Time For An American Review Of Books
February 15, 2007

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.
February 15, 2007

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.

Anne Frank's Story
February 15, 2007

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.

Soccer Moms Fight The Man
February 15, 2007

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.

Best Out Of Print Book Ever
February 14, 2007

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.

Topless Taxes, Really
February 14, 2007

A proposed bill in the Texas legislature known as the "Topless Tax" would tax patrons a $5 cover charge to enter strip clubs. The cover charge would then go directly into sexual-assault prevention and counseling services. This makes a certain amount of sense to me. Just as sin taxes on cigarettes end up funding everything from health care programs to education spending, taxing strip-club patrons to support worthy state mandates like assault prevention has a certain symmetry to it. Taxing the sex trade is as natural as taxing casinos and booze.

Poor Recall
February 13, 2007

by Darin McMahon A post a while back on the sadly unreconstructed nature of Florida's official state anthem prompted several people to draw my attention to similar atavisms in the sunshine state. Call me a carpetbagger, but I find it hard to fathom how Jacksonville's Nathan Bedford Forrest High has survived the cultural politics of the last 20 years with its name intact. Those without a close interest in Civil War military history may remember the Confederate cavalry commander primarily as the namesake of Tom Hank's character in the movie Forrest Gump.

The "l" Word
February 12, 2007

by Linda HirshmanI had an interesting experience on the Internet last week after I opined in the Post that women are disaffected from politics. Surprise: Even serious people behave strangely in the blogosphere. Once you clear the noise away, though, sometimes important work gets done. In this case, pressed by Mark Schmitt, a pretty smart thinker generally, I have been digging into the CW that women are reliably liberal. It turns out the disconnect may be not at the voting stage, but between many women's discrete policies and their political identity.

Unbashing Npr
February 10, 2007

by Eric RauchwaySomehow the combination of David's and my comments on NPR prompted Geoff to cast me in the role of Amurrica-hating Anglophile Archers-listener who prefers BHL to Garrison Keillor. That is not what I meant, at all. Hey, I ponied up for WHYY while I was living in England and listening to pledge drives through the Internets, Geoff. Partly because I liked listening to a certain show that features a certain academic linguist. And I wasn't even getting a tax break from Inland Revenue! Just a plastic mug. And nothing made me change the channel faster than the Archers' theme music.

Two Cheers For Public Radio
February 09, 2007

by Geoffrey Nunberg You can think of this as special pleading, but with all respect toEric and David, I don't think American public radio needs a whole lot of defending. On the whole, it does a terrific job of bringing news, analysis, and cultural commentary to a large and appreciative public. It has developed new formats of personal journalism--I'm thinking of "This American Life" and "Soundprint," for example--that have few European equivalents.