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

The Shame of Defaming Seth Rich

The conspiracy theorizing has to stop.

Seth Rich was 27 when he was killed on a dark street in a sketchy neighborhood in the nation’s capital last July. He has become world-famous in the past month because his corpse is being used as a proxy in the war over the reputation of Donald J. Trump. Enraged media figures on the Right who believe Trump is being unjustly accused of colluding with Russia have turned to the Rich story to offer their audiences an alternate potential crime to chew on—one in which they can hint at the possibility that Democrats had one of their own killed.

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The Rise and Fall of Sheriff Clarke’s Trial Balloon

Delusional? Or Defenestrated?

There was nothing normal about controversial Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke’s supposed nomination to a post in President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. It was odd from beginning to end. This apparent trial balloon seems to be deflating, and not a moment too soon. The question now becomes: Was any of it ever real?

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Confederate Monuments and Moral Clarity

Selective reverence for history.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has made a point of removing statues honoring Confederate heroes. As NPR notes, “On April 24, a monument to a deadly 1874 white supremacist uprising was the first to come down. A couple of weeks later, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was taken away. And on Wednesday, a statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard was removed.” Finally, last Friday, a giant sculpture of Robert E. Lee came down as well.

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The Left’s Voting Fetish

Voting is not itself an expression of political freedom.

The United States of America does not make a fetish of voting. For the “vote or die” crowd, that’s a cause of great shame.

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The War of Ideas: The Other Anti-Terror Front

How to defeat suicide bombers.

I visited Manchester in 2014, along with my son, to see a Manchester United soccer game at its hallowed stadium, Old Trafford. Not knowing what to expect, I feared the worst—a grimy, decrepit, post-industrial wasteland. What we found was very different: a booming, bustling metropolis. Manchester has preserved its heritage as one of the incubation sites of the Industrial Revolution but has not been trapped in the past. Old factories and warehouses have been repurposed into museums and chic hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars, making Manchester an exceptionally pleasant place to visit—and no doubt to live as well.