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January, 2004Back to Top
Under the Ayatollah
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In claiming that Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran suffers from “blankness” and “understatement” [Books in Review, September 2003], Sam Munson misses the point.

To the Editor: We thank Steven G. Marks for his generous remarks about our book In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage [Books in Review, October 2003], but we must register emphatic disagreement with his criticism that, on the issue of American Communism, we unfairly tarred all historians with the sins of a few far-Left revisionists.

Pernicious Pictures
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I greatly enjoyed Michael J. Lewis's “Cartooning, Left and Right” [September 2003]. It should be pointed out, however, that not all of Thomas Nast's cartoons were, as Mr.

Judging the Justices
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Many of the contributors to your symposium [“Has the Supreme Court Gone Too Far?,” October 2003] bewail the imperial federal judiciary, so I was astonished that not one of them discussed what a meaningful political response might include.

Affirmative Action
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Carl Cohen writes with his usual clarity, cogency, and wit in “Winks, Nods, Disguises—and Racial Preference” [September 2003], but he pays insufficient attention to two key features of the Supreme Court's landmark affirmative-action ruling in Grutter v.

Iraq’s Future—and Ours
by Victor Davis Hanson
On November 21, 2003, some minor rocket attacks on the Iraqi oil ministry and on two hotels in Baghdad elicited an exceptional amount of attention in the global media.

Beyond the Geneva Accord
by Hillel Halkin
What are we to think of the “Geneva Accord,” also known as the “Geneva Initiative,” whose gala kick-off was held in Switzerland on December 1? At first labeled a public-relations stunt by its detractors, this latest proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement is not going to fade away.

The Demons of Europe
by Josef Joffe
At the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, a demonstrator wearing a mask of Donald Rumsfeld and an outsized yellow Star of David (inscribed with the word “Sheriff”) was accompanied by a cudgel-wielding double of Ariel Sharon; the two of them were followed by a huge rendition of the golden calf.

Lies the Germans Tell Themselves
by Bartosz Jalowiecki
Is Germany becoming a “normal” country? Having once conquered and brutalized most of Europe, having attempted to exterminate every last Jew on the Continent, can it ever become a normal country? Throughout the postwar era, the German nation mounted an extraordinary effort to achieve reconciliation with its victims and come to terms with its own horrific past.

Patrick O’Brian’s Excellent Adventure
by Michael J. Lewis
Before television put an end to Hollywood's golden age, the historical costume drama was as much a staple of the industry as the detective story, the romantic comedy, and the musical.

Opera, Grand and Grandiose
by Terry Teachout
Casual observers of American opera companies might be forgiven for assuming that their repertoire is as fixed as the Pentateuch.

Art by Paul Johnson
by David Gelernter
Art: A New History by Paul Johnson HarperCollins. 777 pp. $39.95 Paul Johnson's Art: A New History is not so much a book as a sparring partner.

Yasir Arafat by Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin; Arafat’s War by Efraim Karsh
by David Pryce-Jones
Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography by Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin Oxford. 354 pp. $27.50 Arafat's War by Efraim Karsh Grove. 296 pp. $25.00 Yasir Arafat has held the Palestinians in his personal grip for almost five decades—a fact that is itself a monument to the tribal and absolute politics of Palestinian society.

The Early Stories, 1953-1975 by John Updike
by Thomas Jeffers
The Early Stories, 1953-1975 by John Updike Knopf. 838 pp. $35.00 “There we all are and there we'll all be forever,” sighs a mother overlooking a small Pennsylvania town in the mid-1940's.

The Naked Crowd by Jeffrey Rosen
by Jonathan Kay
The Naked Crowd: Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age by Jeffrey Rosen Random House. 272 pp. $24.95 Shortly after 9/11, Orlando International Airport in Florida tested a new security device that produced detailed, three-dimensional images of travelers and their possessions.

Madame Secretary by Madeleine Albright
by Gabriel Schoenfeld
Madame Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright (with Bill Woodward) Miramax/Hyperion. 562 pp. $27.95 What is the proper match between ends and means in U.S.

Next of Kin--A Story
by Jennifer Moses
Annie just wants her mother to die already. Is that so much to ask? The old woman no longer recognizes her, and anyway she hadn't been much of a bargain in the mother department even before she lost her short-term memory, her ability to control her bladder, and most of her jewelry.

February, 2004Back to Top
Literary Politics
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Thomas L. Jeffers justly admires Alfred Kazin's enthusiasm for American literature as well as his sentimental, if occasionally self-admiring, view of American literary culture [Books in Review, November 2003].

I Thee Wed?
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Sam Schulman is right that people have come to see same-sex marriage as inevitable [“Gay Marriage—and Marriage,” November 2003].

Charter Schools
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In his review of No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning [Books in Review, November 2003], Leslie Lenkowsky expresses concern that Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom “dismiss perhaps too quickly the charge that [charter] schools succeed in some measure by 'creaming off the most motivated parents and students.” But Mr.

Artistic Standards
by Our Readers
To the Editor: I was disappointed by Terry Teachout's discussion of Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C.

by Our Readers
To the Editor: Natan Sharansky's eloquent and insightful article [“On Hating the Jews,” November 2003] is especially welcome at a time when the hydra of anti-Semitism is once more raising its ugly head.

