The star

George Lucas's biggest fear was losing control of Star Wars. So why did he give it up?

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Okay, folks, I'm going to make a concession. After repeatedly defending in this space my current cover story arguing that Mitt Romney is more temperamental than his robotic reputation suggests, I am going to admit that Mitt-frontations, as his sons call his flare-ups, are relatively mild stuff on the Richter scale of angry politicians.

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The return to Zion has been a trope in Jewish history for more than 3,000 years. It pertains to the people Israel itself. And it applies also to individual Jews, both in the abstract and in the tactile, as a matter of conscience and as a fact of communality. You will know already from my other writings just how much I pity those Jews who are alienated from these considerations or, worse yet, haven’t the slightest idea of what I mean. Of course, ignorance of one’s past can excuse a lot. But it’s not a satisfying answer to inquiring children.

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The chattering class in D.C. has gotten pretty worked up over Governor Rick Perry's presidential candidacy.

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The revolution will always be harmonized. If no song in itself can change the world, revolutionary change usually happens to music, as it is today in the Middle East. News feeds from Tahrir Square and now from Tehran have been capturing streets full of young people singing anthems of uprising, just as eighteenth-century revolutionaries sang in Paris and Philadelphia. In Cairo, the song that emerged quickly as the semi-official anthem of the revolution is “Long Live Egypt,” a buoyant, gently hip-hoppish pop tune by the Egyptian group Scarabeuz and Omima.

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Summer Reading

This summer my son learned to read. Like all the childhood milestones, it seemed to happen all at once. One day he was wobbling on his seat, teetering back and forth, liable to fall on his face at any moment; the next he could sit up. One day he could cruise around the room only by holding onto the furniture; the next he was taking a single independent step, and then another, and then another.

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Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

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Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

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JOHANNESBURG -- The U.S., of course, gets set to kick off its World Cup campaign tonight against England in Rustenburg. But Sunil Gulati, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, which runs American soccer, was already in town last week, promoting the U.S. bid to host the tournament in either 2018 or 2022. My friend Jonty Mark, a soccer reporter for The Star, a Johannesburg daily, interviewed Gulati, a Columbia University economics professor, in his well-appointed hotel suite, and let me tag along. We asked him about the bid, but also about how far he thinks U.S.

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Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field Edited by Antonio Giustozzi (Columbia University Press, 318 pp., $40)   My Life with the Taliban By Abdul Salam Zaeef Edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn (Columbia University Press, 331 pp., $29.95) After several hours of driving down one of the two-lane asphalt roads that wind through Pakistan’s tribal areas, our kidnappers entered the territory of Baitullah Mehsud, the widely feared leader of the Pakistani Taliban. It was the middle of March in 2009.

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