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The Old City

The Lost History of New York

Vladimír Fuka; Courtesy Rizzoli New York

The Czechoslovakian police were thought to have destroyed all copies of a book of NYC illustrations in the 1960s—until the author's grandson found something in the attic 50 years later.


Keith Richards Pens Kids' Book

Writing 'Gus & Me.'

Inspired by his own grandfather, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is publishing a children's book called Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. His own grandfather Gus handed Richards his first guitar. Now, as a five-time grandfather himself, legendary rocker said, “The bond, the special bond, between kids and grandparents is unique and should be treasured. This is a story of one of those magical moments. May I be as great a grandfather as Gus was to me." The book is to be published in September.

Read it at The Guardian

Murder Most Foul

True Detective: Medieval Edition

Culture Club/Getty

Medieval scholar Eric Jager, whose new book is ‘Blood Royal,’ about a true story of murder in 15th-century Paris, picks five books about medieval crime that you probably missed but shouldn’t.

The Murder of Charles the Good, Count of Flanders By Galbert of BrugesThis is the earliest surviving journal of its kind, about a brutal assassination and its causes and consequences. In 1127, Charles the Good was attacked in church by the rival Erembald family, who sliced their victim up with swords while he was at prayer. (Charles’s father had also been killed in church.) Galbert, a cleric, chronicled the murder, the investigation (including a bloody judicial duel), and the resulting civil war, which upset the balance of power in Europe.

The End

America’s Lost Tribe


In the heart of America an Indian nation called the Mandan formed a fascinating civilization that was wrecked by European invasion. A new book tells their story like never before.

On October 20, 1804, the Corps of Discovery camped just below the point where the Heart River empties into the Missouri, in present-day central North Dakota. Lewis and Clark were only a few months into their journey, and each day brought new wonders for the three-dozen men charged with exploring the lands acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase.  For William Clark, writing in his journal, the memorable sights of that autumn day in 1804 consisted mainly of animal migrations.


The Russia Hand


What would America’s most insightful strategist of Russia make of the invasion of Crimea? A new collection of his diaries reveals much about the man and his fine mind.

George Frost Kennan, America’s most influential 20th century diplomat, wouldn’t have been at all surprised by Russia’s recent military incursion into Ukraine.  Indeed, it could very well be said that he predicted such a development as early as 1997.  “I have been rendered most unhappy,” wrote the former US Ambassador to Moscow, by the admission of “Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to membership in NATO.”How was such a development “to be reconciled with the assurances to the Russians that they need not worry, that the extension of NATO’s borders to the east has no military implications?”  Indeed, Kennan saw nothing in the rapid and reckless expansion of NATO “other than a new Cold War, probably ending in a hot one, and the end of the effort to achieve a workable democracy in Russia.


The App That Speaks to Your Eyes

Bertrand Demee/Getty

A soon-to-be released app uses text streaming to make reading quick and painless. Watch out Netflix, a new time suck is on its way.

What if you could read a thousand-page book in a matter of hours?Gravity’s Rainbow on the train to work. Infinite Jest during an afternoon on the hammock. Crime and Punishment over a lunch break or two. With the technologically facilitated speed-reading offered by a new app, called Spritz, soon to be released for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Gear 2 Watch, it just might be possible.The app works by maximizing the efficiency of the movements of the human eye, called saccades, that are required to read text in a traditional format.

Hot Reads

This Week’s Hot Reads

The Daily Beast

This week, from friendship with a phony (and murderous) Rockefeller to fortune-seeking husband-hunters in the British Raj.

Blood Will Outby Walter KirnFrom his earliest school days, Walter Kirn is driven to succeed—to impress his instructors, out-accomplish his peers, earn top grades, and win contests. But midway through his undergraduate education at Princeton, questions of “what else?” catch up with him. What if it’s not enough to be smart and work hard? In Lost in the Meritocracy, Kirn charts how the economics of privilege taunt him at every turn in Princeton.


Hofstadter: Tea Party Prophet

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

In the 1960s the great historian Richard Hofstadter first identified a virulent strain of anti-intellectualism in American life, but thanks to the Tea Party and the recession, its worst traits are still plaguing us.