Is Bush a Conservative?
by Daniel Casse
By the end of 2003, after months of falling popularity and an unceasing barrage of criticism Democratic presidential aspirants, George W.

Our Game with North Korea
by Arthur Waldron
For the world generally, few possibilities can be more frightening than that North Korea will succeed in developing nuclear weapons.

Iran’s Nuclear Card
by Gary Milhollin
It is now clear that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been operating a string of secret nuclear sites in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Still Losing the Race?
by John McWhorter
When I got my doctorate in linguistics from Stanford University in 1993, the furthest thing imaginable to me was that, ten years later, I would be in the midst of a second career as a pundit on race issues, let alone find myself classed as a black conservative.

The UN and the Jews
by Anne Bayefsky
It was not an event that any of the big newspapers saw fit to cover, but this past December, a draft United Nations resolution condemning anti-Semitism was quietly withdrawn by Ireland, its sponsor in the General Assembly In a complicated exchange, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen had promised the measure to his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom, but in the end Cowen refused to carry out his side of the bargain, pointing to a lack of consensus on the issue.

Krystyna’s Gift—A Memoir
by Lydia Aran
I have no clear or systematic recollection of the dates or the order of events from this chapter of my life some 60 years ago.

Living with Art
by Terry Teachout
A year ago, I bought a copy of Jestina's Reds, a lithograph by the American painter Nell Blaine, and hung it over my mantelpiece.

Family Circle by Susan Braudy
by Kay Hymowitz
Family Circle: The Boudins and the Aristocracy of the Left by Susan Braudy Knopf. 460 pp. $27.95 On the morning of October 20, 1981, Kathy Boudin, a Bryn Mawr graduate and the daughter of Leonard Boudin, a renowned left-wing lawyer, dropped off her infant son with a sitter near her apartment in New York City and went to work—which, in her case, involved helping a group of self-professed revolutionaries rob a Brinks truck in nearby suburban Rockland county.

A National Party No More by Zell Miller
by Josh Chafetz
A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat by Zell Miller Stroud & Hall. 237 pp. $26.00 Last October, long before it was clear who would receive the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Zell Miller, Democrat from Georgia, made waves by endorsing President Bush's reelection bid.

W.B. Yeats by R.F. Foster
by Stephen Barbara
W.B. Yeats: A Life Volume II: The Arch-Poet, 1915-1939 by R.F. Foster Oxford. 798 pp. $45.00 W. H. Auden was being charitable when he said that William Butler Yeats, by common consent one of the greatest poets if not the greatest poet of the 20th century, was “silly like us.” Affected, credulous, obsessed with the occult, politically reactionary, and often downright foolish, Yeats was unlike anybody; and he was not so much silly as half-mad. Roy Foster, a professor of Irish history at Oxford, has written the most recent and perhaps the most ambitious biography of Yeats, a scholarly two-volume work of about 1,400 pages in all.

Reinventing the Melting Pot ed. by Tamar Jacoby
by Jonathan Kay
Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means to Be American Edited by Tamar Jacoby Basic. 320 pp. $27.50 Between 1880 and 1924, some 24 million immigrants arrived in the United States, most of them from the farms and shtetls of Southern and Eastern Europe.

Rambam’s Ladder by Julie Salamon
by Leslie Lenkowsky
Rambam's Ladder: A Meditation on Generosity and why it is Necessary to Give by Julie Salamon Workman. 183 pp. $18.95 Unlike most Americans on September 11, 2001, Julie Salamon felt no urge to help the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

March, 2004Back to Top
Stage Left
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Although Carol Iannone calls Arthur Miller “a strange artifact of [the] American Left” [“In Arthur Miller's America,” December 2003], it seems to me that his staying power as a playwright stems from his ability—unlike, say, Clifford Odets—to transcend leftist politics.

Religious War?
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “Listening to Arabs” [December 2003], Joshua Muravchik writes: the dominant discourse in the Arab world continues to be even more fraught with hate and fantasy than we Americans consider it polite or politic to acknowledge, especially in light of our present need to stress that the war against terror is not a war against Arabs or Islam. But Mr.

Interpreting Islam
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Robert Satloff's article on Arab reformers and the second installment of the Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) is very useful [“What Do Arab Reformers Want?” December 2003], but I must take issue with him on one point.

Illegal Immigrants
by Our Readers
To the Editor: In “A Guide to Schwarzenegger Country” [December 2003], James Q. Wilson misdiagnoses the fevers of his fellow Californians.

Falsifying History
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Once again, Efraim Karsh [Letters from Readers, December 2003] is trying to hoodwink and bamboozle COMMENTARY's readers. In an article in the September 2003 issue [“Revisiting Israel's ‘Original Sin’ ”], Mr.

Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate's Lament
by Nidra Poller
Washington, D.C., November 29, 2003 It is not so easy to know when you're deluding yourself and when you are finally seeing the light.

The Sino-Saudi Connection
China, Napoleon once remarked, is a sleeping giant, and “when it awakens the world will tremble.”China is now thoroughly awake.

Bloomberg So Far
by Fred Siegel
When Michael Bloomberg was elected mayor in 2001, New Yorkers had little idea what to expect from him. A liberal Democrat by disposition turned Republican by opportunity, the billionaire media baron had no previous political experience.

