No Confidence
October 13, 2011

Ron Suskind portrays Obama as unable to exercise control over his senior White House staff and over Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner. He present

The Last Word
October 12, 2011

On January 30, 2000, Kurt Vonnegut was sitting in the study of his Manhattan brownstone, watching the Super Bowl. During the first quarter, he put out his cigarette and went downstairs to get some food. Somehow, his trash can caught on fire. Vonnegut, who was then 77, rushed upstairs and tried to beat the flames out with a blanket, but he couldn’t save the study. He spent four days in the hospital for smoke inhalation.

October 12, 2011

The America of Russell Banks’s fiction has always been a bleak, punitive place, but in Lost Memory of Skin, its harshness has attained near-mythologic

Struggle Songs
October 11, 2011

One of the most amusing descriptions of the charismatic Jacob Zuma is offered by Stephen Chan, a professor of international relations at the School of

Purity and Danger
October 10, 2011

The Spiritual-Industrial Complex is a useful book, an evidence-driven meditation on religion and politics in the American vein. Herzog analyzes an ove

Crews Control
October 06, 2011

David M. Kennedy’s new book is a memoir, but it is really a memoir of his work—removing violence from the drug-dealing equation. Kennedy—in his own ac

War and the City
October 05, 2011

Reveille in Washington could stand on its own as a first-rate chronicle of how the political elites handled the Civil War. But the book’s main charact

Row! Row!
October 04, 2011

The Obama tax cut is a classic example of what Suzanne Mettler calls “the submerged state”: policies invisible to citizens. Countless federal benefits

The Star that Barked
October 03, 2011

Susan Orlean has done a fine job with this book, and it is to be numbered among the best Hollywood biographies. She seizes the bone at the end of her

Humanism As Revolution
September 28, 2011

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern By Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton, 356 pp., $26.95) Midway through the greatest literary work of the Italian Renaissance, the paladin Orlando, the hero of Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso, which appeared in 1516, goes crazy with unrequited love and jealousy. His poet creator is in no better shape: he is writing, he winkingly tells us, in a “lucid interval” of his own lovesickness.