June 19, 2006
This article was adapted from The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup. There have been revolutions to create socialism, democracy, and authoritarian dictatorship. But humankind has yet to fight a revolution to guarantee one of the most vital elements--if not the most vital element--of the good life. That is, a winning soccer team. If we were to take up arms for this reason, what kind of government would we want to install? Political theory, for all its talk about equality and virtue, has strangely evaded this question.
A Thousand Darknesses
March 20, 2006
NightBy Elie Wiesel Translated by Marion Wiesel(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 120 pp., $9) NIGHT IS THE MOST DEVASTATING account of the Holocaust that I have ever read. It is devastating first because of its simplicity. The basic outline is this: after the Germans invade Hungary in 1944, the teenaged Eliezer and his family, religious Jews who live comfortably in their community, are deported to Auschwitz. He and his father, separated from the rest of their family, are assigned to hard labor.
March 06, 2006
KAFKA: THE DECISIVE YEARS By Reiner Stach Translated by Shelley Frisch (Harcourt, 581 pp., $35) THERE IS A TANTALIZING gap between our increasingly detailed knowledge of Kafka's life and our imperfect understanding of his achievement as a writer. His work seems to cry out for biographical readings and has often been subjected to them, characteristically along psychoanalytic lines. Yet the obvious connections between life and work have not explained much about the work.
February 06, 2006
Cachè (Hidden) (Sony Pictures Classics THE NEW FILM YEAR BEGAN in at least one heartening way: Daniel Auteuil arrived in a new picture. This French actor is so incredibly credible, so unostentatiously fine, that he makes his way from film to film without attracting the hoopla that attends more consciously virtuosic actors. I mention here only two of his many roles. In The Widow of Saint-Pierre, set on that French island, Auteuil was a nineteenth-century army captain whose spiritual tenor changes while he waits for the arrival of a guillotine to execute a murderer in his charge. In Apres Vous,
January 10, 2006
Grizzly Man, the most extraordinary documentary of 2005 (yes, better than the penguins), tells the story of a gifted man caught in the grip of a reckless certainty who ventures into a moral wilderness and almost loses sight of his humanity. I refer, of course, to the film's director, Werner Herzog.
The Sorrow Reflex
July 25, 2005
Campo Santo By W.G. Sebald Translated by Anthea Bell (Random House, 221 pp., $24.95) Unrecounted Poems by W.G. Sebald Lithographs by Jan Peter Tripp Translated by Michael Hamburger (New Directions, 109 pp., $22.95) I. Although he arrived at it relatively late in his senselessly truncated life, once W.G. Sebald found his real voice, it became unmistakable: melancholy, allusive, inward, and elegant, its cadences carried from book to book until each one seemed like another sketch from a single, instantly recognizable personal landscape.
Pass the Fault
July 04, 2005
Ticket lines for movies are rare in Israel, and rarer still for features that have already been showing for five weeks, and unprecedented for a German production centered on the character of Adolf Hitler.
May 23, 2005
It's May 8, the sixtieth anniversary of V-E Day, and I'm standing in Berlin amid 1,000 neo-Nazis, gathered behind a small army of riot police to protest the end of World War II. Of course, any overt expression of Nazism is banned over here (the most common neo-Nazi accoutrement today is medical tape covering various tattoos and t-shirt slogans), and the sponsor of the rally--the extremist Nationalistische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)--disavows any direct connection to the Third Reich. But practically everyone sports a shaved head, and even those who don't, such as a group of buttoned-down, middle
March 28, 2005
Lawrence Kaplan on Bush's new Iran policy.
Out of Africa
February 14, 2005
Melville J. Herskovits and the Racial Politics of Knowledge By Jerry Gershenhorn (University of Nevada Press, 338 pp., $65) Melville J.