On Joining the Jews
by Nancy Yos
It would be wonderful to believe that everything we do, we do for reasons of perfect self-knowledge and complete autonomy.

When Skeptics Die
by Yael Goldstein
The other day I was trying to catch a cab in the pouring rain in midtown, the umbrella I had purchased on a whim from an Ian Schrager hotel blown inside out, my cashmere sweater set so drenched that after it dried I would be able to donate it to one of the better-dressed poodles in my neighborhood.

The Mind of George Soros
by Joshua Muravchik
“I have made rejection of the bush doctrine the central project of my life,” announced George Soros in January. “I am determined to do what I can,” he added, to assure that President Bush is not reelected. Coming from someone else, such statements might be written off as delusional, but Soros is a man with a record of achieving outsized goals.

Kandinsky's Mistake
by Terry Teachout
On January 2, 1911, a group of well-known Viennese musicians, including the soprano Marie Gutheil-Schoeder, a leading member of the Vienna Hofoper, and the Rosé Quartet, an ensemble led by the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic, came to Munich to give a concert of the music of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Conrad Black
by Arthur Waldron
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black Public Affairs. 1,280 pp. $39.95 Reading Conrad Black's massive new biography of Roosevelt brought to mind a conversation with my father, now ninety, who came of age under FDR, admired him intensely, and during World War II worked for his administration.

An End to Evil by David Frum and Richard Perle
by Claudia Rosett
An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by David Frum and Richard Perle Random House. 284 pp. $25.95 In the war on terror, we have reached a winter of discontent.

Beyond Therapy by the President’s Council on Bioethics
by Kevin Shapiro
Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness by the President's Council on Bioethics Regan. 352 pp. $14.95 (paper) In his recent State of the Union address, in between announcing new initiatives for abstinence-based sex education and drug-testing in schools, President Bush took a moment to inveigh against the use of steroids in professional sports.

There Are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar
by Sam Munson
There are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar Pantheon. 160 pp. $17.95 Twentieth-century Russia produced and drove out enough writers, artists, and intellectuals to staff several small American liberal-arts colleges and at least one large research university.

The Return of Anti-Semitism by Gabriel Schoenfeld
by Daniel Johnson
The Return of Anti-Semitism by Gabriel Schoenfeld Encounter. 193 pp. $25.95 There are two divergent attitudes toward anti-Semitism today, each of them held by Jews and Gentiles alike.

April, 2004Back to Top
The Intelligence Mess: How It Happened, What to Do About It
by Andrew McCarthy
Intelligence-gathering is something of a square peg in the round hole of contemporary political morality. It is about unearthing that which is willfully concealed, an enterprise that necessarily calls for invading privacy and inducing betrayal—discomfiting acts in an age that exalts the individual and his liberties above community and country.

Through the Eyes of Our Enemies
by David Warren
One of the effects of the attacks on New York and Washington on the morning of September 11, 2001 was to create a surge in demand for translations of the Qur'an and for books about Islam.

Politics and the Israeli Novel
by Hillel Halkin
<p>&ldquo;There is no real role for politics in my novels,&rdquo; the Israeli author Amos Oz was quoted as saying in a December <em>New York Times</em> article about him, A.B.

Writing on the Brain
by Joseph Epstein
I was recently asked what it takes to become a writer. Three things, I answered: first, one must cultivate incompetence at almost every other form of profitable work.

The Company You Keep
by John Clayton
Liebowitz comes into my office again. He knocks, though why bother since he enters at the same exact instant, waves at me in disgust and sits his fat behind on the ribs of the old-fashioned radiator.

The “Magic” of Gabriel García Márquez
by Algis Valiunas
“What, then, is the American, this new man?” That is the question famously posed by Crèvecoeur in his 1782 classic, Letters from an American Farmer.

Fiddlers Three
by Terry Teachout
Why is it that some musicians become famous and others are merely admired, even though they may be similarly gifted? Carl Flesch, a distinguished violin teacher who also had a solid but unspectacular career as a soloist, was intrigued by this question, about which he wrote at length in his posthumously published Memoirs (1957).

Bush Country by John Podhoretz
by Josh Chafetz
Bush Country: How Dubya became a Great President while Driving Liberals Insane by John Podhoretz St. Martin's. 266 pp. $24.95 If you ever have an urge to be stared at in confusion, condescension, and contempt, try sitting in a coffee shop in Oxford, England, reading a book entitled Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane.

Alger Hiss’s Looking Glass Wars by G. Edward White
by Mark Falcoff
Alger Hiss's Looking Glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy by G. Edward White Oxford. 286 pp. $30.00 In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, an erstwhile Communist-party member and Soviet spy, came forward to accuse Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, of having been a partner in espionage on behalf of Moscow during the 1930's and 40's.

100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey
by Joseph Bottum
100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey Houghton Mifflin. 184 pp. $20.00 There is reading for fun. There is reading for instruction.

Black Earth by Andrew Meier
by Sean McMeekin
Black Earth: A Journey Through Russia After the Fall by Andrew Meier Norton. 512 pp. $28.95 The collapse of the USSR in 1991 brought with it the demise of the discipline of Sovietology.

