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The President and the Law Daniel Schorr
Israel’s Year of Decision Abraham Rabinovich
Sarkozy’s Biggest Challenge Janice Valls-Russell
November/December 2007
A Bimonthly of News Analysis and Opinion
84th Year of Publication
The
New
Leader
W B
INTER
OOKS
Essays: Christopher Clausen: Ideologies in Flux ❄ Brooke Allen:
Lyricism Battling with Cliché ❄ Phoebe Pettingell: When Poems
Mattered ❄ Marvin Kitman: War and Peace and Me ❄ Stefan
Kanfer: Past, Post and Future ❄ Reviews: Rosellen Brown on
Nadine Gordimer’s Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black ❄
Philip Graham on J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year ❄ Samuel
Moyn on James J. Sheehan’s Where Have All the Soldiers Gone? ❄
Tova Reich on Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book ❄ Gene
Sosin on Orlando Figes’ The Whisperers ❄ Maochun Yu on Gao
Wenquian’s Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary ❄
Between
Issues
AS LONGTIME NL READERS know, it is our
policy not to review books written by the magazine’s columnists or frequent contributors. (It’s
simply a no-win situation.) But we would be remiss in not calling them to your attention. So without further
ado . . .
Daniel Schorr’s eighth book, Come to Think of It: Notes on
the Turn of the Millennium (Viking, 400 pp., $24.95), is scheduled to go on sale (the publisher says) December 31. Schorr,
who likes to tell of selling his first news story to the Bronx Home
News when he was 12 years old, celebrated his 91st birthday
this past August 16. His distinguished career—from print journalism to radio to television to radio again—has to date spanned
almost 70 years and much of the globe. The awards he has won
(three Emmys for his CBS Watergate coverage alone) and the
honors bestowed on him would easily fill this page. His first
article here, “Khrushchev’s ‘Hard Sell,’” appeared in our issue
of October 19, 1959. And we have been fortunate to have him
as our “Washington Notebook” columnist since the issue of
February 9-23, 1987.
“Journalism has been called a first rough draft of history,”
Schorr modestly points out in his Introduction to Come to Think
of It. Reading this compilation of his analyses of events in the
U.S. and abroad on National Public Radio from December 31,
1990 through March 26, 2007, we think you will agree it is considerably more than that in his hands.
Stefan Kanfer’s 12th book, The Voodoo That They Did So
Well: The Wizards Who Invented the New York Stage (Ivan R.
Dee, 230 pp., $24.95), is a song of praise to Gotham. Its captivating chapters are drawn mostly from pieces that originally
appeared in the quarterly City Journal. “All are studies of Manhattanites past and present, men and women whose personali-
ties are elusive but whose works are, by and large,
indestructible,” Kanfer explains in his Foreword.
They include George and Ira Gershwin, Irving
Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Larry
Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, vaudevillians,
stars of the Yiddish theater, and Mozart’s librettist Lorenzo Da
Ponte (The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni),
who came to New York early in the l9th century.
“In re-examining these lives and careers,” Kanfer—who
was the NL’s drama critic from 1991 to 2004, and in this issue
begins a “Culture Watching” column for us—says he “was
struck once again by the city’s . . . continual welcome to the gifted. For the young and for immigrants especially, it was, and remains, the Promised City.”
Lynne Sharon Schwartz’ 20th book, the emergence of
memory: conversations with W.G. Sebald (Seven Stories Press,
176 pp., $23.95) is a work she conceived and edited that illuminates the novels, poetry and essays of the highly regarded, often
enigmatic, German writer. In her extended Introduction,
Schwartz— a longtime NL contributor and our lead “On Fiction” columnist from 2000-2002—observes: “His language
and breadth of vision combined in a slow burn, and by the light
of that combustion we could glimpse what we have come from
and what we have arrived at. Even, in a few dark, prophetic passages, where we’re going.”
In addition to the book’s five interviews with Sebald (by
Eleanor Wachtel, Carol Angier, Michael Silverblatt, Joseph Cuomo, and Arthur Lubow), Schwartz presents four essays (by Tim
Parks, Michael Hofmann, Ruth Franklin, and Charles Simic). Together the nine pieces bring to life a writer who was, in Schwartz’
words, “dedicated to seeing that the ravages and casualties of
history do not evaporate like the fog he was so fond of.”
The
New
Leader
November/December, 2007
The President and the Law/DANIEL SCHORR . . . . . . . . . . . . ............3
Israel’s Year of Decision/ABRAHAM RABINOVICH . . . . . ...........6
Sarkozy’s Biggest Challenge/JANICE VALLS-RUSSELL ..........9
Writers and Writing
Ideologies in Flux/CHRISTOPHER CLAUSEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..........12
Swords Turned into Plowshares/SAMUEL MOYN . . . . . . ..........15
Exploring Uncharted Territory/GENE SOSIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . .........16
China’s Supreme Actor/MAOCHUN YU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..........18
Lyricism Battling with Cliché/BROOKE ALLEN . . . . . . . . ..........20
History Wrapped in Mystery/TOVA REICH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..........22
Fugue for a Writer in Winter/PHILIP GRAHAM . . . . . . . . . ..........23
Adapting to a New Vastness/ROSELLEN BROWN . . . . . . . . .........25
When Poems Mattered/PHOEBE PETTINGELL . . . . . . . . . . ..........27
THE NEW LEADER: Published bimonthly by the American Labor Conference on International Affairs,
Inc. Editorial and executive offices: 535 West 114th Street, N.Y., N.Y. 10027. Telephone (212) 854-1640.
Fax (212) 854-9099. E-mail: [email protected] Copyright ©2007 by the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written
permission prohibited.
2
Volume XC, Number 6
War and Peace and Me/MARVIN KITMAN ..........................30
Past, Post and Future/STEFAN KANFER .............................33
Index for 2007 ........................................................ .....36
Executive Editor: MYRON KOLATCH
Executive Assistant: LISA PEET
Business Manager: BARBARA SHAPIRO
Contributing Editor: CHRISTIAN LORENTZEN
Art Director: Alan Peckolick. Regular Critics—
Books: Brooke Allen. Poetry: Phoebe Pettingell.
Music: John Simon. Culture: Stefan Kanfer.
Film: Raphael Shargel. Regular Contributors—
Daniel Bell, Ruth Ellen Gruber. Regular Columnists—
Christopher Clausen, Daniel Schorr.
Signed contributions do not necessarily represent the views of The New Leader.
We welcome a variety of opinions consistent with our democratic policy. Unsolicited manuscripts cannot be returned unless accompanied by a stamped,
self-addressed envelope.
The New Leader
Washington
Notebook
By Daniel Schorr
The
President
and the Law
IT IS NOW emerging, through documents and leaks, that the controversy over
the country’s torture policy has been
going on at least since the 9/11 attacks.
At the center of that dispute is “waterboarding,” a practice that predates the
Spanish Inquisition. It is favored by interrogators because it doesn’t leave telltale wounds or scars. It is distrusted by
many career Justice Department officials, who believe that not much useful
evidence is produced when suspects are
willing to confess to anything to stop the
torture.
In 2004 Daniel Levin, the acting head
of the Justice Department Office of Legal
Counsel, voluntarily submitted to waterboarding to see what it was like. Afterward, he signed a new legal opinion saying
that torture was “abhorrent to American
law and values.” Alberto Gonzales, then
the White House counsel, told him he
would not be nominated to head the office.
When President George W. Bush talks
of interrogation under pressure, it tends
to be in terms of dramatic worst-case scenarios, like a terrorist who has knowledge
November/December, 2007
of planned attacks. Last month Bush said,
“When we find somebody who may have
information regarding a potential attack
on America, you bet we’re going to detain
them and you bet we’re going to question
them.”
Whether “question them” means “torture them” was left unsaid. How many
9/11s have been averted by the use of
waterboarding remains to be ascertained.
The White House has cited several thwarted attacks—one against a Marine camp
in Djibouti, another against the U.S. consulate in Karachi, a third involving flying
hijacked planes into a
London airport.
What seems clear is
that as White House
counsel and subsequently as attorney general,
Gonzales was advising
on an extensive interrogation program at Guantánamo Bay and at secret prisons abroad.
That is still to be explored by a dubious
Congress.
Meanwhile, during his recent confirmation hearings Gonzales’ successor,
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey,
fudged his position on whether waterboarding is a form of torture. The resulting altercation obscured another part of
Mukasey’s testimony about a related is-
sue on which he did not fudge at all—
whether the President can break the law.
Specifically, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.)
asked Mukasey about the legality of
Bush’s warrantless surveillance program,
now known to have included massive
tracking of telephone and e-mail traffic.
Mukasey’s response was direct: “The
Constitution authorizes the President to
ignore or disobey statutory law when he
thinks it necessary to defend the country.”
That seems to set the stage for one of
those recurrent confrontations between
the President and Congress. They go back
to Abraham Lincoln. He authorized the
suspension of habeas corpus and freed
the slaves, both without seeking Congressional authority.
Then there was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He lost his fight with Congress over the
National Recovery Act when it was struck
down by the Supreme Court.
And Richard M. Nixon, in a David
Frost interview, famously dismissed
Watergate-like operations by saying,
“When the President does it, that means
that it is not illegal.” Congress and the
Supreme Court thought otherwise.
But what potential clash over Presidential powers do Mukasey and the White
House foresee that made them lay out the
battle lines so directly? The Administration
is undoubtedly concerned about the raft
of lawsuits it may face over eavesdropping
and the detention of terrorism suspects.
One of these days, too, we may be hearing about military
action to eliminate a
nuclear threat from
Iran. It would not be
the first time a President attacked a foreign country without
Congressional permission. Remember
that President Lyndon B. Johnson invaded the Dominican Republic, President
Ronald Reagan attacked Grenada, and
President George H.W. Bush took on Panama without Congressional approval.
Now Mukasey has served notice:
Never mind constitutional constraints on
Presidential powers. The President may
ignore the law if he deems it necessary as
a matter of national defense.
3
Angleton’s
Handbook
AT ISSUE at the moment is the CIA’s
destruction of hundreds of hours of videotaped interrogations of terrorism suspects, and the “extraordinary rendition”
grilling of others sent to countries like
Egypt and Poland. But the agency is an
old hand at unfriendly questioning dating back to the Cold War days.
In 1963, the legendary counterintelligence chief, James J. Angleton, issued a
secret handbook on interrogation methods. Aimed at defectors and double
agents, it authorizes techniques involving pain, debility, hypnosis, and drugs. It
says that prior approval from headquarters should be obtained if bodily harm is
to be inflicted, or for medical, chemical
or electrical methods of coercion. The
next section is marked “deleted,” leaving
to the imagination what horrors it may
describe.
Probably the most famous target of
CIA interrogation was KGB Lieutenant
Colonel Yuri Nosenko, who defected to
the United States 10 weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Nosenko told the FBI he handled the
KGB file on Lee Harvey Oswald during
his stay in Russia. The KGB had never
used Oswald for any purpose, Nosenko
said, because it regarded him as mentally unstable.
Angleton did not believe this. He believed the coincidental defection was
too coincidental, and that Nosenko was
a double agent sent to mislead the United States about Soviet participation in
the assassination. For the next four and
a half years, Nosenko was held incommunicado in a variety of uncomfortable places, one of them an airless cell
at the CIA facility at Camp Peary, Virginia.
Nosenko was subjected to some of
the methods outlined in the Angleton
manual, but he never broke. Eventually,
as Angleton’s power waned, Nosenko was
released with a new name and identity—
the standard treatment for a defector.
An investigating commission headed
by Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller later determined that the Nosenko
4
case was an example of gross mistreatment. It was on such cases that the CIA
honed its interrogation techniques before 9/11.
Tracking
Trent Lott
YOU MAY RECALL that the Senate, in
a burst of ethical rectitude, voted to extend from one to two years the time that
had to elapse before a former member
could become a lobbyist. The new rule
goes into effect on January 1.
So when Mississippi’s Republican
Senator Trent Lott announced on November 26 that he was resigning from the Senate, it was widely believed he wanted to
get under the one-year wire. Lott insisted
he had not made up his mind about his
future plans.
Comes along now the capitol newspaper, The Hill, with the fascinating
revelation that six weeks before Lott’s retirement announcement, on October 16,
the domain name BreauxLott.com was
registered as a Web site. Louisiana Democrat John Breaux retired from the Senate two years ago and has since become a
lobbyist for some big firms.
Breaux and Lott are from different
parties, but they are longstanding friends.
So are their lobbyist sons, John Breaux
Jr. and Chet Lott. So one can envision a
powerhouse K Street lobbying firm of
fathers and sons.
But Senator Lott disclaims any responsibility for the domain name that
suggests a lobbying partnership in the
making. Lott’s son, Chet, said he was the
one who registered the name. He also insists his father did not know anything
about it. Breaux told the New Orleans
Times-Picayune, “I would love to have
Lott come on board.”
Breaux-Lott would be an unusual
bipartisan powerhouse lobby. So why
don’t they announce it? One reason
may be that if Lott is actively making
arrangements to become a lobbyist,
he should have informed the Senate Ethics Committee to avoid
the possibility of a conflict of
interest while he is still in the
Senate.
Breaux has let it be known that he is
leaving the Patton Boggs lobbying firm
to start a new company with his son. He
has not said Senator Lott and son will be
part of that firm.
But that Web site, Breaux-Lott, must
mean something, and it suggests that
somebody is being coy with the ethical
rules.
Voter
Malaise
AFTER THE 2006 election, the conventional wisdom was that Democratic gains
reflected voter unhappiness with the Iraq
war. The intervention, it was said, would
dominate the 2008 Presidential campaign.
That prediction has not held up—at
least not yet. Congressional Democrats
have tried some three dozen times to attach bring-home-the-troops clauses to
pending legislation and have not succeeded once. They have unveiled a report indicating that, with hidden costs, the price of
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach
a fearsome $3.5 trillion by 2017. But it has
not driven Americans into spasms of rage.
The Congressional Republicans appear
to have recovered their footing in the past
year and they seem prepared to take on the
Democrats in any struggle over war spending. It is not that the public has come to like
the war. It is more that the public has about
given up trying to influence decisions on
the road ahead. Voters are returning to more
traditional pocketbook issues and paying
more attention to the shaky economy.
A recent CNN poll found that the
economy now tops the list of issues important to voters. The Iraq war comes in
second, followed by health care and terrorism. “It’s the economy, stupid” is a
well-remembered phrase from the Clinton campaign in 1992.
The polls do not indicate much confidence in either party to solve these
problems. Historically, a troubled
economy rises to the top of voter concerns. But in the past, war has tended to overshadow the pocketbook.
This situation with the electorate
takes us back to Jimmy Carter times,
when it would have been called
“malaise.”
The New Leader
Putin as
the Vojd
MAYBE the dolls in the window of
a St. Petersburg gift shop said it all.
There they were: Lenin, Stalin, Putin.
With his sweeping victory in an election December 2 widely regarded as
rigged, President Vladimir V. Putin took
a step toward reinstating the cult of personality that 50 years of post-Stalin leaders, from Nikita S. Khrushchev to Boris
N. Yeltsin, had worked to end. Huge billboards all over Moscow featured slogans
like “Putin is our choice.” Opposition
billboards were rarely seen.
The election was, at least nominally,
for Parliament. Putin was at the head of his
United Russia Party list. But there was no
doubt that he was treating it as a referendum on his rule. And his government took
extensive measures to insure a big turnout.
In Russia there is the notion of the
vojd—the big boss who will solve all existing troubles. Putin has presented himself to apathetic Russians as the man in
charge. He has been helped by a moderate
improvement in living conditions. He has
also played what New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman calls “petropolitics”—using Russia’s vast oil resources
to bolster his position internationally.
Putin has found that standing up, especially to President Bush, wins him
kudos from those who feel Russia was
humiliated after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was probably no coincidence
that he chose the week before the election to announce Russia’s withdrawal
from the Conventional Forces in Europe
Treaty, which limits the deployment of
conventional weapons. The move was
part of a campaign against Bush’s plan to
put elements of a missile defense system
in former Soviet satellites Poland and the
Czech Republic.
It was probably a gesture of defiance
as well that got Andrei Lugovoi a seat
in Parliament as a member of Putin’s
United Russia Party. Lugovoi is wanted
in Britain in the investigation of the radiation murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a
former KGB agent and Putin opponent.
With his term expiring next March
and the rules barring him from serving
November/December, 2007
a consecutive third term, Putin has tapped
his close aide Dmitri A. Medvedev to be
president and has agreed to serve as
prime minister. In due course Medvedev
could resign and open the way for Putin’s
return to the presidency. But how the vojd
will wield power is not a question many
Russians are worried about.
The Little
Cold War
NOTHING better illustrates Russia’s
slide toward authoritarian rule than the
little Cold War that has erupted between
the between the Putin Kremlin and Great
Britain.
The British Council is a nongovernmental organization devoted to spreading British culture around the world. For
years, it has operated two centers in Russia. They give English lessons, stage
Shakespeare plays, that sort of thing.
The Russian government has ordered
the British Council centers to close down.
Why? A Russian spokesman says because
the Council has no diplomatic standing.
And, oh yes, because the British government has undertaken “some actions damaging to our relations.”
For months, Whitehall has been pressing for Lugovoi’s extradition. Russia has
refused to make Lugovoi available, and to
show where matters stood it designated
him for a seat in the Duma, the Russian
Parliament. The British responded by ordering the expulsion of four diplomats
from the Russian Embassy in London.
But, wait, there’s more. Lugovoi claims
the British cultural centers are a cover
for espionage, which the Council denies.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the
attempt to close the British centers is totally unacceptable, and has demanded
that the Russian government reverse itself. The Kremlin has replied that this can
only make the situation worse. As I write,
the British Council has so far refused to
close down.
When I reported from the Soviet
Union, more than a half century ago, such
tit-for-tat reprisals were a common occurrence. One would have thought that
in a democratic Russia this kind of thing
would not be happening.
ARequest
from Dan
WHAT’S WITH THIS Jimmy Carter, Bill
Clinton, Dick Cheney business? I mean,
when did public figures start referring to
themselves by nicknames?
It is well-known that President Bush
has a penchant for nicknames, like “Boy
Genius” for Karl Rove and “Fredo” for
Alberto Gonzales. And who can forget
the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
Michael “Brownie” Brown? Time Magazine reported that the President, in
Moscow for a summit, referred to Putin
as “Pootie Poot.” Whether to his face is
not clear. Senator Dole is officially “Elizabeth,” yet her husband Bob refers to her
in public as “Liddy.”
But that’s not what bothers me. It is the
growing practice of referring to oneself
by a nickname, as though that would endear one to the masses as a regular fellow, that troubles me. Go down the U.S.
Senate’s official roster and it is amazing
how many have listed their nicknames as
official names.
It is “Chuck” Schumer, “Chuck” Grassley and “Chuck” Hagel. It’s “Norm” Coleman and “Larry” Craig, although it’s still
Joseph Biden and Joseph Lieberman.
It is “Mel” Martinez and “Ted” Stevens.
Senator Kennedy is known to his admirers as “Ted,” but he is officially listed
as Edward.
And then there is “Newt” Gingrich. I
had to look that one up to discover that
the name his parents gave him was “Newton.” There is I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby,
who worked for “Dick” Cheney. Oops, I
mean Richard Cheney.
You may wonder why I make such a
point of this. It undoubtedly has to do
with my age and memories of a time
when we expected public affairs to be
conducted with a certain degree of dignity. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
was universally known as “Ike,” but as
far as I know, he never called himself that.
So here is my request for the New
Year: All you Chucks, Bobs and Teddies—on your letterhead, and when you’re
invited to speak, please make it Charles,
Robert and Edward.
5
Haunted by the Lesson of the Yom Kippur War
Israel’s
Year of
Decision
By Abraham Rabinovich
W
JERUSALEM
HEN ISRAELIS heard
Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert commit himself at the Annapolis
conference to trying
to reach a peace agreement with the
Palestinians within a year, they recognized this as unrealistic.
Upon hearing shortly afterward that
American intelligence agencies believed
Iran was no longer attempting to develop
nuclear arms, they understood that the
Iranian threat was in fact unchanged.
What had changed was Israel’s now facing it alone.
Israelis don’t have to be denizens of
think tanks to understand that official announcements, however solemn, are not
necessarily connected to reality.
