June 11, 2008
A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances, and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century By John Burrow (Knopf, 553 pp., $35) History was born in Greece in the middle of the fifth century B.C.E. It has flourished ever since then, in diverse but recognizably related forms, and it still exists today, as a form of inquiry into the past, a literary genre, and a set of practices plied and taught in universities. That's our story, in the West, and we're sticking to it. Or at least John Burrow is.
July 25, 2005
DAY TRADER When Brit Hume departed ABC News for Fox News back in 1996, he eagerly anticipated that his new network home would provide “freedom on the air to report and analyze in a way I’ve yearned to do.” Yes, years of confining himself to relatively cogent, tasteful commentary had left Hume pining for an outlet for his other thoughts—the irrelevant, the ideological, the inane.
March 21, 2005
THE INVENTION OF RACISM IN CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY By Benjamin Isaac(Princeton University Press, 592 pp., $45) FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY, PHILOSOPHY; art, education, law. Many of the ideas and ideals that define our culture and what we most value in it trace back across millennia to the civilizations of Greece and Rome. These two ancient societies constituted a fundamental stage in the historical development of the West.
Jerusalem Dispatch: True Colors
February 14, 2005
Imagine the likelihood of thousands of American students, intellectuals, and Hollywood celebrities marching in support of George W. Bush, and you will begin to appreciate the marvel of the Israeli leftists now rallying around Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Reviled for engineering the Lebanon war, for masterminding the settlement movement, for opposing every attempt at reconciliation with the Palestinians, and as the personification of Israeli militarism and anti-Arab racism, Sharon today is viewed by many leftists as the settlers' bete noire and Israel's foremost champion of peace.
Mediterranean Sea Dispatch: Smooth Sailing
April 07, 2003
One of the regular features of life on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is the "Bully Big Stick Show"--so titled in honor of the ship's namesake--a weekly call-in program broadcast from the ship's onboard TV studio featuring the comm
Photography and Facts
July 08, 2002
The third time was the charm. Well, if not charm exactly, at least some justification. The Bourne Identity (Universal) was the third film about the CIA--after The Sum of All Fears and Bad Company--that I had seen in three weeks, and it was the first to afford some entertainment. Adapted by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron from a twenty-year-old Robert Ludlum novel, it has a setup that tickles some interest in the eventual payoff (workaday terms, but applicable).
July 01, 2002
Uh oh. I am standing in the doorway of a hotel banquet hall, searching the room for Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential hopeful. He's here to attend a local Greek Independence Day celebration--to give a few remarks, to march in a parade, and, perhaps, to make some political contacts that might help in the 2004 New Hampshire primary. It's an informal gathering, and when I called Dean's press secretary a few days ago, she suggested I just show up as the luncheon was winding down and pull him aside to chat.
The Historian as Hero
October 08, 2001
The Light of the Eyes By Azariah de’Rossi Translated and annotated by Joanna Weinberg (Yale University Press, 802 pp., $125) For at least a few years toward the end of his life, Azariah de' Rossi believed that February 26, 747 B.C.E.
Signs of the Times
July 30, 2001
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
The Sea and the Text
July 12, 1999
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.