John Smith

Don't Be Evil

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives By Steven Levy (Simon & Schuster, 423 pp., $26)  The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) By Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of California Press, 265 pp., $26.95)  I. For cyber-optimists and cyber-pessimists alike, the advent of Google marks off two very distinct periods in Internet history. The optimists remember the age before Google as chaotic, inefficient, and disorganized.

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As we headed toward the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden so that we could take in one of the great joys of spring in New York—cherry trees in full, glorious bloom—we entered a path between a double row of youngish oak trees that were now beginning to attain the height and fullness that will eventually give them the stately architectural elegance of an allée. I was asking my husband if he remembered how forlorn they had looked as saplings when we noticed a bronze plaque at the foot of a tree just filling in with deep green leaves.

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The Other Founding

The Jamestown Project By Karen Ordahl Kupperman(Harvard University Press, 380 pp., $29.95) Captain John Smith: Writings, With Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlement of America Edited by James Horn (Library of America, 1,329 pp., $45) Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America By Benjamin Woolley (HarperCollins, 469 pp., $27.50) Nothing succeeds like success in America, especially in the writing of popular history.

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Vanity Blair

He's been called Bill Clinton's smarter younger brother. The best Tory tacticians are terrified of him. At lunch-tables round Westminster, the prime minister's allies whisper about the looming electoral slaughter. As business leaders defect and opinion polls give Labour a stratospheric lead, there is now a fixed assumption in Britain that the next prime minister will be Tony Blair. A young-looking 43, he is a slim but strongly built man whose fast smile and self-deprecating patter convey the impression of relentless, perpetual movement.

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Vanity Blair

By all measures, Gordon Brown’s Labour Party is going to be trounced at the British polls next month by either the Tories or the newly ascendant Liberal Democrats (or both). With Brown’s popularity lagging, it’s easy to forget that the Labour Party once represented an exciting modern progressive party—particularly back when Tony Blair was on his way to becoming prime minister, and he and Brown were heralded as the party's future.

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