Twenty-first century philistines, suffering from a lack of imagination and curiosity, have seized upon understandable economic anxieties since the financial crash of 2008, to shepherd an increasingly large flock of American sheep into the livestock freight carrier Pulitzer prize winning historian, Richard Hofstadter, called “anti-intellectualism.”Anti-Intellectualism in American Life—one of Hofstadter’s best, among many great books – was a pile of dynamite in 1963, when it was first published and blew a sizable hole in the house of America’s self-comforting delusions of intellectual superiority.

War Stories

The Surreal Terror of Iraq

Steve Bronstein/Getty

A surreal and haunting collection of stories about the spectacle of violence and how war worms its way into daily life by Iraqi author, Hassan Blasim.

The title story in The Corpse Exhibition, Hassan Blasim’s new book, masquerades as a lecture delivered to an initiate who has just joined a cult of assassins. In this secretive group, agents go by code names like “the Nail” and “Satan’s Knife,” and “display” their victims’ bodies in grotesque ways calculated to terrify the citizens of an unnamed country in what seems like the modern Middle East.The catch, and the story’s most brilliant conceit, is that unlike real terrorists, Blasim’s fictional killers operate on principles artistic, not political or religious.

Power Play

BP, Putin, and the Power of Oil

Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty

John Browne ran BP for twelve years, his career shattered after a gay sex scandal. He reveals how being forced “out” helped rebuild his life, why oil and gas will always be used “as a weapon,” and how to best deal with Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, says John Browne, the former chief executive of BP, is a master tactician. “He is the definition of ruthless, which is to say he shows no emotion whatsoever and has actually no expression as well. He has one of the least-lined faces of anyone I have ever met. He has a total poker-face. You get used to it.” Did Browne, or Lord Browne of Madingley, to bestow his proper English title on him, ever make Putin smile? “No,” Browne says resolutely, then adds softly, “When I said ‘Goodbye’ perhaps.


Still Crazy for Andy

Why does Andy Warhol and his art captivate us to this day? In an excerpt from the new edition of his superb account of the artist, Bob Colacello considers his legacy and fame.

Since Andy Warhol’s death in 1987, I have been asked the same question at least a thousand times: Did you have any idea, when you were working for Andy in the 1970s, how important and expensive he would become? I sort of did, as did most of us who helped turn out his art, his films, his magazine, his books, his TV shows at his studio known as the Factory. But he definitely knew. Or knew that was what he wanted. Beneath Andy’s bewigged feyness and maddening nonchalance lay an iron will and limitless ambition, which he revealed only to a select few and then more as a slip of the mask than a shared confidence.


When Drugs Were Legal

Library of Congress

Go back to the 19th century and people freely used drugs, tobacco and booze, a far cry from our more restrictive days. A new book explores that stoned time and what changed.

Imagine walking into a store and buying an over-the-counter-drug that can cure the mentally insane, alleviate pains, treat everything from cholera to tooth aches, and help sickly children to sleep—all for little more than the cost of a candy bar. If you happen to live in nineteenth-century England and don’t mind taking opium, you’re in luck. For those of us, however, living in the twenty-first century or opposed to dosing infants with opiates, no such wonder drug exists.

Action Figure

The Hippest Guy in the Room

Underwood Archives/Getty

Reporter, promoter, raconteur, and all-’round man about town, the late great Harold Conrad roars back to life in Mark Jacobson’s classic profile.

Not everyone gets Humphrey Bogart to play them in the movies. Harold Conrad did. In Mark Jacobson’s pitch-perfect story of the ultimate been-everywhere-done-everything knock-around guy, Conrad and a bygone era of gangsters, boxers, and movie stars are brought to life.Jacobson has long been one of our finest magazine writers. He’s most famous for the stories that were the basis of the TV show Taxi and the movie American Gangster, as well as the brilliant profiles of Dr.


How to Ask a ‘Beautiful Question’

Gary S Chapman/Getty

There are questions that Google can answer, but there are others that require a different, much deeper kind of search. Those questions fascinate Warren Berger.

To stay ahead in my ad agency, I read a lot of books that purport to have "the answer" to some problem or another—how to improve your business, find happiness, and so forth. But I just finished a book that takes a very different approach. It is entirely focused on questions, not answers. And I found it to be profound and eye-opening.A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger is about the importance of asking thoughtful, ambitious "beautiful questions"—the kind that can bring about change in the world around you.

