When Britain was an outpost of an earlier empire.
Oct 12, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 05 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
You can find them here and there, scattered across England: the small green mounds, the hillocks and filled-in ditches, the hints of straight lines that once cut through the landscape. Just beneath the long grass lies the rich silt, piled up by the wind or washed in by the rain in the 62 years since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I I. In the 177 years since Victoria took the throne. The 949 years since a determined William of Normandy landed on the English shore. The 1,418 years since St. Augustine came to Canterbury, a prayer book in his hand.
The life of chess, from birth to checkmate.
Oct 12, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 05 • By MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER
After the workday, far too many of us come home and turn on our televisions or our computers. But some of us indulge in more traditional, non-electronic hobbies, and these hobbies have rituals, which seem mystifying to the outsider. For example, the now-defunct North American popular culture trivia championship awarded the winner a championship belt, which was acquired somehow from a defunct minor wrestling league.
8:21 AM, Nov 28, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
On the surface, little seems to have changed as the opening bell rang for the retailers’ battle that is the holiday shopping season. On Thanksgiving day we carved some 46 million turkeys and downed 50 million pumpkin pies despite a shortage of pecans created by Chinese consumers who imported the best quality nuts and bid the price too high for many bakers and American families to match. We watched some 12-15 hours of football, with 250-pound behemoths considered too light for many positions.
1:04 PM, Nov 27, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In his newsletter this week, the boss reported that "our friends over at National Review asked several contributors to write brief reflections for their 60th anniversary issue (by the way, congratulations!) about what book influenced us the most." The boss encourages everyone to take a look at the interesting symposium, featuring contributors like Elliott Abrams, Wilfred McClay, Garry Kasparov. And he reproduced his own answer to the question of what book may have influenced him the most. Here it is, for readers who may have missed that issue of National Review:
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Oh, holy Moses. It’s probably the headline of the year, and possibly even of the millennium. From Haaretz, November 23: “Jewish Law Was Never Meant to Be Set in Stone.”
Reading the arguments that led to rebellion.
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By EDWARD ACHORN
Long before cannons, muskets, blood, and bitter sacrifices settled the question of American independence, a revolution occurred “in the minds and hearts of the people,” John Adams recalled late in life.
David Skinner, intrepid traveler. Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By DAVID SKINNER
Friends of mine once saved for a trip to Europe by emptying their pockets at the end of each day and placing any money in a big plastic jug. Occasionally, when short of cash, they had to turn the jug upside down and withdraw a bill or two with a pair of tweezers, but the system worked. After a couple years, they bought plane tickets and were on their way.
One last-ditch effort to avoid Civil War.
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By DAVID BAHR
In a city where the sine qua non of life is failure, it is amazing that political miscarriages don’t receive more studious treatment. But in The Peace That Almost Was, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, offers us a splendid treatment in this meticulously researched account of the last, best attempt to prevent the disunion of a nation less than a century old.
What letters to the North Pole tell us about America.
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By RACHEL DICARLO CURRIE
Whenever I feel a twinge of despair over America’s challenges—a not infrequent occurrence—I ask myself a simple question: “What year or decade would you like to return to?” It’s a useful exercise for anyone harboring undue pessimism about the future or gauzy nostalgia for the past. Americans have a tendency to take much of our long-term economic, technological, medical, and social progress for granted, while assuming that our current problems will only get worse. History shows that such fatalism is unwarranted.
A better flag for Mississippi.Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By BENJAMIN MORRIS
The lowering of the state flag from the campus of the University of Mississippi in October is another salvo in the war over that emblem’s future. Voting 41-1 in the faculty senate, university officers cited many of the arguments—the divisiveness of the symbol, a sea change in public opinion, and a move towards inclusivity—that have characterized the debate over the Confederate battle flag and its offspring since the mass shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17.
A diplomat’s dilemma on the eve of calamity. Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By ANDREW NAGORSKI
Vladimir Putin has systematically worked to rehabilitate the image of Stalin, downplaying his record of mass murder while celebrating his role as the architect of victory in World War II. But Stalin almost lost that war before he won it. Disregarding multiple warnings from the West, and even his own spies, he refused to believe that Hitler was about to unleash an attack on the Soviet Union in late June 1941, shattering their de facto alliance.
Kissinger finds his chronicler.Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By SAM SCHULMAN
This attentive, magnificently written, and profoundly researched biography of Henry Kissinger before he took office is stunningly good, and stuns as much for what it does not say as what it does. Earlier Kissinger biographers have tried to comprehend him, not quite in order to forgive his crimes but to share with others—usually Adolf Hitler—the blame for them. Hitler stung Kissinger at a tender age into his amoral realism, and caused him to lure us into a foreign policy that history has proved was unnecessary.
A novel of wartime suspicion and suspense. by Jon L. Breen Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By JON L. BREEN
How many literary genres and how many specialized backgrounds can one novel encompass? The latest from Gerard Woodward, a British writer frequently shortlisted for prestigious literary awards, has aspects of war, espionage, coming-of-age, comedy, mystery, saga, gay romance, and courtroom drama. It provides a wealth of background detail on subjects as diverse as art, farming, aviation, sex, and the work of camouflage experts in World War II. The title Vanishing refers both to the protagonist’s work and his general approach to life and relationships.
Religious conscience meets scientific mind.
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By WRAY HERBERT
By the late 19th century, the majority of working scientists, including geologists, had come to accept that the Earth was a very, very old place, as evidenced by an extensive fossil record. This acceptance had not come easily, but the unearthing of strange Triassic mammals and marine creatures and pterosaurs, embedded in stratified quarries and cliffs, had gradually, over the decades, undermined the traditional view of the Earth and creation, including the literal reading of the Book of Genesis.
A tale of tort law run amok.Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
At first she was the “Aunt From Hell,” with an #AuntFrom-Hell hashtag to match. Jennifer Connell, age 54, had sued her young nephew, Sean Tarala, for $127,000 over an incident at the boy’s eighth birthday party in 2011. Sean had impetuously jumped into Connell’s arms to greet her when she arrived at the party, causing her to fall and break her wrist.
No staying put when there’s putting to be done.
Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Golfers have a hard time explaining the appeal of their game to those who do not play. And in fact, golfers sometimes have a hard time accounting for their passion even to themselves. The old quip about how a round of golf is a “good walk spoiled” seems to stick with a lot of people. But buried in that line is an acknowledgment of something important about golf: Almost every round is, at the very least, “a good walk.”
The invention of the New Yorker, in myth and memory.Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By DANNY HEITMAN
Hearing about someone else’s office politics can often be like eavesdropping on his class reunion, the narrative too narrowly tribal to interest those of us beyond the clan. Even so, for more than half a century, books about the inner workings of the New Yorker have attracted a loyal audience. Dale Kramer created this curious subgenre of American letters in 1957 with Ross and The New Yorker, his chronicle of the magazine’s origins under founding editor Harold Ross.
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