Around 8 a.m. on February 22, Syrian security forces attempting to prop up the Bashar al Assad regime shelled a makeshift media center in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, killing the American war reporter Marie Colvin and the French photographer Remi Ochlik. Four other journalists who survived the blast, including Colvin’s Irish photographer, Paul Conroy, and French Le Figaro journalist Edith Bouvier, were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for serious shrapnel wounds.
Saul Bellow: Letters Edited by Benjamin Taylor (Viking, 571 pp., $35) How easy it is, and plausible, to regard a collection of letters spanning youth and old age as an approximation of autobiography: the procession of denizens who inhabit a life, the bit players with their entrances and exits, the faithful chronology of incidents—all turn up reliably in either form, whether dated and posted or backward-looking. Yet autobiography, even when ostensibly steeped in candor, tends toward reconsideration—if not revisionary paperings-over, then late perspectives, afterwords, and second thoughts.
Juba, Sudan—In just four days, the people of southern Sudan will begin voting in a referendum on whether to become an independent nation. In hundreds of interviews over the past six years here, I have yet to meet a southerner who doesn’t want freedom from northern rule. People here are literally counting down the minutes until the vote. (At a roundabout in the center of town, an electronic countdown on an advertising billboard has been running the days, hours, and minutes remaining since October.) It is hard to convey what it feels like in the southern Sudan capital of Juba.
SYDNEY, Australia--The hardest slogan to sell in politics is: "Things could have been a whole lot worse." No wonder President Obama is having trouble defending his stimulus plan. If governments around the world, including our own, had not acted aggressively--and had not spent piles of money--a very bad economic situation would have become a cataclysm. But because the cataclysm was avoided, this is an invisible achievement. Many whose bacon was saved, particularly in the banking and corporate sectors, do not want to admit how important the actions of government were.
My Life By Bill Clinton (Alfred A. Knopf, 957 pp., $35) Click here to purchase the book. Bill Clinton used to tell us that he wanted to feel our pain, even though he often gave us one. In this characteristically garrulous volume of almost one thousand pages, he tells us all about his own pain.
Olympic Opening Ceremonies are, by their nature, kitschy. And last week's four-and-a-half-hour extravaganza in Sydney--complete with a "lawn-mower ballet" and children costumed as flowers--proved no exception. But this particular halftime show, according to Olympics boosters, held deeper significance. That's because, for the first time since North Korea and South Korea went to war in 1950, the two countries' Olympic delegations marched together under the single banner of Korea.