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Top Book News provided by The New York Review of Books©

  • Asylum in Limbo
    On May 11 Title 42 finally expired. The public health order, issued by the Trump administration in March 2020, almost completely shut down asylum processing at our southern border; in the last three years the US has conducted approximately 2.8 million expulsions of migrants, regardless of their reasons for trying to enter the country. The […]
  • White Bay
    In March 2015 I visited a friend, the Argentinean journalist Sandra Crucianelli, and her husband, Gabriel, for dinner in Bahía Blanca, a coastal city about four hundred miles south of Buenos Aires. I had just moved to Argentina from Dubai, seeking to report on environmental issues. Bahía Blanca, known as the “great metropolis of the […]
  • The New Organizers
    In December 2021 unions won two victories that have significantly reshaped the American labor movement in the years since: Starbucks Workers United unionized the first store in the company’s history, and the NLRB ruled that organizers be allowed into the Amazon warehouse on Staten Island. By early 2022, two enormous corporations that had been considered […]
  • Court and Spark
    In September 1969 Susan Taubes returned to Budapest, the city where she had lived until the age of eleven. Standing outside her childhood home amid the bustle of the late-afternoon rush hour—the veranda bright with plants, the bushes still filled with berries, the wrought-iron gate closed—Taubes was overcome by a feeling of “beauty and grief, […]
  • The Dank Underground
    How did countercultures commune before the Internet? One quaint and underappreciated precursor to the information highway was the underground press that proliferated during the late 1960s. The medium was never more the message. Sprouting in cities and college towns across America, these rambunctious weekly or biweekly tabloids flourished for a half dozen years, a form […]
  • House of Delft
    Just to the east of the City of London is the district called Spitalfields. It was always a place of exile. Once the habitat of Huguenot weavers fleeing the massacres in France, it later became a refuge for Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe and Russia. By the 1970s it had acquired a new population of […]
  • Invitation to a Dance
    “Lygia Pape: Tecelares” at the Art Institute of Chicago is an endlessly surprising exhibition, lyrical, frisky, and stealthily profound—which is a lot to pack into a bunch of mostly black-and-white polygons and circles. An important figure in Brazilian postwar art, Pape, like her fellow travelers Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, began her career dedicated to […]
  • The Gilder Age
    The American Museum of Natural History’s new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation completes that venerable teaching and research institution’s four-city-block campus on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with decidedly mixed results. The $465 million infill project, which is architecturally fatuous though otherwise highly commendable, was designed by Studio Gang, the Chicago-based firm headed […]
  • Name the Lost!
    A public memorial requires, at minimum, a shared memory—a consensus that something significant happened, if not necessarily what that something meant. The best monuments of remembrance, in fact, are those that inspirit collective emotion while accommodating disparate interpretations. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., evinces patriotic pride for some, renews rage for others. Yet […]
  • The Art of Feminine Injury and Excess
    Last weekend the NYR Online published “Wages for Housewives,” an essay by the scholar and critic Anna Shechtman on the reality TV series The Real Housewives. The title alludes to the work of the Marxist feminist theorist Silvia Federici, who in 1974 argued that women’s housework under capitalism was always “destined to be unwaged.” What […]
  • A Sea of Forms
    In the mid-twentieth century the early Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca was reappraised by Anglophone artists and art historians who considered him a Modernist avant la lettre. In their eyes he had flouted convention at Western art’s pivotal moment, breaking with the naive rendering and garish coloring of medieval painting and using his knowledge of […]
  • ‘Autopsies of Many Kinds’
    One hundred and fifty years ago, the magazine Popular Science launched its first issue, edited by the optimistic polymath Edward Youmans. Youmans, who published and lectured for general audiences on subjects ranging from the laws of thermodynamics to “The Science of Prohibition” and “The Culture Demanded by Modern Life,” admonished readers that “whoever desires to […]
  • Getting Sacagawea Right
    When spring came in 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left their winter camp near Mandan and Hidatsa villages on the Upper Missouri River and resumed their search for a route to the Pacific Ocean. The day was Sunday, April 7. Included in the party, Clark noted in his journal, was a French-Canadian trapper and […]
