Books

American Unions
October 22, 2008

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family By Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton, 756 pp., $35) Although Thomas Jefferson spoke out strongly against slavery, he was always pessimistic about actually abolishing the institution.

Victory and Sorrow
October 22, 2008

Khirbet Khizeh By S. Yizhar Translated by Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck (Ibis Editions, 134 pp., $16.95) The short history of Hebrew as a modern language has yielded, over the course of little more than a century, an impressively long list of literary masters--the early twentieth-century Brenner and Bialik; the mid-century Nobel laureate Agnon; and the renowned contemporaries Amichai, Oz, Yehoshua, and Grossman. Much less known outside Israel, but certainly one of the most significant figures in the Hebrew literary canon, is Yizhar Smilansky, who wrote under the transposed pen name S.

Misery and Company
October 22, 2008

Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century By Marc Sageman (University of Pennsylvania Press, 208 pp., $24.95) A few years ago, Daniel Kahneman, David Schkade, and I were involved in several studies of punitive damage awards by juries. We began by asking one thousand or so demographically diverse people to register their judgments about misconduct by various wrongdoers.

The Fatal Handjob
October 22, 2008

Indignation By Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, 236 pp., $26) College students today, showered with condoms and tastefully preserving their drunken, tonguetapping escapades on Facebook and MySpace for future in--laws and employers, have no appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who came before, the lusty pioneers of the sexual revolution. They take for granted the blowjobs and easy lay-ups made possible through the guerrilla activities of forgotten combatants in the early, undeclared stages of America's war for erotic independence.

Skin Deep
October 08, 2008

Lying on a couch in the office of one of the hairdressing salons that she owns in London, Sharyn Hughes perused the advertising brochure she had been sent by Makeover Getaways:"Our Malaysian Makeover Package is a brilliant combination of surgery trea

Gonzo Sociology
October 08, 2008

The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills Edited by John Summers (Oxford University Press, 320 pp., $21.95) C.Wright Mills published his sociological trilogy during the 1950s: White Collar in 1951, The Power Elite in 1956, The Sociological Imagination in 1959. Those were years of Republican ascendancy, and while the president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a moderate, the vice president, Richard Nixon, and a number of key senators, including Joe McCarthy, belonged to the conservative wing of the party.

God Is in the House
October 08, 2008

HomeBy Marilynne Robinson(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 336 pp., $25)With the decorous taboos that once governed literary life bursting like soap bubbles, contemporary American fiction has become a groaning board on which characters and plots often seem chosen less for their inherent interest than for their ability to shock. Terrorism, the Holocaust, the full spectrum of sexual practice conventional and unconventional--things that were once off-limits, suggested indirectly or through omission or addressed not at all, are now part of the literary free-for-all.

On the Hills of Georgia
October 08, 2008

Night over Georgia; mist across the heights. Loud flows the Argava River above. Only my chained and prancing heart's distress remains intense, a pain so filled with you-- totally you--that all its darkness lights. How can I help, combustible anew, but live in love, even a bitter love?-- being powerless to live in lovelessness. By Alexander Pushkin Translated from the Russian by Peter Viereck

Love Tomorrow
October 08, 2008

Love TodayBy Maxim BillerTranslated by Anthea Bell(Simon and Schuster, 217 pp., $23)The Game, that infamous black-imitation-leather-bound book about the seduction community, is a novel of sorts. There is a narrative. But really the writer, Neil Strauss, produced a guidebook with a glossary. I remember--the book appeared in 2005--how it spread through the dining halls and dormitories at Harvard, passed from one roommate to the next. This was not the game we played, or would ever play, or would ever want to play--well, or so we said. Yet the book held a certain attraction.

Kol Nidre
October 08, 2008

As to the deep ineradicable flaws in the workmanship anger and envy anger and envy stemming from over-enthusiasm that rises like a water lily from mud and the stone of self, of ego that insists on its imperial monologue that strangles its audience I would like to repent but I cannot I am ridden like a horse * What does the contriver have in mind the contrivance wants to know because otherwise what is the point of all this moaning pretending to be sorry for everything groveling like a chained-up snake crawling over a stone book in the rain of words for which someone is responsible at times the

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