Yale University Press

The Libelous Truth
July 13, 2011

Just Words: Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and the Failure of Public Conversation in America By Alan Ackerman (Yale University Press, 361 pp., $35) Mary McCarthy preferred the old-fashioned way. You might not know this from her three divorces and the anatomical precision of her bedroom scenes, but she had a strong streak of cultural conservatism. She rejected feminism and lamented the disappearance of Latin from the schoolhouse. The modern fascination with technology annoyed her.

The Return of an Illusion
June 23, 2011

Why Marx Was Right By Terry Eagleton (Yale University Press, 258 pp., $25) How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism By Eric Hobsbawm (Yale University Press, 470 pp., $35) An intellectual revival of Marxism is one of the predictable consequences of the financial crisis. In the twenty years before the storm broke, the Marxisant intelligentsia was more marginal in politics and culture than it had ever been.

Learning and Pleasure
March 03, 2011

History and the Enlightenment By Hugh Trevor-Roper (Yale University Press, 314 pp., $40) Letters from Oxford: Hugh Trevor-Roper to Bernard Berenson Edited by Richard Davenport-Hines (Orion Publishing, 326 pp., $25) Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography By Adam Sisman (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 598 pp., £25) At the beginning of July 1973, my wife and I arrived in London from Chicago to spend a year doing research in the British Library.

Being Winston Churchill
December 08, 2010

Seventy years ago, in the summer and fall of 1940, Western civilization teetered in the balance as Britain stood alone against Nazi-controlled Europe. Other major world powers did not lend aid; Russia supported Germany, and the United States remained neutral. After Britain resisted the assault of Nazi bombers, in what was dubbed the “Battle of Britain,” the country was saved and German momentum stymied. The whole course of the war then radically shifted.

The Fortunate Journey
September 13, 2010

The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance By Henry Kamen (Yale University Press, 291 pp., $35) The historian Henry Kamen has spent a distinguished career presenting what he calls a “revisionist” history of early modern Spain.

On Background
August 12, 2010

Europe’s cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and baptisteries cover the countryside like Veronica’s veil. They comprise the continent’s landmarks and focal attractions and, for centuries, have been integral to its culture. It is curious, then, that, in the history of art, architecture has been a relatively infrequent subject—in Western painting before 1900, only scattered examples come to mind, such as the Dutch seventeenth-century church interiors by Emanuel de Witte (pictured here) or the panoramas of Venice by Canaletto.

Angel Factories
June 04, 2010

Children of the Gulag By Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky (Yale University Press, 496 pp., $55) Several years ago, a friend who helped me to find my way around the Russian State Archives in Moscow asked if I would like to meet another woman who was also working there. She was not doing research for a book, and she was not a scholar. Instead, she was indulging her curiosity and her nostalgia. Forty years earlier, she had worked as a baby nurse in a children’s home inside one of Stalin’s labor camps.

Angel Factories
May 21, 2010

Children of the Gulag By Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky (Yale University Press, 496 pp., $55) Several years ago, a friend who helped me to find my way around the Russian State Archives in Moscow asked if I would like to meet another woman who was also working there. She was not doing research for a book, and she was not a scholar. Instead, she was indulging her curiosity and her nostalgia. Forty years earlier, she had worked as a baby nurse in a children’s home inside one of Stalin’s labor camps.

Muhammed Gives the Met the Jitters
January 10, 2010

This is an inside New York story that I read in the New York Post. But it's really an international story with serious ramifications. This is actually a postscript to the twelve Danish cartoons of four years ago, one of which was the image of a bomb in Muhammed's turban. There was an attempt on the life of this particular cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, by a Somali jihadnik a week after the Christmas bomber struck. The Somali was arrested, as was the Nigerian.

The Best Art Books of the Year
December 22, 2009

Here is a gathering of books that appeal to the sense of touch and the sense of sight. You will want to read them, of course, but in many cases you will also want to feel the quality of the paper and the binding and let the beauty of the reproductions fill your eyes. There could be no better gift at a time when the book business is on the defensive. These are books that cannot be repackaged as eBooks. They are magically physical objects.   Irving Penn: Small Trades, by Virginia A. Heckert and Anne Lacoste (The J. Paul Getty Museum).

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