Content Section
Loud and Clear

Should Neo-Nazis Speak Freely?


New studies show that unbridled hateful speech can cause emotional harm. Is it time for the United States to follow other democracies and impose limits on what Neo-Nazis and other haters say?

Over the past several weeks, free speech has gotten costlier—at least in France and Israel.In France, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, an anti-Semitic stand-up comic infamous for popularizing the quenelle, an inverted Nazi salute, was banned from performing in two cities. M’Bala M’Bala has been repeatedly fined for hate speech, and this was not the first time his act was perceived as a threat to public order.Meanwhile, Israel’s parliament is soon to pass a bill outlawing the word Nazi for non-educational purposes.

Space Flight

Branson’s Galactic Obstacles

Luke MacGregor/Reuters

In a new book, Tom Bower suggests Virgin Galactic may never achieve space flight. Though some of his claims are a bit alarmist, Bronson’s space program still faces major safety issues.

Will Richard Branson’s long-touted rocket ride into space via his Virgin Galactic enterprise ever happen?A new book, Branson Behind the Mask, by investigative reporter Tom Bower (to be published by Faber & Faber on February 6) casts serious doubt that it will.In fact, there is little in Bower’s book that is not already known about Galactic’s dismal record so far. Branson presents an easy target because he has so frequently over-promised on his bid to introduce so-called space tourism.


Joyce Carol Oates Goes to War

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty

The prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates has just published a novel about the Iraq War and a veteran’s suspicion in a crime. Former Marine Elliot Ackerman wonders if she has what it takes.

War novels. Yeah, those books: The Things They Carried, The Hunters, Catch-22. We all know the type, sad books about happy-young men turning into sad-young men, or sad-young-old men, or sad-crazy-young-old men. But what makes a war novel a war novel? This certainly isn’t a genre open only to veteran writers, just look at the quintessential example: The Red Badge of Courage. Stephen Crane was born six years after the Civil War ended. Or Hemingway, the Papa of modern American war literature, whose combat service amounted to having a mortar explode next to him while his ambulance delivered chocolates to the Italian Front.

American Dreams

Henry James’s Suppressed Sex Farce

Miramax/Everett Collection

Almost without plot and with convoluted writing, Henry James’s final novels often leave people scratching their heads, but The Golden Bowl is a surprisingly saucy, wicked, and original exploration of American mores writes Nathaniel Rich.

If you are able to withstand the near complete absence of plot, the involuted (and convoluted) sentences, and the preposterous metaphors (“she sat there in the solid chamber of her helplessness as in a bath of benevolence artfully prepared for her”)—if you’re able, in other words, to withstand Henry James, you’ll find that The Golden Bowl is a sordid little sex farce.James demands more than the usual suspension of disbelief, but his premise is original and wicked.


How I Write: James Patterson

Bret Hartman/Reuters

The best-selling author of the Alex Cross novels talks about how much of his life is spent writing outlines.

Describe your morning routine.I pretty much write seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. I’ll get up around 5:30, put my house in order, write a little bit, maybe an outline for that day. Then I’ll go out around 7, frequently walk a golf course for an hour by myself. Then I’ll come back and write until, oh, 11 or 12. It’s a combination of any business I have to do, whatever novel I’m working on, outlines … I was just compiling the number of outlines I do and found that I write about 900 pages of outlines a year.


How To Be a Man

Bureau L.A. Collection/Sygma/Corbis

T Cooper, the author of ‘Real Man Adventures,’ picks his favorite books about the subject of masculinity.

I am a man. A fact I don’t take for granted, by the way—as I was not born a man. But you know what? It turns out nobody else is born a man either. Sure, roughly half of us humans are born male—but only a fraction of that fraction actually grow into men. To me, masculinity is earned, learned, taught, fraught, bought, borrowed, traded, sometimes stolen. It was certainly something I had to work for, and risk everything I ever had to attain, although of course “masculinity” is constantly evolving, more of a concept/construct than an actual thing—an “I know it when I see it” deal, like the Supreme Court and pornography.


Lost Sappho Poems Found


Only a few poems of the Greek poetess Sappho’s work have survived but thanks to a leading scholar’s investigation two new works have just been recovered—and gives experts hope to find more.