  • A Life of Sheer Will
    Paris in November. The rain was unrelenting, people huddled in cafés, and umbrellas knocked heads in the cramped streets. Scooters, bikes, and buses zoomed by, spattering muddy water with little regard for pedestrians. Everything felt taxing—even the metro was a mess. The only people engaged with life at a normal speed were those with dogs. […]
  • The Two Constitutions
    Historians can and do change their minds about interpretations of events and the uses of evidence. We may be dead certain, or even mildly sure, about facts and the stories we tell about them, but our craft requires us to remain open to new persuasions, new truths. James Oakes used to believe that the United […]
  • Journey to the North
    Back in the early 2010s, when I was writing my first dispatches from the US–Mexico border and volunteering as a humanitarian worker, I would stand on a hill in Nogales, Mexico, and watch as migrants, mostly young men, ducked alone through a hole in the old border fence. They would then dart from bush to […]
  • Unwanted Thoughts
    In the beginning was the Word. The trouble came afterward. How to teach the Word of God, how to translate Scripture, how to gloss and explain it: these were problems of grave concern to premodern Christians, and getting them wrong was beyond life-and-death. A bad reader’s soul was endangered for eternity. Angels didn’t have this […]
  • Surviving by Accident
    In 1925 a girl named Marina was born in Riga, the capital city of Latvia, to a Jewish Latvian father and a Protestant Italian mother. Ten years later the parents underwent an acrimonious divorce and the mother took Marina and her sister back to Italy. The girls were raised by their maternal grandmother in an […]
  • The Second Warthogs
    I saw them from the canal, nosingtheir way through a spare enclosure behindthe zoo. Dusk gray, two of a kind,and utterly unimposing, they were aimlesslycrossing their corner of Regent’s Parklike a pair of sullen castoffs from the arkand wearing their dirt shamelessly. Who could blame them for their ennui?They were just the secondwarthogs, their features […]
  • Talking to the Sun in Washington Square
    Looking after children means    simultaneously building a field hospital,a hedge school, a diner, and an open-air    prison with my bare handsand operating them at a continual loss.    In this instant they are playing and I’m sitting on a bench where the    unhindered sun applies itselfand I can feel it on my skin asking how it’s […]
  • The Creation of Nigeria
    Last February, with countries in many parts of Africa rigging constitutions to allow incumbent leaders to remain in office indefinitely or backsliding toward authoritarianism, Nigeria did something that seemed to set it apart: it held the latest in a series of regularly scheduled, democratically contested presidential elections dating back to 1999. That, at least, was […]
  • Ideal Detachments
    The interiors of Andy Warhol’s Factory, at 231 East 47th Street, were famously all silver: silver foil on the walls, silver paint on the pipes and ducts and furniture, mirrors everywhere. Even the elevator was silver. The intention of Warhol and his decorator, the photographer and Factory acolyte Billy Name, was to create an environment […]
  • The Price of Crypto
    None of this had to happen. In the fall of 2008, amid the great shipwreck of the international financial order, an anonymous person or group of persons writing under the name Satoshi Nakamoto proposed a new electronic cash system called Bitcoin. In the “white paper” proposing the system, initially circulated to a cryptography mailing list, […]
  • Best Guesses
    To the Editors: Fintan O’Toole is a brilliant writer, and usually a sharp-eyed observer of things cultural and political, here and abroad. In his latest piece, “Bump and Grind” [NYR, May 11], he again excels as a writer. Regrettably, however, he falls short as a legal observer, and in a way that is unhelpful to […]
  • Don’t Blame the Southerners
    To the Editors: Praising the Hulu version of the 1619 Project, Adam Hochschild [NYR, May 25] writes: We hear about the powerful southern congressional committee chairmen who forced New Deal programs like Social Security to exclude categories of labor in which Blacks were concentrated, like domestic and agricultural work. This claim became popular in the […]
  • Words into Images
    I began reading pieces for our May 25 issue while in London visiting family and friends. This included a trip to Charleston, the country home in East Sussex where the Bloomsbury group sometimes convened. I brought a stack of galleys in my bag for the ninety-minute train ride from Victoria Station to Lewes, but they […]
  • ‘The Real World Is Not Here’
    George Balanchine, the great choreographer and cofounder of New York City Ballet, who arrived in the United States in 1933, almost always had a girlfriend—often a few.1 His first American girlfriend, Holly Howard, apparently had four or five abortions in their first year together. Is it possible to get pregnant four or five times in […]
  • What Is Wildness?
