Harvard

War’s Laureate
June 08, 2012

THE DEFINING MOMENT in Paul Fussell’s long life (1924–2012) occurred on March 15, 1945, in eastern France when shrapnel from a German shell tore into the young lieutenant’s back and thigh. Next to him, his platoon sergeant, Edward Hudson, was killed. Thirty years later, in 1975, Fussell published The Great War and Modern Memory, a defining moment in his career as a writer and critic and in our understanding of the place of war in modern society and consciousness.

The Alibi of Ambiguity
June 07, 2012

Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy DilemmaBy Barbara Will (Columbia University Press, 274 pp., $35)   IdaBy Gertrude Stein Edited by Logan Esdale (Yale University Press, 348 pp., $20)   Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected EditionBy Gertrude Stein Edited by Susannah Hollister and Emily Setina (Yale University Press, 379 pp., $22) ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1951, an oddly dressed young woman appeared in an alley adjacent to the municipal hospital in Angers, a town southwest of Paris.

Nobility Eclipsed
June 07, 2012

Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew PoetryBy Alan Mintz (Stanford University Press, 520 pp., $65) I. ON DECEMBER 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar.

Elizabeth Warren's Counterfeit Scandal
June 01, 2012

The hoariest cliché in Washington, “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” has never been true. It wasn’t even true during Watergate, which bequeathed this dubious homily. The only reason people said it then was because while it could be proved that Richard Nixon participated in the Watergate cover-up (it was on tape), it couldn’t be proved that Nixon ordered the initial break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Nixon’s role in the cover-up was certainly enough to justify Congress’s pressuring him to resign, as he eventually did. The cover-up was very, very bad.

Elizabeth Warren's Counterfeit Scandal
June 01, 2012

 The hoariest cliché in Washington, “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” has never been true. It wasn’t even true during Watergate, which bequeathed this dubious homily. The only reason people said it then was because while it could be proved that Richard Nixon participated in the Watergate cover-up (it was on tape), it couldn’t be proved that Nixon ordered the initial break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Nixon’s role in the cover-up was certainly enough to justify Congress’s pressuring him to resign, as he eventually did. The cover-up was very, very bad.

On Health Care, Romney Goes Retro
May 23, 2012

Editor's Note: After looking at the economic platform of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, this installment of our series on his policy plans examines the details of his health care agenda. The gist: Repeal the Affordable Care Act; end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, by turning the former into a voucher program and the latter into a block grant scheme; unravel private insurance, by changing the tax treatment of benefits and undermining state regulation. The good. Not much. Once in a while he talks up worthwhile reforms designed to improve the quality of care.

Who’s Afraid of the Mandate?
May 22, 2012

BOSTON—One of the most interesting stories about health care reform in Massachusetts, where I’m on a learning tour this week, is a story that never developed: The backlash against the mandate. In last year’s poll by the Boston Globe and Harvard School of Public Health, the most recent comprehensive survey I’ve found, 51 percent of respondents said they supported the requirement that almost everybody get insurance or pay a fine, while 44 percent said they opposed it.

Meet the Romney Campaign’s Snarkiest Wonk
May 21, 2012

Since Lanhee Chen joined the Romney campaign in March last year, his public pronouncements have been liberally seasoned with snark. Tweeting about Newt Gingrich during the first Florida debate, he wrote, “Thanks for explaining why you were forced to resign in disgrace, Mr. Speaker.” In April, he tweeted: “[David Axelrod] says Obama to be judged on his record.

The Price of Everything
May 18, 2012

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of MarketsBy Michael J. Sandel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 244 pp., $27)  For over thirty years, Harvard undergraduates have packed Sanders Theater for Michael Sandel’s course on justice. PBS has broadcast the lectures and more than three and a half million people have clicked to watch them on YouTube.

The Facebook Part of Your Brain
May 08, 2012

Why do I post my opinions online, day after day? Ostensibly it's to earn money to feed my family. But there are much easier ways to do that. According to a new study by Harvard psychologists Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (and written up in the May 8 Wall Street Journal), I suffer from a "species-specific motivation to share one's beliefs and knowledge about the world" that kicks in at about 9 months, which means I've been doing it almost 54 years.

Pages