If Iran has no intention of developing
nuclear warheads, Israelis asked themselves, why is it going to the trouble of
developing long-range rockets capable
of carrying them? If its intentions are innocent, why did President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently replace his tough yet
rational principal nuclear negotiator with
a stonewaller prepared to brazen it out
with the West? Above all, why is Tehran
proceeding as fast as possible to enrich
6
its own uranium, which can be used for
either peaceful or military purposes,
when it can purchase what it needs for
peaceful purposes from Russia or other
suppliers?
Ever since the 1973 Yom Kippur War,
Israelis have been very skeptical of intelligence assessments. Because most of
their intelligence community was so
lulled on the eve of that war by misconceptions, the country was caught flatfooted by a major two-front Arab attack while
the bulk of the Army was unmobilized.
Less well-known is that American intelligence, in spite of its spy satellites and
its ready access to the Arab world, got the
situation wrong too.
Unlike the mysteries surrounding
Iran’s weapons development today, in
1973 Israel knew virtually everything
about its enemies’ capacity—or thought
it did. Israeli Military Intelligence (AMAN,
in its Hebrew acronym) had learned from
a highly placed source in Cairo that Egypt
would not go to war until it received from
the Soviet Union long-range bombers
capable of attacking Israel’s air bases. It
also wanted Scud missiles that could hit
Tel Aviv. Israeli intelligence even had
a copy of the Egyptian Army’s plan for
crossing the Suez Canal once hostilities
broke out. What it did not have was access
to the mind of the man who alone would
decide on war—Egyptian President
Anwar Sadat. The Israelis didn’t know
that, despairing of Moscow, Sadat had
decided to go to war without the arms he
was seeking.
As Yom Kippur approached, Cairo
staged an elaborate deception operation
aimed at convincing Israel that the deployment of the bulk of the Egyptian
Army along the Suez Canal was merely
a military exercise. A number of Israeli
intelligence officers saw through the
ruse, but the head of AMAN and his closest advisers ignored their warnings. More
than the Egyptian deception, it was selfdeception that kept Israel from mobilizing its reserves. “We simply didn’t feel
[the Egyptians] were capable of war,” the
head of Mossad, its vaunted intelligence
agency, later said.
Despite plentiful evidence to the contrary, AMAN continued to insist war was
a “low probability,” a judgment that finds
an echo in the revised American intelliABRAHAM RABINOVICH writes frequently for the NEW LEADER on the Middle
East. His latest book, The Yom Kippur
War, is now available in paperback.
The New Leader
gence assessment regarding Iran. Even
as Egyptian and Syrian gunners on Yom
Kippur afternoon were removing the
camouflage netting from their artillery
and putting shells in the breeches, AMAN
was still insisting on the “low probability” of a conflict.
Five months earlier, a relatively junior
analyst in the State Department’s Bureau
of Intelligence and Research (INR), Roger Merrick, had submitted a memo noting that Sadat’s political options were
exhausted and that without a credible
U.S. peace initiative there was a 50-50
chance of war within six months. Like
the Israeli intelligence officers who cried
havoc, his voice did not carry far.
The week prior to Yom Kippur, the
CIA station in Cairo picked up indications of unusual military activity. Egyptian headquarters had suddenly switched
from radio transmissions, which were
monitored by the U.S., to landlines, which
were not. Elite commando units were
being deployed to forward bases, and
larger stockpiles of ammunition were be-
fident there would be no war. The Americans, respectful of Israeli intelligence,
deferred to this conclusion.
Two days before Yom Kippur, the
heads of U.S. intelligence agencies met
in Washington to analyze the situation.
Egypt at this point had 100,000 men,
1,350 tanks and 2,000 artillery pieces deployed opposite 450 Israeli infantrymen
along the so-called Bar-Lev Line, who
were backed by fewer than 100 tanks and
44 artillery pieces. On the Golan Heights,
five Syrian armored divisions faced a depleted Israeli division.
At the Washington meeting, the CIA
and INR said war in the Middle East
was unlikely. The Defense Intelligence
Agency representative went further, saying the Arab buildup was hardly of a
threatening nature, an evaluation that
would cost three of the agency’s officials
their jobs.
On Yom Kippur morning, only four
hours before the Arab attack, Israel finally began mobilizing its reserves—
constituting two-thirds of its Army—
ing prepared than was normal for maneuvers. Israeli military intelligence was
informed. It replied that it was aware of
these developments but remained con-
on the basis of a tipoff to the Mossad by
a high-ranking Egyptian agent. In the
coming days, Israel succeeded by a hair
in containing the Syrian assault on
November/December, 2007
the Golan and halting the Egyptian advance in Sinai. By war’s end two weeks
later, the Israeli Army had fought its way
in grueling battles to within artillery
range of Damascus’ suburbs and 63 miles
of Cairo.
I
T WOULD BE YEARS before the trauma of that close call lifted from
the Israeli psyche. For the United
States, the intelligence mistake was
a profound embarrassment. For
Israel, it was a near-disaster. This difference between embarrassment and
disaster accounts for their differing
takes today on Iran. If the facts on the
ground are not entirely known, the intentions of the Iranian leadership are even
murkier.
Washington’s downgrading of the
Iranian threat is linked to the trauma of
the war in Iraq and the false intelligence
that triggered it. But in Israel it is the
still haunting lesson of the Yom Kippur
War that prevails. The lesson is to assume the shadows across the border harbor monstrous apparitions that
can kill you.
The official reaction here to
Washington’s reassessment has
been circumspect. Jerusalem does
not want to be seen as having
pushed Washington toward war
with Iran, as the neocons did in the
case of Iraq. Defense Minister
Ehud Barak publicly accepted the
U.S. claim that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
“But in our opinion,” he cautiously
added, “since then it has apparently continued that program.” In
what might be taken as a hint at
an independent Israeli policy toward Iran, he further said, “I do not
think it is our place to make assessments about U.S. policy. It is
our responsibility to ensure that
the correct things are done. Constantly speaking about the Iranian
threat is not the way to go. Words
do not stop missiles.”
The coming year had been
dubbed the “year of decision” by journalists, to suggest the possibility of
an American attack on Iranian nuclear
facilities before President Bush leaves
7
office. Since Washington has downgradShould Israel stage a pre-emptive attack,
ed the danger Iran poses, the term now
it could create a national grievance for
applies to the possibility of an Israeli
the Iranians that would endure even if a
attack.
secular regime is restored.
Experts believe Israel’s Air Force,
RCHESTRATING Israel’s
even though operating at maximum
moves in this highly senrange, has the ability to inflict enough
sitive period is the least
damage to set Iran’s nuclear program
popular prime minister in
back several years. A major question is
its history, who botched
whether the U.S. would permit such
his performance as a war leader last year.
an attack. If it decides to engage TehEhud Olmert has also been the subject of
ran in diplomatic talks, as is being intithree separate police investigations for
mated, an Israeli strike would certainly
alleged corruption in previous ministeribe ruled out.
al positions.
But if Washington gives Israel the
After last year’s war against Hezbollah
green light, Jerusalem will have to make
in Lebanon, the government appointed
one of the most excruciating decisions
the Winograd Commission to determine
any government has ever faced. Iran is
why it failed. This past April, its interim
certain to respond with missiles, alreport declared that Olmert bore “the ulthough it is not apparent whether Israel’s
timate responsibility.” More specifically,
cities would be targeted, for that would
it said: “He is responsible for the fact that
open the way to retaliation against their
goals were not clearly or cautiously set.
own cities. The nuclear reactor at DiHe acted without organized consultation.
mona and Israel’s air bases are considAll of this adds up to great misjudgered very likely targets. Hezbollah, it is
ment.” Olmert’s public support, never
assumed, would join in by launching
high, fell to 5 per cent and his political
thousands of missiles from Lebanon,
demise seemed imminent.
and so would Hamas with the Katyusha
In the wake of the report,
stock it has been building up in Gaza.
Olmert’s resignation was deSyrian participation cannot be
manded not only by the
ruled out either. Then there is
Knesset opposition but
the issue of clandestine attacks
by his own foreign minIran may sponsor against
ister, Tzipi Livni, his
Israeli and Jewish targets
main contender for the
abroad, such as the ones they
Kadima Party leadership.
were allegedly responsible
When Ehud Barak was
for in Buenos Aires in the
elected Labor Party
1990s.
leader two months later
Yet another cause
and assumed the defense
for concern is the
portfolio, he warned
long-term effect a
that he would pull
strike would have
his party out of
on Israel’s relathe government,
tions with Iran.
toppling it, if OlThe two countries
mert did not rehave never had a
sign when the
direct confrontaEHUD OLMERT
Winograd Comtion and actually
mission published its final report.
enjoyed good relations under the Shah—
Olmert may have been a failure as a
relations Israel hopes to resume down
war leader, but he demonstrated coolness
the road with some subsequent secular
under fire as a political operator. Instead
regime. The current animosity toward
of clashing head on with Livni and BaIsrael is an ideological/religious issue
rak, he developed an amiable working
pursued by a clerical regime in Tehran
relationship with both of them. When
opposed to a non-Islamic national presWashington broached the idea of a multience on what it believes to be Islamic turf.
O
8
nation peace conference at Annapolis to
be followed by bilateral negotiations
between Israel and the Palestinians,
Olmert asked Livni to head the negotiating team, effectively neutralizing her
opposition.
Barak, meanwhile, expressed reservations about entering into peace talks
with Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas. Though he might mean
well, said Barak, he is too weak to deliver on any concessions he promises.
Before setting off for the conference, Olmert invited Barak to accompany him. In
agreeing, Barak committed himself to
a peace process that, according to the
resolution adopted at Annapolis, is to
last for at least a year. The final Winograd report is to be issued later this
month, but Barak indicated after his return from Annapolis that he would not
pull Labor out of the coalition regardless
of the findings.
Another coalition partner, Avigdor
Lieberman of the far-Right Yisrael
Beitainu Party, threatened to pull out of
the government if “core issues” like dividing Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees were mentioned by
the Prime Minister at Annapolis. Olmert
was able to exploit this threat to obtain
Washington’s agreement that he would
not discuss them there.
Olmert’s political nimbleness was
demonstrated at the conference itself too.
He delivered a conciliatory speech that
drew applause even from the dour foreign minister of Saudi Arabia. In a psychologically significant move, rare for
an Israeli leader, Olmert made a public
acknowledgment of Palestinian suffering. While speaking eloquently of coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian
state, and of the need to make “painful
concessions,” he did not make any specific concession that would bind Israeli
negotiators.
Even his political enemies acknowledge that Olmert, 62, has a thick political hide and has shown himself able
to ride out his numerous contretemps
with surprising aplomb. His adroitness promises to keep him at the center of Middle East affairs for at least
the next year, which may yet be a year
of decision.
The New Leader
Only a Few Metro Stops Away
Sarkozy’s
Biggest
Challenge
By Janice Valls-Russell
PARIS
NE THING is certain:
France’s new President
leaves no one indifferent. Six months after his
election, Nicolas Sarkozy remains popular with a majority of the
French and a source of irritation for a
substantial minority. An opinion poll for
the Paris weekly Journal du Dimanche,
released on December 2, rated his popularity at 51 per cent (he gained two points
in a month), while 44 per cent of those
polled disapproved of the way he governs. Although 57 per cent believe he
“knows where he is going and is implementing long-term policies,” 33 per cent
feel he “improvises from day to day, and
does not know where he is going.”
Whether one voted for or against
Sarkozy in the presidential election last
May, one’s reflex in the morning is to
switch on the radio wondering what he
came up with overnight. Rarely does a
day go by without his being featured on
newspaper front pages or prominently in
the television news bulletins: jogging,
swapping insults with fishermen, kissing German Chancellor Angela Merkel
on the cheek, receiving a standing ovation from the United States Congress,
O
November/December, 2007
flying to Chad to obtain the release of
French journalists, leaping to his feet and
cheering when France scores a hit in a
World Cup rugby match. Irritating to
some, admirable to others, he is unpredictable to everyone. On December 6, for
example, he issued a television appeal to
Manuel Marulanda, leader of Colombian
rebels, urging him to release FrancoColombian Ingrid Betancourt, who was
kidnapped in February 2002.
This unprecedented presidential presence in the media worries sociologist
Pierre Bitoun, who has created the Rassemblement pour la démocratie à la
television (Gathering for Democracy on
Television). It called for a “Sarko-free
day” on November 30, the first anniversary of his announcement that he would
be running for the country’s top office, to
“denounce a dictatorship of the media.”
Bitoun and his group urged individuals
and journalists alike not to mention Sarkozy whether in praise or critically, to “help
the French break with their addiction to
media-instilled Sarkozyitis.” According
to the Journal du Dimanche opinion poll,
46 per cent disapprove of this continuous
presence in the media, but 48 per cent approve. Bitoun’s Sarko-free campaign met
with little success.
Not only does Sarkozy steal the political headlines, he regularly appears on
the covers of what is here called la presse
people, the glossy magazines featuring
celebrities. Former Socialist President
François Mitterrand was almost paranoid
about protecting his private life (and illegitimate daughter), to the extent of
having the telephones of several thousand journalists, writers and other citizens tapped. In contrast, Sarkozy, at 52,
gives the impression of loving nothing so
much as to be seen and photographed escorting beautiful women—his wife Cécilia, until their divorce in October, and
some of his female ministers who give
the unfortunate and no doubt unfair impression of having been chosen for their
looks rather than their competence. Most
prominent among these, currently, is 42year-old Justice Minister Rachida Dati.
After holidaying with Sarkozy and his
wife in the U.S. this summer, she accompanied him on state visits to Morocco,
America and China in the fall. She is
dubbed la favorite in Parisian circles.
If his women ministers find it hard to
work for him, the same is true for quite a
JANICE VALLS-RUSSELL writes regularly
for the NL on French and Spanish affairs.
9
few of his male ministers. Even Prime
Minister François Fillon finds it hard
going. The President’s irrepressible energy, almost uncanny ability to give the
illusion of ubiquity, and zeal to be constantly on the front line make it very difficult for the government to govern. He
himself has described his prime minister
as a “councilor among others.” Moreover, decisions are masterminded from
the Élysée Palace, principally by Sarkozy’s Secretary-General Claude Guéant
and Special Adviser Henri Guaino, who
are his éminences grises. On appointment, ministers received from the President detailed instructions about the reforms they were expected to implement,
with little room left for maneuvering.
O
NE SUCH REFORM concerns higher education
and research. Applying
Sarkozy’s written instructions, Higher Education and Research Minister Valérie
Pécresse defended a series of measures
that were voted by Parliament during the
summer. But the fall term has been
marked by several weeks of strikes, demonstrations and sit-ins in a majority of
universities across the country. Students
and teachers joined forces on many campuses to ask for the law to be repealed.
Protests revealed a fracture between
faculty and university presidents. The
former fear a cutback in public financing
and a concentration of powers in the
hands of the latter. The size of university
governing boards is to be reduced and
presidents will have a direct say in faculty appointments, whereas the present
system seeks to maintain a balance between assessments at the national level
and peer recruiting by local boards. Increasing university presidents’ control
of finances is also seen as a twofold risk:
On the one hand, presidents are elected
from faculty and are unequally competent in managerial matters; on the other,
the fear is that the survival or continuity
of research projects would depend on
their economic impact or on the president’s interest in the field.
These concerns are shared by members of France’s prestigious research institute, the National Center for Scientific
10
Research (CNRS), a unique structure
Socialist Party, the Constitutional Councreated 70 years ago in a bid to encourcil has restricted the use of genetic testage research. The CNRS is sixth in
ing, but the fact remains that family ties
the 2007 Webometrics World Ranking
are henceforth to be defined differently
of Research and Development Centers
in French law according to where one
and first for Europe. Despite its being
lives or comes from.
government-funded, the CNRS’ organiARKOZY’S COMMITMENT to conzation, system of peer assessment and
trol illegal immigration may
joint research projects (with universities,
be pragmatic as well as sound,
other research groups and industry) aim
and it is shared by politicians in
to guarantee financial and political inthe Socialist opposition against
dependence: Some 26,000 tenured remore extreme measures like DNA testsearchers, engineers and support staff
ing. He has called for 25,000 illegal imwork in 1,260 research units, covering
migrants to be expelled from France by
fields ranging from mathematics and asthe end of 2007; some 18,000 had been
tronomy to sustainable development and
expelled by the end of October. This folhumanities. Public funding does not rule
lowed his promise when he was still inteout profit-making projects.
rior minister to achieve “zero tolerance”
The 2007 Nobel Prize for physics was
for illegal immigration.
awarded jointly to Albert Fert, a scientifHis tough line is welcomed by people
ic director of the CNRS, and Peter Grünclose to the far Right National Front.
berg of Germany. Fert declared to the
They tend, however, to extend their hospress that his work in the field of nanotility toward illegal immigrants to anysciences owed a lot to the favorable enone from the Maghreb or Subsaharan
vironment the CNRS offers. Ironically,
Africa.
on October 9—the day he was informed
Being young and black or brown in
that he had been awarded the prize—the
France can be tough. Teenagers and young
CNRS’ scientific board, on which Fert
adults whose parents or grandsits, learned that the government
parents immigrated from those
was contemplating dismantling
countries are viewed with
the institute, and more parsuspicion. The same is true
ticularly the joint research
for those from Guadeloupe
units.
or French Guyana, even
Scientists were already
though their families have
dissatisfied with Sarkozy on
been French for generaethical grounds when, in Septions. They find when they
tember, a law targeting families
from African countries was introcome to study in mainland
duced that would require genetic
France, or when their
testing for immigrants. Human
parents move here,
rights associations joined forces
that they are liable
with leading geneticists
to have their idensuch as Axel Kahn (a
tities checked more
scientific director at
frequently than averNICOLAS SARKOZY
the CNRS) and Jeanage by police or to be
Claude Ameisen to appeal to members
asked to produce a residence permit when
of Parliament not to pass the clause. They
applying for a job.
argued that genetics could not determine
Assimilation is something the harkis
family ties and rejected the measure as
feel has always eluded them too. This
harshly discriminatory. Their protests
400,000-strong community is formed
came on the heels of the unease that had
by the families of about 90,000 Muslim
greeted Sarkozy’s decision to create a
Algerians who sided with France during
Ministry for Immigration and National
the war that led to Algeria’s independIdentity headed by Brice Hortefeux, with
ence in 1962. Brought to France after the
whom he is personally close. The law was
war, they were herded into camps in the
nonetheless passed. At the behest of the
South, some of which had been used after
S
The New Leader
1939 as detention centers for refugees
from Spain’s Civil War. For decades they
were denied decent
housing, jobs and adequate schooling for
their children.
Healing wounds
is never easy; it requires a sense of national confidence, a
personal capacity for
empathy and subtlety. Sarkozy criticized
ex-President Jacques
Chirac’s public apology—repentance—
to the Jewish community for the French
administration’s collusion with the Nazi occupier that made
it possible to round up and deport thousands of Jews. In the case of France’s
legacy in Algeria, Sarkozy advocated
reconciliation, both during a three-day
state visit beginning December 3 and
upon his return, when he addressed representatives of the French pieds-noirs
(former inhabitants of pre-independence
Algeria) and of the harki community:
“The colonial system was unjust. France
recognizes this, but we cannot forget the
men and women who served their country in good faith . . . who built roads, hospitals, schools, who taught, cured, planted vineyards and orchards on arid soil. . . .
It was an unjust system, but that system
was made up of a lot of decent people.
Today, the nation owes the harki its
solemn recognition.”
D
EALING WITH today’s rifts,
though, is a more difficult
matter, in spite of Sarkozy’s appointment of ethnically diverse ministers:
Justice Minister Dati was born in Morocco; Junior Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Minister Rama Yade was
born in Senegal; Junior Urban Affairs
Minister Fadela Amara grew up in a poor
suburb. Equal rights organizations report daily incidents of petty racism. I
experienced one in Paris recently, while
sightseeing with a black teenager. We
wanted to take a taxi; walking slightly
ahead of me, he tried to flag down an
November/December, 2007
approaching cab and the driver ignored
him. But when I signaled, the driver
ÉLYSÉE PALACE
stopped. He had not realized we were
together.
Early in December, Abdeljalel El
Haddioui, a police officer applying for
promotion appealed to France’s Haute
Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l’Egalité (High Authority Against Discrimination and for
Equality). Born of Moroccan parents,
he told journalists that he was questioned
by examiners about corruption in the
Moroccan police, was asked if his wife
wore a veil, and whether he observed
Ramadan.
