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The Grand Tour

Top Book News provided by The Chronicle of Higher Education©

The New York Review of Books©

  • World Cup 2018: Peru’s Permission to Dream
    The last time this country had cheered for la Blanquirroja, as the national side is known, in a World Cup was in 1982. One third of Peruvians had not even been born then, but they all remember that the last time had been a catastrophe. “The Peruvian defeat hurts again because, once more, the syndromes that disconcert and plague us appear: it seems that the Peruvian players have no soul, no testicles or blood,” wrote the sociologist and writer Abelardo Sánchez León at the time. “We can’t continue accepting that this way of playing football corresponds to the idiosyncrasy of our people.”
  • ‘Ruling Through Ritual’: An Interview with Guo Yuhua
    Ian Johnson: When did you start commenting on daily life? Guo Yuhua: In about 2010. In this society, everything that seems impossible or completely weird actually does happen, so how can you not comment on it? It’s intolerable. You feel you can’t help people who are suffering in another way, so at least you can try to publicize it and get a public reaction. In fact, you aren’t really helping them, but you feel you have to speak.
  • The Bugs Are Winning
    Bacteria that have developed immunity to a large number of antibiotics are termed “superbugs.” The best known is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. It originally appeared in intensive care units, among surgical patients. In this setting, MRSA primarily causes pneumonia and bloodstream infection from catheters. But over the past two decades, the resistant microbes have spread outside hospitals to the larger community.
  • The Last of the Tzaddiks
    In the somewhat exotic Jewish home in Iowa where I grew up, it was axiomatic that there was an intimate link between Judaism and universal human rights. Like nearly all Eastern European Jewish families in America, my parents and grandparents were Roosevelt Democrats, to the point of fanaticism. They thought that the Jews had invented the very idea, and also the practice, of social justice; that having started our history as slaves in Egypt, we were always on the side of the underdog and the oppressed; that the core of Judaism as a religious culture was precisely this commitment to human rights, and that all the rest—the 613 commandments, the rituals, the theological assertions—was no more than a superstructure built upon a strong ethical foundation. For me, this comfortable illusion was shattered only when I moved to Israel at the age of eighteen.
  • World Cup 2018: The Yob-Swagger of Inger-Land
    Good old England, good old Yob-land. Even if the Russians are better-prepared, fitter, and, not for the first time in their history, fighting on home soil, I still have faith in our hooligans to show their mettle and do us proud. We want England to be non-racist, non-homophobic, non-misogynistic and all that, but, God knows, however much we hate yobs, we don’t ever want England to be yob-free. No one will ever put it better than D.H. Lawrence of Nottingham Forest FC who considered himself “English in the teeth of all the world, even in the teeth of England.”
  • Jazz and the Images that Hold Us Captive
    The photographer and journalist Val Wilmer grasped that there is a struggle that precedes all others: the matrix in which other struggles are inscribed, which is simply the human struggle to go through life, to endure, and to make one's mark, whatever that may be. One needn't embrace a spurious universalism blind to race and gender, or to other forms of discrimination, to see that this struggle is our common one, even if we experience it in very different ways inflected by our backgrounds and experiences.
  • World Cup 2018: Waiting for ‘Golazo!’
    For a while, I was still kind of hoping Mexico wouldn’t do well in the 2018 World Cup. What if reaching that coveted fifth match, in the round of eight, enflamed nationalist sentiment and helped the ruling PRI do better in this summer’s coming election? But under Enrique Peña Nieto’s PRI presidency, the country’s situation has become so dire, and the PRI and the political establishment have become so unpopular, that for once it’s clear that the World Cup isn’t going to distract from more urgent realities, no matter how well El Tri, the national team, performs. An election promising a historic political realignment seems to be in the offing.
  • World Cup 2018: Brazil’s Respite from Reality
    For the first time in years, people are confident about the squad. Commentators love Brazil’s coach, Tite, as well as the team’s biggest star, Neymar. Besides, we can always count on Jesus—the forward Gabriel Jesus. There is a growing sense of the possibility of redemption by avenging that 7-1 home defeat against Germany in the semifinals of the last World Cup. But whether Brazil succeeds or fails in Russia, the outcome will be equally permeated with an old bittersweet flavor: the feeling that we are second-class citizens of the world trying to look the other way, in the hope that the euphoria of the next four weeks might extend to months or years, maybe a whole lifetime.
