Jack Richardson, 1934-2012

It is customary for novelists to serve as occasional or frequent literary critics, analyzing the work of others who write novels. The same cannot be said of playwrights, who rarely write prose about the theater and almost never about the plays of others. The singular exception to this was Jack Richardson, who began writing about the theater for COMMENTARY in the mid-1960s when he was still considered one of the up-and-coming playwrights in the United States. He died this week at the age of 78. He wrote for the magazine on and off for about a decade, as his own promising career in the theater dwindled and then died out—articles of exceptional interest, intelligence, and cultivation. In tribute to his passing, we are making available eight of his best, including two that weren’t about the theater—a memoir of life as a gambler and a brilliant review of Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift that angered Bellow because, I suspect, he knew Richardson saw through to that novel’s fatal weaknesses.

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Jack Richardson, 1934-2012

Must-Reads from Magazine

Democrats Go Soft on Anti-Semitism

Shameful.

I don’t always agree with Kenneth L. Marcus, the founder and president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. But he is without question the kind of person who might have been nominated in any Republican administration to serve as assistant secretary of education for civil rights. In fact, Marcus served in the same role in the George W. Bush administration on an interim basis. Yet Marcus received not one Democratic vote in the Senate Health, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which just voted 12-11, on party lines, to advance his nomination.

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Pod Shut Down America

But they fight.

On the eve of an ill-fated government shutdown in 2013, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a column that captured the sentiments of liberal opinion makers perfectly: This was all talk radio’s fault.

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Harvard Rewards an Iranian Hate-Monger

Another dubious honor.

What is it with the Harvard Kennedy School’s penchant for celebrating dishonorable characters? First came a speaking invitation and fellowship for the traitor formerly known as Bradley Manning. The Kennedy School disinvited Manning following a public outcry in September, but now its leadership has awarded a fellowship to an equally odious figure.

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The Left’s Immigration Radicalism

Mirror images.

Observers on the right must have been confused by the controversy that erupted following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recent appearance on Fox News. What he advocated sounds at first glance like common sense.

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Presidents, Porn Stars, and America’s Soul

Podcast: Is America in decline?

So Trump pays off a porn star and it isn’t even the biggest story of the day. On the second COMMENTARY podcast of the week, we explore all angles of this peculiar state of affairs. What does it say about us politically? What does it say about us morally? And what does it tell us about the condition of the American soul? Give a listen.

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