What worries human rights associations such as Mouvement contre le
racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (Movement Against Racism and
for Friendship Between Peoples) or La
Ligue des droits de l’Homme (The
Human Rights League) is that insidious or even overt racism percolates into school playgrounds, where quarrels
and bullying take place along ethnic
lines. On November 20, an eight-yearold girl died in a village in southwest
France after an epileptic attack. Her
diary, exchanges with a doctor, and letters she sent to a member of the hospital staff and the police showed that she
had been repeatedly bullied by some
schoolboys, a few of whom seem to have
tried to strangle her, calling her “a dirty
Black.”
This kind of tension worsens when
outbreaks of violence occur in city suburbs that have a high concentration of
colored communities. The evening of
November 25, in Villiers-le-Bel, a town
on the outskirts of Paris, two teenagers riding
a motorbike careened
into a police car and
were killed. In the ensuing rampage several
dozen policemen were
wounded, a school and
other public buildings
were burned down, and
hundreds of cars were
set on fire. Journalists
were also set upon by
youths, who accused
them of reporting on
such districts only when
there is a crisis. Most
worryingly, the gangs of youths that
attacked the police—ostensibly for
the teenagers’ deaths—were heavily
armed and acted more like urban guerrilla fighters than spontaneous rebels.
Politicians across the spectrum agreed
that the instigators of such rioting need
to be found and judged. But Sarkozy,
instead of trying to calm everyone,
spoke harshly against the reign of thuggery—“voyoucratie.” He thus increased
the sense of “them-versus-us” that risks
pushing youngsters living in these
districts to identify with a lawless minority and makes them feel he is not
their President.
Bridging the gap between the Élysée
and towns like Villiers-le-Bel, which
Sarkozy avoided during the election campaign, may well prove a greater challenge
for him than visiting America or China
or negotiating with Colombian rebels.
Given his personal involvement in most
fields, delegating urban affairs to a minister who does not feel backed to the hilt
is bound to be viewed as a sign of indifference. Sending in more police may
quiet things down superficially; it cannot address deep-seated ills that include
unemployment, inferior education, a
sense of displacement, and divided loyalties. Sarkozy doesn’t seem to recognize
that the biggest problem he needs to confront at the moment—with patience, determination and humility—is just a few
unglamorous metro stations away from
the Élysée.
11
W
INTER
B
OOKS
Ideologies
in Flux
By Christopher Clausen
L
ONG BEFORE “neocon” devolved into a term of pure
abuse like “fascist,” New York Times language columnist William Safire defined neoconservatism as
“a political philosophy that rejects the utopianism
and egalitarianism espoused by liberals but departs
from conservatism by embracing collective insurance and cash
payments to the needy; a temperate philosophy, not sharply
ideological, that takes modern democratic capitalism to be the
best course in most cases.” Although Safire went on to trace
the history of the word back to the early 1970s, significantly he
said nothing about either foreign policy or Jews. In his account
neoconservatives were what other journalists called moderates—people whose political attitudes were near the Center of
the American spectrum—nothing for either adherents or opponents to get terribly excited about.
Safire’s definition seems about as far from today’s use of
the appellation as one could get. The few writers who employ it
favorably, or at least neutrally, now tend to associate neoconservatism with the policy of assertively spreading democracy
in unfriendly parts of the world. They almost invariably link it
with the messianic President Woodrow Wilson.
More hostile—and common—usage equates neoconservatism with militaristic imperialism abroad and supposed attempts to establish an authoritarian Executive branch at home.
Most of the time neocon serves as a contemptuous name for
any supporter of the George W. Bush Administration, especially of its foreign policies and particularly of the war in Iraq. In
Europe, where the term was unknown until recently, political
figures like Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary
of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who had never been closely
associated with the neoconservative movement before, came
12
to be lumped together with sometimes self-described neocons
as Irving Kristol and his son William, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard
Perle, and Norman Podhoretz.
As a Marxist might say, it is no accident that these last five
figures are all Jewish. Times columnist David Brooks exaggerates only slightly when he declares that, to its opponents, “Con
is short for ‘conservative’ and neo is short for ‘Jewish.’” At a
time when conspiracy theories of Jewish domination have again
become respectable in Europe, and at least semirespectable
among Leftist American academics, the identification of neoconservatism with Jews is an important part of its reputation in
the world. (See “The Scapegoat on K Street,” Lawrence Grossman’s review of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, NL, September/
October, 2007.)
Jacob Heilbrunn’s They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of
the Neocons (Doubleday, 336 pp., $26.00) offers an ambivalent history of the movement from the standpoint of someone
who was sympathetic for a while, moved Leftward years ago,
but remains uncomfortable with many of the attacks on it. In
Heilbrunn’s telling, neoconservatism is more of a network than
a movement, a close-knit group of people who got to know each
other in the 1970s or earlier and gradually became alienated
from their original political home, the urban, Northeastern wing
of the Democratic Party.
As has frequently been noted before, the most important
issues over which these largely (but not entirely) Jewish intellectuals fell out with their party were racial quotas at home and
the Democrats’ flagging enthusiasm for anti-Communism, or
even standing up forcefully for the national interest, after their
Vietnam debacle. Support for Israel is often mentioned as anThe New Leader
other point of disagreement, but in fact Democratic Presidential candidates from the 1960s through the ’80s, when most
neoconservatives gradually shifted parties, were on the whole
more pro-Israel than their Republican counterparts. Jimmy
Carter as President was not quite the same in this respect as
Jimmy Carter the embittered ex-President.
Before talking about such comparatively recent decades,
Heilbrunn retells the familiar story of the so-called New York
Intellectuals—Irving Kristol, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell, and
others—during their anti-Stalinist student days at City College. Returning to their immigrant origins is important to his
design because he has a theory of neoconservatism that requires
the long sweep of history. It takes him all the way back to Biblical times.
From Heilbrunn’s perspective, neoconservatism is not merely an ephemeral political ideology but something far more
durable—an expression of the Jewish prophetic tradition that
originated with Moses. The titles of his chapters tell pretty
much the whole story. In “Exodus,” the radical sons of immigrants become liberal members of the post-World War II establishment. In “Wilderness” they grow disillusioned with the
Democratic Party. “Redemption” shows a number of them finding influential homes in the Ronald Reagan Administration. In
“Return to Exile,” they blow it by encouraging George W. Bush
to invade Iraq.
Those who believe in Jewish conspiracies could have a
field day with Heilbrunn’s book, contrary to his intentions, because he attributes so much of foreign policy in the last three
Republican administrations to behind-the-scenes neocon influence. Explaining their recent strength, he says that “for
George W. Bush, the simplistic neoconservative credo would
prove a perfect fit. Bush would weld together a new blend
JACOB HEILBRUNN
November/December, 2007
of optimism about spreading democracy and fear of the decline of the West if democracy failed to spread. [William]
Kristol and [Robert] Kagan had reinvented Republican foreign policy.”
The reinvention was easy, for “Bush fancied himself the heir
to Reagan,” and “the neocons were in large measure the authors
of what might be called the Reagan Synthesis.” That is, Kristol
(the influential editor of the Weekly Standard) and Kagan (who
wrote Of Paradise and Power and other books on foreign policy) were merely harvesting fruit from trees that earlier neocons
had planted in the 1980s.
With the reaction against involvement in Iraq, Heilbrunn
says, “it became fashionable on the Left to argue that the
war had been prosecuted largely, if not exclusively, for the
benefit of Israel and its neoconservative allies.” Yet he believes
neoconservatism is far from dead. It is, after all, a prophetic
movement, and “Prophets are not easily dissuaded from their
crusade.” What’s more, many of the neocons are extremely
smart. “They may regroup, reassess and retrench. But these
reckless minds . . . aren’t going away. Quite the contrary.”
T
O SOME AMERICAN LIBERALS and many Europeans
who should know better, neoconservative is simply a
euphemism for fascist (while ironically at the same time a synonym for Jew, despite the fact that most American Jews vote
for Democrats). “Fascist” long ago lost the historical associations with inter-war Europe that gave it a definite meaning;
after 1945 it became a general term of abuse, communicating
almost nothing besides the fact that the person employing it
was on the Left.
Conservatives have often tried in vain to prove that fascism,
especially in the form of Nazism, was really a revolutionary
movement of the Left, not of the Right. (“Nazi,” they remind
us, was short for “National Socialist.”) The argument seems a
barren one at this distance in history, but the continued use of
these terms as political invective keeps it alive. Now Jonah
Goldberg, a National Review contributing editor, has gone his
predecessors one better by writing Liberal Fascism: The Secret
History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of
Meaning (Doubleday, 487 pp., $27.95).
Goldberg points out accurately that a number of causes and
impulses usually attributed to the Right, such as eugenics, were
in fact liberal causes when they were flourishing in this country; that the Nazis crusaded against smoking and (believe it or
not) for animal rights; that the emphasis on racial identity in
contemporary liberalism has some of the ugliness associated
with earlier forms of race politics; that the cult of the state and a
quasi-militarization of the population have been prominent
in Democratic administrations from the New Deal through
the Great Society, from the Civilian Conservation Corps to
AmeriCorps.
A few of these are real parallels, but likening the kind of
intrusive government many Democrats favor to the totalitar-
13
ianism of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler is so far-fetched
that Goldberg’s heart is not in it. Repeatedly he emphasizes
that Hillary Rodham Clinton is not really a fascist, any more
than Franklin D. Roosevelt was. You get the impression
from reading his book that Goldberg, a Jewish libertarian
conservative who supports democracy and individual rights,
simply got tired of listening to himself and politicians he
admires being relentlessly attacked as Nazis and decided to
retaliate in kind.
“Bush’s democracy agenda—which I support—has become
synonymous with a kind of neofascism around the globe and in
many quarters at home,” he says. “It’s a curious irony that the
most Wilsonian President in a generation is seen as a fascist by
many people who would bristle at the suggestion that Wilson
himself was a fascist.” (Or, he might have added, that Wilson
was a neoconservative.) As Goldberg also reminds us, during
World War I Wilson led the most authoritarian and repressive
Administration in all of U.S. history.
W
HAT NEITHER AUTHOR would deny is that con-
servatism, both neo- and paleo-, is currently in
disarray, probably in flux and possibly in retreat, though you
would not know it from listening to Republican Presidential
candidates. While none of them now embraces the neoconservative label and few Republicans ever did, it is also worth remembering that practically no Democratic politicians call
themselves liberals anymore. “Progressive” is about as far as
anyone in search of votes is willing to go.
But what does progressive mean these days? It may be
no less fluid a word than conservative, no less desperately in
search of a meaning that will win elections and, equally important, not make governing afterward impossible. In foreign
policy, is progressivism now synonymous with pacifism? Does
it mean pursuing policies that will keep the United Nations
and our European friends happier than most of them have been
for the past seven years? What price are we willing to pay to
win them back?
“Had the Democratic Party managed to retain the neoconservatives,” Heilbrunn asserts while contrasting Carter’s foreign policy with Reagan’s, “it might never have suffered the
devastating defeats it experienced in the 1980s, when it lost
three successive Presidential elections. At a minimum, it would
have been more difficult to paint the Democrats as weak on foreign policy—a charge that has dogged the party ever since.”
He is not suggesting a great many voters considered themselves neoconservatives. That was never the case. But for a period the neocons had an influence on elite opinion out of proportion to their numbers. If they could have influenced the
Carter Administration to act decisively during the Iran hostage
crisis, or prevailed on Walter Mondale in 1984 or Michael Dukakis in 1988 to run as a spiritual descendant of President Harry
S. Truman rather than of Carter, Democrats might have won at
least once.
14
JONAH GOLDBERG
By 1992, with the Soviet Union gone and President George
H.W. Bush unpopular among all varieties of conservatives,
some neocons were ready to come home. But Bill Clinton chose
throughout his Administration to build up support from the
Democratic base rather than reach out to the Right. Perhaps the
time when Democrats could comfortably have reassimilated
their lost tribe had definitively passed. In any event, Clinton
backed down from the aggressive foreign policy pronouncements he had made during the campaign on Bosnia and China,
and on the domestic side he became a champion of racial policies the neoconservatives found distasteful.
Whatever final judgment one makes on the Clinton and
second Bush administrations, the aftermath of 9/11 greatly
increased the Democrats’ vulnerability on issues of national
security, as the 2004 election demonstrated. Bush’s current unpopularity may have obscured this vulnerability for the moment, but it has not gone away. It might be fair to say that, of the
Democratic frontrunners at present, Hillary Clinton understands this and Barack Obama seems not to.
What happens if the next President has to tell the country
that complete withdrawal from Iraq is not imminent and that
many of the most bitterly attacked Bush Administration policies—from “rendition” to so-called domestic wiretapping to
the Strategic Defense Initiative to free trade in the Americas to
nuclear cooperation with India—should continue indefinitely?
What happens if the next President has to face down new threats
from Iran or China?
Nobody knows yet who the new President is going to
be, but one can guess, given the rhetoric of the past seven
years, that the necessary explanations will be harder for a
Democrat than for a Republican. Call it the revenge of the
neoconservatives.
The New Leader
Swords
Turned into
Plowshares
Where Have All the Soldiers
Gone?: The Transformation
of Modern Europe
By James J. Sheehan
Houghton Mifflin.
304 pp. $26.00.
Reviewed by
Samuel Moyn
Professor of history,
Columbia University
UROPEANS, it has been said, spent the
first half of the 20th century slaughtering one another and the second half
drowning their sorrows in production and
consumption. This is more or less confirmed by James J. Sheehan in his new
book. The eminent Stanford University
historian’s larger interest, though, is the
changed relationship between statehood
and warfare. It once would have been
unthinkable to define sovereignty apart
from military capacity and symbolism.
“Without war, there would be no state,”
declares the iron law of the 19th-century
historian Heinrich von Treitschke that is
the title of one of Sheehan’s chapters.
And by the end of the book he has effectively established the astonishing transformation reflected in his citation of the
words of Germany’s president in 1990:
“Today sovereignty means participating
in the international community.”
Sheehan says his objective is to show
that Europe’s refurbishment of sovereignty in a pacifist direction is thus far
exceptional. In 2002, the neoconservative author Robert Kagan similarly argued that Europeans now dream of a
utopia where violence and force have
passed from the world. Kagan offered his
view at a moment when Euro-American
relations were coming unglued over the
run-up to the Iraq invasion. Sheehan does
not openly reach Kagan’s conclusion that
the United States may have to take responsibility for patrolling a “dangerous
world” alone because its old allies have
grown soft. But he appears to want to
E
November/December, 2007
show Kagan was on to something signifOne reason is Sheehan’s disproporicant that has become deeply ingrained.
tionate attention to the Europeans’ preThe story told here has the Europeans
World War II violence. This is essential
building a new kind of state after 1945, a
for registering how new their current
“civilian state,” under special conditions
“pacifism” is. And it enables him to emcreated by the bipolar politics of the Cold
phasize that civilians, rather than being
War. That conflict left certain parts of Euthe foundation of European states, were
rope armed to the teeth, but war was esin the past sacrificed without a second
sentially off the table. As pawns in a
thought on war’s grim altar. But his analygeopolitical contest, Europeans faced
sis of the era after World War II does not
external constraints that for the first time
begin until the book is three-quarters
in history kept them from turning on each
over. So one has the feeling that a direct
other.
answer to Sheehan’s main question is
They responded to their new condiconstantly being postponed.
tion, Sheehan says, with an internal
Then there is the matter of how broad
choice: Through integration they would
an explanation is necessary to make sense
make peace—by focusing on providing
of the momentous transition Sheehan has
goods and services. Since the Enlightenin his sights. Early on, while covering the
ment European thinkers had been preattitudes toward war, he provides illumidicting that violent passions would be
nating vignettes of popular authors like
replaced by commercial interests,
Norman Angell and Iwan Bloch.
and in the postwar world it
Curiously, when he reaches
finally happened. Sheehan
his key challenge in the
does not deal seriously with
post-World War II period,
consumerism, but West
he lets geopolitics and
and East it undoubtedly
economics do almost all
mattered that Europeans
the work. When the exbecame spenders and getplanatory premium is at
ters, not simply workers
its height, he leaves out the
and makers.
cultural and popular facSheehan’s prose is eltors, but they may be critiegant and economical; his
cal to understanding what
examples and quotations
he at one point calls a “slow,
are also beautifully marsilent revolution.”
shaled. “The killing
There are many
was relentless” in
untapped sources
World War I comhere, beginning
bat, he notes. “Unwith the glamorlimited by human
ization of war that
stamina, the mepersisted among
JAMES J. SHEEHAN
chanical delivery
Europeans—as
of artillery rounds could go on for hours,
Jean Lartéguy’s best-selling classic, The
even days, as long as there were shells to
Centurions (1961), graphically illusfeed the guns.” The horror is neatly captrates. On the other side of the ledger, the
tured by his statistic that of France’s 1.3
hostility toward war and weapons promillion war dead, 300,000 were so manliferation eventually expressed through
gled, dismembered or pulverized as to be
the German and other Green parties is not
unidentifiable.
mentioned. Usually originating from the
N THE LIGHT of their history, it remains
far Left (only alluded to as a source of
puzzling that the Europeans could turn
1970s terrorism), these attitudes are unall their swords into plowshares. It is one
likely to have been crystallized either by
thing to describe their transformation,
early Cold War dualism or by commerce.
and quite another to explain it. Although
Sheehan does narrate the perpetration of
finely crafted as a descriptive narrative,
the Holocaust, but neglects to observe
Where Have All the Soldiers Gone? is
that Europeans first came to grips with
somewhat less of an explanatory success.
the worst atrocities of World War II 30
I
15
years after the fact, because new realities
initiated a greater sensitivity to violence.
One of these was the Europeans’ loss
of the foreign lands where they had long
employed brutality without compunction. Even as the foundations of the postwar world were being laid, they did not
give up their old imperial posture. Sheehan seems to minimize the profound
challenge colonial engagements (which
at one point he somewhat euphemistically labels “global obligations”) pose
to his main arguments. Nevertheless,
from this perspective much of postwar European history looks more in
continuity with the bloody past than a
break from it.
In the 1950s and 1960s, facing better
armed opponents, the Europeans were
simply beaten; at other times, they decided the benefits of retaining overseas rule
did not justify the costs. Either way, their
“choice” to change did not flow directly
from postwar fundamentals. (And until
the end of the Cold War Europeans, East
and West, often supported the hot wars
of their patrons around the world.)
T IS SHEEHAN’S chapter about what has
happened since 1989 that does perhaps
the most important work in Where Have
All the Soldiers Gone? By then war and
even genocide had returned to European
soil, and many saw a new consensus
growing for European militaries to play
a role in preventing atrocities like those
they had once perpetrated. Famously, the
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, previously a pacifist, came around
to supporting NATO’s armed intervention
in Kosovo. But, argues Sheehan, what
these episodes really show is that Europeans had turned against war for good.
Britain and Russia—the one more eager
than Continental powers to sign onto
America’s campaigns and the other fighting savage wars on the periphery—now
drop out of Sheehan’s account, though
they had been central to it before.
Sheehan is very good at recalling European anxieties about deploying troops
in the 1990s and after. Yet it is dangerous to equate insistence on multilateral
agreement in initiating conflict—sovereignty as participation in the international community—with the rejection of
violence altogether. With his once paci-
I
16
fist party part of the governing Socialist
coalition, Fischer also supported the recent Afghanistan campaign, meager as
Germany’s military help proved to be.
But together with other politicians of
“Old Europe,” he drew the line at Iraqi invasion. Did this really express a distaste
for war now encoded in European genetics? Or was it a rejection of the particular
war the United States had opted, against
all reason, to start?
One wonders, in other words, whether
Sheehan is really calling on a long-term
story to explain what in many ways is a
short-term phenomenon—European dissent from America’s global war on terror.
It will take considerable time, after Iraq
and George W. Bush, to know if NATO’s
fracturing around Iraq portended something permanent. Despite the transformation of their armies and attitudes,
Europeans retain the ability to deploy
massive force to strategic ends.
So the question is whether telling a
history culminating in European dissent
from the Iraq adventure is a narrative too
neat and too final to capture how issuespecific and hence temporary that dissent may prove to be. Still, Sheehan is
clearly right in this thought-provoking
volume that something has happened,
however much one might question its
roots and depth.