  • How My Father’s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy
    In The Ecology of Freedom, published in 1982 and translated into Turkish twelve years later, Murray Bookchin traced the emergence of hierarchy from prehistoric times to the present, examining the interaction between what he called the “legacy of domination” and the “legacy of freedom” in human history. The PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan read The Ecology of Freedom in his Turkish prison cell, and agreed with its analysis. My father’s emphasis on hierarchy became a signature aspect of Öcalan’s efforts to redefine the Kurdish problem.
  • Philip Roth (1933–2018)
    I never had the “talk” with my parents. I had only the “book”: Portnoy’s Complaint, which one evening my mother, in a rare embarrassed flush, tossed in my direction before escaping to her bedroom, trailed by a rushed “You might get a kick out of that.”
  • World Cup 2018: Hope Wins
    Few spectacles can match World Cup soccer for affirming a fatalistic sense—unless you’re German, and expect to win—that your people were born under a bad sign. To be English, in the world of the World Cup, is to gird oneself for watching your once-great nation crash out on penalties. To be Mexican is to be from a nation forever fated to reach the round of sixteen, but then get eliminated by a bad call or bad luck. Perhaps we can all agree—unless we’re fans of Portugal—on a loathing of Cristiano Ronaldo’s preening antics. But the World Cup looks different depending on where you watch from, as our series featuring writers exploring the Cup’s meanings from the vantage of varied nations taking part aims to show. 
  • Why Trump Could Pardon Jack Johnson When Obama Wouldn’t
    “They couldn’t get the president to sign it,” Trump said, clearly reveling in what he, and many of his supporters, took to be a delightful irony. “So I am taking this very righteous step.” But as reporters looked into Obama’s decision, one thing became clear: Jack Johnson had a history of beating women, a fact that gave Obama pause. That Trump felt no such compunction did not merely reflect his misogyny; what Trump did not seem to realize, as he was basking in his righteousness, was that he, as a white man, had a privilege Obama did not.
  • It Can Happen Here
    Many accounts of the Nazi period depict a barely imaginable series of events, a nation gone mad. That makes it easy to take comfort in the thought that it can’t happen again. But some depictions of Hitler’s rise are more intimate and personal. They focus less on well-known leaders, significant events, state propaganda, murders, and war, and more on the details of individual lives. They help explain how people can not only participate in dreadful things but also stand by quietly and live fairly ordinary days in the midst of them.
  • An Inconvenient New Neutrino?
    When the particle known as the muon was discovered, in 1936, the then-future Nobel laureate I.I. Rabi famously asked, “Who ordered that?” The Standard Model is a tight mathematical structure, with a specific symmetry; it likes things in threes and simply does not allow for another, fourth neutrino. If these results from MiniBooNE prove correct, then, it will once again show just how odd neutrinos are. But as the Italians say, Se non è vero, è ben trovato. Even if it’s not true, it’s a good story.
  • Danse Macabre
    The first thing one notices about Epirotic music from the 1920s and 1930s is that it’s raw. This isn’t just a result of the grainy quality of the recording. The singing is full-throated and passionate; the instruments keen like wolves or flutter and swoop like hummingbirds. The insistent strumming and drumming, the pedal notes, the droning of strings and accompanying voices churn with a primeval energy. Aspects of the music suggest bluegrass, or free jazz, or the Velvet Underground, or the Carnatic music of southern India. But something sounds a bit off.
  • How Ulster Unionists Block Brexit
    As the recent debate on abortion showed, the Democratic Unionist Party’s values and idea of Britishness are increasingly out of kilter with Britain itself. And Brexit, which the DUP supported, now looms as a disaster for the Northern Irish party. If, as the DUP insists, Northern Ireland can be treated no differently from the rest of the UK, because the Union with England, Wales, and Scotland is sacrosanct, then all of the UK must stay within the EU’s rules to meet European conditions on border arrangements with Ireland. In which case, Brexit itself becomes pointless. The DUP’s backward-looking Britishness thus stands solidly in the way of Brexit’s English revolution.
