Mumbai

The Song of Achilles: A Novel  by Madeline Miller I loved The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s brisk, graceful reimagining of the Iliad. The narrator is Achilles's companion Patroclus, a minor character in Homer’s original who makes for a surprisingly appealing protagonist. Miller’s book is a feat of storytelling: her take on the love affair between Achilles and Patroclus gives the epic tale of the Trojan War new emotional specificity.

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Poverty as Destiny

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityBy Katherine Boo (Random House, 256 pp., $27) Early in Katherine Boo’s unforgettable book, a boy from Annawadi, a Mumbai slum, rushes into his makeshift school, bleeding. The classroom is nothing more than a single room in a neighbor’s hut, but it is the only place he can go for medical attention after being hit by a car. No sooner has the teacher begun treating his wound than his mother surges into the hut, wielding a large piece of scrap metal and screaming: “No car will kill you! No god will save you!

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I wish it would be historically possible—that is, historically honest—for Israel to be omitted from the long list of target countries that have been the victims of terrorism. Alas, it is not. But President Obama has a habit of making such lists, and he always fails to include Israel (or anyplace within its borders) as a target of this distinctive and most vicious form of warfare.  Still, the fact is that, as early as the 1970s, Palestinian liberationists had begun to perfect the careful tactics of random battle against Israelis. If not precisely Israelis, then some other Jews. Why not?

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In 2001, Americans were convinced that the United States was the center of the world. It was exactly a decade after the official end of the cold war and the triumphant eviction of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine had described us two years earlier as a “hyper-power.” Beyond geopolitics, we were the source and the center of the forces of globalization: technology, finance, entrepreneurship, movies, music, fashion, and the mores of modernity. As our critics never tired of reminding us, we were deeply self-absorbed. September 11 intensified this view.

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On December 12, 2010, a suicide bombing was committed in central Stockholm by an Islamic terrorist who denounced the Swedish government for its “foolish support for the pig Vilks.” Vilks was the conceptual artist who had, in 2007, depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a “roundabout dog,” familiar to tourists as a street display in Sweden.

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With American CEOs gathered at Blair House for a discussion on the economy this morning, the overriding challenge for the president and business is twofold: how to grow jobs in the near term while retooling the economy for the long haul. The United States cannot return to an economy characterized by excessive, debt-leveraged consumption. Rather, we want to move forward to an economy driven by exports, powered by low carbon and fuelled by innovation. The playbook of our competitors is quite straightforward: invest with public and private capital in the things that matter (e.g., first class infr

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The tight cluster of canvas tents filled a dusty field just off the highway that cuts through the city of Nowshera, the largest city in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about a 90-minute drive from the capital Islamabad. Doctors in white coats tested children’s temperatures and blood pressures, looking for the signs of water-borne diseases, from acute diarrhea to potentially deadly cholera. Their mothers sat nearby, batting away the flies.

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The Trial

In December 2005, a Purdue graduate student named Vikram Buddhi began posting a series of ugly notes—“Kill GW Bush,” “Rape And Kill Laura Bush,” “Kill Donald Rumsfeld The Old Geezer Crook”—on a message board devoted to technology. A few months later, Buddhi, an Indian citizen who was in the United States to study math, was arrested and charged with threatening the life of the president—a federal crime.

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It's official now. You cannot use "Muslim extremism" or "Islamic terrorism." Not because the words don't describe a real phenomenon in the world. An ugly phenomenon. And, alas, an abundant phenomenon. But because the president doesn't like the thought. And he certainly doesn't like the religious adjective. I myself don't mind calling Jewish extremists "Jewish extremists." In fact, calling them Jewish extremists neatly separates the very few from the very many.

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The real dateline to the story is Pune, the eighth largest city in India, with over three million people. It is a university center so densely academic that Cambridge, MA may seem quotidian in comparison. In any case, an explosive went off in a bag left in a bakery frequented by foreign tourists. Eight people are dead, and another 32 are wounded (several in critical condition).

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