Sam Schulman Articles

The Two Years with Lex Kaplen

The death and life of a great American magazine
Jan 18, 2016

Alexander Kaplen died December 16, 2015, at the age of 56. He was 31 when I last saw him on March 5, 1991, about 5:30 p.m. I know the time because I had rushed to the bank in a taxi with $8,000 in cash. The money was the Wigwag Magazine Company’s share of the auction proceeds of the magazine's hard assets: the phone system, Macs, desks, chairs, fax machine. An ironist would have enjoyed some of our furnishings: filing cabinets from Esquire's former headquarters, their drawers still labeled "Man At His Best" and "Women We Love." The conference table too big for our conference room, but irresistible when the man at the used furniture shop in the basement of Calvary-St. George's Episcopal Church told me it had belonged to Ivan

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So Sorry

The old story: European politician gets in trouble, helps the Jews.
Feb 13, 2012

Geert Wilders, the big-gesture Dutch politician who has made a career out of outspoken enthusiasms and denunciations in a country which is careful of its speech, has begun to take on water. In the June 2010 election, the Freedom party, which Wilders created five years earlier, was the third-biggest vote-getter. And when the free-market conservative Freedom and Democracy party and Christian Democrats formed a government with Wilders’s support, polls indicated that Wilders’s party was the most popular in the country. Between October and December 2011, its support shriveled by a third.

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Oh, Henry!

Kissinger finds his chronicler.
Dec 07, 2015

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.

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The Great Free Speech Experiment

What good have Holocaust-denial bans done?
Jan 26, 2015

France’s momentary appearance on the world stage as a champion of free expression, after the execution of the beloved Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, made for a break in her relentless culture of repression of free speech, which she shares with most of Europe.

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Rotherham’s Collaborators

The helping professionals didn’t help; the caring professionals didn’t care
Sep 15, 2014

Two weeks ago, the British press broke the news contained in Professor Alexis Jay’s “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham.” Between 1997 and 2013, Jay estimated, 1,400 young girls in that Yorkshire town were exploited: gang-raped, trafficked to other cities, threatened, beaten, and forced to bring other girls into the network. The police did not respond to emergency calls from the girls and their families; fathers reported being threatened and even arrested for complaining.

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The Picture of America

To see ourselves as others see us, diplomatically.
Feb 17, 2014

Martha Bayles, one of the great unsung critics of the baby boom generation, has written a book that is unusual for her. This is a brisk, how-policy-has-gone-wrong-and-what-to-do-about-it book, which conceals in its pages something more: a brilliant and courageous meditation on the difficulty of communication between modern and traditional societies. These difficulties, in turn, suggest that the values we regard as universally desirable may not be universal, or even desirable—and we certainly aren’t living by them. 

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Rise of a Free School

Toby Young’s astonishing second career as an education reformer
Jun 17, 2013


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The World’s Dumbest Conservatives

How to turn a successful majority coalition into a perpetual election-losing machine
Nov 19, 2012



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Last Rights

You can have the ‘right to die’—once you surrender all the others
Nov 12, 2012


In 1990, as I was nursing a mortally ill magazine, I got a call from a literary agent. “I have a great idea for a book. Your dad [a neurologist at the University of Chicago] could do the medical part, and you could write it. The book is called How We Die. Let me explain it.”

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We Who Are About to Bug Out Salute You

The liberal habit of sanctimonious betrayal, from Reconstruction to Afghanistan.
May 14, 2012

Vive la Différence

Are France’s more centrist politics better than ours (and not just for the sex)?
Sep 19, 2011

As Maine is New England’s Texas, France is Europe’s U.S.A. It’s big. It’s ornery. Like us, the French are notably more inward-looking than Europe’s other populous, geographically big, and prosperous states. Despite France’s co-leadership of the European unification project, a new German Marshall Fund study shows the French have the least confidence in EU leadership, are more anti-EU than any other EU country except the U.K., and have the largest percentage who think the euro has been bad for their economy​—​a solid 60 percent majority. France may symbolize cosmopolitanism to the world but doesn’t itself partake. Over 92 percent of the French never leave the hexagone during their long vacations.

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Frenemies of Free Speech

The damage that benevolent censors do.
Mar 21, 2011