A chance inquiry by an unidentified collector has led to a spectacular literary discovery: Parts of two previously unknown poems by Sappho, the great Greek poetess of the 7th Century B.C. One of the poems is remarkably well preserved and adds greatly to what is known about Sappho and her poetic technique.The two poems came to light when the owner of an ancient papyrus, dating to the 3rd century A.D., consulted an Oxford classicist, Dirk Obbink, about the Greek writing on the tattered scrap.


This Week’s Hot Reads

The Daily Beast

From the controversial second book by tiger mom Amy Chua, as she tackles race and cultural advantages, to a reading of George Eliot’s ‘Middlemarch.’

The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua and Jed RubenfeldThat Amy Chua’s new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, has, even in advance of its publication, inspired controversy, should come as no surprise. Chua’s previous book, the part-parenting memoir part-parenting manifesto The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was an unapologetic account (and endorsement) of the strict, decidedly un-American parenting style typical in Chinese culture.

Sex, AIDS, and Survival

Sean Strub, activist and founder of Poz magazine, has relished taking center stage in fighting for dignity, justice, and care for those living with HIV.

On September 5, 1991, the AIDS activists Sean Strub and Peter Staley unfurled a giant condom made of parachute fabric over Senator Jesse Helms’s Virginia home. The music producer David Geffen had given them $3000 to have it made. The men’s other compadres from the direct action group ACT UP powered a generator which inflated the condom to keep it as “life-like” as possible. The legend across the outsized sheath read: “A CONDOM TO STOP UNSAFE POLITICS.

The New Left

When the Sixties Came Unhinged

Hulton Archive/Getty

Who really won the 60s? Not the hippies but the bureaucrats who absorbed bohemian language in service of govt. programs. An excerpt from Fred Siegel’s The Revolt Against the Masses.

An excerpt concerning the growth of modern liberalism in the 1960s from the forthcoming book The Revolt Against the Masses.Substantively, as opposed to stylistically, there was no New Left. The old left’s delusions about the USSR were replaced by new delusions about Third World dictators such as Castro, Nkrumah, and Nasser. The underlying utopian tropes of the old left were refurbished not replaced. Utopian fantasies about eliminating private property were supplemented with utopian fantasies about free love and polymorphic perversity.


Is Sherlock a Good Detective?

Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films for MASTERPIECE

As a new season of the hit TV show debuts, Noah Charney asks if the famous sleuth was really all that good after all. Without Arthur Conan Doyle making him solve everything with ease, does his reasoning stand up to reasoning today.

In the Arthur Conan Doyle story, “The Silver Blaze,” Sherlock Holmes discusses the theft of a race horse from a country estate that is guarded by a fierce watch dog."Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.""The dog did nothing in the night-time."Holmes: "That was the curious incident.”Holmes later explains how the “dog that didn’t bark” helped him to solve the crime:I had grasped the significance of the silence of the dog, for one true inference invariably suggests others… A dog was kept in the stables, and yet, though someone had been in, and had fetched out a horse, he had not barked enough to arouse the two lads in the loft.


Beethoven in Love

Alfredo Dagli Orti

As the French Army invaded Germany in 1792 and with Mozart dead, the young Beethoven made his escape to Vienna to become the next great composer. But he left behind a young woman who had captivated his affections. An excerpt from John Suchet’s “Beethoven: The Man Revealed.”

At one o’clock in the morning on December 5, 1791, an event occurred that went largely unnoticed in Vienna and caused much sadness in musical circles in Bonn—an event that would have caused Beethoven considerable grief, and is still being mourned today.Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died at the age of thirty-five. It is not an exaggeration to say that Beethoven, who turned twenty-one less than two weeks later, was soon being talked of as Mozart’s natural successor.


The Week’s Best Reads

From beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl’s last story to a murder case that implicated a gay evangelical cult leader, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.

This is Danny Pearl’s Final Story Asra Q. Nomani, Washingtonian Asra Nomani spent a decade chasing her friend’s killer, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Then she went to Guantanamo Bay to see him.Love and Death in the House of Prayer Jeff Tietz, Rolling Stone Tyler Deaton, a self-appointed apostle in one of the fastest-growing evangelical movements, loved Jesus, Harry Potter and, much to his dismay, other men. When his wife turned up dead, the secrets began to spill out.

Avant Garde

The Bioterrorist Who Loved Mahler

Smith Collection/Getty

A composer with an interest in scary biology is on the run from Homeland Security in this new novel from the brainy Richard Powers.

