by Richard Stern In certain movies of the Thirties and Forties, one motif was "Let's Put On a Show," and sure enough, the local adolescents, the best-known of whom were Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, were soon singing and dancing up a storm before the hearty appreciation of their peers and elders. The intellectual equivalent of this phenomenon in my lifetime has been "Let's Start a Magazine." I myself have been involved in various publications of various worth, which have lasted anywhere from one issue to a dozen.
by Linda Hirshman Hallelujah! Real book reviews. Now that I am only writing and thus able to read some stuff outside my field, I am marooned between the utter garbage commercial publishers apparently think is all the general public will buy and the never-met-a-note-card-I-didn't-like/jargon-filled academic writing I know none of us would ever indulge in. I, too, volunteer to review, short or long. At the risk of sounding like a one trick pony, I urge you to remember the ladies.
by Steven Pinker I second the concerns of Linda Hirshman and Eric Rauchway. The justification for a new book review forum is not just to create something that's fun to read but a vehicle with a responsibility to the country's intellectual culture. In that regard it should take steps to avoid some of the shortcomings of NYRB. NYRB has published some outstanding pieces, but its effects on intellectual life are questionable.
The Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard University is Joseph Nye. He is one of those facile meliorists who seems to believe that any and all international crises can be solved with a decent measure of good will and a bit of ingenuity. After all, his last book was Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, A Twelve Step Method. No, I'm only kidding. There's no twelve step anything in Nye's book. But ...
Everyone is writing about Russia these days. And in Moscow, Putin is planning for the future, elevating his defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, to the post of deputy prime minister.
by Jeffrey Herf Our country and our culture badly need a new weekly review of books. Currently, most of our major book reviews are failing to inform a non-specialist but sophisticated audience about American scholarship. The American Association of University Presses estimates that the 95 university presses in this country publish about 10,000 books a year. The New York Times Book Review, not to mention the book reviews at The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal devote a tiny fraction of their reviews to these works of scholarship.
by David A. Bell Three cheers to Jeff Herf for his call for an American Review of Books. Like other OU contributors, I couldn't agree more about the crying need in American intellectual life for a magazine of this sort. I do wonder, though, what form it should take, and whether a paper version similar to Britain's TLS would be financially viable. The TLS is supported by the Times of London, is printed on cheap newsprint and runs a fairly large number of ads. Even so, it charges an exorbitant $180 per year for subscriptions in the U.K.
Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, was a truly tragic figure. He survived the war from whose particularly Jewish ravages he tried to save his family, and became a commentator and corrective about the personal aspects of an overwhelming event. His daughter also lived on in a certain sense, as the emblematic death of the more than one and one half million Jewish children who perished in the catastrophe that wiped away more than six million of Anne's people. On the front page of today's Times there's another desolating story about Anne Frank more than sixty years after her death.
The New York Times today has an interesting article about the rise of moderate Democrat female legislators. Throughout the country, women legislators are gaining parity with men, and in Minnesota, Democratic security moms swept three traditionally Republican seats. Not surprisingly, Old Guard feminists are not certain how to feel about this. "Some people in Minnesota say a trend away from the old liberal feminist base signifies a triumph--the mainstreaming of female politicians who can no longer be pigeonholed about their beliefs or interests.
by Franklin Foer TNR has a publishing imprint housed at Yale University Press. We've been kicking around the idea of starting a line that revives out of print books, just like the fantastic New York Review of Books series. The idea is simple: There are a lot of great books that have undeservingly dropped out of circulation. Thanks to ABE Books and the internet these volumes haven't quite died. But they still don't have the life they deserve. TNR and Yale would commission new introductions to these works and reintroduce them to the broader world.