Affirmative Action Around the World by Thomas Sowell
by Carl Cohen
<p><em>Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study</em><br /> by Thomas Sowell<br /> <em>Yale. 231 pp. $28.00</em></p> <p>Among contemporary enconomists and social theorists, one of the most prolific, intellectually independent, and iconoclastic is Thomas Sowell, now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Continental Divide
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Josef Joffe’s “The Demons of Europe” [January] is so replete with dubious generalizations, straw men, and far-fetched excursions into mass psychology that rebuttal would require an essay of comparable length.

Costs of War
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: I was shocked by Victor Davis Hanson’s comment that America’s successes in the war in Iraq were achieved “all at a cost of a little over 400 lives” [“Iraq’s Future—and Ours,” January].

Victim Studies
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: In his recent article, Bartosz Jalowiecki tries to show that “Germans are being fed a diet of forgetfulness and lies” about their wartime past [“Lies the Germans Tell Themselves,” January].

Peace Plans
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Hillel Halkin’s otherwise insightful critique of the Geneva Accord [“Beyond the Geneva Accord,” January] suffers from a glaring oversight: demography, the issue that has driven erstwhile right-wingers like Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Uzi Arad to support disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza.

May, 2004Back to Top
The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?
by Claudia Rosett
For years, the United Nations Oil-for-Food program was just one more blip on the multilateral landscape: a relief program for Iraq, a way to feed hungry children in a far-off land until the world had settled its quarrels with Saddam Hussein.

Jews, Christians, and “The Passion”
by David Berger
Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ opened on February 25, Ash Wednesday. I planned to catch a noon showing that Friday and I was a nervous wreck.

The Richard Clarke Show
by Joshua Muravchik
In March of this year, a hitherto unheralded book threatened (or, depending on your point of view, promised) to turn the 2004 presidential election on its head.

What Kind of Religion Is Islam?
by Alain Besançon
It is no secret that, with the return of Islam to the world stage over the last half-century, relations between Muslims and the West, or what used to be known as Christendom, have undergone sweeping changes.

Jihad in Jakarta
by Joshua Kurlantzick
In early March, the man thought to be the mastermind behind the horrific October 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali walked out of an Indonesian courtroom with a drastic reduction in his already short sentence.

Milton Avery’s Art, and Ours
by Steven Munson
To try to make sense of the art of the past four decades—that is, contemporary or postmodern art—is to risk getting dizzy.

Composers for Communism
by Terry Teachout
Aaron Copland, the greatest American classical composer of the 20th century, and Dmitri Shostakovich, his opposite number in the Soviet Union, had more in common than is generally realized.

Who Are We? by Samuel P. Huntington
by James Nuechterlein
Who are We? The Cultural Core of American National Identity by Samuel P. Huntington Simon & Schuster. 448 pp. $27.00 Samuel P. Huntington is not only a distinguished social scientist, he is a notably brave and independent one.

A Secret Life by Benjamin Weiser
by Richard Pipes
A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, his Covert Mission, and the Price he Paid to Save his Country by Benjamin Weiser Public Affairs.

The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa
by Roger Kaplan
The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa Translated by Natasha Wimmer Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 384 pp. $25.00 Politics, specifically the violent politics of Latin American history, have a significant place in the work of the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.

The Working Poor by David K. Shipler
by Leslie Lenkowsky
The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler Knopf. 322 pp. $25.00 When welfare reform passed in 1996, critics insisted that the law's sunny assumptions could not survive the next economic downturn: the poor would be thrown into the streets, and public-assistance rolls would shoot upward.

Surprise, Security, and the American Experience by John Lewis Gaddis
by Max Boot
Surprise, Security, and the American Experience by John Lewis Gaddis Harvard. 150 pp. $18.95 A great many books analyzing the recent shifts in American foreign policy have appeared since September 11, 2001.

North Korea
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Arthur Waldron thinks the U.S. has erred in seeing China as the key to the North Korean situation [“Our Game with North Korea,” February].

Big Government
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: I was interested to see that Daniel Casse agrees with me: George W. Bush’s conservatism is one that tries to implant choice and accountability in government programs and not one that tries to reduce the size and scope of government [“Is Bush a Conservative?,” February].

UN Watch
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Anne Bayefsky’s superb article needs no embellishment [“The UN and the Jews,” February]. She effectively condemns the United Nations and its leadership for virtually abandoning the central focus of its creation as expressed in its charter: “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women.” The UN’s record of contempt for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and the sole state in the region committed to these fundamental principles, supports that condemnation.

June, 2004Back to Top
Does Sharon Have a Plan?
by Hillel Halkin
In the history of modern Palestine, “disengagement”—the name that has been given to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's momentarily stalled plan to withdraw all Israeli forces and inhabitants from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank—has more often been called “partition.” It involves drawing borders and saying, “On this side Arabs, on this side Jews.” In principle, there is nothing new about it. Of the large number of partition plans for solving the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine, the earliest dates to 1937.

Explaining the Bush Tax Cuts
by Bruce Bartlett
In terms of domestic policy, no issue more clearly defines the presidency of George W. Bush than taxation. Among Democrats, it even exceeds Iraq as the issue that motivates their loathing.

Do We Have Enough Troops in Iraq?
by Victor Davis Hanson
How many American troops should be posted in Iraq, beyond the present spike of 135,000—a number that was itself raised from the informally agreed-upon level of 115,000? This question of numbers leapt sharply to the fore in April, on account of the sudden toll being taken on American forces confronting insurrections in Falluja and Najaf.

