Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of PowerBy Robert A. Caro (Knopf, 712 pp., $35) I. MANY LIBERAL Democrats have yet to come to terms with Lyndon Johnson.
(Join John B. Judis and Richard Just at 1 p.m. on January 20 for a livestream discussion about the Republicans' return.) In 1960, the political scientist Clinton Rossiter began his classic text, Parties and Politics in America, with the following memorable words: “No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no parties without compromise and moderation.” Rossiter saw U.S.
WASHINGTON--The Civil War is about to loom very large in the popular memory. We would do well to be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or longstanding myths to cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart. The coming year will mark the 150th anniversary of the onset of the conflict, which is usually dated to April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries opened fire at 4:30 a.m. on federal troops occupying Fort Sumter. Union forces surrendered the next day, after 34 hours of shelling.
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong By Terry Teachout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 475 pp., $30) Duke Ellington’s America By Harvey G. Cohen (University of Chicago Press, 688 pp., $40) Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original By Robin D.G. Kelley (Free Press, 588 pp., $30) Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone By Nadine Cohodas (Pantheon, 449 pp., $30) I. During one of his engagements at the Cotton Club in the mid-’30s, Duke Ellington spotted Leopold Stokowski sitting near the stage a short time before the start of the show.
Django Reinhardt, the Gypsy jazz guitarist whose centennial fell early on this year's calendar, infuriated his closest friend and best collaborator, Stephane Grappelli, with stereotypically Gypsy-ish bad behavior that only his sublimely atypical but deeply Gypsy-ish music could excuse. Early in the mid-'90s, when Grappelli was in his eighties but still playing regularly at the Blue Note in Manhattan, I did a fairly long interview with him in which he said, emphatically, "Django made me very angry. Django would not be there--we could not find him anywhere. He drank every day.
The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity By Eric L. Goldstein (Princeton University Press, 307 pp., $29.95) Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America By Eric J. Sundquist (Harvard University Press, 662 pp., $35) I. IN UNCOUNTED, FLEETING, intimate ways, American Jewish children growing up between Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 lived the changing landscape of Jewish and African American relations. I know I did.
The murder of large numbers of innocent people in a very short time span has become an infuriating and regular feature of contemporary life. Recently, such murders have been carried out by radical Islamists in Israel, Iraq, England, and Egypt. Last month we marked the tenth anniversary of the massacres at Srebenica, and just over a year ago, the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. Yet there is another kind of killing that receives far less attention as a distinct historical phenomenon.
Melville J. Herskovits and the Racial Politics of Knowledge By Jerry Gershenhorn (University of Nevada Press, 338 pp., $65) Melville J.
Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past by David R. Roediger (University of California Press, 323 pp., $29.95) "What is a White Man?" asked Charles Chesnutt in the pages of the Independent, a mass-circulation weekly, in 1889. This was no mere academic question.