Bookshelf

Is it possible to write interestingly about uninteresting art? Of course–good critics do it every day–but the real trick is to write interestingly about a style of art that the reader dislikes. A case in point is Erin Hogan’s “Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip through the Land Art of the American West” (University of Chicago, $20), which I read in a single delighted sitting despite the fact that I don’t share its author’s taste for large-scale minimalist art. Part of the reason why I liked “Spiral Jetta” so much is that Hogan, the director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago, writes with the infectious gusto of the true believer. To hear minimalism described as “ambitious, beautiful, rigorous, geometric, engaged with questions of form rather than personality, aiming at the eternal without irony” is to wonder–briefly–whether there might possibly be more to Philip Glass than meets the ear. (Answer: no, no, a thousand times no.) But what makes “Spiral Jetta” so readable is not so much the art that is its nominal subject as the quirky, engaging personality of the woman writing about it.

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Bookshelf

Must-Reads from Magazine

Playing Transgender Politics

Posturing, not policy.

On Wednesday morning, at 8:55 a.m., President Trump tweeted: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…” Many in the Pentagon wondered if he was announcing military action against North Korea, which, according to new intelligence estimates, is set to field a nuclear-tipped ICBM as early as next year. Not until nine minutes later was the suspense lifted with another presidential tweet: “…Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

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A Secularist vs. the Progressive Faith

A double standard is, in fact, a standard. Just an immoral one.

Really it should come as no surprise that the scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins is the latest public figure to have fallen victim to a disinviting mania. After all, if a darling of the left feminist like Germaine Greer can face a campaign to silence her over her views on transgenderism or a woman of color like Ayaan Hirsi Ali can face similar attempts to have her free speech on campus canceled, why should Dawkins be spared?

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Unmasking Is Not a Distraction

Democrats will regret treating this as a partisan issue.

Whenever a former Obama administration official’s name comes up in the process of investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russian sources, Democrats take the position that the right’s penchant for “whataboutism” neutralizes the implication of wrongdoing. The Democratic objective is to shame those who are committed to crafting a full and unbiased portrait of the events of 2016 into ignoring inconvenient facts, but the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee remains unintimidated.

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Will Mattis Betray the Gulf Allies?

Has Mattis gone rogue?

At the core of the Qatar dispute is the question of Qatar’s support for extremism. While many Gulf states have histories of donating to or promoting radical Islamism, many have made real reforms. Saudi Arabia, for example, became much more serious about the need to curtail support for radical groups after the Kingdom started suffering blowback with terrorists targeting foreigners living in Saudi Arabia and senior Saudi officials. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, meanwhile, has cracked down not only on the Muslim Brotherhood but has also moved to sever the life-line Egypt often provided Hamas leaders in Gaza. Qatar, however, continues to set itself above the rest in its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Partisanship Masquerading as Wisdom

Anger over health care clouds the left's judgment.

Nate Silver spoke for most of the liberal blogosphere when he objected to the mainstream media’s coverage of Senator John McCain’s speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

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