Middle East

Israel's Secret Honor Killings

Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times, via Redux

Inside Israel’s Bedouin communities, the practice of killing women who stain the family’s “honor” is experiencing a dark revival.

The Bedouins in Israel occupy an interesting place from the point of view of citizenship and tribal loyalty. They are Israeli citizens who serve in the Israeli military; they are also Muslims and so find themselves in awkward situations when appointed at Israeli checkpoints, where they are seen by their fellow Muslims as collaborators. There’s also deep prejudice among the Palestinians against the Bedouins; they are considered ignorant (one of the terms for a certain tribe of the Bedouins in the Judean desert is jahalin, which literally means “ignorant”) and thought to carry with them dark desert customs from before the birth of Islam.


Making Lincoln Sexy


From Cicero to hick, President Lincoln has many voices in Jerome Charyn’s novelization of America’s greatest leader—and he also has sex.

The author of more than forty books, Jerome Charyn is known in various, not always overlapping reading communities. At King Pong, a table tennis club in lower Manhattan, where this interview began between games with the interviewer, Charyn is known for Sizzling Chops and Devilish Spins, his book on ping pong. In the Bronx, where he grew up, he is known for memoirs set in that borough. Readers of detective fiction all over New York and America know Charyn’s series featuring Isaac Sidel, which began with Blue Eyes in 1975.


Orwell’s Nightmare

AydAn Mutlu/Getty

We live in world where just about everything we do online is tracked by corporations and possibly the government. Has the dream of the internet been corrupted? A new book “Dragnet Nation” asks hard questions about our online lives.

Back in 2006 when I was interviewing doctors for an article about prescription data mining, few of them knew that it occurred. The ones who did were not happy about it. In fact, the practice of drug companies buying prescription records from pharmacies for marketing purposes outraged enough doctors that several states attempted to ban it. States argued that it drove healthcare costs (drug reps used the data to manipulate doctors into prescribing expensive brand name drugs), and that it was an invasion of doctors’ privacy (patient names were deleted).

Final Salute

A Man to Believe In

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

On February 15, Marine Master Sergeant Aaron Torian was killed in action in Afghanistan—likely one of the last Americans to die there. His friend and comrade Elliot Ackerman shares his eulogy.

Master Sergeant Aaron Torian was killed in action in Helmand Province on February 15th, 2014. This eulogy was given at Arlington National Cemetery two weeks later. With the current withdrawal of troops, he is likely one of the last Marines to die in the Afghan War.My friend Aaron Torian was a believer.He believed in his God.He believed in his family.And he believed in the men he fought alongside, his friends.If you were lucky enough to stand next to T, to hear him tell you how he and his Afghans would irrigate fifty acres of desert from an abandoned Russian swimming pool, or retrain two-hundred dispirited Commandos, or reroute the Internet so we could all call home, if you stood at his side, the both of you sharing the late afternoon sun in your face, while he wore a dirt-stained t-shirt and his work gloves, and if you heard him tell you these things, it was impossible not to, you also had to believe.


Life-Saving Depression


No one likes to be down but a new book, The Depths, argues that depression has real and helpful evolutionary benefits for humans and animals. But have the harms grown worse in modern society?

“The flesh is sad, and I've read all the books.” The famous opening of Mallarmé’s poem “Sea Breeze” is a sigh of resignation. Not even the knowledge gleaned from all the books in the world can loosen the grasp of human sadness.Of course reading all the books is impossible; merely reading the books on ways to find happiness would be a daunting prospect. Yet despite the countless titles promising infallible strategies for attaining happiness, depression is reaching epidemic proportions.


The Problem with Sexy Jesus

Casey Crafford

Hollywood gives the son of god chiseled cheekbones and buns of steel. But what if—based on anthropological study of first-century Galilean males—Jesus had the build of a teenage girl?

How many new and different versions of the Jesus story can the medium of film accommodate? Judging by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s new film Son of God, not too many: this is the traditional, predictable, stripped-down niceness taught in Sunday schools and nativity plays. But for a bare-bones presentation of Jesus, there sure seems to be a lot of flesh on screen—and what attractive flesh it is. With carefully styled hair, omnipresent smile, and sparkly eyes that say, “I see into your soul,” Diogo Morgado’s Jesus really puts the carnal in incarnate.

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