When his 14-year-old golden retriever dies, Peter Els calls 911. The responding officers appear to understand the grief behind his erratic action but still want to take a look around the house. They're startled by "a large wooden frame, like a freestanding coat rack," in the living room, with "several sawn-off water-cooler bottles" hanging off it. It's a musical instrument, the retired college professor explains; he used to teach composition.

Pigskin Perfection

Vince Lombardi’s Sleepless Night

Tony Tomsic/Getty

In the as-told-to classic ‘Run to Daylight,’ the peerless sportswriter W.C. Heinz channels the wee-hours torments of Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

It’s easy to overlook football writing. Football is TV, NFL Films—it’s the cinematic sport. And there is a surprising lack of memorable writing about, say, the Super Bowl. Still, plenty of tremendous football writing does exist—just ask the Library of America, which is publishing Football: Great Writing About the National Sport in August.When it comes to fluid storytelling and taut, sturdy prose, W.C. Heinz was a master. And versatile, too, as he expertly plied his trade as a newspaper columnist, war correspondent, magazine writer, novelist, and biographer.

Fertile Questions

The Test Tube Generation


A provocative new book says that women are being sold a lie that they can have it all and get easily pregnant in their late thirties and forties—and that we’re experimenting with fertility across a whole generation.

Gossip magazines are constantly touting the baby bumps of celebrities well into their forties. Halle Berry just had her second kid at 46; two years ago, Mariah Carey gave birth two twins at 41; and Kelly Preston gave birth when she was 46 to her second child. Everywhere you look, women are easily having babies in their late 30s and early forties. Stars, they are just like us. Or are they?So imagine Tanya Selvaratnam’s surprise when she had her first miscarriage at 37, and then another, when she was 38, and yet a third when she was 40.

Tallulah: Drunk, Gay and Fabulous

John Kobal Foundation/Getty

Tallulah Bankhead was an actress, lesbian, proto-feminist, wit, raconteur, and one of the flapper era’s most dangerous women

When actress Tallulah Bankhead first arrived at the Algonquin Hotel she’d noted the tough, abrasive style of New York conversation. She herself had been raised never to cuss or talk dirty: yet these glamorous writers and actors made a point of using obscenities and working men’s slang to give an edge to their jokes and observations. Later she observed that one of the most skilled in this idiom was the journalist Dorothy Parker. Her sly, skewering banter and provocative cynicism were her defense in a male-dominated profession and also her selling point.

My Generation

Grabbing the Keys to Happiness

Ferran Paredes/Reuters, via Corbis

From his new book ‘The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again),’ The Daily Beast columnist on when America’s rubber finally met the road.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven, as William Wordsworth said when he got his driver’s license.The Baby Boom’s first social movement was cruising. This is not to be confused with Cruisin’—adolescence on wheels as it is poorly remembered in popular culture and badly reenacted in Plymouth Belvederes by old bald guys. I never saw a carhop wearing roller skates. The idea was as stupid then as it is now.Nor did we cruise in the singles bar or Christopher Street sense, loitering with sexual intent.


Welcome to Literary Toronto


Toronto is notorious these days for the antics of its mayor, Rob Ford, but there’s a quieter literary side to the city as novelist Sheila Heti reveals.

In her Toronto based novel, How Should a Person Be?, Sheila Heti transcribed a conversation between herself and her real-life artist friend, Margaux Williamson, leaving just a duologue and removing all sense of the how and the where.It would be difficult then to consider the 37-year-old’s most successful book to be a reflection on place, but it is. Even with this intermittent chopping of prose, Heti has a strong appreciation of life in the most populous city in Canada—the place where she was born and continues to live.

Jazz Age Tales

The Fabulous Generation


They danced all night, drank non-stop, ran naked through the streets, slept with whomever they wanted to—meet the Fitzgeralds and the Flappers. Two new books make you earn for their parties and explore the origins of ‘The Great Gatsby’ writes Lucy Scholes.

In June 1922, an article in the New York Times denounced the popular new gatherings known as “cocktail parties,” at which, due to the numbers of “inebriate” members of both sexes, “animosities develop, quarrels arise, and not infrequently the end of the ‘party’ is some sorry form of the tragical. Somebody gets shot or stabbed, or private disgraces become public because of a death over which the Coroner’s jury ponder long in an effort to determine whether it was ‘natural’ or a murder.

How I Write