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Saul Bellow the Rain King

 Saul Bellow moved from Chicago to Boston soon after I moved from Montreal to Cambridge in 1993 to teach at Harvard. Our proximity meant that, in addition to deepening the close friendship my husband and I enjoyed with him and his wife, Janis, I could invite this writer whose work was so beloved to me [...]

Under the Black Flag

ISIS: Inside the Army of TerrorBy Michael Weiss & Hassan HassanRegan Arts, 270 pagesISIS isn’t a terrorist organization. It’s a transnational army of terror. The CIA claims it has as many as 31,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq, and Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, thinks the number may be as high as [...]

Conviction and Convenience

Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish HistoryBy Todd EndelmanPrinceton, 425 pagesThere are many Jewish sociologists, fewer sociologists of the Jews, and hardly any historical sociologists of that anomaly among an exceptional people, the Jews of Britain. There is only one Todd Endelman. His specialty is the Jews who “prefer not [...]

Life After <em>Life After Life</em>

A God in Ruins: A NovelBy Kate AtkinsonLittle, Brown and Company, 480 pagesYou needn’t have read Life After Life, Kate Atkinson’s excellent ninth novel, to enjoy her tenth—but it helps. While not precisely a sequel, A God in Ruins describes the same upper-middle-class English world as its predecessor and even revisits many of the same scenes. [...]

The Emergency

We have entered a state of emergency. The Obama administration is pursuing policies that effectively serve the purposes of one of America’s greatest foes and treat one of America’s dearest friends as though it were an adversary. The White House has implicitly taken up the cause of normalizing Iran and has become at the very [...]

Obama and the Three D’s

In his 2004 book, The Case for Democracy, the Soviet dissident turned Israeli politician Natan Sharansky argues that the West can win the long struggle with the Middle East’s authoritarian and Islamist states by promoting liberalism and freedom in the region’s closed societies. Sharansky and co-author Ron Dermer, now Israel’s ambassador to the United States, [...]

From Parent to Parenting

As with lengths of skirts, lapels on men’s suits, breastfeeding, and other more or less important customs, there are also fashions in fatherhood. The institution changes from generation to generation. As a man of un age certain—if numbers be wanted, mine is 78—my experience of fatherhood, both from the receiving and giving end, is likely [...]

The Defenestration of a Conservative Professor

When I arrived at Marquette University in the 1980s, a lively topic around the copy machine was when, and in what company, a teacher at this Catholic institution in Milwaukee might discuss the L word—liberal. I was mildly anxious about how I could explicate frankly the religious humanism of George Eliot, Matthew Arnold, Samuel Butler, [...]

The Left’s Guide to the Class Divide

“Can Robert Putnam Save the American Dream?” That’s the question the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Marc Perry recently asked in a long and reverential article about the Harvard professor’s new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. The Chronicle, along with most major media outlets in America, has given Putnam’s book—describing the growing class [...]

The Religious-Liberty War

When the curtain opens on Sophocles’s Antigone, Thebes is reeling from a fratricidal war. The rivals for the crown have killed each other in battle, and the new king has ordered that no one may bury the body of the rebel leader. The play’s heroine confronts a tragic choice: Should she obey divine commandment and [...]

The Pro-Federalist

Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative CounterrevolutionBy Amanda Hollis-BruskyOxford, 264 pagesLast November, the Federalist Society hosted its annual National Lawyers Convention at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. with some 1,500 prominent jurists, judges, and academics in attendance. The conference featured a keynote address by Justice Antonin Scalia, a luncheon address by [...]

Love Songs, RIP

Most pop songs are about love. So are most classical art songs. So are most folk songs. What is more, most of us take all this for granted, though a moment’s consideration suggests that we ought instead to be surprised by it. Since the range of possibilities for human action extends far beyond the compass [...]

Frequent Flyers

The Wright BrothersBy David McCulloughSimon & Schuster, 336 pagesThe great increase in innovation that was powered by the Industrial Revolution made the 19th century an age of wonders. Instant communication by telegraph and telephone, photography and sound recording, railroads, steamships, and electric light were commonplace by 1900. But these had mostly been unthought-of a hundred [...]

The Great Warren Hope

Hillary Clinton is in an enviable position. As I write, in early April, she dominates polls for the 2016 Democratic nomination. According to Real Clear Politics, she leads her closest opponent, Vice President Joe Biden, by almost 47 percent. You do not encounter that sort of margin often in American politics; you are more likely [...]

Frack Wars

To the Editor:Arthur Herman’s article on fracking is misleading and biased [“The Liberal War on American Energy Independence,” February]. In order to get to deep shale, drillers must drill through the aquifer. Is so doing, they frequently allow natural gas to contaminate drinking water. And there are other dangers. In 2007, a defectively drilled well [...]

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