Exploring
Uncharted
Territory
The Whisperers: Private Life
in Stalin’s Russia
By Orlando Figes
Metropolitan.
740 pp. $35.00.
Reviewed by
Gene Sosin
Author, “Sparks of Liberty: An
Insider’s Memoir of Radio Liberty”
AGISTERIAL” may be an over-
“M
worked adjective in book reviews, but it accurately describes Orlando
Figes’ latest volume. A professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of
London, he has written two equally
weighty studies: Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, and the multiprize-winner, A People’s Tragedy: The
Russian Revolution, 1891-1924. In The
Whisperers he reconstructs “private life
in Stalin’s Russia” through interviews
with representative samples of Russian
citizens at all levels of society who survived decades of oppression by the ruthless dictator and his successors.
As a graduate researcher in Moscow
during the 1980s, Figes explains, he
made a first attempt at an oral history of
the early Soviet period by interviewing
Russian friends and their families, but
they seemed “too nervous to speak in
depth.” He realized then the importance
of producing a “counterweight to the official narrative of Soviet history.”
After the USSR collapsed in 1991,
Figes thought again about exploring “this
uncharted territory.” Not until 2002,
though, when he completed Natasha’s
Dance, did he undertake the task, assisted by teams of researchers who gained
access to the public archives of Moscow,
St. Petersburg and other Russian cities,
and to over a dozen private family archives. Their most valuable source was
the testimony of more than 400 oral interviews that usually lasted for hours and
often stretched to several days. Figes
himself conducted many of them. Some
were also provided by the Memorial Society, a Moscow-based human rights organization. There was a sense of urgency
about the undertaking because the average age of the interviewees was 80.
The author considers The Whisperers unique in that it probes the interior
world of families and individuals during
seven decades of the Soviet system. Previous histories focused more on external
events in particular periods: the Civil
War of the 1920s; the persecution and
exile to Siberia of millions of “kulaks”
(moderately wealthier peasants) and
the “Great Terror” of the 1930s, which
included the execution of some of Stalin’s Party comrades; the crowded communal housing of the urban proletariat;
the War and postwar years. Figes calls
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (1973) the great oral history of
the labor camps.
The New Leader
He notes, too, that “the first major oral
plement its concept of a “collective perhistory” was the 1950-51 Harvard Project
sonality,” which demanded “blowing up
on the Soviet Social System. Over 300 inthe shell of private life” by putting it
terviews were conducted with former Sounder the state’s control. Figes recounts
viet citizens (displaced persons), mainly
the experience of individuals from diin U.S. occupied West Germany. But Figes
verse social backgrounds who were born
criticizes the enterprise. The views of the
shortly after the revolution. Education
respondents, he maintains, “were colored
was “the key to the creation of a new soby the experience of living in the West,
ciety.” Children were weaned from their
were consciously anti-Soviet in a way
parents and inculcated with Communist
that was not representative of
values and discipline. The various
the Soviet population as a
methods employed and the tenwhole.”
sions they caused within the
As a member of
families are described in
the Harvard Project
detail. Especially during
in Munich (along with
Stalin’s rule (1928- 53), parmy wife, Gloria, and
ents were careful to whisother Russian-speaking
per their true feelings out
Americans) I disagree
of their children’s earwith his contention that
shot or warn them to
the interviews did not truly
keep their mouths
reflect the attitudes of the avshut. “Mama used
erage citizen in the mothto say that every otherland. Admittedly, this
er person was an
was an atypical group,
informer,” said one
given their decision
woman whose father
to remain abroad.
was arrested in 1936.
But even our limited
The regime enORLANDO FIGES
findings, carefully vetcouraged youngsters
ted for suspiciously exaggerated proto snitch on their parents. A famous
American responses, were to a great
example was Pavlik Morozov, who deextent remarkably similar to the prodinounced his father as a hoarder of grain
gious amount of evidence assembled by
during the collectivization of agriculture
Figes. Indeed, he quotes from some of
in the 1930s and was supposedly murthe books written by Harvard scholars
dered by angry relatives. Doubts about
who cite passages from their Munich the authenticity of the story persist, but
interviews.
the official propaganda machine made
HAT SAID, Figes nevertheless dePavlik a long-lasting role model. When
serves kudos for his penetrating narI was in Moscow in 1959, a preteen
rative. To me it had the impact of The
schoolgirl explained to me in front of
Lives of Others, a disquieting film porPavlik’s statue in the park named for
traying the East German Communist rehim that “love for one’s homeland is
gime’s surveillance of individuals and its
stronger than love for one’s father.” The
traumatic consequences.
majority of Figes’ interviewees also
The book vividly shows how “the
loved their homeland, despite the devwhole of Soviet society was made up of
astation wrought by its totalitarian leadwhisperers of one sort or another.” The
ers. Scores of family album photographs,
Russian idiom of the Stalin years, we learn,
reproduced throughout the book, add to
had two (fittingly onomatopoeic) words
our empathy. (The main family archives,
to distinguish the types: shepchushchii
transcripts and sound extracts from the
was “somebody who whispers out of fear
interviews are also available online at
of being overheard,” while sheptun was
www.orlandofiges.com.)
ONSTANTIN SIMONOV is the “central
“a person who informs or whispers befigure” and perhaps “tragic hero” of
hind people’s backs to the authorities.”
The Whisperers. Born to a noble family,
Even before Stalin consolidated his
he morphed into a proletarian writer
power, the Bolshevik Party began to im-
T
K
November/December, 2007
in Stalin’s time, achieving fame as a poet, novelist, playwright, and war correspondent. In the early 1950s, while
researching my doctoral dissertation at
Columbia University on the role of professional theater and drama for children
in the Soviet education system, I found a
speech he made as vice-chairman of the
all-powerful Union of Soviet Writers. Defining the goals of children’s literature,
he declared that its first task was “educating an active builder of Communism.”
Simonov could not have described
himself better. Figes observes that he
“identified with the Party, and in particular with its leader, even to the point of
growing a mustache, brushing back his
hair in the ‘Stalin style,’ and posing with
a pipe.” A friend is quoted as saying he
did not smoke the pipe but adopted it as a
“way of life.”
When Simonov visited New York a
few years after Stalin’s death in 1953, a
small group of Americans that included
my colleague Boris Shub, a director of
Radio Liberty’s shortwave broadcasts to
the Soviet Union, and myself, met him in
a Manhattan hotel. He held a briar pipe
in his hand, as did Shub, who admired the
shape of Simonov’s and was informed
that it had been a present from Stalin. Impulsively, Shub proposed that they trade
pipes, and Simonov unhesitatingly agreed
to the “cultural exchange.” I doubt that he
realized his gift from Stalin was now in the
possession of one of the most effective
ideological adversaries of the Kremlin.
Nikita S. Khrushchev’s anti-Stalin
speech to the 20th Communist Party
Congress in 1956 was a shock to Simonov, as it was to many other worshipers.
Figes traces Simonov’s “gradual transition from a convinced Stalinist to a
moderate conservative,” and finally to
repudiating his long-held beliefs in the
years before his death in 1979. Along the
way he had joined, though reluctantly, the
“anti-cosmopolitan” campaign against
Jewish writers, and later he attacked
Boris Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, and others. But his remorse led him to undertake
liberal causes, such as championing
avant-garde artists and arranging for the
publication of Mikhail Bulgakov’s subversive The Master and Margarita.
The dedicated Soviet preteenager I
17
met in Moscow in 1959 is probably 60
now. She may be one of the individuals
Figes cites in his final chapter, “Memory,” who still feel pride in having contributed to the Soviet mystique. She may
even be one of the 42 per cent of Russians
who told public opinion researchers in
January 2005 that they favored a “leader
like Stalin.” (Sixty per cent of those over
60 years old opted for a “new Stalin.”)
Vladimir Putin, who apparently will become Russia’s prime minister in March,
pays lip service to democracy, but his lips
seem to be secretly smiling as he anticipates tightening his authoritarian grip.
Figes found that “the younger generation in Russia has little interest in the
Soviet past.” One hopes at least some of
them will be curious enough to click on
his historical cyberspace trove that vividly illustrates how power corrupts.
China’s
Supreme
Actor
Zhou Enlai: The Last
Perfect Revolutionary
By Gao Wenqian
Translated by Peter Rand
and Lawrence R. Sullivan
PublicAffairs.
345 pp. $27.95.
Reviewed by
Maochun Yu
Professor of history,
U.S. Naval Academy
EW, IF ANY,
political entities have
been as enterprising in manufacturing myths as the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP). Since its emergence in 1921
under the aegis of Lenin’s Third International, for instance, the CCP has managed to successfully mythologize an
abject flight into a heroic Long March
that produced Mao Zedong as its supreme
leader. He, in turn, was conveniently mythologized by Edgar Snow in Red Star
Over China (1938) as the virtuous agrarian reformer leading the liberation of
the oppressed Chinese peasantry. Of all
such myths and mythologies, though,
F
18
moved he was “by the idealism and
none has been as bizarre yet monspiritual qualities of yourself
umental as those relating to
and your colleagues.”
Zhou Enlai, Mao’s lieuEarlier there had been a
tenant and the CCP’s manmasterpiece of mythmakager-in-chief for nearly 30
ing involving Zhou, known
years. In his case, the
as the Greatest Snub. Almythmaking had a parlegedly he was humiliated
ticular utility: It was cruby John Foster Dulles, Prescial to his being fashioned
ident Dwight D. Eisenhowinto a positive symbol of the
er’s secretary of state, at the
CCP’s great Chinese Revo1954 Geneva Conferlution.
ence. Dulles was said
We all know that revoluto have refused to
tion proved extraorshake the premier’s
dinarily brutal, as
extended hand. This
Mao cherishingly
became the prime exinstructed: “Our revGAO WENQIAN
ample of America’s
olution is not a dinarrogance and hostility toward the genteel
ner party, nor is it an endeavor in the
Communist Zhou.
genteel art of embroidery. Our revoOR A MYTH about a man to be suslution is a violent process through which
tained, of course, he has to be a good
one social class destroys the other.” An
actor. Zhou honed his thespian skills at
estimated 70 million Chinese lives were
Nankai High, where he won praise for
wiped out by this class struggle during
playing female characters in the school’s
the CCP’s binges of destruction spanproductions. And on a wintry Beijing
ning several decades after it came to
morning in February 1972, he and Nixon
power in 1949.
(the “I am not a crook!” actor) put on an
To prevent the staggering body count
impressive performance inspired by the
from becoming its hallmark, the ComGreatest Snub. As Nixon stepped off Air
munist movement needed a charmer, a
Force One to begin his historic China visit,
voice of reason and persuasion, a reluchis hand was extended to counter the 1954
tant participant in creating the violence,
rebuff. Zhou grasped it with a flourish,
purges and general political persecutions
knowing full well that there had never
who could present a humane face to those
been any Dulles rudeness. Later, both men
in the world who were outraged by Mao’s
reminisced profusely about their handexcesses and political absurdity. Accordshake redressing Dulles’ impertinence.
ingly, the Communist mythmakers both
Meticulous recent Chinese accounts
inside and outside of China massaged all
by Wang Bingnan and Xiong Xianghui,
these qualities in fabricating a public
Zhou’s top political and intelligence
image of Zhou Enlai as the most impresaides, who were in charge of his every
sive son of the revolution. President Rimovement in Geneva, have convincingly
chard M. Nixon called him “the greatest
demonstrated the impossibility of any
statesman of our era.” Henry A. Kissinsuch incident. The current international
ger, the “realist” who served two U.S.
scrutiny of Zhou’s darker side, however,
Presidents, delivered an uncharacterhas been far more damaging to the nearly
istically schmaltzy report to the White
flawless mythology that distorted his
House after his initial meeting with Zhou
CCP career—especially his role in the
in Beijing in 1971: “He moved gracefuldevastating Great Proletarian Cultural
ly and with dignity . . . filling a room not
Revolution (1966-1976).
by his physical dominance (as did Mao or
There is no doubt in serious scholarly
de Gaulle) but by his air of controlled tencircles that the ultimate perpetrator of this
sion, steely discipline, and self-control,
catastrophe was Mao Zedong, who was
as if he were a coiled spring.” To make
obsessed with destroying all the possible
sure the Chinese premier was aware of
challengers to his supreme power in the
the esteem in which he was held, Kisname of a “perpetual revolution” against
singer personally told him how deeply
F
The New Leader
November/December, 207
ly received funding from the Woodrow
Wilson International Center and Harvard
University while writing his book.
His main objective, Gao states clearly
in the Chinese edition, was to lay bare
Zhou’s complete submission to Mao as
his willing executioner. He made the decision to obey Mao absolutely during the
Yenan years, in the late 1930s and early
’40s, when Mao launched a series of
harsh purges against his political opponents. This powerful master-servant relationship forged Zhou’s role as Mao’s
chief butler and enforcer of the Cultural
Revolution. Along with Mao, Gao shows,
Zhou, despite selectively protecting those
who had not run afoul of him in the past,
was also partly responsible for the betrayals and deaths of comrades like Peng Dehuai, Liu Shaoqi, and He Long. In other
words, as one of the two or three principal players of the Cultural Revolution
who participated in every major policy
decision and signed every crucial arrest
warrant, Zhou was also responsible for
the violence and chaos.
Yet Mao was indeed a master who had
a penchant for torturing Zhou and making him suffer. In 1973, for example, Mao
displayed paranoid jealousy toward Zhou,
who had ambiguously approved Kissinger’s request to establish a military liaison
between the Pentagon and the People’s
Liberation Army. The furious Mao initiated a ferocious “line struggle” inside the
Politburo against Zhou’s “Rightist capitulationism.” The confrontation almost
killed the ailing Zhou, who died less than
three years later. In his effort to portray
the real Zhou during the Cultural Revolution with overwhelming evidence and
keen analysis, Gao Wenqian did a superb
job in his original Chinese volume.
EGRETTABLY, the just published English edition, entitled Zhou Enlai:
The Last Perfect Revolutionary, is a major disappointment—to say the least. Although billed as a translation by Peter
Rand and Lawrence R. Sullivan, that is
something of a misnomer. In their “Note,”
the translators tell us they used their “license” to “advisedly” eliminate academic material. But less than a fifth of the
original is to be found in the English rendering. Instead, since Gao’s original book
focuses largely on Zhou’s actions in the
R
HELP
friends who will
appreciate
discovering
New
Leader
The
the old, the reactionary and the revisionist. But no one has been willing and able
to blame Zhou Enlai, publicly perceived
as the tenderizer of Mao’s murderous
policies, for facilitating, prolonging and
deepening the Cultural Revolution.
No one, that is, until Gao Wenqian
wrote his stunning Wannian Zhou Enlai
(Zhou Enlai’s Later Years), published in
Hong Kong in 2003. It became an instant
bestseller in the overseas Chinese book
market, with over 30 editions already
printed. Even inside China the sensation
it created has been palpable, for it remains
the first book grabbed by virtually every
visiting Chinese delegation to the United
States or Hong Kong—despite its heading the list of banned import items at Customs stations along China’s long borders.
None of that is surprising, given Gao’s
credentials. A trained historian, Gao was
for many years the Party Central Committee’s designated biographer of Mao
and Zhou, with specific responsibility
for writing about their lives during the
Cultural Revolution. The position gave
him unique access to the ultrasecret personal and official files of Mao, Zhou and
many other top Party leaders stored at
the heavily guarded CCP Central Archives, some 20 miles to the northwest of
Beijing. Gao was also assigned the task
of conducting officially ordered interviews with many surviving major figures
of the Cultural Revolution, including
Zhou’s wife and Mao’s security chief.
The hugely ambitious projects devoted
to producing official biographies of Mao
and Zhou did indeed result in the publications of several large volumes inside
China. But they could not fully reflect the
archival evidence; among other factors,
the myth of Zhou as the Cultural Revolution’s tenderizer had to be preserved.
Professional outrage moved Gao finally to break with the Party line after he became lightly involved in the tumultuous
1989 pro-democracy events and was administratively punished. Realizing the true
picture of Zhou during the Cultural Revolution could not be presented in repressive
China, Gao somehow fled to the United
States with many of the notes he had taken
as he read the voluminous secret files.
Here he was appointed a visiting scholar
at Columbia University and subsequent-
online. . .
by putting them
on our e-mail list
(Click on the
“Join Our E-mail
List” link at the
bottom of our
homepage.)
last 10 years of his life, the English version adds some banal chapters to make it
a full-fledged “biography.” A more accurate title for the result would be “Zhou
Enlai: A Selective Digest of Gao Wenqian’s Zhou Enlai in His Later Years.”
Particularly irksome in the English version is the absence of the original’s extensive notes. By indicating the exact
sources of various extremely rare and
precious archival documents, they add
tremendously to the work’s authoritativeness. The notes illuminate roughly four
categories: (1) archival documents, such
as Zhou’s handwritten self-criticisms to
Mao, and Mao’s comments on Zhou’s various confessions; (2) primary sources in
volumes published by the Party Central
Committee’s history documentary office;
(3) published secondary sources, mostly
memoirs, by key CCP figures; and (4)
personal interviews conducted by Gao.
Gao Wenqian’s Zhou Enlai’s Later
Years stands as a landmark achievement
in demythologizing him. If you can read
Chinese, by all means get hold of it. Otherwise, wait for a better, more faithful
translation of Gao’s important work.
19
On Fiction
Lyricism
Battling
with Cliché
By Brooke Allen
I
N THE INTRODUCTION to one of his early novels, William
Maxwell spoke of trying to include “as much poetry as
prose fiction can accommodate without becoming too
fancy.” The question of exactly how much poetry that is
has always been intriguing: We can all think of times
when a novel’s narrative has been fatally subsumed by linguistic overkill. If an author chooses to write a novel rather than
poetry, he owes something to the narrative he has committed
himself to, however poetically charged he means to make the
language. Otherwise, why write a novel at all?
The Scottish writer A.L. Kennedy treads the fine line between fiction and poetry a little uneasily. She is richly talented,
and when her effects work properly they can be stunning, rather
in the manner of Henry Green or even D.H. Lawrence. Her linguistic gymnastics and experimentation with points of view is
no mere dandyism, as is the case with so many “literary” novelists, but a genuine attempt at enhanced expression. Here, for
instance, is an excerpt from the first chapter of her newest novel,
Day (Knopf, 274 pp., $24.00), in which the hero, Alfred Day,
meets the man who will be his skipper in their World War II
RAF bombing unit:
“He angled his head for an instant and then you could see
his eyes, what you were certain must be proper pilot’s eyes—
you hadn’t a clue about anything, but they really ought to be
like this: their interest too far forward and an odd temperature
at their back. Later, you’d see the same in other men and you
would think of the skipper, whether you wanted to or not.”
The combination of extreme subjectivism with the use of
the second person is deliberately challenging: We are seeing
inside Alfred’s head, as it were, but with an emotional distance
imposed by the odd choice of voice. The second person has
usually proved of limited value as a narrative device. The most
20
memorable use of it in recent years was probably in Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, where it was arresting at first
but soon began to seem pointless. In Day Kennedy uses the
technique sparingly, switching at will between the second person and the more traditional third, apparently in the interest of
heightening particular moments through contrast. She also
switches back and forth between two historical points: the War
years, when Alfred served as a gunner based in England going
out on bombing raids over Germany, and 1949, when Alfred
signs on to be an extra in a War film, a job that enables him to
re-enact his stay in a German prisoner-of-war camp and work
through some of the events that have paralyzed his postwar existence:
“It had seemed not unlikely that he could work out his own
little pantomime inside the professional pretense and tunnel
right through to the place where he’d lost himself, or rather the
dark, the numb gap he could tell was asleep inside him. Something else had been there once, but he couldn’t think what. He
was almost sure it had come adrift in Germany, in the real prison,
in ’43, or thereabouts. So it could possibly make sense that he’d
turn up here and at least work out what was missing, maybe
even put it back.”
The subject constitutes a testing imaginative leap for Kennedy, a woman born in the 1960s. It is difficult for someone of
her generation not to look at World War II through the countless mythologizing layers applied in War films and books over
the last 60 years, and indeed Day is loaded with imagery straight
from the Pinewood Studios: Alfie Day could be a film hero
played by John Mills, Ian Carmichael or Dirk Bogarde. There
is a constant tension throughout the novel between these almost clichéd images and the freshness with which Kennedy is
determined to invest her tale.
