Tag: Books & The Arts

Democratic Rot and the Origins of American Conspiracism

At the end of 2016, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, The Oxford English Dictionary made “post-truth” its word of the year, Merriam-Webster picked “surreal,” and Dictionary.com chose “xenophobia.” Loath to put too fine a point on it, the American Dialect Society went with “dumpster fire.” At least in recent times, official words of […]

Read More

How John Hersey Bore Witness

Some writers are known for their oeuvre. Some are known for their personality. John Hersey, as the subtitle of Jeremy Treglown’s biography attests, is known as the “author of Hiroshima.” Taking up most of the August 31, 1946, issue of The New Yorker, Hersey’s article was a media sensation, selling out that issue of the magazine, and […]

Read More

All Over the Map

Jared Diamond doesn’t use a computer. He relies “completely” on his secretary and on his wife for “anything” requiring one, as he puts it. Diamond also confesses that he lacks the ability to turn on his “home television set” and can “do only the simplest things” with his newly acquired iPhone. “Whenever friends have shown […]

Read More

The Impossibility of Impeachment

Polling outfits routinely ask historians and political scientists to rate the presidents from worst to best. It’s an inherently frustrating exercise. Does “greatness” depend on what a chief executive accomplished or instead on his ability to bend Congress to his will and influence his successors? How should we evaluate a president like Lyndon Johnson, who […]

Read More

A Novelist’s Life in America’s Underbelly

The writer Nelson Algren was an American original who, when he died in 1981, left behind a single work of literature that continues to haunt the American imagination. That work is the 1949 novel The Man With the Golden Arm, a book that has come as revelation to a good number of readers in every generation since […]

Read More