  • Zoe Leonard: ‘Here After All’
    Looking at Zoe Leonard's photographs, there is a sense of preservation, of saving these things from being obliterated—by AIDS, by gentrification, or simply by forgetfulness—by preserving them in images. There’s a conservationist impulse, too, in Leonard’s methods, which are sometimes very old-fashioned. She has an eye for the historical and obsolete. The decision to use forgotten but beautiful techniques is typical of Leonard, who is deeply invested in photography’s capacity to preserve, to reveal, and to challenge norms.
  • A Deathly Hush
    The UN’s definition of genocide is not restricted to attempts to eradicate a particular ethnic group. It includes “killings...with the intent to destroy, in whole, or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” (my emphasis). Part One of this article explored the evidence presented in Judi Rever’s In Praise of Blood that before, during, and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) killed tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Hutus. The claim that these killings constituted a “parallel genocide” has long been dismissed by many academics and journalists, including myself, as overstatement, and even as Hutu propaganda. But Rever makes a plausible case for it. Even if these massacres didn’t constitute genocide, it’s worth asking why the fiction has persisted that Kagame’s RPF rescued Rwanda from further genocide when much evidence suggests that it actually helped provoke it by needlessly invading the country in 1990, massacring Hutus, probably shooting down the plane of President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1994, and failing to move swiftly to stop the genocide of the Tutsis.
  • Italy: The Bright Side of Populism?
    In Europe, liberal democracy is being attacked by left-wing and right-wing populists simultaneously. As developments in Spain—where a new government also came into power last week—show, this impression is misleading. Some of the new left-wing parties in southern Europe are signs not of a deepening crisis of representative democracy, but of a possible solution to that crisis. Whether that outcome will hold for Italy very much depends on the Five Star Movement, a still unknown and, in many ways, unprecedented entity founded on a complete rejection of both political parties and professional media as means to connect electorates and politics.
  • Brave Spaces
    Behind the First Amendment there is supposed to be a principle of free speech that applies to everyone in our society—a strong ethic that says we should never shut down the expression of controversial views just because of their content. The question is whether that ethic of free speech matters more or less on campus than it does in society generally. Should we say, as Sigal Ben-Porath says in her book Free Speech on Campus, that “colleges and universities hold a unique place in the conversation about speech”? The question seems to crop up every month, with some new concern about speakers invited onto campuses being heckled or disinvited because of the prospect of protest.
  • Sex Changes in Turkey
    On the night of September 27, 2017, Derin Oylum, a twenty-year-old Turkish graphic design student who is in the early stages of transitioning from female to male, met with his girlfriend, Emine, in the small Aegean town in Turkey where they both live. The couple climbed a hill, enjoyed the views of green fields, and talked about their relationship. Fifteen minutes later Emine’s brother appeared on a motorcycle. Derin says the boy punched him to the ground and kicked him several times in the face. He was head-butted twice; his right cheekbone was fractured. “Are you lovers?” the attacker asked as he choked Derin, called him a lesbian, and telephoned Emine’s father for assistance. Half an hour later the father arrived. He began punching Derin in the face, threatened him with rape, and pushed him toward the edge of a cliff.
  • History from a High Angle
    What unites Masaki Kobayashi’s films is an interest in the tension between the fixity of official narratives and the complexities of lived experience.
  • Whose Country?
    To the Editors: Robert Kaiser states that “South Vietnam never was a real nation. Vietnamese in every region seemed to understand that they lived in one country.” Ken Burns’s popular documentary on the Vietnam War makes the same statement, even more bluntly. It is absolutely and obviously false.
  • Wrong Victim
    To the Editors: Tim Flannery’s statement that fox geneticist “Dmitri Belyaev’s brother Nicholai, an acclaimed plant geneticist who was skeptical of and opposed Lysenko’s theories, was arrested and executed in 1937” is wrong on several points.
  • Adult Supervision
    To the Editors: My father, Charles Grass, was the other Riff Brother who formed the tap-dance duo with Bob Fosse from ages eight to eighteen (they became professionals at the age of twelve) when they were growing up in Chicago. The Riff Brothers danced in some seedy places but did not hang out with strippers or go on stage with erections.
  • First Editions
    To the Editors: I was distressed to read Nick Laird’s review in which he writes that Heather Cass White’s New Collected Poems of Marianne Moore “is the first edition of Moore’s work that actually is what it says it is” in gathering together and restoring the poems she omitted from her own 1967 edition, inaccurately called Complete Poems.
  • Islam’s New ‘Native Informants’
    For two campaigners who spent so much time and trouble escaping the tyranny of religious indoctrination, it is ironic that they appear blind to the ways they have been co-opted by the forces of reaction. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz now face accusations of being native informants, they must reckon with their own agency in taking on the part of gatekeepers of a highly partisan Western view of Islam. What they fail to acknowledge when they dismiss any criticism of their positions and associations is their conscious complicity.
  • A Win Against Homophobia in the Caribbean
    That April day outside the Hall of Justice was momentous. Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court ruled that the country's antiquated and explicitly anti-homosexual laws should be struck off the books once and for all, a historic win. Across the Caribbean two realities exist in conflict: the diversity and fluidity of beliefs and lifestyles having to do with sex and marriage within actual communities, and the staid and forbidding values touted by church leaders and politicians.
  • Trump’s North Korean Nuclear Theatrics
    From the repeal of Obamacare to trade with China, from his border wall to an infrastructure plan, Trump’s overexposure of his proposals by stimulating a media frenzy through his own shenanigans routinely undercuts his efforts. There probably is room for a US-North Korean deal—both sides seem to want the summit—but Trump’s propensity to turn every major policy initiative into a personal melodrama may well undercut his Korea effort, too. Pyongyang may judge that it cannot trust someone so unstable and prone to change his mind.
  • Modi’s Full Court Press in India
    The behavior of the current chief justice has called into question once again the independence and credibility of the Supreme Court. In April, when opposition parties sought to impeach Misra—the first such attempt in Indian history—they listed five allegations against him, including involvement in a pay-to-play scheme, the falsification of official documents, and behind-the-scenes manipulation of sensitive cases. The outcomes of these cases have favored either Misra personally or the BJP. Narendra Modi’s ruling party seems to have learned from the clumsy overreach of Indira Gandhi’s Congress. His government has delicately combined professing horror at the past episode of arbitrary rule with creeping authoritarianism on its watch.
  • The Art of the Schmooze
    Studs Terkel, who died in 2008, is best remembered, if at all, by Americans at large for his popular and prize-winning books of oral history—nine of them, from Division Street (1967) to Hope Dies Last (2003). But we Chicagoans remember him more vividly for his large presence in our city over the last half of the twentieth century.
  • The Surrealists’ Dance with the Yup’ik Mask
    At the Di Donna Galleries, the masks of the Yup’ik, an indigenous people related to the Inuit, seem to float off the dark blue walls where they hang, between paintings by Yves Tanguy and André Masson, Joan Miró and Enrico Donati, Victor Brauner and Wolfgang Paalen—all Surrealists. André Breton and Man Ray had first seen Yup’ik masks in 1935 in Paris at the Galerie Charles Ratton in Paris. But it was Max Ernst who introduced his friends to a trove of them in Manhattan. He was walking down Third Avenue one day when he spotted a spoon from the Northwest Coast in the window of Julius Carlebach’s antiques shop.
  • Picturing Haiti’s Freemasons
    In colonial Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti)—where Freemasonry arrived with French merchants and soldiers—it became one of the few European institutions that admitted black members. Elsewhere in the Americas, racism kept blacks from joining lodges or embarking on the series of initiations, or "degrees," around which Masonic rites revolve. But in Saint-Domingue, Masonic ideas held great interest for the colony’s freedmen of color—the forerunners of Haiti’s political elite. Leah Gordon's photographs explore Haiti’s Masonic tradition.
  • Can the Rule of Law Survive Trump?
    Of all the rule-of-law norms that Trump has set his sights on, the notion of prosecutorial independence—a tradition that dates back to before the founding—may be the most vulnerable at the moment. While Rosenstein and Mueller are currently the most visible guardians of prosecutorial independence, there are civil servants who are doing their jobs with respect for the norms and practices that define them. These are men and women devoted not to a boss who directs them but to a professional mission defined by centuries of tradition.
  • The Digital Poorhouse
    At the simplest level, an algorithm is a sequence of steps for solving a problem. When people say they’re worried about the power of algorithms, however, they’re talking about the application of sophisticated, often opaque, software programs to enormous data sets. These programs employ advanced statistical methods and machine-learning techniques to pick out patterns and correlations, which they use to make predictions. Predictive algorithms are increasingly central to our lives. They determine everything from what ads we see on the Internet, to whether we are flagged for increased security screening at the airport, to our medical diagnoses and credit scores.
