Saint and Sinner
February 08, 2010
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.
January 30, 2010
The White Ribbon Sony Pictures Classics Creation Newmarket Films Michael Haneke, whose new film is called The White Ribbon, has given it a subtitle: A German Children’s Story. That is warning enough. This Austrian director is by now so distinctively established as a connoisseur of darkness--with Funny Games, about neighborliness as murder; with Caché, about the past seeping into the present; with The Piano Teacher, about the animal in the civilized--that his dainty subtitle must be seen as a deadpan tease.
The Social Pathology of Dubai
January 19, 2010
Everybody is aware of the drama now being played out in Dubai. And, frankly, the relief given by Abu Dhabi, its abutting oil-rich emirate in the confederation of self-indulgent and non-productive Arabs, will only buy time for Dubai, which will have to turn over to its cousins whatever assets remain under its robes. The New York Times published a Sunday editorial which seems to counsel aid to Dubai, as if any structural disaster would follow if there weren’t any.
Why China's Trains Are Breaking Records
January 11, 2010
This month, China started operating the fastest high-speed rail system in the world—a 600-mile line between Wuhan and Guangzhou that clocks an average of 193 miles per hour (and peaks at 245). MIT Technology Review explains what makes the new train so fleet.
Linc Chafee on Why He Almost Joined the Green Party
January 05, 2010
Lincoln Chafee has officially--finally--announced his candidacy for the governorship of Rhode Island. Last year, I spoke with him about his decision to leave the Republican Party in 2007 and become an Independent. He explained that he originally wanted to "energize a moribund party or start a new one"--and that he had pondered running for governor as a Green, a Libertarian, or even as a candidate of the Progressive Party: I asked, is there a party out there that's got some roots in the ground? I looked at the Progressive Party from the 1920s. … The Greens were attractive to me.
December 16, 2009
In the popular imagination, the United States and Europe are assumed to be radically opposing poles--"Mars" and "Venus"--on issues such as market regulation, public education, social policy, health care, crime, and the environment. But is that really the case? The numbers would suggest otherwise. My book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike, presents quantifiable data on a wide array of social conditions on each side of the Atlantic.
Squaring Idealism and Realism
December 14, 2009
PARIS -- Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic. Oh, yes, most Europeans are still happy Obama is president.
"Starting From Scratch" in Afghanistan
December 11, 2009
Richard Holbrooke, while drumming up support for the war in Germany, offers a bleak assessment.
Quick Thoughts On Obama's Speech
December 10, 2009
I’m not a big fan of political speeches in general, but I thought President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today was unusually good. (If I were a speech-y kind of writer, like Rick Hertzberg, I’d have used a better adjective in the last sentence than “good.”) After again acknowledging that he doesn’t really deserve the award--“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.
December 10, 2009
Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity Museum of Modern Art Kandinsky Guggenheim Museum This is an autumn of anniversaries in two of New York’s most important museums. At the Museum of Modern Art, “Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity,” the exhibition saluting the ninetieth anniversary of the opening of the legendary German school of art, architecture, and design, also marks the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the Modern.