The New Leader
Alfie Day enlisted as soon as he was old enough, to escape a
However many dramatic stories have emerged from the War,
dim future working with his sadistic father in their Staffordshire
there are always more and more—a vein canny genre writers
fish shop. Mentally equating his father’s brutal ways with those
like Alan Furst and Joseph Kanon have exploited with care. Yet
of the distant Führer, Alfie is an enthusiastic soldier and forms
for all the hundreds of RAF men whose careers have been docwith the other men in his bombing unit—men of every
umented, there are the hundreds of thousands of displaced East
social class and personality type—the sort of famiEuropeans who had to make their pact with the devil, and
ly unit he had never been privileged to be part of
whose stories we seldom hear. Kennedy gives us one such
at home. Kennedy’s descriptions of the bombing
character in Day, a Ukrainian named Vasyl who has
raids are persuasive. She must have done a great
been hired to play the role of a Nazi guard at the movie
deal of research on the subject as she imagined
prison camp. When a local German woman comes
her way into the alien life and person of Alfie Day:
upon him in his phony uniform she is momentarily fro“You recognize every angle, detail of a ship
zen in fear. Vasyl’s electrified reaction, and the pleasure
just like your own, but you do want it to be a scarehe takes in terrifying the woman further, disturbs Alfie
crow that the Jerries have fired up and not a plane
and leads him to eventually uncover the horand you stare away from the shine, you conror of Vasyl’s past as a mass executioner
centrate, but you’re sure there was a shape
in Nazi service. Vasyl admits this to him
against that first hard rip of light: the
quite openly, for it turns out he has little
shadow of a man, his legs slightly bent,
reason to care about the revelation.
as if he was walking, but lying on his
“You know two years ago,” he tells
back in the air, in the very thin air, and
Alfie, “your government accepted a
that’s something you can’t think of—
whole division. . . . A Waffen SS diviA.L. KENNEDY
that so many planes have caught it and
sion—all waiting in Italy and then all
the route was a dud, too straight, and this is a mess, is a bloody
declared very good immigrants. From the Ukraine. What do I
mess, and the bombs not gone yet and the city and the Krupps
worry? You like us now. We are much better than the Russians,
works and the people hating you below.”
the Communists. And we are very healthy, very intelligent. We
Alfie’s solidarity with the varied characters in his unit repare ideal.”
resents the massive social shake-up that the War set into moVasyl’s tale is riveting, but the voice in which he tells it is
tion. So does his romance with Joyce, a young married woman
not credible: We are back in the land of movie melodrama, with
of “officer class” whom he encounters in a London bomb shelVasyl throughout his several-page monologue sounding
ter. At first he cannot imagine her returning his affection: “Talkstrangely like The Third Man’s Harry Lyme. “This isn’t the shit
ing about equality was one thing, touching a man like him as if
they taught us. This is the real truth—we don’t die. People like
he was possible, that was another.” Nevertheless he does turn
you and me, Alfred. It’s the other ones that die. We kill them.”
out to be possible, and the two embark on a fevered love affair
Day veers rather uneasily from stock melodrama to dashwhile Joyce’s husband is stationed elsewhere.
ingly executed battle scenes to rather overcharged romance,
The unit’s participation in the bombing of Hamburg ends
and occasionally genuinely good writing sneaks up on the readany feelings they might have entertained of high moral justifier. As with so many writers, it is often Kennedy’s less strenucation. (The campaign, dubbed Operation Gomorrah, left a
ously crafted images that make the neatest impression. Take
million people homeless and killed between 40,000 and 50,000
this simple sentence: “The night air was tender, full of grasses
civilians, reducing 10 square miles of the city to rubble.) A
and heat and a mindless calm, a little taste of autumn there as
Catholic member of the crew recognizes that he has given up
well, just a clue that the year was spinning and the big plane
any possibility of heaven, and Alfie finds that his ideals, such
leaves would soon start pitching down when he got back to Lonas they were, have gone forever as he looks out over “the
don.” One doesn’t usually think of leaves “pitching down,” but
bombed thing that was Germany . . . their work.” Subsequently
the image is exactly right.
captured, he spends the remainder of the War in a prison camp
The parts of Day that are most successful are those treatvery much like the imitation one that will be created by the
ing Alfie’s accommodation with Britain’s social stratification
movie production team a few years later.
and his decision to divorce himself from his own rigidly constricting background—to accept permanent deracination as
the price of autonomy. As a postwar colleague tells him, “They
think we’re scum. All the rubbish my mother used to talk about
this and that class—it doesn’t matter. It’s only that whoever
HESE SORTS OF EVENTS have so often been the stuff
crawls to the top of the heap will always think the rest of us are
of melodrama that Kennedy has been unable to keep
scum. That’s the only law.” This is not the England Alfie fought
melodrama out of her narrative: You half expect to hear “I’ll Be
for, a mythical kingdom he has ceased believing in by War’s
Seeing You” piping up as background music. Kennedy battles
end. But it is the one he must come to terms with, and by
with our preconceptions, but is only occasionally successful in
the novel’s surprisingly optimistic conclusion he has managed
dislodging them.
to do so.
T
November/December, 2007
21
History
Wrapped
in
Mystery
People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks
Viking.
372 pp. $25.95.
Reviewed by
Tova Reich
Author, “My Holocaust”
T
HE STRICTURE against figurative art
has long been a tenet of Judaism. So
it is something of an anomaly that the
Haggadah, the text used on Passover to
organize the prescribed Seder ritual, is
almost unique among Jewish books in
that it is commonly illustrated—not
only decoratively, but also with pictures
of animals, and most strikingly with images of human beings. Since the fundamental injunction of the Passover Seder
is to recount the tale of the Israelites’ redemption from enslavement in Egypt
for the sake of telling the children what
their ancestors experienced (the word
“haggadah” is derived from the Hebrew
root for “to tell”), an exception might
have been made for the Haggadah; pictures would naturally serve to engage
children.
In any case, the rules that apply to the
most sacred books have always been
more relaxed when it comes to the Haggadah even with respect to the text itself,
which is essentially a patchwork culled
from numerous sources over the generations. In less traditional circles, it continues to be massaged for contemporary
relevance. Thus there are such versions as
“The Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb”
(vegetarian), the “Dancing with Miriam
Haggadah” (feminism) and “The Santa
Cruz Haggadah” (“evolving consciousness”).
One of the oldest and finest illustrated Haggadot extant is the codex
known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, most
likely created in 15th-century Spain on
22
sheepskin parchment by a master scribe.
It has lustrous images illuminated in
gold, silver and radiant colors drawn
from lapis lazuli, malachite, saffron, and
other gems and plants in the manner of
the Christian and Persian manuscripts of
its time.
The Sarajevo Haggadah is the book at
the center of Geraldine Brooks’ latest
novel, People of the Book. An Australian
by birth now living in the U.S., Brooks is
the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the
novel March and a former reporter for
the Wall Street Journal who covered the
war in Bosnia. The “people” of the title
encompass a diverse array of Muslims,
Jews and Christians whose lives touched
upon the turbulent history of the Sarajevo Haggadah over the course of nearly
six centuries, “the different hands that
had made it, used it, protected it.” The
Sarajevo Haggadah is a kind of wandering Jew, and it is a survivor.
Brooks’ main character (apart from
the Haggadah itself) is Hanna Heath, a
spirited and strong-willed 30-year-old
Australian manuscript conservator. She
is summoned to Sarajevo in 1996 to prepare the Haggadah for exhibition at the
Bosnia National Museum in order to
raise morale in the wake of the devastating war with Serbia. Right from the start
she firmly makes clear her philosophy
with respect to old books: She is emphatically a conservator, not a restorer. “To
restore a book to the way it was when it
was made is to lack respect for its history. I think you have to accept a book as
you receive it from past generations, and
to a certain extent damage and wear reflect that history.”
A number of historical facts are already established about the manuscript.
They include its likely origin in Spain
sometime before the Inquisition and the
expulsion of the Jews in 1492; its escape
in 1609 from book burning as a heretical
text, attested by the dated signature of the
censor, a Venetian priest; its sale to the
Sarajevo museum in 1894 by a family
named Kohen; its rescue from Nazi plunder by an Islamic scholar in 1941; and
again, in 1992, its survival during the Serbian onslaught thanks to another Muslim, a librarian who hid it in a bank vault
for the duration of the war.
In the process of meticulously inspecting the Haggadah (throughout the
novel, the reader is treated to a minicourse on the art of medieval manuscript
illumination and conservation), Hanna
finds three minute artifacts—an insect’s
wing, salt crystals, and a white hair. She
notes, too, a russet-colored stain on one
of the folios, possibly spilled wine. Taking samples of all of these findings, she
brings them to experts for further examination. In addition, she identifies
markings indicating that there had once
been silver clasps on the binding, probably of great beauty and value to match
the work’s splendor and worth. Hanna is
also intrigued—as have been so many
others who have ever looked at the Sarajevo Haggadah or its facsimiles—
by one of the illuminations depicting a prosperous family at the Seder
table, for in the lower left-hand corner a
small, black-skinned woman wearing a
saffron-colored robe is holding a piece
of matzoh.
ROM THESE DETAILS, some factual
and some fictitious, the novel unfolds.
Moving back and forth from Hanna’s account in the present, spanning a six-year
period (1996-2002), to the over five centuries of the Haggadah’s survival through
the upheavals of Jewish history in the European Diaspora, People of the Book is
both a historical fiction and a series of
mysteries. But oddly the sleuth herself
can never really find out what happened,
as Hanna disconsolately admits: “It was
as if I was up against some genie who
lived within the pages of old books.
Sometimes, if you were lucky, you got to
release him for an instant or two, and he
would reward you with a misty glimpse
into the past.” The reader, on the other
hand, through interspersed flashback
chapters, gets to know the full story in
accordance with Brooks’ inventions
and how the facts and clues are pieced
together.
It is a story abounding in high drama
bordering on the operatic almost every
step of the way. The solution to the mystery of the lost clasps, for example, involves infidelity, venereal disease and
some bodice ripping. The chapter called
“Wine Stains” features alcoholism, gambling addiction, masked revelry on the
F
The New Leader
the remainder of the War in a mosque
Venetian canals, and sudden death. There
in the mountains. He and his wife, at
is sudden death in “Saltwater” too, plus
great personal risk to their family, altorture, illicit love affairs, rape, and so
so gave refuge in their home to a Jewon. “A White Hair” similarly offers rape,
ish woman, a former partisan fighter
enslavement, captive women, deaf-mutes,
named Mira Papo (the fictional Lola),
and much more. The intervening Hanna
who years later, after many tribulations,
chapters (which unravel the mystery of
submitted the names of the Korkuts
Hanna to herself) operate at a fever pitch
for designation as “Righteous Gentiles”
as well, including intense battles with her
at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
high-powered neurosurgeon mother, a
and memorial in Jerusalem. The good
traffic accident involving a fatality, shockMuslims of multiethnic, cosmopolitan
ing revelations about her paternity, a
Sarajevo—where, we are reminded,
near fatal blow to her self-confidence, a
the synagogue shares the public space
bit of love, and a lot of deaths of people
between the mosque and the Orthoof all ages.
dox Church—are intrinsic to People of
Even toward the end, when it appears
the Book.
that everything is settled, a new mystery
HERE ARE , it is true, a few not so
breaks out about the authenticity of the
good Muslims in these pages—BosHaggadah on display in the museum.
nian Muslims who looted treasures along
This is a novel that simply never catches
with the worst of the Ustashe Nazi collabits breath, never rests; there is so much
orators during World War II, and iconoground to cover, and the author hits as
clastic Muslim zealots in pre-Inquisition
many of the predictable historical and
Spain who defaced images of human
local-color high points as possible, from
beings in manuscript illuminations in
al-Andalus to the Austro-Hungarian Emfanatic compliance with the admonipire, from the Inquisition to the Holotion against figurative art, which is procaust.
scribed in Islam as it is in Judaism.
Given the inherently draBut overall this is a novel with a strong
matic nature of the Holomessage, and that message, put
caust, it is noteworthy that
forward again and again, is
the chapter set during that
the multiethnic ideal of tolperiod, “An Insect’s Wing,”
erance and diversity. A lot of
is the calmest, most evennostalgia is expressed for the
ly paced, most measured
era in Spain known as the
of all. Unlike the other
Convivencia, when Christians,
chapters, the solution to
Muslims and Jews lived in
the mystery of the insect
wing closely adheres to acrelative harmony.
With respect to our own
tual events.
times, Hanna repeatedly
Those events have also been
voices her passionate
recounted by Brooks with
support of multiethjournalistic polish in a
nicity in her typical
recent New Yorkernonfeisty style. For infiction article (“The
stance, she describes
Book of Exodus: A
a colleague as “one of
Double Rescue in
GERALDINE BROOKS
those vanguard huWartime Sarajevo,”
man beings of indeterminate ethnicity,
December 3, 2007). It tells of a distinthe magnificent mutts that I hope we
guished Islamic scholar and linguist,
are all destined to become given anothDervis Korkut (his fictional counterpart
er millennium of intermixing.” As the
is Serif Kamal), who in an incredibly
Muslim librarian who saved the mandaring act smuggled the Haggadah out
uscript during the Serbian attacks,
of the museum while a German generand who becomes Hanna’s lover, tells
al, Johann Hans Fortner, was standing
her, the Sarajevo Haggadah is “the very
there demanding possession of it. Korartifact that was meant to stand for the
kut then arranged to have it hidden for
survival of our multiethnic ideal.” In
the spirit of the greater leeway granted
to Haggadot in general, that ideal may
well be an acceptable contemporary spin
on this venerable old masterwork and
its tumultuous history. It has survived
far worse.
Fugue
for a
Writer
in Winter
Diary of a Bad Year
T
November/December, 2007
By J.M. Coetzee
Viking.
231 pp. $24.95.
Reviewed by
Philip Graham
Author, “Interior Design,”
“How to Read an
Unwritten Language”
.M. COETZEE’S new novel arrives in
an unusual yet familiar package. Since
Elizabeth Costello (2003), the Nobel laureate has focused on characters who are
writers, allowing the creator behind the
curtain more than a few steps onto the
center of his fictions’ stage.
In that book the eponymous protagonist was an Australian writer who delivered and authored literary addresses
and essays that Coetzee had in fact delivered and published. In Slow Man
(2005), Costello’s unlikely and sudden
appearance in the middle of the novel,
as its apparent author, serves to nudge
and cajole Paul Rayment, the dithering
protagonist, to take some personal (and
therefore narrative) risks. With Diary of
a Bad Year, Coetzee has decided to slip
off the mask of Costello and offer a version of himself as the main character, a
writer who shares some but not all of
Coetzee’s life details. Thus he presents a
fictive alternate Coetzee, so he can use
himself as he once used the vehicle of
Elizabeth Costello.
One might say the three works form a
trilogy about the ironies of literary creation, but they are also linked by Coetzee’s
J
23
recent search for a novel of unusual shape
and substance. Clearly past patience with
following anything close to a standardized approach to fiction, in his recent
efforts Coetzee plays more openly with
the possibilities of the novel, mixing
up its constituent parts. In doing so he
has entered the territory of Vladimir
Nabokov and Julio Cortázar (and of
brilliant younger writers like Salvador
Plascencia and Mark Z. Danielewski),
where the structure is as particular as a
fingerprint.
For Diary of a Bad Year, Coetzee has
fashioned a fuguelike configuration.
Every page is divided initially into two
sections of text, then three, and each
section moves forward its own narrative, which, together with the others it
shares on the page, mirrors the complexities and possibilities of musical
counterpoint.
Coetzee’s recent novels also take an
increasingly stark and rueful look at the
challenges of aging, where physical failing is not necessarily compensated by
increased wisdom. Elizabeth Costello
certainly had her foibles—including several lumbering attempts to enter the afterlife—and Coetzee’s fictive self is no
exception. Nicknamed Señor C because
a neighbor has mistakenly identified
him as an immigrant to Australia from
South America, not South Africa, he lives
alone and lonely in a Sydney apartment
complex dubbed the Towers, chafing
under his body’s diminishing physical
capabilities.
In the laundry room of the apartment
complex, he comes upon a beautiful
young woman ironing as the rest of her
clothes circle in the washing machine.
Virtually no words pass between them,
but Señor C is smitten by her “delicious
behind.” In the following days, with a
careful question here and there, he discovers where this 20-something Filipina named Anya lives in the Towers, as
well as the details of her daily routine. All
the while he schemes (in the middle narrative thread of each page) to come up
with a plan that will allow him to spend
more time with her. He offers her a job,
at twice the usual salary, to type into manuscript form the tapes he has been recording from his unreadable handwriting.
24
The project, called Strong Opinions, is
ordinary but specific self. At the same
a series of essays about the political toptime, she is able to see past his wateredics of the day, commissioned by a Gerdown lecherous intentions and offer
man publisher.
Señor C some needed literary critiAfter her initial misgivings, Anya
cism, convincing him to reconsider
(whose perspective takes up the bottom
his political brimstone and instead atthird of every page) seems perfectly willtempt essays of a softer, more personing to be the old man’s eye candy as he
al nature.
overlooks her indifferent typing skills.
By the end of the novel Anya’s voice
So who, the reader wonders, is using
comes to dominate the page—the second
whom?
and third narrative thread belong to her,
Unfortunately, Señor C’s strong opinin a long letter she has written to Señor C
ions (the top third of each page) are too
that he reads without comment, and her
sure of their rightness to serve as a seducown musings on the bottom of the page
tive text for a young woman. The easily
about what she might do when Señor C
identifiable crimes of Vice President
eventually passes away.
Dick Cheney and company that mainly
Still, Señor C manages to have the
fuel Señor C’s anger and opposition are
novel’s last word—in his truncated space
important emotions, particularly in
at the top of the final pages—
these appalling times, but not the
through two of his softer esfull and balanced meal every
says. In the first, he conwriter requires; fiction thrives
siders Bach his “spiritual
on multiplicity, ambiguity,
father,” as if he is aware
unpredictability.
of the structure of the novEÑOR C’S moral outrage
el Coetzee has fashioned
for him. In the second,
at the dishonor AmeriSeñor C offers a paean to
ca has wrought on itself and
Tolstoy and (primarily) Dosthe world stands in countertoyevsky: “They annihilate
point to his pathetically transone’s impurer pretensions; they
parent longing for a woman who
clear one’s eyesight; they
could easily be his grandfortify one’s arm.” Sedaughter. Anya is alñor C is especially
ready comfortable in
moved by Ivan Karaa relationship with
mazov’s angry denunan investment conciation of forgiveness,
sultant named Alan,
not because of Ivan’s
who in many ways is
the embodiment of
argument, but because
of the throb of Ivan’s
much of what Señor
J.M. COETZEE
vibrant human voice.
C rails about in his
In these essays, after all, Señor C has
political essays. Alan is all for the crushfound new territory in his own voice from
ing mechanics of the new economic
behind that previous wall of anger.
order. Over the ensuing weeks, as he
And so the reader comes to underlearns more about Señor C through Anya,
stand that in Diary of a Bad Year CoetAlan pegs him as an easy mark and comes
zee has combined the shifting architecup with his own scheme. How easy it
ture of Bachian counterpoint with the
would be to electronically slip into Señor
moral intensity of Dostoyevsky, though
C’s computer, take control of his funds,
it is an intensity that takes residence in
and secretly reap the interest on a $3
forgiveness, redemption and the quiet
million estate.
particularities of the human condition.
Meanwhile, Señor C and Anya are
In the process, Coetzee has brought off
slowly adopting postures of distant ada novel in which philosophical medimiration for each other. No longer retation, structural inventiveness, realism
igniting Señor C’s sexual desire, just its
memory, Anya’s extraordinary beauty
and fantasy, and living characters blend
gives way to the complexity of her more
effortlessly together. Perhaps his last
S
The New Leader
three novels don’t form a trilogy at all,
but are the beginning of something larger. Coetzee certainly appears to be on a
hunt in the deepest literary waters, and it
is doubtful that he is about to give up the
chase.
Adapting
to a
New
Vastness
Beethoven Was
One-Sixteenth Black
By Nadine Gordimer
Farrar Straus Giroux.
178 pp. $21.00.
