The term “illiberal left” is one of the useful contributions of this book. Liberals, as Kirsten Powers grew up believing, are committed to tolerance, pluralism, and reasoned debate. Freedom of speech is, to them, a cherished principle. By contrast, she insists, “authoritarian demands for intellectual conformity and the relentless demonizing of people who don’t support [one’s point of view] are inherently illiberal and wrong.”
The Valley is marketed as a police procedural set in a remote American military outpost in Afghanistan, and it is a page-turner, all 448 of them. It’s also so cunningly constructed that I had to read it twice to be sure I understood everything that was going on—and there are still a few loose ends. But it’s also an ambitious, if reticent, novel about good and evil, friendship and leadership, courage and shame that mainly succeeds.
Did the clock just strike 13, or are we now in the middle of some interminable national conversation about all the things we’d like to ban? It started with the Confederate flag, a controversial emblem to be sure. The Scrapbook is not opposed to removing the flag as an official state symbol. But there is something unseemly, to say the least, in the rush by institutions and corporations and lawmakers to use the horrific murder of nine worshipers at a black church in Charleston by a racist psychopath as the occasion for social justice theater.
All royal families are alike; all are unhappy in their own way. Most of their unhappiness is as common as their subjects, but the best of it has the resonance and unworldliness of a fairy tale. Royalty, as the proverb says of the Jews, are like other people, only more so.
The 378 men of the 2nd Light Battalion King’s German Infantry made up a tiny fraction of Wellington’s force of 68,000 at Waterloo, and they are often forgotten amid Napoleon’s massive frontal assaults against the allied line on the heights of Mont-Saint-Jean. Their fierce defense of a farmhouse called La Haye Sainte is the subject of Brendan Simms’s short but action-packed book. By his reckoning, the five-hour struggle for La Haye Sainte changed the course of the battle.
In its heyday in the twenties, the Algonquin Round Table was a headline-grabbing “smart set” that came to fame in a decade when mass media took center stage in American culture. A showcase setting for journalists and theater people, the Round Table’s stars included Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Robert Benchley, and Franklin Pierce Adams. They were “famous for being famous,” but, as Parker once said, they “were no giants.
How should Republicans court the conservative Christian vote in 2016? Among the presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are offering competing models for maintaining and growing a critical part of the GOP’s coalition in the primaries and in the general election. Both strategies show promise and peril.
Needless to say, The Scrapbook was horrified last week to learn that Sean (Diddy) Combs had been arrested in Los Angeles and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats, and battery. All of this took place on the UCLA campus, where Combs’s son Justin is a member of the football team and Diddy is in the habit of watching practice sessions. On this particular afternoon, he seems to have been angered by an assistant coach’s criticism of his son’s performance.
Like humans and chimpanzees, Americans and Britons share 99 percent of linguistic and cultural DNA, but it’s the 1 percent difference that often seems to define us. Here, Erin Moore ably strives to explain how and why this is so.
George Orwell was born on this date 112 years ago. He remains the invaluable writer on matters of a phenomenon that resembles censorship but somehow goes beyond. Censorship, after all, simply suppresses. This other thing goes further, altering the DNA of facts and making untruths into truths.
It’s been said that the terminally ill can hear music just before slipping away. I’ve always imagined these souls listening to angels strumming their harps. I never thought it might be “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms. But that’s what I heard as I lay in my hospital bed last month while battling a serious strep infection.
In today's newsletter, I segued from Alexander Hamilton and the ten dollar bill to a fine performance of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at Wolf Trap last week (don't ask about the relationship, you had to be there--and in fact you can be there if you sign up here) but I then continued: