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Preview: Books :: The New York Sun

Books :: The New York Sun

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Last Build Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:16:39 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2016 The New York Sun

To Plumb Modern Israel Jabotinsky's 'My Life' Is the Place To Start

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 11:54:57 EST

For anyone seeking to understand the continuing prominence of the Likud Party in Israeli politics the story of its progenitor, Vladimir Jabotinsky, is essential. A talented writer raised in an assimilated Odessa family, Jabotinsky threw himself into Zionism after witnessing the 1903 Kishinev pogrom. He spent the rest of his life advocating for a Jewish state in Palestine, and died in 1940 in New York while campaigning for a Jewish army to fight the Nazis.For many years, little of Jabotinsky's...

The World's Oldest Sickness

Mon, 26 Aug 2013 10:03:06 EST

The Jew as spider? Yes, and as octopus, rat, snake, pig,-- virtually any repulsive creature in the bestiary. The Jew is also depicted as a vampire, and as a (sort of) man with a huge, ugly hook nose, in Chassid garb, spilling blood, and killing babies.Jo Kotek, a political scientist, discusses this zoomorphic dehumanizing of the Jew in Manfred Gerstenfeld's new book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, recently published by RVP Press. Dr. Gerstenfeld, a prolific Israeli author and scholar, has...

Remembering the Reporter Who Inspired 'On the Waterfront'

Mon, 26 Jul 2010 16:11:34 EST

In May 1948, in a scene that might have come from a gangster movie, a man leapt out of a sedan and fired seven shots at a stevedore named Tom Collentine, three into his prostrate body. As had become routine in previous decades, most New York papers gave decent play to this waterfront murder and moved on. By contrast, The New York Sun sent its star reporter, Malcolm "Mike" Johnson, to do what neither papers, politicians nor policemen had been willing to do before: seek the connections among the...

How Quest for American Dominance Drove Roosevelt, Eisenhower

Sun, 27 Jun 2010 13:52:30 EST

Delivering a magisterial account of Franklin Roosevelt's and Dwight Eisenhower's roles in World War II, situated within their separate lives and presidencies, may seem an outright impossibility in the space of 100 pages. Yet it is what Philip Terzian has done in Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century.

A Towering Spiritual Leader Finds His Biographers, At Last

Mon, 21 Jun 2010 09:28:30 EST

Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the subject of an important new biography by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, professors at City University and Israel's Bar Ilan respectively. They describe how Menachem Mendel partially separated himself from Chabad as a Parisian engineer, returning to the fold in flight from the Nazis, shortly afterwards to emerge as Chabad's undisputed spiritual leader.

Greece in the Shadow of the Nazis

Tue, 8 Jun 2010 09:40:19 EST

In the most common type of thriller conservatively, 99 examples out of 100 a protagonist pieces together puzzling events until the dastardly plans of an antagonist are discovered and there ensues a game of cat and mouse, or a race against time, so that the good guy(s) can defuse the bomb, or stop the speeding bus, or whatever, five seconds before the world explodes.

Half Way There

Wed, 26 May 2010 14:49:00 EST

Christopher Hitchens is prolific indeed. Now, after books on a dozen subjects from Cyprus to Jefferson, Paine, and, most recently, the general badness of religion, he turns his attention inwards in Hitch-22, named for the paradoxical style of Catch-22. Hitch-22's chief paradox is that of simultaneously maintaining against militant Islamic absolutists and Western relativists that "there is no totalitarian solution while also insisting that, yes, we on our side also have unalterable convictions and are willing to fight for them."

Trading Places: 'Famous Amis' Runs Into 'Hitch-22'

Fri, 21 May 2010 16:30:49 EST

Given the woeful sales for "serious fiction," the average literary novelist would probably be delighted to receive the critical thrashing that was recently unleashed upon Martin Amis and his new novel, "The Pregnant Widow" (Knopf, 384 pp.), by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times -- if only as proof of an otherwise obscure existence. But neither by birth (he is the son of Kingsley Amis) nor by talent can Mr. Amis possibly be construed as an average novelist.However, the world in which Mr...

Probity, Not Policy

Mon, 26 Apr 2010 15:42:31 EST

American public anger at its financial system has perhaps not run higher in almost a century. Banks are booking record profits while the American consumer on the other end of what was a shared crisis just a year go continues to struggle. Curiously, at about the same time 1st quarter results came out, two volumes at once very different and very much to the point were reissued to little notice on the same day by General Books, a club that republishes classics...

All Alone: Two New Books on Loneliness

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"We're all in this alone," the comedian Lily Tomlin once quipped, in a startling home truth. Loneliness is the dirty little secret of our outgoing "people-person" culture. It's not someone else's problem, but one that afflicts almost 20% of Americans roughly 60 million people.Americans were once regarded as the most gregarious people on earth. No longer. They now report having fewer friends and confidants than ever before. Nearly 30 million of them live alone. And a recent study, drawing on a...

Jonathan Ames Gets Real in a Graphic Novel

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 12:46:07 EST

For Jonathan Ames, writing himself into his own work is standard procedure. The Brooklyn author has recounted his neuroses and sexual misadventures in nonfiction essays, and peppered novels, such as "Wake Up, Sir!" and "The Extra Man," with characters that share his self-destructive tendencies and fascination with transsexuals. With "The Alcoholic," his new graphic novel published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, Mr. Ames has finally given a form to his literary avatar.Told mostly through...

Drowning in the Desert: Miriam Toews's 'The Flying Troutmans'

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Miriam Toews's black comedy, "The Flying Troutmans," is a road-trip novel about three broken hearts in need of mending.

The New Face of Philanthropy

Fri, 26 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Beginning with Warren Buffett's multibillion dollar gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006 and Bill Gates's decision to turn his primary attention to giving all of that money away, philanthropy has been a hot topic in business circles.

A Universe of Books: Borges's 'Library of Babel'

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

In "The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel," William Goldbloom Bloch, professor of mathematics at Wheaton College, has woven an elegant, ingenious, and scholarly interpretation of Borges's text that contradicts the disingenuous "unimaginable" of his title.

Timothy Ryback's 'Hitler's Private Library'

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

The "Hitler Library" has in recent years been the subject of a number of studies. What distinguishes the slim, elegantly written, meticulously researched, fascinating volume by Timothy Ryback, "Hitler's Private Library," is his careful analysis of a small, selected number of works that he associates with formative episodes in Hitler's life.

The Great Rambam: Joel Kraemer's 'Maimonides'

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"Maimonides," Joel Kraemer's biography of the man known among observant Jews as "the RaMBaM" (for Rabbi Moses ben Maimon), has been 20 years in the making and is clearly the product of great study. Mr. Kraemer is a scholar of the first rank, and his book is informed by historical, religious, and biographical erudition. He is as fluent working through the genizah texts and the urban geography of a medieval Spanish city as he is drawing out the contemporary relevance of ancient Arabic religious rivalries and the import of Maimonides's halachic or legal writings.

Why We Fight: Martin van Creveld's 'The Culture of War'

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

'The Culture of War' is the most persuasive, engaging -- and controversial -- of all Martin van Creveld's substantial studies. In it, he makes the convincing case that, despite the claims of many activists, warfare is a natural and necessary feature of human life.

Agn Humbert's Wartime Diary 'R istance'

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Now, for the first time, the text of Agn Humbert's wartime diary is available in English expertly translated by Barbara Mellor as "R istance: A Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France."

The Novel as Idyll: Juli Ayesta's 'Helena, or the Sea in Summer'

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Originally published in 1952, and titled "Helena, or the Sea in Summer," this short book sets an idyllic series of early adolescent scenes against the tense backdrop of pre-revolutionary Spain. It reads like repeated sips from Keats's ideal cup of inspiration: "O for a beaker full of the warm South, / Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene." It is slight, but intoxicating.

A Peculiar Association: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Is it even possible to apply the word love to a relationship between a woman and the man who owns her? Can we ever know what was in Jefferson's and Hemings's hearts, given the cloak of secrecy that they and their society conspired to draw around their relationship?

Book-Burning and Other Bibliocausts

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

As Fernando B z makes plain in "A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern Iraq," translated from the Spanish by Alfred MacAdam, the book has always been doubly inflammable. Its contents inflame hostile readers while its physical format is temptingly combustible.

Dominick Dunne Returns to O.J. Trial

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Celebrity crime writer Dominick Dunne was greeted by O.J. Simpson as he returned to a Las Vegas courtroom Tuesday to cover the former football star's armed robbery-kidnapping trial.

The Crime Scene: A Great Pair

Wed, 24 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch has become one of the great figures in contemporary American mystery fiction, and this ethical, tough-but-softhearted Los Angeles policeman has brought enormous, well-deserved success to his creator, Michael Connelly.

Dominick Dunne Stricken at Simpson Trial

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Celebrity crime writer Dominick Dunne has been taken to a Las Vegas hospital after he says he was stricken by pain while watching testimony in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery-kidnapping trial.

Swedish Intrigue on an Isle: 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Mon, 22 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

A Swedish mystery whose arrival was heralded with glowing reviews, crime fiction awards, and blockbuster sales at home, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Knopf, 480 pages, $24.95) cannot help but be something of a letdown to hard-core fans of the genre, even as its unorthodox nature may draw in readers not traditionally gripped by the strictures of a mystery plot.Faithful readers of the Swedish mystery mastermind Henning Mankell may be reminded of the first time they cracked open an e...

Real Stories of Anorexia Challenge Stereotypes

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Besides covering New York's cultural institutions, the New York Sun's arts reporter, Kate Taylor, has written about a no less important, though perhaps more somber, subject: eating disorders. Anchor Books has just published an anthology that she edited, "Going Hungry: Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia."In addition to Ms. Taylor's introductory essay, "Going Hungry" includes essays by 18 writers, including Jennifer Egan, Joyce Maynard, Louise Gl k, and Francine du Plessix...

Garc Lorca Family Assents To Opening of Mass Grave

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Federico Garc Lorca's family won't oppose the opening of a mass grave where his body is believed to have been dumped after Franco supporters allegedly executed the poet and playwright at the outbreak of Spain's Civil War, a leading daily said Thursday.

Six Finalists Named for Goldman Sachs Book Prize

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Mohamed El-Erian's "When Markets Collide," Misha Glenny's "McMafia," and Alice Schroeder's new biography of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, "The Snowball," are among the finalists tapped for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

New Bushnell Books To Star Teen Carrie Bradshaw

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"Sex and the City" author Candace Bushnell is writing a pair of teen novels, "The Carrie Diaries," that "takes readers back to Carrie Bradshaw's formative years in high school, giving an inside look at Carrie's friendships, romances, and how she realized her dream of becoming a writer," HarperCollins announced Wednesday.

Against Oblivion: 'The Terezin Album of Marianka Zadikow'

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"The Terezin Album of Marianka Zadikow" is the laest remarkable demonstration of Hannah Arendt's principle, that every shred of evidence retrieved from the camps is another proof that oblivion is impossible.

Hiding Behind the Spines: 'Anonymity' by John Mullan

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

John Mullan's book, 'Anonymity,' is a survey of anonymous publication in English literature in the last four or so centuries. He hasn't done an exact count, but he believes that "a good proportion of what is now English Literature consists of works first published, like [Alexander Pope's] The Rape of the Lock, without their authors' names."

The Making of Benjamin Disraeli: Adam Kirsch's New Biography

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

In his new biography of the politician, "Benjamin Disraeli," Adam Kirsch foregrounds Disraeli's sense of his own Jewish identity, along with the obstacles this posed to his career, and makes it the key to understanding his behavior.

Reconsiderations: Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique'

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"Groundbreaking." "A landmark." "A classic." Those are the words now commonly used to describe Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique," first published in 1963. Friedan "pulled the trigger on history," wrote futurist Alvin Toffler; feminist admirers refer to it as "The Book." "The Feminine Mystique" sold more than two million copies when it came out, and remains a staple in women's studies classes today. But after nearly half a century, does it live up to its reputation? Rereading it, I find it to be both better and much worse than I remembered.

Boy Wonder: James Kelman's New Novel

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Sometimes great writing does not make a great novel. Among the books notably missed on this year's just-announced Booker Prize Shortlist is "Kieron Smith, boy" by James Kelman, who won the Booker in 1994 for "How late it was, how late." Published earlier this year in England, the new book, a long narrative told in the voice of a young boy, is one of Mr. Kelman's most sustained, impressive efforts -- and yet the Booker committee's exclusion of it is no crime.

In Search of Watteau: Jed Perl's 'Antoine's Alphabet'

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"Antoine's Alphabet" a brief, deeply felt follow-up to "New Art City," Jed Perl's muscular account of the New York art world at mid-century, defies expectations. "I may be perceived as being somewhat sardonic," Perl writes in his introduction, "or ironic, or even impish when I say that Watteau is my favorite painter, as if I were trying to mock the question, or were hiding my true feelings behind a dandyish fa de."