The Cathedral and the Cube: Reflections on European Morale
by George Weigel
At the far western end of the magnificent urban axis that runs from the Louvre down the Champs Elysées and through the Arc de Triomphe, crossing the Seine at the Pont de Neuilly, is the Grand Arch of La Défense—one of the “great projects” of the late French president François Mitterrand.

Justice for Terrorists
by J. Kent
No aspect of the Bush administration's policies since 9/11 has presented a more enduring source of controversy than its treatment of accused terrorists in its custody.

The Church of Civil Rights
by Wilfred McClay
Nearly a half-century has passed since the heyday of the early civil-rights movement, and race relations in America have grown far too complex to be reckoned by its simple compass.

Is the Musical Comedy Dead?
by Terry Teachout
The Broadway musical is dead. Such, at any rate, is the conventional wisdom, echoed by everyone from aging theatergoers who saw Ethel Merman in Gypsy to youthful academics who write about popular culture as if it were Finnegans Wake.

On Paradise Drive by David Brooks
by Dan Seligman
On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) In the Future Tense by David Brooks Simon & Schuster. 285 pp.

Saboteurs by Michael Dobbs
by Jacob Heilbrunn
Saboteurs: The Nazi Raid on America by Michael Dobbs Knopf. 300 pp. $25.00 Michael J. Dobbs, a veteran reporter for the Washington Post, has a knack for historical detective work about the Nazi era.

Inside the Mirage by Thomas W. Lippman
by Joshua Kurlantzick
Inside the Mirage: America's Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia by Thomas W. Lippman Westview. 390 pp. $27.50 For Americans, one of the most jarring revelations about the attacks of 9/11 was the fact that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis—citizens, that is, of a supposed ally.

Gay Marriage by Jonathan Rauch
by Kay Hymowitz
Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America by Jonathan Rauch Times Books. 207 pp.

The Man Who Would Be King by Ben Macintyre
by Algis Valiunas
The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan by Ben Macintyre Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 351 pp. $25.00 The greatest cautionary tale about high imperialist ambition gone to smash is undoubtedly Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

An American in Paris
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: I would like to comment on Nidra Poller’s article, “Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate’s Lament” [March], which I read with both sorrow and indignation.

by Our Readers
  To the Editor: I wish to thank Arthur Waldron for his generous review of my book about Franklin D. Roosevelt [Books in Review, March] and to take issue with a couple of the points he made.

Becoming Jewish
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: In her moving and earnest depiction of her conversion from Christianity [“On Joining the Jews,” March], Nancy Yos identifies some of the key issues plaguing the Reform movement.

New Fiction
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Yael Goldstein’s story, “When Skeptics Die” [March], is wonderful—intellectually rich and emotionally gripping, with a lovely voice and a sharp eye for human detail.



July, 2004Back to Top
Torture: Thinking About the Unthinkable
by Andrew McCarthy
The mortification of Iraqi prisoners by American military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad has been discomfiting far beyond the impact of the now-infamous images.

How the Feminists Saved Marriage
by Sam Schulman
Radical feminists once aspired, in the name of women's freedom, to abolish the institution of marriage. In the event, not only did they fail to do that, but the preservation of marriage became, in a way, the movement's chief if wholly unintended accomplishment.

In Search of “Righteous Arabs”
by Robert Satloff
Denial of the Holocaust is a recurring theme of Arab politics—a staple not only of radicals, both secular and Islamist, but of the mainstream as well.

Latin American Crack-Up?
by Mark Falcoff
Roughly two decades have passed since most of Latin America turned away from authoritarian regimes, typically dominated by military institutions, and turned toward electoral democracy The shift was drastic and in many ways historically unprecedented.

Unloved Elgar
by Terry Teachout
In England, Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is widely regarded as a great composer, one of the key figures of the late Romantic period.

State-Building by Francis Fukuyama
by Max Boot
State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century by Francis Fukuyama Cornell. 137 pp. $22.50 Few subjects in American foreign policy today are more important or contentious than “nation-building.” The idea that the U.S.

Preaching Eugenics by Christine Rosen
by Kevin Shapiro
Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement by Christine Rosen Oxford. 296 pp. $35.00 Charles Darwin was a sickly man whose letters reveal much anguish over the “infirmity” he feared he had passed on to his offspring.

The Meaning of Ichiro by Robert Whiting
by Stephen Barbara
The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of our National Pastime by Robert Whiting Warner Books. 272 pp.

Double or Nothing? by Sylvia Barack Fishman
by Saul Singer
Double or Nothing? Jewish Families and Mixed Marriage by Sylvia Barack Fishman Brandeis. 196 pp. $24.95 For more than a decade, the American Jewish community has been preoccupied with what has come to be known as the “continuity crisis”—that is, the question of whether Jews in the U.S.

The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans
by Sean McMeekin
The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans Penguin. 656 pp. $34.95 In the last several years, a new version of 20th-century history has been gathering momentum in Germany one in which Germans at last receive their own share of the contemporary world's most precious moral commodity: victimhood.

