Europe

The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume 1 (1898–1922) Edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton (Faber and Faber, 871 pp., £35) The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume 2 (1923–25) Edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton (Faber and Faber, 878 pp., £35)  In these two volumes we find more than 1,600 pages of letters and T.S. Eliot is not yet forty.

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Setting aside all the questions about air travel and global cooling, have there been any other environmental consequences from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull? As best I can tell from trawling around various news sources, the effects have actually been pretty mild—though they could get a lot worse if Eyjafjallajökull's sister volcano Katla erupted (the two have a storied history of blowing up one after the other).

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Back in 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines and kicked up nearly 20 million tons of sulfur-dioxide into the air. The particles spread across the global atmosphere, scattering a greater portion of sunlight back into space, and ended up cooling the Earth by about 0.4°C for a spell. (The sulfuric haze also caused further damage to the ozone layer.) The eruption was a horrible disaster for the immediate area—destroying homes and farmland and kicking up all sorts of nasty air pollution.

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James Risen, a Washington-based writer, and Yossi Klein Halevi, a Jerusalem-based writer, have been friends since they both crashed the Nazi Party headquarters in Chicago as student reporters 30 years ago. They have been joking and arguing about news and politics ever since, especially when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.  This e-mail exchange began in the shadow of the dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.

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Killing in the Name

The following is adapted from a talk delivered at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2010. One of the greatest ironies of the past decade's debates over political Islam has been that, on the whole, the most passionate and emphatic rejections of radical Islamism in this country came from President Bush and his supporters—that is, conservatives. This is peculiar because the various forms of radical Islamism represent the third major form of totalitarian ideology and politics in modern world history.

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The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.

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I honestly can't tell if this, from the Weekly Standard, is a parody: I can't resist asking a few questions about the president's "shooting competition" versus Clark Kellogg: 1. Why wear shorts on Air Force One in Europe -- and regularly not wear ties at events of a somewhat formal nature -- and then wear a tie to play hoops? 2.

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Bringing the Heat

This is a tale of two bills—a tale that illuminates how policy-making may unfold under the most progressive administration, and the most Democratic Congress, in a generation. And it’s not a tale with an especially happy ending. The target of both bills is carbon. From early on, President Obama has indicated that climate and energy legislation would come second in his administrative batting order, only after health care reform. (Originally, he thought that would mean last fall, but health care was like a hitter who fouled off pitch after pitch.

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WASHINGTON -- Toward the end of the health care battle, a beleaguered Obama staff member sent me an e-mail that ended with the words: "Sisyphus was a sissy compared to what we've been through!" Yes, the fight for health care seemed very much like the Greek myth: Every time the White House found itself on the verge of rolling the health care stone up the hill, some event -- say, Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts -- would force it to start over with a new strategy. Alas for President Obama, this will not be the last moment that invites comparisons with Sisyphus.

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Being and Time

History Man: The Life of R.G. Collingwood By Fred Inglis (Princeton University Press, 385 pp., $39.50) This is a warm-hearted, affectionate biography of an irascible but brilliant philosopher and historian. It is a model of its kind--warm, supportive, and forgiving; and conceived, as the author says, as a minor riposte to the “moral hypochondria and sanctimonious recrimination” toward everything our ancestors in the twentieth century did.

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