The Laureate of Hard Luck: 'The Collected Lyric Poems of Lu de Cam s'

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

In the introduction to "The Collected Lyric Poems of Lu de Cam s" (Princeton, 367 pages, $19.95), translator Landeg White sums up the calamities this ill-starred poet endured. He lost his left eye during combat in Morocco. A few years later, he stabbed a courtier in a brawl; for this he was jailed, fined, and then shipped out as a common soldier to India. Later, posted to Macau, he became the official imperial "Trustee for the Dead and Absent," an ideal job for a specialist in lament.

The Crime Scene: Russian Front

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Stuart M. Kaminsky was not named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America because of a single book or even a single series character. He was deservedly given the organization's highest honor for maintaining a consistently high level of professional crime fiction throughout a career that has spanned more than three decades.

Striding Forward: Fall Fiction

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

This fall, a number of mid-career novelists aim to make their mark with new work, Benjamin Lytal writes.

The Campaign Season: Fall Nonfiction

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

This fall's nonfiction lineup looks forward to November 4, Benjamin Lytal writes.

Agatha Christie Tapes Discovered

Tue, 16 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Mystery writer Agatha Christie can be heard musing about the origins of Jane Marple, one of her best-loved heroines, on recently discovered recordings, her grandson said Monday.

Her So-Called Life: Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's 'Ms. Hempel Chronicles'

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

With an ebullient, comic heart, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's utterly winning "Ms. Hempel Chronicles" is a wistful story cycle of a novel that's part paean to learning and the power of language, part meditation on the many selves it's possible to be in a lifetime, part ode to the sacred, fragile beauty of memory.

What David Foster Wallace Left Behind

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

To readers of my generation -- readers who were in high school in the mid-1990s -- "Infinite Jest" (1996) announced the existence of contemporary literature.

A Few of the President's Men: Woodward's 'The War Within'

Thu, 11 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

In "The War Within," the fourth volume of Bob Woodward's war quartet, he makes a number of key observations about the way President Bush has handled the Iraq surge.

The Naked and the Dead: Julian Barnes's 'Nothing To Be Frightened Of'

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

"This is not, by the way, 'my autobiography,'" Barnes tells us early in the book. But then what is it? It is in part, he goes on to say, an exploration of the afterlife of his parents, who died in 1992 and 1997; he is "trying to work out how dead they are."

The God That Failed: 'Left in Dark Times' by Bernard-Henri L y

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Since 1989, not even those who look back lovingly at 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution, and 1871, the year of the Paris Commune, have really believed that they would see such utopian experiments repeated. This was an especially debilitating blow to the Marxist tradition, whose major premise was that revolution is not simply desirable, but inevitable.

Back to School: Philip Roth's 'Indignation'

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

In his new novel, the ineducable Philip Roth returns to old tricks, Ruth Franklin writes.

The World Inside My Head: Larry Witham's 'Proof of God'

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

In "The Proof of God: The Debate That Shaped Modern Belief," Larry Witham describes how the medieval theologian Anselm of Bec -- better known as St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) -- first hit upon the unusual ontological argument, and how it has intrigued, and divided, philosophers from his own time to the present.

Debut Authors Highlight Booker Short List

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Salman Rushdie's "The Enchantress of Florence" failed to make the final round in the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, as the judges chose to shortlist six lesser-known authors, including two debut novelists, for Britain's most prestigious literary award.

The Crime Scene: Mysterious Miscellany

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

While recent motion-picture successes seem to be dominated by superheroes such as Batman, James Bond, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne, and Hellboy, there appears to be a great deal of energy left in the film life of the man who was described by his closest friend as "the best and wisest man whom I have ever known," which indicates that Sherlock Holmes is also a superhero, though of a slightly different sort.Warner Bros. is scheduled to start filming "Sherlock Holmes" later this year one...

Mourning and Melancholia: Pierre Michon's 'Small Lives'

Wed, 10 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

From an Anglo-American viewpoint, where translations from France are predominated first by Michel Houellebecq, anti-saint, and second by a nimbus of metaphysical detective novels, Pierre Michon at first appears to be a delicious throwback, writing with luxurious self-confidence and unembarrassed depth. "Let us explore a genesis for my pretensions," he begins in his critically acclaimed first novel, now translated by Jody Gladding and Elizabeth Deshays as "Small Lives" (Archipelago Press, 214...