The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War By Halik Kochanski (Harvard University Press, 734 pp., $35) The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery By Witold Pilecki translated by Jarek Garliński (Aquila Polonica, 460 pp., $34.95) ONCE, THE Allied history of the Second World War—the Anglo-American history of the Second World War, the Victors’ history of the Second World War—was the only one we thought mattered.
The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. 2: 1941-1956Edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck (Cambridge University Press, 791 pp., $50) In February 1950, David Greene, who was then a professor of English at New York University, asked a twenty-three-year-old protégé on a Fulbright year in Paris to track down Samuel Beckett. I should like to know a.) what he is doing now, for a living. b.) why has he, or has he, stopped writing. But none of this is terribly important except that I should like to find that he is a real person, living in the flesh.
de Kooning: A Retrospective Museum of Modern Art Willem de Kooning emerges, in the panoramic retrospective now at the Museum of Modern Art, as the archetypal modern urban man. He is by turns swaggering and sensitive. He is neurotic, self-assured, vehement, mercurial. He is a seeker, a striver, a comedian, a seducer, a dreamer. This quick-change personality comes through first of all in the splendid variety of de Kooning’s brushwork, which in a single painting can range from the elegant to the offhand, from delicate traceries to slashing strokes.
In the brief national soul-searching that followed the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, many observers, including President Obama, reflected on the troubling excess of anger and moral indignation in our political discourse—the kind of indignation that turns opponents into enemies, and campaigns into crusades. Yet, even as responsible figures on the right and the left in America are urging their fellow-citizens (in Roger Ailes’s surprising words) to “tone it down,” the best-selling book in France is a pamphlet titled Indignez-vous!—roughly, Get Angry!
Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone By Stanislao Pugliese (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 426 pp., $35) In June 1950, Ignazio Silone and Arthur Koestler, two of the most prominent anti-communist writers of that era, attended a convivial dinner party in West Berlin. They had gathered with several other intellectuals to celebrate the founding conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an American-sponsored riposte to the Soviet Cominform’s “peace conferences” of the preceding year.
The German Mujahid By Boualem Sansal Translated by Frank Wynne (Europa Editions, 240 pp., $15) I. From the terrible Algerian slaughter, and its terrible silence, comes this small tale, told by an officer of the special forces who broke with “Le Pouvoir” of his own country and sought asylum in France. It is the autumn of 1994, deep into the season of killing. An old and simple Algerian woman, accompanied by two of her children, comes to the army barracks, to the very building where the torturers did their grim work, in search of her husband and her son.
All dictators, from Creon onwards, are victims. --Gabriel García Márquez I. Many years later, in the course of writing his memoirs, Gabriel García Márquez was to remember that distant afternoon in Aracataca, in Colombia, when his grandfather set a dictionary in his lap and said, "Not only does this book know everything, it’s the only one that’s never wrong." The boy asked, "How many words are in it?" "All of them," his grandfather replied. Anywhere in the world, if a grandfather presents his grandson with a dictionary, he is giving him a great instrument of knowledge; but Colombia was not ju
Not being a military expert, I will abstain from judging whether the Israeli bombardments of Gaza could be better directed, less intense. Not being able for decades to distinguish between the good dead and the evil dead or, like Camus used to say, between "suspect victims" and "privileged executioners," I'm also deeply disturbed by the images of the Palestinian children who have been killed. This being said, and taking into account that certain media outlets have been carried away on the winds of folly once again--as is always the case when Israel is involved--I would like to remind everyone o
Fitzgerald, eager to draw the shy, Yale-educated prep-school French teacher into his dashing retinue, arranged to have Wilder and Wilson picked up at the train station, but it was Marcel Proust who helped to smooth the way between them.