Swan House
by David Gelernter
“Yup, the girl is Ada Landau.” Then he turned the photo over and looked at the back: Saul Sharfstein and Ada, Swan House, April 1940, in brown ink. She said, “I think it's the most romantic picture I've ever seen.” He turned it over again and they both considered it.

by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Since Claudia Rosett’s campaign to deny the United Nations any role in “bringing democracy to Iraq” may offer the best hope of saving my colleagues from further risks in that country, it is tempting to leave her unanswered [“The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?,” May].

by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Those who would rely on criminal prosecutions to counter terrorism, and who would preserve the wall between law enforcement and intelligence, should heed Andrew C.

Head Cases
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Joseph Epstein seems to have no conception of what neurologists today actually do [“Writing on the Brain,” April].

Soviet Sources
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Contrary to Mark Falcoff, General Dmitri A. Volkogonov, who once declared that he found no evidence in the KGB archives that Alger Hiss had been a Soviet agent, was never “a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer” [Books in Review, April].

A Happy Life
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: As a subscriber to Commentary, I was surprised and delighted by Terry Teachout’s sympathetic appraisal of my late husband, the violinist Louis Kaufman, and I deeply appreciated Mr.

September, 2004Back to Top
World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win
by Norman Podhoretz
A Note to the Reader This past spring, when it seemed that everything that could go wrong in Iraq was going wrong, a plague of amnesia began sweeping through the country.

Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide?
by Guenter Lewy
On September 21, the National Museum of the American Indian will open its doors. In an interview early this year, the museum's founding director, W.

The Einsteins of Wall Street
by Jeremy Bernstein
If you decide you don't have to get A's, you can learn an enormous amount in college. —I.I. Rabi In the spring of 1969, I got the somewhat lunatic idea of going to the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan to see the high mountains—K-2, Nanga Parbat, and the like.

I.B. Singer and Me
by Terry Teachout
The bare facts of Isaac Bashevis Singer's life make for almost as good a story as any of the fictional tales he committed to paper in the course of his long career.

The Axman Cometh
by Joseph Epstein
Linguet was a sort of literary freelancer, of whom there were so many then, needy and audacious, in a great hurry to make a name and convinced there was no better means of drawing attention to himself than of tilting against accepted opinions.

Modigliani a la Mode
by Steven Munson
Back in 1980, when I was a young editor at the New York Times Magazine, I commissioned a profile of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a radical-Left think tank located in Washington, D.C.

My Life by Bill Clinton
by David Frum
My Life by Bill Clinton Knopf. 1008 pp. $35.00 Reviewers have almost unanimously dismissed Bill Clinton's mammoth book of memoirs as boring. It is easy to see why: much of it is an undigested mass of diary entries, apparently re-dictated without thought or reflection.

The Missing Peace by Dennis Ross
by Hillel Halkin
The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace by Dennis Ross Farrar Straus Giroux. 839 pp. $35.00 It is possible not to see the forest for the trees.

Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby
by Gary Rosen
Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby Metropolitan Books. 417 pp. $27.50 Susan Jacoby completed Freethinkers well before the latest outbreak of hostilities in the culture wars, but even without entries in her index for “Gibson, Mel” and “nuptials, same-sex,” it is not hard to situate her in the debate.

Colossus by Niall Ferguson
by Sean McMeekin
Colossus: The Price of America's Empire by Niall Ferguson Penguin. 384 pp. $25.95 Since decamping from Oxford a few years ago for prestigious posts at NYU and Harvard, the Scottish historian Niall Ferguson has occupied a curious position in the public arena.

Freedom Just Around the Corner by Walter A. McDougall
by James Nuechterlein
Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585-1828 by Walter A. McDougall HarperCollins. 638 pp. $29.95 Textbooks aside, large-scale histories of the United States are not much in fashion these days.

"The Passion"
by Our Readers
To the Editor: David Berger’s article on Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, is both analytically brilliant and dialogically sensitive [“Jews, Christians, and The Passion,” May].

by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Alain Besançon’s fascinating article on the Christian understanding of Islam would benefit from a consideration of the role of Judaism [“What Kind of Religion Is Islam?,” May].

Art Under Pressure
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Having had the privilege of knowing personally both Aaron Copland and Dmitri Shostakovich, I would never call Copland a “fool,” or Shostakovich a “coward,” as Terry Teachout does in his provocative and (as usual) brilliantly written review [“Composers for Communism,” May].



October, 2004Back to Top
Perfection: A Story
by Mark Helprin
Early in June of 1956, the summer in New York burst forth temperate and bright, the colors deep, the wind promising.

Is Russia Going Backward?
by Leon Aron
Editor's note: The following essay was completed for publication before the terrorist slaughter in Beslan in early September. _____________   The news from Russia has been decidedly grim.

Jewish Security & Jewish Interests
by Jack Wertheimer
Six decades after the Holocaust, a new wave of anti-Semitism has swept the globe, spearheaded by radical Muslims in the Middle East and Europe but taken up with gusto in democratic Western society not only by right-wing nationalists and neo-Nazis but by liberal and left-wing “anti-Zionists.” With frightening regularity, Jews have been assaulted either physically or in venomous words, synagogues and community centers have been bombed or incinerated in places as far-flung as Turkey, Tunisia, Argentina, England, and France, anti-Zionist rallies on American college campuses have deteriorated into anti-Jewish harangues, and Jews and Israelis have been blamed for everything from using the blood of Palestinian children for baking matzah to masterminding the September 11 attacks on the United States. Surveying this situation, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has concluded that Jews “currently face as great a threat to the[ir] safety and security .

