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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Within 30 seconds of locking eyes on each other, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were tussling on the floor.
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love first locked eyes on each other at eleven in the evening on Friday, January 12, 1990, and within 30 seconds they were tussling on the floor. The setting was the Satyricon, a small, dimly lit nightclub in Portland, Oregon. Kurt was there for a Nirvana gig; Courtney had come with a friend who was dating a member of the opening band, the wonderfully named Oily Bloodmen. Already infamous in Portland, Love was holding court in a booth when she saw Kurt walk by a few minutes before his band was set to appear onstage.
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.
A new novel from one of America’s best young writers, a history of the hunt for a cure for AIDS, and the story of a sensational murder trial in turn-of-the-century Paris.
All Our Names: A Novel By Dinaw MengestuTowards the beginning of All Our Names, by MacArthur fellow and New Yorker 20 Under 40 Award winner Dinaw Mengestu, one character, a student in an unnamed African university, asks a fellow student named Isaac what he is studying. “This is Africa. There’s only one thing to study,” he replies. “Politics. That’s all we have here.” In his third novel, Mengestu displays his talent for the distinctly political fiction of post-colonialism, but also the deftly tragic touch of a dramatist.
Mind-reading machines! Telekinesis! In Michio Kaku’s new book our minds will be doing all kinds of cool things with gadgets very, very soon, but somehow this scientist misses the big questions about what we really know about consciousness and the mind.
One of the great pleasures of diving into a new obsession—whether music, photography, carpentry, or any pursuit requiring skill and practice—is getting to play with the specialized toys. For many enthusiasts, in fact, the tools can become more of a turn-on than the trade. We all know this person: the collector of vintage guitars who rarely plays, the home cook with more pots than recipes. It’s an unhealthy impulse, most would admit. And amateurs aren’t the only ones who succumb to it.
With his new collection of short stories Redeployment, Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay has written brilliant, true, and winning fiction on the Iraq War, writes Brian Castner. Read it now.
This book is profane, and in just about every possible way.The following words appear on nearly every one of the first fifty pages: blood, fuck, hajji, dead, love, scream, rifle, kill, balls. In those first pages, I feared I was going to run out of synonyms for “visceral” while trying to write this review.But language (while important and powerful) is still all superficial, so when the stories then shift, drill through the violence of the body to the spirit underneath, they became profane in new and deeper and lasting ways.
From a ghostwriter’s wild effort to finish Julian Assange’s autobiography to the return of extinct animals, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Ghosting Andrew O’Hagan, The London Review of Books An epic account of a writer’s disastrous attempt to ghostwrite the autobiography of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. How Much My Novel Cost Me Emily Gould, Medium Writing her first book got her into debt. To finish the next one, she had to become solvent. The Mammoth Cometh Nathaniel Rich, The New York Times Magazine Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool.
Recent Gallic gall over young-adult literature proves that even Paris can get pissy over progressive pulp fiction.
France’s main center-right party, the UMP, has recently waged a cultural war over several picture books suggested on a government website as a way for teachers to counter gender stereotypes among their students. Offending titles include, but aren’t limited to, Daddy Wears a Dress, Jean Has Two Mummies, and Everybody Naked!—the last of which expresses both disdain for clothing AND the word “is.” While it’s great to see that Kermit isn’t the only frog concerned about family values, The Daily Beast has uncovered several other questionable tomes that have escaped the eyes of our croissant consuming allies.
You should be reading Alejandro Zambra, one of Latin America’s hottest young writers. He talks to Juan Vidal about how he writes, why his books are short, and adapting his work for film.
“Dear Juan”, writes Alejandro Zambra. "Everything sounds ok. I can answer in my poor English. I certainly prefer to write, to express myself, in Spanish, but I promise I will make my best effort. Maybe you can translate the rest? I am leaving now for Chile and we can talk in five days.”For the last several decades, Chile has yielded some of the finest and most bizarre literature in the world. From the harrowing stories of Isabel Allende and Roberto Bolaño, to the authoritative poetry of Pablo Neruda, the nation has made its indelible mark.
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