    Blood doesn’t flow through our arteries and veins by gravity or magic or the force of our personalities. It is pushed. What pushes it is an elaborately engineered muscle (or muscular organ) that serves as a pump: the heart. Without the continuing, impelling action of that pump, the rest dies. The heart can survive without […]
  • Wages for Housewives
    Housewifery is hard work: taxing, by all accounts; isolating, by default; unwaged, by design. That is until 2006, when five women in Orange County were reportedly each given a few thousand dollars to be Housewives, Real Housewives, on cable television. They tottered, top-heavy, around Coto de Caza, their gated community, got Botox and went to […]
  • Kelly Akashi’s Ecology of Craft
    At the height of the shelter-in-place mandates in 2020, the Los Angeles–based artist Kelly Akashi began learning stone carving. It was partly a practical decision—she could carve outdoors and without assistance from others—and partly proof of her yen for centuries-old craft traditions, having already trained in glassblowing, lost-wax bronze casting, lacemaking, and rope making. One […]
  • Writing into Silence
    June 16, 1948, was the beginning of the twelve-year conflict that would come to be called “the Malayan Emergency” by British colonial troops and “the Anti-British National Liberation War” by the predominantly ethnically Chinese Communist fighters seeking to overthrow them. Five thousand civilians died, and as much as 10 percent of the entire population of […]
  • A Culture of Repression and Neglect 
    On May 1 in New York City, a twenty-four-year-old white ex-Marine named Daniel Penny choked a thirty-year-old Black man named Jordan Neely to death on the F train as it headed toward the Broadway-Lafayette station. Neely was a street performer known for his skilled Michael Jackson impersonation. He was also mentally ill, homeless, and had […]
  • Stories Adrift
    Media attention to war-torn countries follows a pattern. At first outrage and the pursuit of justice drive a twenty-four-hour cycle of coverage. Journalistic principle promises to keep it going until the war subsides, yet inevitably it recedes long before. Only occasionally do humanitarian tragedies prompt reminders of the ongoing hardship. The body of a three-year-old […]
  • Golden Coats, Sacred Spoons
    Is the third time the charm? Charles’s first coronation was at Gordonstoun school in November 1965, when he played Macbeth. There is a photograph in the Royal Collections of him in a get-up nearly as strange as those he is wearing at Westminster Abbey almost sixty years later, sporting a bad fake beard and what […]
  • The Superego of the Magazines
    “It is blind acquiescence to collective madness, the twisted appeal to the common good, that propels citizens into fascism,” writes Jacqueline Rose in the May 11 issue of the Review. Her subject is Good, a 1982 play by C. P. Taylor that was staged at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London last winter. The main […]
  • The Oracle of Public Radio
    Michael Silverblatt’s voice has been described as “so hypnotic, so compelling, that it apparently has prevented people driving on the LA freeways from committing acts of road rage.” What those drivers are listening to, more likely than not, is Silverblatt in conversation with an author. He hosts Bookworm, a thirty-minute interview program on the Los […]
  • At Odds with Two Worlds
    “Let them eat grass,” said Andrew Myrick, a trader who owned several stores on the Dakota reservations in Minnesota. He was referring to the hungry warriors desperate for the food promised them by the federal government.* It was the summer of 1862, the second year of the Civil War. The Dakota were starving, their children […]
  • Bewitched by Goethe
    We can change a face, change a gender, change a race, change a voice; produce the true illusion of someone speaking words they never spoke; sell tickets for events at which dead people will sing and dance for our delectation. Why, it’s almost as if we were alive to see them do it. What can […]
  • Farewell Poem
    for Dmitry Golynko You are leaving with all these poems. You are leaving. An over-the-shoulder bag is over your shoulder. And the river is leaving. It is making its unwavering way to no longer being a river. It is moving among façades that are neither moving nor moved. They are repeating like stanzas in a […]
  • The Extinct
    Long ago, I find the housewith one blazing window and sneak upto peek in: there are my parents in each other’s armsnaked in the rumpled bed, mouths locked, eyesradiant like the glass. I put my ear to the sashto listen but the pane thrums and the cat Jupitercomes padding: Am I a sparrow? A grasshopper?I […]
  • The Deer
    Walking alone in a forest, I came upona deer—this was not a vision.It faced me, on its four thin legs,unmoved as a cave paintingbrushed by light. I made myself still.I spoke to it, softly. I can’t rememberwhat I said. The deer regarded me as a god would,eased by my astonishment.Then, slowly, I moved closer, and […]
  • Saving Lives and Making a Killing
    This past December the American Society of Hematology held its annual meeting in New Orleans. More than 30,000 attendees listened to presentations of the most recent research on blood and its disorders. As you might expect, the audience was primarily composed of people working in the field—clinicians, laboratory scientists, and trainees in fellowship programs—who focused […]
  • From Russia, with Love
    If you order Jennifer Homans’s Mr. B.: George Balanchine’s 20th Century, you might want to tell the delivery man to bring a hand truck. With the endnotes, nearly 1,500 of them, the book is close to eight hundred pages long. Balanchine deserves such coverage, though. His career spanned most of the twentieth century, during which […]
  • Seeing Through It All