Our Stake In Taiwan
by Arthur Waldron
Few diplomatic achievements in history have garnered such universal praise as the rapprochement between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC) that was completed in the 1970's during the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.

Chomsky's Universe
by Arch Puddington
On September 19, 2001, eight days after the terror attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and killed over 3,000 people, Noam Chomsky was asked to assess the historical impact of 9/11 by an Italian newspaper.

Architecture (Bling!)
by Michael J. Lewis
Like beachcombers, architecture critics are at the mercy of whatever happens to drift in. They may stare for a decade at an empty horizon, or a typhoon or some other disaster at sea may toss them a sudden bonanza.

Jerome Robbins in Person
by Terry Teachout
Six years after his death, Jerome Robbins remains a key figure in the world of dance. Though his ballets are far less widely performed than those of George Balanchine, his mentor and master, they are staple items on the programs of such major companies as the Paris Opéra Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, and above all the New York City Ballet (NYCB), the company for which Robbins created the vast majority of his dances.

Broken: The Troubled Past and Uncertain Future of the FBI by Richard Gid Powers
by James Wilson
Broken: The Troubled Past and Uncertain Future of the FBI by Richard Gid Powers Free Press. 492 pp. $30.00In the wake of 9/11, and especially of the report of the 9/11 Commission (formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States), the country expects its intelligence organizations to be changed in ways that will make it easier for them to “connect the dots” so as to alert us to any future terrorist attacks.

Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley, Jr.
by Dan Seligman
Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography by William F. Buckley Jr. Regnery. 594 pp. $29.95 William F. Buckley, Jr. retired, sort of, on June 29 of this year.

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
by Roger Kaplan
The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith Pantheon. 208 pp. $19.95 On the map you will find Botswana north of South Africa and west of Zimbabwe.

The Rape of the Masters by Roger Kimball
by Steven Munson
The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art by Roger Kimball Encounter. 200 pp. $25.95 As in other areas of our intellectual life, the practice of art history and art criticism has been increasingly corrupted in recent years by, for lack of a more precise term, the ideology of political correctness.

The Dictators by Richard Overy
by Daniel Johnson
The Dictators by Richard Overy Norton. 448 pp. $35.00 The 20th century was the time when ideology far outstripped religion as the engine of mass destruction.

Sharon's Plan
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: It has long been my belief that Israel can choose to have either peace or the settlements but not both; Hillel Halkin suggests that Ariel Sharon, at long last, has reached the same conclusion [“Does Sharon Have a Plan?,” June].

Tax Cuts
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Bruce Bartlett’s defense of the Bush tax cuts is considerably more subtle and compelling than the spin coming out of the Bush White House, which Mr.

The Fight in Iraq
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Victor Davis Hanson has overlooked the central element of America’s continuing troubles in Iraq: the fact that the Iraqis have not surrendered [“Do We Have Enough Troops in Iraq?,” June].

Hits & Flops
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: “Clearly, this is not the track record of a flourishing theatrical medium,” writes Terry Teachout, noting that seven of the fourteen Broadway musicals he reviewed for the Wall Street Journal over the past year had either closed or announced their intention to do so [“Is the Musical Comedy Dead?,” June].

Gay Marriage
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: My thanks to Kay S. Hymowitz for her characteristically thoughtful review of my book, Gay Marriage: Why It’s Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America [Books in Review, June].



November, 2004Back to Top
The End of the Right of Self-Defense?
by Andrew McCarthy
A country's right to defend itself against external attack is so irreducible a component of sovereignty as to have been assumed from time immemorial.

On the Origins of the Mind
by David Berlinski
It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved. —Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby At some time in the history of the universe, there were no human minds, and at some time later, there were.

The Case Against the UN
by Joshua Muravchik
Among the “excellencies” attending the 59th session of the UN General Assembly that opened in late September were 64 world presidents, 25 prime ministers, and no fewer than 86 foreign ministers.

Telling the Story of America's Jews
by David Gelernter
This year marks the 350th anniversary of the American Jewish community: in September 1654, 23 Sephardi Jews arrived in New Amsterdam from Recife, Brazil.

Have We Overcome?
by Stephan Thernstrom
Is America still “segregated”? In our deeply divided national conversation on race, the question endures, and it was raised again last spring by the 50th-anniversary celebrations of Brown v.

The Philosopher and the Checkout Girl
by Joseph Epstein
Early on a Tuesday morning at Dominick's supermarket on Broadway, Howard Salzman, retired professor of philosophy, emptied his cart onto the conveyor belt in the express line, TWENTY ITEMS OR LESS.

Too Marvelous for Words
by Terry Teachout
Do the lyrics of popular songs qualify as poetry? In 2000, the Library of America published American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, a two-volume anthology in which Cole Porter's “I Get a Kick out of You,” Lorenz Hart's “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” and Johnny Mercer's “Blues in the Night” were printed side by side with such classics of American verse as T.S.

The Roads to Modernity by Gertrude Himmelfarb
by James Nuechterlein
The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments by Gertrude Himmelfarb Knopf. 284 pp. $25.00 When I was in graduate school in the early 1960's, a fellow student amused the rest of us by circulating a course description he had run across in the catalog of an obscure Bible college in the South.

