Did the United States really need a French statue, especially one of colossal proportions? The visionary French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi thought that it did. And if it weren’t for Bartholdi and his generous nature—to say nothing of his creative idealism—there would be no Statue of Liberty. Nor would there be “The New Colossus,” the poem by Emma Lazarus that is engraved on the statue’s pedestal.Read more
In October 1940, the Germans, with help from the Poles, crammed 400,000 Jews into the Warsaw ghetto. They sealed off the ghetto from the rest of the city with six-foot-high walls topped with barbed wire, ensuring that few could escape. If any tried, they were seized, often by Polish “betrayers,” who, for a few coins, turned them in to the Germans. Inside the ghetto, Jews lived in squalid, inhumane conditions, sometimes seven to a room.Read more
David Ferry’s latest poems look at the tantalizing possibility of life after death and the existence of God. But it’s a God that the poet doesn’t know and whose name escapes him. What he does know is that he feels a presence, and poems both hide and connect him to that presence. Or, as the 88-year-old Ferry so plaintively puts it:
As Chris Bohjalian tells it, the years between 1915 and 1923 were “the most nightmarish eight years of Armenian history.” Yet the horrific events of that time are generally not included in history courses, and are not so well known outside the Armenian community. No longer. Bohjalian describes what happened to the Armenians in grisly detail in this compelling novel.Read more
Michael Dirda, a longtime Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan, ascribes his critical abilities to Sherlock Holmes. He still remembers the spell cast on him when, during the 1950s in elementary school, he discovered The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), with its cover “depicting a shadowy Something with fiery eyes crouching on a moonlit crag.” On Conan Doyle pays tribute to the late Victorian author whom he credits with teaching him to observe details. But despite its subtitle, the book says little about the art of telling stories: It focuses more on the incongruities inherent in Arthur Conan Doyle’s personal and professional life.Read more
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