Reviewed by
Rosellen Brown
Professor of English, the School
of the Art Institute of Chicago;
Author, “Half a Heart”
N SPITE OF the relief I shared with most
I
of the civilized world when the formal
policies of apartheid ended, I remember
worrying that Nadine Gordimer’s stock
in trade seemed—like that of the authors
of Cold War spy novels—to have evaporated. The notion, of course, was foolish.
A profound, not to say ingenious, writer
will find material everywhere, and she
has continued to produce original, challenging fiction.
The old issues Gordimer knew so intimately as both an activist and a storyteller—race, status, social inclusion and
exclusion based on color and class—
may now tend to hover at the edges, but
it is still a privilege to confront in all
their variations the concerns of a mind
that is so sophisticated, candid and
humane. The essential skill of this Nobel
Prize-winner has always been making
politics personal: domesticating the painful social separations of her tormented
country. She is able to play her music
in many keys, however. Even her love
stories have tasted history’s gifts and
deformations.
So it is not such a stretch for her to have
journeyed from, say, the mutiny during
November/December, 2007
the (imagined, anticipated) revolution
of a white family’s trusted servant in
July’s People to a quite literal exile in
her first post-apartheid novel, The Pickup. In the latter work, a middle-class
white woman marries a man from an
unnamed Middle Eastern country whose
alien status forces him to take her home
with him. Both are set adrift to face the
demands of a soul-shattering adjustment
whose details are rendered with the same
precision Gordimer brought to the angst
of those ill at ease in a divided South
Africa. She does not need to write about
race to conjure the profound loneliness of her alienated characters. In the
changed political landscape she has adjusted and accommodated without skipping a beat.
Although her 11th collection of stories, Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black,
has a provocative title, its subjects are
not exactly headline grabbers. The unlikely assertion about the composer is the
opening line of the book; the story goes
on to mock the ironies of racial interchangeability:
“Once there were blacks wanting to
be white.
“Now there are whites wanting to be
black.
“It’s the same secret.”
An academic who knows his black
students in “the new millennium times”
do not see him as “particularly reprehensible,” nonetheless discovers to his chagrin that neither do they “value much the
support of whites, like himself. . . . You
can’t be on somebody else’s side. That’s
the reasoning?” he asks, irritated, and
alights in search of his family’s history,
hoping to unearth its hidden racial identity, to find the possible undamning “one
drop,” as we say here.
The story’s tone is amused, and free
of illusions about the need to know what
is probably unknowable and, even if provable, merely useful up to a point because,
in the end, “the past is valid only in relation to whether the present recognizes
it. . . . The standard changes with each
regime.”
Except for its shift to a social scene
newly tolerant of such traffic across
racial lines, the title story is vintage Gordimer. What a surprise, then, to move on
to the next one, “Tape Measure,” and discover that we are hearing the voice of a
tapeworm with attitude! He too must
weather a terrible adjustment as his host
succeeds in expelling him. Poor thing, he
cries from the depths that he “has never
before known the outside, only the insides of existence” (of which he has given
a very graphic description). And like so
many of Gordimer’s less playfully displaced characters, he can finally claim,
“But I’m adapting to this vastness!” After 50 years of composing earnest and
pained chronicles, Gordimer is having a
good time.
The same antic spirit prevails in “History,” where she brings us an ancient and
opinionated parrot named Auguste who
has witnessed “many phases, stages, stations of lifetime . . . those that people
remember, have forgotten, or want to
forget.” In “Gregor,” a writer is bemused
at finding, while immersed in rereading
Kafka’s Diaries, a creature suspiciously
like a cockroach trapped inside her typewriter. She wonders if she has caused him
to materialize. In these stories only the
situations are absurd; the challenges they
pose are not.
HE MOST UNLIKELY serious (and unapologetically didactic) tale, “Dreaming of the Dead,” takes us to a Chinese
restaurant where Edward Said, Susan
Sontag and the British journalist and
biographer of Nelson Mandela, Anthony Sampson, return from their graves
for an exceedingly companionable
dinner. Here Gordimer puts aside the
cynicism of the “Beethoven” opener to
observe that her guests are tightly interconnected: “Edward is a Palestinian, he’s
also in his ethics of human being, a Jew,
we know that from his writings, his exposure of the orientalism within us, the
invention of the Other that’s survived
the end of the old-style colonialism into globalization. If Susan’s a Jew, she
too, has identity beyond that label, hers
has been one with Vietnamese, Sarajevans, many others, to make up the sum
of self.”
As someone “mistaken in my logic
of one still living,” Gordimer has begun
by expecting argument. But she finds
that the preoccupations of the world—
tsunamis, Darfur, Iraq, “a rape charge
T
25
out three variations on the theme of a disin court indicting a member of governcovered infidelity, each intuited through
ment in my country,” and so on through
a beautifully, even daringly, documentall the dire scenes of the nightly news—
ed sense: sight, hearing, smell. In two
are now “all one to them.” Perhaps
of the stories the seismic shift is inter“Dreaming of the Dead” is a friendly,
nal, for a variety of reasons never disunironic simplification and, though she
played; the betrayals, embodied in the
denies it, a bit of a romanticization, but
physical, are all the more painful for
then, who among us the living can truly
the way they are felt and then suppressed
know? It’s a lovely fantasy.
and borne.
The remaining stories are rather forHE THINGS this woman knows
lorn yet graceful. The majority have at
and casually tosses off! “The . . .
their center a secret swallowed and kept
emergent black jet-set looked to take
down with an aching discretion. In “Safepossession of fake Bauhaus and Calty Procedures,” a man admits “there has
ifornia haciendas that had been the taste
always been something to be afraid of.
of the final generation of whites in
Gangsters, extremist political
power, the deposed, many of
groups Right and Left tosswhom had taken their money
ing bombs into restauand gone to Australia or
rants, hijacks, holdups,
Canada where the Abora city plumb on the
igines and the Red Indiline of an earthquake
ans had been effectively
fault.” But elsewhere the
dealt with.” Or, on a
shocks and dangers are
more intimate note,
those that eat the trust out
“Everyone fears death
of private lives. In “Allesbut no one admits to
verloren” (a word derived
the fear of grief; the
from the Dutch that, mayrevulsion at that presbe too explicitly, means
ence, there in us all.”
“everything lost”), a
The lived experiwidow probes the
ence on every page
past of her beloved
of this collection rehusband, who years ago
minds us, indirecthad spoken dismisly, of how young
sively of a homosexand callow so many
ual affair during
of our wunderkind
his unhappy first
NADINE GORDIMER
superstars remain.
marriage. “A BenThe story about the writer who
eficiary” has the daughter of an actress
discovers the cockroach in her typediscovering that the father with whom
writer begins by insisting that “Anyshe grew up was most likely not her
one who is a reader knows that what
blood father, and everything she knows
you have read has influenced your life.”
is challenged except her tenderness to(The roach would undoubtedly agree.)
ward him.
I can’t claim that this book has drastiThe last three stories, a series joined
cally changed me—its stories are not the
by the title “Alternative Endings,” are
most consequential of Gordimer’s repreceded by a brief essay explaining that
markably long and prolific career. But
“a writer . . . picks up an imagined life
its wit, its inventiveness and descriptat some stage in the human cycle and
ive power, its almost casual compreleaves it at another”—which may be the
hension of the complexities of time
most elegantly concise description I’ve
and place, and its kindness to all but its
seen of what fiction hopes to do. Gormost benighted characters make it a very
dimer goes on to talk about what is left
rewarding work. Undiminished in spite
in and left out before finally asking
of all the changes it has registered,
whether a story that ends “This Way”
Nadine Gordimer’s is a voice I never tire
might not just as easily have ended “That
of hearing.
Way.” To illustrate, she proceeds to spin
T
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26
The New Leader
On Poetry
When
Poems
Mattered
By Phoebe Pettingell
T
HE OTHER DAY, my eye was caught by a large banfrom a troche or diagram the rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan
ner hanging in the ground-floor windows of a
or Shakespearean sonnet. Those of us who were English
local library proclaiming, “POEMS.” Beneath it
majors in college (or else Classicists) learned about tropes.
were the works of a number of high-schoolers.
If these vocabularies have since slipped your mind, the work
They were only identifiable as verse because they
of the critic Helen Vendler will, without pedantry, refresh
consisted of uneven lines trickling thinly down the page; there
your memory and even teach you some new devices. Vendler’s
was no recognizable metrical structure, much less rhyme. Not
latest book, Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form
one of them suggested the influence of any actual poet. It was
(Harvard, 428 pp., $35.00), discusses how her subject’s stradas if teachers had said, “Write about something you feel and
dling Romanticism and Modernism shaped his art. Yeats
start a new line where you would normally put a punctuation
studies have burgeoned in recent years, coinciding with the
mark.” Had these young authors been born in 1900, or a cenrelease of his papers and the deaths of those mentioned
tury earlier, each would probably have memorized a
in them. We can now learn the details of his occonsiderable body of verse by their late teens. Those
cult interests, his relations with other contembound for college would have read Virgil and Horporary writers, his role in the founding of
ace, possibly Homer too, in the original, along
the Abbey Theater, his political activities,
with works by French and German writers. My
and his mistresses. One might wonder what
point is not to rant about the current state of
is left to discover. Plenty, is Vendler’s answer.
literary education, but merely to note that po“Books live almost entirely because of their
etry was once part of the average person’s
style,” the poet asserted. So she traces
mental grooming. Not until the mid-Victorian
the way this consummate master of conera did prose receive the regard accorded to
vention used historic formalist techniques to
epics or a collection of odes. Even then, books of
craft some of the most memorable poems of
verse continued to feature on best-seller lists, and
the 20th century.
schools taught a vocabulary for discussing the
Though this might sound dry and
precise musical and metaphoric techacademic, Vendler’s skillful unpackniques used by poets. Stanzas came to
ing of the devices Yeats employed in
mind for our forebears as easily as the
his masterpieces is enthralling. When
lyrics of popular songs or advertising
we first encounter a poem, we usually
slogans do for us.
react emotionally to its effects withMany of us learned enough about
out full awareness of what causes
meter in school to recognize an iamb
them. But if we care enough about it
HELEN VENDLER
November/December, 2007
27
to dwell on the lines—where true reading begins—we begin to
notice the structure that affected us in the first place. If the poem
works, fresh nuances and meanings will be revealed through
this sort of attention.
Vendler’s opening chapter illustrates how much uncovering
the proper form was part of Yeats’ discovery of what he wanted
to say in a given poem. A meeting in a café with a former mistress (Olivia Shakespear, the first woman with whom he had
sex) inspired his “Speech after long silence.” Written when
Yeats was 64, it began as a series of jottings:
Your hair is white
My hair is white
Come let us talk of love
What other [theme?] do we know
When we were young
We were in love with one another
And therefore ignorant.
These banal musings could describe any reunion between lovers
where the remembrance of youth is confronted by the physical
changes age brings. In the draft, Yeats’ sentiments are as devoid of individuality as the poems I saw in the library window.
Vendler tracks how, draft by laborious draft, the poet discovered a way of articulating his distress at seeing Olivia as an old
woman without deploying the standard trope of white hair, and
how he ultimately arrived at something both profound and
unique.
Speech after long silence; it is right,
All other lovers being estranged or dead,
Unfriendly lamplight hid under its shade,
The curtains drawn upon unfriendly night,
That we descant and yet again descant
Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song:
Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young
We loved each other and were ignorant.
In the final version, the man and woman sit in dim light that
barely shows the ravages of time. They have blocked the darkness outdoors because it is a reminder of their approaching
death. Once, in such circumstances, they would have gone to
bed with each other. Now, experience and old age give them
much to talk about, but they cannot help but recall the passionate engagement of their youth.
If close study of that relatively simple lyric reveals so much,
imagine what Vendler can extract from “Easter, 1916,” Yeats’
ambivalent tribute to Ireland’s first abortive attempt to proclaim
itself free from British rule. The subsequent ruthless execution
of some of its ringleaders provided the momentum for the eventual Irish Free State. The poet chooses an odd trimeter rhythm
(three beats to a line) with a pause at the end that suggests an
unheard fourth beat, making for a lopsided march. Three of its
four stanzas conclude with a variation on the refrain,
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
28
Vendler observes that “Yeats cherished to the end of his life the
hope that some of his works might pass into the mouths of the
people.” He periodically wrote ballads, hoping they would be
sung by the folk, but his ideas were always too complex to gain
popularity. Furthermore, in this tribute to the martyrs of the
Uprising, he betrayed his own conviction that, instead of striking a blow for freedom, his native country was caught up in the
process of history. “Was it needless death after all?” the poem
asks, suggesting that the foolhardy heroism of the Irish would
be invoked (as it still is) to justify more brutality. Vendler’s
analysis traces how, through diction and rhythm, “Easter, 1916”
builds to a passionate portrait of political turmoil and wrong
piled on wrong.
Yeats considered himself to be of the generation of “the
last romantics” who “chose for theme/Traditional sanctity
and loveliness.” He was acutely aware, however, that in his
own era and conflicted country “all is changed”—that ceremonies and values once celebrated by poetry had yielded
to cycles of bloodshed and the shattering of icons. His life’s
work became the forging of verses that would mark this passing and preserve the essence of the art in an age where fewer
and fewer people cherished it. The intricacies of Vendler’s
book defy summary in a short review, but if you love Yeats’
writing—or merely want to delve deeper into what makes a
poem powerful—Our Secret Discipline will captivate you.
“To know Yeats as a poet,” Vendler declares, “we must come
to understand that ‘high breeding of poetical style’ which he
so intently absorbed from the past, and which he regenerated, with tireless and tenacious originality, in his own 50 years
of verse.” Thanks to her, we too can move nearer the heart
of that music.
M
Moby-Dick, or even the
South Seas romances Typee and Omoo, are
unaware that Herman Melville wrote poetry too. A number of
critics who know better have nonetheless dismissed those efforts. Melville’s biographer, Hershel Parker, recounts the late
Alfred Kazin admonishing him in a 1997 forum, “You have to
remember that poetry was just a sideline with Melville; it was
never important to him and he was never good at it.” Kazin’s remark, and some reviews that questioned Parker’s claims of
“lost” volumes by the author, inspired Melville: The Making of
the Poet (Northwestern, 256 pp., $32.95). Parker knows his
subject’s papers—including a cache discovered in 1983—and
he has also studied annotations in the writer’s copies of books.
He can thus demonstrate that for much of his life Melville analyzed the techniques of writing lyrics so that when his verse
finally appeared before the public it displayed a mature style
perfected over years of quiet labor.
The consensus has long been that Melville turned to poetry late in his career, after he became discouraged with the critical rejection of his increasingly dense, metaphysical novels.
In fact, Parker argues, the writer believed, in common with
ANY READERS OF
The New Leader
the literary culture of his day, that poetry was the suall through their lives.” Novels quoted verse extensively;
perior art. During the first half of the 19th century,
typically chapters began with a stanza from some wellSir Walter Scott’s reputation, for example, was
known poet, setting the tone for the action to come. The
based on his poetry, while his popular novels
mnemonic properties of rhyme and meter allowed those
were considered lesser works. After all, the
with limited libraries to carry around favorite passages
greatest writers of all time—Classical Greeks
in their heads to be savored at will.
and Romans, not to mention Chaucer and
Parker’s extensive knowledge of Melville’s
Shakespeare—were poets. Just as Scott’s The
letters enables him to show that back in 1860, when
Lay of the Last Minstrel is not read much today,
the writer sailed to Manila on his brother’s ship,
many of the admired poets of that era are now
the Meteor, he looked forward to returning as an aclargely forgotten.
knowledged poet. Before embarking, he left a manuParker quotes a passage from Melville’s
script with his family, who often found publishers
Mardi (1849), where the poet Yoomey effuses:
for his work during his absences. This time their
“Like a grand ground swell, Homer’s old organ rolls
efforts came to nothing, nor do we know if
its vast volumes under the light frothy waveany of these poems appeared in later colcrests of Anacreon and Hafiz; and high
lections, or whether Melville destroyed
over my ocean, sweet Shakespeare soars, like
them all in discouragement. Yet disappointall the larks of the spring. Throned on my seaments that might have blighted a less tenaside, like Canute, bearded Ossian smites his
cious writer only made him strive harder.
hoar harp, wreathed with wild-flowers, in
He became convinced that the poet “develwhich warble my Wallers; blind Milton sings
oped in solitude” and approvingly underHERSHEL PARKER
bass to my Petrarchs and Priors, and laurelined a passage in a book by Baroness de
ats crown me with bays.” Edmund Waller and Matthew Prior,
Staël asserting that rhyme “is the image of hope and of memminor 17th-century poets, are scarcely remembered by modory.” Painstakingly, he developed his own poetic philosoern readers. The Ossian forgery, meant to demonstrate that
phy by voracious reading and thinking through the ideas
the Celts produced their own Homer, was still considered an
he had accumulated until “he had defined his own aesthetauthentic inspiration to Melville’s contemporaries. The pasic credo.”
sage indicates much about the tastes of a time when poetry
was largely divided into “epic” (Homer, Ossian and Milton)
and “lyric” (Shakespeare—on the basis of his songs from
the plays—Waller, Petrarch, and Prior). The musicality of
verse was popularly associated with the sounds of nature
HE C IVIL WAR was the catalyst for Melville’s second volume of verse, Battle-Pieces. He saw these
and of birds.
lyrics not only as a record of his nation’s conflict, but also as
As Parker explains the lyrical ideas held by early to mida suggestion about how it could reunite itself: “Supposing
19th-century readers, we begin to understand the “poetic”
a happy issue out of present perplexities, then, in the generaquality of Moby-Dick, whose characters indulge in lengthy
tion next to come, Southerners there will be yielding alleShakespearean soliloquies or philosophize in the rhythms of
giance to the Union, feeling all their interests bound up in
the King James Bible. The ordinary life of sailors on a ship is
it, and yet cherishing unrebuked that kind of feeling for
sometimes described in the grandiose terms reserved for warthe memory of the soldiers of the fallen Confederacy that
riors in the Iliad. The obsessions of Captain Ahab suggest Mil[Robert] Burns, Scott, and the Ettrick Shepherd [James
ton’s Satan. Not all of Melville’s reviewers appreciated his
Hogg] felt for the memory of the gallant clansmen ruflights of poetic description. The Boston Post sniffed scornfulined through their fidelity to the Stuarts—a feeling whose
ly of Pierre: “To save it from almost utter worthlessness, it must
passion was tempered by the poetry imbuing it, and which
be called a prose poem, and even then, it might be supposed
in no wise affected their loyalty to the Georges, and which,
to emanate from a lunatic hospital rather than from the quiet
it may be added, indirectly contributed excellent things to litretreats of Berkshire.” Yet even this slam is not quite as dismiserature.”
sive as a modern reader might assume, since a number of reUnfortunately, Parker breaks off his book at the very mospected 18th- and 19th-century poets actually did write from
ment Melville actually emerged as a full-fledged poet, without
mental hospitals.
quoting his rather remarkable, if neglected, lyrics. I agree with
A significant portion of this book is devoted to the role
Parker that, although Melville’s primary influences were earlyof verse throughout the 19th century. “At the time Melville
19th-century British writers seldom read anymore, his unusual
was born and for as long as he lived,” Parker points out,
voice was ahead of his time. Today, we might better appreciate
“spoken poetry was part of people’s everyday lives. Even
these highly original works. Throughout the ages, poets have
illiterate people memorized poems and songs, and people
helped us make sense of turbulent times, and now we need all
with even a restricted education memorized long tracts of
the help we can get.
poetry, which they were often able to retrieve from memory
T
November/December, 2007
29
Off Television
War
and Peace
and Me
By Marvin Kitman
Book One
O
NE OF the by-products of
my years as a TV critic,
a profession I began here
in 1967, was my becoming functionally illiterate. Oh, I could read the listings in TV
Guide. But I mean books. Every eight
minutes or so with a printed page, my mind
wandered. I would need to get up and go to
the kitchen, to the bathroom, or out to buy
something. My attention span was shot.
The strange aspect of all this is that we
are not talking about some dope. We are
talking about one of the finest minds in
Western civilization—before I was talked
into being a TV critic. It’s okay, I argued
with myself (for I couldn’t share my insights with simply anyone). I have evolved
to a level beyond literacy. I am a truly audiovisual person, an incredible achievement in such a short time, I told myself.
But I didn’t really believe it.