  • Moving Targets
    William Eggleston’s photographs provide a primer on how to look at things you’re about to overlook—the inside of an oven, an old blue pick-up truck parked behind a horizontal wisteria vine, a green shower stall, part of a concrete stairway between two white walls, a dog lapping water from a puddle.
  • RFK, in Arthur Schlesinger’s Words
    “We worked hard to get where we are, and we can’t let it all go to waste,” Robert Kennedy told Arthur Schlesinger in December 1963, a month after JFK’s assassination. “My brother barely had a chance to get started—and there is so much now to be done—for the Negroes and the unemployed and school kids and everyone else who is not getting a decent break in our society. This is what counts. The new fellow [LBJ] doesn’t get this. He knows all about politics and nothing about human beings.”
  • Lost in Robo-Translation
    My device had run out of power, so I spoke into his. Words came out in Japanese, but either they were too faint to be heard above the din or they made no sense, and he shrugged. “How do you like this translation machine?” I tried. Nothing. “Does this thing work pretty well?” I asked. He finally seemed to understand what I was getting at, and spoke quickly into the device. “I have no information about that,” he said.
  • My Mother’s Brilliant Career in Soviet Culture
    In the morning, she wrapped the four limp fish in damp sheets of Soviet Culture and stuffed them into an oilskin hamper. It leaked, but the trolleybus taking us to the airport for her flight to Leningrad was empty at that early hour, so no one noticed. She carried the hamper in one hand and her suitcase in the other, while I bore her portable typewriter. The fish delivered, the defense of her thesis was a breeze. Mother passed with flying colors.
  • The Missing Music of the Left
    Marxism was not the only ideology to crystallize its aims into a song; in fact, it is hard to think of one that doesn’t. There is a reason why nation-states develop national anthems. The theme is not always uniform, not always in march time, but it must be rousing. What I am calling the music of an outlook or a movement captures the overall spirit of the enterprise: that combination of mental and moral senses that arouses the blood, that generates energy and drives persistence to overcome the inevitable obstacles in the way of the realization of ideals.
  • Where Lost Bodies Roam
    The astonishing works with which Samuel Beckett revolutionized both the theater and the novel—Waiting for Godot and the trilogy of Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable—were written immediately after World War II and the Holocaust. Vladimir’s question in Godot, “Where are all these corpses from?,” and its answer, “A charnel-house! A charnel-house!,” hang over much of his writing. Torture, enslavement, hunger, displacement, incarceration, and subjection to arbitrary power are the common fates of Beckett’s characters. Yet there is a long tradition of seeing him as not merely apolitical but antipolitical.
  • Before the Revolution
    Finished in 1976 but not published until 2009, fourteen years after her death, Eileen Chang’s novel Little Reunions sold 700,000 copies in China in its first six months of publication. It is Chang’s most autobiographical work, so some of its allure has been as a trove of clues to the author’s life. More than that, though, the novel recalls a vanished China of the 1930s and 1940s that was both rooted in Chinese culture and open to the West; its scenes offer an antidote to the mood of indignant rivalry and, at least in the imagination, an alternative to the Xi Jinping version of what it means to be a modern Chinese.
  • Foujita: Imperial Japan Meets Bohemian Paris
    Born in 1886 into an aristocratic military family in Tokyo, Foujita moved to Paris in 1913. At the Louvre, he copied old masterworks, particularly gold-leafed Madonnas. He became close friends with the painters Chaïm Soutine and Amedeo Modigliani. Among Foujita’s early works, from 1913–1924, are haunting and somber cityscapes of Paris. Unlike those of the Nabis or the Fauves, his paintings were drained of color, almost like photographic prints; he attempted neither abstraction nor cubism. He found his greatest success with oil paintings and ink and pencil drawings of women.
  • A Mythic, Cool America
    There’s also a familiarity to the lesser-known works adorning the walls of "America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper." Not because British audiences have seen them before; they haven’t—nearly half of the eighty-odd paintings, photographs, and prints in this relatively small, three-room show have never previously been exhibited in the UK. All the same, we know exactly what we’re looking at: representations of the mythologies of an “America” that has long inhabited the popular global imagination, from the towering structures of the archetypal modern metropolis to the rustic barns, uniform fields of corn, and white picket fences of prairie farmland.