    Are novelists required to like humans? It’s fair to say, on the evidence of her published writing, that Sara Baume is not a people person. Her first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither (2015), tells the story of Ray, a self-proclaimed misfit who goes on the run in rural Ireland with One Eye, his adopted dog. […]
  • The Frontier Justice
    Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas had all the makings of a successful politician. His rugged good looks accompanied an energetic personality that fit well with his “cowboy” image. His widely accepted exaggerations about his military service and childhood poverty diverted attention from his numerous extramarital affairs and neglect of his children, not to mention […]
  • The Limits of Language
    1. In the mid-Aughts, advocacy groups for sexual assault survivors began to publish guidelines for journalists covering sexual violence. “Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Journalists,” produced by the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, came out online in 2004. “Reporting on Rape and Sexual Violence,” a forty-page media “toolkit,” was issued by the […]
  • Blues, Grays & Greenbacks
    In August 1861, a couple of weeks after the Union’s disastrous defeat at Bull Run, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase traveled from Washington to New York in search of money. Bull Run had destroyed hopes of a swift end to the fighting, and the war was already costing more than $1 million per day. (The […]
  • The Documentarian
    “I have always had two ideas: that one day I would have to write about my father’s story, and that if I ever did so I would never be able to write another thing again.” This sentence appears near the beginning of Zachary Lazar’s 2009 memoir Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder, and […]
  • Shifting Sands
    Early on the morning of May 6, 1682, the Royal Navy warship Gloucester careered into a large sandbank off the port of Yarmouth. It bounced along the ridge, the rudder sheared off, a neighboring plank broke, and water poured into the hold. As men rushed on deck the ship was suddenly swept into deep water […]
  • ‘Tell Your Story, Omar’
    In 1721 an ancestor of mine in South Carolina, Elias Ball, bought a Muslim woman named Fatima on the wharf in the port city of Charleston and brought her twenty-five miles inland to his rice plantation on the Cooper River. The Ball family had enslaved West Africans and Native Americans for two decades by then, […]
  • The Fight for Fair Wages
    At the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, the giant wooden front doors swing open to reveal the company’s sprawling, multilevel temple to itself. The space, which contains a cocktail bar, a gift shop, and a bakery in addition to a café, is done up in walnut and leather, with tastefully displayed […]
  • The Inventor of Magical Realism
    Neither Gabriel García Márquez nor Mario Vargas Llosa had yet been born when the Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias began to write his first novel, El Señor Presidente, in December 1922. He labored on it for a decade while living in self-imposed exile in Paris, then returned home when the Great Depression left him strapped for […]
  • Loot Under the Lindens
    Partially clad in a Baroque façade of glowing cherubs, gods, and lions, Berlin’s Humboldt Forum was conceived as a way to make a shattered city whole. The building is a reconstruction of the Stadtschloss, or City Palace, the main residence of the Hohenzollerns from 1443 to 1918, as they evolved from a family of counts […]
  • Political Blindness
    To the Editors: Susan Neiman’s review of my Professor of Apocalypse: The Many Lives of Jacob Taubes [NYR, April 6] combines her own remembrances and conceptions of Jacob Taubes and of his second wife, Margherita von Brentano (with whom Neiman studied and whose works she has edited), with a cavalcade of her own concerns. What […]
  • Originalism’s Limits
    To the Editors: David Cole’s “Originalism’s Charade” [NYR, November 24, 2022] is a devastating critique of originalism as a method of interpreting the Constitution. Among other things, Cole argues that the theory does not deliver on its promise of constraining judicial discretion, because of the many interpretive choices it leaves to judges. But there is […]
  • Naipaul & Africa
    To the Editors: Howard French criticizes V.S. Naipaul’s novel A Bend in the River [“Naipaul’s Unreal Africa,” NYR, December 22, 2022] for its “essentialization” of Africa, which he claims is “deeply rooted [in] racist fantasies of the Western past.” He also alleges that Salim, the novel’s prejudiced narrator, is a “fictional voice for Naipaul’s sensibilities.” […]
  • Every Man His Own Hipster
    The neglected work has a number of advantages over the acknowledged masterpiece. First, it has the element of surprise: we are less likely to know how we are supposed to interpret it. But in its messiness or “wrongness” it can also be more inviting. Because it requires more generosity to appreciate, it gives the viewer […]
  • History Bright and Dark
    Americans have often been politically divided, never more so than during the Civil War, in which we managed to kill more than 600,000 of each other. But have the divisions over how we recount our history ever been so deep? Following the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country in 2020, at least four […]

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  • DEI: The Case for Common Ground
    There's more room for agreement than might appear.By James E. Ryan Golden Cosmos for The Chronicle // for full bleed half split - figure's parent container shouldn't calc max-height // and should be set to 100% instead - querySelector === baseClassName let parent = document.querySelector('figure.FullBleedFigureHalfSplit').parentElement = "100%" There's more room for agreement than might appear.