The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky
by Arch Puddington
The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer Public Affairs. 256 pp.

The Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice
by Algis Valiunas
The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment by Geoffrey Kabaservice Henry Holt. 573 pp. $30.00 Geoffrey Kabaservice's The Guardians is an intellectual biography of the academic eminence Kingman Brewster and his closest associates, all men of Yale and Harvard, nimble of mind and stalwart of character.

What's the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank
by Jonathan Kay
What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank Metropolitan. 320 pp. $24.00 When people speak of the American heartland, Kansas is what they have in mind.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
by Charles Kesler
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow Penguin. 818 pp. $35.00 The 20th century was not kind to Alexander Hamilton. His fame peaked early, spurred by Henry Cabot Lodge's admiring biography (1882) and by Republican eulogists as diverse as Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge.

by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Casting himself as a civil libertarian concerned with “real-world outcomes,” Andrew C. McCarthy resurrects Alan M. Dershowitz’s “torture warrant” idea, but with a twist [“Torture: Thinking About the Unthinkable,” July-August].

Christian Europe
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: George Weigel’s essay, “The Cathedral and the Cube” [June], offers a salutary reminder of Christianity’s influence in teaching “European man about himself, his dignity,” and in thus helping, after a fashion, to lay the foundations of our current notions of tolerance and freedom.

Women's Work
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Perhaps nothing is more certain than the law of unintended consequences, as Sam Schulman’s essay, “How Feminism Saved Marriage,” so aptly illustrates [July-August].

Jews of North Africa
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Robert Satloff’s excellent article on the North African anti-Semitic tradition ends a bit too early [“In Search of ‘Righteous Arabs,’” July-August].

by Our Readers
  To the editor: Terry Teachout’s efforts to stimulate interest in underrated composers like Edward Elgar are entirely praiseworthy [“Unloved Elgar,” July-August].



December, 2004Back to Top
Islam and Freedom
by James Wilson
What are the prospects for the emergence of liberal societies in Muslim countries? Note my choice of words: “liberal,” not “democratic.” Democracy, defined as competitive elections among rival slates of candidates, is much harder to find in the world than liberalism, defined as a decent respect for the freedom and autonomy of individuals.

The Islamization of Europe?
by David Pryce-Jones
Only a few years ago, mass-murder attacks on the West in the name of Islam, like those of September 11, would have seemed like a thriller writer's fantasy.

The Left and the Islamists
by Joshua Kurlantzick
The Manhattan attorney Lynne Stewart has been wedded to activist causes since the 1960's, defending a long train of leftists who have had run-ins with the law.

Can Sudan Be Saved?
by Roger Sandall
The African peoples now being pillaged and destroyed have names like Zaghawa, Fur, and Massalit, and they live in the extensive region of Western Sudan called Darfur.

Around the Block with A.J. Liebling
by Joseph Epstein
Thirty years later I had a prolonged return match with Côte Rôtie, when I discovered it on the wine card of Prunier's in London.

Vertigo--A Story
by John Clayton
Here is a man stripped of much of what he thought of as his life. His son is dead, his work is gone, his mother fading, his daughter off at college and when they speak on the phone they have nothing to say.

Iraq: Prophets of Defeat
by Gabriel Schoenfeld
A “catastrophic success” is what the New York Times has called it. The American military conquered Baghdad within an astonishing 21 days, defeating the largest Arab army at the price of only 117 American lives.

After Pavarotti
by Terry Teachout
Who was the most significant opera singer of the second half of the 20th century? The question, of course, is unanswerable.

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
by Ruth Wisse
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth Houghton Mifflin. 400 pp. $26.00 It once seemed as though Philip Roth had come on the American scene too late to have any compelling historical subject with which to engage his literary powers.

Free World by Timothy Garton Ash
by Francis Fukuyama
Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West by Timothy Garton Ash Random House. 286 pp. $24.95 On February 15, 2003, a month prior to the American intervention in Iraq, massive antiwar demonstrations took place all over Western Europe.

In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman
by Michael J. Lewis
In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman Pantheon. 42 pp. $19.95 Like all primitive forms of art, comic books can express simple things in a bold way.

The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, edited by Ben Marcus; When the Nine Rolls Over and Other Stories by David Benioff
by Sam Munson
The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories Edited by Ben Marcus Anchor. 480 pp. $13.00 When the Nines Roll Over and Other Stories by David Benioff Viking.

Hard News by Seth Mnookin
by Dan Seligman
Hard News: The Scandals at the New York Times and the Future of American Media by Seth Mnookin Random House. 330 pp.

World War IV
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Norman Podhoretz’s article on World War IV is extraordinary, doing what no one else has done to date [“World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win,” September].

American Indians
by Our Readers
  To the Editor: Guenter Lewy is right on the whole to say that the European decimation of North American Indian societies was not genocide, but I must make it clear that in my book, Conquest of Paradise (1990), which Mr.

Physics and Finance
by Our Readers
To the Editor: Jeremy Bernstein’s “The Einsteins of Wall Street” [September] gives a dramatic account of the mismatch between the theories of quantitative finance and the achievements of those theories in practice.



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