The Best Fiction of 2009
December 22, 2009

The Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A worthy follow-up to Adichie’s magnificent novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, this collection of short stories explores the lives of African women, at home and abroad.  Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, by Geoff Dyer. The title sounds like a bad joke, but Dyer’s novel-in-two-parts, like his standout book of essays, demonstrates how deeply innovative a writer he is.  Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada, translated by Michael Hoffman.

Today at TNR (December 22, 2009)
December 22, 2009

The Battle of Tora Bora: The Definitive Account of How Osama Bin Laden Slipped From Our Grasp by Peter Bergen What the Senate Bill Actually Accomplishes by Jonathan Cohn The Best Books of the Year (That You Can’t Read on Your Kindle) by Jed Perl Do Populist Progressives Really Think They Can Make Common Cause With Conservatives? by Ed Kilgore Reporting From Islamabad: The Dangerous Rise of Anti-Americanism in Pakistan by Michael Crowley Just How Bad Is America’s Manufacturing Problem? by Noam Scheiber Did Obama Really Sidestep the UN at Copenhagen?

Today At TNR (December 19, 2009)
December 19, 2009

The Great Animator: Charles Dickens's Obsession With Ghosts, Bottled Fetuses, and Other Dead Things, by Adam Thirwell Cohn vs. Kos on Whether to Blow up the Health Care Bill, by John Cohn Woody Harrelson Performs a Service for America’s War Dead. PLUS: How an Eskimo Boy Becomes a Man. by Stanley Kauffmann Did Obama ‘Dither’ on Afghanistan? Troops in Kandahar Aren’t Complaining. by Michael Crowley Washington Diarist: Ahmadinejad’s Giggle and Obama’s Cool, by Leon Wieseltier Will Obama’s Deal With Big Pharma Survive?

Why Do German and Japanese Manufacturers Innovate More?
December 18, 2009

In my piece today about the ways the American managerial class has failed the U.S. manufacturing sector, I included a slightly elliptical riff about the superiority of managers in other advanced economies: "By contrast, European and Japanese manufacturers, who lived and died on the strength of their exports, innovated relentlessly." The logic of this comes from the Harvard Business Review piece by Robert Hayes and William Abernathy that I cite. Hayes and Abernathy basically make two points.

Americans Still Driving Less
December 18, 2009

Just about one year ago, Rob Puentes and I published a white paper entitled ‘The Road… Less Traveled.’ As the title suggests, our research found that

Today At TNR (December 18, 2009)
December 18, 2009

Washington Diarist: Ahmadinejad’s Giggle and Obama’s Cool, by Leon Wieseltier A Blueprint for 2010: How Democrats Can Make Next Year Better Than the Last, by William Galston Does Obama Need 67 Votes For A Climate Treaty? Not Necessarily. by Michael A. Livermore A Closer Look at Hillary’s $100-Billion Copenhagen Pledge, by Bradford Plumer SLIDESHOW: The Tiny Island Nations That Don’t Want to Get Swept Away by Global Warming, by Noah Kristula-Green The Most Dangerous Word in the English Language Starts With the Letter ‘E’, by John B.

Today at TNR (December 17, 2009)
December 17, 2009

Why an American President Should Never Let the Word ‘Evil’ Cross His Lips, by John B. Judis From the Dept. of Early Bungling: Obama’s Misguided Selection of Judges, by David Fontana On Health Care, the Left Is Playing With Fire, by Jonathan Cohn Has Goldman Sachs Suddenly Lost its Soul? Or Was it Already Gone? by Noam Scheiber Dubya, the Democratic Party Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You, by E.J. Dionne Jr. By Zeus! How Freaked Should We Be by Greece’s Financial Collapse?

Barack Obama's Wisdom About Islam: Good Multicultural News
December 07, 2009

In my last Spine, I had the temerity to question the president's knowledge of the Arabs and the world of Islam. In fact, I had the temerity to question his knowledge vis-à-vis my own. Why don't you be the judge of our wisdoms! I have to admit that his is quite cheery and assuring. Mine is rather grim. The contrast between us about the Muslim orbit couldn't be sharper. Obama's view of this is almost Panglossian, which is heroic because he is a dumping ground for almost all of the world's bad news. The litany I mustered of this bad news was, after all, culled from only a very few days.

The Next Paris Hilton?
November 25, 2009

Last week, I clicked over to the CNN home page and there, in a rundown of the day’s most important news, I saw a headline announcing that Nicole Richie had pneumonia. I immediately thought of Sarah Palin: I fully expect that, five or ten or 15 years from now, I’ll be reading a similar headline about her.  That’s not because I wish pneumonia on Palin. Nor do I think any of her future illnesses will be newsworthy--like, say, the illness of an important politician would be. The notion that she has a future in electoral politics outside of Alaska (and probably not even there) is absurd.

My Dinner With Sotomayor
November 20, 2009

Well, not exactly. Ben Smith blogs my tweet about dining two tables away from the newest Justice at the modest but nice ($20 entrees), Brooklyn restaurant Po last night. Which is not a shocker, as Sotomayor once lived in the surrounding Carroll Gardens neighborhood. She was eating with two dignified-looking women perhaps in their mid-to-late fifties--and forgot her purse, which her security detail returned for about half an hour later. For what it's worth, after nearly eighteen months in New York I've had disappointingly few celebrity sightings.