Books

The New New Media
December 31, 2008

The Future of the Internet (And How to Stop It)By Jonathan Zittrain(Yale University Press, 352 pp., $30)The first time Jonathan Zittrain gave a speech on the future of computing, he greatly surprised his audience. The year was 1985, and Zittrain was a magazine columnist and the "system operator" of an online forum for users of Texas Instruments computers. As a leading figure in the community, Zittrain was invited to speak at a big convention in Chicago. The surprise was that Zittrain had recently turned fifteen.

Why Mantegna Matters
December 31, 2008

I. During the last two years I have had the good fortune of visiting no fewer than four exhibitions devoted to the work of the great fifteenth-century painter Andrea Mantegna.

The Rustle of History's Wings, As They Used to Say
December 31, 2008

Not far from the train tracks, near the bruising post office,I saw a porcelain plaque on an old house, and I knewthis was the name of the son of the manwhose girl I stole years ago: she left himand came to me and this young man was bornto another woman and knew nothing aboutall this. Those were the days of a great love and a great fate,the foreign government imposed a curfew on the cityand confined us to a sweet union in a room,guarded by heavily armed soldiers. For five shillings I exchanged the exile nameof my fathers for a proud Hebrew name that suited hers. That whore ran off to America an

When Barbarism Won
December 31, 2008

Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled EuropeBy Mark Mazower(Penguin Press, 726 pp., $39.95) Between 1935, when Germany re-acquired the Saarland at the French border, and 1942, when German soldiers hoisted their flag on Mount Elbruz, Europe's highest peak in the Caucasus, the Third Reich expanded steadily until no country on the continent escaped its direct or indirect influence.

Only A Man
December 31, 2008

Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel's National PoetBy Nili Scharf Gold(Brandeis University Press, 445 pp., $35) This is a disheartening book. As the first full-scale biographical-critical study of one of the great poets of the twentieth century, it invites high expectations, and it repeatedly disappoints them. The problem does not stem from any lack of dedication in the research on which the book draws. Nili Gold has sedulously labored in the Amichai archives at the Beinecke Library at Yale, and she has uncovered a variety of interesting materials.

I, Putative
December 31, 2008

for H. C. Barer than January maples, bare abandoned hives:the bees silenced in their harvest rustle.Like as to like, the soulquiets, if soul it is, this bee boxin the chest. What outward presencecalls to inward space, drop your wings?And what unclaimed interior complies?Oh the flatland reveals its field of goldenstubble, and oh the sheared stalksdo not cry out. No, the chaff fluttersin the midland wind and the wings of the dead beesquiver in the box. By Geri Doran

Modesty and Power
December 31, 2008

Law and Judicial DutyBy Philip Hamburger(Harvard University Press, 704 pp., $49.95) The most momentous, controversial, even frightening power of the federal judiciary--the one in greatest tension with democracy and federalism--is the power to invalidate federal and state statutes that in the opinion of the judges are inconsistent with the federal Constitution.

The Prop of the Knout
December 31, 2008

Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent: Faith and Power in the New RussiaBy John Garrard and Carol Garrard(Princeton University Press, 326 pp., $29.95) Goditsya--molitsya, a ne goditsya--gorshki pokryvat. "If it fits, then we'll pray to it.

Why Mantegna Matters
December 31, 2008

I. During the last two years I have had the good fortune of visiting no fewer than four exhibitions devoted to the work of the great fifteenth-century painter Andrea Mantegna.

Wartime Lies
December 26, 2008

Update: On Saturday, December 27, Berkley Books announced that it is canceling publication of Angel at the Fence. Click here to read more about it. On February 2, 2007, Herman Rosenblat’s older brother Sam died. When he was on his deathbed, Herman went to visit him in the hospital in Florida. “When Herman tried to talk to Sammy, he looked away,” Sam’s widow Jutta Rosenblat told me on the phone on the afternoon of December 25.

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