I used to brag in my column that I only
read books during the commercials. As evidence, I cited the fact that I had been reading War and Peace since 1969. That was
not exactly the truth either. I didn’t even
have the usual unread copy in the house.
Instead of suing THE NEW LEADER
30
and Newsday—my employers during
37 years of watching TV—for loss of
faculties under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, I decided to embark on a selfimprovement project. The first step was
learning how to read again. My early
plan: Read every book in my local library.
But not even Colonel Steve Austin, the
Bionic Man, could do that. You need an
area of specialization.
I picked Russian literature. Not all of
it, only mid- to late-19th-century authors.
Not all of them either, only Count Lev
Nikolaevich Tolstoy, or as I now spell it,
Tolstoi. He is called Leo in my house, or
as I came to think of him, Leo Baby.
Number one on my reading list was
the aforementioned War and Peace. In
my desire to make an honest man of myself, I found the book was still available
in the single volume Penguin Classics edition of 1982, all 1,444 pages, not including 25 pages occupied by the Introduction,
Translator’s Notes, and scorecard of key
players compiled by the translator herself, Rosemary Edmonds. Her qualifications included studying Russian, French,
Italian, and Old Church Slavonic at universities in England, France and Italy.
It is not as if I didn’t know anything
about War and Peace. I knew all about
Boris and Natasha from Bullwinkle, a formative influence in my early years. In addition, I still remembered the episode of
Cheers where Sam Malone, trying to
show Diane he was not as stupid as he
seemed, attempted to read all of War
and Peace in a single night. He staggered
around the Cheers bar the next day, his
head filled with the names of dead Russians. It was the greatest comedic moment in Ted Danson’s career.
And who could fail to recall the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry tells Elaine
that War and Peace was originally titled
War, What Is It Good For? Elaine, taking this as gospel, tells it to a Russian writer, who then throws her organizer out the
limo window.
But you can’t just jump into the deep
end of the pool if you’re not sure you can
swim. So I decided to start small with a
shorter work by the same author, the 2001
Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anna Karenina. The translators, Richard
Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, won the
PEN/Book of the Month Club Translation Prize. It is a mere 838 pages, including the Notes, but not counting another
20 pages consisting of the Introduction,
Translators’ Note, Further Reading, and
List of Principal Characters.
R
EADING A BOOK,
I discovered, is something you do
not forget how to do—like
riding a bike, falling off a
log, or turning on a TV set.
What a concept, as they used to say in my
old profession. I found myself marveling
at how long reading has been going on. It
is a remarkable experience: exhilarating,
involving, consuming. There are no commercial interruptions every few pages,
no phony PBS corporate underwriters
doing me a service, no Ken Burns telling
me his latest never-ending series of stories defines America, whether the subject was the Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, the
Women’s Suffrage Movement, Lewis &
Clark, or Thomas Jefferson.
Before I go on, I should explain that I
had a second reason for choosing to read
Anna Karenina first. One of my hobbies,
you will notice from my listing in Who’s
Who in America, is riding trains. I am
probably the only person in northern New
The New Leader
Jersey, if not the entire Northeast Corridor, who in the winter of 2006 was reading Anna Karenina to study Tolstoi’s take
on the trains of Tsarist Russia.
It is widely known that Anna K. had
that unfortunate incident in her life when
she threw herself under the wheels of
the St. Petersburg-Moscow express, the
famed Red Arrow. Tolstoi describes the
actual event with the same attention to
detail I was to encounter in all his work.
Everybody assumes the incident took
place in either Moscow’s Leningradsky
Station in or St. Petersburg’s Moskovsky
Station. Not so, says Professor Stephen
F. Cohen of New York University’s Russian and Slavic Studies Department. In
Tolstoi’s mind the decapitation occurred
as the train was pulling out of the Nizhni Novgorod Station, the stop near the
Count’s family estate, Yasnaya Polyana,
in the Tula guberniya of Central Russia.
But few know how Russia’s premier
railroad was built. That’s my area of expertise.
Back in my early career as a speculator,
following Charles H. Dow’s theory of how
to get rich (“buy low and sell high”), I
shrewdly bought worthless Tsarist railroad
bonds against the day when capitalism
would triumph over Communism, and the
government’s obligations would finally be
honored. For each section of the main line
(ultimately the Trans-Siberian Railway),
the Tsar’s finance minister would float a
new bond issue. I became a major bondholder in the startup company that built
the St. Petersburg-Moscow connection.
There were many conflicting plans
for the line’s route. As construction company barons, engineers and surveyors
crowded Tsar Nicholas’ office in 1851,
His Supreme Eminence became restless.
Sweeping all the maps off the Imperial
Desk, His Excellency told Count Goforonsky, keeper of the royal maps, to
bring a fresh map and a ruler. He then
drew a straight line on the new map from
St. Petersburg to Moscow. “There’s your
route,” the Tsar said. As a result, the 404mile St. Petersburg to Moscow line is one
of the straightest in the world. It was very
expensive to go straight ahead, but the Tsar
didn’t care. Bondholders, like my shrewd
investor ancestors, would be paying.
My primary focus was Tolstoi’s preNovember/December, 2007
digital camera descriptions of the road,
the ballast, the rolling stock, the windows, smoking and dining car facilities,
samovars, and other amenities of interest
to bondholders.
Nevertheless, I got off to a rocky start
with Anna Karenina. During a conversation one weekend in the Berkshires, I
quoted Tolstoi’s famous opening sentence: “All happy families are alike; each
unhappy family is unhappy in its own
way.” My hostess, a retired Queens College anthropology professor, shouted:
“Wrong! Wrong! Unhappy families are
reduced to a basic level of psychic connections and are in the end all alike. Happy families are all wacky in their own way.”
It didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t reading
Karenina as a social workers’ handbook.
More important was my learning that
the wheels of the second carriage did in
Anna K. I found 27 other pages where
Leo, as I began to think of him the more I
read, dealt with the passenger flow, number of seats in the compartments, catering, helpfulness of porters, and other
favorable conditions on my railroad.
Anna K. met Count Alexei Kirillovich
Vronsky (a.k.a. Alyosha) and Countess
Vronsky, Alyosha’s mom, on my trains.
All the best people, happy and unhappy
alike, rode the Red Arrow line.
But a strange thing began to happen. I
gradually shunted my train studies onto
a siding and became deeply involved in
the triangular relationship of Anna, her
husband (Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin) and her lover (Alyosha the Count). I
was hopelessly caught up in a great soap
opera, caring about happy and unhappy
families alike.
Book Two
T
HREE MONTHS LATER I was
able to start fulfilling my
lifelong ambition to read
War and Peace. Never mind
that besides being readingchallenged, I am a slow reader.
As a young person, in the Evelyn
Wood high-tech period of literacy, I was
ashamed of not being a fast reader. After
taking speed-reading courses and doing
eye exercises to no avail, I began to realize I had a natural tendency toward slow-
ness. It was a genetic thing. As early as
the 17th century, when Bialystok was still
part of Russia, Kitmans were slow readers. Though my mother’s side was from
Vilna, the Boston of the Baltic, where
even the waiters read books, the Kaufmans did not read at all. It was a political
statement, I was told.
In time, I learned I wasn’t the only
slow reader. A surprising number of famous people, upon hearing of my socalled disability, confessed they were
also slow readers. That prompted me to
form a support group called the Society
for Slo Readers of America (SSRA), a
kind of slow readers anonymous. Its goal
is to bring others out of the closet. (Our
slogan: “No slo reader left behind.”) There
are no slow readers, the SSRA argues. We
just think while we read. We are the people authors write books for.
The society does such things as blame
political ills on fast readers. The country
never would have gotten involved in Vietnam, for example, if President John F.
Kennedy, a fast reader, did not miss the
import of the pages in his briefings about
the French at Dienbienphu.
But I digress, like Tolstoi. War and
Peace changed my life. Initially, I couldn’t
wait to tell everyone I was reading this
great new book. The first person I mentioned it to at a cocktail party, an academic, whistled and said, “No shit.” He was
really impressed. But others would shy
away from me. I soon realized the fastest
way to end a conversation was simply to
mention my reading War and Peace. I
guess people were afraid I might ask what
they thought of Count Bezuhov, or Piotr
Kirillovich, or Pierre, or all three of them,
since they are the same person. Most of
the key characters in War and Peace have
at least three names: patronymics, detailing family lineages, plus a nickname. It
was amazing how Leo could keep track
of them without a computer flow chart.
The reaction to my personal improvement project was fine with me. Every
night around nine or 10, while others were
watching the exciting new TV shows, I
would curl up in bed with my Penguin
edition and my Lindt & Sprüngli milk
chocolate and learn more than I ever
dreamed possible about Count Ilya Rostov, Prince Vasili Kuragin, Prince Nikolai
31
Andreyevich Bolkonsky, and their happy
and unhappy families.
You need strong wrists to hold up a
book of this size, I found. It was too heavy
for me while lying in the prone position.
Tolstoi wrists are the literary equivalent
of tennis elbow.
I got to page 26 before I lost my way in
the plot. Leo can be sneaky, dropping in
characters—580 of them, according to
one Wikipedia count—without introduction. It gave me the feeling he had lost a
page or two out of the window in the buggy
on his way to Nizhni Novgorod station.
Book Three
W
HAT I had known of
War and Peace came
from Woody Allen’s
synopsis in the New
Yorker, “It’s a book
about Russia.” But there is more to it than
that. Leo’s account of the personal entanglements of five aristocratic families
with the history of 1805-13, and his profound psychological observations, recorded in a six-year period (1863-69), is
an awesome achievement. Yet it is a schizoid reading experience.
I couldn’t wait to get to the “War” chapters about another of Tsar Alexander’s
noble legions being cut to pieces by
Napoleon’s military machine. Tolstoi’s description of Pierre bumbling his way into
the Battle of Borodino as an embedded
correspondent with a Russian artillery
crew is a brilliant piece of journalism. I
felt I was an eyewitness to the slaughter
of 100,000 French and Russian troops for
no apparent strategic reason.
I loved Tolstoi’s debunking of Napoleon’s genius in battles often won by luck
or chance, and the blunder of choosing
the wrong road back from Moscow,
through Smolensk, which took him over
the previously scorched earth on the way
into town. I enjoyed reading about the stupidity of the Russian general staff, the
nine egomaniacal field marshals who
fought each other more effectively than
the French in the smoke-filled back rooms
of the palace. Tsar Alexander ignored
them all, choosing instead a general (Kutuzov) who let the French knot their own
noose. No wonder Alexander I was hailed
32
as a supertsar. And I howled at Leo’s withering sarcasm in dealing with his other
favorite targets, the French and Russian
historians, who got it all wrong from
Austerlitz to Borodino.
On the other hand, the many “Peace”
chapters reminded me of watching a Chekhov play. An hour with Uncle Vanya, as
it has been said, is like a month in the country. Nonetheless, I could relate to Tolstoi’s
accounts of the lifestyles of the rich and
infamous, even though my great grandfather and his grandfather were serfs.
I would need a book to tell you all the
fascinating things, and dark secrets, I
stumbled upon as a dedicated SSRA
founder. For instance, I discovered what
the Freemasons do in their temples—a
secret more closely guarded to this day
than the recipe for making atom bombs.
My own father refused to tell me the details of the Masons’ induction rites.
So approaching the end—as I thought
of the last 250 pages—I began to get depressed. No longer would I come down
to breakfast worried about the Tsar prematurely disbanding the Semeonovsk
regiment, or about the fate of Arakcheyev
or the Bible Society.
My conversation, having similarly become based on what page I was up to, was
also affected. One week everything that
happened in Iraq reminded me of Napoleon’s long goodbye from Moscow. Out
of the clear blue, I would say—echoing
some historians—if only Napoleon didn’t
have a head cold at Borodino that damaged his judgment, we children of the Russian Diaspora might well be French.
Will these people fade out of my life,
like good friends who move away and
vow to stay in touch? If only there was a
Russian who could carry on Leo’s work—
somebody who, as in the case of Robert
Ludlum, would be writing under an exhumed name.
Book Four
O
N O CTOBER 1, 2007,
at 10:47 P.M. (New Jersey Standard Time), I
finished reading War
and Peace—only five
months, three weeks, four days, and three
hours after I started the book. I exag-
gerate a little. In truth, I stopped slow
reading on page 1,402, and skimmed
the last 42 pages. And I make no apology.
Those last pages were what Leo titled
the “Epilogue.” Why anyone should need
an epilogue after doing four books—
“Book One,” “Book Two,” etc.—is a
mystery, unless the supposition is that Leo
was looking for a place to park his theories about the philosophy of history.
I would have given him a parking ticket.
(Actually, the original had two epilogues;
one was deleted from Edmonds’ translation.)
As I tried to read the Epilogue I found
myself saying, “Enough already, Lev
Nikolaevich.” Nevertheless, I recommended War and Peace as the next selection for the SSRA’s Book of the
Month or Year or However Long It Takes
Club, with the one cavil about the Epilogue.
Epilogue
W
HILE DOING a victory turn, celebrating completion of
the first part of my
Five-Year Reading
Plan, and carefully weighing my options
in choosing my next book, a major commitment, I received an e-mail from the
SSRA’s Board of Trustees.
“Congratulations! You are now a
former member of the Society of Slo
Readers of America Board of Trustees.
We met in secret and voted to remove
you. You are a disgrace to slow readers
everywhere. It would take a real slow
reader years to cover the ground you
whizzed by. The fact that you spent a lot
of time with the book in front of you, and
would have made less progress if more
of that time you were awake, is a lame
excuse.”
I better stop here. This essay is already
long enough in length, if not psychological insights, understanding of humanity,
telling it like it is, and whatever else Tolstoi had going for him. Some of you may
even be reading it for several days. Still,
it could be seen as the War and Peace of
literary criticism. My Leo Baby would
have been proud.
The New Leader
CultureWatching
Past,
Post and
Future
By Stefan Kanfer
W
HEN THE TERM “Postmodernism” caught
on, it made me think
of a man trying to get
ahead of his nose.
What could be more contemporary than
the here and now? Should MoMA hereafter be referred to as MoPMA? Should
Charlie Chaplin’s classic be remade as
Postmodern Times? Should Broadway
mount a new musical, Thoroughly Postmodern Millie? But upon consideration I
realized that the linking of Post with
Modernism made sense.
Once upon an era, the Modernists
shook Western culture to its foundations,
transfiguring the world as they rose to
prominence. Yet even icons grow old, and
their thoughts and actions were ultimately
shoved offstage by more recent personalities and works. One day, these contemporary artists and thinkers will themselves
be displaced by Post-Postmodernism,
just as the Boomers gave way to the Gen
X-ers who gave way to the Gen Y-ers.
Whether in aesthetics, philosophy or science, fashion is always on the hunt for the
new, new thing.
What got me to musing about creators past and present was Peter Gay’s
overview, Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (Norton, 610 pp., $35.00). In his new
November/December, 2007
book the author gazes intently in the
rearview mirror as he appraises the revolution in arts and letters that lasted from
the late 1850s to the 1970s. Customarily, it takes more than half a century to
get a true perspective on a vanished era.
But these days history is in a hurry—
and so are historians. Some have the
energy but not the scholarship; others
have the intellect but not the style. At
the age of 84 Gay still possesses both
assets. His vigor, demonstrated in previous studies of Freud, the Enlightenment, Mozart, and Weimar culture, goes
on undiminished. Now his latest and
most idiosyncratic work compels us to
re-examine buildings, paintings, novels,
poetry, and even films we tend to take
for granted.
Gay traces the movement back to
Charles Baudelaire, the French bard whose
1857 collection of poems, Les Fleurs du
mal (The Flowers of Evil) shocked tout
Paris. A court censured him and excised
the most disturbing mentions of sadomasochism and incest. Two stanzas will
suffice to give the tenor of the volume:
Pour châtier ta chair joyeuse,
Pour meurtrir ton sein pardonné,
Et faire à ton flanc étonné
Une blessure large et creuse,
Et, vertigineuse douceur!
À travers ces lèvres nouvelles,
Plus éclatantes et plus belles,
T’infuser mon venin, ma soeur!
To whip your joyous flesh,
And bruise your pardoned breast,
To make in your astonished flank
A wide and gaping wound,
And, intoxicating sweetness!
Through these new lips,
More bright, more beautiful,
To infuse my venom, my sister!
(Translated by Roy Campbell)
The poet had only 10 years to savor his
notoriety; he died in 1867. But by then
Fleurs had caught the imagination of
European intellectuals. Something dangerous and intriguing was in the air. Baudelaire’s friend, the painter Édouard Manet,
took up the baton, flouting contemporary
standards by painting a nude woman in
the company of two fully dressed men.
Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on
the Grass) again traumatized the bourgeois, and Modernism was under way.
I
T WAS across the Channel that the
movement found its most articulate spokesman. Oscar Wilde was the
personification of art for art’s sake, mocking Victorian conventions with coruscating plays and gaudy prose, misbehaving
in public, pushing the envelope until it
tore apart. His memorable phrases set the
tone for all that was to follow:
“The past is of no importance. The
present is of no importance. It is with the
future that we have to deal. For the past is
what man should not have been. The
present is what man ought not to be. The
future is what artists are.”
“All art is immoral. Emotion for the
sake of emotion is the aim of art, and
emotion for the sake of action is the aim
of life.”
As the world knows, Wilde paid for
such impudence with his life. Accused
of a homosexual affair with “Bosie,” the
treacherous young son of the Marquess
of Queensberry, he unwisely fought the
charges in court, lost and went to Read33
ing Gaol. He died at 46 in the France that
had been so hostile to the early stirrings
of Modernism. Oscar’s fate was one of
many fin-de-siècle ironies. At the time
of his demise in 1900, for example, museum administrators were just coming
into their own. Flush with funds from the
nouveau riche, they co-opted the revolutionary painters by exhibiting their
works. Professional outsiders like Marcel Duchamp, who painted a mustache
on his version of the Mona Lisa, and
Salvador Dalí, whose technical proficiency was almost as effective in such
self-consciously provocative pieces as
The Great Masturbator, were soon to be
displayed alongside the socially acceptable paintings of Pablo Picasso and the
agreeable mobiles of Alexander Calder.
Still, the greatest impetus for Modernism came not from creators or curators, but from live cannons—the guns of
August that permanently sundered 19thcentury traditions. After the armistice was
signed, and the horrific price of the Great
War became evident, art and politics were
upended. William Butler Yeats, with one
foot in the past and the other in the Modernist movement, wondered what was en
route in his poem “The Second Coming”:
And what rough beast, its hour come
round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be
born?
Broadway’s great Modernist, Cole
Porter (unmentioned by Gay), stated the
conditions in a lighter mode:
The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today
And black’s white today
And day’s night today…
Anything goes!
The “anything” included Arnold
Schoenberg’s edgy 12-tone music; Igor
Stravinsky’s pulsating The Rite of Spring
ballet; the X-rated, stream-of-consciousness prose of James Joyce’s Ulysses; the
neurotic, visionary stories of Franz Kafka; the bitter, fragmented poetry of T.S.
Eliot, whose very titles were commentaries on the decline of the West: The Waste
Land, “The Hollow Men,” “Gerontion.”
Gay also places Henry James and
Marcel Proust on his list of Modernist au34
thors, but this seems a stretch. James’ late
novels, described as “avant-garde” by the
historian, were dictated, long-winded exercises, many of the passages baroque and
airless. As for Proust, his brilliant observations of society, and his emphasis on the
primacy of art, mark him as a colleague
of Wilde. Yet more than two decades after
Oscar’s flamboyant martyrdom, Marcel
was still masking his own homosexual
liaisons in the autobiographical masterpiece Remembrance of Things Past,
substituting female names for male (Albertine for Albert and so on). In his personal life he was a snob, careful not to
emphasize his mother’s Jewish heritage,
assiduously courting the rich and titled—
hardly the earmarks of a revolutionary.
T
is on firmer
ground when he examines
breakthrough architecture. Frank Lloyd
Wright was a gifted egomaniac who, like
so many Modernists, thought of the machine as an instructor. It would guide the
architect back to “certain simple forms
and handling.” (Le Corbusier went so far
as to define a house as “a machine for living.”) This mechanistic view was both
liberating and insensitive. Wright essentially banned walls in homes, opening
up vast rooms, bringing in light and
space. In the process he and his acolytes
also eliminated privacy, causing psychological havoc among those who dwelt
in Wright’s houses. Nevertheless, the
unique creations altered the course of
architectural design. Wright liked to portray himself as an outsider, much maligned for his revolutionary ideas. In
fact, he enjoyed worldwide recognition
early on; those who think of him as a victim of the Philistines have been reading
too few biographies and too much Ayn
Rand. (Her novel, The Fountainhead, is
a thinly disguised and wholly bogus portrait of Wright as a victim of insensitive
know-nothings.)
