Recommended Reading—Summer 2016

[by J. Scott Shipman]   The Storm of Creativity, by Kyna Leski 2017 War With Russia, by General Sir Richard Shirreff The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough Serendipities, Language and Lunacy, by Umberto Eco Paradise, Dante Alighieri, translated by Mark Musa Undertow, by Stanton S. Coerr The White Horse Cometh, by Rich Parks Washington The Indispensable […] Read more »

Nativism on the March?

Has the pendulum swung away from the global spread of democracy which characterized Europe and elsewhere after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 until the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the subsequent rise and fall of the Arab Spring? The forces of reaction are powerful draws in times of turbulence and disruption - draws that we too often forget. Read more »

Sunday surprise: three entangled faiths

[ by Charles Cameron — two exhibits linking the Abrahamic faiths ] . For disciplinary as well as doctrinal purposes, the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity, Islam — are generally thought of separately — a separation which the two exhibitions this post revolves around are intended to bring into question. ** One: Of gods […] Read more »

Review: The Rule of the Clan

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] Rule of the Clan by Mark Weiner I often review good books. Sometimes I review great ones. The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals about the Future of Individual Freedom  by Mark S. Weiner gets the highest compliment of all: it is an academic book that […] Read more »

New Book- The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House

[by Mark Safranski / a.k.a  “zen“] The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House […] by Zalmay Khalilzad Just received a courtesy review copy of The Envoy, the memoir of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, from Christine at St. Martin’s Press. Khalilzad was part of a small group of diplomatic troubleshooters and heavy hitters for the second Bush […] Read more »

The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security by Bartholomew Sparrow In writing The Strategist, Bartholomew Sparrow has demonstrated that his talents as a biographer match his skill as a scholar. Cautious and careful, in telling the life and national security career of the highly regarded Brent Scowcroft, Sparrow […] Read more »

Rome, Rome, or Rome?

[ by Charles Cameron — on Graeme Wood’s latest, the goals of IS, and geographic slippage ] . Graeme Wood, who wrote the Atlantic piece that broke the apocalyptic side of the Islamic State’s ideology wide open in March of last year, has a related piece out this month: Donald Trump and the Apocalypse, with […] Read more »

Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War by Svetlana Alexievich – a Book Review Essay

On January 17, I heard Shostakovich’s “Fifth Symphony” performed by the Santa Fe Symphony under the baton of guest conductor Brian McAdams. The performance was excellent; the piece - by its nature - disturbing. It is a powerful, troubled and mostly discordant piece in the key of D minor. Shostakovich wrote the symphony in 1937 just as his country was enduring Stalin’s purges and Hitler was on the march in Europe. As the symphony nears its conclusion, the timpanist emits - not the familiar drum roll - but a desperately loud and throbbing solo of one solitary note after another pounding into the listener like the sound of a death-knell or a chorus of jack-boots smashing down in unison on hard cobblestone pavement. Perhaps a harbinger for the years to come. This is the same emotional pounding I experienced reading Zinky Boys – one tragic story after another proceeding in rapid-fire succession until the book finally ends in exhausted relief. Read more »

National Minorities in Putin’s Russia: Diversity and Assimilation by Federica Prino – A Book Review Essay

Since National Minorities in Putin's Russia is based on Prino's doctoral dissertation perhaps she might wish to expand her research to explore the question of emigration versus assimilation (as opposed to diversity and assimilation) for members of ethnic minorities living in the former Soviet Union. Data for the Finno-Ugrics should be easy to access from Finnish, Estonian and Swedish statistical services which is lively where many of the Karelians and Ingrains now live. Read more »

Book Bonanza

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] My usual yuletide haul of books received and purchased….                         The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum Avoiding Armageddon: […] Read more »