Greece

I. In late 1988, when I set out to write a life of Whittaker Chambers,the cold war had reached its ceremonial endgame: Mikhail Gorbachevacknowledging the autonomy of peoples long after they had liberatedthemselves, valiant students halting tank columns in TiananmenSquare. It was an impressive, if occasionally hollow, spectacle,and it inspired a chorus of sweeping pronouncements in the UnitedStates.

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In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000 Edited by Michelle P. Brown (Smithsonian, 360 pp., $45) The numinous objects displayed in "In the Beginning," the exhibition of Bibles from before the year 1000 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., are beautiful, and their arrangement helps the visitor to the show (and the student of its extraordinary catalogue) see important things in a new light. Beauty first: the archipelago of dimly lit vitrines that stretches through several dark rooms reveals hand written Bibles as genuine works of art.

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Poor Sport

Kim Clark explores the financial dimensions of Greece's preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

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Preoccupied

Just when it seemed we had heard the last from the United Nations on the subject of Iraq, the battle of Turtle Bay resumed last week. An army of European statesmen regrouped and declared that, having been defeated in their efforts to constrain U.S. power before the war, they intend to pick up where they left off as soon as it ends. The European Union issued a formal statement insisting that "the U.N. must continue to play a central role" in Iraq, and the EU president, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, exhorted "the U.N.

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John Ruskin: The Later Years by Tim Hilton (Yale University Press, 656 pp., $35) In the second volume of John Ruskin's three-volume study The Stones of Venice, which appeared in 1853, there is a chapter titled "The Nature of Gothic." It opens conventionally enough, with Ruskin promising to describe the "characteristic or moral elements" of the Gothic; but readers who were familiar with Ruskin's earlier works, Modern Painters and The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and who had been dazzled by his word-pictures of works of art and scenes of nature, could not possibly have expected a straightforwar

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Tablets to Books

Libraries in the Ancient World By Lionel Casson  (Yale University Press, 177 pp., $22.95) One of the inscribed clay tablets in the library of Ashurbanipal, who was the king of Assyria from 668 B.C.

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The Returns of Odysseus: Colonization and Ethnicity by Irad Malkin (University of California Press, 331 pp., $45)  Celebrating Homer's Landscapes: Troy and Ithaca Revisited by J.V. Luce (Yale University Press, 260 pp., $35) For the modern traveler, Greece and its environs seem surprisingly small, a sea-girt checkerboard most often first glimpsed from the air. Most of the Aegean islands are on nodding terms with each other.

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Demolition Man

Last Summer, when President Clinton picked Richard Holbrooke to be his new ambassador to the United Nations, Holbrooke's confirmation by the Senate seemed like a virtual formality. After all, even those who don't like Holbrooke's brash style concede that he's one of the Clinton administration's most effective foreign policy hands; and, as a political operator and self-promoter, Holbrooke's talents are legendary. But it won't be until June 17, exactly a year after Clinton announced Holbrooke's selection, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally gets around to holding hearings on Holb

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I. The species known as DWEM, which has only recently been isolated and identified, is already the focus of intense controversy. As usually happens to newly discovered species, it is even being broken down into subspecies; I am informed that a professor at a local university has recently offered a course in DWAM, that is, in Dead White American Males, with readings presumably in such writers as Thoreau, Emerson, and Mark Twain. I propose to discuss only the European type, and, in particular, its first appearance on the face of the planet. My specimens are certainly dead. In fact, they have bee

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Robert Hughes explains how New York in the 1980s is *not* Paris in the 1890s. He gives a compelling account of the decline of the fine arts in America

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