A wide-ranging intellect, Gay spends
a good deal of time and space on Modernist silent and sound movies. It is not
surprising to find Sergei Eisenstein,
Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles headHE HISTORIAN
ing the pack of breakthrough filmmakers. But Gay takes the long view, following that trio’s influence to the works of
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as
they usher in the epoch of computer-generated imagery. He is not optimistic about
this process. “There is no guarantee that
the contributions of technology to making a movie, so influential and apparently so promising, will necessarily improve
it. . . . Technology the servant may become the master; it may starve that indispensable quality in Modernism, the
humane element. Thus is it highly possible that the mechanization of the movies
is simply another symptom of the decay, perhaps the death, of the Modernist
enterprise.”
I would argue that the early signs of
terminal illness surfaced long before
Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Take, for instance, John Cage’s Postmodern 4'33"—
four minutes and 33 seconds of silence.
This was outlandishly praised by certain
music critics, anxious that they too should
be living in a golden age, just as Bach’s
and Beethoven’s contemporaries did.
There was Andres Serrano’s much abhorred yet much publicized photograph,
Piss Christ, showing a crucifix in a jar of
urine. There were, and are, the dependably execrable, exhaustively covered,
Postmodern exhibits at London’s Tate
Gallery (the latest including an installation entitled Shibboleth—a 548-foot
crack in the museum floor, into which a
few unsuspecting visitors have fallen).
There also were, and are, the legendary Biennial Exhibitions at New York’s
Whitney Museum. In the Postmodern
epoch these have displayed Appropriated Art (bundles of newspapers); Video
Art (a tape loop endlessly displaying the
police abuse of Rodney King); Installation Art (detritus in a dumpster, while
outside the trees of Central Park were enclosed by the kitschy drapes of Christo);
and Advocacy Art (a series of military photos entitled Gays in the Military,
archly subtitled Poo Poo Platter and La
Treen).
Although the prose in the Whitney catalogues is usually as appalling as
the artworks, it provides a valuable, if
smeared, window on the Postmodern
world. Example: “In the U.S. today where
The New Leader
is a search for origins and identities that
buildings by abandoning traditional symis not motivated, in part, by the collapse
metry and creating zigzaggy, sometimes
of old categories (menopause, the Soviet
disquieting spaces.”
Union, the canon)?”
Leaving menopause to the ob-gyns,
and the USSR to the Cold War specialists,
I move on to the third of those categories.
Few would disagree with the standard defHANKS TO Postmodernism and
inition of “the canon” as a compilation
its adherents, any number of
of books, music and art that shaped Westspectacular no-talents (most of them with
ern culture. Ranging back to Beowulf, the
a PC agenda) have proliferated in the arts.
Lascaux Cave paintings and the earliest
Meanwhile, aesthetic as well as moral
records of lute and pipe melodies, it goes
equivalence has invaded the Academy
all the way up to the last decades of the
(after all, without any agreed-upon cul20th century. This canon is not merely a
tural touchstones “Teenage Wasteland” is
safe list of Shakespeare, Bach, Da Vinci,
as worthy as Romeo and Juliet). Happily,
and other approved giants; its honor roll
the movement has been fingered as a scam
includes rebels like Duchamp, who conby thinkers on both the Right and Left.
tributed a pseudonymously titled urinal
The conservative curmudgeon Roger
(signed R. Mutt) to the Society of IndeKimball noted that “Departments of litpendent Artists in 1917; Allen Ginsberg,
erature were among the first to capitulate
whose rambling poem “Howl” was once
to such trendy and destructive fads as dejudged to be obscene; and the big, bizarre
construction, structuralism and cultural
operas of John C. Adams (Nixon in China)
studies in all its unlovely allotropes. But
and Philip Glass (Einstein on the Beach).
few if any subjects have escaped unWhat it cannot and should not contain
scathed. Philosophy, law, art history, psyis the Postmodern attitude and its conchology, anthropology, sociology: All
sequent results. These were given
have been playing an aggressive
strong impetus by the French
game of catch-up with literature
philosophe Jacques Derrida, fadepartments in this regard. Even
ther of “deconstruction.” Derhistory, whose raison d’être,
rida held that all writing was a
one might have thought, was a
prisoner of language’s slipcommitment to factual truth,
pery qualities. Ergo there can
has suffered. So, too, the natbe no permanent meaning or
ural sciences: The theory and
truth, ergo the text is devoid of
philosophy of science—if
any meaning save what the
not yet the actual pracreader assigns to it. His
tice of science—have
concept came to be apincreasingly become
plied to all art—inhostage to sundry forms
cluding architecture,
of epistemological inPETER GAY
the social sciences, polcontinence, as the logic
itics and, indeed, life itself.
and substance of science is deliberately
The New York Times obituary of Derconfused with the sociology of science.”
rida put it succinctly: Once deconstrucThe radical linguist Noam Chomsky
tion caught on in the Academy, “literary
was equally offended by deconstruction:
critics broke texts into isolated passages
“Most of it seems to me gibberish. But if
and phrases to find hidden meanings.
this is just another sign of my incapacity
Advocates of feminism, gay rights and
to recognize profundities, the course to
Third World causes embraced the methfollow is clear: just restate the results to
od as an instrument to reveal the prejme in plain words that I can understand,
udices and inconsistencies of Plato,
and show why they are different from, or
Aristotle, Shakespeare, Freud, and other
better than, what others had been doing
‘dead white male’ icons of Western cullong before and have continued to do since
ture. Architects and designers could claim
without three-syllable words, incoherent
to take a ‘deconstructionist’ approach to
sentences, inflated rhetoric that (to me,
T
November/December, 2007
at least) is largely meaningless. . . . But
instead of trying to provide an answer to
these simple requests, the response is
cries of anger: To raise these questions
shows ‘elitism,’ ‘anti-intellectualism,’
and other crimes—though apparently it
is not ‘elitist’ to stay within the self- and
mutual-admiration societies of intellectuals who talk only to one another and (to
my knowledge) don’t enter into the kind
of world in which I’d prefer to live.”
Not that either intellectual can damage a movement badly in need of euthanasia. Time, and time alone, will do the job,
accompanied, of course, by laughter—as
derisive as humanly possible. For what
Postmodernism has always lacked is a
genuine sense of humor. In its place, the
artists and writers employ what they have
termed “irony”: making bad art a commentary on the essential meaninglessness of the creative act.
In stark contrast, a truly comic sense
animates the works of Wilde and Joyce,
the impudent paintings of René Magritte
(the famous painting of a pipe with the
inscription “This is not a pipe”), Picasso’s
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon featuring
whores with the faces of African masks—
and a thousand other works that showcase Modernism’s exuberance and antic
wit. Moreover, even when Modernism
cocked a snoot at the past it never denied
the significance of history and tradition.
Modernism’s artists knew how to draw
before they broke away from the iron rules
of perspective and color theory; its innovative poets, novelists and playwrights
were well aware of their classical roots.
Those dead white males—and females—
have supplied the shoulders on which the
dwarfs of Postmodernism are now posing. Those creatures are the Philistines
de nos jours, echoing in lofty tones the
insight of Henry Ford, who observed in
his Yahoo wisdom that “History is bunk.”
Never mind; as Peter Gay points out,
“At the very least we can say that Modernism has had 120 years to throw its
products—often exquisite and always
new—onto the cultural market, producing confusion, astonishment, and delight.
It has had a good long run.” Postmodernism has had a bad short run, and whatever slouches toward Western culture
now would be more than welcome.
35
INDEX FOR 2007
This index of NEW LEADER articles for 2005 is divided into three sections:
Section 1, Index of Authors, lists the names of all NEW LEADER contributors, whether writers of
articles, book reviews or significant letters to the editor. The name of the contributor is followed by
the date(s) on which his or her contribution(s) appeared.
Section 2, Index of Subjects, arranges articles, columns and letters to the editor according to
subject. Under each are listed the relevant titles, authors and dates.
Section 3, Index of Books Reviewed, lists books alphabetically according to the names of their authors. The title of the book is listed next, then the name of the reviewer and the date of the review.
Example: Shakespeare, William: Romeo and Juliet. (Charles Lamb) ........................... May/June
1. INDEX OF
AUTHORS
A
llen, Brooke . . . . . .January/February, March/April,
May/June-July/August,
September/October,
November/December
B
arsky, Yehudit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Bernstein, R.B. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Brown, Rosellen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . November/December
C
hu, Valentin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Clausen, Christopher . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
November/December
D
aniels, Robert V. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April,
September/October
Dolman, Joseph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
F
G
rankel, Max . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
elb, Norman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
September/October
Goreau, Angeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
Graff, Henry F. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Graham, Philip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Grossman, Lawrence . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
September/October
Gruber, Ruth Ellen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April,
September/October
36
H
aberman, Clyde . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Harvey, Giles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Heilbrunn, Jacob . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
J
K
acobson, Sid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
amine, Mark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
May/June-July/August
Kanfer, Stefan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
May/June-July/August,
November/December
Kastleman, Rebecca . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Kirk, Donald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Kitman, Marvin . . . .March/April, November/December
L
evin, H.M. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
Lorentzen, Christian . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
R
abinovich, Abraham . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
May/June-July/August,
November/December
Reich, Tova . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
May/June-July/August,
November/December
Rosen, Stanley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Rosenfeld, Alvin H. . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
S
chorr, Daniel . . . . . .January/February, March/April,
May/June-July/August,
September/October, November/December
Schwartz, Lynne Sharon . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Shargel, Raphael . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April,
September/October
Sigmund, Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Smith, Sarah Harrison . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
Sosin, Gene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August,
November/December
M
erkin, Daphne . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Moyn, Samuel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
V
O
P
W
’Neill, William L. . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
ettingell, Phoebe . . . .January/February, March/April,
May/June-July/August,
September/October,
November/December
alls-Russell, Janice . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February,
November/December
aller, Harold M. . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
Weber, Katharine . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Whitney, Craig R. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Y
u, Maochun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
The New Leader
A
C
2. INDEX OF
SUBJECTS
SIA
Why Korea Cares About Iraq, by Donald Kirk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
P
ALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
How Israel Became Al Nakba, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . .January/February
Ehud Barak Redux, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Israel’s Year of Decision, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . .November/December
R
USSIA
How Putin Sees the World, by Robert V. Daniels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . September/October
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
ANADA
Lessons of Canada’s Medicare, by Harold M. Waller . . . . . . . . September/October
Czech Republic
Serbia’s Slow Transition,
by Rebecca Kastleman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May/June-July/August
E
ASTERN EUROPE
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Serbia’s Slow Transition,
by Rebecca Kastleman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May/June-July/August
European Union
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Serbia’s Slow Transition,
by Rebecca Kastleman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May/June-July/August
F
RANCE
Living in Two Cultures, by Janice Valls-Russell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Sarkozy’s Biggest Challenge, by Janice Valls-Russell . . . . . . November/December
G
ERMANY
Sauerkraut Cowboys, by Ruth Ellen Gruber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Globalization
Serbia’s Slow Transition,
by Rebecca Kastleman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May/June-July/August
Living in Two Cultures, by Janice Valls-Russell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Great Britain
Living in Two Cultures, by Janice Valls-Russell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Britain’s Muslim Problem, by Norman Gelb. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Recasting British Conservatism, by Norman Gelb . . . . . . . . . . . September/October
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
I
RAN
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Ahmadinejad Revisited, by Myron Kolatch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September/October
Iraq
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Why Korea Cares About Iraq, by Donald Kirk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Israel
How Israel Became Al Nakba, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . .January/February
Ehud Barak Redux, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Israel’s Year of Decision, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . .November/December
J
OURNALISM
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Ahmadinejad Revisited, by Myron Kolatch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September/October
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . September/October
M
IDDLE EAST
How Israel Became Al Nakba, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . .January/February
Why Korea Cares About Iraq, by Donald Kirk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Ehud Barak Redux, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . September/October
Israel’s Year of Decision, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . November/December
Movies
Reviews by Raphael Shargel
The Pursuit of Happyness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Dreamgirls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Flags of Our Fathers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Letters from Iwo Jima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Lost Ways of Seeing the World, by Raphael Shargel . . . . . . . . . September/October
Past, Post and Future, by Stefan Kanfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Music
Sauerkraut Cowboys, by Ruth Ellen Gruber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Past, Post and Future, by Stefan Kanfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
N
ORTH KOREA
Why Korea Cares About Iraq, by Donald Kirk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
November/December, 2007
S
KOREA
Why Korea Cares About Iraq, by Donald Kirk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
OUTH
T
ELEVISION
The Fake News Wars, by Marvin Kitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . September/October
War and Peace and Me, by Marvin Kitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Terrorism
Britain’s Muslim Problem, by Norman Gelb. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Theater
Replacing Knitting Needles with Scalpels, by Stefan Kanfer. . . January/February
U
.S. ECONOMY
Lessons of Canada’s Medicare, by Harold M. Waller . . . . . . . . September/October
U.S. Education
Ahmadinejad Revisited, by Myron Kolatch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September/October
U.S. Foreign Policy
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
How Israel Became Al Nakba, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . .January/February
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
How Putin Sees the World, by Robert V. Daniels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Why Korea Cares About Iraq, by Donald Kirk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . September/October
Israel’s Year of Decision, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . November/December
Ideologies in Flux, by Christopher Clausen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
U.S. Intelligence
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Israel’s Year of Decision, by Abraham Rabinovich . . . . . . . . . November/December
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
U.S. Justice
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . .September/October
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
U.S. Media
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Sauerkraut Cowboys, by Ruth Ellen Gruber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
The Fake News Wars, by Marvin Kitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . September/October
Lost Ways of Seeing the World, by Raphael Shargel . . . . . . . . . September/October
War and Peace and Me, by Marvin Kitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Past, Post and Future, by Stefan Kanfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
U.S. Politics
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
On Involuntary Service, by Andrew J. Glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Sauerkraut Cowboys, by Ruth Ellen Gruber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/Aprill
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . .September/October
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Ideologies in Flux, by Christopher Clausen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
U.S. Society
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
On Involuntary Service, by Andrew J. Glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Bush: Conned or Con Man? by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . .September/October
Lessons of Canada’s Medicare, by Harold M. Waller . . . . . . . . .September/October
How I Remember Mom, by Ruth Ellen Gruber . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
The President and the Law, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
37
W
K
ASHINGTON NOTEBOOK
Columns by Daniel Schorr
Democratic Smoke Signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Bush: Conned or Con Man? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Bye-Bye Bush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Lies as an Instrument of Governing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
The President and the Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . November/December
Western Europe
Democratic Smoke Signals, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Living in Two Cultures, by Janice Valls-Russell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Britain’s Muslim Problem, by Norman Gelb. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . January/February
Sauerkraut Cowboys, by Ruth Ellen Gruber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March/April
Bye-Bye Bush, by Daniel Schorr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Recasting British Conservatism, by Norman Gelb . . . . . . . . . . . September/October
Sarkozy’s Biggest Challenge, by Janice Valls-Russell . . . . . . November/December
3. INDEX OF
BOOKS REVIEWED
A
B
ahlenberg, Richard D.: Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles
Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy. (H.M. Levin) . . .September/October
Kennedy, A.L.: Day. (Brooke Allen) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Kershaw, Ian: Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed
the World. (Max Frankel) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
L
ee, Min Jin: Free Food for Millionaires.
(Katharine Weber) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Leffler, Melvyn P.: For the Soul of Mankind: The United States,
the Soviet Union and the Cold War. (Robert V. Daniels) . . . . . . .September/October
M
acMillan, Margaret: Nixon and Mao:
The Week That Changed the World. (Valentin Chu) . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Mailer, Norman: The Castle in the Forest. (Brooke Allen) . . . . . . . . .January/February
Manning, Maurice: Bucolics. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen M.: The Israel Lobby
and U.S. Foreign Policy. (Lawrence Grossman) . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
Millner, Caille: The Golden Road: Notes on My Gentrification.
(Joseph Dolman) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Murray, Les: The Biplane Houses. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
N
émirovsky, Irène: Fire in the Blood.
(Sarah Harrison Smith) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
mis, Martin: House of Meetings. (Mark Kamine) . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
issell, Tom: The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son,
and the Legacy of Vietnam. (Craig R. Whitney) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Bock, Dennis: The Communist’s Daughter. (Tova Reich) . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Brooks, Geraldine: People of the Book. (Tova Reich) . . . . . . . . . .November/December
C
arruthers, Gerard: Burns: Poems. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . .January/February
Chabon, Michael: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.
(Alvin H. Rosenfeld) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Coetzee, J.M.: Diary of a Bad Year. (Philip Graham) . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Cole, Henri: Blackbird and Wolf. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
D
avis, Philip: Bernard Malamud: A Writer’s Life.
(Brooke Allen) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
DeLillo, Don: Falling Man. (Christian Lorentzen) . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Dickinson, Josephine: Silence Fell. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
E
nglander, Nathan: The Ministry of Special Cases.
(Mark Kamine) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
F
iges, Orlando: The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia.
(Gene Sosin) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
G
ay, Peter: Modernism: The Lure of Heresy.
(Stefan Kanfer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Goldberg, Jonah: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History
of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics
of Meaning. (Christopher Clausen) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Gordimer, Nadine: Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black.
(Rosellen Brown) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Grass, Günter: Peeling the Onion. (Daphne Merkin) . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Griswold, Eliza: Wideawake Field. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
H
amid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
(Brooke Allen) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Heilbrunn, Jacob: They Knew They Were Right:
The Rise of the Neocons. (Christopher Clausen) . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Heilpern, John: John Osborne: The Many Lives of the
Angry Young Man. (Stefan Kanfer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Henry, Neil: American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege
in an Age of New Media. (Clyde Haberman) . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Hosseini, Khaled: A Thousand Splendid Suns.
(Tova Reich) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Hughes, Ted: A Choice of Shakespeare’s Verse.
(Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
Hughes, Ted: Selected Translations. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . .September/October
I
senberg, Nancy: Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr.
(R.B. Bernstein) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
38
O
ndaatje, Michael: Divisadero. (Brooke Allen) . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Oren, Michael B.: Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the
Middle East, 1776 to the Present. (Lawrence Grossman) . . . . . . .January/February
P
arker, Hershel: Melville: The Making of the Poet.
(Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Perry, Mark: Partners in Command: George Marshall and Dwight
Eisenhower in War and Peace. (William L. O’Neill) . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Phares, Walid: The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy.
(Yehudit Barsky) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Pynchon, Thomas: Against the Day. (Brooke Allen) . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
R
S
oth, Philip: Exit Ghost. (Angeline Goreau) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .September/October
chulman, Helen: A Day at the Beach.
(Lynne Sharon Schwartz) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Secrest, Meryle: Shoot the Widow: Adventures of a Biographer
in Search of Her Subject. (Stefan Kanfer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Sheck, Laurie: Captivity. (Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March/April
Sheehan, James J.: Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?: The
Transformation of Modern Europe. (Samuel Moyn) . . . . . . . .November/December
Smith, Jean Edward: FDR. (Henry F. Graff) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Stubbs, John: John Donne: The Reformed Soul. (Giles Harvey) . . . . . . . . .March/April
T
aylor, Frederick: The Berlin Wall: A World Divided,
1961-1989. (Jacob Heilbrunn) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Tombs, Robert and Isabelle: That Sweet Enemy: The French
and the British from the Sun King to the Present.
(Janice Valls-Russell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
V
endler, Helen: Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form.
(Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
W
eintraub, Stanley: 15 Stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur,
Marshall: Three Generals Who Saved the American
Century. (William L. O’Neill) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Wenqian, Gao: Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary.
(Maochun Yu) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .November/December
Werth, Nicolas: Cannibal Island: Death in a Siberian Gulag.
(Gene Sosin) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
Y
oung, Kevin: For the Confederate Dead.
(Phoebe Pettingell) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .January/February
Z
hengguo, Kang: Confessions: An Innocent Life in
Communist China. (Stanley Rosen) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May/June-July/August
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