The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.
Freedom From Quant
June 14, 2010
There's a new master narrative for the history of sports. And it goes like this: We have only just begun to emerge from the superstitious dark ages, where coaches clung to folk wisdom, into the enlightened world of data. The Copernicus and Galileo of sports’ scientific revolution are the statistician Bill James and the Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane.
January 05, 2010
KIEV–Like many Ukrainian politicians, prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko relies on fortune-tellers and TV psychics to bolster her embattled spirit.
August 15, 2009
Picasso: Mosqueteros--Gagosian Gallery Younger Than Jesus--New Museum The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984--Metropolitan Museum of Art Compass in Hand--Museum of Modern Art The exhibition of Picasso's late work at the Gagosian Gallery this spring was a phenomenon. Day after day, Gagosian's huge space on West 21st Street attracted a remarkably heterogeneous public, a mix of artists, art students, Brooklyn hipsters, well-heeled professionals, and European and Asian tourists, gathered together in a way I do not recall seeing before, certainly not in Chelsea. People did not just come and look.
The Death Of A Cartoonist
October 09, 2008
Cathy Young is contributing editor of Reason magazine and author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood. The death of Soviet political cartoonist Boris Yefimov on October 1, largely unnoticed in the West, was not quite the end of an era--Yefimov's era ended long ago--but the end of a life that, Zelig-like, was involved in every transition of the last century of Russian history. More than a century, in fact: Yefimov (born Boris Yefimovich Friedland, in Kiev in 1899) was 109 years old when he died. As a boy, he watched Russia's last Czar Nicholas II go by in a coach.
April 02, 2008
Madame Chancellor, Mr. President, Nearly 20 years ago, we enthusiastically witnessed the most extraordinary event of the end of the 20th century: the fall of the Berlin Wall. A reunified Germany opened the way to the resurrection of the European continent. Then a wave of "velvet revolutions" brought down the communist dictatorships, one by one. We who have been unrelenting opponents of these iniquitous regimes since the long-ago days of the "New Philosophy," were thrilled by this magnificent celebration of freedom.
January 30, 2008
David Golder, The Ball Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair By Irène Némirovsky Translated by Sandra Smith (Everyman's Library, 340 pp., $25) Fire in the Blood By Irène Némirovsky Translated by Sandra Smith (Alfred A. Knopf, 138 pp., $22) Irène Némirovsky: Her Life and Works By Jonathan Weiss (Stanford University Press, 195 pp., $24.95) I. The writer: a Jew who had fled to the French countryside seeking refuge from occupied Paris, eventually deported to Auschwitz, where she would die in a typhus epidemic soon after her arrival.
Books: The Whole Horror
September 10, 2007
The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 By Saul Friedlander (HarperCollins, 870 pp., $39.95) With the publication of The Years of Extermination, Saul Friedlander adds to his already well-established reputation as one of the world's pre-eminent historians of the Holocaust and of its place in modern European, German, and Jewish history.
The Empire Breaks Up
February 20, 1989
Gorbachev’s nationality crisis.
May 30, 1988
Chernobyl – The workers here called it the Red forest, an ironic political joke and an accurate description. In the months after the explosion at Chernobyl hundreds of acres of pine trees surrounding the power plant reacted to the intense radiation that had showered the area by turning red and slowly dying. All of the trees have been removed now except for one surrounded by red flags. The Nazis to hang Soviet partisans during the war, so it is a shrine and scientists have tried to keep it alive. Nearby that tree workers in huge machines continue to cart away radioactive topsoil.