Hitler

Confounding Faces

Giuseppe Arcimboldo National Gallery Franz Xaver Messerschmidt Neue Galerie When artists of earlier eras become subjects of renewed interest, you can be sure that big changes are in the air. All too often relegated to specialized studies in the history of taste, such shifts in an artist’s fortunes are among our most reliable guides to current attitudes and values, a look into the dark glass of the past that can also function as a mirror in which we see reflected some aspect of ourselves.

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Royal Mess

In a critically and commercially disappointing year for the film industry, one of the few highlights has been the reception given to The King’s Speech. The movie has been nominated for just about every existing award, and a bevy of Oscar nominations are forthcoming. The period drama is also on its way to financial success. Like Stephen Frears’s film from 2006, The Queen—which won Helen Mirren an Oscar for her eponymous performance—The King’s Speech is a testament to Americans’ continuing fascination with the British Royal Family.

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The Bars of Atlantis: Selected Essays by Durs Grünbein Reviewing this collection of essays by Germany's pre-eminent contemporary poet, Helen Vendler wrote that "If Yeats’s aim was to hold in a single thought reality and justice, then Grünbein’s is to hold in a single thought poetry and philosophy." This book contains my favorite quote of the year.

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Environmental panic led to mass killing in the 1940s, and it may do so again.

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The Charnel Continent

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin By Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 524 pp., $29.95) ‘Now we will live!’... the hungry little boy liked to say ... but the food that he saw was only in his imagination.” So the little boy died, together with three million fellow Ukrainians, in the mass starvation that Stalin created in 1933. “I will meet her ... under the ground,” a young Soviet man said about his wife. Both were shot in the course of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, which claimed 700,000 victims.

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Rand Paul, Distilled

[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] Chait linked to Jason Zengerle's excellent Rand Paul profile earlier this week, but I thought it was worth excerpting one more portion, which struck me (and presumably Jason, given its placement in the piece) as kind of the essence of the guy: Paul pauses again, although this time it's not out of any hesitation on his part; he's just making sure we're still with him. "In 1923, when they destroyed the currency, they elected Hitler.

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This Manichaean Moment

America inclines to wars of the rhetorical absolute. Adversaries readily turn into menaces; menaces into irresistible blobs and imminent devastations. Fights burst into wars and wars are declared holy. As the nation strives to protect itself from actually existing enemies, the Manichaean strain in American life packages them into the Enemy to End All Enemies. The enemy, like the monotheist’s God, is single and omnipresent. Behind every jihadi with a rocket grenade launcher stands Stalin and Hitler. Once again, everything is said—shrieked—to be at stake.

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The Iraq war? Fuggedaboudit. “Now, it is time to turn the page.” So advises the commander-in-chief at least. “[T]he bottom line is this,” President Obama remarked last Saturday, “the war is ending.” Alas, it’s not. Instead, the conflict is simply entering a new phase. And before we hasten to turn the page—something that the great majority of Americans are keen to do—common decency demands that we reflect on all that has occurred in bringing us to this moment.

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The Old Way

High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg   By Niall Ferguson (The Penguin Press, 548 pp., $35) If one object of reading is to make ourselves at home in the world, or at least to diminish its somewhat minatory strangeness, then we should now be demanding very many books about banks and bankers.

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The Old Way

High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg By Niall Ferguson (The Penguin Press, 548 pp., $35) If one object of reading is to make ourselves at home in the world, or at least to diminish its somewhat minatory strangeness, then we should now be demanding very many books about banks and bankers.

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