  • How Best to Read Auto-Fiction
    In 1887, Tolstoy went back to fiction and wrote The Kreutzer Sonata. In that novella, a man who holds exactly Tolstoy’s extreme views on sex (that it is utterly disgusting), and whose courtship and marriage in every way described corresponds to the author’s own biography, kills his wife in a fit of jealousy when he assumes (probably wrongly) that she is betraying him with her handsome violin teacher. Was this wishful thinking? Was it a warning to himself of what he might be capable of? Was it an exploration of the relation of his extreme views to real behavior?
  • In Their Own Worlds
    In recent decades, a tale unfolding within the larger story of contemporary art has been our gradually learning more about, and our trying to place, outsider artists. Problems begin at once, with the label.
  • My Boot Camp in Corrective Democracy
    Teaching a course on “Facts/Alternative Facts: Media in America from Tocqueville to Trump,” I created an exercise I called “Tweeting Nietzsche.” It would be our touchstone throughout the term, a reminder that to speak of facts is to speak of language—Nietzsche’s “mobile army of metaphor, metonym, and anthropomorphism”—and that journalists who intend to write factually in today’s hostile climate for news media must learn how to deploy that mobile army effectively. I wish I’d had a trumpet to sound the charge.
  • O’Neill’s Dark Energy at BAM
    The rattled breathlessness of Lesley Manville’s delivery as Mary in BAM’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, as if half a second’s interruption would bring everything crashing down, established the state of things in the Tyrone household with no delay: the masks are already off. Manville’s Mary is not merely distracted but positively a junkie with screaming nerves. The play is a work that mercilessly tests each actor’s ability to inhabit roles that are not characters but beings, summoned by an authorial process that can only be conceived as an occult attempt to restore speech to the dead.
  • Roth in the Review
    A life in literary criticism: how Review writers read and responded to the novels of Philip Roth (1933–2018). From 1985, Al Alvarez: What excites Roth’s verbal life—and provokes his readers—is, he seems to suggest, the opportunity fiction provides to be everything he himself is not: raging, whining, destructive, permanently inflamed, unstoppable. Irony, detachment, and wisdom are given unfailingly to other people. Even Diana, Zuckerman’s punchy twenty-year-old mistress who will try anything for a dare, sounds sane and bored and grown-up when Zuckerman is in the grip of his obsession. The truly convincing yet outlandish caricature in Roth’s repertoire is of himself.
  • Escape from the Nazis: Anna Seghers’s Suspenseful Classic
    The Seventh Cross is an example of something rare in the literature of the German language: a brilliantly written novel that keeps alive one of the most important chapters of German history—though I can still see why as a student I thought the book was old-fashioned. The grammar is complex, the language at times curious, its female characters oddly passive. So what gives The Seventh Cross its literary quality? First, something quite simple: Anna Seghers, it turns out, was a veritable master of suspense.
  • The Mass Murder We Don’t Talk About
    In Uganda, Ethiopia, and a small number of other countries, the Bush and Clinton administrations lavished development and military aid on dictators who in turn funneled weapons to insurgents in Sudan, Rwanda, and Congo. In this way, Washington helped stoke the interlinked disasters that have claimed millions of lives since the late 1980s and still roil much of eastern and central Africa today. The complicity of the US in those disasters has not yet been sufficiently exposed, but Judi Rever’s In Praise of Blood explores how Washington helped obscure the full story of the genocide that devastated Rwanda during the 1990s and cover up the crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which has ruled the country ever since.
  • A Gandhian Stand Against the Culture of Cruelty
    Watching Sri Lankans parade the Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s mutilated corpse, Rahul Gandhi wondered, “Why they are humiliating this man in this way?” It was this merciful vision that Gandhi, after years of grief and righteous rage, expressed recently as he forgave those who killed his father, Rajiv. Rahul Gandhi may turn out to be another self-seeking dynast. But there is dignity in his dissent today from a worldwide culture of cruelty; and it is a rare reminder that many frozen seas of pity will have to melt before we regain a semblance of civil society.
  • The New Passport-Poor
    Drawing borders around people might give us a more orderly and predictable world. But for all the promised benefits of a frictionless experience of journeying, it may not be a more humane one. Passports might disappear in the next decade, but they’ll be replaced by something much more invasive: a digital shadow representing our bodies, our families, and our pasts, following us like little rainclouds everywhere we go.

The Grand Tour

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