READ ABOUT U.S. EFFORTS to seal the Mexican border, and you quickly encounter two words. The first is futile. Take this June 5 dispatch in U.S. News & World Report, which reports on the "deep sense of futility" about illegal immigration in the town of Nogales, on the Arizona-Mexico border. "The number of Border Patrol agents has increased more than 200 percent in less than 15 years.... Yet the number of people estimated to cross the border illegally each year has remained fairly constant, at about half a million.
A battered yellow school bus rumbles up a bumpy dirt road on the outskirts of Sasabe, a small Mexican town just over the border from Arizona. At the top of the hill, the bus winds around brick and mud huts. Ragged children stand in the doorways, and emaciated dogs forage for scraps. The bus passes dented pickups and old cars without wheels and stops in a dusty clearing, where it disgorges about 40 teenagers dressed in blue jeans and carrying small knapsacks. One boy’s t-shirt features a picture of Che Guevara. A girl’s pale blue top says ADORABLE in sequined letters.
Slow Man By J.M. Coetzee (Viking, 265 pp., $24.95) In the middle of J.M. Coetzee’s new novel, there comes a moment when the reader starts back in soft amazement, murmuring “What the ... ?” This moment occurs at the entrance into the action by the elderly Australian writer Elizabeth Costello, whom devotees of Coetzee will know from his previous novel, which was named after her, and from a curious and curiously memorable book, The Lives of Animals, based on the Tanner Lectures that he delivered some years ago at Princeton University.
Law Without Nations?: Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States By Jeremy A. Rabkin (Princeton University Press, 350 pp., $29.95) Jeremy A. Rabkin's book is a forceful defense of the virtues of national sovereignty, and of the claim that American constitutional government places strict limits on the reach and authority of international law. In part, Rabkin is responding to critics of the unilateralism of the Bush administration--its rejection of the Kyoto Treaty, its refusal to join the International Criminal Court, its invasion of Iraq without explicit U.N.
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.
ON BULLSHIT By Harry G. Frankfurt(Princeton University Press, 67 pp., $9.95) WHEN I WAS A GRADUATE student at the Rockefeller University, Harry Frankfurt, who was then a professor there, came up to me one day and announced that he had devised the following principle: people naturally gravitate toward the study of that which does not come naturally to them. Thus people who work on ethics typically find it difficult to be good, logicians tend to be muddle- headed, and so on. And he had an explanation for his principle.
The Da Vinci Code By Dan Brown (Doubleday, 454 pp., $24.95) The Rule of Four By Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (The Dial Press, 372 pp., $24) Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking By Darrel L. Bock (Nelson Books, 188 pp., $19.99) Q By Luther Blissett (Harcourt, 750 pp., $26) DESPITE PREVAILING GOSSIP in the groves of academe, people still like their Renaissance, with its prancing nymphs, striplings in hose, and Venus on the half-shell, an endless Primavera with Lorenzo de' Medici presiding benignly over the pagan rites.
Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy by Susan Neiman (Princeton University Press, 343 pp., $29.95) It is not a good thing for philosophy to find it everywhere. Most of experience, and even most of thought, is decidedly not philosophical--which is precisely what makes philosophizing so valuable. Yet Susan Neiman's book errs in just this way. It treats a phenomenon that is, unfortunately, ubiquitous; but it then falls into the trap of believing that serious reflection on this phenomenon is similarly ubiquitous. As a result, Neiman's interesting book winds up making philo
Later Auden By Edward Mendelson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 570 pp., $30) W.H.