39.95) In many respects this is a bold book, first of all because of its premise: a veteran art historian dares, after half a century as an active scholar, to take another look at a classic art-historical problem—the formulation of linear perspective in fifteenth-century Florence.
Strategist and Scourge
December 14, 2011
George F. Kennan: An American Life By John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin, 784 pp., $39.95) I. George F. Keenan, who was born in 1904 and died in 2005, and served under presidents from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, left as deep an imprint on American geopolitics as any intellectual of the twentieth century. But the exact nature of his achievement continues to elude full or even coherent description. One reason is that most of his very long life was spent in comparative obscurity.